The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to Craig Dobbin, one of Canada's most successful entrepreneurs, who passed away October 7, 2006, at the age of 71, in his beloved Beach Cove home in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Craig Dobbin built the world's largest helicopter company, following a business career in other enterprises. The Canadian Helicopter Company, CHC, began in St. John's with one helicopter in 1977. Today, CHC operates 252 helicopters in 35 countries and has annual revenues exceeding $1 billion — a remarkable achievement. In June 2007, Mr. Dobbin was to be inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame for his lifetime of work in the aviation industry.
The story of how CHC began is legendary. Craig Dobbin did not set out to create an aviation empire. He wanted to go salmon fishing, but getting to the best rivers presented a problem. Thus, he bought a helicopter, which he called Sealand. However, because it cost a significant amount to operate the helicopter, Mr. Dobbin either had to make it viable or sell it. He decided to go forward, landed a contract and bought more helicopters. The rest is history.
Craig's business philosophy is best described in a speech he gave to graduating students, when he said: "Risk-takers don't think they are taking any risks at all. If you are an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word, you are not taking any risks, you are simply executing a plan of which you are positive of the results."
Anyone who knew Craig and loved him, as I did, remembers a man of enormous passion, vision and love of life. He was a "fearless buccaneer," as his family called him, who provided opportunity, support and inspiration to thousands through his business, his philanthropy and his larger than life magnanimous character. He was guided by integrity, honesty and loyalty.
Craig was given numerous awards but considered his induction as an Officer of the Order of Canada to be his greatest honour. He was a fiercely proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian and an equally proud Canadian who kept his company in Canada.
Above all, he was devoted to his family and his friends, and cared deeply that each was doing well in life. He will be very much missed. My condolences and deepest sympathy to his beloved wife Elaine, his children, grandchildren and other family members.
In a final word from Craig:
Dare to dream. Turn adversity into opportunity but, most important, have fun in life — it is a quick trip.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, it is a great privilege for me to rise and speak to you as patron of the Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick.
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month in Canada, a month to share with our fellow Canadians the successes, hopes and challenges that persons with learning disabilities experience every day. It is also a time to reflect upon the consequences that occur in the life of persons with learning disabilities, especially when these learning disabilities are not addressed appropriately and in a timely manner.
Children and adults with learning disabilities represent an estimated 10 per cent of our population. We are encouraged by the research that points to the benefits of early intervention, and even methods that are effective in preventing some of the milder forms of learning disabilities. While individuals in growing numbers are receiving more and better services, there remain too many who do not have the benefit of a diagnosis, and thereby access to services that will enable them to reach their full potential.
The theme for this year's campaign is "Learning Disabilities and Mental Health: Is There an Increased Risk?" It is important to note that while mental health issues do not cause learning disabilities, they are a consequence for far too many persons with learning disabilities — the result of persistent academic frustrations and repeated failures in other domains of everyday life.
I am proud to report that the Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick hosted a conference last May in Fredericton. Over 150 parents, young adults with learning disabilities, teachers and other professionals attended this conference to become better informed about teaching, parenting and coping strategies for children and adults with learning disabilities and attention disorders — the two are often combined. I wish to express deep appreciation to Senator Michael Meighen, Ms. Kelly Meighen and the Meighen Foundation for their generosity, as well as to the many others who supported this event.
Since persons with learning disabilities have at least average, if not above average capabilities, we feel a sense of urgency to correct the difficulties in reading, math and writing. However, we must recognize that this lifelong condition also may cause difficulties in other spheres of life, such as social relations and self-esteem; 35 per cent of students with learning disabilities become high school dropouts; and far too many are destined for addictions, depression and crime.
Yet, despite these struggles, the good news is that many succeed and live a personally satisfying and rewarding life. How does this happen? What can we do to help children with learning disabilities grow up from childhood into adulthood with the individual characteristics and life experiences that lead to successful life outcomes? You and I — all of us — can advocate in our communities. We can encourage parents to seek help when their child is not talking by two years of age. Most children are using about 50 words by the time they are 18 months. A good way to pick up these problems is by playing rhyming games, with which these individuals have so much difficulty.
Each person with a learning disability must have a diagnosis. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses is crucial in order for children and adults to become empowered to advocate for themselves. Remember: Many of these people have very high IQs. That is the challenge of this month, of every month. The will, the funding and the effort must be greater year by year. Thousands of children are waiting.
If I have a moment more, I would like to quote from Sir Jackie Stewart, a former race car driver, who said:
For a dyslexic who does not yet know they are dyslexic, life is like a big high wall you never think you will be able to climb or get over. The moment you understand there is something called dyslexia, and there are ways of getting around the problem, the whole world opens up.
Role of Religions and Human Rights—International Conference
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I am pleased to present a brief report on the international conference entitled Building World Peace: The Role of Religions and Human Rights, which was organized by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and held in Edmonton from October 20 to 22.
I had the privilege to co-chair this conference with our former colleague, the Honourable Doug Roche. Senators Mobina Jaffer and Roméo Dallaire attended the conference and gave excellent presentations. I would like to read a few excerpts from the concluding statement issued by the John Humphrey Centre at the end of the conference.
Religions of the world should provide a powerful example in their common rejection of violence and defence of universal values of respect for life and the dignity and human rights of all individuals as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
At this critical juncture of human history, when differences threaten not simply to divide but actually destroy all life on the planet, religions must unite across boundaries to instill non-violence as a way of life.
In short, religions must affirm that violence can never be justified in the name of God and condemn terrorism and extremism of any form as well as attempts to justify them by religion. This responsibility is shared by every individual in society.
In the words of Federico Mayor, former Director General of UNESCO and Co-chairman of the Alliance of Civilizations Commission, "now we must change." With the existence of 27,000 nuclear weapons as but one example of the warring posture of nations, religions must work to transform the world from a culture of war to a culture of peace. Religions must change their present complacent attitude and enter the modern world in a humble and cooperative mode, reaching out to help heal a suffering humanity.
The conference recognized that respectful dialogue among nations is a prerequisite to the healing qualities of reconciliation and forgiveness. This dialogue should take place not only internationally but also locally. It must occur not only within religions, but also among religions and, further, between religions and secular society. To this end, the conference examined ways to improve peace education, media relations and inter-faith programs. Human rights learning must be the foundation of this dialogue. Telling our own stories to one another is important. Increased attention must be paid to the needs of women and children who, overwhelmingly, are the victims of war, and economic and social discrimination.
We must do all this and more to achieve peace in the 21st century. Religions must convey the values of peace at the risk of being shunted aside in these turbulent times.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, last weekend in Edmonton, a conference was held on building world peace, the role of religions and human rights. This conference housed 400 delegates, both from Canada and internationally.
I raise the subject here, not only because of its content, but also because of the participation of Senate colleagues as the backdrop of this incredible gathering that discussed such a significant component of the international realm of insecurity that exists today.
Senator Roche, a retired colleague, chairman of an international network of organizations specializing in nuclear disarmament issues, chaired the conference. His co-chair was Senator Tardif. Together, they launched incredible initiatives. They were supported by Senator Jaffer, who also spoke and was a participant. Your humble servant was invited as well and had an opportunity to participate.
I should like to speak about religions and peace. In Assisi, on January 24, 2002, after 9/11, Pope John Paul II met with the five heads of the great religions of this time. Together, after two days of discussions, they concluded in their statement that no religion shall call for its members to kill in the name of its religion. That meeting stands alone as the highest level effort, the only one, to stop this catastrophic failure from happening in the world today, where religion is being involved in such terrible destruction.
Honourable senators, initiatives like the one begun by Senators Roche and Tardif are opening up dialogue where religions can be instruments of reconciliation instead of sources of friction in the world.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, last week I had the pleasure of hosting a reception for MPs and senators to meet the regional partners involved in the Computers for Schools program. This program was co-founded in 1993 by Industry Canada and the Telecom Pioneers, the largest industry-related volunteer organization in the world.
Computers for Schools is a national, federal government-led program that operates in cooperation with the provinces and territories and the private and volunteer sectors. This program collects, repairs and refurbishes surplus computers donated by government and private sector sources. The refurbished computers are distributed to schools, libraries and not-for-profit learning organizations throughout Canada.
CFS is a major provider of computers to schools. One in every four school-based computers comes from Computers for Schools. Computers for Schools leverages $4 for every $1 invested by the federal government. Let me repeat that: It leverages $4 for every federal dollar.
Computers for Schools is helping to bridge the gap in rural, northern and remote communities. Close to 40 per cent of its computers are allocated to rural communities. It is an important and effective solution for the re-use and recycling of electronic equipment. It has diverted over 7,000 tonnes of potentially harmful electronic waste from Canadian landfills. Without Computers for Schools, the Canadian government would be spending millions of dollars to ethically dispose of its electronic waste. CFS provides more than 110,000 computers each year to its clients and has produced more than 750,000 computers since its inception in 1993. Approximately 1,000 youth are provided with hands-on work experience in Computers for Schools workshops each year. This work experience in CFS workshops, over 200,000 hours annually, helps young Canadians succeed in their chosen careers in information technology.
Computers for Schools is a strong supporter of social integration for disadvantaged youth. Eight CFS workshops have been dedicated to the training of Aboriginal youth in computer refurbishing and job skills. Two are integrated into high schools, and two are located within federal penitentiaries, as part of rehabilitation programs for inmates. The Computers for Schools program has won many national and international awards.
Honourable senators, Computers for Schools is a world leader in computer refurbishing programs. I trust, therefore, that honourable senators will agree with me that the Computers for Schools program should continue to be funded, as not only is it a financially wise investment, it is a much needed investment in the future employment and computer literacy of our youth.
Presentation of New Pages
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding to the next item, I am pleased to introduce three new Senate pages who will be working with us this year.
First, I would like to introduce Marc-André Roy, from Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick. Last year, in addition to being an active member of the student alumni committee at his school, Marc-André published his second novel for young people, entitled Les catacombes de Karnak. He is in his first year of the joint bachelor's program in history and political science at the University of Ottawa.
Honourable senators, I introduce Patrick Weeks, who hails from the fishing village of Northport, Prince Edward Island. Patrick completed a three-month Prince Edward Island-Quebec student exchange, where he honed his French-language skills and developed his interest in Québécois culture. Patrick is currently enrolled in his first year of the commerce honours program at the University of Ottawa.
Finally, we have with us Aline Fontaine, an Ojibway from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. Aline lists her work and involvement with Aboriginal children and youth with the Winnipeg Boys and Girls Clubs as one of her great experiences. Aline is currently in her second year at Carleton University, studying Human Rights and Political Science.
Annual Summit of Pacific Northwest Economic Region, July 16-20, 2006—Report Tabled
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, respecting its participation at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region annual summit for 2006, held in Edmonton, Alberta, from July 16 to 20, 2006.
Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments: Sixtieth Annual Meeting, July 29-August 2, 2006—Report Tabled
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, respecting its participation at the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, sixtieth annual meeting, held in Louisville, Kentucky, from July 29 to August 2, 2006.
CPA-U.K. Seminar, May 7-19, 2006—Report Tabled
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to the CPA-U.K. Branch seminar on "Governance and Culture of the United Kingdom," held in the United Kingdom and Belgium, from May 7 to 19, 2006.
Naming of Howard Charles Green Building
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. It is with regard to a matter of which he will be aware, namely, the potential naming of a federal building at 401 Burrard Street, Vancouver, after Howard Green. This is a man who, while he may have had an otherwise exemplary record and career, is not someone who should be recognized in this way according to Japanese Canadians, in particular because of his quoted statement on July 25, 1939, that "Orientals should be excluded from Canada"; and on May 17, 1945, that "the Japs must never be allowed to return to British Columbia." This matter has drawn attention from the National Association of Japanese Canadians, through its president, Mr. Henry Kochima, who has written to the minister's office; and as well the Japanese Canadian Citizens Association of Greater Vancouver, as represented by a spokeswoman, Mary Kitagowa.
Can the minister confirm that he has responded to the requests for information from these citizens, and indicate whether a decision has been made not to name the building as possibly planned at an earlier time?
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Honourable senators, as a result of these allegations, I have asked the committee, which was struck in 2004 and came up with this suggestion, I believe, in early 2005, to reconsider and re-evaluate all the suggestions, because there were several, and to come back to me with other recommendations.
Naming of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport
Hon. Hugh Segal: May I ask the minister, when he is looking into that, if he is prepared to share with the house the background papers and studies as they relate to the naming of Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, specifically with respect to that Prime Minister's association with the arrest of 400 innocent Quebecers during the War Measures Act, not one of whom was ever charged — an absolute violation of their civil liberties? If we are going down this route with Senator Hays, let us have a full discussion.
Senator LeBreton: Including his anti-Semitic remarks.
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services): I do not know that it is for me to say that I can make those documents available. However, if they are to be made available, I shall be happy to make them available to Senator Segal as well as other senators.
Quebec—Assistance to Aerospace Sector Position of Technology Partnerships Canada
Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and minister responsible for the Montreal region.
I would like to begin by saying it is shameful for an honourable senator to cast such aspersions on the legacy of Prime Minister Trudeau, who repatriated Canada's Constitution and entrenched the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects all minorities.
Now I would like to put a question to the minister, in his capacity as minister responsible for the Montreal area. On September 28, I asked him about government programs related to a study of the aerospace industry in Montreal. My question today concerns numerous mentions in yesterday's La Presse of Bombardier layoffs about to hit Montreal. As the minister knows — and as I stated on September 28, 2006 — a national strategic framework was developed for the aerospace and defence sector in direct consultation with academia, industry, employee representatives and the federal and provincial governments. The agreement was signed by his colleague, Mr. Emerson. In September, I was told the Minister of Industry needed some time to develop a program.
Can the minister responsible for the Montreal area assure us that a new program will be introduced and that it will improve upon the Technology Partnerships Canada program? Thanks to the previous government's sound management, the current government now has an unexpected surplus in excess of $6 billion. All it has done for the program to date is cut its funding by $40 million.
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for his question. When I was appointed to the Senate, I was told that this house was a non-partisan one and that I would find men and women who rise above the fray. I will show considerable restraint and not talk about Mr. Trudeau, because I am one of those who do not recall seeing Quebec sign the Constitution, and yet I do recall, with some sadness, that time when the Constitution was patriated without Quebec's consent. A federalist such as yourself, who is very committed to Canada and Quebec, knows that, since 1982, we have been having serious problems with the sovereignist movement in Quebec. I must point out, entirely objectively, that much of these problems stem from that act of patriation without Quebec's approval. I say this with respect for the opposing view.
Returning to your very important question, like you, I am aware of the job losses announced yesterday by Bombardier. I also noticed that it won a sizeable contract this morning, which will generate considerable revenue for its employees in the transport division in the Montreal area.
As for Minister Bernier's program, as I said on September 28, the Minister of Industry is going to table a bill this fall regarding such programs, as he himself has said on several occasions.
Senator Fox: I want to thank the Minister for his response. I would prefer to share the second half of his response with the unemployed workers in Montreal, rather than his little introduction, which is a matter for debate some other time.
Bombardier's union president is quite worried about the current government's attitude. In your own electoral platform, you promised to put an end to Technology Partnerships Canada. You have cut $42 million from that program and the sector is destabilized. The union president said that:
The Conservative government questioned the amount of money allocated for research and development through programs such as TPC and without the development of new products, it would pull out.
The union president would have preferred hearing answers to these questions instead of biased lessons in constitutional law.
While we are waiting for this long-heralded announcement from the Minister of Industry, could the minister responsible for the Montreal area give his colleague a little shake to get him moving on responding to the applications for hundreds of millions of dollars of research and development funding under the current program?
You do not have a new program to replace the existing program. You have funding allocated to that program and you are doing absolutely nothing to release the hundreds of millions of dollars for research and development that could give Montreal a competitive edge in this sector.
Senator Fortier: Senator Fox, I was not offering constitutional solutions to Bombardier employees who are out of work. I was answering your question.
Bombardier employees know that, as far as defence and aerospace are concerned, this government will do what you have never done: for the first time in the history of military equipment procurement in this country, we will make sure that every dollar given to foreign manufacturing companies will be invested in Canada, in the aerospace and defence sector. This is something you never did because, in the past, manufacturers were allowed to invest in all sorts of frivolous programs without ever ensuring that the communities that depend on aerospace and defence received their fair share of the wealth being created.
We will make sure this happens, and I am confident that the workers who are without a job this morning in Montreal will be able to find one in this sector thanks to our programs.
World's Fair 2015—Submission of Formal Bid for Toronto Site
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Toronto City Council, with the support of many citizens — according to the polls, the vast majority — has indicated a wish that a world's fair be held in Toronto in the year 2015.
The billions of dollars that would be gained by the city's economy, as well as the thousands of jobs to its citizens, would be of tremendous benefit not only for Toronto, but also for Ontario and Canada. It is important, of course, that all levels of government come together in making this happen.
The deadline for making the bid submission is the end of next week, November 3. If we miss that deadline, we miss a terrific opportunity for the city, the province and the country.
The final act is the federal government submitting the official bid to the International Exhibition Bureau in Paris by November 3. Can the minister tell me that the federal government will submit this bid?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I must tell him that, on something as important to the City of Toronto as this fair, the council only managed to get the draft business plan to the federal government on October 6, just a few short weeks ago. The federal government is in consultation with the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario, and they are working together to ensure that all of the required elements of the business plan are in place. When those deliberations have been completed, the government will make a final decision.
Senator Eggleton: I have a supplementary question for the honourable leader. I realize that all three levels of government must come together in sync on this matter, but the final act is that of the federal government submitting the bid. Here is an opportunity for the new government of this country to take a lead role to ensure that these parties come together, that all of the information is in place and that the bid is submitted on time.
Will the federal government take that lead role to ensure that this happens and that we do not lose out on this opportunity?
Senator LeBreton: The federal government is well aware that the federal government's support to the bid is essential. As I pointed out in my first answer, the business plan that was submitted was just received by the federal government on October 6. The Minister of Finance, who is one of the ministers involved in this matter, is well aware of the November 3 deadline. I can assure the honourable senator that when the minister has reached a decision with his counterparts in the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto, he will make his decision known.
Funding to First Nations and Inuit Health Programs
Hon. Willie Adams: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In recent cuts made by the Treasury Board, the First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy was eliminated. The total amount of the fund was $10.8 million and the Inuit portion of the fund was $309,270. One of the programs was targeted largely to youth, who are starting to smoke in record numbers. The overall program has been so successful that, in the last year, there has been a 12 per cent drop in smoking in the territory. Another positive step taken by communities in Nunavut is in preventing people from smoking in buildings, where there are children present.
Since the beginning, the Health Board's First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy has reduced smoking by 12 per cent. Even during the winter in our community, people cannot smoke in their houses and must smoke outside. It is working out well between the First Nations and the rest of Canada.
Could the leader explain to me why money is no longer being directed to the First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy for Inuit and First Nations?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): As the honourable senator knows, the government invests $2 billion annually in the area of First Nations and Inuit health. The program that the honourable senator speaks of, the First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy, was eliminated because the program has been ineffective in achieving the goal of lowering smoking rates among Inuit people and First Nations people. When that program was established, its aim was to reduce smoking rates among First Nations and Inuit, and of course it failed to achieve that goal. This was not a program whereby the government felt that Canadians, especially the Inuit and First Nations people, got value for their money.
All I can say to the honourable senator is that, under Minister Jim Prentice, we intend to work with the leadership and the citizens of First Nations and Inuit peoples to implement effective measures that will reduce smoking and prevent the harms of tobacco smoke, not only to those who smoke but also to those people who are subjected to second-hand smoke.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: I should like to know from the minister how the government will implement proper measures and how it will find more effective programs to deal with the problem, if the funding has been eliminated.
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator did not hear the first part of my answer. The government has committed $2 billion annually to the health of First Nations and Inuit. Minister Prentice has already taken strong actions regarding the quality of drinking water in many of the areas where our First Nations people live.
This $10.8 million will not be used to promote an ineffective activity. The program was set up by the previous government to deal with health issues. Since it was not dealing with those issues, we will use the money in a more effective way, to work with Inuit and First Nations people to give up smoking.
Canadian International Development Agency—Safety of Aid Workers in Afghanistan—Assistance Delivery
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the minister responsible for CIDA, with whom it is almost impossible to meet and who, even after several attempts, never seems to be available to meet with us.
I am in line with the strategy in Afghanistan. It is a correct strategy to defend and support emerging democracies, but I am having more and more trouble with the tactics of how we are going about it.
Recently, on a television program I was watching, the Minister of International Cooperation, on a visit to Kandahar, was inside the fence at the compound, handing out gifts to children, instead of going out in the field to visit projects that seemingly are being advanced by CIDA staff and money. I have subsequently learned that, in fact, CIDA staff do not leave the compound.
My question to the Leader of the Government is this: Is the decision to not permit CIDA staff to leave the compound a military one, or is it a CIDA headquarters decision? The decision may, in fact, have been made at Foreign Affairs headquarters. I should like to know where the decision originated — the decision not to let the staff do the job they are supposed to be doing, supervising and initiating those projects in the field with the support of the military?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question. Everyone knows what a treacherous situation we are facing in Kandahar.
I do not know what the honourable senator is suggesting. Is he suggesting that we should have put Minister Verner in danger? It would appear that that is what the honourable senator is suggesting — but I hope not.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs MacKay stated yesterday, he is working with officials in CIDA. There have been serious concerns for the personal safety of aid workers. They are doing the best they can at the moment in very difficult situations. They are working in cooperation with the military.
I also saw the television report last night — where it was strongly suggested that we keep our military there. Unless we militarily secure the region we are trying to assist, there is little chance that we will be able to properly get in and deliver the aid that we want to deliver.
Last weekend, Minister Verner — who was in Afghanistan, as you pointed out — announced that Canada would provide close to $5 million for emergency food aid for people in southern Afghanistan. The $5 million will assist the World Food Program deliver food aid. None of this reduces either the seriousness of the situation or the difficulty in delivering Canadian foreign aid workers to the area. Certainly, the Taliban would like to see our efforts fail.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that his department will work with CIDA officials and with the military to develop a system to safely deliver not only food aid, but also other forms of aid and reconstruction efforts into Kandahar province. That area of Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous, while the other two thirds of the country seem to be functioning quite well.
Senator Dallaire: We are in a different era, and military operations in isolation fail. You need the integration of the military, the diplomatic nation-building and the humanitarian effort that will make these things work. You cannot have troops away from the front line, assisting with CIDA projects, unless there is an integrated effort with the humanitarian component to initiate, supervise and advance these projects — which, I might add, cost hundreds of millions of dollars; not $5 million or $10 million.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate whether CIDA is putting the human resources and the experience into that humanitarian effort that is appropriate for the exceptional demand of rebuilding that country? Is CIDA holding back for non-military security reasons imposed by the public service or by something else?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the three requisite components to success in Kandahar are non-partisan. The honourable senator said that CIDA expects that Canada will spend millions of dollars but, in fact, Canada expects to spend $15 million in Kandahar province alone. Currently, Afghanistan is the single largest beneficiary of aid money.
However, because seven soldiers were killed near a reconstruction project, there is clearly a problem with delivering aid workers to the area. The Department of Foreign Affairs is working with the military in a coordinated effort to deal with all elements: the safety provided by the military on the ground, the diplomacy and the delivery of aid. Anyone who would suggest that officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs or CIDA are not fully committed to this area is not reflecting the reality.
The money, the will and the military are there. CIDA is working on a way to deliver foreign aid workers into the area without unduly endangering any lives.
Hon. Tommy Banks: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who said that Afghanistan is the single largest recipient of Canadian foreign aid. The previous government and this government agree with Senator Dallaire's comments on the situation exactly as he characterized it: Canada cannot simply go in there shooting. Rather, specific actions must be taken to change the lives of the Afghan people or Canada's efforts will fail.
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence asked the minister, when she appeared before the committee, to explain what percentage of Canada's aid money to Afghanistan is going to Kandahar. Canada's specific responsibility is in Kandahar. There are many parts of that country that do not require the same kind of effort and are not under the same kind of duress. We need to know whether Canadian monies are being directed to the place in which Canada's interest lies.
The minister was unable or unwilling to answer that question. We asked her in writing, and she responded in writing, but that also failed to answer my question. I direct her attention to a copy of that letter from the minister, which appears in our current report entitled Managing Turmoil.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate undertake, when she can, to tell this house the proportion and amount of Canadian foreign aid that is going into Kandahar province, as opposed to that which is going to the Government of Afghanistan in Kabul and being distributed elsewhere in the country?
Senator LeBreton: In answer to the honourable senator, $15 million is the figure that I have for Kandahar.
I must point out that the honourable senator is quite right: Kandahar is different from the rest of Afghanistan. We are in Kandahar because in the fall of 2005, when they were dealing with the various countries in determining who was responsible — and this is a known fact; it is on the public record — there was a dithering of Prime Minister Martin and his officials, and we ended up in Kandahar province.
We support the government's efforts. The fact is that we are in Kandahar province. We are prepared to carry on with this commitment of the previous government. We are prepared to carry on with equipping our military in a way that they can actually deal with the challenge they have been handed, which is something the previous government did not do.
Senator Banks: I would like an answer to my question, which is about money. I hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate will undertake to find out what proportion of Canadian aid — not just the $15 million in food aid — to Afghanistan is directed to Kandahar province. We need to know that in order to confirm whether the 3-D program is, in fact, working.
Senator LeBreton: I believe I just stated that CIDA expects to spend $15 million in Kandahar province by the end of the year. As I also stated, no projects in Kandahar are being held up for lack of funds.
A recent funding announcement includes $3.1 million towards medium-sized infrastructure, and $2 million towards expanding the National Solidarity Program, Afghanistan's community development program. CIDA's work is being carried out in partnership with NGOs and local Afghan communities.
In specific answer to the honourable senator's question, the monetary figure of $15 million is the amount to be put towards efforts in Kandahar.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before proceeding to delayed answers, I wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of the participants of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's Fifth Canadian Parliamentary Seminar.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I wish to welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of presenting a delayed answer to the oral question raised by Senator Fox on October 17, 2006, in regard to the United Nations First Committee Resolution for Arms Trade Treaty.
United Nations Resolution for Arms Trade Treaty
(Response to question raised by Hon. Francis Fox on October 17, 2006)
Previously, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has indicated support in principle for a treaty that would limit the illicit export of arms into conflict zones, and the Canadian delegation to the UN General Assembly has been instructed to co-sponsor the resolution.
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill S-4, to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure).—(Subject-matter referred to the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform on June 28, 2006)
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I should like to add my comments to the debate on Bill S-4, my government's bill on limiting the term of appointed senators to eight years. I have also been fortunate enough to sit on the Special Committee on Senate Reform, which has done a pre-study of the subject matter of Bill S-4 and the motion on increasing the number of senators from the West.
There may be differences of opinion on the length of tenure, but it seems that most senators are agreeable to the principle of limited terms. There are some who are advocating terms of longer than eight years, but I will let them speak for themselves.
For those who may not have been following the matter closely, the subject matter of Bill S-4 was referred to our special committee 118 days ago. The committee missed its first deadline but has rescheduled to report its findings no later than Thursday of this week.
To date, our special committee has met for a total of 28.6 hours, and we have heard from 26 witnesses. We have heard from constitutional experts, officials from the provinces and private individuals. The Prime Minister appeared before our committee as well — the first time a Prime Minister has appeared before a Senate committee — to share his views directly with the special committee on Bill S-4 and other matters brought forward by senators.
Honourable senators, at second reading and during our committee hearings, many on the other side expressed concern about the constitutionality of the bill. Let me assure honourable senators that the bill is constitutional. For the sake of senators who did not attend the committee hearings, let me repeat the words of some of the many constitutional experts who took the time to study the matter and share their conclusions with us as to whether Parliament was within its right to proceed to limit the terms of senators to eight years through the mechanism of the bill presently before us.
Patrick J. Monaghan, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, said the following:
... we have clarity as to who or what institution has the power to change the Senate. Those matters that are fundamental or essential are identified in section 42. The Parliament of Canada, through section 44, may enact changes to the Senate, including the tenure of senators.
Gerald Beaudoin, former senator, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, our former colleague, was crystal clear — some would say unusually so — when he was asked and answered:
Is Bill S-4 constitutional? ... in my opinion, I have no doubt that it is constitutional.
Gérald R. Tremblay, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault, agreed with Professor Beaudoin, and added:
It is clear that it should not be the norm that ... the executive appoint the legislator. In the general theory of the separation of powers, the legislators legislate and the executive carries out the intentions of the legislators.
Peter McCormick, Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge —
Point of Order—Speaker's Ruling
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: On a point of order, Your Honour, I find it extraordinarily strange that we would have at the present moment in this chamber a discussion of what has happened in a committee before the committee has reported to this chamber. We have had matters of privilege in which we have chastized senators for being public about the ingredients of a report before that report has been tabled in this chamber.
I would like honourable senators to know that I, personally, am somewhat offended that a senator would have sat on that committee and then come to this chamber the day before the committee is to report and elucidate what has been happening in that committee.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): On this point of order, I would remind honourable senators that the subject matter of the bill was referred to the committee, not the bill. Senator Hays, through Senator Fraser, the other day pointed out to us that even though the subject matter of the bill was before the special committee, that did not in any way prevent us from continuing to debate the actual Bill S-4, which is before the Senate. It has never left the Senate. It has been at second reading here in the Senate all along. I think Senator Carstairs is out of order by her intervention.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): I think the point of order is a good one, honourable senators. The subject matter of the bill was studied, and the committee has prepared a report, which it will table tomorrow. One should be careful in terms of speaking to Bill S-4 at second reading, as opposed to speaking to the report on the subject matter of Bill S-4. Our practice is to receive the report and then speak to the report.
In support of Senator Carstairs' point of order, is Senator Tkachuk speaking to the report, which is not before us, or is he speaking to the second reading subject matter of Bill S-4? Some of what the honourable senator said is quite properly on Bill S-4.
However, in quoting at length from a report that will be tabled tomorrow, it would appear that Senator Tkachuk is speaking to the report. Our practice in this place is that we speak to a report at report stage, after the report is before us all. Following the tabling of a report, a period of time follows before it is spoken to, for the very good reason that senators who may wish to put questions to someone speaking to the report or who may want to speak to the report will have had an opportunity to read it. Therefore, when a report is spoken to, all honourable senators are on the same footing as to the report.
While it is not my desire to interfere in any way with anyone who would wish to speak to Bill S-4, said speech should be confined to Bill S-4 at second reading and not to matters relating to the report that is not yet before us.
Hon. David Tkachuk: First, the other side is often easily offended, and Senator Hays is wrong.
Senator Corbin: Do not get personal.
Senator Fraser: Do not get personal.
Senator Tkachuk: The honourable senator is easily offended. First, I am not speaking about the report. I have not finished my speech yet, so honourable senators do not even know how it will end.
Second, all I have done is quote from the public record, which any Canada citizen, including senators, can access via the Internet. We still have free speech in this country, although the Liberals in this place are trying to stop it, again.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Tkachuk: The most obstructionist Senate in the history of Canada.
Senator Angus: That is why we have to reform the Senate!
Senator Tkachuk: There is no point of order, Your Honour, and I should like to have the right to finish my speech.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are there any other comments on the point of order?
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Your Honour, Senator Tkachuk makes a glaringly obvious point when he says that any senator can obviously quote what is a matter of public record. It is true that the hearings of the committee are on the public record; indeed, they were televised.
As I was listening to Senator Tkachuk — and it is worth reminding honourable senators that he did participate in the work of that committee —
Senator Hays: Very well.
Senator Fraser: Yes, very well.
It seems to me that, on a couple of occasions, Senator Tkachuk was in danger of crossing, or appearing to cross, the line in referring to what is public and referring to what is not yet public. I would give as an example his flat statement — and this is why I say "purporting" — that, rest assured, colleagues, the bill is constitutional. Obviously, this is a matter that the committee did have to consider; it had been part of the debate and was much discussed in testimony. For colleagues who did not glue themselves to every second of the testimony, may I say that there were mixed views on the constitutionality of the bill.
The report, I would assume, will address these matters, but anyone who knows that Senator Tkachuk was involved would be justified in believing that he had just informed this Senate about a conclusion of the committee in its report. Remember, I did say "purported."
Senator Comeau: Allegedly.
Senator Fraser: Therefore, Your Honour, there is a point of order here. Nobody is trying to prevent discussion of the bill, of what has already been said on the public record. On the contrary, this is one of the most important pieces of proposed legislation to come before this place in a long time, and we should be debating it fully.
Senator LeBreton: Self-serving.
Senator Fraser: However, I do believe that Senator Carstairs' point of order is justified.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, if I may address the point of order, I do so with the greatest respect to my colleague from Manitoba, whose knowledge of these matters procedurally will, for many years, outstrip my most ambitious hopes in that respect for my own capacity, to say only this: I think that, had there been an explicit effort on the part of my colleague to address the details of a report that was to be tabled at a later date, the issues raised by Senator Carstairs would be absolutely constructive relative to the consideration of a point of order by Your Honour.
However, the notion that information that was discussed before that committee that is on the public record is not marshalled in the context of a normative debate in this place in support of second reading of the bill strikes me as an undue constraint. This is the sort of issue where the more discussion we can have, the more frank and open exchange of opinions as part of our debate is constructive for the country and for the issue itself and will inform the house in a way that will make the receptivity to whatever the committee may choose to report more enhanced and better informed, and in that context most constructive. Therefore, I argue that it is not a valid point of order.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I want to say to my colleague Senator Segal that it is a point of order and that sometimes less is more.
The Hon. the Speaker: Further comments on the point of order? Does anyone wish to give the chair some indication or support for their argument in the procedural literature? We will conclude with Senator Carstairs.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is obviously perfectly in order for Senator Tkachuk to give a speech on the bill. The bill is before the chamber and it is perfectly in order to give a speech in the chamber about the bill. However, in saying, at the beginning of his speech, that the committee sat for X-number of hours and heard from X-number of witnesses, the honourable senator is not talking about the bill, he is talking about the committee. The committee has not yet reported.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the chair will try to be helpful in dealing with the matter.
The point that was raised by Senator Carstairs and the manner in which she raised it is a valid one, namely, if there were a report being drafted for submission the Senate cannot anticipate the report nor make it public, just as honourable senators of the given committee cannot make public the contents of that report until it is tabled.
The motion before us is a continuation of debate at second reading on the principle of the bill. That debate is very much before this house, notwithstanding the fact that the subject matter has been under study by the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform.
I will conclude by recommending that Senator Tkachuk continue and that he, to every extent possible, not anticipate the content of the report because it is much better to speak as an historian than as a prophet.
Senator Tkachuk: I will continue from where I left off. I was not in any way giving any information about the report. The report is not quoted once in this speech. I give my opinion of whether Bill S-4 is constitutional, and I use the evidence that was presented in public to back up that opinion. I have yet to finish, however. Honourable senators should not jump to conclusions. I feel sorry for myself, so I will continue now.
Peter McCormick, Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge, said:
...I think it is clearly within the power of Parliament alone to amend that part of the Constitution. The Senate reference from 1980 related to a different document and a different context.... By my reading, it is within the unilateral power of Parliament to amend that part of the Constitution.
Peter Hogg, noted constitutional expert and scholar in residence at Blake, Cassels and Graydon said:
Since Bill S-4 makes no change in any of those four matters [of section 44 of the Constitution, whereby Parliament does not have the power to make laws relating to the Senate] if enacted, this bill would be valid as a law in relation to the Senate. Therefore, I say that it is authorized under section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Honourable senators, the bill stands by itself as good legislation that will hope to provide additional credibility to the hard work done by this chamber, additional credibility to those doing the work, and additional accountability. I urge all senators to read the report when it is tabled tomorrow.
Turning briefly to another subject, somewhat related, we as senators know that this chamber is one of great diversity. We know that we engage Canadians on tough public policy questions and issues, and we know we must work diligently in committees and produce generally excellent reports. A critical issue that has come up time and again in recent years is that senators are appointed and not elected. As a matter of fact, that has come up not only in recent years but almost from the time of the Constitution of 1867.
The prevailing view among the public at large is that the appointment process undermines our credibility.
The former Leader of the Government in the Senate, Duff Roblin, put it in terms both accurate and blunt. He said:
An appointed senator — and let us be frank about this — is responsible constitutionally to no one.
...we have legislative authority without democratic responsibility...
I quote that from the Canadian Parliamentary Review of 1982, just in case anyone thought that Duff Roblin made a sudden appearance before the Senate committee hearings on Bill S-4.
It is time to revise a phrase coined by the Honourable Don Mazankowski: It is time we bring the Senate kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
For the sake of comparison, it is important to note what some other chambers look like in some of the world's other democracies. The Australian Senate is comprised of 76 elected members who serve six-year terms. The U.S. Senate comprises 100 elected members who serve staggered six-year terms. Spain's upper chamber, the Senado, comprises 259 elected members: 208 directly and 51 indirectly. All senators serve four-year terms. Italy's Senate consists of 315 elected members who serve a maximum of five-year terms.
Honourable senators, other countries have taken action to bring their institutions into the 20th century, and now the 21st century. Australia made the transition to an elected Senate. Canada can and should do the same. Bill S-4 is a step in the right direction. By itself, it is a positive step in the reform of this institution.
I am not in favour of an extension in length, as you will hear in the report tomorrow as well, although other senators are in favour.
Senator Murray: How does he know what is in the report?
Senator Moore: He is referring to what is in the report.
Senator Tkachuk: I am not.
Senator Moore: You did.
Senator Fraser: You just did.
Senator Tkachuk: People made very clear in public testimony, to which anyone could have listened, how different senators feel about this matter. I am not reporting anything that is not public knowledge and cannot be reported in the newspaper. I am not quoting from the report.
I am not in favour of an extension in length because numbers like 12 years, which were bandied about, and no age limit will preclude many older Canadians from being appointed, because a Prime Minister may be hesitant to appoint a 70-year-old who may sit to age 82.
The method by which we presently select our senators leaves us as a painful anomaly in the democratic world. I am looking forward to a time when senators are elected to this chamber. However, this is not the issue that is dealt with by Bill S-4.
The Prime Minister, who has never previously appeared before a Senate committee, was so interested in this matter that he did just that. He stated:
The fact that senators can be, and occasionally are appointed for terms of 15, 30 or even 45 years is just not acceptable today to the broad mainstream of the Canadian community.
I want to spend a little time talking about the so-called independence of the Senate, this so-called premise that we are less partisan and more independent than the House of Commons. We do not show our partisanship as much because, in almost all cases, the democratic house has already ruled on the principle of a bill. Therefore, we are faced with dealing with the subject matter alone and we, not having to face the wrath of the electorate, defer to the lower House. This is practical and it is civilized, because we are an appointed Senate, not an elected Senate. However, that does not mean that we are not independent.
How often have any one of us voted against a government bill that contravened the will of our regional caucus, and that expressed the will of our national caucus? I am willing to bet that the answer is rarely, if ever. I, myself, do not recall a time when I have done so. I am very fortunate that I live in the province of Saskatchewan, and that my ideological views reflect those of about 48 to 50 per cent of the population, and have done so for the last 20-some years. I am not sure now how the senators on the other side from Alberta are able to square their reflection and representation in that province.
When we think about the need for senators to be independent, we must ask ourselves: independent of whom? I say that electing senators for a fixed term will make us more accountable to those who elect us from our region and more independent of our national caucus. After all, that was part of the reason for creating the Senate in the first place. Senators were supposed to represent their regions and, in so doing, protect vulnerable constituencies that were not protected by the House of Commons. Indeed, honourable senators, that was a full 50 per cent of the job expected of the Senate as it was designed by our founding fathers. The other object was to serve as a check on the Commons and the cabinet. We are fulfilling a demand in the 21st century that was required of us in the 19th century.
Honourable senators, we are at an historical crossroads and at an exciting time in our history. We are part of a process that will permanently change this institution for the better. We were asked by our Prime Minister to be part of that process and the committee on Senate reform, by asking for an extension, is trying to fulfil that mandate. Bill S-4 is still before the Senate at second reading. It has been stuck at this stage for some time now. Tomorrow we will be presented with a report and I hope that we will move along rather quickly with this process. I support referring the bill to our committee for study, but I am not sure how the leadership will organize that. We will see what happens.
I ask everyone to support Bill S-4, to get involved in the debate, to move the bill to committee and return it to the House of Commons as quickly as possible.
Hon. Lowell Murray: I wonder if I might ask the honourable senator a question. I think I have already spoken on this bill, so I am not permitted to engage in debate with the honourable senator, much as I would like to do so. Therefore, I will put a couple of questions to him.
First, from his close study of the testimony at the committee, has the honourable senator noticed that we received evidence concerning the length of time that senators serve in this place? This is evidence that, I think, is contrary to the suggestion made by Prime Minister Harper and quoted by Senator Tkachuk today about 45-year terms, and so on. The evidence presented by one of the expert witnesses in some detail contradicts the assertion of both the Prime Minister and Senator Tkachuk.
Second, with regard to the partisanship in this place, there was also expert testimony from someone who had done a study of divisions in this place, indicating that partisanship was considerably less here than it is in the other place. I would ask the honourable senator if he has not noticed, in debates here and notably in debates in committee, that witnesses and others remark when they come into a Senate committee and watch it in action. It is, they say, impossible to tell to what party a particular senator is affiliated, so objective and dispassionate often is the debate.
Third, since the honourable senator is so much in favour of this bill, may I ask him whether I can count on him to second a motion that I might make to render the legislation retroactive so that those who are in favour of eight-year terms will have the opportunity to surrender their seats for others.
Senator Tkachuk: That is easy for the honourable senator to say, since he has been here since 1979. I am not sure how much of that was a question and how much of it was a speech.
On the one question about the term of senators, the Prime Minister was speaking about the possibility of someone being appointed at age 30; he might possibly sit until the age of 75. I did hear the testimony; I think the average time for a senator in this place is 11 years.
The other question was really a statement by the Honourable Senator Murray. It is a debatable statement so I will just leave it at that.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator Tkachuk's time has expired. Is there further debate?
Senator Comeau: Question!
On motion of Senator Hubley, debate adjourned.
Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Callbeck, for the second reading of Bill S-205, to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water).—(Honourable Senator Keon)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 27(3), I would ask that the clock be rewound.
The Hon. the Speaker: I need to remind honourable senators that that rule of 15 days is a real rule. I know it is a little fractious here, but why get up and rewind the clock? One must get up and participate in the debate, and then take the adjournment. If an item is standing adjourned for 15 days, it falls off the Order Paper. Our Order Paper often gets cluttered. There are items that are put there for whatever reason by the honourable senator and no action is taken on them. Perhaps the urgency of the issue has passed by, and it is not considered important enough to take the Senate's time to deal with it.
In any event, the rule is there. I always thought it was a good rule. However, we may take that as Senator Comeau's intervention on the item.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): It would simplify life, if you like, if we had a longer intervention, Your Honour.
Might I observe that this is a bill dealing with some very important matters. Clean drinking water is obviously a question that concerns every Canadian, and that can no longer be taken for granted by most Canadians, which was the case for many years.
As you know, Senator Grafstein, who presented this bill, has been working on this subject for more than one session of Parliament. He is still working on it.
I have had a couple of understandings about this bill. One is that there is a significant degree of interest in it and a reasonable degree of support for it, at least in principle, although detail would be for a committee to examine specifically.
I have also been under the impression, perhaps erroneously, that there was a member of the Senate on the other side who did wish to speak to this bill. The member in question, whom I shall not name out of elementary courtesy and prudence, is himself an extremely busy senator so I am not complaining of the fact that he has not yet spoken to the bill. However, if we were to consider my intervention today to be an intervention for debate, then the honourable senator would have an opportunity to participate in the debate, and I would hope that that would occur fairly soon.
Senator Comeau: I appreciate His Honour's interest in not cluttering up the Order Paper, and I agree with him. We must look at these items every day, and it does get annoying, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would know. It takes up quite a bit of our time as well.
With all due respect to Your Honour, it is not our intention in any way to have the objective of this important bill die after 15 days. I think the 15-day rule is there in case there is no interest from any of the senators on either side of the house. In such matters, the bill eventually falls off the Order Paper.
In the matter of this bill, the objective of our side is not in any way, shape or form to see it die. This is why we chose today to rewind the clock. I can understand that Your Honour might want us to make a long speech on the mater, but in my view sometimes prudence dictates that you do not make a long speech. One makes it short and simple, gets up and asks to rewind the clock. It saves everyone listening to a long speech.
Having said that, I think we have commented enough at this point to ensure that, yes, there is a lot of interest in this bill, and we will eventually get to it.
The Hon. the Speaker: The house is ready for a motion to the effect of the adjournment of the debate.
On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.
Private Bill to Amend Act of Incorporation—Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cochrane, for the second reading of Bill S-1001, respecting Scouts Canada.—(Honourable Senator Hays)
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I would like to take a couple of moments to speak on this matter. I have spoken with the leadership on the other side, and with Senator Hays, in particular, under whose name this item sits on the Order Paper.
I believe we are in agreement that, unless some other senator has an interest in speaking to it today, we should move this item and refer it to committee.
The presentation I made on October 3 talked about an opportunity for all interested parties to be able to express their views — not only senators, but others. I believe that it would be appropriate to continue to invite those who are interested, both from the Senate side and from outside of the Senate, from the public standpoint, to come and debate the issue at committee.
There is a time constraint to this item, in that October 3, 2007, is the one hundredth anniversary, the centenary, of scouting. I should like to see this bill continued sometime in the near future, so that it can be dealt with before that milestone comes to be.
Hence, whatever it is appropriate for me to move, I would so move.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Tommy Banks: I apologize to Senator Di Nino for not having spoken to this bill earlier. I wish to speak to the bill, before it goes to committee, and I undertake to do that tomorrow.
Senator Di Nino: I respect the honourable senator's wish to speak to the bill. I hope we can conclude the matter tomorrow.
On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to the State of Literacy in Canada, which will give every Senator in this Chamber the opportunity to speak out on an issue in our country that is often forgotten.—(Honourable Senator Fraser)
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I shall not speak long, but I do wish to add a couple of thoughts of my own as we continue our consideration of this important and, I must say, fascinating inquiry.
I shall not speak about the human impact of inadequate literacy skills. Others have done so far more eloquently and with more direct knowledge than I. I would simply observe that all of us know at least one, and possibly more, people of whose intelligence we are certain but of whose limitations in life we are also equally certain because those persons, for whatever reason, do not have the literacy skills that would enable them to fulfill their potential properly.
My attention was particularly caught by the two very interesting speeches given yesterday by senators on the government side, Senator Tkachuk and Senator Segal. They were very interesting speeches — reasoned and thoughtful. It will perhaps be no surprise, given the content of the speeches, that I tended to agree with Senator Segal more than I did with Senator Tkachuk, but I thought they were both making important points in addressing important issues.
In both cases, what I found myself reflecting on was that we have become so understandably preoccupied with the individual human cost of less than adequate literacy skills that we sometimes forget the cost in more material terms to the whole collectivity of less than adequate literacy skills in our economy. We know, for example, that the unemployment rate for people with the lowest levels of literacy skills tends to run at about 26 per cent, last I saw, whereas for people with the highest levels of literacy skills, unemployment runs only about 4 per cent.
Unemployment is not just a social cost, not just an individual human tragedy, it is a great economic cost. Unemployment creates direct burdens on governments and lessens the performance of our economy.
The C.D. Howe Institute found a while ago that a 1 per cent boost in literacy yields a 2.5 per cent increase in productivity across the board — not necessarily individually, but for the economy in general. I would suggest that that is probably true for individuals.
In this context, I was pleased to see Senator Segal note that, although it is unfortunately true that our average, across-the-board literacy rates have not changed, it does not mean that there have not been enormous changes among the population at each of those levels. People move out of the low-literacy category and up and are replaced in the low-literacy category by new people — obviously, some immigrants who come here from countries where the education is not what it should be or who come here with less than adequate skills in our two official languages.
However, I must also say that, even in major metropolitan centres in provinces that can afford good schools, our schools graduate people with abominable literacy skills. Just look at the letters of application for employment that honourable senators receive from recent graduates.
It is to our collective advantage to help these people, not only to their individual advantage. Obviously, I believe, on a human ground, we should help people. However, beyond that, it is to our collective economic advantage to help these people.
Yesterday, Senator Tkachuk said something that has a large element of truth in general. He said, in light of the cuts to the literacy budget, the following:
While some organizations might have to close down, others will take their place. This is Canada — land of innovation, vigour and enterprise. Innovation and change are good.
Obviously, they are. Equally obviously, all the productive innovation that we can get in the matter of literacy is doubly good.
What Senator Tkachuk was talking about sounded to me in a way like Schumpeter's creative destruction. That theory was devised to discuss evolution in the industrial sector, in the market. It carries a great deal of weight when one is considering the evolution of economies. Old industries die and new ones grow up. Buggy whips died and microchips grew up.
I am not at all sure that it is as constructive to destroy social programs that have been built up. In particular, it is perhaps not constructive to destroy social programs that have been built up as this one has, at very low cost to the treasury, relying on a national network of volunteers, of people who are without price and who, collectively, have provided a social service whose disappearance will not easily be replaced by new entrepreneurial efforts. I do not think it works that way in services of this nature.
This strikes me as a case where destruction may just be destruction, and not as creative as we would wish it to be. We shall all pay a terrible price.
We know that, in today's world, we need better educated workforces, more literate workforces. The old days of being able to scrape by on very low literacy skills because there were always an infinite number of blue-collar jobs, where your biceps and triceps could earn you a good living — in many cases, those days are gone. If we do not have a population that is fully equipped to compete at the highest levels of literacy, then that population will not be able to compete at the highest levels of all the other skills that will determine success or failure for national economies in the 21st century. We keep talking about how well Japanese children do in school, for example, because we know it matters. It is not just a social phenomenon that is interesting to contemplate. It has a direct impact on their economy and, by ricochet effect, on our economy.
As I was listening to the two speeches that so struck me yesterday, I was truly captured by Senator Segal's suggestion that we need to move to a new, broad approach to a national literacy strategy. He suggested a summit, I believe he said, which is a phrase that goes back a long way in Quebec, some with mixed success. In this case, it could be extremely interesting. Senator Dallaire talked about a federal-provincial summit that "invites territorial, labour, private sector and First Nations participation, along with experts." I would suggest that some municipal engagement in such an effort might be extremely constructive.
It is easy to call for meetings to solve everything, but sometimes when one is addressing a known problem, getting people to sit down around a table is the only way to provide a constructive, forward-looking and innovative approach. However, I repeat: If, in the meantime, we have destroyed what was already in place, then what they do when they sit down will be simply to reinvent the wheel, to a counterproductive extent. Surely it would be better by far to preserve what we have, or have had until recently, while we devise a forward-looking new strategy that, properly done, could become a major national goal that Canadians would care about and would participate in and would be glad to contribute to.
We are talking here of only about $17 million. There were interesting reports in the newspapers today about how this government is awash in cash. I do not think $17 million is a rounding error for a sub-subcategory of spending for a government in the fiscal position that this government is in. May I observe that that is obviously a tribute to its predecessors.
They can afford it. We can afford it.
Senator Rompkey: Seven billion dollars more.
Senator Fraser: However, by killing this $17 million, as Senator Fairbairn and others have told us, we would be pulling the rug from under the people who have been doing, with their best efforts, what needed to be done. Let us restore the $17 million and let us move forward. We will freeze everything where it stands and go forward and devise the proper strategy for all of our citizens for the 21st century.
On motion of Senator Cochrane, debated adjourned.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire rose pursuant to notice of October 18, 2006:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the final phase of the restoration of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial begun in 2001 under the auspices of the Canadian Battlefield Memorials Restoration Project.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to share with you the good news that the restoration of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, in France, has entered the final phase. I raise this topic today because I will be away at a date closer to November 11. I therefore beg your indulgence today.
As a member of the Vimy Memorial Conservation Advisory Committee, I am very pleased to announce that the restoration work begun in 2004 will soon be completed. I find it particularly appropriate to discuss this matter as Remembrance Day draws near. I will have the honour of addressing you again about this restoration project in 2007, when the Canadian National Vimy Memorial is officially inaugurated and, again, during the events in honour of the ninetieth anniversary of the battle fought between April 4 and 14, 1917, to take Vimy Ridge.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge is a historic battle of the First World War and was the greatest Canadian victory of that war.
On Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, 100,000 Canadians led by Major-General Sir Arthur Currie attacked Vimy Ridge, in northern France, which was occupied by German forces. These 100,000 soldiers were among the 600,000 Canadians who fought in that world war.
In the concept of operations, prior to the battle, tunnels had been dug around Vimy Ridge to install mines under the German lines and to permit our soldiers to hide in preparation for the offensive. The Canadian front was 6.4 kilometres long, expanding from the town of Thélus to the town of Souchez. The assault commenced at 5:30 a.m. on April 9 in a withering storm of snow and freezing rain — absolutely perfect infantry weather. The corps moved forward quickly behind an artillery barrage provided by 850 guns as represented by the gun that we see above in this chamber. The Canadians captured the two main elevations of the ridge in three days. The assault had been carefully planned and everyone, from the major-general to the private, had been rigorously briefed and trained for the day of the attack.
The capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadians was of particular strategic importance to the Allies' offensive because it was a prerequisite to the advances of the British Third Army to the south, and it later served to counter the massive and desperate German counterattacks in that area.
Anecdotally, in November 1975, I was in France for the ceremony to commemorate the Canadian contingent at Vimy Ridge. As the Canadian representative, I received an MP, Mr. Prospére Boulanger, representative of the then Minister of Veterans Affairs. His 20-minute speech in French described to our French hosts how the Canadians had taken the hill in four days while it took the French two years to come to a stalemate. He then repeated the speech in English, creating an unfriendly atmosphere for the lunch that followed.
By the time the battle was over, 3,598 Canadians had lost their lives, while another 7,004 had been wounded. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was Canada's greatest victory during the First World War, but also the bloodiest. Four Canadians who fought there were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration that Canadian soldiers can receive for displaying bravery and valour in the presence of the enemy.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge marked the first time when the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together as a single unit. That experience was crucial to the development of unity in the Canadian Forces, and of Canadian unity.
Sir Arthur Currie insisted that Canadians not be split amongst the other British armed forces and used as reinforcements, but insisted that Canadians fight as a Canadian corps, to remain a Canadian corps and to be a presence on the battlefield, which subsequently earned enormous respect from both the Allies and the enemy.
I believe that the Vimy Memorial is invaluable to Canadians, not only because of its historic importance, but also because of what it represents today for all of us.
Most Canadians who fought at Vimy were citizen soldiers, but they had almost three years of combat experience. It is their courage, their determination and a very thorough preparation that allowed these Canadians to win at Vimy and to eventually help end the war, along with the allied forces. This same courage and determination have been displayed by Canadians who have maintained peace for decades, and it is now also being displayed by those who are involved in the resolution of international conflicts in many countries that are imploding.
Canadians continue to be engaged in the defence of human rights all over the world, whether it is in Europe, Africa, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. As was the case during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canadians, including an increasing number of female soldiers, are ready to fight for these human values, and even to put their lives on the line, when these values are in jeopardy.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge and Canada's participation in the First World War in general were decisive, historic moments for our country's future. These events marked the beginning of Canada's active participation in international human rights, establishing a Canadian tradition and making selflessness one of our fundamental values.
Since the Korean War, more than 80,000 Canadian troops — men and women, regulars and reservists — have participated in over 30 peacekeeping and conflict resolution missions around the world. Canada's commitment to protecting human rights was also one of the elements that led to our independence from Great Britain at the end of the Great War.
Canada entered the First World War on August 4, 1914. At the time, Canada was obliged, as a colony of the British Empire, to fight in wars that the mother country was fighting. Canada entered the war as a colony of Great Britain, and emerged as a sovereign country. In 1919, Canada signed the Treaty of Versailles, which put an end to the war. It did so as a sovereign nation, a nation that came into its own through the blood shed by our young people on the battlefields of Europe.
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a symbol of our national unity and our commitment to defending human rights. That is why this monument is so important and why we must maintain it in good repair. I am sure you fully understand the importance of the restoration project.
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial was designed by Canadian architect and sculptor Walter Seymour and unveiled in 1936 in the presence of more than 50,000 Canadian, French and British veterans. In April 2007, 90 years after the battle, it will be unveiled once again in a ceremony that I am sure will be just as emotionally charged and full of promise for the future. It is the fundamental symbol for that occasion. It will attest to the stability and strength of our human values resulting from the sacrifices of those young people, at that time, in a faraway place — values that we carry forward into a complex and often tenuous future.
I would like to share with you a few details of this important restoration project. The Vimy Ridge National Historic Site encompasses 117 hectares of land, which was the size of the battlefields of Vimy. The restoration project focuses on the monument central to the historic site. This 30-metre tall concrete and Seget stone sculpture was in dire need of restoration. It was in an advanced state of decrepitude.
The monument bears the name of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were listed as "Missing, presumed dead," in that campaign in France. It is adorned with 20 statues representing sacrifice and hope, the most visible one being the figure of Mother Canada mourning her fallen children, which stands at the front of the monument.
After decades of neglect, the previous Government of Canada invested $30 million in the restoration of the Canadian battlefield memorials overseas. Of this, $20 million were allocated to the restoration of the Vimy Memorial. It was discovered necessary to restore the monument because of the deterioration of the material and structural components of the monument. The project encompassed the restoration of the main monument, as well as improvements to the landscape, installations and lighting.
Veterans Affairs Canada, the lead in this project, in collaboration with Public Works, put together an international team of architects, engineers, artisans and contractors to plan and execute the restoration of the monument totalling over two years of work. After a competitive bidding process, a Belgian company was awarded the contract to execute the restoration of the project.
One of the priorities of the Vimy Monument Conservation Advisory Committee was the preservation of the commemorative integrity of the monument. For example, we wanted to ensure that, to the extent possible, the same materials were used in the restoration as those used in the original monument. One of the more challenging aspects of this venture was to find and secure the same Croatian Seget stone that had been quarried in that country and used in the original sculpture. This time, we bought not only enough to refurbish the monument but enough for subsequent restoration, fearful of what could happen to that country in the future.
Other major parts of the restoration project included re-assembling the stone structure to create a system more flexible to heat and frost. An improved drainage system and better water-proofing were installed to prevent future water damage. Damaged stones were replaced and re-engraved, and the 20 statues were refurbished.
In closing, I would like to highlight the extraordinary work of all those who contributed directly or indirectly to the restoration of the Vimy Memorial, a masterpiece again. I would like to thank the Government of Canada for making the restoration project a priority and for undertaking it.
Honourable senators, I await with joy the second unveiling of Canada's commemorative monument next April. It is a monument that represents Canada's past and its future — a future where Canada will play an important role in defending human rights, resolving international conflicts and maintaining peace in all areas of the world where human rights are trampled.
Hon. John G. Bryden: I want to congratulate the honourable senator on his speech. I very much enjoyed listening to it, and the passion with which he refers to the restoration of the monument.
One of the most interesting books I have read in my life was somebody's account of Vimy Ridge and what that did for Canada, in Canada's place. There is no question that that was the time when Canada came of age.
It happened at a time when there was a way to do war. The way you did war before Vimy Ridge, as I understand it, in WWI, was the generals brought in as many troops and dug as many trenches as they could. Each side sent in its troops. When those troops were depleted, more troops were sent in. They moved back and forth, X-number of feet, in the trenches. It was said that the war would be won by the side that still had fresh, young troops left when the other side had lost all of its troops. Unfortunately, much of this cannon fodder came from the colonies — Canada, Australia, and so on. Thank God someone, a Canadian, took the position that we will not do this anymore and will at least try something different with the rolling cannon, and so on.
I wonder if the way war was done then and the fact that war was won by attrition carries any modern-day lessons for us in the situation that exists in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Clearly, it is not the total number of bodies that will be lost that will decide who wins or loses. In Iraq, no one will probably ever win. At some point, one side or the other will lose tolerance for losses. That is, the people, as happened in Vietnam, will no longer stand for the slaughter of our best because some general or some secretary of war decided a long time ago that a pre-emptive strike would do a wonderful thing to solve the Middle East problem.
In Afghanistan, we are now up to 42 or 45 casualties. Have we learned anything? Once again, the Europeans are happy to be in the battle and in the game, as long as they do not put their people at risk. Who is at risk? The colonials, again. It is weighing on our populace and it is starting to weigh very significantly on our soldiers. Some of our soldiers are actually brave enough to say, "Why is it always us that has to take the sharp edge?"
I will now ask my question. As a resultat of his life and his experience, does Senator Dallaire he see parallels here? Are there lessons that we should learn from the history that he obviously knows so well and that we could bring to bear on the situation that we and the U.S. are facing right now?
Senator Dallaire: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I will try to do what my Marine Corps friends have taught me — that is power talk, be succinct.
The American Civil War, although not so much in trenches, saw the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of troops in open areas clustered together in attrition warfare. World War I was a catastrophic use of human force against new machinery. Films like All Quiet on the Western Front and Gallipoli are excellent examples of that wastage.
One lesson was learned by Mackenzie King, who, on April 6, 1939, interestingly enough, said that Canadians would no longer go in an expeditionary force to fight wars overseas. On September 10 of that same year, we were mobilizing 30,000 troops to cross, and by Christmas over 60,000 had already been overseas. Ultimately, one million Canadians — one fifth of the male population that could bear arms — were committed to this war.
World War II was the continuum of the classic warfare of attrition, but with more mechanization, although the scale was vast. It was a world war and the numbers were exceptionally high. The Europeans paid incredible prices. The French lost two million in World War I and were substantially defeated outright in World War II.
In Korea, we put in 25,000 and lost about 600. However, the Cold War had us lined up in order to be prepared to absorb massive amounts of casualties. We had millions of troops in the field there. When we went to the Gulf War, one of the questions asked of the Canadian army was this: If we commit, what should it be? We said a division of 12,000. The second question was: How many casualties? Because we expected Saddam Hussein to use chemical warfare, we expected 8,000 casualties in just that operation. Subsequently, we only sent a couple hundred in a medical structure. We have moved in attrition warfare to different scales. In the Gulf War, we saw 600,000 allied forces, and about 135 were killed, of which nearly half were fratricide.
To be succinct, as we move into the new era, we are no longer in classic warfare of attrition where you have grand armies facing each other and beating each other up, with the population on the periphery. We saw only the American-led coalition in 2003 that had some of that. What we see now is war that is intrinsic to the civilian population. The population is now an instrument of war. The vast casualties in conflict now are in the civilian population.
One of the instruments to create power is horror, so you have massacres and genocide, and you have rape. Rape is now an instrument of war to create fear that gives the ability to control the vast populations. The numbers of actual soldiers now dying and injured in operations is infinitesimal, if I can use that term, relatively speaking to the era we speak of.
There are some lessons. One of the horrific lessons not being learned is that, if we have conflict because of extremism, and if that extremism is pushed to the extent where it does not believe in any of the laws of armed conflict, any of the humanitarian laws, then people will die. Right now, we are seeing hundreds of thousands of civilians dying because of non-military structures abusing all the possible elements of humanity to establish their power base, and so on.
It is, to me, a great significance for a middle power like us to pay in dollars, in sweat, in fear, in blood, to be able to assist hundreds of thousands of other human beings who are now the prey of some of these irregular forces that exist in the world today.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I should like to bring to your attention that I was at Vimy Ridge and inspected the monument. I was part of the contingent that went to France to bring back the Unknown Soldier. I was honoured to do so.
When I inspected Vimy Ridge, I had not realized that when Adolf Hitler got to Vimy Ridge, burning everything in sight, he said, "Stop. Leave that alone."
I have yet to see a nicer monument commemorating a war than that of Vimy Ridge. I have been to Moscow and Washington, yet Vimy Ridge stands out in my mind.
The honourable senator mentioned that there was a drainage problem, I believe, that caused the limestone to wear down, and that they had to purchase new stone in Croatia. My parents are from Croatia, so that stood out in my mind.
The honourable senator told us that they purchased enough stone for more repairs in the future. Can he tell us whether that stone is stored in the area?
The Hon. the Speaker: This is the end of Senator Mahovlich's time. If you wish to ask Senator Mahovlich a question, you may do so.
Senator Dallaire: Would the honourable senator be interested in what we are doing to preserve the monument into the future?
Senator Di Nino: The answer is yes.
Senator Mahovlich: Yes.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you very much. The quarry from which the limestone comes was a battle zone during the last conflict in ex-Yugoslavia. The quarry, as we looked at it, was starting to run out of that same stone, which is a very pure stone. In order to get enough of it, you must order a lot to ensure that you get the slabs you need. It was decided then that, in order not to put the future at risk, we would quarry enough for an equivalent restoration in the future. That material is being warehoused — I do not know exactly where — but we will be warehousing it as part of this project because there is just enough money to do it.
If I may, because of your statement, I wish to respond to the fact that it is of enormous significance to me that, in the second inauguration, Veterans Canada relaunch Vimy Ridge inside this country. It is way over there. There must be a way to bring Vimy Ridge alive in this country, to make it one of those components of our history that is alive, and shows that we are prepared to make sacrifices, even terrible ones, in order to advance human rights and the future of democracy.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are there further questions or comments on Senator Mahovlich's statement? Is there further debate on this inquiry?
On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.
Committee Authorized to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate
Hon. Maria Chaput: Pursuant to notice of October 24, 2006, I move:
That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages be authorized to meet on November 14 and 15, 2006, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I have a question for the committee chair.
Why does the committee wish to sit during a period of adjournment? Were the budgetary aspects not already approved by the Senate?
Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, the Official Languages Committee has been strongly encouraged to travel together during the break, given that our colleagues from the other party are fewer in numbers. This was planned in the approved budget. We must travel to Vancouver to address two main issues: the relocation of the tourism offices and the use of French at Olympics.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, October 26, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.