PARLIAMENT of CANADA
Home Parliamentary Business Senators and Members About Parliament Visitor Information Employment
Print Format
 

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 45

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Speaker pro tempore


 

THE SENATE

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Tourism Month in Prince Edward Island

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, this is the time of year when many Canadians look forward to enjoying the summer months, taking holidays and taking part in more leisure activities. It is also a time of the year when many tourism businesses prepare for another season.

This is certainly true in Prince Edward Island. Every year, the province attracts more than a million visitors from around the world. They come to enjoy our peaceful, pastoral environment; our beaches; our rich culture and heritage; and the warm hospitality of our people. That is why I am pleased to note the government of Prince Edward Island has designated June as Tourism Month in the province. This designation recognizes the tremendous importance of tourism to our economy and to the quality of life of Islanders.

The Prince Edward Island tourism industry represents 7 per cent of the province's gross domestic product and employs more than 7,500 people. As one of the province's leading industries, tourism benefits all Islanders through the jobs and other economic spin-offs it creates. It makes a major contribution to the services and amenities enjoyed by both Islanders and visitors.

Perhaps as important, tourism provides to the rest of the world a showcase for the people, places and products of Prince Edward Island. Visitors learn more about their country and one another. International visitors experience the richness of Canada's quality of life and its robust standard of living. Travel and tourism enrich and enhance all our lives and contribute to greater goodwill and understanding towards one another.

I extend an invitation to everyone to come and visit Prince Edward Island this summer. Please join with me in wishing Prince Edward Island and all Canadian tourism operators a successful and satisfying 2010 tourism season.

[Translation]

Canada-China Relations

Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, following bilateral discussions with Hu Jintao, President of China, during the G20 summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed Canada's commitment to strengthening our relationship with China.

Before attending the summit, President Hu Jintao was on a state visit to Canada, his second in five years as head of state. During the Chinese president's visit, the two parties confirmed their commitment to developing the strategic Canada-China partnership. They agreed to work together to boost bilateral trade to $60 billion by 2015. China also announced that Canada will be the first country affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy to regain gradual access for its beef to China's market.

These recently signed agreements and the hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens visiting Canada's Expo 2010 pavilion in Shanghai are signs that relations between our two countries are flourishing. Chinese leaders have also announced that a new Chinese cultural centre will be built in Canada.

Following the Canada-China Joint Statement issued in December 2009, Prime Minister Harper and President Hu Jintao witnessed the signing of several memoranda of understanding designed to strengthen bilateral relations.

These include a memorandum of understanding to facilitate group travel from China to Canada, which confirms Canada's approved destination status; a memorandum of understanding to form an environmental protection and energy conservation working group that will focus on commercial cooperation in the environment and clean energy sector; and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in combating crime.

In the area of commerce, the leaders instructed officials to explore means of deepening the Canada-China economic partnership by establishing a working group reporting to the joint economic and trade committee.

In the area of culture, Prime Minister Harper expressed Canada's satisfaction with the negotiations that will soon begin to secure the long-term loan of a pair of giant pandas to Canada and with the world-famous terracotta warriors exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum that began on June 26.

This important visit by President Hu Jintao confirmed that the Canada-China strategic partnership is gaining momentum, as we mark 40 years of diplomatic relations with that great country and chart a course for the future.

[English]

2010 Canada 55+ Games

Hon. Bob Runciman: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to an event of considerable importance to Eastern Ontario, which will take place August 23-28 in my hometown of Brockville. I refer to the 2010 Canada 55+ Games, which are held every two years. These games allow older athletes to compete and, even more important, they promote good health and physical fitness for older Canadians.

I am proud to serve as Honourary Chair of the 2010 Canada 55+ Games and to welcome Canadians from coast to coast to coast to the beautiful Thousand Islands. Summer is when the Thousand Islands are at their most beautiful. If honourable senators have not experienced the islands, this is your opportunity.

I look forward to carrying the game's torch on the first leg of its 60-kilometre journey from Gananoque to Brockville, and to joining the parade of athletes during the opening ceremonies. During the competition, some 2,000 athletes will compete in 19 events — everything from contract bridge to hockey, and from horseshoes to track and field, in venues located in Brockville, Gananoque, Smiths Falls, Prescott and Ivy Lea.

To learn more about the Canada 55+ Games, visit the website www.Brockville2010.ca. There, honourable senators will learn about the games, as well as the beautiful city that I call home.

To understand what the Canada 55+ games are all about, one must set aside the notion that competition and results are the most important things. These games focus on fellowship and on promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Honourable senators, there are many reasons to promote physical fitness and healthy living, and our health is the primary determinant of quality of life. In an era when health care gobbles up an ever increasing share of government spending — close to half of every dollar spent by provincial governments goes to health care — it is imperative that those of us in government take every opportunity to promote good health.

The Canada 55+ Games demonstrate that physical fitness and achievement are not the sole preserve of the young; that older people can enjoy the thrill of athletic competition, and that they can reap the benefits of a longer, fuller and healthier life through the lifestyle choices they make.

(1410)

Security Measures at G20 Summit in Toronto

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I was looking over the international media reports about the G20 summit, and there have been mixed reviews. Time will tell whether the initiatives will be successful or whether it is just rhetoric, but I know the Prime Minister's intention was to create a consensus among the countries. We will see how all of that works.

However, I do not want to talk about what happened in the meeting, but what happened in the street. I strongly object to the decision of the government that resulted in the shutdown of my city. People and businesses were exposed to disruption — not just for the day or for the weekend, but for an entire week — and a condition was created where violence occurred in our downtown core while security forces were spending their time and attention trying to protect the fence.

Senator Tkachuk: Partisan, partisan.

Senator Eggleton: I am talking about my city and I am talking about the fact that it was shut down and a fortress was created. This was the wrong thing to do.

I hope that if events such as the G8 and G20 summits are to come to Canada again, that the government will ensure the meetings are not held in the downtown cores of our cities. Face-to-face meetings are a good idea but they should be held in a place like Kananaskis or the United Nations or a military base. Do not create the kind of conditions — and at a cost of over $1 billion — that were created in the downtown of my city this last week.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

Ms. Marie-Hélène Dubé

Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, this afternoon I will be presenting the second part of Marie-Hélène Dubé's petition calling on Parliament to amend the Employment Insurance Act in order to increase the number of weeks of benefits for individuals with a serious illness.

On April 13, the first part of this petition was presented in the House of Commons. A total of 62,766 signatures were collected in support of that petition. Today, 237,303 new signatures are being presented in this chamber for a grand total of 300,069 people who have signed Ms. Dubé's petition to date. I would like to acknowledge Ms. Dubé's presence in the gallery.

The current Employment Insurance Act offers 15 weeks of sickness benefits. This provision has not been amended since 1972, which was 38 years ago. People with a serious illness use up these weeks of benefits quickly and far too often end up without any income. Ms. Dubé has experienced this herself, having gone through three bouts of cancer. It was her own experience that motivated her to take on this fight to change the Employment Insurance Act.

Since 2006, our government has adopted a number of measures to improve employment insurance, including the following: an extra five weeks of regular benefits were added and more than 500,000 Canadians have used them; the 2010 budget has extended by one year the improved version of the work-sharing program, which currently protects the jobs of 150,000 Canadians; unprecedented investments in training were made in order to help unemployed Canadians return to work — whether or not they were eligible for employment insurance — for a total of $1.5 billion over two years to help 150,000 Canadians in 2009-10; an additional 5 to 20 weeks of employment insurance benefits were made available to long-tenured workers who paid into EI for many years and have difficulty finding new jobs; a total of 2.6 million self-employed workers gained voluntary access to special benefits, which has been a long-standing demand; the 2010 budget has made it easier for relatives of crime victims to access sickness benefits; for the first time ever, 2.6 million self-employed workers in Canada have access to sickness and compassionate care benefits under the employment insurance program; and in 2006, our government expanded the number of family members and others who can receive compassionate care benefits.

Although these are all clearly excellent measures, the request by Ms. Dubé and the petitioners definitely deserves to be taken into consideration.

Honourable senators, on behalf of 300,000 individuals, I ask that we listen to their request to review the law in order to find a just, fair and compassionate solution.

[English]

Rabbi Erwin Schild, C.M.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, 70 years ago, in the summer of 1940, three ships brought Axis prisoners of war to Canada along with some 2,300 refugees, most of them Jewish. All, including the refugees, were interned as enemies of the nation.

A young boy, Erwin Schild, was among them. Now a highly respected rabbi, he described his experience in his book, The Very Narrow Bridge, and I quote:

It could only have happened at that time and only in a world that allowed the Holocaust to happen. It could have happened only because anti-Semitism was widespread and because the world did not bother to understand Jews. . . . Anti-Semitism rubbed salt into our wounded feelings.

Canadian officers in charge made no secret of the fact that they would have vastly preferred to have dealt with the Nazis or patriotic Germans, whom they deemed superior to the whining, complaining and demanding Jewish rabble. The ultimate insult, the ultimate failure to comprehend the Jew, was the remark a camp commandant made to the effect that these despicable Jews in his charge did not even possess the decency to love their country, Germany, but treasonably supported the Allied cause, or at least pretended to! That still hurts.

To intern Jews as Germans and as suspected collaborators with Nazis was an absurdity. No Jew could possibly have any loyalty to the German cause or hope for a German victory. For Jews, a German victory meant certain death. Kafka could not have dreamt up a more grotesque absurdity. . . .

When I was a prisoner in Dachau, I made a vow: If I should get out alive. . . . I would never allow any future adversity to depress or defeat me. . . . I have remained true to that vow to this day.

I hold no grudge against the British. They saved my life. . . . Though painful, my experience of life in internment had some positive value. Above all, it brought me to Canada — all expenses paid!!

Canada has more than compensated me for the initial rejection and the hostile indifference to my overtures. The opportunities she eventually offered me have engendered in me a "true patriots' love" for her. I sing our national anthem always with deep feeling and often with tears welling up in my eyes: to keep Canada glorious, free and united, I gladly continue to stand on guard!

Honourable senators, I note that none of the interned refugees, which include many well-known and respected Canadians, has ever asked for an apology or compensation of any kind. To my friend, Rabbi Schild, I say it will always be an honour to stand beside you on guard for a great country, Canada; and to all of us I say, lest we forget.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Study on Current State and Future of Energy Sector

Seventh Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Tabled

Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. This is an interim report on our examination of the current state and future of Canada's energy sector, including alternative energy, entitled: Attention Canada! Preparing for our Energy Future.

(On motion of Senator Angus, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[English]

World Economic Crisis

Report Tabled

Leave having been given to revert to Tabling of Documents:

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, some weeks back, I introduced an inquiry about the economic crisis that this world has been dealing with, which was taken from a report that I had prepared in my Senate capacity, called How Greed Becomes Creed: The Formalization of the Herd Mentality.

I would like permission to table that report in both official languages.

(1420)

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Di Nino: Thank you, honourable senators.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance Benefits

Presentation of Petition

Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a petition from residents of Canada, but mainly Quebec, calling for amendments to the employment insurance program for persons with serious illnesses. This petition, which was instigated by Marie-Hélène Dubé of Laval, is co-signed by 237,303 people.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Heritage

Funding for Katimavik

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As we all know, Katimavik is a fantastic youth program. It engages young people aged 17 to 21 in volunteer service. It gives them the opportunity to travel to other parts of the country, to get to know their fellow Canadians, and to work on local projects in their adoptive communities.

Unfortunately, my home province of Prince Edward Island is losing nearly all of its Katimavik projects. Faced with a $5 million funding cut from the federal government, three of four Katimavik projects in Prince Edward Island are shutting down. In fact, 6 out of 17 projects in Atlantic Canada are being cut in all.

Why would this government shut down projects of Katimavik that assist communities and charity groups, and help shape the leaders of tomorrow?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The government provided stable funding to Katimavik, which was their request. Any decisions with regard to Katimavik programs are made by that organization and not the government. This decision to provide stable funding was at the request of Katimavik.

Last October, the government provided stable, three-year funding, and that is something Katimavik wanted. That decision followed many months of discussion between Heritage Canada, Minister Moore and officials at Katimavik.

At the time, Jean-Guy Bigeau, Executive Director of Katimavik said:

We are very pleased to have secured a long-term partnership with the government of Canada. Such an investment in our national volunteer service program will help provide thousands of youth the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way to nation-building while providing useful community service in hundreds of communities across the country. Engaging youth in full-time volunteer service can have a very profound effect especially in light of the current economic crisis. This funding will enable thousands of Canadians to benefit from Katimavik in the years ahead.

I repeat, honourable senators, Katimavik makes its program decisions; they are not made by the government.

Senator Callbeck: I realize Katimavik makes its own decisions. However, I have been told that Katimavik was given two options: it could maintain their current level and maybe lose it all next year; or it could take a drastic cut and get three years of stable funding. Why did the government make Katimavik choose between two such undesirable choices?

Senator LeBreton: I hate to disappoint the honourable senator, but when she says she has been "told," that is hearsay.

Many negotiations went on between Katimavik and Heritage Canada. Minister Moore is very supportive of Katimavik, and Katimavik clearly indicated that its problem in the past was it only had funding from year to year. Katimavik wanted stable three-year funding. The government agreed to that and, therefore, as the executive director stated, Katimavik was able to properly plan its programs over a longer period than year to year.

In addition to the money that the government has invested in Katimavik, our government last year also announced $60 million for youth programs over the next three years, including the renewed and stable funding for Katimavik and the creation of a new program called Youth Take Charge.

While I cannot answer for Katimavik, I am sure, like any other organization, there have been many requests to them for funding. They take into account all of the programs for which funding is requested and it is their decision. The government does not in any way interfere with their decisions.

Senator Callbeck: I am sure Katimavik wanted stable funding, but they did not want a drastic cut in funding. My question is: Why did the government cut funding to Katimavik?

Senator LeBreton: The government provided stable three-year funding. That is what Katimavik asked for; that is what we gave them. The fact is, when one provides stable funding and gives them that kind of money — $45 million over three years — that is hardly a cut. I remember the discussions. I will not share with honourable senators my personal view of Katimavik. I will take the government's position.

The fact is I support the government's position, and I support what Minister Moore did, which was to work with the people at Katimavik, including members in the other place who are well known to most of us and who have been involved with Katimavik in the past. Katimavik wanted stable, three-year funding, the government agreed, and that is exactly what the organization got.

(1430)

[Translation]

International Cooperation

Financial Aid for Haiti

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We learned a week ago from a U.S. Senate report that the reconstruction in Haiti following the earthquakes in January is not progressing as anticipated, supposedly because of a lack of leadership, disagreements between donors and general disorganization.

The rain and hurricane season has begun. We all know the humanitarian and logistical problems that flooding will bring. Does the Government of Canada have the necessary flexibility to take direct action in Haiti, or is it required to coordinate its efforts through a group of donor countries?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator. I am aware of the report from the United States. I cannot answer for what the authors' views are or what they are saying.

On March 31, Minister Oda announced at the international donors' conference on Haiti in New York that Canada pledged $400 million over two years. This more than doubles our current annual support to Haiti, and this commitment is above the current five-year commitment of $550 million that ends in 2011.

As honourable senators know, thanks to the generosity of Canadians, $220 million in donations are eligible for matching funds through the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. About half the matching funds are included in Canada's $400 million pledge. The other half is being used to support NGOs and institutions.

Canada was the first country to make all payments required to cancel the debt Haiti owes to all international financial institutions, and we cancelled the debt that Haiti owes Canada even before the earthquake.

We all share in the outstanding news that Her Excellency, the Governor General Michaëlle Jean, when she leaves her post as the Governor General, will be taking up an important position with specific responsibility for Haiti. We should all do everything we can to support her in that role.

[Translation]

Senator Losier-Cool: I would like to thank the leader for her response and Minister Oda for her announcement, but the U.S. Senate report suggests that as little as two per cent of the $5.3 billion in aid pledged by donor countries has actually reached Haiti.

According to today's Associated Press report, the UN Secretary-General said that only one per cent of the $5.3 billion promised to Haiti has been delivered. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us how much of the $220 million pledged by Canadians and of the government's promised aid has actually been delivered to Haiti?

Yesterday, I paid close attention to the committee report on Bill C-45, and I am trying to calculate how much money has been sent to Haiti for reconstruction.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: According to the reports that all governments have received, the situation in Haiti has taken some time to properly coordinate. I can only answer for the commitment of the government, honourable senators.

I will take the question as notice and ask my colleague, the Honourable Beverley Oda, if she can provide an update on how Canada's large commitment to Haiti is being managed and the degree to which it has actually made its way into Haiti.

[Translation]

Senator Losier-Cool: I thank the government leader and look forward to the answer.

Last week, we learned that Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean is to become a UNESCO special envoy to Haiti. In light of the fact that on May 6, our chamber unanimously passed a motion recommending that Haitians be involved in the reconstruction of their country, does the Government of Canada intend to give Ms. Jean privileged access enabling her to intervene, particularly given that she will be in Ottawa near decision makers? What authority will Ms. Jean have?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: The question is premature, as Madame Jean is still carrying on her important duties as our Governor General.

Honourable senators, it is important to acknowledge that the Canadian government and the Canadian people were the first to respond. We have been applauded worldwide for our efforts in Haiti. Certainly, people I know who live in Haiti and have been in Haiti since the earthquake have told me about the high level of visibility and the great work done by Canadians there: NGOs, the military, churches and other organizations. As I pointed out earlier, Canada was the first to retire Haiti's debt, even before the earthquake.

[Translation]

Heritage

Funding for Katimavik

Hon. Jean Lapointe: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have nothing against aid for Haiti, on the contrary. I have lots of sympathy for the Haitians. Nonetheless, have you ever attended a Katimavik meeting?

[English]

Has the leader ever been to a Katimavik meeting?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The honourable senator has returned to the subject of Katimavik. This is not a supplementary question, but I will answer it.

I am well aware of the activities of Katimavik. I have a second cousin who participated in that program. This second cousin was the grandson of the former Senator Al Graham. He found the program valuable, and I am well aware of Katimavik.

[Translation]

Senator Lapointe: I was their sponsor and I was always the one to request a meeting room for Katimavik. I attended every meeting I could. I think I missed no more than two meetings in eight years. I sincerely think that Katimavik is the most wonderful youth movement in Canada. Young Canadians from the four corners of the country come to meet with members of Parliament and ministers — those who make the effort — and they spread the good news throughout the world about what they see, hear and understand here. In my opinion, the cuts to Katimavik are outrageous and unfair.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: The senator's statement is quite incorrect, honourable senators. Obviously there is much evidence of the benefits of Katimavik — for those who participate in it and those who support it, how young people benefit, how the country benefits, and how the world community benefits.

The government has not slashed funding. We have done exactly what Katimavik asked us to do, and that was provide them with stable three-year funding so they were not put in the position of dealing with a pot of money given to them every year. We did what they asked. We provided stable three-year funding so that Katimavik could do the good work that the honourable senator has just mentioned.

A Katimavik press release states:

Such new programming coupled with a multi-year funding will allow Katimavik to expand the program to an even greater number of communities across the country.

What we did as a government was what Katimavik wanted, which is to enable them to do some long-range planning. The stable funding has allowed them to do that, and that has been acknowledged by Katimavik.

Agriculture

Farming Crisis in Saskatchewan

Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Early summer was one of the toughest on record for those of us who call Saskatchewan home. I am happy to see that roads are being repaired and that the sun is shining in the Prairies today, but we cannot forget the plight of farmers who are extremely concerned about their crops for this year.

(1440)

Honourable senators, last week I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate for the government's plan for assistance to Western grain producers who are affected by the heavy rains and flooding. We have not received a response from the government and meanwhile, farmers are left to wonder if they will get help, how much it will be and when they will get it.

I ask the leader once again: Will the government commit to telling farmers what help they can expect before the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers' meeting in Saskatoon on July 6?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The honourable senator is quite right; I did take the question as notice because a situation like this, as the honourable senator well knows, takes some time to assess, and obviously this is an ongoing situation.

Honourable senators, the farmers in Saskatchewan are fortunate to have a credible, sympathetic and hands-on spokesperson in the person of the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Gerry Ritz. He has been out in the field and in the fields, literally, meeting with farmers and all those affected by the floods. I have great faith that Minister Ritz and his officials will provide a detailed and fulsome response.

Honourable senators, as the honourable senator mentioned, there is a meeting of ministers early next week. We can all take great faith in the fact that we have a minister who is always working for farmers. It really helps that our Minister of Agriculture was a farmer. Minister Ritz tends to bring about action on issues of which other people might not be so cognizant. One example of the minister's hard work was his ability to secure market access to China for beef and tallow.

Senator Peterson: Honourable senators, I have no doubt that we will receive a long report, but timing is critical in this regard. The provincial government has opened the door to sharing costs on this issue, but cannot do anything until some direction from the federal government is forthcoming.

I hope the leader can assure us that the government will rise to the challenge and deal with this matter in a timely fashion.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not think one can find an example, ever, where a Conservative government has not risen to a challenge in aid of our farmers.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

Interpretation Services at Press Conferences of the G8 and G20 Summits

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Madam Leader, we have learned that no interpretation service was provided during the press conferences of foreign leaders at the G8 and G20 summits.

The promotion of dialogue between delegates and healthy and transparent communication are among the objectives of these summits. It is therefore utterly unimaginable and unjustifiable that no interpretation service was provided during the foreign leaders' press conferences. What good are the leaders' speeches if journalists and the general public cannot understand them? Some Canadian journalists were furious at not being able to understand what the G8 leaders were saying, especially in the case of President Sarkozy, who spoke in one of Canada's two official languages.

How can you justify the absence of interpreters at the foreign leaders' press conferences?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I had not heard of this incident. I was watching one of the leaders on CBC. This leader was speaking in French and there was no interpretation. I went to the CTV network and indeed to CPAC, and they were both providing interpretation.

Honourable senators, I do not know what happened with the CBC, but I switched networks and was getting interpretation in English and French. I do not believe this is the case, though obviously CBC had a problem, because I witnessed it myself. If the honourable senator would provide me with more information on where this situation originated, I will be happy to make inquiries.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: I thank the leader, however I was not referring to a television station but to the press conferences.

The government spent almost $1 billion to provide security for the leaders and their delegations, which prevented the public from approaching them. However, for lack of interpretation services, the government failed to facilitate communication between the leaders and the press and, therefore, the public.

How does the government explain this lack of transparency and accountability during international summits?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this is the first I have heard of the situation. Obviously, the government always provides services in both of our official languages. I will make inquiries with the organizers and the appropriate people at Foreign Affairs to determine if there was a breakdown in equipment. I will take the question as notice.

National Parole Board

Cost of Pardons

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, the leader may recall that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs heard witnesses last week on Bill C-23A. Their testimony was most enlightening, as is always the case when we hear from witnesses.

Some of the most interesting information came from the Chair of the National Parole Board, Mr. Cenaiko, who drew to our attention the fact that the government has apparently announced that it plans to go to full cost recovery for the cost of getting a pardon. At the moment, applicants are charged $50 for a pardon. Full cost recovery would be more like $250 or maybe even $500. I have double-checked the blues, and in fact it is a little ambiguous; however, either way, it is a substantial amount of money for people of modest means.

I remind honourable senators that most pardons are not granted for what we think of as the most heinous offences. Many pardons are granted for summary offences, for example. For many people of modest means, some of them living on social assistance, getting that pardon is their key to building a better life. There are jobs they cannot get if they do not have the pardon. They cannot be bonded, for example.

My question to the leader is as follows: Has the government actually decided that no matter the circumstances, it will proceed with a full cost recovery? Has the government figured out how many people will simply be unable to come up with that kind of money and hence not receive pardons that they would otherwise be entitled to?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. Obviously, most services of the government, we would hope, would be on a full cost recovery basis. If I were an individual in such a position and wanting to make an application for a pardon, as long as the cost was reasonable and on a cost-recovery basis, I am certain I would work hard to save enough money to pay for a document that would allow me to integrate myself fully into society.

(1450)

Honourable senators, anyone who commits a crime and serves their time can seek a pardon to return to society. It does not appear to cost an exorbitant amount of money but I will obtain the details of the policy from the National Parole Board.

Senator Fraser: Thank you, minister. This policy was identified as a policy of government that the National Parole Board will dutifully implement when instructed to do so. To most of us, $250 might not sound like much money because we have good, well-paying jobs. It is a lot of money, and $500 is even more money, to people at the bottom end of the scale. I ask the leader to bear in mind when she is making her inquiries that there is an erroneous public perception that no matter how awful the crime, almost everyone in this country who has a criminal record, except a murderer who receives a life sentence, receives a pardon. That is not true. Only about 10 per cent of Canadians with criminal records have pardons. They are self-selecting. They do not apply for a pardon unless they think there is a good chance they will receive it. Even when they apply, about 25 per cent of those who apply are rejected. I repeat that we heard testimony that full cost recovery will damage the capacity of some people to be reintegrated properly and fully into society. Perhaps it might be worth examining whether, as is the case with some other government programs, this cost-recovery policy could be means tested.

Senator LeBreton: There was a time in my life when $250 or $500 was a lot of money. Fortunately, I did not commit a crime and, therefore, did not have to use my $250 or $500 to seek a pardon. Having said that, I will seek clarification on the policy.

[Translation]

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a delayed response to an oral question raised by the Honourable Senator Peterson on June 2, 2010, concerning Canada Post, rural post offices.

Canada Post

Rural Post Offices

(Response to question raised by Hon. Robert W. Peterson on June 2, 2010)

The Government of Canada established the Canadian Postal Service Charter, calling for Canada Post to provide postal services Canadians can count on, maintain rural service, and protect Canadians' mail.

The Service Charter recognizes that the provision of postal services to rural regions of the country is an integral part of Canada Post's universal service. As a result, the moratorium on the closure of rural post offices has been maintained. Canada Post has indicated that its rural post offices are an essential part its network — and Canada Post has no plans to close rural post-offices.

The Service Charter also recognizes that exceptional circumstances may affect the operation of small rural post offices. Unfortunately, events such as retirements, illnesses, deaths or fires may occur, and it is unavoidable that service at such a rural post office will be impacted. Canada Post has established a Community Outreach process to address these situations. The approach is to consult with community leaders and to find practical solutions that are satisfactory to the community and its needs.

With regard to the resignation of the postal dealer operating the Post Office in Elbow, Saskatchewan, Canada Post has indicated that it continues to work with the community to find a satisfactory solution for the ongoing postal needs of the municipality.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 27(1), I wish to inform the Senate that when we proceed to Government Business, the Senate will address the items in the following order: third reading of Bill C-44; third reading of Bill C-45; second reading of Bill C-40; third reading of Bill S-6; and third reading of Bill S-4, followed by the other items as they appear on the Order Paper.

[English]

Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2010-11

Third Reading

Hon. Irving Gerstein moved third reading of Bill C-44, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011.

He said: Honourable senators, I spoke at second reading of Bill C-44 only yesterday. I do not want to be accused of belabouring the point. However, Senator Mercer, when it comes to debating the expenditure of taxpayers' money, I would rather be redundant than remiss.

Honourable senators, when we debate appropriation bills in this place, we commonly say that the government seeks Parliament's approval to spend certain sums of money on certain items. However, as honourable senators well know, it is more accurate to say that appropriation bills require Canadian taxpayers — workers, families and consumers, rich and poor, young and old — to spend their money on the items described in the bill. That, honourable senators, casts our deliberations in a very different light.

If the money were Parliament's or the government's to spend, and if we had a big self-replenishing money pot in a special vault under the Peace Tower, our choices would be easy. We would buy the best of everything for Canadians. However, it is not that easy. When we debate an appropriation bill, we are debating whether compelling Canadians to spend their money on the priorities described in the bill is a good deal for them.

When it comes to the bill before us, Bill C-44, I strongly believe the answer is yes. Our Conservative government has made extraordinary efforts from the time it was first elected four years ago, and most especially since the onset of the global recession almost two years ago, to ensure that taxpayers' money is invested where it will bring the greatest direct benefits to Canadians.

The government is leading by example and tightening its own belt. We have frozen departmental operating costs and the salaries of parliamentarians. We have made our spending decisions more transparent by making estimates more readable. We have undertaken comprehensive reviews of government programs and assets to identify areas of potential savings. At the same time, we have focused spending in areas that are most crucial to the well-being of Canadians.

Those priorities are reflected in the bill before us. They include measures related to the second and final year of Canada's Economic Action Plan to ensure that Canada's economy continues to lead the developed world out of the global recession. Bill C-44 will also authorize spending on crucial military equipment, social housing and First Nations infrastructure, to name a few of the largest items.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Main Estimates 2010-2011 describe $259 billion in expenditures. Most of that amount, $165 billion, is authorized by statutes already approved by Parliament. Another $27.3 billion was approved as interim supply in March. That leaves $69 billion to be approved through Bill C-44.

Honourable senators, this amount is no small figure. Indeed, it is so large as to be nearly incomprehensible to individual Canadian taxpayers and families. For most Canadians, as Senator Fraser remarked, hundreds of dollars are significant; thousands weigh heavily; tens of thousands can be the difference between prosperity and ruin; hundreds of thousands separate the very rich from the very poor; and millions are mere fantasy. When we speak of billions or tens of billions, eyes glaze over. It is difficult for humans to grasp the importance of numbers that are beyond our personal experience. This is true of the numbers in appropriation bills like those before us today.

It is perhaps our most vital task as parliamentarians to assess what the billions of dollars described in these bills mean for Canadians. I thank all honourable senators for the attention they give to this most important task.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise at third reading of Bill C-44, a supply bill, which received second reading yesterday. Normally at that stage, we refer a bill to committee for study but that had been done previously on Bill C-44. The report from the study has been debated in this chamber and adopted, honourable senators.

(1500)

I will read from section 2 of Bill C-44:

From and out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, there may be paid and applied a sum not exceeding in the whole sixty-nine billion . . . towards defraying the several charges and expenses of the federal public administration from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, not otherwise provided for. . . .

When Honourable Senator Gerstein referred to statutory approvals, that is the "not otherwise provided for" expenses referred to.

Honourable senators, this bill is the balance of the Main Estimates. As Senator Gerstein has indicated, we passed an interim supply bill in March. Bill C-44 is the balance of the Main Estimates for this fiscal year and it is in two schedules, which I referred to yesterday. The first schedule is for $65 billion for this fiscal year coming, which we are in, and the balance of $3.9 billion is for schedule 2, companies and agencies that receive funding over a two-year period.

Honourable senators, the total amount is approximately $69 billion. The interim report has been adopted and we have passed second reading. This is third reading of the bill to spend, in voted appropriations, $69 billion.

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

An Hon. Senator: Question!

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed, on division.)

Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2010-11

Third Reading

Hon. Irving Gerstein moved third reading of Bill C-45, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011.

He said: Honourable senators, I will begin today by again thanking Senator Day. I already thanked him yesterday, in my remarks on the report of the committee on Supplementary Estimates (A) for his excellent conduct and leadership as chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Today, I must also thank him for his remarks at the conclusion of the committee's meeting this morning, encouraging honourable senators to attend my speeches this afternoon. I hope he does not end up regretting his kind recommendation.

This morning, I was interested to read in The Globe and Mail an article bearing the headline, "Senate grinds on into the summer."

At first I was pleased that our diligence was being recognized, but then I read on. The article listed all the bills we expect to pass this week and next: all, that is, except two of the most important.

I refer, of course, to the supply bills receiving third reading today: Bill C-44 and Bill C-45. The article mentioned the government's bill to reform the refugee system; it mentioned the government's bill to enhance access to Employment Insurance parental benefits for members of the Canadian Forces; it mentioned the national museum of immigration to be constructed at historic Pier 21 in Halifax; it mentioned many other commendable initiatives by the government; and it even mentioned Bill C-9.

However, honourable senators, it failed to mention the legislation that must be passed this week to make all these excellent measures possible. Appropriation bills are the keystones of all government business, and merit better than the short shrift they received from The Globe and Mail today.

As honourable senators are aware, third reading of supply bills typically follows quickly after second reading. It is worth noting that this quick progress is not because these extremely important bills are rushed through the Senate. On the contrary, the contents of every supply bill are reflected in an estimates document that receives extensive study by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. This study takes place prior to the arrival of the bill in the Senate, ensuring that appropriations receive due diligence and timely passage in accordance with the supply cycle.

Bill C-45 authorizes $3.3 billion in spending, in accordance with Supplementary Estimates (A), for the fiscal year 2010-11. The measures to be funded by this sum include: aviation security enhancements; the procurement of important military equipment; the creation of the Canada media fund; the continuation of the technology cluster initiative by the National Research Council; health and safety upgrades to Canada's nuclear reactors; water treatment facilities for First Nations; continued relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti; and much-needed security for — notwithstanding Senator Eggleton's comments — the hugely successful G8 and G20 summits that have recently concluded.

Honourable senators, in closing, I wish to leave you with one further objection to the article in The Globe and Mail today. I trust I speak on behalf of all senators of this place. The Senate is not, as the headline implied, grinding on into the summer. On the contrary, as I am sure Senator Moore will recognize, it is sailing smoothly into the summer like a well-trimmed and expertly crewed ship, but I suppose that recognition might make too cumbersome a headline.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: I thank Honourable Senator Gerstein for those kind words. I was serious this morning at the Senate Finance Committee when I invited the honourable members of the committee to be in attendance to hear Senator Gerstein's speech this afternoon. Regretfully, looking about, I do not see many members of our committee here, so I assume they opted to proceed with Bill C-9 without Senator Gerstein and me.

Senator Mercer: They knew better.

Senator Day: Honourable senators, these estimates are Supplementary Estimates (A). Having passed $69 billion for the government for main supply for this year, the government is back with another bill for another $3.3 billion in Supplementary Estimates (A). We anticipate two other supplementary estimates in addition to Supplementary Estimates (A).

With Supplementary Estimates (A), we have followed the same procedure we follow with respect to main supply. Normally the bill is referred to the committee after second reading and, in this instance, as we do with other supply bills, our procedure is to deal with them beforehand. This bill received third reading and was adopted in the House of Commons on June 17, which is not that long ago. Prior to that point, we studied the supplementary estimates and prepared a report. We discussed the report yesterday in this chamber. The report has been adopted. The same wording appears in Bill C-45 as in Bill C-44, in that the money will come out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to allow the government and the administration to perform the various tasks allotted to them.

The bill is retroactive to April 1. It is deemed, once passed, to be effective as of April 1. If departments have had to juggle matters waiting for these estimates to be passed, that date allows them the entire fiscal year to sort out all those matters. That is the reason for the retroactivity. Because we have had interesting debates on retroactivity in this chamber in the past, I thought it would be prudent to point out that this bill is a retroactive piece of legislation.

Honourable senators, you are now voting for $3.3 billion for the federal government to perform that which is outlined in the budget.

(1510)

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

(Motion agreed to, on division, and bill read third time and passed.)

[Translation]

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Claude Carignan moved third reading of Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act.

He said: Honourable senators, today we begin third reading of Bill S-6 to repeal section 745.6 of the Criminal Code.

In 1976, when the death penalty was abolished, Parliament added section 745.6 to the Criminal Code. Under the so-called "faint hope clause," a criminal sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years can ask a judge to reduce the waiting time for parole eligibility after serving 15 years in jail. This provision was designed to give some hope to those in jail for life. The Criminal Code also provides that a prisoner whose parole eligibility is not reduced can reapply two years after being turned down the first time and so on until the prisoner has served 23 years in jail.

In other words, a prisoner can go before a judge up to five times to request consideration under section 745.6. This also means that witnesses may have to express their point of view five times, reliving the trauma inflicted by the crime over and over again. Therein lies the true spirit of Bill S-6: giving real protection to victims and their loved ones and strengthening their faith in our criminal justice system.

Honourable senators, Canada has a justice system that works well, but like anything, it could be improved. We must not forget that the penal system is designed to punish criminals, but it should also give the general public, but especially victims, a feeling of fundamental justice and a sense of security.

At the hearings of the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, we had the privilege of hearing from loved ones of individuals who had been kidnapped, raped and murdered. These people were remarkably candid and generous. In agreeing to testify about the horror their children or grandchildren had gone through, these people agreed to once again relive their suffering, in words.

What they came to tell us is that when the justice system, in the form of a judge and jury, imposes a life sentence on a defendant, it is because that person has done something really serious that defies all understanding.

What they came to tell us is that when people in prison take advantage of the "faint hope clause", they reopen the wounds the crime has inflicted on the victims' loved ones, wounds that cannot heal.

What they came to tell us is that this provision of the Criminal Code is extremely hurtful to victims and their loved ones. The committee members were deeply touched by the distress these people suffered both when the crime occurred and later when they had to relive it.

Even before hearing the witnesses, I was convinced that this bill was justified. After hearing Ms. McCuaig and Mr. Teague, I have the firm conviction that as an institution, we must abolish this so-called "faint hope clause" for criminals. If, after hearing a case, a judge feels that a defendant's actions were serious enough to warrant a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years, then as a society we should honour that judgment in order to properly punish extremely reprehensible behaviour and to render justice to the victims and their loved ones, who sadly will never be able to undo what has happened.

A wound eventually scars over. It hurts less, but it stays visible for life. The "faint hope clause" is a sharp knife that keeps on reopening these lifelong wounds.

Honourable senators, it is our responsibility to put a stop to this situation and to provide some comfort to victims and their loved ones. Some will argue against the bill by saying that, since its inception, only 170 inmates have benefited from section 745.6 of the Criminal Code and had the waiting period to apply for parole reduced.

Honourable senators, how many victims are caused by a single murder? One? Two? Three? Ten? The murder of one individual has an effect like dropping a stone in water. It causes a ripple effect that touches many people. We must not focus on that number, 170 inmates, but instead we should imagine the number of victims and their loved ones that this number represents. We are talking about 410, 670, 850, or even 1850 victims and loved ones that have been affected by these applications under the "faint hope clause." It is a very large number and totally inhumane.

The other argument we heard during committee meetings has to do with rehabilitation. We heard about restorative justice, the remarkable progress of certain inmates and the importance of focusing on the social reintegration of those inmates.

These theoretical, sociological and criminological arguments do not diminish the suffering endured by the victims. Is rehabilitation possible? Yes, of course, and it is to be hoped for. However, the punishment must fit the crime. I cannot imagine giving a second chance to someone who has knowingly and purposely taken a person's life, sometimes in a gruesome, sadistic or heinous manner. This section of the Criminal Code sends a message that trivializes the worst crimes and the significance of the sentences imposed.

Imagine the sense of relief for a father and mother at the sentencing hearing when they hear the offender being sentenced to life, only to hear that the offender can apply for a chance at parole after 15 years.

Honourable senators, to those who criticize us for lacking compassion for the inmates who might be making progress in their rehabilitation and who sincerely regret what they have done, I say that there is another provision in the Criminal Code that can apply to those rehabilitated inmates.

In fact, in addition to the existing constitutional power to pardon a criminal, section 749 of the Criminal Code gives the Governor in Council the authority to grant a free or conditional pardon to any person imprisoned under a federal statute. In the past five years, 128 inmates have made such an application: five were granted clemency, seven applications were refused and 148 did not proceed for various reasons.

The beauty of this clause is that it is available in truly exceptional cases, and it does not in any way turn the lives of the victims and their families upside down.

(1520)

You will say, honourable senators, that these are extraordinary and exceptional measures, and you will be right. However, I believe it should be extraordinary and exceptional to release a person who has committed first degree murder after 15 years.

Honourable senators, on behalf of the victims and the general public, I invite you to support this bill and to send a firm and clear message to criminals: a life sentence means 25 full years, and no less!

[English]

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, it will not surprise anyone who sat on the committee to know that I take exactly the opposite position to the honourable senator. In my 26 and a half years of public life, both here in the Senate and in the province of Manitoba, I have never experienced a bill which is so unnecessary, as the present system is working; nor have I experienced a piece of legislation whose only purpose appears to be vengeance.

Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. However, in Bill S-6, the Minister of Justice appears to have subsumed this authority.

In his presentation before our committee, the minister's emphasis was always on punishment, as he stated it, "to protect society by keeping potentially dangerous criminals in custody for a longer period of time." That is a direct quote from the Minister of Justice.

The minister clearly believes that offenders can never reform, that offenders can never be rehabilitated, and that offenders can never be forgiven.

Honourable senators, the facts on the application of the faint hope clause are totally contrary to the position of the minister. Since 1987, when judicial reviews began, only 136 prisoners of the 1,062 eligible have been granted conditional release. That is 16 per cent. Honourable senators, please remember that this conditional release exists until the day they die, since they are receiving a life sentence and can be returned to prison at any time for any violation of that conditional release.

Of the 136 offenders released, none — zero — has ever committed a murder. That is a 100 per cent success rate. Indeed, only two of them have ever been readmitted to a prison for a violent offence. That is a 98.6 per cent success rate. Others have had parole revoked for non-violent offences, from impaired driving, trafficking, a scheduled substance abuse or fraud. That is a 90 per cent success rate.

The success of these offenders is due, I would suggest, to three factors: first, the jury that has heard their case and has either granted them permission to go before the National Parole Board or who has denied them permission to go before the National Parole Board; second, the National Parole Board itself, who has released only those whose future success is assumed and they have assumed absolutely 100 per cent correctly; and third, the offender, him or herself.

Honourable senators, the present law is working. There is, in my view, no need for this law to change.

Clearly, honourable senators, it is very hard on victims' families whenever they must appear before a jury or the National Parole Board. The one aspect of this bill that at first I thought I would be prepared to support was the limitation on that. That was before I heard the testimony that the judge, who first decides whether, in fact, this can even go before a jury, can deny the offender ever applying again. In addition, the jury can impose exactly the same thing. It can say: No, this offender may never apply again.

Therefore, the statement by the Honourable Senator Carignan that individuals can apply up to seven times is patently false. First, no one has ever gotten it in the fifteenth year. The closest, we learned, was someone who got it 16.5 years into his term. To frighten victims in that way is, in fact, a great disservice.

The other issue, of course, is that the government seems to pretend that these victims will never have to go before any parole board. That is also patently false, because there is an eligibility requirement at 25 years. These victims' families, because the victim is dead, have the opportunity to then go when they are older and perhaps less able to plead their case.

The concept that victims will be totally satisfied with this is simply not true. When we amended the bill in 1997, that was supposed to satisfy the victims. It clearly did not satisfy some victims.

However, perhaps the section that causes me the greatest problem is that when we had a victims group appear before us, a group that was sanctioned by the government as a pro-government witness, we learned that they received the magnificent sum of $19,000 a year to support victims.

If we are genuinely concerned about victims, then those victims need to have grief counselling. Those victims need to have support services. This government, while it wants to change legislation, which is entirely unnecessary, is unwilling to support the very people they say want this legislation.

Nor, honourable senators, do they address the issue of the many victims who choose never to go before juries, who choose never to go before the National Parole Board. Why? Because they have accepted the admonition that in order to get on with their lives, they must forgive.

Honourable senators, I cannot support this bill. I was raised to believe that people can be rehabilitated. I was raised to believe that genuine repentance is possible. I was raised to believe that I can forgive. I was raised to believe that hope should exist for every person. These principles have been part of my ethic all of my life, and to support this legislation would be an affront to all that I believe.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, Hear!

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Carignan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dickson, that the bill be read a third time now.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those in favour of the motion please say "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will those opposed to the motion please say "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, in my opinion, the "yeas" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Call in the senators. There will be a 30-minute bell.

(1600)

Motion agreed to on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk MacDonald
Angus Manning
Boisvenu Marshall
Braley Martin
Brazeau Meighen
Brown Mockler
Carignan Nancy Ruth
Champagne Neufeld
Cochrane Nolin
Comeau Ogilvie
Di Nino Oliver
Dickson Patterson
Duffy Plett
Eaton Poirier
Finley Raine
Fortin-Duplessis Rivard
Frum Runciman
Gerstein St. Germain
Housakos Seidman
Johnson Stewart Olsen
Kochhar Tkachuk
Lang Wallace
LeBreton Wallin—46

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Callbeck Mahovlich
Carstairs Massicotte
Chaput McCoy
Cordy Mercer
Cowan Merchant
Dallaire Mitchell
Dawson Moore
Day Munson
De Bané Murray
Downe Pépin
Dyck Peterson
Fairbairn Poy
Fraser Ringuette
Harb Rivest
Hervieux-Payette Robichaud
Hubley Sibbeston
Jaffer Smith
Joyal Tardif
Losier-Cool Watt
Lovelace Nicholas Zimmer—40

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Lapointe—1

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Bill

Third Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the third reading of Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, it will take me time to gather my thoughts on this bill and therefore I move the adjournment once again.

Some Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by Honourable Senator McCoy, seconded by Honourable Senator Poy, that this matter be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will all those in favour please say "yea"?

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will all those opposed please say "nay"?

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, in my opinion, I believe the "nays" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

Hon. Jim Munson: One hour.

Some Hon. Senators: No!

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Do you want half an hour?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, have you reached an agreement?

Senator Di Nino: An hour.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Call in the senators. It is a one-hour bell.

(1700)

Motion negatived on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Callbeck Mahovlich
Carstairs Massicotte
Chaput McCoy
Cordy Merchant
Cowan Mitchell
Dallaire Moore
Day Munson
De Bané Murray
Downe Pépin
Dyck Peterson
Fairbairn Poy
Fraser Ringuette
Harb Robichaud
Hubley Sibbeston
Jaffer Smith
Joyal Tardif
Losier-Cool Watt
Lovelace Nicholas Zimmer—36

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk Manning
Angus Marshall
Boisvenu Martin
Braley Meighen
Brazeau Mockler
Brown Nancy Ruth
Carignan Neufeld
Champagne Nolin
Cochrane Ogilvie
Comeau Oliver
Di Nino Patterson
Dickson Plett
Duffy Poirier
Eaton Raine
Finley Rivard
Fortin-Duplessis Rivest
Frum Runciman
Gerstein St. Germain
Housakos Seidman
Johnson Stewart Olsen
Kochhar Tkachuk
Lang Wallace
LeBreton Wallin—47
MacDonald

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Nil.

(1710)

[Translation]

Royal Assent

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that the following communication had been received:

RIDEAU HALL

June 29, 2010

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marshall Rothstein, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 29th day of June, 2010, at 4:34 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook
Secretary to the Governor General

The Honourable
    The Speaker of the Senate
        Ottawa

Bills Assented to Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years) (Bill C-268, Chapter 3, 2010)

An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (Bill C-2, Chapter 4, 2010)

An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act (Bill C-23A, Chapter 5, 2010)

An Act to amend the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act and another Act in consequence thereof (Bill C-24, Chapter 6, 2010)

An Act to amend the Museums Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Bill C-34, Chapter 7, 2010)

An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act (Bill C-11, Chapter 8, 2010)

An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (Bill C-13, Chapter 9, 2010)

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011 (Bill C-44, Chapter 10, 2010)

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011 (Bill C-45, Chapter 11, 2010)

(1720)

[English]

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Bill

Third Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the third reading of Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I hope Senator McCoy will forgive me if I intrude into these proceedings at this time.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): On a point of order for clarification from the table, Senator McCoy's motion to adjourn the debate on Bill S-4 was negatived. If Senator Fraser speaks now, would it not preclude Senator McCoy from speaking? Would she lose her right to speak at a later date?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: No.

Continuing debate, the Honourable Senator Fraser.

Senator Fraser: The assumption is that Senator McCoy retains her right to speak in the future.

Honourable senators, the matter of matrimonial rights on First Nations reserves is surely one of the most difficult that ever comes before Parliament. It has had to come before Parliament too many times because we try and we fail to get it right.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I ask that the Honourable Senator Fraser be given an opportunity to be heard and that conversations be held outside the chamber.

Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, a few years ago, when Senator Andreychuk was Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, I was a member and participated in a study of this incredibly difficult issue. The testimony we heard only confirmed the extraordinary complexity of what is at stake. Among other things, there are Aboriginal identity; Aboriginal rights in the lay sense, but also Aboriginal constitutional rights; and, also, women's rights.

Like many honourable senators, I feel strong loyalty to the notion that this chamber has a duty to uphold the rights of minorities and disadvantaged groups, including Aboriginal peoples and women. Therein lies the difficulty. It would be so easy to say that we will just do it this way and this one group will win and the other group will have to lump it. It does not work that way in a responsible Parliament. Thus, we come back to this issue again and again; and it is agonizing each time.

No one, not only in Parliament but in Canada, has a greater right to speak to these issues than Senator Lovelace Nicholas.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Fraser: Senator Lovelace Nicholas spoke so movingly yesterday. It is to her that the rest of the country owes its awareness of these terrible questions for the battle that she fought when she must have been very lonely a great deal of the time many years ago. I suspect that then she could hardly have believed that she would be still fighting that battle here today.

When Senator Lovelace Nicholas, of all people, rises to speak against this bill, I suggest that this requires more than ordinary consideration from the rest of us. She knows of what she speaks. She has lived it. Although I did not participate in the committee's current study of Bill S-4, I gather that many members of the committee felt, at the very least, conflicted as they listened to the testimony from Aboriginal peoples about the impact of this proposed legislation.

It is because these matters are so important and go directly to the core of what we believe we are here to do as senators that I am surprised it should not be deemed appropriate to continue debate on this bill. I do not know what the perceived rush is. If we were to pass this bill tonight, nothing would change because this is a Senate government bill and the House of Commons is not sitting. It would simply languish all summer long.

Why should we do that? Honourable senators, at least let us recall that the Senate will continue to sit through next week and quite possibly subsequent days. There is time for more debate on Bill S-4. The one thing I know about matrimonial property rights on reserves is that we should understand what we are doing and it is not easy to understand what we are doing because these matters are so complex. I do not understand why anyone should feel compelled to rush to judgment on a bill as important as this one.

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, we have heard at great length about the importance of this bill. We have heard from speakers from the Aboriginal community who have illustrated for us how careful we must be in dealing with this type of proposed legislation. Therefore, I would like to take the adjournment of the debate in my name.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It has been moved by Honourable Senator Hubley, seconded by Honourable Senator Cowan that further debate be adjourned to the next sitting of the Senate. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

(On motion of Senator Hubley, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Allotment of Time for Debate—Notice of Motion

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, pursuant to rule 39, not more than a further six hours of debate be allocated for the consideration of the third reading stage of Bill S-4, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, as amended;

That when debate comes to an end or when the time provided for the debate has expired, the Speaker shall interrupt, if required, any proceedings then before the Senate and put forthwith and successively every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the said Bill; and

That any recorded vote or votes on the said question shall be taken in accordance with rule 39(4).

[English]

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, Senator Comeau initially said that was a point of order. That was not a point of order. That was a motion for time allocation. To give such a motion without leave of the Senate is not possible under our rules. Honourable senators, on a related matter I ask if Senator Comeau might inform us whether, as required by the Rules of the Senate, he has consulted with this side's leadership — not with me obviously — about time allocation on this matter.

(1730)

Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, both sides of this chamber have discussed this matter. During the discussions we indicated that we wanted a time certain concerning this bill.

We have dealt with this bill at first reading, a lengthy second reading and now at third reading. I indicated to the other side that indeed, we wanted to have a time certain for this bill, but we did not receive the time allocation. Honourable senators, I believe we have met all requirements, as there has been consultation on both sides.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, under rule 39(1):

At any time while the Senate is sitting, the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, from his or her place in the Senate, may state that the representatives of the parties have failed to agree to allocate a specified number of days or hours for consideration of any stage of consideration of any adjourned debate on any item of government business. If so, at that time the said Leader or Deputy Leader may give notice of the terms of a motion to allocate a specified number of hours and days of debate on the said stage of consideration of the said item.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I beg to differ with my honourable colleague that there was consultation in regard to said time. There has been a strong indication on the part of the Deputy Leader of the Government that this bill was important and that the government hoped to see it pass the Senate before we rose for the summer. However, we are sitting next week and possibly the week after, and so I do not see what the rush is about passing this bill today.

Honourable senators, for that reason, I disagree with the statement that there has been consultation concerning a stated time as to when this bill must be passed. The house is still sitting and, therefore, I disagree with the premise stated by the honourable senator.

Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, we did indeed meet, and there were good intentions discussed. We will try our best to get this through next week if possible. I must say that the senator indicated to me that they would try their best. At a certain point their best may be good but it is not good enough. We have a rule.

I probably misspoke a while earlier, in response to Senator Fraser when I rose on a point of order. In fact I should have noted that I rose under rule 39. I have perfectly good reason to be able to get up and move the motion that I moved, or give notice of motion, and so I gave notice. This can be looked at on Tuesday, or tomorrow, depending on how things go today. We will deal with the issue at that time.

Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, my understanding is that Bill S-4 is a private member's bill.

Some Hon. Senators: No, it is a government bill.

Senator Harb: Is the motion placed by Senator Comeau debatable? As a result, will we have a chance to debate it? If so, for how long can we debate that motion?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: This is not a debate. It is notice of motion.

Senator Harb: Yes, when the time comes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate has given notice.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, it is quite clear that the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate can give notice of motion, but an important condition must be met. There must be discussions between the deputy leader on the government side and the deputy leader on the opposition side, or the leader and the leader; and that particular condition does not seem to have been met.

Honourable senators, Senator Comeau said there were discussions. My reading of what he said was yes, we would like to bring this to some closure, but the rule is very clear. The rule says: ". . . have failed to agree to allocate a specified number of days or hours for consideration of any stage. . . ."

That means that Senator Comeau had to have said to Senator Tardif that we will introduce this motion if we cannot agree on a number of hours of debate. Senator Tardif says that discussion never took place.

[Translation]

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, allow me to read the Rules, too. This rule makes the leader or deputy leader responsible for stating, not proving. That is what he did; he respected the rule.

Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, let us not play with the words. The rule says ". . . state that the representatives of the parties have failed to agree to allocate a specified number of . . . hours. . . ."

Suggesting that the statement is not true is no reason to present a notice of motion. Back in the day, before entering the chamber, I would often tell the deputy opposition leader that since we did not agree, we planned to present the motion. Then he would say that we could not agree. So we presented the motion. But there had to be consultation, even if it consisted of just a few words, before presenting the notice of motion and saying what he "may state." But I think that the statement confirmed that there was at least some consultation.

[English]

Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, this is getting ridiculous. The fact that we are having a discussion on the discussion between Senator Tardif and I proves the point that we did not arrive at a decision on allocation of time for this item.

Honourable senators, Senator Carstairs has spoken to it, Senator Robichaud has spoken to it, and Senator Fraser spoke at some length. This indicates that we could not arrive at a decision on time allocation. Therefore, under rule 39, it is exactly what my right is as Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, or the leader could have given notice of the motion.

Honourable senators, it comes back to the point that there was no decision on an allocation of time. It is that simple.

Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I return to the fact that there was general discussion about this bill being passed before the Senate rose for the summer. However, there was never a discussion about time allocation, never a discussion in regard to the fact that if we cannot agree a notice of motion for time allocation would be put forward. That was never discussed, and there has been no consultation into that possibility. As I have indicated before, we are still sitting next week. Next week is another week.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, we are at a bit of an impasse. It seems that the easy way to deal with this would be for the discussion that both sides think should take place under rule 39 and that this notice of motion be given the next time the Senate sits. The government leader and the government deputy leader have full authority to use this rule if they wish to use this rule, but they have certain conditions they need to meet. There is a discussion as to whether those conditions have been met, and it seems to me the clearest way to deal with this would be for Senator Comeau to withdraw his motion, have that discussion, and then reintroduce the motion.

Honourable senators, that could be done today. If Senator Comeau would withdraw now and have this discussion, we would ensure that the rule is followed properly. Senator Comeau may then return to the chamber and introduce his notice of motion. However, Senator Comeau cannot introduce his notice of motion without that discussion having taken place.

(1740)

Senator Comeau: Not only did we have a discussion about three quarters of an hour ago at which we could not arrive at a time certain to deal with this bill, but we also had a discussion last week when Senator Lovelace Nicholas, through Senator Cowan's office, asked if our side would allow an adjournment of the debate on this bill. We said yes at that time so that Senator Lovelace Nicholas could speak to the matter.

This is not coming out of the blue. It has been ongoing for a while. We agreed to allow Senator Lovelace Nicholas to speak.

Today, Senator McCoy suddenly said that she wants to speak on this bill eventually. We had a discussion three quarters of an hour ago. This is not something new coming right out of the blue. There was no time given for when we could expect this bill to receive third reading. Therefore, under rule 39, I have the right to give notice of the motion, which I did.

Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, I think we may be doing something that could set a precedent that might come back to haunt us.

Hon. David Tkachuk: How many times did you move this motion when you were in government?

Senator Fraser: Me? Never.

Senator Tkachuk: Twenty-four times.

Senator Fraser: Not me.

I suggest that Senator Carstairs is right. If Senator Comeau holds back his notice of motion for the time being, the two deputy leaders can confer, after which he will be free to give his notice of motion. It will work that way.

We currently have clear disagreement between the two sides about what happened and, to the extent that we can in this place, it is important that we all operate on the basis of trust that each side at least understands what the other is saying.

Senator Comeau: Senator Fraser raises an interesting scenario whereby Senator Tardif and I can continue the dialogue on this item. I have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever with continuing the dialogue. We can continue over the next number of days. In fact, that may be possible under the terms of this notice of motion, because it is a notice. In fact, I am not sure whether it is appropriate to have this discussion right now, because this was a notice of motion, not the motion.

Senator Tardif and I can continue speaking until the cows come home. I am not sure whether this notice is debatable. However, Senator Tardif and I can meet at any time. If we sense that we can agree upon a date by which we can expect this bill to receive third reading, that is fine. I am completely receptive to that discussion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, Senator Comeau has indicated that this was not a point of order but a notice of motion. Notice has been given pursuant to the rules, there has been debate, and we can now move to the next item on the Order Paper.

Business of the Senate

Tribute to Departing Pages

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, before proceeding to the next item, we want to say farewell to three of our departing pages.

After spending a month in Germany this summer, Betsy Leimbigler of St. Jerome, Quebec, will pursue her final year of studies in international studies and modern languages at the University of Ottawa.

[Translation]

Hélène Boulay, from Bathurst, New Brunswick, is leaving the page program in order to continue her studies in political science and history at the University of Ottawa and to pursue a path in journalism and communications.

[English]

Yumi Raham, of Vancouver, British Columbia, is leaving the Senate after two years as a page. Next year, she will continue her studies in religion and political science at Carleton University.

Study on Provisions and Operation of DNA Identification Act

Ninth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, entitled: Public Protection, Privacy and the Search for Balance: A Statutory Review of the DNA Identification Act, tabled in the Senate on June 28, 2010.

Hon. Joan Fraser moved the adoption of the report.

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

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Employment Insurance

Maternity and Parental Benefits—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck rose pursuant to notice of April 28, 2010:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to the need to adequately support new mothers and fathers by eliminating the Employment Insurance two-week waiting period for maternity and parental benefits.

She said: Honourable senators, this inquiry stands in my name, and it is at day 15. It is about eliminating the Employment Insurance two-week waiting period for maternity and parental benefits. I have been busy on the 900-page Bill C-9 and have not had sufficient time to prepare my remarks for this inquiry. I wish to adjourn the debate for the remainder of my time.

(On motion of Senator Callbeck, debate adjourned.)

(1750)

[Translation]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, July 6, 2010, at 2 p.m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, July 6, 2010, at 2 p.m.)

 


Top of document