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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 54

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


 

THE SENATE

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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

Prayers.

[Translation]

Business of the Senate

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, there have been consultations among the parties, and it has been agreed that photographers may be allowed on the floor of the Senate for this afternoon's meeting, so that they may photograph the swearing-in of a new senator with as little disruption as possible.

[English]

New Senator

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that the Clerk has received a certificate from the Registrar General of Canada showing that Vernon Darryl White has been summoned to the Senate.

Introduction

The Hon. the Speaker having informed the Senate that there was a senator without, waiting to be introduced:

The following honourable senator was introduced; presented Her Majesty's writ of summons; took the oath prescribed by law, which was administered by the Clerk; and was seated:

Hon. Vernon Darryl White, of Ottawa, Ontario, introduced between Hon. Marjory LeBreton, P.C., and Hon. Michael L. MacDonald.

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the honourable senator named above had made and subscribed the declaration of qualification required by the Constitution Act, 1867, in the presence of the Clerk of the Senate, the Commissioner appointed to receive and witness the said declaration.


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SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Diamond Jubilee

Hon. Noël A. Kinsella: Honourable senators, I rise to report to the Senate on the presentation of Diamond Jubilee greetings and good wishes from honourable senators to Her Majesty the Queen.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

A week ago, on Tuesday, February 21, 2012, I had the great honour of being received in audience at Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty expressed her deep appreciation and gratitude to honourable senators for their warm and generous wishes on the occasion of her diamond jubilee.

[English]

Honourable senators, it was indeed a high honour to be received in audience by the Queen, who expressed her deep appreciation and gratitude to honourable senators for your generous and warm wishes on the occasion of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. It is a pleasure to report that Queen Elizabeth was in fine form and was actively engaged in the discussion. The Queen knew that the diamond jubilee stained glass window had been installed over the Senate entrance to the Centre Block of Parliament and that the dedication ceremony had taken place. After expressing her pleasure at the successful completion of this project, Her Majesty commanded me to convey to all honourable senators the high regard in which Her Majesty holds this honourable house together with an assurance of Her Majesty's continuing benevolence.

[Translation]

Her Majesty commanded me to convey to all honourable senators assurances of her highest regard and continuing benevolence.

[English]

Black History Month

Congratulations on Induction of Mr. Graham Downey to Rev. Dr. W.P. Oliver Wall of Honour

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, February is Black History Month, the time of year when we explore the history and contributions that African Canadians have made to Canada and to our society.

In Nova Scotia, we celebrate this as African Heritage Month.

Each year, the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia recognizes someone who has made exceptional contributions to the community. The Reverend Dr. W.P. Oliver Wall of Honour is in memory of Reverend Dr. William Oliver, who has been described as "Nova Scotia's passionate defender of equality." The name should sound familiar; you may not know it, but Senator Oliver is Dr. William Oliver's half-brother.

This past February 11, the Reverend Dr. W. P. Oliver Wall of Honour was awarded to one Graham Downey. A long-time friend and colleague, Graham was the first Black city alderman in the history of Halifax, a position he was elected to for over 25 years. He also served as deputy mayor.

Indeed, his grandson, Jerome Downey, even ran for Halifax Regional Municipal Council in 2008, the youngest candidate in that election at 23.

You can see that politics and community service run deep in the Downey family. A staunch defender of his community, municipal leadership is not the only thing Graham is known for. He and his brother Billy owned the famous Arrow's Club in Halifax.

An Hon. Senator: Ever been there?

Senator Mercer: Yes, many times.

Billy was the recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Nova Scotian Music Association. Music and culture also run deep in this family.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Arrow's Club was the place to be. It was the place where Black Haligonians could gather to celebrate their culture in a city where, as in so many others, segregation still existed to a certain extent. Honourable senators, the Arrow's Club hosted such acts as Teddy Pendergrass, Ben E. King, and Ike and Tina Turner, but also local musicians such as Gordon and Harold Johnston, and Linda Carvery. I have spent a few hours in the Arrow's Club over the years with many of my friends in the African Nova Scotian community, and the Downeys made the place happen. They created a whole atmosphere of entrepreneurship in the entertainment business for people in their community.

Honourable senators, please join me in congratulating Graham Downey for the honour that he has received from the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia. We also add our gratitude to Graham for his outstanding contribution to the African-Canadian community, the City of Halifax, and all Nova Scotians. Our sincere congratulations.

The Honourable Vernon White

Congratulations on Appointment

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I rise today to welcome our newest colleague, Senator Vernon White, who joins us here in the upper chamber, representing the province of Ontario.

Senator White, best known to most of us as Chief White, is a native of Cape Breton who has spent three decades in the service of protecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Through his vast experience and knowledge, Senator White brings to the Senate of Canada a unique perspective on law enforcement. During his tenure in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Senator White played an instrumental role in increasing the number of Aboriginal police officers in northern communities, where day-to-day policing, because of the diversity and uniqueness of the population, is vastly different than in Canada's biggest cities and smallest towns.

Senator White's tenure with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police also took him to Halifax and later to Ottawa, where he concluded this stage of his career as Assistant Commissioner for Information and Identification.

Many would be satisfied with such a lengthy and celebrated career in Canada's national police force, but Senator White certainly did not rest on those laurels. With an unrivaled work ethic, which those of us fortunate enough to be citizens of Ottawa can attest to very well, he was on to greater challenges and increased responsibility. Senator White embarked on a new phase of his career in law enforcement when he was named Chief of the Durham Regional Police in 2005, a post he held until he was recruited to take up the chief's position in Ottawa. On May 22, 2007, Vernon White was sworn in as police chief in Canada's capital, a position he held until he was summoned to the Upper Chamber on the recommendation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, effective February 21.

During his long service in law enforcement, Senator White was often a vocal proponent of many of our government's initiatives to make Canada a safer place for families, seniors, and those most vulnerable.

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Honourable senators, I am so pleased that Senator White will bring his expertise and advice to the work we do here in this chamber, playing a pivotal role in improving the lives of our young people and the vulnerable, as I spoke of a moment ago, while at the same time ensuring that the government's important reforms to the Canadian justice system continue to protect and serve Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

It is my great honour to welcome you, Senator White, to the upper chamber of Canada's Parliament.

[Translation]

Cirque du Soleil

Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, who among us has not had the opportunity, at least once in their life, to enjoy one of the many Cirque du Soleil shows?

Watching Cirque du Soleil's spectacular performance at the Oscars on Sunday, I nearly forgot that many Americans are still discovering Cirque du Soleil and I was transported back 30 years.

In 1985 I had the honour of leading the department in charge of International Youth Year, which had been proclaimed by the United Nations. We had a very special program at the time that helped young people find summer jobs and realize their dreams.

One of the applications we received was from a group in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. The group was preparing some shows to be performed in Vancouver over the summer. They wanted to add some young people from the region to the existing troupe, in order to introduce them to various disciplines in the circus world. The program could not pay very much — just enough to allow the company to hire a few young people. The hope was that some of those young people would learn to love the circus life and become active members of the troupe for years to come. The rest is history, as they say, since Cirque du Soleil has achieved a level of success that no one could have imagined in 1985.

As a token of thanks for this initial help from the federal government — of course, more support followed over the years — Cirque du Soleil sent me a quilted cotton vest in the Cirque's own

colours and with its logo at the time. Believe it or not, I still have that vest and still wear it with pride from time to time.

There was one other unforgettable moment at the Oscars that night. Christopher Plummer, originally from Montreal, was finally recognized by his peers after a remarkable career spanning some 60 years. We can all be very proud of his achievements.

Fortunately, actors are not subject to the same restrictions as senators, or else Christopher Plummer, who is 82, would never have won that Oscar.

Another extraordinary moment Sunday evening was the coronation of The Artist, and its leading man, Jean Dujardin. How did this French movie win all these awards?

Certain critics — among them Michel Drucker of Vivement dimanche on TV5 — said that it was easy to explain. In light of the fact that it was a silent movie, it was not difficult to understand: "When we French keep quiet, everyone likes us."

The Late Mr. Pierre Juneau, O.C.

Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, sadly, last week Canada lost one of the greatest promoters of Canadian culture that our country has ever known. Pierre Juneau passed away after a remarkable career, serving as president of the CBC, where I had the honour of working with him, and also at the CRTC and the NFB.

Pierre Juneau was more than just a talented administrator. Above all, he was a passionate champion of Canadian identity, Canada's cultural and artistic expression, and the role of public broadcasting in developing Canadian talent and bringing it to the people. Honourable senators, we are indebted to Pierre Juneau for instilling in Canadians the pride that burns in us today.

Pierre Juneau understood long before others that Canadian unity requires that we promote our cultural identity, in French and in English, with complete respect for the heritage of the First Nations.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the music industry recognized his important contribution by naming the Juno awards after him in 1971.

The challenge of Canadian content in the media, which he articulated in his 1972 address to the Empire Club, long before the Internet era, remains just as true and prophetic today. He said:

[English]

To preserve and develop our ability to create and produce our own imagery is something we simply cannot do without. To enable ourselves to see everything, including ourselves, through our own eyes and our own systems of production and diffusion, will require a long and persevering effort.

[Translation]

Indeed, Pierre Juneau met that challenge and his efforts paid off. His vigilance is still needed today.

Honourable senators, Pierre Juneau had other passions that were not as widely known, which I got to see when he was my boss and mentor at the CBC. In addition to being a talented tennis player, he was tenacious and consistent, both in his sporting endeavours and in his leadership. He had the courage of his convictions.

Pierre Juneau was also a father and a very devoted family man. He thought Canada should be the aggregate of the values that our own families stand for. The values of goodness and justice should prevail in family life and in Canadian society. Pierre Juneau was good and just in both.

He will be deeply missed. To his wife, Fernande Juneau, to his children, André, Martin, Isabelle and their families, I offer my sincere condolences.

Honourable senators, dear colleagues, every time I see a television show that talks about us, every time a Canadian artist or film achieves success abroad, I will thank Pierre Juneau for his leadership, which, again, helped make me even prouder to be Canadian.

[English]

Ms. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Congratulations on Academy Award

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan: Honourable senators, today I want to celebrate the achievement of a Canadian who has been overlooked amongst our nation's Academy Award winners.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a dual citizen of Canada and Pakistan, won the Oscar on Sunday for best documentary, short subject. Her film, Saving Face, which she co-directed and co-produced along with American filmmaker Daniel Junge, chronicles women who have been victims of acid attacks in Pakistan and the plastic surgeon working to help them. This is a critical issue, as 70 per cent of acid attack victims are women under 18 years of age.

While the subject of her documentary is a tragic one, and one that is not unique to Pakistan, Ms. Obaid-Chinoy asserts that she centres on the victory, not the loss, associated with this issue. Her film focuses on the heroes who help those in need and the dignity of the victims who cope with their disfigurements.

For her, the most memorable moment of the film occurs when the lead character gives birth to a boy and decides to name him after the doctor who treated her rather than the husband who is her attacker. She wants her son to grow up with the doctor as his role model, instead of his own father.

Ms. Obaid-Chinoy, a renowned journalist and filmmaker who has written for newspapers in Canada and the United States, also received an Emmy Award in 2010. Amongst her work is a documentary, Highway of Tears, which examines Aboriginal women in Canada who have gone missing along British Columbia's Highway 16.

In her Oscar acceptance speech, Ms. Obaid-Chinoy dedicated her award to "all the women in Pakistan who are working for change." I too have experienced this first-hand. It is truly the women of Pakistan who are transforming the nation and promoting a positive image of the country.

I hope you will join me in praising Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy as one of those women. Congratulations on winning Pakistan's first ever Academy Award and for bringing a noteworthy Oscar to Canada.

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Organ Donation

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, earlier this month, the Canadian Institute for Health Information released a report showing that the need for donated organs is far higher than the number of Canadians who choose to donate. In fact, the number of donations for 2010 was the same as in 2006. Though more than 1,000 living and deceased individuals made organ donations in 2010, about 4,500 people were left on waiting lists. Sadly, 229 died while waiting.

The possibility that more deaths will result from a stagnant donation rate is a real concern. For example, the vast majority of people on the list are waiting for a kidney. The report notes that the number of patients diagnosed with kidney failure has more than doubled since 1991. It is expected that this number will keep increasing. As rates of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes go up, more kidneys will be needed than ever.

Luckily, the campaign to have more Canadians sign up to be organ donors has seen some recent success. In January, a young Ontario woman awaiting a double lung transplant, Helene Campbell, challenged singer Justin Bieber to support organ and blood donation. He did, and Ontario's Trillium Gift of Life Network saw a rush of people registering online to be organ donors. Ms. Campbell continued her campaign with an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show less than two weeks ago. I wish her success, both for her health and for her mission to increase organ donations.

Honourable senators, I would like to encourage everyone to be an organ donor. Depending on the rules in your province, you can simply sign an organ donor card or have your desire to donate indicated on your health card or driver's licence. Please discuss your wishes with your family. In many provinces, the family's consent is required for organ donation.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those Canadians who have already taken the steps necessary to be an organ donor. Your compassion and remarkable generosity will offer hope to the thousands of your fellow Canadians who are waiting for a transplant.

Canadian Agricultural Exports to China

Hon. JoAnne L. Buth: Honourable senators, with a population of 1.3 billion on a land area smaller than that of Canada, the country of China is an important market for Canadian agricultural products. In 2010, agricultural exports to China were valued at $2.6 billion. As the income and disposable wealth of Chinese consumers increases, the consumption of vegetable oil and meat will continue to rise, resulting in a growing market for Canadian products.

I recently travelled to China with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. This was not an entirely new experience for me, as in my previous work in the canola industry I had been to China many times on market development and market access issues. This mission reconfirmed the importance of the Canadian government's continuing efforts to strengthen the relationships with the Chinese government to support our businesses. China is a remarkable country filled with many opportunities, and Canada needs to be front and centre to continue to grow our trade, thereby creating more jobs for Canadians.

Canadian farmers and ranchers produce the best products in the world, but with our relatively small population in Canada we cannot consume it all. As an example, over 90 per cent of grain and oilseed products are exported. Market opportunities are critical to the continued success of our farmers and our agricultural industry. Match China's demand with Canadian production and our need for export markets, and we see tremendous opportunity. Demand from China brings more global market competition, resulting in better price stability and better prices for farmers, ranchers and the entire agricultural value chain. The Government of Canada initiatives in developing new demand and addressing trade barriers are key to the profitability of all sectors of the agriculture industry.

Based on his efforts in market development and market access issues, Minister Ritz was able to make several important announcements in China. These included market access for beef tallow, more detailed and technical discussions on access for beef and dairy cattle, and increased trade in canola meal and swine genetics. This additional opportunity could exceed $350 million annually, putting more dollars into farmers' and ranchers' pockets.

Honourable senators, the nature of business and trade is about relationships. As agriculture businesses look to increasing global demand, the improved relationships between Canada and China, which have been cultured by the Prime Minister and Minister Ritz, will ensure that Canada is poised to meet China's demand for safe, top-quality food and food products, supporting farmers, ranchers, jobs at home and a stronger Canadian economy.

Black History Month

Mr. Daniel Grafton Hill, O.C., O. Ont.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, as Black History Month draws to a close, I draw your attention to the life and contributions of Daniel Grafton Hill — Dan Hill, as I knew him. He was a human rights advocate, sociologist, public servant and a Canadian Black historian. He was born in 1923 and raised in the western United States. He graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1949.

After taking a year to study abroad in Norway, where he was free to move about and associate with whomever he wanted, Mr. Hill decided he could no longer accept the racial segregation found in his own country. In 1950, he came to Canada, studied sociology at the University of Toronto and went on to obtain his master's degree and PhD.

Dan Hill became a researcher for the Social Planning Council of Toronto and Executive Secretary of the North York Social Planning Council. He also lectured at the University of Toronto. With his PhD in sociology and a decade of experience as an activist in civil rights, he became the first Director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

In 1984, he was appointed Ontario Ombudsman. While there, he created crucial outreach programs for traditionally excluded groups, particularly for Canada's Aboriginal people. Following his retirement in 1989, he became a member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Mr. Hill also held a number of advisory positions during this time, including Adviser to the President of the University of Toronto on Human Rights and Civil Liberties and Adviser to the Toronto Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations. I had the great opportunity to have his advice and friendship over many years.

Already a noted authority, Mr. Hill became an accomplished author by writing a series of articles about the history of Blacks in Canada. As a founding member of the Ontario Black History Society, he wrote his best known publication, the 1981 book, The Freedom Seekers, Blacks in Early Canada, which was approved as a curriculum for high schools in various Canadian provinces.

Dan Hill passed away in 2003. He left two notable sons: Dan Hill, singer and songwriter; and Lawrence Hill, noted author. However, his legacy can be seen in all that he accomplished. He, himself, said it this way:

. . . we have not yet reached the promised land of the just society. . . . But that is no reason to abate our efforts. There is simply too much at stake. From the hindsight of history, one lesson is very clear-so long as the rights of even one are abused, abridged or abrogated-then the freedom of all is in peril. . . .

Thank you, Dan Hill.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

The Estimates, 2011-12

Supplementary Estimates (C) Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of tabling, in both official languages, Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012.

[English]

The Estimates, 2012-13

Parts I and II Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, Parts I and II of the 2012-13 Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

[Translation]

Labour

Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal—2010-11 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of tabling, in both official languages, the annual report of the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.

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[English]

Safe Streets and Communities Bill

Ninth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Hon. Hon. John D. Wallace, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

NINTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Friday, December 16, 2011, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:

1. Clause 2, page 3:

(a) Replace line 26 with the following:

"(a) any listed entity, or foreign state whose immunity is lifted under section 6.1 of the State Immunity Act, or other person that"; and

(b) Replace line 29 with the following:

"(b) a foreign state whose immunity is lifted under section 6.1 of the State Immunity Act, or listed entity or other".

2. New clause 3.1, page 5: Add before line 10 the following:

"3.1 Section 2 of the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

"terrorist activity" in respect of a foreign state has the same meaning as in subsection 83.01(1) of the Criminal Code, provided that a foreign state set out on the list referred to in subsection 6.1(2) does the act or omission on or after January 1, 1985.".

3. Clause 5, page 7: Add after line 8 the following:

"(11) Where a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that a foreign state, set out on the list in subsection (2), has supported terrorism, that foreign state is also not immune from the jurisdiction of a court in proceedings against it that relate to terrorist activity by the state.".

4. Clause 6, page 7: Replace line 15 with the following:

"that foreign state for its support of terrorism or its terrorist activity.".

5. Clause 7, page 7:

(a) Replace line 22 with the following:

"used by it to support terrorism or engage in terrorist activity;"; and

(b) Replace line 31 with the following:

"support of terrorism or its terrorist activity and to property other".

6. Clause 9, page 8: Replace line 32 with the following:

"that foreign state for its support of terrorism or its terrorist activity.".

Your committee has also made certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOHN D. WALLACE
Chair

(For text of observations, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 905.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

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

[Translation]

The Estimates, 2011-12

Notice of Motion to Authorize National Finance Committee to Study Supplementary Estimates (C)

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, later this day, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Estimates, 2012-13

Notice of Motion to Authorize National Finance Committee to Study Main Estimates

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, later this day, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, with the exception of Parliament Vote 10.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Notice of Motion to Authorize Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament to Study Vote 10

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, later this day, I will move:

That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Parliament Vote 10 of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

L'Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie

Seminar on "Taking Legislative Action to End Violence Against Women and Girls", March 30-April 1, 2011—Report Tabled

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian branch of the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) respecting its participation at the seminar, "Taking Legislative Action to End Violence Against Women and Girls", organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the National Assembly of Burkina Faso, held from March 30 to April 1, 2011, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Meetings of the Cooperation and Development Committee and the Parliamentary Network for the Fight Against HIV/AIDS, May 23-27, 2011—Report Tabled

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian branch of the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) respecting its participation at the meeting of the Cooperation and Development Committee and the meeting of the Parliamentary network for the fight against HIV/AIDS, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from May 23 to 27, 2011.

Seminar on the Roles of Women in Political, Civil and Family Life and on Implementing the APF's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, October 26-27, 2011—Report Tabled

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation of the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) respecting its participation at the seminar on the roles of women in political, civil and family life, and on implementing the APF Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, held in Budapest, Hungary, from October 26 to 27, 2011.

National Finance

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet During Sittings and Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I give notice that, later this day, I will move:

That, until March 31, 2012, for the purposes of any study of a bill, the subject matter of a bill or estimates, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance:

a) have power to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being suspended in relation thereto; and

b) be authorized, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Human Resources and Skills Development

Job Bank

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Nearly one and a half million Canadians are out of work. Many of these Canadians use the federal government's Job Bank, which is an electronic listing of jobs provided by employers all across the country. However, when one attempts to use Job Bank now, one gets this message:

Job Bank and Job Bank for Employers are currently unavailable due to technical difficulties.

That website has been out of service for at least 10 days. Why has it taken so long to repair a much-needed resource for the unemployed?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for bringing this matter to my attention. I do not know what has caused the interruption of service of the Job Bank call centre. I will take the honourable senator's question as notice. I will attempt to ascertain as soon as possible the reason for this and when we might expect it to be up and running again.

Foreign Affairs

United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions

Hon Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was pleased to see that on Wednesday, February 15 the government tabled a copy of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and an explanatory memorandum in the other place. This is the first step toward ratification of the treaty and I look forward to finally seeing the legislation to that effect.

I am especially interested in seeing how the government will interpret Article 21 of the convention. Article 21 is important because it outlines military interoperability provisions between states that have ratified the convention and those that have not.

When negotiating the treaty, Canada worked hard with other like-minded states to ensure that Article 21 would achieve a high humanitarian standard while at the same time allowing Canada and participating allies to engage in joint military operations with allies not party to the convention, namely, the United States.

Can the leader provide us with some assurance that, when this legislation is tabled, Article 21 will be interpreted according to the highest humanitarian standards and will not undermine Canada's commitment to the principles of the convention?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, our government participated actively in the negotiations on the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We were very pleased to be among the first countries to sign the convention in Oslo in December 2008. Canada believes the convention is an important tool to protect civilians against the use of cluster munitions. Preparations are well under way for ratification. As the honourable senator pointed out, this treaty was tabled in the House of Commons on February 15.

In order to fully ratify the treaty, legislation is required. We expect and hope that this legislation will be introduced very soon.

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[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

Commemoration of the War of 1812

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We recently had the pleasure of attending Winterlude ceremonies and activities in Ottawa and at Jacques Cartier Park on the other side of the river.

Some of the "Stand on Guard for Canada" activities commemorated the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. It is appropriate that we teach our youth about our history and the sacrifices made to protect our country.

However, I found it difficult to accept that weapons were put in the hands of children to have them reflect on how Canada was defended. Even when we have open door days on our military bases, we never put weapons in the hands of children. We do not allow them to play, as Mr. Trépanier said, cowboys and Indians. We refuse to do so. Furthermore, we signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which states that children under 18 should not bear arms.

Will this type of commemoration be repeated when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the First World War?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Our history is our history, and the War of 1812, for those of us who —

An Hon. Senator: Were there?

Senator LeBreton: Practically. Actually, Captain John Le Breton, founder of LeBreton Flats, served for the British in Lundy's Lane, as I recall. I do not know the exact circumstances of the incident that the honourable senator describes, but I do know that the commemoration of the War of 1812 is a very important part of Canada's history. It defined Canada at the beginning of what we now know as Canada. I know there are re-enactment ceremonies taking place, especially in areas where various parts of the War of 1812 were fought. I have been at re-enactment ceremonies in Prescott, Ontario, at Fort Wellington. There were many people involved, including young people. I would suggest to the honourable senator that having our young people participate in a re-enactment ceremony of part of our history is hardly in line with any fears about arming or promoting weapons use by our children.

[Translation]

Senator Dallaire: I fully support teaching our history to young people. Disciplined force must be used at times by soldiers who have to fight to defend our country. However, there is a difference between that and having a kiosk where kids as young as 9, 10 or 12 years old can play with weapons, aiming them at one another and so on. Furthermore, the person in charge of the activity says, "It's no big deal; we have all played cowboys and Indians." However, when we played cowboys and Indians, it was the cowboys against the Indians, and during the War of 1812, the Indians, the First Nations people, were our allies. Without them, we would have lost the war.

Can you assure us that greater tact will be used during future commemorations, that weapons will not be put in the hands of children in order to let them play soldier. Soldiers, incidentally, have a very serious duty to defend our country, a completely different role in which we do not want to involve our children at such a young age.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I appreciate the honourable senator's concern in this regard, but we are talking about an important part of Canadian history. Certainly no one would equate re-enactment ceremonies, or any part of our history, with somehow tainting the minds of our young people in teaching them our history. I was listening to the honourable senator's preamble to his question. Right now, in society, we have video games that are extremely aggressive and dangerous. Our children — and this is only a personal point of view — are learning absolutely nothing from that.

I do not know exactly what the display was in Jacques Cartier Park, but I do know there is a great deal of interest, and there should be. I do not think Canadians know enough about our history. I know when I went to school, which was a long time ago, history happened to be one of my better subjects. Thank God, I was not judged on my mathematical skills. In any event, I do not believe teaching our young people and giving them information on an important milestone in Canadian history is in any way contributing to a future situation where they may determine that the use of firearms and guns is something they would want to pursue.

Senator Dallaire: I am not sure if we are losing something in the exchange here. This was not a commemoration process where we have historically seen people re-enact things in a structured way.

This was one of the most pejorative pedagogical tools imaginable to represent the history of this country by putting the semblance of weapons in the hands of children, having them shoot each other in a sort of game, and saying they are learning history. I would request that in the processes of the future, in commemoration, we do not need that perverse pedagogical tool to educate our youth about the sacrifices needed to keep this country free, sacrifices that we have had in the past, and to educate them on that process.

As she is preparing all these commemorations, one of them which my father-in-law commanded — the regiment that fought at Châteauguay in 1813 and has a strong history — I would like to request that the leader look into the events being planned and that we do not go that route anymore, please.

Senator LeBreton: I have great respect for the honourable senator's views, but I must strongly disagree with the premise of his question. Our history is our history. I do not have specific details about the display or whatever it was they had at Jacques Cartier Park, but our history is our history. Can you imagine, as we are trying to teach the history of our country and the sacrifices made by Canadians in World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict and elsewhere, if we somehow did not also point out the tools that were used? The War Museum on LeBreton Flats would be an empty cavern if we could not teach our children. By the

way, there is also a great history display on the War of 1812 in the War Museum.

I totally disagree with the premise of the honourable senator's question and his remark. I do not believe that we can rewrite history. History is history, and people have to understand all of the aspects of history: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Senator Dallaire: We are not arguing about the history; we are arguing about how we are teaching it and how we are subsidizing those who are teaching it, that is to say, that event. In our history, 12—year-olds did not fight in the War of 1812. Nine year olds did not fight. In fact, they suffered because of the fighting. There is no link between children being armed and our history. In fact, there is no link in any sort of responsible pedagogical method of educating people with having them use weapons to play with in order to understand what happened.

(1500)

By the way, in the Canadian War Museum, no one plays with those weapons. They observe them, they are shown what they can do, and they are educated on that in a structured way. Yes, we have to explain what happens. However, we do it in a fashion that is respectful of the education processes that we have in this country and that shows the respect we have for those who really have to carry those weapons and use them against other human beings.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. Again, as I mentioned, I am not familiar with how the display was presented or how people participated in it. I take the honourable senator's word for it. To me, we are not poisoning the minds of our young. We are not teaching them to be aggressive. We are simply using history to teach our young people what transpired and what made this country great. The War of 1812 happens to be a part of that history.

Commemoration of Historical Events

Hon. Percy E. Downe: Honourable senators, I heard Senator LeBreton talking about how "our history is our history." I wonder if she could advise whether the Government of Canada will be funding any celebration of General Wolfe's victory at the Plains of Abraham.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we are talking about the War of 1812. We are talking about seminal moments in Canadian history. I will not respond to the question. I will simply take it as notice.

Senator Downe: Our history is our history. I would assume the minister is certainly not trying to rewrite that historical event. If one is funding commemorations, one cannot be selective in funding some but not others. Can the leader find out if the government intends to fund it?

Senator LeBreton: Actually, our history is our history. I am well familiar with the event in history that the honourable senator cites. I did learn about it in our history books, but I have no further comment. I will simply take the question as notice.

An Hon. Senator: Introduce a motion.

Senator Downe: Honourable senators, the leader indicated that part of the problem was that younger Canadians are not aware of their history, unlike when she attended school. By funding events across Canada, we are making Canadians aware. Is this one of the events the government will fund?

Senator LeBreton: I do know — and my colleague Senator Verner was a crucial part of this — that the four hundredth anniversary celebration of Quebec City was funded by the government, and it was very well attended. I think it contributed greatly to Canadians' knowledge of the important role played in the founding of our nation by the province of Quebec and also the history of that great city, Quebec City. Senator Verner was one of the people who was instrumental in making sure that event happened, and that was part of our history.

With regard to the specific question, as I mentioned, I will take it as notice.

Senator Downe: I am glad Senator LeBreton raised the four hundredth anniversary of Quebec because I, too, think it was a wonderful event. I congratulate everyone involved in it. I understand that the Government of Canada spent $120 million on the four hundredth anniversary of celebration of Quebec.

For the four hundredth anniversary of Cupids in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Canada spent over $4 million, which worked out to over $5,400 per person, given the size of Cupids at 790 people.

I am wondering what Prince Edward Islanders can expect for the one hundred fiftieth anniversary celebration of the 1864 conference.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I remember all of the representations from our colleagues from Newfoundland and Labrador about the great event in Cupids. I hope the honourable senator is not suggesting that the government should not have marked that great event. That is what I took from his comments. In any event, he seems to be obsessed with the fact that we marked that wonderful occasion, and all of the celebrations that were undertaken in observation of the four hundredth anniversary of Quebec City are a matter of public record.

I have not been party to any discussions, honourable senators. I know in the past there have been great celebrations in regard to the different events in Charlottetown, so I will simply take that question as notice.

Senator Downe: Honourable senators, the leader is absolutely wrong about my interpretation of the Cupids commemoration. I am delighted that they had the funding. I am delighted they had a per capita funding of $5,400, and I hope that will be the standard that Prince Edward Island will get, although I am not sure it will be.

I wonder if the minister will advise us, preferably in writing, with respect to the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the 1864 conference that led to the founding of this country — nothing could be more historical — what level of funding Prince Edward Island can expect, so it can get the planning under way for the celebration in 2014.

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question. I will take it as notice.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, if our history is our history, then I wonder whether the Leader of the Government could tell us why her government has not allocated anything whatsoever to the recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for which, we all know, many Canadian men and women have been fighting and dying for in places like Afghanistan. It is relevant to the core tenets of our democracy and rights and should, in fact, be elevated for every child across this country.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I guess we will have to celebrate the first, tenth, twentieth, thirtieth, fortieth and fiftieth anniversary of your birthday, Senator Mitchell. The fact of the matter is that historical events are usually celebrated after a considerable passing of time, not 30 years.

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Claude Carignan: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Tardif on February 2, 2012, concerning the appointment of the Canada Post arbitrator.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Dawson on February 8, 2012, concerning bilingual services.

[English]

Official Languages

Second-language Training—Linguistic Duality

(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on February 2, 2012)

On June 26, 2011, Bill C-6, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services (Act) received Royal Assent. The Act ended the work stoppage affecting Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and sent outstanding issues to arbitration.

On July 22, 2011, the Honourable Justice Coulter A. Osborne was appointed as arbitrator pursuant to the Act. On August 18, 2011, CUPW filed an application with the Federal Court challenging the appointment of the Honourable Justice Coulter A. Osborne.

On October 20, 2011, the Federal Court stayed the proceedings of the arbitration between Canada Post and CUPW until the Court decides on CUPW's challenge of his appointment. On November 1, 2011, the Honourable Justice Coulter A. Osborne resigned from his position as arbitrator in the dispute.

On January 27, 2012, the Federal Court ruled on the appointment of the Honourable Coulter A. Osborne despite the fact that he had resigned from his appointment. The Court acknowledge that the point was "moot" but nonetheless assessed that the person to be appointed as arbitrator in this dispute should possess, among other things, a certain recognized experience in labour relations and be bilingual.

The Government of Canada is currently reviewing the decision. The process to appoint a new arbitrator is underway. The parties are meeting with one another in an effort to try and select of an arbitrator that would be agreeable to both parties.

Once appointed, the arbitrator will be responsible for settling the labour dispute between the parties and imposing a new collective agreement. The arbitrator will have 90 days following his/her appointment to render his/her decision as required by the legislation, unless an extension is provided.

[Translation]

Fisheries and Oceans

Coast Guard—Rescue Coordination Centres—Bilingual Services

(Response to question raised by Hon. Dennis Dawson on February 8, 2012)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is dedicated to ensuring that timely and appropriate maritime search and rescue coordination and response operations are available to all Canadians. This includes mariners in Quebec.

The decision to consolidate the search and rescue coordination services currently provided by the Sub-Centre in Québec City, Quebec with those of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Trenton, Ontario will not affect marine safety.

The primary purpose of this consolidation is to improve the efficiency of maritime search and rescue coordination services by locating Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Forces search and rescue coordinators in the same centres, enabling air and marine search and rescue coordinators to share knowledge and resources. Maritime safety will continue to be the number one priority of the Canadian Coast Guard and we recognize the critical importance of these safety services to Canadians.

A consolidation team, made up of staff from both the Coast Guard and the Department of National Defence, is in place to ensure that Halifax and Trenton have sufficient capacity and capability to effect consolidation. This includes training new coordinators and transferring local procedures and practices into the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres of Halifax and Trenton.

This consolidation will not diminish search and rescue coordination nor response resources in Quebec and will have no impact on the safety of seafarers.

Existing Coast Guard search and rescue service standards will be maintained, including marine expertise, local knowledge and provision of services in both official languages. Training will be conducted to ensure the proper levels of service are established and maintained in both the Halifax and Trenton centres, while bilingual capacity will be

increased above the levels currently in place at both Halifax and Trenton.

Just as local knowledge is present in search and rescue coordinators, local knowledge is also present in the crews of Coast Guard vessels and staff of the Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres, all of whom are points of contact for mariners in distress. Canadian Coast Guard officers, helicopters and vessels will continue to provide search and rescue coverage in Quebec.


[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Criminal Code
Firearms Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Daniel Lang moved second reading of Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-19, entitled, Ending the Long-gun Registry Act.

I would like to begin with a quote from the poet George Santayana. He said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Allow me to explain.

Ninety-three years ago, the Canadian Parliament enacted gun control legislation requiring gun owners to obtain a permit for all firearms, including small arms, rifles and shotguns. A year later, this requirement was repealed. I refer to the debates of May 6, 1921, when then Minister of Justice Charles Doherty stated:

There has been very general representation that the existing law operated too rigorously, lent itself to abuses and subjected citizens to unnecessary annoyance.

(1510)

Honourable senators, we find ourselves here today dealing with a situation of remarkable similarity, this time taking 17 years to reverse a law that proved just as unnecessary and annoying.

Eliminating the long-gun registry is truly a historic occasion, and the debate before us goes much deeper than the registry itself. Today, our Parliament is sending a message of trust to law-abiding long-gun owners, and they have finally been vindicated.

Honourable senators, it is important to stress that the legislation before you for your consideration is the result of the decision made by Canadians on May 2 of last year. I only have to point to my region, the constituency of Yukon. When the writ was dropped last spring, all the pollsters had the political landscape of Yukon painted the colour red. Over the course of the campaign, the elimination of the long-gun registry was one of the central election issues. On election night, the political landscape of Yukon turned blue. As we all know, this was the case in many ridings across Canada.

The long-gun registry has proven to be a complete waste of taxpayers' money. When this legislation was introduced as part of Bill C-68, former Minister of Justice Allan Rock had this to say about the cost of the bill:

We say that it will cost $85 million.

Former Senator Jean-Louis Roux spoke in our own chamber, supporting the figure of $85 million and denying the claims of critics that the cost of setting up the registration system would be in the range of $500 million to $1.5 billion.

Honourable senators, time has shown that it was even worse than this. According to the CBC, by 2004 the registry had already cost the Canadian taxpayer $2 billion.

During the course of the study of the long-gun registry, evidence in the other place has clearly indicated its ineffectiveness. There is no evidence that the tragedy of suicides and homicides would be affected by the discontinuation of the long-gun registry.

It is also important to bring to the attention of senators that it has been reported that the data contained in the registry is inaccurate, with error rates between 43 per cent and 90 per cent. Furthermore, throughout its entire 17 years of existence, there has never been an individual who has successfully proven that the long-gun registry has prevented a single crime or saved a single life.

As the senator for Yukon, the repeal of the long-gun registry is of particular interest to me. Those of us who live in remote and northern settings have felt that the long-gun registry is discriminatory to all northerners, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike. We view our long gun as a necessary day-to-day tool, not unlike the tractor a farmer uses to plow his field. Our Aboriginal people especially feel that they were treated unfairly by the long-gun registry, and government was seen once again to be intruding into their lives.

Establishing by force of criminal law a requirement to submit to a needlessly bureaucratic process simply does not recognize this day-to-day reality. As Aboriginal elders have told me, this is a failed big-city solution forced on our people. Honourable senators, I hope you will join me in agreeing that this is patently unacceptable.

I refer again to the architect of the long-gun registry, former Justice Minister Allan Rock. It has been said that it was his view when he came to Ottawa that the only people who should have firearms were the police and the military. This is exactly the misguided attitude that led to the fiasco of the long-gun registry. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding, not only of the culture of firearms owners, but also the understanding of crime and how one prevents it.

The goal of the long-gun registry was to reduce crime. It failed because of the simple fact that only law-abiding Canadians would ever comply. Criminals do not register their guns.

The fact of the matter is, honourable senators, that you do not reduce crime by harassing law-abiding citizens. Reducing crime is done through tough but fair sentencing. Reducing crime is done by developing a correctional system that is actually designed to correct criminal behaviour. Reducing crime is done by putting more police officers on the streets. Reducing crime is done through smart investments in preventing crimes before they happen.

Honourable senators, you reduce crime by spending taxpayers' money effectively. You do not reduce crime by spending taxpayers' money on a system that does not work.

Over the past months, many have asked, what does Bill C-19 accomplish? Allow me to explain the principles contained in this bill.

The bill will repeal the requirement to register non-restricted firearms. As I have said, these are daily tools that law-abiding rural Canadians, Aboriginals, farmers and hunters use to practise traditional, cultural and present-day necessities of life. This is the reason the registry has been such a contentious issue since its inception.

The bill also provides for the destruction of existing records held in the Canadian Firearms Registry. Honourable senators, the registry and the records are inseparable. They are one and the same. If you destroy the registry but keep the records, you are maintaining data that has no reason to be kept. I know that there has been criticism from some that the records should be maintained, but it should be noted that those same critics have also said they will reinstate the long-gun registry at the first opportunity.

Honourable senators, a commitment was made to the electorate: The long-gun registry will be scrapped. The personal information contained in the registry will be eliminated. I want to assure you that we do not find it acceptable for the creation of a registry by the back door.

This brings me to another criticism that has been levied against this legislation that I would like to address. Some have said that provinces should have access to the information contained in the registry so they can start a provincial version of this failed government policy. I disagree. This information was given by law-abiding Canadians to their national government for the express purpose of a national government program.

The long-gun registry program, upon passage of this legislation, will no longer exist and, as I have said, there is no basis for the federal government to retain citizens' personal and private information. It would be inappropriate, in my view, to share individual Canadians' private information for any other purpose.

Honourable senators, one has to ask some fundamental questions with regard to the legislation before us today. The first question: Has this system been effective? The answer is a clear no. Statistics have shown no correlation between the implementation of the long-gun registry and a decline in the criminal use of firearms.

The other question we have to ask ourselves: Was it worth the cost? Two billion dollars is a lot of money. How many police officers could have been paid? How many crime prevention programs could have been provided? We will never know because that money has been wasted.

When we work on preventing crime, particularly gun crime, we must take a focused approach. That means ensuring that only qualified, licensed individuals have firearms. It means continuing to take strong action against illegal imports of firearms. It means having enough police on the street to protect Canadians. It means investing in crime prevention and gang prevention programs. It means enforcing serious sentences to deter individuals from committing crimes with firearms.

Honourable senators, I have had the opportunity to review the debates in the Senate when the ill-fated Bill C-68 was tabled in 1995. It is important to note that there was a great deal of concern about the ramifications of the long-gun registry and its consequences, which over time proved to be true. In fact, some members from the government side, including the senator from Yukon, voted against that bill.

(1520)

My hope, colleagues, is that when we close this final chapter on Bill C-19, members on both sides of this chamber will feel free to vote to end this taxpayers' nightmare and free our law-abiding long-gun owners from the criminal sanctions of the present law.

[Translation]

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I would like to ensure that the opposition critic, Senator Hervieux-Payette, is given 45 minutes to speak.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[English]

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, this is a great day in my life.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator St. Germain: No, it is not my birthday — I have to straighten out my cowboy boot here — but it is a great day because I predicted this would happen when Bill C-68 was passed. That is right. As the honourable senator says, I may even be a prophet, a saintly prophet. After that great speech by Senator Lang there is really not much to be said, but I will say a few words that differ slightly because I was here when Bill C-68 was passed.

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-19, an act to end the long-gun registry. Many current senators were here when the Chrétien Liberal government enacted the long-gun registry through Bill C-68. At the time, most Canadians felt that creating this registry was really not necessary, that it was a misguided policy decision that would not make our communities any safer.

It was Tuesday, May 2, 1995, when the Senate decided that it would allow the government to take another piece of our individual freedoms to diminish the right of law-abiding Canadians to their enjoyment of personal property. However, three Liberal-appointed senators faced their conscience and stood with their constituents and voted against Bill C-68. Perhaps if others in this place had joined former Senator Lawson, Senator Lucier and Senator Sparrow the outcome of this overly intrusive Bill C-68 would have been different.

Ever since the passage of Bill C-68, Canadians coast to coast have fought against this law. I toured extensively through the entire country, talking to people, making certain that what I was opposing was being supported out there. I recall travelling into

the Northwest Territories, and Stephen Kakfwi at the time was Minister of Justice. I arranged travel up the Mackenzie Delta and then back down to Fort Simpson. I covered all these areas, and it was unanimous that this bill was an infringement, an incursion into the lives of our Aboriginal peoples and the peoples who lived up there, not only the Aboriginals but the people in general. I spent a night at Shingle Point where the Inuit were hunting for the bowhead whale. They waited for the whale to come into this inlet. We stayed out on the land that particular night. The next morning, as we got up, a bunch of children were playing outside when a great big grizzly bear came down the mountain toward the ocean. The Inuit needed their guns for their own personal safety. They could not have them stored. They had to have their guns at the ready position, and thank God they did. They did not shoot the bear. They did what our Aboriginal peoples do — they preserved the life of the animal but scared it away with the use of a gun.

I was not the only one travelling. Members from the other place travelled as well. I listened to the concerns of thousands of law-abiding gun owners who rightly viewed Bill C-68 as a brazen attack by the government on their constitutional right to enjoyment of personal property.

Honourable senators, the bill before us will put an end to one of the most costly programs that our bureaucracy has ever administered. When the bill to enact the long-gun registry was before Parliament, the government forecasted a cost of $2 million to set up and operate the registry. After a couple of failed starts, it took the bureaucracy over three years and millions more to finally set up and administer the registry. In 2003, Parliament was asked to approve and did approve roughly $170 million to sustain the operation for that year alone, a long way from the $2 million.

In 2002, Auditor General Sheila Fraser released a scathing report on the long-gun registry's questionable financial reporting methods and stated that the program was on track to cost the Canadian taxpayers over $1 billion. In fact, the Auditor General was right again.

This particular registry also created other unwarranted impacts directly on the law-abiding gun owners of Canada. Hunters, duck hunters, whatever hunters you want to speak of, farmers and Aboriginals, many of these people who rely on their firearms as I just described to sustain their way of life or cultural traditions were forced to participate in a bureaucratic process. The purpose, to keep guns out of the hands of bad people, was never established in fact in any way, shape or form.

In a 1995 memo, a copy of which I still have in my possession, then Minister Allan Rock states that no long guns will be banned under the provisions set out in Bill C-68. Honourable senators, this could not be further from the truth, and I will illustrate briefly with a recent action and the decision of the registry's program administrator, the RCMP.

In late December, registered owners of a certain small .22 calibre — that is the smallest calibre there is in rifles — received letters from the RCMP-administered Canada Firearms Program demanding the surrender of the firearm without compensation because the RCMP, on their own initiative, decided to reclassify it from a non-restricted to a prohibited firearm. The RCMP's reason was because it resembled the likeness of a military gun, even though the .22 calibre had none of the same operating features.

There are reasonable questions that should be asked here. The .22 calibre firearm is the smallest calibre of long gun available. Was the reclassification necessary? Was the safety of the public at risk? Was the true and ultimate purpose of Bill C-68, the purpose of the registry, which in this case provided the RCMP with the necessary power to confiscate the long guns in question, to eradicate firearms from Canadian society? Not according to the promises made to the long-gun owners by former Minister Allan Rock.

Honourable senators, Canada has had laws restricting the possession and the use of firearms since 1877, along with a centralized registry for restricted firearms since 1951 and a classification system of prohibited and restricted weapons and non-restricted long guns since 1968.

In addition, a screening system for those wishing to acquire any firearm, including non-restricted hunting rifles and shotguns, was established in 1977. This firearms acquisition certificate screening system was tightened up in 1991. What I have just outlined is known as the Canadian Firearms Information System.

Honourable senators, the main purpose of Bill C-68, the Firearms Act, was supposed to be to improve public safety. In the Supreme Court of Canada reference decision, the court observed that the registry for long guns was an attempt to bring an end to the problems arising from the criminal or dangerous use of firearms in cases such as suicide, accidental shootings and domestic violence. The court said the registry sought to deter the improper use of firearms and control access to them based on the person filing the application and the type of firearm.

With all due respect, honourable senators, creating a specific non-restricted or long-gun sub-registry of the existing Canadian Firearms Information System has done nothing further to increase public safety.

(1530)

Honourable senators, Bill C-19, seeks to remove only the requirement to register firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted, in other words, hunting rifles. All of the other regulatory requirements, whose purpose is to make our country a safe place to live, remain in place, and they should. We should be responsible in the way we store guns, and there should be a certificate required to acquire guns.

Honourable senators, over the past 14 years, this registry has cost taxpayers over $2 billion. During that time it has never operated efficiently or effectively. It has neither brought about the safer use of firearms nor made our community safer.

Honourable senators, I want to be clear about the intention of the bill before us. It does two things. It does not diminish the obligation concerning ownership and the safe use of firearms. However, it will eliminate the long-gun registry and the records created through this particular registry will be destroyed. That is all, plain and simple.

For the past 14 years, most Canadians believed that the long-gun registry demanded an inappropriate use of our financial and policing resources. Finally, the end of this misguided program is near.

Honourable senators can stand tall in this place and be proud in declaring to our constituents that we have undone what ought not to have been done in the first place. In the last election, the government promised to get rid of this registry. That is what Bill C-19 sets out to do. Passing this legislation is what we ought to do.

All honourable senators are encouraged to join Senator Lang and put your support behind this long-awaited legislation. A promise made by the Government of Canada is a promise kept.

Thank you. God bless everyone.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Would the honourable senator entertain a question?

Senator St. Germain: Yes.

Senator LeBreton: I think it is important that Senator St. Germain has put his comments on the record. In the tradition of the Senate, the upper chamber, the chamber of sober second thought, if my memory serves me correctly, the honourable senator gave this chamber an opportunity to demonstrate this sober second thought. I believe he moved an amendment to hoist the bill for six months so that the hysteria and temperature could be reduced, where people would be able to make a rational decision and indeed take a decision on this bill in the spirit of sober second thought.

Of course, the honourable senator was supported by his colleagues in this, but unfortunately not enough to carry the day. I want to know if the honourable senator recalls that and whether he cares to comment.

Senator St. Germain: I do recall that. We wanted to hoist the bill because emotions were running high as a result of an incident that had taken place in the country, which was regrettable.

The saddest part of it was that people like my father, who lived off the land and needed his guns to hunt so that he could provide food for our family, was being equated with some fanatic who takes a gun and shoots a group of people, regardless of where it might be, whether in California or Alberta or wherever it is, and it was totally unfair. The issue was being presented in that manner. That is what tore at my heart, because I know how much respect we had for guns when I grew up. They were part of our lives. They were like the hammer in the carpenter's hand or the stethoscope for the doctor. We were being compared to the criminal element that used these guns irresponsibly. The inference was that anyone who had to use guns or had an abundance of guns was basically a lunatic and was about to destroy humanity. That was the regrettable part of the moment and that is why I wanted the bill hoisted.

I understand. I have been a policeman. I have been there. I have been there when criminals were shooting at us. I can tell you one thing: That is not a comfortable situation. The fact remains that one gets caught up in the heat of the moment. That is why I wanted the bill hoisted, because I wanted cooler heads to prevail. There are thousands of people in North America who use guns so responsibly and for such enjoyment.

I was at the Langley Rod & Gun Club the other night where a group of young people received awards for shooting. There are Olympic competitors out of Langley, British Columbia. We were there. Mark Warawa, the MP from the other place was there, as well as several mayors from the surrounding communities. We were presenting awards to these young people, who were totally enthused with the sport of shooting. It is in that spirit that I wanted the bill hoisted, so people could cool down and think things over. That did not happen. Here we are.

Let us use all of our wisdom and sober second thought. Let us use it today as we go forward on this initiative, because I think it means a lot to many people.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator St. Germain's time has expired. Senator Dyck would like to ask a question but Senator St. Germain would have to request more time.

Senator St. Germain: I would do so, if the honourable senator wants to ask a question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Five more minutes.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I ask this question because this is a controversial bill, and Senator St. Germain gave a very good speech. As a woman, it is always a difficult question for us. The honourable senator has experience as a police officer.

What does the honourable senator say to organizations such as the YWCA, that has taken a position against the abolishment of the long-gun registry because of the situation with violence in homes where long guns are the weapons most often used to kill women? That is an issue that tears at my heart. The YWCA claims that there has been a reduction in the number of spousal homicides since the registry, mostly women.

With the passage of this bill, what would the honourable senator say to a woman who came to him and said, "My sister was killed by someone with a long gun?" How do we come to grips with that? What is the argument for abolishing the long-gun registry when we know that these incidents happen in cases of domestic abuse? Can he convince me that there is a way to minimize that?

Senator St. Germain: I believe there are no statistics that prove that the gun registry reduced the amount of violent crime against women or men — violence against people regardless of gender.

I grew up in a household where there were guns around, and women were a part of that culture. The fact is that there are so many women who lose their lives as a result of violence. I speak of Willie Pickton. He never used a gun. If you look at all these serial murderers, in most cases there are no guns being used.

What do we restrict next? I think we have to become more aware of violence against women in all forms. If we do that and we make a concerted effort, as parents and grandparents, to go out of our way to make certain that violence is not part and parcel of anything in our families, then we will start to improve. If you want to pick on guns, you can pick on knives and a litany of things. There is a huge number of murders committed with knives. As a police officer, I can tell the honourable senator one thing. I have been to murder scenes, and I will tell you that it tears at your heart. However, you cannot overreact to anything, and you cannot penalize millions of good people for the bad acts of one. The answer lies in education and in not subjecting our young people, or anyone, to viewing violence against women in any way, shape, or form in the family.

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I can recall my grandfather St. Germain, who was a Metis, and how kind he was to his wife. That fed down through the system. My father was married for 50-some years. I have been married for 50 years. Unfortunately, my grandfather was not married for 50 years because he did not live that long. The fact is that it was part of our culture, and there were guns all over the place. However, the families were taught about love, understanding and kindness, and not violence.

Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Honourable senators, I will be dividing my time with Senator Brown.

Honourable senators, I rise today in support of Bill C-19. I stand with law-abiding farmers, hunters and rural Canadians across our country. This legislation is particularly close to my heart, but, more than that, it was and is a rallying cry for people like me who said, "That is enough." Many Canadians felt that the gun registry was a direct attack by the Liberal Party on rural Canadians. Western Canada and the North were especially hard hit by this legislation. Following the disastrous National Energy Program, the gun registry was the reason many Canadians began to turn their backs on the Liberal Party because it went directly into the homes and lifestyles of Canadians. Sadly, the Liberals seemed not to notice how offended people were.

I believe that after the NEP, the gun registry was the beginning of the downfall of the Liberal Party. This fight has lasted 17 years and is finally coming to an end. As the years went on and the objections continued, more and more people questioned why they were not being listened to. The Liberals were failing to connect with the voters and seemed only to care about the large centres of Toronto and Montreal.

Remember, Canadians knew that we had very tough gun laws already, and, under our government's reforms, Canadians will still need a gun licence to purchase or possess a firearm and will continue to be required to register prohibited and restricted firearms, such as handguns and assault rifles. A Canadian firearms licence requires police background checks and a certificate in firearms safety from an experienced instructor. The long-gun registry needlessly and unfairly targets law-abiding Canadians without reducing crime or keeping guns away from criminals.

I remember my father, a hunter and a long-time Liberal supporter and Liberal activist, shaking his head as he tried to explain the whys of this legislation to our community. Those explanations did not work. There was a visceral, populist reaction to the registry. It was the government against the people. These farmers and hunters, who already obeyed the law and safely stored their guns, were angry, particularly at having no voice. I attended many political rallies over the following years, watching people come out in droves, many of them former Liberals. The main issue of these farmers, these wives, these fishermen, these ordinary people was the gun registry.

Over the years, a tidal wave of resentment built, which the Liberal Party failed to see or appreciate, or simply ignored. The registry has imposed horrendous costs on the Canadian taxpayer. Liberals told Canadians it would cost $2 million. To date, it has cost more than $2 billion — $2 billion spent forcing rural Canadians to waste time filling out forms and navigating red tape, all for a registry that does not work. Canadians were made to feel like criminals for their way of life, and their resentment grew.

Our government's bill will finally end this waste of taxpayers' money. We will ensure that the useless and intrusive information collected on our law-abiding Canadians will be destroyed. We will protect the privacy rights and safety of Canadians. We are serious about preventing gun crime. We have enacted mandatory minimum sentences for drive-by shootings and for using a gun in the commission of crimes. By tightening sentences, we lock up criminals who will not be on our streets committing additional crimes. Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act, has many measures that do keep Canadians safe, far safer than the registry.

I beg you to support Bill C-19 and our government's other measures to reduce crime and keep Canadians safe. I urge all honourable senators to step back, study the progression of the gun registry, and learn the lesson. Do not listen to the people at your own peril.

Hon. Bert Brown: I thank Senator Stewart Olsen. I think she has done a very good job of what I was trying to do too. I will keep my notes shorter than I was planning to.

I have talked to a few police chiefs over the past number of years. One of them was a woman police chief. To a person, they have said that they would prefer to have the $2 billion used for more police officers in their towns and cities than to have $2 billion and counting used up shuffling paper.

Police have made another statement when they were called to a possible violent crime site. They have now learned to believe that guns may be in the vicinity and that they should prepare themselves with backup officers at the ready. The number of incidents where long guns are a part of a holdup are very rare. The far greater number of handguns that are smuggled into Canada through the United States border are the problem when crime scenes spring up, occurring far more often in cities than in rural towns and villages. About 98 per cent of violent crimes are committed in the city, not in the rural towns and areas.

When an economy begins to slow or fall, crime grows, and cowards look for guns, not jobs. My home has been burglarized three times in the five years I have been in this chamber.

We have now had alarms and cameras installed, and the police patrol my house every once in a while. The only way to counter violent crimes is with more armed police. Fortunately, the lunatics are few and far between. One thing is for sure — we will not stop them with pieces of paper, costing $2 billion and growing every year.

A decade ago, I went to a gun safety instruction office. When I left, I was given an instructor's license and a cap signifying my new status. I told Senator Munson that I was going to tell this story because it is amusing. I do not see him in his seat today.

When I was there three years ago, I was in the back row, about halfway down. Senator Munson was about a desk away from me. He was kind of bored that day, and he held his head up with his hand. He looked at me and said, "Have you got a gun, Bert?" I said, "Yeah, I do, but not with me." He said, "Bring it with you tomorrow and you can shoot me with it if it is as dull as it was today." I told him that maybe he should talk to his wife about this before he got in too deep. He did, and when he came back, he said, "My wife says it is probably not legal." I said, "That is good, because I talked to my wife and she said it probably was not legal to shoot him, either."

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I just wanted to put that in. It is a funny story. I could not get away from the fact that he had brought that up.

Honourable senators, I want to say a final comment about what happened in the tragedy years ago that really affected us so badly that we went into a federal bill right across the country. I do not think many people realize that the gun that was used at that tragic time was actually a registered gun.

I think there is no way that we could justify a $2-billion bill to try to get more and more paperwork done on guns. I have had some experiences where I had a friend who said that he had been talking about the gun registry, and he decided he would register his guns. He registered them all on a computer, which you can do, and then rushed them off to New Brunswick — I believe that is where it is. I said, "How did it go?" He said, "I put them all in there, and when I pushed the button for enter, they all dropped off." I said, "What happened? What was the reason?" He said, "I do not know." I said, "How many guns did you register on that thing?" He said, "126." I said, "Well, I think you are only allowed to put in 10 or 12 at a time when you register through to the network." I asked him, "So what will you do now?" He said, "Nothing." Honourable senators, there are a lot of guns out there that were never registered and probably never will be registered.

I had another neighbour who had, I would have to say, something close to 100 guns. He was a hobbyist who wanted to buy Winchesters, which used to be important to this country in terms of the West. He would go to an auction sale and buy old Winchesters. He had no use for them at all; he just wanted to collect them. I think he had close to a hundred of them.

I would have to close my arguments with the comment that in Quebec, when this man shot 16 women, I think the true tragedy to me was the fact that he isolated the men in the room and shot all of the women. I know he was a lunatic, but, even more, I cannot understand why the men who were there made no attempt to stop him.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, that event was one of enormous tragedy and of continuing concern. Some years back, I remember reading about the fact that very little was done to prevent the actions of this disturbed gunman, and that all the young men present were so overcome that they were incapable of taking action to stop him. I had read — and maybe the honourable senator knows or has heard something of it — that at least one of them committed suicide because he had difficulty accepting the fact that no action was taken by himself to prevent it. It may very well be that it was preventable, but it is a tragedy of such enormity that I think it will continue to provoke reflection on our parts for years to come.

Has the honourable senator ever heard anything to that effect?

Senator Brown: Yes, I have heard exactly what the honourable senator said, that one of them did commit suicide. I guess they could not live with the fact that they never tried to protect anyone.

The Hon. the Speaker: Continuing debate?

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I wanted to rise in support of this bill as an urban Canadian, a city dweller, and someone who has had the opportunity to speak to law-abiding gun owners and families that have a tradition of hunting that has been passed on through the generations. For instance, a family that I know, who lives in Metro Vancouver, has talked to me at length about the long-standing tradition of the grandfather from Italy who taught his son, who is now the father, and his grandson, and how, as a family, this is something that they enjoy. It reminds me of how we can sometimes look at the urban and rural divide, but this is an issue and a bill that is being eagerly awaited by those in the city who are also hunters and law-abiding citizens who have had to go through cumbersome processes and paperwork. They call it "the hoops."

I personally am neither a gun owner nor a hunter. I am married to a husband who grew up in the Kootenays, the interior of B.C., and who grew up with this tradition as well. I guess I am speaking and rising on behalf of those in the cities who also see this as a cumbersome, onerous process on them. This is not just about rural Canadians, although it is a tradition there and I recognize and respect that. City dwellers, too, are awaiting the passage of this bill.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there further debate?

(On motion of Senator Hervieux-Payette, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

The Estimates, 2011-12

Motion to Authorize National Finance Committee to Study Supplementary Estimates (C) Adopted

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) pursuant to notice of February 28, 2012, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012.

(Motion agreed to.)

The Estimates, 2012-13

Motion to Authorize National Finance Committee to Study Main Estimates Adopted

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) pursuant to notice of February 28, 2012, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, with the exception of Parliament Vote 10.

(Motion agreed to.)

Motion to Authorize Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament to Study Vote 10 Adopted

Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government) pursuant to notice of February 28, 2012, moved:

That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Parliament Vote 10 of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.

(Motion agreed to.)

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Study on National Security and Defence Policies, Practices, Circumstances and Capabilities

Fourth Report of National Security and Defence Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lang, for the adoption of the fourth report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled: Answering the Call: The Future role of Canada's Primary Reserve, tabled in the Senate on December 15, 2011.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about this report.

[English]

Honourable senators, it has taken me a bit of time to come here and I appreciate the patience of members of the committee and the chair, in particular. I have a few things that I would like to say and I have had to think about them. Of course, I am addressing the report Answering the Call: The Future Role of Canada's Primary Reserves.

I would encourage all honourable senators to take part in opportunities to spend time with members of the various forces. Each summer, as I understand, each of the forces provides an opportunity for senators and elected members of Parliament to participate in a way that is meaningful and provides insight into how the forces operate.

This past summer in Wainwright, Alberta, I participated, along with one member of Parliament, in a massive reserves war games exercise, which I think involved about 1,000 members of the reserves. I was deployed, if I may use that word, with an armoured reconnaissance unit. I spent two days with the group, including almost 24 hours in the field and an entire night in the dark and cold on sentry duty in an outpost setting up an observation post for a battle and an attack that were to occur the next day; and, they did occur.

It was as close to realistic as one can get with the weapons and kit and the chance to observe the inter-relationships and how reservists operated. I was immensely impressed in particular by the leadership. I was in a vehicle with three other people. One was a master corporal, a young man, who had done two tours in Afghanistan with the regular force. When he left, he was in the reserves and in his fourth year of a degree in philosophy. He was very thoughtful and demonstrated outstanding leadership ability in so many ways. It was an impressive and very moving experience in many respects that I would recommend to all members of Parliament.

Honourable senators, I think this report is good. It reflects some excellent testimony that we received from some very insightful and excellent witnesses. In particular, what commends it to me, all honourable senators and Canadians is that it gives a relatively comprehensive analysis or listing of many of the important issues that are facing the reserves in Canada today. In many ways, the recommendation page is a checklist of some of these important issues, although not quite all of them.

For example, the report addresses the question of how the size of the primary reserves should be configured in the future, given the new international war situation that we face and the demobilization of much of our force in that specific regard.

It talks about the new roles that we should define and how we should define them for the different reserve classifications of A, B and C. It addresses the question of how we should augment the pay system for the reserves because there are some administrative and other inconsistencies and problems. It addresses how we should begin to establish the role of recruiting for the Army Reserve versus how it had been done historically with a view to mass mobilization because the world has changed. It is unlikely that will be required and hopefully it will never be required again.

The report talks about the community footprint and how the reserves have a special role and relationship with the community. These reservists come from the community and go back to it almost on a daily basis in a way that the regular forces do not do.

I could go on. It is a comprehensive list that covers that list of issues quite well.

One of the report's major strengths is that it outlines the issues we need to address with further detail and intensity — where we need to drill down. To some extent, the study was quick and, to some extent, it just hit the high points. However, there are issues that require a good deal more attention, and I would like to highlight some of those.

I mentioned in passing the question of community footprint. It is true that the reserve has a special relationship with the community. Reservists come from the community. One or two nights a week, often on weekends, they go back to the community. That is not to diminish the many reservists who spend months and months in difficult places, such as Afghanistan. In the context of this special relationship, a number of points were made. We established in the final analysis a recommendation that the community footprint — the role the reservists play within the military and the community — needs to be defined more clearly, particularly now that we have reached a kind of breather. We have gone through one phase and now there is a time to rethink, redevelop and reconsider what it is the reserves could do.

One of the areas that is becoming more prominent in the thinking around that issue, not just for the reserves but also for the regular force, is the question of humanitarian work and disaster-relief work, both domestically and internationally. We heard some testimony and comments, and I have had other discussions, that underline the profoundly important role that the military and the reserves specifically have played and do play in humanitarian aid and disaster-relief around the world. It has been noted often the tremendous work that the reserves did with respect to the flooding in Winnipeg and the ice storms that we have had.

However, there is also a suggestion that the reserves may not always have the equipment and the training that they need to do some of those activities. For example, in one discussion that I participated in, it was mentioned that perhaps the military and reserves could participate in fire emergencies, like the devastating one in northern Alberta. The point was made that, while they certainly have the leadership, discipline and physical attributes to assist in that way, they do not have the equipment.

What kind of assessment needs to be done to establish training needs to accept this role more intensely and the equipment needs, funding and budget for the future? In one sense I hope deeply that the military will have more time to do this kind of activity because there will be far less pressure and opportunity for them to have to fight in wars. That, of course, would be a last resort, and we would hope that they would not have to do that. It may be that one way to sustain a disciplined, well-trained and active military reserve force with great morale is to give them other challenges, and those challenges could be humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

A point was made, I believe just yesterday, by a witness who said that they are anticipating more and more climate-driven disasters because the climate is changing. There is evidence of that and one does not even need the science — just walk outside or listen to the news to know that this is happening a great deal more. In the future I would like to see more emphasis and effort placed on this kind of a study by the Defence Committee.

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A second area that is mentioned — not in passing but not in sufficient detail in the report — outlines the issues, but we need to drill down. It is with respect to employer compensation for those who see employees deployed abroad or in a way that means they cannot work for them for a period of time. This places an undue burden of a broader social responsibility — a broader national responsibility — specifically on a limited number of employers. There is experience in other jurisdictions in the world where employers are specifically compensated for that, and we need to consider it in more detail. The report makes the point that in these times of fiscal restraint, this would seem inappropriate. I am not sure that is a conclusion I would agree with.

In fact, Canada Company, which is a foundation — independent, private, set up to work in this area on behalf of Canadians and reservists — makes the point that $8 million could fund what needs to be done to make this possible and to reduce what is currently an unfair and undue burden on many small and medium-sized employers who have reservists in their employ who then deploy; they lose their services. If it is just for eight, nine or ten months it is difficult and expensive to replace these people. They have to train someone for a short period of time, and sometimes it is not possible to find someone in those circumstances. It puts a great burden on small and medium-sized businesses, which often suffer a great deal of burden in any event.

I would recommend that be another area where we could do more detailed study as a committee.

A third area mentioned is the question of advertising and promoting the availability of health services to reservists, particularly reservists who perhaps drift away to some extent from the military organization once they return from a place like Afghanistan; perhaps they leave the reserves or leave the services. It is a challenge to make sure they understand what is available.

However, it is also true that a health issue we are all aware of — post-traumatic stress syndrome — could become more and more prominent. There could be much more of it occurring amongst returning forces sometime after they have returned. In particular, the point was made by witnesses that this can occur because while the person is involved in the intensity of the mission — some of them have returned two, three, four times — the adrenaline is running, and the focus and sense of purpose is there. It can push aside the stresses, pressure or awareness that ultimately leads to PTSD.

Now that we are not deploying forces in that intensity or volume to places like Afghanistan, it is conceivable that once the pressure or intensity subsides, the stresses will overwhelm, and we will see more PTSD. At the very least our committee needs to stay on top of that issue, if not study it in great detail. There is an area to study. It is to make certain there are services that are equal and available between regular force personnel, reserve personnel, regular force veterans and reserve veterans to ensure that we never let these people down who have given so much and who, in many ways, have asked so little of us.

Speaking of reports that our committee could do, I would like once again to come back to an area that I think deserves profound consideration. That is the question of the RCMP and what I believe is an emerging, increasingly evident or potential problem in the culture of that organization. Of course, much of our ability to assess that to this point has simply been anecdotal. We see reports of allegations of harassment, and sometimes these are beyond allegations; they are tribunal rulings on these questions. I think where there is smoke there is fire, and that is becoming an issue we need to address.

Just this week, for example, I note that there was a case of an RCMP sergeant and a constable who had sex in an RCMP car while on duty; unforgivable, unacceptable. It is interesting to note the military had a similar case, if not exactly the same, of a general fraternizing with a lower-ranking person. Swift and definitive action was taken in that case.

In this case, after a good deal of time, a tribunal hearing ruled that the most senior participant in this particular experience, a man — could I have five more minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators, for five more minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you. A man was found guilty of this infraction by a tribunal under the RCMP structure, and he was docked 10 days' pay. There was a statement by one of the members of the tribunal that they had found this sergeant had lied, but they could not rule on it because the tribunal's terms of reference did not include that. That is what happened to the man, the senior ranking person in this particular experience: 10 days' pay.

The woman, the junior rank, was docked seven days' pay. She was convicted, if that is what tribunals do. Certainly they

determined that she had lied about it when both of them said it had not happened and then admitted that it did. She was convicted and dismissed from the forces.

Maybe there is an explanation for that that makes some sense. At face value I think it is a very powerful question that the man gets to keep the job, ten days' pay, is not demoted in any way, and the woman loses her job. To me, it does not seem to be fair or to reflect particularly well upon the RCMP. I do not know what the structural problem is there. I believe that the Senate committee could do a review of that in a way that would be helpful to the RCMP, because it is not going to be a witch hunt. It is not a partisan committee. It can allow people — and we are seeing many of them now coming forward — to have their say and be heard on both sides. I think that would be a worthwhile thing to do.

Finally, I want to say that the committee has been running much better of late. With great trepidation I have to make one point. The chair of this committee has actually been nice to me for the last two weeks, and I want that to sustain. However, in her comments about a month ago she made a statement that I think she probably did not mean in the way she made it. However, I cannot leave it unanswered. She said, in reference to the committee before she took it under her leadership, "We will not first decide the conclusions and then write a report to fit some personal point of view."

In doing that, not only did she undermine and discredit a committee that I think has distinguished itself from the day that it was created, but think about the members on that committee who would never have countenanced that kind of activity. They would never have been silent if that had been occurring: Mike Forrestall, Laurier LaPierre, Michael Meighen, Pierre Claude Nolin, Joe Day, Norm Atkins, Willy Moore, Tommy Banks, Lucie Pépin, Hugh Segal, Roméo Dallaire, Dan Lang and many others. I want to say in closing that the one who has made much of that tremendous success possible is Colin Kenny. He is one of the finest chairs that has ever managed a committee in this Senate. He has accomplished more than most or any other committee I could imagine. It was some of the best experiences I have ever had, and I think it is fair to say that the public of Canada understands that.

When that statement was made about bias in reports, I know that the chair of this committee did not mean it in the way that she said it. I know she did not mean to undermine and cast aspersions on these fine, distinguished senators who would never have countenanced that kind of activity.

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Rather than distinguishing this committee as being better than its efforts in the past, I would say we should all work to sustain and aspire to the great success and the model that committee has been for as long as it has been in existence. Should we do that, it will remain a great committee and one of the best committees this Senate will have.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It has been moved by the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lang, that the fourth report interim of the —

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I am sorry. I was taken away with the fine speech that has just been given, and I had intended to ask for the adjournment of the debate on this matter.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Day, debate adjourned.)

Fisheries and Oceans

Budget and Authorization to Engage Service and Travel—Study on Management of Grey Seal Population off Canada's East Coast—Fifth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (budget—study on the management of the grey seal population off Canada's East Coast—power to hire staff and to travel), presented in the Senate on February 16, 2012.

Hon. Fabian Manning moved the adoption of the report.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Poverty

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to the issue of poverty in Canada — an issue that is always current and continues to have devastating effects.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I first want to recognize and thank Senator Robichaud for putting this inquiry on the Order Paper. In the preamble here, he says the issue of poverty in Canada is "an issue that is always current and continues to have devastating effects." How true that is.

Honourable senators, it was just a little over two years ago that the Senate unanimously adopted the report entitled In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness. This report was the product of a two-year undertaking by a subcommittee of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. I chaired the subcommittee and Senator Hugh Segal was deputy chair.

Unfortunately, the conditions we found at that time still exist today. We found then, as we do today, that a staggering one in ten Canadians lives in poverty. That is 3.4 million people, the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan combined. For these people, our fellow citizens, every day is a battle with insufficient income, unaffordable housing, inadequate clothing and unsatisfactory nutrition. Just struggling to get by, these families cannot even dream about getting ahead. One witness who experienced poverty expressed it this way: "Poverty steals from your soul, leaving with you little or no hope. It robs of you of all that can be good in life. It leaves you isolated, lonely and hungry. Every day is a struggle."

What is also disturbing is that approximately one in four of these people are our children, a statistic that is all the more deplorable given Parliament's commitment back in 1989 to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Instead, we have hardly made a dent with double-digit rates of child poverty in most provinces.

We also noted that our society is increasingly becoming more unequal. Statistics Canada has reported that from 1980 to 2005, the income of the richest one fifth of Canadians grew 16.4 per cent, while the poorest fifth declined 20.6 per cent. At the end of 2009, just 4 per cent of Canadian households controlled 67 per cent of the total wealth in Canada. Recent studies by the OECD, the Conference Board of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have provided similar information and raised concerns about the impact on our social fabric, on our social cohesion.

Last year, while many Canadians were still feeling the effects of the recession, the executive pay of the CEOs of Canada's largest companies was going up some 13 per cent. This widening gap between the rich and the poor — or the rich and the rest — is a looming crisis.

I think we all understand, honourable senators, the moral arguments against poverty and inequality: the jarring reality of suffering and want in this land of plenty, this rich country; the unacceptable toll in terms of the lives diminished, dreams deferred or potential denied.

What does not seem to register with many people is the economic cost of poverty, how it costs each and every one of us, not just the poor, forcing up our tax bills, depressing the economy, increasing health care bills and breeding alienation and crime.

An Ontario study that was guided by economists and policy experts such as Don Drummond, Judith Maxwell and James Milway estimates that poverty costs this country about $7.5 billion every year in health care costs alone. The poorest quarter of Canadians costs us twice as much on health care as the richest quarter. Between $8 million and $13 million is lost productivity. All told, these people set poverty's bill between $24 billion and $30 billion annually.

Here is another economic argument. A report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce puts the looming demographic challenge in stark terms. As our population ages and the growth in the working age population slows, we are going to face significant labour shortages. In its report, the Chamber of Commerce said that in order to address the coming shortages in our labour supply, we need to tap into the underutilized segments of our society. They mentioned older people, Aboriginals, the disabled, new immigrants, especially single young men who were particularly hard hit by the recession.

Those are the very groups, honourable senators, along with lone parents, largely lone mothers, that our study found to be the most vulnerable to poverty. It turns out the very same groups that are languishing in poverty are the very ones that the Chamber of Commerce says will need to fill the jobs and pay the taxes in the future.

Here we have the intersection of two of the greatest challenges facing our society: the ongoing economic cost of poverty and the demographic time bomb of aging. The good news and the tremendous opportunity is that we can address both at the same time. Give more people a way out of poverty and we will help fill the jobs we need filled; give more people a way out of poverty and we will save the billions of dollars that poverty is costing each and every one of us.

Our committee also found that decades of social policy-making by all levels of government, well-meaning as it may have been, has resulted in two equally devastating results. First, even when all the programs are working as they should, the resulting income is often only enough to simply maintain them in poverty. Second, at their worst, existing policies and programs actually entrap people in poverty, creating unintended but nonetheless perverse effects that make it almost impossible to escape the reliance on income security programs or homeless shelters.

As Senator David Croll put it in his landmark committee report almost 40 years ago, he said:

We are pouring billions of dollars every year into a social welfare system that merely treats the symptoms of poverty but leaves the disease itself untouched.

However, there are some good signs. During our work, we found examples of promising practices and programs, largely community-based, that actually do work, that do lift people out of poverty and homelessness, and we identify and celebrate these initiatives in our report. Sadly, these examples are pockets of promise in an otherwise dysfunctional system that must be overhauled.

Our committee studied the whole range of income security programs, from tax breaks to social assistance and Employment Insurance to Old Age Security. We made a number of specific recommendations, 74 in all, for improvement. You will be happy to know that I will not go through all of them today, but they are available in the report for your perusal and reminder.

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The bottom line is that no Canadian should live below the poverty line. We need a national antipoverty strategy from our federal and provincial governments. The National Council on Welfare, interestingly, a federally appointed organization, produced a report last fall called The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty. The council said that it would take $12 billion annually to bring Canadians up to and over the poverty line. Compare that to the cost of poverty I mentioned earlier of $24 to $30 billion a year, and you can see why the council used the word "sense" instead of "cents" in the title of the report.

Let me turn briefly to housing and homelessness. I think all of us understand intuitively the importance of having decent shelter. A home anchors a person and a family. It provides the foundation for higher educational attainment and leads to greater stability in the workplace. Health experts also tell us that adequate housing is a key determinant of health and long-term health outcomes. Today in Canada, 4 million people are struggling to find

affordable housing. By "affordable," I am using CMHC's standard rule of thumb of about 30 per cent of income going to housing that is adequate and in suitable condition.

In addressing the issue of homelessness, it is also not just about doing the morally right thing; it is also about dollars and cents. The fact is that it is more expensive for us to leave someone on the street than to provide them with decent housing and support services. Former Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said just a year ago that the average homeless person costs society roughly $100,000 a year, including health costs. These people are in and out of shelters and in and out of the judicial system and jails, et cetera. He said it was $100,000, and some have said it is even more. The annual cost per person, he pointed out, drops to about $35,000 annually if that person is given a long-term home and supports.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, wrote an article in The New Yorker magazine about a man known as Million-Dollar Murray. He is a man who lived on the streets, in jails, in hospital emergency rooms and hospitals. He suffered from addictions and, in the end, he died on the street. The million dollars refers to the cost to the taxpayers. How much better and cheaper it would have been to help him overcome these problems.

Honourable senators, we need to do a better job on both housing and homelessness, and it is time the federal and provincial governments finally come to grips with this issue and develop a national housing strategy.

Colleagues, how do we get movement on these issues? To get movement on these issues, we need will — political will. Most provinces are now adopting antipoverty plans. We need them to put this on the agenda at the federal-provincial-territorial meetings to get the federal government involved as well. All levels of government need to work on this. We also need to increase public awareness and support and understanding about the costs that they all have to absorb, whether they are poor or not.

In conclusion, underlying our report is a simple common-sense premise: that social programs should lift people out of poverty, not keep them there, and that it is time to give people the tools they need so they can lift themselves into a better life. Poverty is not benign; it affects us all and it costs us all. We spend a lot of money and do not get the results we should. While in any change of system there are transitional costs, I firmly believe that, overall, we do not need to spend more money, but we do need to spend smarter, more efficiently and effectively.

In today's global economy, with the looming demographic challenge of an aging society leading to a shrinking workforce, the importance of creating those opportunities, of unleashing the creative contribution of those trapped in poverty, is more important than ever. In a very real sense, the future level of our prosperity, I believe, depends on addressing the current level of our poverty. Simply put, I do not think we can afford poverty anymore.

(On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Orders of Reference of Senate Committees

Inquiry—Debate Concluded

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Comeau, calling the attention of the Senate to the content of committee orders of reference.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I would like to begin by congratulating Senator Comeau once again. His inquiry raises a subject that is at the very heart of our role as parliamentarians.

I am sure we all agree that committees are the heart and perhaps even the very soul of the Senate. Like Senator Comeau, I have been here for some time, I have participated in the work of several committees, I have chaired committees and subcommittees, and I have come to understand just how precious the work of our committees is, not just to us, but to Parliament and the nation.

It is therefore vital that we fulfill our role as mindful guardians of what matters most in the traditions of the Senate and Parliament of Canada.

[English]

There is a long-standing problem, and Senator Comeau addressed it. He addressed it rather more nicely than I would. I would say it is even more acute than he would. The problem is, in my view, the way in which we handle orders of reference and budgetary decisions related to those orders of reference for committees.

First, the Senate is asked to approve an order of reference. That being done, the committee goes to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, and specifically to the subcommittee that Senator Comeau chairs, the one on committee budgets and travel, and presents its budget. However, as Senator Comeau said, and I will quote him here:

In my view, it is not for our committee to question the parameters of an order of reference that the Senate has already adopted;

That has been the underlying principle and tradition in this place, which means that it is the Senate itself that should take responsibility for the orders of reference that it authorizes, and we, most times, do not do that. Partly we do not do it because we respect our committees. When a committee comes to us and says, "We want to study X," we tend to say, "Go right ahead because we know you are a serious group of people, and we will authorize you to do the study."

However, sometimes those orders of reference are so broad that we are authorizing committees to do almost anything. I remember some years ago when our former colleague Senator Banks was Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, he produced an order of reference that was so broad that I went to him and said, "You could do anything with this except travel to Mars." He beamed at me and said "Exactly." That was exactly what he wanted. He wanted an order of reference so broad that the committee could then deem itself to be authorized to do most anything that it felt like doing.

Senator Banks was a superb chair of that committee, in my view, and that committee did, under his leadership, as it continues to do, excellent and important work. All our committees do important work. That is not the issue. The issue is that when we give these authorizations, we are signing blank cheques for all intents and purposes. We do not exercise the function that parliamentarians are supposed to exercise, which is to know what they are doing and to know what they are authorizing in terms of the expenditure of public money. We therefore ask the Internal Economy Committee to do the impossible job of trying to adjudicate between all these different, important, valid claims, all authorized by the Senate.

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We know there are oddities in the way our rules are set up; there are difficulties. However, it seems to me that we, as parliamentarians, could, without changing a single rule, simply change our practices. We could, whenever a committee comes before us with an order of reference, stand up and ask questions. We could, indeed, expect that before we even get to ask questions, the committee chair — or deputy chair, depending on who is present — give a fairly detailed explanation of what is planned. We could require, by refusing to adopt excessively broad orders of reference, that orders of reference be specific. We are not just going to study all matters relating to energy and the environment generally, valid though that may be as a field of study. We are going to say we will look at whatever it is that the Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is actually going to be looking at. We could provide dates. We could provide to the Senate outlines of whom the committee plans to hear, where it plans to travel, what the core issues are it plans to explore and what it expects to be able to report, not in terms of the conclusions but in terms of the areas that it expects to be able to report upon.

I mentioned Energy, but we all know what I said applies to all kinds of committees. Riffling through orders of reference more recently, I found one from the Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, an excellent committee that does very important work representing people who desperately need representation.

My goodness, we authorized them to:

Examine and report on the federal government's constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and on other matters generally relating to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada

What does that mean? We do not know. I repeat: Aboriginal peoples are a vital field of study, but before we, as 105 parliamentarians, authorize the committee to go off and do anything and everything, we need to require that it be specific. We do not do that, and in not doing it, truly, we fail, in my view, in our constitutional duty.

Most of us will recall hearing our former colleague Lowell Murray, a man who had forgotten more than most of us will ever know about Parliament and about public finances. He used to complain that the House of Commons has:

. . . allowed their most vital power, the power of the purse, to become a dead letter, their supply and estimates process an empty ritual.

We know that is true. We know that if a House of Commons committee does not look at estimates, they just are deemed to be adopted. That is true under the present government, and it has been true under preceding ones.

There was a great day under a Liberal government not that long ago when, in the space of half an hour, they passed $50 billion worth of estimates, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Unanimous consent was given for this. That is hardly being an effective guardian of the public purse.

We cannot tell the House of Commons what to do, but we can look after our own house, and we can see to it that we finally do what we should do, and that is examine what we are authorizing and how we are authorizing those precious taxpayers' dollars to be spent.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Would Senator Fraser entertain a question?

Senator Fraser: With some trepidation.

Senator Comeau: I do want to thank Senator Fraser for having given the extra comments that I had not during my own speech. She went into much more detail, but I think I can understand why.

Listening to her comments, she mentioned the House of Commons and how different the House of Commons is from the Senate. In the House of Commons, they have a kind of general order of reference. They do not need to seek the reference from their chamber. In other words, they can just go at it and study what they wish to study at any one time.

On the Senate side, however, the senators are interested in what the committees are doing. That is why an order of reference has to be sought from this chamber. With that in mind, senators do want to know what their committees are doing.

I think what the honourable senator has brought up is extremely important. The kinds of questions she has suggested would add so much more to what we are doing and would continue to increase the value of our committees. If we are aware of what our committees are doing, we will follow them much more closely. This is one of the areas that have made our committees so much more powerful, along with the fact that we do not have to worry about an election in three years, I presume.

Would Senator Fraser have other suggestions that, in the course of her comments, she may have forgotten to mention? Are there other factors that contribute to why our committees are so much better?

Senator Fraser: Definitely our committees are so much better. Again last week, when the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs was sitting, several witnesses I chatted with after they had appeared said, as we have all heard so many say, "You know, I have appeared before committees in the House of Commons and I have appeared before committees here, and it is like night and day. It is so much better here. You people do serious work, and you are not consumed by partisan point-scoring."

The witnesses — and I believe the public — genuinely appreciate that. It is true that we all care deeply about the work

of our committees. That is one of the distinguishing features of the Senate.

I also believe that one reason we have been able to do better work relates to the nature of this place as it has evolved over the years. Of course that may change, but at the moment I think one of the advantages we have in that respect is that we do not have to get elected, we do not have to worry about partisan point-scoring and we know we will be living together for a long time. It is just a good idea to be serious as you go about things and not fall into endless partisan baiting.

I do not know that I have any more specific recommendations to make. I certainly am not familiar to the extent that Senator Comeau is with the way the House of Commons' rules work. He served with distinction there for some time before he came to serve with distinction here, and I have not had that honour. I do not think I would do it very well, either.

I respect them. I know that I could not do the work that MPs do, but I think in this field we can do better work, and, although we do very good work now, we can do even better work. If more recommendations were to come forward from the Internal Economy Committee about the specifics, the practicalities of how we get at it, I would be more than interested to see them. I would encourage anyone to participate in that work if so invited.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?

Senator Comeau: I do want to comment briefly. I know this is supposed to be a question, but I will make it in the form of a comment. I am glad the honourable senator brought up the difference between what this chamber does and what the House of Commons does.

I agree with her that the members in the House of Commons do extremely valuable work. They work hard in a sometimes extremely difficult and partisan atmosphere. Every once in a while, you will see that in our committees in the Senate, but, for the most part, a great deal of the work is done in a non-partisan atmosphere when we get into the studies.

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One of the great advantages of the Senate and one of the finest roles we have as senators is to produce reports that are of a non-partisan, collegial nature. As I am looking across at Senator Day, I want to congratulate him on the work he does on the Finance Committee and on the extremely serious way that the Finance Committee approaches things. This is quite often quite opposite to what the other place does. I think we have to be very appreciative of the way our committees can produce, and they do produce.

Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: I know time is up, but I wonder if we could have five minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Fraser, are you asking for five more minutes?

Senator Fraser: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Yes.

Senator Stewart Olsen: I had been going to speak to this debate because I think it is extremely important, but both of you have been eloquent on the same points that I would make. Being new and sitting on the Internal Economy Committee, I would welcome some brief notes from Senator Fraser on how she thinks Internal Economy should proceed to make those changes that I feel are extremely important and such good points. If she could forward them to the chair of Internal Economy, I would be most appreciative.

Senator Fraser: I thank the honourable senator for that expression of confidence. I have never served on Internal Economy. It is one of the committees I have never served on. I have been one of the gaggle of committee chairs who appear before Internal Economy then go away and complain because they did not get enough money and someone else got more.

I will think about that, and I would urge all of us to think about it because we all want to do this thing properly.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you.

The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak, this inquiry shall be deemed to have been debated.

(Debate concluded.)

Recognition of Service of Bomber Command during World War II

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Meighen, calling the attention of the Senate to the unconscionable delay, despite the resolution of this Chamber passed unanimously on June 18, 2008, of the awarding of an appropriate theatre decoration for the brave Canadian flyers and crew who served in Bomber Command during World War II, without whose efforts, courage and sacrifice the war and its destruction would have continued for many more years.

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to former Senator Meighen's inquiry on the unconscionable delay in the awarding of an appropriate recognition to the brave Canadians who served in World War II as part of Bomber Command. The greatest tribute I can pay to Senator Meighen, having not been here when tributes were paid on the day of his resignation, is to continue with others to battle to overturn this horrific injustice.

This chamber spoke with one voice in the unanimous resolution on June 18, 2008. I have no evidence whatsoever to offer this chamber that anyone at Rideau Hall, in the Chancellery of Honours, within the Department of National Defence, or within the Department of Veterans Affairs, or Heritage, or the Privy Council Office of Canada, took the slightest bit of notice of the resolution we passed unanimously in this place on this issue.

In the meantime, these brave airmen, who sustained more casualties in the vital bombing raids over Nazi Germany than Canadians faced in any other theatre of war in World War II, die off without the recognition they deserve. How cruel are the bureaucrats, the pettifogging honours committee members, and the indolent staff in all of these departments, including Rideau Hall, to let this travesty continue. Do they know how courageous these young Canadians had to be? Do they care that the danger was so great that, of the 17,100 Canadians who served in Bomber Command, 9,980 of our fellow Canadians — or 56 per cent — were lost in that battle? Obviously, these foot-dragging civil servants do not give a damn.

This week, I shall file a series of written questions seeking the names, meetings, dates, and participants of committees within the bureaucracy that have delayed, fiddled, hypothecated and dithered, while Canadians many years their senior have died —

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Segal: Canadians who showed more courage and patriotism and love of country in a few hours over Europe, on many, many occasions, than these civil servants could ever understand.

I want to congratulate Ministers MacKay and Baird and Senators Moore and LeBreton, who have all spoken out in favour of this award and have worked extremely hard to bring it about. Why, then, has nothing happened? Who and what is so deeply entangling and restraining that even senior ministers of the Crown, good and honest men and women, carry no sway on this issue? What honours process or committee is so immune to public decency and fairness that it can actively keep the right thing from happening for so long? What transgression did these brave Canadian pilots and crew commit when they brought the war to Hitler's Germany long before a Western front could be opened, by Canadians and others, on the beaches of Sicily and Normandy and long after Nazi bombers attacked civilian populations in Europe and during the Blitz over London?

Honourable senators, in this jubilee year, throughout her 16 realms, we honour the service of a Queen who, as a young woman and princess living through the Blitz in London, worked in the motor pool repairing ambulances and other vehicles vital to saving civilian lives attacked every night under enemy bombing. That spirit of service, duty, and loyalty to her people has been our Queen's hallmark ever since. This jubilee year is the perfect opportunity to right a wrong and award the Canadians of Bomber Command the decoration their selfless service, courage, and sacrifice so richly deserve.

I know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has tried to be very helpful on this file, and I am grateful for that. I know there is bipartisan support for this proposition, which is why the resolution passed unanimously in 2008. There are, I am sure, as we speak, people, in ministers', MPs' and senators' offices who are working extremely hard, on all sides of the house, to try to make this happen. This makes the lack of progress to date even more frustrating.

Honourable senators, I invite others in the chamber to join in this debate over the coming weeks. Hopefully, if we persist and engage, the devils of delay, dither, obfuscation and betrayal might be chased away by the angels of decency, respect, recognition and gratitude before it is too late. We owe no less to the brave Canadian pilots and crews who shortened the war, helped save millions of lives and were so vital to the preservation of civilization itself against fascist tyranny. Lest we forget, indeed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Would Senator Segal take a question?

Senator Segal: I would be delighted.

Hon. Percy E. Downe: The honourable senator did a very good job, as always, in outlining the issue and, in this case, the frustration we all feel on this issue. Could he tell us what the problem is? What committee has to approve this? Surely it is not a line department of the government. It would be some honours committee. Would it be Rideau Hall or the Government of Canada? Can they strike a particular tribute in this area? I am wondering what the honourable senator's investigation has found to date.

Senator Segal: The bad news and the good news, senator, is that the answer to all of your questions is yes, all of the possibilities. I have followed it from department to department. I have followed it to the Privy Council Office. I have followed it to the chancery. I have asked the questions that suggest themselves — that is, honours committees meeting or not meeting; honours policies, under review or otherwise — but the response is always "Not yet. There is an issue. It is being addressed." Then it dies. The problem with that is that, while the prospect dies, more and more of the pilots who have been unrecognized for this specific particular sacrifice and bravery also die.

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We had special additions to decorations made for Dieppe. We had special editions for decorations made for North Africa, a theatre of battle. We are not asking for anything out of the ordinary. We are merely saying that the Bomber Command proposition, those hundreds of flights that had to take place so as to sustain the war effort, be recognized as the particular place where men and crews, pilots and navigators and weapons officers, did their best for their country at huge odds. This is all we are asking for. That is all the survivors and their families are asking for.

As to why it is still held up, I wish I could give my honourable friend from Prince Edward Island a clear and precise answer. I am unable to do so because I just do not know.

Senator Downe: I thank the honourable senator for that answer. He raised the Dieppe Bar which, as he indicated, was awarded years after the event. In fact, my late father-in-law received it years after.

I would assume that this would be a similar process. The question is this: Does the honourable senator know how that Dieppe Bar was awarded decades after the war?

Senator Segal: I am led to believe that the process is that there is an interdepartmental honours committee that considers these issues. They try to do so in a fashion that is completely non-partisan and even-handed. They look at the history and get historical advice from the Department of National Defence.

There used to be a rule in place that five years was the limit between when things transpire and when they might be recognized. Clearly, that has not always been applied. It is generally applied, but not universally applied. The point that the honourable senator makes is well taken. There is no reason, in terms that of rule having existed, not to make the recognition appropriate in this case and make it as quickly as possible.

Senator Downe: It sounds like the honour system is run by CSIS. I wish the honourable senator good luck.

Senator Segal: I would settle for this being managed by CSIS — we would be doing darned better on this — than by an interdepartmental committee of faceless public servants who do not appear, as far as I can tell, to be accountable to any political authority who would ask the questions, "Why so long? Why is it taking so long? How much longer do we have to wait?" There does not appear to be any direct accountability that I can discern within the structures of the machinery of government at the present time.

Hon. Michael Duffy: Honourable Senator Segal, I wonder if in the dark recesses of your mind you might consider the fact that Bomber Command was the subject of a very biased and unfair documentary. Is it some of the hangover of that unfair depiction of the bravery of these mostly young men that is, perhaps, causing the bureaucrats to overlook the true valour that is at play here?

Senator Segal: I remember parts that of controversy, honourable senator. I want to give credit to Senator Day, who was working as chair of a committee that sought to deal with the controversy at the time. To his credit, they worked out, I think, an appropriate balance, with the cooperation of our friends at the Canadian War Museum, which not only did not run away from the controversy that had existed at the time and in the post-war years but also put it in the right perspective, namely, by paying tribute to the bravery and courage of the young Canadians who had faced those difficult assignments on those awful nights.

One reads, for example, that in the endless negotiation between Stalin and Churchill to keep the Russians onside, when they were angry about no western front being launched, the one thing that Mr. Churchill could say is that Bomber Command is bringing the war to the enemy in a fashion that no one yet had done on either side, right to their heartland. That was a critical bridge, keeping the Russians onside with the Allied efforts to keep fascist tyranny from destroying the world.

The controversy may have been an issue, but I would argue that the work done by Senator Day and by others on his committee, in a completely non-partisan way, moved that issue to the side. It would be a flimsy excuse and a flimsy effort to obfuscate the truth, which is that they simply seem unable to understand, as the honourable senator's question belies, the urgency of this issue for the survivors of this important aspect of the fight for freedom.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I wish to thank the Honourable Senator Segal for his support and fine rendition of the facts in relation to this particular issue. Perhaps I can give honourable senators an historical perspective.

We dealt with this issue in the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Senator Norm Atkins, whose father had fought in the First World War at Vimy Ridge, was the deputy chair of the committee and very committed to making sure there was proper recognition.

The documentary that came out in relation to this matter caused a great deal of disappointment among many people in Canada. We worked hard to try to get some trailers on it that might have softened it a bit. However, we were not very successful in that regard.

Following that, there was a display at the Canadian War Museum. That display reflected the same bias against what Bomber Command had done. It was extremely disappointing. We had public hearings on this and we were successful in having that display changed as a result of the work that honourable senators did. It was such a strong controversy that there were a number of people within the war museum who resigned as a result, so one knows how strong the feelings were on this particular matter. It is important for us to understand all of that background.

Honourable senators, there is another piece to this. There are quite a few Canadians who joined the British air force and participated in Bomber Command under the British command. It was later in the war that Bomber Command Canada had its own group. There were still many Canadians flying under the RAF banner. That is another complication.

My understanding is that the chancery has looked at this. However, I have never been able to see their recommendation, which would go to our executive. Chancery makes no decisions, they make recommendations. The ultimate decision is that of the executive of government. I think we should continue to work on this and try to get the facts that Senator Segal has indicated he will pursue. I would like to pursue it further and refresh my memory. It has been three or four years since I have had an opportunity to work on this matter. I had hoped that we had achieved something by making that significant stand at the Canadian War Museum, but it is clear that there are still some biases. I suspect very much that it is bias that is causing some problems here.

Time is running out, because many of the participants in Bomber Command are not likely, life expectancy being what it is, to be here that much longer. This is critical and it has been so for some time.

With your permission, honourable senators, I would like to adjourn this matter to have an opportunity to research further for the balance of my time.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It has been moved by Honourable Senator Day, seconded by Honourable Senator Downe, that further debate in this matter be adjourned by Honourable Senator Day for the balance of his time until the next sitting of the Senate.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Day, debate adjourned.)

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Involvement of Foreign Foundations in Canada's Domestic Affairs

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Nicole Eaton rose pursuant to notice of February 2, 2012:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to the interference of foreign foundations in Canada's domestic affairs and their abuse of Canada's existing Revenue Canada Charitable status.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to open an inquiry that will reveal astounding information. It surprised me and I hope it will surprise you. It will make your blood boil and, hopefully, it will prompt us all to action.

There is political manipulation. There is influence peddling. There are millions of dollars crossing borders masquerading as charitable foundations into bank accounts of sometimes phantom charities that do nothing more than act as a fiscal clearing house. They dole out money to other charities without disclosing what the money is for. This inquiry is about how billionaire foreign foundations have quietly moved into Canada and, under the guise of charitable deeds, are trying to define our domestic policies.

[Translation]

It is about organizations that are lining their own pockets by getting involved in whatever causes are the latest trend.

[English]

It is about has-been and wannabe movie stars trying to defibrillate their flatlined careers. It is about anything to undermine the credibility of the Canadian brand — our Canadian identity in Canada and around the world. However, do the charitable and non-governmental organizations that accept enormous amounts of money really represent the interests of Canada, or do they pander to the interests of their foreign masters? Is it really about the environment, or is it about something much bigger and much more profitable? It is about how they use the majority of their resources for political activities and lobbying and about entities that are set up as charitable organizations but, in fact, do not even have an office in Canada, just a post office box. Cleverly masked as grassroots movements, these interests are audaciously treading on our domestic affairs and on Canadian sovereignty, all under the radar.

As Vivian Krause, a West Coast citizen activist and blogger, put it:

One thing is sure: when 36 organizations are all funded by a common, foreign source, their multi-million dollar campaign — with paid, full-time staff, expensive billboards and state-of-the-art web-sites — is anything but a grassroots operation.

[Translation]

This inquiry is about masters of manipulation who are hiding behind charitable organizations to manipulate our policies to their own advantage.

[English]

If we follow the money trail of financial contributions to Canadian charities and NGOs, we will certainly understand why foreign foundations are spending so much money in Canada. Unfortunately, the answers are often hidden behind layers of clever lawyers and accountants working for privately endowed foundations structured to avoid scrutiny. According to preliminary calculations conducted by Vivian Krause, U.S. foundations have poured at least $300 million into the environmental movement in Canada since 2000 — $300 million. The Tides Foundation of California injected at least $6 million into 36 Canadian organizations. The David Suzuki Foundation has been paid at least $10 million by American foundations over the past decade. The Hewlett Foundation based in California has channeled $13.6 million to Tides Canada between 2002 and 2007. The Geneva-based Oak Foundation, set up by British billionaire Alan Parker, has divided almost $2.6 million among six groups for campaigns against the tar sands since 2007. Those are only to name a few.

Key Canadian organizations supported by international foundations with the intent of influencing public opinion and policy direction have acquired Canada Revenue Agency charitable status, and they issue tax receipts, even though much of their activity could be deemed as highly political. Many are operating as lobbyists without following any of our rules. Patrick Moore, formerly with Greenpeace Canada, points out that it is not a charitable act to interfere in the sovereignty of a country.

For example, a major study released by the University of Calgary on December 15, 2011, concluded that if pipeline capacity existed to take full advantage of the oil sands, Canada's economy would see a boost of $131 billion between 2016 and 2030. The number of high-paying jobs at risk is staggering. The Keystone project alone is projected to generate 140,000 Canadian jobs and $600 billion in economic activity over the next 25 years.

[Translation]

There has been a great deal of talk about the oil sands in general as well as the Keystone project and the Northern Gateway pipeline. However, we must not forget that these organizations have their sights set on other sectors of Canada's domestic affairs.

[English]

There are the boreal forests, the seal hunt, salmon farming, gas fracturing and the general management of our land and natural resources. A year ago, Vivian Krause documented how the U.S.-based Packard Foundation has poured millions into a campaign against B.C. salmon to the benefit of Alaska's ranched salmon. The Packard Foundation, from Seattle, which refers to itself as "protecting the northwest" on its website, granted $68 million to support the Marine Stewardship Council and $17 million to reform the aquaculture industry by de-marketing farmed fish, especially B.C. salmon. De-marketing is reducing or shifting the demand. This tactic has been used against Canadian forest products and, more recently, Alberta oil, but the Canadian export that has been hardest hit is farmed salmon.

What is the result? Since 2003, the ex-vessel value of Alaskan salmon has more than tripled to $500 million at the expense of B.C. salmon. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations credited the Packard Foundation with "playing a big part in boosting our markets." On its website, the association identifies itself as "the largest and most politically active trade association of commercial fishermen on the [U.S.] west coast."

[Translation]

In its 2010 annual report, the Humane Society of the United States boasted that it is:

. . . methodically closing down markets for sealskins and diminishing the commercial value of the pelts, making the whole enterprise for the sealers and the government of Canada a losing proposition.

Honourable senators, that is a direct quote.

[English]

This is the same group that funded a photo opportunity for Paul McCartney and Heather Mills on the ice with baby seals to pressure our government into banning the harp seal hunt — spectacle advocacy at its finest. The seal hunt generates more than $15 million in revenue for Newfoundland and Labrador. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 people derive at least some part of their income from sealing. Do not forget, honourable senators, seal meat is an important staple in the Inuit diet.

The Brainerd Foundation, from Seattle, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop tankers from operating on the B.C. coast and to stop development in B.C. and Yukon. On their website, they wanted to grow public opposition to counter the Enbridge pipeline construction and the risk that increased tanker traffic would entail.

The Pew Charitable Trusts, from Philadelphia, transferred millions to Canadian charities to "protect the boreal forest." Yet, a mere $125,000 was granted to the fight against the pine beetle that has devastated billions of trees in British Columbia and Alberta and is a huge threat to the very boreal forests that Pew is purporting to protect. What is it they are really protecting?

Prime Minister Harper has repeatedly questioned why these groups are so intent on turning Canada into one huge national park. Is it a coincidence that they are so fixated on the very sectors that strengthen the Canadian economy, or could it be as simple as protectionism of markets and trade interests? Could it be that while America and Europe falter, Canada is emerging as a strong economic and social power?

(1720)

Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and author of The Canadian Century: Moving out of America's Shadow, posits that the 21st century will belong to Canada. All the signs are there. Canada is rich in the quality of our citizens, the beauty of our landscapes and in our natural resources. We have the four Fs in abundance: food, fuel, fertilizer and forestry.

We are a nation that values human rights, gender equality, protection of minorities and freedom of choice. Our leaders and decision-makers are sought after for their advice and expertise. Our economy is the strongest of the G7 countries. Forbes magazine ranked Canada the number one country in which to conduct business. Internationally we have also accomplished much toward making the world, including Canada, a better place.

Our Canadian identity is strong. In Canada, a quiet patriotism has blossomed. We saw this during the 2010 Olympics when for the first time Canadians unabashedly put our national pride on display for the world to see.

Three recent columns confirmed Canada's growing influence. In his January 9, 2012 column in the Ottawa Citizen, Matthew Fisher documented how Canada is playing a bigger role on the world stage.

British writer, journalist and broadcaster James Delingpole, in his January 10, 2012 article, lauds Canada, stating:

. . . of all the great Western nations Canada is probably the only one left standing up for the values that made the West great.

Most recently, in his January 30 article in the National Post, Jack Granatstein, respected historian and senior research fellow of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute, concluded that:

Harper's foreign policies have made Canada a world player.

Yet, foreign interests have been somewhat successful in their objectives. Using relatively minor single-issue non-governmental groups, they have launched very expensive, professionally designed so-called public education programs.

Take the oil sands. We allowed international interests to frame our oil sands industry with myths, misinformation and catchy slogans like "tar sands" and "dirty oil."

[Translation]

We can learn from that experience and we can strike back. We need to make it clear that they cannot come here to our country and incite Canadians to turn against us, or even worse, pay agitators to come here and provoke demonstrations and protests against our own country.

[English]

This is not a partisan issue, nor is it a regional one. It is certainly not an environmental issue. This is a Canadian issue; a patriotic issue. This is about our sovereignty and economic well-being.

We need to point out some inconvenient truths of our own: truths like the atrocious human rights records of OPEC nations where women are not allowed to vote or even drive, where gays are persecuted and sentenced to death, and where loathsome tyrants rule over oppressed, poverty-stricken populations.

Yet, the very same foundations that are sinking billions into anti-Canadian initiatives are surprisingly silent on their own country's records. Former Canadian ambassador to Washington Derek Burney pointed out that the carbon footprint from the coal-fired U.S. energy industry is 64 times larger than that of the Alberta oil sands. Do we hear about that from Americans? No, we do not.

Just last week, Andrew Weaver, Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria and a lead author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that the impact of burning all the economically viable proven reserve of the oil sands would be negligible and that burning up all the oil in areas currently being extracted would have even less impact. Not surprisingly, Weaver says that coal is significantly worse for the environment than oil sands.

Mysteriously, the American foundations casually shrug off their own records or any interference to their acceptance of conflict oil from countries like Iran, and even go so far as to promote boycotts of Canadian oil.

My advice to all those Hollywood has-beens who have been trying to restart their careers at the oil sands' expense should turn their self-righteousness on their coal-fired U.S. energy industry.

Honourable senators, over the coming weeks we will be gaining valuable insight into this issue. We will learn about our income tax policies, our legal framework, our Charter and about land use and natural resource management strategies. We will hear about harsh realities in OPEC countries and about how the Northern Gateway Review Panel has been hijacked by thousands of would-be interveners, many of whom do not even bother to show up to testify.

We will hear about the lessons learned from Keystone and the impact of all of this on our economy.

I am hoping this inquiry will raise the awareness of all Canadians to this troublesome manipulation of Canada's domestic affairs by foreign interests. I am also hoping that the research conducted in preparation for every segment of this inquiry will point to a natural second phase of solutions.

Thank you very much.

Hon. Joan Fraser: I believe Senator Eaton's time has expired, but I wonder if she would ask for a couple more minutes so I could put a question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the honourable senator prepared to ask for more time?

Senator Eaton: May I have more time to take Senator Fraser's question?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Fraser: This is not going to the profound substance of the honourable senator's remarks. I will have to consider them very carefully and do some of my own research.

However, my attention was caught by the honourable senator's suggestion that by the invention of a catchy slogan, namely "tar sands," is a recent thing. I had wondered if she had checked that. Many years ago, when I was starting out as a financial and economic reporter, I worked for an editor who was a western business writer. I had never heard of it before. He told me about this extraordinary phenomenon called the tar sands. He told me about Peter Pond and about the great wealth that lay there. In those days we did not know how to extract it, this is how long ago it was. However, he called it "tar sands." I never heard the phrase "oil sands" until a comparatively few years ago and I wondered where she got the notion that this was a new catchy slogan devised by opponents.

Senator Eaton: I think it is new in the way it is used. Yes, "tar sands" is a very old definition of "oil sands," because, as honourable senators know, it used to seep up and First Nations used it to seal their canoes. I think now in the way it is used, "tar" means dirty and black. I think that is why they are using it. They are using it in a very pejorative sense. If you notice, anyone who is against the oil sands development always refers to them as the "tar sands" as opposed to the "oil sands." Tar is really something that comes from pine tar, I think, so it is a different substance.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: First, let me thank Senator Eaton for that well researched presentation. It was very interesting and I will look forward to reflecting on some of the points that she made. I just wanted to clarify the inquiry and her presentation so I understand it.

The honourable senator talked about the interference of foreign foundations in Canada. That would be like the National Rifle Association pouring money into Canada to help influence decisions here in Canada. This is foreign money that they bring into Canada, but the second aspect she talked about is the abuse of Revenue Canada's charitable status. Is she talking about foreign foundations coming in and raising money as charities in Canada, and then using it in Canada?

Senator Eaton: No. What I am referring to is that foreign foundations very often set up a Canadian counterpart. They give their money to the Canadian counterpart with a direct goal in mind. The Canadian counterpart, which acts as a clearinghouse or infrastructure, then gives the money to local Canadian charities, and it is deemed to be Canadian money. It is like a feeder foundation; the American charity feeds its American counterpart set up in Canada that then sends out money to other Canadian foundations. Of course, if you are a Canadian charitable foundation, you can get a tax receipt.

(1730)

I think the most important thing about charitable foundations is not the tax receipt so much as when a Canadian or any of us here sees that it is a charity, in quotes, or a foundation, we assume that it is doing good work. We do not question what they are doing.

Senator Day: The second part I understand. It is the first part I am unclear about. If a Canadian registered charity gives out a tax receipt, it is only good against income generated in Canada. Therefore, this money that a foreign foundation raises elsewhere, wherever it might be, and brings into Canada would not be able to take advantage of a tax receipt in any way, the way I see it, unless they are raising money here in Canada.

Senator Eaton: I think the honourable senator is asking a very technical question.

My understanding is that some Canadian charities have reciprocal agreements with the U.S. and vice versa; i.e., the Stratford Festival raises money in Chicago and provides a tax receipt to an American. It works for them.

However, say I am a foundation in the United States and I give to my foundation in Canada; it becomes Canadian money when I accept it. My Canadian foundation's money is then streamed off to you, to you and to you. Because it has come from a Canadian registered foundation, it is Canadian money and a tax receipt is provided.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I want to ask a question, if I could.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry, but the time is up, Senator Mitchell.

Senator Mitchell: I will take the adjournment, then.

(On motion of Senator Mitchell, debate adjourned.)

Overseas Tax Evasion

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Percy E. Downe rose pursuant to notice of February 7, 2012:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to:

(a) the problem of Canadians evading taxes by hiding assets in overseas tax havens;

(b) the harm this does to Canada, both in terms of lost revenue and its effect on those Canadians who obey the law and pay their fair share of taxes;

(c) the pathetic efforts of the Canada Revenue Agency to discover, halt and deter overseas tax evasion, and how, in comparison to those similar agencies in other countries, CRA falls short;

(d) the fact that this, plus recent scandals involving the CRA could lead one to conclude that there are serious problems at the Agency; and

(e) concerns that this situation amounts to a lack of leadership on the part of the Government of Canada.

He said: Honourable senators, I too want to talk about the Canada Revenue Agency, but unlike Senator Eaton, I want to talk about money going outside the country; I want to talk about overseas tax evasion.

As you know, honourable senators, I have been following this issue for a number of years. The last time I spoke about it, a reporter asked me, "Are you aware if any of your colleagues in the Senate have overseas accounts?" I said, "No, but you may want to check; maybe there are some rich journalists who have overseas accounts," as they are never disclosed because the names are not public.

In this case, I am talking about a bank in Liechtenstein where there was an inquiry as to how information was received. A bank employee stole information from the bank, went to his home country and then offered that information for sale. Strangely enough, the Government of Germany purchased that information from him, and then they sent that information out to other countries that had citizens on the list. In the case of this bank in Liechtenstein, there were 106 Canadians on that list who had secret, undisclosed accounts.

The problem is with the Canada Revenue Agency. According to their website, their mandate is "to administer tax, benefits, and related programs, and to ensure compliance on behalf of governments across Canada, thereby contributing to the ongoing economic and social well-being of Canadians."

Unfortunately, the weak efforts to hunt down overseas tax evaders are troubling indicators that the CRA has had difficulty in fulfilling its mandate, and on many occasions has failed.

Tax evasion within the boundaries of Canada is also a problem. Recently, the media has reported that there is an RCMP probe into alleged corruption among some CRA officials, and that probe has been widened to include officials at many CRA offices. Investigations have been ongoing since 2008 in response to allegations that federal auditors that help firms evade taxes in Canada have turned a blind eye to unreported income.

Three CRA auditors have been fired under suspicion of sharing a bank account worth nearly $2 million with a business owner who has pled guilty to tax evasion. These investigations raise serious questions about the state and competence of the current management of the CRA and leads directly to my ongoing concern about the massive problems of overseas tax evasion.

As I indicated, in 2007 the Government of Canada received information from the Government of Germany. It was because of this lucky break that CRA had the list of these 106 tax cheats handed to them on a silver platter.

I have been doing what I can to follow this affair through access to information requests, written questions in the Senate and correspondence with various ministers over the years, and I must confess to being disappointed at what I have found. In contrast to what other countries have done — in the U.S.A. there were hearings on Capitol Hill, police raids in Germany, people charged all over the world — the response in Canada has been shocking, quite frankly, to the point where questions are being asked about the competence of CRA management.

In response to inquiries I made, the government admitted that the information they were handed showed the amounts in Canadian-held Liechtenstein bank accounts totalled over $100 million, ranging from one account, which had the lowest amount of money, at $500,000, to one account with over $12 million. These are very rich Canadians.

When I first raised this issue, the federal government was full of promise and tough talk. In 2009, then revenue minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said:

People realized that it's a question of time before we get them . . . . I tell them 'We'll get you, we'll find you.'

Earlier in the year, he called tax evasion "a huge problem for this country" and vowed "if somebody owes us something, we have to get it."

Since 2007, however, the results have fallen short of the talk. Last year, the Canada Revenue Agency claimed to have only recovered $6 million in back taxes, interest and penalties on the money hidden by Canadians in Liechtenstein. Given that the total amount of money hidden away was over $100 million, and as I said, $12 million in one account alone, this is a very small amount.

Amid the talk of interest and penalties, another fact becomes clear: not one penny has been assessed in fines. That is because not one charge has been laid. In the four years since this information has come to light, not one of these Canadians who hid their money abroad to avoid paying taxes in Canada has stood before a judge in Canada or overseas.

In stark contrast to Canada's response, several hundred citizens of the United Kingdom were facing prosecution in July of 2008, mere months after the existence of their hidden assets in Liechtenstein was made public. In the same short period, German tax authorities forced evaders with assets in Liechtenstein to pay over $150 million.

Finally, since the scandal surfaced in 2008, no less than 20 countries have concluded tax information exchange agreements with Liechtenstein in an effort to keep tabs on their citizens' tax avoidance. The United States, the U.K., Australia, France and Germany have all signed agreements. Even countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Andorra and the Faroe Islands — a self-governing territory of Denmark consisting of 18 islands in the North Atlantic Sea, with a population of 50,000 — have signed tax information exchange agreements with Liechtenstein.

Guess who has yet to conclude any agreement? Canada. If all these other countries, big and small, can conclude a deal so quickly, what is taking Canada years to get this done? By comparison to even some of the world's smallest countries, Canada's response to the tax scandal can be described as slack at best. The question is why? Any ordinary resident of Canada who is found to not be declaring their income would be hounded by the Canada Revenue Agency.

(1740)

Why the double standards for very rich Canadians with foreign bank accounts hidden in well-known tax havens? In fact, these tax cheats appear to have received special treatment from the CRA once it was uncovered they were stashing money in Liechtenstein. In response to one of my written questions, the CRA revealed that, as of June 2010, 20 of the 106 residents of Canada who had the accounts in Liechtenstein had availed themselves of the CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program, the VDP. The VDP allows taxpayers to come forward and correct information or to disclose information they had not reported during previous dealings with the CRA, without penalty for prosecution.

Among other criteria for disclosure under the VDP to be valid, it must be voluntary. CRA's own definition of "voluntary" disqualifies disclosures where "the taxpayer was aware of, or had knowledge of an audit, investigation or other enforcement action set to be conducted by the CRA . . ."

Since the CRA also revealed that all 106 Canadians with accounts in Liechtenstein were subject to some level of compliance action, none of them should have been eligible for the voluntary disclosure program. In fact, the CRA had previously stated in response to a written question that "As compliance action has been commenced on all of the listed taxpayers" — that is, all 106 — "they are no longer eligible for consideration under the VDP." That was on April 20, 2009.

The CRA then changed its policy position.

Quite simply, at least 20 rich Canadians have avoided penalty or prosecution because they have been given special treatment. Why? It is unacceptable that, after receiving a tax holiday, this "tough on crime" government gives these wealthy tax dodgers a vacation from prosecution.

Canadians using banks in our country pay all their taxes. Why are Canadians with foreign bank accounts, some containing millions of dollars, getting a tax holiday under this government? Who is being protected? Why is this government not being tough on tax-cheating criminals?

The LGT bank affair in Liechtenstein did not stay unique for long, for a couple of years later a similar situation arose with regard to a bank in Switzerland. Again, the Government of Canada benefited from the work of other countries to the tune of being given the files of 1,785 accounts held by Canadians in this one bank in Switzerland. I do not have as much to say on this issue because the government is much more secretive about this affair, but we do know you could not open an account in this particular bank for less than half a million dollars; and we do know that if the CRA works as quickly on this file as they have on the Liechtenstein file, none of us will be alive when they conclude their investigation.

Whether the accounts are in Canada or overseas, the fundamental issue is the same. Tax fairness, like justice, must be seen to be done. Honest, law-abiding, tax-paying Canadians should not have to feel let down by a federal government unable or unwilling to make a serious effort to recoup monies from Canadians who try to avoid paying their fair share.

Honourable senators, the federal government must do the right thing and make the names of Canadians with accounts in Liechtenstein and Switzerland public. These wealthy tax cheats benefit from taxpayer-funded services, such as Canada's health care system when they get sick or when a family member gets sick, but they refuse to fund their fair share of the system. These people must be judged by Canadians in the court of public opinion.

As the lawyer for Heinrich Kieber, the man who stole the list from the bank in Liechtenstein, said:

Settlements in these situations must be made public. And they must be made public for two reasons, first to ensure that there isn't a cozy deal between the government and some very rich politically influential people, on one side.

And on the other side as a deterrent to anyone else who might be thinking of doing this. Because as you can imagine if someone is out there cheating on taxes and he's been publicly exposed he won't become a knight. He won't exactly be an honoured citizen who's given awards. He won't be appointed to State business and State Commissions. And that's very important. . . .

And that is how it should be, because paying taxes is an essential civil responsibility. And the rest of us are the ones who pay for what these people don't pay.

The government recently announced that 60,000 Canadians will receive the Queen's Jubilee Medal. I am sure that no senator would want that medal to be awarded to an overseas tax cheat, but if the names are not made public, how will we know?

Colleagues, I wish to impress upon this chamber just how serious a problem we are facing. LGT Bank in Liechtenstein and UBS Bank in Switzerland are just two banks in Europe. Over 1,800 Canadians were found to be stashing money in accounts with these institutions. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

In fiscal year 2009-10 alone, the CRA has estimated that there is approximately $1 billion in overseas tax havens. One billion dollars is a very alarming amount to find, and how many billions of dollars remain undiscovered by the CRA in tax havens around the world?

Again, honourable senators, there has not been a single tax evasion charge laid in any of the cases of Canadians hiding their money in Liechtenstein or Switzerland. Not a single one of those Canadians has checked into prison because of their tax dodging. Billions in unpaid taxes have been identified, but a woefully small amount has been recouped. Put simply, there has been no meaningful action from the CRA on this extremely serious issue.

In October 2010, a report from the CRA acknowledges the problem. The report notes that many cases that could potentially represent a significant criminal non-compliance are rejected by agency enforcement groups because of limited resources or other workload pressures. This report, which is again from the CRA, goes on to say that offices are closing smaller cases of a lower dollar value — can I have five more minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker: Agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Downe: The report goes on to say that offices are choosing smaller cases of a lower dollar value that do not necessarily represent the greatest risk. In other words, CRA officials are taking the easy way out, rejecting risky cases of large-scale tax evasion in favour of more certain, smaller victories.

The report goes further in pointing out that the tax avoidance audit area refers only 0.2 per cent of its cases to the Criminal Investigation Program, the branch of the CRA mandated to investigate suspected cases of tax evasion, despite the fact that there is a high likelihood of evasion in this population versus the general audit population.

As I mentioned earlier, the amounts in Canadian-held Liechtenstein bank accounts totalled over $100 million, ranging from a minimum of $500,000 to the one account with over $12 million. None of these cases would be considered quick hits by any measure, but certainly every effort should be made by the CRA to recoup lost revenue from 100 per cent of these tax avoiders. A mere 0.2 per cent is a failure of leadership by Minister Shea and the senior management of the CRA.

In conclusion, honourable senators, ordinary Canadians who obey the law and pay their taxes want to know why there is a double standard. Why are a few wealthy Canadians getting a tax holiday from this government? Canadians want to know where is the minister responsible for the Canada Revenue Agency, the Honourable Gail Shea? Why is she allowing this to happen? Why is she allowing tax cheats with hidden accounts in tax havens to escape Canadian courts and prison?

Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen: Would the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Downe: Yes.

Senator Stewart Olsen: This may be my ignorance about what the honourable senator has laid out before us, but I do not know how we would go about finding out how much money and who puts it into these tax havens. Are they not protected by the governments there with a lot of secrecy?

(1750)

From what I understand, we know about the Liechtenstein ones because someone leaked the document. I am wondering what the honourable senator's advice would be as to how to go about those first steps of finding these people.

Senator Downe: Certainly I am no expert, but it appears from the literature I have read and referenced in the speech, there are tax avoidance agreements that other countries have signed. For example, once the cat was out of the bag in Liechtenstein, over 20 countries had already signed tax avoidance agreements. If you open an account there and you are a citizen of the United States, the United States government is aware of it. Canada has not done that.

The other area is we are signing all these international agreements. For example, we will soon have a treaty on Panama before this chamber. Panama is one of the most abusive tax havens in the world, and there are serious allegations about illegal drug money from South America pouring into Panama. We are going to sign a free trade agreement. We can put some pressure on them to have a tax agreement affecting Canadians with accounts in their country.

There is simply too much money hidden overseas that we can be using in this country for a host of projects. Every time we raise something in this country, the question is: How much will it cost and how will we fund it? One big pool of money is these unpaid taxes, penalty and fines that are not being collected.

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Will the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Downe: Yes, of course.

Senator Callbeck: The honourable senator spoke of the 106 Canadians. I think he referred to roughly $100 million, the lowest being $500,000 and the top $12 million. He mentioned that CRA has allowed 20 of them to pay back money, with no penalty. What about the other 86? Will the CRA still allow them to pay their money back and that is it, no penalty, nothing?

Senator Downe: With respect to the documents the CRA sent me, and I cannot remember if it was an access request or a written question, they originally responded to me that no one would be eligible for this voluntary disclosure because it is now public and they are all under investigation. Then they said, as I indicated in my speech, that 20 of them will not be charged because they voluntarily declared.

It makes no sense why some can do it and others cannot and why they changed their policy. I do not know if they are escaping or what they are doing with the other 86 people. I do not have that information.

(On motion of Senator Carignan, debate adjourned.)

National Finance

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sittings and Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Joseph A. Day, pursuant to notice of earlier this day, moved:

That, until March 31, 2012, for the purposes of any study of a bill, the subject matter of a bill or estimates, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance:

(a) have power to sit even though the Senate may then be sitting, with the application of rule 95(4) being suspended in relation thereto; and

(b) be authorized, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), to sit from Monday to Friday, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.

He said: Honourable senators, this is a motion to allow the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance to sit outside its normal time, but only until the end of March, so that we can meet the deadline of ensuring that the government has money to continue to operate into April and beyond. The committee is requesting permission to sit.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 29, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.)


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