The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the chair.
Congratulations on World Cup Ski Slalom Win
Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, I hope you saw the media coverage of the amazing victory of Canada's Erin Mielzynski in the World Cup Slalom on the weekend in Ofterschwang, Germany. Erin is a 23-year-old racer from Guelph, Ontario, and a member of the Georgian Peaks Ski Club. She became the first Canadian woman to win a World Cup slalom in over 41 years. The last to win was Betsy Clifford of Old Chelsea, Quebec, in 1971.
It is difficult to explain the effect these types of victories have on me. I know how hard it is to win a World Cup slalom race. You need two perfect runs on difficult courses, and you need to be fired up and ready to charge while staying calm under the pressure, especially for the second run.
Watching Erin's performance and especially seeing her excitement and joy, I was enormously proud as I saw an athlete with a true passion for excellence. Here is a person not only with talent but with a work ethic and the will to win. After years and years of training and dedication, she has finally reached the top. On Sunday, she clearly had the race of her life, and now the most elusive ingredient, confidence, will work in her favour, and it will also inspire her teammates.
The Canadian slalom team is a team, and each and every one of them is poised for success. On Sunday, Marie-Michèle Gagnon was fifth, and Anna Goodman had the second-fastest second run. I know, too, the role that Erin's coaches and support staff play, not to mention the thousands of volunteers around the country who organize the sport and stage the competitions.
I will also tell honourable senators that, currently in the NCAA — the university circuit in the U.S. — another Canadian, from my hometown, is in the lead in the slalom. She still has her sights firmly set on the Olympics, as well.
It was great to see the coverage in the media and to see the happiness in Erin's wonderful smile. I am sure even people who know nothing about ski racing could understand what had happened.
Honourable senators, as our teams prepare for the Olympics and Paralympics in London next summer, we can look forward to more outstanding results. Erin Mielzynski's breakthrough victory should inspire other Canadian athletes in their quests to achieve their goals.
Please join me in congratulating Erin on her enormous accomplishment in Germany. May she continue to succeed in the years ahead, and may she inspire other Canadian athletes.
Ms. Ann Terry MacLellan—First Lady of Cape Breton
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators,
She lived well, laughed often and loved much,
She gained the respect of intelligent men
and the love of children,
She has filled her niche and accomplished her task,
And leaves the world better than she found it,
She never lacked the appreciation of earth's beauty,
Or failed to express it,
She looked for the best in others and gave the best she had.
Honourable senators, these words by poet Robert Louis Stevenson were delivered as part of the homily during the funeral in 1985 for Cape Breton's First Lady, Terry MacLellan, better known as Ann Terry.
Ann Terry was born to Bridget "Bea" MacKinnon and Charles MacLellan. She was raised in Beaver Cove, Cape Breton. Beneath the glamour and sophistication she would later radiate, she remained a simple Scottish girl who was intensely proud of her roots and Celtic family traditions.
From her parents, Ann Terry acquired many traits that would shape her professional life. Her father was a man of words and loved to tell stories. He appreciated a well-turned phrase, use of metaphor and simile, and use of the odd Gaelic phrase. Mr. MacLellan had a warm, friendly personality and is remembered as a truly nice gentleman.
While learning from her father how to tell a story, Ann Terry's mother began, at a young age, to mould her to be a "lady." She was a renowned local vocalist who was very much at home on the stage; it seemed destined that Ann Terry would follow that path, as well. At the age of three, she had already acquired an extraordinary vocabulary, one greater than a child twice her age. Her mother started Ann Terry in speech studies with Mrs. Olive MacDonald, who worked diligently devoting much time and energy to her star pupil.
While at Holy Angels High School, Ann Terry enrolled in Mrs. MacDonald's course in Educational Dramatics. This was her introduction to Shakespeare and as a stage performer. Her first appearance was as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Being tall and in an all girls school, she was often cast in a male role.
Ann Terry took these studies and the power of her voice very seriously. She was rewarded when she took the Outstanding Individual Award at the Cape Breton Festival of Speech and Drama, the first time this prize was given at the festival.
After high school, Ann Terry entered St. Francis Xavier University, taking a Bachelor of Arts. While there, she was very active in the student radio presentations with CJFX. This provided her the experience of feeling an audience through the airwaves.
After her graduation, she began to work with CBC Halifax and it is here that "Ann Terry" was born; the CBC official thought that her name was too long to use on the air and suggested that she go by Ann Terry instead. After a short while, she left CBC Halifax and returned to Cape Breton. She took over at CJCB Radio in Sydney and finally had her own radio show.
Although she possessed much natural talent, she worked intensely off the air at perfecting her on-air personality. The subjects of Ann Terry's shows varied from New York and Broadway to a Sunday drive with her mother. She was able to carry audiences who lived working lives to other exciting words with her meticulous descriptions.
She is often praised for her ability to find beauty in the obvious. She saw all that was positive in Cape Breton's land and its people. She had a genuine interest in those she interviewed and always had something positive and complimentary to say about everyone.
Honourable senators, I thank Ann Terry for the deep sense of pride she gave to us Cape Bretoners. As tomorrow is International Women's Day, I hope that honourable senators will celebrate Ann Terry's contribution to Cape Breton and recognize her as a positive person in the media, certainly for young women. They say a picture says a thousand words, but to be able to use your words to paint the picture is truly something special.
Honourable senators, I am delighted to include Ann Terry in the list of Cape Breton women who have made a difference in their community. I look forward to sharing more stories with you about strong, influential women from Cape Breton.
Senate Election Legislation
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, as some of you may already be aware, yesterday afternoon in the B.C. legislature the Christy Clark government reintroduced the proposed Senate election act. This legislation paves the way for British Columbians to join their Albertan neighbours in electing the people they wish to represent their interests in the Senate of Canada.
Spelled out in this provincial bill are the details that provide for the recommendation of the senatorial candidate who garners the margin of victory in each Senate electoral district to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada for appointment to this great chamber, with these great people. To this I say, hear, hear!
Honourable senators, in the past I have shared with many of you my thoughts on electing senators and Senate reform in general. To my dismay, and disbelief, you do not all agree with me. This is unbelievable.
I am on record stating that I would resign my seat to run for election should my home province hold such a vote. I am still prepared to do that.
Given that I retire from this place in eight months — do not cry. Senator Mitchell, no tears. In eight short months, I look forward to the possibility of the next senator to represent British Columbia being elected by the people of British Columbia. This is democracy at its finest, Senator Munson.
I want to offer my congratulations to Premier Christy Clark and to MLA John Les for reintroducing this legislation. It is a step in the right direction and seeks to resolve this long-standing issue, which is near and dear to so many of us in Western Canada. Buy a hat, Senator Furey.
Honourable senators, I am pleased to support the Government of B.C. in their efforts to provide another opportunity for the people of my home province to exercise their democratic right. Democracy and freedom at last!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of the 527 Squadron Simons Air Cadets from Saint John, New Brunswick. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Day.
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets is a Canadian national youth program for children ages 12 to 18. Together with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, these Royal Canadian Air Cadets form the largest youth program in our country.
The purpose of the air cadet movement is to focus on citizenship, leadership, physical fitness, general aviation and stimulating an interest in activities of the Canadian Forces. Activities include gliding, public speaking, survival skills and marksmanship. There is no commitment to join the Canadian Forces following their time in cadets.
Since the Air Cadet League of Canada was formed in 1941, close to one million young Canadians have participated in this training program. Today there are 58,000 air cadets involved in squadrons across Canada.
The 527 Squadron Simons Air Cadets are visiting with us here today. About 55 cadets and 4 adults are with them. Part of their air cadet training is citizenship, and they are here today to understand a bit more about our political system. Meeting with MPs and senators is one of their complementary training modules for citizenship.
Honourable senators, the squadron was formed in 1950 in Simons, which is part of the city of Saint John, and the group is supported by a sponsoring committee chaired by Mrs. Kim Barton. The commander officer who is here today, along with his team, is Captain Blaine Harris.
Since 1950, over 9,000 young men and women have received aviation and military training in Saint John as members of 527 Squadron. With good attendance and good performance, cadets qualify for a number of summer programs as well. Cadets are required to participate in fundraising to help defray some of their costs for special excursions such as this trip to Ottawa to visit the Senate of Canada.
Honourable senators, young men and women have many options and opportunities. Congratulations to these young men and women for choosing to improve themselves through involvement in air cadets. Congratulations as well to their leader, Captain Harris, and his team for making the program in air cadets interesting and challenging, and therefore attractive to the cadets.
Canada is better because of their efforts.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Congratulations on Elevation
Hon. Norman E. Doyle: Honourable senators, only 15 Canadian bishops have ever been elevated into the College of Cardinals, and only five of them have been from English Canada.
February 18, 2012, will long be remembered as historic. It will be remembered within the Catholic Church, as the day that Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins became Cardinal Thomas Collins, Canada's sixteenth cardinal. A recent edition of the Catholic Registrar best described the Cardinal Collins that most of his flock have grown to know and love. It said, "He is as humble, modest and self-effacing as any of Guelph's nineteenth-century homesteading Irish farmers."
There are many within the church who undoubtedly aspire to being elevated to the College of Cardinals, but there are few who receive the call, but lest any regard the appointment as one that is casually conferred upon any who merely display an interest, allow me for a moment to take you down the path that Cardinal Collins has taken on his way to Rome. His academic achievements are many: a Master of Arts in English from the University of Western Ontario; a Bachelor of Theology from St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario, in 1973; a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Jerome's College in Waterloo; ordained a priest in 1973; lecturer in England at King's College; lecturer in scripture at St. Peter's Seminary; a Doctorate in Theology from Gregorian University in Rome; Dean of Theology and Vice-rector at St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario, and later Rector of the same seminary; Bishop of St. Paul, Alberta; Archbishop of Edmonton in 1999; and then installed as Archbishop of Toronto in 2007.
In 2008, Archbishop Collins was elected president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, and a month ago was selected by Pope Benedict XVI to join the College of Cardinals. The many achievements of this remarkable man are too numerous to mention. However, when I paused recently to read something of his life's work so far, I could not help but note the comments that have played such an important part in his life. He said:
We need to be reminded to carry our faith with us in all facets of our lives; in our workplace, our school life, our family life and our public life.
Cardinals have the great responsibility of being agents of harmony and goodwill. They are continually reaching out, listening to all generations, dialoguing with the secular and the sacred. No better man could have been chosen to fill that role.
Congratulations and best wishes to Guelph's Cardinal Thomas Collins.
Canada Winter Games 2012
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I had the pleasure last week to be in beautiful St. Albert, Alberta, which has a great community history of the Metis, Aboriginal and French history that sometimes we forget in that part of Alberta. It is also home, I guess, to Jean Chrétien's 100 cousins. Anyway, I digress.
I was there to speak at the opening of the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games. It was a perfect winter scene: bright, crisp and pure.
It was also an exciting moment to share with the 650 Special Olympics athletes who, after months of training, were ready and raring to compete.
I went to Alberta to celebrate the athletes' courage and talent and to wish each and every one of them tremendous success in their sport.
Competitions were in seven sports: Alpine and cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, speed skating, floor hockey and snowshoeing.
There is nothing more joyful in my life as a senator than having the opportunity to meet extraordinary, courageous people who make a positive difference in the world like Special Olympics athletes. They truly have the same dedication and spirit as other high-performing athletes. The theme of this year's game captured this very idea: Just as bold. Here for gold.
While training, passion and commitment play an important role in any athlete's competitive ability, the encouragement of family, friends and communities is also very important. Counting all the coaches, managers and volunteers accompanying the athletes, as well as their family and friends who came to cheer them on, there were more than 2,500 people who came from all parts of the country to attend the games. All 10 provinces, as well as the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, were represented.
In my address at the opening ceremony I said, as I will say to honourable senators now, Special Olympics athletes are men and women with heart. Special Olympics athletes are men and women with soul. More than anything, Special Olympics athletes teach us all the true meaning of sport. They are as adept at competition as they are at camaraderie. They are realizing their athletic dreams and, true to what Special Olympics is all about, they are winning at life.
2012-16 Corporate Plan Summary—Report Tabled
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, Export Development Canada's 2012-16 Corporate Plan Summary, pursuant to the Financial Administration Act.
Meeting of the Standing Committee and Secretaries of Delegation, April 1-2, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Meeting of the Standing Committee and Secretaries of Delegation, held in Ponta Delgada, The Azores, Portugal, from April 1 to 2, 2011.
Visit of the Science and Technology Committee, May 9-12, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the visit of the Science and Technology Committee, held from May 9 to 12, 2011, in Berlin and Munich, Germany.
Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference, July 16-20, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Sixty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference, held in Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America, from July 16 to 20, 2011.
Annual Meeting of the Council of State Governments-WEST, July 30-August 2, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Council of State Governments-WEST Sixth-fourth Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America, from July 30 to August 2, 2011.
2011 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, August 8-11, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the 2011 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, held in San Antonio, Texas, United States of America, from August 8 to 11, 2011.
Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance Conference, October 2-4, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance Conference, held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from October 2 to 4, 2011.
National Conference of the Council of State Governments, October 19-23, 2011—Report Tabled
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the National Conference of the Council of State Governments, held in Bellevue, Washington, United States of America, from October 19 to 23, 2011.
Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Lobster Fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec
Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to examine and report on the lobster fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec;
That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament be referred to the committee; and
That the committee report from time to time to the Senate but no later than March 31, 2013, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until June 30, 2013.
Canada Summer Job Centres
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Canada's youth unemployment rate is currently hovering at about 14.5 per cent, which is almost double the average Canadian unemployment rate. Combine this with the high cost of post-secondary education and it is no wonder Canadian students are deeply in debt and finding it difficult to make ends meet.
For the past 40 years, students from across the country have relied on summer student job centres, run by the Department of Human Resources, to help them find a summer job. These job centres also were a source of employment themselves as university students were hired to staff them.
To the shock of many students, the government has announced that it is shutting down the summer job centres after four decades of operation. Why is the government eliminating such an important resource for students at a time when they are facing high unemployment and increasing debt loads?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. It would come as no surprise to her, especially in our age group, that students are very technologically savvy. More and more students are accessing their services online. We are expanding the website at www.youth.gc.ca with new tools and resources to help youth find employment. The number of students visiting the seasonal Service Canada Centres for Youth has decreased significantly over the last few years. By enhancing the online features, there is no longer a need for these seasonal centres. By their own actions, the youth have proven this. Young Canadians will still be able to access in person assistance with resumé writing and job searches through existing Service Canada locations.
Senator Hubley: Honourable senators, I took a look at the Job Bank website for students today. It is finally back up and running after a two-week hiatus. After searching for a job, any job, for a student on Prince Edward Island, my search returned zero jobs. There are no jobs on the Job Bank website; not for students on Prince Edward Island.
Obviously, the Job Bank is not serving the needs of students in Prince Edward Island. What measures are being undertaken by the government to make the Job Bank relevant to students who depend on the local summer student job centres to find summer jobs to support themselves through university?
Senator LeBreton: I am pleased that the Job Bank site, which had experienced difficulty, is back up and running.
With regard to youth employment, we are making considerable investments to help youth get jobs and the work experience they need. We permanently increased Canada Summer Jobs by $10 million and 3,500 additional jobs per year for a total of 40,000 jobs are now available for students each summer. Career Focus helps employers provide recent graduates with internships. It helped 2,000 graduates in 2010-11. Pathways to Education has a record of success in helping vulnerable youth to complete post-secondary education. It will help 10,000 students. Budget 2011 provided $20 million for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Many programs are available to students with regard to the honourable senator's request.
As far as Prince Edward Island is concerned, the job website is recently back up and running. I will make inquiries as to whether the data on the site is complete or there is still some work to do on it.
Third Optional Protocol on Convention of the Rights of the Child
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On February 22, a ceremony to sign the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child took place in Geneva. The third optional protocol introduces a complaints procedure that will allow children and their representatives to bring rights violations directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child when they have exhausted all domestic remedies, just as adults can do for other core human rights treaties. Twenty states demonstrated their commitment to children's rights by signing the protocol at the ceremony, including Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Finland and Germany.
For a very long time, Canada has been a leader in the advancement and protection of children's rights. The Senate Human Rights Committee held a very long study on children's rights, which we have been very proud of.
My question to the leader is: Why was the Canadian government not among the first countries to sign the new protocol?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. We have a long and proud record not only as a country but as a government with regard to the rights of the child and women's rights. Canada has been a full participant in many UN programs and has participated fully in many programs in Africa on maternal and child health.
I will take the honourable senator's question as notice as I am not familiar with the circumstances she has cited.
Senator Jaffer: I appreciate that that the leader will find out why Canada has not signed the new protocol.
Are there plans for Canada to sign this protocol? If so, are there plans to begin consultations with the provinces and territories to look at what remedies we have and do not have for all the rights of children in Canada? When will Canada ratify this protocol? Are there plans to introduce a children's commissioner in Canada?
Senator LeBreton: I have already responded to a question on the Senate recommendation for a children's commissioner, but I will take the rest of the honourable senator's question as notice.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, on February 29, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Tardif, asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate about an open letter from science journalists belonging to six Canadian professional organizations that accused the government of muzzling their own experts. The honourable leader responded:
. . . ministers in this government are the primary spokespersons for their departments, as was the case in the previous government.
Ministers are the primary spokespersons, but they are not scientific experts. When journalists want clarification on some item, they want to talk to the experts, but they cannot do that.
The question still remains: If a journalist wants to ask the actual expert about their findings, why can they not do so?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I was glad to hear that the honourable senator put on the record the accuracy of my comment. As is the case, ministers are the primary spokespersons for their departments. I know that the same group keeps making the same accusations.
The fact of the matter is that our scientists have participated in hundreds and hundreds of conferences and have given hundreds and hundreds of interviews with regard to their work. Last year alone, scientists from Environment Canada attended more than 300 conferences and contributed directly to more than 600 articles. I hardly think that the honourable senator can put that in the category of them not being free to speak for themselves, because they certainly are free to do so.
Senator Mercer: Stephen Strauss, Vice President of the Canadian Science Writers Association, who were part of the letter, appeared on Canada AM yesterday. Mr. Strauss said:
I had a conversation with a government information officer, one who was nearly in tears describing how her job had changed from one in which her job was to facilitate communication between journalists and scientists to one in which her job was really to prevent the journalists from talking to the scientists. She felt like she could not do her job anymore.
That sounds awfully like the government has instructed its media relations people in the departments to prevent scientific experts from talking to the media like they used to do, contrary to the leader's assertions about the many interviews that government scientists are giving. Why would science journalists still be saying that the government is muzzling the scientists if the government says they are not doing that?
Senator LeBreton: I have no idea why they would be saying that. Our scientists have provided hundreds of interviews each year with regard to their work. As well, last year scientists from Environment Canada attended and participated fully in more than 300 conferences and have contributed to more than 600 articles.
I have no idea why anybody would be in tears, as the honourable senator says. I hope that was someone describing the scientist and not the scientist saying she was in tears. I find that quite demeaning to women, frankly. In any event, scientists are free to talk to the media; and they have done so hundreds of times over the past few years.
Senator Mercer: Scientists have given some interviews, but it is a highly supervised process with pre-clearance of a journalist's questions. Nature, according to its website, is the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal according to Journal Citation Report, 2010 Edition. Last week Nature said:
Canadian journalists have documented several instances in which prominent researchers have been prevented from discussing published, peer-reviewed literature. Policy directives and e-mails obtained from the government through freedom of information reveal a confused and Byzantine approach to the press, prioritizing message control and showing little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge.
It goes on to say:
. . . Nature's news reporters, who have an obvious interest in access to scientific information and expert opinion, have experienced directly the cumbersome approval process that stalls or prevents meaningful contact with Canada's publicly funded scientists.
How many more instances of this will it take for this government to change its policies and give the scientists the freedom to speak to journalists?
Senator LeBreton: I guess the honourable senator and I are on a different planet, obviously.
The fact that scientists have contributed more than 600 articles to scientific journals hardly constitutes a situation whereby people can say that they are muzzled. They contributed to these articles and they appear in scientific journals. I cannot respond to something that I really do feel is blatantly unfair and not correct.
As is the case in all governments, in matters specifically related to government policy, ministers are ultimately responsible for answering for their respective departments. That in no way inhibits scientists from giving interviews, participating in conferences and writing articles for scientific magazines.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On Monday, February 27, 2012, the Minister of Health sent a letter to all parliamentarians explaining the government's position on funding clinical trials for the treatment of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency. In that letter, the minister justified the government's position by stating that their approach was endorsed by the Canadian Medical Association and other Canadian organizations, as well as by other international medical bodies and scientific panels. Minister Aglukkaq also said in her statement that we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to the opinions of international experts. She said:
However difficult the decision is, as parliamentarians, we have an ethical obligation to put our patients' safety first. Our evidence-based health care system requires that procedures performed be sound and shown to work. We have built this system on exacting, internationally recognized ethical and scientific standards. Circumventing them through legislation is undermining the independence of our scientific process and the safety of our fellow Canadians.
I believe that is a quote of convenience.
There is a double standard on this. On another issue, this government ignores the science offered by the same Canadian Medical Association and respected international organizations.
As the leader knows, the CMA passed a resolution demanding "a ban on the sale and export of chrysotile asbestos." On the international front, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos related illnesses. We have seen some of those horrible stories in this country, in a recent CBC documentary.
The position of the CMA and the WHO is based on the ethical and scientific standards the Minister of Health so proudly refers to in her letter. Yet this government continues to blindly support the asbestoses industry.
Is that not undermining the independence of the scientific process? Why the double standard?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with regard to multiple sclerosis, we all recognize the difficulties and the heartbreak faced by thousands of patients and their families across the country.
This is an issue that Minister Aglukkaq has discussed with the provinces and territorial health ministers, the last time being late last year, in December, I believe.
On November 25, Minister Aglukkaq announced that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will be accepting research proposals for phase 1-phase 2 clinical trials. We are also supporting the development of an ongoing, national MS monitoring system that will provide patients and health care providers with a better understanding of the disease and its treatments.
We are working with the provinces and territories, as I mentioned, to ensure that all Canadians living with this disease receive appropriate care. Our priority, in this regard, is the health and safety of Canadians. Who better than the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to be spearheading this? Obviously, those of us who have had the privilege of listening to some of the people from CIHI are very cognizant of the hard work they are doing and the due diligence that they are going through with regard to multiple sclerosis. With their good work, it is hoped that a cure or a treatment can be found soon to alleviate this terrible condition.
With regard to asbestos — and there is scientific research to back this up — if the product is properly packaged, handled and shipped, it can be used perfectly safely. I know the various stories and have seen some of them, but the asbestos industry in Canada is involved in shipping a product that is safe for use, provided that people follow the proper instructions.
Senator Munson: The leader did not quite answer the question. The question had to do with the double standard. The government will accept recommendations by respected organizations and will voice them. The health minister will talk about them. She will talk, in tones that are positive, about the CMA and the World Health Organization. The government accepts them and puts those opinions out there, but not when it comes to dealing with another issue that is quite serious. I disagree with the safety of chrysotile asbestos. This government has no problem accepting the views of the CMA and the WHO when it suits their purposes, but, when it does not, it is as if these groups disappear.
At times, the government values these expert opinions and at other times the government dismisses them. How can the Leader of the Government in the Senate justify this duplicity?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, organizations have different views on various subjects. Many of us know the people involved in the Canadian Medical Association. The CMA is an organization that provides background research studies. Obviously, with regard to multiple sclerosis, they have been very helpful. We do not discount, for a moment, their views and concerns about chrysotile asbestos, but this product has been safely shipped and properly controlled by the government for the past 30 years. Governments of many stripes have been in power when this product has been shipped. The product is safe, provided that it is properly handled and controlled. Of course, this is mostly a product that is exported. Scientific reviews confirm that chrysotile fibres can be used safely, under controlled circumstances. That is a scientific view. We all know and seek examples, in Canada, of asbestos being removed from buildings, and, of course, asbestos has not been used in Canada since the early-to mid-1980s.
We do have scientific advice on this product. We appreciate the views of the Canadian Medical Association. We are not ignoring their views. We are not picking and choosing, as the honourable senator suggests, but many organizations freely give advice to governments. Governments obviously take into account what they have to say. We are well aware of the concerns about asbestos, but there is scientific evidence that this product is safe, if properly handled and shipped.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, this government is exporting death.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Munson: They can say all they want about shipping, handling charges, whatever it is, all wrapped up nice and pretty, but this is an export of a material that is killing people. Not only do the documentaries show that but so do those who have seen what has happened in India. Once it gets to different countries around the world, there is very little protection. We see men and women pulling this stuff out and trying to put it back together again. What is the by-product? The by-product is that people are dying.
We can say all we want about asbestos not being used or handled here, but I would like to say that to some of the families who have handled asbestos in the past.
This is a question with a statement. I just cannot buy the honourable leader's arguments at all.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Munson needs to cut the dramatics.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator LeBreton: He said that our government is exporting death. If that is the case, then his government exported death for 24 years.
I realize that there is some attention paid to this product. I have acknowledged that if the product is packaged and handled safely, it is deemed by scientists to be safe. I would hope that the people who are buying this product from Canada are in fact following the instructions for its proper use.
The honourable senator cited some examples in India. It is the responsibility of the governments in the countries where the authorities are purchasing this product from Canada to ensure that, when the product arrives on their shores, their people are properly trained to handle it and that they follow the proper instructions. That would certainly be the hope of the Government of Canada.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: During the break week, Senator Nancy Ruth and I had the privilege of travelling to India with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. As we travelled around India we saw deteriorating buildings in some of the slums in Old Delhi and Mumbai. They are pitiful sights for other reasons, but with regard to asbestos, mixed in with the cement of some of these deteriorating buildings is asbestos that was used in their construction.
There is no such thing as safe handling of this product. It is a deadly product. We need to stop this and we need to stop it now. The Leader of the Government says that we have been selling it for years. If we were wrong under previous governments, we are still wrong today.
When will the government own up to the fact that this product is killing people worldwide? Stamped on that product is "Made in Canada."
Senator LeBreton: The debate is on the safe shipment and handling of the product. It is like any product. Without much effort I could think of hundreds of products that, if not properly handled, are not safe.
I recognize the honourable senator's concern. I was not aware that Senator Mercer and Senator Nancy Ruth had been on a trip to India. Good for them.
I will inform the Minister of Health that there is an increasing amount of alarm being expressed about the use of this product.
Again, hundreds of products are imported into Canada and exported from Canada that could be deemed to be unsafe if they are not properly handled, and I think that asbestos probably falls in the same category.
I will express the concerns of Senator Mercer.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my question is not about CCSVI or MS because, as my bill is at day 15 today, when someone on that side speaks, I may have some questions about it.
My question is on the double standard of paying attention to and quoting the Canadian Medical Association and reports done by Health Canada sometimes and ignoring them at other times. There seems to be a pattern developing. Also, I find it incredible to hear the leader say that asbestos is a safe product.
When Minister Clement was the Minister of Health, he asked his department to do a study on trans fats, and they did. They reported that trans fats in products should be reduced. The government said that they would give business two years to comply and, if they did not comply within that time, then they would bring forth legislation. Big business did not comply within two years, but big business did not like the idea of legislation, so Minister Aglukkaq dropped it.
Health Canada did a study on sodium and reported that sodium was bad for us and should be reduced. Big business did not like that report, so the minister dropped it.
Health Canada did a study on energy drinks that are high in caffeine and not good for young children or adults, for that matter, with the amount of caffeine in them. The department suggested action. Big business did not like it, so the minister dropped it. There seems to be a pattern here.
I know that Senator Eaton said we should not legislate this. That is the prerogative of the government, but if it is not going to legislate, then why bother spending the money, the time and the energy of the department to bring forward these reports? Why even bother with a report? If its philosophy is that government should not intervene, then it has every right to do that, but do not spend taxpayers' dollars on studies and reports and then throw them out the window because big business does not like them.
Why is there a double standard? Why is the minister asking for studies and not paying attention to them because big business does not like them?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I will take issue with that. I am not completely familiar with the origins of some of these studies, some of which have been around for quite some time.
With regard to sodium and trans fats, we have been working with various levels of government and the industry and, as a result, foods are more properly labelled. That is certainly the case with sodium. We did take action on the trans fat issue with the Trans Fat Monitoring Program with the result that 75 per cent of pre-packaged foods now meet the recommended targets.
I believe that these studies have had positive results. Food is now properly labelled. Due to my husband's medical condition, sodium content and trans fats happen to be two areas that I watch carefully. I have noticed a marked improvement in the last few years in identifying the content of food.
Action was taken and foods are more properly labelled.
However, we cannot follow people around in stores slapping them on the wrist when they choose a product that some study group thinks is not safe.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I will now deal with the point of order raised by the Honourable Senator Mitchell after Question Period yesterday. The point of order dealt with an article published in this week's edition of The Hill Times, containing certain comments by the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
A point of order is typically a complaint or question raised by a senator who believes that the rules, practices or procedures of the Senate have been incorrectly applied or overlooked during the proceedings, either in the chamber or in committee.
I would refer honourable senators to page 632 of the Second Edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, as well as citation 317 of the 6th Edition of Beauchesne.
While Senator Mitchell may take issue with the comments, they do not involve a departure from our rules or practices. As such, there is no point of order.
Second Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson moved second reading of Bill S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about and to voice my support for Bill S-8, the safe drinking water for First Nations act.
Bill S-8 proposes to safeguard health and safety of drinking water for women, men and children on First Nation lands and in the process strengthens Canada's relationship with First Nations. It will also continue a collaborative process that has been under way for several years.
Honourable senators, the issue of drinking water on First Nation lands is not new to this chamber. In 2007, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released a landmark report on the state of drinking water on First Nation lands. This report recommended a comprehensive consultation process with First Nation communities and organizations regarding legislative options. In the previous Parliament, our Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples studied the former Bill S-8, enabling legislation that would have provided a legal framework for creating an enforceable federal regulatory regime on First Nation lands.
Of course, we all know and appreciate that safe, clean and reliable water is essential to human health. Effective water use and treatment of waste water is also important for First Nations' participation in the Canadian economy. Provinces and territories already have regulations in place to ensure that Canadians have access to safe drinking water. These regulations define standards for water quality and assign responsibility for key areas such as testing and treatment. However, such provincial regulations do not apply on First Nation lands. The lack of federal enforceable standards undermines efforts to ensure that women, men and children on First Nation lands have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water.
Several authoritative groups have issued reports on the state of drinking water on First Nations lands, including the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, whose report I noted previously; the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations; the Auditor General of Canada; and, more recently, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
While each of those reports brought forward some specific observations on this issue, many of them concluded that a comprehensive federal regulatory regime for drinking water on First Nation lands is urgently needed to protect public health. Bill S-8 will lead to the establishment of enforceable standards related to the quality of drinking water available to First Nations women, men and children.
I would like to draw your attention, honourable senators, to the National Assessment of Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nation Communities, the results of which were released by the Honourable Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development last July. No government has ever undertaken a national assessment like this: Over 4,000 water, waste water, wells and septic tanks were surveyed and rated for overall system management risks. The results of this assessment have provided a thorough picture of the current issues related to drinking water on First Nation lands.
The government's response to the national assessment focuses on three key areas: improving technologies and partnerships to ensure the best use of investments in infrastructure; enhancing capacity building and training for First Nation operators; and, finally, developing enforceable federal regulations. Bill S-8 is an imperative step in ensuring that enforceable standards are in place.
To create regulations on drinking water, Bill S-8 commits to a collaborative process that will lead to an effective regime and continues to build and strengthen Canada's relationship with First Nations. This approach is deliberate. Rather than simply legislating standards, the proposed legislation provides in the preamble that the government is committed to working with First Nations organizations to design and develop regulations that meet the particular circumstances of each region.
The government fully recognizes the fact that regulations alone cannot produce safe drinking water. Regulations are just one factor that will support access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water in many First Nations communities. There are other issues, such as inadequate infrastructure and shortages of trained personnel that must also be addressed.
The government has made significant progress and achieved tangible results in the area of infrastructure and capacity since 2006, when the Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nations Communities was launched. In fact, between 2006 and 2013, the government will have invested approximately $2.5 billion in water and waste water infrastructure and related public health activities to support First Nation communities in managing their water and waste water systems. In recent years the government has made targeted investments in water and waste water projects for First Nations communities through Canada's Economic Action Plan, coupled with investments in the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan that introduced new measures to improved access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities.
The evidence is clear. Regulatory standards need to be put in place to ensure government and First Nations investments and efforts are based on a strong foundation and further progress for First Nations communities is supported.
Following passage of Bill S-8, hopefully, officials will collaborate with First Nations to address gaps in infrastructure and expertise, establish plans to close these gaps and commit to clear goals and deadlines. A phased approach to implementation will be undertaken, rolling out regulations to align with infrastructure investments and support compliance with them.
This would build on the government's ongoing collaboration with First Nations on drinking water, which, as I said, has been under way since 2006. Bill S-8 represents the next crucial step in this cooperative effort. Along with the Assembly of First Nations, several other groups have played an active role in developing the legislation now before us today. The Assembly of First Nations, the Atlantic Policy Congress, and the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs of Alberta have provided valuable input into Bill S-8. It is also fair to say that senators have contributed to significantly as well.
Honourable senators, the truth is that Bill S-8 has been informed by the views expressed by hundreds of First Nations individuals and organizations over the last six years. In 2006, the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations held a series of public hearings with First Nations across Canada, hearing from over 110 presenters and receiving more than two dozen written submissions on regulatory options to promote safe drinking water in First Nations communities.
In 2009, the Government of Canada organized a series of engagement sessions on a framework for proposed legislation. Every First Nations community in Canada was invited to send political and technical representatives. This engagement led to former Bill S-11, which died on the Order Paper as a result of the dissolution of the last parliament and which formed the basis of the bill we are debating today. As I mentioned before, Bill S-11, which was introduced in this chamber in May 2010, was the subject of an extensive review by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. The committee heard from numerous witnesses over a span of five weeks. Rather than simply reintroduce the same bill, this government continued to engage First Nations in an ongoing dialogue and incorporated several improvements — improvements that respond directly to concerns expressed by various First Nation groups.
One of these concerns involves the potential impact on Aboriginal and treaty rights. In response, the Government of Canada has added a non-derogation clause to Bill S-8.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Patterson: Another concern involved the initial scope of the regulations that could have developed under Bill S-11. To allay this concern, a clause was modified to provide clear boundaries on incorporation by reference of provincial and territorial regulations.
The proposed legislation and the regulations developed hereunder will be federal and the amended bill clarifies this point. The bill would, however, allow the government to establish on a region-by-region basis federal regulations that reflect provincial or territorial regulatory regimes but are adapted to the needs of First Nations communities.
Incorporation by reference remains a powerful regulatory tool and is the government's preference for developing regulations that are comparable to the standards enjoyed by Canadians off reserves. Such an approach would, for instance, support the establishment of comparable standards for adjacent and on-and off-reserve communities. With comparable standards, First Nations and neighbouring jurisdictions could collaborate more readily on water and waste water management. They could exchange best practices on inspections, training and enforcement, and negotiate agreements to share infrastructure or testing if they so wished.
I know many First Nations and some parliamentarians have raised the issue that First Nations will be subject to regulations before they have the necessary infrastructure and capacity to comply. Honourable senators, let me quote the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in his appearance during the committee consideration of former Bill S-11:
. . . multi-year investment plans will support effective roll-out of regulations. This approach is flexible, accommodating, responsible and appropriate. I have no intention of making First Nations communities subject to laws that they cannot abide by, and I will not allow that to happen.
I have discussed this with the honourable minister, and let me put on the record that this remains the government's commitment to moving forward.
Honourable senators, the Government of Canada continues to work in close collaboration with First Nations groups on a number of important issues such as land claims, on-reserve education, child and family services, and health care. Bill S-8 would inspire further progress.
Canada and First Nations are determined to build a healthier, more respectful relationship. The Crown-First Nations Gathering held earlier this year in Ottawa is just the latest evidence of this determination. As the Prime Minister stated at the gathering, we must secure water system accountability through legislated standards.
The bill now before us would see First Nations working closely with federal officials to establish regulations and to protect the quality of drinking water on their lands. It would, for the first time in history, ensure that First Nations women, men and children have access to the same level of regulatory drinking water protections that provincial and territorial laws afford other Canadians across this country. Bill S-8 responds to calls from many authoritative groups for a legislative solution to a problem that continues to undermine public health and safety.
Honourable senators, Bill S-8 is a crucial component of a larger plan to protect public health and, in the process, nurture the improving relationship between Canada and First Nations. The issue of safe drinking water in First Nations communities has been the subject of the Senate's attention for a great number of years; and given our earlier debates on a similar law, I urge my colleagues to move quickly on this issue and join me in endorsing Bill S-8.
(On motion of Senator Dyck, debate adjourned.)
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cordy, seconded by the Honourable Senator Peterson, for the second reading of Bill S-204, An Act to establish a national strategy for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).
Hon. Claude Carignan (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this is an important bill. We discussed it earlier during Question Period. I have not finished preparing my notes nor have I verified which members of our caucus want to speak about this bill. I would therefore ask, since this is the fifteenth time that this bill has appeared on the Order Paper, to adjourn the debate in my name for the remainder of my time.
(On motion of Senator Carignan, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Eaton calling 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.
Hon. Larry W. Smith: Honourable senators, today, I have the great honour of participating in the debate on the notice of inquiry brought forward by my friend and colleague, Senator Eaton.
I would first like to congratulate Senator Eaton for bringing to the attention of all the honourable senators the interference of foreign foundations in Canada's domestic affairs and their abuse of the Canada Revenue Agency's rules and regulations governing charitable organizations.
This debate is as necessary as it is crucial. It also strikes to the very core of who and what we are as a nation and as a people. It is about more than pipelines. It is about more than the environment.
Honourable senators, this debate is about Canada's economic sovereignty. The question we face is fundamental: Do we, with natural resources that form 9.5 per cent of our economy's GDP, have the right to decide how we develop the riches our nation is blessed with, or are we willing to abdicate that right and grant it to those in other nations? It is that clear.
Sometimes we take this sector for granted. It encompasses mining and minerals and non-minerals such as potash, oil and gas, agriculture, forestry, and fishing. This abundance has played a key role in the development of Canada's economy over the decades. The key to our economic success in the future will be harnessing this sector to the benefit our future generations will have.
Now crystallized by debates over Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway Project, I am proud to stand with Prime Minister Harper. Like him, I want to see the 400,000 jobs the Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates will be created over the next 10 years. Like him, I want to see Canada benefit from the oil sands growth potential that the institute predicts will be up to $140 billion for our GDP over a decade. Like him, I want to see municipal, provincial and federal social programs and projects enhanced by the $2.6 billion in government revenues also over a decade the institute expects; and like Prime Minister Harper, I want the world to witness that projects of this magnitude can be accomplished here in Canada, a nation whose commitment to human rights, democracy and the rule of law cannot be questioned. Over and again, like Prime Minister Harper, I want to see our natural resources sector, a sector that already employs almost 800,000 Canadians, flourish, particularly in our northern regions.
Think of the employment opportunities badly needed for Aboriginal Canadians in the rugged North and across the northern areas of our provinces. I was a very young boy on the cusp of becoming a teenager when a man from the far-off prairie west by the name of Diefenbaker held office. His decency, his advocacy for the underdog, and above all else his belief in Canada and her destiny moved me deeply despite my youth. All these decades later he inspires me still. Speaking in Renfrew in 1958, Prime Minister Diefenbaker said the following:
We have the right to determine our own destiny at all times, in our own way, and without dictation in any way from any other country.
I believe strongly that these words of our late Prime Minister should guide us during this important debate about Canadian economic sovereignty in our own age.
Only recently, honourable senators witnessed the successful visit of Prime Minister Harper to China. Today, after the current American administration bowed before the well-funded efforts of lobbyists-turned-environmentalists over Keystone, our Prime Minister has demonstrated Diefenbaker-like firmness in himself, standing up for Canadian sovereignty. He told a Chinese audience:
Yes, we will continue to develop these [Canadian] resources in an environmentally responsible manner. But so too will we uphold our responsibility to put the interests of Canadians ahead of foreign money and influences that seek to obstruct development in Canada in favour of energy imported from other, less stable parts of the world.
Once again, I am proud to stand with the Prime Minister. Like all senators honoured to serve Canada in this chamber, I have no quarrel with those who disagree with my own approach to, or views on, a particular issue. I respect my colleagues opposite who do not share my party affiliation.
We need only look above us at the historic murals that grace this chamber to be reminded of the lengths Canadians will go to demonstrate their collective belief in freedom of speech and Canadian sovereignty. Like all Canadians, senators — present and future — stand forever in the bright shadow of the sacrifice Lord Beaverbrook's murals represent.
I ask my friends opposite, with respect, I ask those who say decisions made concerning Canadian resources are simply environmental questions this: Where goes Canada's economic sovereignty when people sit back in silence while a multi-billion dollar U.S.-based foundation directly involves itself in fundamentally Canadian political questions that strike at the heart of our sovereignty?
What is sovereign about a U.S. foundation giving $1.5 million to David Suzuki's group to produce a brochure called "Why You Shouldn't Eat Farmed Salmon," while our B.C. fishers suffer? Statistics Canada reported a $22.5-million decline in B.C. salmon fishing revenue in 2009.
What is sovereign in allowing an American foundation to use its money in Canada to harm our own fishery sector while, at the same time, these funds happen, just happen to benefit U.S. — read Alaskan — fishery business interests? What is sovereign about ignoring facts that demonstrate that 56 U.S.-based foundation-funded organizations are involved in swaying market share toward Alaskan salmon and away from imported — read Canadian — salmon?
Think this is just about the environment, honourable senators? Think again. This is about business. It is about promoting American business, while Canadian workers and communities suffer.
According to Alaska's Department of Fish and Game in a 2011 report, their salmon hatchery industry was worth $168 million in 2010 and employed hundreds of Alaskans. This hatchery, the same report states, now accounts for 34 per cent of Alaska's state's salmon production. Do not believe me? Still think this is only about the environment? Why, then, is it in British Columbia, the Canadian province that is home to the greatest competition faced by the Alaskan fishery, where a U.S. foundation active around the world funds its only region-specific Seafood Choices program? It ranks U.S. and Alaskan salmon as "best choices" and B.C. salmon as "some concerns."
To borrow, in a slightly different context, a phrase used by Prime Minister Harper in an interview in New York City last fall, "It's a no-brainer."
Where is the sovereignty in the silence from Canada's usual staple of self-declared nationalists, those usually at the ready to pounce at even perceptions of U.S. encroachment in our economy? I am not anti-American; I am proud of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who negotiated the Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, and the Canada-U.S. acid rain treaty with the United States. He was well acquainted with this segment of Canadian opinion. He wrote:
The anti-American lobby in Canada is not insignificant. It is located largely, but not exclusively, on the left, among left-wing political parties and unions, a wing of the Liberal Party, the CBC, Toronto Star, assorted media types and among some central Canadian academics. This extremist crowd is separate from the much larger group of Canadians who are quite properly concerned about American incursions into our cultural and economic sovereignty. These are the legitimate and thoughtful Canadian nationalists whom I have always respected.
I know, honourable senators, that those of us participating in this debate from this side of the chamber situate ourselves within the latter group the eighteenth Prime Minister described. We are indeed concerned with the U.S.-based incursions into our economy and political debate that Keystone and other issues have revealed.
Where is the sovereignty in the fact that so many Canadian labour leaders are not speaking up in defence of the thousands of present and future Canadian jobs now at risk? The silence from this quarter, particularly in regard to the Pacific Gateway pipeline project, is deafening.
Wake up, I say to my friends in the labour movement. Wake up! If we work together, we can find agreement and help green our economy. We are on the verge of the creation of an entirely new sector of the economy, that of recycling mining waste products. Economic opportunities will lead to partnerships that create jobs in value-added green industries from the oil sands. There are thousands of jobs for their members in the green sector of tomorrow.
I will be frank with my friends from labour. Up until now, our government's tax and research and development regime has concentrated on resource extraction. However, if we work together, we can modify policies and provide support to give green energy the hand-up it will require.
I have no quarrel with those who oppose the Pacific Gateway pipeline because of heartfelt environmental concerns. While I disagree with many of these positions, I believe strongly in the fundamental right of Canadians to debate matters of public policy freely and openly. Doing so is not only our right; it is our duty. What does concern me, however, are those groups who have increasingly crossed the line between legitimate lobbying and political advocacy, particularly in these recently environmentally charged debates.
Keystone, the Northern Gateway and the fisheries issues I have highlighted demonstrate that it is very likely that some Americans, assisted by allies in Canada, have found ways to flout — at minimum — the spirit of Canada's regulations governing activities by charities and foundations. This threatens free political discourse in our country.
As we have seen, it also directly affects Canada's economy. However, whatever one's stand on environmental concerns, this has now become first and foremost an issue of Canadian economic sovereignty. Canadians, and Canadians alone, must determine the rules under which we conduct these national debates. That right is under threat.
Honourable senators now know where I stand. I salute Senator Eaton for her timely notice of inquiry into these matters. It is long overdue. While I have concerns, honourable senators, do not think for a moment my confidence in Canada and Canadians has been diminished. Far from it. I look to the future with great pride, excitement and promise, and I do so in the spirit of a past leader of my party, a proud Nova Scotian, who in his time and age was also inspired by Canada's tomorrow. Sir Robert Borden stated:
Today, Canada is the mistress of her own destiny. She commands both the Atlantic and the Pacific. She holds the highway of the world.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I wonder if Senator Smith will take a question or two.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will Senator Smith accept a question?
Senator L. Smith: Certainly.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I know Senator Smith did not specifically mention it, but what he is talking about does have grave implications for an organization called Tides Canada. I know other senators have mentioned that Tides Canada is one of the critical examples of how a foundation, the Tides Foundation in the U.S., funds Tides Canada and Tides Canada gets involved in things they should not be involved in because, of course, the government disagrees with them.
I would just like to point out that there are a number of categories of people who work with Tides Canada. There are the recipients, and I am going to list some of them. The honourable senator will be pleased to know the recipients will be very happy to get a letter with a copy of the honourable senator's speech.
Have honourable senators heard of the fact that Tides Canada gives money to the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation? We heard an eloquent speech yesterday about that from Senator Gerstein. It gives to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. It gives to the Vancouver Talmud Torah Association. It gives to the Stephen Leacock Foundation for Children. It gives to the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business. That is a subversive organization. Has he heard of that and the implications of what he is saying will have on these organizations? I have a second question after that.
Senator L. Smith: Thank you very much for the question. In anticipation of the question, we have done a lot of reading about Tides and what they do. The issue is that a lot of the U.S. foundations, including Tides, have done a great job of giving money philanthropically.
The issue that Senator Eaton is bringing up is when foreign foundations enter into the Canadian domain, funding Canadians to do things outside of charitable activities, and get the tax benefits from it. This is what we are opposed to. We are not opposed to the issue of goodwill work done by U.S. foundations.
It is important that we stay on the issue. The issue here is do we want to control our economic sovereignty and not have people come across under a guise of being a charitable foundation and interfering in the future economics of our country. That is what I am talking about.
Senator Mitchell: Okay, so I guess what you are saying —
Senator L. Smith: If I can complete my response, I would encourage members from the opposite side — because I was shocked as I got involved with the study of this issue — to read articles that date back as far as 2010 about Tides in terms of what they are doing in our country. I would suggest that you look at the National Post article of November 20, 2010. I think if you read it you will get some form of a balanced opinion as to the good and bad of what these people do.
Senator Mitchell: I guess the National Post would be the definitive —
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I am sorry to interrupt, but I must advise that the honourable senator's time has expired.
Is he prepared to ask the chamber for an additional five minutes?
Senator L. Smith: I am exhausted.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there further debate?
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)
Speaker's Ruling Reserved
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I am rising today to make a clarification. Yesterday Senator Wallin said she:
. . . sat on the committee when it was chaired by one of our colleagues, Colin Kenny, when a final version of the report on the RCMP came out that was indeed attacking the organization. One of the suggested titles at the time, or certainly a phrase that the chair approved of, referred to the RCMP as a rent-a-wreck of a police force. That was not approved by the Conservative members on the committee.
I should point out that Senator Wallin is speaking about meetings that were entirely in camera, and that is contrary to the Senate Rules. The draft report she is referring to was never adopted by the committee — even though it had a majority of Liberals on it at the time — and the phrase "rent-a-wreck" comes from a book by Mr. Paul Palango, and never had my support.
Senator Wallin went on to say:
In fact, if memory serves me correctly, Liberal members of the Senate, that summer, after the session ended and we rose, prepared their "own report" based on information that was collected by the Senate and put a report out that they called a "Liberal report," which made many accusations and I think some unfair commentary about our national police force.
Honourable senators, I have a copy of that report here. Nowhere in it is anybody's reputation besmirched, and Senator Wallin alleges that we have done that. I challenge her to come forward and give us examples from this report where that happened.
Hon. David Tkachuk: I would like to say that I was part of that committee as well. We did have hearings on the RCMP and the report was never adopted, but gee, all of a sudden a short time later, a report was produced by Liberal members that looked very familiar to the report that the committee decided not to adopt.
I think that Senator Wallin was correct in saying that the report did not reflect well on the RCMP, because the report was produced after the report was defeated in the committee. Then the Liberal members took it upon themselves to use the information that the committee had gathered and produced the report on their own. That is what we objected to at the time and continue to object to this very day.
Hon. Daniel Lang: I would like to perhaps refresh the honourable senator's memory in respect to that report as well. Some of the concerns of the members of the day at that time within the committee were that there were recommendations and statements made in that draft report that did not reflect the evidence that had been presented to the committee. We found it, at least from our side, very difficult to go ahead with a committee report not based, at least in part, on information that had been provided to us.
I think that if the honourable senator took some time and went through the blues he would find that what he just stated earlier in his opening comments will refresh his memory, and then he will look back and say, "Yes, there was a difference of opinion."
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there further debate on the point of order?
If not, the chair will take the matter under advisement.
Committee Authorized to Study State of Defence and Security Relationships with the United States
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Martin:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on the state of Canada's defence and security relationships with the United States; and
That the Committee present its final report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2013 and that the Committee retain, until March 31, 2014, all powers necessary to publicize its findings.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words regarding this motion and about committee travel more generally.
While I do not intend to address my next motion, my remarks apply equally to the proposed study on Afghanistan.
There is no question that Canada's relationship with the United States is the single most important relationship we have in the world. That is true whether we are talking about our national security and defence, trade, or any other aspect of our economy.
I also have no doubt that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence will undertake a thoughtful and thorough study of this relationship and provide meaningful advice to the Senate and to the government.
Senator Wallin is to be congratulated for her work as chair of this committee. She is uniquely well suited for this work for many reasons. To just speak of her vast experience as a consul general in New York and as a member of the special task force on Afghanistan speaks volumes about her credentials. We should therefore wholeheartedly support both of these motions.
Honourable senators, I just want to say a few words. Listening to the debate yesterday, I was somewhat concerned with a certain aspect of the debate as it relates to travel. My remarks now relate more to travel in general than on these specific motions.
As I have said in this chamber before and as honourable senators know, I am a member of the Treasury Board Sub-Committee on the Strategic and Operating Review and have been working with my cabinet colleagues in an effort to find billions of dollars in savings across the government. Our government is serious about returning to fiscal balance and delivering on its commitment.
Canadians supported the government's efforts to stimulate the economy during the recent economic downturn, as we were urged to do. Equally, Canadians now expect us to get our fiscal house in order.
I am pleased that our Internal Economy Committee has done its part to ensure that the Senate also reduces its non-essential expenditures. Canadians expect parliamentarians to show leadership in this area. As senators, we must be mindful of expenses while undertaking our duties.
I was proud to serve as Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology under the chairmanship of our former colleague, the Honourable Michael Kirby. Many of us were on that committee. We undertook a major study on the Canadian health care system. We heard testimony from expert witnesses from around the world — Germany, Sweden, Australia, the U.K., and the United States, to name but a few. We did all of this work using video conferencing, and not once did we leave the country.
That report was highly regarded, well received, and is still held out as one of the best pieces of work the Senate has ever done. That report was tabled nearly 10 years ago. Technology has greatly improved since then, making video conferencing an even more viable option now.
Our committees can do their work and fulfill their mandates without travelling. At this time when the government is reducing its expenditures, Canadians simply will not accept parliamentarians travelling around the world when other means are available.
Of course, Senator Munson should know better. The Prime Minister, when he travels, is representing the whole country of Canada and promoting the interests of this country, but I would expect no less in a comment like that from Senator Munson.
Senator Munson: Have a nice day.
Senator LeBreton: This is true whether the travel is to Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, or the United States. The question of travel and any proposed study are two separate matters; that is why they are considered separately by the Senate. Therefore, an endorsement of this motion should not, in and of itself, be seen as an endorsement of travel by the committee.
I must point out again that there are many good and valid reasons for Senate committees to travel, and no one would argue that. However, I would urge honourable senators, when they are planning their work schedules, to keep in mind that there are hard-working taxpayers out there, and we are accountable to them.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): I wonder whether the Leader of the Government would entertain a question.
Senator LeBreton: Absolutely.
Senator Cowan: Senator LeBreton spoke about her work on the committee of cabinet. I forget the name. What was the name of the committee?
Senator LeBreton: It is the cabinet subcommittee of the Treasury Board. SORC — Strategic and Operating Review.
Senator Cowan: Will the minister assure us here that the committee she mentioned, through her involvement, particularly, will be applying the same sharp knife to ministerial budgets and the Prime Minister's budget as it does to houses of Parliament and the members of both houses of Parliament?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator. This has nothing to do with this motion we are discussing, but the fact of the matter is we have already done that; I have put that on the record here in the Senate.
The use of government aircraft has been reduced 80 per cent by this government. Ministerial budgets have been frozen, and ministerial staff has been frozen. This government has been much more mindful of taxpayers' dollars now than was the case in the past. That includes me by the way, if I might blow my own horn. I beg the honourable senator to check the record and see what I have expended as Leader of the Government in the Senate and compare that to the last Leader of the Government in the Senate under Senator Cowan's party.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Will the honourable senator take another question?
Senator LeBreton: Certainly.
Senator Fraser: I will certainly not quarrel — in fact, I am grateful to hear her talk about the utility of technology; it has improved a great deal in recent years. Video conferences, for example, are much more reliable and helpful than they were when we started out using that technology.
In the debate yesterday, which I, for my sins, launched, I was following up in large measure on remarks I had made a few days or weeks ago in the Senate where one of the things that I was expressing concern about was the very broad and non-detailed, in terms of substance, orders of reference that committees have traditionally sought and been granted by the Senate. It is obviously in the committee's own interest in many ways to seek those broad orders of reference, but the point I have tried to make is that simply giving blanket approval to blanket orders of reference is perhaps not the most appropriate way for the Senate to proceed.
In our discussions yesterday, we talked about travel, yes. However, the reason I was raising travel was not so much to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the Internal Economy Committee as to illustrate that we should have some concept of what it is we are approving.
Would the leader agree with me, as a general principle, that it would be very advisable for committees to give much more detail than they sometimes do now in their requests for orders of reference, and that it would also be advisable, for all but the most picayune little matters, for the chair of the committee to speak to the Senate when moving the adoption of an order of reference to explain just what is involved, what the purpose is, and what the committee expects to be doing and to achieve?
Senator LeBreton: I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree, and I think the honourable senator is absolutely right. I have certainly been more mindful of the issue she has raised. There were motions passed in the Senate not long ago when the chairs of the committees have gotten up and said, "I move the motion standing in my name," and we all were not paying attention to the degree we should have been and perhaps not asking the questions that ought to have been asked. Then we find out after the fact that some elaborate trip has been planned at great cost to the Senate.
I agree absolutely with the honourable senator. We all have to be more accountable. That is why I said there are legitimate, solid reasons for committees to travel, especially within the country. There are places to visit in the world that are in the interest of the country, the government and the institution of Parliament as a whole.
We would be better served, Senator Fraser, if we really and truly understood the purposes of such travel. Then we could all of us collectively, when we are hit with the Tim Naumetzs of the world as we are strolling down the corridor, properly defend our fellow honourable senators, no matter what side of the chamber they are on. I totally agree with the Honourable Senator Fraser.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I had adjourned this motion in my name yesterday. Instead of repeating comments already made, I adopt what Senator LeBreton said in her last statement about her enthusiasm about committees and committee travel, and I certainly adopt what Senator Fraser said.
Before I proceed, I want to acknowledge the great work that Senator Comeau, Senator Cordy and Senator Smith on the subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration have done on all our behalf. Having had the pleasure and task of appearing in front of them, I can inform honourable senators that they do a very thorough job, and they ask us the difficult questions — as they should — before they approve any Senate travel.
Yesterday, I asked a question of the chair of the National Defence Committee. I would not have thought of it before, but we had an inquiry here in the Senate by Senator Comeau where he stated that, when references come in front of us, we need to ask more questions. I will quote what he said:
I also believe that, because all orders of reference must be adopted by the Senate, the Senate itself should be aware of the committee's objectives.
Regretfully, however, many orders of reference are adopted by the Senate with little or no debate. I do understand that it may be because our fellow colleagues have a respect for the work of the committees and recognize that committees are generally masters of their own destiny in choosing which topics they wish to examine. Nonetheless, the senators have a duty to make themselves aware of the orders of reference they are approving to enable Senate committees to do their work.
In light of what Senator Comeau said, I quote Senator Cordy on the same inquiry:
The honourable senator spoke of the responsibility of the committee to have a clear reference and work plan. Our job as a subcommittee was made easier by the committees that came before us with a clear reference.
Honourable senators, I spoke yesterday because I believe that we need a clear motion before we can approve the reference. I stand before honourable senators and say that the work that the Defence Committee does is very good work, and we all very much respect it, but in light of what the subcommittee has asked us to do, I ask that we have a clear reference.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
(Motion agreed to, on division.)
Committee Authorized to Study Status of and Lessons Learned during Canadian Forces Operations in Afghanistan
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Eaton:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be authorized to examine and report on the status of, and lessons learned, during Canadian Forces operations in Afghanistan; and
That the Committee present its final report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2013 and that the Committee retain, until March 31, 2014, all powers necessary to publicize its findings.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, Senator LeBreton has spoken and indicated that her remarks covered Item No. 67 and Item No. 68. Is there further debate on Item No. 68? Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
(Motion agreed to, on division.)
On Inquiries, Order No. 36, by the Honourable Senator Harb:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the action of a certain entity and show the Senate how this action is undermining the credibility of the Human Rights Committee and the credibility of the Senate as an institution.
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I withdraw this inquiry from the Notice Paper.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Other, Inquiry No. 3:
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Cordy, calling the attention of the Senate to those Canadians living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), who lack access to the "liberation" procedure.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I would like to revert to Inquiry No. 3 on the Order Paper.
I have asked whether we could receive a briefing in the Senate as the briefing was given to the members of the House of Commons. In Question Period today, Senator LeBreton referred to that briefing. I have not heard anything further and, although I am not allowed to ask a question at this time, I wonder whether the honourable leader can let me know later whether the Senate will be offered the briefing.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted honourable senators, and an unusual procedure to have the Honourable Senator LeBreton respond to this question?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I am sorry, Senator Cordy. Actually, I have spoken to the parliamentary secretary and he was very willing and able to provide a briefing. I will follow up to see when he can arrange that.
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 1:30 p.m.)