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2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 33

Thursday, February 6, 2014
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

THE SENATE

Thursday, February 6, 2014

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Canadian Federation of Medical Students

Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, on February 3, medical students from across Canada were on Parliament Hill to discuss access to health care in rural and remote areas as well as sustainable housing solutions for Canadians.

I had the pleasure of meeting two student representatives of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. They were Chris Novak from Alberta and Tanya Khaper from Manitoba. The CFMS believes that all Canadians, regardless of location, deserve adequate quality care. In turn, it hopes to work with the Government of Canada to strengthen health care in underserved populations across the country.

The CFMS proposed two courses of action with the focus on changes to the Loan Forgiveness Program for newly graduated physicians who chose to practice in rural and remote areas and the sustainability of Canada's social housing resources. You can read about this on their website at www.cfms.org.

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students is the representative voice of Canadian medical students to the federal government, to the public and to the national medical organizations. They represent over 7,500 medical students at 14 Canadian medical schools from coast to coast.

As future physicians at various stages of medical training, they know that their duty to take care of patients does not end at the clinic door. They are involved and want to share their findings with us.

Honourable senators, it is my hope that all of you have met or will meet with representatives from the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. They are part of the sustainability of our health care systems of tomorrow, and they really care.

Kim's Convenience

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about Kim's Convenience, an award- winning play written by Ins Choi, a Toronto playwright and actor, which has become a part of Canadian theatre history.

[Translation]

Kim's Convenience is a play that takes place in a convenience store in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood. It tells the tale of an immigrant Korean family, but it appeals to a wide audience with universal themes such as family, redemption, forgiveness and love.

[English]

Written from personal experiences, there is a sense of integrity and authenticity about the story and its memorable characters: Appa, played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee; Umma, played by Jean Yoon; Jung, the prodigal son, played by Ins Choi; Janet, played by Grace Lynn Kung; Rich, Mr. Lee, Mike and Alex, played by Andre Sills. Kim's Convenience debuted at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival and won the Best New Play award, and it has since received many accolades.

[Translation]

As part of its national tour, the play is currently running in Ottawa, at the National Arts Centre, until February 8, 2014. The play is enjoying continued success, and a script for a television comedy series is in the works.

[English]

My nephew Thelonious Kim Marriott, Senator Nancy Ruth and I watched Kim's Convenience last night. During the talk-back segment after the show, a gentleman wanted to know when the sequel to Kim's Convenience will be ready. Later, Thelonious said he could also envision a prequel. Long afterwards, I still heard the voices of Appa and Janet, the unmarried 30-year-old, "single ready to mingle," in my head and fell asleep thinking about my own dearly departed Appa, which means father.

Ins Choi said it best when asked about what this play means to him:

I feel like we're changing the face of Canadian theatre...

The story is an immigrant story and reflects the change that has been going on in Canada for the past 50 years, the change that is happening now to every city in Canada, and the change that's going to continue to happen. And it not only puts it on stage and shares it, but it celebrates it and it welcomes others in the audience to celebrate this change that is happening.

[Translation]

Last night, one member of the audience said that what she liked most about the play were the Korean words that gave special colour to various scenes. While she did not understand those words, she liked their tonality.

[English]

Ins replied: "Having Korean spoken on stage was important to me... to say we are here, too."

Indeed. It was important for me and will be equally so for all Canadians of Korean descent who watch Kim's Convenience and see their own story mirrored on the stage.

[Editor's Note: Senator Martin spoke in Korean.]

Father, I love you. I miss you.

Honourable senators, please join me in congratulating Ins Choi and his brilliant cast. Félicitations.

[Editor's Note: Senator Martin spoke in Korean.]

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, to build on the Honourable Senator Martin's statement, and to place it on the record, I welcome and draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of Mr. Ins Choi, the playwright and actor of Kim's Convenience, currently playing at the National Art Centre, his cast and Mr. Thelonious Kim Marriott, who happens to be the nephew of our distinguished colleague, Senator Martin.

On behalf of all honourable senators, we welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Hon.  Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, today, February 6, marks the United Nations International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

Female genital mutilation is a practice that historically has victimized roughly 125 million women and girls. It is a procedure that involves the partial or complete removal of a female's external genitalia.

As Canadians, we acknowledge that female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse. As a country we have taken steps to speak out against this practice. Unfortunately, in spite of our efforts, over 30 million girls continue to be at risk, as female genital mutilation is still practised today.

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When I was President of the National Women's Liberal Commission, I worked with many women to have Prime Minister Chretien's government forbid this practice in Canada. In 1997, Parliament passed Bill C-27, which made female genital mutilation a criminal act. Therefore, here in Canada, this practice is considered to be a criminal offence, and those who perform this procedure can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada.

I'm extremely sad to report that not one conviction has been made since this law has been passed, even though it is known that this practice continues to take place in Canada.

Honourable senators, many countries have stepped up to the plate and taken steps to protect young women and girls from being victimized by this terrible practice. New Zealand, for example, has an active campaign to stamp out FGM in their country. The United Kingdom is backing an African initiative in an effort to help build a global movement to stamp out FGM and is investing $35 million to encourage the abandonment of this culturally ingrained practice. They state that they will not rest until FGM comes to a stop the same way foot binding did in the history books.

The United States has been working since 1990 and has incorporated the elimination of FGM into its development agenda. The United States government, under President Barack Obama, is also working hard to stamp out FGM throughout the world by focusing on an integrated, multi-sector approach that aims to bring together advocates, policy-makers and communities to transform the cultural practice of female genital mutilation and to stop this practice all over the world.

Honourable senators, I want to share with you my first-hand experience of this practice. I was in a small hospital in East Africa when I saw a little girl who had undergone this mutilation being carried in her father's arms. The father's clothes were drenched in blood, and so were the little girl's. The father and mother were sobbing, and there was no sound from the little girl. The little girl was rushed into surgery and the doctors fought valiantly to save the life of the child. Unfortunately, this little girl bled to death.

Every day, many girls around the world fall victim to this horrifying procedure, and many don't survive. This is a practice that continues within our borders as well.

Honourable senators, I ask you to reconfirm your commitment to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation in Ottawa, in Canada and around the world.

[Translation]

Suicide Prevention Week

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this week is national suicide prevention week in Quebec. Why have such a week? Because suicide is an issue on which we can have a real impact if we work together. The purpose of national suicide prevention week is to raise awareness of available resources and to create a network of the various partners.

[English]

In Canada, close to 4,000 people take their own life every year, and 30 per cent of these Canadians live in Quebec, even though the province represents only 23 per cent of Canada's population.

[Translation]

Suicide prevention calls for time, energy and perseverance. Honourable senators, that is why, in December 2012, Parliament passed Bill C-300, which seeks to establish a federal framework for suicide prevention. Several suicide prevention initiatives and programs have been implemented in various provinces, including Alberta and Quebec. The purpose of developing a federal framework for suicide prevention is to gather information and disseminate it as broadly as possible, while also promoting best practices for suicide prevention.

[English]

Also, as technology evolves at lightning speed, we have seen the rise, these past few years, of a new and troubling issue, that of cyberbullying. A few cases of recent teenage suicides occurred as a direct consequence of cyberbullying. That is why we tabled, on November 20, 2013, Bill C-13, which amends the Criminal Code by adding new offences linked to cyberbullying.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, as I mentioned in my speech on Bill C- 300, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As a society and as parliamentarians, we have a duty to protect Canadians who are struggling with intense psychological suffering and distress. We must use all effective means to that end. One suicide is already too many, but 4,000 is just unbearable.

[English]

Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes against Humanity

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, yesterday the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity held an event co-organized with Amnesty International. This event sought to bring attention to the threat of extinction faced by indigenous communities in Columbia.

As part of the panel discussion, the group heard from guests, including Maria Patricia Tobón Yagarí and Federico Guzmán Duque, who are experts in the legal dimensions of indigenous rights in that country.

Canada and Colombia have a special relationship culturally and economically. The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was implemented in August of 2011, and a number of Canadian companies, particularly in the mining sector, operate successfully — or profitably — in Colombia.

Our guests highlighted the plight of indigenous peoples in Colombia. Current threats to their survival include forced internal displacement of over 105,000 people, as well as widespread violations of their human rights in response to the continued demands to have access to their territories for exploitation of the minerals.

As a result of these and other threats, the indigenous communities are facing physical and cultural extermination, physical because their natural grounds for their hunting and gathering and foodstuffs are essentially being eliminated and cultural because they're being displaced to areas that are foreign to them and to their normal lands; as such, they are facing either assimilation or cultural destruction.

In a recent report, the International Criminal Court echoed these concerns of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Colombia.

War crimes and crimes against humanity. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people also expressed his concern "about the numerous indications that the grave situation of indigenous peoples in Colombia has not been addressed with the level of urgency it deserves."

In general, the laws, programs and policies of the government do not ensure effective protection of human rights of indigenous people in Colombia. An example is the forcible recruitment by guerrillas of Aboriginal children to be used as child soldiers against their own people.

Colleagues, unfortunately, Canadian companies are caught up in this maelstrom. These companies, with the permission of Colombian authorities, sometimes end up allying themselves with illegal organizations in Colombia that use force and violence against indigenous groups in the name of facilitating mining activities.

Here at home, the Canadian government frequently reminds us, as it should, that our country's mining and extraction companies are some of the most effectively self-regulating companies in the world. These companies police themselves and are frequently commended for the work they do to create and comply with industry standards for safety and social responsibility in their work overseas.

But it is clear from yesterday's discussions and presentation that these self-regulated regulations don't necessarily go far enough. Nor are they necessarily complied with by all.

The Canadian government must be more proactive in creating laws and regulations that ensure that Canadian companies not only represent the best interests of Canadians but also protect the interests of the most vulnerable people in countries in which they operate. It is our responsibility to do so.

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Kaetlyn Osmond

Hon. Norman E. Doyle: Honourable senators, I stand to salute the achievements of Kaetlyn Osmond, a young woman from Marystown, Newfoundland. After recently winning her second consecutive Canadian national women's figure skating title, she has been awarded a spot on Canada's Olympic figure skating team. The province of her birth is simply filled with pride that one of our own has risen to such heights in Canadian sport and with such amazing grace, both on and off the ice.

Kaetlyn Osmond was born in 1995, the daughter of Jeff and Jackie Osmond of Marystown, on the Island of Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, which because of its shape is aptly nicknamed "the boot." Kaetlyn started skating on the boot at the age of two. When she was seven, her parents moved to Montreal so that she could avail of more ice time and better training facilities. Three years later, the family moved to our second home in Canada, Sherwood Park, Alberta, where Kaetlyn currently lives and trains.

There are three factors at play here: innate talent, incredibly hard work, and a devoted and supportive family. It would appear, that Kaetlyn has had and still has all three in abundance — and all three have fortuitously come together just in time for the Sochi Olympics.

Honourable colleagues, Kaetlyn Osmond has to be one very exceptional person. After all, what are the odds of someone from a small town of 4,500 people, on an island with a widely scattered population of only half a million, representing a nation of 34 million on the world stage?

Since winning the bronze medal at the Canadian championships two years ago, Kaetlyn Osmond has climbed the ranks of the figure skating world in leaps and bounds. In reaching her current level of figure skating excellence, Kaetlyn's competitors at the Sochi Olympics will arise from such massive talent pools as 140 million Russians, 317 million Americans and 1.3 billion Chinese.

Despite the numerical odds against us, Canada generally does very well at the Winter Olympics. Yes, we are a winter country, but it also speaks well of the spirit and skill of our athletes, the competence of our coaches and the excellence of our training facilities.

Honourable senators, I'm sure all present join me in extending our best wishes to Kaetlyn Osmond as she takes up the challenge of skating for Canada at the Sochi Olympics. She might hail from the boot on the rock, but she skates for all of us.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Speaker of the Senate

Parliamentary Delegation to New York, November 13-15, 2013—Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I would like to table a document entitled: "Visit of the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, and a Parliamentary Delegation, United Nations, New York, November 13-15, 2013," which deals with the visit of the Speaker of the Senate and parliamentary delegations to the United Nations, and to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Canada who also serve as their country's permanent representative to the United Nations.

Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[Translation]

Transport and Communications

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Challenges Faced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—Third Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Leo Housakos, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, presented the following report:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Monday, December 9, 2013, to study the challenges faced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in relation to the changing environment of broadcasting and communications, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, and further requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered:

(a) to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary; and

(b) to travel inside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

LEO HOUSAKOS
Deputy Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 374.)

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

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

[English]

National Security and Defence

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Status of Canada's International Security and Defence Relations—Second Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Daniel Lang, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, presented the following report:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, December 12, 2013 to examine and report on the status of Canada's international security and defence relations, including but not limited to, relations with the United States, NATO, and NORAD, respectfully request funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014 and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered:

(a) to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary; and

(b) to travel outside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

DANIEL LANG
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 382.)

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

Senator Lang: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(f), I move that the report be considered later this day.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Lang, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.)

Fisheries and Oceans

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on the Regulation of Aquaculture, Current Challenges and Future Prospects for the Industry—Third Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Fabian Manning, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented the following report:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Monday, December 9, 2013, to examine and report on the regulation of aquaculture, current challenges and future prospects for the industry in Canada, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered to:

(a) engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary;

(b) adjourn from place to place within Canada; and

(a) travel inside Canada.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

FABIAN MANNING
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix C, p. 388.)

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

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

[Translation]

Official Languages

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services—Study on CBC/ Radio-Canada's Obligations under the Official Languages Act and the Broadcasting Act—Second Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Claudette Tardif, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, presented the following report:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, November 21, 2013, to study the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's obligations under the Official Languages Act and some aspects of the Broadcasting Act, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, and further requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

CLAUDETTE TARDIF
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix D, p. 396.)

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

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

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[English]

Business of the Senate

Notice of Motion to Change Commencement Time on Wednesdays and Thursdays and to Effect Wednesday Adjournments

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j) I give notice that later this day I will move:

That, during the remainder of the current session,

(a) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday or a Thursday, it shall sit at 1:30 p.m. notwithstanding rule 3-1(1);

(b) except as provided in paragraph (c), when the Senate sits on a Wednesday, it shall adjourn at 4 p.m., unless it has been suspended for the purpose of taking a deferred vote or has earlier adjourned;

(c) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday during either:

(i) the period between June 1 and August 31, inclusive, or

(ii) the period between November 15 and December 31, inclusive,

it shall adjourn at the later of 4 p.m. or the end of Government Business, but no later than the time otherwise provided in the Rules, unless it has been suspended for the purpose of taking a deferred vote or has earlier adjourned;

(d) when the Senate sits past 4 p.m. on a Wednesday pursuant to paragraph (c), committees scheduled to meet shall be authorized to do so, even if the Senate is then sitting, with the application of rule 12-18(1) being suspended in relation thereto; and

(e) when a vote is deferred until 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings, if required, immediately prior to any adjournment but no later than the time provided in either paragraph (b) or (c), as the case may be, to suspend the sitting until 5:30 p.m. for the taking of the deferred vote, and that committees be authorized to meet during the period that the sitting is suspended.

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

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, before we vote on this, could we have some clarification with respect to the motion that's on the Order Paper. Should that be removed and replaced by the one we just heard? There appear to be some words that are similar but not all.

The Hon. the Speaker: As that is a procedural question, it would be helpful to the chamber to point out, if leave is granted to deal with this later today — and if leave is not granted, it will be another day — that we have two motions, and Senator Day is quite correct, dealing with the same subject matter.

If one of the two is adopted, that then will become the order of the house and the other one will be redundant automatically.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise to inform the chamber that this new motion is the result of negotiations between the two sides. I would ask that a copy be provided for all senators before we actually ask them to discuss it and vote on it. With that proviso, we will give leave.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer introduced Bill S-214, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exception to mandatory minimum sentences for manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death).

(Bill read first time.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

(On motion of Senator Jaffer, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

Unequal Access to Justice

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the issue of poverty in Canada — specifically unequal access to justice.


[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Public Safety

Tragedy at L'Isle-Verte—Protection of Seniors

Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On January 23, Canadians awoke to the tragic news of a terrible fire at the Résidence du Havre in L'Isle-Verte. The community's loss is our loss. Twenty- eight people are confirmed dead, and four are still missing.

This tragedy sounded the alarm, but it wasn't the first of its kind. In the past five years, seven fatal fires have occurred in seniors' residences in Canada. Over the next two decades, the number of seniors in Canada will double. People keep talking about problems, crises and burdens for the country instead of opportunities and urgency. This is a golden opportunity for the federal government to show leadership in collaboration with the provinces and territories.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us about the government's action plan or strategy to deal with this issue? What steps does the federal government plan to take to prepare for this major demographic change?

How is the government fulfilling its responsibility to older Canadians, who, individually and as a group, have made a tremendous contribution to every sector of Canadian society?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your question, senator. There were two parts to your question. The first was about safety in seniors' residences, and the second was about the situation in L'Isle-Verte.

This was a terrible tragedy. I would like to take this opportunity to again express our sincere condolences to those who lost a loved one.

(1440)

The Prime Minister, his wife and the Governor General also attended the commemorative ceremony on Saturday to represent all Canadians and to show Canadians' solidarity with the people of L'Isle-Verte.

We also want to thank all the first responders, who did an extraordinary job. The Prime Minister met with many of them, including a firefighter who saved three people from the massive fire. We have faith that the authorities will determine how this tragedy happened and do what is necessary to ensure that it does not happen again.

As you know, the National Building Code was amended in 2010 to raise the standards for fire prevention and fire suppression systems.

Senator Charette-Poulin: All Canadians and honourable senators in this chamber share your sympathy for the community of L'Isle-Verte.

However, my question was much broader than that. What is the government currently doing to take responsibility, not only with respect to housing, but also with respect to this change in Canadian demographics? What is the government's action plan for addressing the public policy vacuum that currently exists?

You may remember, Mr. Leader, that the Senate published a very interesting study in 2009.

[English]

In 2009, there was a special Senate committee report. The committee was chaired by Senator Sharon Carstairs and the deputy chair was Senator Keon. The report was called Canada's Aging Population: Seizing the Opportunity.

One of the clear recommendations in 2009 was to make sure that we were ready for this shift. What have we done?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Thank you for your question, senator. I can tell you about some measures this government has put in place to help seniors since we took power in 2006. We increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement in 2011 to help our most vulnerable seniors. It was the largest increase in 25 years. There were 676,000 seniors receiving these benefits in June 2013.

We also implemented proactive enrolment mechanisms for income security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits, so that the 160,000 eligible seniors who had not applied would receive benefits as soon as possible.

We also raised the GIS maximum exemption to $3,500. We made the Guaranteed Income Supplement automatically renewable in 2007, which means that 96 per cent of seniors had their Guaranteed Income Supplement automatically renewed last year.

We extended the targeted initiative for older workers, which has helped more than 25,000 seniors since 2007. We increased the budget for the New Horizons for Seniors Program. We allocated funding and significant support to the fight against elder abuse. Twice, we improved the age credit, which eased the tax burden on 2.2 million seniors.

We introduced pension income splitting for seniors in 2007. We doubled the pension income credit. We raised the age limit for RRSP contributors from 69 to 71.

With these measures we have removed more than 380,000 seniors from the tax rolls. Thus, we have introduced a number of tax measures to respond to the increasing number of seniors and ensure that there is more money available to meet their needs. We have also amended the National Building Code to keep seniors safe.

[English]

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, there is a strong smell of gas in the chamber. This is something to be aware of, but we have been instructed by the City of Ottawa that the odour is throughout the Ottawa area and is nothing to be preoccupied by.

Democratic Reform

Elections Canada

Hon. David P. Smith: Colleagues, my question is for the Government Leader in the Senate. On Tuesday, the Conservative government introduced changes to the Canada Elections Act. Colleagues, although I have no involvement in the current Liberal election team, I have been involved prior to this in all of the elections since Pearson's 1965 campaign, when I was in my early 20s.

I believe that some of these changes are a direct attack on Elections Canada. I'm not saying there weren't some good amendments in the bill, but overall, instead of strengthening the powers of the Commissioner of Elections Canada, the Conservatives have removed him from Elections Canada and refused to allow any new investigative powers. Elections Canada repeatedly sought the ability to ask judges to compel testimony in cases of election fraud. This would have strengthened our system, but it was totally ignored.

Clearly, the government is trying to neutralize Elections Canada. Many people believe that these legislative changes are in response to Elections Canada's investigations into your party's numerous Elections Act violations. I'm not saying that any party is totally perfect and pure — strange things can happen at the grassroots sometimes — but, overall, we should be strengthening Canadians' democracy, not weakening it.

Will the government rethink this decision to ensure that those with the most expertise and the most experience in organizing, monitoring and enforcing the rules continue to have a significant role?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator Smith, in response to your preamble, we have nothing to learn from the Liberal Party of Canada when it comes to organizing elections, especially in light of the sponsorship scandal.

The bill is before Parliament. You will have an opportunity to study the specifics of the bill in more detail. As for the powers of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner, the objective is to protect voters from election fraud. Therefore, we are making the Chief Electoral Officer more independent by giving him control of his staff and his investigations, giving him the power to call for tougher penalties for existing election offences and adding more than a dozen new offences to the act to combat big money, rogue calls and fraudulent voting.

We also have provisions to crack down on voter fraud by prohibiting the use of voter information cards and vouching as acceptable identification. We are making the election rules clear, predictable and easy to follow.

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We are also banning the use of loans to evade donation rules. These various measures will ensure that the electoral process is fairer and clearer, not to mention the whole aspect of the independence granted to the Commissioner to conduct investigations and prosecute offences under the Elections Act.

Once we have a chance to examine it here in the Senate, you will appreciate the quality of this electoral reform and see that more than 38 recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer were accepted and included in the bill. A former Chief Electoral Officer gave the bill a strong A- grade, which is an important endorsement for this electoral reform.

[English]

Senator D. Smith: To be fair, I acknowledge that there are some good measures in the bill and some of the recommendations may be done, but some of the main ones were totally ignored. I find it hard to understand why the advice given on some of these main issues from Elections Canada was ignored.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator, as I said, 38 recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer were written up and included in the Fair Elections Act. Other changes have also been included based on consultations, observations and certain experiences in recent years. The goal of all this is to ensure that we have elections legislation and an electoral system that are as fair and as effective as possible.

I don't wish to go over all the measures in the bill again. The bill is currently before the House of Commons, and we will have the opportunity to examine it in the Senate. You can share your comments, ask questions and propose amendments at that time, as is your right as parliamentarians.

That said, we are very proud of the work that has been done. Minister Uppal began the work and then Minister Pierre Poilievre took over. As Minister Poilievre said, he also met with Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand to hear his comments. Minister Uppal also met with him in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013. His concerns were taken into consideration when the bill was drafted, and I look forward to having it introduced in the Senate so that we can discuss it in further detail.

Foreign Affairs

Peace Talks—Protection of Syrian Children

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: One of my proudest moments during my visit to a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan was when the mothers told me that they wanted to thank Canadians for helping their children get an education. When Canadians help those children get an education, they give them a reason to live. I hope that we will see the same results in Syria. I am very concerned about the impact the Syrian conflict has had on children.

I would like to compliment the government for providing $203 million to ease the humanitarian crisis for Syrians, and particularly the $116 million being used to support Syria's neighbours, which are dealing with an unprecedented number of refugees.

My question is for the Leader of the Government. Much of the funding that Canada is providing has been earmarked for one to five years. How are we going to continue to support the psychological and physical well-being of Syrian refugee children in the long term?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you, Senator Jaffer, for your question. We are very concerned about this issue.

As you have likely seen, new measures have been taken. We have said from the outset that a peaceful solution is the only way to stop the bloodbath in Syria. Canada will continue to take measures to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The main objective is to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of the civil war in Syria. As you may have noticed, on January 24, our Prime Minister announced $150 million in additional humanitarian aid to address the fast-growing needs in Syria and neighbouring countries.

We support UNICEF's "No Lost Generation" initiative to provide education and protection to children affected by the conflict. Launched by UNICEF and its partners, this initiative seeks to protect the future of the children affected by the Syrian crisis. With Canada's support, our partners are responding to humanitarian needs. For instance, they are providing drinking water to 10 million people, food aid to 3.8 million Syrians in the country and emergency assistance to almost 3 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

So far, Canada has invested over $630 million in humanitarian aid, development assistance and security in response to the Syrian crisis.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation in Syria. We will continue to condemn the violence that is tearing Syria apart, and we will continue to support the Syrian people in their fight for a better and brighter future.

Senator Jaffer: I greatly appreciate your answer. I realize that you might not have the answer right away, but I would still like to receive these figures as soon as possible. How much money has Canada invested and will it invest multilaterally and bilaterally, specifically for the well-being of children?

[English]

One thing that the Human Rights Committee works on is making sure that women are involved according to Resolution 1325 at peacekeeping tables. This is an international topic that Canada has led for many years. I respect that you may not know the answer now, but may I ask that you find out as soon as possible what efforts are being made by Canada to make sure that women are at the peacekeeping table?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: As I said, the funding for humanitarian aid is significant and it goes to various programs, including the UNICEF program that provides education to children whose lives have been disrupted by the Syrian crisis. It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to come up with the exact number of children and women who are receiving direct or indirect assistance from Canada through those initiatives.

As I explained earlier, together with our humanitarian aid partners, we are providing drinking water for 10 million people and food aid for 3.8 million Syrians in the country.

You will understand that it is difficult to obtain precise statistics about how many women and children are being directly or indirectly helped by Canada.

However, I would like to reiterate, on behalf of our government, that we are closely monitoring the situation, we condemn the violence and we want to ensure that we support the Syrian people in their fight for a better future. Therefore, we will continue to be there.

(1500)

Senator Jaffer: I appreciate your challenge, but maybe I wasn't clear.

[English]

Leader, maybe I wasn't clear. I absolutely cannot ask you to say how many children are being served, but if I may please ask you to let us know exactly how much we are giving multilaterally and bilaterally and what efforts are being made to ensure that women are at the peace table.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator Jaffer, I can confirm to you the information I have here. I can promise to verify whether there is any additional information and get back to you later to fully answer your question. One thing is certain: as I already said we are monitoring the situation closely. We stand with the Syrian people, and we want to assure them of our support.

Israel—Anti-Semitism

Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: I want to come back to an important issue that made the news. During the Prime Minister of Canada's trip to Israel, he said, and rightly so — and I believe that the majority of Canadians share his point of view — that he recognizes the existence of the State of Israel and its right to defend itself, the permanence of that state, and the need to support the Government of Israel's efforts to defend itself.

Nonetheless, the Prime Minister made some rather vague comments about anti-Semitism. He said there was a "new face of anti-Semitism" and suggested that any intellectualized or sophisticated argument against the Israeli government or its policies was part of the new face of anti-Semitism. What exactly did the Prime Minister mean by that rather bold statement?

I hope the Prime Minister realizes that the State of Israel is a democratic country where the media criticize the Israeli government daily without being anti-Semitic. There is also the parliamentary opposition that has its say.

I gather from what the Prime Minister said that he is relinquishing the role Canada might play in the Middle East, but that is his legitimate political choice. We understand that he unconditionally supports the Government of Israel, but why make such comments on anti-Semitism in relation to criticisms of the Government of Israel?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): The Prime Minister was quite clear in his comments. I am not going to repeat them here. They were made public and they were very well received by the community, particularly in Israel.

The government's policy is very clear. Since 2006, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have explained quite clearly the government's position on Israel and the Middle East. As the Prime Minister said, Israel does not have a better friend in the world than Canada, and it is through action and not just words that we express our support. The Prime Minister's speech was very clear and unambiguous.

[English]

Human Rights

Gender Identity—Bill C-279

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, the world's eyes are on Sochi, Russia, at this time for two reasons: one very good reason, and that is excellence in sport and competition; and one very bad reason, and that is their record on gender and sexual orientation rights.

This creates a unique opportunity in the context of Bill-279, our transgender rights bill, and that is if we could hurry up the process, given that it has already had full debate once right up to third reading, and vote to pass this bill prior to the end of the Olympics, we could send a very powerful message to the international community and to Russia on the importance of human rights, people's rights and transgendered sexual orientation rights. We could, once again as Canadians, be leaders in the world in that important area.

Would the leader, Senator Carignan, consider putting his force and authority on his side of the house behind speeding up the process of second and third reading and committee debate of the transgendered rights bill, Bill C-279, so we could have a vote before the end of the Olympics?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your question, senator. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate three young Quebecers, all members of the Dufour family, who will compete in freestyle skiing and will be the first three sisters to compete in the finals at the Winter Olympics. That is a rather unique achievement. Their parents must be torn as to which one of their daughters may win. I have met Justine and I know her a little more. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish our Canadian athletes the best of luck.

As for the bill you are referring to, it will be debated in due course and go through the various stages according to the rules of Parliament.

Senator Mitchell: Since we are talking about parents whose emotions are running high because of their children, we should consider the emotions of the parents of transgender children.

[English]

And that's the issue I'm pointing out here.

At the very least, could Senator Carignan please give some consideration to allowing Bill C-279 to come to a vote at third reading prior to the end of this session so that we can make a definitive statement in this Senate — and I hope pass the bill — on behalf of human rights and transgendered rights of all Canadians and people in the world?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: As you know, we must follow parliamentary rules regarding bills, whether they are sponsored by the government or private members. If you want to propose an amendment to the rules to allow the chamber to give priority to private members' bills if the chamber deems it appropriate, we are open to discussing amendments whereby, with a majority vote, private members' business could be fast-tracked.

Unfortunately, that is currently not possible, and we will proceed according to our usual rules and review bills in due course.


[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Motion to Change Commencement Time on Wednesdays and Thursdays and to Effect Wednesday Adjournments Adopted

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice earlier this day, move:

That, during the remainder of the current session,

(a) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday or a Thursday, it shall sit at 1:30 p.m. notwithstanding rule 3-1(1);

(b) except as provided in paragraph (c), when the Senate sits on a Wednesday, it shall adjourn at 4 p.m., unless it has been suspended for the purpose of taking a deferred vote or has earlier adjourned;

(c) when the Senate sits on a Wednesday during either:

(i) the period between June 1 and August 31, inclusive, or

(ii) the period between November 15 and December 31, inclusive,

it shall adjourn at the later of 4 p.m. or the end of Government Business, but no later than the time otherwise provided in the Rules, unless it has been suspended for the purpose of taking a deferred vote or has earlier adjourned;

(d) when the Senate sits past 4 p.m. on a Wednesday pursuant to paragraph (c), committees scheduled to meet shall be authorized to do so, even if the Senate is then sitting, with the application of rule 12-18(1) being suspended in relation thereto; and

(e) when a vote is deferred until 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings, if required, immediately prior to any adjournment but no later than the time provided in either paragraph (b) or (c), as the case may be, to suspend the sitting until 5:30 p.m. for the taking of the deferred vote, and that committees be authorized to meet during the period that the sitting is suspended.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to a new motion to change the commencement time on Wednesdays and Thursdays to 1:30 p.m. and to effect Wednesday adjournments to 4 p.m. or until end of Government Business for the period between June 1 and August 30, with a period between November 15 and December 31, for the remainder of the current session.

After extensive discussions with honourable senators opposite, we have reached an agreement reflected in the motion before us.

This motion does not make a fundamental change to our traditional way of conducting business. This motion gives committees that meet on Wednesdays a measure of certainty to schedule important witnesses for Wednesday committees in order to successfully complete all of the items in their heavy workload.

(1510)

At the same time, this motion ensures that the Senate remains sitting until it has completed all items under government business, when needed, and identified in the motion, to avoid deferring items on the Orders of the Day needlessly.

This motion speaks to the importance of what we do both in the chamber and in committees. I know all senators have a deep respect for the Senate, its rules and its procedures. The Rules of the Senate have been and are upheld to preserve the history and integrity of the Senate and to allow for debate, discussion and analysis of important legislation.

This motion will ensure our work is conducted efficiently. As we begin a new year of Senate Chamber proceedings and committee work, we must look at the importance of the whole of our work as senators, and how we can ensure that we are doing our work efficiently and effectively. We need to move forward to ensure that government legislation, motions and other items on the Order Paper are dealt with in a timely manner. Therefore, I encourage all honourable senators to adopt this motion.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Just to confirm, colleagues, as I said before, and as Senator Martin said, this motion is the fruit of negotiations between the two sides. The essence of any negotiation is that neither side should get everything they want, but each side should get something real that matters to them.

It is no secret to anyone in this chamber that on our side, we have always believed that the Senate should not sit when committees are sitting except in the rarest of circumstances. We have argued that every time the predecessors of this motion have been brought before us, and we have not had success in combatting the government's majority.

However, I am very pleased to see that it has been possible now in the light of experience and of mutual give-and-take to achieve at least a compromise position. I think that's very important. I'm very appreciative of the government's willingness to do that so that for most of the months of the year we will not sit on Wednesday afternoons while committees are sitting, but at the crunch time, when the pressure on the government becomes greatest to get all those must bills through, we on our side have said, okay, we will sit while committees are sitting.

Nobody got everything they wanted, but everybody got something. That's very important, and I believe it is a good omen going forward. And so, colleagues, I would recommend voting for this motion.

[Translation]

Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I know that this new motion is the result of negotiations between the two sides. I also recognize that it is a significant improvement over what the government initially proposed.

However, I want to again voice my opposition to any motion that would force senators to choose between their responsibilities in the Senate and their responsibilities in committees.

This motion changes an important feature of the Senate that sets us apart from the other place. Unlike members of Parliament, senators can participate in debates of the Senate without having to worry about a conflicting committee meeting. This is an important feature of this chamber, but I am afraid that adopting this kind of motion repeatedly will adversely affect this distinct feature of the Senate.

Canadians expect the Senate to conduct an objective and sober review of legislation. They do not expect us to rubber-stamp it.

It is during the months of June, November and December that we debate the largest number of bills in this chamber. Depriving senators of their right to take part in the proceedings of the Senate so that they can attend committee meetings is unjustified and is not in the best interests of the Senate.

However, I recognize the compromise and the efforts that were made. I thank you.

[English]

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Mr. Speaker, I have two or three points in mind that I would like to have clarified, and I suspect that if the chamber would permit, Senator Martin could answer these for me quite quickly.

First, a comment was made that there may be a typographical error in the written document. Has that typographical error been corrected, and is what we have a corrected version?

Second, whenever we shorten the times that are in the rules, it would take a very short time to explain why you are asking to deal with something out of the normal rules and deal with it later this day. I presume in this case it's because you were worried that something might happen on Tuesday, so you couldn't get this passed on Tuesday, which would have been the normal time to debate this and then have it come into effect on Wednesday.

The third point is your comment about sitting past four o'clock "when needed." Were those gratuitous words you added, or are there intended to be words like that in this document? I can't seem to find them.

Senator Martin: Let me answer your questions in the order that you asked them, Senator Day.

There was error on the original document I submitted; rather than "5-5(j)," it had "5-5(i)." I read it as "1," so that was an error on my part also. That was the one typo that was corrected. I believe you all have the correct version.

In regard to asking for leave to deal with the motion today, we are now in February. We had been discussing this before we broke for the winter break, and so this is not a new debate that has not had much time for consideration. We really have been discussing it for quite some time.

Since I had given notice of the previous motion, in light of the discussions that we had this morning and the fact that we reached this very reasonable agreement, we asked that we go forward in this way. As well, the committees are meeting, and next week there are committees that will be sitting on Wednesday. We felt it was important to address this motion in a very timely manner — therefore, today. I am very pleased that all honourable senators granted that leave.

Lastly, I said "when needed." It is not in the motion. I was simply referring to the time period that is identified in the motion. It is good that you picked up on that and are asking for clarification.

Senator Day: Thank you.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

(Motion agreed to, on division.)

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Pope John Paul II Day Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Poirier, for the second reading of Bill C-266, An Act to establish Pope John Paul II Day.

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to second reading of Bill C-266, An act to establish Pope John Paul II Day.

I wish to thank Senator Fortin-Duplessis for her stewardship of the bill in the Senate, and Senator Cordy for her eloquent speech celebrating the life and achievements of the late Pope John Paul II, or Karol Józef Wojtyla, as was his given name. I also wish to thank Mr. Andrew Kania for introducing the original Bill C-573 in the other place, and Mr. Wladyslaw Lizon for introducing a modified version in our current parliament. The bipartisan nature of this bill's introduction and passage stands as a testament to its strength and importance.

Honourable senators, much has been said about the life and work of Pope John Paul II. It is quite clear that his contributions to contemporary life were astounding. I do not think we need to highlight more of his achievements in Poland or the consequent ripple effects on that side of the iron curtain. However, less known to many, is how these ripples reached the Philippines. It led to the peaceful downfall of President Ferdinand Marcos' 20- year rule.

In the Philippines, a country where the Catholic faith is followed by over 80 per cent of the population, the Roman Catholic Church is central. I will spare you a detailed account of the events that unfolded between 1965 and 1986, but there was much suppression of political opposition and there was martial law.

Honourable senators, upon his return to the Philippines, the main opposition leader, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, was shot dead as he left the airplane. Some years later, when the persons accused of his murder were controversially acquitted, his wife, Corazon Aquino, decided to run in a snap election called for February 1986, an election marred by voter intimidation and fraud.

Honourable senators, throughout this period, the church, its leaders and followers, were active in promoting justice and reform through non-violent means. Leading this campaign was Cardinal Jaime Sin, and his most powerful tool was the Catholic Church- owned Radio Veritas. A few days after President Marcos was declared the winner, his Secretary of Defence broke ranks. He was joined by parts of the army and attempted a coup d'état. Cardinal Jaime Sin, on Radio Veritas, urged his flock to go into the streets of Manila and to protect the rebelling forces against those loyal to Marcos, by non-violent means.

People of all classes of society poured into the streets and did just that, protected soldiers from soldiers. Only armed with rosaries, flowers, crosses and sandwiches for the troops, hundreds of thousands came out singing hymns and praying. This struggle is now known as the People Power revolution. It was successful.

Honourable senators, George Weigel, author of the book Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, quoted Cardinal Sin, who said he had been

... deeply inspired by the workers' Solidarnosc and by the way the Church, especially the Pope, supported this movement for the good of Poland and, ultimately, for the good of Europe and humanity.... He understood... he always encouraged me to carry on.

I believe that it is because of Pope John Paul II that the People Power movement worked. They heard his message "do not be afraid," and it gave them the courage to stand up. That is why we today have a better and more democratic Republic of the Philippines.

Honourable senators, although this bill has received wide support, there is some concern about the suitability of naming a day in honour of a person who is a religious figure, and there are some who think that this bill will blur the line separating state and church. I beg to differ, and I shall explain my reasons.

Honourable senators, we have 19 days that are enacted in federal statute in Canada. With the exceptions of Canada Day, Victoria Day and Remembrance Day, these are non-juridical days. In simple terms, you do not get a day off. They serve a different purpose. They are there for us Canadians to remember, to celebrate and to commemorate. Their role as federally enacted days is to raise awareness, to create discussion, for Canadians to learn — learn from our past, learn about our present and keep learning in the future — and, in some cases, to make a stand for what we believe is Canada.

Honourable senators, let us pause and look at some of our non- juridical national days. December 6 is National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The act's preamble provides the intent of this day. It states:

WHEREAS on December 6, 1989, fourteen women died as a result of a massacre at the University of Montreal;

AND WHEREAS it is important to denounce violence against women;

AND WHEREAS the Canadian people wish to reflect on the event in the hope of preventing further violence against women...

On December 6 we remember and reflect on the events of that day in 1989, and we denounce all violence against women to prevent it from happening. We do not do this because we are women. We do this because we are Canadian and this is part of Canadian values.

Honourable senators, March 26 is Purple Day. About the act's intent, the preamble states:

Whereas the Parliament of Canada wishes to assist in efforts to educate and increase awareness, among members of the public, about people living with epilepsy...

This day is for learning: learning about certain challenges that our fellow citizens face because of a disorder they suffer from. It is a day for Canadians to heighten their understanding of the reality of others. By raising awareness of others, we can achieve more harmony in our society.

Honourable senators, let me return to the bill before us. A national Pope John Paul II Day will provide a vehicle for us to remember the acts of a world figure. It will remind us of how this man, in his position as a spiritual leader for millions and a head of state of few, used his place to further peace and understanding between races, nations and religions. We can learn from his actions. If he, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, can show such tolerance to those of other faiths, we as individuals should be able to follow his example. If he stood up against what are considered universal evils, transgressions against human dignity and freedom, we should be able to stand up for what is right against what is wrong. If he can forgive those who have done wrong, we should be able to forgive.

Honourable senators, this day does not celebrate Pope John Paul II as the leader of the Catholic faith. This day celebrates his actions as a political figure on the world stage who used his high office to do good. It is not a special day for the almost 13 million Roman Catholics who live in Canada. It is a day for us all.

Honourable senators, as the second reading debate is about the principle of a bill, I wholeheartedly support Bill C-266. I hope that the Senate committee that receives this bill for study will consider one difficulty with the details of it, though. April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, so enacted in 2012. I urge the committee to investigate the potential precedent of having more than one designation for a national day falling on the same date.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

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National Security and Defence

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Status of Canada's International Security and Defence Relations—Second Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (budget—study on the status of Canada's International Security and Defence relations—power to hire staff and power to travel), presented earlier this day.

Hon. Daniel Lang moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, if I could take a couple minutes of your time, I want to say I appreciate the fact that all members allowed us to continue with the debate today as opposed to waiting until Tuesday. I felt it was imperative that we debate the motion today because we would not be able to put the administration in a position to begin working out details for the proposed visit to Colorado Springs that is contained in this motion.

This request to the house amounts to, if you read your documents, $65,000 for all members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence to visit Colorado Springs, the headquarters for NORAD and USNORTHCOM, and it will give us the opportunity to be briefed by Canadian and American officials on the current issues facing USNORTHCOM and NORAD. More important, it will also give us the ability to be fully briefed on the ballistic missile defence program that has been in effect over the last 10 years.

As you know, it was fairly controversial when that issue was brought forward to Canada and Canada decided not to participate. Approximately 10 years have gone by, and there have been various requests for both the House of Commons and the Senate to revisit the issue to become more aware of exactly what has taken place over the past 10 years and where this particular program has gone in the context of continental defence and to discuss the accuracy and capabilities of the missile defence program as it was being improved on over the last number of years.

I think it's very important for us, as a Senate committee, to have a first-hand view of exactly what they do and to be informed about why they do it and exactly what the implications are to Canada.

I look forward to putting this report together over the next number of months. We have a focused time frame for the purposes of this specific report and study. We are hoping to report back to all members by the end of June with the results of our deliberations and perhaps some significant recommendations, depending on what we hear as evidence and testimony.

Once again, it highlights the importance of the Senate, the work we do, the fact it will contribute to the necessary conversation in Canada as far as the day-to-day security of our country is concerned. You should know that we have just been made aware through news media reports, and we will be briefed further if members approve this request, of the expansion of the missile defence program not only in Alaska but also installations on the East Coast in the United States of America and how that affects Canada.

I should point out to all members here that, for the purposes of our request, we are taking time during the break week for our visit, so we won't miss our time in the Senate and, just as important, we won't miss the time set aside for our hearings. I hope all members will support this particular request. I think it's valid, and we will contribute to the national debate that should ensue.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: If the deputy chair were here, I know he would want to confirm that this was a unanimous report that was developed, and that we were all in support of what is covered here and the amount included.

Senator Lang: Honourable senators, yes, this particular request was unanimous from the committee and also through the steering committee, obviously. As I said earlier, and the member who just spoke, being part of the process, it should be accepted.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: 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?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

[Translation]

The Senate

Origins, History and Evolution—Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Nolin, calling the attention of the Senate to its roots, the history of its origins and its evolution.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker pro tempore, first of all, allow me to extend my sincere congratulations for your series of inquiries on the Senate, its role, the need for it and its history.

This inquiry is the very first one, about our history, our origins and also our evolution. In your speech on this first inquiry, you covered a range of topics. I will not attempt to respond to all your commentary. I would not have had the time to prepare all that would be required, but I did want to speak to two subjects that you raised: the independence of senators and the method of selecting senators.

The independence of senators is a matter that some of us have thought about a great deal in recent days. Personally, I have come to believe more than ever that if we are to be known for one fundamental characteristic, then that is it.

[English]

You will recall, senators, the famous quote from Sir John A. Macdonald, which I want to repeat because it is so important.

He said that the Senate:

... would be of no value whatever were it a mere Chamber for registering the decrees of the Lower House. It must be an independent House having a free action of its own, for it is only valuable as being a regulating body, calmly considering the legislation initiated by the popular branch and preventing any hasty or ill-considered legislation which may come from that body, but it will never set itself in opposition against the deliberate and understood wishes of the people.

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That last line is a reference to what is known as the Salisbury Convention. If the government has a mandate from the people to proceed with a measure, we may amend its technicalities, but we will not oppose it root and branch, however wrong we may think it is.

One of the things I found most interesting in Senator Nolin's speech on this particular element is when he mentioned the real property qualifications that senators must have — $4,000 of real property in the province, or in the case of Quebec, the division, we represent. If I may quote Your Honour, you stated:

... the real property qualification and the fact that senators have a non-renewable appointment... were meant to render the upper chamber independent of the Crown....

I confess I had not previously considered the real property qualification as an element of independence. But I think you're right; I think it is. I think it was intended to be an element contributing to our independence.

Four thousand dollars is not a lot of money today, but it was a fair amount of money in 1867. It's difficult to determine how much. There are various ways to measure this, but I went to an interesting paper on the Bank of Canada website that said that $1 in 1870, which is close enough to 1867, would have the same purchasing power as $26.70 in 2005, which is already a few years ago, so it would be even more now.

So $4,000, if my arithmetic is accurate, in 1867 dollars would have been worth something like $110,000 in purchasing power today. One hundred and ten thousand dollars today does not sound like great wealth, but we forget that the whole population was relatively poorer then. In an era when factory workers were earning 15 or 20 cents a day, $4,000 was a significant amount of money.

As everybody knows, financial security is a major contributor to one's independence of mind and action. A friend of mine used to refer to having "the-hell-with-you" money. That was the money you would have that would enable you to say to a boss, an employer or a client, "The hell with you; I don't need you or the money." Forgive my vulgar speech, colleagues, but I think you understand what I'm trying to say. In those days, probably, $4,000 represented that kind of money.

At the same time, I don't want to fall into angélisme. Macdonald famously said — and I don't think he was altogether joking — "The rights of the minority must be protected, and the rich are always fewer in number than the poor." As we know, that was one of the reasons the Senate was established: to protect the rights of minorities.

I would argue that even more important than the real property qualification is the long tenure that was granted to senators — originally life, now to age 75. George Brown, another Father of Confederation, quoting critics of the long term, said:

It was said: "Suppose you appoint them for nine years —

— what an interesting number —

— what will be the effect? For the last three or four years of their term they would be anticipating its expiry, and anxiously looking to the administration of the day for reappointment; and the consequence would be that a third of the members would be under the influence of the executive."

— not thoroughly independent and dispassionate.

I would agree entirely with that view, quite apart from the fact that short terms under the present system could easily allow a single prime minister to end up having appointed every member of this chamber.

Our experience tends to confirm, and there is even — as I think I have said here before — at least one study to indicate that the longer a senator sits in this chamber, the more independent that senator is. This is partly because the longer you're here, the less likely it is that the prime minister of the day will be the one who appointed you, to whom you feel a certain sense of gratitude and in whose obvious good judgment you have faith. But it is also because the longer you are here, the more the Senate becomes internalized in us and the more we understand why we're here and what we're supposed to do here, and that is not to be the slavish supporters of anyone or anything. That is one of the great advantages of our long tenure. Thirty-five years may be excessive, but I do believe in long tenure.

This brings me quite naturally to the method of selection of senators. The Fathers of Confederation didn't just say, "Oh, appoint them. That's what they do in Britain." They talked long and carefully about how to decide who got to be senators. They talked long and carefully about whether senators should be elected. We tend to forget that, in Canada at that time — not in the Maritime provinces, but in Canada — they had already moved to an elected upper chamber. They were not yet all elected members, but the decision had been taken and, had we not had Confederation, within a few years the whole upper chamber in Canada would have been elected.

If memory serves, Prince Edward Island was the only province that argued for an elected upper house. The other provinces at the Quebec conferences and all the negotiations did not want one. We have on the record various explanations why. Macdonald and George Brown, leaders of their respective parties, agreed that nomination was the way to go and that election, more importantly, was not the way to go.

Here is how George Brown described the experience in Upper Canada:

We have found greater difficulty in inducing candidates to offer for seats in the Upper House, than in getting ten times the number for the Lower House. The constituencies are so vast, that it is difficult to find gentlemen who have the will to incur the labour of such a contest —

— and Canada is no smaller now than it was then —

— who are sufficiently known and popular enough throughout districts so wide, and who have money enough —

Apparently his audience said, "Hear, hear" at this point.

— to pay the enormous bills, not incurred in any corrupt way — do not fancy that I mean that for a moment — but the bills that are sent in after the contest is over, and which the candidates are compelled to pay if they ever hope to present themselves for re-election.

Those are considerations that would still play.

More fundamentally, however, the whole notion of an electoral system relies on the basic principle that those who are elected will, within a comparatively short number of years, present themselves for re-election, for approval or disapproval, by the voters, which is to say by the people. That is the essence of the electoral system of accountability. It is not the essence of the system underlying the philosophy, the principles underlying the Senate.

I know that some see the argument I just made as being an argument for an elected Senate, but I do not. I see our role quite differently from those who are elected — not better, not worse; just different.

In this country, we do not elect judges, for example. I think the situation of senators bears a certain resemblance to that of judges. We are not judges, but we are somewhere on that continuum between elected MPs and the appointed bench. Like judges, we are supposed to exercise careful judgment, unimpeded by any outside pressure, financial or otherwise.

The surest way to do that is not to have to go back and seek the approval of some person or persons. When you are here, you have job security and you have it for a reason: to exercise that careful, unbiased judgment to the extent that we can.

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I believe that we can improve the selection process, but I do not think that moving to election would be an improvement. We have an elected chamber, and we don't need another one.

I know that many members of the public do not agree with me, but I think they might agree if they had a better idea of what we do, how we do it and why we do it. I know that some of their failure to understand us is our fault. We have never done a very good job of explaining ourselves to the people who pay for us, the people of Canada. I also, I confess, have to say that my former colleagues in the media do, I sometimes think, everything in their power to convince the people of Canada that we are an abomination. Eugene Forsey, who some will recall and who served in this place and came to love it, said:

For many of its critics, if the Senate does anything, it is defying the will of people as expressed by the House of Commons;... if it does nothing, it is simply eating its head off in luxurious idleness. It can all be summed up in a simple formula: The Senate is always wrong.

I don't think the Senate is always wrong. Heaven knows we're not perfect. We don't always do the work as well as we should — no human institution does — but I think that we are a necessary and often good part of our parliamentary system and that we seek to serve Canada well. I hope Senator Greene will forgive me if I quote from his very interesting paper. I don't agree with all of his recommendations, but I loved his figure of speech when he talked about the fact that, in our system, as he said:

The power of the House of Commons is so great that, without a Senate, Canada could be like a car without brakes going downhill.

There is truth in that. Stay here long enough, and we all learn.

May I have two more minutes?

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Fraser: I think there is some truth in that. We have all seen bills come to this place that had been rushed through the House of Commons, sometimes just because they're busy, sometimes because there's the pressure of public opinion that says, "Do this; do this," and, when those bills get to us, we find that they are profoundly flawed. Not in a partisan way but as legislators, as students of the law and the governance of Canada, we can do what we're paid to do, what we were established to do, what the Fathers of Confederation thought we would do. It is a noble function. All the other things we do — the studies, the outreach and the public representation — are all noble things, too. But the noblest thing we do is exercise independent judgment about legislation that is brought before us and vote accordingly. We should be proud when we do that, and I would like to say that I have often been proud when we do that.

In closing, I urge all honourable senators to participate in these inquiries that Senator Nolin has launched. It's important. It's important work, and the mere fact of participating will make each one of us think again about our understanding of this institution that I believe we all love.

(On motion of Senator Hubley, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Motion to Award Honourary Citizenship to Ms. Asia Bibi—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette, pursuant to notice of November 6, 2013, moved:

That, the Senate of Canada calls on the Government of Pakistan to immediately release Ms. Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who is being arbitrarily detained due to her religious beliefs;

That, the Senate of Canada declare its intention to request that Ms. Asia Bibi be granted Honourary Canadian Citizenship, and declare its intention to request that Canada grant her and her family asylum, if she so requests; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.

She said: Honourable senators, in 2011, I moved a similar motion that was adopted not only in the Senate, but also in the House of Commons. The same motion was also moved by ParlAmericas, a network of 35 countries in the Americas. Since that time, unfortunately, nothing has really changed.

Asia Bibi remains locked up in an unheated cell with a dirt floor. Snow in Pakistan is just as cold as it is here in Canada, I remind honourable senators.

This woman is in prison because she wanted to come to the assistance of one of her co-workers who appeared to be suffering after working in the fields. At the well, she wanted to give her some water, but since that woman was part of one of the three Christian families in the community, while the rest are all Muslim, people began insulting her and forbade her from helping the woman. Ms. Bibi dissented, saying that it was not right to not help this person, that it was not charitable and that Christ and Allah would have helped her. From that point on, she was chased, hunted down and beaten, and she had to hide out in her home.

The next day, she was accused of blasphemy. The Pakistani government has tried to repeal that section of the law many times. The minister who represents Ms. Bibi's region tried to have it repealed and was later killed. Shortly thereafter, the national cultural communities minister also intervened in an attempt to help Ms. Bibi. He, too, was killed.

Ms. Bibi has five children. Her husband lives in a small community, and she is in a national prison.

She recently took the step of writing a letter to the current pope. I would like to share some lines from that letter with you. She wrote to Pope Francis at the end of December.

I should note that when she was found guilty of blasphemy, she was sentenced to death. Three years later, her only victory is that she has yet to be executed.

She said this in her letter:

I would have liked to be in St. Peter's for Christmas to pray with you, but I trust in God's plan for me and hopefully it will be achieved next year.

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In the letter, she expressed her gratitude as follows:

...to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom.... If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me.... At this time I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything.... Only God will be able to free me.

She described how she is being treated and said that her life is still in danger. She is in solitary confinement because, apparently, other prisoners of the Muslim faith would kill her on the spot if she were let out. Not only can she not move freely about her country, she cannot even move freely about her prison. That gives you a sense of what she is going through.

That is why I added a paragraph to my motion about giving her honourary Canadian citizenship and inviting her and her family to seek asylum in Canada.

I think that she has suffered enough. Personally, I sympathize with the Pakistani authorities, and I will inform them of this motion, which I hope will be adopted, so that we can free her from her misery, her prison and the utter lack of charity she has experienced at the hands of her fellow citizens.

I hope that you will support this motion. I think that this woman, who tried to help someone who was suffering, definitely doesn't deserve what happened to her. She has shown tremendous courage, and I humbly ask that you support this motion.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Trade between the United States and Canada and Adherence to Laws and Principles of All Trade Agreements—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette, pursuant to notice of January 30, 2014, moved:

That the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce be authorized to examine and report on trade between the United States and Canada and the adherence to the laws and principles of all trade agreements, with particular focus on spent fowl and chicken imports, including:

(a) the application of tariffs and quotas on classifications that include blends, food preparation, kits, and sets, as well as the potential for these products to circumvent the law and principle of trade agreements, in particular import quotas;

(b) the regulations regarding import tariffs and quotas as established by the Department of Finance;

(c) the interpretation and application of those rules and regulations by the Canadian Border Services Agency;

(d) the monitoring of products defined as blends, food preparation, kits, and sets; and

(e) the reciprocity of US regulations regarding similar Canadian imports;

That the committee provide recommendations for regulatory and legislative actions to ensure fairness for Canadians in the system; and

That the committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than June 27, 2014, and retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

She said: Honourable senators, today I stand to speak in support of my motion to authorize the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce to conduct a study on trade between the United States and Canada and the adherence to our trade agreement, particularly the issue of import quotas.

I have spoken with numerous stakeholders in the agricultural industry, including national associations, like the Chicken Farmers of Canada and the Dairy Farmers of Canada, as well as producers in my province; they have all described issues they have with the classification process for import quotas. As I state in my motion, I believe that the study should focus on the issue of spent fowl and chicken imports, although I know that these issues exist in many other industries and would want this study to address the larger, systemic issues.

Spent fowl is one of the larger and more pressing concerns that I have heard during my discussions and would be a good place to focus the study and learn about the problems with our current system.

Spent fowl is a by-product of egg productions. It is, basically, old hens.

Regular chicken is raised for consumption, whereas spent fowl are hens that have passed their time of useful productivity, which is around 60 weeks.

Once they are past their prime, the hens are processed for meat.

Spent fowl is not considered `chicken' for the purposes of import quotas. You heard me right: it is not included in the quota system. There is no limit on how much can be imported.

According to the Chicken Farmers of Canada, in 2012, 106 million kilograms of spent fowl was imported, which is 10 per cent of domestic broiler chicken production.

It has been increasing every year; in fact it has increased by 50 per cent over the last three years.

And as a percentage of chicken production, it has been on a steady increase, around 5 per cent in 2005, to an estimated 17 per cent for 2013.

So, why should we care about this?

Well, first of all, spent fowl is not as good as broiler chicken. It is tougher and tastes different. However, Modern processing techniques have made it an increasingly viable and cheaper alternative.

Spent fowl can also pose potential health issues because it carries an egg allergy risk. I want to draw your attention to something. I have a friend in Edmundston, New Brunswick, who has an 18-month-old granddaughter living in Saint John, New Brunswick, who is very allergic to all egg products. Let me explain the health risk. If the spent fowl imported from the United States is not properly labelled, it presents a serious health risk.

The increasing importation of spent fowl displaces Canadian production, Chicken farmers estimate as many as 8,900 jobs and $591 million has been lost.

In my area of northwestern New Brunswick the production and processing of eggs and chicken industry is the biggest creator of jobs and contributor to our economy.

After the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce committee conducts its study, makes its recommendations, and these recommendations are put in place, chicken farmers in my region and across Canada could have an increased demand of up to 30 per cent of the Canadian market. The need to supply this additional product will create a lot of jobs and greatly increase farmers' revenues.

What I seek to address in my motion is that spent fowl is being imported without proper checks. There is a loophole that allows importers to bypass chicken import quotas by blending spent fowl and broiler chicken. As long as the spent fowl represents more than 50 per cent, they can import it all as spent fowl, without tariffs or quotas.

In recent years, Canada has been importing more spent fowl from the United States than they actually produce.

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Did you hear me? I will repeat what I said. Last year, Canada imported more spent fowl from the United States than that country can produce. When we look at the data on U.S. spent fowl production and what is imported into Canada from the U.S. under that heading, we are importing 101 per cent of the U.S. production of spent fowl. This means that no American eats spent fowl. Canadians eat all their spent fowl.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to acknowledge that there is obviously something wrong here.

[English]

Honourable senators, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to acknowledge that there is obviously something wrong here. The Canadian Border Service Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency do not properly identify what is spent fowl and what is broiler chicken.

There is no certification process to ensure that products are labeled properly. This problem costs Canadians jobs and income; it poses health risks and creates questions about what we are told and what we are actually consuming. It's about fairness for our farmers and our citizens.

Last weekend I went to the Madawaska, Maine, border office. I spent three hours there in conversation with a U.S. border officer. In the U.S., they have import specialists to enforce their trade and tariff laws. These specialists are responsible for ensuring that all duties are paid and that all imports are classified accurately. They are highly trained and have the technical enterprise and industry knowledge to do the job. They help protect jobs, revenue and health. They ensure that trade agreements are followed properly. They combat fraud and counterfeiting. In 2011, approximately $96 million in revenue was collected by this particular unit. We do not have import specialists in Canada. Why? Perhaps we should.

There are other issues that arise around these import quotas. One is that of products such as chicken and sauce, which are again imported outside of the broiler chicken quota because there's sauce with the chicken. It's still chicken. They package it with sauce, therefore it has a different classification.

A recent issue that hit the news was that of pizza kits. I don't know if you've read about it.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes, yes.

Senator Ringuette: These kits put cheese and pepperoni together and, all of a sudden, we're not importing cheese because it was not classified as such, ignoring quotas and tariffs.

This issue was addressed by the government in the last few months, to their credit, but that is not the proper way to deal with these issues. We cannot have the government acting on an ad hoc basis to fix problems that seem to occur on a larger scale to more than cheese imports, as the chicken that I have just indicated to you.

While my motion specifies spent fowl and chicken, the purpose is to look at a system where importers can get around the rules and where we are failing to uphold our commitments to our industries. We need to find solutions to these systemic problems and not address them product by product.

My motion asks the committee to look at how the government applies the rules we have in place and how we can improve the system. We need to understand how these products are classified, how they are monitored and how importers can find loopholes to circumvent the rules. We need to look at what the U.S. does to our own exports and apply the same standard and process.

I urge my fellow senators to support our farmers, to support our domestic industry, to support our consumers and, please, support this motion. Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Maltais, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Business of the Senate

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, before we leave for the weekend, I want to apologize, particularly to my francophone colleagues.

When I was in the chair earlier today, I used an anglicism. During the vote on Senator Martin's motion, I used the phrase "sur division" in French. I should have said "avec dissidence." I would be grateful if that mistake could be corrected.

The Hon. the Speaker: The correction is noted.

Adjournment

Motion Adopted

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

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 5-5(g), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 11, 2014, at 2 p. m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, February 11, 2014, at 2 p.m.)