In the Chamber
Click the links below to review past speeches/statements I have given in the Senate.
New Brunswickers in Wartime Exhibit
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, on Wednesday of this week, a Down East Kitchen Party marked the opening of the New Brunswickers in Wartime exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. The exhibit arrived in Ottawa as a result of cooperation between the New Brunswick Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, of which the War Museum forms part. The display includes more than 300 artifacts and archival items from 45 different lenders in and about the New Brunswick region.
One feature of the exhibit of particular interest is the personal stories of New Brunswickers during wartime. The exhibit aims to show the visitor what life was like as ordinary New Brunswickers during the period of the First and Second World Wars, whether that time was spent in uniform or as part of the war effort back home.
The exhibit began in New Brunswick, honourable senators, as part of the Year of the Veteran in 2005, and was well received when it was displayed in Saint John, Moncton and Edmunston. Having now made its way to Ottawa, the exhibit can teach all Canadians, not just those from New Brunswick, of life during the First and Second World Wars.
One of the main attractions of the exhibit is how detailed the individual stories are and how well they convey the struggles, hardship and heroics of Canadians in wartime efforts. One unique feature is how the individual stories are followed up so that we can learn what happened to those individuals following the war. Although focused on New Brunswick, one can easily relate to veterans, citizens and communities anywhere in Canada.
The exhibit will be on display until April 2012 at the Canadian War Museum, and I hope all honourable senators will have the opportunity to visit this very fine exhibit known as New Brunswickers in Wartime.
Safe Streets and Communities Bill—Second Reading
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Runciman, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stewart Olsen, for the second reading of Bill C-10, An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words about Bill C-10 that is before us. It is important that we understand where in the process this is. We are at second reading of this bill.
It is, as honourable senators know, a rather extensive bill. In fact, in order to prepare myself for this presentation and to understand what was in this bill, I obtained a copy of the legislative summary prepared by the Library of Parliament to help honourable senators understand what is in the bill. Honourable senators, this legislative summary of Bill C-10 is 150 pages long. That is an indication of just what is involved in this bill.
For your recollection, let me just list some of the bills that appear here. Bill C-10 is described as "An Act to enact the Justice of Victims of Terrorism Act.'' It creates one new piece of legislation. Normally, we would have a bill that creates the statute, but in this instance it goes on to say, "and to amend the State Immunity Act, to amend the Criminal Code, to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, to amend the Corrections and Correctional Release Act, to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act'' and, honourable senators, it goes on to say, "and other Acts.''
I started to make a list of the other acts, and then I thought that perhaps at second reading, since we are dealing in principle on this matter, it would probably suffice for honourable senators to understand the enormity of what is being dealt with here and the enormity of the work that the committee to which this bill is ultimately referred will have to do.
Honourable senators, it is tempting to try to touch on some of the issues. We heard from various honourable senators with regard to many issues, such as conditional sentences being eliminated in certain instances, the two-for-one credit for pre-sentencing custody that is being eliminated, the mandatory minimum sentences, and the rather significant increase with respect to youth crime and youth justice.
Honourable senators, all the comments that have been made by honourable senators on both sides make it clear that this is an extensive bill to deal with.
At this time, at second reading, I will resist the temptation to deal with some of those issues. There will be opportunities to do that later on. I will restrict my comments today to two issues that I believe fit into this discussion at second reading, which is, according to rule 75 of the Rules of the Senate, intended to be the stage at which we deal with the principles of the bill.
The two issues I would like to talk about are the overall costs, the cost issue in general, since that is an important part of any of this legislation that we are passing, and the omnibus character of the legislation. Honourable senators will know that those two issues are related, so I can deal with them both, in large part, as I am speaking on these matters.
In relation to the omnibus nature of this legislation, my view is the same as it has been with respect to the many omnibus bills we have seen in the past. "Omnibus'' means a lot of different ideas and concepts all thrown into the same basket, and then we are expected to deal with them all together and deal with them effectively, reasonably and logically, which is not always the case.
The cynic would say this is an attempt to get through a whole lot of elements of the bill without a thorough review. I am not suggesting that is the only reason, but I do suggest that a much better job would have been done by Parliament if we had dealt with these pieces of legislation the way we were dealing with them before the last election — as separate pieces of legislation.
With respect to the cost issue, honourable senators, we seem to be all over the place, in part because we are dealing with many different pieces of legislation. For example, with regard to providing mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes and child sex offenders, the estimated cost of this initiative is $2.3 billion. That is just one piece — I do not want to say a small piece — of the legislation that we have to deal with.
Honourable senators heard the debate yesterday between Honourable Senator Boisvenu and Honourable Senator Dyck. Senator Dyck delivered a focused presentation with respect to this legislation on Aboriginal youth. During the question and discussion following, the Honourable Senator Dyck said it would cost $17 billion to implement Bill C-10. Senator Boisvenu asked the following question:
Could the senator tell us where she got that figure? If she got it from the analysis carried out by the IRIS research institute, which I believe is in Quebec, could she tell us whether she read this analysis?
Senator Dyck replied:
I believe I said this could cost anywhere from $9 billion to $19 billion, although $17 billion falls in the middle. I do not have my references in front of me, but I can get the honourable senator the source later.
Then Senator Boisvenu goes on to say, in his usual succinct manner:
I would very much appreciate that. The honourable senator will understand that an amount that high is misleading.
He did not say "unsettling,'' which it certainly is, $17 billion to $19 billion, but he said "misleading.''
He continued, "I would appreciate having the document in question,'' and Senator Dyck goes on to say that she would be pleased to try to find that.
We have numbers, honourable senators, that are described as being misleading by certain senators in this chamber, and that makes it difficult for us to understand where we are in relation to this particular issue that is before us.
Again, honourable senators, the issue that is before us is the change to criminal legislation that impacts tremendously on the future of our country. To the youth of our country, this is a very important piece of legislation that we must study carefully.
Honourable senators, the provinces are concerned about this legislation as well. Let me read some of the statements and facts with respect to the provinces and what they are saying in relation to the costs and, in one case, the substance.
Ottawa has kept the provinces in the dark with respect to costs in relation to this legislation, Bill C-10, notwithstanding the order of the former Speaker, Peter Milliken, to ask the government to produce costs and cost figures so that honourable senators and honourable members of the House of Commons could vote on these pieces of legislation clearly.
The government has released partial estimates as to what they think the costs might be.
A mid-range projection, for example, on changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which will result in a lot more youth spending time in prison than in the past, is that there will be 33 per cent more youth in prison than in the past. One third more youth will be spending time in prison than in the past.
Honourable senators can imagine the costs, which we have discussed during the debate we have had in relation to this particular matter already. There is the cost of repairing the facilities. As Senator Tkachuk pointed out, a lot of repair has to be done. However, repair in itself is not enough; we have to make more space. Either we put bunks in these prison cells to accommodate more or we build bigger facilities. That is just the beginning. Over the long term, there is the cost of uniforms, food, rehabilitation, support and guards. All those items have to be taken into consideration.
The Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Madeleine Meilleur, has argued that the legislation will require "significant'' new spending, spending that the province has not budgeted for and has no source to obtain it from.
In a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Minister Meilleur wrote:
In our view, it is not appropriate for one level of government to create financial burdens for another without discussion and an appropriate financial offset.
In other words, we expect to get some funds from the federal government in order to do this, and that is notwithstanding the constitutional requirements between the federal and provincial government.
A report released by the Quebec Institute for Socio-economic Research and Information — and this is where the figure of $19 billion comes from — says that it will cost Canadians $19 billion to build prisons and to incarcerate prisoners for the extended period of time that will be required under this legislation. According to this study, the provinces are expected to take the brunt of the cost. Approximately $14 billion of the $19 billion is expected to be covered by the provinces, and the federal ministers have already said they expect the provinces to cover these costs.
Senator Mitchell: But there is only one taxpayer.
Senator Day: It is estimated that ending the practice in which judges can give offenders two-for-one credit for pre-sentencing, which compensates the incarcerated person for the time they have spent in custody before they, in fact, have been found guilty, and keeping them for that extended period of time will cost somewhere in the range of $16.5 billion for the country. Of this amount, the provinces would be expected to absorb $12.6 billion. That is the kind of money we are talking about.
New Brunswick Premier David Alward has remarked that Ottawa would be responsible for any additional costs that the Government of New Brunswick is expected to incur by the bringing into force of Bill C-10.
Senator Mitchell: Who said that?
Senator Day: The Premier of New Brunswick.
Quebec has already indicated that it will refuse to pay the costs because it disagrees with the new legislation with respect to young offenders. In Quebec they like what their legislation is doing with respect to young offenders and believe they are getting results, and that the implementation of Bill C-10 will hinder rehabilitation.
Honourable senators, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson indicated that he did not have a breakdown of the costs associated with the legislation for each province. He said he does not know what it will cost each province.
In Nunavut, honourable senators, Deputy Justice Minister Janet Slaughter has said that her counterparts are expecting a 15 per cent increase in prisoners in that territory. However, Nunavut can expect even more than some of the other provinces, which are expecting 15 per cent more prisoners. We have already seen that with respect to youth it will be 33 per cent.
The territory already has roughly 60 people incarcerated in jails outside the territory because they cannot hold them in the prison space they have currently.
Nunavut's Conservative member of Parliament, in her usual insightful manner, stated:
When you talk to a person who has been the victim of a crime, there is no cost associated with that.
That is a quote from Minister Aglukkaq.
Senator Tkachuk more pointedly stated on Tuesday during the debate that defending the rights of victims is the overriding theme throughout this legislation.
Honourable senators, I would like my colleague to know, and for all of us to know, that there is no one senator in this chamber who does not support the rights of victims in instances of crime. Not one of us.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Day: The argument that those who attempt to make amendments and improve the legislation — like our honourable colleague in the other place, Mr. Irwin Cotler, who was demonized for presenting amendments, and then the government comes along and tries to bring in those same amendments — are somehow soft on crime or unsympathetic to the victim is disingenuous, at best.
Honourable senators, Steve Sullivan, Executive Director of Ottawa Victim Services and former Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, commented that the Conservative government should be paying more attention to evidence about what works and what does not in terms of protecting public safety and victims. I could not agree more with respect to that statement.
Many different figures have been thrown around, so to get an understanding of where we are with respect to costs, I called the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, who we fought hard to have available to us when we passed Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act. His office told me that on November 11 they requested information from the government in order to come up with a definitive figure in relation to the costs if the crime bill, Bill C-10, is implemented. The federal government should have all of the documentation; they present the legislation.
He asked for that particular methodology and the background information in order to confirm the figures. All he has received so far is a request for more time for the government to provide him with the information. He said that is a clear indication that there is no specific knowledge by the government as to what this bill will cost. That should not surprise honourable senators because we have been dealing with Bill C-18 on the Wheat Board. In doing away with the Wheat Board there was no analysis of the impact on the marketing scheme in the West or the impact on the farmers who will lose their rights under that legislation. There was a refusal to allow the farmers to make their own decision on what type of system they would like to have.
My honourable colleague has indicated there is a pattern. Indeed there is a pattern developing here that is unsettling and not one we like to see.
The gun registry, honourable senators, is another example. I hesitate to refer to recent crimes, but four people were just killed yesterday in Alberta. It was a very serious situation. The gun registry is something that we should be looking at very carefully before we proceed with that legislation in the spring.
We also have the increase in the number of politicians, the cost of which we have just heard Senator Fraser tell us will be upwards of $100 million more.
Honourable senators, this is a government that is predicting a $30 billion deficit at the end of this year. We are passing legislation and are being asked to agree to legislation for which we have no idea of the cost.
Honourable senators, I do hope that when this bill goes to committee for study that these items will be looked into very thoroughly and in detail. It is important for the future of this country.
Hon. Bob Runciman: I have a question for the Honourable Senator Day.
I want to ask the senator if he was aware of a couple of things. I will not go into every area that he touched on in his speech.
My honourable friend mentioned a letter from Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Minister Meilleur, who is criticizing the government for not consulting with respect to these changes. Hopefully the senator knows that these changes have been discussed at federal-provincial-territorial conferences over a number of years. I do not think that any government was unaware of the fact that these changes were coming forward.
With respect to downloading of costs, I would use an old saying with respect to Minister Meilleur, that she has more nerve than a canal horse. One example is recently the Ontario government negotiated with the Ontario Provincial Police a 13 per cent pay increase. The impact on municipalities policed by the OPP in the province of Ontario will be significant. Many have very limited tax bases, and certainly there was no consultation. For Madeleine Meilleur to make that assertion is beyond the pale, to say the least.
I have one other issue with respect to young offenders.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Before the honourable senator goes to his next issue, I must advise Senator Day that his 15 minutes for speaking and responding to questions has expired. Is he prepared to ask the chamber for more time?
Senator Day: I would be pleased to ask the indulgence of the chamber to allow the honourable senator to finish his question and perhaps allow me to reply.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Runciman: Thank you, honourable senators. I will be brief.
With respect to the young offender element about which the honourable senator expressed concern, the increase in incarceration, this is really an increase in judicial discretion. Judges have been, I think it is fair to say, handcuffed in the past. When a young offender has appeared before them who they feel poses a real threat to public safety, they have been unable to detain that individual in a provincial institution. I have a situation in my former riding where a judge had no choice under the YCGA but to release an individual. He subsequently beat a young girl to death in a schoolyard. Those are the examples that this government is trying to address with this legislation by increasing judicial discretion. That is what they are doing to get dangerous people off the streets. Is the honourable senator aware of that?
Senator Day: Senator Runciman raises some interesting points. The information I have with respect to Madeleine Meilleur is somewhat different from the honourable senator's take on it. Fortunately, we are at second reading on this matter. It is going to committee. That issue, and many others on which we have heard conflicting views, can be dealt with, and I hope they will be, in committee.
With respect to the other item the honourable senator raises, my view is different from his. This is something that should be dealt with at committee stage in more detail. What I see as the downside of this legislation is that discretion is being taken away from the judge who is there and can see the people before him. He knows about the victim. He knows about the alleged perpetrator of the crime. He can make a decision based on first-hand knowledge, as opposed to trying to have a rule that applies in all cases when the judge has no discretion. The judge's discretion to deal with situations at the point of the trial is, in my view, something that we should all be striving for.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Would the honourable senator accept one more question?
Senator Day: Assuming there is still time within the five minutes.
Senator Plett: I have two questions actually. First, the honourable senator mentioned in his remarks the horrific killing and death of a couple of people in Alberta. I read that this morning. Does the honourable senator have any information that the gun used in that terrible crime was either registered or not registered? He seems to think that it would have made a difference to these young men if they had been killed by a registered gun or an unregistered gun.
Second, I will read two paragraphs from today's Winnipeg Sun:
Sonny Cook once said his only regret about raping two women in 1996 was that he got caught.
Back in custody for sexually assaulting two more women, justice officials are fighting to keep him there indefinitely, possibly for the rest of his life.
Would the honourable senator not agree that maybe the judge made a bit of an error in 1996, when he sentenced Sunny Cook, so that he was again allowed out in order to rape and assault two more women?
Senator Day: I do not have further information with respect to the four people who died south of Calgary. My understanding is that two of them were from Prince Edward Island and were working in Calgary and that there is a young lady in the hospital. My prayers go to her in the hopes that she will recover, irrespective of what particular firearm was used in committing that particular horrendous act. With respect to the Winnipeg Sun, I would prefer to get a better source of evidence before I comment on that particular matter.
Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, I will be brief.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Would honourables senators mind if I hear from the Deputy Leader of the Government?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Tribute to the Honorable Tommy Banks
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I join with other honourable senators in paying tribute to our colleague and friend, the Honourable Senator Tommy Banks, who will be retiring from the Senate this weekend.
I did not know him prior to arriving here, but I did know of him, as most Canadians did, from his work as a musician, musical director and television personality. As new senators, we were appointed at approximately the same time. We shared a lot of ideas and experiences, searched through the Rules of the Senate to find out which rule applied in a particular instance as we were learning our way in this new environment. We served together on the newly formed Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence with Senator Kenny, a committee that was particularly active and effective in those early days.
In the time I spent here in the Senate with Senator Banks, I have come to realize what I suspect most of us here in the chamber do, that he embodies that which the Senate is intended to be: a place where one's motivation is to act in the best interests of the country and its people, above all other considerations.
An accomplished pianist, conductor, arranger, composer and television personality, Tommy Banks did not take the typical route to the Red Chamber. Though this may have been his greatest asset, Tommy brought to the Senate his experience as a CBC television personality, an entertainment business person, the founding chair of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, a member of the board of the Canada Council for the Arts, having been appointed by the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, and a member of the Sectoral Advisory Groups on International Trade of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, to which he was appointed by the Honourable Michael Wilson.
In this chamber and in committee, Senator Banks, time and time again, has proven his mettle in helping us to reach consensus and in helping us choose just the right words to make our point in a report.
I was fortunate enough to travel to Afghanistan with Senator Banks on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, as well as, over time, to most of the military bases across Canada. One could only admire the genuine concern for the Canadian soldiers and their families that he displayed.
While I have already touched on Senator Banks' musical career, I would be remiss were I not to mention one of his greatest musical accomplishments: that of playing the piano as part of the Singing Senators. Tommy's musical genius will surely be missed by both the Singing Senators and, in particular, our audiences. I fear for the future of the Singing Senators without his guidance and leadership. However, the Singing Senators have not been asked to join him as he moves back to his musical career, so we may only hope that from time to time he will return to perform as a special guest of our group.
There is little doubt that Tommy Banks will be missed in this chamber. The level of decorum, wit and genuine intelligence and compassion he has displayed in his time here will not be easily replaced. We owe it to him and to Canada to perpetrate that legacy.
Sincere best wishes, Tommy and Ida, as you embark on the next phase of your journey.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, last week I had the honour of attending the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award ceremony at Halifax's historic Pier 21. There were 44 deserving young Canadians receiving a gold award from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. It was the culmination of countless hours of hard work and commitment for these young men and women, and an experience that will contribute greatly to their growth and future success.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award program was founded in 1956 by His Royal Highness Prince Philip and was meant to inspire youth and enrich their lives through leisure-time activity by setting a series of goals that encourage personal discovery, growth, self-reliance, perseverance and responsibility. It is a program that is not based on membership or competition, but rather on inclusion and voluntary participation. These principles formed the basis of the award.
Since that time, the award program has spread internationally, and today there are 132 participating countries in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Network, with 850,000 participants worldwide. Since its inception, the award program has granted over 3 million awards to youth from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances.
Given the success of the award, it is little surprise that the program has a strong foothold in Canada and has been operating here since 1963. With a presence in every Canadian province and territory, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award currently has 37,000 participants in Canada and is projected to grow in the near future to 40,000. In an effort to make it accessible to all Canadian youth, the award has developed a number of initiatives to reach out to "at-risk'' youth, those with disabilities, young offenders, inner city youth, Aboriginal youth and those in remote areas, ensuring its relevance today as it was 50 years ago.
Available to all Canadian youth ages 14 to 25, the award is broken down into three levels: bronze, silver and gold. Each of these levels requires accomplishments in the four sections of the program, namely, service, expeditions, skills and fitness.
While there is a minimum age requirement for each level, these awards are granted based on how much time has been committed to each of these four sections by the youth. For example, to obtain the gold award, not only must an individual fulfill the requirements in all four sections, they must also work on a fifth section with their peers, a residential project, for a period of five consecutive days and four nights. Some of the youth have participated in archaeological digs, cadet camps and tall ships training expeditions.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award has for decades inspired youth to take on challenges that will enrich their lives. Whether or not they achieve an award, the program helps immensely in encouraging young Canadians to develop well-rounded, active lifestyles. I encourage all honourable senators to look into this program and consider helping to develop an award program in your region. It is an excellent program for the youth of our country of all backgrounds.