EXTRACTS FROM HANSARD
PROCEEDINGS OF CANADA'S SENATE
The following extracts have been taken from Hansard Records
of Canada's Senate for the 37th Parliament of Canada:
Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 139, Issue 101
Monday, March 25, 2002
The Honourable Dan Hays, Speaker
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Statistics Act National Archives of Canada Act
Bill to Amend-Third Reading-Motion in Amendment-Debate ContinuedOn the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C., for the third reading of Bill S-12, to amend the Statistics Act and the National Archives of Canada Act (census records);
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, that the Bill be not now read a third time but that it be referred back to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for further study.-(Honourable Senator Milne).
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I rise this afternoon in response to the motion put forward by Senator Murray to refer Bill S-12 back to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for further study. I want to urge all honourable senators to either put a strict time limit on how long the Social Affairs Committee has to restudy this bill or defeat the motion altogether.
The fact of the matter is that I raised every single one of the issues mentioned in my third reading speech with the committee before it conducted clause-by-clause analysis of the bill. The committee commenced its consideration of the bill on September 19, 2001. As a result of that hearing, the committee was able to obtain a series of legal opinions that had been obtained by Statistics Canada. In mid-October, those opinions were circulated to all members of the committee. On October 17, 2001, I wrote to all members of the committee to express my concerns about what was uncovered in the legal opinions. In that memorandum, I stated:
There is no credible legal opinion that has been received by Statistics Canada that can justify withholding these records from the National Archivist. As the National Archivist has already made a request for the records, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Statistics Canada is breaking the law by failing to release the information.
Furthermore, honourable senators, on October 22, 2001, I sent out a nationwide press release, also sent to all senators' and MPs' offices, calling on Statistics Canada to stop breaking the law and release the information. In that press release, I stated:
It is now clear that Statistics Canada has a legal duty to release post-1901 census records, and they have repeatedly refused to do so....They can no longer claim any legitimate reason to avoid this duty....The latest legal opinion unequivocally states that the better legal view is that post-1901 census records should be released....Furthermore, the current Chief Statistician, Dr. Ivan Fellegi, was told as long ago as 1981 that, in order to comply with both the spirit and letter of privacy and access to information legislation, Statistics Canada would have to release post-1901 census information.
My opinions on Statistics Canada's legal and moral obligations were clear long before clause-by-clause analysis of this bill. I also made absolutely sure that the members of the Social Affairs Committee were aware of my opinion some six weeks in advance of clause-by-clause analysis of the bill. I have no doubt that had the committee been interested in pursuing these opinions further, they would have taken the time at that point to call Dr. Fellegi to testify in person before the committee. The committee chose to report the bill to the chamber without amendment.
Honourable senators, I am far less concerned with the spirited opinion and the debate that has surrounded this issue than I am with the factual errors contained in Senator Murray's speech and one rather incorrect impression that he may have left with this chamber. I will deal with the factual errors first.
On page 2355 of Hansard, Senator Murray said:
...Senator Milne believes that the 1918 legislation and the 1906 and 1911 regulations have been overtaken by the 1983 Privacy Act...
Honourable senators, that is not at all what I believe. I am repeatedly on the record as saying that the 1906 and 1911 regulations do not in any way constitute a guarantee of perpetual privacy on the part of the government. No promise of secrecy was ever made, and these regulations specifically stated that individual census returns "will be stored in the Archives of the Dominion." I am simply calling for those regulations to be followed.
In this regard, the 1983 Privacy Act is utterly irrelevant, even though it specifically provides for the release of individual census records after 92 years. As for the 1918 Statistics Act, I freely admit, as I have already done on numerous occasions, that the law changed at that time. The instructions for secrecy on the part of the contemporary census takers, as well as the instructions that the census results would be stored in the National Archives of Canada, were included in the act itself in 1918. I do not think that act was intended to create perpetual secrecy. However, I concede that, at that point, the will of Parliament becomes unclear and that legislation is needed to clarify the post-1918 records that they should be made public.
Senator Murray also made some comments on the report of the Expert Panel on Historic Census Records. Senator Murray stated at page 2356:
...the expert panel...was of the view that legislation would be needed to release information collected since 1918 because of the confidentiality provisions in the law passed that year.
That is partially true, but it does not accurately reflect the broader conclusions of the expert panel. The panel found that the 1906 results could have been released in 1998 and that the 1911 census can be released in 2003 without any further legislative invention. Furthermore, the only need to revise the law for post-1918 census information is in order to provide "greater clarity." Those were the words used by the panel. I note that the panel was co-chaired by a very strong advocate for privacy, former Supreme Court Justice Gerard LaForest.
Senator Murray also made mention of a compromise solution that would allow genealogists to search for their own ancestors. In support of the compromise solution, Senator Murray quoted Mr. Gordon Watts as saying:
I am interested in my ancestors. I am not in interested in Mr. Radwanski's ancestors. I am not interested in Mr. Fellegi's ancestors. I am looking for my ancestors.
Senator Murray then noted that:
...that is the purpose of the compromise that was before the committee from Statistics Canada, and to which Mr. Radwanski referred...
In this part of his speech, I think that Senator Murray came close to suggesting that the compromise solution would address the problems that Mr. Watts and other genealogists have. I believe that Senator Murray, quite innocently, I am sure, left an incorrect impression with this chamber. At the committee hearing, Mr. Watts admitted to not knowing much about the compromise solution. After the hearing, when the compromise solution was made public, he had time to read and digest the proposal. Since that time, there has been no more outspoken critic of the compromise than Mr. Watts. He has called it overly bureaucratic, unworkable and has stated that it would likely prevent most genealogists from conducting their work. I am sure that Senator Murray did not intend to leave this impression, but it did warrant mentioning. Since the compromise solution appears to be a moving target, I am beginning to agree with Mr. Watts' sentiments.
Honourable senators, I do not believe that sending this debate back to the committee will greatly assist this chamber. As I have noted, all the comments that I made during my third reading speech were already on the record long before the committee completed its study of the bill. I have also personally lodged all of these comments and complaints with Dr. Fellegi. As such, I believe this motion should be defeated if there is no time limit set on it. However, as I would personally delight in having Dr. Fellegi appear before the Social Affairs Committee again, since he did not seize the opportunity to do so the first time around, I will support Senator Murray's motion, but only if there are very strict time limits on how long the committee will have before reporting back to this chamber.
Senator Murray told me that he does not want to overly prolong the debate on this bill. I can inform the chamber that I was able to contact Senator Kirby over the weekend, and he indicated that the Social Affairs Committee agenda will be very full right through into the fall after the summer. However, they do have a free day on Wednesday April 17, when we return. He is agreeable to attempt to have Dr. Fellegi appear before the committee on that day.
Motion in Amendment
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I therefore move that Senator Murray's motion be amended to state as follows:
That Bill S-12 be not now read a third time but that it be referred back to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for further study; and
That the committee report its findings to this chamber no later than Tuesday, April 30, 2002.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by Honourable Senator Rompkey, that the bill be read a third time.
It was then moved, in amendment, by the Honourable Senator Murray, that the bill be not now read a third time, but that it be referred back to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for further study.
It was further moved, in amendment to the amendment, by the Honourable Senator Milne, that Bill S-12 be not now read a third time, but that it be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for further study and that the committee report its findings to this chamber no later than Tuesday, April 30, 2002.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment to the amendment?
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I shall leave aside the procedural question of whether it is in order for an honourable senator to amend her own motion. I realize that Senator Milne is proposing to amend my motion in amendment to her motion. I do not know whether that is in order. Senator Milne may wish to have someone else sponsor the sub-amendment.
As to the substance of the matter, as I indicated on an earlier day, on the assumption that this arrangement is convenient to the committee, and that committee members can live with this, considering their workload, I have absolutely no objection and quite agree to the reporting date of April 30, 2002.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion in amendment agreed to and bill referred back to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.