Senate QP: Seawalls and missing reports

With no national caucus to hold up proceedings, the Senate sat early on a humid-but-not-hot morning in Ottawa. With the Order Paper emptying out, the workload has been narrowing to just a few key bills still at various stages of debate.

Senator Mercer was up first, and with all of the flooding that had taken place in Calgary, Mercer was concerned about a seawall on Cape Breton that was in need of repairs, and would the federal government be involved in cost sharing? Senator LeBreton, the government leader and answerer of questions, said that the seawall was privately owned and not federal jurisdiction. Mercer said that there were several quibbles over jurisdiction and it meant further delays, and it had been built with federal funds. LeBreton returned to the issue of jurisdiction, but agreed to verify this fact. When Mercer pointed out that an ounce of prevention was better than a pound of cure — flood mitigation if the wall is breached, LeBreton repeated her answer and agreement to check.

Senator Jaffer was up next, and brought up UN Security Resolutions with respect to women, peace and security and that despite the promise of the Canadian government to publish a national action plan and annual reports, but none had been tabled since 2011 despite repeated committee requests. She asked when the report might be tabled, and how they can insure that reports would be tabled in the future. LeBreton assured her that Canada takes the issues seriously, but would take the question as notice. As a supplemental, Jaffer noted for the record that the travel she mentioned in her initial question where she will be meeting with women’s groups around the world would be undertaken under her own dime and as a Senator of Canada, not as a representative of the government.

Conservative Senator Nolin was up next, and asked a question of Senator Jaffer as the head of the Human Rights Committee, and wondered why the committee didn’t amend Bill C-304, which would remove section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Jaffer responded that the bill passed on division, which she would leave it at, but agreed with the arguments that the section was necessary for a framework for preventative action in these kinds of cases, even if they cut the punitive sections. There was another round of back-and-forth on the validity of the Canadian Bar Association’s arguments, before Conservative Senator Andreychuk stood up to ask what the Canadian Civil Liberties Association argued. In a slightly snappish tone, Jaffer reminded Andreychuk that she was there and that group was in favour of the bill.

And that was it — short and sweet today, and unusual in that Nolin was asking questions of Jaffer as the chair of a committee, which is not unheard of but rare. It was also another example of a Conservative senator taking exception to another Conservative Private Member’s Bill.

Sartorially speaking, snaps go out to Senator Claudette Tardif for a white jacket with grey mottling, and to Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie for a light khaki-coloured summer suit with a white shirt and red striped tie. Style citations to out to Senator Ghislain Maltais for a black suit and tie with an orange shirt, and to Senator Rose-May Poirier for a mottled green sleeveless dress.