1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 267
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker
Federal Licence for Inuvik Satellite
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Senator Harder, you will probably recall nearly two years ago I asked Minister Freeland about the issues surrounding licences for privately run satellite ground stations in Inuvik. I asked you another question about it in May 2017.
Today, two years later, I’m sorry to report to this chamber that this issue is still not resolved. To date, only a provisional licence has been issued imposing more onerous conditions than those placed on groups operating out of the NRCan station next door.
Mr. Rolf Skatteboe, President of KSAT, a European operator connected with the European Space Agency, flagged this issue with Minister Freeland and her officials as early as November of last year only to receive no response. Unfortunately for Canada, if this issue is not rectified by March 1, KSAT will not be able to include Inuvik in the ESA’s worldwide Copernicus Sentinel program.
My question follows the unilateral shutdown of oil and gas development in the Arctic and the commitment of your government to northerners to support new forms of industry. Will the minister responsible for Global Affairs Canada step in and exercise her authority to relieve the European Space Agency of the overly restrictive conditions placed on KSAT?
Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendment—Debate
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: As the critic for the bill, I’d like to speak to this motion. I’d like to say that I welcome the motion.
The reason, frankly, is that although we are currently experiencing some tensions in this chamber, I would like to thank Senator Griffin for her kind words about how we cooperated, she and I, as the sponsor and the critic of the bill in giving it the consideration it deserved at the energy committee.
It’s in that spirit of non-partisan co-operation that I rise to support this amendment.
I’d like to remind colleagues before you vote on this motion that, in fact, this bill itself and its genesis is a great example of the kind of non-partisan approach that this Senate prides itself on in reviewing legislation. The reason for that is the bill originated as a bill of a Liberal member of Parliament. His name was John Godfrey. He was passionate about sustainable development goals. Unfortunately, the bill had to become a government bill through the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
I know that name is not popular in all quarters in this chamber, but —
Senator Boisvenu: He is the best PM in four years.
Senator Patterson: It was a Liberal MP’s bill that was blessed by a Conservative government, and then improved — I will say maybe not quite enough — but improved by the current Liberal government. It’s a great example of worthwhile goals transcending partisanship.
I just want to take a moment, if I may, to refresh members about the nature of the amendment. I want to express my gratitude that the government did accept the other amendments that were recommended by the committee. It’s really one amendment that is at issue.
I want to remind my colleagues that the amendment was related to the question of ensuring that the managers of the departments and agencies who are responsible for achieving sustainable development goals that this bill requires them to adopt — and that’s not just departments, that’s agencies of the government — the bill is designed to ensure that those agencies and departments take these sustainable development goals seriously.
Now, how do you do this?
The Hon. the Speaker: I have to interrupt you for a moment. We are on debate on Senator Housakos’ amendment. While we generally have a fair amount of leeway when it comes to debating amendments — you can bring in a fair host of things in those debates — you’re now back to debating the original motion. I think you’re possibly skating a little bit too far away from Senator Housakos’ amendment.
Senator Patterson: Thank you for that advice, Your Honour.
The reason that I support referring it back to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is that we are, as a committee, committed. There was unanimous support for the amendment in the committee. We are committed to sustainable development goals. It is important that this amendment, which requires senior managers to have their performance be judged, where appropriate, according to their success in achieving sustainable development goals. It’s important that it be referred back to the committee because the committee adopted it unanimously. As I said, the bill has had a genesis that is non-partisan.
Frankly, colleagues, the best way to ensure performance is to provide financial incentives, not just to public servants. It works in hockey. Good goal scorers get better contracts than those who don’t score.
It is a very common principle in human resources to reward employees for their success in achieving stated objectives. I think it’s appropriate that the committee once again examine this.
We had the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development recommend this amendment. It would be useful to have the Commissioner of the Environment to return to the committee and tell us whether the reasons given for rejecting that amendment make sense. She’s part of the Auditor General’s department. She was the one who recommended this amendment to us.
There has been confusion about whether the amendment related to procurement only or whether it referred to performance by public servants. Perhaps that misunderstanding is also reflected in the message that we got back from the other place.
It would be useful to have the Commissioner of the Environment testify to that. It is an important piece of legislation that everyone can support. When you have unanimous support in the committee and unanimous support in this chamber for this important amendment to make sure the sustainable development goals actually are delivered by our senior managers, it’s a worthwhile subject for consideration by the committee.
I’m aware this doesn’t happen often and that it would be an exceptional development. In fact, I haven’t experienced a message being referred back to the committee, but this house is the master of its own procedure. We have the ability to refer it back to the committee, and I want to encourage all colleagues to support the motion of Senator Housakos.
Finally, for the information of colleagues, the amendment is clear and straightforward. This shouldn’t take a long time to consider in the committee. The amendment, 10.2, unanimously agreed to by the committee reads:
Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada, including employment contracts, shall, where applicable, include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and any applicable strategy developed under section 11.
So it’s very focused and clear, and I think the committee can deal with it expeditiously.