CannabisChildren & YouthCopyrightCorporate Governance

CANNABIS

Cannabis Act (2018)
Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy (2002)


Cannabis Act

Date: June 2018
Bill: C-45
Committee: Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Chair: Hon. Art Eggleton (ON)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Chantal Petitclerc (QC)
Sponsor: Hon. Tony Dean (ON)
Downloads: Text of the Bill

Summary:

The Cannabis Act allows Canadians over the age of 18 to possess and use small amounts of recreational cannabis. Starting October 17, 2018, adults can buy fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds. It sets parameters around the production, possession, safety standards, distribution, and sale of the drug. It creates new Criminal Code offences for selling cannabis to minors and allows provinces and territories to set some of their own restrictions.

The legal status of cannabis has been debated in Parliament for decades. The 1955 report of the Senate Special Committee on the Traffic of Narcotic Drugs advocated for the continued prohibition of illicit drugs. In 1972, the Le Dain commission report included the repeal of the prohibition against the simple possession of cannabis and cultivation for personal use. In 1996, the Senate examined Bill C-8, An Act respecting the control of certain drugs. In 2002, the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs recommended in its Summary Report the legalization of cannabis. The report touches on many issues that senators have raised in debate on Bill C-45.

Senators passed Bill C-45 on to five committees to examine the impact of legalization on everything from Canada’s Indigenous communities to its international relationships. After six months of review, and hearings from more the 200 witnesses, the Senate sent Bill C-45 back to the House of Commons with 46 amendments. The government agreed to 27of the Senate’s changes and tweak two others. On June 19, 2018, the Cannabis Act passed by a vote of 52 to 29 with two abstentions.

Impact:

Some parliamentarians call legalization an historic moment in Canada, while others warn of the work left to be done about the implications of this major policy change. Much of the debate revolved around competing visions of how to protect youth and promote public health. Legalization could lead to a range of positive or negative social outcomes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau applauded Indigenous senators for raising concerns about the lack of consultation with Aboriginal communities. That forced the government to make a written commitment to more consultation and increased funding to help communities deal with the potential negative fallout from legalization and cash in on the potential economic windfall.

The law sets the stage for a regulated industry that CIBC analysts predict could see retail sales of up to $6.5 billion by 2020.


Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy

Date: September 2002
Committee: Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Chair: Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Colin Kenny (ON)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The medical use of marijuana has been permitted under controlled conditions since July 2001. The Committee undertook a comprehensive inquiry into its use in a broader context, including:

  • Canada’s approach to cannabis, its preparations, derivatives and similar synthetic preparations;
  • effectiveness of this approach, the means used to implement it and the monitoring of its application;
  • related official policies adopted by other countries;
  • Canada’s international role and obligations in connection with cannabis under United Nations agreements, conventions and treaties on narcotics, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  • social and health impacts of cannabis and the possible consequences of different policies.

Impact:

The report recommends a legalized system under which the production and sale of cannabis would be regulated through licensing. The House of Commons Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, meanwhile, opted for decriminalization, which was described as the removal of criminal sanctions for certain activities while retaining legal prohibitions.

The report led to numerous bills, none of which were successful. Bill C-10, a government bill introduced in the House of Commons, died on the Order Paper in November 2003 and in May 2004.  It was reinstated as Bill C-17, but again died on the Order Paper in November 2004.  Another Bill C-17 was referred to a House committee before second reading in the House, but it too died on the Order Paper when an election was called in November 2005.

However, the current government has taken a different approach.  In November 2007, it introduced Bill C-26 which proposed harsher punishments to produce cannabis (up to seven years imprisonment), and for trafficking and possession of more than three kilograms of marijuana (up to life imprisonment).  These changes finally became law in 2012 as part of an omnibus crime bill.  Senator Nolin (QC) continued to oppose the bill, quoting the Global Commission on Drug Policy: “The clear path forward to best control cannabis in Canada and other jurisdictions throughout the world is to move away from failed law enforcement strategies and to pursue a public health approach aimed also at undermining the root causes of organized crime.

A national poll conducted in June 2012 revealed that two-thirds of Canadians favour decriminalizing marijuana. In the meantime, the Cannabis report continues to be one of the Senate’s most popular publications.  It has been downloaded over 49,000 times since 2006.

CHILDREN & YOUTH

Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age (2012)
Children: The Silenced Citizens – Effective Implementation of Canada’s International Obligations with Respect to the Rights of Children (2007)
Who’s in Charge Here? Effective Implementation of Canada’s International Obligations with respect to the Rights of Children (2005)
Promises to Keep: Implementing Canada’s Human Rights Obligations (2001)

See also:

HEALTH CARE – Child Health Protection Act
INDIGENOUS RELATIONS – Urban Aboriginal Youth: An Action Plan for Change


Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age

Date: December 2012
Committee: Human Rights
Chair: Hon.  Mobina S. B. Jaffer (BC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Patrick Brazeau (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

With the rise of the age of technology, many young people experience cyberbullying. The Senate Committee on Human Rights explored the issue in some depth, adopting as a working definition: “Cyberbullying is the use of communication and information technology to harm another person. It can occur on any technological device and it can include countless behaviours to do such things as spread rumours, hurt or threaten others, or to sexually harass.

Many witnesses strongly endorsed a “whole community approach” to cyberbullying, meaning that all members of the community have roles to play in discouraging bullying behaviour, including children, parents and other adults, teachers, school administrators, politicians, business leaders, social service providers and other experts.  The Committee’s six recommendations echo this theme and identify various components of a broad-based national strategy to raise awareness, disseminate knowledge of best practices and entrench the basic human rights principle that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.  It recommended that the federal government take the lead in coordinating such a strategy.

In addition to its report, the Committee published a Guide for Youth, as well as a Guide for Parents.

Impact:

Canada.com profiled the Committee’s report, as did Global News.ca and the Canadian School Boards Association, while Unicef commended the Committee for framing the issue as a matter of human rights.  The report continues to be cited in publications such as the Globe and Mail and iPolitics.


Children: The Silenced Citizens – Effective Implementation of Canada’s International Obligations with Respect to the Rights of Children

Date: April 2007
Committee: Human Rights
Chair: Hon. Raynell Andreychuk (SK)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Joan Fraser (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This report is the third in a three-part study of how the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is implemented in Canada.  It reiterates and reinforces earlier recommendations and goes on to focus on specific articles of the Convention that were signaled as issues of particular concern in Canada. Broadly, these include issues of participation and expression, violence against children, exploitation of children, youth criminal justice, child welfare, adoption and identity issues, migrant children, health issues, early childhood development and care, child poverty, sexual minority children, and Aboriginal children.

Impact:

Unicef extensively cited the Senate’s report in its 2007 study, What’s Rights for Some. On August 17, 2007, two non-profit organizations published Non-state Actor Torture in Canada: A Shadow Report – A Response to the Final Report, Children: The Silenced Citizens.  Many children’s rights organizations, including the Child Welfare League of Canada, use the report to bolster efforts to ensure child and youth serving organizations, and governments at all levels, fully implement the report’s recommendations.  The federal government formally responded to the Senate’s report later in 2007.


Who’s in Charge Here? Effective Implementation of Canada’s International Obligations with respect to the Rights of Children

Date: November 2005
Committee: Human Rights
Chair: Hon. Raynell Andreychuk (SK)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Landon Pearson (ON)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Committee assessed how well international obligations are applied in domestic law. It examined mechanisms for strengthening Canadian capacities for providing services and advantages to all children both in Canada and beyond our borders. This Interim Report, the second in a three-part study, recommends various means for the federal government, Parliament and others to achieve the stated goals.

Impact:

Save the Children Canada, speaking of the Senate’s recommendation for a Canadian Children’s Commissioner, said “Our agency and other advocates of children’s rights support the establishment of … an ombudsman for children [who] would provide accountability that we currently lack, and to which we have already committed ourselves.” (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, November 21, 2005).  See also Children: The Silenced Citizens above.


Promises to Keep: Implementing Canada’s Human Rights Obligations

Date: December 2001
Committee: Human Rights
Chair: Hon. Raynell Andreychuk (SK)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Sheila Finestone (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The Senate’s Human Rights Committee undertook a comprehensive study to assess whether the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been effectively implemented, whether Canadian children are benefiting from it, and whether the Convention has been used as a tool to address key problems facing children in this country. Promises to Keep is the first of three reports and includes an examination of Parliament’s role within Canada’s framework for dealing with rights of the child.

Impact:

See Children: The Silenced Citizens above.

COPYRIGHT

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Copyright Act (profit from authorship respecting a crime) (1998)
An Act to amend the Copyright Act and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof (1988)


An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Copyright Act (profit from authorship respecting a crime) 

Date: 1998
Bill: C-220
Sponsor: Hon. P. Derek Lewis (NL)
Downloads: Text of the Bill

Summary:

This private member’s bill from the House of Commons sought to prevent criminals (or any member of their family) from profiting from the commercialisation of their crimes, be it through books, movies or other media. The copyright that would otherwise belong to the convicted person would become government property. The Bill was passed in the House of Commons on October 1, 1997 and sent forward to the Senate.

Impact:

On June 10, 1998, the Senate adopted a Committee report recommending that the bill be rejected. The report raises a number of concerns and states that “Bill C-220 would effectively place the Crown in a censorship role, with the authority to control the dissemination of convicted persons’ works. The appropriateness of such a role is open to serious question, in light of government’s explicit obligation to comply with Charter values.”


An Act to amend the Copyright Act and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof

Date: 1988
Bill: C-60
Sponsor: Hon. Richard Doyle (ON)
Downloads: Text of the Bill

Summary:

Prior to the introduction of Bill C-60 in 1987, copyright laws in Canada had not changed since 1924. Bill C-60 sought to provide much needed reform; it extended the protection afforded to architectural and artistic works and increased the legislation’s scope to protect new creations which were not included in the 1924 Copyright Act, such as computer programming. The bill also established an alternate method for creators to negotiate royalties and recognized “moral rights” in work, protecting them from distortion, mutilation or modification which prejudices the honour and reputation of the creator.

Bill C-60 was introduced in the Senate on February 4, 1987. The bill was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which heard testimony and received briefs from many of the artistic community’s organizations and interest groups, as well as from the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Library Association. Based on these hearings, the committee proposed several amendments to the bill. The amendments, adopted by the Senate on May 3, 1988, included deleting the new exhibition right which allowed artists to be compensated when their works were shown, and delaying the coming into force of the Copyright Board’s powers to control collectives by one year.

The House of Commons disagreed with both amendments.

Impact:

According to the Ottawa Citizen, groups representing school boards and teachers, librarians and museums had supported the Senate’s amendments, while groups representing artists had objected to them.  Senator Lorna Marsden (ON) posed the dilemma facing the Senate by saying “… the relationship between creators and users is a symbiotic relationship. In other words, one does not exist without the other. It is the role and duty of Parliament, and of the Senate, to ensure that there is a balance as between the demands made on both sides, and, furthermore, that there is an orderly process.” (Debates, page 3267).  The Senate therefore approved several amendments thought to achieve a better balance than achieved in the House of Commons.

Ultimately, however, the Senate did not insist on its amendments.  Instead it secured a commitment from the Hon. Flora MacDonald, Minister of Communications, that a second bill be brought forward to insert definitions and exemptions in Bill C-60 once further consultations with interested parties had been conducted,. The bill received Royal Assent on June 8, 1988.

As is often the case, the Senate was criticized for amending a government bill even though it deferred to the House of Commons in the end.  One columnist took a different view.  The Senate, he wrote, was “doing what it is supposed to do: take a sober second look at a very complex issue.”

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act (2017)
The Public Good and Private Funds: The Federal Tax Treatment of Charitable Giving by Individuals and Corporations (2004)
Navigating through “The Perfect Storm:” Safeguards to Restore Investor Confidence (2003)
The Governance Practices of Institutional Investors (1998)
Corporate Governance (1996)


Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act

Date: December 2017
Bill: C-25
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Douglas Black (AB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Carolyn Stewart Olsen (NB)
Bill sponsor: Hon. Howard Wetston (ON)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

Bill C-25 dealt with ensuring that there is more diversity on public corporate boards in Canada and modernizing communications between shareholders and corporations. The Senate committee made some technical amendments to the bill and presented these to Senate on December 14, 2017.

Impact:

Some senators, however, believed the amendments in the report did not go far enough to ensure diversity on boards, and further amendments were introduced at third reading. While C-25 would introduce a “comply or explain” approach to diversity, the senators wanted companies to adopt self-imposed diversity goals—not quotas—and to report on these goals annually to the federal government. They pointed to the fact that the “comply or explain” approach had been tried in other jurisdictions, with little effect. This new motion was voted down by the Senate on February 28, 2018, and the original Senate amendments were sent to the House on March 22, 2018 for their consideration.


The Public Good and Private Funds: The Federal Tax Treatment of Charitable Giving by Individuals and Corporations

Date: December 2004
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. Jerahmiel S. (Jerry) Grafstein (ON)
Deputy Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

This report examines issues dealing with charitable giving in Canada. The report focuses on:

  • the needs and opportunities of Canadians in relation to various aspects of Canadian life (such as health care, education, social and cultural programs and institutions, senior care, heritage preservation, scientific research and more) and the ability of Canadians to assist in these areas through charitable giving;
  • current federal policy measures on charitable giving;
  • new or enhanced federal policy measures, with an emphasis on tax policy, which may make charitable giving more affordable for Canadians at all income levels;
  • the impact of current and proposed federal policy measures on charitable giving at the local, regional and national levels and across charities; and
  • the impact of current and proposed federal policy measures on federal treasuries.

Impact:

The C.D. Howe Institute commented favourably on the Senate’s governance recommendations in its backgrounder, Firm Foundations. Recommendations to eliminate capital gains taxes on charitable gifts of securities or land were commended by the Association of Funding Professionals. Budget 2006 eliminated the last of the capital gains tax on listed securities donated to charities and extended this measure to gifts of ecologically sensitive land.


Navigating through “The Perfect Storm:” Safeguards to Restore Investor Confidence

Date: June 2003
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Hon. E. Leo Kolber (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. David Tkachuk (SK)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

In the wake of the Enron scandal and suspected corporate scandals in other US companies, the Committee reviewed the circumstances in which they arose, explored whether similar events might occur in Canada and, if so, how they might be avoided. Three factors were examined: failed corporate governance; lax auditing and accounting standards and oversight; and incentives provided by executive compensation systems.

Key recommendations include splitting the positions of Chair and CEO for large corporations and excluding audit companies from non-audit contracts.

Impact:

The Conference Board of Canada uploaded the Senate’s report as a resource for its members. In addition, Policy Options published an article featuring the report in November 2003. The Federal Accountability Act (Bill C-2) introduced split Chair and CEO positions for Crown corporations in 2007.


The Governance Practices of Institutional Investors

Date: November 1998
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Michael Kirby (NS)
Deputy Chair: Hon. David Tkachuk (SK)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

Institutional investors are financial institutions that invest savings of individuals and non-financial companies in the financial markets. Examples of institutional investors in Canada include banks, caisses populaires and other deposit-taking institutions mutual funds life insurance companies public sector pension plans private sector pension plans.

Institutional investors have the capacity to influence corporations in which they invest and witnesses told the Committee of numerous shortcomings in the way some institutional investors are operated and governed.  The Committee made 11 recommendations falling into two broad categories: internal governance activities of institutional investors in Canada, and activities of institutional investors in the governance of publicly traded corporations in which they invest.

Impact:

The Senate’s report was referenced in Corporate Governance and Accountability in Canada (May 2002) and uploaded on the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’s website as a resource for its members.


Corporate Governance

Date: August 1996
Committee: Banking, Trade and Commerce
Chair: Michael Kirby (NS)
Deputy Chair: Hon. David Angus (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report

Summary:

The report discusses a number of issues, including liability of corporate directors, corporate auditors and others associated with a corporation; shareholder communications, both between a corporation and its shareholders and also among shareholders; citizenship and residency requirements imposed on boards of directors and on board committees; financial assistance granted by the corporation to directors, officers, shareholders and others; insider trading rules; and rules governing takeover bids.

Impact:

The Senate’s report led to a second phase of amendments to the Canada Business Corporations Act. Areas such as directors’ liability, insider trading and accounting practices were updated and enacted by Parliament in November 2001.