Opening the Door: Reducing Barriers to Post-Secondary Education in Canada (2011)

Opening the Door: Reducing Barriers to Post-Secondary Education in Canada 

Date: December 2011
Chair: Hon. Kelvin K. Ogilvie (NS)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Art Eggleton, PC (ON)
Downloads: Read the Report


The Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee acknowledged that increased participation in and completion of post-secondary education (PSE) programs is essential for Canada’s ability to compete at an international level. It made 22 recommendations for the federal governament, including the following:

  • establish targets and time-lines to reduce the drop-out rate in highschools, with regular reporting on progress;
  • incent small and medium sized Canadian businesses to encourage and support continuing education and training for their employees;
  • improve program design as well as support for Aboriginal education both on reserve and at the PSE level;
  • in particular, ensure that funding for the Post-secondary Student Support Program reflects the real needs of Aboriginal students;
  • enhance the federal government’s student financial assistance programs to expand access to PSE;
  • review existing education tax credits and reallocate ineffective tax credit programs to other forms of financial assistance;
  • promote the creation of lasting jobs for apprentices and journeymen in cooperation with the private sector;
  • allocate 5% of research funding to colleges and technical institutes to develop and commercialize products; and
  • implement a national PSE strategy that would feature components such as dedicated federal funding for students and institutions,
    support for online learning, facilitated eligibility processes and
    system-wide data collection to monitor progress.


The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) endorsed the Committee’s report, saying  “If implemented these recommendations would solve challenges to institutional funding, resolve many accessibility challenges facing students, and increase the overall value and quality of education in Canada.”  The federal government responded to the Committee’s report in an 18 page document that recited details of its existing efforts in the PSE field.


Elections Modernization Act (2018)
Canada Elections Act (2018)
Controlling Foreign Influence in Canadian Elections (2017)
An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act (2007)
Federal Accountability Act (2006)
Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act (1995)
Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act (1994)

Elections Modernization Act 

Date: December 2018
Bill: C-76
Committee: Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Chair: Hon. Serge Joyal (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Renée Dupuis (QC)
Bill sponsor: Hon. Dennis Dawson (QC)
Downloads: Text of the Bill


Bill C-76 is legislation designed to modernize the Elections Act and reverse several changes made by the Fair Elections Act passed by the Conservative government in 2014. Bill C-76 helps block foreign influence and limits the influence of large spending by advocacy groups and political parties in Canadian elections. It also grants Canadians living abroad the right to vote again, which they had lost under the previous legislation.

Election campaigns are capped at 50 days, advocacy groups are prohibited from using foreign money on campaigns and spending limits are in place three months before an election and during the election itself. Political parties are also required to publish their own privacy policies.

The Senate committee recommended a minor technical amendment to align a previously made House amendment, with which the House of Commons agreed. The committee also provided observations on the bill which included recommending stronger prohibitions and penalties for foreign actors trying to influence elections, looking at ways to improve gender parity for federal party candidates, educating expats on their ability to vote, moving to a common privacy protection regime for political parties and continuing to work with online social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to further regulate advertising on their sites to ensure fair elections.


Bill C-76 needed to be passed quickly for the changes to take effect in time for the 2019 federal election.  The Senate committee worked quickly and diligently with the House of Commons and key bureaucrats to assure this was achieved.

The committee’s work allowed the Act to be in place in time for the Commissioner for Canada Elections to prepare materials in time for the fall 2019 election.

Canada Elections Act

Date: June 2018
Bill: C-50
Committee: Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Chair: Hon. Serge Joyal (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Renée Dupuis (QC)
Bill sponsor: Hon. Terry Mercer (NS)
Downloads: Read the Report


Bill C-50 adds further transparency to political party fundraising. If fundraising events are held with the Prime Minister, other ministers, opposition party leaders, or federal party leadership candidates in attendance, and the ticket price is over $200, then the names of people who buy tickets to the event will be publicly disclosed. This will effectively show who attended which function. Political parties are also obliged to advertise any fundraising events publicly at least five days in advance of the event. Reporting of those who attended the event (names and partial addresses) needs to be communicated to Elections Canada within 30 days of the event.

If these new restrictions are not followed, new penalties introduced include the return of any fundraised money collected at that event.

The Senate committee made technical amendments to the bill dealing with the Chief Electoral Officer’s authority to administer extensions to reporting periods.  These amendments were accepted by the House of Commons.


Bill C-50 was passed as an attempt to end cash-for-access fundraising events, where lobbyists or those with financial means could meet with Canada’s top political leaders.

Controlling Foreign Influence in Canadian Elections

Date: June 2017
Committee: Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Chair: Hon. Bob Runciman (ON)
Deputy Chair: Hon. George Baker (NL)
Downloads: Read the Report


This report calls on the government to address foreign interference in Canadian elections by amending the Canada Elections Act.

It concludes that the Act does not sufficiently protect Canadian elections from improper foreign interference and makes five recommendations.

It asks the federal government to ensure foreign funding doesn’t play a direct or indirect role in Canadian elections and to modernize the regulation of third parties’ involvement in elections to address present-day realities.


Bill S-239, the Eliminating Foreign Funding in Elections Act, was referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in June 2018.

The Liberals introduced their own legislation, Bill C-76 in spring 2018. They have until the end of 2018 to get any changes into place before the lead up to the October 2019 election.

An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act

Date: June 2007
Bill: C-31
Sponsor: Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin (QC)
Downloads: Text of the Bill


The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) recommended several legislative changes following the 2004 election.  The government then introduced Bill C-31 after a Commons committee reviewed the CEO’s report.  Among other things, the CEO had proposed that each voter be assigned a randomly generated, unique identifier number to facilitate accurate updates to the Voters List.  The House of Commons added a requirement that individual birth dates also be included in the Voters List before being sent to returning officers, MPs, candidates, and political parties in each riding.

On February 15, 2007, the Privacy Commissioner objected to giving a voter’s date of birth to MPs, candidates and political parties.  Nevertheless, the bill received 3rd reading in the Commons on February 20th and was sent to the Senate the following day.


Various concerns with Bill C-31 were flagged at 2nd reading in the Senate, including dates of birth.  Senator Baker (NL) summarized the privacy issue by quoting an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen:

On June 14, 2007, the Senate passed Bill C-31 with 12 amendments, including several which prevented circulation of private date of birth information for political purposes.  The House of Commons agreed with the amendments (slightly revising one of them) and the amended bill received Royal Assent on June 22, 2007.

Federal Accountability Act

Date: December 2006
Bill: C-2
Sponsor: Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (NS)
Downloads: Text of the Bill


Bill C-2 bundles 51 statutes into a single package. It creates two new acts and amends 49 others.

Part 1 created the Conflict of Interest Act; amended the Canada Elections Act (political donations, contributions and gifts); and amended the Lobbyists Registration Act (a new Commissioner of Lobbying);

Part 2 made several amendments related to political appointments and created the new Parliamentary Budget Officer;

Part 3 created the Director of Public Prosecutions Act; established a new Public Appointments Commission; amended the Access to Information Act; and amended the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (whistleblowers protection and a new Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal);

Part 4 amended the Financial Administration Act (deputy ministers and equivalents now accountable before parliamentary committees); and

Part 5 amended the Auditor General Act (additional grants, contributions and loans to be audited) as well as the Financial Administration and Public Works and Government Services acts (government contract bidding).

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs held extensive hearings with more than 150 witnesses.  When the Committee tabled its unanimous report on October 26, 2006, it presented 156 amendments.


The House of Commons accepted the Senate’s final amendments and the bill was given Royal Assent on December 12, 2006 with the following amendments:

  • definitions in the Conflict of Interest Act are clarified to ensure that Parliament is not confused with public sector entities.  The latter term refers only to federal departments and agencies that are created by Parliament;
  • separate Ethics Officers are maintained for the Senate and the House of Commons;
  • activities undertaken by parliamentarians on behalf of constituents are not prohibited by reason of the Conflict of Interest Act;
  • Bill C-2 does not have retroactive effect on contributions and certain other provisions under the Canada Elections Act;
  • a position called the Procurement Ombudsman is created; and
  • persons outside the civil service may be appointed as members of internal audit committees under the Financial Administration Act.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act

Date: May 1995
Bill: C-69
Sponsor: Hon. P. Derek Lewis (NL)
Downloads: Text of the Bill


The government introduced new redistribution rules the following year (February 16) in the form of Bill C-69.  This bill also sought to cancel the work of existing EBCs; by now, however, the EBCs had held public hearings across the country and had produced maps with electoral district boundaries based on public input.

Bill C-69 was passed by the House of Commons and reached the Senate on May 2, 1995 where it was immediately subjected to an in-depth review.  Senators identified several concerns:

  • membership on a provincial EBC was not restricted to residents of that province;
  • provincial EBCs were to be appointed only if the number of seats changed, regardless of population shifts within a province;
  • MPs could overturn EBC appointments made by the Speaker;
  • the new rules created a presumption in favour of existing boundaries rather than relative equality of voting power; and
  • riding populations could deviate from a provincial average by plus or minus 25%.

The Senate passed Bill C-69 on June 8, 1995 with amendments that addressed these concerns. It did not, however, seek to stop the bill even though it meant that the work of existing EBCs would be discarded.  On this point, it deferred to the will of the House of Commons.


The House of Commons rejected almost all the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-69, insisting that the will of most elected Members of Parliament should prevail.  It informed the Senate of its decision on June 21st, one day before existing EBCs would be reinstated according to the terms of Bill C-18.  Because new rules had not yet been enacted, the old rules prevailed and the EBCs’ redistribution maps were tabled in the House of Commons on June 22nd.

On June 28th, the Senate decided to refer Bill C-69 back to committee for further consideration because it was unclear whether the bill had lapsed since redistribution maps had already been filed.  The committee reported back on July 8 but requested more time. Debate shifted to whether the Senate should defer to the House of Commons or insist on its own amendments. All Senators acknowledged that electoral boundaries affected elected MPs directly, and senators not at all.  Some Senators felt that MPs should therefore have the final word on electoral boundary issues.  Others thought the opposite. Quoting a Montreal Gazette columnist, Senator Prud’homme (QC) declared that

The senators, with no personal interest at stake, can stand up and defend the public interest, the interest of all citizens, against the narrow self-interest of the MPs.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act

Date: June 1994
Bill: C-18
Sponsor: Hon. Sharon Carstairs (MB)
Downloads: Text of the Bill


The Senate began 2nd reading of the government’s Bill C-18 on April 19.  Supporters of the bill claimed it would streamline the redistribution process and allow time to introduce needed reforms. Critics of the bill declared it would destroy impartiality, an important feature of the process since 1964.  As Senator Murray (ON) said,

Representation by population was one of the pillars of the Confederation agreement of 1867…. [but the pre-1964] partisan dominated system of redistribution … was a travesty of democracy.

One of the most notorious examples in relatively modern times was the attempt in three consecutive redistributions … to gerrymander John Diefenbaker out of a seat in the House of Commons.

He went on to point out that a two-year delay in redistribution would also violate equality of voting power, which the courts had declared to be an essential feature of representation by population.

This bill dilutes in a serious way the democratic right of millions of Canadians … Their right to vote and their right to a relative equality of voting power is being treated with contempt in this bill.

Moving quickly through the Senate, Bill C-18 was passed on May 25, 1994, but only after it had been substantially amended to preserve these principles.  Instead of completely dismantling the existing arms-length process, the re-written bill:

  • shortened the moratorium on boundary changes from two years to a date by which new rules could be enacted (thought at first to be February 6, 1995, though later changed to June 22);
  • temporarily stopped the work of existing Electoral Boundaries Commissions (EBCs) but did not abolish them or the work they had already accomplished; and
  • discarded the provisions that would have allowed the cabinet to appoint new EBCs.

These amendments were embedded in the law when the bill was given Royal Assent on June 15, 1994.

Bills C-18 and C-69 generated widespread interest in academic as well as journalistic circles.  Academic articles generally agreed that elected members of the House of Commons participated in redistribution to the extent that their own ridings were affected.  Professors Eagles and Carty, for example, concluded that “MPs’ concern about boundary readjustment is driven by their perceived political self-interest”; while Richard W. Jenkins was of the view that “the new legislation was about an MP’s relationship to the constituency, not about the representation of voter characteristics.”

In the end, the issue never came to a direct vote in the Senate, since it remained in committee stage for the rest of the year despite various procedural attempts to move it forward.  Bill C-69 died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued on February 2, 1996 and was never revived. The redistribution went forward as originally planned.

Electoral district boundaries were last adjusted in 2003, following the 2001 census.  The 1964 system of redistribution has continued unchanged.


Moving Energy Safely: A Study of the Safe Transportation of Hydrocarbons by Pipeline, Tankers and Railcars in Canada (2013)
Now or Never: Canada Must Act Urgently to Seize its Place in the New Energy World Order (2012)
Facts Do Not Justify Banning Canada’s Current Offshore Drilling Operations: A Senate Review in the Wake of BP`s Deepwater Horizon Incident (2010)
Attention Canada! Preparing for Our Energy Future (2010)

Moving Energy Safely: A Study of the Safe Transportation of Hydrocarbons by Pipeline, Tankers and Railcars in Canada

Date: August 2013
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Richard Neufeld (BC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Grant Mitchell (AB)
Downloads: Read the Report


The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources explicitly recognized that “a robust safety system, with a clear focus on the environment, transparency, early consultation and continued community engagement are the key elements to earning social license to build and operate energy systems” in its study of bulk hydrocarbon transportation modes.

Accordingly, its first recommendation called upon regulators to create a web portal giving timely public access to information about spills including location, types of product spilled and what caused the incident.   Its second and third recommendations focused on safety culture – the committee urged regulators to adopt mandatory audits of safety culture management systems.

Other recommendations included the following:

  • Increase spill preparedness and response capacity upwards from 10,000 tonnes;
  • Initiate a major arm’s-length review of current railway regulatory frameworks and industry practices as a catalyst for advancing safe rail transportation of dangerous goods;
  • Assess the use of CTC-111A and DOT-111 tanker railcars and consider accelerating the transition to the new improved standard;
  • Increase minimum liability coverage thresholds to ensure rail companies have the financial capacity to cover damages caused by a major incident; and
  • Establish a national access point for information about buried infrastructure, and promote one-call centres and call-before-you-dig initiatives.


Coverage of the report in the Globe and Mail and iPolitics focused on issues related to rail transportation in the light of the rail disaster that had occurred in Lac-Megantic, QC on July 6, 2013.

In August 2014, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada released a report that provides a detailed analysis of the circumstances that brought about the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster. The report provides five recommendations to prevent future train derailments and presents eighteen individual findings regarding the causes and contributing factors that led to the derailment in Lac-Megantic. The Transportation Safety Board identified the limited nature of the safety culture management system in the company that owned the derailed train as a major cause of the disaster in Lac-Megantic. The Transportation Safety Board report suggests that Transport Canada contributed to the rail disaster by conducting only limited and infrequent audits of the safety management systems that had been implemented by railway companies operating in the Quebec region. Lisa Raitt, the Minister of Transport, responded to the report by noting that her department would look into the Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Greenpeace Canada have both announced their support for this Transportation Safety Board of Canada report; Greenpeace Canada researcher Keith Stewart described the report as a “searing indictment” of Transport Canada.

The report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada on the Lac-Megantic disaster reinforces some of the Senate’s conclusions in its report on the safe transportation of hydrocarbons. While the Senate report suggests that the use of DOT-111 tanker railcars be assessed, the Transportation Safety Board suggests that DOT-111 tanker railcars should meet enhanced protection standards; in both cases the need for the improvement of Class 111 tanker railcars is recognized. The Senate and the Transportation Safety Board both also recommend that audits of safety management systems be increased in frequency.

A year after the release of this Senate report, Senators who are members of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee have spoken out on the continued absence of systemic reform by Transport Canada in the regulation of Canadian railways. Senator Elaine McCoy notes that Transport Canada has failed to act to prevent rail disasters from occurring; rather, railway companies are still only punished for lax safety standards after an accident has taken place. As in their August 2013 report, Senators insist that Transport Canada must adopt a safety culture in the context of the regulation of Canadian railways and that Transport Canada must work to instill a safety culture in Canadian rail transport companies.

Now or Never: Canada Must Act Urgently to Seize its Place in the New Energy World Order

Date: July 2012
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Grant Mitchell (AB)
Downloads: Read the Report


Energy is an integral part of Canadian identity. Canada is recognized on the world stage as a leader and power house in the energy sector. However, with recent dramatic changes in the world energy order, Canada stands to lose its strategic position if it does not act immediately to address the challenges it faces. These changes include new technology breakthroughs, major shale gas discoveries, the development of alternative energy sources, new regulatory regimes, the Japanese nuclear disaster, and aggressive competition for international energy markets.

Following three years of study, the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources adopted the following vision for Canada’s energy future: Canada will be the most energy productive nation in the world with the highest level of environmental performance.

The Committee established 13 priorities for action to tackle current challenges and achieve its articulated vision:

Canada must strive for collaborative energy leadership
Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, industry, environmental groups and Aboriginal leaders must work together to make plans for responsible development and marketing of our energy resources.

Advance nation-building through energy infrastructure
Modernize and upgrade electricity systems and oil and gas pipelines to unite regions and diversify export markets to further strengthen the national economy.

Natural gas: a game-changing fuel
Dependable, flexible and efficient, natural gas is becoming a critical fuel for the Canadian economy. Its expansion should be encouraged.

Encourage energy efficiency and conservation and energy literacy
Efficiency and conservation represent one of the most important elements of Canada’s energy future. Every citizen must be part of the solution and endeavour to become more energy literate.

Frame a strong strategy for energy employment 
Governments must work proactively to ensure recruitment and training of the workforce to meet the needs of the growing Canadian energy sector.

Strengthen the foundation for energy innovation
Canada’s full potential for future prosperity is directly related to the effective design and funding priorities of research & development energy programs to reveal the innovative forces
throughout the energy system’s value chain.

Pursue high-level environmental performance of non-renewable energy sources
Continuous improvement of the environmental footprint of non-renewable energy resources is required, including the minimization of energy sector activities on water, land and air.

Hydropower superpower: energy of the past for the future
This reliable, low-emitting source of energy is a key priority for the country and every opportunity for its responsible expansion must be undertaken.

Foster renewable fuels
Canada must continue to nurture its substantial emerging renewable energy resources due to its vast and diverse geography, including substantial supplies of water, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and marine energy.

Regulatory reform
The committee supports the ongoing commitment of federal, provincial and territorial governments to streamline environmental reviews while ensuring rigorous environmental oversight,
especially for major projects

Guide responsible Northern and Arctic energy exploration and development
The development of these resources may restructure the country’s energy landscape and has the potential to create remarkable economic and social benefits for Northerners, Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.

Maintain strong support for Canada’s nuclear industry
Nuclear energy has an important role to play in Canada’s energy future.

Speak for Canada
The federal government must fulfil a leadership role in clearly, accurately and convincingly communicating Canada’s energy developments and achievements to the world.


The report was featured in a number of commentaries and publications, including the Financial Times, Fort McMurray Today and Stockhouse.  It was also cited favourably in Business Roundtable Today’s blog for July 23, 2012, and the Canadian International Council commended the Committee’s use of “the expertise of more than 250 leading energy stakeholders” in preparing its report.

On the other hand, Keith Stewart, a writer affiliated with Greenpeace, argued that the Committee’s findings do not take into account climate change and environmental issues. The International Energy Agency’s chief economist Fatih Birol and the Council of Canadians also criticized the report as delaying action on climate change. In response, the Committee chair stated the report, “was not a study on climate change and global warming” but focused instead on Canada’s energy future.

Facts Do Not Justify Banning Canada’s Current Offshore Drilling Operations: A Senate Review in the Wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon Incident

Date: August 2010
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Grant Mitchell (AB)
Downloads: Read the Report


In response to the BP oil spill in April 2010, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources launched a series of fact-finding hearings to determine the status and environmental risk of Canada’s offshore drilling.  It concluded that Canada’s offshore oil and gas industry has a solid regulatory approach to minimize the risk of disaster. However, it recommended that the government review current caps on liability for offshore spills in cases for which the operator is not negligent.


Both Citytv and CBC News wrote news articles outlining the Senate committee’s findings on offshore oil drilling in Canada.  Ernst & Young reviewed the Senate’s report in its 2010 newsletter on the current implementation of drilling legislation and regulatory processes affecting Atlantic Canada’s oil and gas industry.  Marine Log, an American marine industry magazine, wrote a series of articles on how Canada is able to maintain stringent standards in its offshore oil drilling practices (August 2010 issue).

Attention Canada! Preparing for Our Energy Future

Date: June 2010
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. W. David Angus (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Grant Mitchell (AB)
Downloads: Read the Report


The Senate Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee released an interim report calling for a national dialogue about Canada’s future energy policies.  Canada’s major energy issues were examined, such as meeting the climate change challenge, ensuring reliable and affordable energy services and expanding energy markets.

In acknowledging the need for a national clean energy strategy, the committee distilled three overarching questions to guide ongoing examination of the issues:

What does Canada need energy for and how much do we need?
“Getting a firm handle on what we as Canadians collectively desire in this respect would go a long way towards forging a sense of common purpose on the domestic front. It would also provide a common framework” for moving forward.

What does Canada want to achieve in international energy markets?
“Once Canadians have forged a sense of common purpose around what we want to achieve in international energy markets, we can begin to explore how best to support one another in meeting our collective goals.“

How best can Canadians engage, at home and abroad, on energy issues?
“What data do we have and /or need to support informed  decision-making now and over the decades to come? What tools do both decision-makers and individuals need to participate in   implementing a Canadian energy strategy?”


The Northern Climate ExChange (NCE) at the Northern Research Institute of Yukon College supported the Senate’s findings to promote awareness on the impacts of climate change in Canada. Let’sTalkEnergy, a website created by researchers and environmental organizations, also discussed the report to demonstrate the importance of developing a coordinated energy plan for Canada.  In addition, a research article titled Finding Common Ground: The Next Step in Developing a Canadian Energy Strategy by the Canada West Foundation extensively cited the Senate’s findings on how Canada can effectively develop a clean energy strategy that supports its economic and environmental goals.  Furthermore, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives included the Senate committee’s report in multiple articles written on recommendations to strengthen Canada’s energy future and urging Canada to develop a comprehensive sustainable energy strategy.


Feast or Famine: Impacts of climate change and carbon pricing on agriculture, agri-food and forestry (2018)
Federal Sustainable Development Act (2018)
Decarbonizing Heavy Industry (2018)
Pipelines for Oil: Protecting our Economy, Respecting our Environment (2016)
Rx: Strengthen and Apply Diligently: The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c. 33) (2008)
Water in the West: Under Pressure (2005)
Sustainable Development: It’s Time to Walk the Talk (2005)
Climate Change: We are at risk (2003)
Northern Parks – A New Way (2001)
Protecting People and Places: Conserving Canada’s Natural Heritage (1996)

Feast or Famine: Impacts of climate change and carbon pricing on agriculture, agri-food and forestry

Date: December 2018
Committee: Agriculture and Forestry
Chair: Hon. Diane F. Griffin (PEI)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Ghislain Maltais (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report


This report looks at the issues emerging in the agriculture and forestry industries as a result of climate change. It notes that there are both challenges and opportunities. Challenges include increased input costs, flooding or drought risks, and parasitic infestations for farmers and increased wildfire risk and insect infestations for forest producers. Opportunities include longer growing seasons and new crop choices for farmers, as well as new bioproducts and markets for forestry producers. The report tries to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic protection.

Key recommendations include trying to protect agricultural and forestry producers, as well as consumers, from undue economic pressure from carbon pricing. Specific recommendations include excluding some farm fuel costs from carbon tax, as well as finding ways for forestry and agricultural producers to receive income through carbon credits.

Other key recommendations include increasing research funding to find the most effective and economical ways to reduce climate change effects and having the federal government encourage and promote new ways to capture carbon, as well as explore less carbon-intensive materials.


The Senate report was received favourably by many stakeholders in the agricultural and forestry sectors. Both the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and Canadian Federation of Agriculture supported the report’s recommendations, and there were articles that appeared in the Western Producer, Winnipeg Free Press, and

Federal Sustainable Development Act 

Date: November 2018
Bill: C-57
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Rosa Galvez (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Michael L. MacDonald (NS)
Bill sponsor: Hon. Diane F. Griffin (PEI)
Downloads: Text of the Bill


Bill C-57 is based on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Act of 2008 and is designed to increase its accountability and transparency. The Senate report recommended three amendments. The first was to broaden the mandate of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The second was to re-insert performance-based contracts within the Government of Canada in the Act, including employment contracts. The third amendment recommended an alignment between the Act and the Auditor General Act to allow the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to review sustainable development actions of federal organizations.

The House of Commons accepted the first and third amendments but rejected the second. This was based on the fact that employment contracts are under the purview of Treasury Board as the employer.


Bill C-57 improved and expanded the federal government’s ability to take a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development strategies for federal departments and agencies.

The Senate amendments allowed the Sustainable Development Advisory Council to undertake studies other than those recommended by the Minister and implemented a consequential amendment to the Auditor General Act to better align with the changes C-57 implemented. This allowed for better legislation, and ultimately, better oversight and regulation of sustainable development initiatives within federal government departments and agencies.

Decarbonizing Heavy Industry (2018)

Date: April 2018
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Rosa Galvez (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Michael L. MacDonald (NS)
Downloads: Read the Report


This Senate report is the third interim report in the study on what it will cost Canadians and Canadian businesses to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction

targets. Under the Paris Agreement, Canada has committed reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This report focuses on emission-intensive trade-exposed industries (or heavy industries), which includes petroleum products, iron and steel, cement, aluminium, chemicals, fertilizer and pulp and paper, together with the country’s mining sector. Over one million Canadians are employed in heavy industries, and many may be at a disadvantage as they compete with international companies based in countries that have lower or no carbon emission targets.

Policy options considered included: carbon pricing (especially its differential impact on northern and rural communities); Clean Fuel Standard;  whether carbon intensity should be a criteria for federal infrastructure projects; and support for clean technologies (electrification, carbon capture and sequestration, research into fixed-process emission industries such as iron and steel, aluminium, cement and chemical fertilizer).

The report suggests that multiple approaches will be necessary, especially to minimize any unintended negative consequences, and given the international nature of trade in heavy industries.


As the third interim report, it will be used to inform recommendations in the final report, which will include the committee’s studies on the other four sectors under review: electricity, transportation, oil and gas, and buildings. The report and/or hearings were mentioned or reported on by some players in heavy industry, including the Canadian Fuels Association and Financial Post.

Pipelines for Oil: Protecting our Economy, Respecting our Environment 

Date: December 2016
Committee: Transport and Communications
Chair: Hon. Dennis Dawson (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Michael L. MacDonald (NS)
Downloads: Read the Report


As Canada looks for a better way to move pipeline development forward, this report addressed the need for a more inclusive, fact-based and apolitical regulatory regime. Economic impact of pipelines is significant, with $11.5 billion spent annually in operational spending. If the Trans Mountain and Energy East projects were to go ahead, the two projects would produce almost $78 billion in additional GDP. The report noted that this development must also be balanced by ensuring environmental concerns are also addressed. The committee stated that finding a better way forward must include environmental advocates and Indigenous communities in the regulatory process in a meaningful way.

One of the main recommendations of this report was to modernize the National Energy Board (NEB). This would include broadening the NEB’s ability to consult and communicate with stakeholders, as well as providing more and better ways for Canadians to send their opinions to the NEB.  The NEB should also be able to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental matters that are related to pipeline construction. The approval process also needs an overhaul. NEB decisions should not need final approval from the Governor in Council (federal government). Instead, they could simply hear appeals. Indigenous communities also need a greater voice in NEB decisions. To do this, the report recommended improving communication with and representation of Indigenous peoples; appointing an Indigenous member to the board; and developing a working document annually that details best practices for working with Indigenous communities. It was also suggested that integrating the government’s findings during its duty to consult process into the NEB board decision-making process would be useful. More tactical recommendations included investigating the Strait of Canso as a new end point for Energy East, and giving the Coast Guard more resources to be able to assist with pipeline spills and their prevention.


As pipeline construction is of interest to Canadians, this report garnered a fair amount of media attention. Articles appeared in CBCNews, the Financial Post, the National Post, JWN, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, APTN and on the websites of Christian Aboriginal Infrastructure Projects and An article in Global News stressed the need for the report to go farther in discussing how to protect the public and other environmental concerns.

Rx: Strengthen and Apply Diligently: The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c. 33) 

Date: March 2008
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Tommy Banks (AB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin (QC)
Downloads: Read the Report


The original Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) was passed in 1988. In 1994 and 1995, it was the subject of a comprehensive parliamentary review that resulted in significant amendments. This report constitutes a statutory review of the changes to CEPA 1999. Although it concludes that the principles enunciated in CEPA 1999 are fundamentally sound, the report calls upon the government to increase its effectiveness through better implementation and enforcement. In addition, it reviews regulatory treatment of two specific substances (mercury and PFCs) and recommends various changes to enhance environmental outcomes.


On April 8, 2008, representatives from Environmental Defence and the Canadian Environmental Law Association appeared before the Committee to address Bill C-298. In the course of their testimony, they endorsed recommendations in Rx: Strengthen and Apply Diligently that deal with virtual elimination and bioaccumulation.

Water in the West: Under Pressure 

Date: November 2005
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Tommy Banks (AB)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Ethel Cochrane (NL)
Downloads: Read the Report


The report identifies an urgent need for action on a national water management strategy, especially in the dry Western provinces. “The cost of not responding to emerging water challenges,” the Committee says, “would likely dwarf the cost of addressing them, and failure to respond will jeopardize life as we know it.” The report makes 5 recommendations urging the federal government to ensure that:

  • all of Canada’s major aquifers are mapped by 2010;
  • it works with other governments to develop a standard methodology for collecting and reporting water-related data;
  • funding be restored for longitudinal water studies;
  • it bolsters its support for the National Water Research Institute and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration; and
  • it creates a National Water Council to identify and address key water issues that require Government of Canada attention.


On December 4, 2007, a representative from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) advised the Committee that the government is mapping ‘key’ aquifers in collaboration with provincial partners. Roughly 30 aquifers have been identified as key (out of hundreds across Canada) and 9 have been completed to date. The department anticipates completing its current mapping program by 2015 or so.

Pollution Probe undertook a nation-wide consultation on water in 2006 which members of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources supported. The Walter J. Gordon Foundation issued a blueprint for federal action on freshwater resources in 2007. Called Changing the Flow, it also calls for additional resources to support NRCan’s groundwater mapping program and the National Water Research Institute.

Sustainable Development: It’s Time to Walk the Talk 

Date: June 2005
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Tommy Banks (AB)
Co-chair: Hon. Ethel Cochrane (NL)
Downloads: Read the Report


The Committee examined the following issues:

  • the current state and future direction of production, distribution, consumption, trade, security and sustainability of Canada’s energy resources;
  • environmental challenges facing Canada including responses to global climate change, air pollution, biodiversity and ecological integrity;
  • sustainable development and management of renewable and non-renewable natural resources including water, minerals, soils, flora and fauna; and
  • Canada’s international treaty obligations affecting energy, the environment and natural resources and their influence on Canada’s economic and social development.

The report concludes that Canada can be doing much more to ensure that our natural resources will be there for future generations. It makes 5 recommendations to move the Government on a determined path to sustainable development, including the establishment of a permanent Cabinet Committee on Sustainability and the Environment, as well as the creation of a clear Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.


Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Johanne Gélinas, agreed with many of the Senate’s recommendations in her 2005 report.

Climate Change: We are at risk 

Date: November 2003
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Donald Oliver (NS)
Deputy Chair: Hon. John Wiebe (SK)
Downloads: Read the Report


This inquiry built on work presented in an earlier report, Canadian Farmers at Risk. The report examines the impact of climate change on Canada’s agriculture, forests and rural communities and potential adaptation options focusing on primary production, practices, technologies, and ecosystems. It includes specific recommendations to help ensure that Canada successfully responds and adapts to climate change.


An article in The Times Colonist on November 7, 2003 commented on this report (“Senators seek more cash for climate change”).

Northern Parks – A New Way 

Date: September 2001
Committee: Subcommittee on Aboriginal Economic Development in Relation to Northern National Parks
Chair: Hon. Ione Christensen (YK)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Ethel Cochrane (NL)
Downloads: Read the Report


The Committee studied economic opportunities available to Aboriginal peoples in relation to national parks in northern Canada. The report pays attention to the issue of negotiating land claim agreements that include special usage of park lands. It makes 8 recommendations to improve and expand opportunities for Aboriginal peoples.


Parks Canada references Northern Parks – A New Way in describing its management plans for the Kluane and Vuntut National Parks.

Protecting People and Places: Conserving Canada’s Natural Heritage 

Date: March 1996
Committee: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Chair: Hon. Pat Carney (BC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Colin Kenny (ON)
Downloads: Read the Report


The report identifies obstacles to be overcome and opportunities to be exploited in completing a protected areas network across Canada. The report includes 20 recommendations with a focus on resources for protected areas, job conversion strategies, interim protection measures, First Nations involvement, and importance of the human dimension in protected areas.


With 9.6% of Canada’s land mass protected, Canada places 13th out of 29 OECD nations, below the OECD average of 12.6%, according to a 2001 University of Victoria report. The World Resources Institute puts the percentage at 6.3%, compared to a world-wide average of 10.8%, as of 2003. A consortium of environmental groups issued Tomorrow, Today on March 7, 2008. It issued a call to action on several fronts, including protected areas: “… in the face of rapidly accelerating climate change and other threats, Canada needs to move fast to secure [its] natural legacy by permanently protecting a minimum of 50% of our remaining wild areas.”