Children and Youth

Hon. Jim Munson: I have a supplementary for the government leader. Senator Smith is correct when it comes to bullying. This is Bullying Awareness Week, but today is also National Child Day.

Every November 20 in this country we recognize National Child Day in honour of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Senator Martin, myself and Senator Mercer will be hosting an event at the end of the week, as we usually do.

Our very own Human Rights Committee, which was chaired at that time by Senator Andreychuk, recommended the creation of a federal interdepartmental implementation working group for children to coordinate the Government of Canada’s activities, legislation and policy as they relate to children and youth.

In November 2005, the committee also proposed the establishment of a children’s commissioner for Canada. That was shortly before your government took office eight years ago. Absolutely nothing has happened in this regard, yet this came from the Human Rights Committee chaired by my good friend Senator Andreychuk. Neither recommendation has been implemented and we are no closer to having a cohesive strategy to protect Canada’s children and youth.

Therefore, Mr. Leader, on National Child Day will you undertake, on behalf of your government, to implement these recommendations? Will Canada’s children and youth finally see the leadership they deserve from the Government of Canada?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): The bill that will be introduced in the next few hours or days will be a clear and effective response. I hope that the opposition will fully support this bill.

Honourable senators, need I remind you that when it comes to the National Crime Prevention Strategy, our government has allocated as much as $10 million for new crime prevention programs, including anti-bullying programs at schools. Our government has supported a number of awareness campaigns.

A number of tangible measures have been taken, and I think the bill that will be introduced in the coming days will support these efforts to combat cyberbullying. I hope you will stand with us and vote in favour of this bill.

Senator Munson: With all due respect, honourable senators, this question had nothing to do with crime. This question had a vague reference to the anti-bullying campaign but the question I asked you, Mr. Leader, wasn’t about crime.

Every time there’s an answer in this place it’s always about crime, crime, crime. Well, today, from my perspective, it’s about youth, youth, youth.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Munson: If you can’t answer the question I asked, would you agree that your colleague who sits beside you, Senator Andreychuk, and her committee at that time were right in asking to have the implementation of a children’s commissioner for this country, and also that there be this federal implementation working group for children to coordinate the Government of Canada’s activities vis-à-vis legislation, at least for the Aboriginal youth of this country if you can’t think of the other youth?

Here is a proposal that came out of this Senate and came from a chair from your side. I’m not talking about crime; I’m not talking about bullying; I’m talking about children and their place in our society.

Senator Carignan: Senator Munson, you know that all the Senate reports are studied when government policy is being drafted, whether we are talking about policies and programs or passing or drafting bills.

Need I remind you that in the case of cyberbullying in particular, tangible measures are just as important? We want to do something tangible to stop cyberbullying.