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Five-Year Activity Report 2021

Message from Senator Rosa Galvez

December 6th marks an important date for my office: it was the day I was sworn in as a new independent senator representing my province of Quebec (Bedford) five years ago, having been nominated under the new non-partisan, merit-based process. On that day, I swore to be loyal to Canadians.

In my maiden speech, I explained how my skills and knowledge could be useful to the Senate for improving the quality of life of all Canadians; I applied these in the five years since my nomination.

As a university professor and scientist, I deeply believe that it is through education that we can stimulate paradigm shifts and effect necessary changes to understand complex problems and improve our lives. My work in design and construction of basic infrastructure throughout my career has ingrained in me certain values that I brought with me to the Senate: public safety, accountability, transparency, ethics, and efficiency.

As a parliamentarian, I have always promoted the need for good and efficient policies based on evidence, science and facts, particularly when solving complex issues that encompass the economy, technology, the protection of human health, public safety, the environment and ecosystems. The urgent and daunting example where we need evidence-based policies is before us:  solving the concomitant crises of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, both which are intrinsically related. It is evident that while socio-economic models are human inventions, natural and planetary laws are rigid and do not bend to human desire. To solve these anthropogenic problems, we must change outdated socio-economic models. As some climate scientists put it – fix the economy, fix the climate.

The pursuit of knowledge comes from many sources. Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas lived off the land and had a much better balance with their environment. Traditional Indigenous knowledge can guide us in our fight against climate change and in accessing the basic ecological services that humans need to thrive – clean air, soil and water. This knowledge can teach us to have a better life in harmony with nature.

In the spirit of following the values and principles stated above, I am publishing this 5-year activity report to remain accountable to the promise I made to Canadians. The report attempts to give an overview of my main contributions, concerns and achievements in my role of independent senator at the service of my fellow Canadians.

The parliamentary work in my office has been intense and efficient thanks to the input of great individuals that work in collegial, inclusive and motivated ways. My sincere thanks go to my current team – Stéphane, Nick and Karine – whose work is reflected in every activity this report mentions. Relying on the support of this great team is at the inception of every achievement.

I hope that by reading this report, you will recognize that the work of the Senate through legislative scrutiny, committee studies, community activities, outreach to stakeholders and parliamentary diplomacy are valuable and important to Canadian democracy. I submit this activity report as an exercise of transparency and to keep the public informed of my parliamentary work.

Sincerely,

Rosa Galvez, Ph.D, P.Eng., FCSCE, FEC with the help of my amazing team:

        • Stéphane Laviolette, office manager and expert political strategist
        • Me Karine Péloffy, MSc., B.C.L., L.L.B, an accomplished environmental lawyer
        • Nick Zrinyi, B.Eng, MASc., a talented researcher and analyst

2016-17

Chamber Work 42nd Parliament

During my first full year serving as a Senator, I delivered my maiden speech which outlined the priorities of my future Senate work as well as my experience qualifying me to undertake it.

I was proud to act as a witness in committee and play an instrumental role in the advancement in the Senate of Bill S-218, sponsored by the late Senator Tobias Enverga Jr., that would designate the month of October the Latin American Heritage Month.

I also served as critic to Bill S-238 which sought to ban the import and export of shark fins. Despite failing to pass in the House of Commons, the government enacted the ban in 2019 through Bill C-68.

Committee Work

In the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, our work included:

In November 2017, I was elected Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, a position I held until September 2019.

In the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, our work included:

Community

As a new parliamentarian, I aimed to create solid bonds with the community while continuing my career’s work of sharing scientific knowledge. In that spirit, I was the guest lecturer for the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering’s National Lecture Tour, an 18-city cross-country tour sharing research and insights on the 2013 Lac-Mégantic explosion. I also hosted or gave conferences on sustainable infrastructure in New York, the protection of the Great Lakes in Detroit, and the conservation of natural habitats.

In total, I had the opportunity to act as a speaker in 28 webinars, panels and events.

For Canada’s 150th anniversary, I awarded seven Canadian scientists with the commemorative Senate 150th Anniversary Medal to recognize their contribution to the advancement of innovation and knowledge.

For my contributions to the Latin American Canadian community, I was the recipient of the Peruvian Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Individual of the Year – Government Representative award. In Peru, I was proud to receive the keys to the city of Chota, my father’ hometown in the peaks of the Andes.

Finally, I attended the 24th Regular Session of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Charlottetown. The session focused on accelerating clean growth and promoting trilateral cooperative programs. 

Transparency and Accountability

My total office expenses were $17,680.17 for the 2016-17 fiscal year and $122,962.54 for the 2017-18 fiscal year representing 30% and 55% of my total available budget respectively. You can find the quarterly breakdown of my expenses on the Senate proactive disclosure web page.

In 2017, I hired Stéphane Laviolette as an Executive Assistant; he would later become a Political Strategic Advisor and Office Manager.

I also hired Alexandra Hincke, a Ph.D. graduate in climate science, as a Parliamentary Affairs Advisor.

 

2018

Chamber Work 42nd Parliament

In 2018, the Senate studied several important pieces of legislation. I actively participated in the Chamber on Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, that enacted the first federal price on carbon emissions. I also devoted great time and resources to the debate on Bill C-45, which legalized and provided a legal framework for the possession and sale of cannabis.

The work of the late Senator Enverga Jr. and myself paid off when the House of Commons adopted Bill S-218, the Latin American Heritage Month Act – a win for the Latin American/Hispanic Canadian community.

I continued my work as critic of Bill S-238, which sought to ban the import and export of shark fins. Despite failing to pass in the House of Commons, the ban was enacted in 2019 under Bill C-68.

Finally, I contributed to the debate on Bill S-243, which would have required the Canada Revenue Agency to report on all convictions for tax evasion and on the tax gap. The bill was adopted by the Senate but was defeated in the House of Commons.

Committee Work

Continuing as chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, our work included:

  • Study and approval of Bill C-57, which sought to increase accountability to Parliament for decision-making regarding sustainable development;
  • Study and approval of Bills C-74 and C-86, the budget implementation acts (including implementation of a federal backstop carbon price); and
  • Continuation of our study on the effects of the transition to a low-carbon economy, resulting in three publications on decarbonization in the built environment, heavy industry, and oil and gas

In the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, our work included:

In 2018, I became a member of the newly formed Special Committee on the Arctic, which included:

Community

This year, many community engagements involved parliamentary diplomacy, the sharing of knowledge and science, as well as the Latin American community. I had the opportunity to act as a speaker in 35 webinars, panels and events.

With ParlAmericas and the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, I participated in several parliamentary diplomacy events including the Summit of the Americas in Lima, and sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I was proud to be elected Vice-Chair of the Canadian section of ParlAmericas, a role that I continue to fulfil to this day.

I was privileged to be awarded the 2018 Meritorious Service Award for Professional Service from Engineers Canada, the Premio Iberoamericano ASICOM at the University of Oviedo in Spain, and to be named in the list of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians.

I co-hosted the Hispanic Day on the Hill during the first official Latin American Heritage Month, a celebration attended by 800 guests that showcased the vibrant and diverse culture of Latin American Canadians.

To obtain direct input and opinion from my community in Québec City, I co-hosted a panel with Senators Dupuis and Saint-Germain on the legalization of cannabis featuring provincial and federal experts.

Finally, at home as well as abroad, I gave several scientific conferences on the circular economy, climate change and the adaption of infrastructure. My office also participated in the inaugural Science Meets Parliament event which aims to connect scientists with parliamentarians and facilitate exchanges.

In the spirit of open debate and keeping the public informed on current issues, I published 7 articles:

Transparency and Accountability

My total office expenses for the 2018-19 fiscal year were $178,613.82 representing 79% of my total available budget. You can find the quarterly breakdown of my expenses on the Senate proactive disclosure web page.

In 2018, I hired Nick Zrinyi, a talented researcher with an education as an environmental engineer, as a Policy Analyst.

I also hired a summer student to deepen our ties with the Latin American Canadian community and undertake research on sustainable mining.

 

2019

Chamber Work 42nd and 43rd Parliaments

In 2019, the Senate Chamber was subject to much debate on environmental issues.

Much of my time and resources were devoted to the legislative process surrounding Bill C-69, a bill that sought to modernize the environmental impact assessment process, establish the Canadian Energy Regulator and update the Canadian Navigable Waters Act. This legislation related directly to my field of expertise as an environmental engineer.

I also actively participated in the contentious debate on Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act which formalized into law the de facto moratorium on transport of oil to or from marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast to the great relief of coastal B.C. First Nations, municipalities and workers.

I also accepted to sponsor in the Senate Bill C-326, introduced in the House of Commons by Francis Scarpaleggia (MP for Lac-Saint-Louis), which would have required the Minister of Health to identify and report on international standards or guidelines respecting the quality of drinking water that should be compared to those that are being developed in Canada. The Bill did not complete the legislative process before the 2019 election and died on the Order Paper.

Committee Work

Continuing as chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, our work included:

In the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, our work included:

Community

This year was quite active in the community. I had the opportunity to act as a speaker in 45 webinars, panels and events on a variety of subjects such as gender equality, ecotoxicity, and science and innovation.

I had an incredible opportunity to participate in the National Defense and Canadian Armed Forces Parliamentary Program where I boarded Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship HMCS Ville de Québec from St. John’s, NL, to Nuuk, Greenland. It was an enriching experience to see the Royal Canadian Navy in action, especially in the Arctic region where climate change is affecting our scientific and military presence.

Through the ParlAmericas and the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, I participated in several parliamentary diplomacy events including a bilateral meeting with Mexican parliamentarians, a conference on open parliaments in Ecuador, COP25 in Madrid, and sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I also became more involved with the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank & International Monetary Fund, attending its Parliamentary Meeting at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting that focused on addressing financial inequalities.

I had the great honour of becoming a Fellow of Engineers Canada and of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. I was equally honoured to receive the Canadian Hispanic Leaders Award.

In response to the slow process of updating the National Building Code, my office published a white paper analyzing the current practices in the development and implementation of Canada’ building codes and presenting recommendations.

My involvement with the Latin American community was an important part of my parliamentary work. I represented the Government of Canada at the presidential inaugurations of Argentina and Panama, travelled to Peru to exchange on water security and climate change, and participated in several conferences with Latin American Embassies in Canada.

In support of the shipbuilding industry in Quebec, I joined a few Quebec Senators to encourage the federal government to include Davie Shipbuilding in the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Finally, I published an op-ed in the National Observer: We need visionary leaders ready to face the climate emergency.

Transparency and Accountability

My total office expenses for the 2019-20 fiscal year were $198,953.56 representing 86% of my total available budget. You can find the quarterly breakdown of my expenses on the Senate proactive disclosure web page.

In 2019, I hired Karine Péloffy, a talented environmental lawyer, to be my Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Advisor.

I also hired a summer student to design my website.

 

2020

Chamber Work 43nd Parliament

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced far-reaching changes to Senate Chamber proceedings. Senate sittings were sparse and occurred on an urgent need basis while legislation mostly focused on COVID-19 emergency measures. In April 2020, recognizing that the pandemic would greatly limit the Senate’s capacity to undertake its democratic duties, I encouraged the Speaker of the Senate to adapt the institution to virtual parliamentary proceedings. In October 2020, the Senate made a historic shift to hybrid virtual sittings, returning to every Senator from across the country their parliamentary privilege to effectively fulfil their functions.

I participated in the vast majority of Senate sittings during the pandemic, either in person or virtually, and intervened in most debates on COVID-19 measures. The main themes of legislation in which I participated were COVID-19 emergency benefits and support for individuals and businesses.

I took the opportunity to address the issue of orphan oil and gas wells and government funding during the debate on Bill C-17, an appropriation act granting money for federal spending.

Following the widespread discussions across Canada and the U.S. on systemic racism, I participated in an emergency debate in the Senate Chamber on systemic racism where I highlighted the little-known issue of environmental racism in Canada.

Through important Senate inquiries, I addressed the pathways to decarbonization in Canada, as well as the gaps in the Senate harassment policy and their impact on our parliamentary duty.

Finally, I gave my support to Bill S-209, which would have lowered the federal voting age to 16 years old. This was not the first attempt to do so in Parliament and was unfortunately not adopted before the end of the parliamentary session.

Committee Work

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restricting the ability of committees to meet in person, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources did not undertake any work except for a preparatory meeting for the study of Bill S-3, which sought an extension for the development of offshore oil rig health and safety regulations.

I also became a member of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance which, in contrast, was empowered to meet and study due to its mandate covering the financial requirements of COVID-19 emergency legislation. My work this year included:

Community

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted regular activities, community engagements were greatly affected, and most activities were held virtually. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to act as a speaker in 27 webinars, panels and events on a variety of subjects such as climate risks to infrastructure, the Latin American Canadian community, violence against women, and the post-COVID-19 recovery. Prior to the pandemic lockdowns, I hosted an in-person panel discussion about nature-based solutions to climate change in Canada.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, my office published a white paper discussing the link between pandemics and climate change along with a set of policy recommendations for a clean and just recovery. The publication was accompanied by a webinar series featuring a suite of experts on health, the environment, and economics, including Nobel Prize laureate and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz.

At my request, the Parliamentary Budget Officer published his report, Cost Estimate of a Hybrid Parliament System, which estimated the costs and savings of the virtual Senate proceedings adopted during the pandemic. The report found that the hybrid system could bring $8.1 million in annual net savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 2,972 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

I also had the honour of becoming Treasurer of the ParlAmericas Corporation Board, a parliamentary association of the Americas.

Finally, I published the following articles to encourage public debate:

Transparency and Accountability

My total office expenses for the 2020-21 fiscal year were $234,899.52 representing 100% of my total available budget. You can find the quarterly breakdown of my expenses on the Senate proactive disclosure web page.

This year I worked with a media and communication strategy consultant in order to optimize my office’s parliamentary work and success.

 

2021

Chamber Work 43rd and 44th Parliaments

In 2021, I sponsored government Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. This historical legislation created a framework for setting 5-year milestone targets, creating greenhouse gas emissions reductions plans, and assessment reports to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

I asked questions in chamber and actively participated in several government bill debates concerning offshore oil rig health and safety regulations, banning harmful conversion therapy practices, and appropriations for federal spending.

I acted as critic of Bill C-204, which would have banned all Canadian exports of plastic waste. This bill was adopted at the House of Commons with the support of every opposition party but died on the Order Paper when the election was called due to insufficient time.

After years of harassment-related scandals, the Senate sought to update its harassment policy. I actively engaged in a debate for better protection for senators and staff alike and while I am not satisfied with the finished product, the Senate now has a better harassment policy.

I spoke in favour of a motion requesting government help to prevent massive cuts at Laurentian University affecting post-secondary education in northern Ontario.

Finally, I introduced in the Senate a motion to declare a national climate emergency following the publication of the first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, the deliberations of COP26, and the violent climate extremes happening across the country in 2021.

Committee Work

In the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, our work included:

In the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, my work this year yet again focused on the provision of COVID-19 support to the families and businesses of struggling Canadians. We heard from a wide range of stakeholders in our studies of:

  • Bill C-14, which enacted some measures within the Fall economic update;
  • Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act, 2021;
  • Routine but important studies of the main and supplementary government spending estimates in its third and sixth reports; and
  • Bill S-222, which sought to give more flexibility to charities with their use of resources.
Community

In 2021, community engagements were greatly affected by pandemic measures and most activities were held virtually. However, I had the opportunity to act as a speaker in 38 webinars, panels and events relating to my parliamentary work.

I was extremely proud to be elected President of ParlAmericas’ Parliamentary Network on Climate Change, a network of parliamentarians from across the Americas concerned with climate action, and becoming 2nd Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Corporation Board.

In early November, the world gathered for COP26 in Glasgow to negotiate further details of the Paris Agreement and more specifically, financing for developing nations to fight against climate change. I had the opportunity to participate and engage with labour, health, parliamentary and non-governmental organizations. Namely, I advocated for aligning financial systems with our climate commitments in speeches at the GLOBE COP26 Legislators Summit and at the parliamentary meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

At my request, the Parliamentary Budget Officer published two reports:

  • The first report estimated that resource-specific expense claims by oil, gas and coal mining corporations reduced federal tax revenue by an average of $1.8 billion per year from 2015 to 2019.
  • The second report updated the the database of high wealth individuals and is essential for understanding how wealth is concentrated in our country and how that inequality changes over time.

I was also the recipient of the Clean50 award for my work on environmental legislation.

In the spirit of public education, I published a guide to navigating the federal legislative process and a guide to understand the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. I also published 10 articles:

Transparency and Accountability

My total office expenses for the 2021-22 fiscal year (as of December 2021) were $232,354.90 representing 99% of my total available budget. You can find the quarterly breakdown of my expenses on the Senate proactive disclosure web page.

Photos

On the Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship HMCS Ville de Québec as part of the Canadian Armed Forces Parliamentary Program (August 2019).

Swearing in at the Senate of Canada (December 6, 2016).

In the Senate Chamber with three recipients of the Senate 150th Anniversary medal (November 29, 2017).

My team from left to right: Nick Zrinyi, B.Eng, MASc.; Me Karine Péloffy, MSc. B.C.L. L.L.B; and Stéphane Laviolette.

Women for Nature event hosted by Nature Canada featuring Céleste the Owl (October 23, 2017).

Reception with Ambassadors and representatives from 16 Latin American countries (November 28, 2018).