The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.
For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.
- Mr. Richardson 10141
- Mr. Zed 10141
- Mr. Telegdi 10141
- Mr. Bellehumeur 10141
- Mr. Bellemare 10142
- Mr. Fillion 10142
- Mr. Walker 10143
- Ms. Guarnieri 10143
- Mr. de Savoye 10143
- Mrs. Hickey 10143
- Bill C-438. Motions for introduction and first readingdeemed adopted 10143
- Mr. Loubier 10143
- Mr. Mifflin 10144
- Motion 10144
- (Motion agreed to.) 10144
- Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral 10144
- Mr. Graham 10144
- Mr. Lincoln 10144
- Mr. Gouk 10144
- Mr. Gouk 10144
- Mr. Gouk 10145
- Mr. Gouk 10145
- Mr. Solberg 10145
- Mr. Solberg 10145
- Mr. Frazer 10145
- Mr. Frazer 10145
- Mr. Frazer 10145
- Mr. Crawford 10145
- Mr. Crawford 10145
- Mr. Peterson 10145
- Mr. Peterson 10146
- Mr. Nunez 10146
- Mr. Nunez 10146
- Mr. Mayfield 10146
- Mr. Mayfield 10146
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 10146
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 10146
- Mr. White (Fraser Valley West) 10146
- Mr. McCormick 10146
- Mrs. Terrana 10146
- Mr. Szabo 10147
- Mr. Szabo 10147
- Mr. Szabo 10147
- Mr. Strahl 10147
- Mr. Strahl 10147
- Mr. Strahl 10147
- Mr. Strahl 10147
- Mrs. Wayne 10147
- Mr. Zed 10148
- Mr. Zed 10148
- Bill C-72. Report Stage 10148
- The Deputy Speaker 10148
- Mr. Hermanson 10148
- Motions Nos. 1 and 17 10148
- Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 10150
- Mr. Pickard 10152
- Mr. Benoit 10153
- Mr. Easter 10154
- Mr. Kerpan 10155
- Division on Motion No. 1 deferred 10156
- (The sitting of the House was suspended at 11.51 a.m.) 10157
- The House resumed at 11.58 a.m. 10157
- Mr. Zed 10157
- Mr. Strahl 10157
- Bill C-65. Report stage 10157
- The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais) 10157
- Mr. Taylor 10157
- Motions Nos. 1 and 63 10157
- Mr. Forseth 10158
- Motions Nos. 3, 25, 27, 56, 59 and 101 10158
- Mr. Marchi 10158
- Motions Nos. 4, 58, 62, 90, 98 and 102 10158
- Mr. Benoit 10158
- Motions Nos. 6, 7, 11, 19, 54, 66 and 87 10158
- Mr. Stinson 10159
- Motions Nos. 50, 57, 60, 65, 82 to 85 and 89 10159
- Mr. Scott (Skeena) 10160
- Motions Nos. 86, 88, 91 to 97, 99, 100 and 103 to 109 10160
- Mr. Knutson 10160
- Mr. Bernier (Gaspé) 10162
- Mr. Morrison 10164
- Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 10165
- Mr. Benoit 10167
- Mr. Fillion 10168
- Mr. Mayfield 10169
- Mr. Godin 10170
- Mr. Zed 10171
- Motion 10171
- (Motion agreed to.) 10172
- Bill C-65. Consideration resumed of report stage andGroup No. 1 10172
- Mr. Strahl 10172
- Mr. Bachand 10173
- Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 10175
- Mr. Culbert 10175
- Mr. Benoit 10175
- Mr. Bernier (Beauce) 10176
- Mr. Bachand 10176
- Mrs. Terrana 10176
- Mr. St. Denis 10176
- Mrs. Ur 10177
- Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 10177
- Mr. Duncan 10177
- Mrs. Debien 10177
- Mr. Peterson 10178
- Ms. Torsney 10178
- Mr. Assadourian 10178
- Mr. Althouse 10178
- Mr. Harper (Simcoe Centre) 10178
- Mr. de Savoye 10179
- Mr. Hopkins 10179
- Mrs. Gaffney 10179
- Mr. Kerpan 10179
- Mr. Duceppe 10180
- Mr. Peters 10180
- Mr. Duceppe 10180
- Mr. Peters 10180
- Mr. Duceppe 10180
- Mr. Peters 10180
- Mr. Pomerleau 10181
- Mr. Peters 10181
- Mr. Pomerleau 10181
- Mr. Peters 10181
- Mr. Solberg 10181
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10181
- Mr. Solberg 10182
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10182
- Mr. Solberg 10182
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10182
- Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 10182
- Mr. Anderson 10182
- Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 10182
- Mr. Anderson 10183
- Mr. Strahl 10183
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10183
- Mr. Strahl 10183
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10183
- Mr. Laurin 10183
- Mr. Nault 10184
- Mr. Laurin 10184
- Mr. Nault 10184
- Mr. Gouk 10184
- Mr. Anderson 10184
- Mr. Gouk 10184
- Mr. Anderson 10184
- Mr. Sauvageau 10185
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10185
- Mr. Sauvageau 10185
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10185
- Mr. Bélanger 10185
- Mr. Dion 10185
- Mr. Ramsay 10185
- Mr. Kirkby 10185
- Mr. Ramsay 10186
- Mr. Kirkby 10186
- Mr. Nunez 10186
- Mrs. Robillard 10186
- Mr. Nunez 10186
- Mrs. Robillard 10186
- Mr. Johnston 10186
- Mr. Goodale 10186
- Mr. Johnston 10187
- Mr. Goodale 10187
- Mrs. Finestone 10187
- Mr. Nault 10187
- Mr. Blaikie 10187
- Mr. Dingwall 10187
- Mr. Guimond 10187
- Mr. Marchi 10188
- Mrs. Ablonczy 10188
- Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 10188
- Mr. Bellehumeur 10188
- Mr. Zed 10188
- Mr. Sauvageau 10189
- Bill C-65. Consideration resumed at report stage 10189
- Mr. Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean) 10189
- Mr. LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso) 10190
- Motion 10190
- (Motion agreed to.) 10191
- Mr. Dromisky 10191
- Bill C-65. Consideration resumed of report stage andGroup No. 1 10191
- (Divisions deemed requested and deemed deferred.) 10191
- Mrs. Guay 10191
- Motions Nos. 2, 16, 21, 24, 26, 34, 35, 44, 49,55 and 64 10191
- Mr. Taylor 10192
- Motion No. 15 10192
- Mr. Marchi 10192
- Motions Nos. 17, 45, 74 and 81 10192
- Mr. Mayfield 10193
- Mr. Knutson 10194
- Mr. Bernier (Gaspé) 10195
- Mrs. Ablonczy 10197
- Mr. Bellehumeur 10198
- Mr. Benoit 10200
- Mr. Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead) 10202
- Mr. Speaker (Lethbridge) 10203
- Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe) 10204
- Mr. Gouk 10206
HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House met at 10 a.m.
* * *[Translation]
* * *[English]
I present this report with pride. The foundation of any democratic society is its laws. As a democratic society we are striving for justice.
In particular I appreciate this since I came to this country as a refugee from a country which did not have a just legal system.
The report is entitled ``Renewing Youth Justice''. The report deals with proposed amendments to the Young Offenders Act. The report is a product of a cross-country tour by the justice committee and of representations made to the justice committee from all segments of Canadian society.
One of the driving forces behind the report is that we incarcerate way too many young people in institutions across this country. We incarcerate 10 times as many young people as Europe, 15 times as many as Australia and New Zealand. As I studied the information before us I was shocked to find that we incarcerate twice as many young people as the United States.
Some adjustments must be made on the other side as well. We have to respond to and be involved with the community. Recommendation number four speaks specifically to that. It states that there should be community crime and justice councils, that the community should be involved at the grassroots level.
I am proud to present this report on behalf of the justice committee.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the Bloc Quebecois produced a dissenting report for a good reason. After this cross country tour, as the hon. member said, and after investing tens of thousands of dollars in this study, the Liberals apparently gave the impression, after considering how Quebec treated its young offenders, that they would support an approach that was proposed by Quebec in the sixties and would fully support the demands of the Bloc Quebecois, demands which simply reflected the wishes of all Quebecers.
Instead, at the very last minute, the Liberals preferred to pay lip service to certain principles and make recommendations that were more like campaign promises, in an attempt to satisfy part of the electorate in English Canada. One thing I cannot tolerate is that the government made a concession on the minimum age of young offenders by lowering it to 10 and 11, with the agreement of the attorney general. It is up to the government to set standards and pass legislation that is enforced across Canada. If it does not want to do so, it should get out of this area and hand it over to Quebec, which is what we want, or the other provinces.
However, as long as we have a Constitution and certain rules, the government has an obligation to pass legislation on young offenders that will be enforced uniformly across this country.
By the way, some Liberals told me I was a whiner because I was proposing recommendations that reflected Quebec's historic demands regarding this issue. That is one of the reasons why I decided to produce a minority report. The government would not listen.
As far as age is concerned, I do not think the age should be lowered this way, even with the consent of the attorneys general of the provinces. In Quebec, attorneys general will certainly not agree to lower the age and make 10 and 11 year-olds stand trial. In Western Canada people may think differently, but I think this is unacceptable.
As far as cost sharing is concerned, one of Quebec's demands which has been on the desk of the Minister of Justice for many months and many years, is the $77 million it costs Quebec because we properly enforce the Young Offenders Act. Before the government makes recommendations as it has done in the majority report, I think it should pay what it owes Quebec and write a cheque for $77 million. But we can get back to that during the election campaign.
My third item is the federal government's tendency to intrude in a number of areas where it has no business to be. It is not up to the federal government to tell the provinces what to do with the money it pays them for the administration of justice. This is a provincial matter, and in this case, it is up to Quebec.
I realize that members from English Canada do not like listening to what I have to say, but I say it with all the facts in hand, and I have the satisfaction of having done my duty.
The committee has closely monitored the renewal process in the public service and has made a number of recommendations aiming to ensure that the public service is supported in a way to ensure renewal, the relève initiative, improve accountability and transparency and that other key initiatives be implemented so that the public service may continue to serve Canadians with pride and efficiency.
On a personal note, I am proud to be serving my riding and to be representing on many occasions in Parliament the interests of the public servants. I salute our public service.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi, BQ): Mr. Speaker, a dissenting opinion on public service renewal is appended to the report by the Standing Committee on Government Operations.
The Liberal majority report indicates the need for public service renewal, particularly since 70 per cent of all public service executives will be eligible for retirement within the next eight years. In 1996, only 1 per cent of staff were under the age of 25, compared to 15 per cent in 1976.
The Liberals could have continued in the same vein and reminded people that, during their mandate, the government has made drastic cuts to the public service in the past three years. It was not smart enough to be concerned with ensuring the transmission of knowledge and the retention of the collective memory within the departments. This unfortunate state of affairs is, in large part, nothing more than the outcome of poor strategic decisions by the Liberals during their mandate, which thankfully is coming to an end.
As for the question of the under-representation of young people within the public service, we again note the incompetency and shortsightedness of successive federal governments, from Pierre Elliott Trudeau's first government right down to that of the present Prime Minister. With the calling of the election only hours away, the Liberals are feeling a sudden need to act.
The young people of the Outaouais region have borne the burden of this, no doubt about it. After three and a half years of Liberal indifference, they now have trouble believing that this same government has taken a sudden interest in them. When the Liberals came to power in October 1993, the unemployment level in the Outaouais for those under the age of 25, was 20.6 per cent; it has now risen to 21.6 per cent. The Liberal report insists on finding excuses for the way the federal government has treated young people in the difficult cuts it has had to make.
According to the government, by 1998-99 the program review will have had the effect of reducing program expenditures, and the size of the federal administration, by 22 per cent. It is, moreover, estimated that, after 1999, the government will save more than $3 billion yearly in salaries. What the Liberal report has forgotten to mention is that, in the meantime, the provinces have been forced, because of the cuts in social transfers, to reduce staff by more than 25 per cent in the areas of health, education and social services.
I would like to take this occasion to thank the members of the committee for their hard work and also the many witnesses who came forward.
I would particularly like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all committee chairs, to thank the House of Commons publications services which worked very long hours in the last few days to get all these reports out.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, we request a comprehensive response from the government.
Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the report tabled by the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Official Languages fails unfortunately to mention the considerable anglicization of francophones in the City of Ottawa. In the past 20 years or so, the figure has increased from 17 to 28 per cent.
Accordingly, in the light of these statistics, the Bloc Quebecois tabled a dissenting report criticizing the fact that the committee tried to hide the fact that Ottawa, Canada's capital, is becoming English and anglicizing francophones at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, the report looks more at the national capital region, including the Outaouais. Its recommendations tend in my opinion to anglicize francophone Outaouais.
For this reason, the Bloc Quebecois has tabled a minority report.
According to the order of reference dated March 21, 1997 your committee has approved the proposed tobacco regulations with amendments.
* * *[Translation]
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table this bill, seconded by my colleague from Portneuf. The bill aims at essentially one thing: to eliminate the discrimination against provincially chartered insurance companies in Quebec, which prevents them from acquiring blocks of insurance from federally chartered insurance companies in order to strengthen the industry and meet the challenge of domestic and foreign competition.
It is truly a case of discrimination against Quebec, since, barely two weeks ago, two Toronto companies, one a British, the other a German subsidiary, were able to arrange a deal between themselves involving 12 billion blocks of insurance without a peep or the batting of an eye from the federal government.
A Quebec company, L'Entraide Compagnie d'assurances, since we are talking specifics, lost out on a transaction involving 1.3 million insurance policies because of this government and the Minister of Finance's inertia and lack of political will when it comes to defending Quebec's interests. This transaction would have allowed this company to compete with the four major players in Toronto.
We deplore the decision by the Minister of Finance, who has arranged it so the four Toronto insurance companies will dominate the Canadian market and part of the North American market, while the Quebec companies are left high and dry thanks to the Minister of Finance and the Liberal Party of Canada. We will remember this in the election campaign.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the first time and ordered to be printed.)
Mrs. Tremblay: Mr. Speaker, I suggest you seek unanimous consent to suspend the sitting of the House while an agreement is being negotiated with the government on a motion it wants to table.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to suspend the House for a moment?
Mr. Zed: Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. We may be predisposed to suspend the House once we get to Government Orders and then begin our discussions. I might be predisposed to that, but on this point of order we would deny unanimous consent.
The Deputy Speaker: There is obviously not unanimous consent. We will therefore carry on.
* * *[English]
That on Friday, April 25, 1997 until members return from a ceremony granting the royal assent to a bill or bills, the House shall not adjourn for any reason except pursuant to a motion by a minister of the crown, provided that if no such ceremony has occurred by the ordinary time of adjournment the sitting shall be suspended to the call of the Chair, which may come for the sole purpose of attending such a ceremony, after which the House shall be adjourned to the next sitting day.[Translation]
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please rise.
And less than 25 members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: If I am not mistaken, there are not 25 members, including those who just walked in. Accordingly, I declare the motion carried.
(Motion agreed to.)
* * *
This petition strikes a chord with everyone, since it concerns the sexual abuse of children. The petitioners ask Parliament among other things to review and assess the treatments offered to abusers serving their sentences, and to ensure that support is available to sexually abused children and their families.
Violence against children is certainly a significant indication of how healthy society is. We must give ourselves all the tools we need to provide adequate assistance to the victims and their families, and to promote the rehabilitation of those convicted of sexually abusing children. The challenge is as huge as the problem. I think that, by making wise decisions, this Parliament can help reduce violence and its devastating consequences.
The national AIDS strategy is a vital project that co-ordinates Canada's efforts to finance HIV-AIDS education and prevention, to support HIV-AIDS research and to provide care for those affected by AIDS.
My constituents are therefore calling upon Parliament to ensure that the national AIDS strategy does not sunset in March 1998 and that it will continue to fund these very important projects.
The petitioners pray that the Prime Minister and the Parliament of Canada declare and confirm immediately: first, that Canada is indivisible; second, that the boundaries of Canada, its provinces, territories and territorial waters may be modified only by (a) a free vote of all Canadian citizens as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or (b) through the amending formula as stipulated in the Canadian Constitution.
The petitioners state that they are concerned about the sustainability of the Canada pension plan, that young people are forced to pay higher premiums for smaller pensions and that the recent $10 billion premium increase reduces take home pay. Since it cannot be sufficiently demonstrated that perpetually increasing CPP premiums while continually reducing benefits will salvage the CPP, your petitioners pray that Parliament enact legislation to wind down the CPP while protecting the pension of current seniors and that Canadians contribute to mandatory RRSPs of their own choosing.
The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that Canada's seniors have contributed a great deal to this country's political
development, economic growth and sustained prosperity within the 20th century. These citizens have protected Canada's tradition of democracy and individual freedom through two wars and through a variety of international peacekeeping endeavours.
Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament recognize these accomplishments and sacrifices by not seeking to reform Canada's national medicare or pension programs in any way that would reduce benefits for senior citizens living on limited or fixed incomes.
The petitioners request that Parliament strenuously lobby the international community to oppose the above mentioned proposals for the regulation of dietary supplements in accordance with our country's decision to vote against these proposals last October.
The petitioners pray that Parliament will enact legislation to establish a pedophile registry.
The petitioners pray that Parliament will enact legislation to wind down the CPP while protecting the pensions of current seniors, and that Canadians contribute to mandatory RRSPs of their own choosing.
I am honoured to present the first petition on behalf of 75 individuals residing in beautiful British Columbia calling on Parliament to remove GST from books, magazines and newspapers.
The petitioners state that Canada was founded on principles which recognize the importance of marriage and family to society. The petitioners request the House of Commons to enact legislation or amend existing legislation to define marriage as a voluntary union for life of one woman and one man to each other to the exclusion of all others.
This petition is from residents of London and area.
Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.
The petitioners ask that tax dollars be allowed to be earmarked for non-military purposes.
The Canada Labour Code does not provide adequate protection to female workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Unions, particularly the FTQ, the CLC and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, have been asking for a solution to this problem for a long time. It is time for society to take its responsibilities in this area.
The petitioners are asking the federal government to undertake negotiations with Colombia, so as to reach a social security agreement. Several thousands of Colombians moved to Canada and to Quebec, and they are seeking social security protection for the time they worked in Colombia and in Canada.
The first petition is signed by 259 residents of Williams Lake and other areas of British Columbia. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that regarding Clifford Olson's right to appeal for early parole, they feel that family and friends of the victims are once again made to relive the horror of losing a loved one.
My constituents request that Parliament take action in not allowing mass murderer Clifford Olson to use the faint hope clause to apply for early parole.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to remove the GST from books, magazines and newspapers. They ask that the Prime Minister carry out his party's repeated promise to remove federal sales tax from reading materials.
On November 12, 1996 in British Columbia the hon. Judge Harry Boyle sentenced Darren Adam Ursel to two years less a day to be served in the community under section 742 of the Criminal Code. Mr. Ursel was convicted of a very violent sexual assault.
Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament exempt all physical and sexual offenders from the provisions of section 742 of the Criminal Code.
In June 1996 the Prime Minister of Canada announced that he would work toward diverting the Sable Island gas pipeline to Quebec City. It is unacceptable for the Prime Minister to decide the destination of Nova Scotia's natural gas without consulting Nova Scotians. Therefore, Nova Scotians assert their right to control the destination of Sable Island gas and demand that the federal government cease tampering with this issue.
The petitioners respectfully request the Parliament of Canada to ask the authorities to take responsible action.
Vancouver East and of the lower mainland regarding the high rates charged on credit cards by banks and retailers.
The petitioners ask that Parliament enact Bill C-351 as introduced by the hon. member for Davenport which would limit the interest rate charged on consumer credit cards.
In the first one the petitioners draw to the attention of the House that our police officers and firefighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians. They also state that in many cases the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty are often left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.
The petitioners therefore pray and call upon Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The petitioners therefore pray and call upon Parliament to pursue initiatives to assist families who choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.
The first petition concerns an issue of increasing concern to people in my area, the freedom of choice in health care.
They are quite concerned that the government not interfere with their choice of dietary supplements and foods for special health uses. They would like to make sure that foods do not get reclassified as drugs.
It has been a big concern in Chilliwack and Abbotsford. Another 230 people are asking Parliament to amend the Criminal Code to increase the minimum and maximum penalties for the offence of joy riding and to impose financial responsibility, especially on the parents of young offenders.
They are concerned about sexual predators. This came about because of the Bobby Oatway case. People are very upset and concerned that personal injury crimes and sexual offences involving children are not treated with the necessary seriousness.
They ask the government to do a series of things including notification in the community; taking finger prints, DNA samples and so on; making sure pardons are never given to this kind of person; and finding some way to prohibit sexual predators from working with children in our community or in any community.
This petition is signed by 334 people in my riding of Saint John, New Brunswick. The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the fact that personal baby carriers such as baby backpack carriers, slings and snugglies are not regulated by the Government of Canada.
They call upon Parliament to urge the government to regulate these personal baby carriers for the safety of our children.
* * *
Question No. 66-Mr. Speaker (Lethbridge):
Can the Government of Canada indicate which Ministers purchased copies of Stevie Cameron's ``On the Take'' and Paul Palango's ``Above the Law'' from their office budgets since October 23, 1993, as well as the number of copies that were purchased by each Minister?Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): I am informed as follows. On the Take: office of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1; office of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 1; office of the Solicitor General, 1.
Above the Law: no books were purchased.
All other ministers have submitted a nil response to this question.
* * *[English]
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 74-Mr. Robinson:
What funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees has the federal government issued in the constituency of Burnaby-Kingsway since the beginning of this Parliament, including the 1996-97 Budget and up to today, and, in each case where applicable, (a) the department or agency responsible, (b) the program under which the payment was made, (c) the names of the recipients, if they were groups or organisations, (d) the monetary value of the payment made and (e) the percentage of program funding covered by the payment received?Return tabled.
Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Pursuant to Standing Order 39 I placed QuestionNo. 108 on the Order Paper on March 3. This was 53 days ago. As the rules permit I requested the answer be provided within 45 days. It is my understanding that with all Order Paper questions the government tries to meet that 45-day period.
Could the parliamentary secretary tell me if I will receive an answer today? If not, when will I receive the answer as the House will probably prorogue very soon?
Mr. Zed: Mr. Speaker, the question referred to by my hon. colleague is a very broad one. While I accept that she would want to have the answer forthcoming, there are a number of departments. Her question asks for all departments and agencies. As a consequence the amount of time involved in answering that question is significant.
I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Group 2: Motions Nos. 2 to 10, and Motion No. 19.
Group No. 3, Motions Nos. 11 to 14. Group No. 4, MotionNo. 15.
Group 5: Motion No. 16.
Group No. 6, Motion No. 18.
Group 7: Motion No. 20.
The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.
I now propose Motions Nos. 1 and 17 to the House.
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.) moved:
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-72 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
Motion No. 17
That Bill C-72 be amended by deleting Clause 10.He said: Mr. Speaker, we are at report stage of Bill C-72. Clearly it is impossible for the bill to pass. Even if the Prime Minister chickens out at the last minute and does not call an election, it will be very difficult for the bill to pass.
I will refer to the history in brief of Bill C-72. After the election in October 1993 there was division on the prairies over how wheat and barley should be marketed. The minister was very tardy in taking action. Finally in 1995 he initiated the western grain marketing panel. It brought a report back on proposed changes to the Canadian Wheat Board in the middle of 1996.
The minister was not happy with the western grain marketing panel report. It called for more consultation and a letter writing campaign. It was not until December 1996, more than three years after the minister was first elected, that he introduced legislation in the House.
The bill was given first reading in December 1996 but was not referred to the committee until late February or early March. Then there were some whirlwind hearings across the prairies and in the third week of March the government only allowed three days of clause by clause discussion.
Finally here we are on probably the second last sitting day before the House is prorogued and we are at report stage. Yet to occur is third reading and passage by the Senate. Clearly the House would have to sit for several more weeks if Bill C-72 were to have the slightest chance of seeing the light of day.
I want to make clear that the bill is a haywire and bailer twine attempt to reform a terribly outdated Canadian Wheat Board. The Liberals, in drafting the bill, have failed to heed the advice of the industry. They have refused to honestly debate good amendments put forward by Reform in committee. These amendments are supported by a broad range of farm organizations and by a majority of farmers on the prairies.
The Liberals have left no choice for Reform but to oppose the bill. We do not want it to pass because we do not want to further disappoint farmers who have been betrayed many times by Liberal and Tory governments.
We oppose the bill and we will vote against it, but that is not the reason it will not pass in the 35th Parliament. The real reason it will die on the Order Paper is that the Liberals and the minister of agriculture know it is a third rate bill. They are afraid to pass it and let farmers experience how terrible it really is.
The Liberals could have passed Bill C-72 if they really wanted to. I am rather astounded that the minister of agriculture has been publicly saying the opposition has held up Bill C-72. We know very well in this Liberal majority Parliament the Liberals pass whatever they darn well feel like passing. They set the agenda. They place Government Orders. They use time allocation far too often and they use closure. For the minister to blame the opposition for not allowing Bill C-72 to pass is beyond stupidity and lying. It extends to the realm of desperation and bizarreness in the extreme.
Let us examine the bill even though it will not pass. Clause 2 says the bill will be binding on all provinces. We asked the ministers of agriculture of the provinces of Manitoba and Alberta if they had been consulted on clause 2, the clause we are debating in this group of amendments to Bill C-72. Both ministers of agriculture said there had been absolutely no consultation with the provinces on clause 2.
Clause 10 and other clauses in the bill give the minister an ironclad grip on the board. All the discussions across the prairies were to make the board more accountable to farmers and more in the control or in the hands of farmers. The bill fails miserably in accomplishing that. I believe Bill C-72 gives the minister more control over the Canadian Wheat Board than he currently has.
The minister's actions and words clearly say he does not trust prairie farmers to manage their own Canadian Wheat Board. Therefore let us see what powers the minister clutches to himself. The minister will choose the CEO or president of the board over the heads of the board of directors, even though some of the board of directors are elected by farmers. The minister will place the CEO on the board of directors as a voting member, placing him or her in a powerful conflict of interest position.
Time after time we heard representation from farm groups that the CEO of the board should be chosen by the board and should be accountable and responsible to the board, that the board should hire him or her, that the board should set that person's salary and that the board should terminate the CEO's employment on the board if it felt that were proper.
The minister has the power to choose the interim board of directors in its entirety and to tell it how to chose its successors. This is not democracy. This is Liberal arrogance at its finest. It is all pretty cushy.
The minister and his appointees lay all the plans for a partially elected board. It reminds me of Liberal MPs establishing their own fat cat pensions. If they call the rules, if they make the decisions, farmers are left on the sidelines watching to see what kind of a board will unfold, who the directors on the board will be and what kind of rules, guidelines and bylaws will be put in place for the further election and appointment of future directors to the board.
Even more disturbing is the fact the minister can dismiss directors and employees if they are not serving the best interest of the corporation in the opinion of the minister. Farmers who pay for the board are left out in this case. It seems odd employees can be dismissed in the best interest of the corporation, not in the best interest of farmers. Therefore farmers have their hands tied behind their backs. They are not able to adequately make and press for changes in the board as they see fit.
The minister refuses to bend on the request of farmers for a voluntary board even for barley. There is a consensus. Poll after poll indicated the majority of prairie barley producers want a voluntary Canadian Wheat Board even for organic wheat. We heard many organic growers and their associations suggest the Canadian Wheat Board was not the best marketing agency to effectively market organic products.
The minister went against the recommendations of his own western grain marketing panel in denying the ability of the board, at least in a small way, to become a voluntary marketing agency for some products best marketed through other avenues than through the Canadian Wheat Board.
The minister moved in this direction against the wishes of farmers and according to his own Angus Reid poll which indicated a majority of barley producers called for a volunteer Canadian Wheat Board. Furthermore, the minister will allow the Canadian Wheat Board to make cash purchases in a monolithic environment where livestock producers can be destroyed by artificial feed prices and international retaliation for unfair trading practices. We heard this as we travelled across the prairies. The minister has done nothing to correct this problem in the government amendments to the bill at committee.
The government is prepared to add crops to the monopoly. This measure would not go over very well with farmers. In fact, if a few farmers are crossing the border now, if crops such as canola were added to the monopoly powers of the Canadian Wheat Board, I suggest there would be a civil war on the prairies rather than a few farmers taking truckloads across the border to the U.S. in protest.
Obviously the minister does not understand the needs and wishes of the majority of prairie producers.
The minister is acting like the captain of the Titanic, so arrogant as he blindly steams toward the icebergs. His record on the Crow rate is pathetic. His record on grain transportation is tragic. His record on the Canadian Wheat Board is dismal and dangerous. He is responsible for his lack of action over three and a half years. He is responsible for the division over the Canadian Wheat Board on the prairies. He is responsible for this comedy of errors entitled Bill C-72.
Reform has called for constructive changes to the Canadian Wheat Board. Our vision for the Canadian Wheat Board would not only give it a fighting chance, it would give it good odds of being a first class, farmer controlled marketer with a great chance to be a success story in the 21st century.
The truth is that our opposition in the next election campaign will be the Liberals and the NDP suggesting that Reform is trying to destroy the board. That is not true, as are their allegations that we would hurt medicare and seniors pensions. We have shown in our fresh start document that they are wrong on medicare, health care and seniors pensions. They are also wrong on the Canadian Wheat Board.
Ours are the only proposals that will bring peace to a very divided farm community. Ours are the only proposals that will ensure the viability of the board in the future in a climate where farmers want to market through the board rather than have to market through the board, such as members opposite are proposing.
This bill cannot possibly pass through the House of Commons. This is a matter of each party's putting its position on the record, and I thank the House for the opportunity.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-72, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act, commonly referred to as the CWB.
It is important to look at this bill in the current context, but it is also appropriate to go back in time and look at the historical context. When the government created the Canadian Wheat Board, Canada, like every other country in the world, was going through a major economic crisis. It was in the 1930s, more than 65 years ago, that the federal government established the Canadian Wheat Board. At the time, there was widespread famine, and men and women often worked just to put food on the table. Some people starved during this period called the Great Depression.
Western farmers had great difficulties making ends meet. They were often stuck with their crop, because they could not sell it at a fair price. The government, like a good father, created the Canadian Wheat Board and gave it a monopoly. All the grain had to go through the CWB.
At the time, the creation and the existence of the Canadian Wheat Board seemed justified. It would still be justified today were it not for the fact that, over the years, the government lost touch with the grassroots. This is especially true of the current Liberal government, which is totally out of touch with the grassroots. It seems this government only listens to financial interests, to those who contribute to its campaign fund.
Western farmers are very upset. Earlier, I was listening to the Reform Party member who said: ``If you want war in western Canada, you will get it with grain producers because they are so upset''.
I think he exaggerated. There will not be war, well maybe a verbal one, but that will not be all that bad. I can tell you that, of all the amendments and proposals we put forward in the Standing Committee on Agriculture, very few were approved, although some of our motions were very interesting, but the Liberals, with one exception, after consulting the great one himself, the minister that is, turned around 48 hours later and passed the motion requiring the election of 10 farmers, and 10 was the number put into the bill.
Sixty years ago, there was a need for the Canadian Wheat Board. I think there still is today, but the government should wake up and make some changes. A good number of motions have been introduced, and it could accept a few of them.
It should also be remembered that the Canadian Wheat Board has a monopoly, in the sense that a grain producer living on the border with the United States would not have the right, nor did he before, to sell his crop or a part of it for more than his American neighbours.
The Canadian Wheat Board undertakes to buy wheat and barley from any registered grain producer and is expected, obviously, to get the highest price possible, domestically or abroad, for this wheat and barley.
All wheat and barley for human consumption must go through the Canadian Wheat Board. Even in Quebec, if you need an amount of wheat for human consumption, not for feed, you must go through the Canadian Wheat Board.
There will be 15 on the board of directors. That is already an advantage. Before, with four or five, there were always one or two that had to be reappointed. But the Canadian Wheat Board has often been directed by three people. Now, there will be 15, 10 of them because of the efforts of the opposition, of the Bloc Quebecois, with the support of the Reform Party. Our Liberal friends did not want to include this in the bill so, after 48 hours of consideration, they consulted the great one himself, who said: ``All right, the west is making such a fuss that we will give them 10''.
I myself would have preferred to see 12, of course, as the Reform Party would have, but the Liberals wanted to hang on to the possibility of rewarding the faithful, because the five others will be appointed by the governor general in council. Although the parliamentary secretary to the agriculture minister was naturally not too happy about it, I asked senior officials: ``Would you tell us the salaries of those now sitting on the Canadian Wheat Board?''. At this point, I would urge all my colleagues in the House to listen very carefully.
Did you know, Mr. Speaker, that the president of the Canadian Wheat Board earns quite a bit more than you do, even though he does not have to go to the polls? His salary ranges from $115,000 to $144,000. I guarantee you, and you can check this out, that the incumbent is not a Conservative, but a Liberal. His assistant earns between $110,000 and $129,000, as do the commissioners. Indeed, it is often a choice spot to dump a member in order to vacate a riding, as will be done in the coming weeks and days, after the Prime Minister calls an election on Sunday.
Someday perhaps the hon. member for Malpeque will be sitting on one of these commissions, earning $144,000 a year, without going to the people, because he knows full well that there is a Conservative wind, and a very strong one at that, blowing on Prince Edward Island. He might be tempted to take a job like that.
The parliamentary secretary is smiling; I know he once condemned such appointments, but that is what political patronage is all about. That is why we in the Bloc Quebecois have always denounced, and quite vigorously so, these appointments.
Do you know who the chair of the employment insurance board of referees in my riding is?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac): The sister of the Liberal candidate in Frontenac-Mégantic.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac): She is a fine young lady, who was recently appointed through the good offices of this government. But the essential qualification, if I may use that word, is to be a Liberal.
Another problem with the blueprint for change to the Canadian Wheat Board is that it applies to all the provinces. And the hon. member for Malpeque supported this, knowing full well that Prince Edward Island produces potatoes rather than wheat or barley. When I asked the secretary of state whether he could promise that 25 per cent of wheat board members would come from Quebec, he said: ``That is out of the question. You grow hardly any wheat and barley in Quebec''. Why include us on the board if basically there are only three provinces, plus a small portion of British Columbia-say three and a half provinces-where a serious effort is made to mass produce wheat and barley?
We have submitted, and I will conclude on this, very positive amendments to improve the Canadian Wheat Board Act, not to
give satisfaction to Liberal politicians but to please western grain producers. Incidentally, the number of elected representatives was finally set at 10. I should remind the House however that the chief executive officer, the real boss of the Canadian Wheat board, will be appointed by the government, and that I will not stand for.
Therefore, while supporting the first group of motions put forward by the Reform Party, the official opposition will be voting against Bill C-72 as a whole.
Mr. Jerry Pickard (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I find this debate a little questionable. I am hearing a debate not with regard to the merit of the bill or the consultation that has gone on or the efforts that have been put forward to make sure that everyone involved has had their voice heard; I am hearing mud slinging on a grandiose scale. Maybe that is because the election is coming up.
I heard the Reform member a few moments ago suggest fresh start. Reform members told us when they came to the House of Commons that they were going to work in some reasonable fashion, bring their points forward and debate issues on merit. However, that is the last thing they have seemed to do in the last year. It has really been sad the way they have attacked and carried out arguments which may be politically motivated. The reality is there was major concern about the administration and governance of the Canadian Wheat Board and changes had to be made within the wheat board act.
There is no question that we set out to have hearings across the prairies to make sure that hundreds of organizations and individuals with concerns were able to come forth to the prairie panel that was structured to go across the prairies, listen to concerns, listen to everyone's input, give every organization an input so that we would have a pretty clear picture of what those governance changes should be and what changes should occur within the act. The minister then decided that he would structure the recommendations, listen to what people had to say and give the public a chance to respond again. The next step in the process was to take the recommendations of the panel and give the public an opportunity to respond.
These measures take time. That is why the minister has not jumped into the frying pan. He has looked at the concerns expressed to him, dealt with them carefully and formulated a very good package. In this way the whole structure of the wheat board is dealt with in a very appropriate way in accordance with the testimony brought to the grain panel. That was put into a bill which the agriculture committee of the House took across the prairies, listening to the concerns of witnesses in Alberta, the Peace valley, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, as well as every major organization in Ottawa. The committee really did an important job of consultation and listening to the concerns of interested groups.
At that time the government brought forward several amendments to take into consideration all of the issues that had been raised by individuals as well as larger organizations. All were dealt with. Quite frankly, to go through a process where 7, 8, 10, 12 months are used to listen to people and get their concerns on record and then formulate a bill is a daunting task. I was very disappointed when in committee to hear the opposition attack officials who had rigorously worked to formulate the ideas. Did they attack the merits of what was being proposed? No. They just did not like it.
I am certain that no matter what was put forward, the Reform Party would have been against it. That has been their position all along. Even if very good points are involved, they do not admit that anything is positive. There was a tremendous amount of political posturing which I do not think has been the high point in this case.
However, we are dealing with two motions which have been put forward as amendments. The motion would remove the reference to the Canadian Wheat Board Act being binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province. This section of the bill was included to provide greater clarity, since the legal interpretation is that it is already the case and the act is binding on the provinces. It remains important that all participants in the industry be clear that the act is binding on the provinces. In that way we can make sure the proper selling arrangements, which have always been with the Canadian Wheat Board, are maintained. That was the reason it was included. To remove that portion is against the whole nature of the bill. Therefore, we cannot support the changes to that clause.
Section 18(1) of the Canadian Wheat Board Act currently states:
The Governor in Council may, by order, direct the Board with respect to the manner in which any of its operations, powers, and duties under this Act shall be conducted, exercised or performed.Currently amendments to section 18 of the act are being put forward.
(1.1) The directors shall cause the directions to be implemented and, in so far as they act in accordance with section 3.93, they are not accountable for any consequences arising from the implementation of the directions.
(1.2) Compliance by the Corporation with directions is deemed to be in the best interests of the Corporation.(1120)
The directive power already exists in the Canadian Wheat Board Act. The powers already conferred on the Canadian Wheat Board by Parliament are not being diminished by this bill. Therefore there is a continuing requirement to maintain the government's ability to give direction to the Canadian Wheat Board. This power has been
used only rarely and there is no reason to expect that it would be used any more frequently in the future.
The provisions in clause 10 simply ensure that when such direction is given, it will be implemented and provide that the directors, officers and employees will not be held liable for carrying out directions given to the corporation by the government. According to section 3.93(1)(a) of the bill, directors, officers and employees must act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the Corporation. Section 10 defines complying with the government directive as being in the best interest of the corporation.
We have to make certain that people who are working for a corporation such as this have legal protection as long as they are acting in good faith and within the law. We cannot support the amendments brought by the Reform Party on this point.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak at report stage of Bill C-72, the legislation that the Liberals have brought in to change the Canadian Wheat Board.
Quite frankly, I am surprised that this legislation ever made it to the House. It should not have. It does not do what farmers in western Canada want done with the board. It does not even do what the Liberal government said it wanted to do to the wheat board.
Throughout committee and during clause by clause, it became very clear that this is extremely bad legislation. It is not legislation that should ever have found its way to the House. I am disappointed that it did. It does not do, by the way, what the panel that studied the wheat board and travelled across western Canada said it should do. It does not even come close. That panel recommended that the wheat board become accountable to farmers.
This legislation, if looked at on the surface, does that to some extent in a very minimal way. Clearly the government and the government appointees will control what happens to the board.
The amendments that we, the Reform Party, presented would have done something had they not been rejected by the government. They would have gone at least a little way toward fixing some of these problems. However quite honestly, this is a piece of legislation that cannot be fixed.
As we know, this legislation will never come to a vote in the House, nor should it. It will be thrown out. Whether we have a government led by Preston Manning coming back, a government led by Mr. Chrétien or a government led by somebody else, we will have to start again. I realize that I have used the names of members and I will refrain from doing that.
This legislation will not do what farmers want. A study done by the Saskatchewan government showed that 56 per cent of farmers want the freedom to either market through the board or directly, either through a grain company or on their own to another country, the United States or wherever. It does not do what that study indicated.
It does not honour the results of the plebiscite held in Alberta. That plebiscite showed that 66 per cent of farmers wanted dual marketing, as its commonly called, or wanted a choice to either market through the wheat board, or through a grain company or somewhere else as they choose.
That is what the panel that was set up by the government recommended. It recommended that barley be sold freely and farmers have a choice either to sell through the board or on the open market as they choose, whether inside the country or outside. The government did not honour the recommendations of its own panel.
In a survey in my constituency of Vegreville done by TeleResearch Inc. roughly 85 per cent of farmers polled by this professional pollster-and I tabled the report with the committee so the government knows what it showed-are in favour of having a choice, dual marketing, marketing either through the board or on their own for barley. It was slightly lower for wheat but not very much. In the Beaver River constituency even a higher percentage wanted to have that choice and did not want the monopoly.
This bill will not do what farmers in either Vegreville consistency, which I represent, or in the constituency that the hon. member for Beaver River, Deb Grey, represents.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member has done it again. Will he please not refer to sitting members of the House by their names, but by their riding?
Mr. Benoit: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for that. I do not know what it is with names today. I have been here three and a half years and I have never been stopped from using a name before. Here I am on probably the last day of the sitting of this House and I start using names. Perhaps I am getting into the campaign mode.
If we are going to have apologies, the apologies clearly should come from the Liberal government for ever pretending that this legislation does what farmers want. Members can look at the amendments that we are debating today and they are not going to fix this bill and make it something that is acceptable.
Most farmers want a wheat board which is accountable to farmers. Whether farmers support the wheat board monopoly as a large portion of farmers do, or whether they support a dual marketing system where we have the wheat board operating and farmers who want to market through the board can choose to do that or those who choose not to can also do that. In either case what
farmers want is a wheat board that answers to the farmers. This legislation will not make that happen.
The board is partially elected. In committee the Bloc proposed that 12 out of the 15 directors be elected. The Liberals came back with 10 and that was put in the bill. The board has 10 members elected, which is at least a majority. What difference does it make if they do not have the power to make the changes that should be made to the board? They are given very limited power. The government keeps its hands very tight on the board under this legislation. The directors have virtually no power to make further changes to what the wheat board does and to give a choice to farmers on how they market their grain.
The government has prevented this in different ways, partly through its appointments on the board of the chair and CEO. Partly through those appointments it keeps control, but also through a screening mechanism which makes it that any change the Canada Grain Commission decides is not quite right for some reason would be prevented.
Even if the majority of the board supports these changes, if the grain commission, under the control of the minister, decides changes should not happen, they will not happen. Clearly these changes are not what farmers want and we will find that out during the election campaign.
This is going to come out I believe very clearly during the campaign. This is not what farmers want. I believe the Liberal government will get that message much clearer than it has to date, obviously, during the campaign.
Other concerns that we worked on at committee are with regard to the absolution from responsibility that this legislation gives to the management of the board and even to employees of the board.
If I were an employee for the Canadian Wheat Board, not one of the commissioners, not one of the appointed board members and not the appointed CEO or the appointed director of the board, and we have a lot of competent people who work for the board, I would be very concerned when I look at this legislation. Legal opinions on this legislation have not been clear. It seems that this legislation could easily make it so that the employees could be held responsible for mistakes made where the directors or the management of the board normally would be held responsible.
This legislation should have never been here in the House. I am at least pleased that it will never come to a vote because it does not deserve a vote, quite frankly.
Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the representative from the Reform Party tries to accuse me of not being a western farmer and I admit that. I am not a western farmer.
I have had tremendous experience out west with western farmers and I feel quite confident in terms of speaking about this great institution, the Canadian Wheat Board. I take issue with a couple of points the member for Vegreville mentioned. He alleged that there is not producer control and we are not giving farmers choice. We are, and that is what this legislation is all about. It is enabling legislation giving producers choice and giving the board more flexibility.
An hon. member: You did not read it.
Mr. Easter: The member says I did not read it. I will quote to him a section from the act which does show that the board of directors does have extreme control over the Canadian Wheat Board. Section 3.9(2): ``The president is the chief executive officer of the corporation and has, on behalf of the board, responsibility for the direction and management of the business in the day to day operations of the corporation with authority to act, subject to a resolution of the board, in all matters that are not by this act or by law specifically reserved to be done by the board of directors or the chairperson''.
That shows the kind of power the board has over the chief executive officer and president. This is enabling legislation. I am proud to say as a member of the agriculture committee that we went out and listened to producers and made changes accordingly.
This has been an exercise in consultation and listening to producers. Bill C-72 is about changing the Canadian Wheat Board and giving it the tools to be a better marketing institution for western grain producers.
Since I have been president of the National Farmers Union I have always held strong views on the Canadian Wheat Board. I have had the opportunity to study it, to go to the offices. I have listened to western producers over the past two decades. They have told me of their support for this marketing institution.
The Canadian Wheat Board is an institution that works, that maximizes returns to producers in the international marketplace. It is an institution that sets up a system to allow us to compete with products from other countries in the international market rather than have us compete with ourselves. It does this by using the three pillars of single desk selling, pooling of returns and government guarantees.
I ask Reform members to listen closely to this. I know they do not want to listen to the good facts and the good points this government is moving forward with. I quote Robert Carlson of the National Farmers Union in the United States when he appeared before the House of Representatives agriculture committee. He complained that they do not have a marketing institution of this calibre: ``From a competing farmer's perspective, we in the U.S. do not have a vehicle like the Canadian Wheat Board to create producer marketing power in the international grain trade. We
basically sell for the best price among our local elevator companies and lose our interests in our grain after that point.
``Our export trade is dominated by a few large corporations that are interested in buying low and selling high to enhance the earnings of their owners who are not generally the same people who produced the grain traded.
``The stated goal of free trade proponents in agriculture is to have a grain trade without national borders, without internal subsidies, without quotas or tariffs and without pooling price enhanced mechanisms like the STEs. That would be a great world for grain buyers but a grim world for producers who would be fully at risk economically''.
He added that often producers in various countries tend to attack each other in the name of free trade when they feel producers elsewhere have an advantage. He concluded: ``If we destroy the various institutions that farmers in many countries have built to help themselves survive economically, we will have nothing left but producers standing bare among the ruins of structures that once empowered and protected them in a marketplace dominated by giants''.
Mr. Carlson has said it all. He talked about this structure, the Canadian Wheat Board, which empowers producers. As a government we are looking at the tools to make that board more flexible. I believe the commissioner approach is the best one. This involves the appointment of commissioners for their expertise in marketing. I conceded on that point after I heard from producers that they want to elect a majority of producers to the board so they can control their own affairs with this enabling legislation. We have conceded and 10 producers will be elected to that board.
It is clear when we look at this legislation that we have listened to and accommodated the wishes of producers. I recommend to Reform members opposite who constantly attack the board that they read this document, the annual report of the Canadian Wheat Board, which table after table shows clearly how the Canadian Wheat Board lays out all the information. No international grain trader lays out information like that. It talks about where the markets are. It talks about the final prices that are paid and clearly shows that the Canadian Wheat Board compared to any other marketing institution in the world is clearly able to maximize returns to Canadian producers.
What this legislation is all about is ensuring that the Canadian Wheat Board is able to do that into the next century, giving more power through enabling legislation to those producers in order that they may control their own destiny with the guarantee and the back-up of the Canadian government supporting them in their efforts to build the kind of economy and prosperity which producers can build in this great country.
Mr. Allan Kerpan (Moose Jaw-Lake Centre, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see there are some farmers on the other side of the House. Not too long ago there was a debate on agriculture in this Chamber and there were on our side something like 15 farmers. On the other side there were something like 15 or 18 lawyers.
That is part of the problem we have. The lawyers, the bureaucrats and the politicians always tell farmers what is good for them, rather than it being the other way around. That is the root of the problem.
I want to touch on a comment which the parliamentary secretary made. He said members of the Reform Party probably would not vote for this bill regardless of what was in it. When I first heard about some of the changes with the elected directors I considered very seriously supporting the bill. I did a survey in my riding which showed very clearly that the majority of farmers would like to continue with the wheat board monopoly.
I am happy to be a member of a party in which I can vote for the wishes of my constituents without repercussions. I considered voting for Bill C-72 until I started to look at what was in the bill. At that point my thoughts changed.
I am pleased to know that this bill will not pass during the 35th Parliament. That is good. I have spoken to a lot of people and neither side is happy. The people who are on the side of a dual marketing system think the bill has not gone nearly far enough. The people on the other side, the Sask Wheat Pool, the NFU and some of those groups, think it has gone too far.
Obviously the issue is far from settled. It needs to be talked about and reworked in the 36th Parliament.
The problem in agriculture is bigger than the Canadian Wheat Board. There are a lot of other issues which need to be tied together and come to grips with in order to make agriculture a viable business going into the next century. An example that comes to mind is transportation.
We could consider what happened this past winter with the grain tie-ups in western Canada. The minister did very little to solve those problems. It is another example of where the minister has been completely lacking.
The Liberal member for Souris-Moose Mountain brought forward a private member's bill which would give more responsibility to the railways. That is good. I like that kind of thinking.
Another problem is that the government has not put in a system whereby the railways will be penalized for lack of movement and rewarded for good performance. That is something we must come to grips with.
I support the hon. member for Souris-Moose Mountain. Of course when those things happen the government accuses us of bickering and being critical of all legislation brought forward.
I would like to speak about consultation for a minute. I find it interesting that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food set up a panel to travel the country to consult with farmers and to listen to farm groups. When the report came back it was not a good report in the minister's eyes. He did not act on the recommendations of his committee.
It reminds me of so many other committees that have taken place in this Parliament and in previous parliaments where some good thinking members go out on the road, listen to people, bring back recommendations, and the government of the day fails to act on them. Millions of dollars are spent on all kinds of reports that are put on shelves to collect dust. That is a serious problem.
As the farmers in my riding of Moose Jaw-Lake Centre and I see it, the number one concern we would like to see changed about the wheat board is that it have a fully elected board of directors. People agree that is far enough for now. We might want to get into something else later but at least we would have control over the directors. They will be accountable to us. If they do not do what we say as a majority we will get somebody else. It is very much like the House. That is good part of our system.
If on June 2 the people of Canada decide they do not agree with what the government is doing they will kick it out.
Mr. Benoit: It is a wonderful thing to think about.
Mr. Kerpan: Absolutely. The member for Vegreville is smiling. He has every reason to.
It is good this piece of legislation will not pass this week. We are all assuming there will be an election call this weekend. That is also good. For those of us who come back in the 36th Parliament it is critical that we as a Parliament, not just as the government and as the opposition, work together to solve the issues in western Canada and indeed right across the country.
In the last 3.5 years I have seen very little action on major issues by the minister of agriculture. Maybe there will be a new agriculture minister in the 36th Parliament. Maybe it will be someone from a different party.
I firmly believe there is hope and a bright future for agriculture but it has to come from the grassroots up.
The Deputy Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Deputy Speaker: The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Yes.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
And more that five members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: The recorded division on the motion stands deferred. The results of the vote will also apply to Motion No. 17.
Mr. Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if we could find unanimous consent to allow Motion No. 2 to be seen as moved and seconded.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to allow someone else who is present in the House to move and second that motion?
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: I asked for the unanimous consent of the House to have someone else move the motion.
The hon. member for Fraser Valley East asked for unanimous consent and there was none. Accordingly Motion No. 2 is not before the House. Motion No. 3 is the same situation.
Mr. Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I believe there was agreement on the government side that we would move at this time to a different bill. We were to move to debate on Bill C-65, which is why the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster is not in the House. That is what I thought was happening.
If we are continuing debate on this bill, I would once again ask for unanimous consent for the motion in the name of the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster to be moved and seconded at this time.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to allow someone else to move the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: No.
Mr. Keyes: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could have unanimous consent to suspend the proceedings of the House for about five minutes to straighten this matter out so that we can proceed quickly thereafter.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11.51 a.m.)
Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think you would find unanimous consent to adjourn the debate on Bill C-72 and move to Bill C-65.
I believe my hon. colleague has a point of order as it relates to a report stage motion under Bill C-72.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Before proceeding to another point of order, the hon. member has asked for unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I have two points of order.
Because of a miscommunication between the parties, I asked for unanimous consent that the motion on the Order Paper in the name of the member for Kindersley-Lloydminster be allowed to be moved and seconded even though the member was not in the House. That unanimous consent was denied, which meant that the motion was removed from the Order Paper.
Although we are not debating that bill any more, I wonder if we could have unanimous consent for the motion to be allowed to stand on the Order Paper until we debate that bill again in the future.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Strahl: Madam Speaker, I understand I have to ask for unanimous consent to deem all amendments standing in various members' names on Bill C-65 moved and seconded, without having to move and second each one, regardless of whether or not the members are in the House. Many members will be speaking to the different motions.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Do we have unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
* * *
There are 115 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-65.
Motions Nos. 29, 39 and 114 stand on the Notice Paper only in the same name of the hon. member for Nunatsiaq who has recently resigned his seat. Accordingly they cannot be proposed to the House.
The other motions will be grouped for debate as follows:
Group No. 1: Motions Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 19, 25, 27, 50, 54, 56 to 60, 62, 63, 65, 66 and 82 to 109.
Group No. 2: Motions Nos. 2, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 26, 34, 35, 44, 45, 49, 55, 64, 74 and 81.
Group No. 3: Motions Nos. 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 22, 23, 31, 32, 46, 47, 51, 52, 61, 67, 68, 69, 70, 75, 79, 80, 110, 111 and 115.
Group No. 4: Motions Nos. 28, 29, 30, 33, 53, 71, 72, 76, 77, 78 and 112.
Group No. 5: Motions Nos. 36 to 43, 48, 73, 113 and 114.
The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.
I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 19, 25, 27, 50, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 and 109 to the House.
Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake, NDP) moved:
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-65, in the Preamble, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 1 with the following:
``measures to prevent the''
Motion No. 63
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by adding after line 40 on page 22 the following:
``(h.1) an identification and evaluation of any impact on the communities located on the land on which the species is found and on the workers on and the users of that land;''Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster-Burnaby, Ref.) moved:
Motion No. 3
That Bill C-65, in the Preamble, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 1 the following:
``conservation will be enhanced through an informed public wherein biological and socio-economic concerns are combined to achieve sustainable development with an environmental ethic,''
Motion No. 25
That Bill C-65, in Clause 8, be amended by adding after line 10 on page 9 the following:
``(1.1) For greater certainty, for the purposes of subsection (1), ``costs'' include any cost to a person or organization incurred by way of a business loss suffered by virtue of the implementation of a program or measure for the conservation of wildlife species in respect of land owned by the organization or person.''
Motion No. 27
That Bill C-65, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 9 with the following:
``program or measure and provide for written notice to the persons who will be directly affected by the program or measure.''
Motion No. 56
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 21 with the following:
``technically, biologically and socio-economically feasible and''
Motion No. 59
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing lines 1 and 2 on page 22 with the following:
``(5) If the recovery of the wildlife species is technically, biologically and socio-economically feasible, the''
Motion No. 101
That Bill C-65, in Clause 69, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 36 with the following:
``mentioned in subsection 60(3). The court shall take into consideration scientific and socio-economic concerns when granting any relief under this section.''Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of the Environment, Lib.) moved:
Motion No. 4
That Bill C-65, in the Preamble, be amended by replacing line 3 on page 2 with the following:
``aged and supported, community interests, including socio-economic interests,''
Motion No. 58
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by
(a) replacing line 36 on page 21 with the following:
``technically and biologically feasible and''
(b) replacing line 2 on page 22 with the following:
``technically and biologically feasible, the''
(c) replacing line 11 on page 23 with the following:
``not technically or biologically feasible, the''
Motion No. 62
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended
(a) by replacing line 21 on page 22 with the following:
``(d) an evaluation of the costs and benefits, including the socio-economic costs and benefits, of''
(b) by replacing line 38 on page 22 with the following:
``promote cooperative or voluntary efforts for the protec-''
(c) by adding after line 40 on page 22 the following:
``(h.1) an indication of any land that is part of the habitat of the species and may qualify as ecologically sensitive land for the purpose of a tax deductible donation under paragraph 110.1(1)(d) of the Income Tax Act;''
Motion No. 90
That Bill C-65, in Clause 60, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 12 on page 34 with the following:
``(b) caused or will cause significant harm to an individ-''
Motion No. 98
That Bill C-65, in Clause 67, be amended by adding after line 12 on page 36 the following:
``(1.1) In an endangered species protection action, a defendant is deemed to have exercised all due diligence if the defendant lawfully engaged in an activity that they had no reason to believe was likely to affect the individual, critical habitat or residence concerned.''
Motion No. 102
That Bill C-65, in Clause 69, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 36 with the following:
``mentioned in subsection 60(3). The court must take into consideration scientific and socio-economic concerns when granting any relief under this section.''Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.) moved:
Motion No. 6
That Bill C-65, in the preamble, be amended by adding after line 13 on page 2 the following:
``actions taken under this Act must take into account the social and economic consequences of those actions on the parties affected,''
Motion No. 7
That Bill C-65, in the preamble, be amended by adding after line 13 on page 2 the following:
``the responsible minister must suspend the application of the provisions of this Act respecting recovery and management plans if it is established to the satisfaction of the responsible minister that measures are being taken or will be taken within a reasonable time by landowners or by any other interested parties for the protection of certain wildlife species, the purpose of a suspension of the application of certain provisions of this Act is to strengthen co-operation among the various parties concerned, ''
Motion No. 11
That Bill C-65, in Clause 2, be amended by adding after line 8 on page 4 the following:
````landowner'' includes a person who leases federal land.''
Motion No. 19
That Bill C-65 be amended by adding after line 7, on page 7, the following:
``3.3 Notwithstanding any other provision in this Act, no provision of this Act or any regulation or emergency order made under this Act, with the exception of sections 31 to 33, applies to a landowner that would result in the expenditure of money by the landowner or in a financial loss for the landowner.''
Motion No. 54
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing lines 28 to 32 on page 21 with the following:
``(3) Where the responsible minister receives, within twelve months after a wildlife species is listed as endangered, threatened or extirpated, a request signed by a majority of the landowners referred to in paragraph 39(b) requesting that one or more public hearings be held concerning the preparation of the recovery plan, the responsible minister must
(a) hold at least one public hearing in the place and within the month indicated in the request; and
(b) advise the persons who signed the request of the time and place of the public hearing.
(3.1) The recovery plan must be completed
(a) within three months after the last public hearing held under subsection (3) has been completed; and
(b) where no public hearing is held under subsection (3), within one year after the wildlife species was listed as endangered, threatened or extirpated.''
Motion No. 66
That Bill C-65, in Clause 39, be amended by replacing lines 16 to 19 on page 23 with the following:
``39. The recovery plan must be prepared in consultation with
(a) any persons who the responsible minister considers are directly affected by, or interested in, the plan; and
(b) any directly affected landowners who have notified the responsible minister of their wish to be consulted regarding the recovery plan.''
Motion No. 87
That Bill C-65 be amended by adding after line 32, on page 33, the following:
``59.1 The responsible minister must, by order, suspend, for a specified term, the application of all or any of the provisions of this Act respecting recovery and management plans if it is established to the satisfaction of the responsible minister that measures are being taken or will be taken within a reasonable time by landowners or by any other interested parties for the protection of a wildlife species that is listed as endangered, threatened or extirpated.''Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan-Shuswap, Ref.) moved:
Motion No. 50
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by adding:
(a) after line 9 on page 21 the following:
``(1.1) The responsible minister shall hold at least one public hearing in the area affected by the recovery plan to hear the comments of persons interested in cooperating in the preparation of the recovery plan.
(1.2) The responsible minister shall cause to be published, in the Canada Gazette and in a daily or weekly newspaper in general circulation in the area affected by the recovery plan, at least sixty days prior to the commencement of any public hearing held by the responsible minister in the area pursuant to subsection (1.1), a notice containing
(a) a statement that the responsible minister must prepare a recovery plan and hold a public hearing concerning the plan;
(b) the time, date and place of the hearing;
(c) a statement that any person interested in cooperating in the preparation of the plan must notify the responsible minister, at least three working days prior to the commencement of the public hearing, in electronic or other form, of the person's name and address and of the fact that the person is affected or interested.''
(b) after line 22 on page 21 the following:
``(d.1) any other person or organization that notifies the responsible minister, at least three working days prior to the commencement of the hearing referred to in subsection (1.1), in electronic or other form, of the name and address of the person or organization and of the fact that the person or organization is affected or interested.''
Motion No. 57
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 21 with the following:
``technically, socio-economically and biologically possible and''
Motion No. 60
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 2 on page 22 with the following:
``technically, socio-economically and biologically possible, the''
Motion No. 65
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing lines 10 to 15 on page 23 with the following:
``(7) If the recovery of the wildlife species is not technically, socio-economically or biologically possible, the recovery plan may include measures limited to the prohibition of activities that directly affect individuals of the species or their residences.''
Motion No. 82
That Bill C-65, in Clause 51, be amended by replacing lines 42 to 44 on page 28 with the following:
``(3), during normal business hours, enter and inspect any place in which the officer believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, there is any thing to''
Motion No. 83
That Bill C-65, in Clause 51, be amended by replacing lines 21 to 24 on page 29 with the following:
``a dwelling-place except with the witnessed and written permission of the owner or tenant of the dwelling place or under the authority of a warrant.''
Motion No. 84
That Bill C-65, in Clause 52, be amended by replacing lines 43 to 46 on page 29, and lines 1 to 3, on page 30 with the following:
``order, an enforcement officer shall not exercise the powers of search and seizure provided in section 487 of the Criminal Code in respect of a building without a warrant or the witnessed written permission of the owner or tenant of the building.''
Motion No. 85
That Bill C-65, in Clause 57, be amended by replacing lines 1 and 2 on page 32 with the following:
``57.(1) The responsible minister must acknowledge receipt of the application and send a copy of it by registered mail to each person alleged in the application to have been involved in the commission of the offence within''
Motion No. 89
That Bill C-65, in Clause 60, be amended by replacing lines 36 to 43 on page 33, and lines 1 to 5, on page 34 with the following:
``(a) the responsible minister has not performed the duties of the responsible minister under this Act; or
(b) there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that there is collusion between the responsible minister and the person alleged to have committed an offence under this Act.''Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.) moved:
Motion No. 86
That Bill C-65, in Clause 59, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 26 on page 33 with the following:
``A copy of the report sent to a person whose conduct was investigated must disclose the name and address of the applicant.''
Motion No. 88
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 60.
Motion No. 91
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 61.
Motion No. 92
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 62.
Motion No. 93
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 63.
Motion No. 94
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 64.
Motion No. 95
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 65.
Motion No. 96
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 66.
Motion No. 97
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 67.
Motion No. 99
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 68.
Motion No. 100
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 69.
Motion No. 103
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 70.
Motion No. 104
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 71.
Motion No. 105
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 72.
Motion No. 106
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 73.
Motion No. 107
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 74.
Motion No. 108
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 75.
Motion No. 109
That Bill C-65 be amended by deleting Clause 76.(1205 )
Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin-Norfolk, Lib.): Madam Speaker, today marks an important step in introducing Canada's first ever federal legislation for the protection of endangered species.
Bill C-65 is an important bill. This government believes that preventing species from becoming extinct is an honourable purpose, a purpose that will ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a country as rich in wildlife as the one we enjoy today.
Furthermore, by preventing animals from becoming extinct, we also ensure that we have a healthy environment for ourselves. While it may seem irrelevant at times whether the grizzly bear disappears or the loggerhead shrike disappears, they in and of themselves can become indicators of damage that we are doing that affects us as human beings and the globe as a whole.
Some people have said that this bill goes too far and that it puts too high a value on nature. The government disagrees. Others have said that it does not go far enough in protecting the needs of endangered species. Again, the government disagrees. The attempt of the bill is to strike a balance between the various interests on the planet. The Government of Canada believes that we have the right balance.
This bill is based on the premise that the needs of the economy can be integrated with the needs of ecology, that we can protect endangered species and still have secure jobs and a healthy growing economy. This reflects the government's commitment to sustainable development.
This bill also recognizes that nature does not exist in a vacuum. People and jobs are also part of the equation. If we take away the jobs, people will build up resentments and defiance. We need their acceptance to buy into the laws for protecting the environment.
There are five important aspects of this legislation. First, we have a bill that creates an independent panel of experts, scientists to give us the facts about the status of endangered species in Canada.
What the bill attempts to do is to take politics out of the designation of which species are at risk. It is important to note that science and not politics, hearsay or uninformed opinion will determine what species are at risk, what species need help and what must be done to provide that help.
This independent arm's length group of experts is called the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada or COSEWIC for short. This will build upon 20 years of experience and provide for legal standing for this organization.
COSEWIC will make recommendations to the government which will produce a list of species receiving immediate protection. It will use its expertise and will also draw on the traditional knowledge of aboriginal Canadians to assess and identify species to be listed.
Each year the official list of species at risk in Canada will be made public. In fact, this list was made public last week. The picture it painted underscores the critical need for this legislation. COSEWIC told us that the number of endangered species in Canada has risen dramatically in the past year from 276 to 291, an increase of 15 species in the space of one year. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
Had the Canadian endangered species act been in place when COSEWIC's list came out, this would have been the basis for demanding recovery plans for every species identified as endangered or threatened. These recovery plans would have been implemented in a timely fashion. All parties affected by the plan, such as landowners, industries, citizens, government would have been involved in the development and implementation of a plan. Without this legislation, the future of these species is in limbo.
Second, the bill recognizes that no single jurisdiction can meet the needs of all endangered species. Fish swim, birds fly and they do not recognize political boundaries. This is why we need partnerships and why it is very important that all governments agreed to a National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Charlottetown in early October 1996.
In October all governments in Canada made commitments to establish complementary legislation and programs to protect endangered species. The accord builds upon legislation that already exists in four provinces: New Brunswick, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
The bill also establishes a council of ministers as a mechanism for co-operation among federal, provincial and territorial governments with the goal of preventing species in Canada from becoming extinct as a consequence of human activity.
With this bill the federal government is doing its part. The legislation respects the traditional and constitutional roles that each jurisdiction has played in wildlife protection and conservation. New provisions have been introduced to more clearly recognize provincial and territorial authorities with respect to the management of endangered wildlife species.
Third, international cross-border animal species are better protected. The bill recognizes the importance of working co-operatively with other countries for the conservation of endangered species.
As part of our committee hearings we learned that the grizzly bear roams from northern Manitoba into southern Alberta and southern British Columbia. It is protected in the United States but would only be protected in Banff National Park in the Canadian jurisdiction. This bill will help deal with issues like this one. The bill also gives us the ability to take immediate action to protect animal species in imminent danger as they move across our borders.
Earlier this month the Minister of the Environment signed a framework for co-operation with the United States Department of the Interior for the protection and recovery of wild species at risk. This agreement helps us build on the excellent relationship we have with the United States on the management of wildlife across the border.
Together our two countries manage several migratory birds and other species. Our success in the recovery of the majestic whooping crane is a symbol recognized around the world of co-operation and partnership between different jurisdictions that share a common goal.
The two countries agreed to exchange information, to work together on recovery plans and to build a partnership with all levels of government, the private sector and the public for the conservation of wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend. A workplan will be presented to the Minister of the Environment and the Secretary of the Interior by December of this year.
This legislation builds upon the voluntary efforts of a wide range of people in Canada, many of whom joined the Minister of the Environment when he tabled this bill last October. The Government of Canada sees the necessity and the benefits of working together on behalf of all our fellow creatures. This is very good news indeed. When it comes to a bird sitting on a rock, Canadians do not want to see politicians arguing over who has jurisdiction over the rock. They want us to work to make sure the bird can live and fly free. We have put nature before jurisdictional disputes.
Fourth, this bill will generate more public involvement in our quest for a better protection of species. Canadians can take part in all stages of the process, from proposing species for listing, to developing and implementing recovery plans, to participation in the enforcement of the act.
All information relating to work under the act will be made available through the establishment of a public registry. This will allow all Canadians to judge whether species are being protected from extinction and whether social and economic concerns of resources users and communities are being fairly considered.
Partners essential to the national effort include provinces, territories, private landowners, farmers, industry, the environmental and scientific communities, aboriginal peoples and individual Canadians. Each has an important and essential contribution to make. Of particular note are aboriginal peoples whose traditional stewardship of the lands has always included the protection of wildlife.
The Government of Canada recognizes the important contribution that farmers, ranchers and landowners have made to the protection of endangered species in Canada. Operation burrowing owl in the prairies is one of many examples of how the agricultural sector has worked in partnership with governments and environmental groups to protect species on the brink of extinction. These types of partnerships are exactly the sorts of agreements that are encouraged through the Canadian endangered species act.
Individual Canadians can call for investigations and they will have access to the courts for legal redress if they feel measures are not being adequately enforced. Civil actions will allow citizens to take action to ensure that governments live up to their commitments. It helps to ensure the government's accountability. We saw in the United States that when a government failed to enforce its environmental obligations, citizens actions rose and stepped into the vacuum that was left when governments did not do their job. However if governments do their job, there should be no need for citizens actions.
I realize this provision of the bill has been criticized as leading us down a slippery slope toward the American model. In that country the public's right to sue over environmental issues has been blamed for holding up development and a lot of other things. But comparing the legislation before us with the American legislation is like comparing apples and oranges.
Safeguards against civil actions which are frivolous or vexatious have been built directly into the legislation. Before a citizen can launch an action he has to apply to the government for an investigation and then prove in court that the government has acted unreasonably before he can move forward with his own citizen action. This presents a very high barrier to prevent frivolous civil litigation.
Fifth and finally, this legislation is a product of over two and a half years of consultation. Public meetings were held from coast to coast. Discussion papers were issued and an industry and environmental task force spent nearly a year developing key proposals, 80 per cent of which are reflected in this bill. We have heard from the fishing and forestry sectors. They have addressed their concerns. In addition, 94 per cent of Canadians support the legislation. The government has received nearly 80,000 letters and petitions on the issue. Public involvement has been and will continue to be a key feature of the legislation.
A three-year review period has been built into the legislation to enable the Government of Canada to review early progress and to make necessary adjustments to the legislation.
The amendments tabled today help to ensure the protection of endangered species in Canada remains fair, equitable and balanced. As we in government are watching for possible threats to our wildlife and providing the necessary remedies, Canadians will be watching us. They will not let government or industry slide backward. Nor should they. They will hold all legislators to account. We owe it to future generations to make sure the wildlife existing in Canada in the 20th century is still here in the 21st century and beyond.
Just last week experts told us that the Monarch butterfly, a backyard treasure known to every Canadian child, is in danger. There can be no clearer message to the House. We need the legislation and we need it now.
The Government of Canada is fully committed to providing effective protection to species at risk in this country. I call on all members to support the bill.
Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé, BQ): Madam Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to Bill C-65, but I would like to add that I am speaking on behalf of the hon. member for Laurentides. This bill was supposed to be passed yesterday, and today, the hon. member had to go to her riding on business.
I am pleased there was unanimous consent for having the amendments standing in the name of the hon. member for Laurentides recorded as such, because she did all the work, and she did an excellent job.
To get back to Bill C-65, we are now considering the report stage of Bill C-65, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species in Canada from extirpation or extinction.
This bill comes as a result of a promise the Liberals made in their red book nearly three and a half years ago. It has taken the Liberals all this time to draft this bill, although as soon as she was elected, the Deputy Prime Minister made it one of her pet projects. Today, the Liberals are bringing back the bill just to show they have some interest in wildlife and the environment. Why? Because the Liberal record on the environment is pretty thin, and they must put something on the table at the last minute, to look good before an election is called.
The Liberals, who promised us the moon as far as the environment is concerned, have now stooped to campaign tactics. On every environmental issue, especially the reduction of greenhouse gases, the Liberals have been marking time. From the Deputy Prime Minister to the current minister, the Liberals have been incapable of delivering the goods. All environmental groups agree that their record is miserable.
It is all talk and no action on the other side of the House. They make pretty speeches. They even said at a number international events that Canada was a world leader on environmental issues. What a joke. What a charade on the part of the Liberals.
The biggest role they ever played is ``motor mouth'', which also means all talk and no action. Their record is just words and more words that have no beneficial impact on the environment. The reason for their miserable record must be sought-I see the Speaker is smiling-among senior ministers who have considerable influence in cabinet. It is clear that ministers who have connections with the business and financial communities lead the pack in this cabinet and the result is that the Minister of the Environment and this whole issue are not even given the time of day.
We should also consider the influence of lobby groups. Obviously, environmental groups and the greens cannot compete with business and industry. Unfortunately, the cabinet ministers with clout are directly connected with the industry and business lobbies. They give them their undivided attention.
Recently I saw a documentary on the important issue of reducing greenhouse gases. Ottawa has set up a representative group which is supposed to submit proposals for reducing these gases.
This task force, which included a number of environmental groups, literally had a number of avenues of reduction closed to it, particularly avenues providing for restrictions and a possible tax on carbon. These proposals were completely ruled out as a result of industry pressure, which came in the form of a powerful lobby, known as the Friday Group. There was no further mention of voluntary measures, and the tax on carbon disappeared.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister was to be seen on Alberta rostrums in the company of the provincial minister of natural resources and industry executives. Then came the tax deal of nearly $6 billion accorded this same industry.
From this report it is clear now why Canada will not achieve its reduction objectives and meet the commitments it made at the Rio summit.
Bill C-65 arises from a proposal by the former minister, which was released in August 1995. At that point, the task force was set up bringing associations with diverging interests-ecologists and industry-to the same table for a rare meeting. The group did important work and produced a bill for the minister. A national agreement on the protection of species was signed in October 1996 in Charlottetown between the federal minister and the provincial and territorial ministers.
The minister tabled his bill in the House on October 31, 1996. This was the start of the Bill C-65 saga, a long tale dotted with the discontent of everyone and the improvisations and incompetence of the minister and the parliamentary secretary.
With the tabling of the bill, environmentalists and groups made it known to the government that Bill C-65 was totally inadequate and amounted to very little in the way of species protection. Groups immediately began pressuring the minister to amend the bill to bring it more into line with their vision. They wanted the federal government to have all the powers over species and their habitats, regardless of jurisdictions or ownership.
Environmental groups have this idea that the federal government must be the national protector and that, with this status, it can ignore other jurisdictions. These groups should change their view on this issue, because the federal government is far from getting a passing grade when it comes to the environment.
Moreover, the cuts made to the department show how little the Liberals care about the environment. Because it is so far away, the federal government is definitely not the ideal level. It is not capable of protecting or preserving the environment.
You realize that for us, members from Quebec, it is difficult to buy the national approach put forward by these groups. In Quebec, we have had very adequate environmental laws and regulations
since 1989. The federal government even patterned some of its own legislation on ours. Anything that results in encroachment, interference and duplication is unacceptable to us.
In addition to these environmental groups, the industry also expressed its discontent. People in the mining, forestry and agricultural industries strongly condemned the bill.
And let us not forget the aboriginal people, who said the bill does not recognize their skills and knowledge. Finally, the provinces and territories jointly sent a letter to the minister, condemning the violation of the national convention principle, and the involvement of the federal government in their field of jurisdiction. This letter was not sent by Quebec alone.
Against the background of this widespread discontent, the committee undertook a clause by clause review of the bill. About 100 amendments were moved by members representing all the parties. The amendments of the Bloc Quebecois primarily sought to protect existing jurisdictions. We wanted to make sure the provinces would be able to manage and to control the species on their territories.
Unfortunately, all our amendments were defeated by the Liberal majority on the committee. Led by the parliamentary secretary, who shares this national, Canadian vision of the environment, the Liberal majority rejected our proposals, falling back instead on equivalency agreements and bilateral agreements with the provinces to manage the various species, with the federal government always having the upper hand.
That is unacceptable to us. While the list of species at risk in Quebec may not be very extensive at present, Quebec does have legislation to deal efficiently with this issue. In fact, according to the premier of Quebec, who strongly condemned the bill, the purpose of the national agreement was to enable the federal and provincial governments to agree on which species to protect and nothing more. That is what the agreement was all about.
From the moment the federal government starts interfering with essential habitats, it encroaches on areas outside its jurisdiction. Finally, the amendments put forward by the minister today do not remedy in any way the encroachment problem. Bloc members will oppose these amendments and the bill itself, since our amendments will be rejected by the Liberals as usual.
I thought the Charlottetown accord was about co-operation between the provinces and the federal government. Once again, the federal government, which is about to call an election, is encroaching on Quebec's jurisdictions, and this will not do any good.
Mr. Lee Morrison (Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia, Ref.): Madam Speaker, Bill C-65 is a glaring example of the prejudice of the Liberal government against people who make their living off the land. It regards us all as thoughtless, irresponsible and uncaring people who have to be restrained by big mama government from despoiling the environment, killing every living thing, all non-human life forms, and, as an aside, from shooting ornery neighbours before breakfast with our unregistered firearms.
Bill C-65 dismisses co-operative effort in favour of coercion by the urban elites who just know they are morally and intellectually superior to farmers, ranchers and woodlot owners. Instead of offering consultation and co-operation to rural people, the government has opted to threaten them with fines and jail terms.
The abundance of proposed amendments to the bill should give some indication of its defectiveness. I draw the attention of the House to Motion No. 86. It refers to a paragraph under section 59(3)(b) wherein the government is prohibited from disclosing the name of a plaintiff in an environmental action.
This is so appalling that I initially thought it was a misprint. This is on par with provincial proposals of snitch lines for welfare cheaters. It is fundamental to a civil society that accusers not have anonymity except in cases where identifying them might endanger their lives. I hardly think a farmer accused of killing a swift fox would take out a contract on his accuser. It is a fundamental principle of justice that an accused must have the right to face his or her accusers. Even murderers have that right.
The bottom line is that with guaranteed anonymity there is absolutely nothing to deter someone, whether an environmentalist or a neighbour with a grievance, from filing a frivolous complaint, a vexatious complaint. There is no penalty, no economic sacrifice, not even community disapproval for making an underhanded move against someone who may or may not have done something against the act. I do not understand how this provision managed to slip through committee.
Motions Nos. 88, 91 to 100 and 104 to 109 propose the deletion of sections 60 to 76 of the act. These are the sections which give private citizens the right to file civil suits if they believe that the Canadian Wildlife Service is lax in the performance of its duties.
When the state introduces legislation to protect what it considers to be the interests of society as a whole, then it should also take whatever action is necessary under that legislation to ensure its effectiveness, not delegate the right to individuals who might have their own agendas.
We do not need U.S. style government by litigation in Canada. These sections open the door for harassment of land owners by eco-vigilantes. It is unreasonable and unfair to expect farmers, ranchers and woodlot owners, many of whom are struggling to make a living, to defend themselves against well financed environmental groups, many of which are partly funded by government.
Within this group I wish to draw particular attention to section 65 which allows third parties to participate in court actions, get this, ``in order to provide fair and adequate representation of the private and public interests involved''. Really. This is from the government whose original discussions of the background material leading to this bill were held only in cities across Canada.
I quote Nancy Greene Raine on this little exercise in consultation, Liberal government style: ``It is a sad day when legislation can be drafted without the input of the people who will be affected''.
I would like to backtrack a little and comment on section 52. That section authorizes warrantless search and seizure. This sounds familiar. I would almost think it was written by our Minister of Justice with his well known disdain for due process and individual rights as exemplified in the same type of provisions in Bill C-68. Perhaps he and this government just do not like rural people or perhaps the Liberals are on a power trip.
One of the worst features of Bill C-65 is that if a land owner loses all or part of his or her livelihood due to a government or private action on behalf of endangered species, a requirement to fence out water holes for example, there is no firm provision for compensation. This is also typical of the government's attitude toward ordinary citizens in other matters.
If a government is going to encourage individual Canadians to inform on or launch lawsuits against their neighbours in the name of the greater good, then fairness would dictate that provisions be put in place for those affected to recover all the costs they incur as a result of such action if and when the courts rule that they are not guilty of an offence under the act.
This lack of provision for just treatment of affected people could actually endanger the very creatures which the legislation is designed to protect. This House should be aware that there are already U.S. real estate advertisements certifying that land being offered for sale is free of endangered species. How can they be so sure? Why would they want it to be free of endangered species? Maybe somebody took a bit of underhanded action to see that there were no endangered species left on the land and maybe the reason they have made this certification is that nobody would want to buy a piece of land if they knew there were kangaroo rats on it.
Because of this sort of thing, there is a very strong feeling now in the United States that its 21-year old environmental protection act has been beneficial only to one predatory species, namely lawyers, but not beneficial to endangered species.
In January the hon. member for Davenport was quoted as follows: ``We have to take a soft approach at first if people are going to accept this type of regulation''. There is a slip of a Liberal lip. The scary part of this is not so much the deviousness expressed by the member but that he probably sincerely believes that Bill C-65 represents a reasonable and soft approach.
In the moments I have left I would like to read to the House a few quotes from a brief presented to the standing committee by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. This paragraph says it all: ``The legislation before the committee represents a U.S. approach to endangered species protection. It relies heavily on regulation and enforcement and contains very little to encourage voluntary co-operation and partnerships. In our view the legislation in its current form will create conflict between land owners and conservation groups and will be detrimental to the future of wildlife on private lands''.
Further the brief states: ``This bill erodes the rights of individual Canadians, particularly with respect to their rights to own and enjoy property. We believe the erosion of property rights is damaging to the cause of wildlife and endangered species and the record of government in protecting species over which it has direct control and which are not on private land, for example the Atlantic cod and the Pacific salmon, does not create a lot of confidence in its ability to maintain and develop long term protection measures''.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Madam Speaker, the government is playing a childish game only hours before an election is called.
It is introducing bills in the House that it knows full well will die on the Order Paper when an election is called, probably on Sunday afternoon in Shawinigan.
Barely a few minutes ago we were debating a bill apparently eagerly awaited by western grain producers, Bill C-72, that the Pinocchio crowd promised would be passed in this 35th Parliament, and that is going to die on the Order Paper.
A few hours later, in order to look good, the Minister of the Environment is introducing Bill C-65, which, on the face of it, seems quite commendable. When we examine it closely, however, we see that, once again, the government is on the wrong track.
I will read you the title of the bill and you will understand how very commendable it is: an act respecting the protection of wildlife species in Canada from extirpation or extinction. Are you opposed to this? Of course not, neither am I. But a clause by clause
examination of the bill shows that the Minister of the Environment is on the wrong track, and I will tell you why.
I will begin by giving an example. The government has taken so-called positive action with respect to certain endangered species. Listen carefully while I tell you about the case of cod.
Barely three years ago, realizing that cod were declining in the Gulf and on the Atlantic coast, this government's fisheries minister took a positive step: a cod moratorium. Exactly what was needed.
A few years later, however, on the eve of an election, the cod have returned in staggering numbers. They are so large they are hanging off the edges of our plates. So, with an election about to be called in a few days, the fisheries minister authorizes cod fishing. Brilliant if you want to win votes, but for the environment, for the dwindling cod supply, it is a terrible move.
Another example is the peregrine falcon, the swiftest bird in the world. This is the bird you see in period films which is trained to attack on a signal from his owner. It is endangered here, and not because people destroy the nests or kill the birds. The problem goes much deeper than that; it is the environment, the gases we release into the atmosphere, the heavy metals, mercury in particular. What happens is that the female lays eggs whose shells are so thin that when the parents sit on them they break. It is a problem caused by pollution.
What did the Deputy Prime Minister do during her 18 months as Minister of the Environment? She did nothing about this. What is the new, and always dapper, Minister of the Environment doing about this? Nothing. He would like to protect endangered species, but he has forgotten that four provinces are ahead of him in this: Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick. They already have their own rules, their own legislation to protect endangered species. Now he would like to overlap with them, duplicating departments, duplicating regulations, and then to tell us that this will cost less. How very clever.
Quebec created a protective agency in 1989, not under a sovereignist government, but the government of Robert Bourassa himself, who played on the same team as the Liberals. So here we go, more duplication. Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick represent at least 60 per cent of Canada's land mass. Once again, this is not such a clever move by the Minister of the Environment.
What is even worse is that the federal government will be appropriating areas that do not come under its jurisdiction. It is not a rare thing to see the federal government come stomping into the provinces with the attitude of: ``Gang way and make room for me''. It will, for example, be responsible for transborder regions.
Let me give an example of an animal that moves between provinces or between countries, the hare. If you study natural history, you will see that hares do not range much more than about a square kilometre. But if a hare lives near the U.S. border, might it not occasionally cross the border without a visa? Yes. I am taking the hare as an example, because its territory is very limited.
Now, let us take the case of a wolf. The territory of a wolf or coyote is 100 times as big, or 100 square kilometres. So a wolf will tend to cross back and forth from the American side to the Quebec and Ontario sides. So it could be called a transboundary species. However, that is impossible, because it is not a migratory bird like the duck.
I would like to add the following for the benefit of those who are listening at home. When you go hunting in the fall and you want to hunt partridge, hare, black bear or deer, you need a Quebec licence. But if you want to hunt duck or snow geese, you have to go to the post office-the post office, that is a good one-to buy a federal licence for migratory birds. I agree migratory birds should be managed, at least under our present system, by the federal government. But hares, foxes, wolves, black bears and deer are a provincial responsibility.
Another point that bothers me is those appointments. As you know, and I see you are smiling again, I am allergic to patronage and these appointments made by the governor in council or, as it says so neatly in Bill C-65, on the recommendation of our Minister of the Environment, who does not know much about saving endangered species. He only listens to his officials. He will be responsible for appointing the nine members who sit on this committee.
Of course they will be remunerated-the same old story-after being appointed for political reasons, something I saw in my own riding. The president of the EI board of referees-you know who I mean because I think I told you that yesterday-is the sister of the Liberal candidate in the riding of Frontenac-Mégantic. She may be competent, but she is a Liberal first and foremost.
The former president had to be replaced, for some important reason. There was no competition, and the same procedure must have been used to appoint the returning officer in your riding for the next election, which will be called on Sunday, for June 2.
I repeat, it is truly appalling that the government should use political appointments to protect endangered species.
Bill C-65 also refers to federal land. I would appreciate it if the Minister of Environment said ``On my land in Canada''. For instance, in Mauricie Park or Forillon Park in the Gaspé, they say no moose or partridge shall be shot on this land, but if the moose or
partridge move out, well, the federal government did not buy the whole country.
We have deer on our farm. When the hunting season starts, a friend of the returning officer for my riding goes deer hunting on my property. If the deer crosses the street and is no longer on my property, I cannot tell the hunter: ``Go ahead and shoot it, it is over there''. I will have to tell him: ``You only have the right to hunt on our property''.
So I suggest the federal government mind its own business. Sure, it can protect endangered species, but it should first look where the problem is and then try to deal with it.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at report stage of Bill C-65 to the Group No. 1 amendments.
The amendments in Group No. 1 deal with three of the major areas of concern. It does not allow for the co-operative approach but instead chooses the punitive approach in dealing with a threat to an endangered species.
The second is the area of compensation. There is not any acceptable form of compensation provided for in this legislation.
Third is the area of search and seizure. It allows an anonymous accuser to start a process against someone who has threatened, in their minds, an endangered species.
These amendments deal with all those areas. Many of them were proposed by myself, others by the member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia, our critic in the environment area, the member for New Westminster-Burnaby, the member for Skeena and other Reform MPs.
Several of the amendments in this grouping are from the government. That shows clearly that the bill was not very well thought out. That was something we found on examining the bill and the amendments moved by others. This grouping affects the three major areas of concern with this legislation.
I would first like to talk a little bit about Bill C-65, the endangered species legislation. I do not think anyone would argue against the intent of the bill. The government brought in the bill to deal with concern over endangered species. I believe everyone in the House shares those concerns.
However, when looking at the bill realistically and thinking it through, if it passes, even with the amendments that we are debating today, it would probably make things worse for endangered species than not having the bill at all. Let me explain what I mean.
Let us think of a farmer, rancher, someone in the forestry industry or someone who has commercial property on the outskirts of a town that finds an endangered species on their property or in a habitat that could possibly support one of the endangered species on the list.
For example, an endangered species or habitat that would support an endangered species is discovered on the property. The person knows the legislation in place is heavy-handed and would not allow for the species to be protected in a co-operative way. The penalties include fines of up to $1 million and even more important, that person could be forced to cover the legal costs of the case.
That individual could be forced to spend money to fence off a portion of property that would support the endangered species with no compensation. Perhaps the accuser is anonymous, a neighbour who maybe has a quarrel with that individual, who could go to the authorities and that neighbour's name may well never be disclosed. What do members think they would do facing this type of cost, penalty and breach of normal judicial procedure?
In many cases these people may think, much as they would like to protect the species, that with the threat that was brought about because of this legislation they just cannot take a chance. Supporting their families is more important than providing a habitat for an endangered species. In many cases, I believe, they would destroy the habitat and possibly even destroy the species.
That is not what I want and I am certain that is not what the government wants. However, that is exactly what this legislation, if it were to pass, would most likely do. It is wrong and we must protect against that.
Some of the amendments that Reform has brought in would go a long way to doing that if they were to pass. The amendments that I propose deal with the issue of a co-operative approach. More than one of my amendments propose that if the property owners or users who have the endangered specie or habitat on the property can demonstrate that they voluntarily will protect those species, along with others who are interested, then the punitive part of the bill, which is most of the bill, would not come into effect. That gives some protection against the heavy-handed approach of the government in this legislation.
I have put forward amendments in the area of compensation, as did the hon. member for New Westminster-Burnaby. Those amendments would ensure that the land owner or land user would not have to bear the entire burden of the expense.
The bill includes unusual and unacceptable search and seizure measures. It also allows an anonymous accuser to turn in a neighbour. The members for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assi-
niboia, Skeena and others have put amendments which would help in those areas.
This legislation has not been well thought out. The intent is good, but it has not been well thought out. The best thing would be to scrap it. Whichever party forms the next government should deal with this issue in a much more effective manner. That is exactly what will happen if the Reform Party forms the next government. I hope the Liberals will do that if they form the next government.
There are over 100 amendments which will not deal properly with all of the issues that have to be dealt with.
On behalf of the people who depend on the land to earn their livelihood, whether they are farmers, ranchers, people in the forestry and mining industries, or people who have commercial property on the edge of a town which could lose its value as a result of this legislation, I say that we should throw it out of the House. If that does not happen, then let us pass the amendments which have been moved. At least they will help in dealing with these problems.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take a few minutes to speak to Bill C-65, although everyone knows obviously that we are simply keeping the House occupied.
We expect the election to be called at any moment, and today, yesterday, the day before yesterday and for the past week, the government has been using every means at its disposal to gain time, to pass the time. Now they put before us a bill we know full well will not get beyond the walls of this House. It will never receive royal assent or come into force.
While it contains a mechanism for inclusion on the list of species at risk and a recovery plan for species at risk, the bill contains over 100 clauses that should be completely reviewed and returned to the drawing board, because they bear no relation to the expectations of those consulted.
The committee consulted many organizations. However, it did not take the representations and observations of these consultations into account. This is not the first time the government has behaved this way. We have seen this behaviour in the case of other bills, where consultation was simply a matter of form, and served either to spend money or to expend people's energy. In terms of time, it cost a lot. Were the opinions considered? Absolutely not.
This bill should be totally reworked for other reasons as well. It is not only a matter of consultation. The bill does not honour a fine promise the government made as enunciated by the Prime Minister, who said, in the speech from the throne on February 27, 1996, and I quote: ``The federal government will propose to the provinces a much strengthened process to work in partnership, focussing on such priorities as food inspection, environmental management, social housing, tourism and freshwater fish habitat''.
The action taken by this government was totally contrary to the remarks of the Prime Minister. Instead of including provincial authorities in the process of designating and re-establishing threatened and endangered species, the government is excluding them. Yet another broken promise.
Bill C-65 does absolutely nothing in that regard. Worse still, the actions of the Liberal environment minister seem very suspicious. First, he convenes a meeting of the provincial ministers of the environment to get an agreement in principle on the protection of endangered species. However, just four weeks later, the minister tables his bill which, in many respects, is totally contrary to the agreement in principle that he just obtained.
Let me quote Quebec's Minister of the Environment. Even though he attended the meetings and signed the agreement, the minister said: ``We could not remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlap between some future federal act and the legislation which has been in effect in Quebec since 1989 and which works very well. We risk creating more red tape instead of dedicating ourselves to what really matters to us: the fate of endangered species''. This is what the Quebec Minister of the Environment wrote to his federal counterpart.
Time proved him right. Just look at the bill before us. It creates all sorts of overlap. The main objection from Quebec to this bill is that the federal government keeps changing the rules by extending the territory where a given species is found. This is important when it comes to determining the applicable jurisdiction. The federal government even tries to gain more power by extending the scope of the definition of ``federal land''.
The bill requires co-operation between the federal government and the provinces when, in fact, several provinces oppose this legislation. Once again, the federal government wants to impose its own jurisdiction, after promising harmonization. Therefore, this bill directly threatens the jurisdiction of the provinces, under the pretence that the government wants to meet the requirements of the international convention on biological diversity. The Liberal government is trying to interfere in an area of provincial jurisdiction.
This government is increasing overlap. In all areas, particularly regional development, there is extensive interference by the federal government. It goes over the provinces' heads. It negotiates
directly with municipalities and with community, humanitarian and tourist organizations. It has no use for provincial jurisdiction.
This bill is also troubling because it leaves the way open for the federal government to negotiate directly with municipal administrations, as I was saying earlier. This gives the minister the power to interfere in environmental matters because the implementation, and I do mean implementation, of measures and programs related to wildlife conservation can cover a wide range of activities without necessarily respecting constitutional authority.
More specifically, the minister will be able to sidestep provincial governments by once again negotiating directly with municipalities. The Bloc Quebecois introduced several amendments in this regard providing for greater provincial involvement, but they were ignored by the Liberal majority.
I would also like to speak about the discretionary authority this bill gives the minister. In fact, the Minister of the Environment calls all the shots with respect to implementation. He may make appointments to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. He has the authority to decide whether or not species are included on the list. He decides whether or not to implement a recovery plan. All decisions therefore rest with him.
The minister himself is responsible for the composition of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. We know that it will have nine members and that the minister may appoint whomever he wishes. This is another opportunity for this government to reward friends of the regime, major contributors to the Liberal Party slush fund, or perhaps to cheer up Liberal candidates defeated in the election.
Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo-Chilcotin, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill C-65 and on the amendments. Before I offer a critical analysis of this bill I want to say that the Reform Party and I support unequivocally the responsible protection of endangered species. However, we do not support Bill C-65 in its present form. When I speak to the bill I speak also to the amendments that are coming.
Before I outline why we take this position I will tell the House that there has been a significant outcry from within and outside my riding in opposition to this legislation.
I quote Mr. Roy Staveley, acting senior vice-president of B.C. Hydro: ``The next issue I would like to touch on is public involvement. B.C. Hydro agrees that Canadians should have opportunities to share knowledge and participate in efforts to protect and recover species at risk. The most effective way of doing this is by maintaining an open and transparent process. We feel that the Canadian endangered species protection act needs more provisions for consultation with affected parties throughout the process, from listing of species to preparation and implementation of recovery plans.
``The protection of species at risk will best be attained through partnerships with key stakeholders. However, as currently written, the proposed legislation results in duplication of federal, provincial and territorial regulatory authorities. This would be inconsistent with the harmonization and intergovernmental approaches to environmental protection or the national accord and will likely result in jurisdictional disputes, duplication, poor enforcement and administration, public confusion and inefficient allocation of scarce resources''.
I like very much the way the hon. Stephen Kakfwi, minister of lands and renewable resources of the Government of the Northwest Territories summarizes this: ``I suggest that the fundamental problem presented by the proposed legislation as tabled in Parliament is that it is inconsistent with both the spirit and the intent of the hard work done by all jurisdictions, including the federal government, to establish a co-operative national approach to protecting the interests of endangered species. The irony here is that the best intentions have been asserted but this in turn has given rise to the erosion of the best plans''.
The outcry is also locally heard in my constituency of Cariboo-Chilcotin. Let me read to the House some of the letters I have received. A resident in Williams Lake stated: ``This legislation will do very little to address concerns about endangered species but goes a long way to starting a war in the courts and opens the door for groups with no concern for the social and economic impact or the inviability this act would bring to working people, be they forest workers, farmers, ranchers or miners. The courts and lawyers are going to have a heyday with this one''.
From the city of Quesnel, council members passed a resolution opposing Bill C-65 due to a lack of any requirement to consider social, economic or community impacts; due to a lack of any requirement to provide redress for affected workers in their communities; due to a lack of any guarantee that workers, communities or other affected stakeholders will participate in recovery plan design.
From the village of Clinton the council stated: ``Bill C-65 raises some significant concerns for the major industries of British Columbia, mainly forestry and mining. These two industries are the backbone of the economy in British Columbia and will be put at severe risk with the implementation of Bill C-65. Council believes that Ottawa should listen''.
I could not agree more with this comment. Ottawa should listen to what the people of Canada are saying about Bill C-65. The people and the municipalities from all walks of life that I have just
quoted have legitimate concerns and they are rightly justified in feeling as they do. They know that Bill C-65 is a bad piece of legislation and they want this government to listen and to respond to what they are saying.
Some of the reasons Bill C-65 is a bad bill have already been mentioned in the statements I have just read but let me elaborate for the House on some of them. These are the reasons Reform cannot accept Bill C-65 in its present form.
First, the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, a nine member board appointed by the minister, will decide what species are at risk, how much risk, where the habitat is crucial and advise the minister on what should be done to help the species recover.
There is no guarantee that effective stakeholders will participate in the recovery plan design. This means that private land owners could be forced to make special provision for some endangered species. For example, a rancher may have to fence off an area of his land to protect an endangered species nesting ground from grazing livestock. Unfortunately Bill C-65 offers no compensation to rancher for the use of his material and time or for leaving productive land dormant or for the drop in the value of his property.
Let me tell the House a story of a situation that happened in Ontario about five years ago that relates to this point.
Mrs. Strumillo-Orleanowicz owned a 100 acre parcel of undeveloped land near Smiths Falls, Ontario. To start up a business she planned to sever a building lot. Unfortunately the Minister of Natural Resources denied her permission to do this. Why? Mrs. Strumillo-Orleanowicz' neighbour owned land next door to her property that was inhabited by the endangered loggerhead shrike. To help protect the bird, the province designated 123.5 acres around the shrike's home as its critical habitat. As a result Mrs. Strumillo-Orleanowicz could not sever or develop her land to make a profit. Her creditors foreclosed on the property and she lost everything. The government gave her no compensation.
Bill C-65's second flaw is that it jeopardizes the rights and livelihood of responsible land owners by expanding the rights of activist groups to go to court to stop resource development. It is interesting that those who turn in a neighbour can remain completely anonymous, not allowing the accused to face the accuser.
For example, under section 60 of the legislation, a bureaucrat or an eco-vigilante could sue a forest worker, rancher, land owner or company that he or she thinks has harmed an endangered species or its habitat. This means that there is a possibility that the courts will be filled to overflowing with actions against land owners.
How will land owners respond to this possibility of being taken to court? Their reaction will be a negative one and endangered species will come out on the losing end. For example, according to cattle producers who spoke to the environment committee, land owners will have to seriously consider ways of reducing their exposure to legislative actions and loss of income and value resulting from constraints on use. The obvious and cheapest route will be to eliminate wildlife habitat on their land and specifically habitat that is attractive to species that could at some point be listed as threatened or endangered. There is evidence that the American endangered species law has already had this undesired effect in some areas of the United States.
The third flaw of Bill C-65 is that it tramples the basic principles of justice. For example, under the bill authorities could seize private property and provide no compensation if the property is considered a critical habitat for an endangered species.
In addition, Bill C-65 allows bureaucrats to search and seize private property without a warrant if, by reason of exigent circumstances, it would not be feasible to obtain a warrant. This is a characteristic of the government which is very frightening where the government is prepared to thwart the historic rights and privileges of people to impose its own view of the way things should be. This provision is completely unacceptable to Canadians.
Reform has put 42 amendments to Bill C-65. These amendments would require the minister to consider the socioeconomic impacts prior to recommending what action should be taken. We would like to have compensation, a commitment to the preservation of endangered species and we would like the co-operation of all stakeholders involved.
Mr. Maurice Godin (Châteauguay, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act.
Although there were a few federal laws allowing the federal government to intervene in order to protect these species, there was no federal legislation directly devoted to protecting endangered species. This was not the case in Quebec, which has had its own law since 1989, or in other provinces such as Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, however.
In 1978, a body was created which brought together certain organizations such as government agencies, the provinces, certain territories, four federal bodies, and three national conservation organizations.
Before this bill was tabled, the Minister of the Environment brought his provincial counterparts together in Charlottetown to
draft this bill. We are often told that there was an agreement in principle but, four weeks later, this agreement in principle was obtained without the bill, or the texts per se, being tabled and we know there was an enormous difference.
The Quebec Minister, David Cliche, made the following statement on November 26, 1996: ``The federal minister has just tabled a bill in the House which worries the province of Quebec considerably. I must place this in its context, for it shows the difficulties of federal-provincial relations. I recently defended the interests of Quebec in relation to the environment and wildlife, while representing Quebec at Charlottetown. We reached agreement, and even signed a document to the effect, as I have already said, that if the federal government tabled legislation for the protection of endangered species under federal jurisdiction, it ought to respect the jurisdictions of the provinces, and in particular of the territories''.
Mr. Cliche went on to say: ``We thought we had reached agreement with Ottawa on the following principle, a simple one besides, and this is where all of the problem lies in this bill, I believe: If we agree that a species is endangered, it is up to the level of government with jurisdiction over the territory and the habitat of that animal to ensure that it is properly protected in its natural habitat''.
Once again, we have before us a bill that I might describe, in a nutshell, as an attempt by the federal government to use the convention on biological diversity to justify encroaching on a provincial jurisdiction and centralizing powers at the federal level. But as we can see, that is not the case. They are trying to enact a law that goes against existing provincial legislation. Again, in yet another area, we will end up being governed by two acts, which will just create more enforcement problems.
What major problems are we looking at? There are four of them. First, we submit that Bill C-65 is a direct threat to provincial jurisdiction. This is the fundamental problem with this bill. The government is interfering in an area of provincial jurisdiction and, with this bill, tries to tell the provinces what they should do from now on.
As I said a moment ago, under the pretence of attempting to comply with the terms of the international convention on biological diversity, the Liberal government is trying to interfere in provincial areas of responsibility. That is the first problem with this bill.
Second, Bill C-65 ignores the distribution of powers provided for in the Constitution-I will come back to this in a moment-and the usual interpretation of this provision, because it is based on a much broader definition of territory and overlooks the fact that, under the Constitution, the federal government and the provinces share responsibility for certain species.
The third major problem is that Bill C-65 gives the Minister of the Environment broad discretionary powers to decide, among
other things, who will be appointed to the COSEWIC. We will recall that this is the committee established in 1978, whose work was done on a voluntary basis. With this bill, the members of this committee will not only be selected by the minister but they will also be paid.
Finally, the fourth major problem is that Bill C-65 excludes provincial authorities from the designation and recovery of threatened and endangered species. This attitude directly contradicts what was said by the Liberals, more specifically in statements by the Minister of the Environment and the Prime Minister and in the throne speech, which were all about harmonization and partnership.
If we look at the Constitution, the protection of species and their habitat is not included in the division of powers under the Constitution Act, 1867, which is to be expected. It is not clearly defined.
However, under this act, the provinces have jurisdiction over the management of public lands belonging to the province, in section 92 on property and civil rights,and over all matters of a merely local or private nature. These powers are sufficiently broad to enable the provinces to pass legislation on plants and wildlife, both on provincial public land and private land.
In other words, we see that although the Constitution Act, 1867, does not clearly define these responsibilities, the provinces have as much jurisdiction over land as the federal government. Today, the government wants to pass legislation that would practically eliminate provincial responsibility and establish federal responsibility once and for all, as we have seen in so many other instances. In fact, we have the same problem with respect to duplication and overlap.
In concluding, I want to say, as I said earlier, that the members of this committee, which has been existence since 1978, at the time worked on a volunteer basis. They will now be paid, which will be an additional expense. Furthermore, they will be selected by the minister.
* * *[English]
That the House agree to split the current Part III Estimates documents into Reports on Plans and Priorities and Performance Reports and require all departments and
agencies to table, on a pilot basis for the 1997-98 fiscal year, for consideration by the appropriate committees:
1. pilot development Performance Reports in the Fall timed with the President's Report on Review; and
2. pilot Reports on Plans and Priorities, including detailed financial information presented according to appropriate vote structure in a consistent manner, to be tabled on or before the last sitting day before March 31 and referred to committees and reported back to the House pursuant to Standing Order 81(4).For the benefit of the House, I believe there were consultations with the Reform Party member for St. Albert and the Bloc member for Saint Hyacinth-Bagot. I have the signed authorization.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Is there unanimous consent for the motion of the hon. member?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
* * *
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on the endangered species act.
In British Columbia, maybe more than any other province in Canada, environmental protection, endangered species legislation and legislation concerning everything from the protection of bears to whatnot are on the political agenda routinely. These issues crop up in our papers. We have environmental writers. We have quite a movement in British Columbia of people concerned about the environment. Perhaps it is because of our ocean habitat, the rivers or the salmon. I do not know what it is. Maybe it is the salt air. Whatever it is, people are concerned about the environment.
Mr. Morrison: Are the Liberals endangered out there?
Mr. Strahl: Perhaps they are concerned about Liberals being an endangered species. Just because we are on the eve of an election we cannot assume that. I know for sure the Tories are, but I do not want to get rhetorical here.
I would like to mention two or three concerns of people about environmental legislation. There is broad consensus in British Columbia for public information and education on the environment being near the top of everyone's list of political concerns. Who knows why that is?
My riding gets 60 or 70 inches of rain a year. Everything from how manure is handled on dairy farms to the way logging roads are constructed in nearby mountains are key environmental concerns because what we see up the road today is likely to be washed down into our fields the day after. They are political concerns and real concerns of the people in my area.
There is also the other side. Another group of people have concerns about this type of legislation being so intrusive and restrictive on their economic activity that they cannot go about doing any modern activity without being called down by the government or being called on the carpet for supposedly harming the environment. If we take it to the extreme, too many people breathing in the lower mainland causes some kind of harm to the environment but we understand we have to deal with it the best we can.
The legislation as currently proposed is not the best way to deal with the endangered species problems in Canada. It is too intrusive. It does not take into account safe economic activity on land, whether it be farming, ranching, logging or whatever it might be.
I will refer to an example from my background. Before I came to this place I was a logging contractor. I spent my life in the woods working close to the environment. About 10 years ago the issue of the spotted owl, an endangered species by definition, became a big problem in the lower mainland. To those who are not aware, the spotted owl's supposed territory is all the rain forests of the Pacific northwest including the United States and extending a few hundred miles into the coastal rain forests of British Columbia.
The United States has similar endangered species legislation. The concern there for the spotted owl was so overwhelming that the forests were shut down. Logging was curtailed. Logging towns became ghost towns. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs. The spotted owl was a happy little owl but the damage it caused economically totalled billions of dollars.
The spotted owl scare worked its way north into British Columbia. The spotted owl patrols began. University students, hopefully biology majors, were hired on summer vacation. Late at night they would go two by two into the woods, because it was environmentally safe to do so, where we were logging and would park their campers. At night they would broadcast tape recordings of spotted owls hooting. If they thought they heard another spotted owl respond in the distance, if they heard it hoot in the background, they would tick on their chart that there was another spotted owl somewhere. It was close by. Although they did not see it they knew it was there. They would say they heard an owl hoot in the night and would therefore shut down the logging in the entire drainage. Who knows if there were spotted owls? Nobody ever saw them but maybe they were there.
To show how silly it was, not only did the area extend several hundred miles into British Columbia but they had on their charts that spotted owls maintain their nests between 2,500 feet of elevation and 3,500 feet of elevation. That is prime logging area. A lot of the logging I did was at those levels of elevation and a lot was done up to 4,500 feet.
This is true confession time. One day we were building road in a valley. No one had ever seen or heard of a spotted owl there. Nobody really knew what they looked like. We came upon a nest in a tree and, scout's honour, it was a spotted owl's nest. There was such an animal and it was in the tree. We shut down all the logging. We shut down the road building and went to the environmentalists in the forest service office to tell them we had seen a spotted owl. We had been to the mountain top and saw the spotted owl.
They were pretty excited. Then they looked at their maps and said: ``Wait a minute. You are building road at 4,000 feet. That is not the range of spotted owls. They only go to 3,500 feet. That can't be a spotted owl''. We argued with them that it was a spotted owl, that we had seen it and that they should come to see it. They looked again and said: ``No. Our range of spotted owls only goes to 3,500 feet so it cannot be a spotted owl. Build the road right over top of the tree''. We refused to do that. We managed to get around the tree and save the spotted owl. This shows how ridiculous it can be at times to ask a modern industrial society to make allowances for spotted owls. Then when one is found and because it did not fit into some imaginary criteria they did not care about it.
The other spotted owl site is in a logging area where I spent my youth with my parents. The universities come to investigate the spotted owl that has built a nest right beside the main logging road where 40 to 50 loads of logs go by every day. The university people drive right up to the bottom of this big tree. They all stand there with their binoculars and look at this spotted owl who gets along just fine in an area where there has been logging going on for the last 40 years.
The legislation should not go through in its current form as it has too many flaws. In British Columbia the devastation cannot be overstated. Roads can be built through an entire valley system at a cost of millions. The company we contracted built the roads. After the roads were built they came in to check if there were any spotted owls. After the road is built and the work is done they say: ``I think I heard a spotted owl hoot so there is no logging allowed in this valley''. Business cannot be done like that.
I remember saying to them: ``If there are endangered species tell us and we will work around them, but do not make arbitrary rules and put us in a position where we spend a lot of money that you cannot compensate us for''. Reasonable compensation has to be worked into the legislation so that farmers, ranchers and loggers are able to do their work while they protect the environment.
I do not believe the legislation does that. That is why the amendments are necessary. We are grateful the bill will not pass in this session of Parliament.
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take a few minutes to talk to Bill C-65. I think I could fairly summarize my thoughts by saying, something my colleagues have said as well, that I consider this another major intrusion by the federal in areas of jurisdiction of the provinces, and this of course includes Quebec.
I have looked at two quotes from letters the Quebec minister of the environment sent to his colleague in the House of Commons, one of which concerns the section on interpretation. Mr. Cliche said, and I quote: ``Thus the federal government's definition of federal land for the purposes of the bill has no relation to reality. We never understood that the management of fish stocks or inland or coastal waters navigation meant that the federal government had jurisdiction over all aquatic ecosystems, along with the seabed and subsoil below and the airspace above these waters''.
Here is another quote from this same letter regarding the measures to protect listed species: ``Furthermore, it seems incongruous for the purposes of the bill to liken the migratory travel of species from one country to another or their geographic distribution on either side of a border to the import and export of goods and services. In introducing a new notion, that of cross border species, the federal government could be giving itself extended jurisdiction over the vast majority of species in a province''.
It seems clear to me that the Government of Quebec does not support this bill any more than the Bloc Quebecois, since, as I have just said, it is another intrusion into an area of jurisdiction that does not belong to the federal government. However, as it always does, the federal government is trying to find a breach to slip through. This is what we consider to be the aim of this bill-an attempt to meddle in provincial jurisdiction.
Quebecers are not the only ones to think the bill is not all that great, native peoples do too. I had the pleasure of looking at the brief presented by the native peoples. In short, they feel that the bill does not really take their needs into account and that they are being largely ignored, as is usually the case.
Finally, I have been made aware of the native approach to endangered species. Canadians are probably to be blamed for the
disaster as a whole. The natives' philosophy, as told by their elders and the younger generations, is that the earth is their mother. The birds, the plants and the animals are their brothers and sisters. They believe that water and streams are rather like the blood vessels of mother earth.
They have a philosophy of tremendous respect for nature as a whole, including the fauna and the flora. They believe this bill shows no respect for either their culture or their approach to the environment.
I have noticed that it is the economic development practices, which can not longer be sustained by the ecosystems, that are endangering species. It is not native peoples, it is not campers, it is not nature loving individuals who are endangering species. It is not people who respect nature who are threatening endangered species, but rather economic development methods and practices.
I saw some pretty terrible things when visiting aboriginal people in parts of Canada that are the subject of native land claims. For example, in Nisga'a, Chilcotin and Carrier-Sekani territory, some clear cutting is being done and it is extremely destructive. I think clear cutting is the main reason for the extinction of some species.
My Reform Party colleague was laughing at the fact that we wanted to save part of a forest just because we heard a owl hooting. I think there might be a reasonable compromise between the two extremes, but clear cutting is certainly not contributing to the protection of endangered species.
The same goes for mining, another area of economic development which victimizes aboriginal people. I am thinking here about the Dene in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut, who are being squeezed by diamond mines. Mining exploration endangers plant and animal life. Endangered species are certainly threatened by this type of exploration.
The same situation exists near Voisey Bay, in Innu territory. The people there object to the drilling taking place in a region with what may be one of the richest mines in the world. Once again, their opinion is being overlooked, the lands they claim as theirs are being invaded and the natural resources on these lands will be pillaged. Once the natural resources have been plundered-the forests cut down and the mines exhausted-we turn to the natives and tell them: ``Now, we are willing to consider your land claims''. Mining activities and clear cutting have a major impact on endangered species.
I could talk about the hydro projet included in the Northern Flood Agreement, in Manitoba, which was harmful to the Crees in the province. This week, we passed Bills C-39 and C-40, which will compensate natives for the flooding of their land, but the creation of an artificial lake probably ten times too large, for the purpose of producing electricity, means that groups and species are certainly being threatened by this uncontrolled economic development project.
As far as the east coast is concerned, I would also like to mention the extensive fishing in the area where we find the Micmac, a people which calls itself people of the dawn. Today, fish stocks have dwindled and natives can no longer fish, something that has always been part of their traditions.
These are examples of our disregard for native people. Yet, our First Nations are very concerned with nature and, consequently, with endangered species. They do not feel they are to blame for the disappearance of these species.
In fact, I have noticed how some native communities have great respect for species in general, especially endangered ones. For example, on the reserve of the Walpole Island First Nation, there are 37 varieties that are now on the list of endangered species. These 37 varieties have grouped together, instinctively, in the location where they are the least endangered, that is, on a native reserve.
Another example I can mention is Akwesasne. These natives have invested money to buy an island to protect the great blue heron. So, we see that natives are concerned with this issue, and it is unfortunate that the bill briefly mentions first nations here and there in the first 19 pages and then not at all at the end.
Consequently, we recognize the federal government's style in this bill; it is often more fiction than fact, full of smoke screens, saying we must take care of aboriginal people because this is important. However, the more time passes, the less we take care of them, and their claims and their importance are totally disregarded in a bill such as this one.
You know that Quebec wants to achieve autonomy. Every time one of our jurisdictions is invaded, we protest. It is the same thing for aboriginal people. They really want native self-government. What this bill says, basically, is: ``We will make tests and, from now on, the federal government will have a say on endangered species. We are stepping in. We do not need you, we are taking charge''. There have been major clashes with aboriginal people, who strongly disagree with all this.
It seems to me that, once again, the government's fiduciary relationship with aboriginal people is being weakened by the kind of legislation we have before us. Again, in this case as in many others, Quebec and the aboriginal people find themselves on the same side of the issue, in the sense that both have very serious concerns about Bill C-65. Amendments have been put forward but they have been defeated. As a result, this bill, if passed, will enable the federal government to encroach on Quebec's jurisdiction while ignoring the aboriginal communities.
For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois cannot support such a bill. We like having certain jurisdictions; we really want to hold on to them and do not want to see the federal government encroach on them. The aboriginal peoples are in the same situation as us. They
do not want the federal government go over their heads and impose a bill that does not provide for any distribution of powers.
That is just about all I had to say. For these reasons, naturally, the Bloc Quebecois will oppose Bill C-65.
Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is with emotion that I address this bill on endangered species.
As a community, we must be aware of the importance of the ecosystem. We must also realize that human beings are but one element of biodiversity, and that it is vital to ensure a balance between fauna, flora and human beings.
However, statistics show that many species are endangered. Many are already extinct, and I am quite afraid that many more will meet the same fate. This truly concerns me because, if we do not protect the fauna, the flora and all these endangered species, it will have an impact on our lives, 40 years from now, even though we may not always know all these species.
Our planet is currently losing 50 species per day. This is enormous. Given the time it took to reach this point, one might conclude that the world will end in a few thousand years, which is really soon.
So, we cannot overstate, to the international community, the importance of wildlife.
Let me go back to policy, and the bill itself. While it is important to protect endangered species, we must also do so in the appropriate manner. In Quebec, we have our own approach.
Once again, I have the feeling I am saying the same things as always: the federal government is interfering in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.
I remind the House that the former Minister of the Environment had created all kinds of working and consultative groups to come up with a bill that would make the federal government a leader in that area. The minister introduced her bill in the spring of 1995. It created an outcry, primarily among environmentalists. One of the main objections to the minister's bill had to do with the fact that the legislation would only apply to federal territories.
Environmental groups argued that only four provinces had a law on endangered species and that, consequently, the federal government should legislate for the whole country. I want to point out that Quebec has had an act on endangered species since 1989, and Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick also have legislation on this.
One year later, the current environment minister met with his provincial counterparts, in the hope of reaching an agreement in principle to harmonize protection and conservation policies on wildlife. The meeting took place in Charlottetown, on October 2, 1996. Even though he signed the agreement in principle, Mr. Cliche, Quebec's Minister for the Environment and for Wildlife, issued an independent press release, in which he said: ``We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlapping between the future federal act and the legislation which has been in effect in Quebec since 1989 and which is working very well''.
The Deputy Speaker: My colleague, you will have about seven minutes left if you wish to continue after oral question period.
It being almost 2 p.m., we will now proceed to statements by members.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS[English]
I believe that the proposed endangered species act has struck the right balance between the two objectives. The bill proves that we can integrate the needs of the economy and the needs of ecology.
The government has shown that we can both protect endangered species and still have secure jobs and healthy, growing economies.
The product of two and a half years of consultations, with many additions and changes, the endangered species act is fair, equitable and balanced. I congratulate the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who have demonstrated that working together in order to achieve common goals is always a formula for success.
* * *
To grain farmers: The Crow benefit subsidy was taken away. The reward? Grain moves even slower than before while farmers pay twice as much.
To cattlemen, who ask for nothing from government, and indeed to farmers in the west, in Ontario, in Quebec and in Atlantic Canada: You get Bill C-65, the endangered species legislation. The government legislation could impose huge costs and fines up to $1 million.
To dairymen, many of whom have supported this government: You may be forced to produce below the cost of production for six months due to a bungling of implementation dates on subsidy cuts.
On voting day I urge farmers to look beyond the nice words and to vote based on the policy and the record of each political party. If farmers do this I doubt that much of the farm vote will go to the Liberal government.
* * *[Translation]
I thank the members of my staff and my family, who were very supportive of me. I believe I have been a worthy representative of the inhabitants of Beauce both in the Parliament of Canada and elsewhere. I have tried to be consistent in the positions I have adopted and credible in the actions I have taken. As a member of Parliament, I did my best, trying always to be visible, available and accessible. Representing Beauce for 13 years has been a hectic and eventful experience, but it has also been very rewarding and uplifting.
I therefore leave with wonderful memories of my 13 years in Parliament, of all these colleagues with whom I have worked, the clerk, his team and Hill employees.
To you, Mr. Speaker, I offer my best wishes for success and good health. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of everyone here.
Vive la Beauce, le Québec, et le Canada. May God watch over us all.
* * *
The Bloc Quebecois takes exception to the treatment of the Blackfoot in this issue. This mountain is on the point of being declared a historic site. The problem is that it is located within Banff National Park, that the Blackfoot nation opposes this plan and that the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has clearly taken a position, by indicating that he was prepared to return this mountain to them as reserve land.
It is a shame that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is still turning a deaf ear to the demands of this first nation. We see this as one more stain on the already tarnished record of the government with respect to native issues.
* * *[English]
At present the Duke of Connaught's Own Regiment is participating in peacemaking and peacekeeping missions and in training reservists and cadets. Over 100 cadets meet every week and find an alternative to cruising the often dangerous streets of downtown Vancouver.
Last week I had the privilege of participating in the St. Julien's banquet where I met very proud people who contributed a lot to our country. Among them was Col. John Toogood, the honorary colonel of the regiment, who retired after 59 years in the military.
On behalf of all of us, I would like to congratulate the Duke of Connaught's Own Regiment for the work it does, and Col. Toogood for a brilliant career. I salute them.
* * *
The connection between White River and Winnie the Pooh is not well known. Fortunately, this is about to change. A group of 15 hardworking grade 8 students from St. Basil's School in White River are about to embark on a journey to England to visit the London Zoo in order to raise awareness of the real origins of this world famous bear and to take in the sights as well.
The residents of White River have rallied behind the students and have supported their ambitious fund raising efforts to make this trip possible.
I salute the students and organizers of this school trip for their determination to promote the history of their community. I wish them a very safe, enjoyable and educational voyage.
In closing, I invite all hon. members to visit the beautiful community of White River, Ontario to discover for themselves the place where the Winnie the Pooh story really began.
* * *
Over the years the Portuguese Canadian community has contributed enormously to the social and economic development of my riding of Lambton-Middlesex and to Canada as a whole. I am certain that these exemptions for visitors from Portugal will continue to nurture this relationship to the benefit of citizens of both countries.
My thanks once again to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
* * *(1405)
Last Tuesday, 95 inhabitants of a small village south of Algiers were killed by an armed group claiming to be Islamic fundamentalists. Unfortunately, this barbaric act was not the last, for we learn today that Tuesday night another 42 people, including 17 women and three babies under a year old, had their throats cut in a village 100 kilometres to the south of Algiers.
Regardless of the cause being defended, there are no words too strong to express our abhorrence of such acts of cruelty.
* * *[English]
Doing a 180-degree turnabout, the minister last week reinstated the band leadership that he rejected in 1996. Having done that, he then called Lac Barrière the most dysfunctional reserve in Canada. Meanwhile a forensic audit of Lac Barrière is still trying to account for $20 million in lost funds and there remain allegations of sexual abuse.
The minister has re-endorsed the old leadership despite the problems that developed in the community during its administration. The minister has abandoned the people in this community, which is totally disheartening for those who are trying to end the abuse, unaccountable spending and poverty at the community.
I beg the minister to do the right thing at Lac Barrière rather than what is personally convenient.
* * *[Translation]
Members of the Bloc Quebecois strongly believe that this crime against humanity must not sink into oblivion. Year after year, we want to mark this sad anniversary. In fact, the recognition of the Armenian genocide was the subject of a motion brought forward by my colleague from Ahuntsic on April 23, 1996. Unfortunately, Liberal members seemed reluctant to face the facts since they managed to water down the motion by having the notion of genocide taken out of it.
The execution and deportation of nearly two million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 was the first major genocide of this century. This day to remember the victims of the Armenian genocide reminds us of the importance of fighting against the impunity still enjoyed today by some governments.
The world community recognizes that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in 1915 yet it has not recognized this massacre as a genocide. The United Nations defines genocide as the direct physical destruction of another racial or national group.
We might well ask when will justice based on historical truth prevail.
Succeeding generations of Armenians the world over have not and never shall rest content until justice is served, nor shall any person of goodwill.
* * *
The Speaker: Please do not use our names in the House.
Ms. Torsney: Mr. Speaker, as members know, Canada is now the most trade intensive country in the G7. One in three jobs is devoted to export sales of goods and services. In manufacturing alone,60 per cent of output is exported. One Canadian export expert described this dramatic shift as the most abrupt in Canadian history and one of the most significant since World War II.
This information is well understood in Burlington, Ontario. Our economy is leading the way in the emerging innovative economy. Whether it is environment, water, robotics or information technologies, Burlington business is competitive in the global marketplace.
I am proud of my record working with Zenon, CRS, Geomatics and many other Burlington companies to help them succeed and to bring jobs to our community.
* * *
Armenians in the Turkish army were all killed. Men over 15 years of age were gathered in cities, towns and villages, roped together, marched to uninhabited locations and killed. After a few days the women and children and remaining men were marched from Anatolia to the Syrian Desert where they were left to die. On the way they were attacked by Turkish mobs.
As a result of these atrocities over 1.5 million Armenians were massacred. We must never forget these crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Turkish authorities in 1915.
I call on my fellow members of Parliament to honour the victims of the Armenian genocide. If the killing of 1.5 million Armenians is not a genocide, then I do not know what a genocide is anymore.
* * *
Recently the agriculture minister agreed to a scheduled phase out of the consumer subsidy, but now he assures dairy farmers that the $12 million agreed upon to delay the price pass through until February is off because he was ``unable to persuade his cabinet colleagues''. We could blame the minister. Once again he has failed in a commitment made to farmers. But is the problem not really greater than the minister himself?
It was the Liberals who were going to protect supply management, then they signed it away in NAFTA. It was the Liberals who were going to keep the Canadian Wheat Board, but negotiated it away at the World Trade Organization talks. It was the Liberals who were going to keep the Crow benefit, but they eliminated it 18 months after gaining government.
It is true that the minister has a fatal character flaw: his word means nothing. But hey, he is only a Liberal.
* * *
First to you, Mr. Speaker, and your deputies, I want to say how much your patience and understanding has meant to a rookie MP. To my leader and Reform colleagues, my thanks and best wishes in this coming election to those seeking another term. And thank you to my staff who have served me so well.
While I have always enjoyed the love, understanding and support of my family, it has been of great comfort to me during this term. To my wife Rosemary, daughter Sandra, son Brian, son-in-law Bradd, and grandchildren Jessica and Nicholas, my thanks for that love and understanding.
In leaving, it is my hope that I have contributed in some way to a better Canada for future generations. While we have different game plans, I am certain this is a goal we all share. I wish the best for those who will be privileged to serve in the next Parliament.
* * *[Translation]
On several occasions, the Bloc Quebecois urged the finance minister to stem the growing use of tax havens. We even made recommendations to him that would have made these tax havens less attractive.
It is with sadness that the Bloc Quebecois realizes that the Liberal finance minister would much rather cut billions in social programs and take money out of the unemployment insurance fund than eliminate tax loopholes that are very useful to him.
That is the perfect example of a finance minister who says: ``Do as I say, not as I do''.
* * *(1415)
I thank my wife and family for all they have done for me over the years. Today I want to thank all the people I have represented consecutively through nine parliaments, from the Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson down to the present; seven prime ministers in nearly 32 years as an MP. I am very grateful to all my constituents and to all those people who have worked hard on my behalf.
I love public life because it is a calling and not just a job. I love my country because it is a valued and caring institution. My thanks go out to the wonderful friends I have made over the years.
It is not what you do in life that matters, it is your purpose in life that counts. I will be working toward a continuing unified Canada as long as I live.
The Speaker: I will call you Lenny for the first time but I speak for all colleagues because after 32 years of service to your country you have made us very proud and you have done a great service to this great country and I thank you very much.
* * *
I feel privileged to have had the honour to serve the people of Nepean in this House since 1988. It is to the Nepean constituents that I have always felt the greatest responsibility and obligation. They have been my first priority as a member of Parliament.
I feel privileged to have been instrumental in moving many issues forward in this House, issues affecting women, children and health as examples. I believe I have succeeded in speaking out for the rights and freedoms of individuals. I feel privileged to have been member of a government that also upholds these ideals.
That is why I feel regret to be leaving the seat of our democracy. I wish farewell to you, my colleagues, on both sides of this House. It has been an honour to serve in Parliament along with you. While our viewpoints may have differed, I have always respected your dedication to your constituents and to the elements of democracy.
And so to my constituents, my caucus colleagues and especially to the Prime Minister and members on the other side of the House, I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as the member of Parliament for Nepean.
* * *
I want to thank all the people in my riding for their support, thoughts and input. I will never forget you.
With the calling of the election I will turn my attention to my new riding of Blackstrap. I am looking forward to the challenge of meeting the current Liberal member for Saskatoon-Dundurn in what I am calling the showdown for Saskatoon.
There is no doubt that this government has a lot to answer for in the province of Saskatchewan. Its lack of action on many issues and its heavy handed approach on many others are something we will bring before the people in the next 40 days or so. It is time to pay the piper.
We have been fortunate in this country that at least every four years or so we as Canadians can and must evaluate the record of our politicians. It is high noon. The streets are quiet. Let the showdown begin.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD(1420)
On a more serious note, yesterday, the auditor general had much to say about how the government fiddles its financial statements, but the Liberals turned a deaf ear. They preferred not to hear his comments. It is understandable that, with the elections approaching, the government would want to avoid hearing anything that might cast light on the way the Liberals have managed the public funds. As they say on the Hill, and how appropriate it is: ``When the going gets tough, the Liberals go into hiding''.
By skipping a meeting with the auditor general on the government's accounting practices, what are the Liberals trying to hide, to cover up? What are the Liberals trying to hide, when we see that the auditor general told them yesterday that their accounting practices were dubious?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has nothing to hide from the auditor general. The auditor general looked over our books and he gave us a clear statement that they were in good shape. The hon. member should be well aware that there was no reservation by the auditor general on the accounts.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr. Speaker, a statement like that is surprising, when we know that the Liberals did not want to hear it yesterday. It is a bit surprising when one knows that what the auditor general would have said, if he had the chance, is: ``I fear that the credibility of the government's financial statements and of the budget is questionable''. That is pretty clear.
The Liberals did the same thing last year. They are repeating the same dubious accounting practice of cooking the books, fiddling with the deficit, in order to look better on the eve of an election. That is what they are trying to do.
If they are repeating the same offence and continuing to thumb their collective noses at the recommendations of the auditor general, are we to conclude that the government has now acquired the habit of playing with the figures to its heart's content, ignoring the most elementary principles of accounting?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that he should read the auditor general's statements. Take a look at them.
The auditor general gave us a clean opinion on his audit statement of the government accounts.
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Leader of the Opposition, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I have read the French version, and I have read the English version; they both said the same thing. It could have been debated yesterday with our honourable colleague, if he had deigned to show up at the Public Accounts Committee, which he did not.
And the Liberals are going to seek another mandate by saying that they have managed our taxes well, while the auditor general says the opposite, that the Liberals have been manipulating the figures in order to make their financial statements look better, adding expenditures that will not even be made until after the election onto the deficit of previous years.
Let us take the example of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, which is used to hide $800 million this year. What confidence and what credibility can we have in a government which treats comments made by the auditor general in a totally flippant and irresponsible manner?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me remind the hon. member that this government is not spending today and paying for it tomorrow. It is setting up a reserve fund and that innovation fund is going to be paid out over the next little while. We have made that commitment and acknowledged that at the time we made it.
This government has not followed the example of the previous governments where we found out some years later that we had a deficit of $42 billion instead of $32 billion. We are not making commitments and then paying for them later. We are making commitments now and we are recognizing those commitments.
The auditor general has stated specifically that our books were in good order for last year.
I would ask the member about this building which he is sitting in. When was it expensed? It was expensed in the budgets of 1917 and 1918 when it was built and we have used it for the last 80 years. We are doing the same thing with the innovation fund. We are setting it up. We have made that commitment. It is there and it will be used over the next few years.
* * *[Translation]
When he left the room where the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that was supposed to be sitting late in the afternoon yesterday, the auditor general described the GST harmonization formula which, as we know, gave $1 billion to the maritimes, as a political decision. This squares exactly with what we have been saying about that formula since it was announced. It we fully apply the McKenna formula to Quebec, Ottawa owes Quebec $2 billion, which the Quebec government has been asking for, as was demonstrated in black and white in the last provincial budget.
Why is the government persisting in not treating Quebec the same way as it is treating the maritimes?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we are treating the Quebec government exactly the same way under those regulations as we are treating every other province. If the Quebec government had lost funds on the harmonization of the GST and the QST we would have compensated it. It did not lose funds.
As I said yesterday in the House, the Quebec government accounts show clearly that the numbers went from $5.1 billion to $5.4 billion to around $6 billion. That represents an increase every year since harmonization. It has not cost Quebec any funds at all. The Quebec accounts show that.
Mr. Roger Pomerleau (Anjou-Rivière-des-Prairies, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Mr. McKenna was at the Château Champlain, in Montreal, at 12.30 p.m. today, no doubt in order to praise the merits of his province in the taxation area and thus rob us of our businesses and our jobs.
Does the government find it normal that the premier of a province should use some of the money paid by Quebecers to come and draw Quebec's businesses away, businesses that Montreal needs so badly to counter poverty?
Hon. Douglas Peters (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question should be addressed to the premier of the province he has indicated. It is not the policies of the Government of Canada he has complained about but the policies of the province of New Brunswick. If he has problems with the provincial politics I suggest he bring those up in provincial parliaments.
* * *
For example, on the cover of their pre-election brochure they feature six young children. I wonder if this means the government plans to reannounce its national day care program, the one it promised it would bring about last time but failed to deliver. Maybe these kids are some of the hundreds of thousands from families that have been driven from the middle to the low income bracket because of this government. Maybe they are supposed to represent the $20,000 per head of debt that men, women and children bear because of Liberal-Tory overspending.
Which one of these policies is the government planning to run on? Which policy will the Liberals bring before the Canadian people in the upcoming election?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as we have found over the years, the selective reading habits of the Reform Party did not permit the hon. member to take a look at what is probably one of the most significant initiatives taken on behalf of children in the last decade, the announcement of a major investment in a child benefit that will ensure that every child in a low income family will receive a guaranteed benefit from the Government of Canada.
It provides a basic income flow for poor children in this country. It will put income into the hands of their parents so their parents can make the best choices about their education, their nutrition, and so on. That is the Liberal way of doing things, giving choice to people to help their children. That is the real issue.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, by the government's own account, over a million children live in poverty in this country. There is no national day care program after the government promised it.
I am looking through the Liberal list of achievements page to see where it says that the Liberals fulfilled their promise on the GST, but it is strangely absent. I am looking for the section on national unity, but I cannot find it. Could that be because the government came within 50,000 votes of losing the country?
What about health care? It speaks about $300 million in a new health care initiative, but it does not mention, for some reason, that it has cut $7.5 billion.
Is the government planning to hoodwink Canadians once again, just like it did in 1993, or is my brochure missing some pages?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I find it exceedingly bizarre that the hon. member, while he seems to be poring over the literature of the government with a microscope, totally ignores the literature of his own party.
The last so-called Reform budget was going to totally decimate the entire pension plan of Canadians. It was going to reduce payments to the disabled, children and low income families. It was going to totally and completely rewrite the social structure to give tax breaks to high income earners and higher taxes to the low income earners.
I would suggest the hon. member change his reading habits.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is the only party that has a plan to save the Canada pension plan.
The chairman of the committee on the government side who comes from Winnipeg said that in 15 years the Canada pension plan will be in trouble because of the government's initiative. Is it any wonder when Liberal MPs secured their own MP pension that they are not concerned about Canadians' pensions?
The government cannot run away from its record. Look at the GST promise, the day care promise, the NAFTA promise. There have been 37 tax increases. The country has the worst jobless record since the great depression. Look at Somalia, Airbus, the Krever and the Pearson scandals.
After that pathetic record of incompetence and duplicity why should Canadians trust the government for another four years?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of having served as a member of this government. First, it has been able to restore the confidence and trust of Canadians in government. That is something the Reform Party has never, in its wildest dreams, had the notion of doing.
Second, unemployment has been brought down from the high levels it was at in 1993. More than 750,000 jobs have been created.
Interest rates have been brought down to a 30 year low.
We have restructured government and restructured the finances of the country which has given us a platform from which to launch into the new century.
We approach these issues with pragmatism and reality, not with ideology and rhetoric, which seems to be the only stock in trade of the hon. member.
* * *[Translation]
Canadian Airlines is still having problems despite the assistance provided by the federal government. If the company cannot sell Inter-Canadian, it will shut down operations in Quebec in less than five weeks, killing 500 jobs.
What is the federal government going to do about this potential closure, after agreeing in the last few months to postpone the last payment on the $120 million loan it extended to Canadian in 1992, and after granting Canadian last February a reduction in fuel taxes of $20 million a year over the next four years.
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the situation with respect to the regional subsidiary of Canadian Airlines is fairly straightforward. The company has proposed selling the airline. This happened only a few days ago. There is, I believe, at least a 16-week period before there would be developments that would involve the government.
At the present time it is simply a private company offering to sell a company which has frequently been sold. It was once known as Quebec Air. It has frequently been purchased by other companies.
It appears to be a normal readjustment within the airline industry where one company might move from ownership of one group to ownership of another. At the present time there is no cause for the government to step in.
Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, are we to understand from the minister's comments that all Quebec taxpayers are good for is to pay tens of millions of dollars that the federal government then gives to Canadian, and that they do not
have the right to say anything when this company shuts down its operations in Quebec two months later?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the hon. member, this is a private offer of a Canadian company to the market generally. It is not a question of taxpayers' money being involved.
The hon. member seems to be under the misapprehension that Canadian is owned by the Canadian government. It is not. Canadian Airlines is a private corporation.
* * *
It is a little bit like the corn flakes commercial. I think Liberals are going to run on ``try me again for the first time'' to see if maybe people will buy it. I do not think the people are going to buy $24 billion in tax increases since the government took power, another $110 billion added to the $500 and some billion national debt and 1.4 million unemployed. With a shameful economic record like that I wonder what the Liberals are going to run on.
The government should not be going cap in hand asking for the votes of the electorate. It should be going cap in hand apologizing to the electorate. What possible reason could the government use for going to the people at this time in a federal election?
An hon. member: We want to get rid of the Reform Party.
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is trying to use the metaphor of a cereal box, which I am very glad he has the time to spend reading in comparison to his hon. colleague, I would suggest that the appropriate variation for the Reform Party would be crack, pop and fizzle.
Mr. Speaker, I said crack, pop not crackpot. I just want to make that clear.
The hon. member is the one who seems to be getting all agitated about an election. It was his party that rushed out to get its platform before the people. It is his leader who has been campaigning across the country. It is his members who are standing up in an apologetic fashion declaring their mea culpas to their constituents.
We are here governing. We want to make sure that the country is in good hands and continues to be in good hands. If and when and how the election is called, we fully expect to have the mandate to continue as the government.
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, maybe their idea of governing is that a goody a day will get the voter to play. I am not sure whether they will get away with it.
When the Liberals announce their platform I can see it now: The theme music from Mission Impossible coming on the screen as the son of red book gets trotted out and they try once again to make believe that this time they really, really mean it.
Are they going to try to defend the actions of some of their ministers, while if their outspoken backbenchers speak out they get kicked out of the party? Will they defend that? Will they talk about the huge MP pension plan? Will they talk about the Somalia inquiry? Will they talk about the Pearson airport deal? Maybe the Airbus pay-off, I wonder if that is what they will talk about. Maybe it will be free trade. I think it is going to be long term, stable funding for the CBC.
This is a comedy from Air Farce. Surely they cannot be running on this. In this literature the Liberals are saying that Canadians are in good hands. Well, good hands my foot. Why would Canadians vote for four more years of this kind of a government?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about the observation he makes of members on the government side. If he took a look around him it would look like the retreat from Moscow. Never have we seen such a bedraggled group of people in total surrender and defeat, pulling themselves back with all the resignations and all the evictions.
We have declared a new party called independent members made up of the rejects from the Reform Party that their hon. leader has thrown out.
I would hope that at some point during this question period that the Reform Party might, in its last gasp here in the House, get down to some serious questions about the issues at stake, the great matters really affecting public policy and get off their platform.
* * *(1440)
On March 31, the federal government stopped its financial contribution to the Quebec agricultural day haul transportation assistance program. So, this year, the government of Quebec will have to finance all by itself the program, which will be cut by 40
per cent, or $330,000, because of the federal government's withdrawal.
Since this successful program provides vital transportation services for some 150,000 person-days a year in Quebec, why is the minister reluctant to renew the federal government's financial contribution?
Mr. Robert D. Nault (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is always interesting to hear members opposite talk about jurisdiction.
This is very much a provincial jurisdiction. The Government of Quebec and members opposite have asked us to withdraw from areas of provincial jurisdiction and that is what we are doing.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, for the hon. member's information, I would like to point out that it was a federal-provincial agreement and not a question of the federal government taking over from the province. An agreement is usually reached because we want to do business together.
The federal government had already reduced its financial contribution from 50 per cent to 40 per cent, and now it is down to nothing.
Does the minister realize that his refusal to maintain the federal contribution to this program will mostly affect small farmers trying to recruit help and thousands of low-income seasonal workers?
Mr. Robert D. Nault (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yes, we are aware of that. It is why we have made an offer to the provincial government and the farming community as a whole. Human Resources Development is very interested in looking at proposals for doing this in a different way than it has been done in the past.
Once the proposal is put to us, we will look at the issue and a way of delivering it in a different fashion than it was delivered in the past because that entered into provincial jurisdiction which is against the policy of the party opposite.
* * *
If all the Liberal hacks in patronage positions are so good, why are the Canadian taxpayers shelling out $50,000 for VIA Rail's president to take an eight-week course at Harvard?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail is a crown corporation for which I am responsible for reporting to the House. I do not have a day to day responsibility for vetting every decision taken by VIA Rail. The hon. member has made an assertion which may or may not be correct, I do not know. I am quite willing to look into it for him, find out and report back to him.
I would suggest that a party which constantly has supported the private sector and the concept of government getting out of active involvement in commercial operations should think twice before it encourages ministers to take day to day control of crown corporations or private companies.
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay West-Revelstoke, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, what I encourage the minister to do is privatize VIA Rail.
Given that VIA Rail is subsidized in the amount of $600,000 a day, $50,000 might not seem like much money to the Prime Minister, his finance minister or the Minister of Transport. However it represents a four-year degree for a Canadian student who cannot afford an education because the Liberals cut education funding by 40 per cent.
Can the Prime Minister or anyone else explain why Liberal patronage hacks get $50,000 for an eight-week Ivy League course while thousands of Canadian students cannot afford an education because of Liberal cuts.
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I answered this question the first time around by saying that I, as minister responsible for reporting to the House for VIA, do not take every decision of $50,000 or more for the railroad, nor in fact does the Prime Minister.
We have a crown corporation operating at arm's length from the government whose annual plan is reported through me to the House. We do not follow every decision prior to it being made.
I will repeat what I have agreed to do, for the hon. member. I will ask VIA for the details surrounding the assertion of the hon. member to find out whether it is correct. Most assertions from his party are incorrect. If it is correct, I will bring information to him about it and whether there is justification for it.
I cannot expect to answer every $50,000 decision of a corporation, which he admits has at least a $600,000 daily support from the state.
Last Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us that he intended to contact his Egyptian counterpart within a day or two to take urgent action to have Mrs. Robitaille's eldest child, who is seriously ill, brought back to Canada.
Can the minister inform us of the outcome of the discussions with his Egyptian counterpart to bring back the Robitaille children who are still being held in Egypt?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, a conversation could not be arranged for now. I have signed a letter to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs. I will continue to try to contact him directly, personally, to share with him the great concern of the Canadian government.
Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we conclude then that the discussion has not been held yet.
I remind the minister that Egypt is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and, as such, has obligations to meet.
Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us if he will invoke the Convention on the Rights of the Child with his Egyptian counterpart to convince him to send back to Canada the eldest Robitaille child, who is seriously ill?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, certainly the responsibilities under the convention are setting a mandate but they do not have a legal, binding obligation. That is the difficulty.
Within a matter of a day or two we will be engaged in finishing our negotiations with the Egyptian government on a new consular agreement. This would substantially enhance our ability to make representations on behalf of the Robitaille children.
I understand the frustrations. I feel them as well, but we have to pursue it through the venues of the international forums we have. I will keep the hon. member fully informed of each step along the way.
* * *[Translation]
For several weeks now, people in eastern Ontario have shown in different ways their total opposition to the closure of Montfort Hospital.
Since the federal government has assumed the mandate to speak for linguistic minority rights everywhere in Canada, could the minister tell the House what the position of the government is, regarding the closure of Montfort Hospital?
Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the position of the government is that linguistic minorities all across Canada should not only be entitled to basic services in their own language but should also have the right to control as many institutions as possible which are essential to any community, such as schools, colleges, hospitals, co-operatives.
Like some of my colleagues, I informed the Government of Ontario of my position on the proposed closure of Montfort Hospital the very first day it was announced. As Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I will keep asking the Government of Ontario to take into consideration the serious consequences for the Franco-Ontarian community of the closure of the only French language hospital in Ottawa.
Premier Harris has proven to be a great Canadian by giving francophones of Ontario control over their schools. I do hope that he will be guided by the same principles in the case of Montfort, the only French language teaching hospital in Ontario.
* * *(1450)
Thanks to the justice minister and Bill C-41, this young offender can be paroled after serving a mere 10 years. That is the Liberal record of getting tough on crime.
My question is for the justice minister. Why send young killers into adult court for adult sentencing when adult penalties do not apply?
Mr. Gordon Kirkby (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.
As he is aware, a decision was recently rendered by the court of appeal. As an appeal could still be possible it would not be appropriate to comment on it.
The record of the government and the minister is very clear. There have been more effective changes to the Criminal Code to toughen it up, changes to toughen up the young offenders law, changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and changes to help victims, than have been made in the history of the nation by any single parliament. That is something we are very proud of.
Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, how in the world could the parliamentary secretary claim they are getting tough on crime when they change the law so that it does not really make any difference if a young killer is transferred from young offenders into adult court? It simply does not make sense.
Nevertheless I have a supplementary question. This 17-year old killer was convicted in 1992, two years before Bill C-41 was passed. This offender was granted the benefit of a law passed retroactively. Yet the justice minister claimed Bill C-45 could not be applied to Clifford Olson because of the principle of retroactivity.
Why does retroactivity apply to killers only when it is in their favour?
Mr. Gordon Kirkby (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, the government has brought forward many effective measures to improve efficiency and effectiveness. It has taken many measures to improve the criminal law. It is far more effective, efficient and legal than that contained in the Reform platform, Operation Crime Spank or whatever it is called.
We have worked with the provinces, victims groups, police organizations, many other groups and individuals across the country to improve the criminal law. When it comes to the criminal law the Reform Party reminds me of proud parents watching 10,000 marching soldiers and noting with pride that their son is the only one in step.
* * *[Translation]
The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has refused to grant a visitor's visa to Vedran Smailovic, the world renowned cellist from Sarajevo. Immigration officials rejected Mr. Smailovic's request for a visa because he does not have a valid reason to visit Canada, although he has been invited to come by a journalist to co-author a children's book.
Why is Immigration Canada refusing admission to this country to Vedran Smailovich, a man of peace?
Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the member for Bourassa has not yet understood our immigration laws since 1993, we have a serious problem here. He is fully aware that the Privacy Act prohibits any public discussion of a particular case.
Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ): The minister has discretionary powers in this matter, but this is not all. Canadians and Quebecers will judge this government harshly because of its discriminatory policy regarding visas.
Mr. Smailovic has visited several countries and has never sought asylum there. He has undertaken to not do so when he comes to Canada. Will the minister reconsider and grant a visa to Mr. Smailovic?
Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again, I will set the member for Bourassa straight. The minister has no discretionary powers to publicly reveal private information. Therefore, I shall not discuss this case in public.
* * *(1455)
What possible rationale can he give for announcing that the consumer subsidy phase out would start August 1 rather February 1, 1998?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the provision the hon. gentleman is referring to was contained in the 1996 budget. Since the budget has been in the public domain and subject to public discussion, dairy producers and dairy processors have made the argument, which has behind it some considerable force of logic, that it would be more convenient and more economically efficient in our dairy system to consider any appropriate price changes at the beginning of February, not on January 1 but on February 1 as opposed to August 1 which has been the tradition over a number of years.
The recommendation of both the processors and producers is under active consideration by the government. As soon as we are in a position to confirm the appropriate arrangements we will make them public.
Given the tenor and tone of the hon. gentlemen's question, I welcome his very strong endorsement of supply management.
Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, obviously the minister did not pick up on my tenor and tone very well.
As I am sure he already knows, producers have agreed to forgo a 2.1 per cent increase in the price of milk which amounts to a $40 million saving to Canadian consumers. I am not talking about an endorsement of supply management but about keeping up his end of the deal.
Will the minister agree to do that today? A lot of dairy producers would like to see him keep up his end of the deal.
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the arrangements with respect to the phasing down of the dairy subsidy over a number of years is a matter that involves considerable technical consideration. It is not the sort of proposition that is just scribbled down on the back of an envelope.
Accordingly I have had lengthy discussions with the dairy industry. I am scheduled to meet with the dairy farmers of Canada again later this afternoon. There is a good spirit of positive co-operation in trying to find the appropriate mechanism that will accomplish the objective both dairy farmers and dairy processors have in mind.
May I say that I am sorry to hear the hon. member renege on his support for supply management.
* * *
I am pleased the government signed an agreement with the Government of Quebec to help in active employment measures and programs to help the unemployed re-enter the job market.
My question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. I need a clarification with respect to the availability and acceptability of these programs for the English speaking community. Just how are they to be protected and access ensured under the provisions of the Quebec-Canada accord and the new management policy?
Mr. Robert D. Nault (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of honour and pride that I stand here today to report to the hon. member that this government and this party continue in their unwaivering support of the minority language rights of Canadians.
All five agreements we have culminated so far with the provinces in the labour market field have extended the language minority rights of individuals in those provinces.
In the case of Quebec we have the same agreement as we do with other provinces. Those rights will be protected. The English speaking minority in Quebec will be able to get the same services in English as those outside Quebec will get in French.
* * *(1500 )
Given what I know of what the Minister of Health repeatedly said in previous Parliaments about the undesirability of the 20 year patent protection, I ask him what he is prepared to do about the situation. Is he not disappointed in the committee's report? Is he prepared to say at this time, if the government is not prepared to condemn the committee's conclusions, that the Liberals have finally, clearly, absolutely and truly broken their promise to the Canadian people with respect to Bill C-91?
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, not wanting to concur with the preamble of the hon. member's question, the government has just received a copy of the report on Bill C-91. Ministers will have an opportunity to examine it at a subsequent stage.
Notwithstanding the member's strong intervention, the Minister of Industry and I have given the view of the government as it relates to the 20 year patent and, in particular, our international obligations. I think that is clear to the country. I think it is clear to various health groups. It is certainly clear to provincial governments, notwithstanding whatever political mischief they may wish to engage in on this issue.
* * *[Translation]
The Canadian Wildlife Service just announced, in Montmagny, that it will not issue scaring and hunting permits for snow geese in 1997, even though it did last year, to everyone's satisfaction.
Why does the minister persist in refusing to issue hunting permits, given that this measure considerably reduces damage to farm producers without endangering the species?
Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
A hunt under the migratory birds convention is simply illegal because the American Congress has not yet ratified the amendments to that convention. In terms of any hunt, we have to wait, hopefully sooner rather than later, for Congress to ratify the amendments to the convention.
A few days ago we announced that last year there was a limited kill but it was not a successful program. The birds were to be left on the ground to scare the other birds. What happened was the birds were not left on the ground and, therefore, none got scared.
This year we adjusted the arrangements. There are three fields which will hopefully attract those birds as they migrate from the south to the north in the hopes that the farmers' areas will not be afflicted as they have been in the past.
It has the support of the round table of interest. It is the overwhelming consensus. Clearly we should listen to local interests in trying this method because last year the system did not work as well as we would have hoped. Then we can, obviously, at the end of the migration period review the situation for next year.
* * *
At the end of last month, three and a half years after the Liberals took office, 173,000 Atlantic Canadians were unemployed according to Statistics Canada, an increase of 29,000 unemployed, or 20 per cent.
What does the Prime Minister have to say to these jobless Atlantic Canadians about this dismal record?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what we have to say is that there is still a very significant task ahead of this country in providing opportunities for people to work.
The most important way is to ensure the country is strong economically. That has been demonstrated by the way growth is now taking place at 3.5 per cent a year by our predictions, by the fact that we now have very low interest rates, by the fact that we have now restructured government so we can target where the most available growth prospects are.
The reality is we inherited a mess from the previous government. We inherited a substantial and huge problem. We have been working very hard to bring it down and I think Canadians are just now on the verge of getting the benefit of that restructuring and that modernization. We just need another four years to complete the task.
* * *[Translation]
In case Aline Chrétien decided to ask her husband to do the spring cleaning at 24 Sussex Drive, instead of calling an election, I will ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House to tell us what is on the agenda for next week.
Mr. Paul Zed (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, our program for April was generally laid out for us in the business statement of March 20, and we shall continue in the remaining days of April to work on this program in a manner determined by consultation through the usual channels.
It is fair to say that this process has worked very well. It is appropriate to thank the hon. members opposite as well as members on this side of the House for their high level of co-operation which has been forthcoming in managing an extremely busy agenda.
I wish to mention the constructive role that has been played by all members, in particular the members of the Reform and the Bloc and the hon. member for Lethbridge who has demonstrated to all of us that there is a difference between opposing and obstructing.
Perhaps more important, the hon. member for Lethbridge has shown us clearly that being an effective adversary does not make one a personal enemy. He has brought a dignity and a maturity to the proceedings of the House that all of us should take as an example.
Mr. Sauvageau: Mr. Speaker, I have just received a petition from the clerk of petitions. I know this may well be my last opportunity to table it. Unfortunately, this petition does not quite meet the requirements of this House.
I ask for unanimous consent to table this petition in this House, nonetheless.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the hon. member for Terrebonne have the consent of the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean had seven minutes remaining in debate.
Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean): Mr. Speaker, this is probably my last speech of this 35th Parliament. It went by very fast. It was very little time indeed, compared to all my hon. colleagues.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents in the federal electoral district of Lac-Saint-Jean. As I said in my maiden speech, they have put their trust in me. They were not sure, in fact there was some controversy about it, whether they should put their trust in someone who did not have any experience in politics, wondering if it would lead to disaster if the riding of Lac-Saint-Jean was represented by a young, inexperienced person.
A year later, I am pleased to note that we can trust our young people, notwithstanding their lack of experience. I think things have gone rather smoothly this past year.
I did not have time to bring certain projects to full fruition, including Opération Maillage, a networking operation designed to bring together persons with different skills. It will probably not get under way before the election, but after, and I am very pleased because we will have successfully developed a new concept in Alma. People who have an idea for business, an entrepreneurial potential, and those who are looking for a business partner could get together and share their respective skills. Small businesses should emerge, that will create jobs.
Second, we will recall that, on the evening of December 29, as an elected member faced with a problem, I called a public meeting and I said: ``You must take an active part, not only by paying your taxes and going to the polls every four years, but also by getting your ideas across''.
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. I have put my trust in the people, and they have come up with solutions: a dozen policy thrusts we have been working on since January. People came up with a number of concrete proposals. I am delighted with what is happening in my riding.
Finally, it was a pleasure to work with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, and I hope I will be able to continue to do so during a subsequent term. We hope so, and it is very likely we will, because we intend to run this campaign with a lot of determination.
Sometimes people ask me: ``Do you really want to start campaigning again after just one year?'' I think it is wonderful for an elected representative to get back on the campaign trail just a year after being elected. During your first campaign, you are not too sure how everything works, but now, a year later, when I go back to my constituents, I will be able to tell them first hand about what happens in the House of Commons.
I wanted to make this little aside since this will be my last speech in this 35th Parliament. I must say it was a wonderful experience, and I hope I will be able to repeat it in the years to come.
Now, back to Bill C-65. I started my speech before oral question period and had to stop because of lack of time. I had started on my general comments, the reasons we more or less agreed or did not agree at all with the bill.
Bill C-65 directly threatens areas under provincial jurisdiction. In fact, the Liberal government is using the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Biological Diversity as an excuse to encroach on areas under provincial jurisdiction.
This comes as no surprise. It is the usual duplication story. Expertise has been developed in the provinces, including Quebec, where we already have legislation to protect biodiversity, legislation that goes back to 1989. The provinces had the expertise. They knew the field. Everything was fine. However, the federal government is now intruding on these jurisdictions. In fact, there is something in the Constitution about this, but unfortunately, they want the prestige. They want this federal institution to have some prestige.
Actually, I find it hard to explain. Perhaps our colleagues opposite could explain the purpose of this intrusion, but I do not understand it at all.
Furthermore, Bill C-65 respects neither division of powers provided under the Constitution nor its traditional interpretation, because it is based on a much broader interpretation of the definition of federal territory and because the government does not respect the joint constitutional responsibility it shares with the
provinces with respect to certain species. This is in line with what I said earlier.
Third, Bill C-65 gives the Minister of the Environment broad discretionary powers, including that of appointing the members of COSEWIC, listing species identified as threatened or endangered by COSEWIC and implementing recovery plans.
The same problem arises on the subject of interference in jurisdictions. The bill provides that the minister will have broad discretionary powers, including with respect to decisions on appointments to COSEWIC. It reminds me of a lot of other bills. When a committee is to be struck, it is always the minister who gets to appoint his buddies. I listened to my colleague from Frontenac speaking on this earlier. The situation is an unfortunate one because the little Liberal family will remain cloistered, not really open to the public. They appoint their buddies, their pals, to pay off their debts.
I could go on at length because this really bothers me. What about all the Liberal candidates who were defeated in the 1993 elections? I think some 40 of them are now working in the Canadian public service, simply because they had good contacts, they did the party a favour and are being paid back. That is democracy for you.
This is all the time I have. I therefore wish you a fine election, Mr. Speaker. I hope to see you in September.
The Deputy Speaker: That is too kind. The hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead on a point of order.
Mr. Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead): Mr. Speaker, could you determine whether or not we have a quorum?
The Deputy Speaker: No, we do not have a quorum. Call in the members.
And the count having been taken:
The Speaker: We have a quorum. Debate.
Mr. Francis G. LeBlanc (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe if you seek it you will find consent for the following:
That all motions at report stage of Bill C-65 be deemed to have been put and a recorded division requested and deferred once debate is completed for each grouping.The Speaker: My colleague, let me understand. This morning we had a motion, by unanimous consent, that all motions were to be deemed to be moved and seconded. Do I understand the hon. member correctly that he is adding something to that? Is there a word in there that I have missed? They are deemed to be moved and seconded.
Mr. LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso): Mr. Speaker, you will have to bear with me. I am following instructions. They have been deemed to have been put and a recorded division requested and deferred once debate is completed for each of the groupings.
The Speaker: I understand. Does the hon. member have the permission of the House to put the motion?
Mr. Laurin: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question. We might agree to the motion being moved, depending on its content. But I believe that in the motion, my hon. colleague is asking that the motions be deemed moved and the divisions deferred.
If the divisions are deferred, to when will they be deferred? If it is later today, that is one thing, but if it is Monday, that is altogether different. I would like the motion to specify when the divisions will be deferred to and then we will see if we can support it.
The Speaker: To answer your question, dear colleague, usually all divisions are deferred to the end of the debate. If this is today, fine, if it is another day, this is fine too. Usually, it is at the end of the debate. Does this answer your question?
Mr. Laurin: Mr. Speaker, in that case, I believe my colleague's motion is useless. He moved that the divisions be deferred. When the debate ends, we will ask that the divisions be deferred. Does this motion still serve any purpose then?
The Speaker: My dear colleague, it is not up to the chair to decide when the debate will end, it is up to the House.
Mr. Laurin: We could ask my colleague.
The Speaker: We will put the question to our colleague and we will see if he has an answer.
Mr. Keyes: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Just for clarification for the House and the Bloc members opposite, what we are trying to do here is precisely what we have done in the past, with Bill C-44 for example. We can speed up debate on this particular issue, but at the same time group these amendments so that these amendments can be dealt with at the end, rather than individually throughout the whole period. We are speeding up debate so that everyone will have a chance to speak and then we are grouping these at the end of the day so that we can deal with them at once at the end.
The Speaker: I would put a question to the hon. member for Cape Breton-Highlands-Canso. Do you, my colleague, want to put it to a specific time? I think that is what the question is. If you could indicate this to me, we could get this straightened out.
Mr. LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands-Canso): Mr. Speaker, my understanding is it is until the next sitting day. Does that make sense to you?
The Speaker: At the next sitting of the House.
Mr. Laurin: If the motion moved by my colleague means that he wants to defer to the next sitting, then we support it.
The Speaker: Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion?
Mr. Bernier (Gaspé): To be even clearer, I understand that we have to vote, but the final vote can be deferred, this is fine. I still would like to understand the motion moved by the member for Cape Breton Highlands-Canso.
There are five groups of motions. Does this mean that the divisions on Group No. 1, Group No. 2, Group No. 3, Group No. 4 and Group No. 5 will only take place at the end? There will be no need to have five members rise to ask they be put to the vote.
Mr. Laurin: That is right. They will all be deferred to Monday.
Mr. Keyes: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct. We will move all those to the end of today when the Speaker will call for the bells to ring and then at that point we will defer the vote until Monday.
The Speaker: Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Speaker: You understand the terms of the motion. Do you agree to the terms of the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
The Speaker: Before we get into debate, I must take a point of privilege from the hon. member for Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
* * *
First correction, it was not a householder. It was a 10 percenter. However, there is a mystery involved here. I demand that there be some attempt to solve this mystery.
There were only two places where that 10 percenters existed yesterday on the Hill. One of them was in my office and the other was in boxes in the post office on the first floor of the West Block.
It may be just a coincidence that the member for North Vancouver has an office right next door to the post office and somehow obtained a copy of that publication.
The Speaker: I do not want to bog the House down in technicalities, but did the hon. member notify me prior to this that he would be raising a question of privilege?
Mr. Dromisky: Yes, I sent you a note, Mr. Speaker.
The Speaker: I understand there is a mystery here. I will tell you what, to the extent that I can I will look into this mystery. I will try to get the information and return with this information to the House. Is that agreeable to the hon. member?
Mr. Dromisky: That is agreeable, Mr. Speaker.
* * *[English]
(Divisions deemed requested and deemed deferred.)
The Speaker: The question of privilege always takes precedence. That is why I did what I did.
Pursuant to an agreement made earlier, all motions in GroupNo. 2 are deemed proposed and seconded.
Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ) moved:
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-65, in Clause Preamble, be amended by replacing lines 27 and 28 on page 1 with the following:
``levels of government in this country and that under the National Agreement on the Protection of Endangered Species it is essential for them to work together to''
Motion No. 16
That Bill C-65, in Clause 3.1, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 13 on page 6 with the following:
``3.1 Where a provincial minister advises the Minister that the government of the province does not wish a provision of this Act or a regulation made thereunder to apply in the province in respect of wildlife species and their habitats in so far as individuals of those species are found on lands in the province that are not federal lands, that provision or regulation, as the case may be, shall not apply to those species and their habitats until such time as the provincial minister consents to its application to those species and their habitats.''
Motion No. 21
That Bill C-65, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 28 and 29 on page 7 with the following:
``disparition des espèces sauvages et à per-''
Motion No. 24
That Bill C-65, in Clause 7, be amended by adding after line 33 on page 8 the following:
``(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), no responsible minister may enter into an agreement under that subsection with an organization or person in a province unless the minister advises the provincial minister of that province of the responsible minister's intention to enter into the agreement with the organization or person, as the case may be, and the provincial minister informs the responsible minister that the government of the province does not object to the responsible minister entering into such an agreement with that organization or person.''
Motion No. 26
That Bill C-65, in Clause 8, be amended by adding after line 10 on page 9 the following:
``(1.1) Notwithstanding subsection (1), no responsible minister may enter into an agreement under that subsection with an organization or person in a province unless the minister advises the provincial minister of that province of the responsible minister's intention to enter into the agreement with the organization or person, as the case may be, and the provincial minister informs the responsible minister that the government of the province does not object to the responsible minister entering into such an agreement with that organization or person. ''
Motion No. 34
That Bill C-65, in Clause 20, be amended by replacing line 15 on page 13 with the following:
``tion of COSEWIC and with the approval of the Council, make regulations estab-''
Motion No. 35
That Bill C-65, in Clause 26, be amended by replacing line 2 on page 15 with the following:
``COSEWIC and with the approval of the Council, may restrict the release of any''
Motion No. 44
That Bill C-65, in Clause 33, be amended by adding after line 24 on page 16 the following:
``(1.1) Where a provincial minister advises the Minister that the government of the province does not wish subsection (1) to apply in the province in respect of a wildlife animal species in so far as individuals of the species are found on lands in the province that are not federal lands, this subsection shall not apply to the species until such time as the provincial minister consents to its application to the species.''
Motion No. 49
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by (a) replacing line 1 on page 21 with the following:
``38.(1) With the assistance of the Council, the responsible minister must''
(b) by replacing line 9 on page 21 with the following:
``recovery plan together, with the assistance of the Council.''
Motion No. 55
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 34 on page 21 with the following:
``advice of COSEWIC and with the assistance of the Council, must determine wheth-''
Motion No. 64
That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 2 on page 23 with the following:
``recovery plan, the responsible minister, with the assistance of the Council, must''Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake, NDP) moved:
Motion No. 15
That Bill C-65, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing lines 39 to 41 on page 5 with the following:
``habitats.''Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister of the Environment, Lib.) moved:
Motion No. 17
That Bill C-65, in Clause 3.1, be amended
(a) by replacing line 3 on page 6 with the following:
``42 or 45.1 apply in respect of wildlife species and''
(b) by replacing lines 8 and 9 on page 6 with the following:
``habitats mentioned in paragraph 3(a) or (b) or section 33;''
Motion No. 45
That Bill C-65, in Clause 33, be amended by replacing line 33 on page 16 with the following:
``equivalent provision. Despite the order, subsection (1) continues to apply on federal land.''
Motion No. 74
That Bill C-65, in Clause 46, be amended by replacing lines 21 to 25 on page 25 with the following:
``activity affecting a listed species, its residences or any other part of its critical habitat.''
Motion No. 81
That Bill C-65, in Clause 49, be amended by replacing line 16 on page 27 with the following:
``(b) in the case of a project outside Canada, its continental shelf and its exclusive economic zone,''Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo-Chilcotin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this second round of debate on the amendments.
This bill is one which presents a topic that most Canadians are in support of, the protection of endangered species. However, this bill as it is crafted creates many problems, problems for land owners and users, problems for those who have a sincere concern for those endangered species, because it not only threatens the land owners and the users and people who enjoy that land, it is also an endangerment to the species that are threatened themselves.
This is a bill that clearly has not been carefully thought through. I would like to begin by reading a short statement from Mr. Jack Munro, chairman of the Forest Alliance of British Columbia. He says: ``Firstly, you have an approach in this bill that does not pay nearly enough attention to social and economic impacts. I am not suggesting that the protection of threatened species is not worth paying a price, but I am saying that we should assess that price and be sure that we come up with a fair way of deciding who pays. The furthest this bill goes is the reference in clause 38 to the need for an evaluation of costs and benefits of research and management activities. Presumably that includes social and economic costs such as lost jobs if timber harvest is no longer allowed in a particular area. But where something as crucial as people's jobs and way of life is concerned, we should not have to presume anything. The government should have to do much more than merely a general evaluation of costs and benefits''.
In my mind the great difficulty of this bill is the lack of thought that has been put into it. Unfortunately the Minister of the Environment has not given any thought to how much Bill C-65 would cost land owners and taxpayers as a whole. When asked at a committee meeting in February what cost he would be willing to impose on an individual or society, the environment minister replied: ``I have not thought of that threshold''.
No wonder Canadians are worried about the impact this legislation will have on their lives. The minister responsible for Bill C-65 has not even considered their needs. He has not even taken time to think through the possibility that Bill C-65 may have enormous negative effects on the lives of Canadians, as well as the economic effect on our nation as a whole. This kind of tunnel vision is characteristic of this government as it attempts to legislate for the benefit of one special interest group after another, without keeping in mind the Canadian people as a whole and their needs and the benefits that they deserve and the enjoyment that they are entitled to.
There is a flavour of the legislation from so many areas that this government presents that is of deep concern to me. I am concerned about a general attitude of moving responsibility of matters from the House, from Parliament, to the cabinet table with the increasing amount of discretion that is built into legislation for ministers and avoiding accountability to Parliament, to the elected representatives of the people.
What I have just outlined are several flaws in this endangered species legislation, Bill C-65. For these reasons Reformers, while we are favour of the protection of these endangered species, cannot support this bill. It needs to be changed. It has to be changed to receive the support of the Canadian people. This bill needs to be entirely rewritten. It needs to go beyond the interests of special interest groups and their agendas.
Therefore Reform has put before this House 42 amendments to Bill C-65. These amendments would require the minister to consider the social and economic impacts prior to recommending what action should be taken regarding endangered species. The government should ensure fair compensation to land owners and users. The government should ensure co-operation by all those who are concerned and there should be a commitment most of all to the preservation of endangered species. That certainly is not in this bill.
There is a threat to land owners and users who make their living and derive their income from these sources. If they are told that their land may be subject to being cut off or protected for an endangered species and their economic benefits may be taken away from them, what would be their reaction? The ranchers and the land owners have said the reaction would be simply to plough under, to destroy, to get rid of it so the threat would be taken away.
That is not what we are trying to achieve. What we are looking for is a legitimate and fair means of protecting the endangered species of this country.
I encourage the House to pass these constructive, fair and even handed amendments which the Reform Party has brought to Bill C-65.
To state it briefly, we have three things in mind. We might consider them the three Cs for the endangered species. The first is there should be a commitment made by all to the preservation of endangered species. The second is there should be fair compensation for those who suffer a loss or who are deprived for some reason
in the course of the protection of endangered species. The third is there should be co-operation.
There should be a commitment, there should be co-operation and there should be compensation. If these three Cs were adhered to, and if these objectives were written into the bill, Reform would have no difficulty in supporting it.
I remind the House that Reform supports the responsible protection of endangered species but it does not support Bill C-65 as it is written. This bill needs to be entirely rewritten. Therefore if the government refuses to pass Reform's 42 amendments, I will be voting against Bill C-65.
Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin-Norfolk, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have listened attentively to the comments of the opposition parties and I want to make a few comments about the first group of amendments.
Members of the Reform Party made two main points. First, they felt this legislation was similar to the legislation in the United States and that we would have major upheaval similar to the upheaval the Americans have had in their forest communities because of the owl. I want to point out that this legislation is not at all like the legislation in the U.S. It is actually more similar to the legislation in Ontario and other provinces, where there have not been major disruptions. There has not been a major infringement on land owner rights.
Members of the Reform Party should stop whipping up all of this misinformation regarding the bill. They should read it for what it is, do their research and appreciate that we are not in an American jurisdiction and the laws are applied quite differently.
The other point they make concerns compensation. If they knew anything about Canadian law they would know that the right to compensation when a public authority takes away a private right is well founded in law and that people would be eligible for compensation, regardless of whether it is in this bill or not. It is a well founded principle in common law.
The point more generally is that the protection of species can only be met through co-operation and partnership, since no single jurisdiction acting on its own can meet the needs of all endangered species. The beluga whale, the whooping crane and the horned owl do not recognize political boundaries.
We will be able to protect species at risk only through a partnership with the provinces, the territories, municipalities, private land owners, farmers, the environmental and scientific communities, aboriginal peoples and individual Canadians. The co-operative approach has had many successes. The peregrine falcon, for example, last year nested in Toronto for the first time in over 40 years. It is making a comeback, thanks to the dedicated work of hundreds if not thousands of people at all levels of government and in communities across the country.
Biologists from Timber West Forests and MacMillan Bloedel have been working with provincial governments to relocate the Vancouver Island marmot to the Nitinat alpine tundra. The handful of marmots in the Nanaimo watershed represent the entire world population. The relocation project is an effort to restore the species to an area it may have once occupied. These are examples, and there are many more, of what co-operation has done and can do.
In the Canadian context, we must begin with the understanding that species protection is a shared jurisdiction. It is not exclusive to either provincial governments or the federal government. All levels of government see the necessity and the benefits of working together on behalf of nature. There is a long history of co-operation with the provinces and territories to protect endangered species. Continued co-operation among all levels of government will be essential to the success of species recovery efforts.
In Charlottetown last year agreement in principle was reached on the national accord for the protection of species at risk. The accord recognizes that co-operation and collaboration are crucial to the conservation and the protection of species at risk. Conservation of species at risk is essential to conserving biological diversity in Canada.
Governments must play a leadership role in providing sound information and measures for conservation and protection. Complementary federal, provincial and territorial legislation and programs are needed to effectively address species conservation. Last but not least, Canadians must be involved.
The accord commits governments to providing complementary legislation and programs that provide for an effective protection of species at risk in Canada. The accord recognizes the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as a source of independent advice on the status of species at risk nationally.
Finally, the accord establishes a ministerial level council for the conservation of Canadian endangered species. This council will provide the political direction and energy necessary to make the accord a success.
Four provinces, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario currently have endangered species legislation. Nova Scotia has just recently introduced an endangered species bill and the sky has not fallen. Other provinces and territories have programs specifically aimed at the protection of species at risk.
The government, through Bill C-65, will meet its commitment under the national accord for the protection of species at risk. This legislation meets our international obligations on the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In the same vein, the Minister of the Environment recently signed on behalf of the government a framework for co-operation and protection of the recovery of wild species at risk that occur in both the United States and Canada.
The framework for co-operation will encourage partnerships with all levels of government in both countries and the private sector in endangered species recovery efforts. Both agencies will develop a joint work plan and an initial list of shared priorities species by December 1997. I say bravo to the governments in both the United States and Canada for making such an historic agreement.
In recognition of the continental nature of endangered species and their habitat, Canada and the United States also intend to invite the participation of Mexico in the framework for co-operation. This cross-border co-operation is very important. For example, the monarch butterfly, added to our list at risk only last week, faces ongoing threats to its wintering habitat in Mexico. The monarch butterfly launches from two points in Ontario, one being in Long Point in my riding and then to Mexico where oftentimes it faces the danger of insecticides as well as a variety of other dangers. It is only through shared co-operation between Ontario and Mexico that we can properly protect the monarch butterfly.
Bill C-65 reflects the importance of federal leadership in the protection and recovery of our international cross-border species at risk. The federal government will ensure that these species receive immediate protection on listing and will lead recovery planning efforts, both within Canada and with our international partners.
This legislation is truly an example of co-operation. It does not replace action at the provincial level, it enhances it. It does not replace existing provincial frameworks, it enhances it.
The bill represents the traditional and constitutional roles that each jurisdiction has played in wildlife protection and conservation. New provisions have been introduced to more clearly recognize provincial and territorial authorities with respect to the management of endangered wildlife species.
In fact, in a letter to provincial governments, the federal government indicated its willingness and active interest in negotiating an equivalency agreement for the protection of international cross-border species. The bill recognizes that habitat protection is a fundamental requirement for the protection of a species.
We have difficult challenges to face. Our wetlands have been reduced by 70 per cent to 80 per cent in some parts of Canada. Old growth forests are down by 85 per cent to 90 per cent in some areas. Tall grass prairie has diminished by 99 per cent since the earliest settlements. The less natural habitat we have, the more important it is to protect what is left.
Under this bill, when a species is listed, anything that causes damage or destruction to its residence, whether a den, a nest or a burrow, will be prohibited. The legislation also goes beyond the protection of just the immediate residence of a given species. Recovery plans must address all threats to the survival of a species, including threats to critical habitat.
We will rely on scientific experts to tell us what constitutes a critical habitat and what measures are necessary for its protection. We owe it to future generations to make sure that the wildlife that exists in Canada in the 20th century is still here in the 21st century and beyond.
This is an important bill. I believe that preventing species from becoming extinct is an honourable goal, a goal that will ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a country as rich in wildlife as the one we enjoy today. I call on all members of the House to support the bill.
Mr. Yvan Bernier (Gaspé, BQ): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the motions in Group No. 2 on Bill C-65.
The Bloc Quebecois moved some motions in this group. First of all, I would like to draw the attention of the members, and of our viewers, to some points. I see members from the other side waving at me, so I will reply with a similar motion.
The Bloc moved several motions in this Group No. 2: Motion No. 2, Motion No. 16 on Clause 3, Motion No. 21 on Clause 5, Motions Nos. 24 and 26 on Clauses 7 and 8, Motion No. 44 on Clause 33 and Motions Nos. 49, 55, 64 and 68.
The main purpose of theses motions is to repeat for the government, and enshrine in the legislation, the principle stating that there should be some joint action by the provinces and the federal government instead of a supremacy like the one the Minister of the Environment seems to be going after in Bill C-65.
Let me remind the House that when the present environment minister developed Bill C-65-although develop might be too big a word-I see some of my colleagues turning around, but we never know how the environment minister might interpret something. Let me rephrase this. The minister initiated the process leading to Bill
C-65 during a meeting of provincial and federal ministers which took place in September 1996.
That meeting resulted in the signing of an agreement in principle, a national agreement as they called it.
Mr. Bellehumeur: More like sweating.
Mr. Bernier (Gaspé): Yes, I am told that the minister and his colleagues sweated out an agreement in principle.
I will come back to my own train of thoughts. This resulted in Bill C-65. It was presented as a national agreement, whereby they all agreed on a system to come up with a list of endangered species in Canada.
The provincial environment ministers almost fell off their chairs when they learned, at the end of October 1996, a mere 30 days after the so-called national agreement, that the minister had brought forth a bill.
In just thirty days, he came up with legislation that will allow him to decide how the list of species will be drawn up and which measures will be used to protect these endangered species.
When it comes to protecting the environment, or threatened wildlife, everybody is in agreement. The Bloc Quebecois agrees that endangered species should be protected. The Quebec environment minister is also of the same opinion. However, what we disagree with is the process followed by the minister.
In Quebec, we already have legislation to protect endangered species and regulations to protect them. Why is the Minister of the Environment in Ottawa giving himself the power to act on our territories? We were prepared to work in co-operation with him. Why does he want to go over the heads of the provinces? That is the rub.
I have a few quotes I would like to share with the House. Bill C-65 came about because Canada wanted-and I think Quebec, as a future country, will do likewise-to comply with the UN international convention on biological diversity signed in 1992. This convention calls for signatory states to develop and enforce the legislation and other statutory provisions required to protect threatened species and populations. I am referring to article 8(k) of the convention.
Was it necessary for Canada to have Bill C-65 apply from coast to coast, when four provinces already have provisions and legislation protecting their environment and threatened species? They already have regulations providing for the protection of these species. I think that, once again, Ottawa is looking for confrontation with the provinces, which do not want anyone interfering in their jurisdictions.
In their red book, the Liberals said they had, and I quote: ``a vision of a society that protects the long term health and diversity of all species on the planet''. We could live with that, since Quebec and other provinces, like Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, already had their own legislation. All they had to do was to urge their provincial counterparts who did not have similar legislation to pass some or at least to exclude those provinces which had legislation. But that is not what is happening here. You will understand that the Bloc Quebecois cannot accept that the current Minister of the Environment is grabbing that much power.
To make it quite clear what I mean when I say we represent the interests of Quebecers, I would like to quote the Quebec environment minister, Mr. Cliche, who signed the agreement establishing how the list of threatened species should be drawn up. But this was an agreement in principle basically indicating that the signatories agreed with the idea. It was then up to each of them to enforce it at home.
On October 2, 1996, Mr. Cliche said: ``We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlap between the future federal legislation and the act that has been in force since 1989-he is referring to the legislation in Quebec- an act that works well and has already proven useful. We risk creating more red tape instead of dedicating ourselves to what really matters to us: the fate of endangered species''. As you can see, whether it is the Bloc Quebecois, or the Parti Quebecois which currently forms the Quebec government, everyone wants to protect endangered species.
However, we do not agree with the powers the minister is seeking with Bill C-65. If he wanted to make this legislation acceptable to the provinces and to the Bloc Quebecois, why did he not accept our amendments in committee, and why will he not accept the amendments that we are moving today, at report stage?
Again, these amendments only seek to obtain some assurances, because there is a legal provision whereby none of this is formally spelled out. In other words, there is a procedural defect. The federal government is trying to interfere, to take responsibility over a greater territory on environmental grounds, but Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick are not happy about this, because they already have their own legislation in place.
In short, Bill C-65 gives very broad powers to the federal government regarding the protection of species and, to make things worse, this bill was concocted 30 days after an agreement was reached with the provinces. This about-face by the federal government irritated a number of provincial ministers.
Again, after expressing his support for harmonization at the Charlottetown meeting, the current environment minister came up with an all encompassing bill that has too much impact on provincial jurisdictions. We ask members opposite to come to their
senses and to support the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary North, Ref.): Madam Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-65 which attempts to bring in measures to protect endangered species.
We have a rich natural environment in Canada, one of the richest in the world and we are very proud of it. It is an important part of our high quality of life. It is a wonderful heritage that must be preserved and protected for our children.
The Reform Party's founding principle number five states: ``We believe that Canada's identity and vision for the future should be rooted in and inspired by a fresh appreciation of our land and the supreme importance to our well-being of exploring, developing, renewing and conserving our natural resources and physical environment''. In addition, Reform policies include a number of measures in the area of environmental reform including: sustainable development, co-ordinated action, pollution control, and environmentally sensitive zoning.
Since environmentalists, forestry workers, farmers, ranchers and many other citizens play an integral role in the protection of endangered species, a variety of needs and interests must be respected and wisely balanced by our legislators and legislation.
Bill C-65 gives the minister the power to make an emergency order to protect a species. Where this results in limiting the social or economic activities in an area, the losses and corresponding costs or financial burdens must be justly allocated.
Many present land users want to have their rights and concerns fairly addressed concurrent with the implementation of measures to protect our natural habitat. These include lost property values, curtailment of recreational opportunities, and withdrawal of land availability for economic activity. I am not satisfied that Bill C-65 is at all adequate on this important point. We need to find ways to ensure proper compensation for citizens who lose current land use rights. This will require close consultations with interested stakeholders from all parts of the country.
It is very interesting to note that a framework agreement was worked out, as other speakers have referred to, with some of the provinces with respect to protection of endangered species. In fact, the agreement was worked out among federal, provincial and territorial governments about seven months ago and here we have Bill C-65 which absolutely violates the framework agreement which was worked out among all levels of government.
We have to ask ourselves how we as federal legislators can retain trust, credibility and co-operation within the federation if we enter into a framework agreement and seven months later attempt to pass a bill which violates and ignores the agreement that was put into place.
I have in my hand two letters from environment ministers. In as nice a way as possible they point out the outrage and concern of provincial governments at this repugnant action by the federal government and by the federal environment minister.
In a letter dated January 24, 1997, Mr. Graham, the environment minister for New Brunswick writes to the federal environment minister:
I have been requested, on behalf of provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife, to pass on to you our comments respecting Bill C-65.He goes on to talk about the co-operative work that has been done over the last 25 years between all levels of government to preserve and protect endangered species, and in fact all species of wildlife in Canada. He then writes:
Through continued co-operation and hard work over the past two years of all provincial, territorial and federal agencies responsible for wildlife, the National Framework for the Conservation of Species at Risk in Canada was developed. This was a landmark achievement considering the biological and political complexity of a country as large, and as diverse in species and lands, as Canada. Political support for this framework and a clear commitment to improved endangered species conservation in Canada was formalized with the endorsement of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk by all ministers responsible for wildlife in Canada at a meeting in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on October 2, 1996.The letter goes on to say that Bill C-65 violates the provisions and intent of this accord and sets out specifically where it does so and where the concerns lie. If other members wish to review this letter, I would be happy to table it in the House. The letter ends:
We believe the National Accord and Framework are the model of what we can achieve co-operatively together. Surely this opportunity should not be lost because we were unable or unwilling to work together and resolve our differences. We understand that the standing committee will complete their review in early February. Obviously, there is urgency in addressing these issues.Unfortunately the concerns that were so clearly and so specifically brought to the attention of the environment minister and members of the environment committee were unaddressed.
I have a letter dated March 26, 1997 from the environmental protection minister of the province of Alberta. The minister writes:
I am writing to you to express my growing concern about proposed Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act. All provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife in Canada have identified several major concerns in the bill. The Hon. Alan Graham recently wrote to the Hon. Sergio Marchi on behalf of my colleagues and myself outlining these concerns.
Minister Graham's letter is the one to which I just referred.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has completed its deliberations, and unfortunately, the majority of the concerns raised were not resolved.The minister asked that the outstanding issues and concerns brought forward by the provincial and territorial governments be resolved. The minister points out the need to pursue a co-operative and harmonious approach involving provincial and territorial wildlife agencies in a collaborative effort to amend this legislation. Unfortunately again these agreements and discussions and the results of them have been largely ignored in this legislation.
The point of my intervention and to tie together and sum up the material I brought forward is simply that there are two different approaches at the federal level to issues relating to the interests of Canada and Canadians. This protection of endangered species is only one example of the two approaches.
The old approach and unfortunately the approach practised by this Liberal government has been a father knows best, made in Ottawa, we will decide approach. It does not matter that other stakeholders have concerns. It does not even matter if clear agreements are simply tossed aside. The approach is that somehow this federal government and its ministries can just ignore the wishes and even discussions that were agreed to by other levels of government and put into place its own framework.
There is a better approach. The Reform Party believes that the federal government needs to focus its efforts on 10 clear areas of federal endeavour and otherwise co-operate with the provinces. It must allow the provinces to order their affairs to meet the unique opportunities and needs of their own areas. It is very clear from the material I put forward that this approach can and does work well.
I urge the federal government to respect the jurisdiction and the involvement of the provinces and territories and withdraw this legislation.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this bill that concerns my riding to some degree.
This bill may, at first glance, affect my riding since Berthier-Montcalm is located between Montreal and Trois-Rivières. This riding includes all the islands of Sorel and Berthier where, every year, many migrating birds, some of which are endangered, come to spend a few days or a few weeks before leaving for other places.
Unfortunately, even though it deals with endangered species, I have to say I am not in favour of this bill. It is not because its subject matter is not important, not because it is not dealing with fundamental issues, but simply because I feel Bill C-65 does not respect provincial jurisdiction.
It is not the first time the federal government has tried to interfere in this area of jurisdiction, probably because it wanted to keep its 1993 election promises, its red book promises. This will no doubt remind you, Madam Speaker, of the time when the minister talked about ``a vision of a society that protects the long-term health and diversity of all species on the planet''.
I am sure you remember that phrase from the red book. Although that vague commitment on endangered species can be interpreted in a number of ways, the red book contained more specific commitments which the government has not met. I would have told the government to forget about its promise, since this is an area of provincial jurisdiction. But, once again, the government has decided it wants to legislate in this area.
Hon. members will remember that, in Spring of 1995, the kite and flag lady, the current Deputy Prime Minister, then the environment minister, introduced a bill along the same lines as the bill before us today.
At the time, there was such an outcry in the environment community and also in the provinces and among the people who have to enforce the law that a year later, after a cabinet shuffle, the new environment minister decided to call a meeting of environment ministers to try to reach an agreement.
Indeed, on October 2, 1996, in Charlottetown, a famous city which has often left its mark on Canadian history, an agreement in principle was reached. However, if you were to compare the provisions of Bill C-65 with the so-called agreement in principle reached on October 2, 1996, you would soon realize that they are completely different.
Either we do not speak the same language in this country or we do not understand the same things. However, a bird is a bird and a whale is a whale, but we do not seem to understand the same things when a bill has to be drafted to ensure the agreement comes into force.
This is so true that on December 2 of the same year, the Quebec environment minister, David Cliche, wrote to the current federal Minister of the Environment to indicate that there were in fact some inconsistencies between the agreement in principle that was reached and the bill. I will not read the whole letter, because I know the minister has a copy, but for our viewers and the many Liberal members who are carefully listening, I would like to quote parts of the letter sent by Mr. Cliche.
It says: ``Nor was it ever agreed that ratification of a treaty by Canada changed anything in the distribution of jurisdictions and gave the federal government exclusive jurisdiction to implement
the treaty''. The purpose of the treaty is still to protect endangered species.
Further on, he adds: ``Under the pretext of protecting species at risk, the bill is in fact an attempt to rewrite or reinterpret the Canadian Constitution and the way it gives certain powers to various levels of government''. This is a minister of the Quebec National Assembly writing to the federal Minister of Environment to tell him: ``Listen. There are several differences between what we agreed upon and what there is in the act, in particular a marked difference in jurisdictions.''
He says a little further: ``Thus the federal government's definition of federal land for the purposes of the bill has no relation to reality. We never understood that the management of fish stocks or inland or coastal waters navigation meant that the federal government had jurisdiction over all aquatic ecosystems, along with the seabed and the subsoil and the airspace above these waters''.
The federal government took advantage of this legislation to provide more than was necessary and to try once again to go against Quebec's views, even on issues that I think are quite neutral, on which we could easily agree if people would truly respect the agreements in principle that have been hammered out and the Canadian Constitution. This is a minimum and this is not asking too much but, at this stage, it seems to be extremely difficult to agree on these factors.
On Bill C-65, the Bloc Quebecois will be true to its mandate to protect Quebec's interests and those of the true Parliament in Quebec, that is, the National Assembly, since that is what all men and women of Quebec identify with. It was quite natural for us to propose amendments to the bill that would reflect that.
One motion requires co-operation between all levels of government. I understand that a migratory bird landing in the riding of Berthier-Montcalm can take off and land again in the riding of Beauséjour. I can understand that and I think it requires co-operation between all levels of government.
Motions Nos. 16, 24 and 26 call for the recognition of provincial primacy. Why? Simply to respect the Canadian Constitution. Nobody can accuse us, as members of the Bloc, sovereignists, nationalists and all the other ist-words, of not wanting to respect the Canadian Constitution in this House, the Constitution the Liberals across the way signed in 1982 and whose 15th anniversary they celebrated not too long ago. We did not celebrate that anniversary for other reasons.
I think it is just normal to want to respect the Constitution which gives each level of government certain responsibilities, but it seems to be difficult.
I will read to you Motion No. 24 so you understand that what we are asking is really not complicated. Here is what it says:
``(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), no responsible minister may enter into an agreement under that subsection with an organization or person in a province unless the minister advises the provincial minister of that province of the responsible minister's intention to enter into the agreement with the organization or person, as the case may be, and the provincial minister informs the responsible minister that the government of the province does not object to the responsible minister entering into such an agreement with that organization or person.''It is crystal clear. In other words, we are saying to the federal minister that, if he wants to enter into agreements with organizations in Quebec, for example, he must simply inform the environment minister of that province.
Madam Speaker, I could have spoken all afternoon about these important motions, but you are indicating to me that my time is up. Am I right? May I have the unanimous consent of the House to conclude my remarks? I need five or ten more minutes to finish my argument on these motions, if the House agrees.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Is there unanimous consent of the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Bellehumeur: Madam Speaker, I knew what I was saying was so interesting that I would easily have the unanimous consent of the House. I thank my colleagues, particularly the member for Beauséjour who is smiling. For a minute I thought he was going to start applauding.
Mr. Robichaud: We are holding back.
Mr. Bellehumeur: You are holding back, are you not?
I was saying that with Motion No. 24 that we introduced, when all is said and done, it was very clear that the Government of Quebec had a say in all sorts of agreements that the federal government could conclude with respect to the bill on endangered species.
There is another motion that is extremely important and that is along the same lines. I understand that the Chair has grouped the Bloc Quebecois's Motions Nos. 2, 16, 21, 24, 26, 34, 35, 44, 49, 55 and 64 together because they are all similar. That is the logic we are using in the amendments to make it clear that provincial legislatures have the last word on agreements concluded with respect to endangered species.
I would like to take this opportunity to point out the excellent work done by the member for Laurentides, who examined the issue in extraordinary detail. I think she had an extremely good grasp of the problems. She showed great initiative throughout. She took the time to consult her colleagues in the National Assembly so as to have a very clear position, to truly represent the greater interests of Quebec.
When we defend the interests of Quebec, they are always paramount in our eyes because they affect us deeply. That is why we are here. The day after the election, we will still be here to defend the interests of Quebec, and all the more so, considering how things will be after the election.
That being said, Motion No. 44 says:
(l.l) Where a provincial minister advises the Minister that the government of the province does not wish subsection (1) to apply in the province in respect of a wildlife animal species in so far as individuals of the species are found on lands in the province that are not federal lands, this subsection shall not apply to the species-So, here again, the purpose of the proposed amendment is to allow the provincial government to exclude species that the federal government would perhaps like to protect, but that the province, for all sorts of reasons, would not, or vice versa. All the motions we introduced are really along these lines, that is they seek to make it possible to establish very clearly the provinces' jurisdiction in this sector, which, in any event, comes under provincial jurisdiction. Yet the federal department wants to pass legislation in this area. We will allow it, with some extremely important modifications that will set things out clearly so that the agreement will be a good one.
Immediately after sovereignty is achieved, Quebec will want to have agreements with the federal government and with the other provinces. I believe we are capable of demonstrating this with a bill such as the one we have before us at present.
I do not want to take too much advantage of a good thing this Thursday, so I shall finish with this, a quote from the Quebec Minister of the Environment, David Cliche, who put Bill C-65 into its proper perspective with a concrete example. A bill which seems very ordinary at first glance, with which everyone ought to agree in order to protect little sparrows, can have some effects that are extremely important for the economy of Quebec when it is put into application.
On November 26, 1996, David Cliche said the following: ``With Bill C-65, the federal government, under the pretext of protecting the harlequin duck-to take but one example-could intervene directly in our energy policy by saying that, in order to protect the harlequin, the Minister of Natural Resources could exclude a given river from hydro-electric development and rational use. This is a flagrant example of federal intervention in our areas of jurisdiction, an inconceivable intervention, and an unacceptable Canadian interference in our jurisdiction''.
You see, this is just an ordinary little bill on which everyone agrees. We must protect the little sparrows, the whales and so on, from extinction. However, the government could use this to encroach upon jurisdictions which are even more clearly provincial and even stall a sector of Quebec's economy, like the example I gave, for hydro-electric power.
I have almost finished. He also said: ``The federal minister-I will not name him, because he does-has just introduced in the House of Commons a bill which has raised concerns in Quebec. I want to put this into context because it illustrates the difficulties of federal-provincial relations. Recently I represented Quebec in Charlottetown and I defended its interests in the area of environment and wildlife. We had an agreement. We had even signed an agreement whereby if the federal government introduced legislation on the protection of endangered species under federal control, it ought to respect provincial jurisdictions, especially territorial jurisdiction. We thought we had an agreement with Ottawa on the following principle, which is simple: If we agree that a species is endangered, it is the responsibility of the government which has jurisdiction over the land on which the endangered species is living to take action to protect its habitat and, hence, the species itself''.
The minister added: ``The main problem Quebec has with this bill is that the federal government is changing the rules of the game completely by no longer establishing that the territory on which a species lives is also important for determining which jurisdiction applies. Instead, the federal government is trying to grab more power by extending the scope of the definition of federal land''.
I could have quoted the minister more extensively, but this short excerpt allow us to clearly see that there is a problem. It shows especially that the presence of the Bloc Quebecois in this House is useful to make the connection between what happens in Quebec and what happens in Ottawa. Again, the Bloc Quebecois is here to defend Quebec's interests. We do so very well and we will continue to do so after the elections.
I thank you for your co-operation and also for your smiling attention. I believe it was a smile of approval and I thank you for it.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the Group No. 2 amendments to Bill C-65.
In my opinion, the amendments in this second group will not do very much to fix this legislation, which is clearly flawed. I would like to present some of the questions that I have received from farmers and ranchers in my part of the country and from outside of Alberta as well. I have grouped the questions which I think should be asked before the bill goes any further.
I will refer to some letters, including a letter from the Alberta minister of environmental protection, Ty Lund, as well.
What is Bill C-65? It is the government's new endangered species legislation. It is an attempt, and I think a very sincere attempt, to protect endangered species. As I go through my presentation, I am going to comment on what is likely to happen if this legislation, even as amended, is put in place.
How was the bill born? Where did it come from and why? The groundwork for Bill C-65 was laid by the Mulroney government at the Rio conference. In 1992 Canada signed a global agreement that in part agreed to protect endangered species. Canada agreed to put some type of legislation in place that would protect endangered species. I believe this is a response to the commitment made by the Government of Canada.
However, several things in the process that brought this legislation to the point it is now really are not acceptable to many Canadians. Some of them have been expressed by the Bloc members who feel that the government has really ignored the wishes of the province of Quebec. That has been backed up by the Alberta minister of environmental protection, Ty Lund.
I want to read part of the letter he wrote to me regarding this bill. ``I am writing to express my growing concern about the proposed Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act. All provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife in Canada have identified several major concerns in the bill''.
The Hon. Alan Graham recently wrote to the Minister of the Environment on behalf of my colleagues and myself outlining these concerns. I have a copy of that letter. It was referred to earlier by my colleague from Calgary.
The Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development has completed its deliberations. Unfortunately, the majority of the concerns raised were not resolved.
The amendments tabled on March 21, 1997 by the federal government do not address the issues and leave us with a bill which destroys the national approach outlined in the national accord for the protection of species at risk.
The Alberta minister makes clear what is happening. The group of amendments which we are debating do not answer the questions and the concerns of the environment minister.
The environment minister went on to say that Alberta is committed to fulfilling its role, as outlined in the national framework for the conservation of species at risk. The minister fully expects to honour the commitments that he made on behalf of the people of Alberta in that agreement.
He states: ``I believe that the approach of co-operative programs and the complementary legislation proposed in the framework is the only way to ensure endangered species conservation''. He goes on to say that the co-operative framework has not been followed in the development of this legislation. That has to be a concern. Bloc members have indicated that it is a concern to them. The New Brunswick minister who wrote on behalf of all the ministers to the federal Minister of the Environment made it clear that they are not happy with the process or the bill. The Alberta minister has supported that view.
The government has taken a heavy-handed approach. It is the federal government and it will say how things are run in the country and to heck with what the people in the provinces feel. This is one more demonstration of that approach. I understand why Bloc members are upset. We in Alberta are every bit as upset.
Western Canadians have revolted against the approach taken by past Liberal and Conservative governments. That is the reason the Reform Party is here today. We expect the provinces to have more say in more areas. We expect the federal government to not take this heavy-handed, interventionist approach which it has taken in so much legislation, including Bill C-65.
Why are my constituents and others complaining about Bill C-65? There are many reasons, some of which I outlined this morning.
Canadians want to protect endangered species with a co-operative approach. That co-operative approach has worked very well in the past in dealing with protecting certain species. For example, it has worked in the burrowing owl project. The Ducks Unlimited program has done much to build up the duck population.
It has been a co-operative effort. It has not taken heavy-handed legislation. It has not taken the threat of fines. In this legislation the fines run up to $1 million. They can be levied against a land owner or a land user. The co-operative approach has not involved legislation which would require a land owner to spend money to fence property which happens to be the habitat of an endangered species. It has not taken that for Ducks Unlimited to work well or for the burrowing owl operation to work and other projects like them. Those people have taken a co-operative approach. This heavy-handed, interventionist approach is wrong. That is one of the major reasons people are complaining about this bill.
Another reason is that there is very little allowance for compensation.
It is totally inadequate. That again could force land owners or land users to spend money out of their own pocket to fence off an area to protect an endangered species. Land owners or land users could lose the productive capability of property with no compensation. In other words, they can be required to set this property aside.
They could be kept from using the property yet there is no compensation.
What kind of country is this where people can be denied the use of property, lose economically and receive no compensation? That is unacceptable. That is another thing that the people who I have talked to are revolting against.
As well, because of the way this legislation is set up, people can launch anonymous complaints. They can have their identity kept anonymous, the complaint lodged and action taken against that landowner or the land user.
Even someone committing a crime as violent as murder has the right to face the accuser in court and to know who the accuser is. Yet under this legislation Canadians are being denied that same right. It is completely inappropriate. That is another thing Canadians are revolting against when it comes to this bill.
Further, there are the search and seizure measures which are very similar to those in Bill C-68, the so-called gun bill, which are unacceptable and which really put aside some of the basic, judicial procedures we accept in our justice system but that really are not in this legislation.
This package of amendments in Group No. 2 will do nothing to deal with any of these concerns in a meaningful way.
The best thing the Liberals could do with this legislation is to let it die. However, they should learn from it. Should they be government after the election, they can come forward with new legislation. If the Reform Party is government, then we will bring in legislation that will take a much different approach from this heavy-handed one.
Mr. Maurice Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, BQ): Madam Speaker, my colleague for Beauséjour seems to be speculating about my chances to be back here, in this House, after the election. I would like to reassure him. I know he is about to leave us to assume other duties we do not know anything about yet. I wish him well. I suspect we will soon have a new Senator Robichaud in the other place.
That said, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-65 dealing with endangered species. It is a very serious bill that interferes in areas of provincial jurisdiction. I will get back to this.
It seems quite fitting to be discussing endangered species just hours from an election call. I want to draw a parallel with this absentee government, whose mind is elsewhere these days. One only has to watch Oral Question Period to realize that the ministers would rather be doing something else than answering questions.
Considering the way this government's piecemeal approach, I can say, like my colleague from the Reform Party, who just announced that his party would form the next government, that the Liberal government opposite is certainly an endangered species nowadays.
Our fellow citizens across Canada, and particularly in Quebec, are in a position to know we must get rid of this government. In fact, I would say the greatest threat is not that this government could be out, but that it could come back for another mandate, since we see, as I mentioned earlier, that the main concern of this government these days is to announce good news that the official opposition had been demanding throughout its mandate.
This week there was the manpower agreement announced by the human resources development minister, after 32 years of negotiations, I might add. If this is not a record in terms of stretching out negotiations, it is certainly a good average. At this rate, not many colleagues in this House will see the results of the next negotiations dealing with who knows what, endangered species perhaps. At the rate negotiations are going, the very future of this federal government, of this institution, is in danger.
Consider the intergovernmental affairs minister's attitude when the Quebec government asked for an amendment to the Constitution establishing linguistic school boards. The contempt of this government is obvious as election day nears.
When it is not delaying a decision it should be taking now, such as the one on linguistic school boards, the government is announcing amendments to a bill that has yet to receive royal assent-and I am referring to the tobacco bill. The Prime Minister has succeeded in this incredible feat of announcing, even before Bill C-71, the Tobacco Act, received royal assent, that it would be amended next fall. It is quite an achievement. If ridicule could kill, we would no longer have a Prime Minister.
That being said, I would like to deal briefly with Bill C-65 to point out how this bill is right in the tradition of this government. In their speeches, government members and the Prime Minister, who is here occasionally for question period, keep harping about how, these past few years, their government has been most open to the decentralization of our federation.
But each time the government introduces a new bill, it proves otherwise. Back home we have an expression for that. We say the Prime Minister talks from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, we are being told the government is more open to decentralization, but, on the other hand, whenever the government introduces a bill, like Bill C-65, it tries to centralize even more. The official opposition objects to this intrusion in a provincial jurisdiction. In
the area of the protection of endangered species as in many others, Quebec has already taken its responsibilities.
Since 1989, there has been a law concerning endangered species. There was a consensus in Quebec and all stakeholders asked their government, the Quebec government, to take action, which it did by adopting a bill that satisfied the aspirations and desires of the Quebec people.
It was the same thing in Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, the province you are from and of which you are justifiably so proud, Madam Speaker, which all adopted legislation on endangered species.
But the federal government, as it usually does, decided not to take into account the desire of the provinces to take things into their own hands and solve their problems by talking to each other to ensure that their respective laws are in sync. But no, the federal government decided to barge in and take this area of jurisdiction away from the provinces so it could impose its own views and decisions.
That is the essence of that bill. That is why the official opposition will take its responsibilities and defend Quebecers' interests as it always does when Quebec's jurisdiction is questioned, when Quebec's interests are threatened. And I know, Madam Speaker, that you are proud of the official opposition. We will vote against this bill and ensure that it will die on the Order Paper, so that we will not hear about it anymore, not only during the election campaign, but ever again.
I would also like to point out that the government, by invading this field of jurisdiction, is creating more problems than it is solving, as is usually the case. It would have been much more productive and efficient if the government had simply asked the provinces to reach an agreement in this matter, if it had recognized that a lot of work had already been done since similar laws have been adopted in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and of course Quebec, in 1989. The enforcement of these laws takes necessarily into account the needs of the people.
Madam Speaker, you are indicating that my time has expired. Since I respect the rules of the House, I will comply with your order and end my speech.
Mr. Ray Speaker (Lethbridge, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-65 and the Group No. 2 amendments before us that reference habitat and other necessities to protect endangered species across the nation.
The bill is asking for a balance in legislation across the country. It is also asking for co-operative federalism where provincial government, municipal governments and local agencies are able to work with our national government and at the same time co-operate with other countries touched by bird migration across the continent. That may even involve the rest of North America, South America and other adjacent lands that form part of the bird migration patterns of the world.
When I think of one side of the balance where we must do everything possible to protect the endangered species, in terms of a cause it is good and noble we are working toward that. When we consider the aspect of protecting endangered species, we must ensure we take into consideration the players that will be involved. Private land owners, provincial lands, federal lands and adjacent nations need co-operative agreements.
I have looked at the legislation and have considered some of the content of the amendments in terms of habitat. Recently I saw a discussion of the specific bill on television. The person on the side of protecting all endangered species made a noteworthy comment at the time. He said that the legislation provided for protection of birds if they land in national parks, on federal buildings or on Parliament Hill. I thought maybe that was the way it was.
Subsequently I received a letter from the Minister of Environment, as have other members of this assembly, in which he outlined the concerns of the provinces. He indicated that Bill C-65 was more encompassing than just federal lands, national parks, federal buildings across the nation and Parliament Hill. The legislation was actually intervening, overlapping and interfering with provincial jurisdiction and responsibility. That is a major violation by the federal minister.
The federal minister signed an accord with the provinces on September 25, 1996 called ``A National Framework for the Conservation of Species at Risk''. The accord was signed with the idea provinces would be able to administer, take the major responsibility and be independent from the federal government for writing legislation that would take away from the autonomy of the provinces or their responsibilities. An agreement was reached by all the provinces.
They agreed to participate in the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council to co-ordinate activities and resolve issues for the protection of species at risk in Canada.
They agreed to recognize the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as a source of independent advice on the status of species at risk nationally and to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.
The agreement listed a long list of specific kinds of things the provinces would commit to doing. They would refer any disputes that may arise under the accord to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council for discussion.
The provinces agreed, with the expectation that federal Minister of the Environment would write legislation to facilitate that kind of co-operation. That did not happen.
Subsequently we received letters from the Minister of the Environment, as mentioned by my colleagues from Vegreville and Calgary North, indicating that the federal government did not live up to its commitment and has written legislation that duplicates and adds to the legal tangles or actions to be put in place by regulations to protect endangered species. That is unacceptable.
In a time when provinces have matured to a point where they can take on responsibilities such as these, we should decentralize and give them the responsibilities. If there needs to be umbrella legislation to facilitate co-ordination or to fill in some of the blanks, the legislation would be acceptable.
As the chairman of the provincial ministers, the minister from one of the maritime provinces points out very clearly that Bill C-65, even with the amendments of groups one to four and those introduced by the government to try to deal with matter, falls short of co-operative federalism. It is just not there. The minister, the government and the Liberal caucus have missed the point being made by the provinces.
Recently there has been similar legislation to try to foster co-operation between the federal Minister of the Environment and the provincial ministers of environment. The legislation dealt with a variety of developments that would take place on the rivers of Alberta or on any other river across this nation.
The province of Alberta wanted to put a dam on a river. We went through about 20 years of studies and hearings. Finally we decided to build a dam on the Oldman River in the Three Rivers area. At the point when the decision was made and construction had even started, the federal Tory government found a piece legislation to allow it to intervene and start the whole process of hearings again. It cost a lot of money and delay. Fortunately the provincial government was able to work through that and proceed with the building of the dam, which will be a great asset to our province for many years ahead.
The lesson we learned was that the federal government had duplicate legislation that added difficulty to the process. It complicated and delayed the project, and it cost many dollars for the province of Alberta to answer interveners and so on and delayed construction. We learned a lesson. The legislation was changed.
The federal government was able to write legislation that avoided overlap and duplication. We thought the House of Commons learned something but I guess it has not. With Bill C-65, the federal government has written legislation that infringes on the rights and responsibilities of provinces. I do not know if the bureaucrats are at fault or who it is. You would think we would have learned something and would not do that again.
I recommend in my remarks, which are probably my final remarks with regard to this legislation, that the government rethink its position. If it really wants to work with the provinces, as it says clearly in this supporting document which was passed around to all members of Parliament, then it better back off and put in place some kind of umbrella legislation that facilitates the provinces in doing their job. Then there would be no overlap or intervening process to take away from local autonomy.
How can this kind of thing work for farmers who are affected? A major concern of my constituents is that if an endangered species is found on a piece of land, no compensation is listed here. The government only promises that a person who provides land for conservation will be recognized for that. It will be a donation of environmentally sensitive land and a partnership.
My final statement is this. Why should one individual landowner have to take all of the cost to provide the land? That is the responsibility of all Canadians when endangered species are being protected.
Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to please check if there is a quorum.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Regan): Quorum call? Ring the bells, please.
And the count having been taken:
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): We have quorum.
Mr. Gaston Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe, BQ): Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-65.
I want to point out right off that the bill before us exemplifies this government's approach to all legislation. Having sat here for some time now, we in the official opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge about parliamentary life. We are more experienced. This is the result of three and a half years of parliamentary debate. And now we have a new ability: the ability to assess, based on facts, to what extent the legislation passed by the Liberal Government of Canada complies with the provisions of the Constitution and respects provincial jurisdiction.
Since it took office, this Liberal government tried repeatedly, through several bills tabled in this House, to meddle in areas of provincial responsibility, ignoring their respective jurisdictions as well as the terms of federal-provincial agreements. In addition, as I was able to see for myself while participating in several debates on
the reorganization of the Department of Industry, the Federal Office of Regional Development, the Federal Business Development Bank, now the Business Development Bank of Canada, this government took every opportunity, every time a bill was introduced, to give itself, the department or the minister responsible more powers, thereby gaining more and more control in recognized areas of provincial jurisdiction, without going through the federal-provincial consultation process.
You will understand that, with the legislative experience it has gained, the official opposition now knows how to get in the way of the government's efforts to take powers away from the provinces by disregarding provincial jurisdictions.
What does the government propose today? Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act. I want to make four general observations before dealing more specifically with the bill.
First, when we read the bill, we realize that, as usual, the provinces' jurisdiction and responsibilities are completely ignored and overlooked.
Later on, I will point out some major contradictions by referring to statements made in the red book, and also by the environment ministers, both the former one, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the current one. This government, which always claims to want to co-operate and to establish partnerships with the provinces, does just the opposite with its bills. This government tries to get its hands on power. It gives itself special powers, at the expense of the partners it claims to respect.
Second, this bill does not take into account the sharing of powers. The sharing of powers in areas that come under provincial jurisdiction has always been a burden for the federal government.
Even though the government tries, as it has always done, to convince Quebecers of its desire to create a partnership with them, it invariably comes up with bills that give increased power to its ministers, or that confirm such power.
The provisions of the bill make it clear that the minister is giving himself a very broad discretionary power. This from a government which always claims to seek partnerships with others. Yet, it gives itself, through its own mechanisms, its department and its minister, very broad discretionary powers. In fact, after the talks on the internal trade agreement, this government went so far as to add to the bill things that had not even been mentioned in the discussions with the provincial ministers.
But such is the way of this government. We all know that. Everyone knows the federal Liberal government, particularly in Quebec, given its pattern of the last 30 years, which consists in promising one thing but doing just the opposite once in office.
This bill provides that the minister will appoint COSEWIC members. Later, I will define the COSEWIC, this committee set up to protect endangered species. The minister alone will make these appointments. It gives himself the power to do so. This government shares everything but, in the end, it always includes a little clause saying that ``as a minister, I will appoint those who will sit on the committee''. In discussions between the ministers and the provinces, they always say ``we are acting in good faith, we will make sure that everyone is represented, that there is representation from all parts of the country and everyone is included''.
So what happens? They table a bill in which the minister has the authority to appoint people without consulting his partners. Is that partnership? Is that respect? They said in the course of discussions and negotiations that they would reach an agreement on committee membership. So the bill is tabled, and what does it say? It says the minister will appoint the members himself.
Mr. Robichaud: While respecting all parties concerned. Perhaps Bloc members are not mentioned, but that does not mean that-
Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe): The minister will determine his own powers. I heard my Liberal colleague react, obviously, because the truth is not always pleasant to hear. Earlier, the hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead welcomed our colleague, who will probably be appointed senator one of these days. The Liberals need people to get a majority in the Senate and ensure they control the proceedings. They need people who are dedicated, and our colleague, this very lively Acadian, will probably be one of several future senators, and more power to him.
Not only will the minister determine who will be appointed, but the bill on threatened and endangered species also says that the minister even has the power to decide which species will be designated as threatened or endangered. No ifs or buts. Some provinces and organizations across Canada have been involved in this for a long time, since 1978, but I will get back to that. And the minister proposes federal legislation that did not exist before.
Provincial legislation exists in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba. But for the first time, the federal government goes and walks all over an area which, as far as jurisdiction is concerned, belongs to the provinces. So what does it do? It not only tables legislation but gives the minister the power to circumvent everyone and decide for himself which species will be designated threatened or endangered.
He will also have the power to decide whether or not to implement recovery plans once species are designated. He will have the decisive vote.
Madam Speaker, you are signalling my time is up, although I thought I had 20 minutes. May I have the unanimous consent of the House to finish my speech? If there is unanimous consent, I would like to continue my speech.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to proceed? I remind the House we have only five minutes left.
Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe): I can finish my speech in five minutes.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): There is no unanimous consent.
Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe): Democracy has spoken on the other side; the name of democracy on the other side is no.
Mr. Bernier (Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead): Cheap!
Mr. Leroux (Richmond-Wolfe): Theirs is a no society, a negative society.
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay West-Revelstoke, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I thought it would be appropriate to say a few words on the endangered species act. I am tempted to make references to those across the way, with the election coming and so on. I could get into it for ages and we would all have great fun with it.
This is a very serious bill. It is always difficult when there is a certain amount of emotion involved. We want to protect animals, wildlife and various endangered species in the country. We do not want to see anything being harmed or eradicated, not even members over there. We have to keep a few of them around. I cannot keep myself away from it.
There are problems with a bill like this one. The government may have intended to come out with something very meaningful and something very worthwhile in terms of protecting endangered species. However, either because it was ill conceived or because for some reason it was put out the way it was, we have problems with it. People in communities, business, different organization and sports groups have problems with the bill.
In a lot of other government legislation I have discovered through the committees I have sat on that there seems to be a very bad tendency. It is a style of government that caused me to get into government to hopefully see some change in it. There are committee meetings to study legislation at that level and to get input from people who say what they like or do not like and what they want included, yet the government is not prepared to listen.
I have participated in a couple of studies by committees when the input from the population, the voters, the taxpayers, has been overwhelming and the government for whatever reason chose to ignore it. I do not know why the government spends the money it does for consultation with the public if it is not prepared to listen. We heard a lot of concerns raised by industry, ranchers, farmers and people who go into the woods for recreation. Even they feel they may have problems.
We put forward a lot of amendments. We want to support the bill but we simply cannot do so in its present form. We get into a real conundrum when the government says it is doing this to protect endangered species and anybody voting against it does not want to protect them. That is not true.
In their heart of hearts members know that. It might be a little difficult for them to admit it on the eve of the election but they understand it. When we return to the House after the election in whatever make-up it is, maybe we can learn to work a little better together. I hope government, whichever government it is, will bring forward legislation and will listen to people. Hopefully it will listen to the points raised by the opposition and the public but it does not mean they will be automatically accepted. Sometimes of course there are at least two points of view in the public domain. These things have to be considered.
There were a lot of good amendments brought forward on this bill and they were rejected out of hand. That is very unfortunate. Had the government made these amendments to the bill, it would have found support. We could have moved the bill through the House quickly, even on the eve of the election.
I hope when we return after the election that those members opposite will have learned to co-operate, perhaps with the opposition or perhaps as the opposition. I shall look forward to that.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS[English]
He said: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-375, which would allow the completion of the agreement on internal trade.
The agreement on internal trade was signed in 1994. At that time several deadlines were set by the legislation. Almost all the deadlines have passed and agreement has not been reached. Clearly there is a problem which must be dealt with. It is important that we complete this agreement.
I would like to explain what this bill would do. First I will give a little background on the events which led to the agreement on internal trade and the implementation bill, which is the legislation that Bill C-375 would amend to allow the completion of the agreement on internal trade.
If we take a look at the sequence of events we will see that the committee on internal trade is comprised of trade ministers from federal, provincial and territorial governments. The agreement on internal trade, as I mentioned, was signed in 1994 by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The agreement states that all governments will commit to work together to break down barriers to internal trade. That is the basic principle of the agreement on internal trade. The barriers which prevent free trade between the provinces will be brought down.
We live in a country which has free trade agreements with the United States and Mexico. Goods move relatively freely between the countries, yet we have barriers between provinces which do not allow the free movement of goods. Clearly that is unacceptable.
The present formula that the committee uses to reach an agreement, whether it is an agreement on completing the deal or an agreement on the dispute settlement mechanism, is a formula of unanimity. In other words, the agreement on internal trade stipulates that a consensus is required. However, consensus is not defined. The way this committee has chosen to interpret consensus is unanimous consent. Most areas are left incomplete after almost three years. To complete any area it requires unanimous consent from the federal government, the representatives from the provinces and the representatives from the territories.
When was the last time we had unanimous consent on any type of an agreement like that in this country, a consent which in some cases may cause some difficulties with certain groups in the provinces? Although, all provinces and territories have agreed that completing the agreement on internal trade will make things better for those living in every province.
Unanimously all governments involved have agreed that completion of the agreement on internal trade will make things better and yet the completion has not happened.
Clearly this unanimous consent formula is not going to work. My private member's bill, Bill C-73, simply changes the formula and puts in place the Reform policy on this issue. Instead of requiring unanimous consent it will require consent of at least two-thirds of the provinces and territories which includes at least 50 per cent of the population.
Then when the provinces are negotiating settlement in any one of these areas that are left incomplete the impossible task of getting unanimous consent will be removed and instead the requirement will be there for agreement from a majority of provinces and territories including a majority of Canadians, which is a much more reasonable formula and a formula which I believe if implemented would lead to the completion of the agreement on internal trade in all areas. There are many experts who agree with that, as I will demonstrate later.
I would like to read through the actual Reform policy on this issue. The policy is that in order to break the deadlock which has prevented the completion of the agreement on internal trade and the removal of internal trade barriers, the Reform Party proposes to amend the approval formula of the committee on internal trade, used to approve sections of the agreement on internal trade and the dispute settlement mechanism, by replacing the requirement for unanimous consent with the following. First, allow the current unanimity base voting formula, eight months, to resolve the deadlock experienced in completing the agreement on internal trade. Let us give the unanimous consent formula another try but limit it to eight months.
Second, if sections of the internal trade agreement remain unresolved after eight months, then the unanimous ratification formula will be replaced by a formula which allows ratification on the basis of at least two-thirds of the provinces and territories representing at least 50 per cent of the Canadian population.
Third, if sections of the agreement are not completed within one year of implementing the two-thirds/fifty formula, the federal government shall move unilaterally to use its constitutional powers to complete the agreement on internal trade.
Clearly the change proposed in my private member's bill will lead to the completion of the agreement on internal trade in all sectors. The impact of that will be dramatic indeed.
I will speak a little on the possible impact. I will refer to several experts in this area and different groups which have found this to be such an important issue that they have written substantial documents outlining what they feel the impact of removing the barriers would be on Canadians.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a substantial document released approximately a year ago said that just by increasing trade
between provinces by 10 per cent would lead to 200,000 new jobs in Canada.
We know the Liberal government has failed on its promise to deliver jobs. The unemployment rate has been above 9 per cent for so many months that people have lost count, the highest level since the Great Depression.
We have had this situation where the unemployment rate has stayed above 9 per cent and the government has not done what it should to complete the agreement. I know that the Minister of Industry would like to see the agreement completed. I believe he is sincere in wanting that. It is so hard to figure why it has not happened when the agreement was signed almost three years ago.
I think 200,000 jobs would be some incentive for the government to get serious about completing the deal. However, it has not happened. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is disappointed.
The Fraser Institute put out a substantial paper on the issue. It said that trade barriers between provinces costs Canadian families $3,500 a year. Again, it is so difficult to understand why the government would not work hard to remove the barriers. As we know, since it came to power in 1993, the average Canadian household income has dropped by $3,000. If this agreement had been implemented in 1994 after it was signed by the provinces the $3,000 that was lost to these Canadian families would have been replaced with increased income resulting from the removal of these barriers.
It is difficult to understand why the government has not taken this more seriously.
Other think tanks and groups that have studied the issue have determined that these interprovincial trade barriers cost Canadian companies and Canadians between $6 billion and $10 billion a year. That is a lot of income because of a problem that should not be there and which really makes no sense.
We have the agreement that was signed in 1994, a formula that clearly does not work. However, after three years nothing has been done about it.
On speaking to representatives from the different provinces I know many provinces are absolutely committed to the completion of the agreement. Granted, most provinces have certain areas they are really concerned about because the province may be a net loser in a particular segment of its economy. But each province has recognized that overall the people would benefit from the removal of the barriers. There may be some losers in each province, but the numbers and the amounts lost would be very small compared to the net gain in each province.
What have the Liberals said on this issue? We can look at their red book where this was mentioned. In both throne speeches it was said that it was important to remove barriers to interprovincial trade. The 1996 prebudget report from the finance committee had a section on the removal of interprovincial trade barriers which acknowledged the impact on the economy and on jobs by removing these barriers to trade. Yet what has been done? Clearly not enough. The barriers are still there.
The industry minister introduced Bill C-88, an act to implement the agreement on interprovincial trade. The act passed third reading in the House in June 1996.
I do not know why the lag in time between the agreement being completed in 1994 and the implementation legislation being passed in 1996. It does not really show a commitment on the part of the government that match the words it used in the red book and in its throne speeches. Clearly the two do not gibe. I cannot answer why. However, it does show a huge failure on the part of the industry minister.
If I were running against the industry minister in his Ottawa riding I would be out talking about the barriers to the free movement of labour into Quebec. Quebec labour has a lot more freedom to move people to work in Ontario but it is pretty much a one way street. I would be telling all the potential voters in the minister's Ottawa riding about this and about the failures of the industry minister in this area.
He spoke the words, signed the agreement in 1994 and finally in 1996 got around to passing the implementation agreement. However, that is where it stalled. Deadline after deadline has passed, deadlines that were supposed to lead to the completion of the agreement, but it has not happened. I do not know why but I would be out there bringing that up in the minister's riding.
Why are barriers to interprovincial trade so harmful? Why does it cost who knows how many jobs? It is enough that 200,000 jobs would be created if trade increased by 10 per cent. There are several reasons. Just imagine being a company in Canada. I have talked with the CEOs of several companies in Canada that want to do business with people and businesses in other provinces. However, they find the barriers to trade between the provinces and the territories do not allow that to happen freely.
In fact, they say that they have far more access to companies and people in the United States than they do with people and businesses in other provinces. Some top notch companies in this country, high tech in some cases, have told me that they should be moving to the United States because if they operated there they would have free access to all provinces, something they do not have operating from one province of Canada. Is that not absurd? However, that is what we have.
I have also spoken to the owners of companies that have moved to the United States. They just gave up. They wanted to do business with all of Canada but there are too many barriers under the current system. By moving their companies to the United States they were able to do business much easier and in a less expensive manner with all provinces freely. That is the kind of absurdity that these barriers produce. We are losing jobs as a result of these barriers being in place.
A second way that these barriers really have an incredible negative impact on companies is on the small companies that want to do business internationally so they can grow. I have companies like that in my constituency. A prime example is a company that manufactures tanks in Lloydminster, Universal Industries. It has complained it is so difficult to do business in Saskatchewan. Lloydminster is a border city. The business is in a city that straddles the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. To do business in Saskatchewan it has to jump through so many hoops that it is hurting its business. It would be able to operate a lot more effectively if it went to the United States where it would have open access to all Canadian provinces.
We have to get rid of these barriers. Canadians can no longer afford the jobs that are lost. They can no longer afford the $6 billion to $10 billion that is lost each year as a result of these barriers being in place. They can no longer afford the loss in family income of $3,500 a year. That income would replace the $3,000 per family a year that has been lost as a result of Liberal policies. This one change would go an awful long way to removing these barriers and to allowing the benefits of jobs, the benefits of added income, the benefits of added take home pay and the benefits of businesses growing in the country so that they can compete better in other countries.
These benefits are being denied due to a lack of action on the part of the government. I have taken the action necessary here. This private member's bill, should it ever be enacted, would go a long way toward the elimination of these barriers.
Mr. John Richardson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-375, an act to amend the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act. I would like to thank the hon. member for his hard work in presenting his case to support this.
This bill reflects worthy intentions and concerns which I am sure the hon. member will share. Most of us in the House are very directly aware of the importance of trade to Canada. Each of us represents constituents who are in some way involved in trade, be it business, banking, retailing, agriculture, construction or some other exchange of goods and services, capital or labour. Canada is a trading nation.
Trade, the efficient exploitation of our natural resources and effective use of our innate abilities and skills, has enabled us to grow and prosper both as individuals and as a nation. We trade, both internationally and internally.
Internationally, we operate in an increasingly exciting world market, one that is continuing to become more and more open, dynamic and demanding. We have benefited, and will continue to benefit, from the opening of that market and the opportunities it gives us to sell and to make the best of ourselves and what we have.
Internally, we are blessed with being an economic union that has a high degree of coherence and integration. The relative openness, freedom and efficiency of our domestic market, compared to international markets in many other parts of the world, has served us well. Our internal trade is worth over $300 billion a year and accounts for 1.9 million jobs.
In many, indeed most, areas or sectors of economic activity, our internal market has made it possible to develop the abilities and to increase the areas of competitive advantage, expertise and experience. It has given Canadians, business and industry the basis on which to become strong and effective competitors in both foreign markets and against foreigners and foreign suppliers here at home.
That said, it remains evident that our domestic market is not quite perfect. In the past, national business, industry and professional associations have cited numerous examples of companies, businesses or individuals being unable to invest or supply goods or services in certain parts of the country.
Many individual workers have found that their ability to work anywhere in the country is hampered by the fact that some local authorities refuse to recognize their qualifications, skills or experience. Such problems are not unnatural where jurisdiction over trade, commerce and economic matters are shared between different levels of government.
That was one of the reasons why the federal, provincial and territorial governments negotiated the agreement on internal trade in 1994. That agreement reflected the readiness of governments in Canada to try to deal with the problems of conflict, overlap and duplication of their measures without entering into discussion of, or affecting, their respective constitutional powers. The substance of that argument treats how governments agreed to exercise their respective powers. It does not change those powers.
The agreement on internal trade, as the minister of industry emphasized in 1994, was a consensual agreement. It is important to remember in considering this bill that the basis of the agreement on internal trade was voluntary acceptance by each of the governments that signed it. That is the main reason for the weaknesses and shortcomings of the agreement and perhaps why it has failed to
live up to the expectations of many since it came into effect in July 1995.
Those weaknesses have been analysed and reported a great deal in the last year. The hon. member who proposed the bill before us has elaborated on several at length and on numerous occasions. What he has said is not without basis and many of his criticisms of the agreement are backed in very respectable and respected quarters.
When they testified before the House committee concerning the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada and others all identified a range of problem areas: the decision making process; the dispute settlement mechanism; the exceptions and exemptions; the putting off of issues to future negotiations; and the failure to meet the deadlines set for those negotiations.
The intent of this bill is to correct at least one of those problem areas, the decision making process. Unfortunately the proposed changes cannot accomplish that. Indeed, no action by this House alone can change that agreement.
The question might be asked then, why did the government introduce the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act last year and why was it passed into law? The short answer is that the legislation the House passed was necessary to give the government the tools it needed to meet its own responsibilities, obligations, and commitments under the agreement.
The fundamental flaw of the bill before us is that it fails to recognize that simple fact. The legislation could not and did not pretend to make the agreement binding on any of the other parties. The provinces and the territories are bound to the agreement on internal trade by their acceptance of and signature to that accord. Changing the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act, as the bill proposes, could not affect how the agreement works.
This bill is inappropriate because it fails to recognize that the agreement on internal trade is a consensual agreement and not just a federal creation. Besides that, the proposed amendment is unviable because it is based on simplistic analysis and cloudy assumptions regarding constitutional powers. It unwittingly mixes apples and oranges where it joins the exercise of federal constitutional powers with proposals being negotiated among the provinces in the context of the agreement on internal trade.
Many, if not most, matters under the jurisdiction of the agreement are sectors or areas where jurisdiction is shared with the provinces. Some areas are exclusively within provincial constitutional power. Where provinces are negotiating a proposal but one or more do not agree, this bill would have the federal government impose a majority view on all.
If the matter under negotiation were clearly or even arguably within provincial jurisdiction, the ability of the government to impose a solution would at best be open to challenge in the courts. Instead of being a way around the impasse, this amendment is more likely a recipe for protracted legal wrangling. It could make matters worse, but the intention of the person submitting this bill are honourable.
Even if, suspending all critical faculties, we were to allow that the kind of action envisaged by this amendment might be legally sustainable, it is not necessary. The government already has the power to regulate under sections 91 and 121 of the Constitution Act where it considers that doing so would be desirable and practical. Not only would the amendment be unnecessary but it would have the perverse effect of restricting government's ability to act in the national interest by limiting its powers in two ways.
First, the amendment makes the exercise of that power contingent on a majority of the provinces being in favour. The government's record in consulting interested parties before taking action speaks for itself. However, limiting our ability to take actions in areas within our jurisdiction to the approval of the majority of provinces as this bill would do is an unreasonable and unnecessary constraint.
Second, the amendment would further constrain the government's ability to take action in circumstances where both sections 91 and 121 of the Constitution Act would be invoked. Given the intent of the bill, the specific linkage would limit even further the practical scope of the kind the government action envisaged. It is difficult to determine whether that particular linkage is intentional or inadvertent. It is certainly poor drafting.
It is clear that there are several reasons this bill does not merit the support of the House. First and foremost it is not viable. It is inappropriate. It is unnecessary. It is poorly conceived and drafted. But the intent is honourable.
There is another reason this bill is wanting. It is coercive and divisive in a context where co-operation is necessary to achieve practical results for workers and companies.
In summary, this bill would amend section 9 of the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act, the section that gives the government authority to make orders pursuant to the dispute settlement procedures of the agreement on internal trade. The intent is to fix unilaterally a major AIT weakness by applying to or in all provinces any measure under negotiation in the AIT on which the provinces cannot reach consensus but for which there is
majority support, that is, two-thirds of the province and 50 per cent of the population.
The bill misconstrues both the nature of the AIT and the real scope for unilateral action under federal constitutional powers. New personnel and financial resources would probably be required to enforce any regulations made under the agreement.
Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see you in the Chair. It is now my turn to speak to Bill C-375, an act to amend the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act.
The purpose of this bill is to ensure that amendments can be made, even if they do not have the approval of all the provinces, by having a system in which at least two thirds of the provinces representing 50 per cent of the population would be enough to make these amendments.
It is a bit much to see that, on the one hand, they say no to a bill promoting trade between the provinces, something that should benefit the provinces, and that here in Ottawa, they want to pass a bill to impose interprovincial trade on the provinces against their will. There is something wrong here. Obviously, it smacks of the old logic that Ottawa has a monopoly on truth: ``We know what is good for you, and we will make sure that is what you get''.
What is worse, this is not the only sector in which this refrain comes up. We know very well that, when you talk about seven provinces and 50 per cent of the population, seeing how a consensus is arrived at in Canada, Quebec is often left standing on its own and often gets a raw deal.
I am surprised to see a Reform member sponsoring this bill. Three and a half years ago, when we first arrived here, I recall meeting these members at a luncheon designed to help us get to know each other's respective positions a bit better and being told they were for decentralization.
I think they are getting ready to deliver the same message during the next election campaign, but it is not very consistent with what we see here: ``Yes, Canada must be decentralized, the provinces must be given more power, and so on. The provinces are in the best position to decide what is good for their future''.
On one of the very last bills in private members' business, we heard a member of this same party say: ``No, in the end we are changing course and siding with the Liberals''. It is unbelievable how Ottawa can change people in a few years. This seems to be a dynamic that runs through all of the federal machinery. For us, this is a highly centralizing trend, one with no consideration for the provinces. Once again, there is talk of putting in place clauses in favour of domestic trade.
It is common knowledge today that, in the world of politics, the world of economics, and the world in general, people know that this is an era of opening up borders and encouraging the free circulation of goods and services, of capital, or of individuals. When it is good for economic activity, people reach agreement and liberalize trade.
So why would this be done against the will of some people? Why at some point would it be said: ``No, some provinces do not agree, but we are still going to impose this decision upon them, because Ottawa has decided it would be a good thing to do''?
How could the federal government decide something is good, and a province decide otherwise? What gives it more right to decide what is good and what is not?
This represents a return to that political paternalism that exists in Ottawa, that supremacy some people want to give this Parliament over the provinces.
This bill is hard to accept. I am certain that this desire for centralization which we often see expressed here will be one of the issues openly discussed in the coming weeks, and will go beyond domestic trade.
I come from a region of Quebec, Témiscamingue, in Abitibi, a magnificent region I would invite you to visit if you have the opportunity. The people in the regions are increasingly anxious for decentralization, and not just toward the provinces. For us, when we in Abitibi-Témiscamingue speak of decentralization, we think of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, not necessarily of decentralization only toward the provinces.
We know, for instance, that all federal regional development agencies have become agencies for political propaganda. They say they are there to help businesses become more competitive. In fact, the provinces already have similar structures. In the regions we are trying to have our own tools. We want to control these tools for economic development and we want to see them used by people, by our businesses where they are needed.
There are regions in Quebec and Canada which specialize in certain fields. In the agricultural sector this varies considerably. Some provinces are much better in the dairy sector and in poultry and egg production, while other provinces are good in beef and there are even different regions within these provinces.
The point is that the decision making power should be much closer to the grassroots. We have natural units and territories that have formed over the years. That is where the real power should be. They are close to the people. It is normal for national policies to be determined in parliaments. We hope that will be the case in the Parliament of Quebec, obviously. Everyone knows we are sovereignists and that we believe the national Parliament should be the
Parliament of Quebec, but we must decentralize to let our regions manage their own development.
So we have a measure that goes in the opposite direction. Ottawa is going to decide how interprovincial trade will be conducted, if it is to implement provisions that promote trade. However, there may be major differences of opinion. What about construction or government procurement?
In fact, there is quite a discussion going on in Quebec around this bill. We have dairy producers challenging the provisions on margarine colouring and butter. This is quite an issue. There are provincial authorities which are also accountable to the voters and as a result under pressure to do something.
I do not understand why people who are profoundly federalist and say they want to decentralize want all this to be decided here in Ottawa. We should leave it up to the provinces. When the provinces think it would be useful, they can conclude bilateral trade agreements. They can also enter into agreements among themselves. When all this has been done, then the government can go ahead but it should not impose such agreements, and this applies to both economic issues and constitutional issues.
The seven and fifty formula, which involves imposing on others, is certainly not the way to build and develop a country. This is what will happen in the coming years to bring us back to the situation that has long existed. Canada and Quebec will be two different entities, but imposing things against the will of one of the two founding peoples will mean political catastrophe for Canada.
I therefore do not recommend this route, except for Canada's own future within its own provinces. If it obviously works for everyone, people will agree at that point.
In conclusion, I simply want to mention as well that it is important to understand Canada's trade dynamic, which is much more along north-south lines now than east-west. So trade is developing more toward the south now. I know there is a certain nostalgia. Some want trade to go along east-west lines, even force it to do so to some extent. This is perhaps the desire underlying all that. We all know that trade is now naturally developing much more between north and south.
I close by expressing my great disappointment at the 180 degree about-face taken by a member of the Reform Party. I can hardly wait to watch these members explain their support for decentralization in the upcoming elections, when the aim of this bill is totally the opposite.
Mr. Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could make a ruling from the chair as to whether it is all right to call you Mr. Speaker while you are in the chair because Mr. Speaker is Mr. Speaker. Is it all right to address you in that manner, Mr. Speaker?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Speaker (Lethbridge)): On the hon. member's point of order, I want to make it very clear that Mr. Speaker is Mr. Speaker and I hope the hon. member will adhere to that understanding.
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address you as the Speaker today. It is a temporary honour, but I must say you do look good in the chair.
I want to talk for a few minutes about this private member's initiative by the member for Vegreville. He has put together the essence of the Reform Party's position on internal trade barriers into one neat package.
This bill will not become law and we are not going to have a chance to vote on it. However, this bill is important because it details what we would do if we were to form the government, or perhaps I should say when we form the government.
The Reform Party says there are 10 roles the federal government must maintain and in fact should strengthen in order to encourage a strong national government. One of the areas in which it should be strong is in the ability to strike down internal trade barriers.
The federal government should be involved in 10 essential areas. If we are going to have a nation, then we have to have a strong federal government. One of areas is the ability to regulate international trade or to enter into international trade agreements. Other areas are national defence, customs, the justice system and so on. Some areas are obvious but one many people do not think about is the ability to strike down internal trade barriers. If we cannot have a common trading market in our own country, how can we keep our country together? Economic ties will help us keep this country together.
One of the disappointments has been the inability of the Liberal government to conclude an internal trade agreement. The framework agreement is there and it sounds good. We were all very excited when in 1994 the government brought forward this internal trade agreement. We supported it. We thought that good, this is what we have been saying all along. The Reform Party has been firm on this from the beginning; it never changed its view. We must have a strong ability to strike down internal trade barriers.
But what do we see? All the easy ones are done right away. It is easy to talk about a few parts of the trade agreement, but when it comes to the tough stuff, the ones which grate between provinces, look what has not been signed. There are blank pages on the energy
side. There are blank pages on the agriculture side, another contentious issue. There are blank pages when it comes to municipalities and academic institutions, the so-called MASH group. There are blank pages in the natural resources sector.
There must be a free trade zone between the provinces but the federal government allows these trade barriers to stand. What is the cost of that? A lower standard of living and less trade between provinces. It is ironic that it is sometimes easier to trade north and south, as far down as Mexico in my part of the country, than it is to have free trade between the provinces. What a sad development.
Is it any wonder that the federal government relies almost exclusively on the export market for job creation. And I do too. I love export markets. It is a great opportunity for export companies. There is a danger in that. All job growth, for example, has been in the export market. There has been no job growth in Canada of any kind in the domestic market.
What kind of a message does that send down the road? What if there is an international downturn? That can happen and will happen. It is inevitable that it happens from time to time. The country would become totally reliant on international trade. If the country still has its own trade barriers, has not developed a strong national economy and has an export based economy only, when the downturn comes it will hurt and hurt a lot. This is why the federal government should adopt the step by step proposal of the member for Vegreville on what we should enforce as our national trade policy.
They should be given another little shot at it and told to listen up. All provinces should be told that we will have a national free trade economic zone. They have agreed to it. They have the framework agreement. They have been squabbling among yourselves for three years, which is not good enough. They should be given another few months to get it settled. They should think of Canada now instead of their own neighbourhoods. They should get with it and sign it.
The second proposal would be to change the ratification formula from unanimity, which is very hard to get when they are protecting their own turf, to a formula where two-thirds of the provinces and territories representing at least 50 per cent of the Canadian population would be used to pass sections that are contentious.
Why is that important? I have talked about job creation. The member for Vegreville talked about the cost per family of some $3,500 as a result of the trade barriers and the inability to trade freely between provinces. It causes poor business decisions to be followed and endorsed by the government.
In times past a brewery would be put up in one province because it could not sell in the next one. In those kinds of decisions they felt it was better to have a company headquartered in one province and another one headquartered across the river in the next province because it helped to get jobs, grants and business influence. That should not be the case in Canada.
We should say we are a free trade zone. The labour market should move freely to where it can find work and the best jobs. We have intellectual property that travels freely between the provinces. We have standards that keep us together as a nation. We should make sure in the energy sector, a valuable part of Canada domestic trade, that there are no barriers to trade. As we enter into the North American power grid with the provinces and the Americans, one province should not be pitted against another trying to sell at a cheaper rate and undercutting.
It should not be like that. We should be free to trade energy in Canada. When we get on the international power grid there is no use back biting one another. We should work together because we are a small player in the big scheme of things. We should work to protect our agricultural industry. It is amazing to me that one of our most valuable industries, the agricultural community, does not have free trade between provinces.
I remember earlier in Parliament asking members of the Bloc Quebecois what they thought would happen if Quebec separates. What will happen to the dairy industry, one of the most important agricultural industries in the entire province of Quebec? National agreements allow for trade of milk products from coast to coast. They had better get in on the agricultural deal. If they think they will get a better deal by pulling Quebec out of the country, they should think again. The dairy farmers in my region will say if Quebec is not part of the national scheme it does not get to sell them industrial milk.
I hope Bloc members tell their farmers the truth in upcoming federal election campaign. They are far better off staying in Canada and trying to work out a good deal with all the provinces than going on their own and finding out that the butter they are shipping to British Columbia will not get past their border because we will produce our own.
I am just saying in general that it is better for those in agriculture and energy to be part of a strong national system and a strong national government that protect their rights internationally and allow them a huge trading bloc within Canada. I hope they are paying attention and are telling that to their farmers.
Overall the reason this matter is important is that it is one of the 10 key areas the Reform Party says we need to have a strong national government. We cannot weaken the federal government by taking away its ability to control the common economic market and farming it to the provinces. It is something that must be maintained in Parliament.
The ability to strike down barriers to trade is something that we will strengthen. We will take advantage of our constitutional right to do so. The federal government needs to flex its muscles a little to try to get an agreement. The provinces need to know that a Reform government will make sure the common economic market will be maintained in all of Canada.
Ms. Jean Augustine (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to private member's Bill C-375.
The bill serves as a timely reminder of how important trade is to Canada, not only international trade but domestic trade. From its very beginnings Canada has been a trading nation. Trade is the lifeblood of the country. The well-being of all Canadians depends on our ability to create and profit from competitive trading environments, both internationally and at home.
For this reason the federal and provincial governments during 1993 and 1994 negotiated the agreement on internal trade. The purpose of the agreement was to create a framework for continuing co-operative efforts among governments to open up the domestic market.
It established a set of rules and a work program aimed at ensuring the free flow of goods, services, people and capital, and at more generally governing trade and trade disputes between provinces and territories.
The agreement on internal trade came into effect on July 1, 1995. It is no secret there are problems with the agreement. From the start the government recognized that the agreement was only a first step. We have accordingly consistently sought to bring other governments to agree to make it a more effective instrument for economic growth.
The Minister of Industry at every meeting of the committee on internal trade pressed his provincial colleagues to ensure the work mandated by the agreement was done within the deadlines set. He has repeatedly challenged the other parties to the agreement to consider seriously ways to improve both its scope and the way it operates.
Recent studies and reports by business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and by other observers have underlined many of the agreement's weaknesses. They have pulled few punches in identifying the reluctance of various provincial governments to live up to the spirit or the letter of their commitments. Most of the observers identified the decision making process of the agreement. that is its requirement for consensus as a major impediment to progress.
The bill reflects an attempt to address that issue. The intent is understandable. The bill unfortunately is neither realistic nor practical.
As most hon. members will recall, last year we considered and passed the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act which the bill proposes to amend.
The government introduced legislation in 1995 because we were then and remain today firmly committed to making the agreement work. The agreement enables the federal government to meet its obligations under the agreement on internal trade. That legislation was necessary to give the government the appropriate authority and specific tools to act within its own areas of direct responsibility.
However it is most important to recognize that the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act and the agreement on internal trade are quite different and distinct instruments.
One is legislation by and for one government within its own jurisdictions and powers. The other is a collectively achieved accord on how all the government parties to it will exercise their respective powers within their own jurisdictions.
The agreement on internal trade was the outcome of a difficult process of negotiation among the federal government, the provinces and territories during 1993-94. It was, however, successful, with a consensual outcome which all the governments accepted and which all signed.
The authority of the agreement on internal trade does not derive from federal legislation. Rather, the authority of the agreement on internal trade derives from the commitments, obligations and undertakings which all governments accepted when they signed it. That is a fundamental point which the bill before us fails to recognize.
Simply put, no one party to the agreement on internal trade can on its own amend that agreement. That is what this bill is attempting to do and that is why this bill is flawed.
There are therefore two main reasons why this bill is inappropriate. First, it cannot accomplish what it wishes to do. Second, it directly conflicts with the fundamental basis on which the agreement was negotiated.
The Canadian business sector has a legitimate expectation that the agreement on internal trade should deal effectively with internal trade barriers and impediments. It has a legitimate expectation that the agreement should also deal with the burden and extra costs imposed by conflicting, overlapping and duplicate regulatory requirements. Dealing definitively with internal trade issues is not a simple task.
It is easy to read sections 91(a) and 121 of the Constitution and conclude that what is needed is bold and decisive action by the federal government; easy but simplistic and ultimately ineffective.
It is simplistic because unilateral federal action could not address some areas that are exclusively within provincial jurisdiction like labour market mobility or local government spending on subsidies and other incentives. It is ultimately ineffective because it fails to recognize how this country works best.
Permanent, practical and effective change is best achieved when based on acceptance and co-operation among government, not on the basis of legalism and coercion.
All governments in Canada must work together to ensure that the national economy is strong and efficient, producing new products, services, jobs and growth opportunities. It is important to that end that all governments be pressed to make the agreement on internal trade work better.
The agreement belongs to all its parties. Its implementation is the responsibility of all its parties, not just that of the federal government.
While I cannot support the bill before us for the reasons I have outlined, I hope its message will not be lost on other governments. This government certainly can be counted on to continue to try to co-operate and work with others to strengthen and improve the agreement on internal trade. We look to others to work with us.
This bill is not viable. It is inappropriate. It is unnecessary. It is divisive and it is poorly drafted. I stand as a member not being able to support this private member's bill.
Mr. Benoit: Madam Speaker, there are a couple of minutes left in the hour. If I could get unanimous consent, I would like to make a couple of wrap-up remarks.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): Does the House agree?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Benoit: Madam Speaker, I would like to make clear that this is consistent with what Reform members have said all along, that we believe in decentralization in many areas. We have talked about those over the years.
One of the Bloc members intimated in his speech that we were changing our direction. That is not true.
From the time this political party started in 1987, the leader of the party and others have said that there are certain areas where we have to strengthen the role of the federal government. The member for Fraser Valley East mentioned some of those areas. One of them is certainly the area of freeing up trade between the provinces.
Government members who have spoken recognize the need for freeing up trade and yet, curiously, they said that we do not really have to do anything to make that happen. They feel that it is just going to happen. I suggest that it will not happen. I also suggest that the Canadian Constitution allows the federal government to take a stronger role.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais): The period provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to the Standing Orders, the item is dropped from the Order Paper.
It being 6.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow, pursuant to Standing Order 24 (1).
(The House adjourned at 6.31 p.m.)