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36th Parliament, 1st Session
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 209
Friday, April 16, 1999
|COASTAL FISHERIES PROTECTION ACT|
|Bill C-27. Third reading|
|Hon. David Anderson|
|Mr. Keith Martin|
|POINTS OF ORDER|
|Mr. Nelson Riis|
|Mr. Denis Coderre|
|COASTAL FISHERIES PROTECTION ACT|
|Bill C-27. Third reading|
|Mr. Yvan Bernier|
|STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS|
|CANADIAN HEMOPHILIA SOCIETY|
|Ms. Carolyn Bennett|
|Mr. Jim Gouk|
|INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF OLDER PERSONS|
|Mr. Paul Szabo|
|Mr. Reg Alcock|
|UNITED STATES CUSTOMS|
|Mr. John Maloney|
|Mr. Jim Pankiw|
|SECHELT FIRST NATIONS|
|Mr. David Iftody|
|Mr. René Canuel|
|Ms. Aileen Carroll|
|Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz|
|BENNY FARM VETERANS HOUSING COMPLEX|
|Mrs. Marlene Jennings|
|Mr. Nelson Riis|
|Mr. Stéphan Tremblay|
|Mr. Denis Coderre|
|Mr. Gerald Keddy|
|Mr. Stan Dromisky|
|Mr. Mike Scott|
|ORAL QUESTION PERIOD|
|Mr. Art Hanger|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|Mr. Art Hanger|
|Mr. Robert Bertrand|
|Mr. Art Hanger|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|Mr. Keith Martin|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. Keith Martin|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. Michel Gauthier|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. Michel Gauthier|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. René Laurin|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|Mr. René Laurin|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|Ms. Alexa McDonough|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Ms. Alexa McDonough|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. André Bachand|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. André Bachand|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE|
|Mr. Jay Hill|
|Hon. Lawrence MacAulay|
|Mr. Jay Hill|
|Hon. Lawrence MacAulay|
|Mrs. Monique Guay|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mrs. Monique Guay|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. Grant McNally|
|Hon. Lucienne Robillard|
|Mr. Grant McNally|
|Hon. Lucienne Robillard|
|Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral|
|Hon. Herb Gray|
|Mr. Lee Morrison|
|Mr. Stan Dromisky|
|Mr. Jim Hart|
|Mr. Stan Dromisky|
|Mr. Réal Ménard|
|Hon. Lloyd Axworthy|
|Mr. John O'Reilly|
|Hon. Ralph E. Goodale|
|Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz|
|Hon. Lawrence MacAulay|
|Mr. Derrek Konrad|
|Hon. David Anderson|
|Mr. Dick Proctor|
|Mr. Joe McGuire|
|Mr. Dick Proctor|
|Mr. Joe McGuire|
|Mr. Charlie Power|
|Hon. Allan Rock|
|Mr. Charlie Power|
|Hon. Allan Rock|
|Mr. David Pratt|
|Mr. Robert Bertrand|
|Mr. Maurice Vellacott|
|Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew|
|Mr. Paul Mercier|
|Mr. Robert Bertrand|
|PUBLIC SERVICE OF CANADA|
|Mr. Pat Martin|
|Mr. Tony Ianno|
|Mr. Gerald Keddy|
|Hon. David Anderson|
|GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS|
|Mr. Reg Alcock|
|COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE|
|Mr. Ian Murray|
|Mr. Mac Harb|
|Mr. Inky Mark|
|Young Offenders Act|
|Mr. Inky Mark|
|Mr. Inky Mark|
|Mr. Inky Mark|
|Mr. Inky Mark|
|Mr. Paul Szabo|
|QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER|
|Mr. Reg Alcock|
|Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew|
|Hon. Alfonso Gagliano|
|BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE|
|Mr. Bob Kilger|
|COASTAL FISHERIES PROTECTION ACT|
|Bill C-27. Third reading|
|Mr. Yvan Bernier|
|Mr. Rick Laliberte|
|Mr. Charlie Power|
|Mr. Yvan Bernier|
|Mr. Charlie Power|
|Mr. Gerald Keddy|
|Hon. Fred Mifflin|
|Mr. Stéphan Tremblay|
|(Vote deemed demanded and deferred)|
|PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS|
|Bill C-440. Second reading|
|Mr. Dan McTeague|
|Mr. Keith Martin|
|Mr. Dick Proctor|
|Mr. Gerald Keddy|
|Mr. Joe Jordan|
|Mrs. Marlene Jennings|
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 209
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Friday, April 16, 1999
The House met at 10 a.m.
COASTAL FISHERIES PROTECTION ACT
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.) moved that Bill C-27, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act to enable Canada to implement the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and other international fisheries treaties or arrangements, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Nelson Riis: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
This is a rather unique moment in Canada's history. As a follow up to the initiative taken by the Prime Minister of Canada yesterday in calling up the greatest hockey player ever and encouraging him to stay on, I would like to seek unanimous consent to put the following motion.
I would move that, in the opinion of the House, Wayne Gretzky should not retire but should play one more season in the National Hockey League. However, in the event that he decides to retire, then consideration should be given to appointing Wayne Gretzky as Canada's ambassador for hockey.
Hon. Don Boudria: Madam Speaker, as much as probably all of us agree with the sentiments expressed in the motion, we cannot agree to have a motion of the House incite someone to making career changes or choices.
When Mr. Gretzky makes his decision, should we want to congratulate him by way of a motion, I am sure all of us would want to do that then, but I do not think we can accept the motion as presently worded.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): As there is no consent at this point we will proceed to debate.
Hon. David Anderson: Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-27, which will enable Canada to ratify the United Nations agreement on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory species, commonly known as the UN Fisheries Agreement, or UNFA.
The bill amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act. When Bill C-27 is passed and these acts are amended, Canada will then be in the position to ratify the United Nations agreement and the UNFA will then provide an important tool for the protection of straddling stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
I am pleased that the legislation has reached this final stage of approval by the House. It has been a long process but the outcome will be well worthwhile.
Once we have passed Bill C-27 and have ratified the UN fish agreement, we will then have increased moral authority to encourage other states to ratify the agreement.
We can get on with the job of seeing that this and other international agreements to conserve the world's fisheries are brought into force and implemented.
At this point I would like to remind the House of some of the history which demonstrates the need for international action to deal with overfishing of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks and which eventually led to the development of UNFA.
By way of background we need to go back to 1977 when Canada, as did many other nations, established the 200 mile exclusive fishing zone. It is important to note that Canada's continental shelf extends beyond the 200 mile limit and thus fish stocks straddle the limit. This geographic situation has been a cause for concern for Canada even before the fishing zone line was created.
In 1979 NAFO, or the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, was created to take responsibility and to protect fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic beyond Canada's 200 mile limit. This was followed by the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS, which was open to signature in 1982 and which came into force in 1994.
UNCLOS provides coastal states with the exclusive sovereign right to explore, exploit, conserve and manage fisheries within the 200 nautical miles from their shore. However, it only provides general rules for co-operation and management of the straddling and the highly migratory stocks.
Despite the advantages and the advances of NAFO and UNCLOS, overfishing by vessels continued outside Canada's 200 mile limit in the northwest Atlantic. This contributed to the decline of straddling groundfish stocks of cod, flatfish and turbot.
In 1989, in response to scientific evidence of a serious decline in fish stocks, Canada began a major campaign to end overfishing in the northwest Atlantic. For example, in 1990 Canada hosted a conference on high seas fishing in St. John's, Newfoundland. We had experts there from coastal states around the world trying to design new principles for high seas fishing.
During the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit at Rio, Canada won international support for the convening of a conference for the negotiation of new arrangements to establish comprehensive rules for the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks on the high seas.
The UN Fisheries Agreement was concluded in August 1995 and Canada was one of the first countries to sign. To date, 21 states have ratified the UNFA. This agreement requires 30 ratifications to enter into force.
During this time the international community developed other instruments to deal with similar problems in the fishery. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, developed the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, which is fortunately known by the more convenient term as the Compliance Agreement.
Members of the House are well aware of much of this material so I will not go into detail. I will only say that the FAO Compliance Agreement and the FAO Code of Conduct are significant steps toward greater fisheries conservation, but the United Nations Fisheries Agreement that we are discussing today is by far the most important tool that we could have.
Why is UNFA so valuable? It sets up a new legal framework which will provide the effective monitoring, compliance and enforcement needed to protect straddling and highly migratory fish stocks on the high seas.
Proper conservation and management of these stocks will make a significant contribution to ensure the sustainability of this important food source for future generations.
This will probably be one of the most important international issues that faces the world in the 21st century. If we do not take adequate steps to protect stocks of fish in the high seas, within 20 or 30 years, indeed, within our children's lifetime and perhaps our own we will see more than half the world's surface cease to be a source of protein in food for human kind. Half the world's surface will become a desert from the point of view of feeding human kind. That is the issue. That is why it is so important to work in this area.
Let us have a look at some of the main sections of the agreement. First, under general principles, the UNFA provides guiding principles for the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. These include the precautionary principle whereby states must be more cautious in their fisheries, scientific conservation and management decisions when information about the fishery is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate; compatibility between measures applied inside and outside a coastal state's waters to ensure that measures adopted by a coastal state in its waters for straddling fish stocks are not undermined by measures applicable to the high seas; the use of the best scientific evidence available to determine resource status; and the minimization of pollution, waste, discards and bycatch.
The second point I would like to stress is the obligation to co-operate. This is an international area and international co-operation is essential. The United Nations fisheries agreement reiterates the law of the sea obligations for parties to co-operate in the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks either directly or through regional fisheries organizations and arrangements. For Canada, the two key organizations are the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, which I mentioned earlier, and the international convention for the conservation of Atlantic tuna, those highly migratory stocks.
The UNFA also sets out general principles and obligations regarding the setting up, functioning and strengthening of regional fisheries organizations and provides rules concerning the participation of states in such organizations. As we know, the problem of non-members bedevils agreements of this type.
UNFA provides specific rules with respect to non-members of regional fisheries organizations.
In effect, UNFA binds the parties to co-operate in the management and conservation of straddling or highly migratory fish stocks, whether or not they belong to a given regional fisheries organization. Vessels whose flag states are party to UNFA are bound by that organization's conservation and management measures even if they are not party to the organization.
With respect to transparency, UNFA has provisions to oblige regional fisheries organizations to be transparent in their decision-making and other activities. Intergovernmental organizations and NGOs that are concerned with straddling and highly migratory fish stocks will now have an opportunity for observer participation in meetings of these organizations.
Some organizations—ICCAT for example—have already established guidelines for their participation. NAFO and others are considering proposals to do so.
Co-operation is a very important principle when it comes to science and management. UNFA reiterates the UNCLOS principle that states have a duty to co-operate in the conservation and management of fishing resources.
Specifically, this means that states undertake an obligation to co-operate in exchanging and sharing scientific, technical and statistical data and information concerning straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, and also co-operate in finding the right solutions for sustainable management of the resource.
UNFA requires flag states to undertake measures to ensure that their vessels comply with regional conservation and management measures and do not engage in activities that undermine the effectiveness of such measures.
UNFA offers a strong compliance and enforcement regime, a regime which allows states other than the flag state to take action, such as boarding and inspecting a vessel flying the flag of another state that is party to UNFA, without prior authorization of the flag state, to ensure that vessels are complying with conservation and enforcement measures developed by regional fisheries organizations. These provisions are an important step towards prevention of overfishing of stocks that straddle Canada's 200-mile limit.
The eighth point is the dispute settlement procedures. Finally, there are compulsory and binding dispute settlement procedures. These procedures are established for disputes which arise out of the interpretation or the application of the United Nations fisheries agreement or regional fisheries agreements, such as the NAPO convention which I mentioned before.
UNFA refers to the procedures set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will apply to states that are party to the United Nations fisheries agreement whether or not they are parties to the law of the sea agreement. This is a very useful technique which provides states that are parties to the UNFA with an effective way to resolve disputes concerning the conservation and management of those straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.
The non-flag state enforcement regime and the compulsory and binding dispute settlement procedure of the UNFA make it the strongest existing international regime applicable to the high seas.
I would like to say a word on the need for this bill.
The merits of UNFA are clear. Now we need to adopt Bill C-27 in order for Canada to be able to fully implement the agreement. Existing legislation is, for the most part, sufficient to allow Canada to implement the 1995 agreement. There are, however, some gaps. Bill C-27 is intended to allow Canada to assert the rights meet the obligations set out in the agreement. By design it goes no further than that.
We have worked hard. When I talk of hard work I would like to pay special tribute to the hon. member from Malpeque for his dedicated work in this House and in committee. We would not be here with the possibility of this bill without his untiring dedication. I believe that this should be recognized by all members of the House on both sides.
The member for Malpeque and other members of the fisheries committee, as well as members of this House from coastal ridings, have worked hard to ensure that the bill is fully consistent with the agreement. We will implement this legislation in a manner that is fully consistent with our rights and obligations under the agreement.
States that accede to the agreement and honour the obligations that it sets out have nothing to fear from this legislation. We will fully respect the safeguards that are set out in the agreement.
Differences that arise, such as whether the obligations have been honoured, will be negotiated between states, resolved within the framework established by the regional fisheries organizations or, as a last resort, submitted to compulsory and binding dispute settlement.
For ourselves and states which accede to and honour the obligations set out in the agreement, the confrontations of the past will happily be relegated to the pages of history. In our view the agreement, once ratified by ourselves and our fishing partners, will make an important contribution to conservation, a sustainable fishery and constructive relations between states.
Once the bill is passed and subordinate regulations are made, Canada will be in a position to ratify the UNFA, and I stand to state on behalf of the Government of Canada that we will ratify the UNFA when that stage is achieved.
The compliance and enforcement regime is the only part of the UNFA that needs to be implemented by the adoption of new legislation. That is why we introduced Bill C-27.
Canada has already begun to implement the agreement. At home we are reviewing our domestic and foreign fishing policies to verify that all of them are in compliance with the principles and rules of the agreement. Internationally we are working to implement the UNFA principles and rules within the regional fisheries organizations to which we belong, such as the International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, as well as through our participation and negotiations to create new regional fisheries organizations, particularly in the western and central Pacific.
I am convinced that the general adoption and implementation of these guiding principles and rules by which regional fisheries organizations operate will improve the way we manage the world's fisheries.
Once we have ratified UNFA, Canada can be a leader in urging others to ratify it and to implement its principles, rules and values, both within their jurisdiction and within regional fisheries organizations throughout the world.
We cannot solve the problems of the world's fisheries alone, but Canada intends to be a leader. With the UNFA and the other tools at our disposal, and with the co-operation of our fishing partners, we can bring an end to the destructive and wasteful fishing practices of the past, and we must do that.
I therefore urge the House to move quickly to adopt Bill C-27.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today. I would like to say that it is very nice to see the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans back and in good health after his accident.
As we speak, we are seeing an unprecedented situation. Never before in the history of mankind have we seen our fish stocks being decimated in such a rapid fashion. Not only have we seen them decimated, indeed they are becoming extinct. From the east coast of Canada to South Africa and to the west coast of Africa to southeast Asia we are seeing fish stocks all over the world damaged and destroyed by overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution.
Internationally, as the minister said in his speech, we have in front of us an enormous challenge. How do we provide fish and fish species not only for our families to enjoy but for future generations? From a morale perspective, how do we ensure that these creatures, which have been on the earth longer than people, continue to exist in the future? Therein lies the challenge.
To articulate the problem will take a long time, but we must start. We have seen the raping and pillaging of our fish stocks all over the world in an unprecedented fashion. International communities and governments have been unable to put together a framework with teeth to address this situation. That is what this bill was supposed to do. That is what the international agreement was for. Unfortunately, while this bill goes part of the way, it does not have teeth to properly address this issue.
We are seeing fish stocks diminishing and becoming extinct all over the world. This is a serious problem for all of us. We are also seeing radionuclide cancer causing agents, teratogenic agents, being increased through the food chain. We are finding them not only in small fish but also in larger fish and indeed large mammals. If we look at the beluga whale population in the eastern part of Canada, we see an unprecedented amount of cancer causing agents within their body masses. If we look to the north and see the aboriginal people who live there and consume a large amount of fish in their diet, we see an unprecedented amount of these cancer causing teratogenic agents.
Not many people are talking about this, as I know the member from the other side who is from the north will articulate, but the tragic manifestation of that is that we have found in their populations an unprecedented number of babies born with birth defects, people suffering from cancers at levels that we have not seen in other populations, and numbers which are a silent tragedy not only within our own country but in other countries that share the north.
Earlier this week there were representatives from Russia here, many of whom were from parts of northern Russia such as Siberia and Irkutsk. Their aboriginal communities are suffering from unprecedented levels of these cancer causing agents. Their people are suffering from these cancers and birth defects. It is a silent tragedy and is a direct result of the pollution that has been dumped in the oceans of the world, affecting all of us.
We see pillaging by large boats that are going around the world laying nets even in spite of international laws. These groups show a wilful disregard for the fish stocks that exist today. They will do whatever it takes to pillage and take whatever they want.
One of the challenges of Bill C-27 and one of the challenges of the UNCLOS was to put teeth into a document that will be able to address these pirates of the high seas. In no uncertain terms they will have penalties applied to them so that they cannot continue to engage in the rape of our oceans which affects all of us.
Destruction of the habitat is also occurring not only within the oceans but also on land. In my province of British Columbia we have a hodge-podge situation. The province is responsible for part of the environment and the feds for the other. There is very little co-ordination. As a result deforestation is taking place to the edge of the rivers, which is destroying crucial and critical salmon habitat.
Our response should be to create a system working with the provinces to ensure that it does not happen. We also have a situation on private lands where individuals have the ability to engage in, and do engage in, the wilful destruction of habitat on those lands, often high up in the river system. This has a profound and damaging effect on the entire river system, destroying habitat that is crucial for salmon species in particular to be able to breed. This serious situation has occurred for a long time and the minister has been unable or unwilling to address it.
The private sector would be very interested in working with the government to provide an equitable solution to ensure that the habit is protected and that the interest in personal land is respected. They are not mutually exclusive principles. We can have personal ownership and still have the ability to protect the land and the resources. When an individual's actions has a profound and damaging effect on the entire ecosystem, it should not be allowed but is going on right now.
It is one of the most important things that has led to the destruction of the salmon fishery on the west coast. It is not necessarily overfishing, which has had a profound effect, but it is the damage of the habit. The desecration of habitat is the single most profound factor in the destruction and decimation of our salmon species.
That is clearly within the purview of the federal government and the provincial government. My colleague, the critic for fisheries from Saanich—Gulf Islands, and my other colleague from Delta, both of whom have worked very hard to provide constructive solutions to the minister, need to be listened to. Their solutions need to be employed. The minister needs to work with his provincial counterparts to make this a reality.
There are things that can be done. Let us look at how fishermen are suffering. Right now the government has made promises and these promises have been broken. I will give the House some examples of what it has been doing.
I have a letter from a constituent which was written to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It articulates very clearly how the transitional job fund that has been put forth by the minister and promised by the minister is simply not doing its job. It reads in part as follows:
Despite the announcement made by the minister on June 19, 1998, very little has been resolved for displaced fisheries workers. Of the $100 million promised for licence buyback measures, only $23.4 million is accounted for.
A letter from the minister dated March 9, 1999, sent to me by my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands, states that of the $100 million for habitat protection laid out and promised by the minister only $6.5 million has actually been paid out. Some 6.5% of the total amount of money designated for the critical reclamation of habitat has been paid out.
The final $200 million as promised aid according to the minister's letter is only being paid out at $41.7 million or 20.8% of the money. The rest, nearly 80%, has not been paid out. This means that since the minister promised the money to be forthcoming to fisherman and their communities over nine months ago, less than 18% of the promised moneys has been paid out to fishermen, their families and their communities. These people are suffering. They are in his province. They are in my province. They need help. They do not want handouts but they certainly want to get back to work.
Many of the projects that are being put forth and funded by the transitional job fund are not very useful for ensuring that the people working in the fishing community will have another long term sustainable job to go to, not a short term make work project by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
There are solutions, some of which I will articulate. These solutions would fulfil what we all want to see. We want to see the rejuvenation of fish and their habitat in a long term sustainable fashion.
One of the things for which we have been pushing for years is fish farming. Many years ago Canada was a leader in fish farming. What happened was that Chile and Norway usurped us and now are world leaders in fish farming. Norway in particular does it right.
We need to look at the example of Norway to see what it did right. Within fish farming lie jobs that people currently in the fishing communities who are unable to work at their traditional roles can go into instead of trying to make fishermen information technology specialists and computer specialist with an eight week course when they are in their forties and fifties and have over 20 years of experience fishing. As they say, it ain't going to happen.
We can train them and put them into jobs that may not be exactly what they have done before but would certainly be congruent with what they have traditionally done. To train them or to ask them to map rivers and streams that have been mapped a dozen times before is clearly an expensive make work project. Why not give them the skills to do the work within fish farming, which could create a lot of jobs.
In my riding we have proposed for years a hatchery on the Sooke River. This hatchery in a community with over a 20% unemployment rate could create over $90 million in spinoff benefits and hundreds of jobs. In the community of Sooke 200 or 300 jobs would have a profound, dramatic and positive impact on people's lives. They would be working in something close to the land. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities would be provided a mesh or a linkage between them, which would do a lot for developing peace and harmony between communities that are fighting over a diminishing resource. We must look at that.
Another example is Iceland which has done a remarkable job of saving its fish. It has a long term sustainable fishing industry. When Iceland representatives approached Canada some years ago they came with open hands and said that they would work with us to rebuild our fishery on the east coast. What did they get? Indifference and a cold shoulder from a country that has been a leader in the fishing industry.
We as a country, particularly our east coast, desperately needed help. We desperately needed a plan to revise, revamp and rejuvenate the economy but got absolutely nothing. Now we see the payoff for that neglect. We see communities on the east coast suffering and relying more and more on government handouts and less and less on the ability to provide for themselves.
That has not only damaging effects on them as individuals but profound and damaging effects on their economy and communities. The social fabric of the communities on the east coast has been torn apart as it is being torn apart on the west coast.
There are solutions. I am not for a moment advocating what has taken place in southeast Asia which has engaged in fish farming that has been absolutely destructive to its environment. We do not need to adopt that, but we need to open our eyes and look at countries around the world which have done an excellent job of saving their fish and providing a long term sustainable fishery.
I will go back to Iceland for a second. It tries to focus on getting the maximum value per fish. As a result it has managed to ensure that each fish caught, particularly in a sports fishing capacity, generates an awful lot of money. I believe it is $80 to $100 per fish.
In the difficult times of today with the difficult decisions that have to be made what I will say is politically incorrect but in my view needs to be discussed. Less reliance has to be put on purse seiners, on those large fishing vessels that vacuum the ocean.
The minister wants to buy back. The process he is engaged in, the so-called Mifflin plan, will centralize fishing in a very small number of hands. Those hands will be the big boats. The argument they will put forth is that by having fewer boats fewer fish will be caught. That is not true and the reason is that the technology of today will merely expand to fit the boats. These boats can catch much more than they do. They just need the opportunity to do it.
The Mifflin plan is destroying and taking away the fishery from small individual operators and putting it into the hands of large fishing boats, many of which are owned by the large fishing corporations and packing groups. Does that do much for employment? No. Does it do much for increasing value added fish products? No, it does not. We should be striving for maximum value and maximum employment in a sustainable fashion for the fishing industry in Canada. That is not what the government's plan is doing and that is not what is happening now.
It can be done. The government has heard from from my colleagues from Saanich—Gulf Islands and from Delta—South Richmond constructive, effective and pragmatic solutions to deal with the problem. All we have had is basically a blind eye. I will give the minister credit. He had a lot of courage this year in closing down some fisheries and in the process saving some species. For that he ought to be congratulated.
If we are to protect our fish, which came to light a few years ago, enforcement is critical. DFO enforcement officers are beside themselves. They try to enforce the laws but people higher up in DFO have meddled in their affairs and prevented them from doing that. As a result the best enforcement officers, if they have been doing their jobs, have in fact been marginalized and those who have played the party game in the bureaucracy have advanced.
The DFO bureaucracy has been pulling the teeth of the enforcement officers preventing them from enforcing the law, which is a complete outrage. Strong enforcement of our present laws and the respect of the minister, deputy minister and the people high up in the echelon are needed so that the enforcement officers will be supported and protected in doing their jobs.
The scientists in DFO have to be supported and encouraged because whatever plans we have must be based on good science. Over the last few years in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and with this Liberal government politics has overridden good science.
A case in point is the cod fishery on the east coast. A couple of years ago cod stocks were shown to be increasing a bit. What did the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans do? The minister said he would open it up for a limited cod fishery in spite of the fact that the scientists had said we were having an increase in our cod but to do nothing and let it ride a bit so the numbers could increase. For purely political reasons prior to the last election the then minister opened up the fishery. He destroyed the ability of the cod fishery to sufficiently expand and have a long term sustainable fishery.
It speaks of a problem the scientists have been having in DFO for a long time. In spite of their hard work and diligence, in spite of their tenacity in finding the best solutions possible, the mucky-mucks on top and the politicos kept their answers and solutions under wrap. They forced the scientists not to say anything and rapped them on the knuckles when they did. That is idiotic.
Those studies are funded by the taxpayer. The taxpayer has a right to know what they are. As a result I would submit to the minister that all scientific studies done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans be made public. All interested parties could then look at them and know what is going on on the ocean floor. Everybody would know the number of fish there, the projected fish stocks, what we need to do to save them and what we might be able to do in terms of fishing them sustainably. These are things we have to determine.
The number of fish that are going to be pulled out have to be based on sustainable quotas and the quotas have to be based on good hard science. They cannot be based on politics. Politics has killed our fishery historically.
We have enormous challenges ahead of us not only within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans but also in the policies we enact domestically and internationally. The minister's speech indicates that he is very interested in this issue. I know he is very interested in stopping the habitat destruction, the pollution and the other elements of overfishing that have gone into destroying not only our fish stocks but the fish stocks of many others.
Polluters in our country and around the world are continuing to dump damaging toxic carcinogenic materials into our oceans. This has long term and profound effects not only on fish but also on mammals. The minister must work with the Minister of the Environment to implement tough laws, laws which have teeth, to penalize those individuals who are wilfully polluting our oceans, rivers and streams. At the present time many polluters at best get a rap on the knuckles and at worst nothing. Because of short staffing in both the Department of the Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans these things are simply not enforced.
With respect to Bill C-27 and the UN convention on the law of the sea, one of our great challenges on both the east and west coasts is the foreign fishing vessels which come into our waters, pillage our fish and then escape outside the 200 mile zone. Unless some rigid specifications are met, our interdiction officers cannot apprehend these boats once they get outside the 200 mile zone. That should not happen.
Pirates of the sea should not have anywhere to escape to if they are pillaging the oceans. Oceans have no boundaries. There are no lines indicating “this is ours and that is yours”. The pollution and damage that takes place in the oceans affects all of us. We can no longer turn a blind eye and let it continue.
In closing, I implore the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to work with the Minister of the Environment and the provincial ministers to develop constructive plans, as he has heard here from across party lines, to address pollution, habitat destruction and overfishing. Without those, we will not have a fishery in the ocean and species will become extinct. All species will suffer. Not only will it be the fish in the sea that suffer, but we will suffer as well.
* * *
POINTS OF ORDER
Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, NDP): Madam Speaker, there have been discussions among the various political parties.
It is fair to say that this is Wayne Gretzky day in Canada. We recognize the Great One is agonizing over what he should do in terms of his future. In light of this moment, I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to put the following motion. I move:
That, this House recognizes the outstanding contribution that Wayne Gretzky has made to Canada's national sport.
Mr. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have no problem with this motion, and as a friendly gesture, I would now like to read the French version.
Que le Chambre reconnaisse la contribution extraordinaire que Wayne Gretzky a apportée à notre sport national.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Does the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys have the consent of the House to propose the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there agreement to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
* * *
COASTAL FISHERIES PROTECTION ACT
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, 18, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act to enable Canada to implement the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and other international fisheries treaties or arrangements, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Yvan Bernier (Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, BQ): Madam Speaker, it is a bit amusing to in the House to speak on a bill right after a tribute to the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky. I hope the Canadiens will forgive me. I will try not to skate around the issue but rather will attempt to explain the bill we are examining.
Before addressing Bill C-27, whose purpose, I would remind members, is to implement the United Nations Fisheries Agreement, it is necessary first of all to see what that agreement is all about. I will then look at how Canada intends to Canadianize certain parts of it.
I have a copy in front of me of the United Nations Agreement, and I think it is important to review it. I would like to begin by reading its preamble. This is an agreement that will go down in history and will govern all countries on the earth, if more than 30 countries ratify it in the coming weeks and months.
In its preamble, the agreement states:
The States Parties to this Agreement,
Recalling the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982,
Determined to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks—
This refers to the stocks which straddle or migrate across exclusive economic zones.
—and highly migratory fish stocks,
Resolved to improve cooperation between States to that end,
Calling for more effective enforcement by flag States, port States and coastal States of the conservation and management measures adopted for such stocks,
I am still reading the preamble:
Seeking to address in particular the problems identified in chapter 17, programme area C, of Agenda 21 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, namely, that the management of high seas fisheries is inadequate in many areas and that some resources are overutilized; noting that there are problems of unregulated fishing, over-capitalization, excessive fleet size, vessel reflagging to escape controls, insufficiently selective gear, unreliable databases and lack of sufficient cooperation between States.
Committing themselves to responsible fisheries,
Conscious of the need to avoid adverse impacts on the marine environment, preserve biodiversity, maintain the integrity of marine ecosystems and minimize the risk of long-term or irreversible effects of fishing operations,
Recognizing the need for specific assistance, including financial, scientific and technological assistance, in order that developing States can participate effectively in the conservation, management and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
Convinced that an agreement for the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention would best serve these purposes and contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security,
Affirming that matters not regulated by the Convention or by this Agreement continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law, have agreed as follows.
And so forth.
Why do I take the time to read the foreword? This document sets out and puts on the table the general philosophy of the countries signing it. I would like to make a few comments at this time.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): We must go to Statements by Members and this would seem like a good time to interrupt. There would be 35 minutes left in debate when next the member has the floor.
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
CANADIAN HEMOPHILIA SOCIETY
Ms. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that April 17, 1999 is World Hemophilia Day.
This year in Canada approximately 50 newborns will be diagnosed with hemophilia, an inherited blood clotting condition caused by deficiency of two blood proteins.
The impact of hepatitis C and HIV-AIDS on the hemophilia community has been devastating, bringing many challenges. The Canadian Hemophilia Society provides support and services to Canadians who live with the disease. The society has responded to the increased challenges with programs and services that endeavour to meet the needs of all persons living with hemophilia and those also infected with hepatitis C and/or HIV-AIDS.
Please join me in congratulating the Canadian Hemophilia Society and its compassionate volunteers for their work and dedication.
* * *
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Nisga'a treaty is winding its way through the B.C. legislature. The NDP government is ramming it through using something the Liberals are well familiar with: closure. The federal Liberals have indicated they intend to ram it through parliament, likely using closure as well.
Are these two governments right or wrong? I guess that depends on your point of view. If these governments are dictatorships, then I guess they can do whatever they want. However, if they are a democracy, they have to listen to the people, a rather bothersome concept for both of these parties.
What are the people of B.C. saying? Three regional plebiscites on the Nisga'a treaty have all rejected it by over 90%. The 25 public meetings I held in my riding indicate the same level of rejection.
British Columbians want aboriginal issues settled, but in a manner that works for all. A treaty that places aboriginal assets and powers in the hands of a few does not benefit most aboriginal members. A treaty that provides special benefits to a few on the basis of race does not resolve past differences for anyone. If the Liberals want to end western alienation, they had better start listening to the people of the west, all of them.
* * *
INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF OLDER PERSONS
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has designated 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons. Canada has one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world. In 1951 less than 10% of the population was over 65 years of age, but 30 years from now, we can expect one in five Canadians to be over 65.
However, our seniors are vital participants in all walks of life. In Canada 69% of seniors provide some kind of support or help to spouses, children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours. An estimated 23% of Canadian seniors contribute some time each week to unpaid volunteerism and the value of that volunteerism is estimated to be as much as $2.3 billion per year. Seniors are also the largest per capita donors to charities.
These are but a few of the reasons why it is appropriate for 1999 to have been designated the International Year of Older Persons. This is our year and our special opportunity to honour and thank our seniors for their special contribution to the lives of all Canadians from sea to sea to sea.
* * *
Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, whenever a Chinese leader visits Canada there is always the public discussion of human rights in China.
This is an important issue and needs to be discussed. However, the debate often obscures another reality in China.
This was brought home to me last week when I visited a small rural village in the mountains of Guangdong province in southern China. There I met a young woman who told me a story about Premier Zhu Rongi, when he first became premier, who, when he saw the poverty that so many Chinese live in, said, with tears in his eyes, “What kind of premier am I that our people live in such poverty”.
As a result, Premier Zhu is working hard to bring decent health care to rural China. He insists that all children get an education and he strives every day to create the conditions that will give those children a better future.
This is a perspective that is not often heard in North America and one that we should consider when we rush to condemn.
* * *
UNITED STATES CUSTOMS
Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have very serious concerns on the U.S. administration's proposed fee for the use of the U.S. customs' automated system. Canada moves by truck. Close to 80% of merchandise trade with the United States is by road. Members in the Chamber appreciate that this fee, being considered to help fund a much needed upgrade of automated commercial operations, would increase the cost of Canadian exports to the United States.
We acknowledge the need for and efficiency of upgraded automated commercial operations. Indeed, it has become an essential and vital component of international trade. Goods and the information associated with them must travel quickly to respond to the needs of just in time inventory management systems and the pressures of global competition.
I suggest the proposed new levy would be a customs user fee of the type that is prohibited by Article 310 of NAFTA and therefore inconsistent with U.S. obligations under NAFTA.
I commend the Minister of International Trade and the Canadian ambassador in Washington for registering our strong opposition and urge them to vigorously continue this challenge. Canadian traders deserve nothing less.
* * *
Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon—Humboldt, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, as a former health care practitioner and now as a member of parliament from Saskatchewan, I am appalled by the undemocratic and arrogant action taken by NDP Premier Roy Romanow to end the nurses strike in our province.
While refusing to represent the interests of health care workers, the Saskatchewan government has rammed through back to work legislation in just six hours. Now the NDP is threatening the provinces nurses with fines and jail time if they do not comply.
The actions of Saskatchewan's NDP premier are causing hospital closures and forcing patients to seek treatment out of province. This is because the NDP will not bargain in good faith with nurses and the government refuses to enter binding arbitration. Consequently, nurses are being forced to accept unfair wages. As a result, the nursing shortage and poor working conditions will continue.
Hopefully Saskatchewan voters, just like their counterparts did in Ontario and as they will soon do in British Columbia, will vote to remove yet another out of touch, socialist NDP government.
* * *
SECHELT FIRST NATIONS
Mr. David Iftody (Provencher, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today our government marks another important milestone in Canada's history with a treaty signing with the Sechelt First Nations in British Columbia.
In the short time since we began charting a new course with the aboriginal people under our initiative called Gathering Strength, we have concluded landmark treaty agreements with the Sechelt and Nisga'a in British Columbia, and we have witnessed the birth of a new territory called Nunavut. These historic events reflect the spirit behind Gathering Strength.
Each agreement reflects solutions that are uniquely suited to the needs and aspirations of various aboriginal communities, respecting the diversity of our country that is a hallmark of Canadian federation.
This government has demonstrated its dedication to fairness and justice through the negotiation of honourable treaties. We are determined to reconcile the past so that we can plan for a brighter future.
Today, with aboriginal people in Canada, we share our common future with pride and dignity.
* * *
Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia—Matane, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian federal policy on bilingualism is a failure.
Out of one million francophones who were living outside Quebec in 1996, 350,000 have been assimilated by English speaking Canadians in their daily activities.
This is not the opinion of Quebec sovereignists, nor even of representatives of Canada's francophone minority, but of Neil Morrisson, who was the secretary of the royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism, 30 years ago.
In spite of the superficial changes made over the past 30 years, there has never been a concrete and effective plan of action to reverse this tendency, which leads directly to the integration of hundreds of thousands of francophones in Canada.
Quebec, through Bill 101, which was sponsored by the late Camille Laurin, passed effective legislation to ensure that French would thrive in Quebec. Will the federal government have the courage to take concrete action before it is too late?
* * *
Ms. Aileen Carroll (Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, April 17 is equality day.
This day marks the 17th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is a remarkable initiative taken by the government of the Right Hon. Pierre Trudeau.
The Liberal government and the Prime Minister are committed to the principles in the charter and the resultant jurisprudence, just as we are dedicated to the linkage between human rights and economic prosperity with our trading partners.
The charter of rights and freedoms guarantees freedoms already enjoyed by Canadians and formulates new rights. The charter broke new constitutional ground respecting mobility rights, equality rights, minority language educational rights, gender equity and multiculturalism.
Since 1982 courts at all levels have dealt with thousands of charter cases, some decisions seriously impacting public policy debate. All Canadians can be proud that this is a country which celebrates equality and human rights.
* * *
Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, December 30, 1981. I will never forget that night.
Wayne Gretzky took to the ice with seconds remaining on the clock. The Great One was only one point away from scoring 50 goals in 39 games. My sons were cheering. I, along with thousands of fans were chanting, “Come on, Wayne, let's go. Come on, Wayne, let's go”.
The puck found Wayne's stick as if by magnetic attraction. The Flyers could only watch as Wayne made that memorable shot.
He shoots, he scores and the fans went wild. Single-handedly, Wayne Gretzky brought finesse back to hockey. With it, he brought untold delight and sheer wonder to millions of fans in North America and throughout the world.
Wayne is in a class by himself. Wow, what a Canadian. There will never be another like No. 99. Now his records belong to the ages.
On behalf of all Canadians, thank you, Wayne, thank you very much.
* * *
BENNY FARM VETERANS HOUSING COMPLEX
Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize and congratulate three heroes in my riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
At about 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, March 11, 1999, residents of one of the new buildings in the Benny Farm Veterans Housing complex were alerted to a fire in a ground floor apartment at 3500 Benny.
Janitor Deszo Bogdanyi; co-ordinator of technical operations, Patrice Bouvette; and maintenance man, Robert Gadbois, all members of the maintenance staff of Canada Lands Corporation, were able to guide everyone to safety.
While one woman was left with severe burns and many apartments were flooded, residents were quick to credit these three men with the prevention of further injuries and damage, thanks to their quick, efficient and selfless actions. The new building's cement walls and extensive sprinkler system were also instrumental in helping to contain the fire.
For these three men to enter that burning apartment in total darkness and dense smoke to rescue a wheelchair bound woman and her unconscious husband is truly a deed of heroic proportions.
I congratulate them.
* * *
Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today is Wayne Gretzky day in Canada.
Today all eyes are on the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, the most outstanding hockey player ever, as he agonizes as to whether he should continue to play professional hockey for another year or not.
We, as representatives of the citizens of Canada, wish to acknowledge that no single player has done so much to elevate the status and quality of Canada's national sport as has Wayne Gretzky.
Wayne Gretzky symbolizes what is best about hockey and about sports generally. Not only is he an outstanding hockey player and athlete, but he is also an outstanding citizen of Canada.
As he deliberates on his future at this hour, we wish him well. In the event he decides to retire, we urge the Government of Canada to consider appointing Wayne Gretzky as Canada's permanent ambassador of hockey.
* * *
Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Mr. Speaker, according to Statistics Canada, between 1970 and 1995, wealth has gradually been concentrated in fewer hands.
This confirms the statement that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.
During this period, the share of the aggregate income going to families at the bottom of the income ladder diminished somewhat, while the share of families at the top increased.
Statistically speaking, between 1970 and 1995, the increase in the actual average family income varies from 19.4%, in the case of families at the bottom of the income ladder, to 37% for families at the top. The result is that 30% of the families held a greater share of the aggregate income in 1995 than they did in 1970, while 70% of all families had to do with less.
Do we still need to remind the House that this even greater concentration of wealth calls for a comprehensive review of our ability to reduce social inequality, in this era of globalization? When will we have the courage to do such a review?
* * *
Mr. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the sovereignists' violons are not always in tune.
On the weekend, in Rivière-du-Loup, the Bloc Quebecois will be voting on proposals that may give their cousins in the Parti Quebecois some food for thought.
The Bloc members will be asking the Quebec Premier, Pierre Bouchard, sorry, Lucien Bouchard, to cut the focus on his personal views on Quebec's partnership with the rest of Canada.
In fact, the Bloc wants to cut Pierre Bouchard, oh, sorry, Lucien Bouchard's power to decide the next referendum.
Perhaps Jacques Parizeau, the new Bloc Quebecois researcher, has something to do with this. We will see on the weekend whether Jacques Parizeau or Pierre, oops, Lucien Bouchard wins at arm wrestling.
Perhaps Premier Pierre, or rather, Lucien Bouchard will wonder just what the Bloc is doing in Ottawa, as others are doing.
* * *
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, I recently received a fax from a constituent, Phylys Wolfe, who wonders just how many more hare-brained scams the government can think up to drive fishermen crazy and into the poor house.
This time it is a MED and safety and firefighting survival course on board fishing boats. This law was supposed to be in effect since 1997 but no one thought to tell the fishermen about it until this winter.
There are 3,200 licences in the Scotia Fundy region, representing about 10,000 fishermen. The government expects all these fishermen to take this course. This will cost every fisherman $700 out of their own pockets for this five day course. There are only five people in all of Nova Scotia to teach this course and they can handle only 24 people per course. Those who do not have a certificate for this course are liable to lose their boat, their licence or receive a fine.
If a skipper hires a crew for one week, one month or two days, that person is supposed to have this course. Now—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Atikokan.
* * *
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, 14 years ago Tom Guzik, a hard-working immigrant from Poland, started the first computer retail store in Thunder Bay. It was only a decade later that he expanded into the emerging field of corporate computer training.
Last weekend, at the age of 33, he was honoured as one of Thunder Bay's most successful young entrepreneurs by the city's chamber of commerce.
When the Thunder Bay market became crowded with retailers, Tom branched out into services like corporate computer training, Internet services and electronic commerce. Today his company is the biggest Internet provider in Thunder Bay.
Tom's success is a testament to Canada's being a land of opportunity and choices. His ingenuity, tenacity and work ethic is typical of what we see in many new Canadians.
We congratulate Tom Guzik and the other members of Thunder Bay's business community who were honoured by the chamber of commerce.
* * *
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, not long ago we had the great honour to receive Nelson Mandela in this place.
Mr. Mandela has been an uncompromising champion of equality in South Africa.
In 1953 he said “We have been banned because we favour a policy which affords fundamental rights to all, irrespective of race, colour, sex or language.”
Yet in 1999 the government is preparing to embrace the Nisga'a treaty, an agreement built upon core principles that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail fighting.
The treaty embraces Nisga'a government and it allows them to ban businesses, professions, trades and even trade unions. It is a deal based on special status and different rights based on race, and it diminishes the rights of all Canadians, especially grassroots Nisga'a.
Mr. Mandela said upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize “It remains our hope that we will be blessed with sufficient reason that our new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined and enticingly packaged ”.
It is too bad that Canada's academics and political leaders have not learned this simple truth.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, all the reports indicate that the Canadian forces in the Balkans are doing the job they have been asked to do and they are doing it very well.
Our CF fighters thus far have flown over 100 sorties against the Serb forces. Prior to the war the Department of National Defence allotted $103 million for the purchase of precision guided air to surface missiles. One hundred sorties represents a lot of ammunition.
How much new money has the Minister of National Defence budgeted to replace the depleting stocks to make sure our pilots can continue their NATO commitments?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not have the figure with me, but obviously the funds necessary to carry out the mission to help the people of Kosovo return to their homes will have to be found and allotted.
I hope the hon. member's language means that in spite of the negative comments by his finance critic we will have the support of the Reform Party to enable our forces to have the funds to do the job required.
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that he has the support of the Reform Party when it comes to the issue of Kosovo.
I am simply asking this question of the defence minister. The budget for defence is about $9.5 billion. New money has to be found for this war effort. Where is it coming from and how much has been assigned?
Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the incremental costs for the deployment of the 12 CF-18s, the ones that are over there now, for six months, is estimated to amount to approximately $10 million, excluding munitions.
Due to the fact that it is ongoing, we will have to wait to see how long we will be over there before we can give a final account.
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, we are asking about the cost of the munitions. How much money is being spent on munitions and how much more has been assigned? It is a very simple question and one that the government should have addressed some time ago but refuses to do so.
Again I ask the parliamentary secretary: How much additional money, new money, is being addressed to the issue in Kosovo?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is being worked on by the Department of National Defence. At this time we do not know exactly how long the mission will continue. There are issues involving the extent of Canada's participation in the air war.
I appreciate the positive comments of my hon. friend and the comments that he is making on behalf of his party. Certainly the government will have the funds necessary to carry out the mission in question.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the international peacekeeping force proposed by Germany is getting increasing support from both NATO and non-NATO allies. However, there is very little on the public record about the view of the government.
I ask the minister responsible: Who is going to be in control of this force? Are we going to participate and what other countries are going to participate in this proposed peacekeeping force?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at this point nobody, including the Germans, have made any specific details as to who would be involved.
The important objective is to get the agreement of the Milosevic government to have an international presence to protect the refugees and to make sure that the integrity of any peace agreement is honoured.
There is a proposal that, once that basic level of agreement is met, there could be a meeting of the G-8 foreign ministers to discuss in more detail the responsibilities, the command and the contributions. However, at this point in time, as I have said in the House before, it is basically a principle and a concept. No one has yet put forward the specific details which the hon. member is requesting.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party would like to propose a constructive solution to the minister.
The Russians could be a very useful tool in this force. The inclusion of Russia would be more acceptable to the Serbs.
Does the minister agree that Russia is critical to any peacekeeping force and what efforts are being made to secure Russian involvement in the proposed peacekeeping force?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I reported to the House yesterday, I had a very long and extensive discussion with the Russian foreign minister yesterday on this topic.
We talked about the broad outlines of a peace plan. We also talked about the important role that Russia could play in helping to bring it about and whether there could be a Russian contribution.
As I reported to the House, I think the discussion was very constructive. I found the Russian foreign minister to be very anxious, as we all are, to find a peaceful resolution.
I can assure the hon. member that we are engaging actively with Russia, as are other countries, to make sure they will be able to work in co-operation with us in finding a solution.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, this is Friday, and we have been questioning the government all week to find out something of what is going on in the Kosovo conflict, but the more we ask, the less we feel we know. The other side is getting us used to half truths, I-don't-knows and undivulged information.
Given the positive state of debates in this House and the support the government is getting from the opposition for a proper intervention in the Kosovo conflict, could there not be a change in attitude on the government side and could it not provide a little of the information which we are entitled to and which the Americans are getting from their President?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it may be of interest to the hon. member to know that yesterday afternoon I spent two and a half hours at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade giving a full briefing and answering something like 60 or 70 questions about Kosovo.
I gave those answers to the extent of what I knew. I gave the committee the responses that we could provide and I tried to take into account all of the recommendations that were made.
I spent two and a half hours before a committee, combined with a briefing last week. We have agreed to have bi-weekly briefings. We are here in question period every day. We provide any written materials required. I think that we are keeping Canadians and the opposition particularly well informed.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister should understand that the issue is not about taking part, but about supplying answers. That is what we would like.
We learned this morning, for example, that President Clinton was asked by the Pentagon to call up 33,000 reservists. If, in the States, they are asking the President to call up 33,000 reservists, does that mean they are getting ready for an invasion in the Kosovo area soon?
Something is on the move. Does this have implications for Canada? We would like to know.
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States is fully responsible for whatever decisions he takes within his own country, just as we take our own sovereign decisions in this country.
As we said in the House, there has been no decision by NATO on any activation of ground forces other than for peacekeeping purposes. We have made no decision within this government. As the Prime Minister has said, we will consult with parliament before any decision is made.
The Americans are doing that to support whatever activities they may be doing. But I can give the hon. member every single assurance that what we have said about the Canadian position still stands.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, President Clinton has informed Americans on the cost of their involvement in Kosovo. It seems to us that Canadians would be entitled to the same information and to know how much this operation is likely to cost them.
Without questioning the necessity of our participation, might we know what budget envelope the government has set for its present operations in Kosovo?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what I said earlier is still relevant. It is too soon to determine the overall cost of military operations, including our support for humanitarian activities. These figures are being developed. They are being looked at in light of issues such as the length of the air operations.
As further information is developed we will be providing it through the Minister of National Defence to the House. At this stage, to have definite information depends on certain hypothetical assumptions which have yet to be tested.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Mr. Speaker, once again yesterday we learned that NATO had requested additional participation by Canada. We also learned that the war could last a number of weeks, if not months, more.
Would it not be appropriate for the government to announce, after 23 days, what the extent of our financial involvement in the conflict is and what projections have been made, so that our commitment for the coming months may be assessed?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have already stated, we are speaking at this time of situations that are more or less hypothetical. Obviously, the necessary analyses are in the process of being done at National Defence. Once the situation with regard to our involvement in the broadest possible intervention is known—and this is still hypothetical—the necessary information will be given to the Canadian public and to the House.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, a diplomatic solution in Kosovo depends on the United Nations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs understands that. He must also understand that the same is true for consideration of the German plan and the uniting for peace resolution.
Since the success of the German plan is not guaranteed, what is Canada waiting for to present such a resolution to the security council?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, it is very important to continue with the negotiating process between all players in the Kosovo crisis, particularly the UN secretary general, the Russians and NATO members.
As I told the NDP members of the national defence committee at the last meeting, it is very important to look at all options. But, right now, the best option is to pursue the German proposals and to continue to encourage the interest of all players in the plan. This is a national priority.
Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we should not wait on the sidelines. We should not just be examining all options, we should be advancing all options. Canada should be working now to build support at the United Nations for UN sponsored solutions to the Kosovo crisis. While co-operating fully with other promising initiatives, why not advance the uniting for peace initiative? Why not ensure that every diplomatic avenue is being aggressively pursued?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the meetings held this morning between the Prime Minister and the Premier of China, the Prime Minister made a very specific point of raising the Kosovo issue and engaging the Chinese, who are important members of the security council, to gain their support for a resolution. The agreement was that we would work together to see how we could co-operate.
While we differ on the nature of the crisis and the response to it, I can report to the House that the Prime Minister's discussions with his counterpart from China were quite constructive. He has asked the two foreign ministers to maintain the dialogue on how we can work together in a co-operative fashion.
Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Mr. Speaker, yesterday morning, in testimony before the American senate committee, Hugh Shelton, chief of defence staff of the U.S. army, said that he had informed the American president that air strikes would achieve military goals and reduce Milosevic's military strength.
He also informed the American president that he doubted that air strikes would achieve the political objectives, which include, of course, the return and the safety of the Kosovars, in other words, humanitarian objectives.
Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs agree with these statements or not, and might it be that NATO is achieving its military objectives but failing to achieve its political and humanitarian objectives?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I must confess I do not know which official he is talking about. If it is an elected official from the congress, they can say just about anything.
The fact of the matter is that in recent discussions we have had with officials at the U.S. administration, they are very committed to the maintenance of the air campaign. They are very committed, as is well known, coming out of the NATO ministers meeting just last week, to ensuring that we have a consistent coherent policy in NATO that supports the campaign, but at the same time undertakes a dialogue and negotiations that are being followed at the present time.
That is the position of all NATO governments.
Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC): Mr. Speaker, for the minister's information, Mr. Shelton is General Baril's U.S. counterpart. He does carry some weight.
This American General Baril even spoke of inconsistencies between military and political objectives. In other words, whether there are 400, 700, or even 1,100 planes, as expected, or 6, 12, 18 and now about 20 for Canada, events seem to back Mr. Shelton up: the air strikes appear to be reducing Milosevic's capacity, period.
Can the minister confirm that the success of these political and humanitarian objectives therefore depends on sending in ground troops?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not think it makes sense to assume that whatever is said before a committee of the U.S. congress or by somebody in the United States to the press involves the decision making process in Canada. We make our own decisions based on our own assessment of the situation.
Certainly if requests are made for additional planes, they will be considered, but at this stage there are no decisions to commit additional planes.
* * *
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, an internal e-mail from RCMP superintendent Terry Smith states: “We are bankrupt. We cannot afford to provide the service expected of us. The tools to accomplish the job are being taken away. This is only the tip of the iceberg”.
RCMP officers are unable to conduct investigations into organized crime, or even to fix their cars due to lack of funding. Why has the solicitor general gutted the RCMP to the point of bankruptcy?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the RCMP have a $1.2 billion budget. In the last budget the RCMP received a $37 million increase.
My hon. colleague is well aware a resource review is taking place with my department, the RCMP and Treasury Board, to make sure that the dollars are spent properly and that we are able to address organized crime in an efficient way.
Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, while the department's resource review is under way, the RCMP are telling us they do not have the resources to even investigate organized crime.
We have been after the solicitor general for six months to permanently fix the problem. Instead, his government continues to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a gun registry that any beat cop is going to tell him does not work, and is spending billions of dollars on millennium parties and statues.
Will the solicitor general use what little influence he has in cabinet to increase the RCMP funding to a level that allows them to do their work?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we are addressing the problem.
We do have a resource review. My hon. colleague is well aware too that a very few months ago we did find $10 million to address a problem in E division. We did enact DNA legislation. We did put 13 proceeds of crime units in place. The proceeds of crime units are in place in fact to take the proceeds out of crime.
That is what the government is doing to give our police forces the tools to do their job.
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Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, once peace accords have been signed for Kosovo, Canada will have a moral obligation to take part in the peacekeeping process, in humanitarian aid operations and in the rebuilding of a devastated Kosovo.
Could the Prime Minister guarantee that, when the time will come to rebuild Kosovo, the government will have earmarked the necessary funds and budgets to fulfil the commitments that it will have to make to contribute to this reconstruction process?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, at this point, the Canadian government has allocated $15 million to provide assistance in Kosovo, and we are currently engaged in discussions over a plan of action for the Balkan region. This plan will include a number of initiatives relating to the reconstruction process, governance and assistance to support democracy.
Canada will actively participate in these talks, and once the Minister for International Cooperation has examined all the costs involved, there will certainly be a report to parliament.
Mrs. Monique Guay (Laurentides, BQ): Mr. Speaker, given that European Union members have already pledged to sign a solidarity pact for the Balkans which will include trade agreements and economic assistance totalling at least 250 million Euros to promote political stability in the countries of the region, can the Prime Minister tell us if Canadian assistance to rebuild Kosovo will be provided separately, or if Canada as a member of the OSCE intends to become a party to the larger pact proposed by the European Union?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we certainly endorse fully the proposal that to ultimately gain stability in the region we have to deal with the region as a whole.
The tragedy in Kosovo is a tragedy that has been experienced in many other parts of the region and by all peoples of that region. The time has come for us to try to address it in a comprehensive way. We fully endorse the notion of developing a broad based approach to the Balkans in economic development terms, governance terms and the support of democracy and civil society. I can assure the hon. member that Canada will participate.
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Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, Canada's lax immigration policies are making news in Washington. It is so bad that a congress committee cited this Liberal government's immigration policies as a major threat to their national security.
Is the immigration minister proud of the fact that under her tenure Canada is known as a launching pad for terrorism and drug trafficking? Is she proud of that fact?
Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the Reform Party member did not read the representations made by all the witnesses who testified before the U.S. Senate committee. The majority of these witnesses stressed the sustained co-operative efforts of both countries to fight drug trafficking and illegal immigration.
This is why, here in Canada, there is very good co-ordination between the immigration department and my colleague, the solicitor general, who is responsible for the RCMP and for CSIS, and also our American partners.
There is no point in alarming the public. On the contrary, we are co-operating with—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member for Dewdney—Alouette.
Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, if the minister would do more than actually read reports and take action in here, we might see this broken immigration system fixed. The minister has had four years to clean up her act and all we see is window dressing. When is the minister going to wake up, stop talking and implement concrete measures to fix the broken system which has become known as an easy mark to drug traffickers and terrorists?
Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is a vision of members of the Reform Party. When they speak about immigration policy or refugee policy, their first reaction is to speak about criminals instead of trying to help people, instead of trying to attract more immigrants to this country, instead of trying to protect more genuine refugees. This is the Reform Party's vision but it is not the vision of the Liberal government.
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Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the week's events in Kosovo have been tragic ones: rapes, burned villages, tens of thousands of refugees forced to flee.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government is refusing to hold a vote on a peace plan, refusing to hold a vote on sending troops, and releasing information in dribs and drabs.
My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. With this heavy-handed attitude, is the government not running the risk of stirring up dissension among the various political entities in Canada, instead of doing its best to avoid them, as is its duty?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, according to recent polls, the majority of the public are behind the government's policy. We had a very important debate in this House a few days ago.
The hon. member is referring to matters that are merely hypothetical. If the situation changes, it is very possible that the government will again consider the matter of a vote.
Mrs. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Speaker, does the Deputy Prime Minister realize that the government's offhand attitude to Canadian parliamentarians is harmful to the consensus that is required between all Quebecers and all Canadians on our involvement in this conflict?
Hon. Herb Gray (Deputy Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, according to the government House leader, 131 MPs took part in the Kosovo debate. The ministers held both official and unofficial briefings for the opposition critics.
If the hon. member feels that the stakeholders are in the process of changing positions, she had not given any facts to back that up. At this time the Canadian public supports the position of the government and the opposition parties.
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Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.
Following the recent tragic air accident at Gaspé, L'Association des pilotes de brousse du Québec has expressed concerns about Nav Canada's plans to close yet another flight information centre, this time the one at Roberval.
When the Gatineau airport was facing similar cuts in services, the minister directed Nav Canada to revisit its decision and address the safety concerns of users. Will he now order a full review of Nav Canada's plans to consolidate flight information services in the province of Quebec?
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the hon. member that safety is the number one factor and our chief concern. I am sure he is quite aware of that fact. We have carefully monitored the situation in the Gaspé regarding Nav Canada services in the province of Quebec.
At the present moment, we must announce to the public that everything is according to regulations. Safety is number one and we are—
An hon. member: Answer the question.
Mr. Stan Dromisky: Yes, my answer is addressing the question.
I would like to point out that we are sticking to the regulation and are chiefly concerned with the safety of—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland): The hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan—Coquihalla, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the Penticton airport is an important asset to the economic viability of the south Okanagan.
Transport Canada has mismanaged the negotiations to transfer the airport from the federal government to the city of Penticton. The process has completely broken down due to a land tenure issue with the Penticton Indian band. The parties are at a stalemate which threatens the closure of the Penticton airport. The Minister of Transport will not even answer telephone calls from the mayor of Penticton.
My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Will the government stop ignoring this problem and appoint a mediator to resolve this situation and get people back to the bargaining table?
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that Transport Canada has finalized negotiations with the city of Penticton for the transfer of the Penticton airport. The city signed the agreement to transfer on September 25, 1998. The date for the transfer of the operation to the city has been extended to May 15, 1999.
The band council advised on March 23, 1999, that it did not wish to sign the proposed documentation and opposed the transfer of the airport. Transport Canada will continue to discuss the band's concern in an attempt to reach a Canada-band agreement to deal with the land if it is no longer required as a public air zone.
* * *
Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo resumed with a vengeance yesterday and is continuing with violence, with approximately half of the Albanians now having left their homeland.
The Prime Minister has just met with his Chinese counterpart to try to convince him of the need for UN security council involvement in the war in Kosovo.
My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Since China will not budge, and given the rate of expulsion, what does NATO intend to do to prevent the entire Albanian population from being forced out of Kosovo?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the Prime Minister had a good meeting this morning with the Premier of China.
During the meeting, there was a very important exchange of views about the Kosovo situation. There is an agreement to continue to co-operate on developing an agreement in order to underscore the importance of the UN and the importance of developing a UN initiative to resolve this major crisis.
* * *
Mr. John O'Reilly (Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board.
With the Chinese premier in Ottawa today and as China has been a traditional customer for Canadian grain, are there any positive developments in the grain business between Canada and China?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the grain trading relationship between Canada and China stretches back over 40 years. It has involved during that period of time over 110 million tonnes of Canadian wheat exports based upon a very strong and effective working relationship with the Canadian Wheat Board and the extraordinarily high quality of grain produced by Canadian farmers.
I am pleased to confirm that yesterday I joined with Chinese Trade Minister Shi to witness the signing of a new memorandum of agreement between the Canadian Wheat Board and the China national cereals import corporation. For Canada the value of this transaction is estimated at more than $100 million.
* * *
Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general just spent $11 million to upgrade the Grand Cache jail to medium security. Now the bureaucrats want to spend millions more to turn the jail back to minimum security.
Surely the solicitor general realizes this just does not make any sense. When, for heaven's sake, will he order his officials to stop these acts of lunacy?
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to my hon. colleague, it was a medium institution and now it will become a minimum institution because that is the requirement of Correctional Service Canada.
* * *
Mr. Derrek Konrad (Prince Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I received a letter from Environment Canada stating that the Muskoday Indian reserve near Prince Albert got a grant for almost $100,000 to plant trees on the reserve.
The letter states that funds are only granted to non-profit and non-government organizations. Why did the environment minister approve this grant to the reserve government in clear violation of departmental guidelines?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of the Environment I can assure the hon. member that we will take his representation into account and examine the grant in question.
I should add, however, that the understanding of the officials of the Department of the Environment is that the grant is in conformity in all respects with the law.
* * *
Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, last fall when the minister of agriculture finally admitted there was a full blown income crisis down on the farm, he conceded that it was worse in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Yesterday the parliamentary secretary had AIDA statistics available for P.E.I. and Ontario. Would he please inform the House today as to the number of applications the department has received and processed from Manitoba and Saskatchewan?
Mr. Joe McGuire (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am unable to give those statistics.
Very few applications have come in from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to this point. In the meantime, both provinces have set up repayable loan programs which will take care of the spring cropping expenses, because it was understood that Saskatchewan and Manitoba did not have provincial disaster programs to piggyback on, like Alberta, P.E.I. and B.C. did.
It may take a little longer for those two provinces to come in with their application forms, but there is money to carry them over.
Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the problem with the AIDA program according to the farmers I have spoken to is that the government has managed to get the emphasis on the duh rather than on the aid.
In fact the Federation of Agriculture describes the application forms, not the booklet incidentally, as elaborate and charges that AIDA is all about saving money, not saving farmers.
How does the parliamentary secretary respond to the CFA or the Nixons of Earl Grey, Saskatchewan, who want AIDA redesigned in order to make it more accessible to the people it was supposed to help?
Mr. Joe McGuire (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the government were interested in saving money it would not have an AIDA program at all.
The minister has offered to meet with the people in Saskatchewan to discuss their problems. To this date they have not accepted the minister's request or proposal or offer to meet with him and talk with him about their situation. They would rather go to the press, go to accountants and so on, to vent their views.
The minister stands ready to meet with the producers of Saskatchewan at any time that they are ready to do so.
* * *
Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.
Deep cuts to CHST transfers over the past six years have had serious consequences. All Canadians, and in particular our patients, have lost faith in our health care system.
These cuts have also been deeply felt by those who deliver our health care services, particularly our nurses. Their compensation and working conditions have deteriorated continuously for the last six years. Nurses are on strike in Saskatchewan and have just been legislated back to work in Newfoundland.
Will the minister acknowledge that the real source of these job actions is the federal health transfer cuts to our provinces?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is very proud that the first thing we did after digging the country out of the deep hole in which we were put by the Progressive Conservative Party during nine ruinous years in office, was to reinvest in our most important social program, our health care system.
Just weeks ago, $11.5 billion was added to transfers to the provinces so that over the next five years health services could be improved, integrated and made as accessible as they must be.
Part of that initiative was in favour of nurses. We created the nurse fund, which through research and other measures will help put nurses in the important place they must occupy in our health care system.
Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Mr. Speaker, let me remind the minister that at least for the nine years that we were in government we had a decent health care system which we do not have today.
Everyone in the country knows that nurses are underpaid, overworked and understaffed. Will the minister acknowledge that even with the Minister of Finance's recent so-called health care budget there is still a significant crisis in our health care system?
How many more health care budgets will we need to get back to the level of funding that was there when the Minister of Health took office in 1993?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in addition to the largest single investment the government has ever made, the $11.5 billion in increased transfers to the provinces so that they could meet their responsibility for delivering health care services, we also announced in the budget $1.4 billion of spending by the federal government in health research, establishing the Canadian Institute of Health Research and virtually doubling the investment in health research over the next three years; an intervention to promote health and prevent disease, especially early intervention with children; and initiatives in aboriginal health like home care on reserves.
These are signals and signs of a government deeply committed to our health care system, to its quality and to its future.
* * *
Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the defence committee commented extensively in its quality of life report about the need to help injured and retired Canadian forces personnel.
Could the parliamentary secretary to the minister tell the House about any new initiatives to assist injured and retired Canadians forces members?
Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, one of the initiatives we are most proud of is the centre for the care of the injured. The Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs officially cut the ribbon for the centre a couple of days ago.
The centre will provide timely and accurate information to members and their families concerning pensions, pension entitlements, assistance with applications, help with advancing claims and questions for the bureaucracies of the two departments. The centre will ensure that no one is neglected or falls through the cracks.
* * *
Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Wanuskewin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the government study released last month says that young people are among the hardest hit by the unemployment insurance reforms.
For example, students who work part time and earn over $2,000 a year—not a lot of money—have to pay EI premiums but have no chance of receiving benefits because they are full time students.
Since these students in effect have no coverage, why is the government forcing them to pay insurance premiums?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, everybody pays EI premiums. That is the way the system has been based.
We have moved from a system that was based on weeks of work to hours of work, precisely to assist more workers to be covered by our system. It is working well for workers who were not covered before.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew: Are they interested in the answer? It is the first time in three years a member of the Reform Party has asked a question on the EI system and they do not even bother to listen to the answer.
* * *
Mr. Paul Mercier (Terrebonne—Blainville, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of National Defence contradicted the Prime Minister on the request to sent additional planes to Kosovo.
The Prime Minister said that six additional planes had been requested, whereas the Minister of National Defence said that no specific number had been given. These unexplained contradictions show the state of the government's disorganization in this business.
My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Could we, 24 hours later, have an answer on the number of CF-18s that NATO asked the Government of Canada to provide?
Mr. Robert Bertrand (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, NATO asked for additional planes. The request is currently under study, and the government will respond shortly.
* * *
PUBLIC SERVICE OF CANADA
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am holding in my hand a job posting for what seems like a really great job in the federal public service: Space Agency, $40,000 a year. The only problem is that under the heading who can apply it says “Persons residing within a 500 kilometre radius of Ottawa”.
What if my son or daughter from Winnipeg were qualified and wanted to take this position, or some kid from Halifax or Vancouver or Edmonton? What does it matter where they live in the country if they are qualified for the job?
Will the government commit to stopping this unfair hiring practice and giving every Canadian equal opportunity to good public service jobs like this one?
Mr. Tony Ianno (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the Government of Canada accepts all applications from wherever they live from coast to coast to coast.
On this specific item, I will take it under advisement and look into it.
* * *
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, the coast guard budget has been drastically cut since it merged with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
In order to cut costs DFO has reneged on its responsibility for boater safety. Literally thousands fishing boats and pleasure crafts are on the water daily, many without modern electronics. Now they are increasingly in danger because of DFO budget cuts for buoys, channel markers, lighthouses and other navigational aids.
What is the minister doing to ensure the safety of our fishers and recreational boaters?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should be aware, and I am surprised he is not, of the new regulations with respect to recreational boating safety. These have received wide coverage and go a long way to dealing with some of the problems we have had and some of the 200 deaths per year in the recreational boating area.
The coast guard does not compromise safety. We are doing the absolute maximum we can for safety and search and rescue in every area. Obviously there are budget limitations. We could always do more if we had more money. But within that budget we are doing an excellent job. I want the member to pay attention to that.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
Mr. Reg Alcock (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table in both official languages the government's responses to 14 petitions.
* * *
COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Ian Murray (Lanark—Carleton, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Industry.
In accordance with its order of reference of Tuesday, October 20, 1998, your committee has considered Bill C-235, an act to amend the Competition Act (protection of those who purchase products from vertically integrated suppliers who compete with them at retail) and agreed on Thursday, April 15, 1999 to report it with the following amendments: delete the clauses and the title of the bill.
* * *
Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Madam Speaker, as the consequences of death, separation or divorce, often grandparents cannot have access to their grandchildren. The provinces of Quebec and Alberta have a provision now which will guarantee that grandparents have access to their grandchildren.
The petitioners would like to see the House of Commons support a private member initiative, Bill C-340 so they can have the same right as it exists in some provinces.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to present five petitions on behalf of the people of Dauphin—Swan River.
In the first petition the petitioners pray that parliament enact legislation such as Bill C-225 so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.
YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): Madam Speaker, my next petition is timely due to the young offenders legislation. The petitioners pray that the House of Commons will support the changes to the Young Offenders Act.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): Madam Speaker, my next petition deals with the port at Churchill. The petitioners request that parliament advise the Canadian Wheat Board to deliver its grain shipments to the port at Churchill as that offers the most advantageous costs to producers and to require conveyers to guarantee seamless car interchange between CN, CP, Hudson Bay railway and other short lines.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): Madam Speaker, this petition deals with the gun control bill. The petitioners request that parliament repeal Bill C-68 and redirect the hundreds of millions of tax dollars being wasted on licensing responsible firearm owners to more proactive programs such as putting more police on the streets, more crime prevention programs, more suicide prevention centres, more women's crisis centres, more anti-smuggling campaigns and more resources for fighting organized crime and street gangs.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, Ref.): In my last petition, Madam Speaker, the good people of Dauphin—Swan River request parliament to advise the government to summon a fit and qualified person democratically selected by Canadian citizens who are residents of Manitoba, to take their place in the Senate of Canada when seats become vacant.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of Canadians, including from my own riding of Mississauga South.
The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that human rights abuses continue to be rampant around the world in countries such as Indonesia and Kosovo. They also acknowledge that Canada is recognized internationally as the champion of internationally recognized human rights. The petitioners therefore call upon the Government of Canada to continue to speak out against human rights abuses around the world and also to seek to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses.
* * *
QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Mr. Reg Alcock (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.): Madam Speaker, we will be answering Questions Nos. 197 and 206 today. .[Text]
Question No. 197—Mr. John Herron:
With regard to the upcoming influx of 220 newly unemployed Canadians which will result from the impending closure at Lantic Sugar in Saint John, New Brunswick, does the government have a plan to assist them in finding new jobs and, if so, what is the plan?
Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): The Lantic Sugar plant is scheduled for closure on December 31, 1999.
Since the announcement of this closure, the provincial Department of Labour put in place an adjustment committee to assist affected workers. Both union and management are represented on this committee and the following types of services have been provided to workers to date: assistance with the writing of resumes; counselling assistance; self assessment, labour market information, job interview, role playing and job search technique sessions; and assistance on how to contact potential employers and followup.
Representatives from the local Human Resources Centre of Canada, HRCC, have been meeting with company and union officials since May 15, 1998 on this issue and a designated HRCC employee has been meeting with union officials to answer any questions workers have related to Employment Insurance, EI, benefits.
The HRCC has also offered to hold information sessions for all Lantic Sugar employees, in conjunction with union and management, to discuss EI and severance packages. The first session was scheduled for March 18, 1999 at 9 a.m., with subsequent sessions on March 25, 26, 29 and 30. These sessions took place on the employer's premises and involved approximately 20 employees per session. There were also special arrangements made to assist affected workers to apply for EI benefits as the date for the layoff approached.
In addition, the adjustment committee is working with companies in the Saint John area that may consider applications from some Lantic Sugar employees, which could result in the hiring of some of these affected workers.
HRCC staff, in partnership with the adjustment committee, are always available to provide information and assistance. These employees are encouraged to take advantage of the services provided by the adjustment committee and the HRCC.
This assistance was conducted through the new Labour Market Development Agreement, LMDA, through which the Government of Canada is now providing the province of New Brunswick with over $240 million for the next three years to help people get back to work.
Question No. 206—Mr. Gilles Bernier:
With respect to the Parliamentary Precinct Directorate of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada: (a) how many public servants are employed with the Directorate: and (b) how many staff departures have there been since June 1997?
Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.): (a) A core group of nine Public Works and Government Services Canada, PWGSC, employees is permanently assigned to the Parliamentary Precinct Directorate. These are management and administrative people reporting to the Director General of the Parliamentary Precinct. This core group is responsible for the planning and management of all the department's real property related work on Parliament Hill.
The majority of real property work on Parliament Hill falls into two streams: project management, which includes planning and delivering major projects; day to day management of the buildings, which includes operating the buildings and responding to user requirements.
PWGSC employees with expertise in either project of day to day management are assigned to the Parliamentary Precinct from personnel pools known as Centres of Expertise. These assignments are for short or long duration, depending on the nature of the work. Upon completion of their assignment, employees return to their Centre of Expertise for reassignment.
At present 40 full time equivalent positions are working in the project management stream and 52 are in the day to day management of the buildings stream. These employees come from a broad range of professional and technical backrounds and include architects, engineers, project managers, plumbers, carpenters, administrators and others.
The Parliamentary Precinct is comprised of the Centre, West and East Blocks, Library of Parliament, Wellington, Victoria, La Promenade, Justice and Confederation buildings.
(b) There have been 27 departures in personnel since June 1997. The reasons for these departures include transfers, new jobs, reassignments, retirements and executive interchange.
Mr. Reg Alcock: Madam Speaker, I ask that all other questions stand.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
* * *
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas—Charlottenburgh, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that you would find consent for the following motion. I want to assure you and the House that there have been discussions among all the parties. I move:
That no later than the expiry of Government Orders today, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion for third reading of Bill C-27 shall be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, April 20, 1999 at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
COASTAL FISHERIES PROTECTION ACT
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act to enable Canada to implement the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and other international fisheries treaties or arrangements, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Yvan Bernier (Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, BQ): Madam Speaker, before oral question period, I read the preamble of the UN agreement on fisheries. I repeated that it was important to talk about that agreement, since Bill C-27 seeks to implement it.
I would like to go back to a number of points mentioned in the preamble. For example, the preamble refers to “calling for more effective enforcement by flag States, port States and coastal States of the conservation and management measures adopted for such stocks”. The members who are listening to me, and people who are watching us on television realize that this paragraph ties together three major links, namely the flag state, the port state where the landing of fish will occur, and the coastal state in whose waters the fish is caught.
There are other important points to mention. The countries that will ratify this agreement are conscious of the need to avoid adverse impacts on the marine environment and minimize the risk of irreversible effects of fishing operations. At this point, the countries agree that rules of law must be established to achieve these goals. A little later on, we will see what it means to establish rules of law to make sure there are no irreversible effects.
The preamble also recognizes “the need for specific assistance, including financial, scientific and technological assistance to developing States”.
It is very important that member states, or those that will sign the agreement, agree to help coastal countries or states that have large bodies of water, but not necessarily the means to manage them. Unfortunately, we do not know how the costs will be shared. Of course, it is clear from the agreement that the signatories are giving themselves two years in which to come up with solutions not necessarily apparent at this stage.
The final, and I think the most important, point in the preamble is “convinced that an agreement for the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention would best serve these purposes and contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Canada can come up with wonderful ideas, but they must be shared by other countries and put down in writing so that everyone agrees to observe them. This is where it gets interesting.
Now I will relate this to Bill C-27, which tries to make UNFA subject to Canadian law.
I will take article 21, sub-regional and regional cooperation in enforcement, paragraphs (5) and (6).
Paragraph 21(5) of UNFA provides that:
21. (5) Where, following a boarding and inspection, there are clear grounds for believing that a vessel has engaged in any activity contrary to the conservation and management measures referred to in paragraph 1, the inspecting State shall, where appropriate, secure evidence and shall promptly notify the flag State of the alleged violation.
What about the time frame? Paragraph (6) of article 21 provides that:
The flag State shall respond to the notification referred to in paragraph (5) within three working days—
So, if a long weekend is involved, it could be longer. It could even be as long as six days.
—of its receipt, or such other period as may be prescribed in procedures established in accordance with paragraph (2).
This is the spirit of the letter in the UN Fisheries Agreement.
Now, what does Bill C-27 do?
It provides the following change to subsection 16.2(3).
16.2 (3) In addition to the powers referred to in subsection (1), a protection officer may, with the consent of the participating state, exercise any powers referred to in section 16.1. The officer is deemed to have received the consent of the state if the state
(a) has not responded within the period prescribed by regulation; or
(b) has responded but is not fully investigating the alleged contravention.
I see no time frame in the bill. It is set by regulation. Therefore, I conclude that the governor in council, cabinet, will establish the regulatory measures. Will cabinet follow the spirit and the letter, as described in the UN Agreement on Fisheries? That is the question.
I would now like to turn to the most serious question I have about Bill C-27.
I will say it right off. The Bloc Quebecois supports the UN Fisheries Agreement. It is establishing international law. Naturally, it will not be perfect. However, when we ratify an agreement like that we must honour its spirit and its letter, and so we will have to respect the time frame.
I must refer to Canadian legislation, and this is what the bill does not say, because this will be done through regulations, that the governor in council will decide. However, Bill C-27, the bill to implement the agreement does not amend another bill we passed earlier—Bill C-29. It allows protection officers, with the approval of the Solicitor General and the Minister of Fisheries, to seize and bring the offending vessel to the nearest port, if this occurs in Canadian waters.
Such seizure is effective and immediate. The Canadian legislation makes no reference to five working days. That is where my concerns lie. The Minister of Fisheries has just repeated the same thing he told FAO countries at their March 11 meeting, recommending that the United Nations Fisheries Agreement be ratified and included in its entirety in national legislation world-wide.
I would not want to put any words in the minister's mouth that are not true, but I would like to point out that this seems to be contradictory and could mislead the House. They are claiming that the intention of Bill C-27 is to take the UNFA word for word into Canadian law. This would require us to do away with Bill C-29 and to specify, through regulation, that the time limits will be in keeping with those in UNFA.
I am not fully informed about Bill C-27 at this time, which is a serious shortcoming as we are at the stage of recruiting other countries to sign this agreement so that it will have the force of international law. I believe that 30 signatories are required. We do not have that number at present. Canada wants to give it a good start by being one of the first signatories.
But what signal is Canada is sending to the rest of the world when it claims to want to recommend signature of the agreement in its entirety, while in its own legislation it is not respecting the spirit and the letter of the UNFA?
This, in my opinion, is sufficient grounds for voting against Bill C-27, but I would again point out—and this is unfortunate—the Bloc Quebecois is in agreement with the spirit and the letter of the UNFA.
I will go still further to state that, at report stage—perhaps I did not emphasize this enough—we tabled about a dozen motions on top of what came from the other members, and if I remember correctly, there were some 18 in all. We worked on the motions in four groups.
The Bloc Quebecois motions in fact attempted to have Bill C-27 incorporate, to the greatest extent possible, the spirit and the letter of the UN Fisheries Agreement. Through Motion No. 1, I tried to include in the bill article 5 of UNFA, since Canada was in agreement with it.
Why did the government refuse to Canadianize the general management philosophy? These are very important principles. It is on the strength of these principles that management plans will be developed and our fishers told how Canada wants to manage in the future. If they are not given a vision or general definition, they are still flying blind.
The second motion we presented was designed to ensure that Bill C-27 was worded in such a way that Canadian courts could interpret it according to the letter and the spirit of UNFA. I repeat, if Canada wishes to sign the agreement, the fishery should be structured accordingly.
Worse yet, when 30 countries have signed it, it will have the force of international law. This is one more reason to Canadianize it, to bring it into line with the spirit and the letter of UNFA. Once again, the government has refused to agree to our motion on interpretation.
The second group of motions that I moved, seconded my colleague, the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, was designed to offset the extraterritorial nature of Bill C-27, according to the spirit and the letter of UNFA.
What do I mean by that? Some will say that it is a question of terminology. International law use the expression zones désignées while Canadian law uses the expression zones délimitées. Why would Canada want to have its terminology differ from that used in the agreement. For some countries that want to sign the agreement, it is as though Canada were leaving a door open to depart from the spirit of the agreement.
The reason for using the expression designated areas is that they have been designated somewhere. It has already been agreed upon and appears in another treaty. In the world sub-regional organization, NAFO, everything is already designated, defined.
As set out in Bill C-27, the fact that Canada can delineate leaves things open to interpretation. I do not want to put words into the mouth of the Minister of Fisheries, but I do wish to indicate my concerns at this stage of the debate. The purpose of implementing this agreement with Bill C-27 is to maximize the number of signatory states. If one is trying to attract people, one must inspire confidence, not create scepticism.
The third group of motions we brought in at report stage concerned parliament's verification rights, and once again this was refused. We were asking that, if there were to be any new treaties, schedules to treaties, the House might be consulted within four months. That is not much, four months.
It is, of course, always the government majority that will get regulations passed. This was a way to get MPs involved in management of the country's assets.
Since this bill and the fisheries agreement and international treaties are so important that the government deemed that this House has a duty to vote on a bill to allow the UN Fisheries Agreement to be Canadianized, to make it part of our own Canadian legislation, I feel that, if there are other changes, Canadian members of parliament ought to have the right to discuss them. But no, they will have none of it.
In this connection, I would remind members that, in international law, in Canadian law, the Canadian government, the governor in council—or cabinet, in other words—may go to the UN on its own, sign and ratify the UNFA without consulting this House. This is according to Canadian law. I can go along with that.
However, I find it unfortunate that they are asking for my agreement to Canadianize certain parts of the UNFA while denying me the right to discuss amendments in the House, while the Canadian government can already do this. I do not understand.
Is this a delaying tactic? Are they trying to convince us that the Canadian government is looking after fisheries, because the UNFA is something that is easily passed in the House? As I say and say again, the hitch is that the agreement is not being respected. The spirit of the UNFA is not being respected, as is the case with Bill C-27. How are we going to get out of it? What is going to happen in all that?
In the light of what I have just said, on the one hand, Canada is saying “Yes, we will pass Bill C-27” in order to please countries that may become allies but, on the one hand, it is retaining its C-29 pistol, which enables it to intervene, board a ship and bring it back to port when it is found to be in the wrong. That is contradictory.
What is Canada really trying to do with all that?
I represent fishers in my riding and I have talked with fishers in other provinces, including Newfoundland. The people agreed with the spirit of Bill C-29, that is, when someone is found to be in error, the ship is boarded and brought to port with reasonable force, naturally, because no one wants loss of life. But now it seems to me, as the Reform member for Delta—South Richmond mentioned as well, that something happened at the UN so that Canada ended up losing the power to legislate and sanction a vessel found taken in error.
The only agreement Canada got, was along these lines “You can investigate, ask questions, take the evidence. However, you must, within five working days, ask the participating government that owns the boat to take police action, establish sanctions, and in this time period, the participating country can itself carry out the sentence or, in the worst case scenario, not”.
If Canada came away with only that, it is perhaps unfortunate, but, I repeat, the Bloc supports the UN fisheries agreement, because we have to start somewhere. In order to protect our resource and enforce all the fine principles set out in the preamble, I think we must join with other participating countries and provide a level playing field. A bit like what we are taught in the Bible, we are to turn the other cheek. This is sort of what the fisheries agreement is asking us to do.
Why do I say “turn the other cheek”? Because we must trust the other signatory country will also enforce the law on its vessel in contravention, and impress on its captain that he is in violation, deserves to be sanctioned and has to live with all the problems that causes.
At this point, we must trust the international community, the diplomatic channels. We must play the game. If Canada agrees to align Canadian law with the spirit and the letter of the fisheries agreement, it will be easier to get other countries to join. Again, once the agreement has come into force internationally—30 states must sign it—even those countries that will not have signed it will be forced to comply with it.
Once that is achieved, Canada can work with the signatory countries to begin to give some teeth to the agreement. Once the UNFA has force of law at the international level, consideration could even be given—and I call for this today—to establishing a special enforcement authority. We have peacekeepers; perhaps we could have a fleet, under the authority of a UN admiral, in charge of co-ordinating the forces of the various coastal states to protect the resource.
In order to achieve what we want in our waters today, what is provided under Bill C-29, we must be prepared to take a small step backward. I agree that this is a step backward, but that is par for the course, as we say.
A final comment on this, if I may. This is where our Canadian fishers end up getting hurt, and this is why I am taking a long time to explain today.
The last time I spoke on this bill, I acted what boarding of a fishing vessel might be like. Take the Estai for example. In that case, the Canadian fisheries officer boarded the ship it and brought it into port.
When we see a ship that, in our opinion, is in violation, what happens then? First, the captain of the Canadian patrol frigate boards the ship. He conducts an investigation and questions those on board. His patrol vessel is clearly identified. The foreign ship's crew has nothing to fear from him, since all he can do is talk to them.
So the captain goes on board, and he asks “What is your country of origin? What was your catch today? May I see your log?” Then he asks to see the fishing gear and the hold, to measure the fish and see whether fish that are too small are being taken, for example. If they caught turbot the size of my hand, for instance, they are in violation.
Under Bill C-29, what would he do? He would read the captain of the offending foreign vessel his rights, then open up his jacket, take out his revolver and hold it at the ready if the captain does not want to co-operate.
Perhaps things will be done a bit more peaceably with the UNFA. The Canadian protection officer will have a new weapon, instead of his revolver. He would have a new tool in his arsenal He would open up his jacket, but instead of taking out his revolver, he would take out his cell phone and call the department of Fisheries of the other country, and say “I am giving you five days notice. We have just picked up one of your people who is in violation”. Canadian fishers are going to find that hard to take, and hard to understand.
I invite them to accept it nonetheless. I am making this prediction: if Canada boards a foreign ship twice in a row, I believe that all the other signatory countries are going to bring pressure to bear, saying “We have no choice. We wanted to do this the honourable way, but some people are not following the rules. We are going to give the fisheries agreement more teeth by giving officers more powers and letting coastal countries catching people red handed apply their laws according to the their own legal code”. That I think is what needs to be done.
The objective is to get people to understand the spirit of the agreement, which they do not currently. As members can see, it is a bit contradictory. It is as if Canada in the scenario I have just painted were trying to give its fishery officers two tools at the same time. But no provision is made in C-27, which serves to implement the agreement.
At the moment, the only weapon a fishery officer can carry is a revolver. Under the new legislation, he will have to use his phone first. There are no other interpretations. In this regard, I think that the members of the House will have to be very sensitive to the issue and vote no. When they come to vote on Bill C-27, they will have to make the effort to reread the UN Agreement on Fisheries, especially paragraphs 5 and 6 of article 21. There is a clear reference to three working days. Now, when we look at Canadian law, we see it is immediate.
However, if we want, by voting in favour of Bill C-27, to implement the UN Agreement on Fisheries, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, because our law provides exactly the opposite in Bill C-29.
Before I conclude, I mentioned earlier that we had concerns, my colleague for Beauharnois—Salaberry and I, about the words used, for example délimité and désigné. We prefer the English choice of designated. We should perhaps use the same words in applying international law.
Under the UN Fisheries Agreement, a Canadian protection officer is allowed to board and inspect where “there are clear grounds for believing”. Bill C-27, which is supposed to implement this agreement, uses the expression “reasonable grounds”. Why has the terminology been changed?
Some will say that I am making a mountain out of a molehill today. I would point out that the purpose of the bill is to implement an international treaty. All other nations will have to live with the same vocabulary. If we are trying to get them to ratify the agreement, why are we changing the vocabulary?
I have already pointed out in my speech that, on three occasions, we have stepped back from this agreement, a bit like Saint Peter when Jesus was arrested: “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice”.
The bill has not yet been passed, the international treaty has not yet been ratified and already, in at least three places in the bill to implement it, Canada is going against the spirit and the letter of the agreement. Worse still, it is going back on its own word. On the one hand, it is telling all nations of the world to incorporate the UN Fisheries Agreement in their legislation. On the other, Canada has stepped back from the bill at least three times.
This is why I will be voting against the bill. It is too bad. I hope that members will understand from what I have said that I am in agreement with the UN Fisheries Agreement, but I cannot allow the House, and in particular the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the government members, to pass this bill because it is contrary to UNFA.
In conclusion, I would like to raise a few points. Time is being devoted to a debate of this bill, but I remind the House that the government could have gone to the UN and signed and ratified this agreement without our approval. In any event, if there are other annexes or treaties to sign, it is henceforth denying us the right to amend them.
I would have liked it if, this spring, the government had not put us through the problems we experienced in the Gulf of St. Lawrence last summer. The government likes to find out what is going on elsewhere. It is fond of international treaties.
Canada belongs to an international subregional organization called NAFO. The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization has a management regime. Every participating country already knows what its allocation will be in the Atlantic.
The rules used to determine the total allowable catches and the mathematical formula that will apply to a particular cod, halibut or shrimp stock are known in advance. Each participating country provides the biological information it has. That information is fed into the computer, the total biomass figure comes out and, the mathematical formula having been determined in advance, there nothing anybody can say about it. Every country at the table knows the percentage allocated to it. I think it is paradise at sea.
Canada is part of that management regime, but it does not apply within its own waters the methods used by NAFO.
Why do I mention that? I do not want take away from Canada its constitutional right to manage fisheries. However, once Quebec has achieved sovereignty—or maybe that will never happen even though that is not what I wish—I think it should come to an agreement with its neighbours, namely New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, since all five of them share the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Why could we not do what NAFO does, which is to allocate a specific share to each jurisdiction and ensure that the method used to determine the total allowable catches is transparent so as to take the politics out of the issuance of fishing licences? This is what every fisher, everyone whose livelihood depends on fishing, wishes for.
Under Canadian legislation, the minister has the discretionary power to decide who gets what. Of course, I do not mean to say that the minister is an ogre. He is doing what he can with what he has, but I would like to give him a hand by suggesting that, in the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, we model our management system on NAFO's.
I would add one last criterion, which could make things easier. When we talk about fixing quotas, some people might get scared and say “No, we do not want fixed quotas for Quebec. We do not want fixed quotas for Newfoundland”. Quota is a scary word. Some people will say “That is it for us”. But that is not the point here.
I would like to borrow an approach from French law. In 1992, French law allowed the European Parliament to set relative stabilization criteria between participating Mediterranean states. What does that mean? It means that the fishers or the participating states know how much fish they can catch. If these stabilization criteria are not quotas, what are they?
One job at sea creates five jobs on land. The main problem is that a live fish is federal and a dead fish is provincial. Could the federal and the provincial governments not find a way for the provinces to set stabilization criteria that would ensure that the five jobs on land do not come and go all the time? That would be a step towards harmonization.
I would remind the House that we must downsize. There is not one province willing to downsize and lay-off everybody working in the fisheries without knowing what its relative basis is.
With the consent of the House, I could speak all afternoon, even all weekend long, on this topic.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I see people are agreeing to it. If the House so wishes, I will keep on talking about the United Nations fisheries agreement. Do I have the consent of the House, Madam Speaker?
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): At this point I wish to inform the House that there is an error in the English text of the opposition motion on page 17 of today's order paper.
A corrigendum is available from the table. I am sorry for any inconvenience this might have caused the hon. members.
Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, NDP): Madam Speaker, the hon. member may have received unanimous consent had he said “until the cows come home” instead of “until the fish come back”.
On behalf of the NDP caucus, I am honoured to speak on the bill. In speaking to the hon. member, the spokesperson for our caucus on fisheries and known as a great supporter and defender of the fishing industry and the preservation of the fish stock, we would like to extend our support, but with some reservations.
As members of the committee are very well aware, amendments were put forward to address the specific issues. I will highlight once again the main point of concern that we would like to raise during debate on Bill C-27.
The bill amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act. It is Canada's implementation of the United Nations fisheries agreement, a very crucial agreement as it deals with the protection of our fish stocks based on sustainability and co-operation. Also the jurisdiction over waters and the supply of fish is enhanced. It ensures that Canadian fish caught by Canadian fishermen are processed in Canadian plants. That is a major issue.
I would like to raise a point of contention about a specific and crucial point in the bill. It is also an issue of interpretation. The bill is a new tool for enforcing international conservation measures on the high seas. It will allow Canada to operate outside Canadian waters under the auspices of the UNFA, the United Nations Fisheries Agreement.
We certainly are aware that enforcing illegal or unwarranted activities can escalate to international misunderstandings. In dealing with foreign nations let us be very specific and very clear in our communications so as not to jeopardize the integrity, the powers and the safety of our enforcement officers.
Under Bill C-27 a ship suspected of illegally fishing on the high seas could be boarded and searched if the flag state is informed. The protections officer can then exercise additional powers under the UNFA if the flag state has not responded within three days or does not investigate the alleged offence.
The three day period is the contention. It is not defined in the bill itself. Article 21 of the actual United Nations fisheries agreement says that the time period will be prescribed by regulation. During report stage debate the government said that it would implement a three day period in the UNFA through regulations at a future date.
My colleague brought forward a motion that would change the three day notification period to 48 hours. Nobody understands what three days mean. They could mean working days. When our hon. colleague brought forth an amendment, 48 hours was a specific time period which nobody could dispute internationally. It would have permitted Canadian fisheries officers to wait only 48 hours to act instead of three working days.
Unfortunately the amendment was defeated. We would like to bring it to the government's attention. Before the bill receives final royal assent we hope this ratification and clarification could take place.
What do three working days mean? That is our question to the government. There is no definition in any of the agreements or the bill of three working days. Does it mean 72 hours? Does it include weekends and national holidays? If so, if national holidays are recognized in Canada, are they also recognized in the vessel's country of origin? What happens if the boat is boarded on Christmas Eve? When does that three day period actually begin? Is it after Boxing Day or New Years? It is a very contentious issue even under Canadian interpretation.
We do not want to waste the time of fisheries officers who are trying to work out the details on the high seas. We do not want to wait too long before they are allowed further action against a vessel that is fishing illegally. That is why the three working day period should be reduced to two days and defined as 48 hours. This was a major issue raised in the committee process and brought forward in an amendment. We want to raise it with the government today and ask it to take it under advisement.
We also want to draw attention to the environmental status of our ecosystem. We talked about declining fish stocks in the Canadian fisheries industry and the impact it has on our coastal communities and our economy as a whole.
Internationally fish stocks are declining as our population and demand for fish are increasing. As one hon. colleague mentioned, the silent tragedy of human deterioration as a result of agents in our food cycles is also a major concern. Pollutants that affect the ecosystem go into our food cycle including the fish throughout the regions.
I challenge the members who spoke to this issue to look at the Environmental Protection Act. One party spoke about the need to look at the health deteriorating agents in food cycles. Another party diminished the pollution related powers we wanted to protect in terms of fighting polluters, the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle. All these principles were encompassed by CEPA and were debated. Many members declined strengthening the bill.
I raise the issue of climate change which affects the migratory patterns of world fish stocks and the depths at which schools of fish can be found. The major issues are ecosystem and environmental protection, pollution prevention for our planet and climate change. Let us take these issues to heart and challenge members of the House and the provincial legislators to make sure we have a viable future for our children and a food supply for the world, especially our nation. Let us protect our Canadian waters and our Canadian law enforcement officers.
We would hate to see a situation where we were forced to shoot across somebody's bow to get somebody's attention in terms of the legalities of the jurisdiction over fish off our shores. Let us look at the speedy passage of Bill C-27 as weak as it is. We would like to strengthen it further, and I think there are processes that will allow for that.
Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today on behalf of our Conservative caucus to support Bill C-27.
An hon. member: And to congratulate the government.
Mr. Charlie Power: And congratulate the government for finally doing something which was so obviously right that it should have been done many years ago. It has taken so long to bring the bill before us that both governments, the previous one and the current one, deserve some blame for not doing it earlier. However, it is a bill we are more than happy to support.
Our fisheries critic has spoken to the bill and to its amendments on several occasions. Obviously we are very supportive of any act that adds to our conservation and management skills to control the fisheries resource as best we can. In this case we are talking about the straddling stocks outside and inside the 200 mile limit. We are talking about cod, flounder, turbot, tuna and swordfish.
We need to protect all these fish for the livelihood of all those who depend on them. We need to protect the fisheries resource because it is a tremendous source of protein for the whole world, a world that is often starving and hungry. If that resource is managed properly, if we make sure it is a renewable resource that remains renewable, all the world will be well served. Hence we are very supportive of the bill.
Unfortunately it has taken way too long to get the bill approved by the House of Commons. We hope Canada becomes a signatory to the agreement very quickly. After many years only 59 countries have become signatories to it. There have only been 17 ratifications and we need 30 before the agreement has any international effect. We may have missed an opportunity that we certainly should not have missed.
We on this side of the House congratulate the Liberal government for doing this, but we were surprised that all the amendments put forth by the member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, the member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore and myself were voted down by the majority of government members. Some of the amendments that were discussed fully in the fisheries committee could have made the act an awful lot better and an awful lot stronger. All amendments should not have been voted down.
One amendment I am sure should not have been voted down by members opposite is my amendment to section 701(1) which would allow for enforcement. Everybody on this side of the House interprets the act as being very weak when it comes to the enforcement side. The principle of the act is good, but it cannot be enforced by our fisheries protection officers, the RCMP and coast guard officials designated under the act to do enforcement. There was a real opportunity to strengthen the act so that it would add to the conservation and protection of our fish resources.
My colleague who spoke before me mentioned the amendment I am talking about. The problem with section 701 is that a foreign fishing vessel caught in Canadian waters illegally cannot be charged right away. Permission of the home state has to be obtained. That might be okay when dealing with the signatories to the agreement.
Canada or the other signatory countries might say that if one of our vessels is caught doing something wrong, the enforcement officers can lay a charge and let the chips fall where they may. However, what happens when the real culprits in international overfishing are pirate ships of countries flying flags of convenience registered in Panama or Belize or someplace else? As the former speaker just mentioned, what happens if someone is caught on a Christmas Eve? How would fisheries officers get permission?
What should a fisheries officer off the coast of Newfoundland do in a situation similar to the Estai? How could a fishing captain who is breaking the law by using a liner inside of his regular trawls to can catch small fish and destroy a resource be charged? How would the officer get control of the vessel?
If in Newfoundland waters the enforcement officer would call the federal Minister of Fisheries who would then contact the federal Minister for International Affairs who would then try to contact somebody in a place like Panama and get permission to lay a charge on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador. It will simply never happen.
My amendment was pretty straightforward. All it said was that enforcement officers in our fleets would have exactly the same set of rules and regulations. If they found a Canadian vessel inside Canadian waters breaking the law, the captain could be arrested, the ship seized and taken to port, and the legal process would set in. Why is there a different set of laws in the bill, one that applies to foreign vessels inside Canadian limits and one that applies to the vessels of Canada and other signatories to the agreement inside Canadian waters?
It is a real shortfall in the bill. We proposed an amendment which was agreed to by this side of the House. I believe all members on this side supported the amendment and everybody on the opposite side voted against it. On the one hand the government deserves credit for finally bringing in the bill. On the other hand it certainly could have made it a lot better and could have protected more of the fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador or indeed any part of Canada.
That being said, we will still support the bill because it is badly needed. Anything that conserves and protects our fish resources is obviously something we will support. It is not just the fish resources. I have heard the minister of fisheries say sometimes that his first priority is to protect fish, not fishermen, fisherwomen, or workers, or other people who depend on the fishery. I take a different approach. The first responsibility of the minister of fisheries is to the people he represents. That means he has to conserve and protect fish stocks. As long as it is done on a scientific basis, we are more than happy to support him.
In Newfoundland and Labrador a lot of things are happening that do not preserve and conserve our fish resources. Our fishermen, fisherwomen, plant workers, truckers, suppliers and other support industries have a way of life based upon an inshore fishery in Newfoundland. That inshore fishery is now again at very serious risk, which I raised in committee yesterday when the Newfoundland delegation was here. We have done many things to preserve, conserve and protect our resource, and we are allowing one part of the ecosystem to completely destroy and diminish all other efforts we have taken.
In the case of seals we have a very serious problem. As I said in committee yesterday, sometimes we are destined to repeat history because maybe our memories are bad. We should not be destined to repeat events. In the 1980s when the cod stocks were being seriously depleted there was always the argument that we did not have enough scientific proof to significantly reduce quotas. Every fisherman in Newfoundland could say it was getting harder and harder to make a living, more and more difficult to find fish, and when fish were found they were smaller than they had ever been before.
I was in government in Newfoundland from 1979 to 1989. I know the premier and the other politicians in Newfoundland fought hard to get the federal government to reduce the quotas and to do something about management of our fish stocks. Nobody listened to us or in particular to fishermen.
Now in 1998-99 we have another problem where everybody in Newfoundland, every politician of every political party, every fisherman who lives around the coast of Newfoundland, sees the great predation by seals.
Seals have gone from roughly two million in the mid-1980s to close to seven million now. They eat millions of tonnes of fish per year. In Atlantic cod alone, a stock which the government has tried to preserve, $3 billion in TAGS and income support has been put in place to try to regenerate roe in Newfoundland. That $3 billion is going to be lost because we have not been willing, we have not been brave enough and courageous enough, to take on the International Fund for Animal Welfare and other lobbyists who have their axe to grind and use anything they can to raise significant amounts of money for their organizations.
We read in the news today how the Government of Canada deals with environmental problems. We are afraid for our lives to touch the seal issue. No one wants to touch seals. No one wants to get involved with the seal issue.
In western Canada, on a similar environmental issue, we have a problem with snow geese. There are not many people who make a living on snow geese. In Atlantic Canada this year seals ate 210,000 tonnes of Atlantic cod. That would employ almost everyone who was previously involved in the Atlantic fishery; 210,000 tonnes of cod and one million tonnes of caplin. If protected, that resource could create a significant amount of jobs in Atlantic Canada.
However, it cannot be dealt with. The government says that it cannot justify an increase in the seal quota, the total allowable catch, because it does not have scientific data. In effect, it is a repetition of what happened with the cod stocks in 1980.
We are afraid to listen to fishermen. We are afraid to listen to people who can see evidence on the shoreline on any given day of seal predation. Now we are in the situation where the Government of Canada says that we cannot cull the herd. We cannot do anything.
However, the Canadian program aims to cull snow geese by 1.25 million this year, 1.9 million in 2000 and 2.6 million in 2001. We are almost doubling our cull of snow geese because of an environmental disaster. We are doing it, in a way, to protect the snow geese. If we do not, they will simply eat themselves out of house and home and nature will find a way to bring the numbers down.
I am saying to the minister that when it comes to conservation, protection and enhancement of our fish stocks, we should do what Environment Canada has authorized be done for snow geese. Many more people make a living in Newfoundland based upon the fish resources that we have.
That being said, I believe that some of our amendments, especially on enforcement, should have been approved, but Liberal members chose not to accept them. However, members on this side of the House and we in the Conservative caucus will support Bill C-27. If nothing else, it is an improvement to what we now have. On behalf of our caucus I give our support to this bill.
Mr. Yvan Bernier (Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, BQ): Madam Speaker, I listened to the Progressive Conservative member's comments. I take it from his conclusion that he would recommend that his party vote in favour of Bill C-27.
As I mentioned in my speech, I believe the bill is contrary to the spirit of the United Nations fishing agreement.
The first question I would like to put to the hon. member is the following. Is he more comfortable with the existing Canadian law system, as set in Bill C-29, which makes it possible to seize vessels caught in the act and slap penalties on them? If this is the case, it means he does not agree with the content of the United Nations Fisheries Agreement. The agreement says that a country should act in a diplomatic way and give three days to fishing boats caught in violation.
This is the reason why I emphasised, in my speech, the need of diplomacy. We need to get as many countries as possible on side, to get 30 signatories, which is the minimum number required for the agreement to become binding internationally.
Once we reach that level internationally, signatory countries can find a way to give teeth to the agreement. For now, we cannot choose between them.
I want to be sure that the hon. member has understood, and I would like him to comment on NAFO's management policy, which already establishes percentages applicable to participating countries. This could allow a settlement of some disputes between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Quebec.
I also remind the House that NAFO's rules for establishing total allowable catches are transparent and known to all. Everyone provides information, while at present in the Canadian system officials and biologists at Fisheries and Oceans are the only ones who have the information and communicate it to the minister. We are forced to live with the decisions.
I would like to ask the hon. member two questions. Does he prefer to live only under Canadian legislation, Bill C-29? This would be the result if we vote for Bill C-27. And what does he think of allowing Canada to administer things the way NAFO does?
Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC): Madam Speaker, I have two questions for the hon. member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok.
We also are not in perfect unity with the government on this bill. All of the amendments made by the member, which were done with a lot of concurrence on the fisheries committee, were excellent amendments which could have made the bill stronger.
However, we have come to the conclusion in the Conservative caucus that it is better to support this bill and have it ratified so that it becomes more of an international agreement with the other countries which are signatories to it, to at least go that far. I suspect what will happen is that we will be back here in a couple of years, which often happens with this government, making amendments to Bill C-27 when the government finds that the enforcement mechanisms will not work.
Government members will come to the House one day with a great show of pride and patriotism to bring amendments, the amendments which the member suggested and the amendments which I suggested, and will be back here to make this bill stronger and make it do what we want it to do.
We in Newfoundland have always been very concerned and alarmed that when it comes to NAFO Canada is much too soft. We accept too many violations with respect to some of the things that happen on those vessels. This is just not strong enough to do what we want to do in Newfoundland and Labrador, and indeed in all of Atlantic Canada.
Yes, we would like a much stronger bill, but we have decided to support this bill because at least it goes in the right direction.
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned in his speech the total allowable catch for the seal herd this year. Over 200,000 animals are to be culled from that herd, out of a total population on the east coast of about 6.4 million seals.
I would like the hon. member to comment on two things. First, the government and the minister involved have certainly ignored the lives and well-being of Atlantic Canadians. There is no question about that. However, there is also a greater travesty. The government has also ignored the conservation measures needed to ensure a healthy seal herd.
If we have a burgeoning seal population which has already surpassed—
Mr. Wayne Easter: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The comments of the hon. member are not relevant to the bill we are dealing with.
Mr. Charlie Power: Madam Speaker, obviously the reason we are supporting the bill on this side of the House is because it conserves and protects our fish stocks. The nature and level of those fish stocks are obviously very pertinent to this debate and therefore the member's question is certainly in order.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): The hon. member for South Shore may continue with his question and comment.
Mr. Gerald Keddy: I was encompassing the seals in the total fish stocks. I realize the difference between mammals and fish. I am not sure thatmembers opposite do.
However, I want to look at the holistic picture. The question for the hon. member is put quite simply. We are not only ignoring the personal value, the very real value, and the hardship it causes Nova Scotians, Labradorians, New Brunswickers, Quebecers, Magdalen Islanders and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are also ignoring the very real responsibility that we have for conservation of the seal herd.
The seal herd will continue to overpopulate, to overreach the food resource and will suffer some type of a crippling and dramatic decline in population, probably long term starvation and disease. What are the hon. member's thoughts on that?
Mr. Charlie Power: Madam Speaker, there is no longer a balance in our ecosystem. Strangely enough, long before we joined Canada, long before Canada became Canada, there were seal and cod fish all along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Recorded history tells us that they were there as long ago as 500 years, but I suspect they were there tens of thousands of years before that.
We finally got the two hundred mile limit in 1997 and Canadian control and management. We have Ph.D.s in biology and in ecosystem science. We have all kinds of educated scientists. We have all kinds of people with masters degrees in business to manage the resource. We have all kinds of guardians and wildlife people to look after it. Why, after barely 25 or 30 years, do we have a system that is so totally mismanaged and out of control?
The problem now is that because it is so mismanaged and because we have so many seals and so few fish, we are going to lose. We have seen seven years of devastation in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Newfoundland. There has been an out-migration of 30,000 people in the last three years alone from a lot of towns like Trepassey. It used to have close to 2,000 people and it now has close to 800 people. We are losing our young people. We are losing our brains. A lot of it is because our fishery resources have been totally mismanaged.
Now we have another problem facing the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Government of Canada square in the face every day. We have six million or seven million seals. They are eating well over one million tonnes of food per year. As a result, the cod stocks are not coming back. The $3 billion invested by the Government of Canada to allow the resource to come back is going to be wasted.
All we are saying is that there has to be a balance. The Government of Canada now has enough scientific data and certainly enough evidence from all of our fishers and people living on our coast that it is really time to do something with the seal herd. Unless it is done, as the member says, the seals will eat themselves out of house and home. There will be a mass depopulation of seals by natural reasons. Everybody will be poorly served with respect to cod fish and seals, especially the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hon. Fred Mifflin (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), Lib.): Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate this debate. I know I have about a minute, so I will not get into a long dissertation.
It is an interesting debate and it is a subject that is very close to the hearts of all Atlantic Canadians and Quebecers who are involved in the very difficult business of the management of fish stocks.
I do not really think this is a political issue and I do not think there is much disagreement. I have to remind my hon. friend and colleague from St. John's West that management of fish stocks is not an easy issue. He will recall that a few years ago, on the nose and tail of the bank, while many members of the Conservative government at that time actually agreed that we needed to take some action, the political will was not there to do so. In fact, the minister of the day, Mr. John Crosbie, said as much on television when this government did take action.
That aside, my comment is that the management of fish stocks is a very difficult issue. In the case of seals, I understand what the hon. member is saying and I think eventually we are going to have to do something to address this issue. What that something is going to be he knows is a very complex issue.
Mr. Charlie Power: Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his comments. I know he has been very active in trying to manage the very complicated resources in our oceans.
However, we have to be careful in this case that the seal issue does not become political. When the present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said to the provincial ministers of fisheries in Quebec City the other day that the reason he cannot increase the seal cull or seal quota this year is because of international trade ramifications, we then begin as politicians to manage the resource based on public relations and politics. That is what happened.
I agreed fully in the 1980s with the other governments and the other ministers. If we go back to that with seals we are going to repeat the problem. We may repeat history, but we should not repeat current events.
Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ): Madam Speaker, I am please to take part in this debate today. I would like to deal with the details of the UN agreement.
First of all, I would like to quote part of the preamble:
Recognizing the need for specific assistance, including financial, scientific and technological assistance, in order that developing States can participate effectively in the conservation, management and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks,
Convinced that an agreement for the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention would best serve these purposes and contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security,
Affirming that matters not regulated by the Convention or by this Agreement continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law,
Have agreed as follows:
I would also like read the general provisions of article 1, which deals with use of terms and scope.
For the purposes of this Agreement:
(a) The word “Convention” means, of course, the United Nations convention on the law of the sea of 10 December 1982.
It is very important that we know the details of the UN agreement.
(b) The expression “conservation and management measures”, means measures to conserve and manage one or more species of living marine resources that are adopted and applied consistent with the relevant rules of international law as reflected in the Convention and this Agreement.
(c) The term “fish” includes molluscs and crustaceans except those belonging to sedentary species as defined in article 77 of the Convention.
(d) The term “arrangement” means a co-operative mechanism established in accordance with the Convention and this Agreement by two or more States for the purpose, inter alia, of establishing conservation and management measures in a subregion or region for one or more straddling fish stocks or highly migratory fish stocks.
2. (a) The term “States Parties” means States which have consented to be bound by this Agreement and for which the Agreement is in force.
(b) This Agreement applies mutatis mutandis to:
(i) any entity referred to in article 305, paragraph 1 (c), (d) and (e), of the Convention and
(ii) subject to article 47, to any entity referred to as an “international organization” in Annex IX, article 1, of the Convention which becomes a Party to this Agreement. To that extent “States Parties” refers to those entities.
3. This Agreement applies mutatis mutandis to other fishing entities whose vessels fish on the high seas.
Article 2 reads, and I quote:
1. The objective of this Agreement is to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks through effective implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention.
Article 3 deals with the application and reads:
1. Unless otherwise provided, this Agreement applies to the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks beyond areas under national jurisdiction, except that articles 6 and 7 apply also to the conservation and management of such stocks within areas under national jurisdiction, subject to the different legal regimes that apply within areas under national jurisdiction and in areas beyond national jurisdiction as provided for in the Convention.
2. In the exercise of its sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks within areas under national jurisdiction, the coastal State shall apply mutatis mutandis the general principles enumerated in article 5.
3. States shall give due consideration to the respective capacities of developing States to apply articles 5, 6 and 7 within areas under national jurisdiction and their need for assistance as provided for in this Agreement. To this end, Part VII applies mutatis mutandis in respect of areas under national jurisdiction.
And I continue:
Nothing in this Agreement shall prejudice the rights, jurisdiction and duties of States under the Convention. This Agreement shall be interpreted and applied in the context of and in a manner consistent with the Convention.
Now, moving on to the second part:
Part II. Conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
Article 5. General principles
In order to conserve and manage straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, coastal States and States fishing on the high seas shall, in giving effect to their duty to co-operate in accordance with the Convention:
(a) adopt measures to ensure long-term sustainability of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and promote the objective of their optimum utilization;
(b) ensure that such measures are based on the best scientific evidence available and are designed to maintain or restore stocks at levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield, as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors, including the special requirements of developing States, and taking into account fishing patterns, the interdependence of stocks and any generally recommended international minimum standards—
The agreement is intended to assess the impacts of fishing, other human activities and environmental factors on target stocks and species belonging to the same ecosystem or associated with or dependent upon the target stocks.
Article 5 (e) reads as follows:
(e) Adopt, where necessary, conservation and management measures for species belonging to the same ecosystem or associated with or dependent upon the target stocks, with a view to maintaining or restoring populations of such species above levels at which their reproduction may become seriously threatened;
Article 5 (f) concerns pollution and reads as follows:
(f) minimize pollution, waste, discards, catch by lost or abandoned gear, catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish species, —and impacts on associated or dependent species, in particular endangered species, through measures including, to the extent practicable, the development and use of selective, environmentally safe and cost-effective fishing gear and techniques;
Articles 5 (g) to (l) read as follows:
(g) protect biodiversity in the marine environment;
(h) take measures to prevent or eliminate overfishing and excess fishing capacity and to ensure that levels of fishing effort do not exceed those commensurate with the sustainable use of fishery resources;
(i) take into account the interests of artisanal and subsistence fishers;
(j) collect and share, in a timely manner, complete and accurate data concerning fishing activities on, inter alia, vessel position, catch of target and non-target species and fishing effort, as set out in Annex I, as well as information from national and international research programmes;
(k) promote and conduct scientific research and develop appropriate technologies in support of fishery conservation and management; and
(l) implement and enforce conservation and management measures through effective monitoring, control and surveillance.
Next comes application of the precautionary approach.
1. States shall apply the precautionary approach widely to conservation, management and exploitation of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks in order to protect the living marine resources and preserve the marine environment.
2. States shall be more cautious when information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate. The absence of adequate scientific information shall not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take conservation and management measures.
The agreement also states, at article 6, paragraph 3, which deals with implementing the precautionary approach:
3. In implementing the precautionary approach, States shall:
(a) improve decision-making for fishery resource conservation and management by obtaining and sharing the best scientific information available and implementing improved techniques for dealing with risk and uncertainty;
(b) apply the guidelines set out in Annex II and determine, on the basis of the best scientific information available, stock-specific reference points and the action to be taken if they are exceeded, of course;
(c) take into account, inter alia, uncertainties relating to the size and productivity of the stocks, reference points, stock condition in relation to such reference points, levels and distribution of fishing mortality and the impact of fishing activities on non-target and associated or dependent species, as well as existing and predicted oceanic, environmental and socio-economic conditions; and
(d) develop data collection and research programmes to assess the impact of fishing on non-target and associated or dependent species and their environment, and adopt plans which are necessary to ensure the conservation of such species and to protect habitats of special concern.
4. States shall take measures to ensure that, when reference points are approached, they will not be exceeded. In the event that they are exceeded, States shall, without delay, take the action determined under paragraph 3 (b) to restore the stocks.
5. Where the status of target stocks or non-target or associated or dependent species is of concern, States shall subject such stocks and species to enhanced monitoring in order to review their status and the efficacy of conservation and management measures. They shall revise those measures regularly in the light of new information.
6. For new or exploratory fisheries, States shall adopt as soon as possible cautious conservation and management measures, including, inter alia, catch limits and effort limits. Such measures shall remain in force until there are sufficient data to allow assessment of the impact of the fisheries on the long-term sustainability of the stocks;
Therefore, if a natural phenomenon has significant detrimental effects on the status of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, states must adopt, as soon as possible, conservation and management measures so that fishing activities do not make these detrimental effects even worse.
That is what I had to say on this subject.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Pursuant to the order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of Bill C-27 are deemed to have been put and the recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.
It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mr. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, Lib.) moved that Bill C-440, an act to amend the Criminal Code (flight), be read a second time and referred to a committee.
He said: I am very happy to be here today to speak to Bill C-440.
This bill would not have been here today had it not been for the co-operative efforts of my co-sponsor, the member for Leeds—Grenville, who will be speaking to this bill.
It is an honour for a member of parliament to be given the opportunity not only to speak on his or her bill, but to also know that a subcommittee of our peers has deemed it worthy by the fact that it is votable. It is for that reason that I am here today with those of us who have supported the bill. I am hopeful that it will be moving ahead in the near future.
I cannot emphasize enough how I believe an issue like this really transcends the usual partisan barriers that might sometimes inhibit bills.
I have many people to thank for getting the bill here in terms of being able to tell people what it is all about. I have been most impressed with the help of the Minister of Justice, who has been extremely sensitive to this issue, and for the support that the parliamentary secretary and members on this side have given to this initiative.
Having a couple of votable bills before the House of Commons, but particularly this one, says a lot about the necessity for filling a gap which I believe exists and that I think most reasonable people in Canada believe exists in the Criminal Code.
I would have preferred to have entitled this bill, Evading Police, for that is the issue: a wanton, reckless and at times tragic act by an individual using a motor vehicle to escape the police. Sadly, the act often leads to the death or injury of either the individual committing it, the police officers who are trying to fulfill their duty to protect the public, or some innocent bystander who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I introduced this bill sometime back in October on the heels of several incidents that took place in my community, the greater Toronto area, whereby the police, in simply doing their jobs, were often confronted with situations whereby the wanton acts of those who would flee placed the safety of the public at greater risk, often winding up with injury or death.
Since the bill has been introduced, there have been a number of tragedies that have hit closer to home for me. About four weeks ago, a very well-known leader in my community of Pickering, Father Ilce Miovski, was killed as he was attending to his vehicle. It happened as a result of someone taking the liberty of exceeding speeds that would not otherwise be normal. The driver went out of control and hit Father Miovski's car, killing a man who was not just a leader in terms of the community, but a leader in the Macedonian community.
I speak for all of parliament, as I have before on this very subject, in sending out our heartfelt sorrow to that community which lost its leader during the Lenten period of the Macedonian community.
I also want to speak to another personal situation that occurred in Brampton with the death of Sarah Bowman, again due to a reckless act of somebody trying to evade a peace officer. Sarah was only 21 years of age. I know her family is probably listening and looking on today.
I hope that what we have to say here today is not lost on the necessity to fill the void that, if nothing else, serves as a lesson or a message to those who, for a simple reason such as perhaps a suspended licence, would wilfully flee from a police officer and endanger the public.
The House could send that kind of message over time with the help and the expertise that is available to us both in committee, which I hope the bill will eventually reach, and the input from thousands of Canadians who have something to say about this, in an effort to ensure that many Canadians down the road are not victims of our neglect.
I introduced Bill C-440 as a private members' bill on October 7, 1998. Simply put, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code by creating a specific offence with severe penalties for anyone who, while using a motor vehicle, fails to stop for the police.
At first view the bill seems to be the product of common sense. To some it may even appear odd; that the Criminal Code should already had a provision that specifically prohibits this act. The truth is it does not. Currently, section 249 of the Criminal Code, the dangerous operation of motor vehicle provisions, are used to combat the act of evading police.
When Constable Richard Sonnenberg of the Calgary police lay down a spike belt to stop a speeding car that would not pull over, was that due to some person overreacting? Was it due to panic or from the driver being scared? Was it a case of dangerous driving or was there really more to it?
Most people would think that a person driving at speeds of 160 or 170 kilometres per hour goes beyond dangerous driving. It was clear the individual did not want to stop for the police and was prepared to do quite a bit to get away from them. Surely that very act of avoiding the police should be a specific criminal offence with a specific penalty.
Most engineers would view the act for what it was, a large projectile hurtling at excessive speeds and the excess weight of some 3,000 pounds moving down a highway. Most normal people would view this projectile as being driven by an individual who has no regard whatsoever for human life.
The debate, however, is of little consequence to Constable Sonnenberg. He was killed when that car struck him while trying to avoid the spike belt. The consequence of this was that the driver of the car was charged with criminal negligence causing death and received a sentence of six years in jail. Simply six years. Was justice served? Did that individual pay for his actions and for the taking of another person's life? I really do not think so.
In the current Criminal Code the penalties for dangerous driving are as follows: the act itself is punishable by either imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or summary conviction; if the act causes injury, the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years; and if the act causes death, the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.
Under Bill C-440, anyone who operates a motor vehicle to evade a police officer is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. Anyone who commits this offence and in the process injures another person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. Anyone causing the death of another person in committing this act will be liable to imprisonment for life.
I believe these penalties are sufficient and I believe it is time the Criminal Code had a specific provision dealing with using a motor vehicle to evade police. I am not alone in that belief.
As many in the House know, last week in my province, the province of Ontario, the solicitor general issued the much awaited guidelines dealing with regulations on police conduct in matters of criminal evasion; better known in the public as simple evasion of police or police chases. I think that is a bit of a stretch. Yes, it is a chase, but I do not think we can actually say the police are chasing people because they find it is particularly interesting or because it is something they do in their spare time. They are doing it because they are upholding the law.
While these regulations are important—and I give some credit to the solicitor general for them—without a response at the federal level with respect to the Criminal Code, we are in effect regulating the police while letting those who evade police off scot-free.
On November 16, 1998 I wrote to the minister, and the minister is extremely interested in the issue. I know that for those of us who have spent a lot of time on this issue there will be some point down the road when we will be dealing with it more specifically and more appropriately before the committee. I look forward to that.
I am very pleased to have received the support of several associations, obviously the Canadian Police Association, victims' rights groups and of course the CAA.
I am interested in what has occurred with respect to recent editorials in various papers across the country. We see that some are shifting or swinging to the left while others are a little bit to the right. However, it seems there is a consensus evolving in all corners of the media and all regions of the country that we cannot continue to inhibit our peace officers, our thin blue line, from being able to do their job.
Police officers know full well who the people are who should be apprehended, who are breaking the law, who are fleeing the public and who are engaging in reckless and wanton acts, but impunity is the current state of the laws.
When I appeared before the subcommittee on Private Members' Business, I read some letters that were very cogent to this issue. The letters were from Syd Bowman, Jenny Bowman and Karen Kalverda, the sister of Sarah Bowman.
We have an opportunity with this bill to right a wrong. If it means the saving of one single life, or the deterrent that might avoid someone receiving an injury that could maim them for life, then we have indeed done well and discharged our duty here in the House of Commons.
I am honoured to have had the opportunity to bring this bill forward, but this is not the Dan McTeague bill, it is the House of Commons bill. This is a bill that belongs to all members of the House. If anybody has any idea how I could move this bill forward more quickly, I am certainly game.
I believe the bill rightly corresponds to a need in the public today. It is a void that exists within our midst and within our judicial system. I do not believe there is a lack of will to respond to this. The responses we are seeing at the federal and provincial levels among concerned groups are putting us in a situation where I think we are going to see a very quick response to the issue. Hopefully we will have the necessary legislation to really send a message out: “For God's sake, if you are going to try to flee a police officer simply because you are worried, think about the consequences. If you are not going to think about the consequences to society in general, think then about the selfish consequences to yourself”.
I am not in a position right now to speak freely about those I know who have been injured. I know there is a time for compassion, but there is also a time to ensure that legislation we provide to the House, and which hopefully will wind up in the other place, will stand the test of time and will not be struck down. While the bill is a very strong starting point, my expectation is to encourage the House to try to develop a bill that will meet the standard and tests of not just deterrence, but also protecting a single life.
There is another aspect to the bill that I think members may not have considered. At first glance some people may say this is simply retribution. Throw them in jail and let us not worry about why they did it. However, there is another aspect that may be lost but which should be considered by all hon. members in the House as we deliberate on this important bill that affects us in each of our ridings.
Perhaps in the act of the chase, in the act of evasion, it is possible that the peace officer may ascertain the identity of those who would flee and therefore commit, under this act, an offence punishable by certain indictable terms in prison. One of the things that could come out of that is simply the identification of the person who is fleeing and, if necessary, not only have to worry about stopping the vehicle, but if it is not a very serious offence, wait until the person has run out of gas or until the person is somewhere else and then apprehend them. In effect, this would give the police a tool of not necessarily having to engage in a risky chase that might otherwise endanger other lives.
Goodness knows, there is not a single peace officer in the country who wishes to endanger another life in order to uphold the law. However, split second decisions have to be made by these fine people who are doing their jobs day in and day out and who basically ensure that we have peace, order and good governance and who safeguard our laws.
This is really my first foray in the House to explain the bill. In the very short time since it was introduced, the deliberation of the subcommittee and the interest shown by parliament is something for which I am deeply honoured.
A huge consensus is developing in the House. This is not a perfect bill but it is a good bill and I believe it will fit the task with perhaps some modification and some change.
I ask and urge the House to move as expeditiously and quickly as possible to ensure that we do not have another Father Ilce Miovski, another death in the community; that we do not have another fatality like the young lady, Sarah Bowman; and that we do not continue the carnage and place our police officers in the unenviable position of being damned if they do and damned if they do not.
I sincerely hope that with the elocution and speeches of my many colleagues here today and down the road, we consider Bill C-440 a new and necessary piece of legislation that will restore what is fundamentally absent in our Criminal Code.
Again I want to thank the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville without whom this bill could not have been possible. I hope we will hear from him a little later on.
I have said what I had to say. I wait patiently and attentively to hear what my hon. colleagues have to say about it as well.
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague, the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge for putting this bill forward. This individual has repeatedly put forth private members' bills and motions to this House that are constructive, which have advanced the debate and are for the benefit of the public at large. I take my hat off to him for once again putting forth a welcome bill. It deals with a very serious situation which he articulated so well in his speech.
Death is never welcome, but never more so when it happens in a senseless form and takes away an innocent person. My colleague mentioned it has been a massive problem in his province in particular, but also in the rest of the country. Many people have been killed or maimed when somebody fleeing from the police has caused a crash.
To put the cold hard statistics on the table, between 1991 and 1997, there were 39 people killed, six of whom were innocent people, and 198 people were injured. I can say as an emergency room physician that people get injured very badly in high speed accidents. Many of those people to this day still suffer. They are scarred by the trauma that has been inflicted upon them because of the high speed chases.
Let us put some names to the statistics. In February 1999, Sarah Bowman, 20, of Brampton was hit by a man fleeing from police on Queen Street and died of massive internal injuries. On November 15, 1998 Mr. John Gibbons, 47, of Oshawa, a father of four, died after his car was broadsided by a pick-up truck being chased by the police. On June 18, 1993, Patricia Cavanaugh, 23, of Markham died when a stolen mini-van being chased ran a light and crashed into her car. It would take me all day to go through this list, but I am not going to. The point has been made.
This situation needs to be rectified. The current penalties for committing such an offence are inadequate. I have worked in jail both as a correctional officer and as a physician. I can say that many of the people who commit traffic offences such as fleeing from police and drunk driving scoff at what they have done. There are people with offence lists as long as their arms for repeatedly committing offences for drunk driving and other traffic offences such as fleeing from police. They laugh because the penalties are not there.
Some may criticize this bill for dealing with punitive actions. Some may argue that punitive actions do not work, but I can say that if the penalty fit the crime, those people would not be wilfully and negligently jeopardizing the lives of innocent people.
There currently are penalties in the Criminal Code. A person who is sentenced to dangerous driving and is convicted is punishable by either imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or a summary conviction. Summary convictions are nothing. If a person causes injury, the penalty for imprisonment is for a term not exceeding 10 years. If the act causes death, the penalty for imprisonment is a term not exceeding 14 years.
Certainly those are significant penalties. What the public may not understand is that when people are sentenced, they do not serve the actual time.
There is no truth in sentencing. In point of fact someone who is sentenced for committing an act, outside of first degree murder, serves only one-sixth of the sentence before they are eligible for parole. What kind of penalty is it for somebody to be sentenced to six years for killing someone and serves only one year for that offence? What kind of message does that send? If somebody takes a life, they need to pay with a commensurate penalty. And they need to pay that price in our jails.
Bill C-440 provides for good penalties. If someone is not injured, the maximum penalty is extended to two years but if someone is hurt, it is a maximum of 10 years. These are conservative and should run consecutively, not concurrently.
A concurrent sentence is one which runs in conjunction with another. The person receives no extra penalty. Absolutely none. Nothing. There is no penalty. Criminals know that. Furthermore criminals also recognize that in the commission of multiple offences the penalties are plea bargained away. What kind of message is that?
We do not want to lock everybody up but there are certain offences that show a wilful negligence for the health and welfare of the Canadian public. The minister needs to put herself in the shoes of those family members who are bereaved by the loss of a loved one. The minister has to look at this from both sides. That is all we ask.
Support comes from many quarters, from the public, from the solicitor general of Ontario and from the police. The police are asking for help. It is not their fault. The police are doing their duty yet in the commission of their duty their hands are often tied. The justice system is not supporting the police in this country today. It is causing an erosion of the morale of our police officers whom we rely upon and trust to keep us safe. We have to give them the same consideration they give us.
The penalties in Bill C-440 are needed. We would like increased penalties for drunk driving. We also want truth in sentencing. If a person is sentenced to two years, they should serve two years. If a person is sentenced to 10 years they should serve 10 years. If sentenced to life, the person should not get out after 15 years but after 25 years. This is why our party has been fighting for the removal of the so-called faint hope clause, section 745.
We want to make sure that the police have our support. This includes financial support. We have been seeing for a very long time that the RCMP and police forces are not getting the support to do their job.
The RCMP training facility has been closed. How can we close down the training facility for the RCMP? It is ridiculous. How can we have police officers trying to do their jobs if they are not given the hours to prosecute the people they are arresting? People are being arrested but then they are released. They cannot be prosecuted because the police forces do not have the manpower, the time nor the resources to do so.
Governments have repeatedly made our legal system so complicated. The conviction process and the process of doing police work are convoluted, complex and inefficient. It takes a police officer many hours to do a job that would have taken much less time years ago. It presently takes two to three times the time to formulate and process a conviction. It is estimated that it takes six hours of office work for a police officer to process a simple drunk driving conviction.
How can police officers do their work with the complexity the government and other governments have engineered? If the Minister of Justice wants to do something along with supporting Bill C-440 she needs to work with her provincial counterparts to simplify the system now.
Again, I compliment my colleague, the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge for taking a leadership role with this bill. It is a bill for personal safety. It is a bill for the public good. It is a bill that hopefully will end the carnage on our streets.
If it is acceptable, I seek unanimous consent to pass Bill C-440 at this point in time.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Madam Speaker, I begin by complimenting the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge for introducing this piece of legislation. We too think it will go some distance toward reducing the carnage and tragic accidents on our highways.
I know it was an act of omission rather than commission by the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. I too want to remember a very significant, well regarded and well liked high school principal in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, who was killed. He and his wife were killed in Saskatoon just a few months ago as a result of a high speed police chase. Let us call it for what it was. The people of that relatively small prairie community were devastated at the loss.
Under this enactment, every one commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years who operates a motor vehicle while being pursued by a peace officer in order to evade the peace officer and fails to stop the vehicle as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.
Every one commits an offence referred to above and thereby causes bodily harm to a person or the death of a person commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or life, respectively.
Section 249 of the Criminal Code deals with the dangerous operation of motor vehicles and aircraft. Under the code anyone who does use a vehicle, vessel or aircraft in a dangerous manner can be guilty of an indictable offence or summary offence.
The private member's bill that has been introduced by the member would add an offence of flight from a police officer when operating a motor vehicle, to be charged and to serve up to two years imprisonment. Anyone who causes bodily harm while in flight from police, could serve up to 10 years. Anyone who causes death while in flight from police could face life imprisonment.
Bill C-440 also provides for the prohibition of operation of a motor vehicle and for a manslaughter charge, if it applied, in the cause of death.
The background to the bill, as has been noted by the two previous speakers, is the recent police chases that have resulted in injury and death. By its nature, fleeing from the police in this manner is presently dangerous use of a vehicle and Bill C-440 singles out that activity for an actual charge.
The justice critic for the New Democratic Party, the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria, has met with the national police association. We know from those conversations that they are very committed to Bill C-440.
On behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus, we are very supportive of this legislation. We extend our congratulations to the hon. member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge for bringing this bill forward in the way that he has, working with other members of the House, including the justice minister.
Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to the important subject of Bill C-440, an act to amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the laws involving criminal flight from police pursuit.
Our party has always supported crime prevention and police forces across the country. We have continually demanded that the government correct the problem of the underfunding that has tied the hands of our overworked police forces as they try to deal with the growing problem of crime in Canada. Through funding cuts to the RCMP, quotas for prisoner release and a weak youth criminal justice act, the Liberals have consistently shown they are soft on crime.
That is why I am especially pleased to see that one of their own backbenchers has actually come up with a piece of legislation that will address certain aspects of real crime. Like the members who spoke before me, I would like to personally thank the hon. member opposite for proposing this legislation and supporting it in a non-partisan effort in the hope that we can actually accomplish something in parliament and see this legislation enacted.
The tragic events in the Toronto area last month are but a sad reminder that the current laws against flight have not been strong enough to deter a criminal from fleeing a pursuing police officer. With the death of Father Ilce Miovski aged 50 on March 21 and the death of Valeri Kovaliv aged 41 on March 27, it is evident that the status quo will no longer suffice. The death of Mr. Kovaliv gave him the most unfortunate title of being the fifth innocent civilian in the Toronto area this year to be killed following a police chase.
We need to enact tough legislation that would deter flight from the police by making an example of these criminals who place innocent lives at risk. Whether it be the lives of the police officers who are probably driving outdated, unsafe police cruisers due to Liberal cutbacks in policing; whether it be the lives of innocent bystanders who could be struck and killed in the midst of a car chase; or whether it be the lives of fleeing criminals, the fact is that our party holds all life sacred.
In respect of human life we need to give the justice system the powers needed to properly deal with those who try to escape from justice. In doing so we will be able to send the message to criminals that this kind of reckless behaviour will no longer be tolerated. It is our opinion that Bill C-440 will accomplish this goal. Under the provisions of the bill suspects who flee police without causing injury will receive a two year sentence. Injuring someone while fleeing could result in up to 10 years in jail. Killing someone during a police chase could mean life imprisonment. The possibility of taking a life and facing life imprisonment due to their flight from a lesser crime will now have to be weighed heavily against the noble route of facing the music.
The more minor aspects of the bill would involve those who cause police chases now being charged with crimes including highway traffic offences which vary by province, dangerous driving or criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death.
There are many who rightfully have questions as to the effectiveness of police chases. There are those who feel police chases only contribute to unnecessary accidents which can lead to injury and death of the innocent general population. These people feel that other means such as road blocks, spike belts or helicopter surveillance equipment would be a more effective method of tracking and eventually apprehending the criminal party. However, we are speaking of police forces that already work with limited resources. Therefore I am not sure these expensive proposals would be at all feasible at this time.
There are experts in the field of law enforcement who say that prohibiting the police from chasing criminals in automobiles will actually create more peril with regard to public safety. Police unions and several prominent police officers have vocally defended their right to chase fleeing offenders.
In Ontario police will face charges if they break the new high speed chase laws. These laws include among other things a mini test the officers will be asked to perform in their heads to decide whether or not the chase is worth the risk. They will be asked to consider the neighbourhood and then the likelihood of an innocent civilian being injured. They will be told to strongly consider those options such as the aforementioned use of spike belts to stop fleeing motorists.
Following similar rules led to the tragic death of a police officer. On October 8, 1993, Calgary police constable Richard Sonnenberg was told to lay down a spike belt to stop a car that had failed to stop for police. The car was driving at speeds of approximately 170 kilometres per hour. While attempting to deploy the belt the constable was killed instantly by the car that had veered into the officer to avoid hitting the spike belt.
This is why many police officers continue to be in favour of police chases. Mr. Norm Gardner, head of the Toronto Police Services Board, warned of the following:
—the public sometimes gets sold the wrong bill of goods. And they think that we won't have these things happen if the police do not pursue. And I can guarantee you, there would be a hell of a lot more danger and a lot more tragedy without pursuits.
The death of Constable Sonnenberg was one of these tragedies. The criminal who killed Constable Sonnenberg could also have easily killed a child or an elderly person. This person could have escaped altogether and gone on to commit other horrible crimes that could have been prevented through immediate incarceration following a successful police pursuit.
I would like to add that another crime was committed as the man who killed Constable Sonnenberg was only sentenced to six years for criminal negligence causing death. Under the provisions of Bill C-440 this reckless criminal would have received life imprisonment.
Police pursuit is not the answer to correcting the problem of flight and the subsequent police chase. Nevertheless, it is the most effective means of criminal apprehension that we currently have. Because of honest completion it effectively ends a criminal's threat to the general public.
What I suggest is that if we allow for police pursuit in addition to the enforcement of Bill C-440, we will be legislating a strong deterrent to the criminal population. This strong deterrent may force second thoughts in the minds of criminals involved in the aforementioned crimes. Such thoughts may have prevented these tragedies and the victims who lost their lives might still be with us today.
Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I want to join the chorus of members congratulating the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge for his work on this issue. I sense a bit of a consensus building here. I am optimistic that can be motivated and activated to get the bill passed as quickly as we possibly can.
Essentially Bill C-440 would make it a criminal offence to use an automobile while being pursued by a peace officer in order to evade a peace officer and fail to stop as soon as it is reasonable to do so. A person who does that would face a prison term not exceeding two years. In addition, anyone who uses an automobile to evade police in the process and injures another person would be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. Anyone causing death would be liable to imprisonment for life. Those are certainly very serious consequences, but they are warranted because the act of evading police is a very serious action.
Since 1992 in Ontario alone there have been 30 people killed as a result of people using automobiles to evade police pursuit. In the example that has been alluded to of Constable Richard Sonnenberg in Alberta, it should be pointed out that the person that hit him was fleeing police because his licence was under suspension. It is a situation where in the mindset of people it is acceptable to do whatever it takes to evade police independent of or not accepting that there are any consequences to that action.
The decisions that have to be made in police chases are very complex. They are impacted in a sense because of the very short time line in which they have to be made. I feel we are doing a great disservice to the police, the men and women who are attempting to preserve and safeguard the public, if we fail to clearly acknowledge that the responsibility for these accidents and the subsequent deaths and countless injuries belongs to the felon who is wilfully evading the law. The focus of Bill C-440 is the activity of evasion.
To quote the hon. member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, who put it so eloquently, it is “a wanton, reckless and at times tragic act by an individual using a motor vehicle to escape from the police”. We are talking about focusing on the act of fleeing and making sure that act has consequences which would force people to consider them before they engage in that very dangerous activity.
It is certainly true that any time a driver fails to stop for a police officer there is the potential for a dangerous situation to unfold. Individuals who choose to flee from police by means resulting in a high speed chase cause inordinate risk to the safety of the public and the police, meriting special criminal sanction. That is what Bill C-440 is trying to do.
Police pursuits cannot be completely eliminated. The hon. member talked about the issue surrounding that. They are no easy solutions; they are complex matters. They cannot be regulated or controlled by policing statutes to the point where motorists will never be at risk. There will always be situations where this type of police response will be appropriate.
Licensing and other forms of provincial control and regulation do not provide a sufficient deterrent. Current dangerous driving provisions of the Criminal Code are inadequate to deal with this action. Criminal records resulting from such conviction do not specifically relate to the relevant fact of the nature of the offence and the offender's specific intent to flee the police. As has been pointed out, criminal sanctions for current offences involving police pursuits are also inadequate.
There are many any factors in the decision to begin or continue a pursuit which is always made with public safety in mind. All too frequently incidents do occur where police officers and members of the public have been seriously harmed or killed because someone failed to stop. Policies and procedures governing police chases are the responsibility of individual police agencies and provincial governments. While those policies are not under the jurisdiction of the federal government, again as has been pointed out, putting this legislation in the Criminal Code provides the teeth that provincial governments need to put in place their regulations.
The bill is about recognizing the rule of law in society. I have lived in countries where this is not the case. I can assure hon. members that respect and trust for the authority of the police are critical for a well functioning society.
Not long ago it was not considered serious to consume alcohol and jump into a vehicle and drive home. I spent the Easter break talking to students in various schools. I can assure the House there has been a fundamental value shift in the minds of young people in Canada that drinking and driving is no longer seen as an acceptable option. We need a very similar value shift with regard to fleeing the police. We need to instil in the minds of Canadians that the act of fleeing the police is a criminal offence with criminal consequences.
In conclusion, too many police officers and civilians have been injured or killed because someone chose to flee from the police. While there is not a single solution to this problem, making such behaviour a criminal offence will deter some and send a strong message to others that such dangerous behaviour will not be tolerated.
Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today and to take this opportunity to speak to Bill C-440, introduced by the hon. member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge.
I have to say this bill strikes a chord with me just like it does for many Canadians. All opinion polls in Canada show clearly the great trust Canadians have for our police forces throughout Canada. These polls show a level of trust that is perhaps one of the highest in the western world.
The issue of fleeing the police is one that our Criminal Code does not address sufficiently. I think my colleague from Leeds—Grenville, who just finished speaking, stated it quite eloquently when he described how the Criminal Code dealt with individuals driving motor vehicles whom the police were attempting to intercept; what happened when accidents occurred, when injuries were caused and in some cases death; and how the Criminal Code was unfortunately lacking in that regard.
Bill C-440 is an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to using a motor vehicle and failing to stop for a police officer, or in legal terms flight, as has already been mentioned by other members on both sides of the House.
As has already been stated, the act of fleeing often leads to death or injury to the individual committing it, to the police officers who are trying to fulfil their lawful duty to protect the public, or in many cases to innocent bystanders who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At first view the bill may seem to be the product of common sense. It is to me and, as we have heard in the House, to many other members. To some it may even appear to be odd that our Criminal Code should already have a provision to deal precisely with this. It does not.
I have had personal experience, not by having been injured by someone fleeing the police and driving a motor vehicle, obviously not by having been killed, but in my former life before entering politics I was deputy commissioner for police ethics for the province of Quebec. In that role, for over nine years I had to deal with a significant number of complaints from families who had a family member who was a victim or was killed because of the precise event that is described in this legislation and which this bill attempts to deal with. They were very upset that the police did not bring stronger criminal charges against the individual who was operating the motor vehicle and was attempting to flee police who in the performance of their lawful duties were attempting to intercept them.
As deputy commissioner I had the legal obligation to inform those complainants time after time that unfortunately the police and the justice department had done exactly what they were lawfully authorized to do under the Criminal Code in the manner in which they dealt with that suspect who had fled. It was very difficult to have to tell a family who had had a family member injured or killed that that was the only way in which the justice department and the police force could deal with the individual who had caused that injury or death.
It is not something I enjoyed doing, obviously. It is one of the reasons why I am very happy to support the bill of the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge.
I want to come back specifically to the bill. It has been mentioned in the House that since 1991 at least 39 people have been killed under the circumstances that this bill addresses. Thirty-nine people are a lot. Were these cases of dangerous driving, or was there more to it? Most people in Canada think that when someone is driving at speeds that pass the legal limit in an attempt to flee police officers who are within their legal right to intercept them goes beyond what we would consider to be dangerous driving.
It is also clear when someone is not interested and is not willing to stop when a police officer attempts to intercept them and they know it is a police officer. We are not talking about someone who thinks it is an unidentified car that is attempting to intercept them. They have no idea. They may think a car jacking is under way and they attempt to save themselves. We are not talking about those circumstances.
We are talking about circumstances where the police are clearly identified and the individual operating the motor vehicle knows beyond a reasonable doubt that it is a police officer who is attempting to intercept them and that individual continues to attempt to flee or refuses to stop. Those are the circumstances we are talking about. We cannot term that as simply dangerous driving. It goes beyond that. It is wilful disrespect and disregard for human life, which is something no Canadian shares.
We talk a lot about Canadian values. One of the highest Canadian values is precisely the respect and regard for human life. We can link it with what I said when I talked about the fact that poll after poll after poll has shown that Canadians enjoy a high trust of our police services. The very act of wilfully fleeing a police officer in the lawful performance of his or her duty in attempting to intercept an individual requires the strongest response on the part of our government, on the part of Canadian society and on the part of our institutions, including our justice institutions, through our Criminal Code.
It would be very difficult to find an ordinary Canadian on the street who would say that this bill is not justified and that this bill does not really address the issue and who would not support this bill.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Canadian Police Association for its support for this bill.
I am not aware if the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports this bill, but I have to say, knowing many police chiefs across Canada, I believe I could be safe in saying that there is probably support for this bill.
I am someone who is known both within my riding and beyond its boundaries in matters of justice to be a proponent of prevention, rehabilitation and in the last resort, retribution. However, I feel that this is a bill which needs to be supported. This is a bill whose time has come and I support it.
As I conclude my remarks on this, Madam Speaker, I believe you would find consent in the House to have the motion for second reading of Bill C-440 deemed adopted, allowing said bill to proceed to committee.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): Is there unanimous agreement to proceed in such a way?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Bill deemed read the second time and referred to a committee)
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault): It being 2.22 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).