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HERI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

• 0905


The Chair (Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.)): I declare open the meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

The order of the day is Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada.

We are very pleased today to welcome quite a few witnesses. But before I give the floor to the witnesses, Mr. Burton has asked me to allow him to make a brief statement about the broadcasting study.

Mr. Burton.

Mr. Andy Burton (Skeena, Canadian Alliance): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to read this into the record on behalf of my colleague Mr. Abbott, who couldn't be here today.

The Canadian Alliance supports the principle of maintaining the status quo on every aspect of influence on broadcasting while the Broadcasting Act review is under way. We believe the CRTC should not be engaging in anything new in interpretations that would change relationships between parties, for example. Therefore, maintaining but not increasing any CTF or other funding to the private or public broadcasting industry during the review would be consistent with our stated principle.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Burton. It will be part of the record.

We also said that before this meeting we would look at the letter from the various interveners about the Canadian Television Fund. I suggest we take it up another time when the full membership is here.

I would like to explain before we start that we're going to split the witnesses into two groups. The first group of witnesses, between nine and ten, will appear right now. The other three groups, the Haida Nation, the Haida Gwaii, and the Tseycum First Nation, will appear between ten and eleven. From eleven to one we'll proceed to the video conference.

I'm pleased to welcome Mayor Richard Wozney, from the District of Kitimat; Mr. David McGuigan, the chairman of the North Coast Oil & Gas Task Force; and Mr. Phillip Eidsvik, president of the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition. Welcome. You have the floor in whichever order you want to start.

Mayor Wozney.

Mr. Richard Wozney (Mayor of Kitimat): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, in particular with reference to Bill C-10. I've come a long way to be able to make this presentation. I thank you for that opportunity, and thank the members for being here as well.

I would like to first of all recap a letter that was sent to you, Mr. Lincoln. During the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention at the end of September, the District of Kitimat presented an emergency resolution to the annual assembly. The resolution, which was submitted to your office, was passed unanimously. It asked the UBCM, which is a representative group of all of the municipalities, cities, and regional districts in British Columbia, to express concerns to this standing committee in Ottawa that British Columbians have a broad marine interest not only in the environment, but in economic and social issues relating to the entire west coast of Canada.

Any legislation regarding the British Columbia coast must include comprehensive negotiations with the incumbent governing party of British Columbia, but in particular, from my perspective, it must include consultations with the coastal communities that may be affected by Bill C-10. The consultations should take place prior to any implementation of the legislation.

In addition to that, the motion indicated there should be no legislative duplication represented by Bill C-10, and some of the legislation appears to be based on Parks Canada policy, a direction set in the 1980s, and doesn't seem to meet present Canadian and future needs.

That is the basis of the resolution that was presented to the Union of B.C. Municipalities and passed unanimously.

The Chair: Mr. Wozney, I would like to advise you that the resolution was circulated and sent to all the members of the committee, just for the record.

• 0910

Mr. Richard Wozney: Thank you very much.

I would also like to turn your attention to my letter of August 22, which was submitted to this committee, and to make some points with reference to Bill C-10.

As mayor of Kitimat, I expressed grave concern to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage regarding ill-considered marine conservation area legislation.

In addition to the specific comments made in this letter and the attached list of issues we see with Bill C-10, I have attached our previous legislative brief on marine conservation, with reference to Bill C-48. Our commentary continues to speak to the reasons why this type of legislation was not required three years ago, is not required now, and will not be required in the future.

Canada does not need blanket restrictions on everything, in order to preserve values. We need regulations for specific areas of interest. We now have the regulatory authority to manage individual resources.

Our marine environment is assured scrutiny, due diligence, and ultimately protection, under numerous existing pieces of legislation. These include the Oceans Act, under the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, which can establish marine-protected areas; the Canada Wildlife Act; the Migratory Birds Convention Act, whereby Environment Canada can establish national wildlife areas or marine wildlife areas; and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. These acts are now in place, and we do not see the need for any duplication of them.

Our position is that Bill C-10 is counterproductive to responsible use of important resources in question, with no commensurate public benefit. Currently, citizens are allowed to do anything except what is specifically prohibited to protect a public interest, the onus being on the state to justify the restriction on use.

This new legislation says you can do nothing in huge areas of our oceans except what is specifically permitted. The onus is on the citizen to justify to the state that state interests are not compromised.

There are other ways to protect the numerous values our oceans hold for Canadians, rather than through the blunt instrument of protected areas. I must make it clear that Kitimat has not been, and must be, consulted, both federally and provincially, regarding socio-economic impacts of conservation areas. Our absolute requirement is for continued sustainable use of all ocean areas on the British Columbia coast, to meet a wide variety of needs and interests, particularly international shipping, and to access the oil and gas resources of Hecate Strait in Queen Charlotte Sound. To act otherwise would be irresponsible and economically disastrous.

It would be extremely inappropriate for the federal government to pass legislation that could significantly prohibit the economic renewal ability of our provincial government. It is not apparent at this time that the British Columbia government is even aware—and I believe they probably are now aware—that Bill C-10 prohibits all exploration and production of oil and gas anywhere on the Pacific coast of Canada.

Bill C-10 could possibly hinder any positive relationship-building between the province and Canada, and may lead to constitutional jurisdictional conflict. This would be totally unnecessary, especially at a time when we in British Columbia are trying to rebuild our fragile economy after ten years of mismanagement. You may be aware that in British Columbia, because of the softwood lumber issue, our forestry industry is basically on the ropes, and we need alternatives.

I will refer to a couple of the items that are attached to that letter. In particular is one headed “Kitimat's Issues With Bill C-10: An Act Respecting the National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada”. To reiterate some of the items I've just referred to, Kitimat does not believe Bill C-10 is necessary, and questions why the Department of Canadian Heritage would be an appropriate sponsoring agent. An existing conservation program is already part of an integrated oceans management plan under the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and under the Oceans Act.

Kitimat believes the consultative process for federal legislation is inadequate. Communication through members of Parliament is not enough. Direct consultation by ministries proposing policy and legislation at all affected community levels is required for both non-native and first nations communities, in order to meet Canadian rights.

• 0915

It was noted that sending a cover letter and a copy of the bill to MPs or to the head office of an organization is not adequate consultation.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has had a mandate to manage and protect the marine environment for more than a hundred years. Kitimat believes this to be the agency with which marine responsibility lies, not Parks Canada. Bill C-10 is a direct duplication of the Oceans Act legislation.

In addition to that, Mr. Chairman, Canada must work to establish protocols between all levels of government as a basis for creating institutions or mechanisms to interface between legislation and those most affected by it. There is presently no protocol between regional and municipal and provincial and federal levels of government, or Parks Canada, for this legislation, even though such relations could serve to outline how legislation with issues affecting localized areas and regions might work.

We are concerned about the potential harm Bill C-10 could have on important coastal communities that have fought for economic diversity and made new choices that benefit the community and the environment but would not be allowed under this legislation—for example, fish farming, oil and gas exploration, and perhaps other mineral resource extraction.

Bill C-10 is in-perpetuity legislation. Regardless of the implications of decisions today on generations 50 to 100 years from now, once a marine conservation area is described and set down in either schedule 1 or schedule 2, it can never be removed or reduced without a change to the act. This, we believe, is excessive use of government.

The last time this bill, in its former incarnation as Bill C-48, was before the committee there was a list of 700 interest groups and stakeholders that received a copy of the bill and were asked for their input. Our suggestion was filed with the standing committee in 1999, yet we were not asked specifically to comment on this current bill.

What I would like to do now, Mr. Chairman, is to refer to a couple of the clauses in Bill C-10. Apart from again reiterating that there seems to be a multitude of duplication and overlap with Bill C-10 and the Oceans Act, I would like to make the following comments.

With reference to subclause 5(1), the power to decree a conservation area is given to the Government of Canada with no possibility of challenge by the provincial governments or aboriginal governments. I believe that this wording certainly will raise a red flag and it will perhaps be challenged because of the different constitutional powers granted under the Constitution Act.

I believe that it is also high-handed and unrealistic, especially when there is not a full consultative process available to the communities that may be affected by the implementation of Bill C-10.

Clauses 5 and 16 illustrate that there is too much power concentrated in the cabinet without any opportunity for affected communities or locally elected representatives to provide input. To quote from this section of the bill, it says that marine conservation areas will be established or enlarged, never to be reduced or removed, only by Governor in Council without any consultation process. And this, Mr. Chair, is not acceptable.

Clauses 12 and 13 are somewhat—in my reading anyway—draconian. Clause 12 basically prohibits any sort of development. Certainly clause 13 makes it particularly clear that there will be no exploration for hydrocarbons, etc. And our interest in Kitimat is with reference to the development of the oil and gas industry.

• 0920

As a bit of background, in my community we have a population of about 11,000 people. We have four major industries: Alcan Aluminum Ltd., which produces aluminium; Eurocan, which produces craft paper; Methanex Corporation, which produces methanol; and Pacific Ammonia, which produces ammonia. These four industries in 1997 produced about 11% of British Columbia's manufacturing GDP, so we do add a lot to the economy of the province.

In our case, what we would like to do is to see that the oil and gas is developed in our region so that particularly Methanex Corporation and Pacific Ammonia would have closer access to gas to process and to make further products. In Kitimat's case, those four industries have sales over $1 billion with the products they produce.

What I would like to do, Mr. Chairman, is to briefly go over some of the things I would suggest as changes or recommended amendments to Bill C-10, starting with clause 4.

The Chair: Just as a point of interest, you will realize that we want to give time to your colleagues and a few questions, so—

Mr. Richard Wozney: Then perhaps I will relinquish the microphone to the next speakers. Thank you.

The Chair: Then next time we'll come back.

Mr. Richard Wozney: Thank you.

The Chair: Mr. McGuigan.

Mr. David K. McGuigan (Chairman, North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force): Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

I'll read from my presentation here if you'll bear with me.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to make the presentation to the standing committee on behalf of the North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force. I ask the committee's forgiveness that the very short notice given me prevents me from making the quality of presentation I would have liked to provide, because as far as I know, no other groups, organizations, or representatives from local government have been invited to be present in this room today.

I will assume to speak on behalf of a large majority of British Columbians living on the north coast and in the province as a whole who believe that development of the coastal oil and gas resources is in the best interests of the region, the province, and the nation.

Given the economic environment of the region, the potentially extremely negative impact of this draft bill, and given the absence of a thorough process of review and consultation, I submit that the committee should consider this and proposed amendments when completing the final draft of the bill.

The potential environmental benefits are worth pursuing. However, as it stands, the social and economic implications of the legislation are vast, and I'm sure the committee members feel a certain discomfort that they have not had an adequate opportunity to benefit from the spectrum of opinion that would permit the most informed and balanced legislation. What information that is made available suggests to all who have had an opportunity to review it that poor consultation was done prior to this bill being drafted.

Sound environmental legislation takes into consideration the social and economic needs of those living in the affected region. The committee is no doubt aware of the interest that this bill and Bill C-48 have generated on the west coast. Nothing less than the future of tens of thousands of Canadians is at stake.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me put this into context. The communities of the north coast of British Columbia are small, and survive on the resources surrounding them. Development of those resources is governed by legislation and policies. When laws and policies are developed at great distance from the people most affected, they seldom achieve their intended goals and frequently have a large number of unintended negative impacts.

Take for instance the community I reside in, Prince Rupert. Because of the Government of Canada's decision to cut the fishing fleet in half, a number of companies that serviced the industry directly and indirectly were forced out of business. The job loss and the accompanying economic and social impacts are very visible in Prince Rupert. As a product of that tragedy and other economic blows, an exodus has resulted that reduced the population by 20%. Forward-looking people committed to the well-being of the region are looking to other resources and industries to support those who remain. This bill will affect their effort.

• 0925

On the north coast of British Columbia there are a few basic resources on which the people exist: tourism, fishing, forestry, and mineral extraction. The development of those resource-based industries is critical to the survival of the communities on the north coast. The development of two of these industries, aquaculture and oil and gas, has been severely hampered by government moratorium. As is the case with Bill C-10, the moratorium had been put in place by a government that did not engage in the proper process of public consultation.

In a survey completed in September 2000, the people of British Columbia made their views on oil and gas exploration clear. According to the recent poll completed in September 2000 and presented to an oil and gas conference held in Vancouver on October 2, the people of British Columbia responded to the following questions.

The first question was “Are you aware of oil and gas reserves?” In the totality of B.C., 66% surveyed said yes; in coastal B.C., 72% of those surveyed said yes. Therefore, it indicates, ladies and gentlemen, that the people of B.C. are well aware of the resource.

The next question, which is the most important, was “Do you support exploration and drilling?” In the totality of B.C., 32% strongly supported it and 32% somewhat supported it, so total support was 64%. In the totality of B.C., 9% were somewhat opposed and 19% were strongly opposed, so 27% oppose. On the coastal side of things, those who strongly support were 40%, and somewhat support was 31%. So 71% of the coastal people of British Columbia support exploration and drilling of oil and gas, whereas 20% oppose and 10% don't know.

I think, ladies and gentlemen, this is a message to you. I think you should bear those statistics in mind when you're drafting this legislation.

The overall report indicated strong support within British Columbia for oil and gas development. The people of British Columbia are saying that under safe circumstances they support the development of the resource.

In addition, for the benefit of clarity, I would submit the following questions to you:

(1) Will the Province of British Columbia have unconditional veto rights to any proposed marine conservation areas in the province or off the coast of the province?

(2) Since this bill has been drafted, has the Government of Canada accepted any transfer of any parts of the province of B.C., or claimed by the Province of B.C., to the Government of Canada?

I think it is obvious to the committee that the issue of offshore oil and gas development is complex. The recently elected government of British Columbia is currently reviewing the oil and gas moratorium with a view of achieving the same benefit in British Columbia that oil and gas development has had on the east coast.

The standing committee must give attention to several considerations as you continue to draft the bill, not the least of which are the huge economic potential offshore oil and gas development offers to the region, province, and the country; the unresolved first nations land claims issues; the extremely high unemployment among the indigenous and non-native communities; territorial jurisdiction claimed by the Province of British Columbia; and the stragegic importance of the resource and its importance to Canada.

In conclusion, not only does the legislation conflict with the interests of the residents of the north coast, but with potential interests of the nation as a whole. All levels of government have become aware of the oil and gas potential on the north coast of British Columbia. The economic impact that development could have on the region, not to mention the province, and for that matter the nation, is substantial. You've seen that from the east coast.

Not only do restrictions on oil and gas, as implied, for example, in clause 13 of the legislation, run counter to the direction of the provincial legislators are moving, but also counter to the economic strategies of our nation. The security of oil and gas supply will likely continue to loom as a major concern for the nation for many years to come. More careful attention to how the bill is worded will permit the Government of Canada to act with greater freedom in the interests of economic security for the nation.

• 0930

In addition to the above noticed concerns, questions, and comments, the committee has asked me to submit recommendations for changes to the bill. If you will bear with me, I'll throw a few thoughts in.

Subclause 4(2), “Purpose of reserves”, deals with the concerns of the first nations, which is obviously acceptable. It does not, however, deal with the province's position in the matter, and with that in mind we would like to add the following:

    The respective Province would have veto rights over the creation of all marine protected areas.

Subclause 4(4), “Zones”, deals with zoning systems, but the term is not well defined. We feel this is not definitive and feel this clause should be amended to protect the opportunity to develop the resource. To that extent, we recommend the following—and by the way, I wrote these, and I'm not a lawyer:

    ...must include zones that foster and encourage exploration, development, and extraction and the general ecologically sustainable use of marine resources.

Subclause 5(2), “Title to lands”, deals with an area that may involve the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte basin. Jurisdictional control of this area is a matter of contention between the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada. Until this issue is resolved, we wish this clause to be added to protect the Province of British Columbia:

    The Province of British Columbia will have veto powers over all areas recommended for creation of a marine conservation area.

Subclause 10(1), “Consultation”, deals with consultation with relevant and effective stakeholders. The minister will decide who they will be. This does not leave an opening to make representations for organizations that do not fit with the views of the minister of the day. To that extent, it is our feeling that the bill should allow all parties to make representations to the ministry prior to the creation of a marine protected area. Therefore, we wish this section to include the following:

    The Minister is required to allow representation from all parties who feel they are affected by the proposed marine conservation area, three years prior to the creation of the said conservation area. Such consultation will be locally based with full public consultation.

Clause 13 is the one that concerns me the most. This clause excludes hydrocarbon extraction as well as the extraction of other minerals from a marine protected area. This clause is in keeping with neither the direction the Province of British Columbia is moving in nor the strategic importance of the resource. Therefore, we request that it be removed.

If the government will not relent to this request, we ask that the following be added:

    The Minister, with full consultation with the provincial governments, will permit directional drilling both from shore-based and ocean-based rigs under marine protected areas.

If the standing committee states that's already available, we wish, therefore, for it to be added to clause 13 to eliminate any confusion in the future.

Clause 16, “Regulations”, is a series of overlapping policies and regulations that in effect restrict the total movement of local citizens, not to mention all Canadians, in the marine protected area. These regulations are fence building and are overlapping other ministries' jurisdictions such as Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Transport. This clause is too open and vague and should be more definitive. We recommend changing and adding in subclauses to be more specific.

These are just a few of our concerns. The bill poses many more. I ask the standing committee to seriously consider the recommendations and the changes put forward, taking into consideration the makeup of the coast and the socio-economic impact of this bill on the small committees it will affect. There are unresolved first nations issues, the strategic resources the ocean floor holds for the country, and the opportunity for economic security and prosperity.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. McGuigan.

Mr. Eidsvik.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik (President, B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition): Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members. Thank you for the opportunity to come to Ottawa and address this committee.

It's a serious issue to us in B.C., but I can see we're running out of time. I'll cut my comments a little short so we can move into the question period, if that suits the chairman.

The first thing we need to talk about is consultation. One of the provisions in the act is that you won't create a park unless there's proper consultation. We have concerns about this, because for the act itself the consultation process has been quite a failure. There have been no hearings in B.C. by this committee, despite our having the longest coastline in Canada.

There have been hearings in the past where some people came into town, held a hearing, invited some of their friends, and then ducked out of town. Fishing organizations, municipalities, etc., were left out in the cold. They weren't notified, given advance notice, or given time to prepare. Often we heard about this through friends in the hotel business, who would say, “Well, we've got this committee coming to town”. They would call some of their local friends. That's unsatisfactory. Bringing a few of us into Ottawa is no substitute for proper hearings.

• 0935

On one occasion we asked why fishing groups weren't invited. We were told they didn't know who to get hold of. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans knows each and every one of us. It's one more reason why we think this act is better administered under the Oceans Act.

The second point we want to discuss is the public right to fish and navigate. It's important that the committee be aware that dealing with title and high seas waters is a lot different from dealing with land that's held by the crown in right of British Columbia or the federal government.

The federal role in fisheries is as a trustee or a steward, not as an owner with the ability to divide up the resource and do with it as they choose. The public right to fish and navigate had its origins in Europe during the period of the Roman conquest. This goes back to Emperor Justinian 1,400 years ago, when he proclaimed that the air, water, and sea were common property owned by no one and available to all, for the purposes of fishing, navigation, and commerce.

This right was affirmed in the Magna Carta and has been an integral element of Canadian, Commonwealth, and now American common law for over 700 years. The Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed this right as recently as 1996 in Regina v. Gladstone. The subjects of the crown are entitled, as a right—and I want to emphasize the word “right”—to not only navigate, but to fish in the high seas and tidal waters alike.

The public right is a limitation on the sovereignty of the crown. We think the public right should be protected and not trod on. As trustees and stewards, you're supposed to enhance our public rights and not take them away, at the discretion of an order of the Governor in Council.

On the fisheries impact in the proposed park area, for example, in South Moresby there is a big salmon fishery, and a significant halibut long-line fishery. A large drag fishery operating on the west coast supports fishermen and hundreds of shore workers. There are significant dive fisheries in the area, including sea urchin and goeyduc. About one-third of the sea urchin quota comes from that area that's proposed to be included in the park. There are big herring roe, roe-on-kelp fisheries, a crab fishery, and other fisheries.

This is not an area where nothing happens. This is an area that provides jobs for real families to pay mortgages, feed and dress their kids, and hopefully help them grow up to be productive members of society—maybe some day sitting in one of these places.

In creating a marine park, there's no assurance that it will result in the closure of fishing. We can't forget about aboriginal rights, which are constitutional. There were a number of Supreme Court of Canada decisions, including R. v. Sundown and R. v. Sioui. In R. v. Sundown, the courts said the aboriginal group in Saskatchewan had a right to build a cabin in the park to use as a hunting platform. In R. v. Sioui, they had a right to conduct camping activities in Jacques Cartier Park in Montreal.

In essence, with a marine park you really create an exclusive fishery for a subgroup of Canadians; you simply don't have the power to stop all fishing. Aboriginal fishing is significant. The total commercial catch of salmon in British Columbia on the Fraser River last year 246,000, and aboriginal fishers caught over a million. It's a significant constitutionally protected right. I would hate to see one group fishing when all other Canadians are excluded. Certainly that's not the direction in which the Supreme Court of Canada is headed.

The Seafood Alliance will be making a presentation later today on the overlapping jurisdictions between provincial parks legislation, ocean parks, and fisheries. It is a confusing issue, and we support their presentation on that point. There are simply too many government institutions involved in this park issue, closing and opening fisheries. We really think this belongs in the authority of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and certainly the provincial government.

• 0940

I'm going to read a quote from the Newfoundland Court of Appeal from last year, in December, when they talked about the need for local input on issues involving fish:

    ...the internal sale of fish carries with it the power to direct where, when, to whom, and on what condition the fish may be sold, and thereby to potentially affect the viability of communities. The impact of such measures could impinge dramatically upon property and civil rights of citizens who, in this Province, have already passed through a period of resettlement. In the unfortunate event that such policies are ever to be implemented again, the decision to adopt them is best made by the government closest to the people affected.

That's the Chief Justice of the Newfoundland Court of Appeal talking. I believe they share the same concerns in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island as we do in B.C.

Another important issue to us is terrorism. In the supported parks in various parts of British Columbia, we've endured a number of terrorist acts over the past ten years. We've had court injunctions ignored. We've had fishery officers shot at. We've had people working in the woods assaulted. We've had concrete spikes drilled into trees, with the possibility of maiming or killing loggers.

In the Queen Charlotte Islands there was a protest during a herring fishery we were in, and someone threw a type of hand grenade at one of our seine boat skippers. If he had not stepped inside the door so the hand grenade exploded on the steel door he put between them, he would have been maimed or killed.

I have a real problem with the federal government passing legislation and rewarding acts of terrorism. I think it's a serious issue and needs to be given some serious consideration.

In our opinion, the best thing to do with Bill C-10 is scrap it. It's not needed; it doesn't have a place. Marine parks belong under the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans through the Oceans Act. Failing the scrapping of Bill C-10, we think it's important that the province be given a clear upfront veto in legislation, so the government closest to the people can make it.

Not a lot of people in B.C. are familiar with this bill yet because it hasn't received publicity. They're not aware of the possible impacts, but they will become familiar with it when we lose our jobs.

We're well aware that the minister of this department has some leadership ambitions and caters to the environmental community. Those of us in B.C. who lose our jobs are well aware that our families are being held hostage to a Liberal minister's personal desire to be prime minister. That's unacceptable to us. We need decisions made in B.C. on this issue. This won't be forgotten in British Columbia.

Thank you.

The Chair: We have 20 minutes for questions, so I would ask members to be concise and prompt.

Mr. Burton.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Phil, seeing you were last, I'll ask you first. What's the commercial fishing industry's position on the oil and gas potential development off the coast of British Columbia?

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: Thank you for the question. The fishing industry has yet to get our heads around this, and our particular coalition doesn't deal with the oil and gas issue specifically.

I've discussed this with a number of fishermen, a number of presidents of associations, and the general consensus is that oil and gas can proceed, provided it's done carefully.

The fishing industry generally isn't opposed to oil and gas development in Hecate Strait. It's a big fishery for us, but we know of cases in Cook Inlet, for instance, in Alaska where seine boat fishermen actually tie onto oil rigs to do their tows. We can live together.

Mr. Andy Burton: Okay.

My next question is to Mr. McGuigan. Can you elaborate a little bit on what you're aware the province is doing, in regard to the oil and gas potential?

Mr. David McGuigan: Thank you, Mr. Burton.

The Province of British Columbia is moving ahead in about four different fronts. They are releasing a report that should have been out yesterday or today on the technical changes in the offshore oil and gas technology over the last number of years.

This report was published yesterday or today and it's on the Ministry of Energy and Mines website, for those who are interested in reading it. All this is leading up to a report to be provided to the premier at the end of January. In addition, there has been a new scientific team picked of three noted university professors. They will be providing advice to the minister, who will present it to the premier by the end of January again.

• 0945

There has been a new energy policy group developed from people from industry and the like. They're to report to the minister by the end of January also. Obviously this is leading up to the Premier of British Columbia having a concise report on offshore oil and gas development and being able to make a decision by then. So we would hope this bill is not passed any earlier than that.

Mr. Andy Burton: Could you explain very quickly, for the benefit of all of us, the directional drilling process and how it works? Just the process, please.

Mr. David McGuigan: Basically, the rig lies off a certain area, say just outside the edge of the marine park area, and is able to directionally drill. The drill head goes down and they're able to turn the drill head under, in this case, the park, and they're capable of drilling, I'm told, up to ten kilometres underneath in a ninety-degree angle.

Mr. Andy Burton: But how far outside a potential boundary?

Mr. David McGuigan: Well, ten kilometres out this way.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you.

Mayor Wozney, could you expand a little on the socio-economic aspects of your concerns and the lack thereof in terms of consultations?

Mr. Richard Wozney: Thank you, Mr. Burton.

In the preamble to the legislation, it does talk about the economic well-being of people who might be affected by Bill C-10. But when you look at the actual legislation itself, the only reference is under subclause 4(3), which talks about “sustainable manner”. It doesn't really refer to economic well-being.

For that reason, I agree with what Mr. McGuigan said with reference to subclause 4(4), which talks about zones. There should be some reference in the legislation to zones in which there is the ability to harvest undersea resources, submerged resources, whether they be petroleum resources or other mineral-type resources. That's why there doesn't seem to be a balance in the legislation between the environment and the socio-economic aspects of people who may be affected by this legislation.

Therefore, what I'm suggesting is that clause 4 include some reference to the economic well-being of the people who may be affected by this legislation.


The Chair: Mr. Fournier.

Mr. Ghislain Fournier (Manicouagan, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, I should advise you that I will probably have to leave the meeting to go to the House of Commons for 11 a.m. I have something scheduled for that time. So, I will have to leave at 10:45 a.m. or 10:50 a.m.

I listened carefully to the three briefs, which I found to be top-notch and I congratulate you on them. On the other hand, I wonder, since this is the first time, Mr. Chairman, that I've attended the Standing Committee on Heritage—


The Chair: Excuse me, Monsieur Fournier.

Maybe somebody could show the witnesses how to handle this translation stuff.

Mr. David McGuigan: We know how to work it; it's the knots in here—the unravelling of the cord.

The Chair: Is that okay?


Go ahead, Mr. Fournier.

Mr. Ghislain Fournier: As I was telling you, Mr. Chairman, I'm replacing my colleague, Christiane Gagnon, and this is the first time I've attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Heritage, although this is not the first time I've attended a standing committee, be it the fishery committee, Aboriginal affairs, or others. But I must say I was really impressed by the three briefs that were presented to us.

I was asking myself the following question, which everyone seems to agree on this morning: how can a government introduce a bill that meets with so much opposition? I realized that all three of you are opposed to Bill C-10. You've got to take your hat off to the government; they have managed to displease everyone. Unless they were trying to do it on purpose, that is, prepare legislation that would displease everyone and then remove some clauses to please people.

• 0950

As far as I can see, this is contrary to the opinion of all the socioeconomic stakeholders in the regions. I also really appreciated the last speaker's remark when he said that the government should let another level of government that is closer to the grassroots take care of this.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to set out the position of the political party that I represent, the Bloc Québécois, which has always been in favour of protecting the environment. We've demonstrated that in the past. You'll recall that the Bloc Québécois strongly supported the legislation that created the Saguenay—Saint-Laurent Marine Park. Furthermore, the Bloc Québécois is well aware that the Government of Quebec is also taking steps to protect the environment and to protect the ocean floor. So these measures are in keeping with what you have said in your brief.

However, I do have a question for the Mayor of Kitimat.

I noted that you're concerned about the conflict between federal and provincial areas of jurisdiction. Of course, this is also a concern of the Bloc Québécois, which is opposed to this bill.

As for consultation, would you have fewer concerns about Bill C-10 if Kitimat was a partner in the management of the area that will be protected?

That's my first question, Mr. Chairman, and if you don't mind, I have another one.


Mr. Richard Wozney: Thank you for the question, Mr. Fournier.

Certainly, I don't want the committee to get the impression that Kitimat is against the environment. In our community, as I mentioned, we have three large major industries, and our motto is “Kitimat is a marvel of nature and industry”. The two can live together. So translating that to the marine environment, I believe the same coexistence is possible. You can have the protection of the environment as well as the potential development of any resources that may be there. There are ways they can do it on the east coast of Canada, and so there must be ways we can achieve that objective on the west coast as well.

The aspect of the constitutional haranguing or haggling that may go on is not going to be beneficial to our province when we're trying to recover economically, because for the past ten years we've been in a downturn.

Your suggestion that perhaps the City of Kitimat, and I would assume the other coastal communities as well, where there might be legislation under Bill C-10 that would affect them, would have the opportunity to at least be part of a management of that area, might be a good one. I would have to consider that a bit more to see if it could work. If Kitimat and other coastal communities actually had a seat, to be able to have a vote as well, that might go a long way to resolving some of the lack of information that we as a community have experienced through this whole process, whether through Bill C-48 or Bill C-10. One of the recommendations I wanted to make in my presentation was that there would have to be a process defined in this legislation to see how that could happen, and there isn't. All it basically says is that the minister shall consult, but it doesn't go on beyond that to say how that consultation will take place and whether or not the communities will have input.

Thank you.


The Chair: Mr. Fournier, a very brief question.

Mr. Ghislain Fournier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It will be very brief.

Thank you for your answer. This question is for Mr. McGuigan.

We all agree that the Queen Charlotte Islands area is a magnificent place that must be preserved. However, you mentioned that the government has claimed economic jurisdiction over it. Do you believe that the province can strike the right balance between the conservation of nature and economic development?

• 0955


Mr. David McGuigan: Thank you.

Yes, I feel the province could have a good balance between nature and economic development. I think the province is better qualified to make that judgment than the Government of Canada. As the province....

Mr. Dennis Mills (Toronto—Danforth, Lib.): Why is that?

Mr. David McGuigan: Why is that? Am I getting two questions at once?

It's because I feel, Mr. Mills, that the province is closer to the situation and the economic concerns of the region than the Government of Canada. They have been governing at a closer distance and also hearing the input from the people who live in the region. It took me a day to travel here. It takes me a couple of hours to travel to Victoria. Yes, I feel they could probably administer it.

We've created a considerable number of parks in the province, and we're not opposed to parks. But we'd like to put them in balance with the economic concerns of the people who live in the region also, whether they're onshore or offshore.

The Chair: Mr. Mills.

Mr. Dennis Mills: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I welcome the witnesses to Ottawa.

I've listened, I've read the briefs, and I'm.... Everybody talks about clause 13 and the restriction. Yet I get a little confused—and maybe I'm going to need a little help from our researchers here—because I was always under the impression, and I read directly from our note:

    If the seabed is under provincial jurisdiction, whether to undertake a resource assessment is a matter for provincial decision.

We all agree on that. That's in the legislation. After that:

    Based on the best available information, national marine conservation area boundaries would be agreed to jointly by the federal and provincial/territorial governments involved.

Now, help me out here. If those decisions are joint—and we have representation from the province of British Columbia in the House of Commons, and from all parties—I'm trying to figure out where the breakdown is in this bill. I see nothing wrong with joint decision-making. We do it on so many other pieces of legislation, and it seems to be okay.

Mr. David McGuigan: Well, I'm not sure, Mr. Mills, that there were joint decisions made here. Maybe your researchers can check Order in Council number 473 of April 11, 2001, in relation to the province handing over sub-sea jurisdiction to the federal government.

If the province didn't have concerns over jurisdiction on the ocean bottom, why would they want to hand it over to the Government of Canada in any case?

Plus, we don't feel, regardless of the government that's been in power for the last ten years, that they looked after our best interests. That's evident from the last election, sir.

A voice: There was local government.

Mr. David McGuigan: There are two people left out of some 71 or so NDP seats. That was a backlash to the economic concerns of our province, too.

This new government is looking at trying to put a balance between the economic concerns of the province and the environmental issues. But we're having the opportunity put a better input into what we'd like to see in the province.

Now, requests for directional drilling under the park area shouldn't be an unreasonable request, because of the technology today. If you're a supporter of the bill, sir, you shouldn't have a problem supporting that also.

Mr. Dennis Mills: Well, I'm not sure I've understood your answer when you talk about joint decision-making. Are you just saying you're opposed to it because Ottawa's capacity to participate is too remote? Is that what you're saying?

Mr. David McGuigan: That had a bearing on a much of the drafting of this bill. There was little or no consultation done on the coast. This is an area where we live.

Certainly there might have been some consultation between the federal and provincial governments. Since it's a federal bill, could you maybe enlighten me as to the amount of consultation that took place on the north coast of British Columbia? I'm not sure what you're saying.

Mr. Dennis Mills: I think I understand what you're saying, and that is you have a view that the Government of Canada has not over the last seven years done any consultation on this bill.

• 1000

I'm a new member of this committee, but I've heard several times in this committee that over the last several years there have been hundreds of hours of consultations.

Mr. David McGuigan: In our region?

Mr. Dennis Mills: Yes.

Mr. David McGuigan: I'm certainly not aware of it, and I've lived there for ten years. I didn't see any advertisement in the newspaper for people to come down and—

Mr. Dennis Mills: Well, I stand to be corrected by officials here or Parks Canada, but that was the information we received.

Mr. David McGuigan: That's a presentation that's come from my two counterparts here.

Mr. Dennis Mills: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: It's eleven o'clock. We'll take another five minutes. We've got questions from Ms. Bulte and Mr. McNally. But let us be very brief, because we have to move on to the others.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, gentlemen, for coming here with us today.

Let me start by saying that I understand your concerns, but I think the concern of the federal government is also to ensure that there is a balance between protecting ecological integrity and sustainable use. That's why this bill is perhaps quite different from the National Parks Act. It's not quite the same.

Now, I understand you're coming here concerned that this legislation would preclude any kind of drilling in B.C., any kind of fishing in B.C., any kind of oil exploration, and that this could be done unilaterally. But if I may, I would just have you look at subclause (2) of clause 5, which actually sets out the three requirements for the establishment of a marine conservation area, including that it be on either federal lands or provincial lands which have been ceded to the federal government, and be subject to the requirements of any land claims agreement. These criteria are already there.

Mr. Wozney, you're saying this legislation is going to preclude drilling. That's not the case at all. It's only in those very small marine conservation protected areas.

Concerning clause 10, you spoke about there being no consultation, while clause 10 of the bill clearly provides for consultation.

I think you need to read another part of the bill, because when this bill is passed, nothing will happen. This is framework legislation, which will require many things to happen, including consultations with coastal communities and consultations with provinces. In fact, what is outlined is what will happen before any conservation area is established.

I'll refer you to clause 7, which requires the plan to be tabled in both houses of Parliament. It will require those consultations we talked about. It requires the area to be brought before the standing committee. So I think you should be aware that there are procedures in here to protect your concerns. Quite frankly, if you don't want the area, it won't be established. It's as simple as that.

Mr. McGuigan, you're here on behalf of the North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force. I'm sure you're aware that in 1997, with respect to an area being considered perhaps for the future—the Gwaii Haanas area—that in fact four petroleum companies actually volunteered to relinquish their rights to drilling in those areas. Again, we're not taking anything away. This was done voluntarily. So what is your concern?

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: Maybe I could add a couple of comments to that.

The area is not small. This area is very big, and as I explained, there are major fisheries throughout that region. I can't talk to oil and gas—it's not my issue. I notice in the consultation set up for the bill fishing groups aren't even mentioned. We to date—

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: I'm sorry, Mr. Eidsvik, which consultations are we talking about? We're not even at the point of establishing an area yet. This is framework legislation, which would then lead to consultations.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: I realize that. The legislation itself cites a number of bodies that should be consulted with. Fishing groups aren't even included on that list. The area is not small.

Maybe it would solve a lot of problems if you're saying that the province has some type of joint framework, some type of joint management. Perhaps the bill should be amended as Mr. Burton suggested, and all three of us—

The Chair: Could I interject here?

Paragraph 5(2)(b) says: a case where Her Majesty in right of a province has the administration and control of any of the lands to be included in a marine conservation area, the government of the province has agreed to the use of those lands....

They have to have agreed to the use of the lands before.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: That's discussing lands. I'm representing fishing bodies in an area of some 3,300 square—

The Chair: No, no, when they talk about lands, they don't just talk about territorial lands; they're talking of seabeds, anything that has to do with this bill.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: If it was absolutely clear that the province definitely had a veto over any proposed.... It's not clear to us, and it's not clear to our legal counsel.

The Chair: Well, I can assure you, it's clear to our legal counsel—very, very clear.

• 1005

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: It's quite clear to me.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: So what the committee is telling us today is it's absolutely positive that if the province doesn't want a park to go ahead, no park will go ahead in B.C.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Absolutely.

The Chair: Absolutely. In fact, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has spoken to the minister of resources of B.C. in my presence to tell him exactly that. She has put in a letter that there is no intention.

So it's very clear. If you look at paragraph 5(2)(b), when you talk about lands in their province, it's not just territorial lands; it's any lands under the B.C. administration, submerged lands.

Mr. Andy Burton: Mr. Chairman, could that letter be tabled so we can all be aware of it?

The Chair: Sure, we'll table the letter.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: I think the fact that the province would need a letter indicates some uncertainty in the act, that they had the same concerns as we do.

We in the fishing industry have often had a lot of commitments from ministers, but they generally last only the term of the minister, and then we're back again, dealing with a new minister. So it should be clear in the act.

The Chair: This decision is written by the Government of Canada. It's not the minister, on personal letterhead; it's on the letterhead of the Government of Canada.

Mr. Dennis Mills: It's in the act.

The Chair: The Prime Minister has consulted with the B.C. premier twice on this issue. He has explained this to the Premier of B.C.

I refer you to paragraph 5(2)(b). It's very clear that if the province has any jurisdiction at all, they have to be consulted.

Mr. Dennis Mills: Do you have a copy of the bill?

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: Yes. We've read it through, and so has our lawyer, and we don't feel confident that this issue is being dealt with.

The Chair: What can I say? Here, the lawyers are very clear on this. The cabinet is very clear on it.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: If it could just say in the act that the Province of British Columbia has a veto....

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: On a point of order, so that we get this right, it's paragraph 5(2)(b).

Mr. Dennis Mills: Would you read it out, please.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Paragraph 5(2)(b) says:

    in a case where Her Majesty in right of a province has the administration and control of any of the lands to be included in a marine conservation area, the government of the province has agreed to the use of those lands as a marine conservation area and has transferred their administration and control to Her Majesty in right of Canada for that purpose;

The Chair: In fact, in the case of the two marine conservation areas that have been set up in B.C., there have been provincial agreements in 1988 and I think in 1990.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: 1993.

The Chair: In 1993.

Nothing happens without the province.

It happened in Newfoundland, where we had talked about a marine conservation area. There was no consensus, and no marine conservation area exists because the community and the provincial government were not agreeable to it. So to say this is ambiguous wording.... It's not ambiguous to us; it's very clear what it says.

Mr. Richard Wozney: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The second word in that subclause talks about an “amendment”. It does not talk about the creation of a marine conservation area. So what's happened already is that the Governor in Council can create an MCA. The minister can wake up on Monday morning and say “I want to create a park outside Kitimat”, and it's done.

The Chair: Mr. Wozney, it is not so. They have to refer to amendments, because schedules 1 and 2 are blank sheets; there's nothing in there. So for us to establish anything on schedules 1 and 2, there has to be an amendment to the act, because there's nothing provided in those.

This is enabling legislation, framework legislation. There is no MCA included. They have to say “an amendment” because to be able to do anything we have to amend this act. The schedule is blank.

It's a total misunderstanding of what this thing does. What is understood by people who are saying that is that marine conservation areas are already set up, and all we're going to do is amend it on the quiet by the Governor General. For anything to happen under this act, there has to be an amendment to the schedule, because the schedule is blank.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: But we understand there are already federal-provincial agreements covering a number of areas on the B.C. coast, in Georgian Bay, and in the St. Lawrence-Saguenay region. There are already provincial agreements that will be included through this legislation.

The Chair: Not at all. There's a total misunderstanding. Excuse me, Mr. Eidsvik.

• 1010

There was an agreement between the Province of Quebec and the federal government to set up the Saguenay Marine Park. We established specific legislation, and Quebec did exactly the same in parallel, word for word, and this park was established.

What we want to do here is, instead of doing the same thing as happened in Quebec every time a marine conservation area is established, you have one act of Parliament. So we wouldn't be spending all our time establishing one here, one there, one in Newfoundland, one in Nova Scotia, and one in Lake Superior, we produced enabling legislation with blank schedules. Every time one may be established, or can be established, there has to be an agreement with the province involved, because of provincial rights, with all the communities. Then the schedule is amended to insert it so that we don't have to go and produce a separate act of Parliament every time, as we did before.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: And this applies to fishing activities and everything?

The Chair: Yes, sure. It applies to marine conservation areas in this bill.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: Then the reference to “lands” includes waters.

The Chair: Well, it says “submerged lands”, doesn't it?

Mr. Dennis Mills: Yes, it says “submerged” under subclause 4(3).

Mr. David McGuigan: Mr. Lincoln, you mentioned earlier that you were present in a conversation between the minister and the premier—

The Chair: No, I didn't say that. It was with the minister and the Minister for Natural Resources, Mr. Richard Neufeld, who had written to the minister. The minister has written a long letter to him, which is being translated and sent to the members, wherein she explains exactly what this legislation does.

He was very worried that the federal government could establish a marine conservation area without talking to the province, and she said that is not the case. She said this is just enabling legislation, and in the end, he was very satisfied. He was going to send a member of the legislative assembly here—Mr. Belsey, I think—

Mr. David McGuigan: Mr. Bill Belsey.

The Chair: —and he agreed not to do that. He was quite satisfied.

Subsequently, the premier, for the second time, visited with the Prime Minister on this issue. I think the same answer was given to him then. I wasn't at that meeting, but I understand the same answer was given by the Prime Minister—although I can check that.

Mr. David McGuigan: I understand that was about a week ago—

The Chair: That's right.

Mr. David McGuigan: —and the conversation was, would the Province of British Columbia have veto power over any creation of parks? That's what I just asked you.

Madam, I'm not sure who I'm speaking to, Mr. Lincoln or yourself—

The Chair: I'm just trying to say that I don't think we're going to put the words “veto power” in legislation. I don't think that would be in the federal spirit. But at the same time, if you read paragraph 5(2)(b), it says if the province doesn't want it and it has administrative jurisdiction, then nothing happens.

Mr. David McGuigan: So that basically is the meaning, what you're saying?

The Chair: Exactly, it means the same thing.

Mr. Andy Burton: Mr. Chairman, I think there's another issue here that perhaps needs to be understood.

I believe the moratoriums that were put on, both federally and provincially, were over jurisdictional dispute, and I don't think it's totally clear as to the jurisdictional areas. That is something that I think has to be clarified further so there is no misunderstanding as to whether or not this is provincial or federal jurisdiction in whatever area we happen to be talking about. That is not clear.

Mr. Phillip Eidsvik: That is a big concern for us. We know there have been a number of court cases over who has jurisdiction in British Columbia. Some are federal, and some are provincial, but it's a real complex, tangled web that I don't think even the legal community or the Supreme Court of Canada has dealt with in extent. Maybe that's why we need it clear that in British Columbia, anywhere on the coast, in federal or provincial jurisdiction, the province will have a veto.

I recognize it may not be in the spirit of federalism, but it vetoes our part of our Constitution, and if it was very clear in the act that the province would have a veto on the coast of British Columbia, then you probably wouldn't have so much opposition.

The Chair: I think if you go to any of your lawyers—or I would imagine you're a lawyer yourself from the way you speak—if you look at paragraph 5(2)(b), certainly everybody here on this side says it means that the province has to be consulted every time a marine area has to happen, and there would be a provincial-federal agreement.

Before a marine area is constituted, we have to deposit it before the two houses, including information and consultations undertaken. Any agreement reached respecting the establishment of the area of reserve and an interim management plan goes before the House and before the Senate. So to think that this thing can happen automatically and the federal government can just decree that in any corner of B.C. or Nova Scotia there'll be a marine conservation area and this is it, I'm sorry, that's not the spirit of it at all.

• 1015

Mr. Andy Burton: I think the concern, Mr. Chair, is that in areas that are strictly federal jurisdiction, this could happen. It's not clear. It's not clear, as Mr. Eidsvik said too, as to what are the actual jurisdictional areas. There's been a moratorium on for many years because of some of those concerns. This is something that needs to be clarified. Then I think we'd have a whole lot less difficulty with this whole situation.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: We have Mr. Wozney and then Mrs. Bulte, and we'll close then, because I'm afraid we're out of time.

Mr. Richard Wozney: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I enjoy this.

Paragraph 5(2)(b) does talk about the lands, you're quite correct. But the question that has to be asked and responded to, and which we're not getting the answer to here today, is what are provincial lands. Once that is determined, then you can go on to the next step, which is in paragraph 5(2)(b) talking about the lands. But where there is no clear answer as to what is provincial land and what is federal land, you could have a constitutional jurisdictional problem. And until that's resolved the federal government can simply say we're going to make a park, we're going to create an MCA in that area, and the province can't do anything about it except go to court to challenge the legislation.

So that's the issue. That's the question that has to be asked and answered. Once that's done, then I agree, yes, you can go on to paragraph 5(2)(b) that says the federal government must consult with the provincial government regarding that particular area that's going to be created as an MCA.

Thank you.

The Chair: Mrs. Bulte.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

With respect to subclause 5(2), we talk also about a clear and unencumbered right. So if the title is clear and unencumbered, what Mr. Wozney is actually speaking about would not be clear or unencumbered title. I think the question isn't even answered within 5(2)(a) as well. I think we need to read the entire bill, and not just one tiny section of it.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I think this was a useful discussion and I appreciate your coming all this way to meet with us and give us your concerns.

For the next 45 minutes we'll welcome the—

Mr. Dennis Mills: Mr. Burton does it every week, comes all this way.

Mr. Andy Burton: I'm not used to it yet. So if I'm a little tired from time to time, you'll understand.

The Chair: I ask the Haida Nation in the North Pacific, the Haida Gwaii Marine Resources Group Association, and the Tseycum First Nation to come forward please.

• 1020

At their request we're going to start with the Haida Gwaii Marine Resources Group Association, Ms. Kimiko von Boetticher, the watershed stewardship coordinator.

Mr. Kimiko von Boetticher (Watershed Stewardship Coordinator, Haida Gwaii Marine Resources Group Association): Good morning, Mr. Chair, committee members, chiefs, and all guests.

My name is Kimiko and I live in Haida Gwaii, and it is a true honour to come here and share with you a bit of the exprience of the Haida Gwaii.

I have four things I'd like you to consider, four things I'd like to highlight. I come at this bill from the Haida Gwaii Marine Resources, from the bigger picture. I'm not here to talk about specific subclauses and clauses of the bill.

I'd like you to consider these four things. We just entered a new millennium, the 21st century. It's the era of quantum physics. And through science we are once again starting to understand that the world is connected and has intricate connections that exist throughout.

In the next ten years alone the world will be changing drastically, and our dependence on the types of economic activities we have today will drastically change, especially in non-renewable resources. With this confederation we are coming around again to the ideas of ancient culture. Ancient cultures have theories of all this connectedness. Mitiky youaiisn. We are all related. And this is something we really need to consider when we're considering conservation and economic activities.

As I highlighted in my brief, the work of Dr. Tom Reimchen, which has occurred on Haida Gwaii, has found some of these intricate relationships that exist between bears, salmon, and trees, and has shown that this is a very dependent system, that we cannot separate oceans from terrestrial areas and that conservation must occur between both these areas.

Parks Canada I believe is an extremely appropriate department to do this. I know there have been some arguments for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a specific mandate for the oceans, and I'm here to tell you that from our perspective, the Haida Gwaii Marine Resources, we need to consider terrestrial. And I think Parks Canada, with their cultural and educational basis and their approach of an ecological holistic conservation, is the department to do that.

As well, in Haida Gwaii we have very good cooperative management of our local resources between Parks Canada, the Haida Nation, and the residents of Haida Gwaii. It's a very unique place, and working with the federal and local levels in this co-management has been extremely successful. And it has been successful for locally based sustainable economies as well.

The third thing is the legacy for our children. Today I have less of Haida Gwaii to experience than my ancestors did. And we need to leave a legacy for our children of these intricate relationships that exist between the ocean and the environment.

One of my worries is this bill is only a bill that will enable, as has just come through, the creation of conservation areas, and if this bill isn't allowed to pass, I worry that the voices of the things I just mentioned, the scientific discovery, cooperative local management of resources, and a legacy for our children, will be voices that will be silenced.

The way this bill has been set up, and we think it's a very good bill, is that we will be able to take the next step at the creation and everybody will have a voice at that step. And that's when voices can be heard at the local level.

To close, I would like to share with you a bit of the Haida Gwaii experience.

I spoke friends about this bill a couple of weeks ago, and they also read my submission. And last week they sent me a poem based on the things I said. I used it to create the following for you. It's a song for Gwaii Haanas:

    Gwaii Haanas, islands of beauty, spirit wild. A place where sky meets land, meets sea. A place where boundaries exist only on a map. A place where earth and ocean are inseparable, where people are part of the cycle of life.

    A cycle where herring feed salmon, feed bear, orca, and sea lion. Where the rings of the cedar tell the health of the salmon. Where life underwater is exposed by the tide.

    A place where the question isn't what is the cost of protection, but what is the cost of no protection for the environment, for the sea, for our children?

    Gwaii Haanas, a place where protecting the ocean means saving a sacred place, a legacy of culture from mountain to sea of heritage, of wilderness, and of spirit.

Thank you very much.

• 1025

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Very good.

Ms. Kimiko von Boetticher: I'd also like to invite you all to the Haida Gwaii reception that will be occurring this afternoon in the Confederation Building at 4:30. You can come and experience more of our Haida Gwaii experience.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Very good, Kimiko.

We'll now move to Guujaaw. Guujaaw, you have the floor.

Guujaaw (President, Haida Nation in the North Pacific): Yes, thank you for this opportunity.

I'm the president of the Council of the Haida Nation, who are the indigenous people of Haida Gwaii. Particularly I want to talk a bit about the Gwaii Haanas area, which is a Haida heritage site as well as a national park reserve.

I want to talk a little bit about my personal relationship to that area as well. When I was young I used to go down there with my uncle, who spent a lot of his young life down there, as his ancestors did, and my ancestors. We trapped in that region. We also gathered a lot of food and brought it back into Skidegate, which is about 60 miles away.

We were trapping land otters and marten. The actual economic part of that didn't actually do much for us. It paid for the fuel, basically. But while we were down there we caught fish, dug clams, gathered abalone and urchins, and quite a few things, basically filled the boat up with food and brought it back to the village for our families and for other people in the village. So I did that with my uncle for quite a few years and eventually ended up with my own trapline.

I want to say that this kind of lifestyle is enjoyed by our people, even to this day, but it's also been really assaulted but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I'd even go so far as to say by the colonial government of Canada. There is a deliberate reason to try to separate our people from the land, and that reason I think was clearly so that the governments, the industries, could have their way and do what they want with it with nobody there to protect it.

I think it is quite clear over time that what they wanted us to do was not go out and enjoy our lands, but go to work for some industry or another and go shopping in the stores, rather than doing what was proper for us.

I myself spent two days in jail for fishing one time. I had gone out with a group, my kids and a couple of my friends, and we had 27 pink salmon out of a river. I was charged for fishing illegally without a permit and without a licence. Meanwhile, the commercial fishing fleet had taken 750,000 fish out of that same river on the same day I was fishing for 27.

• 1030

That's the kind of thing we grew up with and what makes us what we are today. We've seen it and felt it ourselves, and we've watched other people be humiliated in those ways. But over the years we fought for the rights to hunt and fish. We enforced a lot of them in Canadian law, and established that aboriginal title does constitute an encumbrance, particularly on the provincial licences, in the case we brought forward.

Over the years a lot of things have happened on our islands. We've seen the introduction of a licence for abalone, and in five years that fishery was taken to the point where it couldn't support an economic fishery any more, so it has stopped. At that time, the fishermen who had wiped out the abalone were demanding compensation. I don't think they ever got it, but they wanted compensation for what they had just wiped out.

It's been one species after another, one river after another. Whether they're destroyed by logging or by overfishing, we've watched that happen to our land. In my short life, I have seen many streams go extinct on our lands and I've seen our people still being harassed for comparatively small matters.

So our people stood up and stopped the logging in the Gwaii Haanas area, and when we did, all the forces of society were against us, all the arguments of the economics that would be lost forever, all the good things that come with logging that supposedly were going to be displaced. Eventually we did stop the logging, basically by embarrassing the federal government into coming in with us and agreeing those lands had to be protected.

Those lands were protected with a joint management agreement that's set up in such a way that there are two separate authorities: the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada. They are two totally separate jurisdictions claiming ownership of the same lands—two separate land designations, but a common cause in protecting those lands and managing the human activities.

We went into a process where there was a committee set up of equal numbers of Canadian and Haida representatives. Those people sit and deliberate on each issue, whether it's licensing, putting up a new facility, even building an outhouse, right down to the very plot where it will go. It's discussed and agreed upon before anything's put in place.

This Gwaii Haanas area came out head and shoulders above all of the other protected areas in Canada, mainly because generally the Canadian parks board bows to the pressure of the economic interests in that area, the commercial tour operators and people like that. We don't bow to them. To us, they're beneficiaries of that area. We don't mind them operating, but they're not calling the shots. That's the way it works down there. Now I think it's being judged, and it's looking really good.

So on those two separate sides there's the federal and the Haida side. On the Haida side we have watchmen throughout the area looking after the key protected areas, for example the hot springs, the old village sites, those sorts of things. But also, on the federal side, we made a provision that our people could find a way in there, because it's hard to break into the Public Service Alliance. We did actually find a way for them to go in, and we are quite clear to those people that we don't want them hired just because they're brown; we want them to be hired because they're the best people for the job.

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I'm really proud to say that's been maybe six years since it was formal, but we worked with them before there was a formal establishment. We now have a Haida superintendent of the Gwaii Haanas area, and I think he's going to come out as one of the stars. Still, he works for the Government of Canada. We recognize that.

So we still have great concerns about.... You heard one of the guys mention there was terrorism on the herring grounds. That was us terrorizing the fishermen, and the reason that was happening was that the Department of Fisheries had taken that fishery. Even according to their own numbers, they've taken it.

I think you understand the international laws and how fisheries ought to be managed. It ought to be 10% of the maximum sustainable yield, according to international law. In this case, even according to the Department of Fisheries' numbers, they're managing at 25% of the potential and fishing at a 20% level. And every time it tries to come above that 25% level, where they set the cut-off, they hit it again. The same thing will happen this year.

We'll probably be fighting them again if the Department of Fisheries approves another fishery. It's in dire straights, and we're very much concerned about the marine area down there.

Our people have always fought for conservation for the well-being of the land; the legislation and all that isn't so important to us. If the Department of Fisheries was managing it in a way that conserved it, we wouldn't be so concerned, but they are not.

It's very much a concern. I don't think you're all senators—I know Andy Burton isn't a senator—but in any case, if you're ministers, whatever you are, I think you should be paying close attention to what's happening on the west coast, because in the same way they wiped out the east coast fishery, it's happening to the west coast. You can see how the fishing industry very strongly advocates and calls the heaviest shots on what's going to occur on the west coast, and I think that's the same problem that resulted in the demise of the fisheries on the east coast.

Anyway, we're very much concerned. Gwaii Haanas in all likelihood would be the first of the areas to go under this marine conservation area, or it could be, and for our purposes....

Do you want me to quit?

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): No, we don't want you to quit, but we have to be cognizant of the time, because the chief has to speak too, right? How much longer do you have?

Guujaaw: I'll wrap up.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Okay, and then you'll get some questions.

Guujaaw: We're very much interested in anything that might help curtail the very extreme fishing going on there. It's not just herring. The same thing is going on with prawns, with rock cod, with every species. Basically, they've been fishing them right to the point that they're no longer economical.

I've read the submission put forward by the Assembly of First Nations. Our only concern would be that we come to accommodation with the Government of Canada as we have before. I want to point out that the Province of B.C., at the time the Gwaii Haanas area was done, had agreed the marine area would soon be included. In our Gwaii Haanas agreement with the federal government, we also agreed the marine area would be included with a similar type of agreement.

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In response to the AFN submission, Parks Canada has suggested that they don't want to tighten up the aboriginal rights area because they are interested in justifiable infringements. I'll suggest here that if they're going to come to us later...our people are concerned about getting locked out of the area, particularly for aboriginal rights. If there's a concern that they'll be locked out, maybe not now but later on through what they consider a justifiable infringement, we would be there to fight that. I don't think that's a healthy climate for establishing marine protected areas. If this bill is passed with proper wording that allows for agreements as we have in Gwaii Haanas agreements on the land area, then certainly our people would be supportive and would be there to fight for it.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you, Guujaaw.

Chief Jacks.

Chief Vern Jacks (Tseycum First Nation): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Before we start, I have a gift here for Tom Lee, and I think there's someone here to accept that. Would you come up, please.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Chief, maybe you'd like to introduce Mr. Lee and explain what the gift is.

Chief Vern Jacks: Mr. Lee's not here.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): What is this gift?

Chief Vern Jacks: This gift is a canoe that was carved by my younger brother. Our people travel by canoe.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): It's beautiful.

Chief Vern Jacks: We don't want to lose it today. When someone builds something, he builds it from the heart. It's not built just because of a show, it's built from the heart. These are the things we don't want to lose.

Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Now, you're presenting this to Mr. Lee, who's not here. Could you please tell us what the significance of that was? What did Mr. Lee do so you're presenting this to him? I apologize, but I don't know him. Could you explain that?

Chief Vern Jacks: It's customary for our people back at home to bring a gift when somebody invites you. That shows respect. We come here with respect, to show what our values and our beliefs are, and that is why we come here with a gift.

Another thing is that my great-grandfather signed a treaty. He came over here to Ottawa, and it makes me proud to be here to speak, to follow in his footsteps.

Thank you.

I have submitted a brief on behalf of Gord MacIntosh, Jack Fleming, and myself. I believe you have a copy of that, but I will speak personally from the heart on how this may or may not affect first nations peoples.

First of all, I want to speak my own language. I feel that is appropriate, because this is how we are.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Sure.

Chief Vern Jacks: [Witness speaks in his native language].

I mentioned my Indian name, Xa'late, and I thanked you for inviting me. We believe today that our language should never die.

What we're talking about today is nothing new. We and our ancestors have been protecting our territory for thousands of years. That's within our traditional territory, both land and sea. Now Parks Canada is trying to develop a marine protected area. It is about time we worked together on this at the same level; this means first nations, the federal government, and the province, so we are not put aside.

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We need to keep our spiritual walk; it's called stenalakwis. That is protected for our youth and the unborn who are coming. They need to be proud of who they are and where they're from.

The development of parks should not infringe upon our culture, values, beliefs, or traditional territory where we harvest our seafood—what we have left. Our medicines and our foods have to be protected. Our elders say “When the tide goes out, our table is set”. That's not true today because of pollution.

Just briefly, I want to share a story about my grandmother. In her early fifties, she and I were digging clams down the beach, and she heard some hammering going on. There was a house being built. She spilled the clams out and sat on the bucket, and she wouldn't say anything for the longest time. I asked her, “What's the matter?” She looked up at the house that was being built and said that she was glad she wasn't going to be around when all those people were going to build houses right around our bay because when all the pollution came down, we wouldn't dig any more.

She wasn't a scientist, yet that prediction was made. It's here today. There is so much pollution within our area that we have to protect our values and our medicines as first nations peoples. There needs to be respect for our traditions and our knowledge. Our language has to be here.

When there is development, there is pollution. I have up there on the screens the Indian names of our islands. They've been there for thousands of years. There are reasons for those names, why they were put there. This is why earlier I said that what we're talking about is nothing new. There is nothing new. We need to continue protecting the land and sea.

When we talk about pollution, it's something that has no boundaries. Georgia Strait is a freeway for freighters, something we are not monitoring. Millions and millions of gallons of pollution are being flushed into our waters, within our traditional territory, and we need to work together on this.

Our brothers and sisters from Neah Bay wounded one whale, and it makes the worldwide news. Then you find seven or eight whales washed up on the beaches from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., and no one says anything. What is wrong?

We need to work together for our youth so they'll be proud of who they are and where they're from.

• 1050

Mr. Chairman, we've been talking about pollution, and I have to say something about our creek and what's coming into our creek. A fecal coliform count of two million is coming into our creek, and they close beaches down at 200. What is happening? The local government is not saying a word, and they are not doing anything. We need to work together to do something.

What have we been talking about up there is the Douglas Treaty. The Douglas Treaty people are put aside. We are supposed to be allowed to hunt and fish as formerly, but it's not happening.

Our elders say we need to work together on this issue, to have Canada come to our villages to share their knowledge. We would like to share our knowledge with them, working together, because we have to live with each other.

Our people of Tseycum would like to invite the government to our village. That invitation is so we can build trust with each other, trust and respect, because we need it for our young kids, the youth and the unborn.

We come here saying please don't use our people as tokens. That's a major concern because of the experience we've had with our leaders being used as tokens. We need to work together as one.

Again, I want to really thank all of you for listening to our concerns. My colleagues here have the same concern. You'll see a difference when you work together and believe in first nations values and traditions. We need to protect what we have left.

[Witness continues in his native language]

Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you, Chief.

We will now go immediately to Mr. Burton.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to thank these witnesses who have just presented. I would also like to thank the three previous ones, and I erred in that.

I think we all share some similar concerns. Chief Jacks, you talked about local input and consultation. I certainly share that concern, and that's a point we are making, namely that we need more local input and more local sharing of concerns so we can achieve a balance for all sides.

Guujaaw, I very much share your concerns on the federal fisheries issues. I'm very aware of huge problems on the west coast and especially in my area, the north coast.

I would like to read three very brief quotes from the committee minutes of May 31, and these are from Ovide Mercredi, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, speaking on behalf of the AFN. I quote:

    We have a lot of experience with land parks and, in the previous standing committee, many of our chiefs came to explode the myth that Parks Canada treats our people well. They came here to tell you, very clearly, that Parks Canada does not treat our people well and that we have no access to our treaty and aboriginal rights whenever parks are established.

That's quote number one; quote number two is as follows:

    The idea of marine resources shouldn't be left to government. This idea of top-down is old history. What I am trying to say to you is, it doesn't work. It has never worked and it's never going to work. But this bill does not recognize local democracy. It does not involve the grassroots people, or any of the governments at the community level, it just imposes a bureaucracy on a designated area. It will be the same with Parks Canada making decisions, DFO making decisions, or Environment Canada making decisions.

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Quote number three:

    So at the very least, your standing committee should go to British Columbia and consult with the first nations in the coastal region there.

I'd like any of you to comment on those remarks, please.

Guujaaw: I think I'm in a position to comment because we have a major national park reserve, but that's Canada's designation. Ours is that it's a Haida heritage site.

When this was established, we were fully in control of the area and we maintained control throughout negotiating an agreement with them. We ended up basically in a shared jurisdiction, with all our rights protected. We could hunt. We could fish. We could build a house. We could cut down a tree if we needed cedar. I think the important thing our people know and Chief Jacks knows is that we're part of the land. We're not a separate thing, you know, coming in from Mars and trying to invent something new.

Just to make the answer a little bit longer, I know that the world is so cosmopolitan. President Bush's solution to keeping America going was to keep shopping. I was sitting on the airplane with a guy from England, and he was totally fascinated with the idea that there are still people who dig clams, hunt and fish for their winter supply of food. To me that's kind of normal. At the same time, I know it's threatened and it isn't very common in the world.

As you fly across Canada, you see that basically everything from here to British Columbia is like a great quilt. It's all been modified by human beings already. There are very few little places on those outer edges that are still in their natural form. They are so precious to this world and so precious to humanity. People should have an opportunity to go there and see what it's like to really connect with the earth, rather than to connect with the makings of mankind.

So Ovide was not totally accurate in saying there is no place where that happens except that.... You know, we're not under the minister's jurisdiction. I know usually, under parks, there's a real strong urging—they try to get us to say that the Minister of the Environment is the ultimate authority. There's no way we would make an agreement like that because we have kids with more authority than him in that area.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Are there any other questions? We're running tight on time—

Mr. Andy Burton: Okay, I'll wait and let somebody else ask questions.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): —because we have our friends in Prince Rupert coming on at 11 o'clock.

Mr. McNally, do you have any questions?

Madam Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: I want to thank you all for coming, and thank you for that beautiful poem. I think, if anything, you can say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it was certainly just beautifully done.

Guujaaw and Chief Jacks, are you still having regular consultations and in constant contact with Parks Canada? Would say your relationship is good? Can it be better? How can we improve upon the consultation?

Chief Vern Jacks: Yes, we are. We are working, or meeting and trying to work, to a better relationship, understanding and respect.

Guujaaw: On the Haida Gwaii, we have a Haida person who has become the superintendent on their side of the equation. Yes, but we still have the management board—Haida and Canada—even though Canada is going to be made out of Haidas too.

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Ms. Sarmite Bulte: I understand that if and when this legislation is passed, it will require new management plans to be tabled as well, in consultation with all groups, and reviewed by Parliament.

Guujaaw: Yes, there's one more thing I'd like to say, in closing. I know that our cultures have become very much a part of the Canadian identity, and culture shouldn't be mistaken for totem poles, songs, and stuff like that. Culture is the relationship of our people to the land, the relationship of the other people around the coast to the land they're in. That's where our culture comes from. Our language and all that we know are from the land. That's what our cultures are.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): I believe, Mr. Burton, you have another comment. Take your time.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you. I'd just like to point out, for the committee's behalf, that I lived in the north for most of my life—over 50 years. I can relate to a lot of the things Guujaaw and Chief Jacks are saying, in terms of hunting and fishing and so on. There are a lot of non-aboriginal communities and residents that also rely very strongly on fishing and access to those resources.

But I want to ask Guujaaw something. The proposed legislation suggests that after an MCA is created, within five years a management plan will be developed. Does he think perhaps that should be the other way around? Maybe we should look at a management plan prior to creating it.

Guujaaw: Actually, we went through that exercise on the terrestrial area. We came up with a management plan that is worth the committee reviewing. It took a few years. I'm sure that with a management plan, if you set a five-year limit on it, it'll take five years; if you say five months, it'll take five months. There are issues that need to be dealt with right now. We have concerns about what's going on in that area, for sure.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): I just want to reaffirm your comments on former Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi. I thought his presence and his intervention at this committee, as a witness, were the best we've had in the whole series. He was very direct, very strong, very focused, and had a lot of good insights. I thank you for bringing that up.

Madam Parliamentary Secretary.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

A management plan is anticipated five years later, but I also understand that when the act is passed and the consultations happen, there is also a provision in subclause 7(1) for an interim management plan, which would then go to both houses of Parliament.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you.

I think Mr. President wants to make a short intervention before we suspend and go to Prince Rupert.

Ms. Kimiko von Boetticher: As Chief Vern Jacks already said, in the northwest tradition we will give out gifts for being invited, as well as thank you for witnessing our submission. So Guujaaw will be singing and we will be handing out gifts.

Guujaaw: I'll sing this song with the intention of bringing a little bit of our culture to you, but recognizing, as I said, that the land is actually the culture, not the songs or the totem poles themselves.

This song is about some of the other beings who live there with us. It mentions the heron, a little fish that lives along the edge of the creeks and oceans, and a killer whale.

[Musical presentation—Editor]

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The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you very much, Mr. President.

I think we will suspend the meeting for a few minutes until we are technically ready to go.

Guujaaw: This isn't bribery either; it's just a tradition.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): We're going to have to bring back the first set of witnesses and give them equal time here pretty soon.

Guujaaw: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you.

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• 1129

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): This is Don Scott, who is the Mayor of the City of Prince Rupert. He will be our first witness.

Go ahead, Don. The floor is yours.

• 1130

Mr. Don Scott (Mayor of Prince Rupert, British Columbia): Thank you.

My name is Don Scott. I've been Mayor of Prince Rupert for just under two years. I was born in Prince Rupert, and my father before me. Prince Rupert and the north coast are my home, and I can't think of any other place in the world where I'd rather live. Thank you for the opportunity to address you.

I understand there's been some confusion in terms of making witnesses available to speak to your committee, and whether or not appropriate notice was given. My comment would be that this medium, video-conferencing, if it works properly, appears to be a more cost-effective way to allow a two-way conversation between here and Ottawa. If appropriate and timely notice had been given that this opportunity would be given to witnesses, I personally would have been satisfied that the north coast had a reasonable opportunity to express their opinions on this very important piece of legislation.

The toll that is taken in time and stress to travel from Prince Rupert, or for that matter from Port Clements on Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte Islands, to Ottawa is significant. In this day of electronic conferencing, such a journey is an unnecessary impediment to communication.

I have not had a lot of time to prepare for this, so my comments will be fairly general.

It's also true that the north coast is in a huge state of transition at this time, as a result of the downturn of the resource economy. Forestry and fishing were the mainstays of our economy. Although they will always be an important part of the north coast economy, there has been an effort to diversify through economic development initiatives, such as tourism, aquaculture, industrial growth, transportation, and oil and gas exploration and development.

Prince Rupert is Canada's northern gateway to the Pacific Rim. As the terminus of the transcontinental CNR Railway, as well as the Yellowhead Highway, there is no other strategically important port in western Canada, other than the Port of Vancouver. The potential for Prince Rupert as a major access port for intercontinental trade is huge. This potential must remain unencumbered.

I and many other Canadians appreciate the need for our marine conservation areas, and we value them. Those of us who live in coastal communities have an affinity with the sea and treasure it. Having lived in Prince Rupert all of my life, I've experienced the changes that have occurred in the fishing industry, and many of those changes have been negative. The loss of our abalone resource from overfishing comes to mind. I understand that a marine conservation area may allow various species of fish to increase in abundance or return to their normal biomass, rather than follow a path to extinction. This is an honourable goal.

I must, however, emphasize that Canadians must be afforded economic opportunities that they are able to identify, and with appropriate risk-management techniques be able to exploit those opportunities.

This leads me to the centre of my discussion. Prince Rupert has a huge opportunity to exploit oil and gas for the benefit of all Canadians and the world. There must be a balancing interest in this legislation that ensures that this and other opportunites, such as undersea mining and environmentally safe aquaculture, can be seized the future.

The approach that is necessary for this legislation to arrive at such a balance is as follows. Firstly, appropriate and full scientific studies should be carried out in the whole area of concern before any marine conservation areas are designated.

Secondly, meaningful consultations should be carried out with all of the potentially affected north coast communities, as well as industry and other economic interests, such as fishing, mining, oil and gas, and aquaculture representation. First nations communities must be consulted fully in light of their unsettled land claims and aboriginal rights.

Thirdly, an appropriate socio-economic study as to what the effects would be in the affected communities should be carried out, and if there are significant negative effects, a mitigation plan should be prepared and presented to those communities prior to establishment of any marine conservation area.

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Fourthly and finally, the footprint of any marine conservation area should not be so large as to materially affect any potential resource development in the area. For example, overall oil and gas interests must not be compromised because the marine conservation area covers such a large part of Hecate Strait.

My final comments relate to the idea that Parks Canada does such a good job in the area of conservation and education. I'm not so comfortable with this idea. As a coastal community we are much more used to the presence of DFO people, who live and work among us. They have a much greater sense of the importance of the ocean to all of us because they love it as much as or more than we do.

Our experience with Parks Canada has not been as proactive and positive. For example, the Khutzeymateen grizzly sanctuary, although a high-profile world site, is practically inaccessible to those who live in the local area. It is a high-end tourism site that provides few local jobs. The Tsimshian, in whose territory the sanctuary lies, would likely echo the same comments.

Gwaii Haanas South Moresby National Park Reserve is another federal park that was the result of a confrontation between the Haidas and logging interests. The formation of this park has not resulted in any large number of jobs to replace those lost in forestry. And Sandspit, which was a thriving logging community, has still been unable to recover from the tremendous change that occurred when the park was created.

Please ensure that this legislation is balanced to the extent that resource extraction and economic opportunities are not denied our communities on the north coast. I do not want to see Prince Rupert go the way of Sandspit. It has such potential and is in a very important strategic location for Canadian trade and economic development.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you very much, Mr. Scott.

Would you like to do questions after each witness, Mr. Burton, or would you want to hear them all and—

Mr. Andy Burton: Yes, after all of them.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Our next witness, then, would be Ms. Sharon Hartwell.

Ms. Sharon L. Hartwell (Mayor of Telkwa, British Columbia): Good morning.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Good morning, Sharon. Welcome to the heritage committee. The floor is now yours.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Thank you. I'm not confident that we're coming across as clearly as we hear your voice.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): You are coming across crystal-clear.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Thank you. I would like to open with a few brief remarks before I read my brief.

What is democracy? The dictionary says it's a form of government for the people by the rules of the majority of the people, based on the conception of the equality of man. I ask the committee, are we not equal? Do we not deserve the rights afforded all of us under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

We have urgent concerns in British Columbia regarding the softwood lumber dispute, and we're not getting any help from our government in Ottawa in this regard. We have a pine beetle infestation that's out of control. We are losing millions of dollars in revenue every quarter, and you're asking us to give up more economic opportunities by enacting Bill C-10. This is beyond comprehension.

Bankruptcies are up 35%. Businesses are shutting down. We are looking for infrastructure grants for our community just to keep us at Canadian standards. Telkwa has gravel roads and poor water systems.

Not allowing communities to have one-on-one meetings to discuss Bill C-10 is not democratic, nor is it moral.

We ask the standing committee and Minister Sheila Copps to make the time to come and visit our communities and see for themselves. Minister Paul Martin has come, at least, and made an effort to see what we're all about and what our concerns are.

I am truly offended that the federal government thinks we are not capable of making decisions to protect our own environment, our way of life for future generations in the province of British Columbia. Allowing us only ten minutes and giving us almost no preparation time tells me that you have no true intention to consult those who have the most to lose if Bill C-10 is enacted.

We had a presentation at our regional district board meeting for Parks Canada, and the board voted unanimously not to support Bill C-10.

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Finally, I would ask that should Bill C-10 go forward, even with substantial opposition, clause 13, which eliminates the opportunity for mineral extraction, be removed. To forever eliminate the opportunity of mineral exploration is unreasonable. A balance between the use and protection of the environment can be struck, and new environmentally friendly techniques for mineral extraction can be developed. Do not close the door on future environmentally friendly economic possibilities for our communities.

The Village of Telkwa has grave concerns regarding the bill's proposed legislation. I share the voice of 27 British Columbia communities, representing thousands of people, who ask that Bill C-10 be reconsidered. Had the proposed legislation been circulated to the 700 interest groups and stakeholders that received copies of Bill C-10's predecessor and to our newly elected provincial government, I am certain the number of people echoing our displeasure with Bill C-10 would be significantly higher.

Why is the federal government attempting to push through environmental protection legislation prior to consulting with those on whom this legislation will have the greatest impact? Is there a hidden political agenda here? We live in a democratic society, yet Ottawa appears to be determined, through this legislation, to dictate prohibition of access to natural resources. This action could effectively economically cripple many coastal communities, and alienate Ottawa from the people it claims to serve.

Canada does not need blanket restrictions in order to preserve values. Telkwa, like other British Columbia communities, relies on its natural resources, particularly in the areas of forestry, agriculture and mining, as an economic mainstay. This reliance on our natural resources fosters a strong commitment to ensuring they are protected and sustained for future generations.

Sustainable development and environmental stewardship are part of doing business in British Columbia. Coastal communities, including business and investment sectors, understand this, practise it, and live by it. Our commitment to our natural resources is echoed in environmental legislation that leads the world for the most comprehensive custodial measures taken to ensure environmental sustainability.

Similar to the protection of forests under British Columbia's forest practices code, the marine environment is assured scrutiny, due diligence and ultimately protection under the numerous existing pieces of legislation, including the Oceans Act; the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, which can establish marine protected area; the Canadian Wildlife Act; the Migratory Birds Act, whereby Environment Canada can establish national wildlife areas or marine wildlife areas; and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, with numerous marine and ecosystem protection clauses. Through this legislation, Canada illustrates our absolute commitment to long-term sustainability of the marine environment.

Enactment of Bill C-10 would effectively duplicate what is already under the Oceans Act, passed in 1997, which contains provisions to protect fragile or representative marine environments. The oceans management strategy under the Oceans Act is a national strategy that includes three tools, two of which are integrated management processes and marine protected areas.

Marine protected areas, under the Oceans Act, are established to conserve and protect marine protected areas. Heritage Canada and Parks Canada policy desire is to conserve representative areas for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which has the mandate and jurisdiction to manage the activities affecting the oceans, has commented on Bill C-10 “being disjointed and split among 23 federal government departments, provinces and municipalities”.

Clearly, changes to the Oceans Act could be made to achieve Heritage Canada's and Parks Canada's goal, if warranted, as a separate marine act will result in overlap, duplication, conflict and loss of objective governance over Canada's environment and resources. At a time when Canada is faced with an overwhelming deficit, it is imperative that we work to increase efficiencies in government.

As this legislation could effectively prohibit the economic renewal ability of British Columbia, Telkwa insists that the standing committee hear comments from the newly elected provincial government of British Columbia, prior to deliberating on Bill C-10.

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It would be extremely inappropriate for the federal government to pass legislation that could effectively deny British Columbia access to offshore oil and gas resources and the associated future revenues this would generate, without allowing British Columbia the fair opportunity to provide input. In order to avoid constitutional jurisdiction conflict over mineral rights and water course zones, and at the very least, in the interest of building a positive federal-provincial relationship, an in-depth consultation process with coastal provinces should be undertaken.

We believe that a balance between protection of the environment and use of our natural resources can be maintained, and therefore suggest that the following clauses of Bill C-10 be amended:

On the Bill C-10 preamble, the term “precautionary principle” is not consistent with other federal legislation and is an expansion of the widely accepted definition that Canada agreed to in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. It should be changed to “precautionary approach”.

In subclause 5(1), the federal government alone has the power to create a marine conservation area, unchallenged by provincial or aboriginal governments. Telkwa does not agree with this approach. The process to establish zoned or constricted use areas should involve consultation with the local communities affected, and be supported by scientific research, for the purpose of defining the special character of such an area.

Also under clause 5, the legislation provides only for the establishing or enlarging of marine conservation areas by the Governor in Council, and no allowance for the removal or reduction of marine conservation areas, which is a grave oversight. The natural environment is ever-changing, and an island that may house a rare species of sea birds one day could immediately be changed by an act of God, disease or some other natural force. Bill C-10 should contain flexibility to eliminate or alter marine conservation areas.

Clauses 5, 6, 7, and 16 allow cabinet the power to establish, enlarge, control, and manage all marine conservation areas, without allowing affected communities to provide input. As proposed, Bill C-10 does not allow for the removal or altering of marine conservations areas, which means that once they are established, cabinet's decision remains in perpetuity.

Telkwa disagrees strongly with the concentration of power in cabinet that Bill C-10 provides, as it negates citizens' rights to be heard. Telkwa insists that an act of Parliament should be required to establish, enlarge, reduce, eliminate, or vary a marine conservation area. This would allow for public debate on the issue and provide a fair, transparent, democratic decision-making process.

In subclause 7(2), as proposed in Bill C-10, the committee may report back to the House if it disapproves. There is no allowance for reporting if it approves of the amendment. In order to ensure that the committee deals with the tabled amendment to a marine conservation area, the wording under clause 7 needs to be strengthened.

The appointed committee must be required to report back to the House, whether it approves or disapproves of the amendment, as it is unlikely that members of any standing committee, being from the government benches, will disapprove of a report from their own minister. By requiring the report be brought back to the House, whether the committee approves or disapproves of the amendment, the rationale behind the committee's recommendation will be open for fair debate in Parliament.

On subclause 7(3), one cannot foresee the future. The restriction to three hours for debating is extremely stringent and does not take into consideration the complexity of possible issues, when discussing marine conservation areas. Telkwa feels strongly that subclause 7(3) should be eliminated entirely, so the debating time may last for the amount of time required to deal with the matter placed before the House.

In clause 9, management plans for marine conservation areas are not required until five years following their establishment. This is ludicrous. Telkwa feels very strongly that a management plan should be in place prior to the establishment of a marine conservation area, so the minister and everyone involved understands how the area will be managed prior to its establishment. The Federal Business Development Bank requires a business development plan prior to lending money for a business. Why would we prohibit access to an entire marine area without a management plan being in place first?

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Also, under subclause 9(2) there is an allowance for five years between reviews of the management plan. Telkwa believes this timeframe is excessive and that the maximum time should be no longer than three years. Each management plan should be considered on an individual basis, as it relates to a unique marine conservation area, but the maximum time between reviews should be no more than than three years. Five years is an exceptionally long time if the management plan is not working.

Under clause 10 the minister “shall provide opportunities for consultation with relevant federal and provincial ministers and agencies and affected coastal communities” as well as aboriginal bodies. Telkwa would like to see this changed so the minister “shall consult with”, in order to require the minister to consult with those whom the legislation will affect, not just “provide opportunities for consultation”.

Clause 13 states that “No person shall explore for or exploit hydrocarbons, minerals, aggregates or any other inorganic matter within a marine conservation area”. The bill further states that, once established, a marine conservation area will sit in perpetuity. This clause must be removed. Firstly, it fails to take into account that the purpose behind the establishment of a given marine conservation area is unique. It is quite conceivably possible that mineral exploration and extraction may be able to co-exist in a given marine conservation area without damaging the very purpose of the marine conservation area's existence.

Each marine conservation area, as a first development, should be investigated on a case-by-case basis in order to determine if a balance can be struck between use and protection of the natural environment. Furthermore, to prohibit mineral exploration and extraction infringes on the province's right to use its mineral and internal waterway resources.

Clause 21, giving the power to a marine conservation officer to arrest a person without a warrant, based on the belief that he or she may commit a crime, is simply an infringement of personal rights. This is excessive and should be omitted.

Clause 22 provides the marine conservation area warden with the power to enter onto private property without a warrant. Telkwa feels strongly that this power is excessive and an abrogation of the rights of Canadian people to personal privacy.

With this much opposition to Bill C-10, I trust that the principles of democracy for which Canada is noted will stand and the committee will amend Bill C-10 to reflect the needs of Canadians as herein extolled.

We thank the committee for giving us this brief time to have some kind of consultation, but we would appreciate a visit to the north coast so that we can stand together, as communities that will affect each other, on a one-on-one basis.

Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you very much, Mayor Hartwell.

We would now move—

Mr. Andy Burton: Mr. Chairman, I understand Councillor Paddy Greene would be speaking on behalf of the Skeena—Queen Charlotte Regional District. He's on my list that I received earlier. I know he's not on the list today, but as he is here, I would respectfully request that he be given a few minutes.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): We would love to hear from him.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Would you like him now, or would you like Mr. Wampler next? Who's ready to go?

Mr. Andy Burton: I believe Mr. Greene is speaking on behalf of Mayor Wampler.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Okay, then, he can proceed.

Mr. Andy Burton: I would just like to point out to the committee that Councillor Greene is a fisherman of much experience on the north coast. He is very familiar with the whole industry and speaks with a great deal of knowledge.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): What's Councillor Greene's first name?

Mr. Andy Burton: Paddy Greene.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Good morning, Councillor. The floor is yours. Welcome to the heritage committee.

Mr. Paddy Greene (District of Port Edward): Thank you. Now tell me whether at this time I'm speaking for the regional district or for the community of Port Edward, because they are a different set of remarks.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Well—

Mr. Paddy Greene: I would prefer to read the remarks of Mayor Wampler first, if that's permissible.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Well, that's who we felt you were representing, so that's not a problem. You're representing the mayor here today.

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Mr. Paddy Greene: First I'd like to speak for Mayor Wampler, then I'd like to speak for the regional district.

Speaking for Mayor Wampler, he gives his apologies. He has a medical problem and is not available.

By the way, just so you know, this is a horrible connection. I'm getting a delayed feedback through this side.

Anyway, proceeding on behalf of Port Edwards, we're concerned about Bill C-10's duplication of the Oceans Act legislation. Why do we need another piece of legislation and another level of oceanic bureaucracy when we can just amend the Oceans Act to allow the establishment and management of MCAs?

Our interpretation is that marine conservation areas, interpreted in the Oceans Act as marine protected areas, can be established under the Oceans Act already. Rather than bringing forward new legislation, it is recommended that the committee consider making amendments to the Oceans Act, with management of MCAs by the Fisheries and Oceans department and Parks Canada.

Failing our recommendation to amend the Oceans Act, we propose the following at the least. In the preamble, we propose that the term “precautionary principle” be changed to “precautionary approach”, consistent with the preamble of the Oceans Act. “Precautionary approach” may not be as strong but is just as broad and certainly portrays the intent of the legislation that follows it.

“Precautionary principle”, on the other hand, is too strong and portrays the legislation as rigid and inflexible, when the intent of the legislation is to allow those communities that are directly affected to have input on how much of the material in their MCA consultation was relevant to other interested parties.

Concerning clauses 5 and 16, it is understood that a marine conservation area can be established or enlarged only by the Governor in Council. It cannot be reduced or removed by the Governor in Council. Although this provides limited certainty in the long term, we feel that such powers should not be concentrated in cabinet, as consultation is not a requirement before the establishment or enlargement of an MCA.

Next, we feel that too much power is concentrated in the cabinet and not with locally elected representatives or the affected community. Accordingly, we believe that an act of Parliament should be required for any changes to or the establishment of any MCA. This will provide an open and transparent legislative process with an opportunity for affected communities to offer their input, while at the same time allowing for effective and adaptive management of MCAs.

Clause 13's outright prohibition of any mineral extraction in marine conservation areas is of especially great economic concern. As you may be aware, the economy in northern B.C. is undergoing very hard times. Our main industries of forestry, fishing, and mining are currently seeing hardships unprecedented in recent years. These industries have been the mainstay of our economy for many years. Now, because of poor market conditions and the increasingly restrictive federal and provincial legislation imposed upon us, we're trying to refocus our attention on other economic development initatives with industry.

Despite the words of our adversaries to the contrary, several national and international oil and gas companies have expressed interest in further exploration of mineral extraction off the north coast of B.C. An outright ban on such exploration or extraction takes away the autonomy and decision-making authority of affected communities. Outright prohibition is severe. The decision to exclude any or all extraction or exploration should be left to the areas affected, and the parties will have to agree to the restrictions in the MCA agreement.

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Responsible oil and gas companies are at the very centre of the need for protecting and conserving the environment. They should not be cut off from their livelihood either. All interests must be taken into account for an end result of balanced legislation.

This ends the presentation from Mayor Wampler, and with your permission I would like to make a response from the Skeena—Queen Charlotte Regional District.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Absolutely. Proceed.

Mr. Paddy Greene: Thank you very much. I'll speak in my own words and not somebody else's.

I wanted to talk first on process. There is a perception here that this is just a pro forma thing, that nobody is really interested or is listening to you guys because we're sitting on this committee. We feel very devastated that the committee could not give coastal communities in this area and others an opportunity to speak for themselves. We believe the deck is being stacked and that we do not need Bill C-10 in its present form.

A number of years ago some representatives of Parks Canada sneaked into our community and were going to have a consultation with a pre-selected group. Local government and the fishing industry got wind of it and attended the two-day conference. The main conclusion that came out of that conference was that before anything went forward in a marine protected area, it should be done with local government.

With the form Bill C-10 has taken now, the only option open to us is to fight the implementation of a marine conservation area tooth and nail. Many of us, including me, would love to suggest areas that would be ideally suited to becoming a marine conservation area.

This is not something that's available. What we see here—and I'll just speak so it's noted—is that there's the big issue with the area of the so-called “bubble zone” around south Moresby Island. There are extensive fisheries going along in that area. Millions and millions of dollars' worth of groundfish comes off that area in a year-round fishery, creating much employment in this community.

In addition to that, there are salmon fisheries, halibut fisheries, rock cod fisheries, goeyducs, sea urchins, roe on kelp, and roe sac fisheries, providing jobs onshore and at sea for many of our communities. Yet even more than Prince Rupert and some of the other communities, there are aboriginal communities on the north coast that have huge unemployment levels.

I don't know what to say to get a favourable response on this. We again ask you to come out and talk to the people out here.

The problem is in dealing with federal government agencies out here, primarily Fisheries and Oceans, who used to give us world-class management. In recent years it's gotten more political. We get phrases like “cautionary approach”. A cautionary approach basically means we're going to shut you down, and we're not going to allow any fisheries at all.

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We had an initiative earlier, when Brian Tobin was Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to downsize our fleet and make certain arrangements whereby efficient, economically viable fisheries would remain. The successors to Mr. Tobin, probably in the bureaucracy more than at the government level, have turned him into a liar. This is something that would not be well received by Mr. Tobin if he knew about it.

There has been a litany of broken promises, lies, and deceit from DFO. We are afraid that Parks Canada is bent on going in the same direction, and we've heard a lot of deceitful words. With respect to some of the issues we see coming up around here, there are some questions I would like to ask. Is there an arrangement for a provincial veto? What are the definitions of federal lands and federal waters as compared to those under provincial jurisdiction?

One of the other issues was that the House and the Senate can stop laws. Some of this went forward, but nowhere I know of does it refer to the province. Not only does local government not have effective input, we don't see the province having effective input either.

We would like to see certain clarity in the bill if it is to go forward, namely that the province has a clear veto power. This should not be by a letter from a minister but through an agreement between Parliament and the provincial government.

I would hope you might be able to give us some answers.

Thank you very much for hearing our concerns.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you very much, Paddy.

Just to reassure you, I might mention that there were several witnesses who appeared this morning here in Ottawa: Mayor Wozney from Kitimat, David McGuigan from the North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force, and Phillip Eidsvik, who's the president of B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition. They made the same points to us about clarity in the bill and specifically on the whole issue of the province's role and the federal lands issue. As we proceed over the next few days, we'll endeavour to respond to most, hopefully all, of your concerns.

I think Paddy was our last witness. Maybe what we would do is ask your colleagues there to join you at the table. Are there a couple of other chairs next to you? Mayor Scott and Mayor Hartwell can join you, because we now have some questions for you from Mr. Burton and other members of the heritage committee.

Mr. Andy Burton: Before we move on to that, Mr. Chairman....

Mr. Paddy Greene: I would be delighted to go forward with the questions, but I understand there are two more people here who expect to be witnesses.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): This is what we're going to do if I can have the committee's concurrence here. Should we not maybe take the first set of witnesses, ask them questions, and then move on to the second part?

We're going to have questions for Mayor Scott, Mayor Hartwell, and Councillor Paddy Greene before we go to the second part of the program with the Council of the Haida Nation and the Tlell Watershed Society. Can we do that?

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Well, just come forward there, Paddy, along with Mayor Hartwell and Mayor Scott. When you're ready, we'll begin with questions from Mr. Burton.

Mr. Paddy Greene: I would say that we're ready.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have a question for Councillor Greene. Paddy, it's good to see you.

I wonder if you could just repeat for me the conversation we had last week regarding your feeling of the industry's position on the potential of oil and gas and how that could mesh with or affect the fishing industry.

Mr. Paddy Greene: It's very interesting. The coastal community network has been having discussions with international speakers for the last several years. They include speakers from the oil and gas industry in Norway, Scotland, Newfoundland, and Alaska. The effect on the fishing in those jurisdictions has basically been nil. As a matter of fact, in Alaska the fishing boats use the rigs to tie the ends of the nets to.

Given the technology we have today and the standards we have in Canada, which are not surpassed anywhere in the world, there is not a real concern in the fishing industry about carrying on this activity. As a matter of fact, many of the skills that are possessed by the residents of the north coast, be it the Queen Charlotte Islands or the northern mainland coast, might still be put to use in oil and gas exploration and extraction.

We had discussions with a mayor from Alaska in whose area they've been been extracting oil and gas for 40 years, and he told us there are another 25 to come. The industry and jobs that have been created in that area have been very helpful to that community. That's the community of Kenai, Alaska.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thanks for that, Paddy.

I've got a question for Mayor Scott if he's available. How do you feel about the clause in the bill that suggests that there be a five-year review plan after an MCA is created? Do you not think that perhaps it should be the other way around, that we should have some sort of plan in place prior to the event? What's your feeling on that?

Mr. Don Scott: Certainly I think that's what should take place. We definitely have to have the appropriate information, and we have to have appropriate consultation prior to any MCA being designated.

Mr. Andy Burton: Thank you.

I have a question for Mayor Hartwell.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Good morning, Andy.

Mr. Andy Burton: Good morning, Sharon. How are you?

I understand that you met with Parks Canada and the Regional District of Bulkley—Nechako. Could you explain for the committee the mood and how that presentation was received? I know you mentioned it in your brief, but perhaps you could elaborate a little.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: [Inaudible—Editor].

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He repeated many times that the government had by law to consult with the communities affected. He also made it clear that if we signed off on this bill tomorrow we would effectively be giving up all our resource potential along these waters in perpetuity.

They gave us a 45-minute presentation, and I can tell you the mood around the board was a unanimous lack of support for Bill C-10 the way it's written. They're concerned about the environment and about the economic impact this is going to have if we have this resource taken away from us.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. Burton, I didn't the hear the first part of Mayor Hartwell's comments. I think they're very important, and I was wondering if she would mind repeating the first part of those comments. Also, I'd like to know the name of the Parks Canada official who did this 40-minute briefing.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: The gentleman was from Sooke. I remember his name was Wayne, but I couldn't pronounce his last name. I can certainly provide you with that information and his office in Sooke.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): What did he say?

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: He made it clear to us that his presentation at the regional district was not to be construed as a consultative process. It was for information only. He also made it clear to us that it was law that the government had to consult with the community before the bill was enacted. There had to be a proper consultation process.

He also made it clear that the concern he'd heard throughout the other parts of the province was that this was not an adequate consultative process. People were very concerned about that. They didn't feel their voices were being heard.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. McNally, did you have any questions?

Mr. Grant McNally (Dewdney—Alouette, PC/DR): Just one brief question.

Earlier this morning we heard some testimony in which there was concern again about the consultation process. I guess the question this all hinges on is about lands that are in dispute in terms of provincial jurisdiction and federal jurisdiction. The comment was made that if there is land in dispute, there's concern the federal government could create a conservation area in that disputed territory without a consultative process with the province. Would you agree with that analysis?

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Who is speaking to this?

Mr. Grant McNally: Anybody.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Yes, I would agree. But I think I'll let Mr. Greene address that question.

Mr. Paddy Greene: Well, certainly if it's under federal jurisdiction, it's federal land and federal water, I guess they wouldn't have to ask the province. It would be very nice to consult with the person whose back yard it is, but quite frankly, we've seen a lack of consultation and real interest from the federal government, through very many different ministries.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): I would like to begin with Mr. Cuzner because he hasn't had a question yet today. Then we'll move down the line.

Rodger, proceed.

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Bras d'Or—Cape Breton, Lib.): To Paddy Greene, I must commend the fishermen on being proactive and trying to seek out the information necessary to make an informed decision or take an informed position on the oil and gas.

With regard to seismic testing, are the fishermen concerned at all with its impact on spawning grounds in the area?

Mr. Paddy Greene: Well, I would say that's a bit of an unknown. I would recommend if they do seismic sounding not to do it when fish are spawning there. That's usually in the spring for most of the species, except salmon. Salmon are spawning way up in the creeks, so they wouldn't be affected. If you kept the seismic work off in the spring and the early part of the summer, it wouldn't affect spawning stocks at all.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Madam Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all let me begin by thanking you all for your presentations and for taking the time to come and voice your concerns.

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Mr. Chairman, I'll just begin with a couple of comments.

I'd just like to assure you that one of the things this bill does try to strike is a balance, just as you've all talked about, between ecological integrity and sustainable use, for example, fishing, the things Mr. Scott talked about. At the same time, I think it's important to realize it's not the same as the Oceans Act, that it's complementary legislation to the Oceans Act, because the Oceans Act deals specifically with the preservation of certain species. We're trying to work with ecological integrity and use of the area for the benefit of all coastal communities.

One of the things I heard loud and clear, Mr. Chairman, was this concern that these marine conservation areas would be imposed upon coastal communities. I think it's important for everyone to understand that should this act pass, nothing will be created. There will be no marine conservation areas until such time as those consultations that are provided for in clause 10 start.

If you look at subclause 5(2) of the bill, which specifically talks about the fact that the province will decide if there's to be a marine conservation area and how to use those lands, you'll find three requirements. It's either if there's clear and unencumbered title of federal lands, or if the government of a province has agreed to the use of those lands as a marine conservation area, and in addition to that, has transferred their administration and control to Her Majesty, in right of Canada. Does that not allay your fears?

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: No, that doesn't allay our fears. Even though it would go provincially with legislation that would cause enabling legislation, effectively, at the end of the day, all this enables them to do is take rights away from us. That was a very strong concern we had at the regional district as well. They had made a point of saying this is only a policy, that Parks Canada was not government, they were an agency of government.

We have huge concerns with the words “enabling legislation”, because as far as we're concerned that's just one more step to enable them to take something away from us without further consultation. We've seen it provincially many times, and we're not confident this is how it's going to be structured.

Mr. Paddy Greene: Can I make a comment here as well?

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Absolutely.

Mr. Paddy Greene: I've been sitting on a consultative group called Tenac for I guess nine years now. This is a consultative group for provincial and federal governments. In the federal government's case, it's the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The people sitting around the table who are being consulted represent over 600,000 jobs in British Columbia. They involve labour, management, resources—all sectors of the economy.

We have found when push comes to shove, when we make a recommendation the federal representatives, primarily the bureaucrats, consult with their fingers in their ears. This is what we're used to. We haven't had as much of a track record with Parks Canada, but we get very nervous when people say they're from the government in Ottawa and are here to consult with us.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Mr. Chairman, I have one more quick question, perhaps for Mr. Scott.

Mayor Scott, in your presentation you were talking about—and you seemed to be a little bit different from Mr. Greene—how you've had a good working relationship with DFO, and there was some concern Parks Canada would step in. You've worked well with the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans.

I just wanted to point out, Mr. Scott, under subclause 9(4) of the bill, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans must agree to all provisions with regard to the prohibition of any type of fishing. Also, under subclause 16(2), which is on regulations, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans must concur with any regulation that will restrict or prohibit fishing. Does that allay any of your concerns?

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Mr. Don Scott: I really wasn't fully aware of that, but I think the point I've been trying to make is that because DFO are here in the coastal communities and very much involved with the ocean and very much concerned about conservation, I feel their involvement is paramount. That's just the point I'm trying to make. If this legislation is implemented, DFO is very much involved in ensuring that the management plan is implemented and functions in the best interests of Canadians and coastal communities.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Thank you very much, Mr. Scott.

I know that all three presenters, I guess through Mr. Burton's question, had voiced some concern about the management plan as such not being tabled until five years after the creation of a marine conservation area.

Are you aware of clause 7 of the bill, which actually provides that when a proposed marine conservation area is laid before both Houses of Parliament, in fact an interim management plan must be filed at that time?

With respect to the fear of consultations, I just wanted to refer you again to clause 11 of the bill, which requires that for each conservation area the minister must establish a management advisory board to formulate, review, and implement the management plan for the area.

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Who is going to make the management plan?

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: It will be made in consultation with.... If you keep going, further on it states “The Minister may establish other advisory committees”, and then, “The Minister shall consult with such ministers or agencies of the Government of Canada or a province or other persons or bodies as the Minister considers appropriate”.

It's provided for—

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Is the government going to make the management plan after the fact?

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: No. I believe clause 11 envisages that it is done in consultation with the communities at the time. The communities and all the persons affected will work together to effect that management plan, through this management advisory board.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Was that helpful?

Ms. Sharon Hartwell: Thank you.

Mr. Paddy Greene: Fisheries and Oceans is trying to establish a marine protected area encompassing the Bowie Seamount. The area they're trying to get is as big as half the size of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and it's basically a sandbox for scientists to play in. The consultation and the committee and the people there are 90% government people, so there's not much local input. Hopefully Parks Canada might be a little more reasonable.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. Harvard.

Mr. John Harvard (Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, Lib.): I have a question for Mr. Greene. I think the bill is fairly clear that if a seabed is under the jurisdiction of the province, an agreement from the province would have to be secured before anything is done.

Second, I think I would agree that if there is seabed property in doubt—that is, jurisdictional doubt—perhaps a third party, let's say a court, should establish who that seabed belongs to before any conservation area is proceeded with.

My question would be on the third point: if a seabed is totally within federal jurisdiction and if consultation with the community is not satisfactory to you, what is the answer? Are you expecting the federal government to actually surrender its federal sovereignty in an area that is solely a federal jurisdiction? What else can we do as a federal government? If we are in an area that solely belongs to us, what more can we do than offer as much consultation as possible? One would hope that we would have general agreement out of that. But surely you're not asking the federal government to surrender its own sovereignty. I don't think we would want the province to surrender any of its sovereignty. Do you follow me?

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Mr. Paddy Greene: I think I do. Part of the concept is in jobs of the day, in closures. My understanding right now is that San Juan, the Gulf of Georgia, and Johnstone Strait are considered provincial waters or provincial seabeds, and Queen Charlotte Sound, Hecate Strait, and Dixon Entrance are considered by some to be federal. I guess there's room for argument on the legal argument that the jobs of the day also will include.... Right now it's considered by most to be federal until the province takes them to court over it, and hopefully that won't happen. Hopefully we would have a reasonable agreement with the province so that it would not be necessary to litigate that.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. Burton, did you have another question you wanted to ask before we move on?

Mr. Andy Burton: Yes, I do have a couple of quick comments, if I could, Mr. Chairman.

I'd just like to say, for the benefit of the committee and the witnesses, that my colleague, Mr. Cuzner, a Liberal member of the committee, is also on the fisheries committee, which is currently undertaking a mandatory three-year review of the Oceans Act. I asked the committee what it thought of C-10 last week and they informed me that they were refused a briefing and any input into C-10. They felt there was cross-jurisdiction and that the spirit of C-10 could be included in the Oceans Act. I want to make that point.

With regard to the jurisdictional dispute, if you want to call it that—and that really seems to be a very important part of this whole situation—my friend, Mr. Eidsvik, did a little research after his presentation was made. If I could just read this, Mr. Chairman, I'll table it for the record after I've read it:

    Dear Chairman and Members:

    Thank you for the close attention the Committee paid to our submission this morning. We are writing to correct two inaccurate assumptions with respect to a provincial veto over the creation of Marine Conservation Areas on the coast of British Columbia.

    1. Section 7 Ms. Bulte contends that because Bill C-10 requires each House of Parliament to approve the creation of a Maritime Conservation Area this amounts to a provincial veto.

    With respect, each House of Parliament refers to the Senate and the House of Commons, not the provincial legislature. No provincial government will gain any veto through the operation of Clause 7.

    2. Section 5(2) It was also suggested that provincial governments would gain a veto over the creation of an MCA through Section 5(2)(a) and (b). This would only be true if the Queen in right of British Columbia held title to all the coastal lands of British Columbia. This is not the case.

    The Government of Canada already claims clear unencumbered title to most of the coastal waters of British Columbia. Indeed, it is a legal certainty that the federal government does hold title to a significant portion of the B.C. coastline.

    In conclusion, Bill C-10 affords no additional veto powers to the Government of British Columbia beyond what it already holds through its title to certain coastal waters. It is inaccurate to state that any province has a veto over the creation of MCAs in British Columbia.

    This is one of the reasons why we are so concerned about Bill C-10. If the government members of the Committee are unaware of the legal impact of creating Bill C-10 we hold little hope that the interests of BC's working families will be respected in the operation of this bill.

That's signed by Phillip Eidsvik on behalf of the BC Fisheries Survival Coalition. I'll table this, Mr. Chairman, and everybody can have a copy.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. We cannot table this letter. The policy of this committee, as Mr. Burton very well knows, is that it must be in both official languages to be distributed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. Burton, you have done a very good job in the last three weeks in bringing to the attention of this committee the fact that we should take extra time, proper time, to make sure we listen not just to your views on behalf of your constituents and other members from B.C., but specifically to the men and women who represent the community at the levels of mayor, councillor, and first nations.

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I think we had a constructive and meaningful morning so far. We're going to continue throughout the day. In the spirit of goodwill, and by listening, we will continue.

I would now ask for the next witnesses in the second half of phase two.

Is it Mr. Harold Yeltatzie?

Mr. Burton, do you know Harold?

Mr. Andy Burton: No, I don't.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Is Mr. Yeltatzie here from the Council of the Haida Nation?

Is Lynn Lee here?

Mr. Cress Farrow (Councillor, Town of Smithers): Mr. Chair, I am Councillor Cress Farrow from the Town of Smithers.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. Cress Farrow, welcome.

This is Mr. Cress Farrow, who is the councillor from the Town of Smithers.

Councillor, welcome to the heritage committee. You now have the floor.

Mr. Cress Farrow: Thank you very much. Apologies from our mayor, who was unable to attend today and asked if I would stand in his stead.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Excuse me. Before you begin, I apologize, Mr. Councillor.

We are all here in good faith. As I said in my earlier remarks, we want clarity on these issues. I want to assure Mr. Eidsvik that we'll get some clarity on his view of the universe some time in the next few days.

Go ahead, Mr. Farrow. Could you speak slowly, Councillor?

Mr. Cress Farrow: Thank you, chairman and members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, for the opportunity to address you on Bill C-10.

Although the town of Smithers is located several hundred kilometres inland off the coast of northern British Columbia, I wish to express our concerns regarding Bill C-10 and the implications for northern British Columbia.

The Town of Smithers is strongly supportive of the idea of protection areas for ocean environment. We believe there has to be a connection between the balance of protection and the balance of use.

We would like to express the same concerns Councillor Paddy Greene presented on behalf of Mayor Ed Wampler. I'm not going to read the same ones over again.

We're concerned with the duplication of Oceans Act legislation in Bill C-10. We're concerned with the preamble's terms. We're concerned with clause 5, clause 16, and of course clause 13.

Currently northern British Columbia is undergoing one of the most devastating economic times we've encountered in years. We believe the only way we can overcome these economic challenges is to diversify and to move ahead with diversification in oil and gas exploration.

Five years is too late for many of our communities. British Columbia in the north is in dire need of new initiatives to bring needed economic and employment opportunities to offset the devastation our forest economy and mining industry are suffering.

The Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement has given the forestry industry a 19.3% tariff on softwood. Several productive mines have been closed due to depressed markets and a lack of provision for government incentives on new exploration.

We're also seeing a reduction in tourists resulting from the horrific terrorism acts of September 11, 2001, in the United States. Once again, it deteriorates our economic stability.

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Referring to clause 13, the outright prohibition of oil exploration as proposed, without doing environmental research ahead, is extremely severe. We feel that the decision to exclude any or all extraction or exploration should be left to the areas affected, oil and gas companies, in consultation and coordination with the federal and provincial governments.

In conclusion, we strive for a balance between the protection and the use of the environment, and to do that we must take into account the interests of all parties that depend on or have an interest in the ocean environment.

On behalf of the Town of Smithers, I urge you to give great reconsideration to these issues and to the unnecessary oceanic bureaucracy you are proposing to create.

Thank you, Chair and members of the committee, for your time and consideration of this important issue.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you very much, Councillor.

I'll now begin with Ms. Bulte.

Ms. Sarmite Bulte: I have no questions or comments.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Okay.

Are there any other questions or comments?

Mr. Andy Burton: I'd like to thank Councillor Farrow and pass on my regards to Mayor Northup. I should be in Smithers on Friday, hopefully, all being well.

It appears your concerns are very similar to what we're hearing from all the communities in the northwest. I don't know if you want to add to that at all, Councillor Farrow, but I certainly appreciate you showing up and making your concerns known.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Mr. Burton, in the interests of time, I see Ms. Lee is here right now, so we should probably move on to the next witness.

Mr. Andy Burton: Sure. That's fine.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Ms. Lynn Lee, from the Tlell Watershed Society, will now have the floor.

It is 12:45, and this committee meeting will adjourn at one o'clock, so please make your remarks focused. The hourglass is running.

Ms. Lynn Lee (Chair, Tlell Watershed Society): Okay.

In regard to Harry Yeltatzie, I didn't speak to him earlier, but the weather was not cooperating and he may have been stuck on Haida Gwaii.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): We understand that.

Ms. Lynn Lee: Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, thank you for this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada. I have lived on Haida Gwaii for the past eight years and have made Tlell my home. I am chair of the Tlell Watershed Society, a grassroots stewardship and conservation organization based on Haida Gwaii.

Our focus is the health of the Tlell River watershed. However, we recognize that the land and sea are indivisible. What we do on land ultimately flows downstream to affect the sea. What we do to the sea affects the land through impacts on marine species such as salmon, which intimately links the sea to the land.

The Tlell Watershed Society believes local communities must have a meaningful voice in land and resource use planning. In our concern for the future of the Tlell River watershed, we initiated the Tlell land and resources plan in 1995. This plan has involved local community representatives, interested individuals, industry, and federal and provincial governments.

Over the five years...[Inaudible—Editor]. We engaged in informed dialogue about our values, priorities, and concerns in Haida-related management processes. Most critically, despite alternative points of view, we respected one another and were willing to work constructively on the issues. Despite the fact that such comprehensive...[Inaudible—Editor].

In the marine area, this opportunity largely does not exist. Other agencies dictate fisheries management plans, rules and regulations for the marine development and navigation...[Inaudible—Editor].

Although these regulations provide guidelines within which development must occur, there is no discussion of which indices and activities are desirable. Bill C-10 is an opportunity for local communities, users, and interest groups to participate in a meaningful way in planning for the marine areas around their communities.

For island people, the sea is a source of livelihood, food, recreation, and spirituality. It is a way of life ingrained in over 10,000 years of Haida culture, and generations for other islanders. We must have the ability to shape the legacy we leave the future generations.

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In our modern society, it is easy to suggest that ecological health is inseparable from the social and economic health of coastal communities. We have to look no further than small coastal communities on our east coast that have suffered catastrophic social, economic, and ecological consequences following precipitous declines in groundfish populations.

On the west coast, our natural marine resources, such as salmon, have been the foundation of...[Inaudible—Editor]. Case after case can be cited on Canada's east coast and west coast.

This new plan is not the only answer. However, it is an important part of the solution as we work towards a more long-term, sustainable view of our natural resources. For example...[Inaudible—Editor].

Bill C-10 will allow Canada to move forward as a leader in the cooperative sustainable management of our vast marine heritage. It is not just about protecting marine areas. It is about working together to shape a healthy future for marine communities...]Inaudible—Editor].

Since the environment affects us, everything we do affects the environment...[Inaudible—Editor]. As responsible citizens and communities, our job is to balance the risks and benefits of our actions.

It has been shown throughout...[Inaudible—Editor]...are the ones that get support from local communities. [Inaudible—Editor]...can be supported by Bill C-10. It can provide local communities with a strong voice and...[Inaudible—Editor] take place. As an iterative process, it allows more information to be incorporated into a...[Inaudible—Editor]...and plans can be adapted, if necessary, to effectively meet management adjustments.

The intent of Bill C-10 is to create national marine conservation areas in each of Canada's...[Inaudible—Editor].... In the case of British Columbia's north coast, a proprosed national marine conservation area would be...[Inaudible—Editor].

If this marine conservation area is created...[Inaudible—Editor]. In short, once Gwaii Haanas is established, the Minister of Canadian Heritage would not...[Inaudible—Editor].

[Inaudible—Editor]...specifically for the purpose of creating a marine conservation area. Work was completed in 1997 that clearly demonstrated industry support for the creation of the...[Inaudible—Editor].

To conclude, I do not see Bill C-10 as a limit to economic development on the west coast. It does not mean the end of fishing activities or commercial development, including oil and gas. Quite the contrary: I see Bill C-10 as a mechanism to give local communities and industries assurances about where activities will take place, and to set guidelines about the level of risk that communities are willing to accept for their social, economic, and ecological well-being.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the Tlell Watershed Society. It is my sincere hope that Bill C-10 will be passed shortly. It is an unprecedented opportunity for cooperative management, which must met to ensure our future as vibrant coastal communities.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. Dennis Mills): Thank you very much, Ms. Lee, for a well thought-out, balanced presentation.

Are there any other questions for Ms. Lee?

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Ladies and gentlemen, this will conclude the first half of today's committee meeting, hearing all the views from an area where people had some good insight.

The meeting is adjourned. Thank you.

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