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37th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 145

CONTENTS

Wednesday, February 20, 2002




1400
V         The Speaker
V STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
V     National Flag Day
V         Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.)
V     2002 Winter Olympics
V         Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo--Cowichan, Canadian Alliance)
V     Agriculture
V         Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.)

1405
V     Royal Canadian Legion
V         Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont, Lib.)
V     Black History Month
V         Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Lachine, Lib.)
V     Discrimination against Women
V         Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ)
V     Women's Health Clinic
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)
V     Golden Jubilee
V         Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale--High Park, Lib.)

1410
V     Bill Barclay
V         Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC/DR)
V     Wine Industry
V         Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance)
V     World Trade Organization
V         Ms. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.)
V     Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
V         Ms. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ)

1415
V     Walk of Hope
V         Mr. Ivan Grose (Oshawa, Lib.)
V     Criminal Code
V         Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich--Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance)
V     Public Works and Government Services
V         Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon--Humboldt, PC/DR)
V     The Francophonie
V         Mr. Claude Duplain (Portneuf, Lib.)
V ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
V     National Defence
V         Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

1420
V         Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V         Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V         Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V         Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V     The Environment
V         Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier--Sainte-Marie, BQ)

1425
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier--Sainte-Marie, BQ)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont--Petite-Patrie, BQ)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont--Petite-Patrie, BQ)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V     Steel Industry
V         Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

1430
V         Hon. John McCallum (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.)
V         Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)
V         Hon. John McCallum (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.)
V     National Defence
V         Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC/DR)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V         Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC/DR)
V         Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.)
V     Foreign Affairs
V         Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage--Lisgar, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

1435
V         Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage--Lisgar, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)
V     The Environment
V         Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V     Species at Risk Act
V         Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance)

1440
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V     Discrimination Against Women
V         Ms. Diane Bourgeois (Terrebonne--Blainville, BQ)
V         Hon. Denis Paradis (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa) (Francophonie), Lib.)
V         Ms. Diane Bourgeois (Terrebonne--Blainville, BQ)
V         Hon. Denis Paradis (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa) (Francophonie), Lib.)
V     Immigration
V         Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Denis Coderre (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.)
V         Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Denis Coderre (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.)

1445
V     Linguistic Minorities
V         Mr. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour--Petitcodiac, Lib.)
V         Hon. Lucienne Robillard (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.)
V     Species at Risk Act
V         Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor--St. Clair, NDP)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor--St. Clair, NDP)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V     Government Loans
V         Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, PC/DR)
V         Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)
V         Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, PC/DR)
V         Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

1450
V     Access to Information Act
V         Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations, Lib.)
V         Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
V     Canada Lands Company
V         Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations, Lib.)
V         Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ)
V         Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations, Lib.)
V     Softwood Lumber
V         Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

1455
V         Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, Lib.)
V     Afghanistan
V         Ms. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.)
V         Hon. Susan Whelan (Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.)
V     Health
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Health, Lib.)
V     Highway Infrastructure
V         Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ)
V         Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.)
V     Species at Risk Act
V         Mr. John Herron (Fundy--Royal, PC/DR)
V         Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V     Young Offenders
V         Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, Lib.)

1500
V         Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
V     Health
V         Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance)
V         Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Health, Lib.)
V     The Homeless
V         Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup--Témiscouata--Les Basques, BQ)
V         Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of Labour and Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.)
V     Justice
V         Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg--Transcona, NDP)
V         The Speaker
V         Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
V     Privilege
V         Standing Committee on Finance
V         Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)

1505
V         Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina--Qu'Appelle, NDP)
V         Mr. Scott Brison (Kings--Hants, PC/DR)

1510
V         Hon. Ralph Goodale (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V         Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West--Nepean, Lib.)
V         The Speaker
V          Foreign Affairs and International Trade
V         Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance)

1515
V         Hon. Ralph Goodale (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.)
V         Speaker's Ruling
V         The Speaker
V         Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)
V         Mr. John Cummins (Delta--South Richmond, Canadian Alliance)

1520
V         Speaker's Ruling
V         The Speaker
V Routine Proceedings
V     Government Response to Petitions
V         Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

1525
V     Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation
V         Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.)

1530

1535
V         Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)
V         Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères--Les-Patriotes, BQ)

1540

1545
V         Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina--Qu'Appelle, NDP)

1550
V         Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, PC/DR)
V     Petitions
V         War Against Terrorism
V         Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.)

1555
V         Mr. Joseph Volpe
V         The Deputy Speaker
V     Interparliamentary Delegations
V         Mr. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton--Lawrence, Lib.)
V     Questions on the Order Paper
V         Mrs. Karen Redman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         The Deputy Speaker
V     Motions for Papers
V         Mrs. Karen Redman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.)
V         The Deputy Speaker
V GOVERNMENT ORDERS
V     Species at Risk Act
V         Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, Canadian Alliance)

1600
V         Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton--Strathcona, Canadian Alliance)

1605

1610
V         Miss Deborah Grey
V         The Deputy Speaker
V         Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon--Humboldt, PC/DR)

1615

1620
V         The Deputy Speaker
V     Point of Order
V         Oral Question Period
V         Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of Labour and Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.)
V         The Deputy Speaker
V     Species at Risk Act
V         Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance)

1625

1630
V         Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance)

1635

1640
V         Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay--Boundary--Okanagan, Canadian Alliance)

1645

1650
V         Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance)

1655

1700
V         Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich--Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance)

1705
V         Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Canadian Alliance)

1710

1715
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V         Mr. Dale Johnston

1720
V         Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo--Cowichan, Canadian Alliance)

1725

1730
V         Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance)

1735
V         Mr. Ted White
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V         Mr. Rob Anders

1740
V         Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, PC/DR)

1745

1750
V         Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Canadian Alliance)

1755
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

1800
V Private Members' Business
V     National Remembrance Day
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia--Lambton, Lib.)

1805

1810
V         Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar, Canadian Alliance)

1815

1820
V         Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu--Nicolet--Bécancour, BQ)

1825
V         Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore, NDP)

1830

1835
V         Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC/DR)

1840
V         Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

1845

1850
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
V Adjournment Proceedings
V     [------]
V         Employment Insurance
V         Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup--Témiscouata--Les Basques, BQ)

1855
V         Ms. Raymonde Folco (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)
V         Mr. Paul Crête

1900
V         Ms. Raymonde Folco
V         The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)






CANADA

House of Commons Debates


VOLUME 137 
NUMBER 145 
1st SESSION 
37th PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 2 p.m.


Prayers


[S. O. 31]

*   *   *

  +(1400)  

[English]

+

    The Speaker: As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Peterborough.

    [Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]


+STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[S. O. 31]

*   *   *

[English]

+National Flag Day

+-

    Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on February 15, 1965, Canada's red and white maple leaf flag was raised for the very first time. Although simple in design our flag represents our most precious values. It reflects a nation that stands for peace, respect, justice and tolerance. More than just a symbol our flag represents our broad geography and grand history.

    I am pleased that our Prime Minister proclaimed National Flag Day in 1996. In fact, one of our colleagues who proudly served in the House for many years, Mr. Jesse Flis, represented the riding of Parkdale--High Park and he played a major role in making National Flag Day a reality for Canadians.

    I would like to express my sincere thanks to Jesse Flis and to the Prime Minister of Canada and wish all Canadians a happy National Flag Day.

*   *   *

+-2002 Winter Olympics

+-

    Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo--Cowichan, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to offer my congratulations to another Canadian who played a starring role at the Salt Lake City Olympics. While I am extremely proud of our athletes I would particularly like to mention Sadie Buck and her role in the opening ceremonies.

    Ms. Buck is an aboriginal singer from Six Nations who has been singing her entire life. She is the lead singer and artistic director of the Six Nations Women Singers and most recently completed four years of work on Bones, an aboriginal dance opera. As an artist she has performed all across the United States and Canada.

    One of Sadie's goals has been to present aboriginal music and singing to the world. With a worldwide audience of almost four billion people I think we would all agree that she has done a marvellous job of achieving this goal. While I have never had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Buck I hold her up as an example for all of us. She set a personal goal and then took steps to achieve it. This is a valuable lesson that we can all learn. Sadie is a wonderful role model for not only aboriginal young people but all young people across Canada.

    We congratulate Sadie on a job well done.

*   *   *

+-Agriculture

+-

    Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on December 14 the United States administration announced it would implement trade harassment at the Canadian Wheat Board. Who should United States farmers be concerned about, the Canadian Wheat Board or their own legislatures?

    The U.S. congress just passed a new farm bill which would increase spending by $73 billion over the next 10 years. The original senate agriculture bill received the following review in December. It said that such a farm policy would stimulate overproduction, result in higher consumer milk prices, hurt U.S. farm trade by risking U.S. ability to meet current trade obligations and undermine U.S. efforts to phase out worldwide export subsidies in the future.

    The conclusion is not mine but that of President Bush's office of management and budget. With those kinds of friends U.S. farmers do not have to look too far for the source of their problem and it is not the Canadian Wheat Board.

*   *   *

  +-(1405)  

+-Royal Canadian Legion

+-

    Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize my long time friend, Mr. Allan Parks from Miscouche, Prince Edward Island, as he assumes the position of dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion following the untimely death of President Bill Barclay on February 11.

    Allan has the distinction of being the first associate member of the legion to be elected to the office of provincial president and of being the youngest elected officer at the dominion command level. Mr. Parks held the position of dominion first vice president at the time of Mr. Barclay's death. He will also stand for the office of dominion president at the legion's biennial convention in Edmonton in June. Knowing Allan and his abilities, I am sure that the Royal Canadian Legion and all of Canada's veterans are in good hands. Allan will make Canada and P.E.I. proud.

    I join with all members of the House in wishing Allan every success as he assumes the legion's highest post and in offering sincere condolences to the family of the late Bill Barclay.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Black History Month

+-

    Mrs. Marlene Jennings (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Lachine, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am proud to take the opportunity presented by Black History Month to point out the important contribution made by the black community to Canadian life.

[English]

    In Montreal we have the Black Theatre Workshop whose mission is to promote black Canadian theatre. Every year it presents the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award to a person whose life has a measure of distinction in Canada and who has made significant contributions to the development of the black performing arts and cultural life in Montreal.

    The recipient of this valuable award in 2002 was Mr. Anthony Salah I. Wilson, an accomplished musician, composer, educator and author. He has dedicated much of his life to sharing his talents and vision and has touched music lovers of all ages.

    I congratulate the Black Theatre Workshop and Mr. Wilson for their wonderful work.

[Translation]

    I encourage all my colleagues to join with me in celebrating Black History Month.

*   *   *

+-Discrimination against Women

+-

    Ms. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Safiya Husseini, a Nigerian woman, is accused of having had sexual relations outside marriage which resulted in a child. If she is found guilty of this offence following the appeal lodged, she will apparently be buried to her waist by the inhabitants of her village and stoned to death.

    Yet Nigeria has signed an optional protocol to the Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination against women and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.

    A month or so ago, a group of 77 European parliamentarians urged the President of Nigeria to oppose this inhumane, barbaric and cruel execution.

    I am therefore calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to bring pressure to bear on the Nigerian government, in order to end this violation of Safiya's fundamental rights and give her the most wonderful gift of all: life.

    Let us stand up and condemn such an atrocity.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Women's Health Clinic

+-

    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, for 20 years the Women's Health Clinic in Winnipeg has provided leadership in women's health and has been a recognized model for woman-centred care, health education and advocacy. The clinic is guided by the principles of feminism, equity and diversity. It promotes the health and well-being of women through empowerment, choice and action.

    The Women's Health Clinic released a new study called Women, Income and Health in Manitoba. It documents in no uncertain terms the relationship between poverty and health, particularly as it impacts on women. It found that 19% of women 18 years of age and over live below the poverty line, more than two-thirds of whom have jobs, a finding of enormous significance given the fact that 54% more women live in poverty than men.

    True to its history the clinic developed recommendations for actions to help alleviate this situation. Here is a blueprint for action for the government. Here is an organization worth celebrating.

    I urge all members to read the study and again I congratulate the Women's Health Clinic for 20 years of service to women, our community and the country.

*   *   *

+-Golden Jubilee

+-

    Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale--High Park, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform members that Mrs. Danielle Wetherup, president of the Royal Canadian Mint, announced earlier today the Mint's program to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

    This is a year long program that features a commemorative coin program and a national contest for young Canadians that is both educational and fun. The Mint wants to know from young Canadians that if they could ask Her Majesty the Queen one question, what it would be and why. Contest winners will win a trip to Ottawa during the Queen's visit in October.

    The Mint will also unveil a 50 cent circulation coin in the spring. A series of nationwide community teas will highlight the golden jubilee coin program. Coins are once again used to celebrate and recognize an important milestone.

*   *   *

  +-(1410)  

+-Bill Barclay

+-

    Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a great Canadian, Bill Barclay, president of the Royal Canadian Legion, who passed away. Bill Barclay was truly one of our most courageous citizens. He offered his service to his country without reservation or hesitation, and in so doing offered us a great example of what it means to be Canadian.

    I had the great pleasure and privilege of working with Bill to advance the issues that affect our veterans. I was always impressed by his tireless dedication to duty and the fierce compassion he brought to the fight for better treatment of our war heroes. I know in my heart that the greatest recognition we could give to the memory of Bill Barclay is to take up those causes for which he laboured hardest. That is what he would have asked of us. Now at rest Bill Barclay joins the thousands of fallen comrades whom he spent a lifetime honouring.

    I ask all of my colleagues in the House of Commons today to join with me in offering our heartfelt and deepest sympathies to Bill's loved ones and friends. We will miss him greatly.

*   *   *

+-Wine Industry

+-

    Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, last April owners of a British Columbia winery from the Okanagan joined the Canada West trade mission to Dallas to explore the potential of the wine market in Texas. The trade mission however turned sour when it was learned that the selection of wines to be showcased at the government's luncheon and dinner receptions were mainly from California and France, not British Columbia.

    The Canadian government cannot justify spending Canadian tax dollars to showcase wines from other countries when some of the best wines in the world are made right here in Canada.

    On behalf of the B.C. winemaking industry I urge the government to adopt the policy that Canadian wines be served at Canadian government functions. Let us help our award winning vintners to join the potential new markets. Better yet, let us give the rest of the world the satisfaction of drinking some of this Kelowna wine, particularly that which is made in the Okanagan Valley.

*   *   *

+-World Trade Organization

+-

    Ms. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Sergio Marchi, Canada's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, has been chosen as the new chair of the general council of the WTO. The general council will oversee the work of all the various bodies of the WTO, including trade negotiations launched in Doha last November.

    Progress on these negotiations promises significant benefits for Canada with opportunities in agriculture as well as goods and service exporters. These negotiations are also vital for the future of developing countries and will contribute to their economic growth and reduction of poverty.

    By appointing Sergio Marchi as head of the general council the WTO is demonstrating a strong vote of confidence for Canadian leadership and for Canada's record of trade diplomacy.

    On behalf of all members of the House I congratulate Mr. Marchi on his appointment. He has earned the respect and trust from WTO members to move these negotiations forward and we wish him well in his new position.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

+-

    Ms. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today the CBC communications union is releasing its gloomy report on sexual discrimination at this crown corporation.

    This wage discrimination occurs at all levels and is the result of the methods used by the employer in assessing occupational categories, as well as its tendency to give men preference when assigning less precarious job status, and most particularly its pay raises to a small group of men.

    The amounts in question are substantial. This federal crown corporation distributes $8.2 million annually on a discretionary basis.

    The Bloc Québécois emphatically objects to this sexist and arbitrary method of individualized pay levels.

    We are therefore calling upon the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the President of the Treasury Board, who is responsible for the Pay Equity Act, to remedy this unacceptable situation as promptly as possible.

*   *   *

  +-(1415)  

[English]

+-Walk of Hope

+-

    Mr. Ivan Grose (Oshawa, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, how is dedication, commitment and courage measured? We can certainly measure these qualities by the dedication, commitment and courage demonstrated by the grandfather of five we honour here today.

    Walking 14,000 kilometres through every hardship imaginable proves beyond a doubt that Norman Ball is willing to stand up for the hurting, destitute and dying children here and abroad.

    Most of us do just enough to keep our conscience safely asleep. Imagine your child or grandchild huddled in a cold, frightening place, horrified in the knowledge that they may be beaten, abused or brutally murdered this very day.

    Norman's mission, the Walk of Hope, could save the lives of 15,000 children. Please help Norman save more children by joining him today at a reception in Room 112-N from 3.15 to 4.30 p.m.

*   *   *

+-Criminal Code

+-

    Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich--Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, earlier this month Randall John Tabah was arrested in Victoria following an alleged armed robbery.

    Tabah was convicted of first degree murder for the brutal slaying of a police officer in 1983. He was freed after serving only 17 years, thanks to section 745 of the criminal code, the faint hope clause.

    Only the Canadian Alliance believes a life sentence with no parole for 25 years should mean just that, not 15 years, not 17 years or any other such nonsense.

    Since 1997 we have introduced five private members' bills to repeal section 745. This week I began work to introduce yet another. I am under no illusions. Section 745 has been on the books for almost three decades, ever since Trudeau slipped it into the criminal code in 1976.

    My bill will probably be buried on the order paper like many before it, but I for one will not sit quietly while our communities are put at risk. I am here to represent the public, not the criminals. Maybe the members opposite should try it.

*   *   *

+-Public Works and Government Services

+-

    Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon--Humboldt, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, the government's conflict of interest code directly prohibits the preferential hiring of supporters and friends.

    Credible allegations continue to surface that Alfonso Gagliano and his staff broke the conflict of interest code when they interfered in the operation of a crown corporation to obtain jobs and contracts for Liberal supporters.

    The former chair of Canada Lands Company and a vice-president have both stated that they were routinely handed lists and pressured to hire friends of the former public works minister, but the Prime Minister's personally appointed ethics counsellor has turned a blind eye. The only response has been to sweep Gagliano out of cabinet and under the carpet in the hopes that Canadians never learn the truth.

    How times have changed. When the Liberal government was in opposition, the current Minister of Public Works and Government Services demanded that the RCMP investigate allegations of government corruption.

    Canadians want the public works minister to explain his double standard on integrity and explain the Liberal government's refusal to request an RCMP investigation of the scandal.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-The Francophonie

+-

    Mr. Claude Duplain (Portneuf, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as part of a working visit to Paris and Brussels last week, I had the honour and privilege to accompany the honourable member for Brome--Missisquoi, Secretary of State for the Francophonie, Latin America and Africa.

    Our meetings were an opportunity to hold discussions with a number of stakeholders of the Francophonie, including Boutros Boutros-Gali, the Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. The secretary of state was thus able to gain an overview of the major issues of the Francophonie leading up to the next summit, to be held in Beirut this coming October.

    The exemplary determination with which the secretary of state defended his stand that having democratic regimes in place is imperative for countries in crisis, Haiti in particular, was greatly inspiring to me and all those who were in attendance.

    We must be proud of Canada's position and of the advances being made within the Francophonie in connection with democracy and rights and freedoms.


+-ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

[Oral Questions]

*   *   *

[English]

+-National Defence

+-

    Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, joint task force 2 must be accountable to parliament, not treated as a secret army. On February 4 the minister said in the House:

There is a frequent flow of information that goes to the PCO, the PMO and foreign affairs...The one exception to be made to that is the JTF2...That just comes to me.

    Today we learned that the Privy Council Office has been frequently briefed on joint task force operations in the past.

    Has the Minister of National Defence changed briefing procedures on the JTF2 to exclude the PCO and other civilian agencies?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the protocol involving the JTF2 is different from the balance of the Canadian forces because of the nature of the work that it carries out in stealth or covert fashion and the need for security for its operations and security for its personnel.

    What I have previously reported in the House is exactly the procedure of that protocol which comes from the JTF2 commander to the chief of defence staff to me. If there is any diversion from government policy then I would consult the Prime Minister on the matter. That is what is in fact government policy and the JTF2 follows government policy.

  +-(1420)  

+-

    Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that is what the minister says today. On February 4 the minister said also in the House that for reasons of national security he would not table the chain of command for JTF2. But apparently national security was not compromised by a self-serving leak to the media.

    Yesterday it was reported from a leaked document that the JTF2 chain of command has been changed by a secret memo signed by the Minister of National Defence.

    Will the minister confirm the existence of this document which changes the briefing policy on JTF2 to exclude civilian agencies of the government?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am a civilian. I am a civilian who is accountable for the actions of the JTF2. I am a civilian who is accountable to the Prime Minister, to the House, to parliament and to the people of Canada. I take that accountability very seriously as does the Prime Minister.

    The JTF2 operates within government policy and within Canadian law and will continue to do so.

+-

    Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I could probably get a better answer from Warren Kinsella. It may not be as polite, but I would probably get a better answer.

    Military experts are alarmed by the use of JTF2 as a secret army. I quote the director of the Royal Canadian Military Institute. He said:

When you have secret deals with the chief of the defence staff and the deputy minister, that seems to be a smack in the face of parliament. I would think that after the whole outcry over Somalia there would be a clear-cut chain of command with clear-cut reporting.

    Will the minister table the JTF2 chain of command to allow the House to know how this vital element of our military is accountable to civilian authorities and to parliament?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the documentation that the hon. member refers to is a cabinet document and holds the confidence of the cabinet, as do any other policies of that kind.

    Let me talk about a document. It is a document that comes from a member of the House. It says “As a matter of record, I sincerely hope your department and the government do not make the identity, whereabouts and actions of the joint task force 2 and our military a matter of public knowledge other than in vague terms”. It is signed by an Alliance member, the hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.

+-

    Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, if it is acceptable for the Liberals to leak this kind of information to the media, surely the minister can reveal the JTF2 chain of command to parliament. Either this leak was a criminal act or the minister is hiding information from the House that we have a right to see. Which one is it?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is no leak that the government has made with respect to this matter.

    This particular document is a cabinet confidence document, like many other cabinet policies are, and there is nothing unusual about that. The JTF2 for the security of its people and the security of its operations in fact operates in the same way as do special forces of many other countries in the world.

    I have tried to be as open as possible about this organization while maintaining the necessary security for its operations and its people.

+-

    Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the minister whether the senior source who leaked the contents of this memo had breached official secrets but the minister refused to answer the question. I ask the minister, since this leak of this sensitive document breached national security, will the minister seek to find and prosecute the person responsible for this leak?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am as disturbed about leaks as anybody else is in terms of information that is in cabinet confidence.

    I do not know what the source of that was. They do not appear to have had the document, from what I read in the media report, but seemed to be aware that a document exists.

    However, the document is part of cabinet confidence. It is clearly the policy under which JTF2 operates and it is one that this government is responsible for.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-The Environment

+-

    Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier--Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of the Environment explained to the House the twisted logic that he is using at the expense of Quebec regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

    The minister says that he wants to respect the polluters pay principle, but he refuses to take the past into consideration.

    Does the Minister of the Environment realize that applying the polluters pay principle while ignoring the past is tantamount to making Quebec pay for the bad performance of those Canadian provinces that are the biggest polluters?

  +-(1425)  

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on Monday I was somewhat encouraged by the Bloc Québécois being in favour of ratifying the Kyoto protocol.

    Now, 48 hours later, we get the impression that it does not want to do anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that everything has been taken care of, and nothing more needs to be done to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    I am not familiar with the Bloc Québécois' policy, but perhaps the hon. leader of the Bloc could tell us about its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

+-

    Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier--Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I have explained it. Between 1990 and 1999, greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec increased by only 1.8%, while in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, they shot up by 20%, 26% and 32% respectively over the same period.

    Now, the minister would have Quebec pay for what the others did not do. The minister wants to pretend to be implementing the Kyoto agreement while he is defending the biggest polluters. The minister wants to make Quebec pay, even though our province has already taken action in this area and effectively reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what this government wants to do is to discuss these things, with the provinces, including the rate by which greenhouse gas emissions increased during the nineties 1990s.

    We want to have consultations on the figures that were submitted to us today.

    The issue is not that I made a decision. They are the ones who keep asking me to make decisions which, in fact, under the Canadian constitution, should stem from discussions between the provinces and the federal government.

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont--Petite-Patrie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in order to get Quebec to pay, the Minister of the Environment is taking a sectoral approach, rather than territorial, in other words, by province.

    Is the minister aware that the sectoral approach puts Quebec at a disadvantage, and that by taking such an approach, the government is making Quebec pay twice rather than once?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the issues the Bloc mentioned a few moments ago. These are exactly the issues we must discuss with the provinces.

    We can use a formula based on population, for example, or based on emission rates, or their increase in the 1990s. These are the issues and details that we need to discuss frankly with the provinces, the territories and other interested parties.

+-

    Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont--Petite-Patrie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, while Alberta was increasing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%, it maintained its zero sales tax and plowed money into its heritage fund.

    At the same time, Quebec was restricting its greenhouse gas emissions to a mere 1.8%.

    Can the Minister of the Environment explain why Quebec, after all of the efforts it has made, should still have to pay for Alberta, a province that has no sales tax, that has billions of dollars stockpiled in a heritage fund, and that brags about having the lowest taxes in Canada?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member wishes to have this sort of discussion, I am surprised that he ran for the Bloc Québécois as a federal member of parliament, rather than as a MNA for the Parti Québécois.

    He is giving us figures, details and points that we will discuss with the provinces in order to agree on a common position, which, I repeat, will be a good formula for all of Canada, where no one region will be too heavily burdened.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Steel Industry

+-

    Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, thousands of jobs in Canada's steel industry are in jeopardy because of an unprecedented flood of unfairly priced imports. Offshore dumping is causing a national steel crisis. Steelworker representatives are in Ottawa today to plead for decisive government action before it is too late.

    What is the Minister of Industry doing right now to defend the Canadian steel industry and to protect Canadian jobs against offshore dumping?

  +-(1430)  

+-

    Hon. John McCallum (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government has been in constant consultation with all stakeholders in the steel industry. We are acutely aware of the problems facing the industry owing to certain actions taken in the United States and the possibility of diversion.

    As soon as we receive a submission from the industry, we will respond very quickly.

+-

    Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the steel industry has been begging for action for a couple of years and the Canadian steel industry is getting hammered while the government talks about awareness.

    On March 4 the Bush administration will decide whether to hit steel products originating in Canada with extra duties, further damaging steel jobs in the industry. We need the government to stand up to the threat of offshore steel being diverted from U.S. ports of entry and dumped into Canada.

    Will the minister commit today to put those necessary safeguards in place?

+-

    Hon. John McCallum (Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I just explained, the government is highly aware of the situation and is in constant touch with the stakeholders in the steel industry. It is very hard for us to make any submission ourselves before we receive the submission from the industry which we have not yet received.

*   *   *

+-National Defence

+-

    Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of National Defence. Yesterday the leader of the government in the Senate raised the possibility that JTF2 exceeded its mandate in Afghanistan.

    That minister of the government said:

Where it became critical for a (defence) minister to inform the Prime Minister...is that there seemed to be some question about whether the incident in question went beyond the mandate of (JTF2).

    Between December 5, 2001, and January 30, 2002, has JTF2 gone beyond its mandate in any action during its deployment in Afghanistan?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): No, Mr. Speaker.

+-

    Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I want to quote again the minister's colleague, the leader of the government in the Senate. She told the Senate yesterday “there was a considerable amount of unease among a number of ministers who learned for the first time” what had happened with JTF2 in Afghanistan.

    What exactly caused that considerable amount of unease referred to in public, in the Senate by his cabinet colleague? What went wrong that upset the cabinet and why are parliament and Canadians not told the story?

+-

    Hon. Art Eggleton (Minister of National Defence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the right hon. member is getting far beyond what is reasonable here. There is nothing that the JTF2 has done that is outside government policy.

    Perhaps the hon. leader of the Senate was referring to the general controversy on detainees and the American treatment of detainees, which I think has been put to rest with the comments of President Bush that in fact they will all be treated in accordance with humane treatment as provided for in the Geneva conventions.

*   *   *

+-Foreign Affairs

+-

    Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage--Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Canadian foreign policy must be built on Canadian interests and it is not in Canada's interests to allow Saddam Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction.

    Three years ago Canada participated in military action to enforce the United Nations security council resolution which demanded Iraq to comply with weapons inspections, but Iraq has not.

    Today the government seems to be backtracking on our commitment to work with our allies to eliminate this threat.

    What evidence does the government have that Iraq is less of a threat today than it was in 1998?

+-

    Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government is extremely concerned with the position of Iraq. As I said in the House on repeated occasions to the hon. member, we continue to do exactly what we did, as he referred to in the past, and that is work within the United Nations system and the sanctions regime of the UN to enforce them, to strengthen them and to apply them to the government of Iraq, and to avoid punishing innocent civilians.

    That is what we continue to do and we will continue to ensure that weapons of mass destruction are not acquired by Saddam Hussein and used to disturb the peace of the world.

  +-(1435)  

+-

    Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage--Lisgar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government seems to see a greater threat in its own backbenchers than it does in Saddam Hussein.

    In 1998 the Prime Minister said “inaction will encourage Saddam Hussein to commit other atrocities, to prolong his reign of terror over his own people, his neighbours and the entire world”. Since then every study by academics, journalists and intelligence agencies has said that Iraq has expanded its production of biological and chemical weapons.

    The threat posed by Iraq is stronger than it was three years ago. Why is the government's response weaker?

+-

    Hon. Bill Graham (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I totally reject the premise of the question. As I said, the government's response is not weaker. We are continuing to monitor this. We are continuing to work through the UN system. We will continue to ensure not only that we have the support of the world community in what we do, but the support of our backbenchers while his backbenchers continue the internecine dispute which they are presently in.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-The Environment

+-

    Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in connection with implementing the Kyoto protocol, the Minister of the Environment said in the House at the beginning of the week that he would not take the past into account, that he clearly favoured a sectoral, rather than a territorial approach. He has just said that he wants to see costs shared so that no one region has to pay more than another.

    How can he tell the House today that everything is open, that he is going to talk with the provincial ministers, when he himself has very clearly set the parameters for those talks, none of which are to Quebec's advantage?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is exaggerating.

    I clearly said that the past must be taken into account, but there are limits. The decisions made by Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa may not have had anything to do with greenhouse gases.

    So, we are going to take the past into consideration, but there comes a point when the past has very little to do with what is going on now.

+-

    Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, once a province, such as Quebec, has introduced two plans to limit greenhouse gases, reducing its rate of emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, while other provinces, including the one from which the minister hails, have increased their emissions by 20%, is one not entitled to wonder whether the minister has not deliberately chosen parameters that are not in Quebec's interests in order to protect his own region?

[English]

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that both at the international level and at the domestic level we spend a lot of time discussing credit for early action, which is exactly what he has put forward here. I can assure him that there will be appropriate credit given for early action both domestically and on the international plain.

*   *   *

+-Species at Risk Act

+-

    Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the species at risk bill transfers most of the costs of protecting endangered species on to the backs of farmers and other landowners. Some property values will drop, use of land will be restricted and even forbidden in some cases and extra compliance costs will be imposed.

    Will the Minister of the Environment please provide the House with what he estimates the cost will be of enforcing the species at risk bill for property owners and what sort of compensation does he plan to provide them?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, before the committee examining the bill, of which the hon. member is a member, we went into some detail on the $45 million a year which the Minister of Finance generously made available for species at risk activity. This was done two years ago. It is ramping up. We are getting there now.

    I will give a full breakdown to the hon. member in due course, if he wishes, as we see how this legislation works when it comes into being.

    On his preamble, I can assure him that the very basis of our bill is to ensure we have the most rural Canada friendly bill that we can possibly put forth.

+-

    Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, had the minister paid any attention at all to the environment committee, he would know that protecting endangered species requires the co-operation of property owners. For example, both industry and environmental representatives begged the minister to recognize that “provision for compensation helps to balance the effect of effort to protect species at risk”.

    If the Sierra Club and the mining association can agree that compensation is essential, why can the minister not?

  +-(1440)  

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for giving me yet again the opportunity of pointing out how much I value co-operation with people who work on the land, trappers, farmers, ranchers, and with people who work in the woods or fishermen. These are the people who are at the forefront of the battle to protect endangered species and they are the people we want co-operating with the governments, federal and provincial.

    With respect to the mining association, I am sure that it would like to have unlimited compensation for many things that we think it should not do. We do not think that when it operates on crown land that it has given the right to eliminate endangered species. We think that is something that should not be in--

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. member for Terrebonne--Blainville.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Discrimination Against Women

+-

    Ms. Diane Bourgeois (Terrebonne--Blainville, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in Nigeria, a young woman, Safiya Husseini, stands accused of having sexual relations outside of marriage. According to the charia, the Islamic law enforced in the Nigerian state of Sokoto, the sentence for such an offence is stoning. This situation is totally unacceptable.

    With such a barbaric act about to take place, has the Minister of Foreign Affairs made representations to the government of Nigeria to prevent such an atrocity?

+-

    Hon. Denis Paradis (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa) (Francophonie), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government is very concerned about these sentences of death by stoning. The Canadian government's position on the death penalty is well known.

    We continue to exercise pressure on all countries, via the UN, for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

    This is totally contrary to the human rights treaty of which Nigeria is a signatory. We are therefore going to continue to put pressure on the Nigerian government in order to make it see reason.

+-

    Ms. Diane Bourgeois (Terrebonne--Blainville, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government must do everything in its power to save this young woman.

    What we are calling upon the government to do is to make a commitment to summon the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada in order to make our formal objections to this execution known to him, as well as to intervene with Nigeria's Commonwealth partners in order to enlist their support.

+-

    Hon. Denis Paradis (Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa) (Francophonie), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, we will continue to bring pressure to bear in order to ensure the application of these international conventions of which Nigeria is a signatory.

    We are, however, pleased that certain members of the Nigerian federal government have spoken out against this type of sentence. We shall continue with our pressure.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Immigration

+-

    Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, a violent sex offender with a lengthy criminal record was deported from the United States. He was granted refugee status after slipping into Canada. This individual was deported from the United States for convictions that included sexual assault and drug trafficking, yet he received refugee status while in Toronto Police custody.

    Refugee status should be for people fleeing persecution not sex offenders fleeing prosecution. How can the minister explain to Canadians that he has allowed criminal sex offenders to claim refugee status?

+-

    Hon. Denis Coderre (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, because of the Privacy Act, I cannot comment on specific cases but I am taking note of it.

+-

    Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we do not need to examine the specifics of this case to find out what went wrong with refugee policy in Canada.

    What federal policy, what regulation, what law determined that a foreign sex offender deported from the United States should have been eligible for refugee status in Canada?

+-

    Hon. Denis Coderre (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, again I will not comment specifically. However, my predecessor created a tremendous process that I fully support, which is through the standing committee. We look through all the regulations. The hon. member is part of that. She should give me her proposition.

*   *   *

  +-(1445)  

[Translation]

+-Linguistic Minorities

+-

    Mr. Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour--Petitcodiac, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today the President of the Treasury Board announced a new policy to create alternative service delivery arrangements.

    Could she explain to the House what kind of impact this new policy will have on Canadians, and on linguistic minorities in particular?

+-

    Hon. Lucienne Robillard (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this new policy will encourage innovation in service delivery, while maintaining quality and public interest criteria. Guiding principles have also been added to strengthen the government's commitment to the Official Languages Act.

    Prior to adopting an alternative method of service delivery, all departments will be required to consult with official language minority communities and file an impact study with the Treasury Board. This will ensure that we continue to provide services in English and in French to our minority communities.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Species at Risk Act

+-

    Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor--St. Clair, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the finance committee we saw the type of contempt that we get from the government as far as the democratic process. Even worse is the contempt it has shown for the work the environment committee has done over the last nine months on the species at risk act, the contempt it has shown for the input of dozens of environmental groups, business organizations and stakeholders, and the contempt it has shown for 60,000 Canadians who signed petitions supporting those amendments.

    Will the Deputy Prime Minister commit today to allow those amendments to stand and let the House vote on them as is?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I had always understood, given my knowledge of constitutional law, that it was the House and the Senate that were the deciding body for democracy in Canada. It was not committees, not 60,000 people who signed a petition and not pressure groups. It is the House and the Senate, of course with Her Majesty's or her representative's signature. That is how we make laws. I suggest that the hon. member goes back and looks at the books.

+-

    Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor--St. Clair, NDP): Mr. Speaker, if he really believes that, will he commit today to allow Liberal Party members who want to vote in favour of those amendments passed by the committee to stand without being punished by the government if they do so?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, not too long ago we had an election in the country, another example of the democratic process. This party went on record to put forward a species at risk act and told the public what would be there.

    We are fulfilling our duty as a government from our red book promises to our throne speech promises. That is what we are doing. It is this government's policy that we are bringing forward and that is why his suggestion is ridiculous.

*   *   *

+-Government Loans

+-

    Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I have in my possession access to information documents revealing three Technology Partnerships Canada projects that were announced before they were approved by cabinet. It was announced that Bombardier would get $96 million in October 1996 yet cabinet approval was not received until March 1997.

    It was announced that Ballard Power Systems would receive $30 million in November 1996 but that cabinet did not approve that until March of the following year. The same thing goes for CAE Electronics.

    Could the minister tell the House just when the cabinet did approve these projects?

+-

    Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I made it clear yesterday that in each one of these projects cabinet approval was in place before any of these investments were announced. I also made clear yesterday that on two occasions in the last few years the auditor general has looked into Technology Partnerships Canada and, on each occasions, found that we had used due diligence before making investments and fulfilled our responsibilities as a government.

    This program is good for Canada, good for innovation and it creates jobs. It has been a success and will continue.

+-

    Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, the auditor general has to look into it because the minister will not table the annual reports.

    The Technology Partnerships Canada advisory board was formed in September 1996 and had 14 members. Now it appears as though six of the board members are with companies that have received grants from TPC. In fact, the companies associated with these six board members have received just shy of half a billion dollars in TPC funds. That is nearly half of the $947 million that was doled out under this program.

    Could the industry minister tell us exactly what guidelines were in place to make sure that there was no conflict of interest on the advisory board?

+-

    Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I can do no better than to quote the auditor general who found that we had exercised due diligence before making investment decisions, and to stress to the House that program is intended to provide pre-competitive research and development funding to allow opportunities to be pursued in the country which would otherwise be lost, creating jobs, economic growth and prosperity. It is a program of which we are very proud.

*   *   *

  +-(1450)  

+-Access to Information Act

+-

    Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago the minister of defence claimed cabinet secrecy and the document is already in the Globe and Mail. Last week the government was blocking the release of expense reports under the Access to Information Act when they should be made public. In the Post today it is blocking 12 year old salary information by claiming cabinet secrecy. The Langevin Block is getting more like the Kremlin every day.

    My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Has the government given up on democracy, openness and transparency, or does it really have something to hide?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we sit here enjoying our third majority government in a row. One wonders whether the Alliance might want to give up on democracy.

+-

    Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get into a debate on that one.

    The government arbitrarily changed its interpretation of the Access to Information Act to hide the expense accounts of ministers and their political staff based on the flimsiest excuse: based on a court decision in 1997, four years late but right in the middle of the shawinigate scandal.

    Is the Prime Minister hiding something in his expense accounts?

+-

    Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is talking about is the interpretation of the Access to Information Act. The interpretation is based on the DAGG case of the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Of course we need a balanced approach regarding the Access to Information Act, as well as the privacy issue. When we look at what we are doing, we are meeting the exact criteria of the DAGG case of the Supreme Court of Canada .

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Canada Lands Company

+-

    Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister stated that our questions concerning Robert Charest were ridiculous. However, we just learned that the RCMP has launched an investigation into the matter.

    Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell us what duties were performed by Robert Charest for the Canada Lands Company?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the real question is; what action was taken regarding Mr. Charest? The answer is clear; his contract was terminated by the corporation.

+-

    Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ): Mr. Speaker, still on the issue of the Canada Lands Company, the media reported in January that, in 1999, the corporation sold a property belonging to the Department of National Defence which was located at the intersection of Atwater and Sherbrooke streets in Montreal. That property was sold for $4 million, while the municipal assessment was $9 million and the market value somewhere around $15 million.

    How could a lot valued at $9 million be sold for $4 million, if not because the buyer, Mr. Lépine, was a close friend of the Liberal Party of Canada?

+-

    Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Crown Corporations, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we can certainly sell lots at the best available price. It is impossible to always find someone who is prepared to pay exactly the assessed value, particularly on the municipal assessment.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

    Hon. John Manley: So, I do not know if there is other information, but it is necessary to get an offer that is accepted.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

    The Speaker: The hon. member for Vancouver Island North.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Softwood Lumber

+-

    Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, last week the minister of trade said that softwood talks were not on unless the U.S. came with a written proposal. Now it has come without a proposal and he is making excuses for them.

    Meanwhile, continuing U.S. harassment is taking a toll on Canadian forest companies. Covering tariff requirements until we can repeal them is essential.

    When will the government fight this continuing harassment by backstopping exporters with an affective program?

+-

    Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the highest level of talks among officials took place here in Ottawa at the deputy level. The deputy minister has indicated that there was progress made. He now wants to reflect on and continue the team Canada approach, consult widely, as he has been doing, with the minister, with the provinces and with industry. More than likely we will re-engage with the Americans next week.

    Progress has been made but there is no doubt that we are not at a solution yet.

  +-(1455)  

+-

    Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that is at least the third time I have asked that question and not received an answer.

    U.S. trade officials are asking for unrestricted market access to Canadian raw logs but they are not willing to offer unrestricted access to U.S. lumber markets.

    Will the minister tell the U.S. an unequivocal no?

+-

    Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member is finally tuning into this issue.

    The minister has said repeatedly in the House and in the media, and it was made crystal clear yesterday that unless we have guaranteed market access we will not reach a deal.

    That is a sine qua non for the government. It has been said repeatedly. I do not know why the member has not got the message yet.

*   *   *

+-Afghanistan

+-

    Ms. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, given the ongoing humanitarian and education needs in Afghanistan, could the Minister for International Cooperation please update the House of Commons on Canada's continued efforts to assist Afghan women?

+-

    Hon. Susan Whelan (Minister for International Cooperation, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Canada has pledged $100 million toward the reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan. While we continue to investigate ways to provide program support to Dr. Sima Samar, the minister of women's affairs in Afghanistan, we are also contributing here at home. We are providing $25,000 to the Afghan women's leadership and governance training program to be implemented by the University of York. It is a project that will enhance leadership skills among women of Afghan origin in Canada and link them with Canadian women parliamentarians when they visit Ottawa on Monday.

*   *   *

+-Health

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, in 1997 the federal government ordered the backbenchers to vote against compensating all Canadians who had contracted hepatitis C through tainted blood.

    For four years the former health minister stubbornly refused to change his mind. He said that the country could not afford it. He said “It will be the end of publicly financed health care”.

    Will the minister right the wrong of her predecessor and compensate every victim of hep C through tainted blood?

+-

    Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Health, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, no we will not. The policy of the government has been clear and is clear.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Highway Infrastructure

+-

    Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House, the Minister of Justice said that the commitments made by his colleagues to improve Quebec's highways would be respected.

    Since the Minister of Justice has given his word, why does the Deputy Prime Minister not sign the memoranda of agreement submitted by the government of Quebec for highways 175, 185, 30, 35 and 50 immediately?

    He should stop evading the question and sign.

+-

    Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have an infrastructure program, and unfortunately the government of Quebec does not agree with the current agreement. On Thursday I am going to meet with Mr. Ménard, my counterpart in Quebec, and perhaps there will be some progress on this issue.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Species at Risk Act

+-

    Mr. John Herron (Fundy--Royal, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, the government has no respect for parliament nor parliamentary committees. Yesterday the government whip hijacked the election of the finance committee chair. Now the environment minister is gutting the environment committee's amendments to the species at risk bill.

    The minister never had the provinces or landowners on side prior to tabling Bill C-5 and has now gutted provisions that they support. Worse still, he shamelessly ignored a consensus that was reached in advance by environmentalists and industry.

    Why is it we had to wait eight years for such a poor bill, and why is the minister showing such arrogance for the committee process?

+-

    Hon. David Anderson (Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, let me repeat again that lobbyists, whether they are environmentalists or they are from industry, are not the people who run this country, nor should they be. It should be people elected by the people of Canada, namely the people in this Chamber. That is the critical factor which the hon. member does not understand.

    He should also understand that committees of the House are enormously valuable to us but ultimate decision making is made by the members. If a committee for any reason does not reflect the views of the House, it is appropriate that the House take measures to make sure that the decisions are brought in accord with the House.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Young Offenders

+-

    Ms. Diane St-Jacques (Shefford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the act in respect of criminal justice for young persons received royal assent. This act is a key component of the measures which allow the government to deliver on its commitment to renew the justice system for young people in order to make it fairer and more effective. It is my understanding that the government wants to have the legislation take effect in April 2003.

    Will the minister tell the House what lay behind such a decision?

  +-(1500)  

+-

    Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the hon. member for her excellent question.

    Bill C-7 did indeed receive royal assent yesterday. It is normal for a certain period of time to go by before legislation takes effect.

    I would simply like to say that the bill was the subject of many discussions, particularly last week at a federal-provincial-territorial meeting. Because of the broad consensus for more time, which has been repeatedly expressed for quite a while now, all the provinces and territories have agreed with me to postpone the coming into force of this legislation until April 2003, so that they can make the necessary preparations and go ahead with an excellent bill.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Health

+-

    Mr. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, there is $900 million left in the hepatitis C compensation fund.

    The former minister was clearly mistaken. It is not the end of public health care and there is plenty of money for all of the victims.

    Why will the minister not commit to extend compensation to the hepatitis C victims of tainted blood?

+-

    Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Health, Lib.): Because, Mr. Speaker, the policy of the government is clear, it continues to be clear, and we will implement that policy.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-The Homeless

+-

    Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup--Témiscouata--Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for the homeless has a problem. She has taken so long in announcing funding that certain organizations will not be able to spend the funding received within the time limit set. If they are not able to meet the deadline, these funds are likely to end up back in the government's consolidated fund.

    Can the minister make a commitment to move the March 31, 2003, deadline forward so that these organizations involved in helping the homeless may receive and use their full amounts of funding?

+-

    Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of Labour and Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a number of organizations have shared with me their concerns about the date. I would like to announce today that I have addressed this, in conjunction with the staff of my department, and the deadline will now be September 2004.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Justice

+-

    Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg--Transcona, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Pretty soon 10 years will have passed since the Westray coal mine disaster, which many regard not only as a tragedy but a criminal event. Yet 10 years down the road we still have no legislation dealing with criminal responsibility in these kinds of situations.

    The Minister of Justice will be aware that yesterday the subject matter of a private member's bill by the member for Churchill was referred to the justice committee. I want to ask the Minister of Justice whether he will commit now to working with the committee to make sure that by the expiry of this year in which we have the tenth anniversary of that disaster we have legislation dealing with the--

+-

    The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice.

+-

    Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I know of the matter and of course I will be working with the committee. I want to hear from stakeholders, from people all across the country, in order to see what we are going to have to do. Therefore, I do understand that the matter is under study and I will fully co-operate with the committee.

*   *   *

+-Privilege

+Standing Committee on Finance

[Privilege]
+-

    Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege to charge the chief government whip with contempt of the House for intimidation and harassment of our members through a staff member of the official opposition whip.

    While it troubles me to bring this issue forward, I feel I must do so in order to protect the right of members and their staff to work in an environment free from the threat of intimidation.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

    Mr. John Reynolds: Talk to Mr. Kinsella. He's threatening your guys. I am talking about here.

    The question of privilege is resulting from an incident involving yesterday's election of the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance. The first vote for the chair of the committee was nullified because of a counting error by the committee clerk. Before the second vote was taken, the chief government whip approached our whip's staffer and uttered the following “We phoned R.J. and told him who we wanted. If one of your guys doesn't vote for Sue there will be consequences”.

    This sort of goonish misconduct displayed by the chief government whip cannot be tolerated in any venue, let alone the Parliament of Canada. Page 84 of Marleau and Montpetit states:

Speakers have consistently upheld the right of the House to the services of its Members free from intimidation, obstruction and interference.

    On September 19, 1973, Otto Jelinek, the member for High Park--Humber Valley, rose on a question of privilege claiming that an employee of the CBC, in telephone conversations with the member, had advised Mr. Jelinek to stop asking questions about television coverage of the Olympic games during question period or else it would be alleged that the member had a contract with CTV and it was a conflict of interest. Mr. Jelinek claimed it was an attempt to intimidate him. As the member did not know the name of the caller no specific charge could be made and therefore there was no prima facie question of privilege. While there was no prima facie case of privilege, Speaker Lamoureux had, and I quote him:

...no hesitation in reaffirming the principle that parliamentary privilege includes the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities as a member of the House free from threats or attempts at intimidation.

    While the chief government whip may feel free to threaten and co-opt government members in such a way, I will not accept her threatening opposition members or their staff in such a way. This staffer works on behalf of the official opposition whip and performs valuable functions that could affect the votable status of opposition members. This intimidation occurred while our staffer was attempting to perform a parliamentary function on behalf of the opposition whip.

    Parliament must send a clear message to all members by using its powers to condemn such conduct and call it contempt like it is.

    Mr. Speaker, should you rule that there exists a prima facie question of privilege, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

  +-(1505)  

+-

    Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina--Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I want to add a word in support of the suggestion before the House today.

    I too was involved in the finance committee yesterday. At one stage before the committee meeting started, when there were going to be two candidates for the chairmanship of that committee, the member for Etobicoke North and the member for London West, I was called out by one of the staff of the chief government whip to see the chief government whip, at which time she asked me how I was voting. I told her I would be supporting the member for Etobicoke North. She told me that was not the government's choice, that the government's choice was the member for London West. I implied I had made up my mind to support the member for Etobicoke North. She said to me at that time “if that happens and if he wins the chairmanship, I may have to remove him from the finance committee”. I think that is a heavy handed approach to be used by a government whip.

    Also, during a recess at committee one of the parliamentary secretaries was at the committee and the parliamentary secretary spoke to the chief government whip, came in from speaking to the chief government whip and was talking to some Liberal members from the government side of the House. Two of those Liberal members, or two of those government members, said to me that the parliamentary secretary had the whip say to her or imply to her that if she did not vote the right way, she needed to worry about her parliamentary secretaryship.This is what I heard from two government members of the finance committee.

    There was also a great deal of confusion at the committee. I am led to believe that committees should be masters of their own destiny. That certainly was not the case. The chief government whip was also a member of the committee at that time, the only time she has ever been a member of the finance committee.

    I think for these reasons and others, and I could go on at length, I support the suggestion put forth today in the House by the Leader of the Opposition.

+-

    Mr. Scott Brison (Kings--Hants, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I also rise in support of this point.

    Yesterday at the same finance committee meeting the chief government whip asked me to join her outside, at which point she informed me that I should be voting for the hon. member for London West, at which point I informed her that she was not my whip and that I was supporting the member for Etobicoke North.

    Clearly for the whip of the government to be trying to run roughshod over the rights of opposition members of parliament is offensive and steps all over the basic notion of the independence of committees as a cornerstone of the parliamentary system.

  +-(1510)  

+-

    Hon. Ralph Goodale (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government became aware a few minutes ago just before the end of question period that the Leader of the Opposition intended to raise this point. It is a point upon which we will want to reflect, having just heard what various members of the opposition have said, but let me just say that we would like to take some time to consider what has been said here.

    In listening very carefully, I heard a number of allegations. I heard the transmission of hearsay evidence. I heard reflection upon the proceedings in the committee, but I did not hear a point of privilege.

    Mr. Speaker, what I would like is an opportunity to examine all of the allegations that have been made and ask that you would return to this matter at a later time after we have had a chance to reflect upon it.

+-

    The Speaker: Yes, I would be glad to take the matter under advisement and give the hon. government House leader a little time to reflect and come back to the House with a statement on the matter.

    Obviously there have been some interesting discussions going on here and there involving the Standing Committee on Finance to which of course the Chair has not been privy. I will be interested to hear the comments from the hon. government House leader a little later and perhaps then take the matter under further advisement and give a decision to the House.

    Does the hon. chief government whip wish to speak to this matter at this moment?

+-

    Ms. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West--Nepean, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on the same point of privilege, I regret very much that the leader of the official opposition chose not to inform me personally and directly that he would be raising this issue.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

    Ms. Marlene Catterall: Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the criticisms and I would appreciate the same respect.

    I regret that the leader of the official opposition chose not to inform me directly and personally of the point he would be raising and of the points he would be making in raising it. I respect totally the role of the House and of each member of parliament, and your role, Mr. Speaker, and certainly that of any of the House officers, who have very difficult responsibilities in the House.

    Out of respect I would like to give a response to the issues that have been raised, if that is your decision.

    Not knowing ahead of time what would be raised, not having had the opportunity or chance to speak to any of the members who have raised these issues, I really would appreciate the opportunity to prepare and respond at a later date.

    I would like to, however, categorically deny the quote attributed to me by the Leader of the Opposition.

+-

    The Speaker: We will put the matter to rest for the time being and the hon. member will come back to the House with the government House leader and we will hear further.

*   *   *

+- Foreign Affairs and International Trade

[Privilege]
+-

    Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege with regard to a Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade departmental briefing that took place on February 19 at 5 p.m. with industry officials and separately with the media concerning discussions about the softwood lumber dispute with the United States. As a member of parliament I was excluded from the meeting and told the briefing of members of parliament would have to wait until February 20.

    In order to discharge my responsibilities as an opposition member of parliament and our party's critic for international trade I must be made aware of information concerning issues such as the softwood lumber dispute in a timely manner. The dispute has been the subject of an emergency debate in parliament as well as the topic of numerous discussions in committees of both houses of parliament.

    Yesterday's briefing was the subject of numerous questions in question period. Surely the questions should be responded to in parliament prior to being made available to the media. Any resolution to the debate will undoubtedly lead to an agreement subject to parliamentary scrutiny and possibly some form of parliamentary approval. The department deliberately did an end run around parliament by briefing members of the media prior to members of parliament.

    I will quote the response of former Speaker Parent to a question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Fraser Valley on October 29, 1997, concerning a government news release announcing the membership of the nominating committee for the proposed Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. He said:

This dismissive view of the legislative process, repeated often enough, makes a mockery of our parliamentary conventions and practices.

    Speaker Parent said members should be briefed on any progress toward settlement of disputes that may need parliamentary ratification prior to being released to the media. Anything less is contempt of parliament.

    This is part of a continuing pattern coming from the government. The media gets favourable treatment compared to members of parliament from all parties.

    Mr. Speaker, should you rule that there exists a prima facie question of privilege I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

  +-(1515)  

+-

    Hon. Ralph Goodale (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as with the previous question of privilege raised by the Leader of the Opposition, this is the first I have heard of it. I would be happy to inquire into the matter to see what the flow of events was and take into account the remarks made by the member for Vancouver Island North. I hope you might invite further comments on the subject at a later stage, perhaps tomorrow or the day after, so the item could be properly pursued.

*   *   *

+-Speaker's Ruling

[Speaker's Ruling]
+-

    The Speaker: I do not think there is any need to hear further comment on the matter. The Chair is quite prepared to dispose of it now. In my view there is no breach of privilege in this case. The two hon. members can certainly converse and exchange information about what has happened in this case.

    There have been cases on which I have already made decisions with respect to matters that come before the House which, by their nature, are confidential until presented to the House. Where the information contained in the documentation is released beforehand to some other people outside the House there may be a breach of the privileges of the House.

    However in the case the hon. members have brought before us today this appears to be a relatively normal briefing or update on what is going on in negotiations here and there in which the Government of Canada may or may not be engaged. It seems to me it is certainly not a breach of the privileges of the House for the government, or anyone else who may be in any way connected with the House, to have briefings with other people on that kind of material.

    Accordingly I am not prepared to find in this case that there has been a question of privilege. I urge the hon. members to exchange the information they have indicated they wish to exchange, but beyond that I do not think it needs to come back to the House.

    We have another question of privilege. The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader wanted to say something about a question of privilege raised yesterday by the hon. member for Delta--South Richmond.

*   *   *

+-Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations

[Privilege]
+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the hon. member raised a question of privilege concerning an article written by the legal counsel to the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

    Mr. Speaker, you indicated at the time that it was your first inclination that the committee should deal with the issue and then perhaps come back to the House if need be. I urge upon you that view, Mr. Speaker. It makes sense to me. It would be the appropriate approach.

    Having had an opportunity to review the article it seems to me the counsel was not so much defending the government or one side or the other but was defending the committee itself. On the other hand, perhaps the counsel did not have the authority of the committee to do that.

    I submit that for your consideration, Mr. Speaker.

+-

    Mr. John Cummins (Delta--South Richmond, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will reply to your questions from yesterday.

    My argument and that of other opposition members on the committee was that the scrutiny of regulations committee had made a finding that the aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations were illegal. I argued that the committee and the department of fisheries had engaged in inexcusable delays in acting on the finding and that after five years the only remaining issue to be decided was the date of the tabling of the disallowance report. Of late the committee has been taking about twice as long as in the past to table its disallowance reports.

    It was argued in committee that the honour of the crown is at stake when fishermen are prosecuted under admittedly illegal regulations and when the committee dithers not about the illegality of the regulations but about when they should be revoked.

    Mr. Bernier has taken a contrary position. He says the committee is highly effective in carrying out its responsibilities. He says its handling of the aboriginal communal fishing licences regulations has been in order. That of course is the position of the government majority on the committee.

    Mr. Bernier claims to be merely setting the record straight or correcting errors in the public record. If Mr. Bernier were correct I would not only not have a question of privilege. I and other members of the opposition would have no issue with either the committee's handling of its 1997 finding that the aboriginal communal fishing licence regulations were illegal or the timing of the tabling of the disallowance report.

    Mr. Bernier's claim that the committee is working effectively and efficiently with regard to the fishing regulations goes to the very heart of the argument before the committee and in a February 11 Hill Times story entitled “Opposition parties say regulatory feet-dragging hurting fishing industry”.

    Mr. Speaker, you asked if Mr. Bernier was merely correcting errors in the public record as contained in the regulatory foot dragging story, a story which chronicles government foot dragging and blocking of action in the scrutiny of regulations committee to prevent tabling of a disallowance report on the illegal fishing regulations. The answer is an emphatic no. Mr. Bernier does not correct errors.

    I will be specific. Mr. Bernier wrote that the committee did not first look at the issue in January 1997. He said it did not do so until November 1997. The fact is, the committee's general counsel was directed to review the fishing regulations on January 3, 1997. The general counsel's legal analysis that the regulations were illegal was dated March 20, 1997. What did occur in November 1997 was that the committee adopted the position that the regulations were illegal and decided to advise the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of its finding.

    Mr. Bernier then goes on to other dates where he disagrees with my position in committee and the regulatory foot dragging--

*   *   *

  +-(1520)  

+-Speaker's Ruling

[Speaker's Ruling]
+-

    The Speaker: With great respect, while no doubt the submissions the hon. member is making are relevant to the committee and it only confirms the view I expressed yesterday having heard the arguments he and other hon. members presented to the House, this matter ought to be raised in the committee.

    This is a question dealing with the work of the committee. The person the hon. member is complaining about is engaged to work with the committee and not with the House. He is not even an employee of the House. He is an employee of the Library of Parliament and accordingly I can only say to the hon. member that in my view this matter should be dealt with in the committee.

    If for some reason the committee's resolution of the matter is unsatisfactory the hon. member can always come back to the House and try again, but in my view this is a committee matter. Everything he is saying is material that the committee should be hearing and considering whether or not its privileges in any way were damaged by its employee, if we like, writing a letter to the Hill Times setting out the facts that it did.

    I note that the committee is a joint committee of both the Senate and the House. It is well equipped to deal with this matter. I urge the hon. member to take the matter up with the committee to see what happens there. It seems to me that if the committee finds that there has been a breach of its privileges it can make a report to the House saying so and the House is free to act on the report.

    However until it receives a report from the committee it seems to me to be premature for the Speaker to intervene in a matter that really is a matter for the committee. If it does not find a breach of privilege how is the House likely to react to that? It can always report to the House and a decision can be made here later, but I would urge him to take the matter up there and I think that is the appropriate venue.


+-Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

*   *   *

[English]

+-Government Response to Petitions

+-

    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to several petitions.

*   *   *

  +-(1525)  

+-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

+-

    Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in January of last year the Prime Minister told the House the Government of Canada would create a legacy to honour the memory of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. On that occasion the Prime Minister spoke of Mr. Trudeau in the following words:

--Canadians were moved to reflect on and discuss not only the Trudeau legacy but the meaning of Canada and our attachment to it.

His vision was of a mature, confident Canada shaping its own destiny, tied together by a common citizenship, based on shared rights and mutual responsibility--

[Translation]

A bilingual Canada in which citizens could enjoy and benefit from our rich French and English heritage. A country respectful of the special place of aboriginal people. A multicultural Canada, opened to the world and fully seized of its global responsibilities. A just Canada in which opportunity is truly equal.

[English]

    Last week the Minister of Human Resources Development and I published our innovation strategy. In the strategy we spoke of the need to create a Canadian program similar to the Rhodes scholarships to promote excellence, encourage those who seek it and reward those who achieve it.

    I am honoured to announce today that the Government of Canada will endow the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation with $125 million allocated in the budget to enable the creation of a truly world class program for advanced studies in the humanities.

[Translation]

    The Foundation will award internationally competitive doctoral fellowships, similar in value and stature to the Rhodes, so that Canadian universities will continue to attract the very best students from our own country, and around the world. And all of this, in the name of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

[English]

    What is a more fitting legacy to man who symbolized youth, excellence and the innovative spirit?

    The innovation agenda that we announced last week spoke of creating in Canada a culture of excellence to strengthen our economy and to increase our prosperity, but excellence is not measured by material progress alone. Yes, we want the highest standard of living in the world. We want to make the best products and services to create a research climate that will fire technological achievement and spur scientific discovery. The knowledge economy demands no less. Together we will do all of that and more.

    But there are equally urgent and important questions of first principles, of values, that go beyond our standard of living to our quality of life. These are questions that can be answered only by excellence in the human sciences, in philosophy and in law, in government and public policy.

[Translation]

    The endowment that we announce today will challenge young people to address the great questions to which Prime Minister Trudeau devoted his life, both in and out of politics, as an academic, a lawyer and a statesman.

    How can we build a Canada that creates the conditions for, and removes the obstacles to, individual and collective freedoms?

    How can we move forward with confidence, fully expressing our sovereignty in a world in which our interests are entwined with those of other, equally sovereign countries?

[English]

    What are our responsibilities to one another as citizens both of Canada and of the broader world beyond our borders? How can we advance that great Canadian project to move ever closer to the ideal of a just society in which liberty is assured and opportunity is equal?

    Thirty years ago this month Pierre Trudeau acknowledged that the pursuit of excellence of the highest values, of the just society will never end. He said:

    To seek the Just Society must be amongst the highest of human purposes. Because we are mortal and imperfect, it is a task we will never finish; no government or society ever will. But from our honest and ceaseless effort, we will draw strength and inspiration; we will discover new and better values. On the never-ending road to perfect justice we will, in other words, succeed in creating the most humane and compassionate society possible.

    We pledge today to continue that honest and ceaseless effort. To do so we have enlisted the participation of a remarkable group of people. We are delighted that the board of directors of the Trudeau Foundation will include such distinguished Canadians as Peter Lougheed, Louise Fréchette, Bob Rae and Bill Davis.

    I also want to recognize the participation of Marc Lalonde, Senator Jacques Hébert, Roy Heenan, Ted Johnson, former premier Roy Romanow and university leaders Robert Lacroix, Martha Piper and Sean Riley. I am also indebted to my colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage for her help in shaping this program and to her deputy minister, Alex Himelfarb, for his invaluable assistance.

    But two people deserve particular credit. Without Sacha and Justin Trudeau's determination, idealism and yes, their father's famous stubbornness, today's announcement would simply not have been possible. Their father would have been very proud of Sacha and Justin and I thank them on behalf of Canadians everywhere.

    Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

    Hon. Allan Rock: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, may I take a few moments to describe the foundation's purpose and mandate. The Trudeau fellowships will serve two equally important objectives.

    First, they will help us keep the most promising young talent here in Canada because 75% of the Trudeau scholars will be Canadian. While each of these gifted young people will be based at a university in one region of Canada, consistent with the Trudeau vision of a Canada greater than the sum of its parts, each of them will also be encouraged to work with colleagues at universities in other provinces. Up to 25 fellowships will be awarded each and every year.

  +-(1530)  

[Translation]

    Second, in keeping with Mr. Trudeau's vision of an open, mature and confident Canada, the fellowships will bring the best and brightest from around the world to study the human sciences here.

    This purpose befits a man who himself studied in Montreal, London, Paris and Boston: a man who opened Canada to the world, because he was confident of our place in it.

    The Foundation will create a virtual network linking all of the Trudeau scholars. At the peak, up to 100 students will be enrolled in the doctoral programs. An annual conference will also take place, and the proceedings will be available to all Canadians.

[English]

    Prime Minister Trudeau's achievements are recorded faithfully in Hansard, in the national archives and in the history books, but what he truly meant to our country, what he truly meant to the world, cannot be found in any of those places. He helped us see ourselves in a different light. He brought out the very best in us. He demanded great things of us and in so doing he showed us that we were capable of doing great things together. In short, he reminded us that we are capable of excellence.

    We have the sense that Pierre Trudeau would have little interest in the bronze or stone monuments that traditionally commemorate our past leaders. He would have wanted us to look ahead, to inspire young people, to build a better future in Canada and from Canada for the world. Today we secure a living legacy for Prime Minister Trudeau enabling the pursuit of excellence, promoting a just society and building a better world. There can surely be no more fitting tribute to Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

  +-(1535)  

+-

    Mr. John Reynolds (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege today to stand in the House to say something about Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I think the member for Davenport and myself are the only two members of the House who spent some time with the prime minister, myself in the 1972 election and in 1974 and maybe the Minister of the Environment and the House leaders from 1974-77.

    It is interesting that in the last couple of minutes I have had three notes from my people in the back that the media wants me for the scrum. I would think Sacha's father would be smiling in heaven saying “Ah, we got the opposition again”.

    We are pleased that the Minister of Industry has come forward with a specific application of his innovation strategy. The one thing we can all say about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, whether we are on this side or that side of the House, we never questioned his integrity and certainly we never questioned his love for Canada. It was a great time to be here even, if one was on the other side and in the 1972 election we darn near beat him. However, he was a great Canadian and we should honour great Canadians and that is why I am pleased to stand here today.

    I welcome Sacha Trudeau and the involvement of his family in higher education in Canada.

    The Canadian Alliance is on record supporting increases to the federal research granting agencies. We are happy that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will be involved in the Trudeau fellowship. The social themes named by the minister for this fellowship are good ones. I am sure the former prime minister would not mind my making some suggestions from this side as to what should be done. With his stubbornness he always wanted to be sure he got his ideas across.

    The Canadian Alliance would also like to see greater emphasis placed on all sciences, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, physics, biology to name a few disciplines, by the federal government. In studying impacts on our natural environment as a theme for this fellowship, perhaps the Trudeau Foundation might consider at some point expanding this fellowship to include the applied sciences. For instance, the Sydney tar ponds could be studied not only because of the impact they have had on the families living around the ponds but also the impact the pollution has had on the ecosystem and the food chain. The granting councils have a good track record in science and technology investments and we applaud their work.

    On a personal note, I would like to offer my best wishes to Sacha and his family. I am very pleased that they are involved in this project. Their father was not only a man of integrity, a decisive leader and a humanist, but more important, he loved his family and he loved his sons. I have seven children and eight grandchildren. For me, there is nothing more important in life than the family and Sacha's father put the family first. Even with all the important things he had to do in this world, his family was always first. I appreciate that as a father and as a grandfather.

    We welcome this initiative by the government. We believe great Canadians should be honoured. This is a great way to honour a great Canadian.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères--Les-Patriotes, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to rise following the announcement made today by the Minister of Industry.

    Allow me to begin by making a short comment on procedure. When a ministerial statement is made in the House, it is customary that the statements made afterwards by opposition members take about the same amount of time as the minister's statement, or that they do not exceed it. It is also customary, out of courtesy, for ministers who are going to make a statement to give an advance copy of their speeches to opposition parties, and this was done earlier this morning.

    However, I was stunned to receive from the minister, right in the middle of oral question period, a new text which had been inflated, if I may use that expression, in the sense that it was much more detailed. Unfortunately for you, Mr. Speaker, and for the members of this House, this means that I will probably not take as much time as the minister did when he made his speech.

    As we know, human knowledge is at the core of what is now called the new economy. Indeed, this new economy is primarily based on the production, use and communication of human knowledge. The grey matter is becoming the single most important factor of a nation's economic development.

    This new economic situation, to which Quebec, Canada and all the countries of the world are confronted, requires a number of adjustments to the role of the state, in order to allow our respective economies to keep pace with the changes and to remain competitive.

    Consequently, Quebec, Canada and all the other nations of the world must work to successfully enter the era of this new knowledge-based economy. Therefore, we cannot oppose any initiative that seeks to promote the development of human knowledge.

    Nor are we opposed, and far from it, to letting the federal government use this noble objective to pay tribute to the refined intellectual that former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was.

    The rather laudatory comments of the minister reflect the deep attachment that many Canadians, particularly among the members of the federal Liberal Party, still have to Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

    While we certainly applaud the principles on which today's government initiative is based, we nonetheless question the appropriateness of such an announcement at this time.

    The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is currently studying the whole peer evaluation system in the process of granting research grants and scholarships. It would have been proper, or at least prudent, for the minister to await the recommendations of the committee before launching this new initiative with such unbridled enthusiasm.

    Moreover, we also question the vehicle chosen by the government to channel the amount of money that it plans on allocating for higher education merit scholarships in the humanities and social sciences. It would appear as though the choice to establish the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a private foundation that does not report to parliamentarians, is based more on sentimental considerations than on requirements for efficiency or transparency.

    Why has the government chosen to transfer the envelope allocated for this purpose to a private foundation instead of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, for example, which could very well have accomplished this mission that comes under its mandate?

    The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology's study, to which I made reference earlier, has shown that 55% of researchers and graduates work in the humanities and social sciences, whereas less than 13% of federal research grants are in awarded this sector. So we agree that something must be done, but as I mentioned, this may not be the most appropriate vehicle.

    How will this foundation be held truly accountable for managing the considerable sums of public money—after all, we are talking about $125 million, which is no modest sum?

  +-(1540)  

    We are also concerned about the tangent that this government seems to be taking with this initiative, which will no longer assess candidates based on the excellence of their work and proposed projects, but based on themes decided by someone who has not been specified.

    Indeed, the minister stated, a few minutes ago, that “the Foundation's board of directors, in consultation with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian universities and other partners”—without specifying who—“will choose the specific themes of study”.

    To finish, we hope that the quality of those who will make up the board of this foundation, some of whom, incidentally, are no strangers to the Liberal government, far from it in fact, will be able to allay the concerns we have about the public interest, scientific research and about researchers themselves.

  +-(1545)  

[English]

+-

    Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina--Qu'Appelle, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our party I wish to say a few words in support of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau foundation fellowship that was established today.

    The foundation comes out of the budget with an allocation of $125 million over the next number of years. The idea is a superb one. The foundation would be comparable to Rhodes scholarships over the years and would retain a lot of bright people in the country. It would have people from other parts of the world come to Canada to study as well.

    The foundation would have 80% of the students from Canada and 20% would come from other parts of the world. We applaud that. This is a great honour for the former prime minister. The pursuit of excellence is an excellent idea. This country needs to invest a lot more into knowledge, research and ideas.

    Knowledge is power and ideas are power. Innovation, and the whole area of research and development, is extremely important. I also think it is a much more appropriate thing to do in memory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau than the naming of a mountain would have been about a year ago when that was suggested by the government across the way.

    I knew Pierre Elliott Trudeau very well. I spent 16 years in the House of Commons with him from 1968 to 1984. I remember him as prime minister for almost all of that time. For a short while he sat as leader of the opposition when my friend from Calgary was the prime minister back in 1979 to 1980. When I think of Pierre Elliott Trudeau I think of a person who had a lot of courage, a person of ideas and perhaps more than anything else a person of great determination who had a vision and would fight for that vision. We would often disagree with him but we had to admire his courage and determination to succeed with the vision that he fought for.

    I think of the Official Languages Act, which I supported; multiculturalism; and his fight for the patriation of the Canadian constitution with a charter of rights enshrined in the constitution. That was a very divisive issue that divided all parties in the House of Commons. We had differing ideas but it was his sheer determination that eventually got us a constitution with a patriated charter of rights. Even at that time he had to compromise on issues in the charter of rights and the amending formula. It showed he had some flexibility as well when he pursued his vision.

    This is an appropriate way to remember Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He was a person who exonerated youth and exuberance. He was a great Canadian who loved this country, but he was also a great internationalist. This scholarship would also be available for people in different parts of the world.

    My only regret is that this is a little late in coming. We should have had a foundation like this many years ago. When we look at the drop in our standard of living compared to the United States and many other parts of the world a large part of that is due to the fact that we have not been as strong in innovation, research and development and education, nor as productive as many of the other countries in the world. Over the past few years for example we have seen all of the cutbacks in funding of post secondary education. It is something like $5 billion since 1993.

    When I look back when Pierre Trudeau enrolled as a first year law student many years ago the tuition fee was probably $200 or $300. It is worth about $3,000 today. Today there is a university in Canada that charges $12,000 for a first year law student. I understand it is considering doubling the tuition fee from $12,000 to $24,000 in the very near future. We are limiting the accessibility to education.

    Even though it is late in coming this is an excellent idea.

[Translation]

    I am very pleased to support the creation of this foundation in memory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada.

[English]

    I can say to the family, to Sacha who was here earlier today, that they can be proud of the contribution their father made and that a foundation in his name would carry that memory forward in terms of looking for new ideas, excellence in research, and positive things to not just improve our country but to improve the world.

    Often in parliament we have great political differences. We debate a great number of issues. However today we have parliament coming together to honour a great Canadian for a great contribution and we do that by establishing a foundation that would be there as a worthwhile cause for generations to come.

  +-(1550)  

+-

    Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, Pierre Trudeau left a profound mark on Canadian public policy and in the hearts of many of our citizens. As with all prime ministers people still debate the ways he contributed to public life. What can be said unequivocally about Pierre Trudeau is that he continually challenged people to think about their relationships to one another as fellow Canadians and as active citizens in the bigger world. A foundation created to help fund advanced studies seems appropriate and timely, especially given that these studies would focus on excellence in the humanities and human sciences, and would be recognized the world over.

    As the minister mentioned in his remarks, special credit goes to Sacha and Justin Trudeau for searching for and advocating a proper and appropriate legacy for their father, to university leaders such as Robert Lacroix, Martha Piper and Sean Riley for their advice and assistance, and to former premiers Roy Romanow and Bill Davis for their encouragement and help, and to many others who helped to pull this foundation together.

    The creation of the foundation points to another big issue of concern to Canadians and particularly to university students. This foundation, to quote the minister, would be the equivalent of a Rhodes scholarship. That is an admirable goal, but is something that would directly benefit only a few dozen students, not the tens of thousands of students who are expressing growing concerns about sky-rocketing tuition fees and exploding student debt. Students, many of whom have seen their personal debt and tuition fees double, hope to see more from the government in the days ahead.

    Education must be a priority for every country in today's globalized world where we must challenge ourselves and compete with the best that the world has to offer. For example, when Ireland talks about the Celtic miracle, it does not talk only about how tax cuts helped its country and turned around a stagnant economy. It talks first and foremost about education and how it developed an education system second to none with broad access to all.

    For decades, Canada has been a country built on the raw power and availability of its natural resources. The Canada of tomorrow would be built upon the strength of its education system and the excellence of its students, scholars, innovators and entrepreneurs. To make that possible, education for all Canadians must be top-notch and it must be made accessible to everyone. The Government of Canada can contribute to that future and has done that today, but it can contribute more by replacing the cuts it has made to the Canada health and social transfers.

    I thank the government for putting in place a legacy for a former prime minister who gave of himself, served others and left an enduring impression on Canada. I want to quote from an op-ed piece I wrote shortly after the Trudeau funeral in the year 2000 and the extraordinary outpouring of emotion that followed:

Perhaps our relatively young nation went through a similar period of introspection during the state funeral, and will serve us well as we start out on the 21st century. For a country like ours, perhaps it will also give us pause to stop and think not only about “what was,” but also to ask ourselves “what should it be?”

    Part of what this country should be is a country known for its excellence and opportunity in its educational system. We remain hopeful that the House will make further decisions in the days to come that will leave that as a positive legacy for generations to come.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Petitions

+-War Against Terrorism

+-

    Ms. Yolande Thibeault (Saint-Lambert, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour today to present a petition signed by over 80 individuals in my riding of Saint-Lambert.

    The petitioners, residents of Longueuil, while deploring the terrorist acts of September 11 perpetrated in New York City and Washington, respectfully call upon Parliament and all heads of state to follow the path of active non-violence.

  +-(1555)  

[English]

+-

    Mr. Joseph Volpe: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would seek unanimous consent for the opportunity to go back to presenting reports from interparliamentary delegations.

+-

    The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

*   *   *

+-Interparliamentary Delegations

+-

    Mr. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton--Lawrence, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Canada-China Legislative Association regarding the fourth bilateral meeting held in Canada in October 2001, and I might add that it was a most successful one.

*   *   *

+-Questions on the Order Paper

+-

    Mrs. Karen Redman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

    The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Translation]

+-

    The Deputy Speaker: I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 28 minutes.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Motions for Papers

+-

    Mrs. Karen Redman (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers by allowed to stand.

+-

    The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.


+-GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

*   *   *

[English]

+-Species at Risk Act

     The House resumed from February 18 consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

+-

    Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise again to finish my thoughts on Bill C-5. It bears repeating that the Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species. In that vein there are a few comments I have left to make.

    The objection that we have as a party to the bill is the shift in the cost to landowners rather than it being fair. We are to spend $45 million for species at risk, which is a very minimal amount of money when we think about the fact that we are trying to protect animals and plant life that will disappear from the earth forever. Yet the government has seen fit to spend over $700 million on a gun registry. One has to ask what are the priorities when there is such discrepancy in spending. I believe it is an unconscionable thing to do and that we have to correct what is happening in the House.

    The government has failed miserably with the softwood lumber agreement and the cost of that mistake is being paid for by innocent people across the country. We cannot afford to let this happen again. The endangered species bill must be looked at very seriously.

    What upsets me the most about the bill is the fact that when it comes to compensation there are two words that can be used: the word may which means we are allowed to do it and the word will which means we must do it. The word will has to be substituted in here. Otherwise people who own their own land and have done all the work for many years risk losing the land without compensation to save a species.

    As I said previously, my colleague from Wild Rose has made it very clear that shoot, shovel and shut up will be the way things will happen in Canada. We do not want that. We need to protect species and in protecting species we must also protect the rights of landowners. We must give adequate compensation. Until that is addressed within the bill I cannot support it, and neither will my party.

    Other matters have been raised inconsequentially and I would like to address them a bit more seriously. In this piece of legislation we have race based law. What applies to non-aboriginal people does not necessarily apply to aboriginal people. We may find ourselves in the position where private land backs on reserve land and the person on private land is obliged to follow the rules about endangered species whereas those on the other side on the reserve land are not required to do so.

    How can we do this? Will we draw an imaginary line and say that if someone is living on this side of it they must preserve the species and if they are on that side of it, it is up in the air? It has been said that it was for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, but that does not specify what needs to be specified in the bill.

    This should be a concern for aboriginal people as well because they have been stewards of plant life for many years. They do not have a unique view in this regard. Many of us have been stewards of plant life. However in the case of aboriginal people they use plant life a great deal for medicinal purposes.

    I have a list of 47 endangered plants, some of which would be very familiar to both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. One is a lichen and another a moss. They are on the endangered species list. Some 25 fall under the threatened category. If the legislation is put through with its bias and its unfairness in its lack of compensation, we can expect those numbers to grow by leaps and bounds.

    When we are talking about fairness and when I mention the phrase race based law there is a reason for the concern. I will take the opportunity to read from an article which states:

A Coast Salish mask dancer is sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a restitution fine of $147,000 for smuggling, trading and selling eagle feathers in Washington State. Terry Antoine, a 47-year-old medicine man from Cowichan First Nation near Duncan, B.C., was found guilty on one count of illegal importation of eagle parts and four counts of violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Antoine's lawyer argued that he traded eagle parts to other Aboriginal people who use them in religious ceremonies. Although Cowichan First Nation has members on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, it is not among the 550 tribes that are federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  +-(1600)  

    I think we can see the danger. We need something that applies to both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. In fairness that must take place. The current legislation does not address that adequately and I think that is a huge gap in the legislation.

+-

    Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton--Strathcona, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to discuss some of the amendments put forward in Group No. 1 respecting Bill C-5. Even though it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak to various government legislation, in this case I do so in complete and utter dismay. When I was serving as environment critic of the official opposition I was dealing with many of the issues on which we heard from the government that it would move, such as the issue of compensation.

    Your Honour is no newcomer to this place. You know of some of the legislation that has gone through the House and how long it takes for the government to move legislation through. This is the third time we have dealt with this legislation. Some of the issues coming back to the House have still not been rectified, especially in the area of compensation. This leaves opposition members shaking their heads when there is an opportunity for the government to take advantage of bringing all stakeholders together on this bill.

    Canadians have said loud and clear that they would like to see effective endangered species legislation. I believe over 90% of Canadians have said that they are in support of some form of endangered species legislation. I know I am. Once again the government continues to polarize Canadians when it could bring stakeholders together on the sensitive area of compensation.

    We are talking about people's private property. We are talking about taking it away from them and not guaranteeing effective compensation to them for their private property.

    The last time I checked I thought we lived in a free society. I believed we stood up for people's rights. I thought we believed in the right of people to own property. If people own property and it is taken away from them by government sources for whatever reason, one would think they would have the responsibility to compensate them.

    When I worked on the legislation I remember some of the arguments against fair compensation which the government put forward. It still astounds me that it continues to hang on to arguments like there would be abuse among farmers, ranchers or landowners who want to make a buck if endangered species were found on their land. This is utter nonsense because some of the best stewards of the land are the people who work, live and take care of particular properties in large areas of wilderness. They want to see endangered species protected.

    We have seen over and over again that some of the best stewards of the land are these people. Yet the government does not recognize that. Instead it points fingers at these people, some of the best stewards of the land, and says that they may take advantage of any compensation which might be provided by the government. That is completely outrageous. These are the people closest to the land. Yet the government points fingers.

    I take a moment on the issue of compensation to identify what has been done in other countries to accommodate the idea of compensation so that fairness for people who own property is taken into the mix and they do not have, as my colleague who spoke immediately prior to my rising said, the shoot, shovel and shut up attitude on behalf of farmers, ranchers or others closest to the land.

    One might think that members of the European Community are not sensitive to private property rights. In some cases they are very strong environmentalists and would perhaps be opposed to the idea of fair compensation. Within the European Community landowners receive compensation if they agree by a management agreement to maintain features of the landscape. This is what Canadian landowners are prepared to do, but they have had no indication from the government that it would live up to its part of the bargain on compensation.

    Let us look at some of the examples of what happens in the European Community when it comes to compensation and how much the government could learn from these jurisdictions and apply at home. The U.K. operates the environmentally sensitive area scheme with 10 year agreements. Payments are on a per hectare basis. There are currently 43 ESAs in the U.K. covering about 15% of agricultural land. It is not that much. Obviously there is not much abuse going on there.

    Switzerland runs the integrated production program, a voluntary scheme whereby farmers are given standard amounts based on profits forgone in return for agreeing to certain restrictions.

  +-(1605)  

    That sounds like it is moving in the right direction.

    In Scotland the goose management scheme, run by the Scottish national heritage trust, pays farmers per head of Greenland white-fronted goose recorded on their land for over a 12 month period.

    There are countless examples of this sort of responsibility among other jurisdictions when it comes to the idea of compensation. It is fair compensation to landowners. I think people expect fair compensation to be brought into the scheme of things.

    I would like to take a moment to share with everybody something that we were all very excited about when I was the environment critic. We were waiting to see what sort of compensation equation the government would produce in the hopes it would be something that could bring all the stakeholders together.

    Dr. Peter Pearse, a UBC professor, was asked to study what would be a fair compensation equation. He suggested that landowners be compensated for up to 50% for losses of 10% or more of income. That was all we heard as a suggestion on compensation for private property from a study that was commissioned by the government from an expert.

    Since then, the government has remained silent on whether or not it agrees with it and whether or not it plans to incorporate it, because currently it is not in the legislation.

    The government is talking about leaving it up to the regulations. Once the bill is passed in the House some bureaucrats who have no accountability to this place will be filling in the regulations. We have to trust that they will be fair to landowners.

    If the government respected the House and democracy, and if it would allow this particular House to function, then we would be able to deal with important changes to legislation in this place. It would be debated openly and we would know exactly the intention of the government when it comes to compensation. However, we do not know. We do not have a commitment at all.

    To take it further, according to the bill, compensation is entirely left to the minister's discretion. I do not know about Canadians out there, but many of our colleagues in the House shudder at the thought of giving more responsibility to ministers. We have seen irresponsibility in many cases in managing money within their departments.

    I know there are many from the opposition who feel strongly about the legislation. The Minister of Justice, being from Alberta, is very sensitive to the issues of compensation when it comes to landowners and people who care about landowners.

    Miss Deborah Grey: I do not think he is from Alberta.

    Mr. Rahim Jaffer: We were hoping that maybe the Minister of Justice and others would have stood up in their caucus to defend the rights of property owners. It makes us question her commitment to Albertans or others when it comes to fair compensation to landowners.

    This is what we have to focus on when it comes to dealing with endangered species legislation. Do we want to have legislation that is effective, that has teeth and that will deal with bringing all the stakeholders together no matter what portfolios they have? Endangered species is an issue all Canadians are behind. We know that. I know my hon. colleague in the corner there would agree. If we had more people trying to bring stakeholders together rather than the divide and conquer mentality of the government, we would have an effective endangered species legislation with which members on all sides of the House would agree and support.

    The issue of fairness should be taken seriously by the government. It would give the sense to landowners that they could continue to do the job they are already doing on a voluntary basis. They are being stewards of the land and protecting endangered species. If their land is taken away, they should be compensated fairly for that. Is that too much to ask? We in the opposition feel it is not. It is too bad the lights were not on over on the other side so that government members could at least see the value of fairness to Canadians.

  +-(1610)  

+-

    Miss Deborah Grey: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Of course we are all concerned about this, but I would just say that as of January 14 or 15, we all need to know and respect the fact that the present Minister of Justice is not from Alberta. He is from the province of Quebec. The Minister of Health, who was formerly the minister of justice, is from Alberta. At least we ought to all know who is who in this place and what they are.

+-

    The Deputy Speaker: With respect, I do not think that is a point of order. It is only a point of clarification.

+-

    Mr. Jim Pankiw (Saskatoon--Humboldt, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that although the current Minister of Health is obviously no longer the minister of justice, the issue of mandatory hunting rifle registration will continue to haunt her, and her government I might add.

    With respect to the matter at hand, the species at risk legislation, let me begin by saying that in 1992 the convention on biological diversity obliged Canada to adopt measures for mandatory habitat protection of threatened and endangered species and a scientific listing of species at risk to be a part of that process, both of which actually this legislation is deficient on and actually does not meet those obligations.

    Furthermore, I might add that it is unfortunate that it has taken the Liberal government so long to bring in this legislation. It has been in office since 1993 and here it is 2002 and, if I am not mistaken, this is the first piece of environmental legislation that it has ever brought in in all the years it has been in office, and the legislation falls short of our obligations under that 1992 convention.

    Nonetheless, the species at risk working group, which was a coalition of well recognized and major environmental groups, as well as industry stakeholders, put together a series of consensus recommendations. The government is of course ignoring those recommendations in this legislation which has been its tendency in many other cases.

    In many cases, industry stakeholders and, in this case, environmental groups with respect to environmental issues, are very much equipped to know the issues better than politicians quite frankly. The recommendations from these groups should be taken very seriously, not just flippantly disregarded as has been done in this case.

    As I have said, that tendency exists in other areas, such as agriculture where farm groups have been proposing solid, sustainable agricultural policies and solutions to the agriculture crisis for years but instead of adopting some of those recommendations and listening to farmers themselves, the Liberals have stumbled from ad hoc agriculture program to ad hoc program trying to snuff out the fires of the crisis on a temporary basis. They do not seem to get it.

    In any case, not only did the government ignore the consensus recommendations of the species at risk working group but members of the opposition in committee and, I might add, even some of the Liberal members of committee, worked very hard and proposed a whole series of amendments that they passed at committee to improve the legislation. Now that we are here at report stage, those amendments have been reversed by the minister, once again ignoring the advice and knowledge of people who have had a very close hand in working with the issues.

    I will outline three specific deficiencies of the legislation. To be set up effectively, a plan to protect threatened and endangered species should include a science based approach: a list of threatened and endangered species that is put together by scientists and experts, not by politicians.

    Second, if a species is placed on that list and a recovery plan stage is then entered into, that stage would include further scientific study and socio-economic assessments.

    The legislation, however, involves political based decisions whereby there would be no requirement for the government to make a decision on recommendations by scientists or even to respond to them, no time line and the decision ultimately would rest with a politician as opposed to scientists. That is an obvious, glaring deficiency in the bill.

    Third, there are provisions in the bill allowing for federal interference on private or provincial land but no mandatory protection for species at risk on federal land.

  +-(1615)  

    In the case of federal land, protection is discretionary on a case by case basis. Not only is that an inconsistency but it is obviously a wrong approach.

    Protection of species at risk benefits everyone. No individual should bear the sole burden of the cost of recovery. Landowners who would be involved in the process should be subject to receiving fair and reasonable compensation. There is no clear provision for that in the bill either.

    I want to address the issue of compensation for landowners. It is not in the bill but it will be dealt with, supposedly, by regulations from the minister. This is an approach that the government is increasingly taking every time it tables legislation. Instead of introducing comprehensive legislation that is very clear and thoughtful, it puts together these little framework shells of legislation and then accomplishes most of everything else through regulation. That is fundamentally wrong.

    I would like to commend my hon. colleague, the member for Edmonton North, who, together with Senator Lowell Murray, co-authored a report entitled, “The Working Group on Democratic Reform”, a very exciting and comprehensive document of political, parliamentary and electoral reform. One of the recommendations contained in that report is regulatory reform, specifically, three measures are suggested.

    First, that the government should be required to table a copy of the draft regulations before a bill is finally voted on in the Commons, or Senate if it originates there. Ideally, the draft regulations would be tabled at second reading or at the outset of committee study of the bill.

    If that recommendation had been followed by the government, then the regulations pertaining to compensation for landowners could have been part of the process and could have been deliberated at committee where witnesses could have been called to testify about what they thought and amendments could have been proposed. It would have greatly improved the legislative making process.

    The second recommendation in the report was with regard to new regulations under existing laws. It states that they should be tabled in parliament at the time of pre-publication so that appropriate committees can review them if desired.

    Once again, that process is not followed by the Liberal government. When the time comes for the minister to table these regulations about compensation, there is no parliamentary scrutiny.

    The third recommendation is that the disallowance procedure to rescind a regulation should be put on a statutory footing rather than being only an order of the House under the standing orders.

    In fact the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations is currently struggling with that very issue right now. In December it voted to disallow some Indian-only fishing regulations that, as far back as 1997, were identified by the committee as being illegal, or what is called ultra vires the act, in other words, outside the scope of the act of parliament, and that the minister was making these regulations even though he did not have the authority to do so.

    In December, because the minister kept dragging his feet and would not correct the situation, we finally voted to disallow those regulations. However the Liberal dominated committee, a few weeks ago, just outvoted us and is keeping that report away from parliament.

    Those are some very solid suggestions for regulatory reform which I sincerely hope will one day be adopted by government.

    Let me conclude by saying that the opposition coalition believes in protecting endangered species based on the principles of respect for private property, voluntary programs, co-operation, sound science and accountability. Without a strong emphasis on these principles, endangered species could become more threatened as the result of bad legislation. The current endangered species legislation does not sufficiently reflect these principles and we will continue to fight for legislation that is effective and that will work.

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+-

    The Deputy Speaker: The Chair has notice of a point of order arising out of the question period today.

*   *   *

[Translation]

+-Point of Order

+-Oral Question Period

+-

    Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of Labour and Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in this afternoon's oral question period, a Bloc Québécois member asked me a question. In my reply, I said September 2004, when I should have said September 2003.

+-

    The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Employment Insurance.

*   *   *

[English]

+-Species at Risk Act

     The House resumed consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

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    Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this is one of those debates on a bill to which I very much look forward. I think all of us in the Canadian Alliance, including the members on the government side, want to support and protect endangered species. I believe the emphasis is how do we do this and how do we manage it properly.

    The assumption seems to be that somehow the bill meets the desire that all Canadians want, which is to protect endangered species and to ensure they are protected in a way that is balanced and is a fair process for everybody concerned. Therefore there is no disagreement as to the purpose and the objective of this legislation.

    However this is now the third attempt by the government to bring forward this kind of legislation. This government is not the only government that has tried to deal with this. Other government have, some more successfully than others.

    It is our position that in this case some of the provisions in the bill are of a nature that will make it impossible for the government to realize its objective. That is the really serious part of the bill. It will defeat the very purpose for which it was intended and that purpose will be defeated by some of the provisions in the bill.

    I was particularly saddened this afternoon during question period when the Minister of the Environment responded to a question by my colleague from the constituency of Red Deer. The minister was asked what he wanted to do. He responded in a manner like this. He said “I would like to thank the hon. member for giving me yet again the opportunity of pointing out how much I value co-operation with people who work on the land, trappers, farmers, ranchers, people who work in the woods or fishermen. These are the people who are at the forefront of the battle to protect endangered species”.

    Those are wonderful words. In fact, if he had listened properly, and he probably did, to some of the other speeches here, those were the exact words my hon. colleagues used. I believe that those are the correct words. The unfortunate part is that he seems to have forgotten that there is a group of people that he excluded and particularly damned in the next paragraph.

    I am reading from the blues. Maybe he will change them when he sees them, but this is what he said, “With respect to the mining association, I am sure that it would like to have unlimited compensation for many things that we think it should not do. We do not think when it is operating on crown land it is given the right to eliminate endangered species. We think that it is something that should not be in...”

    Let us analyze it. Does that mean the only time they would have unlimited rights to destroying species is when they are on crown lands and if they are on private lands they would not have that right? This is one superficial interpretation, but it suggests something to totally different. That is to suggest that the mining companies are irresponsible and that when operating on crown land or any other kind of land they want unlimited compensation and do not care not what happens to endangered species.

    Let me tell the House about an example that exists at Wabamun, Alberta where TransAlta Utilities mines for coal. It has restored that habitat in such a manner that if we went there we would say that it was a beautiful part of the province and wonder how that happened. We would find out that the land has been reclaimed. There was an open pit mine there. It has been reclaimed to the point where it is now a show piece at which people can look. To suggest and imply that miners are irresponsible and that the only people who are responsible are ranchers, trappers and people of that sort is wrong.

    I also want to lean rather heavily on notes that were given to me by a very prominent member of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers' Association. Members of that association work in the woods, on resource lands and on crown lands. Here are some of his concerns. He suggests that Canadians expect that the needs of species at risk should be balanced with the socioeconomic needs of people and the communities that they live and work in. Do we all agree with that? He certainly agrees with that. This is a resource person talking this way.

  +-(1625)  

    He goes on to say that these Canadians expect this legislation to provide a process to protect and recover species at risk, while at the same time manage the impact on individuals and society in a fair and reasonable manner. What more responsible statement can we find than that one?

    He also says that Canadians expect this legislation to encourage co-operation between the federal and provincial governments, landowners and resource users and that they are respectful of the constitutional division of powers to ensure that is there. We all agree with that.

    This is a resource person managing some of the resources of our country and we know we must develop our resources and use them in a way that will enhance our economy and that will also develop resources and skills of our people. Sure, it is complex and involves biological, social, economic, cultural and constitutional boundaries. However notice that in the preparation of the bill the government said that it would consult with a wide variety of people.

    We will talk about only one group, the Canadian Wildlife Service. Did the government consult it? Yes, indeed. Was that consultation productive in terms of amending the legislation to meet its concerns? No, it was not. What is the point of consulting people if we do not bother to listen to what they have to say or incorporate their legitimate concerns?

    Some would argue immediately that there is some bias and predetermined interests that perhaps should be avoided. A member of a particular group, Dr. Pearse to whom my colleague just referred, told us very clearly that one of the fundamental principles was that if we were to take land away to protect species, then there should be fair compensation in recognition of what was happening in the marketplace.

    We cannot just willy-nilly say it is worth a certain amount of money. We must look at the marketplace. If the land is being taken out of production at a particular time in date, we must compensate in terms of what the marketplace demands at that time and what the market is generally like in that area. That was all done.

    Dr. Pearse did something very interesting. He did not say anything about the timeliness of some compensation. Technically, it could be argued that we would give compensation but would wait five years or ten years. This was not specified. Dr. Pearse should have covered that issue, but he did not.

    What is necessary in terms of compensation? We have talked about fairness. We have talked about a relationship to the marketplace, but there is something far more significant than that. Everyone in the country and here in the House believe that we should have the right to own property, to use it, to have the pleasure of having that property and to do it in such a way that it will not hurt other people. We believe that is our right.

    Should it not only be the responsibility of government to protect that right, but if in its wisdom the government decides to deprive individuals of the use and ownership of that private property, then should the government not be honour bound to compensate those people for the loss of that property?

    However it goes beyond that. Very often the use of that land and property generates money for the benefit of society and develops communities. The government should then create a situation that if it is going to take those means of production away, it should then compensate in such a manner so that capital can be applied in a new way, a new generation can be brought about and then the economy is not disturbed but is enhanced by this issue.

    We must address this area of compensation. We must address the right and responsibility as individuals to do what is right and fair and so should the government.

  +-(1630)  

+-

    Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address Bill C-5, a piece of legislation that has been a long time getting to this point. It is the third time around for endangered species legislation and sadly the government has still not got it right.

    I want to begin where my friend who just spoke left off, on the issue of compensating people for the loss of the use of their private property. Property rights are central to freedom in Canada and to every country. If we do not have them protected and respected, then by definition our freedoms are eroded.

    Whether it is the Canadian Wheat Board, the firearms registry or now endangered species legislation, the government has been very cavalier in its treatment of property rights. It is a shame not only because it erodes a fundamental freedom, but it is also a shame because it will work precisely against what the government wants to accomplish. It wants people to protect habitat for endangered species but the way the legislation is designed, where there is no guarantee of any compensation if land is taken out of production, for example on a farm, to protect endangered species, means that people will have an incentive to get rid of endangered species on their properties.

    Perhaps people on the other side have not heard, but we have a severe drought in the west right now, particularly in southern Alberta. These are difficult times on the farms, and it is true really across the west because of low commodity prices as well. When the legislation comes into effect, as surely it will, there will be absolutely no incentive. In fact, there will be a disincentive to look after endangered species on property.

    In my riding in southern Alberta we have burrowing owls, which are rare birds. People are generally very good stewards when they have burrowing owls on their properties. We used to have a program called “Operation Burrowing Owl”. Ranchers and farmers would voluntarily report activity by these owls. They would go out of their way to protect them and ensure nobody was out shooting gophers around them, et cetera.

    Now all of a sudden having burrowing owls on your property becomes a liability. If someone down the road said that Mr. Smith had burrowing owls on his property, that piece of property would be taken out of production. He would not be able to raise cattle on it any more. We hardly have any grass as it is. If we take more of it out of production, it hurts people pretty dramatically.

    The incentive will be to go out with the .22 and clean up the burrowing owls. That is exactly what has happened in the United States. This is not some theoretical consequence because it has already happened with very similar legislation in the United States.

    A much better approach would be to say that we would provide compensation for people who have land taken out of production to protect these endangered species. That is in harmony with our common law tradition. We provide people with compensation if a road goes through their land or if it even has an injurious impact on the value of their property. When it comes to endangered species, the government does not place as high a priority on compensating people. In doing that, it really does work against the end it is trying to accomplish.

    I urge the government to revisit the whole concept. I do not understand where the environment minister is coming from.

    In my riding many people who are landowners are outdoorsmen and take great pride in protecting habitat on their properties. Many of them are involved in organizations like Ducks Unlimited and local fish and game clubs where they plant trees, build habitat and do all kinds of things to protect the land and ensure that all kinds of species have places to nest, burrow and those sorts of things. These people care about the environment. They want to protect it so there are more species, animals and birds.

  +-(1635)  

    I am afraid that this legislation, and in fact the whole approach of the government, has been to ignore that and not acknowledge the great benefit that these people provide when it comes to protecting the environment through voluntary organizations and as individuals looking after their own land. These people are great stewards of the land.

    I am afraid that what we are seeing from the government is a heavy handed, top down approach which assumes that people will go out and destroy animals on purpose, which simply is false. There are better ways of handling this. I do not understand why the government does not take the approach that we should actually pay people to set aside property to protect animals. That is obviously a more co-operative way. I do not see why the government does not talk about providing tax breaks for people who provide habitat for species at risk. These are all proposals that have been suggested to the government, things it could have done, but the government reversed that. It said it would start on the assumption that these people are all out to wipe out endangered species, something that is simply false, completely false.

    It is no wonder that the government is at loggerheads with the rural population, especially in the west, because it takes that approach. The same thing happened with the firearms and many other pieces of legislation.

    It is very sad that after three attempts and after all the consultation the government received indicating that it should be working in a more co-operative way, it is not reflected at all in the legislation, especially considering that the government has been pounding away at this for pretty close to five years.

    I will say one other thing with respect to this whole issue. A few minutes ago my friend, the deputy leader of the Canadian Alliance, got up and spoke. As members know, his family came from Uganda. They were driven out of Uganda by Idi Amin. One of the things that Idi Amin did when he drove them out was take all their property. I am not comparing the government to Idi Amin or to what happened in Uganda, I am not, but I do want to point out that property is central to freedom. The government laughs off that concept too often. It does not take that concept seriously, but it is so fundamental to everything good about our country that it should be respected in every piece of legislation the government brings down, but the government routinely nips away at the edges of this critical freedom. This bill, Bill C-5, is another perfect example of that.

    I urge the government across the way, the next time it brings down legislation that has an impact on people's private property, to be conscious that it is fooling with something very precious.

  +-(1640)  

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay--Boundary--Okanagan, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on this part of Bill C-5 dealing primarily with compensation to property owners who would suffer under the impact of the bill.

    Let me give an example that is typical of this, because we are talking primarily about rural lands, farmland and ranchland. It is one of the anomalies in the bill. If there were four large ranches all in the same area, all interconnected, and there happened to be some endangered species habitat found on one ranch, that particular rancher could potentially suffer financial harm without proper compensation or even any compensation under the bill while the other three ranchers in the immediate area would have no financial penalty at all.

    One of the problems we have with legislation throughout the country is getting people to relate to what the actual problem is. It is sometimes very difficult to get someone in an urban centre, where housing density is much more concentrated, to relate to what is happening to a random rancher or farmer but not to any great numbers of them. I would like to use examples which, while not necessarily factual, certainly could be.

    I will pick three urban ridings, the first one being the federal riding of Davenport. Inside the federal riding of Davenport, let us say that a constituent goes to his member of parliament asking for help because six feet are being taken off his 70 foot lot, his fence is being taken down, his fruit trees taken out and the government is offering absolutely no compensation because it says that this is less than 10% of the individual's property and he should be prepared to give it up for the government.

    In another riding, that of Kitchener Centre, let us say that someone with a large commercial building goes to his member of parliament stating that the federal government next door has decided it needs to expand its building and is taking away from the back of his property his legal access to his loading docks. Without that access, says the individual, “I have no way to bring in my trucks and I am going to suffer severe financial harm because the government is taking away a legally entrenched access route, which is right on the deed of property, but because it does not represent 10% of the value of the business I am not going to get any compensation”.

    In the third riding, that of Victoria, British Columbia, a group of property owners goes to the member of parliament asking for help. They have waterfront property and the federal government has decided it needs some property on the water for a port activity. It has decided to take 50 feet off their property, denying them waterfront any more because another property will be between them and the water. The government will take away a substantial part of their lots and they will get approximately only 50% of the value of the land the government is taking.

    In each of these cases, the member of parliament they went to for help is in a conflict because the three members of parliament for those ridings are the Liberal chair of the environment committee, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of the Environment himself.

    In this legislation, they have not denied that they are following the provisions of something called the Pearse report, which recommends that the impact on anybody whose property is taken or whose operation is curtailed by less than 10% of the value should not be compensated at all. That would follow for the first two examples of Davenport and Kitchener Centre. In the third example, where substantial value is being taken, the Pearse report states that if it is more than 10% of the value then 50% of what the individual loses should be compensated.

    I would hope that people from urban centres who are listening to this debate recognize how they would feel if the government said “We're taking a piece of your property. We're taking six feet off the side. We're taking away the new fence you just built and we're not going to put it back up. We're taking away all the fruit trees that line that side of your property and we're not going to give you any compensation”.

  +-(1645)  

    If they cannot relate to some random rancher or perhaps a farmer out in a rural area, then perhaps they can relate to someone on their street or even possibly themselves having the government come and say it is taking their property and there will be no compensation.

    We certainly support the concept of protecting endangered species and their habitat. We think it is very important, but the very notion that a few people would be asked to finance the cost of this when it is of benefit to all is absolutely absurd.

    I would hope that the members on the Liberal side would reflect on this. We know we are from different parties but sometimes I even wonder if we are not from different countries, with the gap between us on this side of the House and that little bit of space across the way to the government benches. How can they sit there quietly and say it is perfectly fair to take 10% of someone's land and not pay compensation? Are they are supposed to say “thanks very much for allowing us to contribute to the government”? That does not make a whole lot of sense and yet I do not hear a single voice from the government side speaking out in support of the people of Canada. That is really who they are acting against.

    Whenever this happens to one group, in this case albeit a relatively small percentage, the farmers and ranchers of the country, the other people, those in urban centres and all those who say it does not affect them, have to realize that even though it does not in this case what happens the next time? What happens when the federal government does something that does affect them and other people say “it does not affect us so we're not coming to your aid”?

    I had a recent case in one of my communities. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans decided arbitrarily that it needed a $400,000 fish screen placed on the opening of an irrigation canal that supplies water to the farmers in that area. That canal had been in operation over 80 years without any problem, but suddenly the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it wanted to enhance the salmon fishery so it would have a fancy screen put on the opening of the canal. As a result, a small city of about 3,500 people is being handed a bill for $400,000.

    All Canadians across the country must stand together to stand up to mistakes that the Liberal government makes from time to time. I would like to think that the Liberals are acting with honourable intentions. That is why we support the concept of the bill, but the reality is that it does no good to have good intentions if in fact serious harm would be done to a great number of Canadians across the country.

    The very notion that the government would impose this financial hardship on a few suggests that it really does not care about making a bill that is right. It only cares about scoring a few cheap political points with a few people who are pushing this agenda particularly hard.

    I salute the people who are pushing the agenda to protect the endangered species of the country, but I am sure even they would not agree that only a handful of people, particularly rural farmers and ranchers, should be the ones who have to bear the burden for it.

    I would hope that the government will consider changing this part of the bill. We know that it has been drafting the bill for seven years. Would it not be an embarrassment to the government that it would come forward with a bill at this stage that would so unfairly penalize a small number of people within our community after seven years of a bill being brought before the House, being debated, being lost when the government prorogued the House and brought a session to an end and then being reintroduced yet another time, and with all the hearings across the country and the information we have received from divergent groups all recognizing the unfairness of this? It would be unconscionable. The government has an opportunity to change it and I hope the government will take it.

    We are in report stage now and there is an opportunity for the government to accept that. If it does not, then the only other opportunity we have left is the thought that the government has no real agenda. There are a lot of rumours that the government will prorogue the House. That has bailed it out of bad legislation before. That is one of the reasons for proroguing the House: to wipe the slate of bad legislation. This bill is that and if ever there was justification for taking legislation off the slate this is it.

  +-(1650)  

    If the government does not fix this legislation, then it has to remove it. Otherwise, it is being very unfair to a number of good Canadians, Canadians who deserve better from the government.

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    Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, we are tenants on this earth, not proprietors. As such, we have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of care and respect for the way in which we treat the environment while we are here.

    It has been estimated that the worldwide rate of wildlife extinction has been increasing at about 1,000 times the natural rate. Much of this increase can be attributed to human interference and lack of respect for the environment in which these species live. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we as representatives of a country which plays host to an extremely large number of wildlife species take any steps to protect species at risk of extinction.

    As the bill currently stands, compensation would be assessed on a discretionary case by case basis. However, we cannot assess compensation on a discretionary basis. It is nothing less than arrogant for the government to expect the citizens of Canada to trust its judgment. We must have provisions for full compensation that are outlined in the legislation so that the amount of compensation is set out beforehand by all the elected members and not left entirely in the hands of a few bureaucrats.

    Having provisions for full compensation in the legislation acts as a disciplinary device for government. It restricts random regulations, makes the government more careful in planning and assures that we respect private property. These ideals are nothing new. They are the basis of our economic system. It is therefore vital that those people or companies who experience reduced income or increased costs be fully and fairly compensated.

    When things are left up to the discretion of a few people, it is hard to imagine that everyone will be treated equally. It will certainly open the door for those who feel they have not been compensated fairly to lose trust in their government. If we put strict provisions on compensation and have set amounts of compensation that are clearly outlined in the bill, it is much less likely that people will feel that they have been treated unfairly because everyone is assured of getting fair and equal treatment across the country.

    It must be pointed out that the government needs to develop estimates for different compensation scenarios. We cannot just assume that every situation requiring compensation is going to be the same. The government needs to take these differing situations into account and provide guidelines for how to assess compensation in different scenarios.

    This is a facet of the bill on which the government has yet to release information. It is an issue that needs to be tackled soon so as to decrease uncertainty and let the citizens of Canada know what they can expect. It makes sense and will likely decrease the chances of further problems down the road.

    Although the minister's proposal includes references to compensation, the guidelines are quite restricting. For example, the proposal states that the compensation should not generally exceed the value of incentives that were made available through stewardship programs. In other words, the minister is saying the compensation would be limited based on the value of whatever initiatives were available to promote preventive action on the part of the landowner. This may sound fair; however, it is difficult to imagine how this limitation would allow compensation to cover market value losses if land were taken out of production.

    Although in the past many landowners have co-operated in species recovery programs without compensation, the majority of these cases surely have involved those who can already afford to take such initiatives or people who are willing to make personal sacrifices to save endangered species. It would be naive to believe that all people would participate in these programs without receiving compensation for their personal efforts and financial losses. Therefore, with the health of endangered species in mind and in the name of putting people at the centre of legislation, all people must receive compensation at fair market value.

    It is unfair to leave decisions falling into the realm of jurisdiction up to the discretion of one person. In our criminal justice system, the decision as to whether or not to convict someone of a criminal offence lies in the hands and discretion of twelve people, not one.

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    When a decision such as this is left up to discretion, it opens the door for one's moral, ethical and even religious dispositions to come into the mix. This is something that is sure to spark a nationwide debate.

    We need strict guidelines as to when the federal government can impose its laws on the provinces so that provinces and landowners know what to expect in terms of interference from the federal level. Since Bill C-5 leaves the federal government's power completely at the discretion of the minister responsible, landowners do not know if or when the federal government can or will impose its laws on provincial lands.

    Instead of working together with the provinces and property owners, the federal government is introducing uncertainty, resentment and distrust. The federal government must be responsible for ensuring that it consults and co-operates with the provinces when making these considerations.

    Somewhat ironically, in a 1999 independent study commissioned by the federal government entitled “A Review of National Accord Gap Analysis”, nine out of the twelve provinces and territories scored higher than the federal government regarding wildlife conservation. In fact, the federal government scored 44% on the test whereas all of the prairie provinces scored in the top five with marks ranging from 64% in B.C. to 85% in Alberta. How can one not see the irony in this?

    Under these conditions found in a study commissioned by the federal government itself, it is still insisting that federal wildlife officials be allowed to peer over the shoulder of their provincial counterparts to ensure that they are doing the job. The provinces are obviously doing a better job of wildlife conservation than the federal government. Therefore, why is it that Bill C-5 does not recognize the federal government's own shortcomings in this area but rather adopts an arrogant attitude ensuring a dominating and coercive attitude toward the provinces? Each province and territory of Canada is different in regard to the species that inhabit their part of the country.

    Officials at the Government of Saskatchewan expressed concerns in a number of areas covered in Bill C-5. First, they are of the impression that Bill C-5 does not adequately allow for provinces to take an equal system approach. What is good for one species in a grasslands may not be good for another species inhabiting the same environment. Bill C-5 is fairly narrow-minded and does not adequately allow for the provinces to take a diverse and open-minded perspective toward wildlife conservation.

    Second, the Government of Saskatchewan is worried that it does not have the adequate resources or the timeframe to meet all of the provincial requirements outlined in Bill C-5.

    Moreover, Bill C-5 is diverging from the spirit of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada signed in 1996 by most provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife and by the federal government.

    The accord lays out a variety of commitments to protect species at risk. By its terms, the governments recognize that intergovernmental co-operation is crucial to the conservation and protection of species at risk. The governments play a leadership role. Complementary federal, provincial and territorial legislation, regulations, policies and programs are essential to protect species at risk.

    Co-operation between the federal and provincial governments is at the heart of the accord. However, as I have stated before, Bill C-5 does not encourage co-operation between the provincial and federal governments but rather introduces uncertainty, resentment and distress.

  +-(1700)  

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    Mr. Gary Lunn (Saanich--Gulf Islands, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss the species at risk bill, a bill which I join my Canadian Alliance colleagues in opposing.

    Some people will say that by opposing Bill C-5 we demonstrate our lack of respect for biodiversity in Canada and the world. Some people will say that we do not care about protecting endangered species in Canada. This is false.

    We care about the environment and we do so in a realistic and responsible manner. Alliance members recognize that legislation like Bill C-5 will fail and fail badly if it does not recognize some basic truths.

    The first of these is that to be successful, species at risk legislation has to have a buy in from landowners and stakeholders at all levels. Enforcement to protect animals facing extinction will always be necessary, but the amount of enforcement needed dramatically decreases when there is voluntary reporting and co-operation with law enforcement.

    There will be little interest in co-operation if landowners and stakeholders are not guaranteed compensation for losses incurred as a result of species protection.

    The bill does allow for compensation, but only at the minister's discretion. This provides absolutely no assurance that the government will compensate for land lost to development.

    This type of arrangement is typical of the members opposite. Time after time legislation is introduced without any clear intention of how it will work in the field.

    Many ranchers and farmers across the country could lose their livelihood due to the discovery of endangered species on their lands. Frankly, this trust us philosophy is just not enough. Ranchers and farmers can look to the environmental movement and find strong allies against the trust us mentality put forward by the government.

    Environmentalists have rightly said that it is scientists, not politicians, that should establish the list of endangered species. Organizations like COSEWIC have a longstanding reputation of using scientific data to make these decisions.

    The Canadian Alliance supports following a scientifically determined list, not a politically motivated one. We do not support giving the Canadian government the final say, but only to clearly express why it has disallowed a species that was on the scientific list. Without a clear and compelling reason from the government, the list from organizations like COSEWIC would stand. We believe this would insulate these organizations from political pressuring that would interfere with their research.

    Instead, the government will have complete discretionary power as to what species are put on the list. The Liberals think they know better than the biologists. They advise us we should just trust them, that they know what to do.

    A democracy does not function because its citizens blindly trust the government. It functions when we have a transparent government that clearly defines fundamental aspects of our law.

    In the case of Bill C-5 there are no more important questions than these: What species will be protected? What compensation will be put forward to protect those species?

    Like the scientific listing, clear compensation guidelines are required. Blind expressions of trust are simply not acceptable. There are at least two reasons for this.

    The first reason is admittedly practical. If we do not reassure Canadians of compensation for their losses, we risk a lack of reporting. Without the surety of being reimbursed, some landowners will not report sightings to the proper authorities. Obviously this is not right. As a society we all benefit from the protection of our biodiversity. I am sure members can appreciate that when faced with the destruction of their livelihood, some Canadians will fail to report.

    Consider the following scenario: An endangered species is accidentally killed by farm machinery and later discovered by a landowner. Under Bill C-5 the farmer has no assurance if he contacts Environment Canada that he will be treated fairly. If it is found that the species is resident in his entire field, he will likely be ordered to cease and desist all commercial activity. Will he be compensated under this scheme? Who knows? Trust us, the government says. Some will, but many will not.

    As a result, the species might never get reported. Instead of one dead, an entire population might be wiped out, all of this because the government refused to deal fairly with Canadian landowners from the start.

  +-(1705)  

    Worse still, it is possible that landowners would seek to destroy habitat simply to prevent endangered species from taking up residence. We know this has happened in the United States following passage of their endangered species legislation. It could just as easily happen here.

    From a purely practical standpoint the government is inviting our own citizens to not report the presence of species at risk. This would simply put them more at risk. Let us work with stakeholders and landowners. Let us provide them the peace of mind they deserve. This peace of mind would translate into better protection for environment than vague pleas for trust.

    Compensation is not needed just for practical reasons. There is also a moral imperative: a recognition that the ownership of one's person, one's possessions and yes, one's land are sacred. It is for this reason that native land claims need to be settled in good faith in my home province of British Columbia.

    The rights to our own property should not have to be debated every time we stand to debate a bill in the House. They should be enshrined in the constitution. However, we are not here to reopen the constitution. That would be a long affair. The government cannot even respect provincial rights in the current constitution so I would hate to confuse them even more.

    I am an optimist. Even though property rights are not in the constitution I would think members opposite would support the principle that individual Canadians should be able to own their own property and to have free use of it. The protection of endangered species is in all of our common interests. Sometimes we must impinge on the use or ownership of private land to do this. All we ask is that the government do so only as a last resort and that we compensate landowners fairly for their loss. The Liberals tell us to trust them instead of agreeing to this principle.

    The Liberals have given us a billion dollar boondoggle in HRDC, including the enticement of a business into the minister's riding with $1.6 million of HRDC grants. The minister remains in her position. The government has given us a minister of public works who appeared to have serious conflict of interest charges over the Canada land corporation. He has been rewarded with the position of ambassador to Denmark. The government brought us Shawinigate. The architect of that boondoggle is still our Prime Minister.

    Are these things against the conflict of interest guidelines for cabinet ministers? We do not know. The government refuses to release the guidelines. It says we should trust it. Now the government wants Canadians to trust it on endangered species, on compensation and on listing. Based on past experience I think we should get it in writing.

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    Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-5, the endangered species bill. I will speak from my standpoint of being a farmer.

    We would have to go a long way to find better stewards of the land, the resources and wildlife on it, than farmers. Farmers are aware that we must be good stewards of the land because if we are not we simply cannot continue to do what we do for our livelihoods.

    I would like to dwell on some of the positive aspects that the Canadian Alliance has brought to the bill. We believe that a balanced plan to conserve the biological diversity of protected, endangered species is critical for balancing a healthy environment and for a high quality of life for all Canadians. We must have the ability to feed ourselves to maintain a healthy environment and be sustainable. There has to be a balance. Endangered species legislation must encourage critical conservation through community-based stewardship programs, incentives, respect of private property rights, and full compensation.

    My friend from Saanich--Gulf Islands referred to the possibility of us learning from similar legislation passed in the United States. Americans found that their legislation did not lead to better conservation or better protection of endangered species. In fact it led to harsher environments for endangered species. People did not report a short-eared owl or some kind of rare butterfly, or mushroom growing on their property. They did not risk having the whole bureaucratic force descend upon them, being read the riot act and maybe even charged with something. They took the attitude of shoot, shovel and shut-up. That is absolutely counterproductive to what the legislation is trying to attain.

    When I go fishing with my buddy Stan and his son Marty we do not catch all the fish in the lake and bring them home. We do not even catch our limit. We set out to bring home enough fish for supper. My wife and I like fresh trout very much so we catch maybe two, or if they are a little larger one will do. We do not take all the fish out of the lake. We leave some for next time. It is called stewardship.

    What I find so offensive about the bill is that it takes an adversarial point of view with the very people it should be co-operating with. There should be incentives and co-operation. There should be encouragement for people in the farming business, and in industry as well.

    However I want to speak specifically about farming because that is how I made my living for the last 35 years. The government is making a huge mistake by not bringing the farming, agricultural and ranching communities onside with it as full partners and participants rather than taking the big brother approach that we shall protect these endangered species.

    Farmers may be aware of some of the species but certainly not all of them. We are aware that the whooping crane is an endangered species and I am sure that farmers who had a whooping crane nesting on their land would take extreme caution to stay away from it and not disturb it. However while they are doing that they should be compensated.

  +-(1710)  

    All of us work very hard to pay for our land and we work very hard once we get it paid for to make a living from it. It is a basic right that we should be able to enjoy the quiet enjoyment of our land and be able to farm it in order to produce food.

    If we do not have control of our land farmers will be added to the species at risk list. People in Canada will go hungry when farmers are regulated to the point that they cannot produce food for our nation anymore.

    There are many people with farm backgrounds in the House, not just in our party, but in all parties. If we go back a generation or two, there are probably agricultural links literally to every person in the House and certainly if there are not direct agricultural links, there is a need for people in the House to depend on agriculture to feed them.

    I would like to talk about compensation and not just compensation on an ad hoc basis. This has to be compensation at fair market value. If we do not have the ability to dispose of our land at fair market value, then we never had ownership of it in the first place. Surely to goodness we have not come to that point in Canada where people will be deprived of the ownership of their land. I thought that was something that was saved for totally totalitarian regimes.

    The points I am making are absolutely critical to the survival and the saving of the species that the bill intends to help. Farmers and ranchers are excellent stewards of the land. The last few years have been particularly difficult for farmers on the plains. It has been dry. We have had barely enough moisture to get a crop in my area. I am fairly close to the foothills so we get showers that come over the mountains and we get rain but 25 miles east of me those showers have completely petered out and the land is even drier and--

  +-(1715)  

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I recognize how critically important this is and it is absolutely shameful that so few people are listening to such an important bill. I therefore ask that you call quorum.

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    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Indeed, there are not enough members. The bells will not ring more than 15 minutes.

    And the bells having rung:

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): We have quorum.

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    Mr. Dale Johnston: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the government would be well advised to take on the agricultural community as an ally in the fight to save endangered species rather than take on the adversarial view that it will criminalize a lot of people for making a living who may inadvertently destroy some habitat of endangered species of one type or another.

    The whole issue of compensation is of utmost importance. That one simple action would solve a lot of the problems I see here today. If people trying to make a living in agriculture knew they would be compensated at fair market value for land taken out of production they would comply.

    We must take the position that this is a partnership and not have big brother looking over people's shoulders and pressing criminal charges on people who inadvertently destroy habitat. Having said that, people who deliberately, wilfully and mischievously destroy habitat are in a lot of trouble and they should be.

    On a creek bank on my farm in Wetaskiwin there is a heronry of great blue herons. Great blue herons are not endangered species, but they were a few years ago and now they are making a great comeback. I took on the project of protecting them entirely of my own volition, not because someone said I had to. I do my best to protect them and keep people away from them while they are fledgling because they are particularly vulnerable at that time.

    I have enjoyed the opportunity to speak to the bill today. I feel passionately about the issue. I hope the government is listening and will make the required changes to the bill. I hope it does not merely bring it up to our standards but improves it for all involved.

  +-(1720)  

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    Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo--Cowichan, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to join in the debate today on Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation.

    I am no stranger to the important issue of being a good steward of the land and the world around us. The habitat of the Vancouver Island marmot, one of Canada's most noted species at risk, is in my riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan. Like my colleagues on all sides of the House, I have learned much in the past number of years about the need to ensure the ongoing balance of natural habitat and the effect the issue has on our daily lives.

    The premise of preserving species at risk is not open to debate. I am sure all members see the value of this. However the government has done such a poor job of putting the bill together that I must oppose it. It is amazing that after three attempts the government and the Minister of the Environment still cannot get it right.

    As we debate the Group No. 1 amendments and the issue of compensation I believe the legislation would do more harm to habitat and people than the current lack of legislation. I commend my colleagues in the Canadian Alliance, specifically my hon. friend from Red Deer, for putting a great deal of effort and thought into the proposed amendments we are debating today.

    People in my riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan are concerned with conservation, the environment and the natural habitat around them. For those who do not know my part of Canada it is filled with vast tracts of untouched rainforest. We understand the need to preserve and protect species at risk. However in so doing we must ensure the protection is done fairly and in balance with those who would be directly and indirectly affected.

    The issue of compensation plays an integral part in the bill. Bill C-5 includes the premise that the minister may pay compensation for losses due to the species at risk act. This is an improvement over the Liberal's earlier versions of the endangered species bill but it is still not good enough. Compensation under the current bill would be entirely at the minister's discretion. There is no requirement that it be paid and no recognition that landowners and users have rights as well as responsibilities.

    At the Standing Committee on the Environment the Canadian Alliance won a huge victory when it was agreed that compensation should be “fair and reasonable”. However the bill says compensation should only be for losses suffered as a result of any extraordinary impact arising from the application of the act. Under the current version of the bill we do not fully know what the term “extraordinary impact” means.

    Dr. Peter Pearse suggested in his government commissioned study that landowners be compensated up to 50% for losses of 10% or more of income. Will this be the new government policy? If so, why not have the courage to say so and include it in legislation?

    The minister pleads that compensation is a complex issue. He says more time is needed to study it properly. At no time has the minister brought forward cost estimates for different compensation scenarios or had discussions about how many people might be affected. This only contributes to the uncertainty and reinforces the perception that government environmental programs would be brought forward with little or no planning or preparation. I encourage the minister to table the compensation estimates and reports today.

    Why compensate? It is recognized almost around the world that to implement an effective species at risk act there is a need for compensation. If the government is serious about species at risk legislation it should incorporate the principles of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve species and ecosystems. Article 20 of the convention states:

Developed country Parties shall provide new and additional financial resources to enable developing country Parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs to them of implementing measures which fulfill the obligations of this Convention--

  +-(1725)  

    The UN convention recognizes that because the objective of maintaining bio and ecosystem diversity is so important, costs must be equitably borne by everyone and not primarily by developing countries. We expect the same principle to apply to Bill C-5. It should recognize that the protection of endangered species is for the common good of all Canadians.

    Compensation to private landowners for regulatory restrictions imposed in protecting endangered species and preserving biological diversity is practised in many jurisdictions around the world. I will cite a few examples. In Tasmania the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 states:

A landholder is entitled to compensation for financial loss suffered directly resulting from an interim protection order or a land management agreement.

    The legislation goes on to state:

The Minister must determine the amount of compensation to be paid to a person entitled to compensation.

    In the European community landowners receive compensation if they agree via a management agreement to maintain features of the landscape. The United Kingdom operates the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Scheme with 10 year agreements. Under the act payments are based on a per hectare basis. There are currently 43 ESAs in the United Kingdom covering 15% of the agricultural land base.

    Switzerland runs the Integrated Production program, a voluntary scheme whereby farmers are given standard amounts based on profits foregone in return for agreeing to certain restrictions.

    Scotland has the Goose Management Scheme run by the Scottish National Heritage trust. The scheme pays farmers per head for greenland white fronted geese recorded on the land over a 12 month period.

    The concept of compensation corresponds directly with the basic principles of the economic market. In other words, if the value of my property is diminished because of someone else's actions I expect to be compensated. In addition, provisions in the legislation for full compensation would act as a disciplinary device for governments. Many Canadians are already skeptical of the role of government in their daily lives. A disciplinary process would restrict random regulations, make the government more careful in planning and respect private property which is the basis of our economic system.

    Compensation or full support is absolutely necessary to achieve full co-operation from landowners and healthy species populations. It has been the experience of other countries that without proper compensation incentives, people depending on land for their livelihood act in ways counterproductive to saving species at risk. This is not in anyone's best interest.

    The endangered species act would give unwarranted discretion to the minister to intervene and defend species at risk yet it gives no guidance about how the goal is to be balanced with other considerations. COSEWIC, the independent scientific panel responsible for maintaining the list of species at risk, would take into consideration scientific evidence. This is as it should be. However it must be balanced against the real concerns of property owners, industry and the economic well-being of all Canadians.

    Protecting endangered species must work for the species and for people. Any other approach would risk creating antagonism and suspicion rather than co-operation. It would guarantee the act did not work for anyone. The government must do more for property owners, farmers and others who feel their livelihoods or prosperity may be affected. It must not simply say “trust us”. It must stipulate that a commitment to protecting endangered species would be cost effective and respect the economic interests of Canadians.

    Motion No. 1 therefore asks:

That Bill C-5, in the preamble, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 24 on page 2 with the following:

“landowners should be compensated for any financial or material losses to ensure that the costs of conserving species at risk are shared equitably by all Canadians,”

    The premise of legislation protecting our endangered species is an important and valid one. Action is long overdue, but let us ensure the legislation will adequately deal with all parts of the equation and not just one.

  +-(1730)  

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    Mr. Rob Anders (Calgary West, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I will recap in simple terms the nature of Bill C-5 for my constituents who might be listening back home.

    The government has decided it will pander but the question is, pander to whom? It is not listening to the environmentalists. It is not listening to the farmers and corporations that will be affected by this bill. It is not listening to any of the people who will be losing jobs. I do not know exactly to whom it is paying attention. I think the Liberals are doing a bit of navel gazing with regard to the bill. I cannot find the group they are supposedly paying attention to with regard to the bill.

    The gist of the bill is to impute criminal intent on people who may harm a species on their private land and to not fairly compensate them in terms of the protection of those species.

    I would like to rename the bill. I do not think it actually has anything to do with species at risk. I think it has everything to do with property at risk. It should be called the property at risk act.

    Think of the fundamental things this legislature does. We are supposed to protect property. We are supposed to protect people's individual freedoms and their liberties. That is what I understand part of our job to be. This bill is directly opposed to that.

    I will mention somebody south of the border because the Liberals are borrowing on American experiences in the American endangered species act, the ESA, as they put forward this bill.

    My favourite president of the United States is Thomas Jefferson. He was the third president of the United States. Instead of having the words life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the American constitution, he wanted to have protection not only for property, but what was absolutely crucial was that he wanted protection for private property. He recognized that there was a substantial difference between what some would construe to be public property and what would be properly termed as private property. Jefferson believed that respecting people's private property rights was absolutely fundamental in having a just society.

    The stamp act to levy taxes upon American colonists was one of the reasons they had a revolutionary war. The government did not respect people's private property rights. It did not take into account that it had taxation without representation.

    The bill before us goes against all the fundamental ideas. It goes against very Canadian ideas. One of the rationales for even having the other place, the Senate, in the first place was that it would serve as a protection for property. This House would serve the commoners and the Senate in a sense would be for the property owners. The Senate's job was to make sure those people were not overrun by mob rule. That was a basic understanding of the protection of private property rights.

    Bill C-5 goes against that because it does not guarantee fair and reasonable compensation for property owners and resource users who suffer losses. That is absurd. The government will be able to shut people out of livelihoods and jobs without any type of fair compensation. People should not be forced to do so at the expense of their livelihoods.

    This reminds me of another issue that is famously tied to the government. It has to do with the Canadian Wheat Board. Andy McMechan, a farmer who grew his own grain, wanted to sell it outside the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board. He was jailed for that. This farmer was put in shackles over that very issue. He was not allowed to dispose of his private property as he saw fit due to the regulation and the meddling.

  +-(1735)  

    What a perverse turnover of the whole idea of liberal democracy and the very term liberal when we think of where the Liberal Party started off at the turn of the century. The Liberals in Laurier's day stood for free trade. They did not stand for protectionism. They stood for the freedom of individuals. Yet 100 years later, almost Orwellian, Nineteen Eighty-Four in terms of the doublespeak, the Liberals are actually adamantly opposed to those things now. They are coming out against personal liberties and personal freedoms and are going after grabbing private property and not giving it due respect. It is such a perverse topsy-turvy relationship they have had with this issue.

    There is a criminal liability aspect to this. Criminal liability requires that there actually be some form of intent. As I understand it, and this goes back to the Romans and Latin terms, there has to be an actus reus, being the action that is performed, and in this case for example it would be harming a species, but there also has to be mens rea. That is the difference between manslaughter and murder. There has to be mens rea, the mental intent, to have intended to do that harm.

    In this case the government has totally ignored these traditions that have been established for 1,000 years.

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    Mr. Ted White: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not see a quorum in the House at this time.

    And the count having been taken:

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    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): We now have quorum.

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    Mr. Rob Anders: Mr. Speaker, I do not know why it is but when I speak the Liberals all seem to want to leave the Chamber. I give them these wonderful renditions of their party's history. I tell them about how they need to go back to their roots and where they have lost their way along the path. They are leaving as I speak. It is a shame. If they sat and listened perhaps we would actually improve the bill. However, I will go on as I hear those doors flipping and flopping in the background.

    I would like to talk about the whole idea of mens rea, the mental intent, the idea that farmers can be held responsible for something they did not do of their own intention. In other words, if a farmer's tractor happens to harm either a habitat or a given animal and it was not the farmer's intent to do so but it simply happened in the course of his or her daily activities in order to put bread on the table, pay for the business and continue the family farm, the government over there, the Liberals, would say that the farmer should be held for criminal intent in doing that. It is a perverse form of law that the government would do something like that to farmers.

    I cannot think of anyone who does more good for the rest of us than the small percentage of the population that grows our food. These people surely are stewards and lovers of the land. They deal with it on a daily basis more than you or I do, Mr. Speaker. The idea that the Liberals across the way think they know better than the farmers toiling away on their land, that they can tell them what to do and hold them criminally intent because of the way they deal with their land is ridiculous.

    I will boil this down very simply. With regard to the bill the Canadian Alliance believes we should be protecting property, particularly private property. We should be protecting jobs. We should be protecting personal freedoms and liberty.

    The government on this matter believes in theft, in expropriation, in intrusion, in messing around in the backyards even though they do not want legislators in the bedrooms. The Liberals are totally out of touch with this. It is elitist. It is top down. It is arrogant. It is mentally stunted because they will not even listen to the environmental groups or the businesses that will be affected or the farmers that will be held to account. They refuse to listen to their own backbenchers who sit on the committee. It is a shame.

  +-(1740)  

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    Miss Deborah Grey (Edmonton North, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the debate on the amendments in Group No. 1.

    I know when we talk about compensation how important it is that people do not feel put upon or used or abused. Many farmers out in my former constituency of Beaver River are seriously nervous about the bill. If I were to say to anyone “Thanks very much, I am going to expropriate you and give you some sort of compensation”, one would like to think it would be fair compensation for the expropriation. Unfortunately from what we have seen here, it is pretty difficult for anyone to be guaranteed that the compensation is actually happening.

    I do not think there is any one of us in the House who would ever say or believe that we are not committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species. All of us understand that. We know what pollution has done. We understand what urbanization has done. We certainly understand the difficulties and dilemma in which we all find ourselves in terms of being far more urbanized and what happens to any kind of species, let alone those at risk. Any of us who have spent any time in the country or the bush certainly understand and celebrate how important that is. I know for myself just how much I enjoy being out in the wilderness. I enjoy seeing any species.

    I was in an odd place last week to enjoy some species. They are not terribly at risk, but I was in Vancouver a couple of Saturdays ago and saw three big fat raccoons having a wonderful time right in the middle of Stanley Park. They are nocturnal. I was driving around in Stanley Park at about 11 o'clock at night and there they were, raccoons. I got so excited I pulled the car over, stopped and watched them. It was marvellous. They are nocturnal, as am I. That is one thing I share with raccoons, to be nocturnal. I do not have to clean up the garbage after them and I know that they are pesky little critters, but I am happy to be able to celebrate nature and just enjoy any species.

    To extrapolate this further and talk about species at risk, every one of us in the House understands how important it is to protect and preserve the Canadian natural environment and species, especially those at risk. However it seems to me that someone can go overboard. If we are going to protect this, there is always a balance that has to come into play. When I see some of the changes that have happened in the bill, unfortunately Liberal amendments are reversing dozens of key committee amendments made to the species at risk bill.

    The committees do good work. Lord knows we have been talking about committees in this place in the last 24 hours and technically and theoretically how they are supposed to be masters of their own destiny and all that kind of stuff. We certainly have not seen that happen in the last 24 hours and how frustrating is that.

    An all party committee got together and came up with excellent amendments to the bill. Liberal backbenchers worked their little hearts out as well in committee and made very good amendments. Now the government is reversing dozens of those excellent amendments. How frustrating that must be not just for opposition members who have worked very diligently at it as well, but for government members who think they are really making a difference, that they are having an impact.

    Boy I tell you, Mr. Speaker, they are on committee. They are masters of their own destiny and away they go, championing this issue. They think they are doing an excellent job. What happens? Wham, right across the side of the head. The government in its wisdom is going to reverse dozens of those amendments. That must be very frustrating, not just for those who sit in the House but it is also frustrating for the environmental groups, the provinces and many landowners who have made excellent recommendations. They are critical of the minister's move.

    These ministers think they can just stand up, have a little cough and make these pronouncements that they think they know better than anyone else. The minister unfortunately says he is always in the middle of consultations.

  +-(1745)  

    Our colleagues this afternoon talked about it, about how many kicks at the cat the government has had at species at risk legislation and how unfortunately it still does not have it right. It just spurns all these people, and there are groups that have vested interests in it.

    Many of the farmers I know and represented out in Beaver River when I was in a rural riding are terribly frustrated with this kind of stuff. If something happens to their land, the government comes in, in all its wisdom, knocks on the farm door, catches them at the fuel tank or whatever, and says “Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help”. It would be enough to make my friend Fritz run to the back forty with the screaming meemies because he would be so nervous as to what was coming next. We hear “I'm from the government and I'm here to help you, and oh, by the way, I just forgot to tell you we are expropriating so many acres” because there is a particular species at risk. Then farmers cannot put in any grain, harvest it or feed the cattle on that portion of land. There has to be a balance there somehow.

    My friend Fritz and many other people in the farming community around Dewberry where I taught school for many years are nervous, sick, about this because of the balance between environmental protection and their ability to make a living from the farm. I think farming is one of the noblest things to do, even with the 50 year lows of rainfall and moisture that many areas of the country are experiencing. These people need to have some assurances that they will be safe, that they will be protected and that they will not have a cabinet minister trying to make his name or his glory by saying “Three cheers for me, I am the one who finally got it through the House”. That is hardly a reason for a minister or a government to bring in legislation.

    When we look at balance, when we look at what is respectful, when we look at Liberal backbenchers who have worked hard and come up with what they thought were very reasonable recommendations and amendments, suddenly the thing is just gone. I cannot imagine their unbelievable frustration.

    The bill is void of the elements that were considered critical in the species at risk working group. Our coalition has brought forward some very good and vital concerns. I know that all opposition parties have done that and, again, the Liberal backbenchers have done that too. The government just kind of ignored that part of it. It cannot just brush over this and say it is busy consulting. It will look at a couple of groups it agrees with, which is never a really healthy way of consulting. Then it looks at what their aunt Martha and their cousin Stewart say. There they are. What in the world? We cannot call that consultations.

    I think the species at risk working group was instrumental in coming up with a lot of good things, but it has been made completely null and void in the legislation. There were things such as critical habitat protection, scientific listing, a compensatory regime, and landowner notification and stewardship. I know precious few farmers who are not excellent, committed stewards of the land. They have lived on it most of their lives. They have loved that land because they have grown up on it. In many cases up in the Beaver River area where people homesteaded two or three generations ago, those are their homes and their roots. To have someone come in from the government and tell them they are not good stewards of their land is a dreadful thing and is so undermining and undercutting that no farmer should have to be subjected to that.

    When we look at the reversal of dozens of key committee recommendations, we ask the question: What would be the motivation for a government to just turn its back on many excellent recommendations? One hates to be cynical, but it would appear that the minister will put a feather in his cap and say “We had three kicks at this cat but I will be the one to blow the trumpet, I was the one who got the species at risk bill through”.

    It is far better to work on it properly, listen to all the stakeholders, the landowners and everyone else who has concerns about it, and get it right even if we need four or five stabs at it. Get the thing right before it is enshrined in law, before going around trumped up like a peacock, and I am not sure if they are on the endangered species list or not. I do not know if they are at risk, but I do know that having someone trump around like a peacock is not the best motivation for this kind of legislation.

  +-(1750)  

+-

    Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it must be fairly obvious to anyone watching the proceedings today that it is only opposition members who are getting up to speak on the bill. The reason is that we are the only ones in the House who are concerned about private property rights and the fact that the government wants to confiscate property without any compensation.

    It is a shame that there are no media people here to record this and tell the public what is going on. I realize they are very busy with the Warren Kinsella affair and do not have the opportunity to be here right now. Actually, I will bet that the Liberals opposite wish that Warren Kinsella had stayed in North Vancouver the way he promised to when he ran against me in 1997. He said that he had made his new home there and he was staying there. I can tell the House that I am glad he went over to those folks over there.

    I think it is incredible that we have a situation here where, at the discretion of the minister, there will be compensation or no compensation for the confiscation of people's land. There are no standards by which a landowner will be able to judge whether or not he will get compensation. There will not be any guarantee, because if the players change, the people making the discretionary decisions change. There will be no certainty for those landowners. I believe the end result will be similar to what has happened in the United States: kill it and bury it if there is the slightest chance that there is something on your land that will cause the government to confiscate your property. This will not work in the interest of species at risk. It will work against them.

    I have a constituent in my riding who owns property in the Kamloops area. He has a known species at risk on his land. He has deliberately produced a roadway that goes right around and well out of the way of this species so that he can protect it. However, he has told me that if he gets wind that the government is coming in and will not allow him to have that road to the other part of his land he will just make sure that this species disappears before the government finds out.

    This is a really key thing that the government does not seem to be realizing. It has not given it enough thought. I think that is typical of a lot that the government does. It simply does not give legislation sufficient thought.

    For example, I see the Minister of Justice sitting opposite. Obviously there was never enough thought given to that ridiculous gun registry that has blown away $700 million. There was never enough thought given to that stupid DNA registry that allows convicted criminals to escape giving DNA samples.

    There is simply not enough thought given to the legislation that comes from that side of the House, but the Liberals had no trouble today blowing away $115 million on a ridiculous humanities research project. As if there was not already enough money wasted in that Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, they will blow away another $115 million.

    I well remember being at a cocktail party with Pierre Trudeau and a former member of the House, Ian McClelland, one night. Ian McClelland said to Pierre Trudeau “Great group of social programs that you introduced there, Pierre. It's a shame you never thought of how we would pay for them”. Does anyone know what Pierre Trudeau said? He said “Yes, when I think about it we should have given it more thought at the time”.

    That is my point. Still today the government is not giving enough thought to the legislation it rams through the House. That is why opposition members, one after the other, are getting up on the bill to try to defend the property rights of Canadians who will have their property taken away from them.

    I think the problem comes down to what I call the politics of envy. It is the politics of left wingers who hate free enterprise, hate success, hate people who have managed to accumulate a bit of wealth and hate people who have private property. They think the government should give them everything and that it should own everything. It is that type of people who have no sympathy for homeowners and landowners who run the risk of having their property confiscated as a result of the bill. It is the people who have worked hard and who have made a success of themselves whom the opposition members are trying to defend today.

  +-(1755)  

    It makes me think again of Pierre Trudeau and his disdain for private property rights, the refusal of the Liberals to put private property rights in our constitution and the ongoing desire to waste taxpayers' money. There is $115 million that will be thrown away on this humanities research thing. I suppose it will spend money like the social sciences humanities research council already does on things like $125,000 for the Tell Madaba archeological project and its investigations of urban life in the semi-arid highlands of central Jordan. Or there is $40,222 for a project called understanding rural household, farm and village: reconceptualizing the dynamics of gender relations in Iran.

    Are these good uses of taxpayers' money? The Liberals blow away the money on this stuff, but they will not compensate landowners for confiscation of their land.

    There is $78,000 for isotopic studies of infant feeding practices in archaeology. This is the type of thing this Pierre Trudeau humanities council will waste our money on. It is an absolute waste of money that should be dedicated to looking after the Canadian people when their land is confiscated. There is $77,000 for behaviour and biology of early southern African populations and $65,200 for visual representation and social practice in classic Maya households.

    I have pages and pages of this stuff. We try to get some sense out of the social sciences humanities research council. We ask why it is giving this money away. It says that is private. It cannot give us the files. It cannot explain why the grants were made.

    The money that is blown away is a disgrace, such as $38,600 for history and aesthetics of television medical dramas in North America. Are they studying Dr. Kildare? Who cares? There is $23,740 for a study of mass media pornography. Are they spending their time on the Internet surfing and signing up? There is $86,726 for the use of time by teenagers and young adults, an international comparison. It goes on and on. There is not enough thought given to it.

    Before the members opposite blew away $115 million today on a useless Pierre Trudeau foundation, they should have looked at what they are already wasting in the social sciences humanities research council, just like they should have looked more closely at this bill and what they are doing with their confiscation of private property without compensation. It is a disgrace. They should be ashamed of themselves. It is not only the Minister of Justice sitting there with a smile on her face, acting like everything is fine. She is not even the Minister of Justice any more. They should be ashamed of themselves and we should vote down the bill when it comes to a vote.

+-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): It being 5.58 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.


+-Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

*   *   *

  +-(1800)  

[English]

+-National Remembrance Day

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia--Lambton, Lib.) moved:

Motion No. 298

That the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs be instructed, in accordance with Standing Order 68(4)(b), to prepare and bring in a bill in order to provide for the establishment of November 11th as a national holiday to be known as Remembrance Day.

    He said: Mr. Speaker, as the motion is non-votable, members will have one hour to discuss making November 11 a national holiday knowing full well that we will not have an opportunity to vote on it and pass judgment on it.

    One might reasonably ask: Is Remembrance Day not already a national holiday? I should start by saying that in the great Canadian tradition holidays are a shared jurisdiction, and this is always confusing. Statutory holidays may be declared by provinces, as is the case with the province of Quebec which celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24.

    Another example of a provincial holiday is the civic holiday held on the first weekend of August. This is a hybrid statutory holiday because the provinces and the federal government have declared it to be holiday. If someone is a federal worker they have a holiday. If someone follows the provincial labour law, they also have a holiday.

    Two national holidays fall within the purview of the federal government, one being July 1, Canada Day, and the second being May 24, Victoria Day, or Fête de la reine in Quebec. Those are holidays which have been declared by the federal government.

    This leads to the question: What is the status of November 11? It is a mishmash, a hybrid. The federal government has proclaimed it to be a federal holiday which means that all employees under federal labour legislation, such as civil servants, bank employees, airline employees, and so on, get the holiday. November 11 has been declared a holiday in certain provinces but not in all. For example, it is not a holiday in the province of Ontario. In other words, federal workers have a holiday but other people do not.

    The purpose of my motion was to ensure that November 11 became a national holiday, such as May 24, which is the day we celebrate the birthday of a Queen who has been dead for more than 100 years, and July 1, which is the day when we celebrate Canada Day, 1867.

    There are a lot of reasons for making November 11 a national holiday. I must confess that I brought forward the motion because there were some people in Canada who believed this should be a national holiday. A constituent of mine has been battling with this question for 13 years but she has not had great success.

    During the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, which raged on for almost one month, 3,598 Canadians died, 7,000 Canadians were wounded and some 3,000 to 4,000 Canadians were permanently injured as a result of mustard gas. If we juxtapose that against the population of Canada, which was eight million or thereabouts at the time, we have some idea of the significance of the contribution of Canadian soldiers in the evolution of this country and in our place in the world.

    There are those who say that December 12 is actually Canada Day because on December 12, 1931 the statute of Westminster was passed. It is interesting to note that on every December 12 the British Union Jack flies on all federal flag poles in Ottawa, including the flag pole here on Parliament Hill, because December 12 is deemed to be the day Canada obtained powers from the British parliament, one of those powers being the right to declare war. That right was used by this parliament in 1939 when the second great war began.

  +-(1805)  

    It is an obvious question then. Why is it not a national holiday as opposed to a mishmash of holidays?

    This matter has been considered by the House in the past. In 1992 the then MP for the riding of Dartmouth, Mr. Ron MacDonald, had a bill before the House which was deemed to be votable but never made it to a vote on third reading, so it became academic. At that time the Conservative government opposed it. It said it would cost too much money.

    Let me refer to comments from the then minister of the treasury board. In a letter dated May 17, the treasury board indicated that government members could not support the bill because it had collective bargaining implications that would cost too much.

    Interestingly, at the same time the then leader of the opposition, the Prime Minister, wrote a letter saying that the Liberals felt this was petty reasoning and that the Liberals would continue to press the government to pass what was then Bill C-289 which would have made Remembrance Day a national holiday.

    The only other time the House passed judgment on Remembrance Day was in 1931 when the name of Remembrance Day was changed by a private member's bill, ironically, from Armistice Day to what we now call Remembrance Day.

    Last year the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, at its annual general meeting, passed a resolution calling on the government to make Remembrance Day a national holiday. Last year the Young Liberals of Canada, the youth wing of the party, passed a similar resolution. In fact that group has launched a petition drive to achieve that end. Jean Charest, the leader of the Liberals in Quebec, has signed a petition in recent months to the same objective.

    This motion was declared non-votable and I have reason to believe that the committee was concerned about a couple of things. It was concerned about the expressed view of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Veterans Affairs that it was a cost factor and they could not do it. However it is already a holiday for federal employees, so that argument is somewhat specious.

    We also know that the provinces, with a couple of exceptions, Ontario being one, already have a holiday. In terms of cost, the cost is in the province of Ontario, which used to have it as a provincial holiday.

    The second issue is there is a belief that the Royal Canadian Legion is opposed to it. That is an interesting belief but it is only that because the Royal Canadian Legion has never at its annual general meeting or its convention put a motion forward to determine what its membership thought. Therefore, if anyone believes that certain service or ex-military organizations are opposed to it that is simply conjecture because those organizations have never had a motion, had a debate or taken a vote on it.

    It would be interesting if indeed the committee, and this is simply conjecture, or if anyone were to say that this could never be a holiday because service organizations were opposed to it. I would just like to put on the record that that is not the case because there has never been a debate within any Canadian service organization on this point.

    The final point is why should it be a national holiday? What is the underlying principle of this?

  +-(1810)  

    In the last century 100,000 Canadians died in wars fought in the name of this country and in the name of freedom. In the last century and into the 21st century, 125,000 Canadian soldiers have served not in war but in peacekeeping. Making November 11 a national holiday would give all Canadians an opportunity to reflect on the contributions in the past and more contemporary, the present, to the achievement of peace and freedom.

    Today there are about 3,000 Canadian soldiers who are serving in Bosnia and Eritrea. An additional 750 to 800 are serving in Afghanistan. Despite comments made in the country and in the House, our military is still an integral part of our country's identity and its values of foreign policy both past and present.

    I noted at the beginning that Victoria Day is a national holiday, a federal holiday declared by this parliament. It is interesting that we continue to celebrate the birthday of a queen who has been dead for about 100 years, yet we have studiously avoided a day to honour and remember those who served this country and those who continue to serve this country.

    In conclusion, I submit that this is an issue which has increased in importance in this post-September 11 world. Many members of the House who were present at cenotaphs last November 11 will have noticed significant increases in attendance. The importance of Remembrance Day is not fading in Canada; rather it has become in one sense more important to us.

    It is said that the purpose of war is to obtain peace. We are living in an era of limited peace because we have peacekeepers in areas that are wartorn. We have soldiers in areas that are wartorn. Our military is an integral part of our history. It is an institution of our country. It is for that reason I am supporting those who would say Remembrance Day, November 11 ought to be a national holiday.

+-

    Mrs. Carol Skelton (Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to speak to Motion No. 298 that the hon. member for Sarnia--Lambton has brought forward in which he calls for the establishment of Remembrance Day as a national holiday.

    Canadians have a proud heritage of remembering our war veterans. Every November residents across Canada can be seen wearing the traditional red poppy in remembrance. We attend Remembrance Day services in our local community halls and legions. These traditions are dear to many of us and must continue.

    We tend to think of Remembrance Day as a day to remember only those veterans who have fought in wars past. As World War I and World War II fade further into our past, it would be easy too for our memories of those events to fade. It has been said that understanding our past is essential if we truly want to be aware of our future. The men and women who served our country in the past deserve to be remembered.

    Remembrance Day also affords us the opportunity to appreciate the efforts of those who are currently serving in the Canadian armed forces both at home and abroad. Canada currently has armed forces in many countries with the emphasis on peacekeeping.

    Last November 11, I saw the blue beret of our peacekeepers being worn with great pride. How proud we are of our men and women who are serving our country today. We must remember and recognize the importance of their contributions and sacrifices. The involvement of our armed forces today is as important and worthy of recognition as those who fought in past wars. These sacrifices are made to ensure the safety of all Canadians.

    November 11 is already recognized as a day of remembrance. There are provinces that have legislated that it be a holiday. Should it be a national holiday? There are arguments made on both sides. From the poem Flanders Fields:

    

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep...

    That quote from Flanders Fields allows us to see the importance of remembering those who fought on our behalf, and they must be remembered.

    The question remains, would setting aside November 11 as a national holiday be the best way in which we could remember or would it simply be a day off for Canadians? My granddaughters attended our national Remembrance Day celebration in our home town last year. I was very proud of those two little girls when they stood at attention and remembered their uncles who fought in war.

    There are dangers in not being fully aware of the sacrifices made by those who have fought on behalf of Canada. Last December 6 saw flags flying at half mast at every federal building across this country. This action was taken in remembrance of the 14 young women who were killed in the shootings in Montreal. This was a horrific event that deserves a moment of remembrance by all Canadians. Violence on such a scale cannot be tolerated in a society such as ours.

    A month earlier on November 11 only one flag was mandated to fly at half mast, the flag on the Peace Tower in Ottawa. Over 114,000 men and women have been killed defending our country from tyranny. Their lives should be remembered on a grand scale as well. Only one flag was lowered in their memory.

    That action was met with outrage and dismay from veterans groups across this country. In fact, my colleague from Souris--Moose Mountain will be introducing a private member's bill to ensure that flags on all federal buildings fly at half mast in recognition of the sacrifices made by those in our Canadian armed forces.

    What actions should be taken to ensure that the sacrifices of our veterans are effectively remembered? I believe that education is the key. Education of future generations of Canadians is needed to guarantee that our veterans are remembered.

  +-(1815)  

    Education on such a scale is easily undertaken in our school system. Every year thousands of children across the country are taught of wars past and the sacrifices made by those who fought to ensure their freedom. Veterans and legionnaires are allowed into schools to tell stories of past events and show children the importance of remembering. My granddaughters have had veterans visit their school. They have been truly impressed and have told me amazing stores.

    Schoolchildren are encouraged to actively participate in poetry and poster contests. Last year the Royal Canadian Legion received over 65,000 entries. That is an outstanding number. Some 65,000 Canadian children took an active role in remembering the lives of Canadian veterans.

    The knowledge gained by these children will have a direct impact on the lives of those around them. They will begin to ask their parents and grandparents about their own memories of wartime. The impact of the lessons will be carried with them as they grow.

    Would the message of Remembrance Day reach these children if they had a day off school or would they spend the day watching television, hanging out at the mall or talking with friends on the phone? Is the message of Remembrance Day being delivered? Would schools participate in the same way to ensure children are taught these important lessons? Having a day a remembrance enables teachers and community groups to relay the message of the day.

    Schools throughout Canada hold Remembrance Day services. Children have the opportunity to meet with veterans. These interactions are invaluable in making Remembrance Day real for children. By meeting veterans children are able to see the reality of wars past. It is more than just stories and pictures. They are able to meet people who were in the wars and conflicts. There is no better teaching tool.

    Many legions agree that the best way to connect with future generations is to maintain the educational element in the school environment. The title of the day, Remembrance Day, invites us to remember, pause and reflect on the actions and sacrifices of those who have fought for the freedom of our country. Would this be effectively accomplished by having a day off? Would the message be taken to heart more effectively if we were not required to be at work or school?

    The education of future generations of Canadians about the sacrifices of our veterans is of utmost importance. Whatever decisions are made we must keep this in mind. We must find a way to effectively convey the importance of the day. Lest we forget.

  +-(1820)  

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu--Nicolet--Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to speak to the motion introduced by the hon. member for Sarnia--Lambton, which reads as follows:

That the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs be instructed, in accordance with Standing Order 68(4)(b), to prepare and bring in a bill in order to provide for the establishment of November 11th as a national holiday to be known as Remembrance Day.

    Let us begin by saying that there are celebrations just about everywhere in Quebec and in Canada, on Remembrance Day, and in all the rest of the world on various dates.

    One wonders, in connection with this motion, whether making this a mandatory holiday for everyone is the best way to honour the memory of the men and women who fought in the various wars.

    Before addressing the motion per se, I wish to salute all veterans and ex-military personnel who are residents of my riding, and to thank them for what they have done to make it possible for us to live in freedom and peace.

    I also extend my best wishes to all those who are serving at this time in various peacekeeping missions throughout the world. We admire their courage and determination, their skills and their sense of commitment, and are deeply grateful to them. Their sacrifices make it possible for our children to grow up in security and peace.

    I would also like to take a few moments to extend my condolences to the family of Major Lefebvre, who passed away in my riding a few days ago. Major Lefebvre was a veteran who was very much involved in operations at the Sorel—Tracy branch of the Canadian Legion. His organization of the November 11 remembrance ceremony was masterfully done and he was respected by everyone with whom he came in contact.

    He worked at Sorel Steel for 40 years at the executive level. He performed his duties impeccably and had an excellent relationship with the workers. In fact, the former president of the union came to the funeral to pay his respects to the family.

    This was a man with a great heart. He was very much involved in community and social endeavours. For several years he was also involved with the school board, called the Carignan board at that time.

    I would like to remind his whole family of the words of the great French author, Alexandre Dumas:

Those whom we have loved and lost are no longer where they were, but they continue forever to be wherever we are.

    We salute Major Lefebvre for the last time. He has done his duty well.

    The position the Bloc Québécois will defend is that this needs to be referred to the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, or more precisely the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, because this is a proposal that raises a great many questions.

    Our first reservation has to do with the jurisdiction involved. Should this not be a provincial rather than a federal jurisdiction, even though holidays have in the past been declared national holidays by the federal government? I think that the impact of that day, from an economic point of view and also in terms of recognition, is closer to the provincial level.

    Moreover, a number of associations, including the Canadian Legion, did not officially protest but, during some debates, several issues were raised about this day being a holiday, in terms of whether this made people more sympathetic to veterans, and whether this heightened their awareness of Remembrance Day. This is far from obvious.

    So, it may be that organizing activities on that day, through schools or other institutions, would better serve the cause of Remembrance Day than a holiday would.

    We have a lot of reservations and we hope that the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, and more specifically the new Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs, will look at the appropriateness of the hon. member's motion.

  +-(1825)  

    In conclusion, I hope that an in-depth debate will take place, and that jurisdictions, and above all those who fought for freedom and peace, will be respected.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it gives me great personal pleasure to rise today on behalf of the federal New Democratic Party to support my Liberal colleague's motion and give a little personal insight on why I think this is an extremely important bill that should be taken seriously. It is too bad that it is not votable.

    We are one of the few western nations that does not have a statutory holiday for the remembrance of our soldiers, the men and women who died in various conflicts around the world.

    In my conversations with many Canadians they believe that Remembrance Day is already a statutory holiday. When I tell them that it is not they get quite confused about it. The reality is, as we speak, November 11, Remembrance Day in honour of those who made the great sacrifice and their families, is not honoured through a statutory holiday. I find that a serious omission and one that I am very proud my colleague across the way has brought forward.

    I also have a motion that will be debated within a couple of weeks which says exactly the same, that Remembrance Day should become a statutory holiday.

    I will elaborate on a personal note. I was born in Holland. My parents were liberated through the sacrifices of the Canadian military. It is quite an honour for me to stand in the House where the decision was made to send troops overseas so that my family could be freed. Not only my family but millions of other people around the world were freed by the efforts of the allies in their fight against Nazi Germany and Japan in those years.

    It is only understandable and the right thing to do. We are debating a motion and the relevance should not even be debated. It should be automatic. We should be able to take a motion or a bill of this nature, rush it to third reading, send it to the Senate and have it done.

    If we can give ourselves a pay raise of over 20% in the matter of a few hours, certainly we can do something for our remaining veterans who are still alive and those who have passed on by honouring them with a special day on November 11.

    November 11 in many ways is a special day, but by not making it a statutory holiday it basically says that we still have not honoured their sacrifices completely.

    Some businesses have come to me and asked how they could afford it. I told them with great respect that if it were not for the sacrifices of those Canadian soldiers they would not have their businesses. We must never forget that.

    I have a letter dated May 17, 1993, written by the official opposition member who is now the Prime Minister of Canada. He thanked a woman for her correspondence regarding private members' Bill C-289, a bill introduced by a former Nova Scotian Liberal, Mr. Ron MacDonald, to provide that Remembrance Day be included as a holiday in the public service collective agreement. He had narrowed it down just a bit.

    He went to say that the Liberal Party understood her concern. Remembrance Day is a time when we honour the more than 100,000 Canadian men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. Every year on November 11 we are given the opportunity to reflect on the values that Canadians fought and gave their lives to uphold. It is important that these ceremonies continue so that Canadians will always understand the extent and meaning of these sacrifices.

    Then he stated that he supported the bill to guarantee Remembrance Day as a holiday for federal public servants. It was not just for public servants. Its intent was to make it a statutory holiday.

    Unfortunately treasury board indicated that government members could not support the bill because it had collective bargaining implications and would cost too much. Liberals felt this reasoning was petty. He said they would continue to press the government to pass Bill C-289. As leader of the opposition he indicated that he appreciated the time taken to write and bring those views to his attention.

  +-(1830)  

    The Prime Minister took the time to have a letter written on his behalf telling someone that he supports making it a holiday for public servants. There is always speculation that the Prime Minister may decide to leave. In the last few remaining years he may have as a politician, why would he not want to leave a little memento for Canadians by making November 11 a statutory holiday? He has the power to be able to do something like that very quickly.

    On November 11 members visit various legions in their ridings to say hello to current military personnel and their families and remaining veterans. It is a very sombre moment.

    I personally go to eight legions on that day. I drive over 500 kilometres. I always make a presentation of the Canadian flag and of the national war poster of that year. We have them mounted and we present them to the legions on that specific day.

    What an honour and privilege it is to represent not just my party but all members of the House of Commons. That is what we all do. Besides Canada Day, that is the other day when all members of parliament become equals. I have talked to many members of parliament who do the same. They go to the various legions in their ridings. They attend the functions. They shake the hands of the veterans and of the remaining spouses. They shake the hands of the current military and members of the legion. It truly is a wonderful blessed day.

    It is time we put the debate aside and realize that now we need to have a proper statutory holiday in remembrance of the brave people who gave the supreme sacrifice. In the end military personnel always paid the ultimate liability. The ultimate responsibilities are up to government and members of parliament.

    One of those responsibilities is to ensure that we never forget, that we pass the traditions and their sacrifices on to future generations. One of ways to do that is to have a statutory holiday from coast to coast to coast that properly and once and for all recognizes the supreme sacrifices that were made.

    My mother is watching the debate as it is taking place. She is almost 80 years old. We came to Canada in 1956. My dad was a POW. He met a Canadian soldier and asked him why Canada sent so many young people to Holland, why it sacrificed so much. The answer was that they had a job to do. That was it. Then he walked away.

    In 1956 the economic situation in Holland was not that good so the only answer for my family and thousands of other people was migration. My father remembered the words of that Canadian soldier and said that if Canada has such a military he could not imagine what kind of country it was.

    My family came here in 1956 and has been able to prosper because of the efforts of Canadians. It is only fair and right that we as members of parliament put aside our partisanship this one time and recognize the value of men and women who served in the past and the men and women who are currently overseas in defence of freedom and democracy.

    We should honour the motion of my hon. member across the way and recognize that this is a serious bill. We should address it and move on it very quickly. I cannot for the life of me see one reason we would not want to support the bill.

    I do not want to talk only about Canadian sacrifices. There is a province in our country that was part of the British empire at that time. It also sacrificed tremendously. That is the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador. No one should ever forget the sacrifices it has made.

    If members of the House want to see a lobby dedicated to the sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorans they should go to the house of assembly in St. John's, Newfoundland. I know my colleague from St. John's East will mention it. They will see something that will bring tears to their eyes. These people have done it right. They understand the sacrifices. We in the rest of Canada should do the same.

    On behalf of my late father, mother and family I want to thank the hon. member very much for this motion. Hopefully it succeeds in being passed very quickly.

  +-(1835)  

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    Mr. Norman Doyle (St. John's East, PC/DR): Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for introducing Motion No. 298 to make November 11 a national holiday.

    Coming from Newfoundland I really am surprised that November 11 is not a national holiday. In my home province all the shops, stores and government offices are closed on November 11, as if it were Christmas Day or Canada Day. It is a very important day to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador because at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War I ended and brought to a close one of the most dramatic chapters in the history of what was then the dominion of Newfoundland, not the province of Newfoundland.

    We had a very special place in the first and second world wars. Newfoundland was the first overseas colony of the British empire. When Sir Humphrey Gilbert planted the British flag in St. John's in 1583, St. John's was already a thriving seaport. The island grew as a British colony despite British laws that forbade settlement there at that time. Responsible government was attained by the early 1800s. By the time the 20th century rolled around, Newfoundland was essentially a self-governing dominion within the British empire.

    It was not surprising therefore that when war broke out between Britain and Germany in 1914, Newfoundland rushed to the defence of the empire. It outfitted an infantry regiment, for heaven's sake, at its own cost and sent it overseas to serve with the British forces.

    November 11 is very important to us. It is very important to Canada and it should be an official national holiday in this country of ours.

    On July 1, 1916 the Newfoundland regiment was all but wiped out at Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the battle of the Somme. Losing the regiment meant that the flower of a generation of Newfoundlanders was lost to the young dominion on that one fateful day.

    November 11 a national holiday? By all means let us make it a national holiday.

    World War I had a very profound effect on Newfoundland. It cost us a generation of young men, many of them leaders. Our financial support for the war effort drained the treasury and helped lead to the bankruptcy of the dominion of Newfoundland after the war. We were then ruled by a British appointed commission until a national referendum decided that Newfoundland would become a province in Canada in 1949.

    Because of the loss of our infantry regiment in the first world war, the British refused us infantry service in World War II. During that war we provided manpower for two British artillery regiments instead. These days we again have an infantry regiment, this time a reserve regiment in the Canadian armed forces. We can never forget the great contribution the land forces made and the great contribution made by the merchant marines, the navy and the air force as well.

    That regiment, which we even have today, carries the title “royal” because of its service in the first world war. It is called the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. That is why July 1 is a day of mixed sentiments for Newfoundlanders. It is the birthday of our nation Canada, which we joined in 1949 and it is also our memorial day in honour of the regiment which we lost on that one day.

  +-(1840)  

    World War I was a coming of age for Canada. On Vimy Ridge Canadian troops established themselves as a force to be reckoned with among the various Dominion forces fighting for king and country. November 11 commemorates the ending of the war that had a profound affect on the future of British North America. Therefore as a Canadian, and as a Newfoundlander, I have no hesitation in supporting a motion to make November 11 a national holiday.

    We would do well to remember our wars and the young men and women who paid the ultimate price for the freedom that we hold dear today. These days our young men and women are serving in the Balkans and strife torn Afghanistan. It is only fitting that the nation set aside a national holiday to commemorate its war dead as a mark of respect for their continued efforts and in remembrance of their forebears who paid the supreme sacrifice.

    November 11 is already widely celebrated across the country. It should be elevated to the appropriate status by the House of Commons. Accordingly, I am pleased and proud to support the motion.

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    Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be speaking on such a worthy subject as remembrance. I applaud the intentions of my hon. colleague from Sarnia--Lambton in bringing the motion before the House.

    How long have humans warred with one another? How long have we fought and killed one another? If archeologists and sociologists are right, there has been conflict since our very beginnings. When will it stop? When will we put an end to all of it?

    Sometimes, in times like the present, war is necessary. Sometimes peaceful nations must rise up to stop those who would get their way through terrorism and intimidation. Sometimes, sadly, war is unavoidable.

    However, we must make certain it is only entered into as a last, dreadful and inescapable resort. We must make certain that we enter into the hell of war only after all other means of resolution have been exhausted. Finally, we must make very certain that we never forget the horror of war. We must never forget what war looks like and the terrible toll that it takes on a nation, on the young men and women of a country and on their loved ones.

    We must never forget our brave soldiers, passing by the thousands through the brutal and bloody theatres of battle, their shattered ranks bravely returning home, battered, scarred and wounded. We must never forget the weeping of those at home who lost their dearest and their best.

    We must never forget those who died for Canada, those who lived and dedicated their lives to the service of our nation, or those who gave of themselves in the desperate and honourable fight to uphold the values that we cherish as Canadians.

    We must never forget those things for which they fought for and for which members of our proud armed forces continue to fight. They fought to protect our freedoms: the freedom of thought, speech and religion for all people regardless of nationality, religion or race. They fought against tyranny, despotism and terrorism. They fought for the values we cherish as Canadians. They fought in the hope that future generations would not have to. We must never forget the men and women of the armed forces and the merchant marine.

    Valour, honour, glory and bravery are found in war, not because of war itself but despite it. War and conflict challenge us to stand up for our most valued ideals. The virtues we hold highest are often most easily seen in war's crucible. It has always been true with Canadian soldiers that wherever we fought, uncommon valour was indeed a common virtue.

    When we remember, we must remember war as it was and as it is. We must not disguise in eloquence or rhetoric the raw and appalling nature of violence. We must be on guard against those who would glorify or glamorize war. To borrow from Thomas Chalmers, a 19th century Scottish preacher, we must be on guard against anyone who would:

Spread a delusive colouring over war and remove its shocking barbarities to the background of our contemplations altogether. I see it in the history which tells me of the superb appearance of the troops and the brilliancy of their successive charges. I see it in the poetry which lends the magic of its numbers to the narrative of blood, and transports its many admirers, as by its images and its figures and its nodding plumes of chivalry it throws its treacherous embellishments over a scene of slaughter...the death tones of the thickening contest and the moans of the wounded men, as they fade away upon the ear and sink into lifeless silence.

    It is said that no one hates war more than the solider. No one is more aware of the fact that war cannot and must not be entered into lightly. No one can speak of its horrors more truly and powerfully than those who bravely endure them; those who fought in the trenches, shells raining, crashing down night and day, hours on end; those who charged through hail storms of steel and shrapnel; those who watched as torpedoes streaked toward their ships or flak exploded around their wings; those who endured the fields of Europe, the jungles of Asia, the deserts of Africa and the oceans and skies of the world.

  +-(1845)  

    What did they fight and die for? What do the men and women of our armed forces continue to fight for? It is for peace.

    The intent of the motion is obvious and most commendable. The member no doubt wishes to make certain that the sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces and merchant navy are never forgotten. The motion speaks to the need for our country to remember and the need for all of us to realize and recall what many Canadians gave up, and what many give every day in the task of attaining peace and the efforts to keep it. Indeed, peace is the ultimate goal. Peace and the end to violence are paradoxically but always clearly what we have fought for and what we fight for today.

    According to the Holidays Act, the holiday that falls on November 11 every year is called Remembrance Day. It is a day on which we stand sombre and silent, putting aside our affairs to take time to think about the wars and the struggles, the war dead and the scarred survivors, the veterans that walk so humbly among us, those who have passed, and those who presently serve our country in the noble uniforms of Canada.

    I think of the sacrifices of our soldiers and our peacekeepers and I wonder, like a great many people before me, can we who benefit feel gratitude warm enough to requite the gifts that have been given us? Can we speak in language glowing enough to duly sound their praise? Can we build monuments high enough to tell the story of their deeds?

    The answer is no, we cannot, but we can remember. By remembering the bravery and sacrifice of the past we can show our armed forces members how thankful we are that they are there to fight for us, defending the transcendent causes of freedom, justice and security. Our forces go now to fight against terrorism the way their forebears fought against tyranny. Their fight too will be remembered.

    The importance of this day cannot be understated. The necessity to recall what has been given so that we might enjoy what we have cannot be trivialized. In 1919 the Government of Canada realized this and took measures to ensure it. In 1931, with the passage into law of the Holidays Act, the government bestowed upon this day the honour that it deserves. The Holidays Act, as it stands, guarantees that November 11 shall forever be a holiday known as Remembrance Day.

    For his efforts to enhance the prominence of this day, my hon. colleague is to be commended and applauded. He shows a love for his nation and for his fellows that all of us would do well to emulate. We look forward with longing to the time when quiet truth and peace reign everywhere in the world, triumphing over those whose cruelty, ambition, treachery and violence call us to arms in defence of the virtues and values we cherish. We look forward and in the meantime we remember.

    I thank my colleague for his endeavours to preserving the memories of our valiant men and women of the armed forces by calling attention to the holiday we call Remembrance Day.

  +-(1850)  

[Translation]

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    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

-Adjournment Proceedings

[Adjournment Debate]

*   *   *

-

    A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

*   *   *

[Translation]

-Employment Insurance

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    Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup--Témiscouata--Les Basques, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on November 1, 2001, I asked a question in the House of the Minister of Human Resources Development concerning the economic slowdown and the softwood lumber crisis.

    I asked her whether she was prepared to take special action to improve the employment insurance protection of those affected in the forestry regions as well as those affected by the economic slowdown. I asked that their protection be improved so that things do not go from bad to worse.

    In my region, one out of four unemployed workers reaches the end of his or her benefits and then falls into the spring gap, a period during which he or she qualifies for neither EI benefits nor social assistance. Often these people own a home or have assets. They are then asked to withdraw their RRSP savings. Ultimately, they grow poorer because the EI system does not provide them with sufficient income.

    When I asked the minister this question, she answered that the current system met the standards adequately. We realize that this is not the case. Many people are affected by the softwood lumber crisis, workers who are being asked to support Canada's and Quebec's position in the difficult negotiations underway with the United States.

    Would it not be appropriate for these workers to benefit from better conditions, more satisfactory conditions? The Bloc Québécois proposed extending the EI benefit periods to avoid the predicament of one in four unemployed persons, whose benefits run out, or even one in two, which may soon be the case due to the economic downturn and the enduring softwood crisis that, unfortunately, is not being resolved.

    When the minister visited my riding a few weeks ago, she announced a program that would allow some one hundred workers to take part in a program for workers who are 55 and older, or that would allow forestry workers to extend their number of weeks of work. This would apply to some 100 people, but there are 3,500 people in our region alone whose benefits will run out. It is akin to drop in the ocean.

    Will the government, through the minister or the parliamentary secretary, not give some hope to workers that they will be able to benefit from an improved system?

    The current system, in addition to the fact that it does not provide benefits for a sufficient number of weeks, has been accumulating a surplus in the fund for several years now. For a few months now, we appear to be heading towards a deficit. However, the reason the government is not ready to improve the conditions of EI is that it has not set aside sufficient reserves in the past. It allocated all of the EI fund surplus toward debt reduction. Today, when that money is needed, it finds itself in a pinch.

    Given this situation, could the government not decide to improve the system, to increase the number of weeks in the benefits period in all of the regions, particularly those affected by the softwood lumber crisis? This would avoid pitching families into misery.

  +-(1855)  

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    Ms. Raymonde Folco (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the member on the other side concerning the position of the Government of Canada. As he is well aware, the government is concerned about the impact of the softwood lumber conflict on the workers. As we have already said, the employment insurance program is there to help workers who have lost their jobs.

    We in Canada have the good fortune to have an EI system that is solid, flexible and there to help when Canadians lose their jobs. In the minister's response to the report of the standing committee of which I am a member, as is the hon. member, she has agreed with the committee that the basic elements of the new employment insurance program put in place in 1996 are working well.

    We know, the committee knows, the hon. member over there knows as well that the EI program fulfills its main objectives, which are to provide temporary income support to those who lose their jobs and to help them find other jobs.

[English]

    Employment Insurance is responsive to changes in local unemployment rates. Through the variable entrance requirement, and this is highly technical but it works, when unemployment rates go up Canadians need fewer hours to qualify for EI and can receive benefits for longer periods. The requirement is adjusted every four weeks based on the latest unemployment statistics.

[Translation]

    When a region experiences a very high rate of unemployment, the EI rate is adjusted to that specific region. A review of each region is carried out every four weeks.

[English]

    We anticipate that the majority of workers in the softwood lumber sector will be eligible for employment insurance should they need it. In addition, most employment insurance claimants only use two-thirds of their entitlement. Even in high unemployment areas claimants rarely use more than 70% of their entitlement.

[Translation]

    We are always prepared—and I am speaking on behalf of the Minister of Human Resources Development—to meet with workers and employers to examine the types of assistance that the employment insurance system can provide. The minister's office is in contact with the Council of Forest Industries to share any information it may need to support its members.

    Human Resources Development Canada comes to the assistance of employees and employers in the case of mass layoffs. We go on-site to assist workers in filling in their EI applications and we process them as quickly as possible. An automated program also allows employers to send pay data electronically and helps local offices deal with situations of mass layoffs. We also inform employees about programs and services available to them to help them re-enter the workforce.

[English]

    A wide range of programs are available under the Employment Insurance Act, Part II. The programs help laid off individuals get back to work through skills development, training and other employability supports.

[Translation]

    Human Resources Development Canada provides other services to employment insurance clients who want to re-enter the workforce: job finding clubs, resumé writing, job search techniques, counselling and interview preparation.

    As always, our goal is to help Canadians re-enter the workforce. We are ready, and we have always been ready, to work with workers and employers in this difficult period that they are going through.

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    Mr. Paul Crête: Mr. Speaker, I am rather surprised to hear the hon. parliamentary secretary say that it is acceptable for one worker in four in my region to use up all his benefits. If, as members of parliament, this type of situation happened to us and if we were treated in that fashion, I think that we would find this unacceptable.

    It is true that there are training programs. Quebec has had a devolution and it uses these powers very effectively to provide training. However, our biggest problem is not the training provided by Emploi Québec, but the fact that one worker in four in my region and one in three in Quebec uses up all his entitlement. This situation goes back to before the current economic crisis.

    Will the parliamentary secretary wait until it is one worker in two who uses up all his benefits and sources of income? Is this what is acceptable to the government?

  -(1900)  

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    Ms. Raymonde Folco: Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's comment, I wish to add that we have worked hard with the industries. To give just a few examples, I am thinking of the situation of Doman, Abitibi Consolidated, Bowater, of the fact that we helped the workers in British Columbia, and that we helped people get back into the labour market.

    There is not just one program that is going to help these people. What will help is the whole spectrum of programs governed by part II of the Employment Insurance Act.

-

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

    (The House adjourned at 7.01 p.m.)