Bill C-10 (Historical)
Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act
An Act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
Sheila Copps Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Climate Change Accountability Act
Private Members' Business
May 12th, 2008 / 11:05 a.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
There are four motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.
The Chair does not ordinarily provide reasons for its selection of report stage motions in amendment. However, in light of the point of order raised on Thursday, May 8, 2008 by the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the subsequent intervention of the hon. deputy government House leader, I would like to convey to the House the reasoning involved in considering these motions.
During its consideration of the bill, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development presented three separate reports. In the first of these reports, presented on April 14, 2008, the committee described procedural difficulties it had encountered in the course of its study of Bill C-377 and recommended some action that the House might wish to take.
On April 29, 2008, in its second report relating to this bill, the committee reported Bill C-377 with eight amendments. On the same day, the committee presented a third report. This report explained that having begun its clause by clause study on March 3, 2008, prolonged debate on clause 10 of the bill resulted in an impasse; and that as no further progress seemed possible, the committee turned to the consideration of a motion, the effect of which was to deem adopted the remaining parts of the bill and to agree that the bill be reported to the House without further debate or amendment. This motion was adopted on division by the committee.
The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh also referred to previous Speaker's rulings where motions in amendment at report stage were selected on the basis that members involved did not have the opportunity to present motions during the committee consideration stage. Specifically, he cited a ruling given on January 28, 2003, regarding Bill C-13, An Act respecting assisted human reproduction, and a ruling given on November 6, 2001, regarding Bill C-10, An Act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada.
In his intervention on Friday, May 9, 2008, the hon. deputy government House leader also reviewed the sequence of events surrounding the committee consideration of the bill and referred to the two rulings just cited. He went on to argue that, in his view, the committee's decision to report the bill back to the House prior to the May 7, 2008 deadline represents a conscious decision of the majority of the committee not to make full usage of the time remaining and thus to forego further opportunities to propose amendments at the committee stage. On this basis, he concluded that the motions at report stage should not be selected.
Four report stage motions have been submitted. These motions are identical to committee amendments which were not considered due to the impasse, as described in the committee's report and the adoption by the committee of the motion to report the bill. The motions relate to clauses of the bill which were deemed carried at the committee stage, quite clearly as a way out of the impasse.
The Chair is now faced with the matter of selection. The note accompanying S. O. 76(5) reads, in part: “The Speaker ... will normally only select motions which were not or could not be presented [in committee].”
Having carefully reviewed the sequence of events and the submissions made by the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the hon. deputy government House leader, the Chair is of the opinion that we are facing very exceptional circumstances. The committee recognized that the impasse was significant and wanted to bring that situation to the attention of the House. It did so in a report which states in part:
Given the impasse, the Committee opted not to consider the remaining clauses and parts of the Bill....
Therefore, I am satisfied that these motions could not be presented during the committee consideration of the bill, and accordingly I have selected them for debate at report stage. Accordingly, Motions Nos. 1 to 4 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the Table.
I shall now propose motions numbered 1 to 4 to the House.
Pest Control Products Act
The Royal Assent
June 13th, 2002 / 4:45 p.m.
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-43, an act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act—Chapter 17.
Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada—Chapter 18.
Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization—Chapter 19.
Bill S-41, an act to re-enact legislative instruments enacted in only one official language—Chapter 20.
Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste—Chapter 22.
Bill C-47, an act respecting the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco and the treatment of ships' stores—Chapter 22.
Bill C-59, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2003—Chapter 21.
Species at Risk Act
June 10th, 2002 / 6:25 p.m.
Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC
Mr. Speaker, I will restate clearly and unequivocally that the Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species.
As I have said in the House many times, my wife and I lived by a lake in the Rocky Mountains where we brought up a wonderful family of three children. We are completely committed to the natural environment. We are committed to endangered species at a personal level. That is also the position of our party.
However the process has been highly frustrating. This is the third incarnation of the species at risk act. In every process, this one included, we have heard legitimate and intelligent input from stakeholders and experts who are deeply concerned about the issues and have brought their concerns to committee. In every instance the environment minister of the day has turned back their common sense proposals. On May 2 the hon. member for Sarnia--Lambton was quoted in the London Free Press as saying:
Of course there is (frustration) with the system...Why do committees exist? It's to be a counterbalance, and it's fundamentally flawed, wrong and improper when the work of a committee can be undone by a minister at his own whim.
I agree with the Liberal member completely. Another Liberal, the hon. member for Thunder Bay--Superior North, is quoted in the same article. He stated:
We all go through the process at times at the committee level of getting the recommendation put in and the minister's department doesn't see fit to include them and, yeah, there's always that frustration.
There is a tad of frustration, and not just on this side of the House. A May 2 Ottawa Citizen article stated:
Environmental groups and certain MPs were focusing their efforts yesterday on winning one last concession from the government before the bill comes to a vote. They want the bill to guarantee the protection of the critical habitat of endangered species on federal land.
The Citizen article quoted the hon. member for York North who has been involved with these issues for a long time. She said:
I think it's important that we find a bill that protects habitat for species...I believe that we're moving towards a resolution of that issue and I'm looking forward to seeing that in the bill.
Interestingly, the same article quoted the environment minister who was asked if he would agree to such a change. He gave a two letter, one word answer: “No”, he would not change. What has changed between then and now? What has changed with the people involved in the issue such as the hon. members I mentioned, the hon. member for Davenport and others? Liberal backbenchers have succumbed to the pressure of the government and will permit this badly flawed piece of legislation to go through.
The Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species. However Bill C-5 would not do that. It would not even come close. Why is that? There are many flaws in the bill but one primary flaw: It would not work without guaranteeing fair and reasonable compensation for property owners and resource users who suffer losses. Farmers, ranchers and other property owners want to protect endangered species but should not be forced to do so at the expense of their own livelihoods.
The government wants to amend Bill C-5 to reverse many of the positions taken by its own MPs on the environment committee. It is another example of top down control from the Prime Minister's office. It again shows the contempt in which the government holds members of parliament.
As I stated at the outset, in all instances there has been input by interested parties. One of the most interesting was the Species at Risk Working Group otherwise known by the acronym SARWG. The group issued a joint statement of principle. The statement was so good, profound and sound it could have been used as a foundation for any good species at risk act. Instead this diverse group had its interventions fundamentally ignored.
Landowners, land users and rural residents whom I represent would bear the brunt of the species at risk act. Motion No. 109 would eliminate the requirement to develop regulations for compensation. Compensation is not an extra. It is essential to the entire framework of protecting endangered species. For instruction on the issue we should look to countries with legislation that does provide adequate protection for landowners, which ensures that they and other land users are encouraged rather than penalized for looking after species at risk.
Compensation would not only ensure landowners and resource users did not single-handedly bear all the costs of protecting species. It would send an important symbolic message that the government understood their fears and recognized the need to take their interests into account.
The government will not even commit to developing a regulatory framework. Consistently in the House we are faced with skeleton laws made by the Liberal government, laws that have only the basic outline of what is expected. The regulations, the meat on the bones, are turned over to the bureaucracy and are completely out of the control of the people elected to this place to represent their constituents and the people of Canada.
The minister says he hopes to have draft general regulations ready for public review and comment soon after royal assent. That is not good enough by a long shot. How helpful is that? It should be available now for the House to debate. The minister acts as if providing a few regulatory scraps is evidence of his gracious benevolence. After all, it is not required. He can do it if he feels like it.
This is exactly like a bill we are considering in the heritage committee. Bill C-48 has to do with copyright. It too is nothing more than a skeleton law. We do not know what the regulations will be. The Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage wrote letters to the committee telling it to pass it as is. They told the committee to get the bill through so it could be enacted. They said once it was enacted the government would come back to committee sometime in the next year with the regulations. That is not good enough. Bill C-10, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act which has just passed the Senate, is exactly the same thing. It is also a skeleton bill.
We are charged not only by our constituents but by all the people of Canada with responsibility for bringing forward good laws and legislation that people understand and that we can vote for intelligently. However in Bill C-5 there are again no regulations. There is no meat on the bones. The way the Liberals consistently deal with legislation is unacceptable. It holds the entire institution of the House of Commons in contempt. Government Motion No. 109 would weaken the law. Subclause 64(2) of Bill C-5 currently reads:
The Governor in Council shall--
Shall is the important word.
--make regulations that the Governor in Council considers necessary for carrying out the purposes and provisions of subsection (1), including regulations--
What did the government do? Did it strengthen the wording? There is no way to strengthen the word shall so the government changed it to may. The government said it might get around to it. It does not care if it weakens the law.
I appeal to the hon. member for Davenport and the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis, for whom I have tremendously high personal regard, to take another look at the bill in good conscience. They should realize it would not protect endangered species, something I know they want as much as I do.
Marine Conservation Areas
Statements By Members
March 21st, 2002 / 2 p.m.
Peter Adams Peterborough, ON
Mr. Speaker, March 24 is the 13th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In this parliament I was pleased to support Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada. The bill would allow for the protection of national heritage in Canadian waters that extend the area of our huge country by 50%. It would allow the extension of our great national parks system out into the ocean.
Among other things Bill C-10 would allow the establishment of a Gwaii Haanas national marine conservation area reserve proposed in an agreement that was signed in 1988, the year before the Valdez spill. This reserve, on our sensitive west coast, would allow for the protection of rare ocean species. It would be a sanctuary for them just as our national parks on land are a sanctuary for plants and animals.
I urge all members to support the extension and strengthening of our national parks system on land and offshore.
Species at Risk Act
February 25th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
Ethel Blondin-Andrew for the Minister of the Environment
Motion No. 115
That Bill C-5, in Clause 73, be amended by replacing lines 40 to 43 on page 39 with the following:
“and in every subsequent five year period, until its objectives have been achieved. The report must be included in the public registry.”.
Motion No. 119
That Bill C-5, in Clause 83, be amended by replacing line 30 on page 47 with the following:
“(b) it is used by an aboriginal person for ceremonial or medicinal”.
Motion No. 120
That Bill C-5, in Clause 97, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 55 with the following:
“36(1), 58(1), 60(1) or 61(1) or section”.
Motion No. 134
That Bill C-5 be amended by adding after line 33 on page 75 the following new clause:
“141.1 If Bill C-10, introduced in the 1st Session of the 37th Parliament and entitled the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, receives royal assent, then, on the later of the coming into force of subsection 34(2) of that Act and the definition “competent minister” in subsection 2(1) of this Act, paragraph (a) of the definition “competent minister” in subsection 2(1) of this Act is replaced by the following:
(a) the Minister of Canadian Heritage with respect to individuals in or on federal lands that are administered by that Minister and that are national parks, national historic sites, national marine conservation areas or other protected heritage areas as those expressions are defined in subsection 2(1) of the Parks Canada Agency Act;”.
Motion No. 135
That Bill C-5, in Clause 142, be amended by replacing line 34 on page 75 with the following:
“142. Except for section 141.1, the provisions of this Act come into”.
Statements By Members
February 21st, 2002 / 2 p.m.
Peter Adams Peterborough, ON
Mr. Speaker, on January 10, 1972, the fabulous Kluane National Park in Yukon and the Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories were established. They were added to the network of national parks that is the most powerful protection for natural heritage, plants and animals in Canada. I join the member for Yukon in celebrating this 30th anniversary.
More recently parliament passed Bill C-10, an act respecting marine conservation areas of Canada. The act would allow the establishment of marine national park-like areas to protect life in the 50% of our territory which is under the ocean.
I urge all members to work to further strengthen our wonderful national parks system on land and sea. Each Canadian is custodian of an unusually large part of the globe. Let us be good custodians preserving natural heritage for future generations.
Species at Risk Act
February 21st, 2002 / 12:15 p.m.
Andy Burton Skeena, BC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to my amendment to Bill C-5 in the Group No. 2 debate on the species at risk act. Specifically I will address Motions Nos. 97 and 94 which deal with jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces. I will address concerns I have with the government's record on consultation as it too is an issue discussed in Group No. 2 and make reference to the problems both this bill and Bill C-10, the marine conservation areas act, have in common.
I believe jurisdictional issues in many ways are the easy issues to resolve in our country. All that is required is for the federal government to understand more clearly its role as an example setter and not a dictator. What is federal should stay federal and what is provincial should stay provincial. When an agreement is struck, particularly on finances, it should be upheld.
Creating legislation with jurisdictional concerns is nothing new for the government. I should like to compare this situation to a piece of legislation which is now in the other place, about to be reviewed by its committee. The other piece of legislation is known as Bill C-10, the Canada marine conservation areas act. The House dealt with that bill a few months ago and it too had some major problems with jurisdiction between what is rightfully federal and what is provincial.
My biggest concern with that bill surrounded its ability to create marine conservation areas in waters wherever the federal government wanted regardless of the economic potential hidden within that area. The bill tried to alleviate the concerns of fishermen by telling them that their livelihoods would be safeguarded. However reality was clear enough to them, that a marine park meant restrictions on gear types, catch sizes and even the creation of what are called no take zones.
Although in Bill C-10 the minister went to supposed great lengths to ensure that affected Canadians would be consulted, the bill lacked enough explanation and framework to allay those fears. Now that bill is in the other place and I sincerely hope it sees the huge jurisdictional problems it created with the provinces and works to fix this bill.
I cannot help but see the same thing happening with Bill C-5. Too often we see the federal government creep into areas where it has absolutely no constitutional right to be. With endangered species it is certainly the federal government's right to legislate against destruction on federal land, but to dictate measures to be taken on provincial land is completely out of its jurisdictional control.
I really do not understand why the federal government would even consider such drastic intrusions into provincial territory when eight out of ten provinces have endangered species type legislation already in place and the other two provinces are working on legislation.
As if that is not deterrent enough, what about the fact that the federal government signed with the provinces the 1996 national accord for the protection of species at risk in Canada. This accord included a commitment to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.
In short, they agreed to work co-operatively to help save species at risk and now through sections like clause 61 of this bill the federal government is taking its own word back and stomping on the spirit of co-operation reached in that accord. Allow me to explain in detail using my suggested amendments to the bill. Motion No. 97 states:
That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 32 to 40 on page 34 and lines 1 to 15 on page 35 with the following:
“(3) The Minister may make a recommendation if a provincial or territorial minister has requested that the recommendation be made”.
My amendment would seek to delete much of the current subclauses 61(3) and 61(3.1) that give the minister the power to subject provinces and territories which he deems not to have effective protection of habitat of species at risk to the contents of this act. I have suggested that instead the minister should only have the power to recommend that provinces follow the federal act instead of forcing them to do so.
Furthermore, should the House reject this motion I would ask that instead of allowing the current bill to stand with clause 61 intact and failing my attempt to fix it, it be deleted altogether and replaced with the following details included in Motion No. 94:
That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 40 on page 34 and lines 1 to 40 on page 35 with the following:
“61. No person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of an aquatic species or of a listed endangered species or a listed threatened species that is a species of migratory birds, protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, that is in a province or territory and is not on federal land”.
At first glance it may seem that I am advocating allowing the federal government to intrude on provincial jurisdiction. However it is the exact opposite. This change in the bill would ensure that only those species already deemed under federal jurisdiction such as migratory birds, regardless of where they make their home and what province they travel through, are subject to the act. This amendment also seeks to limit the federal government's role on provincial lands to one which is directly the management of those specific species and not any other species found on provincial lands.
By supporting this amendment the House would be agreeing that the federal government has no business forcing provinces to adhere to federal acts, most particular when, as I said earlier, eight out of ten provinces have legislation which protects to one extent or another species at risk.
We have seen with health care and other federal programs like Bill C-68 that the ever popular cookie cutter or one size fits all style of governance so fondly used by the federal Liberal government is not conducive to the very different needs of our provinces. The same goes for endangered species legislation. Therefore by eliminating clause 61 and replacing it with the content of Motion No. 94 the House would be agreeing to respect the jurisdictional realities of the country.
The bill is flawed in many other areas. Motion No. 39 in Group No. 2 amends clause 32. It has been presented by my Canadian Alliance colleague. It argues for the need to prove criminal intent to cause harm to either the critical habitat or the species at risk before prosecuting for offences under the act.
As it stands right now the act makes criminals out of unsuspecting landowners and land users. Bill C-5 makes it a criminal act to kill, harm or harass any one of the hundreds of endangered species or to interfere with their critical habitat. Fines are steep, up to $1 million for corporations and $250,000 for an individual. The act provides for imprisonment of up to five years for an indictable offence.
Someone could commit such a crime without knowing it. The bill does not require intent or even reckless behaviour. Rather it places the burden of proof on the individual to prove that he or she was exercising due diligence should harm come to an endangered species. In this way the bill ignores one of the fundamental tenets of western legal history, that criminal penalties are only given for offences committed with a criminal mind or in the Latin term mens rea.
Is it fair to convict people of a serious criminal offence when they might have had no idea they were even in danger of committing one? It would seem to me that in order to protect themselves from breaking this law they would have to become experts at recognizing the sage grouse, the barn owl, the Aurora trout or many other species. They not only have to recognize them. They need to recognize their critical habitat too just in case they disturb it while they are out taking a stroll in their back 40.
What about snowmobilers? When we think of endangered species and such we often think about the implication for farmers or landowners in the spring, summer and fall seasons and forget about implications in the winter months. Like many other members of parliament I have concerned snowmobilers in my riding of Skeena. They are concerned and rightly so that the bill could adversely affect their growing recreational industry.
Canada and more particularly northern B.C. have trails and areas for snowmobilers taking them through both private and public lands. They are very concerned that the legislation could seriously limit the number of areas available for their use and could harm that industry.
I just came back from a 500 mile snowmobile trip throughout my riding and down into Wells, B.C., in Cariboo--Chilcotin east of mine. Not only is snowmobiling a growing recreational activity but these cross-country trips add much to the economies of the small towns along the way.
All of this to say that both the Canadian Alliance and I believe in effective and responsible endangered species legislation. Bill C-5 is neither effective nor responsible.
I mentioned earlier this week the need for compensation to be built into the bill and today I state my concerns over jurisdictional intrusions. I have talked about my concern that the legislation places the burden of proof on the accused as opposed to the need for the crown to prove criminal intent before prosecuting for offences under the act. Just now I have talked a bit about the bill's potential effect on tourism and the snowmobile industry in my riding and essentially all over Canada.
The bill has serious flaws. The government should go back to the drawing table and this time spend less time trying to please lobby groups and more time creating a fair, effective and responsible species at risk act. It would find that the Canadian Alliance would support that kind of legislation because we are in favour of protecting Canada's endangered species, but we will not support bad legislation and Bill C-5 is bad legislation.
The crux of my argument is that we have no problem with endangered species legislation nor with the marine conservation act. We support the concepts of these proposed acts, which would improve situations in Canada, especially for endangered species.
Our concern is with the fairness of the legislation, the possibility of this type of legislation which tends to come down with a very heavy hand on presumably innocent people. They may have no idea they have committed an act against an endangered species. To put them in the position of being criminals when they may not even know they have created a problem just is not acceptable.
Species at Risk Act
February 18th, 2002 / 4:25 p.m.
Robert Lanctôt Châteauguay, QC
That protection must not, however, be done just any old way, nor used as a band aid solution. We need concrete measures to ensure that there is additional protection and that it is workable. We need to seek to really enhance the protection of our ecosystems and endangered species.
I could have been really committed to such a bill, because of the unique and endangered ecosystems in my riding. I am aware of the need to find a concrete and workable solution.
We believe, however, that it is possible to create standards with a view to improving and enhancing the status of endangered species and ecosystems while at the same time respecting Quebec's areas of jurisdiction and avoiding needless interference.
As was the case with Bill C-10, we see that there is a proposal to establish additional authorities, thus duplicating what is already in place. Why do so, if not to do away with the possibility of a partnership between the federal government and Quebec?
It seems to us that it would be wiser and more appropriate to direct resources properly toward programs which already are meeting the needs. It strikes us as totally pointless to waste money creating something that already exists and is working, rather than consolidating what is already in place with some tangible and real resources.
The Bloc Quebecois believes that it is essential to point out again that these duplications are not only pointless, but also harmful in that they are perpetuating and increasing the delay, and that is precisely what we do not have: time.
The Bloc Quebecois can see that the environment is one area in which there is a shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the government of Quebec. The federal government must not, however, take advantage of this pseudo-authorization to usurp powers that do not belong to it. That is exactly what the minister responsible for implementing this bill is trying to do. This we cannot accept. This approach is both inconceivable and unacceptable.
This kind of intrusion means administrative duplication, which inevitably results in a very cumbersome bureaucracy that quickly becomes outdated. Such bureaucracy adds nothing to the objectives of the bill in terms of protection, which include, as stated in the preamble, respecting our commitments under the United Nations convention on the conservation of biological diversity, setting priorities and recognizing everyone's role in the conservation of wildlife. But it is only in the last part of the preamble that the word protection is mentioned for the first time. We see a lack of consistency and a lack of vision on that issue.
I find it unfortunate that, on such a sensitive issue, the federal government would choose to serve its own interest instead of those it purports to serve. Of course, it talks about shared jurisdiction but this so-called sharing is more of a one-way street, which is not desirable or beneficial to anyone.
Sharing necessarily implies some form of dialogue, interaction or at least discussion between the parties. However, such is not the case under this bill. In fact, one might think that with this bill the minister is trying to give himself broader decision making powers at the expense of the provinces. What kind of expertise can the minister have that would justify such powers?
I fail to see any sharing in this bill, just interference. The minister is using this bill to give himself considerable discretionary powers without showing any respect for the constitutional division of powers and responsibilities.
Interfering in Quebec's jurisdictions will not help protect species at risk. How else are we expected to react when Quebec's legislation in this area is totally ignored? I think that true sharing would require that Quebec's relevant legislative provisions be taken into account, but that is not the purpose of this bill.
The Bloc Quebecois believes that consultations would have been desirable and beneficial for everyone, but once again, the federal government would rather ignore the established facts and lists, do as it pleases and attempt yet again to centralize powers.
We support measures to provide sufficient protection for species at risk, but we cannot support this bill which denies Quebec and the provinces their unique responsibilities for managing wildlife.
We believe that we must act quickly to protect species at risk, but the federal government will not succeed by appropriating powers unduly. We believe that an active and productive dialogue between the federal government and Quebec is necessary to try to find an appropriate solution to this urgent situation. We will not give blind consent just because they have proposed legislation on the issue. This bill must meet the needs of the situation.
Given that reference is made in the preamble to national identity, I have to wonder how the bill is appropriate. I see it as an attempt by the minister to appropriate powers, thereby breaching the division of powers as defined in the constitution.
I hope and wish for concrete measures to be implemented to protect species at risk, but before I give my support, the objectives need to be clearly identified and prioritized. This is not what I see in Bill C-5.
I will wait for a bill that respects jurisdictions and contains an objective to preserve before giving my support. Because of the disrespectful wording and the underhanded objectives of Bill C-5, I cannot give it my support.
It is clear that the primary purpose of this bill is political. The first line of the preamble equates Canada's natural heritage and our national identity. Yet, natural heritage existed well before we arrived and will be there long after we are gone.
Nuclear Fuel Waste Act
December 5th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.
Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC
Madam Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to address Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste.
A few days ago, I spoke on Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada. My Bloc Quebecois colleagues also addressed Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism act, and Bill C-42, the public safety act.
I would like to explain from the outset what issues I will discuss over the next 40 minutes. First, I must point out that this government constantly displayed a confrontational attitude, despite the fact that Bloc Quebecois members were committed to co-operating regarding this bill, whether at second reading, during the review in committee, or at report stage.
The Bloc Quebecois, which acted in good faith at all stages of the parliamentary process, was always told by Liberal members opposite no, no, no.
This afternoon, I will again directly address my constituents and all Quebecers and Canadians. We feel that Bill C-27 is incomplete. It lacks transparency and it does not take into account public opinion.
Under the circumstances, we could have said no right from the beginning and made things complicated for the government, but no, we felt that we had to give our support at second reading in order to improve the bill in committee.
However, during the review in committee, when we heard witnesses and when the time came to amend the bill, Liberal members sitting on the committee said no, no, no, without really knowing what the issue was all about.
We are talking about the management of the country's nuclear fuel waste. I was stunned to the hear the Liberal member for Frontenac—Mégantic say, as he was leaving a meeting, that plutonium and uranium were no more dangerous than asbestos. The chair of the standing committee on natural resources and member for Nickel Belt also made a similar comment.
This is a serious matter. We heard many witnesses at the standing committee on natural resources. My colleague, the hon. member for Sherbrooke and Bloc Quebecois critic in this area, has done an excellent job, with some contribution from myself, in his desire to improve this bill.
It is clear, however, that the Liberal members of the committee did not have any idea what we or the witnesses were talking about. At that time, and still today, we were addressing nuclear waste, precisely, 24,000 tonnes of uranium and plutonium which will remain radioactive for some 25,000 years. This has nothing in common with asbestos.
When I hear comments like that, I feel there is no point in talking to the Liberal MPs. They heard all the same things we did, but understood nothing. I think they were there with their ears and eyes firmly closed. The only thing they could say was no, no. That was all we got out of them.
I will therefore continue to talk to our audience instead. Despite what the Liberal committee members have said, the taxpayers of Canada and Quebec are very much attuned to what is going on as far as waste in general is concerned, and nuclear waste in particular. I feel their judgment is far superior to that of the Liberals.
What is Bill C-27 all about? The whole thing dates back to 1989, when the Minister of the Environment of the day mandated the nuclear fuel waste and disposal environmental assessment commission, known as the Seaborn panel, from the name of its chair, to come up with a concept for the permanent storage of this country's nuclear waste.
I would like to digress for a moment. It would be mistaken to mix things and say that the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-27. The Bloc supports strict management of nuclear waste. This is a matter of huge importance, and the government has not bothered in recent years to resolve it. The situation has continued, and today we realize that problem must be solved, but not at any cost.
The main recommendations of the Seaborn panel were that an agency be established that would hold public hearings and propose a type of management for this country's nuclear waste. It recommended as well that the cost of this country's waste management be assumed by the nuclear energy industry.
What is there in Bill C-27? Does it follow the letter of the recommendations of the Seaborn report? We must remember that the Minister of Natural Resources was drawing on the recommendations of the Seaborn report when he said he was going to draft the bill. This, however, is not what the chair of the standing committee on natural resources said to me. He said that the Seaborn report is outdated. I think the Seaborn report is very important. The Seaborn panel was independent. It lasted 10 years, cost a small fortune, but it has given us guidelines for the successful management of nuclear waste.
The management is to be independent of the nuclear energy industry. As the committee studied the matter, the Bloc Quebecois proposed a number of amendments to bring Bill C-27 closer to the conclusions of the Seaborn panel. Contrary to what the Minister of Natural Resources said in his speech at second reading, his bill bears no relation to the main recommendations of the panel.
Indeed, the Seaborn panel recommended that energy companies be excluded from the management committee that would propose a form of nuclear waste management.
Let us look just at recommendation 6.1.2, which advocates the creation of a nuclear fuel waste management agency. It reads as follows:
For various reasons, there is in many quarters an apprehension about nuclear power that bedevils the activities and proposals of the nuclear industry. If there is to be any confidence in a system for the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste and—
I am still quoting the Seaborn panel:
—a fresh start must be made in the form of a new agency. The agency must be at arm's length from the producers and current owners of the waste. Its overall commitment must be to safety.
Bill C-27 specifies that energy companies will have to establish a management committee to propose to the minister a long term nuclear fuel waste management concept.
Such a situation is tantamount to opening the henhouse door wide open to let the fox in. As far as the Bloc Quebecois is concerned, recommendation 6.1.2 should be fully implemented. Unfortunately, the Liberal government rejected it out of hand. Incidentally, a number of witnesses who appeared before the standing committee on natural resources also asked that Bill C-27 be amended to reflect that recommendation.
I will quote a few. Irene Kock, a research consultant with the Sierra Club of Canada, testified before the committee on November 8, 2001. She said, and I quote:
The Seaborn panel recommended that an independent agency be formed at arm's length from AECL and the nuclear utilities in order to manage the programs related to long-term nuclear fuel waste management, including detailed comparison of waste management options. The waste management organization must be at arm's length from the nuclear industry. This is a very key part of the recommendations from the Seaborn panel.
It is not just the Bloc Quebecois who says it. All the witnesses said the same thing to the committee. Irene Kock added “It was a very well thought out conclusion and must be incorporated in this legislation”.
I will quote from another testimony, namely that of Brennain Lloyd, a co-ordinator for Northwatch, who also testified on November 8, 2001:
The context is that there have been a number of experiences on the part of the public with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and with the nuclear industries more generally, specific to this issue of nuclear waste management and related siting processes. They've been very negative experiences for the greatest part, and that needs to be kept in mind.
She was warning the government about certain past experiences. Ms. Lloyd went on to say that:
The resulting mistrust and apprehension on the part of the public must be kept in constant consideration...Third, the waste management organization lacks independence. Given the track record of a number of the agencies that are proposed to be involved, that's particularly problematic. The panel was clear that the waste management organization must be independent and it must be perceived to be independent.
It said an independent agency, not an industry agency. This would be an industry agency. This in fact is what Bill C-27 proposes: a management committee composed of members of industry. This can only be problematic in terms of delivery, the ability to look more broadly at the issues, and the ability to engender public trust and engagement.
The Bloc Quebecois therefore proposed that paragraph 6(2) be amended as follows:
No nuclear energy corporation may be a member or shareholder of the waste management organization.
But what did the Liberal members say? No, no, no.
We have not lost our sense of humour or our desire to see the government make this bill into something that would be what the Seaborn panel and the general public wanted. We proposed other amendments.
I could talk all day about the amendments which the Bloc Quebecois proposed in committee. There were, and the member for Sherbrooke is nodding, between 40 and 45. The New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative/Democratic Representative Coalition also moved amendments.
But each time, the committee, which was chaired by a Liberal member and contained a Liberal majority, said no, no, no. At every stage of the process, they said they were right.
Earlier, the Canadian Alliance member spoke about the fact that the public had to be consulted, but it is plainly written in the bill that the governor in council “may”. In other words, it is not required. When you are told “you may do something” you always have a choice. The majority prevails. If one says “I have everything I need” or “I do not have what I need”, I am going to go ahead. In this case, what it says is that the public may be consulted.
This reminds me of the very moving times we went through in the summer of 2000, when this government wanted to import MOX fuel from Russia and the U.S. I stood up to this, all five feet, five inches of me.
The people of Saguenay--Lac-Saint-Jean, hon. members will recall, were on side with me on this. A total of 99.9% of my constituents said they were opposed to the importing of MOX. Some 120 municipalities throughout Quebec and a number of regional county municipalities did the same. The Quebec government and the aboriginal peoples voiced their opposition.
Atomic Energy of Canada officials came to the region, telling us that this was just a little rod that went into a big cylinder. They made it out to be such a wonderful and attractive thing that I would have been happy to have it as a decoration in my living room.
Away we went to consult people. This is not an expensive proposition, and it provides us with an opportunity to speak to people concerned by a problem. We talked to the experts. We asked their opinions. We also consulted the Quebec department of health. We even went to a university, along with our regional environmental committee, and held an information session. We invited three experts, who told us that the concept of importing MOX and the method planned for its transportation were not safe.
According to U.S. studies, this concept was not acceptable because it was not 100% sure. Afterward, people were entitled to make comments via the Atomic Energy of Canada website, and this took some 28 days.
So 99.9% of those in our region were opposed. Nevertheless, they went ahead and did it. One fine evening, I am not sure exactly when, the MOX shipment set out. Everyone was on the alert. We have the Bagotville military base in our area. They said they were going to bring the shipment in via CFB Bagotville or an Ontario military base. Let us remember that the MOX was headed for the Chalk River nuclear facility in Ontario.
One night—and I know because I took a stroll near the military base in Bagotville—there was quite a flurry of activity. We did not know when the big day would be, but people from national defence, from public safety and from the health sector were there. There was this flurry of activity. And yet, officials from Atomic Energy of Canada told us, when they came to see us, that there was no danger.
What was all the commotion about if there was no danger and if it was not serious, as they said at the time? Everyone was on edge.
They went ahead and they took it to Chalk River. This proves the government's attitude, that they went ahead despite what everyone thought. In my riding, it was a very strong majority. I held my own consultations. Representatives of Atomic Energy of Canada were in one room and I was in another, that the hotel where the consultation was taking place graciously let me use.
Before going into the room with the Atomic Energy of Canada representatives, people came to see me and sign a petition. They would then come back from the consultation and say to me, “Ms. Bujold, if I could, I would sign the petition twice. I am not sure about what they are saying”.
So we can see just how important the issue of nuclear waste is. We must consult with people. But this is not reflected in this bill.
We must manage our nuclear waste, because it our waste. We have to store it in a way such that it remains inactive for many years to come. Most of the waste that is currently being stored is at nuclear reactors located in Ontario. There are 24,000 tonnes of nuclear waste being stored there. That is a lot of nuclear waste.
We cannot count on the goodwill of a management committee that says it is the representative of these companies that are going to manage the storage.
We, elected members who represent people, must be kept informed of what is happening. We need to challenge them and say “Show us what you are going to say and do. We will accept it or reject it on behalf of our constituents, because we have been democratically elected.”
In committee we proposed a clause to the government which stated that members would have to be consulted in the House of Commons.
Madam Speaker, you are a member like me. When we run for election we say to our constituents “I am going to represent you on all issues. I am able to represent you. If I cannot represent you, I will consult with you and you will give me your opinion”.
People know that whether we are talking about domestic, nuclear or other kinds of waste, we must not become the world's dump. Nobody wants to have any kind of wastes in their backyard. We always say “Not in my backyard”.
So to reassure the public, we had asked the government that the plan be submitted here, in the House of Commons. What did the Liberals say? They said no, no and no. They refuse to be accountable to the people who elected them on a most important issue.
I do not think this is being very transparent. Since we have been sitting in this House, we have noticed that when introducing bills the government always says that it will listen to us, that it will refer the bill to committee for further study, that it will hear witnesses and be open to amendments.
That did not happen for Bill C-27. Nor did it happen for Bill C-36, Bill C-44 or Bill C-42. Who does this government take people for, particularly those people who represent all those who did not vote for the Liberals and that the Liberals no longer represent? I am talking about opposition parties.
I am thinking of people who take the trouble to appear before the committee. I recall that on the last day, before the committee began to examine the bill clause by clause, the mayors of Ontario municipalities came before it. They were involved with this issue because there are nuclear plants in their municipalities. They came to say to the committee “We have to be informed and be part of the development of management. We are involved on the front line because we have to protect our people”.
A member from the Progressive Conservative Democratic Representative Coalition proposed an amendment in this regard, and the members of the Liberal Party once again said no, no, no.
It was also pointed out that consideration should be given to having people representing the native communities on the committee. Some witnesses said that it was important that these communities be consulted. There are not just the experts, there are ordinary citizens as well, who have some expertise in this regard. The answer was no, no, no.
I think we should call them the no, no, no gang. This is what comes out as soon as opposition members introduce something intelligent. Initially they suggest that a bill be drafted. Officials then draft it. Then the minister or members representing the Liberal majority in committee must defend it. Most of the time, I think they do not even know what the subject is and this is unfortunate because it is extremely important.
It was not only yesterday that I started being concerned about nuclear waste and all sorts of waste that we import from the United States and elsewhere. The Bloc Quebecois even asked, through an amendment it put forward, to have the bill provide that we manage our own waste and contain a clause banning the importing of waste from elsewhere. This amendment too was rejected. The Liberal members said no, no, no and yet we know how important this is.
The Seaborn panel was set up by people who wanted to do something about an issue that had been dragging on for years. It took time to write the report. The panel made excellent recommendations. The Minister of Natural Resources, whom I really like, seemed to show goodwill. He had said from the beginning, and I believed him,“I rely on the reports of the Seaborn panel”. But over time he made an about-face.
Now I cannot make sense of the bill. There are many Quebecers and Canadians who will also be lost. Why? Because when it is passed, they will no longer be consulted. It will be the governor in council who will consult, because he “may” do so.
The first recommendation of the Seaborn panel was that the public should be consulted on any nuclear waste management principle. This is what should have been done. That was the panel's first recommendation. This is the one recommendation that should have served as a basis for all the other ones. The government ignored the one recommendation that should have been taken into account with this bill.
Had it not been disregarded, I would have told myself “At least the government is taking this issue seriously. It is not doing this to please people who are close to the powers that be. No, it is really presenting a bill that will reassure Canadians and Quebecers”. I would have welcomed this initiative.
I sat on the Standing Committee on the Environment for two years. When good things were happening, I would always say to the minister and the Liberal members “Yes, we will co-operate, because when it comes to the environment we have to co-operate to advance government initiatives”. That was always my attitude during these two years, and things worked well. When I did not agree with something, I said so.
This bill is now at third reading. Yesterday we voted on the last amendments at report stage. The Bloc Quebecois presented four amendments. They were not even examined. They were rejected out of hand. It was time to do something about this issue, but the government should act in the respect of people, of the public.
That is not what the government is doing. This bill will be studied by the other place, and I hope that they will be able to do what the Liberal government has not done.
Such a bill, such an issue, must not be dealt with casually, as we have seen. I was not present for all of the hearings, but my colleague, the hon. member for Sherbrooke, was. He told me “It makes no sense. There are so many things going on; the witnesses that are appearing are only talking about the Seaborn report. They thought that the government wanted to implement the recommendations”.
Do we bring in witnesses in as a formality, or are we there to listen to them? Most of them are experts. Sometimes, regular citizens can become experts. They came in good faith to warn this government about the problems with this bill. They came and said “We are warning you; listen to us, introduce amendments. It needs to be done properly”.
But the Liberals did what they did to the opposition: they turned a deaf ear. They turned deaf and blind. As far as they were concerned, it was no, no, no. Their answers were dictated by the minister's instructions and the overall bill.
I am very disappointed for the people of the riding of Jonquière, which I represent, and I am also very disappointed for future generations. I have grandchildren, two boys. My daughter has given me two beautiful grandsons aged 5 and 3. Tomorrow, I do not want to tell my grandsons “You know, grandma could have done something. She tried, but nobody on the other side listened to her”.
I am very disappointed because they are the ones who will have to live with the results of our lack of action on December 5, 2001. We will have failed to convince the government to change Bill C-27 into the bill that we wanted at the outset.
This is a sad situation. The holiday season is upon us, and in 20 days it will be Christmas. This is a time of celebration, a time for enjoyment, for spending good times together, but I will be using that opportunity to tell my constituents “We did everything we could to get the government to listen to us, but to no avail. It is doing as it pleases, and it is not even interested in consulting you”.
I think that this government sees itself as the one possessing the truth. Of all those listening to us today, there is not one who possesses the whole truth. When one has an idea in mind, one must take into consideration the opinion of those who want to caution us, who tell us “Take care, there, don't go in that direction. I have proof of my stand, just listen to me and I will tell you why”. We need to listen to others if we are members of parliament. Otherwise, we would be better off elsewhere.
I believe that all members of this House, be they Liberals or opposition members, should have that ability to listen to others, yet in the standing committee on natural resources, I could see that the government MPs lacked that ability.
This has been a great disappointment to me, because today we are forced to acknowledge that we could have done something worthwhile, something to advance a cause that involves everyone. Last week, my colleague from Sherbrooke told me that there were people in one region discussing bringing in waste from the United States to bury in their area. One might also bring up a matter that we settled last year.
Do you remember this, Madam Speaker? At the time, you were not the acting Speaker. They wanted to bury waste from the Toronto area in northern Ontario, near the Témiscamingue area in Quebec.
With the help of the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, we set up emergency hearings. The Minister of the Environment arranged for an environmental assessment to be done. People came to tell us that there were many irritants and they were right, so the government said that this would not be done and it was not.
All the witnesses who appeared before the committee at various times told us the same thing. The city of Toronto was forced to back down.
The government could have done the same thing with Bill C-27. It could have said “Yes, there are irritants”. We never said that this bill was all bad. We said that there were things that were not what we were looking for and that the bill needed to be improved.
We are calling for consultation, management and a report to be tabled in the House. The other day, we suggested the services of the Auditor General of Canada. Yesterday she told us about what was going on with employment insurance and about the $75 that the government handed out before last year's election to individuals below a certain income. She told us about that. The auditor general is credible.
The government members refused. They said that they want an independent auditor appointed by the governor in council.
Our request for clarity demanded an answer, ut we can see beyond any doubt, and it is a shame to have to say this, and I am sad to do so, that there is no clarity. Clarity is not a predominant characteristic of the Liberal government in this issue. I am sorry to see this because I am certain that there are members across the way who would have liked more clarity too, when they realize how little there is, and that they too hear from their constituents on the whole topic of waste. They are going to start looking at the bill and I hope that they will ask themselves what questions their constituents will have for them when they see this.
We must not disappoint the people who elect us. We must ensure that issues as important as nuclear waste management are not relegated to the back burner, as a third, fourth, or fifth priority.
This is a top priority. We have done much harm to our planet in the past. Today it suffers from what we humans have inflicted upon it. With this bill, we had an opportunity to lessen the burden that we have placed on the planet.
However, we did not. The government turned a deaf ear and did not innovate. We hear the word innovate a lot. Today we need to innovate more and more. Since the events of September 11, the world has changed, I believe.
Every weekend I meet a great number of constituents who always tell me, “You know, Jocelyne, we have changed since September 11. Our values are different. We see things more clearly now and we to want to change the little day to day things that we overlooked”.
This bill was an opportunity to change the little day to day things and allow us to finally keep an open mind and consider the winds of change on this very complex and difficult issue.
Today the Bloc Quebecois can say that it is against this bill and that it will continue to oppose it. I hope that my speech will spark something in the members opposite. That is my wish.
Marine Conservation Areas
Statements By Members
December 5th, 2001 / 2 p.m.
Andy Burton Skeena, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say a special thanks for the time, talent and effort of a number of British Columbians who are fighting for changes to Bill C-10, the Marine Conservation Areas Act.
I publicly thank the mayor of Kitimat, Rick Wozney; business owner Reg Stowell; mayor of Telkwa, Sharon Hartwell; mayor of Smithers, Brian Northup, and councillor Cress Farrow; mayor of Prince Rupert, Don Scott, and councillor Paddy Greene; mayor of Port Clements, Joan-Ann Allen; chairman of the regional district of Kitimat-Stikine, Joanne Monaghan; chairman of the regional district of Skeena-Queen Charlottes, Ed Wampler; Phil Eidsvik of the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition; Michelle James of the B.C. Seafood Alliance; chairman of the North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force, David McGuigan; and finally, the B.C. government MLA for North Coast, Bill Belsey. I thank them all for their efforts.