An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Gord Brown  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment changes the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada to “Thousand Islands National Park of Canada”.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • Nov. 28, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Nov. 21, 2012 Passed That Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments].
  • Sept. 19, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

November 27th, 2012 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

moved that Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to open third reading debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-370, an act to change the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park.

I want to begin my comments by thanking members on both sides of the House for their participation in these debates and their support of the bill. I would also like to thank the witnesses who came to Ottawa on short notice last month to appear before the committee. For those who were unable to attend the committee meeting, I would point out that Kim St. Claire appeared on behalf of Parks Canada and explained how the bill would benefit the park. Don Ross, currently the executive director of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, noted how this name change was first proposed back in the 1970s when he was working for Parks Canada. Tom Russell, the executive director of the Thousand Islands Community Futures Development Corporation, spent his time explaining how businesses in the region use and benefit from the Thousand Islands name. He also noted the reliance of my region, where this park is located, on the hospitality sector. I appreciate the contribution of three of these folks to the discussion of the bill at committee. Their input was invaluable.

Among the issues discussed at committee were answers to questions that have been raised here about the bill. The first concern expressed was about the consultation. As Mr. Ross noted at committee, the consultation process for this name change began in the early 1970s but that it unfortunately did not proceed beyond the region itself. At the time, however, the consensus was that the park's name should be changed to Thousands Islands National Park.

My own consultation process on the bill dates back several years when I first heard from municipal councils in the region, as well as chambers of commerce and other concerned groups, that they would like to see the name change occur as quickly as possible.

Parks Canada also conducted a consultation that met with the same result from the public and other interested and concerned parties.

After the discussion that had taken place in the 1970s, many people in the region began referring to the park as the Thousand Islands National Park. There is no doubt that the name change is supported throughout the region.

The other issue that was raised was the cost involved in the name change. Ms. St. Claire addressed this in her remarks at committee. While a firm final figure has not been produced for acceptable reasons, Parks Canada put a ballpark figure of about $100,000 for the change. This would be spent over an approximately 10-year period, which is one reason the exact cost is really hard to pinpoint. The other reason the cost is hard to nail down is that much of the changes would be accomplished as part of regular maintenance.

Let me explain what has to be done. Parks Canada would have to change a few signs on Highway 401 and on the Thousand Islands Parkway that direct people to the park. This would have to be undertaken almost immediately. These signs are slat signs, so only the actual name portion would have to be changed. It is possible that an inexpensive cover could be made for these signs until such a time as they require replacement with new signs.

Websites would have to be changed at a minimal cost. Letterhead, business cards and envelopes would be changed as they run out of current stock.

Sign boards at Parks Canada property would also be changed as part of the normal maintenance regime. In other words, as signs weather and wear out they would be replaced by new signs with the new name. This part of the change would actually be part of regular maintenance that would be undertaken with or without the name change, so although the name would be changed, the signs would in any case be replaced over a 10-year period. Ms. St. Claire indicated at committee that Parks Canada is actually looking forward to the exercise because it would give them an opportunity to take a sign inventory that is overdue at the park.

After all this time and all the discussion and efforts over the years to try to rename this park with a name better suited to its location, now is the time to act.

As I and others have mentioned in previous discussions here, the park is in a truly unique area of Canada. It is at the crossroads of the natural and cultural history of North America. Its natural assets have been recognized in the greater region that has the UNESCO world heritage designation. The park is located within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. It was a cultural crossroad as the North American continent was opened up by natives, adventurers, fur traders, explorers, settlers and merchants.

The St. Lawrence Islands National Park was established in 1904 as the first Canadian national park east of the Rocky Mountains. Located in the heart of the Thousand Islands area, it is an 80-kilometre wide extension of granite hilltops, which join the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago, scraping sediments and exposing the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain chain. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its path to the Atlantic Ocean, over 1,000 hilltops became the Thousand Islands.

The area retains a rugged beauty. Plants and animals migrated to the area, encouraged by the moderating effects of the Great Lakes and the variety of micro-habitats, which were created by the rugged topography.

The islands form a land bridge from northwest to southeast across the St. Lawrence River, aiding movement of species through the area.

This narrow isthmus, known as the Frontenac Axis or Arch, is the vital link joining two important North American landforms, the Canadian Shield and the Adirondack Mountains, to form one ecosystem.

Although the waters of the Great Lakes can be a barrier to migrating flora and fauna, the St. Lawrence funnels the water into a narrow channel and the islands form stepping stones, shortening distances between the land masses.

The presence of the Great Lakes to the west has the effect of a heat sink, which moderates the climate in the area immediately surrounding the Thousand Islands. As a result, many plants and animals reach the northern or southern limits of their range in the Thousand Islands.

The river also funnelled people coming from the Atlantic to the interior of North America through the islands. Native people, explorers and settlers have left their mark on the region and the islands. Enough native artifacts have been located to prompt a mandatory search each time waterfront is developed.

Battles have taken place among the islands, especially during the War of 1812.

Explorers and writers have marvelled at their beauty and mystery.

The French actually named the area, Les Milles Isles, or the Thousand Islands, in the 1700s when French explorers travelled through the region. This was long before there were international boundaries. The islands themselves were named by the British navy.

As the region opened up to tourism in the late 1800s, people began to advocate for a park to protect and preserve some of the islands. The park began in 1904 with a small piece of waterfront property at Mallorytown Landing. Nine federally-owned islands in the St. Lawrence River added to the attraction and recreation facilities were installed.

Over the years, islands and land parcels were annexed. Today, the park comprises more than 20 islands and about 90 islets scattered between the Main Duck Island, which is south of Kingston and Lake Ontario, and Brockville, Ontario. It includes mainland properties at Mallorytown Landing, Landon Bay, Jones Creek and the Larue Mills Creek.

Our national parks represent Canada and showcase the best of what we have to offer. This park is an excellent example of that.

Parks are protected so they can be enjoyed by visitors today and into the future.

Parks Canada's offerings make the federal government Canada's largest provider of natural and cultural tourism products. Its destinations, such as national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas, form the cornerstones of the Canadian tourism industry.

Tourism represents as a significant economic opportunity for Canada. In 2010 the tourism sector contributed $29.7 billion to the Canadian economy and employed 617,300 Canadians. In my riding alone, over 6,000 people are employed in the visitor services industry.

Our national parks, and this one especially in my great riding of Leeds—Grenville, offer important economic possibilities for the province of Ontario and for Canada.

The Thousand Islands is known throughout the world as a tourism destination. Every year millions of tourists flock to the region, but very few people know that there is a national park located in the heart of those islands.

This park is the closest national park to the city of Ottawa. Even with the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, Thousand Islands national park will remain one of the closest national parks to the Toronto region. However, it remains one of our best kept secrets.

It is time for us to offer new possibilities for this majestic national park and something as simple as changing its name will dramatically alter how Parks Canada engages and attracts members of the public.

For over 100 years, tourism has played a prominent role in the Thousand Islands community, supporting family-owned businesses from generation to generation.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park has an annual budget in excess of $1.5 million. While some of this revenue is self-generated, a majority comes from the Canadian taxpayer.

When Parks Canada has publicly stated that it is trying to encourage new Canadians, younger Canadians and urban Canadians to visit national parks, it does not make sense for Parks Canada to work outside the regional brand of Thousand Islands.

That brand is known throughout the world, yet in a region where other private tourism providers take advantage of the strong, recognized and powerful world-famous Thousand Islands brand name in using the term “St. Lawrence Islands”, Parks Canada is not talking in the same language as other Thousand Islands tourism operators.

If one were a traveller, one would find it difficult to distinguish between the offerings of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Parks of the St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Two of the three organizations named have many sites outside the immediate Thousand Islands area and are not interchangeable with the national park. As well, they have differing mandates.

As the government, it is our role to help remove barriers that limit opportunities for Canadians to become more engaged with our treasured natural places. We should be doing all we can to help provide opportunities to showcase what Parks Canada has to offer. Placing Thousand Islands national park on the map is a small but significant step that will help enhance public awareness of this incredible park.

A name change presents an opportunity to renew Canadians' passion and support for our country's important natural spaces. A name change would help ensure that this national park finds a place in the consciousness of Canadians and that future generations are inspired by and support this long established protected treasure.

Economically, a name change to Thousand Islands national park would align our public offering with those of other regional tourism providers. This would help initiate sustainable, expandable growth generating activities and relationships. We are creating a legacy that says lasting improvements can be made by government.

Parks Canada will be able to expand its reach and impact by taking advantage of the existing regional brand. We heard this from Ms. St. Claire during the committee meeting.

National parks have been renamed in the past and in both of these instances the new names better reflect the region in which they are situated. This is what I am trying to accomplish with the bill.

Bill C-370 is an easy bill for all members of the House to support because we will be changing the name from St. Lawrence Islands National Park to a name that better reflects the local region. It is a name that is already used by regional residents and existing park visitors. It is a name that will help Parks Canada position the wonderful landscapes and features of the park in the psyche of Canadians. It is a name that will immediately improve local, national and international recognition of the park. It is a name that will facilitate better interactions with other regional tour operations and tourism initiatives, improving local economic opportunity. It is a name that simply makes sense.

Thousand Islands national park fits the region, it fits tradition and it fits the future. Thousand Islands national park is the right name for the right park and it is about time.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

November 27th, 2012 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have another opportunity to speak to Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada).

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, as we heard from our colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville. It is a beautiful region of our country and is known as being one of the areas of highest biodiversity in Canada. It also has historical significance as it was the first national park established in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains.

Furthermore, the park is part of an established UNESCO biosphere reserve. Canadians from across the country, as well as tourists from around the globe come to the park to enjoy its hiking trails, interpretative programs, exhibits and family activities. In committee, we heard from a representative from Parks Canada who I feel provided a beautiful description of this national treasure and its surrounding areas. She said:

Quite simply, the Thousand Islands is a place where nature and culture intermingle. Majestic castles and historic summer homes stand in contrast with rugged islands of granite and pine that are home to lumbering turtles, soaring eagles, and countless other species.

It sounds like a wonderful piece of our Canadian landscape. In Canada we are very fortunate to have our national parks. There is no doubt of their importance to Canadians and that they are an asset to our country.

I know in Scarborough—Rouge River, in my home community, the Rouge Park is certainly a valued treasure among my constituents and the residents of the greater Toronto area. We call it our unknown gem in Toronto. The people in my riding were calling for the creation of Rouge National Park for many years. The announcement in the throne speech that Rouge Park will be designated the first urban national park was a huge victory for the people of this area and a testament to members of our community who worked for over a quarter century to see their dreams for Rouge National Park become a reality.

However, Scarborough residents and residents of the GTA are anxious for a plan to establish this park as part of the national parks system for Canadians and tourists to explore, while preserving and continuing the conservation efforts, as well as respecting the need to maintain the ecological integrity of our local natural gem. Finally, the people involved would like dedicated stable funding to see this dream realized, ensuring the preservation and conservation of the ecosystem to ensure future generations will have the area to enjoy.

When Bill C-370 was first presented, we felt that it needed more dialogue, and it was examined with due diligence. I must mention at this point that this is why we voted against the bill at the earlier stages, because we wanted to ensure that due diligence of every part that needed to be done was done. Our main concern with the bill was fiscal responsibility.

Our support for legislation such as this relies on due diligence in order to protect taxpayer dollars. We had just been delivered a budget where Parks Canada was dealt a funding cut of $29.2 million by 2015. There was a lack of costing information on this matter, which is why we chose to oppose it earlier.

Our other concern was whether or not the community was consulted on this issue. Fortunately, many of our concerns and questions were answered when we were at committee. I thank all of the members of the local community, as well as my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville for providing that opportunity to be able to ask and have those questions answered.

In committee we learned that the costs of changing the name are around $138,000, disbursed over a 10-year period. Most of the costs involved are related to redoing the physical signage within the park. There would be an attempt to keep the costs low, as Parks Canada would immediately replace four large signage panels on the park's mainland properties but would then change the island signage over a 10-year plan.

Some of these costs would be incurred with or without the name change due to regular maintenance and upkeep costs. The St. Lawrence Islands National Park already prints its promotional materials and pamphlets on an annual basis, which are updated prior to printing. Changes to the website will simply involve updating the text and will not incur further costs.

We learned more about the economic benefit of this name change. While there is certainly a cost associated with the renaming of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to the Thousand Islands National Park, there are potential economic gains that changing the name of the park could actually produce for the local community.

The park is located in an area that is properly known within Canada and worldwide as the Thousand Islands region. Tourism and visitor services are an important part of the economic development of the region surrounding the park. Visitor services are increasingly important as the economic mix of the region has changed from manufacturing, and visitors come from around the world to visit the Thousand Islands.

In a region where private tourism providers build their businesses by taking advantage of the recognized and powerful Thousand Islands brand name, the name St. Lawrence Islands National Park is not really helping matters or their pocketbooks. It promotes confusion and can lead to missed economic opportunities for the local businesses in the community. Renaming the park would allow it to be more easily identified by potential tourists and visitors.

As Thousand Islands is a recognized brand, changing the name of the park could open opportunities to further attract and engage local and international visitors as well as furthering business opportunities. As well, improved branding of the park would aid in the continued development of the tourism industry.

It was also extremely encouraging to hear from community members and the local business association and about the local consultations that took place.

Rouge Park is being referred to as the people's park. I have been consulting my constituents, as has Parks Canada, to ensure that this park incorporates their ideas for a park in their neighbourhood, which they would visit and enjoy. Moving forward, we are working hard to make sure the voices of community members are heard in the consultation process. Community consultation is a very important step, and I believe it is imperative for a change like this. I agree it is important that the Thousand Islands community gains the same recognition in promoting its national park's and community's interest.

As far back as 1978, a St. Lawrence Islands National Park advisory committee has been recommending changing the park's name. Parks Canada supports the name change, as do local businesses, business councils and all of the municipalities involved.

The changing of the name to the Thousand Islands National Park was endorsed by many of the local municipalities and they passed resolutions supporting the bill. The majority of Thousand Islanders agree with making this change, as locally the park is already known as the Thousand Islands National Park.

It is for these reasons that we will be supporting the bill at third reading. Our country has some of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Their benefits to our country are absolutely invaluable. As Canadians, we treasure their ecosystems and biodiversity, and we must ensure that our government continues to protect and preserve their beauty and our environment.

We must make this commitment now so that future generations can appreciate and enjoy all that our national parks have to offer.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

September 17th, 2012 / 11 a.m.
See context

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-370, which would change the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park includes several ecologically important areas and over twenty islands between Kingston and Brockville. It was created in 1904. It was Canada's first national park east of the Rockies. Now, 108 years later, the Conservative member for Leeds—Grenville would like to change the well-established name of this national park to Thousand Islands National Park. He thinks that this name change would help brand the park and could increase tourism, since people are more familiar with the “Thousand Islands” name.

I am sure that his intentions are good, but I think that this is a bit too hasty. He claims that this is what the public wants. But I read over the debates and documentation related to this bill, and nowhere did I see any references to formal public consultations or public consultations that were open to everyone. There was no poll. There is nothing, other than guesstimates from the member. I think that the member should go back to the drawing board and provide more evidence of public support.

The Secretariat of the Geographical Names Board of Canada is provided by Natural Resources Canada. This secretariat strongly recommends that the respective geographic authorities be consulted when naming a park or any other land division established by legislation. Did the sponsor of Bill C-370 at least consult the Geographical Names Board of Canada before introducing the bill? Many problems can be avoided by taking such precautions.

I will give a very concrete example. The lovely riding that I represent, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, borders on the magnificent Mille-Îles River, and contains a majestic park known for its diversity of fauna and flora—the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles Park.

This park is made up of municipal and private land that was combined through awareness work by the organization Éco-Nature and with the involvement of the property owners along the river who wish to protect the environment. The park's rich and unique biodiversity is consistent with its status as a wildlife refuge. It received the protected area designation in 1998 and consists of 10 islands covering 26.2 hectares of private land belonging to the cities of Laval and Rosemère, and Éco-Nature.

In short, the member for Leeds—Grenville is proposing to rename a national park with the name of an existing park in my riding. He wanted to make things clearer for foreign tourists, but has failed. He will run into problems with his chambers of commerce when they find out that funds allocated to promote his park will target tourists from northern Montreal.

I take the member to task for not getting his priorities right, in addition to not conducting the necessary consultations and acting too quickly in this matter. If he were truly concerned with the brand of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park and maximizing tourist revenues, then he should start by holding a meeting with the Minister of Finance and the minister responsible for national parks—namely the Minister of the Environment—because they are the ones who are responsible for the budget cuts to Parks Canada.

Need we point out that the 2012 budget will result in cuts of $30 million to the Parks Canada budget by 2015? More than 600 employees were declared surplus and 1,500 employees will be affected in some way by 2015.

As we all already know, St. Lawrence Islands National Park will be severely affected. Don Marrin, superintendent of Parks Canada's East Ontario Field Unit, told the Gananoque Reporter that people should expect a significant reduction in services and hours of operation. So when the hon. member says he wants to improve the branding of the park, maybe he could start by keeping the park open and ensuring that there is enough staff to protect the region's biodiversity and heritage.

It is important to note that the park receives about 81,000 visitors per year, two-thirds of whom arrive by boat. Without checks and balances, these visitors could have adverse impacts on the park's ecosystem. In fact, according to the ecological integrity statement for St. Lawrence Islands National Park written in February 1999, visitor pressures present the primary threat to the park's ecological integrity.

Since this is a conservation issue, I would like to say a few words about the national conservation plan that is currently being developed. I take a particular interest in this issue because I was a member of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, which conducted the study. At committee, we received dozens of witnesses, including many from Quebec. Those witnesses felt that, with this government, there is a lot of talk but very little action when it comes to conservation. Even worse, some of its actions work against conservation.

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and cut the budget for the staff needed to conserve our parks?

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and eliminate the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which produced an excellent report on conservation in 2003?

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and eliminate funding to the Canadian Environmental Network, which could have helped develop a national conservation plan and implement regional initiatives?

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, destroy the legislation that protects fish habitats and shut down an open-air laboratory that allowed experts to do research on our lakes?

Lastly, how can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation when they are trying to shove Enbridge's northern gateway pipeline down the throats of British Columbians?

In June, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development submitted its report on conservation. I invite all parliamentarians to read the report tabled during the last sitting and the NDP's recommendations in the dissenting opinion.

Basically, the NDP caucus is asking the government to develop strict conservation regulations so that clear rules and priorities can be established. Regulations should be based on rigorous scientific work and supported by a public service with adequate resources to carry out its mandate. Without these resources, the Conservatives' conservation plan will never be more than a charade.

I would like to invite the sponsor of the bill, who claims to care about conservation and developing our parks, to join us in urging the Conservative government to maintain Parks Canada's budget, to provide adequate funding for science and research, to maintain the Experimental Lakes Area program, and, most importantly, to implement a workable policy for fighting and adapting to climate change.

The member will no doubt agree that visitor impact, lack of Parks Canada resources, climate change, invasive species and shoreline erosion pose a much greater threat to the future of St. Lawrence Islands National Park than its name does.

Given the Conservative government's draconian cuts to Parks Canada's budget, the agency cannot be asked to expend resources on renaming a park that has been around for 108 years, at least not at a time when visiting hours are being cut along with staff responsible for protecting the park's plants and animals.

This government would be better off focusing on things that Canadians really care about, such as heritage protection, job creation and access to public services.

When will the government start listening?

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

September 17th, 2012 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, namely to change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park. There has been considerable community consultation and there is broad consensus that this will be good for the region and the economy, as the name is recognized by tourists all over the world. I would therefore like to commend the member for Leeds—Grenville for this initiative and recognize that both he and the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands are both good friends of St. Lawrence Islands National Park and of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, an official United Nations biosphere reserve.

Very briefly, a biosphere reserve is where local communities or representatives from key sectors such as agriculture, business, conservation, education and tourism work together to develop projects that link conservation with economic development in the region. The committees are voluntary and community based.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is the smallest national park in Canada and the oldest national park east of the Rockies, having been created in 1904. The area is an important part of our history. The first inhabitants of the park were aboriginal people who began fishing and hunting about 10,000 years ago at the beginning of the Holocene epoch, the epoch that we are now exiting. Later, following the American revolution, European settlers began moving into the area, and during the War of 1812 the area of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park was visited by both American and British warships. In the early 20th century the area became a gateway for the rich and famous in North America, and today elegant homes and summer cottages are among the beautiful sights seen on the various boat cruises of tourist attractions.

The Thousand Islands region consists of 1,864 islands at the western edge of the St. Lawrence Seaway, right in the region of the park.

Why is the park important and why should it be renamed? The first reason is to accurately brand the area. The name that people use to quickly and easily identify the area is the Thousand Islands. If one were to conduct an Internet search for the St. Lawrence Islands, he or she would find very little information. However, if the search were for the Thousand Islands there would be many hits. This is absolutely an indication that the Thousand Islands name is the one that is popularly used to describe the region and the place where the park is located.

The second reason is to accurately describe the region. The St. Lawrence River passes from Kingston to Quebec and beyond. The St. Lawrence Islands National Park stretches from Kingston to Mallorytown, so it really is centred on the Thousand Islands region. It is important not to confuse the area with the whole of the St. Lawrence River and all of the other islands within the St. Lawrence River.

It is also important to distinguish this particular national park from the phrase “parks of the St. Lawrence”, which is used by the Province of Ontario to describe a number of other attractions in the area, including Fort Henry, which, by the way, everyone should visit the first chance they have. It is important to ensure that tourist buses passing on the 401 stop and visit the region and enjoy what it has to offer. The park is a very important part of the region's economy and provides a considerable number of jobs. The latest statistics show there are 438 enterprises, employing almost 6,000 people in Leeds-Grenville alone, that consider themselves visitor based.

While this is an important initiative for the Thousand Islands region, it is important to point out that the recent cuts to Parks Canada mean that the St. Lawrence National Park could be struggling. The Parks Canada agency is responsible for 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas in Canada, and it falls under the responsibility of Environment Canada. Sadly, the government is gutting Parks Canada through implementing $29 million in budget cuts. In so doing, it is undermining the health and integrity of Canada's world renowned parks, risking some of our world heritage sites, significantly reducing the number of scientists and technical staff, hurting relationships with aboriginal peoples and attacking rural economies. Indeed, a former deputy minister of Environment Canada said that the federal budget cuts would undermine a decade of progress on protecting the health of Canada's national parks, while another critic called the cuts a “lobotomy” of the parks' system.

PSAC reported that 1,689 of its members received affected notices and 638 positions will be eliminated, representing close to 30% of all scientists. According to the union, the affected workers include scientists, engineers, carpenters, mechanics, technicians and program managers. If the scientific monitors are reduced, who will know what is happening to Canadian ecosystems and what will restore endangered species like Canada's woodland caribou?

On July 12, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, CPAWS, issued a sobering report about the state of Canada's parks. It highlighted the dangers to our national parks due to funding cuts, the loss of science and monitoring capacity, the growth of inappropriate development within and adjacent to many current and proposed parks, the shortening of seasons, and inappropriate recreation and tourism activities.

Under the Aichi biodiversity targets, the commitment is to protect at least 10% of our marine and 17% of our land areas by 2020. Currently, just 1% of Canada's marine environment is protected and 627 species are at risk of extinction. The rate of extinction is expected to peak in the next 50 years because of climate change, economic expansion, habitat destruction and pollution, yet the government, through Bill C-38, has limited the environmental assessment process and stripped endangered aquatic species of habitat protection.

According Parks Canada's report on plans and priorities, it is likely that user fees at national parks and historic sites will increase at the beginning of the next fiscal year. These include entry fees, camping fees, lockage and mooring fees. A national user fee proposal is expected to be tabled in Parliament in early 2013, which will outline the business increases.

Our party has criticized the Minister of the Environment's claim that businesses near national parks and historic sites are getting a “free ride”. We have stated that it was insulting to the owners and operators of thousands of small businesses across Canada who are a key pillar of the Canadian economy and employ over 500,000 Canadians.

In conclusion, the name change has been thought through by the community. This is not rebranding but rather about attaching the name of a park to a brand that is very old and well-known throughout the world, and something that people naturally talk about when they talk about the region.

One of my earliest memories is visiting the Thousand Islands and sitting on the dock with my brother and dad, waiting for one of the cruises. In fact, it is that faded picture that my father always hung in his office and that now lies quietly in his drawer. I hope to revisit the renamed Thousand Islands National Park with my family very soon. It is time to take them back there. I encourage all members to do so as well.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

September 17th, 2012 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk about Bill C-370, which would change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park. I also want to welcome viewers at home and members of the House back from what I hope was a good summer in the ridings for what I know will be a productive and, hopefully, somewhat congenial session of Parliament. I think this private member's bill is a good way to start.

The bill the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville has brought forward for debate today would celebrate and recognize the national heritage that Canada and the famous Thousand Islands region have to offer.

What is in the name of a park?

A name with meaning builds the location in the consciousness of the public. It sets a site within the context of its surroundings. It is open and inviting to those who seek to engage with our nation's protected natural heritage. It is vast and it is something of which we are all proud. The St. Lawrence is a great and majestic river that originates from the outflow from Lake Ontario, near Kingston, and moves eastward 3,058 kilometres, one of the longest rivers in the world, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. There are several prominent islands in the St. Lawrence: Wolfe Island, Montreal, Île d'Orléans and Anticosti Island are just a few.

What does St. Lawrence Islands National Park, as a name, say to the average Canadian?

Those who do not know the park would not imagine a region where majestic castles and historic summer homes stand in contrast to rugged islands of granite and pine that are home to lumbering turtles, soaring eagles and countless other species. The current name says nothing about how the park is located in the heart of the Thousand Islands area, an 80-kilometre-wide extension of granite hilltops joining the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State.

This is a park that showcases the unique landscape created by glaciers retreating 10,000 years ago, scraping sediments and exposing the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain chain. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its path to the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 hilltops became the Thousand Islands. It is a land where soil was slow to form over the acidic granite; where even today the area retains a rugged beauty.

Plants and animals migrated to the region, encouraged by the moderating effects of the Great Lakes and the variety of microhabitats that were created by the rugged topography. The islands form a land bridge, as was mentioned by the previous speaker, from northwest to southeast, across the St. Lawrence River, aiding movement of species across the landscape.

Notable examples of species that are common in the area, but rare in the rest of Canada, include: the deerberry, a plant that exists in only two locations in this country; the black rat snake, Canada's largest snake; the pitch pine, a southern tree species with a range that extends along the Frontenac Arch to just north of the Thousand Islands; and the least bittern, a wading bird whose wetland habitats are decreasing elsewhere within its northern range.

This national park in the Thousand Islands forms part of the UNESCO-recognized Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. It is an area that has important natural and ecological values and is a place where people live, work and enjoy a variety of economic and recreational activities based upon respect for the environment. The people of the region recognize the importance of protecting this land. Local residents were lobbying as far back as the 1880s for the creation of a national park in the Thousand Islands. As was stated earlier, although it took until 1904, the park was still the first national park east of the Rockies.

So, why did the park end up being called St. Lawrence Islands National Park? That is a good question, which my colleague beside me failed to answer, as well. I do not know the answer, either.

Historic government records do not clearly explain why that name was selected but refer to the park land as islands in the St. Lawrence which comprise the Thousand Islands group. They should have had a clue right there.

Despite what may be on the entry sign, many locals and visitors have always used the name Thousand Islands National Park. Each year, the park receives many letters from visitors who address their comments to Thousand Islands National Park. Quite simply, the name St. Lawrence Islands does not fit. It does not fit what this park is, it does not mean anything, and it is not recognized by even those who return to the park on an annual basis.

The idea of changing the park name is not new. It has been debated at the local level for decades. There was a recommendation to change the name of the park to Thousands Islands National Park in 1978, by the St. Lawrence Islands National Park advisory committee. This committee was formed by the Hon. Judd Buchanan, the then Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. The committee was made up of representatives of local municipalities, chambers of commerce, local citizens, and provincial and national organizations.

For this current action to change the park's name, the City of Kingston, the Front of Yonge township, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, the Town of Gananoque, the Thousand Islands Area Residents' Association and the directors of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve all approved motions in support of the name change. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce also supports the proposal.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is a tiny jewel comprised of over 20 islands with a rich and complex history of natural and human interactions. However, the current name does not fit the billboard. The current name does not build public identity and does not increase awareness and support for the park in the Thousand Islands region. It does not capture the imagination of the public. It does not fit the historical regional references to the park.

Our national parks are national treasures. They are also personal treasures. We have all grown up visiting national parks. Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we spent a lot of time at Riding Mountain National Park. As an Albertan now, I and my family spend a lot of time in Banff and Jasper national parks, which are just magnificent. Those who have not been there need to go. Vacationing on the west coast, we spent time in Pacific Rim National Park.

These are all fabulous areas that are the envy of the world. We should take great pride in them, and we should make sure that they are treated accordingly, whether it is respect for the environment or whether it is making the name mean something.

Let me conclude by saying that I respect the dedication of the hon. member in bringing this bill to our attention for a second time. Changing the name of a national park is not an easy thing to do and it should not be an easy thing to do. I support the member's obvious commitment to the protection of our national environment, and I support his commitment to inspiring the meaningful recognition of a national treasure that does not hold a proper place in the consciousness of Canadians at the present time.

Thousand Islands National Park is a name that has meaning. Thousand Islands National Park inspires imagination. Thousand Islands National Park says something specific about an incredible and unique region of our country. Thousand Islands National Park provides a direct link to the public with Parks Canada's mandate to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage, and to foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.

It is time for the Thousand Islands National Park to be recognized for what it is, what it has always been and what it will be for future generations. I would urge all members of the House to support this worthwhile bill.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

September 17th, 2012 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand today on our first day back to the House from our summer recess to talk to Bill C-370, which would change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to the Thousand Islands national park. I am happy to be talking to this today, but as someone who was born in Brockville, I thought the mover of the motion might rename the national park after me. That did not work out, but I do appreciate what the mover of the motion is trying to accomplish.

I would like to add my voice to those already in support of Bill C-370 and the renaming of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands national park.

Our national parks represent the very best that Canada has to offer. These special places are protected so they can be enjoyed by visitors today and tomorrow. In fact, through Parks Canada, the federal government is Canada's largest provider of natural and cultural tourism products and its iconic destinations: national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. These form the cornerstones of the Canadian tourism industry. Tourism represents a significant economic opportunity for Canada. In 2010, the tourism sector contributed $29.7 billion to the Canadian economy and employed 617,000 Canadians.

As in the whole of Canada, our national parks offer important economic possibilities for the province of Ontario. The Thousand Islands is known throughout the world as a tourism destination. Every year millions of tourists flock to the iconic Thousand Islands region, but very few people know that there is a national park located in the heart of those islands. In fact, it is the closest national park to the city of Ottawa and, even without the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, Thousand Islands national park will remain one of the closest national parks to the city of Toronto.

It is time for us to adapt and renew the possibilities of this majestic national park. Something as simple as changing its name will dramatically alter how Parks Canada engages and attracts members of the public who seek to create great personal memories through meaningful experiences in an incredible national space.

For over 100 years tourism has played a prominent role in the Thousand Islands community, supporting family-owned businesses from generation to generation. St. Lawrence Islands National Park has an annual budget in excess of $1.5 million. While some of that revenue is self generated, a majority comes from Canadian taxpayers. When Parks Canada has publicly stated that it is trying to encourage new Canadians, young Canadians and urban Canadians to visit national parks, it does not make sense for Parks Canada to work outside the regional brand of the Thousand Islands.

Parks Canada has an exemplary record of working within communities through partnering initiatives and stakeholder relations, yet in a region where other private tourism providers take advantage of the strong, recognized and powerful “World Famous Thousand Islands” brand name, in using the term St. Lawrence Islands, Parks Canada is not talking the same language as other Thousand Islands tourism operators.

If members were travelling from Vancouver, Newfoundland or England, would they not find it difficult to distinguish among the offerings of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Parks of the St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence Islands National Park? Two of these three organizations have many sites outside the immediate Thousand Islands area and are not interchangeable with the national park and have different mandates.

As the government, it is our role to help remove barriers that limit opportunities for Canadians to become more engaged with treasured natural places. We should be doing all we can to help provide opportunities to showcase what Parks Canada has to offer. Placing Thousand Islands national park on the map is a small but significant step that would help enhance public awareness of this incredible park. A name change would present an opportunity to renew Canadians' passion and support for our country's important natural spaces. A name change could help ensure that this national park would find a place in the consciousness of Canadians and would help ensure that future generations would be inspired by and would support this long-established protected treasure.

Economically, a name change to the Thousand Islands national park would align our public offering with those of other regional tourism providers. This would help initiate sustainable expandable growth generating activities and relationships. We would be creating a legacy that would say that lasting improvements could be made by this government. Parks Canada would be able to expand its reach and impact by taking advantage of the existing regional brand.

I realize there may be some in the House who oppose this name change initiative simply because the St. Lawrence Islands National Park has been the official name of the Thousand Islands national park for over 100 years. In fact, national parks have been renamed twice before. In both of these instances the new name better reflected the region in which they were situated. The Northern Yukon National Park was been renamed to Ivvavik National Park and Ellesmere Island National Park became Quttinirpaaq National Park.

Bill C-370 is an easy bill to support because changing the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to a name that better reflects the local region to a name that is already used by regional residents and existing park visitors, to a name that will help Parks Canada position the wonderful landscapes and features of the park in the psyche of Canadians, to a name that will immediately improve local, national and international recognition of the park, to a name that will facilitate better interactions with other regional tour operators and tour initiatives, improving the local economic opportunity, simply makes sense.

Thousand Islands national park fits the region, it fits the tradition and it fits the future. Thousand Islands national park is the right name for the right park at the right time.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2012 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

moved that Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to begin debate on the second reading of my private member's bill, Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada).

In 1911, Canada led the world by establishing a national service dedicated to it parks. As it celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, Parks Canada advertised our famous national parks to draw attention to the parks and the park service and to attract visitors. Among those parks that we celebrated and advertised was St. Lawrence Islands National Park, most of which is located in my great riding of Leeds—Grenville.

Today I will briefly discuss the background and mandate of Parks Canada. I will describe the region in which St. Lawrence Islands National Park exists, explain the importance of visitors to my riding and discuss marketing and branding of this national park. This will lead to the natural conclusion that St. Lawrence Islands National Park should be renamed Thousand Islands national park, the subject of my bill.

My goal today is to present an overall snapshot of the issue in the limited time that I have at my disposal.

Parks Canada has several important roles in Canada. Working for the people of Canada, the agency protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage. It helps foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment while at the time ensuring the integrity of these special places in Canada. Parks Canada's website explains that it is guardian, guide, partner and storyteller to the nation and the world about our national parks.

National parks themselves were, and are, established to protect and present outstanding representative examples of natural landscapes and natural phenomena that occur in Canada. These wild places, located in every province and territory, range from mountains and plains, to boreal forests and tundra, to lakes and glaciers, and much more. National parks protect the habitats, wildlife and ecosystem diversity representative of and sometimes unique to the natural regions.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in an area of rich biodiversity. It consists of several ecologically important mainland properties and islands between Kingston and Brockville. The visitors' centre at Mallorytown Landing provides an introduction to the park, with hiking trail, interpretive programs, exhibits and family activities. The park is a partner in encouraging sustainable lifestyles and protecting the ecosystems of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve.

For those who are unaware, a biosphere reserve is identified by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, as an area that has an important natural and ecological value and is a place where people live, work and enjoy a variety of economic and recreational activities based on respect for the environment.

The concept of a biosphere reserve is that local communities, or representatives from key sectors such as agriculture, tourism, business, conservation and education, work together to develop projects that link conservation with economic development in their region. The committees are voluntary and community based, not connected to governmental or regulatory authorities. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, which includes the St. Lawrence Islands National Park, was officially designated by UNESCO in 2002.

The St. Lawrence Islands National Park, which was established in 1904 as the first Canadian national park east of the Rocky Mountains, celebrated its centennial in 2004. The park is at a naturally occurring confluence of important geological formations and is also at a naturally occurring confluence of the cultural history of our nation.

I will read and paraphrase from the park's own information for a minute to provide a description of the park. It reads:

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in the heart of the 1000 Islands area, an 80-km wide extension of granite hilltops joining the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State.

Glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago scraping sediments and exposing the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain chain. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its path to the Atlantic Ocean, 1000 hilltops became the 1000 Islands.

Soil was slow to form over the acidic granite; today the area retains a rugged beauty. Plants and animals migrated to the area, encouraged by the moderating effects of the Great Lakes and the variety of micro-habitats which were created by the rugged topography. The islands form a land bridge from northwest to southeast across the St. Lawrence River, aiding movement of species through the area.

This narrow isthmus, known as the Frontenac Axis or Arch, is the vital link joining two important North American landforms--the Canadian Shield and the Adirondack Mountains--to form one contiguous ecosystem. Although the waters of the Great Lakes can be a barrier to migrating flora and fauna, the St. Lawrence funnels the water into a narrow channel and the islands form stepping stones, shortening distances between land masses.

The presence of the Great Lakes to the west has the effect of a 'heat sink' which moderates the climate in the area immediately surrounding the 1000 Islands. As a result, many plants and animals reach the limits of their range in the 1000 Islands.

The river also funnelled people coming from the Atlantic to the interior of North America through the islands. Native people, explorers and settlers have left their mark on the region and the islands. Enough native artifacts have been located to prompt a mandatory search every time waterfront is developed. Battles have taken place among the islands. Explorers and writers have marvelled at their beauty and mystery.

The French actually named the area les Mille-Îles, or the Thousand Islands, in the 1700s when French explorers travelled through the region. This was long before there were international boundaries. The islands themselves were named by the British navy.

The park began in 1904 with a small piece of waterfront property in Mallorytown Landing. Nine federally-owned islands in the St. Lawrence added to the attraction and recreational facilities were installed. Over the years, islands and land parcels were annexed.

Today the park contains more than 20 islands and about 90 islets scattered between Main Duck Island, which is located in Lake Ontario off Kingston and Brockville, Ontario. It includes mainland properties in Mallorytown Landing, Landon Bay, Jones Creek and Larue Mills Creek. Visitors come from all over the world to see the islands on one of the many boat tours of the region and visit the land-based facilities.

There are recreational opportunities of all kinds from bird watching to fishing to boating and swimming and so much more. Catering to visitors has become big business in my riding of Leeds—Grenville.

The latest statistics that are available from Statistics Canada indicate there are 438 enterprises that consider themselves visitor-based in my riding. These employ almost 6,000 people. Scattered throughout the riding but concentrated in the area closest to the Thousand Islands visitor services by any account is a very large employer in my riding.

I attended an event recently in Brockville that was celebrating the milestone in the construction of the Maritime Discovery Centre, a soon to be open tourist attraction that will concentrate its exhibits in the region. At that event, the mayor of Brockville, whose family business is printing, stated another interesting fact about how my riding was changing. He noted that as little as 10 years ago, the majority of printing he received, and he receives printing from both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, was industrial-based. Today, most of his work is visitor-based.

Visitation to the region and services for those visitors has always been important to my riding. It is becoming more important every year. If this were true only in my riding of Leeds—Grenville, all those business people in my riding would be pleased. However, this is not a situation that is unique to Leeds—Grenville. Visitor services have become a key ingredient from the economic development strategies of almost every community and region.

Knowing this, the folks involved in this industry in my riding are constantly seeking ways to make their products stand out. One way that this is accomplished is by what marketers call “branding”. Marketing associations define a brand as a name, a term, a sign, a symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers

How does this connect to a region or, in this case, a park? It is simple. It is important in this context that everyone works together throughout the region in this case to achieve a common goal.

While there are multiple facets to the technique of branding, I want to concentrate on one, the one that is addressed by my bill.

One of the most important aspects to branding is identification. Even today we identify objects with a familiar brand name. The quickest one that comes to mind is tissue paper and Kleenex. Good branding delivers a message clearly, confirms credibility and connects the market with the object. A solid brand lives in the hearts and minds of customers, clients and prospects. It speaks to their experiences and perceptions. Branding is a quest for a solid, long-lasting and easily identifiable name.

There is a name that people use to quickly and easily identify the area where the St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located and that name is the Thousand Islands. Parks Canada itself and the information about the park that it uses on its website, the information I read a few minutes ago, identifies the location of the park in the Thousand Islands.

As they watched the 100th anniversary advertisement for the St. Lawrence Islands National Park, those involved in visitor services in my riding were left with one observation: The name of this park does not define where it is located. The St. Lawrence River is a very long river. How does the current name of the park define where it is located?

In naming national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites or geographical features in a park or site, Parks Canada follows the general principle of the Geographic Names Board of Canada. However, there is no historical record about how and why St. Lawrence Islands National Park acquired its name.

The general procedure to propose a new name or change a name states that a federal authority would generally investigate a name by consulting the residents of the area, historical documents, files and other sources.

When I began working on this issue, which was brought to me from many of my constituents, I consulted with business owners and members of the municipal councils throughout the region. Some were actually surprised that the park was not already named Thousand Islands National Park because they had been referring to it by that name for many years.

If we were to conduct an Internet search for St. Lawrence Islands, we would find very little information. If we were to conduct a similar search for Thousand Islands, we would find a great deal of information all tied to the region where the park is located. This is an indication that the Thousand Islands name is the one that is popularly used to describe the region and the place where the park is located.

Compounding the current name problem for the national park is the fact that the Ontario government operates an agency called Parks of the St. Lawrence. This agency operates properties along the entire length of the Ontario portion of the St. Lawrence River from Kingston to the Quebec border. It includes things such as Fort Henry, Upper Canada Village, parks and campgrounds all along the St. Lawrence in eastern Ontario. In fact, I used to be the chair of that agency and there was often confusion. Even when people are aware that they are searching for a national park with the St. Lawrence in its name, they can become confused with the Ontario government agency.

Parks Canada has as one of its roles the responsibility for the presentation of our national parks. St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in what is popularly known as the Thousand Islands. It is comprised of some of these islands. Visitor services are growing and are an important part of the economic development of the region that encompasses this park.

A simple marketing theory demands that the park be easily identified in its location on the lengthy St. Lawrence River.

For all of those reasons, I encourage my colleagues to support my private member's bill to rename the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to the Thousand Islands national park of Canada.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2012 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join the debate on Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada). This is a very interesting bill, as it proposes to change the name of a Canadian national park from “St. Lawrence Islands National Park” to “Thousand Islands National Park”.

I would first like to talk a bit about the background of this national park. The St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River. This is a particularly special region, as it connects the Canadian Shield from Algonquin Park to the Adirondack Mountains. The park consists of 21 islands plus many smaller islets, and is Canada's third-smallest national park, with a total area of 24.4 square kilometres.

The park is located within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, which is known as one of the areas with the highest biodiversity in Canada. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere was designated by UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere program in November of 2002. It was designated as such for its unique flora and fauna, as the area contains a vast diversity of plant and animal life. There are many species at risk in the region, totalling 34 for both plants and animals. It is a beautiful region of our country and is one of the most diverse areas in Canada. It really is a phenomenal place to visit.

The region also has a vast history. Originally it was inhabited, like much of our beautiful nation, by aboriginal peoples; the first people of this area were actually the Iroquois, to be exact. The 17th century saw the arrival of many French explorers, fur traders and missionaries to the area as they followed the St. Lawrence River to seek their fortune in this new world. European settlers began moving into the area during the American Revolution. During the War of 1812, the park area was visited by both British and American warships. Actually, the hull of a British gunboat that was sunk in the area was raised in 1967; it was preserved and now resides in this park.

The park is also home to Cathcart Tower, one of the Martello towers that were built in the 1840s to defend the British from American invasion. The tower is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

In 1904 the area was established as St. Lawrence Islands National Park. It was the first national park established in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. The history of this area, coupled with the fact that this park is the oldest national park east of the Rocky Mountains, makes it a remarkable part of our Canadian history and heritage, something I know all members of the House are interested in preserving and protecting.

My hon. colleague who introduced this bill sits as a member with me on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, and he and the other members of his caucus who sit on that committee are constantly reiterating the importance of protecting our national heritage and history. With this in mind, I am very confused as to why he would want to change the name of such a historical and well-established national park. I feel that changing the name of this park is unnecessary and unwarranted. This park has been in existence for 108 years and is well established. Considering the cuts recently delivered to Parks Canada by the Conservative government, I also feel it is unfair for that same government to then legislate that Parks Canada spend some of its already tight budget on the costs associated with this unnecessary name change.

There are costs associated with changing signage, brochures, websites and generally rebranding the park. The rebranding of this park would be no small feat. The people in my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River have been calling for years for the creation of Rouge national park; the throne speech last summer announced the government's intent to create the people's park, yet this past budget did nothing but re-announce the same promise. There was no funding committed to the creation of the park, no outline or timeframe announced for the establishment of the park, nothing other than the same promise.

Instead, Parks Canada was dealt a total funding cut of $29.2 million by 2015, 638 jobs were declared as surplus at Parks Canada and an additional 1,689 jobs will be affected in some way between now and 2015, either through shortened hours, being deemed seasonal or just cut altogether. Of these cuts, 396 are located right here in Ontario.

The government is asking Parks Canada to dedicate valuable time and resources to renaming and rebranding a park that is 108 years old. It seems slightly unfair and impractical. Meanwhile, we hear that it will take up to 10 years until the creation of Rouge national park gets under way, a promise that the government made now one year ago.

Moreover, the negligible and unproven economic benefit of the bill in relation to tourism would be vastly outweighed by the negative regional economic impacts of shutting down the Kingston Penitentiary and throwing more than 460 people out of work in the region.

Canadians in my riding and across the country are suffering. People are unemployed and underemployed. They are having trouble putting food on the table and making ends meet. Seniors, many of whom are unfortunately already living in poverty, are being forced to work two years longer. First nations across the country are living in extreme forms of poverty and sub-par conditions.

Public service jobs have been slashed by at least 19,200 positions. Provinces are losing $31 billion in health transfers owing to a unilateral funding structure change made by the government. Students and their families are being straddled with enormous student debt. Approximately 280,000 federal skilled worker immigrant applications from people who applied prior to February 27, 2008, are being closed and refunded. The eco-energy retrofit program, which has been widely popular in this country, serving 250,000 households, is being terminated. This will cause a loss of 70,000 person-hours of work and $520 million in federal tax revenue.

I could keep going on, because this list continues. The government does not have its priorities straight. It cannot cut funding to Parks Canada in the budget and then saddle it with the costs of making an unnecessary change to the name of an already well-established national park.

The government needs to start focusing on the things that matter to Canadians: job creation and access to the services they rely. This bill is yet one more example of how out of touch the government really is with Canadians.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2012 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to rise this morning and speak to Bill C-370 introduced by my hon. colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville.

When I spoke with park experts, they said several times that he was a good friend of St. Lawrence Islands National Park. I want to commend him for that.

I would just like to respond to the previous speaker by saying that this is actually a private member's bill and not a government bill. I know that Parks Canada is struggling with budget cuts, and I know that this particular park is struggling with budget cuts and having to lay off people. This is not a government bill, and I do not want to hold my hon. colleague responsible for these things. I have been told several times that the member is a very good friend of St. Lawrence Islands National Park and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve.

This is the smallest national park in Canada. It is the oldest national park east of the Rockies.

The park was created in 1904.

Some of the park is in the great riding of Kingston and the Islands. It includes Cedar Island, which is just off Cartwright Point in Kingston and the Islands. On this island is Cathcart Tower, one of four Martello towers that guard the entrance to the harbour in Kingston and that were constructed during the 19th century. This park has a lot of history.

The park stretches from just south of Kingston and the Islands, south of Kingston to Mallorytown, comprising about 20 larger islands, a series of islets and a number of inland properties. Geologically, it is composed of old granite mountaintops in an old hilly strip connecting the Canadian Shield to the Adironack Mountains.

It is an important part of our history. It was settled by aboriginal peoples at the beginning of the Holocene epoch, the epoch that we are now exiting. It was settled about 10,000 years ago because it was a great place to fish and hunt. Wild turkeys still live there. Those wild turkeys were probably the origin of a wild turkey that settled on my mother's backyard porch in the middle of the city of Kingston. It is a very strange thing to imagine in the middle of the city of Kingston. That just points to the biodiversity in the area.

This area was settled by European settlers, especially United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. In the early 20th century, this area became a getaway for the rich and famous in North America. A lot of the buildings, the elegant houses and the summer cottages are great sights seen on the various boat cruises of tourist attractions in the region. They are a large and important part of the local economy.

I want to go back to talk about the importance of the area as a reserve of biodiversity. This park is part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, an official United Nations biosphere reserve. The function of the park is to help preserve that biodiversity and to make it available to people, especially to students. The history and the biodiversity are two reasons why this is such an important park for the region and for the country. That is why it is a national park.

I want to talk now about the Thousand Islands region. This is a region that consists of 1,864 islands on the western end of the St. Lawrence Seaway, right in the region of the park.

My personal experience with the Thousand Islands began in my youth. When our family travelled on summer vacations, we would all get in the car and travel around North America. When my parents wanted to explain to people in some other part of North America where we lived, they would just say, “It's near the Thousand Islands”. People always understood what that meant, or at least had heard of the Thousand Islands.

More recently, after being elected to this seat, a lot of the news media in Toronto who wanted to interview me kept referring to my riding as “Kingston and the Thousand Islands”. So the word “thousand islands” is really stuck in people's minds. It is already a brand associated with the region and with tourism. It brings tourists to the region and is very important for our local economy. I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville, for putting forward this bill. The idea of changing the name of this park to Thousand Islands National Park is something for which there has been a lot of community consultation. People have thought about this for quite awhile and there is a consensus that this would be a good thing to do. The name is recognized by tourists from all over the world. Nowadays, there are a lot of tourist buses on highway 401. We want them to stop and visit our region and enjoy what it has to offer. It is a very important part of our region's economy and provides a lot of jobs.

There are other reasons for renaming this park. As my hon. colleague has mentioned, the St. Lawrence River goes from Kingston all the way to Quebec and beyond. The St. Lawrence Islands National Park stretches from Kingston to Mallorytown so it really is centred around the Thousand Islands region. We do not want to confuse it with the whole of the St. Lawrence River and all the other islands that are in the St. Lawrence River from Kingston all the way to Quebec City. We also want to distinguish this particular national park from the phrase “parks of the St. Lawrence”, which is used by the Province of Ontario to describe a number of other attractions in the area, for example, Fort Henry which everybody should visit the first chance they get.

I would like to conclude by saying that this has been thought through by the community. This is not rebranding. It is attaching the name of this park to a brand that is very old and well-known throughout the world and something that people naturally talk about when they talk about the region. It would be very important for the economy of the region to attach this park to the brand so that more tourists come and visit. Finally, I would say that the St. Lawrence National Park is struggling with the government's recent cuts to Parks Canada. We will be struggling to protect biodiversity and to pass on the history of the region. I think that the member for Leeds—Grenville and I will be working to mitigate some of the effects of these cuts on what I hope will soon be known as the Thousands Islands National Park of Canada.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2012 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak in support of my hon. friend from Leeds—Grenville and his private member's bill, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada). My time is short and I will discuss tourism and visitors' services as it relates to the park at the centre of this bill.

One of the key economic challenges facing Canada is tourism and how we can take advantage of the growing market for international tourism.

It is no secret that between 2000 and 2009, Canada dropped from 8th to 15th place in the ranking of international tourist destinations.

That is why last year this government released a federal tourism strategy titled “Welcoming the World”. That document recognizes that millions of people from around the world come to Canada each year to see the country and participate in Canadian experiences.

The tourism and visitor services industry supports thousands of jobs all across the country and could keep on growing in the future.

We have a lot to offer visitors in this industry that continues to show resilience even through the recent tough economic times. The tourism strategy announced last year takes what is called a whole-of-government approach. Every department that touches on the tourism industry reviews its impact on the industry. In 2010, tourism was responsible for $73.4 billion in revenues in Canada which represented about 2% of Canada's overall gross domestic product. According to the tourism strategy, that is as much as the combined GDP of the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.

Nearly 600,000 jobs are related to visitor services in Canada.

It is important to note too that tourism drives some of our major service industries, such as accommodations, food and beverage, passenger transport, recreation and entertainment.

These industries account for 9% of Canada's total employment.

International tourism brought $14.9 billion into our economy in 2010, making it an important source of export revenue. Tourism represents about 23% of Canada's international trade in services, making it Canada's second largest service export behind commercial services. Tourism, especially international tourism, supplies more than economic benefits to Canada. It allows us to share our heritage with the world while at the same time forging links, promoting understanding and encouraging respect for the natural environment.

When we talk about tourism in Canada, we are talking about small business. Small business owners are the backbone of our tourism industry.

About 98% of Canada's tourism sector is made up of small and medium-sized businesses, such as boat tour operators, campground owners and marina operators.

Tourism is a many-faceted sector driven by small business.

All of these businesses and organizations, especially in individual regions of our country, work together toward a common goal, offering visitor experiences and products that are second to none.

Tourism, especially international tourism, is a growth industry that will continue to impact on Canada's economic recovery. Over the past 20 years, international tourism arrivals to Canada have been increasing on average 4% per year. Travellers are arriving from new countries and new regions all the time. The middle classes of many of the world's emerging economies are finding Canada an attractive place to visit. By 2020, the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates that international tourist visits will reach 1.6 billion, double what the number was in 2009. While Canada has steadily dropped on the list of preferred destinations, as have other mature markets, it is still among the top destinations for visitors.

Nevertheless,. between 2000 and 2010, Canada's share of total international arrivals declined from 2.9% to 1.7%.

When we study what travellers want in a destination, the Thousand Islands region and St. Lawrence Islands National Park provide plenty of answers. More often, international visitors are turning to the Internet and social media tools to research destinations. They look for identity. The global market is crowded with destinations and tourism brands. A recognizable brand, for example a name, is increasingly important, not only for the country, but for the area where the St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located.

I have been speaking about our national tourism strategy for the past few minutes. Let me now bring the discussion closer to the park and the region in question.

The St. Lawrence was discovered by Jacques Cartier 477 years ago, on August 10, 1535. Many storied explorers travelled its waters, including Champlain, de Courcelle, Count Frontenac and Cavelier de La Salle. The first reliable geographic maps of the region were drawn by Jean Deshayes, hydrographer to King Louis XIV himself, who named it “les Mille-Îles” or the Thousand Islands in 1687.

Ever since the Thousand Islands region became a tourist destination, in the late 1800s, people have come from around the world to visit.

My parents spent their honeymoon in the picturesque Thousand Islands in August 1944, and we go back there every year.

There are in fact 1,865 islands. Tourism is increasingly important as the economic mix of the area has changed from manufacturing to services. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada indicate that there are 438 enterprises that consider themselves visitor-based in the area, and these employ almost 6,000 people.

And that number is rising steadily.

The Thousand Islands have been on the map for 325 years. Our colleague for Leeds—Grenville keeps them on the map, especially in his work as chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

Further, the government has been supportive of this economic change in many ways, as we support improvements to national parks and historic sites in the area and participate in the development of new attractions in the region.

Within a few miles of this national park lie such treasures as Fort Henry, the Rideau Canal, Fort Wellington and historic mills and battle grounds from the war of 1812 and the Hunters raids of 1838.

For the region to continue to take advantage of Canada's push for international travellers and for its own marketing of the region, the St. Lawrence Islands National Park must be promoted as the Thousand Islands National Park.

Part of the federal tourism strategy is developing what is called a signature experiences collection. These are experiences that are unique and offer something special to the visitor.

Tourism operators in the Thousand Islands are starting to become familiar with this initiative, and in fact the Thousand Islands are already on the list. Parks Canada's mandate consists in part in presenting nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage and fostering public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment.

Since more international travellers are using resources such as the Internet to research their travel destination and to plan their activities, it only makes sense that this park should properly align itself with the Thousand Islands brand. A quick Internet search for Thousand Islands will show the need to accomplish this. The easiest and best way to do this is to change its name to Thousand Islands National Park, so that it would be found among the other attractions of the region.

The future of the park, like the future of Canada and the Thousand Islands region, is bright, and it will be even brighter once the park's name has been changed.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2012 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleagues for their speeches about Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada).

I would also like to thank my hon. colleague from Ottawa—Orléans, who just spoke. I would urge him to take full advantage of the data from Statistics Canada, which still has enough statistics to quote. Cuts are imminent there, and more jobs will be lost. So I urge him to pay close attention to the statistics that are available because, unfortunately, that opportunity will soon be gone, which is a real shame. I would note in passing that the government is cutting 728 jobs at Statistics Canada. I know that is not what we are talking about right now, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Statistics Canada is not the only organization that will be losing jobs. I hope that if my hon. Conservative colleague, who spoke and who introduced that wonderful bill, really cares about Canada's parks, he will remember that Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, calls for 1,600 fewer jobs at Parks Canada. So if he really wants to do something to help Parks Canada, I suggest he begin by voting against the budget, which leaves so much to be desired in terms of improving Canada's parks. Unfortunately, his bill will not help Parks Canada at all.

My hon. colleagues also talked about other Canadian parks, including the Rideau Canal, one of the longest skating rinks in the world, if not the longest. There will be jobs cut there too. Unbelievably, there will also be job losses at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, the Chambly Canal in Quebec, and Banff National Park.

What impact will this have? My hon. colleague's bill does absolutely nothing to promote greater diversity of parks, better conservation or greater accessibility to our parks. On the contrary, the next budget will completely undermine the modest efforts the member is trying to make. Changing the name will do nothing to ensure greater accessibility.

It is important to understand that job losses will lead to a shorter tourist season. Furthermore, service will be worse and wait times for the locks will be longer and longer, which will harm tourism. The Conservatives are always boasting about being the champions of the economy, but this time, they are attacking tourism directly, which will be very bad for our economy.

By cutting jobs, the Conservatives are hurting our economy. Job losses at Parks Canada are a disgrace and will definitely affect our tourism industry. The Conservatives are killing the tourism industry and they should be ashamed of themselves. It truly pains me to say this.

The bill introduced by our Conservative colleague will unfortunately not help Parks Canada in any way.

I am a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The members of that committee are currently in the process of examining a national conservation plan. Everyone knows that Canadian parks promote national conservation and biodiversity. Furthermore, I can tell you that we currently have international targets and we have signed an international agreement aimed at conserving 17% of our land area and 10% of our marine area by 2020.

I can hear you, from your chair, Mr. Speaker, asking me what our current targets are and what goals have been reached so far.

All the Canadians and Conservatives watching us are wondering the same thing.

In fact, only 1% of our marine area and only 10% of our land area are currently protected. A lot more work needs to be done before we can start changing the name of a park. A lot more work needs to be done to conserve our biodiversity.

Bill C-38 contains a lot of legislation. I would call it a mammoth bill. It is not right. They have put everything into that bill and, unfortunately, we will not be able to review all these pieces of legislation in the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, as my colleagues already know. The bill also amends the Fisheries Act, which deals with fish habitat. Parks and habitat protection are truly essential for conserving our biodiversity.

I will read something interesting that I am sure my colleagues will be very surprised to learn. The year 2010 was declared the International Year of Biodiversity. It is important to take care of our biodiversity. I am quite concerned about biodiversity because it has an impact not only the conservation of various species, but also on our food supply. Species conservation matters to our health as well. It is truly important to have good biodiversity.

My colleagues may not know it, but human beings are one of the species at risk. We have a great deal of work to do when it comes to preserving biodiversity. I will also speak briefly about the priority given by this bill to changing the name of a park. There are a number of much more urgent priorities, such as climate change. There is nothing in the budget about global warming. On the contrary, global warming in Canada will rise exponentially and with catastrophic results.

One of the impacts of global warming is that one-fifth of the world's species face the threat of extinction, including human beings.

I will quote the executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity:

Each increase of one degree Celsius in average global surface temperature resulted in the loss of about 10 percent of all known animal and plant species. Climate change contributes to the reduction of biodiversity.

The article goes on to say:

Climate change does not threaten man [I prefer to say the human species] alone. It poses a real risk to biodiversity as well. In relation to the Copenhagen summit, the executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity announced that one-fifth of all flora and fauna face the threat of extinction if nothing is done to limit global warming.

As I mentioned, my honourable colleague's bill will do nothing at present for Canada's parks, quite the contrary. We have seen all the cuts that are being made. His bill will do nothing to preserve biodiversity or to fight climate change.

I am convinced that my hon. colleague supports Canada's parks, biodiversity and the richness of our land and marine areas. That is why I am urging him to vote against Bill C-38 to implement certain provisions of the budget, rather than bringing forward his bill. The budget implementation bill is the real danger. It is truly harmful and dangerous, because passing such a bill will result in the loss of 1,600 jobs at Parks Canada. My hon. colleague should vote against his party's budget rather than bringing forward this bill.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

May 7th, 2012 / noon
See context

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to support my colleague from Leeds—Grenville and his private member's bill, Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada). I will spend my time today providing more detail on the history of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park.

The member for Leeds—Grenville has already provided a brief background on the discovery and naming of the Thousand Islands. The French were the first Europeans to travel the waters of the St. Lawrence and mark places for future travellers to stop and rest by planting poplar trees along the banks. According to records left by the French in the early 1600s when they arrived, natives were already living in the Thousand Islands region year round, growing corn and other crops and catching fish and game.

Archeological finds indicate that between 700 B.C., about the time Rome was founded, and 1600 when the French arrived, there was a great deal of activity around the Thousand Islands region, although the earliest records indicate that there were people there as early as 7,000 years ago.

Natives originally came to the water in the summer to catch fish and hunt using bows and arrows. Later, they settled in the area and practised agriculture. It was these native settlers, the St. Lawrence Iroquois, who Jacques Cartier met at Hochelaga in 1535. The French called the islands les Milles-Îles and, depending on current relationships with the natives, described voyages through the islands as safe, mildly exciting or very dangerous.

It was a British Royal Navy captain who was responsible for naming the islands in the early 1800s. He divided the islands into groups, the Admiralty, Lake Fleet, Brock and Navy Fleet, and then gave them names based on their grouping. For example, the Lake Fleet group islands are named after warships, while the Navy group islands are named after naval officers.

The period from the mid-1860s to the establishment of the park in 1904 saw a marked change in North American society. After the American Civil War, which ended in 1865, people moved in great numbers from the country to the city. Wages increased and the work week shortened to six and even five and a half days. The wilderness was opening up, thanks to steam engines and railways, and railway companies were being established everywhere.

George Pullman of Pullman car fame knew just the place to locate his railroad, right in the heart of the Thousand Islands. He began bringing the new American city dwellers with extra spending money to the Thousand Islands area. He was not the first to recognize the attraction of the Thousand Islands, but he was the pioneer who brought the first real crowds to the islands in his fancy new Pullman cars. By the early 1870s so many were coming to the islands that the islands themselves became attractive real estate. Citizens of Prescott, Brockville and Gananoque, as well as those in villages in between, became alarmed. Islands they had hunted, fished, farmed and picnicked for generations were quickly disappearing behind no trespassing signs.

In 1874 their concerns led to two petitions being sent to the governor general of Canada. They both read in part:

—[your petitioners] are afraid that if the islands are sold the timber now growing on them will be destroyed , their beauty spoiled and the source of health and recreation they now afford to the public will be utterly destroyed.

The reply was not encouraging. At the time, the federal government held the Canadian islands in trust for the native people who had ceded them to Canada. They were to be sold and the money used to benefit the natives, but the pressure from local residents continued.

In 1877 the idea of preserving some of the islands gained a new champion in Thaddeus Leavitt, the editor of the Brockville Recorder & Times, and a great historian of today.

It is very evident from the speeches today that the residents of the area clearly believe that the name should the Thousand Islands national park. As the member for Leeds—Grenville indicated, many people, including parks people, refer to it by that name and the people and municipal governments surveyed in preparation for this bill all agreed the name should be changed.

I am pleased to support the member for Leeds—Grenville in his attempts to rectify this historic misstep and change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands national park.

Canada National Parks Act
Routine Proceedings

November 30th, 2011 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada).

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Ajax—Pickering for seconding my motion.

The bill would amend the Canada National Parks Act by renaming the St. Lawrence Islands National Park as the 1000 Islands national park.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park could be almost anywhere from Kingston to Newfoundland, but in fact it is in the 1000 Islands region. As such, a more appropriate name for the park would be the 1000 Islands national park. There has been significant public consultation on this and I am pleased to put this bill forward.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)