House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


Canada Endangered Species Protection Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take a few minutes to talk to Bill C-65. I think I could fairly summarize my thoughts by saying, something my colleagues have said as well, that I consider this another major intrusion by the federal in areas of jurisdiction of the provinces, and this of course includes Quebec.

I have looked at two quotes from letters the Quebec minister of the environment sent to his colleague in the House of Commons, one of which concerns the section on interpretation. Mr. Cliche said, and I quote: "Thus the federal government's definition of federal land for the purposes of the bill has no relation to reality. We never understood that the management of fish stocks or inland or coastal waters navigation meant that the federal government had jurisdiction over all aquatic ecosystems, along with the seabed and subsoil below and the airspace above these waters".

Here is another quote from this same letter regarding the measures to protect listed species: "Furthermore, it seems incongruous for the purposes of the bill to liken the migratory travel of species from one country to another or their geographic distribution on either side of a border to the import and export of goods and services. In introducing a new notion, that of cross border species, the federal government could be giving itself extended jurisdiction over the vast majority of species in a province".

It seems clear to me that the Government of Quebec does not support this bill any more than the Bloc Quebecois, since, as I have just said, it is another intrusion into an area of jurisdiction that does not belong to the federal government. However, as it always does, the federal government is trying to find a breach to slip through. This is what we consider to be the aim of this bill-an attempt to meddle in provincial jurisdiction.

Quebecers are not the only ones to think the bill is not all that great, native peoples do too. I had the pleasure of looking at the brief presented by the native peoples. In short, they feel that the bill does not really take their needs into account and that they are being largely ignored, as is usually the case.

Finally, I have been made aware of the native approach to endangered species. Canadians are probably to be blamed for the

disaster as a whole. The natives' philosophy, as told by their elders and the younger generations, is that the earth is their mother. The birds, the plants and the animals are their brothers and sisters. They believe that water and streams are rather like the blood vessels of mother earth.

They have a philosophy of tremendous respect for nature as a whole, including the fauna and the flora. They believe this bill shows no respect for either their culture or their approach to the environment.

I have noticed that it is the economic development practices, which can not longer be sustained by the ecosystems, that are endangering species. It is not native peoples, it is not campers, it is not nature loving individuals who are endangering species. It is not people who respect nature who are threatening endangered species, but rather economic development methods and practices.

I saw some pretty terrible things when visiting aboriginal people in parts of Canada that are the subject of native land claims. For example, in Nisga'a, Chilcotin and Carrier-Sekani territory, some clear cutting is being done and it is extremely destructive. I think clear cutting is the main reason for the extinction of some species.

My Reform Party colleague was laughing at the fact that we wanted to save part of a forest just because we heard a owl hooting. I think there might be a reasonable compromise between the two extremes, but clear cutting is certainly not contributing to the protection of endangered species.

The same goes for mining, another area of economic development which victimizes aboriginal people. I am thinking here about the Dene in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut, who are being squeezed by diamond mines. Mining exploration endangers plant and animal life. Endangered species are certainly threatened by this type of exploration.

The same situation exists near Voisey Bay, in Innu territory. The people there object to the drilling taking place in a region with what may be one of the richest mines in the world. Once again, their opinion is being overlooked, the lands they claim as theirs are being invaded and the natural resources on these lands will be pillaged. Once the natural resources have been plundered-the forests cut down and the mines exhausted-we turn to the natives and tell them: "Now, we are willing to consider your land claims". Mining activities and clear cutting have a major impact on endangered species.

I could talk about the hydro projet included in the Northern Flood Agreement, in Manitoba, which was harmful to the Crees in the province. This week, we passed Bills C-39 and C-40, which will compensate natives for the flooding of their land, but the creation of an artificial lake probably ten times too large, for the purpose of producing electricity, means that groups and species are certainly being threatened by this uncontrolled economic development project.

As far as the east coast is concerned, I would also like to mention the extensive fishing in the area where we find the Micmac, a people which calls itself people of the dawn. Today, fish stocks have dwindled and natives can no longer fish, something that has always been part of their traditions.

These are examples of our disregard for native people. Yet, our First Nations are very concerned with nature and, consequently, with endangered species. They do not feel they are to blame for the disappearance of these species.

In fact, I have noticed how some native communities have great respect for species in general, especially endangered ones. For example, on the reserve of the Walpole Island First Nation, there are 37 varieties that are now on the list of endangered species. These 37 varieties have grouped together, instinctively, in the location where they are the least endangered, that is, on a native reserve.

Another example I can mention is Akwesasne. These natives have invested money to buy an island to protect the great blue heron. So, we see that natives are concerned with this issue, and it is unfortunate that the bill briefly mentions first nations here and there in the first 19 pages and then not at all at the end.

Consequently, we recognize the federal gove