House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was park.

Topics

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Evidently, we are hitting a nerve. The Minister of Transport had not said a word since I began, but when I mentioned the name of Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, the smoke started to rise.

I will continue.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

David Collenette Don Valley East, ON

He is a great Canadian.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

We know that Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, who was a Liberal Party bagman in the West, was made a senator by the Prime Minister. That is a reward.

We think the government should have taken advantage of this bill to ensure that members of these boards are appointed on the basis of merit alone, not as a political reward.

As for political rewards, there are sometimes ambiguities. If people are wondering why a well-known Conservative was appointed by the Liberal Party, it was to give the appearance of transparency.

In the Mulroney years, there was the hon. Ed Broadbent, former leader of the New Democratic Party, who was appointed to a human rights office in Montreal. Appointing someone from another party helps divert attention from the 30 appointments from their own party.

There is the example of the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Orleans, whom I had the pleasure of defeating in the 1993 election. He occupied the position you now hold, Madam Speaker. I am referring to Charles DeBlois. With the help of Marc-Yvan Côté, a well known political organizer in the Quebec City region, he was appointed to an immigration commissioner position in Montreal.

People wondered how a candidate who had been a Progressive-Conservative for five years could be handed a reward like that by the Liberal Party. It is the classic example. They appoint one from the other gang and then feel free to appoint 30, 40 or 50 of their own.

The best example of all is the chairperson of this transportation safety board. His name is Benoît Bouchard. He was the Minister of Transport in the Mulroney years. Just before the Conservatives were defeated—they were obviously headed for defeat in 1993—Mr. Mulroney appointed him Canadian ambassador to Paris. The Liberal government, having its own political appointee in mind for the Paris embassy—Jacques Roy—brought Mr. Bouchard back to Ottawa and appointed him chairman of the transportation safety board.

This is another way of appointing someone of a different political stripe, so that we can appoint 30, 40 or 50 others of our own.

That about wraps it up for me. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Quebeckers, Bloc Quebecois members, and members of our teams who work both in the ridings and in Ottawa, a pleasant summer. Rest up with your friends and families. I am sure that your families would want you to take care on the highways and waterways. There are always unfortunate accidents. I know that your families would rather have you alive and well.

Enjoy the summer.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the safety board act was originally passed by the Mulroney government in 1989. It brought a number of different federal bodies responsible for transportation safety under the same roof.

The NDP opposed the original act for three reasons. First, a newly created safety board was underfunded and underequipped to carry out its broad mandate to investigate all air marine, rail and pipeline accidents.

Second, the act allows ministers and interested private companies to review drafts of the board's reports and submit comments. This unduly influences the board's final reports and compromises the board's independence.

Third, the original act did not adequately protect the privacy of workers who gave testimony to the board. Without privacy workers were at risk of retribution if their testimony was damaging to their employers.

Bill S-2 is an act to amend the original Safety Board Act. Most of the changes are of technical nature to clarify language and adapt the act for technological advances. We support these aspects of the bill. There are some new provisions in the bill to extend privacy protections to people who give testimony to the safety board. We support this because it addresses one of the three reasons the NDP opposed the Safety Board Act in 1989. However, despite these positive changes we still oppose Bill S-2 because it makes a bad act even worse.

The safety board is still underfunded. Across the country there were over 2,000 air marine, train and pipeline accidents last year. Yet the safety board only employs 135 people to investigate these occurrences. Even though many of these accidents do not require in-depth investigation, the board nevertheless has a massive backlog. The backlog is so bad that the board has had to start rushing its investigations to catch up. This is a threat to public safety. The board requires more funding so it can hire more investigators to properly safeguard the health and safety of Canadians.

Bill S-2 would allow the government to turn some of the safety board appointments from full time into part time positions. This would leave the board with even fewer working hours. The dedicated public servants of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are coping as best they can. The Liberals owe it to Canadians to give these public servants the resources they need to do their important work.

By far the worst aspect of Bill S-2 is that it puts a shroud of secrecy over the process by which private companies are allowed to influence the safety board. It is bad enough that they are allowed to review draft copies of the board's reports and make submissions.

Bill S-2 would make these submissions secret. If the private submissions of the safety board were not unduly influencing the board there would be no reason to hide them from the Canadian people. This process is elitist and anti-democratic. The Canadian people depend on the safety board for their health and safety when travelling. They have a right to know what these private companies are saying to the safety board.

The entire process of Bill S-2 has shown how out of touch the Liberals are with the Canadian public. First they introduced the bill in the Senate, a patronage ridden and anti-democratic institution that the Canadian people have no confidence in. The bill makes a bad piece of legislation even worse by putting a shroud of secrecy over the safety board and thereby compromising its independence.

The provisions of the bill to hide private sector submissions to the safety board are scandalous. The very fact that they have this opportunity to influence the board is a farce. The Liberals should have used this opportunity to remove this ridiculous provision from the act. Instead they are trying to hide it from the Canadian people.

Canadians rely on the transportation safety board to make sure that the rails, skies, waterways and pipelines of the country are safe. Transportation safety is vitally important to the movement of goods and passengers across the country. People need to be sure that the board is doing its job effectively if they are to have confidence in travelling or doing business in Canada. Thus the Liberals owe it to Canadians to make the safety board transparent and accountable.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Charlie Power St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak today on behalf of our caucus to support Bill S-2. It is an act to amend the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act and to make consequential amendment to another act.

The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act was passed by parliament in June 1989. The act established an independent federal agency, the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board, or as it is commonly known the TSB.

The TSB has the mandate to investigate accidents into marine, rail, pipeline and air modes of transportation. A major feature of the TSB is its independence from the regulator, Transport Canada, and from all other departments of government. Its sole objective is to advance transportation safety, and this is indeed an admirable objective.

The original Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act contained a provision in section 63 of the act that required the mandatory review of the operation of the act.

This review was initiated in January 1993 by the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act Review Commission and its report was tabled in parliament in 1994. Meanwhile the Moshansky commission of inquiry into the March 1989 accident at the Dryden airport had completed its work and made recommendations pertinent to the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act.

Bill S-2 is the result of these changes suggested by both the Dryden investigation and by the Canadian Transportation Board Accident Investigation and Safety Board Review Commission. Bill S-2 proposes to do some tidying up of the already very solid piece of legislation.

Bill S-2 was introduced in the Senate on September 30, 1997. It went on to the Senate transportation and communications committee in which Bill S-2 received three amendments. One of these amendments was made by the Progressive Conservative senators whom at this time I would like thank for their hard work on this important piece of transportation safety legislation.

The Progressive Conservative amendment made in the Senate now allows the TSB to have two part time members. The current board consists of only four members and has one vacancy due to some trouble in finding a fifth full time member. The new provision is to allow part time membership as a positive step in maintaining a healthy TSB.

Liberal senators made two amendments to Bill S-2. One was a very good one and one was a very poor amendment. The first Liberal amendment was a transitional clause which ensures that pending or ongoing legal proceedings would be able to continue once the bill is passed. This is a positive move which protects against any gaps while Bill S-2 comes into force.

The second amendment made by a Liberal was not such a good idea. In fact it was so bad the Liberal government is now back-tracking and asking to have the amendment deleted. The amendment deals with the protection of land line recordings made in air traffic control systems.

The amendment was made without legal advice without transportation safety board consultation or, as far as we can tell, without consulting anyone about the possible the detrimental impact this amendment could have. The unintended affect of this amendment would deny the employer and the regulator access to information which the government has admitted is “necessary to ensure the quality and safety of some elements of air traffic service”.

The government in this case was asleep at the wheel. It should have been better prepared to deal with the bill. It has been a long while in the making. To let this occur shows just how little force that the government has had on the issue. It has been promised that the government will delete the amendment today. I hope it does that today because it is important that it should be done.

We are on top of the transportation safety issues in Canada and we will be ensuring that this legislation and any future safety legislation passed by the House will be positive step for Canada.

In conclusion, I should also like to note that our party's transportation critic, the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester, has done an extensive investigation into the bill. It has been found to be solid and should warrant our support.

While it somewhat irregular for a bill which has been referred to a standing committee to brought back to the House without allowing the committee to do its work, hear any witnesses or perform the valuable work of parliamentary committees, we will be supporting this move today with regard to Bill S-2.

The reason for this is the need to give the transportation safety board the necessary changes to fine tune its operation as well as to make minor although important changes to the governing act. These changes will increase transportation safety for all Canadians. For this reason the Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting a quick passage today.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is the House ready for the question?

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The question is on the motion for third reading of Bill S-2. Pursuant to order made earlier this day, the motion is deemed carried on division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin for the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-38, an act amend the National Parks Act, be read the third time and passed.

National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Secretary of State (Parks)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise today on third reading of Bill C-38, an act to establish Tuktut Nogait National Park.

I begin my comments by repeating something I said in the House yesterday. I thank all members from all parties who worked diligently in committee and otherwise toward the passage of this piece of legislation and toward an important objective that we as Canadians all share, the establishment and continuing establishment of our national parks system and toward fulfilling what is a very important goal and objective for all Canadians, the protection of special places in the country.

This park will join the family of 38 national parks to date and will, as I said, work toward the completion of our national parks system to ensure that we have the representation of at least one park in each of the 39 natural regions designated across Canada.

These are indeed special places. In this case of Tuktut Nogait, the process that has been developed in this park is being put forward to protect the bluenose caribou herd, the core calving grounds of the caribou herd, and to protect the tundra landscape of the northern Arctic. It is one of the most beautiful and spectacular locations in Canada, particularly in Canada's north.

The establishment of this park has been a very long, extensive and public process in arriving at the place where we are today. The original idea for this national park was in 1989 when the community of Paulatuk undertook a study. It came to Parks Canada, to the federal government, and suggested that one way to protect the area was through the establishment of a national park.

From that point there was a period of some seven years of public hearings, negotiations and discussions so that in 1996 all parties were in a position to sign an agreement to establish the national park. What we are doing with the bill is taking that agreement and bringing it under the National Parks Act.

Since that agreement has been signed a management board committee has been established to oversee the park. It includes representatives of the local community as well as of Parks Canada. This is a full management procedure by which to manage the park. I am pleased that the board is up and running and providing us with timely advice on the operation of the park.

I will not speak too long to this issue but there are four key points I want to make briefly.

One is the importance of establishing this park to protect the important calving grounds of the bluenose caribou herd. This was one of the raisons d'etre for the establishment of the park. The science which we have seen shows clearly that the park is used by the caribou for their calving.

It helps us as a government and as Canadians to fulfil an international obligation which we have talked about. This government and Canadians have been very insistent with our American counterparts that they protect their caribou on the Alaskan side of the border. We have worked diligently within Canada to ensure that we have protected the calving grounds. We have asked that the Americans do this. To date their land in Alaska, commonly known as the 1002 land, still does not have full protection. I think we are sending a very clear message internationally that we are willing to stand behind our international statements by protecting the caribou here in Canada.

I touched on my second point in my introduction. This park establishment is going along in terms of an agreement that all parties came to in 1996. This agreement was made, and there has been some discussion about this, knowing that there was an anomaly in that area that would indicate there may be some mineral potential.

In 1994 the resource company itself was part of that decision by voluntarily, at the request of the Inuvialuit, relinquishing its mining claims to that area. We understand that this was not because it was not an area that there may be mineral exploration, we did not think that the area was not valuable, but a collective decision was made that we would protect this area despite the fact that it may have some mineral potential. That was the decision. It was not made in ignorance. It was a conscious decision made to protect a very special place in Canada and to do so knowing full well what the results of that may be.

I also want to touch very briefly on the status of Tuktut Nogait as it stands today. There have been some suggestions that this is not really a national park and that any concern over protecting the integrity of agreements is not a real concern.

Many of what we commonly call our national parks are in exactly the same status as Tuktut Nogait is prior to the passage of this legislation. Places like Pacific Rim in British Columbia, Grasslands in Saskatchewan, Pukaskwa in Ontario, Gros Morne in Newfoundland all are more or less in the same legal status as Tuktut Nogait is today.

It is important that we demonstrate clearly that we are going to protect the integrity of the boundaries of our national parks. If we were to move away from that and say we would entertain logging interests in one area, oil and gas interests in another area or mining interests in another area, then we would have great difficulties.

We decide collectively as Canadians to protect certain special places in this country. As the Secretary of State for Parks, I had the honour and the responsibility of ensuring the integrity of those decisions.

This last point is one which I spoke on briefly yesterday at report stage. We are committed as a government to work with the local community to ensure that it has an opportunity to develop economically in terms of the park. We have made a commitment that we will be spending some $10 million over the next several years with the establishment of the park.

We have also said clearly that we are going to work to ensure that the native community, the local community, has the first opportunity for the jobs that are being created in that area. We are also working with the Government of the Northwest Territories to ensure that we can proceed with the economic development. The fact is that some 80% of that mining potential I talked about earlier is outside the park and may present an opportunity as an event that may unfold in the future.

In conclusion, I am pleased that we are about to pass this legislation and see another important part of our national parks system come to fruition.

National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-38. The Reform Party will be supporting it in our efforts to support conservation in Canada. However, I am greatly disappointed in the activities of this government over the past year with respect to protecting our endangered species and our parks.

I wonder if the hon. secretary of state knows that what is going on in the Arctic today is truly a tragedy. Teratogenic and carcinogenic materials in the form of radioactive isotopes are coming across to the northern Arctic. They are poisoning the Inuit people who live there. Those materials are bioaccumulating in the flora and fauna and causing serious trouble for the environment. Some of these isotopes will not go away for hundreds of thousands of years. We hear absolutely nothing about it yet the government has been warned repeatedly over the years. I would strongly recommend the government look into that.

Over 240 species are at risk in Canada today, including the prothonotary warbler, beaked whales, Mississauga rattlesnakes, black-footed ferrets, Vancouver Island marmots and many others. The people who are trying to preserve these species are not getting the help they require.

The minister of heritage has taken a knee-jerk response to Banff. She has done the exact opposite of what she should be doing. She should be enabling the people of Banff to generate the necessary funds to not only protect their wild spaces but also to expand the park.

I have heard the hon. secretary of state speak eloquently about this so he knows very well that the degradation of our environment and the destruction of our habitat seriously threaten endangered species. In a nutshell, we have to give endangered species a home. We cannot kill them. We have to protect them and we have to work with the people to do that.

There are many serious threats, from the destruction of our habitat to trafficking. Canada is one of top 10 countries in the world in the international trafficking of endangered species. There is trafficking of tiger parts, black rhino horn and many other endangered species around the world. That is not part of the Canadian legacy and it is not something we should be proud of having within our midst.

There is the issue of lack of support for our conservation staff. There are difficulties and jurisdictional problems between the feds, the provinces and the municipalities.

These issues have to be cleared up in a very substantive way for many reasons. One reason is that we have derived many medicinal and other benefits. We will derive more in the future if we can preserve these species for the benefit of all, not to mention the philosophical benefits of being able to give to our children what we have received from our parents.

There are some sensible solutions. What has worked around the world has been to get parks and wild spaces to generate their own funds. If parks and wild spaces can earn revenue, that revenue can be ploughed back into the parks. This is a very sensible and eco-friendly way to preserve and expand the parks.

Buffer zones could be created around the parks and the people living in the surrounding areas could derive benefits. When the people in the surrounding areas derive a benefit from the park they can use the area as a poaching buffer zone around the park. Different parks around the world have used this strategy. It has worked very well in Central America and elsewhere.

It could also be a very useful way of engaging developing countries in creating revenues in an eco-friendly way. Parks in south central Asia and Africa could generate revenues that would benefit the people in the surrounding area in a sustainable way. It enables people to support themselves.

In terms of the jurisdiction of the environment we have to clean that up. Currently federal regulations only cover 4% of the Canadian land mass. Species do not know boundaries. They cross over municipal, provincial and national boundaries. They need to be protected within that context. We have to remove the jurisdictional entanglements that prevent strong legislation from coming forward to protect our endangered species.

The trafficking situation is appalling. We have to have enough conservation officers and we have to give them the powers to enforce the laws. They are not getting the support of the justice system. They must do this for Canada to end its miserable legacy that it has before the world in being a conduit for wild animal parts.

I recognize that there are no new moneys, but funds can be generated through using the parks in an eco-friendly way. One example is to put a 2% levy on hotels deriving benefits from the parks. Those moneys could be poured back into the parks for conservation measures, habitat protection, extending the habitat, doing scientific research and education. In this way we would not have to ask the government for more money. The money would be there.

Hunting is actually useful. I do not hunt as I could never kill anything, but as has worked in the past, if money could be derived from hunting, those moneys which could be quite extensive could be poured back into the parks and used to preserve many of the other species. It might sound cold hearted but it is pragmatic and it does work.

We also have to deal with enforcing our obligations under CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. We are a signatory to this convention but as I said before, we have been an embarrassment with respect to our enforcement of those issues.

We have a number of opportunities within our midst. The power of the federal government is enormous. It has to sit down with its provincial counterparts to establish jurisdictional differences. Perhaps it would be best for the federal government to take the responsibility and work with the municipalities. It also needs to work with farmers and land owners. They could be a natural support for conservation measures. Where that has been done on the prairies it has worked very well.

Generally speaking land owners do not want to see the decimation of the biodiversity within their midst. They would like to see that preserved for many reasons, yet they need people to work with them. If the government could manage to work with them then we would be able to expand our biodiversity and use the private land owners as friends rather than as enemies. This could be a useful way of expanding today's situation.

I will go back to the situation on trafficking. We live in a world that is intertwined; what happens half a world away affects us here at home. Canada has taken a leadership role in signing international treaties on biodiversity in the past. The world needs a leader in working with other countries in this area.

We have to put aside our prejudices and deal with some very pragmatic ways in which we can support our environment. Yes, it does take money. One of the things we could examine is that the environment can generate revenues in an environmentally sound, pragmatic and sustainable manner and those moneys could then be poured back into the environment.

When the minister prevented development within the city boundaries of Banff, that was not sensible. This did not involve an encroachment on the park. The minister could have taken a leadership role. She could have said that it would be allowed within the park so long as it fit certain federal regulations with respect to the environment. If the minister had done that and taken a leadership role in putting forth sensible ways for the park to generate revenues which could be poured into the conservation measures, Banff National Park would be stronger today.

National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but I think he knows what time it is. He will have plenty of time to complete his remarks after question period. We will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Small Business
Statements By Members

June 12th, 1998 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Carmen Provenzano Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association have announced a joint initiative that will help make unincorporated businesses more competitive and improve health care coverage for up to one million Canadians.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. This is why our government has produced a number of initiatives designed to ensure continued growth in the medium and small business sectors.

The government's 1998 federal budget introduced measures that permit unincorporated, self-employed business owners to deduct the cost of supplementary health and dental coverage as a business expense. This is a major step toward placing them on the same footing as other Canadian businesses.

The joint CFIB and CLHIA announcement brings this important initiative full circle.

I congratulate the Minister of Finance for his leadership in this regard. I commend the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association for responding so positively.

The result of this co-operative and innovative effort—

Small Business
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Centre.

Bill C-397
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, taxpayers in my riding of Calgary Centre expect safe streets in their communities when they step out of their homes, day or night.

That is why when street prostitution and the intimidating criminal element it attracts surfaced in one of these communities these resourceful Calgarians said “No way. Not here”.

They went to their elected officials at all levels of government. They made it clear that they want results, not buck passing.

After consultation and review of the recommendations from the experts, I have submitted Bill C-397. This bill has the documented support of all three levels of government, the Alberta justice minister and local and business communities.

On May 19 I contacted other municipalities across Canada to see whether they felt their communities would benefit from Bill C-397.

The response has been encouraging, including a letter of support from fellow Canadians in the city of Rimouski, Quebec.

Calgarians and Canadians urge every member of this House to support this bill and contribute to safer Canadian communities.