House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pension.

Topics

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. At the request of the chief government whip, the vote on the motion will be deferred until 5:30 p.m. later this day.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay for the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-27, an act respecting the national parks of Canada, be now read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as we begin the debate at third reading stage of Bill C-27, I would once again like to thank my colleagues from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for their work on this bill, an act respecting the national parks of Canada.

The debates on this bill were marked by a spirit of co-operation that helped strengthen and improve it.

I would like to review the main features of Bill C-27 and mention the amendments made by the standing committee.

The first point concerns ecological integrity. The panel on the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks clearly indicated that “we must firmly and unequivocally establish that ecological integrity is the core value of Parks Canada's mandate”.

The chair of the panel and other witnesses, including the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Canadian Nature Federation, reaffirmed that position before the standing committee.

Bill C-27 was strengthened in a number of ways: by including a definition of ecological integrity based on the panel's report; by making ecological integrity the top priority, not only as regards the zoning of parks and their use by visitors, but also all the aspects of their management; by specifying that management plans must include a long term ecological vision, a set of ecological integrity objectives and indicators and provisions for resource protection and restoration, zoning, visitor use, public awareness and performance evaluation; and, finally, by requiring that, within one year following the tabling of a new or amended management plan for a park, a wilderness area be designated.

The second point was the establishment of new parks. With this legislation seven new national parks and one new national park reserve will be formally established. As well, Middle Island will be added to the Point Pelee National Park.

The procedure for establishing new parks and park reserves has been streamlined by providing for an order in council process. It will take less time to formally establish new parks once park establishment agreements have been signed.

The examination in parliament of proposals on new protected spaces will be maintained, and an amendment to the act will still be needed to withdraw lands from a park.

In view of concerns about the new process for the establishment of parks, Bill C-27 has been amended as follows:

For every proposal on a new park or park reserve tabled in Parliament, there will be a report detailing the consultations held and any agreement on the establishment of the park, so that Parliament will be able to assess the amount of support the park or park reserve is getting.

Members of the citizens' committee of Havre-Saint-Pierre and Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, and of the hunting and fishing association have appeared before the standing committee to ask that their traditional rights be recognized in the Mingan archipelago national park reserve. The committee has seen fit to add this reserve to the list of parks where the traditional harvesting of resources will be allowed.

The next point is controlling commercial development in park communities. There are seven communities contained in national parks, all in western Canada: Banff, Lake Louise, Field, Jasper, Waterton Lakes, Waskesiu and Wasagaming. I apologize if I am mispronouncing any of these names and further names that will come in my text. These communities have been the focus of extensive commercial, residential and visitor pressures.

The Banff-Bow Valley study of 1996 made many recommendations to protect the ecological integrity of Banff National Park and to strengthen controls over commercial development and human use in parks.

The new act takes steps to control commercial developments in park communities. Community plans will be tabled in parliament. The legislation makes provision to set the boundaries of the communities, the boundaries of commercial zones, and to cap the maximum square footage of commercial developments. These elements of the community plans will be placed in the schedule of the act and can only be changed by an act of parliament.

Concerns were raised by park community representatives during the hearings on Bill C-27 and the standing committee has responded. Regarding concerns with respect to termination of leases, the bill has been amended to state that the Expropriation Act applies.

Community plan has been defined to mean a land use plan for a park community. This new definition serves two purposes. First, it ensures that there will be no confusion between the use of the term community plan in this legislation and how that term is used in Alberta legislation. Second, it signals to park community residents that there is no impediment to their undertaking their own planning for social, educational, health and related needs of the community.

The section on public consultation now makes explicit reference to representatives of park communities and requires that the minister consult on land use planning and development in such park communities.

The next point has to do with the protection of wildlife and other park resources. Bill C-27 contains increased penalties for poaching. The maximum fine for poaching protected species has been increased to $50,000. The maximum jail sentence for poaching has been increased from six months to five years. The offence of trafficking has been introduced to deal with the increasing trend towards removing large quantities of animal or other resources, such as fossils and rare plants.

Amendments to the bill further strengthen wildlife protection by increasing fines for poaching or trafficking involving protected species to $250,000, which is consistent with recent legislative proposals concerning threatened species, and by increasing fines and penalties for failure to clean up environmental damage from $2,000 to $50,000, including a clause which doubles the fines in the case of repeat offences.

The next point is working with first nations. The Government of Canada, as we all know, is committed to working with first nations as set out in the “Gathering Strength” document.

Bill C-27 reflects this commitment in a number of ways. Five national parks are being established through agreements with first nations. I repeat my previous apology on mispronunciation. These are Aulavik, Wapusk, Auyuittuq, Sirmilik and Quttinirpaaq. Second, provision is made for use of parklands and the use or removal of flora and other objects by aboriginal people for spiritual and traditional ceremonial purposes. Provisions are made in the bill to remove lands from Wood Buffalo and Wapusk to accommodate treaty land entitlement.

The standing committee heard from representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Keeseekoowenin Band. They had two primary concerns that they wished to see dealt with in the legislation: first, respect for aboriginal and treaty rights and, second, consultation with aboriginal peoples.

The standing committee introduced amendments to Bill C-27 in response to these concerns. These include a non-derogation clause with regard to aboriginal and treaty rights; strengthening the commitment to consult with aboriginal organizations and bodies established under land claim agreements on policy, park establishment, management planning and regulations; including aboriginal organizations and bodies established under land claim agreements in the minister's agreement making authority; and provision to remove lands from Riding Mountain National Park for the purposes of settling the claim of the Keeseekoowenin Band.

In conclusion, the throne speech included a promise from the government to extend our system of national parks.

In 1997, the government undertook to create a commission of experts to look into the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks. This commission has now tabled its report and the Minister of Canadian Heritage has announced an action plan. A key feature of this plan is to place ecological integrity at the heart of legislation and policies.

Bill C-27 respects these undertakings and will become a heritage for future generations of Canadians.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-27, an act respecting the national parks of Canada, at third reading. Let me begin by saying that Canadians respect and love their national parks. That is why they return to visit them year in and year out.

The first parks act of 1930 states that parks are hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment. Such parks shall be maintained and made use of as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. Today's definition of use has not changed as we find it in subclause 4(1) of Bill C-27.

Canadians agree that the ecological integrity of our national parks needs to be preserved and protected for future generations. The Canadian Alliance agrees with the panel on ecological integrity that ecological integrity is the first priority and that efforts need to be made to manage, conserve and restore ecological integrity to our parks.

We do not agree with the notion of promoting restoration as a single objective. This approach to the concept of restoration is too open ended. To what time lines will restoration be returned? This is like the crimes against humanity debate when we are talking about 20th century crimes against humanity or whether we take it back to the age of the caveman.

We agree with the panel that people have a place in the parks. There certainly needs to be a balance. Another important point highlighted by the panel is that decisions made by the parks must be based on sound science, not just opinions of special interest groups or park officials.

Canadian Alliance agrees with the principle of limited growth. That is not the argument. The argument is about the lack of transparency, honesty and good will in the consultation process which has gone on for too long. There is a lack of trust in Parks Canada officials.

Allow me to make some positive comments about the rank and file Parks Canada employees. As public servants we need to thank them for their dedication to their work in our national parks. Parks Canada has many roles to fulfil beyond national parks. It is also responsible for historic sites. At this time let me thank the minister for supporting the designation of William Barker, VC, as a Canadian war hero.

Other jobs of Parks Canada are the marine conservation areas, federal historic buildings, historic railway stations, heritage river systems, federal archaeology and the grave sites of former prime ministers. I thank both the minister and the parliamentary secretary for supporting one of the Canadian Alliance's amendments which would mandate recognition of traditional supply water from a park when an agreement has been negotiated. I also thank the Parks Canada Agency and Tom Lee for their help in the acceptance of our amendment.

I would like to address some of the outstanding park issues that the bill does not properly address. The most important issue is about mandating consultation. Mandated consultation would improve the democratic process and develop a level of trust that does not currently exist today between the park tenants and the park administration.

Over the last two years I have done some extensive workshops with park residents to try to find out for myself what the issues were throughout the western parks. I have provided members of the heritage committee and the clerk the results of these workshops.

Consistently I have found that there tended to be a lack of trust between park officials and park users. Even when public consultation occurs public input was ignored. Time and time again it was pointed out that decisions made by park officials did not address the local needs.

It was repeatedly stated that Parks Canada should get out of the business of municipal governance and that it should be looking after parks, not town sites, where there is no expertise. Even publicly elected advisory committees are frustrated with Parks Canada on how it ignores advice.

Even when the consultation process was exercised it was not transparent, honest or accountable. Many park users found the consultation process difficult to understand. Another criticism was the lack of accountability in the way parks spent the money collected from the tenants through leases.

The issue of leases must be resolved so that it will be equitable to both parties through negotiation, not top down without any input. How could Parks Canada justify lease increases up to 10 times their current value without giving the property owner due process? It is in essence taxation without representation. If due process is not respected, what is the difference between Bill C-70 and Bill C-27?

What is needed is a comprehensive approach inviting both commercial and recreational tenant representation from all the parks to sit down at the table with park officials and resolve this contentious issue.

My findings were echoed by many of the witnesses coming before the heritage committee. Canadian Alliance made many amendments to address the issues of access and accountability which were defeated. Two amendments put forth by the Canadian Alliance were based on the principles of health and safety.

The first one is to mandate keeping open air strips located in all national parks for the purpose of public safety. COPA representing the general aviation sector in Canada has asked for this change for too many years. I believe that saving one life is worth putting this into the bill.

The second point is to mandate that all park wardens have all the resources to do their jobs without jeopardizing their health and safety. Whose lives will be jeopardized if this change is not made by Parks Canada? This is also long overdue.

Another direction which Canadian Alliance wanted to take was the recognition of local government bodies throughout this act. We believe that this would have been an inclusive approach to begin the recognition of municipal governments in Canada, a view supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Let me close by saying that Bill C-27 had the potential to make the system more accountable. It would not have required a major overhaul. With a few more amendments the bill would ensure that the democratic process would be respected by all parties. The Canadian Alliance will not be supporting the bill as presented at third reading.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are at third reading of Bill C-27, on national parks.

It must be understood that the first objective of the bill is to ensure maintenance and restoration of the integrity of federal parks. Of course, everybody understands that these very important objectives cannot be reached only with one statute.

However, the maintenance and restoration of the ecological integrity of parks depend much more on the attitude of the Parks Canada Agency, its management and staff.

However, Bill C-27 is a first element and a legislative framework that will allow the necessary culture to emerge and to develop fully within the Parks Canada Agency.

In fact, that was one of the major recommendations of the commission, which recently reviewed those issues recently and which emphasized the need to make this change of culture and to prioritize the maintenance and restoration of the ecological integrity of parks. This bill could achieve that.

The bill states that, in the performance of his duties, the minister must consult the people and the authorities in the areas concerned. This is an indispensable element that is essential if the agency is to carry out its mandate. Indeed, in all the parks, there are aboriginal communities which, in certain cases, cannot be neglected in the everyday planning of the agency in the exercise of its mandate.

The bill provides, in my opinion, sufficient and efficient consultation of the communities and organizations concerned.

Furthermore, if this bill seems entirely acceptable on the whole, it does contain a clause that does not concern federal parks, but concerns historic sites. We do not know why this short clause, on historic sites, is in the bill, which is otherwise well structured. In fact, when we read this clause, we realize that it is quite badly written.

I suggested to the House, at report stage, that this clause be removed from the bill. But the House did not see fit to accept my suggestion.

This clause presents a serious problem for municipalities and provinces where there are potential historic sites. Indeed, this clause provides that the agency may acquire such historic properties and declare them historic sites without having to consult in any way the provincial or municipal governments concerned.

This aspect is out of tune with the rest of the bill, which clearly affirms that there must be consultations between the department, agency officials and, finally, the minister and the people or organizations concerned.

In this clause, there is no mention of any obligation on the part of the minister to take counsel together or to consult with the provinces or the local governments.

I find this strange and even frightening. That is why, on the one hand, I suggest that the provincial legislatures ensure that any real estate transaction that would result in the transfer of an historical site to the federal government be submitted, for approval, to the provincial minister concerned.

On the other hand, I humbly and respectfully suggest that the government review this clause and that it reword it more rigorously and, above all, in a manner that would be more respectful of the provinces and municipalities, regarding the preservation and the enhancement of the historical sites affected by this clause of the bill.

In conclusion, let me say that Bill C-27 will really allow us to focus on the preservation and the restoration of the ecological integrity of federal parks. In that perspective, the Bloc Quebecois endorses the goals of this bill and will obviously support it at third reading.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-27.

I have a national park in my riding. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Waterton Lakes National Park. I spent some time up there talking to the people in the park. I have been able to meet with the superintendents, present and past, to discuss issues. I recently attended a Waterton Lakes leaseholders meeting to hear what some of their concerns are and certainly some of the comments made by the member for Dauphin—Swan River were reflected in the comments I heard.

I would like to compliment the member for Dauphin—Swan River for sticking with this bill. He has worked hard on it. He brought forward some very good amendments and actually had one accepted by the government, which in this day and age is sometimes a strange happening. I congratulate him. It is an issue that goes back to before his life as the mayor of Dauphin. I also want to thank him for his tour of the western national parks. He went to Waterton and met with people and held a really good grassroots consultation process to enable him to develop the position he has taken and the position he has helped our party to take. That is exactly what needs to be done.

One of the problems we see with the bill is that a mandated consultation process needs to be in place. People who live in these parks have a right to consult directly with Parks Canada. They are a little nervous about the way it is structured right now, to be quite frank. They feel that the minister and the governor in council have far too many powers. There is a little mistrust by the people who live and work in the parks of the government and Parks Canada. That grassroots consultation process would be very important for the bill to be received properly and to work properly.

People have worked with me and kept me informed of what is happening at Waterton Lakes National Park. In particular, Jason Bruns was one of the first people who talked to me after I was elected. He is an outdoorsman, he is a fisherman, he enjoys the park and any time he sees an issue that he thinks I need to be aware of he certainly brings it to my attention. I appreciate that. A few weeks ago, on the long weekend in May, when I was in Waterton for the leaseholders meeting, I met with him and he toured me around to show me some of the things that he would like to see changed, and we talked about some of the issues that he has. He is an avid lover of the park. He enjoys the outdoors and he feels that certainly protecting the ecological integrity of our parks is important. However, the people who are best able to do that are the people who are close to our parks. It is important that the government and the minister consult with the people who use and live in these parks. They have the best idea of how to preserve them and keep them for future generations.

One of the amendments that was brought forward was to deal with wardens, how they carry out their jobs and the fact that they should be allowed to carry firearms to protect themselves and to do their jobs properly. That was defeated. That is unfortunate because we feel that would give them a certain degree of security in the process they go through to carry out their duties.

But to get back to the leaseholders, there is a process in place now whereby the leases in the parks, particularly in Waterton, which I am most familiar with, are reviewed only once every 10 years. At the present time the leaseholders are facing a huge increase in lease amounts.

We feel that the ability to consult with the government on a more regular basis and with the department would have helped alleviate some of this. It is important that the process be in place to give people a chance to bring their ideas forward to be acted on by the government.

The member for Dauphin—Swan River alluded to some of the unique situations that exist in the parks. They are not all the same. I have had letters from people in Jasper asking why they cannot be treated the same as the people in Waterton and why they cannot be treated the same as the people in Banff. Each one is different. Banff has its own town council that runs the affairs there.

It is important that we realize that there is this difference and that the minister takes the time to consult and not to paint everybody with the same brush under the same rules, because every place is unique and different.

The Trans-Canada Highway runs through Banff National Park. That creates a whole issue of separate concerns to do with wildlife. The amount of money collected at the Banff gate helps to run the entire national park system.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that the people who use the parks, the people who live in the parks, the people who have businesses in the parks and certainly the visitors who come from all over the world to enjoy our national parks all need a voice in the implementation of legislation and the laws that govern them. We hope that the government recognizes that fact, that it will honour those views and that it will implement them in the future.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

When the hon. member finishes his discourse is up to him, but he has 10 minutes for questions and comments. Before we go to that, in order to give him a chance to get his thoughts together and to give other members a chance to get their questions together, I will go to Statements by Members and I will come back to this 10 minute question and comment period after question period, unless the member wants to go into debate. However, we will sort that out.

The Late Gilles Landry
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that many of us learned of the recent passing of Mr. Gilles Landry, the Minister of Political and Public Affairs at our High Commission in London.

Only 48 years of age, Gilles had spent 25 years in the Canadian diplomatic service. He was an active promoter of both the Commonwealth and the Francophonie and had previously represented this country in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Paris. Gilles was one of the key people behind the reopening of Canada House.

I had the pleasure of working with Gilles last year and this year in connection with Sierra Leone. I greatly admired the intelligence, the hard work and the obvious dedication that he brought to his work representing this country abroad.

Our foreign service attracts some of the best and the brightest this country has to offer. Gilles was among the best of the best.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family, the friends and the colleagues of Mr. Gilles Landry.

National Parks
Statements By Members

June 13th, 2000 / 1:55 p.m.

Reform

Cliff Breitkreuz Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals claim they are the epitome of democracy and of the consultative process. In reality, autocracy rules supreme, at least in the heritage department and specifically in Bill C-27, the Canada national parks act.

No one in Jasper was consulted while drafting Bill C-27, and this bill will have a serious impact on Jasper and its residents. Jasper Commerce and Tourism was not consulted, nor was the Jasper townsite committee.

Roy Everest and Richard Ireland presented briefs to the committee, but the bill was already in its final form and their recommendations fell on deaf ears.

The 5,000 residents of Jasper will never be able to make decisions regarding fire halls, fire trucks or even stop signs. The minister here in Ottawa will keep a tight-fisted grip on these and other local issues.

Jasper is the only community in the entire country singled out in this fashion. Who was consulted? Why, the Sierra Legal Defence Club. It was not only consulted, but hired by the cops at heritage. Shame on the dictatorial practices of this Liberal government.