House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.

Topics

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

September 19th, 2000 / 10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 10 petitions.

Justice
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Erie—Lincoln
Ontario

Liberal

John Maloney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a white paper entitled “Law Enforcement and Criminal Liability”.

Access To Information Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-494, an act to amend the Access to Information Act.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to introduce this bill.

It effectively includes Nav Canada under the Access to Information Act because information is no longer available to critics, ministers and airport managers regarding safety with respect to the air navigation system in Canada.

Prior to divestiture, when the air traffic control system was under Transport Canada, all this information was available to critics and airport managers to help design and ensure that safety regulations were in place. Now we no longer are able to access internal memorandums regarding safety and operational condition reports written by air traffic controllers themselves, and engineering reports of Nav Canada.

I feel we are operating at a very distinct disadvantage by not having access to this information like we had in the past. Hopefully this bill will pass and get the support of all members.

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

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, following consultations among House leaders, I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion which deals with the agenda of the House today. I move:

That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 30(5), on Tuesday, September 19, 2000, members' statements pursuant to Standing Order 31 shall be made from 1.45 p.m. to 2.00 p.m., followed by the introduction of new members and related proceedings, followed by the 45 minute Oral Question Period.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-33, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Species At Risk Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to speak to Bill C-33, the endangered species act.

First and foremost we have to think about what Canadians want when it comes to protecting species at risk. All Canadians want to help the environment. All Canadians want to protect biodiversity. We in the Canadian Alliance care about protecting species that are at risk and protecting or recovering critical habitat. The Canadian Alliance plan creates the potential for this to happen.

Canadians recognize that we need a proactive approach to protect species at risk that is based on respect, respect for the species that inhabit our lands and waters, and respect for those who own those lands. Our plan to protect species at risk is a common sense policy that considers the needs of all stakeholders. Our plan is balanced, accommodating, practical and workable.

The Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species, and to the sustainable development of our abundant natural resources for use by current and future generations.

The Canadian Alliance maintains that for any endangered species legislation to be effective it must respect the fundamental rights of private property owners.

The four key areas or issues regarding the bill which I think are important are: compensation for landowners; recovery planning for specific species; the role of the Council on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada; and compliance, enforcement and dispute resolution. I will go into detail.

The first area is compensation. Compensation for expropriated lands that is not at fair market value is not fair. The species at risk act we are debating today hardly touches on the pivotal issue of compensation. There is no clear formula for compensation outlined in the bill. Compensation will be dealt with through regulations following the passage of the bill, and we know how the regulations work. The minister has this backward. Co-operation among stakeholders is unlikely unless the landowners are assured that any land expropriated for the purpose of species or habitat protection or recovery will be expropriated at fair market value.

The second area is recovery planning for specific species. Recovery strategies should list the activities required. A recovery plan should include estimated costs associated with the recovery of a given species or habitat. Integrated listing or recovery planning must be part of the act. Without such planning we will find ourselves listing species we have no capacity to protect. There should be no listing of a species as being endangered unless it can be scientifically proven that that species is in fact endangered. Furthermore, there should be no expropriation of land unless it can be scientifically proven that the species can be recovered.

The third point is the role of the Council on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In the endangered species listing process, the Canadian Alliance supports an independent, scientific listing body such as the Council on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada while recognizing the role and authority of parliament in recovery planning.

The last point of compliance, enforcement and dispute resolution, is a very important point. The Liberals should not introduce legislation that threatens to use criminal sanctions in addition to its power of expropriation.

Any attempt by government to expropriate private property should be subject to the following process. This process should include a review process that offers some form of arbitration and/or dispute resolution to landowners. Where warranted, and only after a fair review or dispute resolution process has been completed, the expropriation of private land at fair market value should be reasonable. The process should also include that any use of criminal law power by government against private landowners is unreasonable. A functional dispute resolution mechanism would render the use of criminal law power largely unnecessary.

The majority of producers and landowners believe that the government could achieve more through co-operation with farmers and ranchers than through threats of punishment.

So far I have been discussing the problems that the official opposition has with this bill.

The people of Surrey Central, whom I represent, are from largely metropolitan or suburban areas. While we are not running the risk of having our land confiscated without compensation, without reimbursement of fair market value, we do not want any Canadian subject to such an unjust treatment. Many of us in Surrey Central own our homes. We make mortgage payments like everyone else. We would not want the Liberals to swoop down and section off any of the area of land that surrounds our homes without paying us for that portion of land the Liberals say that they have to take from us for obvious reasons.

My constituents do not want me to sit on my hands in the House while the Liberals threaten to take huge chunks of land, thousands of acres in some cases, from Canadian citizens and pay them virtually nothing.

In fact, far from working in a democratic way to help Canada's ranchers contribute to our nation's efforts to save our endangered species, the Liberals are promising punishment for those ranchers. My heart goes out to the farmers and ranchers who are already overtaxed by the government and who are already suffering. They have huge input costs that are the fault of the government and its lack of vision. They have to compete at a disadvantage on the world markets thanks to the government's poor record on international trade. The Liberals are now planning to take, from what I have been told, sometimes thousands of acres of land from individual Canadians without a process of compensation and under the threat of criminal charges.

I received a note from one of my constituents, David Pope, and I would like to read from it. He said that the offensive penalties for actions against plants, animals or organisms that are deemed species at risk and the land which makes up their habitat are unlike any found in Canadian criminal law. They range from $50,000 and/or one year in jail to $1 million and/or five years in jail for each offence and are doubled if repeated. These are not offences of murder, arson, theft or rape but are for harming or harassing a plant, animal or organism or destroying a portion of its habitat, which is on one's land, and that is outrageous.

Mr. Pope went on to say that the above offences are strict liability offences and that an accuser need only say “you committed the offence and you must prove that you did not”. That is a reverse onus, as the lawyers say, and rarely used in criminal law.

In the usual serious criminal offence a person is assumed innocent until proven guilty and beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not the case under Bill C-33. Mr. Pope further writes that the farmer is prohibited from charging them with trespassing. They can take anything they like and not pay for it. Homes can be searched under a search warrant which bears no resemblance to the usual murder, arson, rape or other serious criminal offence. A search warrant will be much easier to obtain. This is an outrage.

When the eco-police start asking ranchers or farmers questions about the alleged offence the rancher or farmer must give them reasonable assistance. They must answer the questions or be charged with obstruction of justice. They will be forced to give evidence against themselves. Once again, under Canadian law an accused does not have to incriminate himself but he does under Bill C-33. Yet another civil liberty breached.

Another provision of Bill C-33 provides statute standing for anyone 18 years or older and a resident of Canada to start an investigation against a rancher or a farmer for any of the offences I have just listed. Any special interest group or anyone with a grudge against a farmer or a rancher can start an investigation which may well cost the farmer thousands of dollars in litigation fees and fines if not time behind bars. This is neighbour turning against neighbour. Do we really want this kind of society in Canada for these kinds of offences?

Bill C-33 provides that the accused rancher or farmer can never know who started the investigation against him. He will never be able to face his accuser in open court. Canadians and free people everywhere are afforded the right to face their accusers in open court but not under Bill C-33.

Fair market compensation is not mentioned in Bill C-33. There is a clause covering compensation but it appears from the wording that any compensation received for a regulatory restriction on agriculture land use to protect the habitat of species at risk will be difficult to obtain and below fair market value. These are the issues of concern.

The people I represent believe that there should be a fair and democratic manner in which to handle the protection of endangered species. We do not believe that conflict and heavy-handed government penalties should be the basis for working out this matter. The government is making a mess of the process.

I have some recommendations to make with respect to Bill C-33. This bill should be based on voluntary co-operation and partnerships between the stakeholders and our government. That is possible. It can be done.

All Canadians, including ranchers and farmers in our remotest lands, want to protect our environment, our vegetation and our animals. They want to protect flora and fauna. The people of Surrey Central want our government to work hand in hand with the stakeholders and have them co-operate and benefit from measures to protect our endangered species. It can be done. A Canadian Alliance government will do it. This Liberal government is trying to do it through the back door, through regulations. That is wrong. I know it is wrong because I am on the scrutiny of regulations committee. There are a number of regulations in the pipeline which should not be there. They have been in the pipeline for years, some of them for 25 years, because when the committee writes to ministers of the crown they will not respond or will not respond in a manner that will resolve the issues. The regulations go in circles and keep on existing when they should not be there in the first place.

The government uses bill after bill. There is very limited scope in the bill but a huge number of regulations that control the implementation of that act. This is not the way to go. This is the back door process and that is wrong.

The Liberals should be up front and prepare the legislation. They should give details on how the protection of these species will be achieved but they are not doing that. The people of Surrey Central will not support what the Liberals are doing with this bill. We are ashamed of what the Liberals are doing. Therefore, we cannot support Bill C-33.

Species At Risk Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments on this extremely important piece of legislation. I will be speaking in favour of the hoist motion.

We feel that this is a bill that has been rammed through under threat by the minister to pull the legislation if there is any movement in relation to amendments or adjustments. That certainly is not the way to handle not only a piece of legislation that is important and as sensitive as this, but any piece of legislation.

We might say that this legislation will become as quickly extinct as some of the species if we do not soon get our act together and do something about it. The government cannot ram through legislation just because it is an arrogant government in power when it affects so many people and so many species.

There are a number of agencies that have grave concerns about what is happening in relation to our existing wildlife. These are not people who are just concerned from an environmental point of view. Many of them are very ordinary citizens who are not necessarily caught up in the protective groups. They are people who love what this country has to offer. They are members of industry who realize that even though their livelihood sometimes depends upon hurting the environment or destroying habitats, they are beginning to be aware only too well that in order to preserve our great country and continue to make a living they also have to be very conscious of the environment and the habitats that surround them.

We are seeing, as we never saw before, a coming together of the different fragmented groups for the purpose of preserving what we have and what we are rapidly losing. These agencies have a tremendous amount to offer if we give them a chance, if we listen to them and if the committee goes out and hears their presentations. If we pick the best of what each group has to offer, if we look at putting together the solid recommendations that are coming to us and if we listen to the concerns that have been expressed, surely we can come up collectively with legislation that will not only do the job but will do it well.

When many of us were growing up in this great country, particularly those of us who grew up in the rural parts of the country, we remember living in a society where we worked and operated hand in hand with nature.

If we take time to listen to our elders we hear them talk about how they practically lived off the land. They did that not by raping what the land had to offer but by taking carefully as they needed while always making sure that there was something left for tomorrow because they knew the food they put on the table and their livelihood and the livelihood of their children depended on it.

If we go back to the opening up of the country and the days of the fur trade, perhaps in those days people thought we had so many animals that we could take more than was necessary or more than we should to preserve the species. However they quickly learned. As the animals they were hunting at the time became scarce in the areas in which they operated, they moved farther afield.

Perhaps we could even thank them for their concern about not depleting different groups of animals. They were forced westward and the country was opened up, not just because of curiosity of seeing what was beyond the next mountain but because these people pushed forward, in the fur trade in particular, in order to make a living for themselves and in order not to destroy what existed closer to the places where they had originally settled.

We should learn from the past. For years and years the country continued to produce the different species that were here originally, but it seems that somewhere along the line we forgot about it. With our concentration on opening up great towns, cities and building freeways we sometimes forgot the damage we were doing to the habitats for a lot of these species.

In my own province of Newfoundland everybody remembers the great auk, which is as extinct as the Liberals will be in Newfoundland after the next election. The only people who will survive are those who will not run.

My great friend from Bonavista—Trinity—Conception must be delighted this morning that the effort by the provincial Liberals to rid themselves of his colleagues did not work. The member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte will be back for a while in the House. The member for Labrador will also be back, I understand. Both of them won their nominations handily, as they should. It shows that the other agenda that is working certainly has not paid off for those who were perpetrating it.

Species At Risk Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Fred Mifflin Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, NL

Are you still speaking about wildlife?