House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elections.

Topics

Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization And Divestiture Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization And Divestiture Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization And Divestiture Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization And Divestiture Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization And Divestiture Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 76(8) a recorded division on the proposed motion stands deferred until next Monday evening at the end of government orders.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

April 26th, 2001 / 1:35 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I begin by asking consent to divide my 40 minute time slot with my colleague the Minister of the Environment.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Manley Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House on second reading of Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act.

All Canadians recognize that water is a natural resource unlike any other. It plays a key role in every aspect of our daily lives: at home, at work and many other places or occasions. A bountiful supply of fresh, clean water is the basis for much of Canada's economic and agricultural development, and the towns and cities of our nation. Last, but certainly not least, it plays an absolutely critical role in ensuring the continued health of Canada's ecosystems, and every living thing that depends on them.

Canadians look to all levels of government to take action now to protect Canada's water. We must ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a Canada in which our freshwater resources are secure.

For decades Canadians and the Government of Canada have given a consistent response to extravagant schemes to redirect the waters of the North American continent: Canada's water is not for sale. Many such designs have involved the Great Lakes, which contain 20% of the world's fresh water.

The government is taking action now. Bill C-6 would protect boundary waters, including the critical resource of the Great Lakes, from bulk removal under federal law.

The existing act implements the 1909 Canada-U.S. boundary waters treaty. It is one of our oldest treaties and a landmark in Canada-U.S. relations. With over 300 lakes and rivers along the Canada-U.S. border, the drafters of the treaty recognized the critical role played by water and the importance of providing a structure and mechanism to prevent and resolve disputes between the two countries. Ninety-two years later we are using the same mechanism to ensure these waters will be protected for future generations.

The amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in Bill C-6 are based first on Canada's treaty obligation to the U.S. not to take actions in Canada which affect levels and flows of boundary waters on the U.S. side of the border. I would note that the U.S. has the same obligation to Canada, that is, not to take actions in the U.S. which affect levels and flows of boundary waters on the Canadian side of the border.

The amendments also have a second objective, to protect the integrity of boundary water ecosystems. The amendments have three key elements: a prohibition provision; a licencing regime; and, sanctions and penalties.

The prohibition provision imposes a prohibition on the bulk removal of boundary waters from the water basins. Exceptions will be considered for ballast water, short term humanitarian purposes and water used in the production of food or beverages.

While many boundary waters along the Canada-U.S. border are affected by the prohibition, the main focus would be on the Great Lakes. This would enable Canada to stop future plans for bulk water removal from the Great Lakes.

There would be a licensing regime separate from the amendments dealing with prohibition. Licences would cover dams and other projects in Canada that obstruct boundary and transboundary waters if they affect the natural level and flow of water on the other side of the boundary. Under the treaty such projects must have the approval of the International Joint Commission and the Government of Canada.

The process of approving such projects has taken place under the general authority of the treaty for the past 92 years without any problems. In essence the process would not change except that it would now be formalized in a licensing system. The licensing regime would not cover bulk water removal projects. These, if proposed, would be covered by the act's prohibition provision.

Bill C-6 will also allow for clear and strong sanctions and penalties. This will give teeth to the prohibition and ensure Canada is in the position to enforce it.

I would also like to set Bill C-6 in the general context of Canada's strategy announced on February 10, 1999, to prohibit bulk removal of water out of all major Canadian water basins.

Why did the Government of Canada take this initiative? The removal and transfer of water in bulk out of a water basin may result in irreversible ecological, social and economic impacts. We want to ensure, for future generations of Canadians, the security of our freshwater resources and the integrity of our ecosystems.

However, any credible policy approach to the issue of bulk water removal must address two important elements. First, the management of Canadian waters involves multiple jurisdictions. Second, any approach should take into consideration the many factors, man-made and natural, which exert significant stresses on our water resources.

To pretend that one government can solve the issue with a wave of the legislative wand, or that the issue may be simply reduced to one aspect, such as “water export”, in the words of some critics, is unrealistic, ineffective and undermines the goal we all share.

Flowing water does not respect political boundaries. In the case of the Great Lakes system, two federal governments, eight state governments, two provincial governments and a number of regional and binational organizations are involved in managing and protecting freshwater resources.

The question of bulk water removal involves the significant pressure and uncertainty of removals, diversions, consumption, population and economic growth, and the effects of climate change and variability. Finally, we must factor in the important influence of the cumulative effect of all these factors on our water resources.

All levels of government must act effectively and in concert with their respective jurisdictions, hence Canada's February 1999 initiative included three parts.

First, Canada would act within its jurisdiction. Bill C-6 fulfils this commitment.

Second is the recognition of the primary responsibility of provinces and territories for water management. The Minister of the Environment proposed a Canada-wide accord to prohibit bulk water removal out of major Canadian water basins. As of today all provinces have put into place or are developing legislation and policies to prohibit bulk water removal.

Third, Canada and the United States agreed on a reference to the International Joint Commission to investigate and make recommendations on consumptive uses, diversions and removals in the Great Lakes, the greatest of our shared waters.

The IJC in its February 2000 final report concluded that the Great Lakes require protection from bulk water removals and other factors. Bill C-6 is consistent with and supportive of the IJC's conclusions and recommendations.

It is self-evident that we must work closely with U.S. jurisdictions, both federal and state, to ensure that the regimes on both sides of the border are as consistent and restrictive as possible. In the years ahead, the Boundary Waters Treaty will remain a critical instrument in protecting Canada's rights on the Great Lakes and other boundary and transboundary waters.

Also, the eight Great Lakes states, and Ontario and Quebec, have been working for over a year on the development of common standards to manage bulk water removal on the Great Lakes. The draft plan, unveiled for public comment in December 2000 by the Council of Great Lakes Governors, attracted a good deal of criticism in both the U.S. and Canada as being too lax. The Government of Canada shared these concerns and made its views known.

Earlier this month Ontario and New York State announced that they could not support the proposed standard. In future discussions we will urge these governments to consider seriously the recommendations contained in the IJC report.

By adopting Bill C-6 parliament would set down in law an unambiguous prohibition on bulk water removal in waters under federal jurisdiction and especially in the Great Lakes. This is a forward looking action which places the highest priority on ensuring the security of Canada's fresh water resources. It demonstrates leadership at the federal level. It affirms an approach which is comprehensive, environmentally sound, respectful of constitutional responsibilities and consistent with Canada's international trade obligations. I urge all members to give their support to Bill C-6.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to join with my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in speaking to Bill C-6. The protection of freshwater is a global as well as a major national responsibility. Canadians are deeply concerned about the long term security and quality of our freshwater resources.

There are concerns for Canada's freshwater on a number of fronts ranging from the safety of our drinking water, and I remind everyone of the problem of Walkerton, to pollution, to floods and droughts, and to the potential impact of climate change on the future availability on our freshwater resources. We are working with the provinces, the territories and internationally to ensure that these and other issues are addressed and that Canada's water is protected and conserved for future generations.

Last June my provincial and territorial counterparts and I agreed that we all share the common objective to ensure a clean, safe and secure water supply for our country. In meeting those objectives all orders of government, whether territorial, provincial or federal, and all Canadians have roles to play.

Among the issues of concern to Canadians is the possibility of removing and exporting large quantities of water from Canadian watersheds.

In February 1999, the government announced a three part strategy to prohibit the bulk removal of water from large Canadian watersheds.

When we talk about protecting wildlife, we also want to protect watersheds. The strategy recognizes that the safest and most effective way of protecting Canada's water resources is through an environmental approach enabling us to preserve our freshwater in its natural state, and not through an approach based on trade.

Our goal is to turn off the tap at the source, not at the border. The bulk removal and transfer of freshwater from lakes, rivers and aquifers can have profound environmental, social and economic effects.

We could witness the introduction of parasites, diseases and harmful non native species, the deterioration of ecosystems and the disruption of communities that rely on a natural water supply from a watershed.

The impact is the same whether the water is destined for foreign markets or other places in Canada.

Canadians are already informed of these matters based on experience with project effects of all kinds. To cite one instance, we continue to oppose the Garrison diversion in North Dakota on the basis that it would introduce non-native or invasive biota and pathogens from the Missouri system across the continent's divide to the Hudson Bay watershed.

Bill C-6 covers one of the three elements outlined in the government's strategy that I announced in February 1999. I therefore strongly support the bill introduced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs as one component of the federal strategy on bulk water removals, which is intended to cover all of Canada's water resources and at the same time respect the shared jurisdiction in Canada over water.

The amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act would give the federal government the legislative authority needed to prohibit bulk removals from the boundary waters shared with the United States, principally in the Great Lakes, but also on the New Brunswick-Maine boundary.

However the issue of removing water in bulk from watersheds is a complex one and the consequences can be wide ranging. These amendments are a key tool for assisting us in working with our American partners to protect the ecosystems in and around the Great Lakes which we share.

Freshwater is the glue that sustains the health of the environment, and if we change conditions in the water we risk irreversible damage to our North American ecosystems.

This is why the federal government has chosen an environmental approach to deal with this issue. It has to be a cautious approach based on objective scientific principles and an integrated response, taking into account the fact that it is a shared resource.

With that in mind, we must ask ourselves some important questions regarding the long term effects of bulk water removal, particularly in light of the cumulative impact of such a practice and the potential changes in the distribution and abundance of water as a result of climate change.

The need for better quality information brings me to the second component of the Canadian strategy on bulk water removals.

We requested, with the United States, to have the International Joint Commission study how water consumption, removal and diversions could affect the Great Lakes. Our objective here is to provide a basis for ensuring a consistent management regime for water shared with our American friends.

In March 2000 the International Joint Commission presented its final report to the Canadian-U.S. governments entitled “Protection of the waters of the Great Lakes”. The report is entirely consistent with and reinforces the federal strategy to prohibit bulk water removals.

The International Joint Commission concluded that international trade law does not prevent Canada and the United States from taking measures to protect their water resources and preserve the integrity of the Great Lakes. To those watching or to those in Canada concerned about the issue of the exportation of water, I urge them to read the International Joint Commission report. They will find material there of great interest with respect to trade law and water exports.

This brings me to the third element of our strategy which is the development of an accord with the provinces and territories to prohibit the bulk removal of water from major drainage basins of our watershed.

Each and every province and territory supports our goal to prohibit bulk removals of surface water and groundwater. Most of the provinces and territories felt that the agreement was the best way to protect our resources and that is why they ratified it.

In fact, I am pleased to say that all of the provinces have passed or are about to pass legislation and regulations prohibiting bulk water removals.

Such a high level of commitment guarantees that no bulk water removal or export project will be carried out in the near future.

To sum up, Canada's environmental approach, which is to prohibit the bulk removal or transfer of water from its watersheds, is the best way to protect Canadian water resources.

Our approach aims at preserving the ecological integrity of our watersheds. Also, it ensures that Canadians, and not, I repeat, not international trade tribunals, will be able to decide how our waters should be managed.

Since my time is running out, I will not go on with the speech I have prepared, but I do want to emphasize that Bill C-6 must come into effect as soon as possible.

This law is for Canadians a major indication of our commitment as a parliament and of the commitment of the government as the government of the country in the direction that we wish to go to protect our waters.

International Co-Operation
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week I was in China to open the famous Canadian Group of Seven exhibit in Beijing. I thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage for her support of this exhibition. It celebrates the achievements of Canada's seven greatest artists of the early 20th century.

This exhibit gives a unique opportunity to the Chinese people to understand the land, the people and the culture of Canada. This not only improved relations between our two nations. It also was well received with much interest from people of all ages.

Clearly the Liberal government enhances cultural understanding and the promotion of free expression in China.

Organ Donor Awareness Week
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, 150 Canadians die every year while waiting for organ transplants. Four thousand people are on the waiting list. This will double in the next 8 years and will rise to more than 16,000 in the next 20 years.

What the government has done, despite repeated solutions from the Standing Committee on Health and motions passed in the House, is create a council that will increase awareness. That is not the problem. Ninety per cent of Canadians are aware of and support organ donation.

What we need is a plan. Here is what the government should do. First, it needs to ensure that there is a donor form in every patient's chart. Second, it needs to create a national registry of donors and potential recipients. Third, it needs to implement mandatory reporting of all brain deaths. Fourth, all living donors must have access to EI. Fifth, donor co-ordinators are needed in all hospitals.

This is Organ Donor Awareness Week. The government should act on the solutions it has been given and I hope all Canadians sign their organ donor cards.

Israel
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, which comes one week after the commemoration of the 56th anniversary of the Holocaust.

Indeed we are sometimes told that if there had not been a Holocaust there would not be a state of Israel, as if the establishment of a state can ever compensate for the murder of six million Jews. The reality is the other way around: if there had been an Israel there might well not have been a Holocaust or the horrors of Jewish history.

In a word, Israel at its core is the embodiment of Jewish survival and self-determination, the reconstitution of an ancient people in its ancestral and aboriginal homeland. May I conclude with the age old Hebrew prayer for peace:

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Hebrew as follows:]

Oseh Shalom Bimromov, Who Yaaseh Shalom Alenu V'al Kol Israel, V'imeru, Amen.

May God Who Establishes Peace on High, Grant Peace for Us All, Amen.

May this 53rd anniversary herald the end of violence, the protection of human security and a real, just and lasting peace for all peoples of the Middle East.

National Volunteer Week
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to invite members of the House to recognize National Volunteer Week.

One person can make a difference and nowhere is that demonstrated more clearly than in the volunteer sector. In Canada we have 7.5 million people giving their time to make a difference to our families, our communities and our nation.

I remind fellow members that the year 2001 has been declared International Year of the Volunteers by the United Nations.

In my riding of Kitchener Centre, it is estimated that one in ten individuals volunteers to aid non-profit organizations, charities, sports groups and cultural activities that contribute to the character of our community and its growth. I commend these hard working volunteers.

Today, in room 200, West Block, a representative group of Canada's volunteers accepted the Government of Canada's recognition on behalf of all their colleagues across the country.

We are proud of the accomplishments of the citizens of this remarkable country. More important, during National Volunteer Week and the International Year of Volunteers we thank—

National Volunteer Week
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Mississauga West.