House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

February 18th, 2002 / 12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to give my ruling on report stage of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.

Given the rather large number of motions on the notice paper, I believe it would be appropriate to explain my ruling on the report stage and to give some clarification to the House regarding the selection process used for motions.

Hon. members will remember that, on March 21, 2001, I made a statement in which I explained a few guiding principles that help the Chair select report stage motions.

I encouraged all members and all parties:

--to avail themselves fully of the opportunity to propose amendments during committee stage so that the report stage can return to the purpose for which it was created, namely for the House to consider the committee report and the work that the committee has done, and to do such further work as it deems necessary to complete detailed consideration of this bill.

In terms of the legislative process, the work on Bill C-5 done by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development provides an excellent example of the type of study that should take place on major bills. Bill C-5 was given extensive consideration. The committee heard from some 150 witnesses over 27 meetings and then proceeded to 15 meetings during which the bill was studied clause by clause. Approximately 360 motions of amendment were proposed; 123 motions from all parties were adopted and reported to the House.

There are currently 138 motions in amendment on the notice paper and I must determine which ones must be selected for review at report stage. After examining these 138 motions, I came to the following conclusions.

Motion No. 110 cannot be proposed to the House because it is not accompanied by a recommendation of the governor general. Standing Order 76.1(3) requires that notice of such a recommendation be given no later than the sitting day before the beginning of report stage consideration of the bill.

Motions Nos. 40 to 42, 45 to 47, 58 to 65, 81 to 83, 87 to 89, 91 to 93, and 123 to 125 will not be selected as the Chair judges them to be of a repetitive nature as expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions and amendments at report stage.

As for the other motions, some may be deemed to be technical changes to clarify the amendments proposed by the committee, or to bring them more in line with the standards of legislative drafting. These motions will be selected.

There are many motions that propose to make further changes to some substantial modifications by the committee or to reject the committee's modifications. While I had some reservations concerning these motions--arguably these issues ought to have been resolved in the committee--I have had to conclude that they are entirely in keeping with past practice.

Our practice as well at the practice of the United Kingdom dictates that the very purpose of report stage is to allow the House to consider the committee report and to do such further work as it deems necessary. Accordingly, these motions will be selected.

Finally, there are motions similar to those that were rejected by the committee. Usually, such motions are not selected, because they would generate discussions that have already taken place in committee. However, the note in the Standing Orders allows the Speaker to select these motions if he deems that they are of such importance that they deserve to be examined again at report stage. I believe that these motions respect that criterion and therefore they will be selected for the debate.

The selected motions will be placed into five groups for debate.

The first group will deal with the issue of compensation. It will be composed of Motions Nos. 1, 12, 13, 28, 103 to 108, 111, 121 and 128.

The second group will deal with timeframes and agreements between the federal government and the provinces and will include Motions Nos. 2, 11, 23, 35, 39, 44, 48, 49, 51 to 57, 67, 74, 78, 80, 84, 86, 90, 94 to 102, 112, 113 and 122.

The third group will deal with geographical and biological species, the interim recovery plans, the schedules which contain the list of extirpated, endangered and threatened species, and certain technical amendments. It will be composed of Motions Nos. 3 to 5, 7 to 10, 14, 15, 19, 30, 32, 34, 36, 50, 66, 68 to 71, 73, 77, 79, 115, 119, 120, and 134 to 138.

The fourth group will deal with consultations, the registry and the national aboriginal committee. It will include Motions Nos. 6, 16, 17, 20, 24, 25, 29, 72, 76, 114, 126, 127 and 130.

The fifth group will deal with the issue of ministerial discretion, delegation, agreements and permits, and orders versus regulations. It will be composed of Motions Nos. 18, 21, 22, 26, 27, 31, 33, 37, 38, 43, 75, 85, 109, 116 to 118, 129, and 131 to 133.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the Table. For those members who are unable to write all the numbers down quickly enough, they are there too.

The Chair will signal to the House the applicable procedure for each vote.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 12, 13, 28, 103 to 108, 111, 121 and 128 in Group No. 1 to the House.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-5, in the preamble, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 24 on page 2 with the following:

“landowners should be compensated for any financial or material losses to ensure that the costs of conserving species at risk are shared equitably by all Canadians,”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

moved:

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-5, in Clause 6, be amended by replacing line 5 on page 8 with the following:

“6. The purposes of this Act, to be pursued in a cost-effective manner, are to prevent”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

moved:

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-5, in Clause 6, be amended by replacing line 5 on page 8 with the following:

“6. The purposes of this Act, to be pursued in a manner consistent with the socio-economic interests of Canadians, are to prevent”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

moved:

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-5, in Clause 11, be amended by adding after line 29 on page 11 the following:

“(4) The agreement shall provide for fair and reasonable financial or material support, unless there is an agreement otherwise.”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

moved:

Motion No. 103

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing lines 13 to 15 on page 36 with the following:

“64.(1) The Minister shall, in accordance with the regulations, provide full, just and timely compensation to any person for losses”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

moved:

Motion No. 104

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing line 13 on page 36 with the following:

“64.(1) The Minister shall, in accordance”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

moved:

Motion No. 105

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing lines 14 and 15 on page 36 with the following:

“with the regulations, provide fair market value compensation to any person for losses”

Motion No. 106

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing line 15 on page 36 with the following:

“able compensation to any person for loss of use or enjoyment of property”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

moved:

Motion No. 107

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing line 15 on page 36 with the following:

“able compensation to any person—including landowners, lessees and other persons affected by or having a legal interests in the property—for losses”

Motion No. 108

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing lines 16 and 17 on page 36 with the following:

“suffered as a result of the application of”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

moved:

Motion No. 111

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 36 with the following:

“sion of compensation, including rules for the recovery of reasonable legal and other costs arising as a result of the compensation claim.”

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

moved:

Motion No. 121

That Bill C-5, in Clause 97, be amended by deleting lines 21 to 26 on page 56.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

moved:

Motion No. 128

That Bill C-5 be amended by adding after line 3 on page 69 the following new clause:

“124.1 The Minister shall, in all circumstances, advise the affected landowner, lessee or land user of the location of a wildlife species or its habitat.”

Debate arose on the motions in Group No. 1.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to speak to the motions that you have ruled out of order, Motions Nos. 40 to 42, and that entire list, and Motion No. 110 which I believe you ruled out of order as well.

I have several arguments. The first one is based on the importance one of the motions has for landowners. The bill talks about being guilty until proven innocent. This goes against all principles and destroys the goodwill many landowners will have in dealing with the legislation.

The chairman of our committee, the member for Davenport, did an exceptional job of working with our committee. Our committee worked in a co-operative manner that I have never seen before, certainly as long as I have been in the House. I believe that by exempting these we not only exempt a very important aspect to the landowners but we also exempt something on which, while committee members could not agree on, many members should have a say.

Some of the resolutions were put forward by the member for Skeena, the member for Lanark--Carleton and the member for Lethbridge because they were not on our committee and did not have an opportunity to speak on behalf of the landowners who would be affected by the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I bring to your attention that the slender mouse-ear-cress and the western spiderwort are endangered species. The only person who would know those species would be a botanist. The argument is that by debating this in the House we could alert the public to the fact that they will need to start finding out what these endangered species are because if the habitat is destroyed or if anything is done to that endangered species they will be guilty of a criminal act.

I have about 20 pages that we could talk about the legal ramifications and I am not even a lawyer. However, this will end up in court cases and take money out of what should go to conservation and be put in the hands of the justice system.

I really feel that the mens rea argument is one that we should strongly put and one that we should be discussing in the House. I just do not believe that by not talking about it and having it in the act that it will be fair to any of those landowners. In effect, they will be guilty until proven innocent, which is not the legal system that I understand and certainly not one that is very defensible. We say that we want to co-operate, consult and build a relationship with landowners but we introduce a bill that does not even identify a critical habitat. If landowners damage it, they will have committed a criminal offence.

I feel it is essential for all members to have the opportunity to talk about those amendments in the House. We are not talking about a driving ticket. We are talking about a criminal offence having been committed. It is not right to simply say that due diligence is the responsibility of landowners. Landowners do not have time to check out every worm, every mollusk and every plant that might be on their land to find out if it is on some list. We must discuss this in the House.

The minister said:

It's a legitimate matter for concern. The accident, the unwitting destruction—it is a concern, and we want to give the maximum protection we can to the legitimate and honest person who makes a mistake, who unwittingly does that.

The minister is arguing that we should discuss this and that it is a major problem in the bill. By exempting those, we are certainly going against that basic principle.

The best solution would be to debate the amendment to the bill which would require what Roman law used to refer to as a guilty mind, mens rea.

The requirement that in order to commit a criminal act a person had to know he or she was doing something wrong, has been the standard division between criminal and civil offences in English common law since the late middle ages. It is absolutely essential in this case but the bill does not take that into consideration. It states that the person is guilty. I believe no one, no landowner or company, will be able to function this way with the legislation.

Let me close by quoting the minister. He said:

We have all seen, as politicians, what happens when people get fearful of their government or angry with government programs. We've all seen the damage that's done to public trust when perfectly reasonable people suddenly decide the government has some hidden and nefarious agenda. There is no reason to stir up those kinds of concerns with this legislation.

The minister's speech writer seems to understand the issue. The only problem is that it is not in Bill C-5.

On that basis I believe all members should have the opportunity to speak to this issue and that we should be looking at mens rea as opposed to due diligence.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Red Deer pointed out, there is a matter of fundamental justice in our country where one is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

I want to refer to some of the motions that have been cancelled and will not be debated in the House. I would like to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that committees can receive delegated authority from the House but we do not relegate the House to a committee. We are not answerable or dictated to by a committee. This House is paramount and supreme.

Mr. Speaker, while motions are sometimes debated in committee and you have, in some cases, ruled them out of order because of repetition, I draw your attention to your ruling under 76.1(5) and what is basically an editorial comment on the standing order which states “The Speaker will not normally select for consideration”. This is not a black and white rule of saying you shall. It means normally. It continues on by stating:

For greater certainty, the purpose of this Standing Order is, primarily, to provide Members who were not members of the committee, with an opportunity to have the House consider specific amendments they wish to propose.

Again, nothing is absolutely cast in stone as far as these two points and the editorial comment regarding the standing order are concerned.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, if the House is to recognize its supremacy, I would suggest that you consider the remarks made by the hon. member for Red Deer. If motions are properly made in the House and deal with an issue that is fundamental to our whole premise of justice, of being innocent until proven guilty, then I think the matter should be debated in the House rather than saying that the committee has already dealt with the issue and therefore it cannot be dealt with in the House, because we must recognize the supremacy of the House. Therefore, if a motion is of fundamental importance and is legitimately introduced in the House--and I am not asking you to rule on every motion that may be deleterious, repetitive and so on--it should require debate in the House even if it has been debated in committee.

I ask you to think about that, Mr. Speaker, and to take the comments from the member for Red Deer under advisement as well.