House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.

Topics

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased that you are here today to hear the remarks being made. I am also pleased to see that 3 or 4 of the 178 Liberals elected to the House are here as well.

I listened with interest to the comments of the hon. member from the NDP. I recognize and congratulate them. They are well known for their environmental concerns. However I would hope that any group backing the bill does not become so blinded by the need to put something through to protect endangered species that they ignore some of the harm that can be done from the bill at the same time.

One of the real challenges an MP faces in general terms with legislation is voting and how to really with good conscience decide exactly how he or she will vote on a particular issue.

I wrote an article that went out in my householder recently which talked about the concept of voting on omnibus bills and what to do when facing a bill that maybe had some good things and bad things. Does one vote for the good things and ignore the bad things? Does one vote against the bill because of the bad things and ignore the good things? It is a very perplexing and challenging thing for a member of parliament. Perhaps in itself it is one of the hardest things with which MPs have to deal.

It is particularly frustrating when we have a bill like this, which was good at the outset and which the Canadian Alliance very strongly supported. Who in their right mind would not support the concept of wanting to protect species that are endangered in the country and in the world?

The problem is we have a bill that suggests it will deal with these very things but at the same time it has harmful things in it which are not necessary for the protection of endangered species.

For example, yesterday we talked in terms of compensation. Whether we compensate or do not compensate people has nothing to do with the protection of endangered species. Whether an individual is compensated or not will not alter the aspects that we look at in terms of protecting an endangered species. It becomes a question of right. We are putting through a bill that addresses endangered species, but we are not doing the right thing by addressing the right of a person to compensation for loss of their personal property or the use of that property.

Today, we are looking today at a question of responsibility. It becomes slightly greyer I suppose in one sense. It is not quite as black and white as yesterday in terms of compensation. The bill has a provision which can be interpreted and utilized to penalize people for damaging the habitat or even directly the species themselves at danger without even having known they did it until after the fact.

The hon. member from the NDP said we had to have that because it made it too hard to prosecute people if we had to prove they meant to do it and that there could be consideration in sentencing. Consideration in sentencing means that they would be found guilty of a criminal act. Even instead of the $250,000 fine, they were given a token fine of $1,000, $500 or even a dollar, they would still be criminals and have a criminal record. That is just not acceptable when people do something in all innocence and have no way of knowing they have broken the law, rule or regulation.

How can a farmer ploughing his fields search behind every corn stalk, sheaf of wheat, down every drill hole or every possible place? Plus, they would have to know ever single organism that is in the endangered species act, how to identify them perchance they find some evidence of it on their property so they could take some action to protect that endangered species, whatever it might be. That is absolutely impossible.

The government said it is clearly not its intention to attack people who innocently do something and that that would be taken into consideration.

I remember back some years ago when the now industry minister was the justice minister. He came in with a bill called conditional sentencing. Conditional sentencing was supposed to give judges the discretion that if someone was convicted of any crime and the court felt that there was no need for public safety to put that individual in jail that person could be released on a conditional sentence and serve no time in jail.

Much to the horror and shock to the public and certainly to us in the House on the opposition side, we found that violent offenders and rapists were being given conditional sentences by the courts. When we brought that concern to the House and faced the minister, the minister's direct response was that it was never their intention that it be applied that way.

Whenever the possibility exists, intention means absolutely nothing. The government must write it in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. Its intention must be absolutely crystal clear when it writes the bill. There cannot be any false interpretation that either harms innocent people or turns guilty people free as happened in the case of conditional sentencing.

In terms of intention, this provision of the bill questions the integrity of farmers and ranchers. It shows a suspicious nature on the part of government. It suggests in some cases that the government does not trust their good judgment and integrity. How would the government have come to that type of attitude, that it would feel that cynical about the integrity on the part of farmers and ranchers in relation to the bill?

I guess the best way to illustrate this is a story I heard some time ago about an individual on the west coast of Canada who went sailing one day. It was not a particularly good day for sailing but he went anyway and found himself in some serious trouble. This individual probably would have died at sea were it not for the sharp eye and the swift action of a lighthouse keeper on the rugged west coast. As a result of that action the individual was saved.

Naturally this person was very grateful for what happened and actually went to the trouble of hiking into many of the light stations on the west coast, bringing with him a little gift, a bottle of wine and some other things, as a token of thanks to the people who manned these lighthouses and who had saved this person's life.

Sometime later this individual ran for parliament, managed to get elected and found himself on the government benches. He went through some different positions and was elevated to be a cabinet minister. He found himself as the minister of transport ironically at the very time the government decided to start shutting these lighthouses down. This individual had said to the lighthouse keepers “I am in your debt and if ever there is anything that I can do for you, you can count on me”. Here was the minister of transport in charge of shutting these lighthouses down.

The west coast of Canada is very rugged and a lot of pilots, float operations and so on in a fog infested coast rely on these lighthouse keepers as do people at sea, as obviously this minister had relied on as well.

Is it not ironic that the government appears to have this suspicion of farmers and ranchers that it has to question their integrity to the extent that it has put in the bill the ability to prosecute them for damaging habitat that no one even knows existed and has found out after the fact? Perhaps now at least we have some explanation. Integrity I guess is in the eye of the beholder.

Anyone who can profess that kind of gratitude, make that kind of commitment only to be the very person in a position of power who chooses to shut those lighthouse keepers down, I think suggests what the farmers and ranchers who may innocently destroy habitat or endangered species can expect from the government, intentions notwithstanding.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is absolutely essential that we get a law in place to protect species at risk. We have waited far too long, seven years. We cannot fail Canada's species, the world's species, by failing to enact a law.

Much has been made of the proposed species at risk act: Is it too strong? Is it too weak? Does it protect enough? Does it prohibit enough?

My remarks will centre on the need to remember that Canada's territories must be treated as full partners in the approach to the protection of species at risk. I would also like to use my time to address the importance of the co-operative approach and of the national aboriginal committee.

There is a significant amount of federal land in the territories, but the territories, under the proposed legislation, are not treated like little brothers and sisters, they are treated as equals. We must continue to ensure that this full partnership is not undermined in any way. That is why the approach must be one of joint actions, not a heavy-handed, top down law. A balance is what we must strive for. This is certainty.

In Canada, the federal government must work with the provinces and the territories as part of its constitutional structure. This applies as well to the protection of species and habitats. Protecting species at risk is a shared responsibility of all governments, that includes Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories.

The overall strategy for protection of species at risk is ensuring that the federal portion of this responsibility is met. The bill is one element of the strategy and it complements the work done by other levels of government. It also builds on the partnership approach under the federal-provincial-territorial accord for the protection of species at risk. It also, of course, reinforces the stewardship component of the strategy.

The accord is one of Canada's commitments to protect species. We also have commitments to international and domestic agreements, such as the United Nations convention on biological diversity and the migratory birds convention.

Unfortunately, the standing committee amendments eliminate the incentive for Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut to complete the development of their own species at risk legislation to meet their commitments under the accord. That is certainly not good news for wildlife.

The standing committee's approach, whereby the safety net is only available in the territories for game species, is not consistent with current practices and contradicts ongoing devolution of federal responsibilities to territorial governments.

Bill C-39, the new Yukon act, was introduced into the House of Commons in October. The purpose of the bill is to transfer responsibilities for federal land and resource management in Yukon to the government of Yukon.

Yukon's responsibilities will include “conservation of wildlife and its habitat, other than a federal conservation area”. This means all wildlife, not just game. If we were to accept the standing committee's approach, we would be contradicting ourselves.

While the federal government is devolving authority to the territories, the federal government would also be taking away this authority through the species at risk act.

Let me also note that the formation of the proposed legislation has involved wildlife management boards under land claims agreements and aboriginal peoples in a variety of ways. They have been at the table for many rounds of discussions. They have provided a very significant advisory capacity by helping us to fully understand the issues, needs and capacities to protect species at risk.

For the first time ever, in any piece of federal conservation or environmental legislation, we are entrenching the role and importance of aboriginal traditional knowledge. These are the people whose traditions tell us about the habits and patterns of birds and animals. These are the people who know, because they have been told by their parents and the parents of their parents, that certain plants can survive in certain places.

This knowledge will help us protect species and it will further help us plan effective recovery. In fact, we are incorporating aboriginal traditional knowledge into our assessment and recovery process in a formal way. This is quite unique.

It is absolutely essential that the first nations of Canada have mandatory consultation on species at risk and when they are being protected. A lot of the species live on their lands or lands that will be their lands after a treaty. It is absolutely essential that they have the chance to be consulted as we proceed in these initiatives.

I would also like to speak in support of the motions for a national aboriginal body or committee on species at risk. This is an enormous step forward. We are recognizing and putting into law the importance of the relationship with aboriginal peoples to the land and to wildlife. With this committee, with this legislation and with the incorporation of aboriginal traditional knowledge into the assessment and recovery of species, we are moving forward.

I also support the overall co-operative and inclusive approach of the legislation. Bill C-5 is flexible enough to make room for all Canadians to get involved with species protection recovery: from the fisherman to the trapper, to the territorial governments, to the aboriginal organizations, to wildlife management boards, to biologists, to mining companies and everyone else. Bill C-5 also has teeth, but what is most important is it does not bare them in a threatening way. They are there if necessary.

The emphasis is on co-operation, building partnerships with the people on the ground. This will work.

The policy intents of Bill C-5 were not arrived at overnight. They came from years of study and consultation, of discussion and examination. We know, because it is already working, that the co-operative approach is the Canadian way. We know it is the only way. The time to act on this legislation is now.

Let us pass the bill so we can get on with the more important task of actually protecting and recovering our species at risk.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the member who spoke previously was very glowing in his support of the bill. I wished he had used some of his time to tell us why he will vote against the very good amendments we put forward. After all, at report stage that is what we are talking about. We are talking about the amendments that have been put forward.

I should not prejudge the matter, but I would predict, and if I were a betting man I would bet up to a nickel on it, that he will vote against all the amendments from Canadian Alliance because they have the wrong label. If the amendments were Liberal, he would vote for them. That is just a strange and curious coincidence, I am sure.

I want to talk a little bit about the amendments in Group No. 2. This is a very important bill. I want to make sure, by reiterating in broad principle, that I, and I am sure all of my colleagues and probably all the members in the House, want to see proper legislation that will promote the preservation of endangered species.

I have the great privilege of living on a country acreage in Alberta. It is a place where we have been for a number of years. We bought it at a good price at a time when we could afford it. Subsequent to that the price has gone up, the taxes have gone up and sometimes I wonder whether we should stay there.

One of the features of our place is that we have a little lake nearby. On that lake is an unusual species of duck. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name for that species of duck but it is a very interesting duck. People from all over Canada and the United States go there, put up blinds to observe the ducks and shoot them with their cameras, not with guns. I do not know if the ducks are an endangered species but they are a unique species which attracts quite a bit of attention.

I do not see any reason in the world why, if we have a species which is endangered, we should not take adequate and appropriate measures to prevent that species from becoming extinct. How do we do that? Strictly speaking, except for lands which are specifically under federal jurisdiction, this is not within the realm of the federal government unless it can say that it is a criminal offence.

I take great offence at the ease with which the Liberals are creating criminal offences just so they can usurp the power of the provinces. They are quite ready to make a criminal of a person who fails to comply with some administrative procedure. The best example in our area is that of the gun law. The reason I am mentioning it here is because the Liberals are applying the same principle in this legislation, which is that in recognizing that the enforcement of the registration of guns is a provincial jurisdiction, they have brought it into federal jurisdiction by saying it is a criminal act to fail to register. That is absurd.

If a person walks into a bank or a store with a gun, or a knife for that matter, and attacks the owner of the store, steals the money, injures the person or even kills him, that is a criminal offence because a crime is intended. However, that person may simply have failed to fill in an administrative form that says he or she has a device, be it a knife, a sledgehammer, a baseball bat or a gun.The Liberals have chosen the gun, which is one of the tools used to perform criminal acts. However, they have not said that using the weapon in an offence is a criminal act. They have said that failing to fill in a piece of paper and registering it with the government is a criminal act.

Quite clearly this is in violation of a very important--

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know my hon. colleague will eventually find a way to tie in this somehow obtuse discussion to the species at risk legislation. I am wondering if he would speak to the amendments before the House.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I thank the hon. member for raising the question of relevance which I have raised already three times since I have been here. I am sure the hon. member will get to his point.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Precisely, Madam Speaker. I was talking about the general tendency of the government to control anything it wants to by making it into a criminal offence. Because the federal government by law has jurisdiction over federal criminal law it can make it into a criminal offence. That is precisely what I was driving at and I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for drawing the attention of all the people listening to that important fact. Our amendments in this group address that issue. We are saying this is not a criminal offence.

I will give a specific example. I have related this in the House before, but it was a long time ago. It bears repeating because it is a good example. I was driving along in my old Chevy Suburban on my way to a meeting somewhere in my riding and a mother duck came out from the side with five or six little ducklings waddling along behind her. I can relate to that family. I immediately checked my rear view mirror. I computed that the truck behind me would have time to stop. If I did not stop for these ducks, the truck behind me would undoubtedly have wiped out the family. I said to myself, I think he can stop because he was far enough back, so I threw on my four way flashers and put on my brakes. I stopped and observed mother duck taking all her little ducklings across the road. This is not an endangered species, however it demonstrates that I for one am not ready to run over a family of ducks and little ducklings because they are to be protected. They are also a form of life.

What happens though if I am driving along, and let us take that same scenario, and the truck behind me could not possibly stop? Would I stop? No. I would say that my life and the life of the truck driver, who may be forced to take the ditch, are more important than this poor little duck family. I would have to make that instant but difficult decision and I would make the right one.

The same thing is true for endangered species. I grew up on a farm and I related this also the other day when I spoke on Group No. 1. Sometimes, much to our regret, we would not notice a nest of birds with eggs until it was too late and totally accidental. What does the Liberal government do? The government says to farmers who fail to protect an endangered species that if they run over and kill an endangered species family they would go to jail. There would be a fine of $50,000. That is not fair because the principle of law is that criminal offences only apply when criminal intent is intended.

It is a criminal offence to use guns in producing a crime. It is not a criminal offence to fail to fill in paperwork. It is a criminal offence to wilfully and purposefully destroy the life of an endangered species. It is not a criminal offence to do so accidentally. Does the bill give any peace of mind to farmers and other people, hunters who happen to be out driving somewhere in the woods? It gives no peace of mind to them. It makes them into criminals even though there is no criminal intent. The principle of the bill is wrong. Our amendments in this group try to address that.

It would be great if we could go through those amendments one by one in detail. If all the Liberal members would pay close attention and think about the principles they may say that they had better amend the bill and make sure it is corrected. Maybe the Alliance amendments would do that and the Liberals would support them. That would be the correct way of responding to this offensive legislation, or at least the parts of the legislation which are so offensive because the intent of it is fine.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, here we go again. In the last parliament it was Bill C-33, the species at risk act. Did the government pass it? No it did not. We have come full circle to Bill C-5. The public should know the government fully intends not to make it work. This is a bill the government understands is clearly unworkable.

That is why my party and all of the opposition parties have introduced 136 amendments. Why? We want to make sure the bill is workable and that we have a bill that will protect endangered species.

The public would also be interested to know that the government has violated its own members. Many members on the committee from all sides, including the government side, proffered good, constructive solutions that if listened to would make the bill strong, workable and ensure that endangered species are protected. However the government has not done that. I read that the Prime Minister's Office and the minister's office have chosen to introduce amendments and changes that would emasculate the bill, so we will have a bill that cannot work.

I was appalled when I went up to the environment committee once and took a look at the bill which is about 3 cm thick. This is a 3 cm thick bill that is so unworkable that it begs for legal problems that will only tie up the courts and will not in the end protect endangered species. There are three areas that we want to focus on in the bill: mandatory compensation, penalties for the intentional destruction of habitats and jurisdiction.

On the issue of mandatory compensation many of us have been proffering that this is the way to go and yet the government has not done that. It has left it up to the jurisdiction of the minister. We cannot save species without enabling mandatory compensation. What has worked in many other parts of the world is they have sat down with the different stakeholders. In fact in Saskatchewan, with respect to the black footed ferret, the provincial government has done an outstanding job by working with farmers and ranchers to set up methods of compensation to ensure farmers would not be done hard by and that critical habitat would be protected. That is a model the federal government should be looking at because it works.

The second issue is one of jurisdiction. We have a bill here that would deal with federal lands which is a small percentage of our total landmass. Endangered species do not know jurisdictions. A bird, a plant, or an animal will go where it wants to with no care of jurisdictions. We have a bill that will not protect endangered species at all.

Why is this important? We have 198 species that are at risk. Those numbers are not going down they are going up. If we rolled back time 50 years we would see the variety of species, the biodiversity of animals and plants that we had then. We are in the worst possible time in the history of the planet. Species are going extinct at a rate that is astronomical. The species we have today will be very different from what we will have in our children's or grandchildren's lives. They will be far more restricted and constricted.

How do we deal with this? First we must list species and habitat on the basis of scientific evidence not on the basis of political expediency. The way to do that is to deal with COSEWIC, committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada. This is a group of esteemed scientists who have put forth an articulate, scientifically based analysis of the species that are at risk. That is what the species at risk should be based on.

There is the issue of protection. The government should work with the provinces and municipalities to protect critical habitat. In that way we protect all of the habitat not a small sliver, which the bill attempts to do but fails in doing. As I explained earlier we should look at the example of Saskatchewan in regard to compensation.

I wish to talk about CITES, the convention on the international trade in endangered species. The public would be shocked to know that the trafficking of endangered species is the second largest trafficking product in the world behind drugs. It is a multibillion dollar industry. Canada is one of the top three centres for trafficking in endangered species in the world. This has been known for years, yet in my eight years of being here I have not once heard from the government any effort to make sure that our obligations as a signatory to CITES would be upheld. In fact, we are known as a country that is completely violating our obligations under this important convention.

The last part deals penalties. A person recently was found trafficking in one of the largest consignments of ivory ever found and received a $10,000 fine. That is absolutely pathetic. We need penalties that are strong, tough and apply to those individuals who wilfully cut the gallbladders out of black bears, destroy herds of endangered ungulates and damage, destroy and pick plants of medicinal value that are threatened or becoming extinct. Heavy penalties must be applied because the profits from the trafficking of these species is huge.

I have two private member's bills that deal with all of these issues. The government needs to look at them and I hope adopt those bills. They would enable us to accomplish good, strong endangered species legislation.

There are two last points on which I wish to speak. First is our international obligation. We have to ensure that Canadian companies working abroad are not wilfully destroying the environment.

There is a situation right now in Belize where a Canadian company, Fortis, is involved in building the Chalillo dam on the Macal River. This dam would destroy the largest area of pristine habitat in Central America. This is being done by a Canadian company through environmental studies that were sponsored by CIDA. When we try to get an answer from CIDA, it twists every which way like a pretzel to not allow the House to have information as to where taxpayers' money was or will be spent regarding environmental studies on this particular project.

The public would be appalled to think that the government is wilfully ignoring evidence that this dam would destroy critical habitat for jaguars, tapirs and numerous tropical birds in Central America. Why should taxpayers fund studies that would not be released but may show evidence that a Canadian company is destroying the largest undisturbed habitat in Central America? Canadians would be shocked if they knew that. Yet the government obfuscates and obstructs any kind of effort to find out that information.

The last area deals with balancing off the interests of the public in terms of endangered species. During my time working in Africa I spent a lot of time in the African bush looking at ways in which the environment could be protected. After my 17 trips there and hundreds of hours in the bush, the best evidence that I have ever seen comes from a place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Officials married up private interests with habitat protection. They came to the conclusion that animals, plants and habitat must pay for themselves if they are to survive. Wanting these things to survive will not work because these areas need value, and indeed this can be done. Funds can be generated from habitat through culling for protein, hunting for game, and charging large amounts of money as a certain number of game is actually taken out. This can also be done for medicinal plants which can be grown to generate money.

The money generated from this as well as from ecotourism and other opportunities must be shared by two areas. First, some of that money has to go back into the environment, to the game wardens and the parks people that are there to protect the environment. Second, it has to be shared by the people in the surrounding areas. If the people in the surrounding areas do not see value in a particular reserve or park, that reserve or park will be destroyed.

There is a model that I would like to see the government use when it is at the G-8 summit. It is part of the new plan for African development that it is working on. By linking up the Johannesburg summit, the Rio summit and the G-8 summit, and by triangulating those three things we would be able to involve poverty reduction, primary education along with the protection of endangered species and critical habitat.

If we are able to do that we will accomplish the objective of the bill which is to protect endangered species in Canada.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Madam Speaker, I know first-hand the need for effective species at risk legislation. I am a resident of Saskatchewan, a province that has been converted from a rich grassland ecosystem with an abundance and diversity of wildlife species to one of the most modified landscapes in North America.

Saskatchewan has suffered the loss of more than 40 million acres of natural landscape. The statistics are beyond alarming. Some 75% of native grasslands are gone; 80% of the aspen parkland is lost; 50% of wetlands are gone; and 20% of our native plants are listed as rare and are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Progress in alleviating the problem has been the result of a joint effort between legislators and landowners. Local communities such as Wadena and Chaplin have capitalized on tourism opportunities promoting the importance of local wetlands.

The key to this is the people of Saskatchewan who took enough pride in their environment to protect and promote it. For the species at risk act to be effective we therefore need co-operation with the provinces. The bill before us would give the federal government power to impose its laws on provincial lands. To make matters worse, the process would be left to the minister's discretion. That is too much uncertainty for landowners.

There are landowners and farmers in my community who have resentment and distrust for the government regarding Bill C-5. The government is not getting off on the right foot when these are the initial reactions to its legislation.

Saskatchewan has an endangered species legislation. It is based on co-operation and the premise that endangered species exist on private land because of landowners and not in spite of them.

Landowners appreciate wildlife and make a point of preserving habitat on their land. They often do this at their own expense. Saskatchewan's legislation was an entirely co-operative effort with the agricultural community. It was designed to assist and reward landowners with species at risk on their land. Co-operation and compensation are key elements.

National Parks
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I rise today in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the creation of Kluane National Park in Yukon. On February 22, 1972, over 22,000 square kilometres was proclaimed Kluane Park and Reserve.

Kluane Park is home to Canada's tallest point, Mount Logan, but the park boasts more than sheer physical beauty. Kluane is the home to a unique culture that dates back thousands of years as the traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people. Today the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation and the Kluane First Nation continue to carry out traditional activities like hunting and trapping in the Kluane region.

It is estimated that 60,000 people visit the park every year. I urge members of the House today to visit one of the most stunning national parks in the country. The year 2002 marks the International Year of Mountains as well as the International Year of Ecotourism so I can think of no better place to celebrate these events than in Yukon's Kluane National Park.

To hon. members I say thanks, merci, Masi Cho .

Citizenship and Immigration
Statements By Members

February 21st, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, I bring to the attention of the House the plight of a family in my riding, a situation that was first brought to light here by my predecessor before the last federal election and that has touched our leader and other caucus members.

The Vivier family came to Prince Rupert from South Africa because of the cloudy climate there, as three of the family members suffer from an illness called porphyria which is non-communicable but causes the sufferer to have a severe allergic reaction to sunlight.

There have been letters written to the minister and petitions tabled in the House on their behalf. On Wednesday, February 20 the city of Prince Rupert held a town rally to show its support for the family who truly fits the humanitarian and compassionate immigration clause.

I have written to the minister about the issue at the beginning of the month and have yet to receive a reply. I would urge the minister once again to please take notice of the issue and reply to my concerns as soon as possible.

Black History Month
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, the Reverend John C. Holland Awards were recently held in Hamilton to mark the beginning of Black History Month. I congratulate the recipients honoured at the awards dinner.

Both Norma Rookwood and the Stewart Memorial Church were recognized for their efforts in preserving and promoting black history in Hamilton. Brock University professor Dr. Sybil E. Wilson was honoured for professional achievement in her field of education.

Tanya Charles, concertmaster for the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, received the Youth Achievement Award and Jeremy Shand was awarded the Educational Bursary of $1,000 toward his multimedia studies at Humber College.

I am sure all the hon. members will join me in congratulating the winners for their achievements and for their contribution to the Hamilton community.

2002 Winter Olympics
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan York North, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand today to acknowledge the accomplishments of two of our Canadian athletes who earned medals at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

I congratulate Veronica Brenner of Sharon, Ontario from my riding of York North who placed second and won the silver medal in the aerials event, just ahead of her teammate Deidra Dionne. A three time Canadian champion, Veronica Brenner has been one of Canada's most successful women's aerialists and is considered a veteran of the sport of freestyle skiing. Veronica has made an astonishing comeback this season after a serious injury she sustained in the fall of 2000.

Deidra Dionne won the Olympic bronze medal in the aerials event on the strength of a tremendous second jump. This talented young athlete promises a golden future for Canadian freestyle skiing.

I am sure hon. members will join me in congratulating these fine young athletes for their great victories.

National Parks
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, on January 10, 1972, the fabulous Kluane National Park in Yukon and the Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories were established. They were added to the network of national parks that is the most powerful protection for natural heritage, plants and animals in Canada. I join the member for Yukon in celebrating this 30th anniversary.

More recently parliament passed Bill C-10, an act respecting marine conservation areas of Canada. The act would allow the establishment of marine national park-like areas to protect life in the 50% of our territory which is under the ocean.

I urge all members to work to further strengthen our wonderful national parks system on land and sea. Each Canadian is custodian of an unusually large part of the globe. Let us be good custodians preserving natural heritage for future generations.

2002 Winter Olympics
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Canada's Olympic medallists. In particular, I congratulate the women of Canada's Olympic team.

The Salt Lake City Olympics has been a great success for Canadian competitors in women's disciplines. Cindy Klassen won our first medal in 3,000 metre long track speed skating. Veronica Brenner and Deidra Dionne shared the podium in the women's aerials. The women's hockey team is on track for either silver or gold. Again, these women have made history in Canada because they are world class athletes.

Beckie Scott became the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in nordic skiing, and originally from my own riding of Blackstrap, Catriona LeMay Doan became the first Canadian athlete to defend her Olympic gold in the same individual event.

There have been some disappointments in these Olympics and I personally believe we need to pay more attention to amateur sport in this country, but the victories have been glorious and we should make sure we give all the athletes our heartfelt thanks for representing our country with such class.

2002 Winter Olympics
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, while most of us may never compete at the Olympic level of athletic competition, all Canadians can take pride in those who have worked hard and earned their way to Salt Lake City for the 19th Winter Olympic Games.

My fellow colleagues in the national capital region caucus are extremely proud of Ottawa resident Jeff Bean for taking fourth place in the aerials event in freestyle skiing and Andy Capicik from Vancouver who also captured 8th place in the finals.

We are also impressed by the solid performance of Beckie Scott in cross country skiing who placed 5th in a field of 58 of the world's best skiers after taking part in four hard fought races in one single day.

In the final phase of the ice dance competition nine time Canadian champions Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz made us all proud once again.

All members of the Canadian Olympic team have lit the torch and inspired the Olympic spirit in the hearts of future Canadian athletes. On behalf of all my colleagues I congratulate them.