House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, recently in the House we have had emergency debates on softwood lumber and agricultural problems, both of which are extremely important. The issue I raise today is certainly of that magnitude, if not beyond, in relation to the effect foreign overfishing in our fishing grounds is having on Atlantic Canada. I raise it today because of a few incidents that have happened recently.

Mr. Speaker, if you had been with us during the past week as we visited Newfoundland and witnessed firsthand the effect of foreign overfishing on that province, as well as the rest of Atlantic Canada, I would not be making this argument for a debate.

The mayors of towns that have been devastated told us that they were praying for no snow because they could not afford to clear the roads and that they were looking to see which light they could remove to save $20. These are towns that have been devastated by a lack of resources.

Recently our Canadian delegation attended the NAFO meetings. I want to quote from its report. It states:

The Canadian assessment confirms: directed fishing/excessive by-catch of moratoria species; exceeding allocations/misreporting catch; directed fishing after closure; increased frequency of mesh size violations; increase in issuance of citations of apparent infringements; non-submission or late submission of observer reports.

Canada presented three major resolutions in relation to mesh size increase, depth restrictions and, of course, overfishing. They were disregarded and completely turned aside by other countries. We have had more infringements this past year than we have had during the past seven or eight years.

Recently we heard that Fishery Products International was threatening to lay off half of its workforce, 600 or 700 people in the Burin Peninsula, because of lack of resources. That would equate to about 15,000 layoffs in Ontario.

The 30,000 people who have been affected by the fishery in Newfoundland would equate to something like 600,000 people in Ontario. If 600,000 people in the auto industry in Ontario were laid off today we would certainly be having an emergency debate.

Yesterday a boat was detained in Canada for polluting our waters. It was pumping its bilge waters into the ocean. When the boat was brought into port it was discovered that it had in its hold an estimated 60 to 80 tonnes of mature, breeding cod, codfish that are under a moratorium. A sister ship, which was on its way to Newfoundland when it heard the news, changed course and went to Iceland.

Atlantic Canada is being wiped out because other nations are raping our resources and paying no attention to either Canada or the NAFO organization to which we belong. It is an issue that has to be addressed immediately. It is not something we have months, years, days or even minutes to work on. It is something that should have been worked on long ago. The government must take action immediately and we need to direct the government as to what to do.

I know I have the support of the members of the fishing committee in this request. We ask for a positive answer to the request for an emergency debate on this issue that affects all of Atlantic Canada and the economy of the country generally.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in support of the application for emergency debate.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

That is very generous but the rules do not permit it. The rules require that the Chair hear from the person who sent the letter and I have done that. I appreciate the hon. member for Portage--Lisgar's enthusiasm and I sense that also of the hon. member for Okanagan--Shuswap who I suspect was rising for the same reason now that I see them smiling.

I have heard the submissions of the hon. member. I agree with him and I am prepared to grant the emergency debate requested. That will take place this evening at 6.30.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am wondering if I could have unanimous consent of the House to revert back to tabling of petitions for a moment.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to revert?

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to table a petition before all members in the House on an issue of significance to many Canadians.

The petitioners call upon parliament to implement legislation for clear labelling on all genetically engineered seed and foods derived from, processed with, containing or consisting of genetically engineered organisms before they are released into any and all commercial markets.

The House resumed from February 26 consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 3.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

March 21st, 2002 / 10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will do my best to get as much as I can into my six minutes, Sir, because this is an important issue that concerns all of us.

I had the privilege of serving in the Manitoba legislature for a time. I met a lot of great people and made some good friends there. One of those friends is Harry Enns, who has the Commonwealth's record for the longest period of service in a legislature. I believe he is now into his 31st year. I could be mistaken on the exact time, but he has been there a long time and has done a tremendous job. When I was talking to him one day he said that he feared most for people when the legislature was sitting, not when it was adjourned. He said the reason for his fear was that those in the legislature felt that they must legislate and that the laws they made did less than was hoped for and in fact sometimes did the opposite of what was hoped for.

Such is the case with this species at risk legislation. It continues a sad record on the part of the government of legislating with good intention, I believe, but despite that good intention legislating for an adverse consequence. I could cite Bill C-68 as an example whereby legislation was brought forward with the intention of reducing the incidence of violent crime and protecting society and making it safer, but the opposite will occur. In fact, the perverse outcomes of such legislation, as misguided as it is, are already becoming apparent.

The animal cruelty act before the House now is another good example of that type of thing. Legislation that essentiallyhas been designed with good intentions to protect the puppies and kittens of urban communities may have a very damaging impact on the people who engage in livestock businesses and enterprises and who actually, because of their mutual relationship and dependency upon that livestock, treat their livestock with incredibly effective kindness. The reality is that this kind of legislation will have a negative consequence for those whom it is making victims, and yet it will not have the positive outcomes that we might hope for, those of protecting animals, reducing crime or, in this case, protecting species at risk.

Harry Enns was quite right in his observations. A wise man should be honoured and respected for his views, and I respect Harry Enns' views.

I quickly want to review each of these pieces of legislation. The species at risk legislation before us is one example, but Bill C-68, the animal cruelty act and this piece of legislation have several things in common. First, they focus on penalties. They do not emphasize reward.

For example, there is no reward in Bill C-68 for gun owners who volunteer to run hunter safety programs to teach children how to manage and handle firearms properly. As well, under this legislation there are no rewards or incentives in place for people, for farmers and landowners and so on, that would appreciate the respect they deserve for the handling or management of the terrain where species that are at risk may make their homes.

Some of the best stewards of the environment I have met in my life are farmers, landowners, hunters and fishermen. They live with an understanding of the benefits they accrue from the nature around them. They appreciate that and want to sustain it for the long term for their children, their grandchildren and generations beyond.

These misguided pieces of legislation share that lack of reward or incentive. As well, not one of these pieces of legislation has been subjected to the proper forward planning. Cost benefit analysis has not been done. We do not know what the costs of this piece of legislation may be. We do not know what the full costs of the animal cruelty act will be because the evaluation of those particular aspects has not been done. How then can we weigh the so-called benefits that may accrue with the cost that the taxpayers of Canada are being asked to incur in putting the legislation into place?

We cannot do a proper evaluation because that work has not been done. I will not quote him but I know the minister has said he does not know what the actual costs will be in the future. In terms of things like compensation for damaged or lost habitat or farmlands taken out of production because a species likes that piece of land, he has not spelled out specifically in the bill what kinds of compensation will be made available for landowners who are asked to sacrifice their ability to provide for their own families. They are asked to accept that he will put it in the regulations, later on maybe, possibly, but maybe not. We do not know.

It is the same uncertainty we saw with Bill C-68. The estimated costs of putting that program into place have been exceeded time and time again. The exemptions and the lack of participation in the program will inevitably mean that law-abiding people are treated as criminals come January 1 of next year under Bill C-68.

Such is the assumption with this bill. We assume guilt with the species at risk act. We assume farmers are guilty, that they are of a guilty mind. Even before we have evaluated what the circumstances may be, we begin with the assumption of guilt.

This is the kind of thing that I have seen far too often with the government. The willingness to pit rural people against well intentioned urban beliefs is something that I find to be fraudulent thinking. Urban people care about pets, but so do rural people. We care deeply about them. We want to treat them well and fairly. When rural people are concerned about a species at risk, that is a legitimate concern. Rural people want to see legislation that works, though, and the fact of the matter is that this legislation will not work. This pitting of rural people against urban people has gone on for too long, it is counterproductive and it is particularly evident with this piece of legislation.

Most of all, the goals that are the origin of these pieces of legislation I cite today are laudable goals. We share those goals: a safer country, species at risk that are less at risk, and animals treated well and fairly. We want to see these things happen, but they will not happen with this kind of legislation. The way the legislation is structured, it is designed to penalize and make victims out of the people who are very likely the greatest source of the solution to the problem and who should not be depicted as being the problem.

In closing, let me say that the government said in its throne speech last year that farmers should get beyond crisis management. So should the government. In the last three or four weeks we have seen the defence minister, Mr. Gagliano and others create crises for the government. How does the government respond when it is attacked? It sets up committees to create the impression of openness, then shuts them down. It uses deception. It uses anger because it has anger. It shows frustration because it has frustration. Why would farmers and landowners not react the same way? They will, and because of that they will take the same necessary steps the government is taking. They will cover up, they will shovel over and the legislation will not work.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will clarify where the Canadian Alliance stands in respect to Bill C-5, the species at risk bill. The Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species, let there be no mistake on that.

Alliance members do not believe Bill C-5 would work without guaranteeing fair and reasonable compensation for property owners and resource users who suffer losses. We have farmers and ranchers in our constituencies. These individuals want to protect endangered species, but they should not be forced to do so at the expense of their own livelihood.

We have insisted along the way that criminal liability must require intent. The act in this case would make criminals out of good people who may inadvertently and unknowingly harm endangered species or their habitat. This is unnecessarily confrontational and makes endangered species a threat to property owners. We need of a co-operative approach, not the confrontation that seems to be a part of Bill C-5. We need co-operation with the provinces.

The 1996 national accord for the protection of species at risk was a step in the right direction. It needs to be developed co-operatively. Instead, Bill C-5 would give the federal government the power to impose its laws on provincial lands. Since it is left completely at the minister's discretion landowners do not know if and when the shoe would drop. Instead of working with the provinces and property owners the federal government seems to be producing uncertainty and a climate of resentment and distrust as well.

The government wants to amend along certain lines only. In effect it is reversing many of the positions taken by Liberal MPs on the environment committee. Unfortunately that is another example of some top down control of bureaucrats who wanted a particular way. It shows a contempt or a disregard for government members and members across the way in the opposition benches as well.

The government has no idea what the socioeconomic implications of the legislation are and what the costs would be over time. In the minister's information supplement of October 2001 the Minister of the Environment said:

Environment Canada is aware that compensation for restrictions on the use of land is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and innovative thinking. We will need several years of practical experience in implementing the stewardship and recovery provisions of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) before we can be precise in prescribing eligibility and thresholds for compensation.

In speaking to the standing committee on October 3, 2001, the minister explained why he could not guarantee compensation in Bill C-5. He said:

We then got deeper and deeper into this and it became more and more of the proverbial swamp, and more and more difficult to do partly because, of course, governments should not pass legislation which is open-ended in terms of funding. We have fiscal responsibilities which, as you can well imagine, are fairly strict on us. Forty-five million a year is what we've given to run the process and that's what we can expect and that's it.

Any fair minded person in hearing this today would understand that would be a red flag. Is it not essential that the costs on industry and property users, the cost on government in terms of enforcement resources, be known before the government introduces legislation with such far reaching implications?

In particular, we want to know and have a little more close approximation of what the bill would cost farmers, fishermen, loggers, ranchers and so on. We want to know what the government's compensation costs would be as well. Without that information individuals cannot plan and government does not know what costs are being passed on.

The Canadian Alliance proposes in Motion No. 15 that:

The purposes of this Act, outlined in subsection (1), shall be pursued and accomplished in a manner consistent with the goals of sustainable development.

That is very important. That is closely related to socioeconomic interest because it requires that a balance be struck between the environmental goals and the needs of the taxpayer. Without considering this important aspect of sustainable development environmental laws could quickly become the goose that lays the golden egg so to speak.

Worrying about endangered species is only something that prosperous economies can afford to do because someone must pay for it. Economic desperation will be no friend to species at risk so we must put that forward.

The species at risk working group was made up of representatives from a broad range of environmental and industry groups among them the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association and the Mining Association of Canada. When they appeared before the House standing committee in September 2000 they said the purpose of the act should be pursued to the extent possible while taking into account the social and economic interests of Canadians. That is a reasonable amendment that should be accepted by the House.

We put forward Motion No. 3 which would require socioeconomic interests to be considered in the legal listing of species. The bill would already provide that it be considered in developing recovery measures.

Another great concern is the minister's discretionary power, and that can be a scary thing. The minister can decide whether compensation would be given or not. He would have the power to decide how much compensation would be paid. The minister would decide whether provincial laws are effective or not and whether the federal government would step in to impose the law. That is the kind of wide powers the minister would have and that kind of discretion is the opposite of transparency.

The government has refused to provide any proper draft legislation about the process for compensation, who would qualify and how much one would receive. Those are pretty critical and essential points.

Where is the technical amendment which would provide a predictable process for property owners to seek compensation? The all party committee of the House said that the minister must draft regulations but the government wants to stay away from that obligation. Where is the technical amendment which would set out the criteria the minister would use to determine whether a province's laws would be effective or not? The committee put some criteria into the bill, but the government wants to take that out as well.

The process for action plans and recovery plans needs to be transparent and so must the process in other areas as well.

I find most distressing the fact that farmers and ranchers and those kind of people can be some of our best allies. Providing incentives for habitat protection by promoting good management practices is a good thing. The Canadian Alliance supports stewardship and incentives for protecting habitat. We strongly believe that farmers and ranchers are some of the best conservationists. Their stewardship initiatives must be acknowledged and encouraged.

I speak for farmers in my constituency of Saskatoon--Wanuskewin when I say that farmers understand the importance of maintaining a healthy environment. Farmers, ranchers and agricultural people are primary stakeholders and as such their rights need to be respected in the bill before us today.

There is no myth, confusion or misinformation about Canadian Alliance policy. We are committed to protecting and preserving Canada's national environment and endangered species as well as the sustainable development of our abundant natural resources for the use of 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. We believe that co-operating with land owners and resource users, the environmental frontline soldiers, is critical to the success of protecting endangered species. Full co-operation means full compensation and that is only fair and just support. Full compensation provisions must be clearly spelled out in the bill and the regulations. Land owners and resource workers across this country are hurting and cannot take any more economic hardship from the federal government.

Politicians should have some say on the legal listing of species but the public needs to be able to review and comment on it. We have concerns about criminal liability and moving so quickly on people. We need to have that better defined. For these and a number of other reasons we unfortunately will not be able to support the bill.

Bill C-5 does not measure up, as we would say, and therefore the Canadian Alliance is vigorously opposed to Bill C-5 in its current form. We unfortunately cannot support it because we believe that some day we will rue the day because of the implications and the fallout from this particular bill.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again I am here in the House to talk about Bill C-5, the species at risk act. It is troubling to me that as usual the government is content to forge blindly ahead with legislation without any real idea of what the financial impact of the law would be on the country and the taxpayers.

I would like to spend some time discussing the socioeconomic implications of this proposed legislation. The protection of the environment is a very important priority to most if not all Canadians.

I come from British Columbia, arguably some of the most beautiful territory in the country. Last summer I spent two weeks driving around British Columbia. I put on about 4,300 kilometres just driving to different parts of the province to get a feel, as I often do, for what that province is really all about.

I recall driving up through Cariboo-Chilcotin, in semi-arid desert, Prince George, Prince Rupert, over to Terrace then to the Skeena River, a huge salmon river. I took a ferry across to the Queen Charlotte Islands and spent four or five days there. I recommend that anyone who wants to see what Haida Gwaii is all about should take a trip to the Queen Charlottes and spend some time there. I spent some time at Rennell Sound, at Bonanza Beach, where there are huge expanses of beach two miles long with no one around for miles, with eagles, bear and deer. This is what British Columbia is all about.

British Columbians, maybe more so than anywhere else in the country, understand what the environment is about and how important it is to protect these species. I went into the Kootenays, to the western slopes of the Rockies, to Blue River, and down into the Okanagan, beautiful territory and environmentally sensitive. We understand what that is all about.

However I believe that it is equally important to Canadians that our environment be protected in a way that is economically sustainable. To this end the Canadian Alliance has put forward Motion No. 3 which has been grouped in the third bundle of amendments to Bill C-5. It would require that the socioeconomic interests be considered in the legal listing of species.

The bill would already provide that economic considerations be considered when developing recovery measures. COSEWIC, the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, is charged with developing the list of endangered species and habitats from a purely scientific perspective. It is the cabinet which has the final say. This unfortunately opens the door for political considerations to dominate the process. We are saying the economic considerations should be part of the considerations as the list would have a definite impact on the Canadian taxpayer.

The Canadian Alliance has also proposed Motion No. 15. It says that:

The purposes of this Act, outlined in subsection (1), shall be pursued and accomplished in a manner consistent with the goals of sustainable development.

This is closely related to socioeconomic interests because it requires that a balance be struck between the environmental goals and the impact on taxpayers. Without considering sustainable development environmental laws could quickly kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Consideration for endangered species is something that only prosperous economies can afford because someone must pay for it. As the previous speaker suggested, economic desperation will be no friend to species at risk. Someone must pay for this stuff and if we do not have an economy to support it, it will not be very friendly to the species at risk which it is trying to help in the first place.

Is it not essential that the cost to industry and property owners, not to mention the cost to governments in terms of enforcement resources, be known before the government introduces legislation with such vast implications? In particular, we must know what the bill would cost farmers, fisherman, loggers, ranchers, et cetera, and what the government's compensation provisions would be. Without this information, individuals cannot plan and governments cannot know what costs are being passed along.

One of my staff members in the constituency office of Surrey North is a member of a family that owns one of the oldest ranches in the Nicola Valley outside of Merritt. I had the pleasure to spend about a week on that ranch a couple of years ago. It was during calving season, but that is a whole other issue. It was quite an experience for someone who lives in the city to be on a cattle ranch during calving season.

I talked to my staff member's brother about the co-operation he shows with Ducks Unlimited to preserve habitat on his ranch, as do all ranchers. These folks understand what the environment means to their livelihood.

The government apparently has no idea of the socio-economic implications of the legislation. They could not be made any clearer than in the following statements from the ministry and the minister. The minister's information supplement from October 2001 says:

Environment Canada is aware that compensation for restrictions on the use of land is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and innovative thinking. We will need several years of practical experience in implementing the stewardship and recovery provisions of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) before we can be precise in prescribing eligibility and thresholds for compensation.

In explaining why he could not guarantee compensation under Bill C-5 the minister said at the standing committee on October 3, 2001:

We then got deeper and deeper into this and it became more and more of the proverbial swamp, more and more difficult to do partly because, of course, governments should not pass legislation which is open-ended in terms of funding. We have fiscal responsibilities which, as you can well imagine, are fairly strict on us. Forty-five million a year is what we've been given to run the process and that's what we can expect and that's it.

The environment minister was admitting he did not know the costs or the implications. He said he was pretty sure they would be more than $45 million a year. How much more? Has he produced studies? Can he give any idea? He says he does not want to undertake open ended spending commitments. That is fine for the government but Bill C-5 is open ended in terms of what it would cost Canadian property owners. The minister and the government would not pay for it but they would have no problem forcing others to absorb the costs.

The Species at Risk Working Group represents a broad range of environmental and industry groups including the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association and the Mining Association of Canada. In its presentation to the standing committee in September 2000 it recommended as an amendment that:

The purposes of this Act shall be pursued to the extent possible while taking into account the social and economic interests of Canadians.

With these facts in mind I hope the government and the opposition parties see the sense in the Canadian Alliance amendments and vote in favour of them. Otherwise we cannot support the legislation. As I said, we understand the implications of species at risk and the need to protect them, as do all Canadians. However we must consider the implications before we do so.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House of Commons to represent not only the people of Elk Island and Alberta but the people of Canada.

As members know, I am mathematically oriented. I just did a calculation. Today is the 3,069th day since I was first elected. What we have accomplished here? I like to think we have had successes as the opposition. We have had some influence on government policy. However I am increasingly frustrated that the work of committees and parliamentarians is continually being stifled in this place. We see it again in Bill C-5.

When we look at Bill C-5, the species at risk act we are debating today, we see a number of amendments. It distresses me more than anything that the government has chosen to put forward amendments which would undo some of the work of the committee. It is regrettable.

How do we hold a government accountable when it has a majority as the Liberal government does? I think even the Prime Minister and members opposite want to do what is best for Canada. How can that happen if the government routinely ignores the sage advice of expert witnesses from the scientific world and members of parliament who report the concerns of the constituents they all serve? When members of parliament work hard in committee to come forward with amendments and the government reverses the amendments at report stage we must shrug our shoulders and ask what we are doing here. What is the point?

We have made the presentation. Why does the government not accept some of the amendments? Why does it not use common sense instead of the bull headed approach it insists on using?

We are addressing a number of the Group No. 3 amendments today. We need to listen carefully to what the witnesses and technical experts have said. One thing that concerns me is that information coming to the committee has been ignored, especially information from technical experts. I am concerned that the bill's definition of wildlife species would be amended by one of the government's motions. Bill C-5 currently defines a wildlife species as:

--a species, subspecies, variety or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and

(a) is native to Canada; or

(b) has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.

This is the definition accepted by scientists and most thinking people as acceptable and workable. This was the thinking of the witnesses and the recommendation of the committee.

Lo and behold, when the bill came back to the House the government put forward Motion No. 9 which would go back to the generic, mushy definition of “biologically distinct population”.

What does the government mean when it says biological? I do not know if hon. members remember the biology they studied at university when they were young or whether they did. I distinctly remember studying biology in both high school and university. One of my goals was to become a researcher in neurology. It was one of the things I thought might do although I subsequently changed my mind. As members know, I became a mathematics instructor.

When I was studying biology it was the big group. The term biology includes the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom. Biology means any life. That is what it is. It is about biological organisms. It is not a definition. It is a wide, sweeping scope that does not define anything.

I am going strictly from memory. I did not bother writing this down. I am reaching back 40 years or more since I graduated from university. I cannot believe the years have slipped by so quickly. I distinctly remember that after the term biology in terms of specifications we had a kingdom, then a phylum, a class, an order, a genus and a species. I hope I remember it correctly. My biology teacher would be downright proud of me for having the subclassification system correct after all these years.

When defining organisms we need to get right down to the species. We must be precise in our definition of endangered species and wildlife species. Otherwise we will swim around in a vast sea of the unknown and courts and lawyers will have a heyday trying to figure it out.

I am distressed about another element which would come about as a result of Bill C-5. Farmers, ranchers and other people with an interest in the habitat of endangered species would be harassed. If they went on fishing expeditions they could be charged with destroying the habitat of endangered species. They would have to defend themselves whether it was true or not.

Over and over in the House we from the west have tried to get it into the heads of Liberal members, those who control the government, that there is a major crisis in agriculture in western Canada. It used to be that farmers were struggling to make ends meet with margins of 3%, 4% or 5%. When that margin disappeared the profit level was gone. The ability of farmers to earn a living for their families disappeared. Today more farmers than not are struggling with negative numbers. Their input costs exceed their income due a whole bunch of factors.

Can members imagine the distress our farmers feel? They are being threatened by species at risk legislation which could put them in jail, fine them and cause them to incur huge legal costs to defend themselves. At the same time the legislation before the House lacks clear and precise definitions.

The fact that government bureaucrats came up with the wording four or five weeks ago does not mean it is automatically right the first time. When witnesses in committee advise us of better ways of doing things why do we not humbly accept their advice and make the changes? The committee tried to do so. The all party committee agreed. The bull headed government then said no. It said it would undo it even though it was not there to hear the arguments or listen to the expert witnesses. I find it distressing.

Mr. Speaker, you are signalling me that I have eight seconds left so I have to wind down. I have appreciated the time very much.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are debating a very important piece of legislation and I just do not see a quorum in the House, nor have I seen a quorum in the House for quite a while.

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There is a call for quorum.

And there being only 16 members present:

Species at Risk Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There is no quorum. The bells shall not ring for more than 15 minutes.

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung: