House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Food and Drugs Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion carried.

Accordingly the bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from Tuesday, October 21, consideration of the motion that Bill C-328, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

The Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-328 under private members' business.

After the taking of the vote:

The Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be recorded as voting in favour of the motion. I inadvertently rose the wrong way on the motion.

(The House divided on the motion which was negatived on the following division:)

The Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion lost.

It being 6:32 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

(Bill S-7. On the Order: Private Members' Business)

October 6, 2003--Mr. Keddy (South Shore)--Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage of Bill S-7, an act to protect heritage lighthouses.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

October 22nd, 2003 / 6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia on a point of order.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question about the propriety of Bill S-7 as it relates to the relationship between the House of Commons and the Senate.

I would like to make a brief presentation because I want to get onto the debate of Bill S-7. I am in favour of the bill. That is not the question. The question is the relationship between the House and Senate. The question is whether it violates the financial privileges of this House and the constitutional requirements of responsible government.

Standing Order 80(1) states:

All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons, and all bills for granting such aids and supplies ought to begin with the House, as it is the undoubted right of the House to direct, limit, and appoint in all such bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations and qualifications of such grants, which are not alterable by the Senate.

Section 53 of the Constitution Act, 1867 provides that:

Bills for appropriating any part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing any Tax or Impost shall originate in the House of Commons.

Section 54 states:

It shall not be lawful for the House of Commons to adopt or pass any Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill for the Appropriation of any Part of the Public Revenue, or of any Tax or Impost, to any Purpose that has not been first recommended to that House by Message of the Governor General in the Session in which such Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill is proposed.

Marleau and Montpetit, on page 711, states:

--private Members' bills involving the spending of public money have been allowed to be introduced and to proceed through the legislative process, on the assumption that a royal recommendation would be submitted by a Minister of the Crown before the bill was to be read a third time and passed.

Bill S-7 originated in the Senate and on that basis may be in violation of the privileges of this House.

Mr. Speaker, the reason why I raise this issue is that I would like you to take a look at the need for a ruling on whether there is the need for a royal recommendation with respect to this bill. If we look at the provisions of Bill S-7, subclause 3(c) refers to the fact that there must be “requiring that heritage lighthouses be reasonably maintained”.

There is another reference in clause 17 which states:

The owner of a heritage lighthouse shall maintain it in a reasonable state of repair and in a manner that is in keeping with its heritage character.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I draw to your attention subclause 19(e) which refers to what presently is in place and that is:

national parks, national historic sites, historic canals, national battlefields, national marine conservation areas, heritage lighthouses, heritage railway stations and federal heritage buildings;

As the heritage critic, I am very much aware of the fact that the government has a budget for all of those buildings and all of those properties.

Although the bill does not specifically state that money shall be spent, clearly it says that if this bill were passed, it is only logical and reasonable that if lighthouses are in the environment that they are in, which is near salt water and extreme weather, that those buildings would probably require expensive renovation.

Therefore, prior to this bill coming to a vote in the House, I would like to ask for a ruling as to whether there must be a royal recommendation included with the bill.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I shall only comment briefly to submit to your honour that I cannot agree with the submission that has just been made by the hon. member. I have no doubt about the sincerity of what he is advancing; however, I believe it to be factually incorrect.

First of all, as he himself has admitted, the bill does not expend public money and does not levy a tax or impost. The levying of a tax or impost would have the prerequisite of ways and means. The expenditure of money would require a royal recommendation.

The hon. member said that a private member's bill introduced in the House, even if it were to expend money, would proceed, but at third reading could not be read a third time without a royal recommendation. That is quite accurate. The hon. member is drawing a parallel to a number of other heritage structures listed in subclause 19(e).

I would like to draw the House's attention to the heritage railway stations which were designated in like manner by way of a private member's bill of the House when both you, Mr. Speaker, and I were sitting as opposition members. No royal recommendation accompanied that particular bill which operates in like manner, and draws a parallel between it and what the member of the other place is proposing to us by way of Bill S-7.

I believe that the Chair should consider that before making a final decision, and then it will no doubt conclude that the bill does not require a royal recommendation and therefore can originate in the other place.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I thank both members for their interventions. I will take them under advisement. The Speaker will review the blues and the arguments for and against, and will render his decision as soon as possible.

Because of the points of order, private members' hour will start at 6:39 p.m. and end at 7:39 p.m.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

moved that Bill S-7, an act to protect heritage lighthouses, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker,it gives me great pleasure to sponsor the heritage lighthouse act on behalf of our members in the Senate.

I would like to recognize the member for Dauphin—Swan River for seconding the bill. It shows that this is not just a bill for coastal Canada. This is a bill that is important to all Canadians, whether we live inland or whether we live near one of the three great oceans that surround the country.

I would like to pay tribute to both Senator Forrestall and Senator Carney who worked on the bill in the Senate, and the good work that they did on this particular piece of legislation.

The bill will go a long way toward preserving and protecting an important emblem of Canada. Certainly, for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts there is not a Canadian who does not have a vision in his or her head of a lighthouse somewhere along one of our coastlines.

Without question, in Atlantic Canada alone, millions of tourists visit the area and take home strong memories of our lighthouses. It will always remind them of the time they have spent on the Canadian coastline.

It does not matter whether that coastline is in Atlantic Canada, the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean or even on the Great Lakes or Lake Winnipeg.

Lighthouses are part of Canadian culture. Not only are they part of our culture, they are part of our storytelling, our folklore, and our songs. There is as much of a lighthouse inside every Canadian as there is a maple leaf.

I would argue strenuously that there is not a Canadian living today who does not have a picture in his or her mind of a lighthouse somewhere, whether it is the lighthouse in Peggy's Cove or whether it is a lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

Lighthouses stand as historic focal points for communities where they have watched over generations of our forefathers as they have traversed our seas. Further, some of these lighthouses serve as an important part of local economies across the country, as many have restaurants, inns or museums nearby.

The bill is of personal importance to me. There are 135 heritage lighthouses in Nova Scotia that could be protected under this proposed act. This figure does not include a great many of the smaller range towers, but it does include 28 major lighthouses in my riding of South Shore. These lighthouses are not just a part of our culture and our seafaring tradition but are a part of our communities.

There are dozens and dozens of communities in Nova Scotia that see the light coming from the lighthouse when darkness falls. It is a tremendous part of the very fibre that makes us Maritimers.

Can anyone in the House, can anyone in Nova Scotia, truly imagine our province without its lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, West Head or Hawk Point? I cannot imagine the South Shore without lighthouses at Sandy Point, Coffin Island or Seal Island, to name only a few.

Yet many, if not all, of these historic lighthouses are in danger of falling into serious disrepair or being destroyed from neglect. At last count, only 19 of 500 have full heritage protection, while another 100 have some protection or degree of recognition as a historic site.

Those that currently have protection fall under Parks Canada, while the others fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Coast Guard. The majority, however, are in danger of joining the very oceans that they watch and have watched for decades.

Current legislation is not doing enough to protect heritage lighthouses. Two federal government bodies have the power to select and designate heritage lighthouses: the Federal Heritage Building Review Office and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board.

As it stands, the process has its problems since more lighthouses are being rejected than protected. The Federal Heritage Building Review Office has rejected a total of 157 lighthouses for heritage status. In fact, only 3% of lighthouses across Canada have heritage protection and only 12% have some partial protection.

In the United States, by contrast, a full 70% of the lighthouses over 50 years of age are protected. We have a little catch-up ball to play here. We pride ourselves on being a step ahead of the Americans on social legislation and on our health care system but they have done a better job at protecting their historic monuments than we have and it is time for us to join the race.

An additional problem with the current system is that the very public that wants to protect these buildings is unable to participate in the process of selecting or designating heritage lighthouses. This is despite the fact that there are many community groups, such as the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, that are passionately involved in preserving and protecting the history of these essential parks of our maritime heritage. Groups such as this would love to be involved with the renewal of lighthouse sites, but the regulations in place continue to hinder their efforts while local light stations deteriorate.

Another difficulty with the current system is that there is no specific provision to protect sites that have been given heritage status. The Canadian Coast Guard does not have a mandate to protect the cultural significance of lighthouses and it is not in a position to provide the care needed to maintain these heritage buildings.

The Coast Guard, however, does recognize the significance of these heritage lighthouses and has welcomed some proposals for their protection within the limits of the current legislation. Unfortunately, this has not been enough.

Bill S-7 would address all those concerns. It would put into place a regulatory structure that would remedy this situation and allow for the preservation of heritage lighthouses.

The bill was first introduced in the Senate in April 2000 and was originally modeled after Bill C-62, the Heritage Railway Protection Act, which was introduced in the late 1980s. Before the act was made law, heritage railway stations that had existed since before Confederation could be sold, transferred, altered or destroyed with very little recourse to the public or to the concerns of the public.

Canada's heritage lighthouses are currently in the same precarious situation as the railway stations were before the Heritage Railway Protection Act, a situation we intend to change with this bill.

Let me explain to the House how the heritage lighthouse protection act would preserve our heritage lighthouses.

First, the act reads:

The purpose of this Act is to preserve and protect heritage lighthouses by

(a) providing for the selection and designation of heritage lighthouses;

(b) preventing the unauthorized alteration or disposition of heritage lighthouses; and

(c) requiring that heritage lighthouses be reasonably maintained.

For clarity's sake, an unauthorized alteration is defined in the act as an effort “to restore or renovate, but does not include to perform routine maintenance and repairs”.

The responsibility of this proposed legislation would fall under the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Clauses 6 through 10 of Bill S-7 would enable the governor in council, upon recommendation of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to designate lighthouses and their related properties as heritage lighthouses, and to set out a process for their designation as heritage structures.

Clauses 11 through 16 would protect heritage lighthouses where clause 11, in particular, holds that:

No person shall remove, alter, destroy, sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of a heritage lighthouse or any part of it, unless authorization to do so has been given by the Minister under this Act.

These same six clauses also outline a process for public consultation. It is extremely important that we have public consultation during this process with regard to the disposition of heritage lighthouses.

Clause 17 simply maintains that:

The owner of a heritage lighthouse maintain it in a reasonable state of repair...in keeping with its heritage character.

We are not trying to completely tie the hands of individuals who may own now or may want to own in the future these heritage buildings, but we would like to think that anyone passing by would be able to look at this building and recognize it as a lighthouse. This is no different than what most municipalities require of homeowners.

Clause 18 empowers the governor in council to make regulations. The clause simply amends the Department of Canadian Heritage Act, giving the minister jurisdiction over heritage lighthouses.

In summary, the bill would enhance the powers and responsibilities of the Minister of Canadian Heritage with respect to these important buildings. It would allow for public consultation, which is in dire need of being implemented; designation; preservation; and the general upkeep of Canada's heritage lighthouses.

Most important, it would ensure the survival of important icons of Canadian maritime history and culture. It would protect local tourism and small businesses across the country. It also would preserve the potent images of lighthouses protecting Canada's coastlines for generations to come.

I would ask that all members in the House set aside any partisan notions and support the bill before any potential prorogation of Parliament. This has happened to the bill once already and it does not deserve to go through the process a third time.

I have had ongoing discussions with all parties in the House. I hope other parties will curtail debate on the bill so it can proceed immediately to committee. I am not asking members to not speak to the bill but I certainly would appreciate it if members would curtail their time.

The heritage lighthouse protection act is a bill that serves the interests of all Canadians and all those who have visited our nation's shores.

The longer the bill takes to pass through the House the more we risk losing an essential part of Canadian history and heritage, and a very personal part of maritime culture.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, when raising the point of order just a few minutes ago, I said that I am in favour of the passage of the bill. I am making that recommendation to the members of my party.

The bill is something that is necessary. Certainly in taking a look at Canada's heritage structures, excellent work has been done by many museums with respect to the structures. One example is the great Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook. The amount of volunteer work that has occurred there has been exemplary. We have to be very conscious in Canada of ensuring that we maintain our heritage and structures so that we can go back and physically touch them and certainly see them.

My concern is not about the bill itself. I have had an opportunity to review the clauses in the bill. I am certainly not a legislative expert but it seems to me it would not require a tremendous amount of amendment in order for it to be a very good bill. The issue of people being able to consult, get information back and have input is a very transparent process, and one which the public at large could buy into.

My concern is on two levels with respect to the fact that the bill has come to us from the Senate. The first one which I have just explained is that this is a Senate bill and one which in my judgment, and I will leave it to your wisdom to decide, Mr. Speaker, will require the expenditure of public funds. Therefore, it is very likely outside the ability of the Senate to propose, particularly as a private member's bill. And this is a private member's bill.

This is very important. It is not just a whole bunch of detail. It is not arcane. It is not unnecessary. It is indeed vital that we make sure that we maintain the relationship between this House and the other place. This House has the legitimacy that all its members were elected in a free and democratic vote. It is our responsibility as members of the House to come here and to represent our constituents and to make good legislation in the best interests of Canadians.

If we do not make legislation in the best interests of Canadians, then we deserve to be defeated. If we do not speak up for our constituents or watch what the government is doing with respect to its expenditures, again the people of Canada have the ability to hold us accountable. That is the essence of democracy and I am very pleased to be part of that democratic process. Therefore, the House of Commons must remain supreme in the process, which leads me to the second point.

The difficulty that we have is over a number of years, and particularly most recently as we have been going through a process of trying to update the ability, to advance the ability, to refine the ability of private members to bring matters before the House for the consideration of the whole House, we have been going through in some ways has been very much a learning process.

Bill C-250 is a classic example of an item that was brought forward by the member for Burnaby—Douglas and which the House became gripped with. It was an issue of a tremendous amount of interest to people in Canada. It was an item on which we as members of Parliament were, and should have been, held accountable for our position because it made some very substantial changes. Interestingly it was not a bill that was in the cross hairs or in the focus of the government, in spite of the fact that at the end of the day the government ended up voting in favour of the bill. All members ended up voting in favour of the bill.

The ability of a member of this duly elected, representative place to bring forward a bill or motion is a very vital part of how we function as a democracy in Canada.

Therefore, with respect to Bill S-7, the other place has a different way for senators to bring forward private members' bills. As I understand it, from advice that I have received from the Table of this House, once the bill has gone through the Senate process, it basically has the ability to then advance that bill to this place. It then goes into the same order of bills as ours do, as private members' bills. It goes to the bottom of the order of precedence and works it way up through the order of precedence.

In a way, somebody might choose to argue, that means it is treated in exactly the same way, but the fact is that it starts in the other place and goes through a totally different process and, in fact, because of the practices of the other place, this gives more freedom for those members of the other place to get their bills through, to have them advanced. I submit that it in fact ends up interfering with the ability of the members of this place to be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities to their constituents and to the causes about which they are talking.

Therefore, as I said, I stand in favour of the bill. I speak in favour of the bill. I think it essential that we continue to focus more energy on our history. Certainly, as my colleague from the Conservatives said, lighthouses form a part of the story of who we are as Canadians and of what our great nation stands for. Therefore, to have a bill that is a responsible bill, a bill that enables us to protect those properties, is essential.

In summary, the reason why I raise my point of order is this. I want to see that as we take care of those places and as we invariably incur costs on them, they come under the proper scrutiny of the Government of Canada, and that we do not end up in some way getting past the whole concept of getting royal approval for the expenditure of funds, that we do not suddenly find ourselves locked into a box.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to your ruling on this matter and I certainly will continue to encourage my colleagues in my party to vote in favour of the bill.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Laval East
Québec

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we are here tonight to discuss Bill S-7, an act to protect heritage lighthouses. This bill gives suggestions on the best way to identify them. It also suggests holding a public consultation before giving authorization to remove, alter, destroy, sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of a heritage lighthouse.This would ensure that the designated heritage lighthouses would be well maintained.

More specifically, Bill S-7 suggests that heritage lighthouses be designated by the governor in council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The bill also provides for public petitions to begin the designation process. If requested to do so by the Minister, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada would be responsible for considering all lighthouses and making a recommendation. If the board is involved, it will have to hold public hearings.

Bill S-7 also establishes an objection system. A person may object to the proposed alteration or destruction of a lighthouse. In such a case, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has to decide, in consultation with the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, to approve the proposal or not.

Even if the government of Canada supports the principles underlying Bill S-7, we are still concerned that this bill only deals with only one type of historic buildings, heritage lighthouses. As the members are no doubt aware, of all the federal historic sites, only national historic sites managed by the Parks Canada Agency are protected by the legislation. All historic sites administered by other federal departments or organizations are, at best, protected by a policy.

Apart from shipwrecks that are covered by the Canada Shipping Act, there is at present no federal protection for the archeological resources that can be found on federal properties, along our long coastlines or on the ocean bottom.

The Historic Places Initiativewas launched in 2001 as an overall strategy to seek to involve the public, private and volunteer sectors in the conservation of our man-made heritage. Since then, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Parks Canada Agency have worked with their provincial and territorial partners to create three basic tools to support the Historic Places Initiative: first, a Canadian Register of Historic Places; second, Conservation Standards and Guidelines, and third, a certification process to assess the eligibility of the expenditures and proposals under the contribution program. That program was announced in February 2003 to encourage private investment in the restoration of historic places.

In the fall of 2002, the Minister of Canadian Heritage released a working document entitled “Towards a New ActProtecting Canada's Historic Places”. It included proposals for legislation to provide the Government of Canada with the tools needed to address gaps in legislation in order to protect federal heritage and fulfill its obligations for stewardship of historic places owned by the Government of Canada.

The proposed legislation on historic places, as set out in the consultation paper, would offer legal protection for all historic places on federal lands and protection for archaeological resources on or under federal lands or waters. It would also formally recognize the Canadian Register of Historic Places and commit the Government of Canada to the agreed-upon Conservation Standards and Guidelines.

The proposed legislation would provide protection for federal buildings with heritage value and national historic sites.

The federal government departments would be requiredto ensure that their “classified” buildings are appropriately maintained and protectedagainst harmful or destructive actions.

Maintenance and any proposed change oraddition to a “classified” building would have to be carried out in accordance withthe new conservation standards and guidelines. Twenty-eight lighthouses would be covered by these two designations.

If a “classified” building were ever sold or leased out by the Government of Canada,the consultation document proposes that specific legal instruments be put in place to ensure that the building wouldcontinue to receive the same high level of conservation protection.

For “recognized” buildings, the proposed legislation wouldencourage the use of the standards and guidelines, and require departments,agencies and crown corporations to take into account the heritage status of thebuilding. Ninety-nine lighthouses would be in this category.

The proposed legislation would also ensure that no demolition of any part of national historic sites or “classified” federal heritagebuildings could take place without the consent of Parliament.

The consultation document proposes that allfederal departments, crown corporations and agencies be required to givepriority consideration to using these sites and buildings before opting for new construction or leases.

The conservation of Canada's historic places requires enormous effort by a vastarray of Canadians. The government is determined to engage Canadians inensuring that our country makes the most of the Historic Places Initiative launched in 2001.

The principles behind Bill S-7 deserve our warm applause. In many ways they match the principles of the 2001 initiative and the historic sites legislation proposed in 2002.

Still, the government believes that an approach focusing more on heritage protection is required, an approach that imposes a high degree of rigour in determining which properties should be listed.

The government also believes that the responsibility for protecting the heritage value of these federal properties should be shared by the organizations that take responsibility for the management of real property.

The most important point is that Bill S-7 adopts a fragmentary approach, since it addresses only one type of historic structure, heritage lighthouses. That is unfortunate. We believe that protection should be extended to all federal buildings with a heritage designation.

For these reasons, although the government supports the overall objectives of Bill S-7, it cannot support the bill as introduced without major amendments to allow to meet the objectives effectively. By doing so, the government wants to ensure that the appropriate resources have been identified to allow it to fulfill its obligations under the law.

Canada's historic places are the soul and spirit of this country. These places are evidence of the life and history of those who built Canada. The famous Haida totems, our Parliament Buildings, Africville in Nova Scotia, the historic district in Quebec City, the Cabot Tower in Newfoundland and Labrador, all these historic places are as important to our Canadian identity as the maple leaf, the beaver and the Rockies.

Historic places may be buildings, battlefields, lighthouses, shipwrecks, parks, archeological sites, cultural landscapes, bridges, houses, cemeteries, railway stations, historic districts, ruins, wonders of engineering, schools, canals, courthouses, theatres and marketplaces. They may be large, they may be small.

There may be only fragments left or they may have survived intact.

Historic places provide tangible benefits on the economic, environmental, social and cultural level. They contribute to Canada's social cohesion.

Buildings that have a heritage value enhance the warmth of urban centres. They may be a source of tourist dollars. When visitors come to see them, they spend money in the communities they go through.

Thus, historic places really contribute to job creation, community pride and national well-being in modern Canada.

Historic places connect us to our past, to our future and to one another. Unfortunately—

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, but her time is up. She had an extra minute almost.

The hon. member for Matapédia—Matane.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill S-7.

I am shocked and astounded by what I just heard. It was like hearing a wish list. Indeed, after some research on the issue, one realizes that it was in 1970 that the federal government decided to abandon the existing lighthouses and replace them with automated ones. This program exists since 1970.

I only wanted to point out that, since 1970, many studies have been carried out and numerous recommendations made. A large number of people have asked the federal government to at least take proper care of its lighthouses.

There is a very good example in my riding, namely the Madeleine-Centre lighthouse. We could say that it is a heritage lighthouse. However, it does not meet the extremely strict criteria established by the board.

My difficulty with Bill S-7 is that it wants these lighthouses to be dealt with by a board that has no money to look after these structures but sets standards so strict that it will deal with the fewest structures possible. Therefore, the lighthouses, not being maintained, continue to deteriorate.

Many people, especially those in Quebec and Canada who care about our heritage, have harshly criticized the government for its attitude, which is why Bill S-7 was introduced. Had the government done its job, we would not need this legislation. After all, we already have all the tools; the only problem is that the federal government has totally abandoned these structures, in the hope that they could be demolished so that it would no longer have to take care of them and spend money on them.

I simply want to quote this from the Auditor General's report of 1983, which was published 13 years after the introduction of the lighthouse replacement program:

Despite the fact that the unmanning program has been under way for 13 years, we had difficulty obtaining satisfactory cost information.

Thus, 13 years after the start of the program, there were still no real data on what was done by the government. I continue:

—we had difficulty obtaining satisfactory cost information. A breakdown of direct and indirect costs for manned versus unmanned lighthouses is not available.

This means that the program was put in place at the time without any idea of how much it would could cost or of what was going to happen to the abandoned lighthouses and to those that were no longer manned. I continue:

Nevertheless, the Coast Guard has indicated that an estimate of annual cost savings of $50,000 per station would be reasonable.

That is an estimate that was never verified, and the Auditor General confirmed this back in 1983:

Thus, unmanning lightstations would result in annual savings of from $6 million (based on the 118 lighthouses identified in the survey) to $12 million (if all 234 manned locations were included).

This means that, for the unmanned lighthouses, it is $6 million and, for the manned lighthouses, the amount is $12 million.

Offsetting these annual reductions in costs is a one-time cost for new monitoring equipment, which the Coast Guard estimates would range from $8 million to $15 million.

So we put in place this program, we abandoned the infrastructures that were there. Instead of using the infrastructures we had, we replaced the historic infrastructures by aluminum structures. In the end, we realized that it was as costly and that there were no savings. This finding dates back to 1983. Now it is 2003 and it seems, according to the information we have, that we will not have the answer before December 2003.

In other words, we will not know what went on from 1970 to 2003 with respect to lighthouses. We are talking about a 33 year period during which the government had no idea what was happening with the lighthouses when it abandoned them and created an unmanning program.

We were to have the answer by December 2003 and find out whether there really were any savings. It is 30 years later. People are asking questions and Bill S-7, the purpose of which is to protect heritage lighthouses, was introduced.

What is a heritage lighthouse? There is absolutely nothing in the bill that describes the criteria for determining that.

On the contrary, it is left entirely to the discretion of the minister and the government to determine which are heritage lighthouses and therefore set out the criteria and, knowing this government, eliminate as many as possible. The stricter the criteria, the fewer heritage lighthouses there are and the less money will have to be invested.

Look at how this government has acted with the Coast Guard, among others, for a number of years now. Since 1983, we know full well that the Coast Guard has been utterly underfunded. After the events of September 11, we woke up and realized that we had a bare bones Coast Guard. It is the Coast Guard that is currently responsible for the lighthouses. It is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that is currently responsible for the lighthouses. Nothing is being invested in the infrastructure, which was completely abandoned.

I would go further. In the bill before us, the normal procedure, when the federal government wants to sell property, is first to offer it to the provinces, to repair the infrastructure and maintain it properly. If the province does not want to acquire the infrastructure, then the federal government can offer it either to the municipality or an independent corporation.

We do not need a bill for this. We do not need Bill C-7 for this. This already exists in procedure. It is already there.

The problem is that the government never invests money. It does not invest the necessary money or offer anything to the communities that want to operate or acquire these lighthouses to maintain them for the benefit of the public.

My main concern about this bill is that it looks as though the minister is being given full discretion. He or she can do pretty much whatever he or she wants and the public has no input because, in the end, despite all the consultation, the criteria have to be met.

If the minister sets the criteria, even if there is a public consultation process, we will have to rely on the heritage board criteria. It is these criteria that have to be changed so as to include a greater number of lighthouses, so that the government will have to invest the necessary funds before it transfers them, if it wishes to do so.

The same principle applies to train stations, airports and ports that the government has transferred in the past. It is the same process. With regard to ports, the federal government made the commitment to repair the facilities before transferring them to the community.

The same thing should be done with lighthouses. They should be repaired and maintained. If the government wants to transfer them, then the community can take over.

I would also add that there are some questions with regard to ports, because it is the same process. Right now, certain communities that have taken over these infrastructures are in trouble because they are unable to absorb the costs of maintaining a port or an airport.

We have a good example of that in our regions. I am referring to the Gaspé airport and to the Mont-Joli airport. We realize today that the communities are unable to assume this responsibility because they do not have the necessary funds.

The same thing should not happen with lighthouses. The criteria should be not be so strict, so as to force the government to maintain these facilities.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on behalf of the federal New Democratic Party and also those provincial New Democratic Parties across Canada that have paid active attention to the concern of our lighthouses within this country.

First, I want to thank Senator Carney and Senator Forrestall for their initiative through the Senate in order to bring the bill to this place. I believe both are genuinely interested in what goes on with our coastal communities and lighthouses, and they should be thanked for their hard work in this regard.

People who come from Nova Scotia know the value of our lighthouses. We know how disappointed we were when they went from man light stations to automatic stations. Of course we were not in the House at that time, but if we had been, we would have put up a big fight for them, similar to our fight now to preserve the heritage lighthouses throughout the country.

Your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Roméo LeBlanc from northern New Brunswick, was a very fine man in the House of Commons. His son now sits in the House. Mr. LeBlanc's picture hangs in the hallways of the Senate. When we look at the picture, what do we see? A very beautiful picture of Roméo LeBlanc looking out his office window. What is he looking at? A lighthouse.

It is quite ironic that the picture of one of the best speakers this House has ever had and a fine governor general would portray a very significant aspect of our culture. I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to go see the picture. It rolls into what this bill is all about, and that is the preservation of the historical and cultural aspects of lighthouses.

I would also like to give credit to the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. The folks involved with that society do a fabulous job of maintaining, protecting and preserving the integrity of lighthouses that have been abandoned or moved more or less to the cultural sector because DFO, through the government, has dissolved itself of that.

I would also like to give very special credit to a Mr. Dave Molloy, formerly of Newfoundland and Labrador, who wrote a fabulous book back in 1994 called The First Landfall . The book details the historical and cultural aspects of a particular number of lighthouses throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. I have a copy of the book at home and I find it an exquisite example of what people can do when they do their research.

I spoke to Mr. Molloy. For over four years, he did research on his book. The book exemplifies the deep meaning and deep rooted historical aspect of what these lighthouses mean to people. Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you have ever had the opportunity to travel throughout the country, especially to our coastlines, to witness these lighthouses and to see the ruggedness of the areas in which they are. They are strikingly beautiful.

I also have had the opportunity to live in British Columbia. I have travelled up and down the coast and have seen many of the lighthouses. Senator Carney actually referred to them in our Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans yesterday.

I believe all members of Parliament can and should support this bill. It is extremely important to the integral history of our country, as well as to future mariners. Once they are gone, we cannot get them back. That is really the essence of it.

I want to let everyone know that we support the bill without reservation. We know the bill can be stronger. It is quite vague, but it is vague in the sense of encouraging the government to adopt it. We look forward to improving aspects of the bill so my grandchildren can visit these places and see the same lighthouses that my forefathers saw and that I have seen.