House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-46.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Talk, talk, talk, talk.

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Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, could you check with Environment Canada or the Weather Network if a storm is coming? Usually, when children get agitated like this at home or at school, it is because bad weather is coming.

Judging from the way our Liberal friends are behaving, I would say a storm is coming. One is certainly brewing in cabinet, because an incredible wave of change will follow the return of the member for LaSalle—Émard. This is not a forecast by Environment Canada, but the member for Lotbinière. And I think that all political observers will agree.

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Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

An hon. member

If the trend continues.

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Government Orders

November 3rd, 2003 / 6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

If the trend continues. We know that in this House—pardon me but they did provoke me to some extent, and they will pay for it—there is the front row, which I call the row of those on their way out. I think that soon there will be so many ministers without any responsibilities that this row will go all the way to the Prime Minister. They are kept either in the front or in the back. It will be up to the whip, I hope, the new whip, the minister of this or that. No one knows where we are going.

I can tell the hon. members one thing: the Bloc Quebecois knows where it is going with respect to Bill C-46. It reiterates its opposition to this bill because it interferes with provincial jurisdictions. If you want to help Quebec, do so within your jurisdictions, and let us act within ours.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech. He has certainly shown that, in each and every bill, we can see that the federal government tries to encroach more and more on provincial jurisdictions.

The same thing goes for this bill, which deals with the whole issue of corporate fraud. I would ask my colleague to tell us if he does not see anything insidious in the fact that the federal government is trying to allow federal prosecutors to play a role in an area under provincial jurisdiction.

We know that the idea of creating a national securities commission has been around for several years. When he was finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard raised this issue on several occasions and wanted this project to become a reality. However, he met with all kinds of obstacles, particularly from provincial governments, since they have a system that works.

For the government, is Bill C-46 not—

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6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to bring the opposition members to order. This is an important bill for Canadians. When I listen to them, I hear comments that essentially distort the bill and its objectives.

When they talk about the competitive role—

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Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. This is a point of debate rather than a point of order. The House will resume debate on the question and comment. The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

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6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I fully agree with you that it is not a point of order. I will close my speech with one question.

Is Bill C-46 not a clear manifestation of the fact that the federal govenment would like to get its paws on the securities commission? What it has not managed to do by the front door, it will manage to do by the back, by involving federal prosecutors. This is a role they ought not to have. The government ought to be respecting the jurisdictions involved here.

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6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have said it many times in my speech and I think that my colleague has asked the question again to make sure that the Liberals really understand it.

We are saying that the regulation of financial markets comes under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces, as does the administration of justice.

Certainly, the way the bill is presented, that is with a certain amount of cooperation between the federal and the provincial governments, if we let the federal government intrude even only 1% or 2% in provincial jurisdiction, we will see what happens in four or five years. It will not be 1% or 2% of anymore, but 100%. Once more, we would have been taken in. It would have been a step on the road to what we call nation building.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on October 22, I asked the environment minister this question:

Today a meeting was held with people from the Gaspé and northwestern New Brunswick. The Liberal MPs for Gaspé Peninsula, Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Madawaska all agree on the need for an independent environmental assessment.

Will there or will there not be such an independent assessment for the benefit of the people of the Chaleur Bay area?

The minister's answer was as follows:

Mr. Speaker, as I have explained several times in the House, this problem falls under provincial jurisdiction.

Yesterday, officials of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency received a document from some of the stakeholders, and we are examining it at this time. The hon. member needs to realize, however, that provincial jurisdiction must be respected.

Even if this is the third time the Minister of the Environment has said the same thing in this House, the people of Chaleur Bay do not agree with him and neither do the people from the Gaspé Peninsula and northwestern New Brunswick. He has a responsibility to request an independent environmental impact assessment for the well-being of the people of Chaleur Bay and the well-being of the bay itself. The bay provides a livelihood for workers in the fish plants. It provides a livelihood for Chaleur Bay area farmers and fishers living in the Gaspé Peninsula or in New Brunswick. These people are worried and it is the government's responsibility to reassure them.

People are neither for nor against the bill; they simply want to have an independent assessment. A certain number of things appear in internal provincial government documents that come from the Hazardous Waste Officer Approvals Branch.

Even they are worried about it. They received an internal document that was released through access to information advising the Government of New Brunswick about the problem that could happen. I want to take the opportunity to read one phrase that should scare the people of New Brunswick and the Gaspé coast, especially when the document comes from the hazardous waste officers. It states:

Since we have no specific hazardous waste regulations in NB [New Brunswick], we are particularly vulnerable and should be suspicious of the motivation that is bringing this company to our province.

We have all the reasons in the world to be worried about this.

There is no excuse for the federal government not to get involved in the project and request an assessment. Under sections 34 and 35 of the fisheries legislation, the federal government has the authority to request this independent assessment. We now know that even the federal government—unless it can prove otherwise—and Bennett clients have contaminated lands belonging to the Canadian Forces in Canada's far north.

I would like the minister to prove me wrong. I am asking the minister, or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, what the department intends to do. Will it give them this assessment or not?

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

York South—Weston
Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we are very aware of the passion and concern that has been raised by the member for Acadie—Bathurst.

What I will attempt to do is to illustrate the context, once again, with respect to why this application has been made and then to deal specifically with the member's question.

As members will know, Bennett applied under the New Brunswick environmental assessment process. Environment Canada participated on the technical review committee and provided advice to New Brunswick during the provincial environmental assessment.

On January 17, 2003, the hon. Kim Jardine, former minister of the environment for New Brunswick, conditionally released the project from further environmental assessment, and on September 9, 2003, the Government of New Brunswick granted a conditional authorization to construct the project.

Prior to commercial operation of this facility, however, the company must obtain an authorization to operate the facility from the New Brunswick government. The province has indicated that it will only grant the approval to operate after a public review period under the Clean Air Act lasting at least 120 days. The public review period is expected to start in November 2003. I stress that because it is a provincial process.

The member opposite wishes the Minister of the Environment to intervene in this process and require an environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Officials in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency have investigated the applicability of the act in this case and have advised the Minister of the Environment that there are no federal decisions required with respect to this project that would require an assessment under the act.

Agency officials have also reviewed the applicability of the act in a transboundary context, and this is important. The transboundary provisions of the act provide the Minister of the Environment with the authority to refer a project to a review panel or a mediator where a project may cause significant adverse environmental effects in another country, another province or on federal lands.

On October 21, officials from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Environmental Canada met with representatives of the coalition opposed to the project at which time a petition was submitted requesting the Minister of the Environment to refer the project to a review panel pursuant to section 46 of the act. The agency has determined that the petition is valid and has initiated an investigation on a priority basis to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant referral of the project to a review panel or a mediator, or another means of conducting an assessment, as provided for in the transboundary provisions.

In conducting its investigation, the agency will consult with scientific experts from other departments, including Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Health Canada. As a matter of standard practice, the agency will provide an opportunity to the petitioners and the proponent to review and comment on the report produced as a result of the investigation prior to making a recommendation to the minister with respect to the appropriate course of action in this case.

This is very much an action that is in progress. We are looking at the results that will come back at this point from the agency's officials and then the minister will advise the various parties as to what action he is prepared to take under the transboundary provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I understand, Mr. Speaker, but it is very important for the member to remember what I have said. I have a copy of an interoffice memo that was obtained through access to information. It is from the hazardous waste officer, approvals branch. The officer states:

The precedent of allowing such a project to ahead could make us very vulnerable, as it would be next to impossible to atop any other hazardous waste management company from coming to NB to process waste generated in the north-east US. Once the first one is in with such an unbalance of waste coming in from outside our jurisdiction, we could not stop others as they could then issue NAFTA challenges to contest the province's decision to curb the importation of waste.

It, therefore, is very important that the federal government has some say in it, through NAFTA, through the free trade. If it does not take the responsibility, we will pay the price--

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Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment.

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Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would request that the member make that information available. I have made it clear that the minister has officials of the agency investigating the case as put forward by the petitioners and that consultations will take place, as a result of the information received, with the petitioners and with all parties concerned prior to the minister making a decision under the provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act as it relates to the transboundary issues that have been cited by the hon. member.

I want to conclude by saying that this is a very serious and important issue to the people in Belledune, as the member has illustrated. The minister is taking it seriously and has placed a very high priority on the issue. It will be expedited as soon as possible.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by pointing out that I have been on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for five years now. It is therefore my pleasure to deal with all reports, remarks and comments by the Auditor General.

As hon. members are aware, two weeks ago certain parts of the report were leaked to the press, and I find this regrettable. Normally, when a report is to be released, it has a specific release date. In this case, that date is November 25. The leaks reported in the Globe and Mail of course again referred to amounts that had supposedly been authorized by the Prime Minister. There was mention of $100 million to Bombardier for the Challenger aircraft.

There was reference to the possibility that, during the last election campaign, money had been paid out by the federal government to carry out polls on behalf of the Quebec Liberal Party. That really got my attention, because it took me back to the unfortunate occurrences at the time of the 1995 referendum.

I was present when the big thinker behind that program—what we called the Canadian campaign—said that we were at war. That war later was the excuse for a kind of reward program for the advertising agencies that had contributed to setting up the Canadian pride campaign.

It eventually ended up in the Groupaction affair; that company was found at fault for having published three similar reports. We remember that the Auditor General later asked the RCMP to investigate.

We tried, with the means at our disposal, to establish the links between the Prime Minister's office, Groupaction, and the other companies named in what has been called the sponsorship scandal.

I am on the offensive again today, because I want an explanation. Through these leaks, we are told that, possibly, some money were taken from Canada's treasury to finance studies or polls for the Liberal Party of Quebec; once again it closely resembles what has happened in the past.

I hope that the House will continue to sit and that we will have an opportunity to see the famous Auditor General's report on this matter. In the meantime, however, I would still like to ask the Government of Canada if it has any more information to give us on the subject of the leaks to the Globe and Mail , the questions my colleagues have asked, and the question I asked myself on this specific topic.

I would like to know whether there have been further developments, and whether further information has been obtained about the possibility that funds were used to subsidize polls for the Liberal Party of Quebec.