House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved that Bill C-2, An Act to establish a process for assessing the environmental and socio-economic effects of certain activities in Yukon, be read the third time and passed.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, in 1995 the Yukon first nations, the federal government and the Yukon government signed a great treaty.

Many people in Canada probably do not know that one of the interesting results is it created the potential for 16 different governments in the Yukon at the federal, territorial and first nations level.

The challenge was when it came to development assessment on a project, a first nations business, or a corporation, or a mining company that had interests across several boundaries of these many orders of government may have had to go through many different assessment processes, laws and regimes. There needed to be a one window process put in place.

The last time I debated the bill I spoke about how the law was created over a number of years, about how it would accomplish a one window approach and how some of the issues that came up during those many years of debate were dealt with in the proposal.

With all these orders of government managing various lands and resources, the Yukon could have found itself with 16 or more different ways for assessing projects throughout the territory. However, Bill C-2 will establish a single uniform process for assessing land projects in the Yukon.

Therefore, potential proponents will have to follow only one set of regulations for assessing the environmental and socio-economic effects of their projects in the Yukon. In order to promote responsible development activities, the assessment process must be uniform and predictable. The bill includes both these characteristics.

If responsible development in the Yukon is to include proper protection of the environment, certainty and timeliness are equally essential to the assessment process and are reflected in Bill C-2.

I committed at this stage to outline some of the ideas, concerns and suggestions that arose during the debate and the committee process on Bill C-2.

The Yukon organizations, Klondike Placer Miners' Association and the Chamber of Mines, have a number of suggestions. They want to ensure there is procedural fairness regarding a proponent's ability to respond and to appeal. They want to ensure that the proponent receives all the information pertaining to the application and is able to respond during the assessment phase prior to a recommendation being made.

They want to ensure that there is public input on the development of regulations and on the development of the Yukon environmental and socio-economic assessment board rules.

In this legislation there are very many important things, some of which were fought for by these groups.

The regulations define what a project would be, for instance. There are some other coordination issues in the regulations. This is a very significant factor in how this is going to work and what is defined as a project. It is very important that the public have input in this area. It is the same with the rules. Rules that will be developed by the board have some very instrumental elements that some of the Yukon groups asked for, for instance, time lines. It is very important that there be good public input into these major aspects of the bill.

The mining industry wants the bill to establish methods whereby the public will be consulted. Any legislation benefits from public input.

The assessments must have clear time lines in order to ensure a healthy economy. These processes should occur within the time lines. It provides certainty to those doing the development. For placer miners, even more so these days, well defined limits that are followed at every stage are a must for the stability of the industry.

A lot of these points are suggestions from the mining association. They also reflect what the chambers of commerce are interested in.

They would like to appeal to an elected official if there is a dispute with the board. They also suggested a scheduled review of the act because it is so important to ongoing protection of the environment and development in the Yukon.

Once the act is in place, they do not want existing projects to be reviewed unless the proponent requests a review. To ensure certainty, many of the miners told the committee that projects must only be reviewed if a proponent is requesting a change to that project. The ability to arbitrarily trigger a review is part of the legislation which has raised concerns in part of the mining community.

Assessments must also consider benefits to society. The purpose of the act should ensure that development as a public good is considered during socio-economic assessment. The economic factor is where there needs to be recognition of the good and the prosperity that the development brings so that Yukon families can support themselves and, through their taxes, fund the things that are important to governments.

They want to ensure that rules pertaining to designated offices will be reviewed. Designated offices should not be allowed to make their own rules to ensure that the rules are not different in different districts and a proponent is not treated differently in different districts. There are going to be six offices throughout the Yukon.

There was some suggestion that the scope of the act was so limited it could not catch some major projects that might have a negative socio-economic impact on communities and first nations such as the designation of parks or protected areas.

Again, in the assessment of cumulative impacts, they want to make sure that the board is empowered not only to consider the adverse impacts but the positive impacts of those developments. They also are wary of the possibility that certain mineral development could be imperiled where there are conflicts with the land use plans and this regime.

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce had similar concerns and suggestions.

Many of the intervenors were quite positive toward a five year review of the act and input into the regulations and the rules, all of which are so instrumental. In a pioneering piece of legislation that will have so much impact on the community and on the territory, it is important to incorporate these items.

Three first nations provided input, the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, the Kaska First Nation and the White River First Nation. They want to ensure that there is a five year review in place. They also want to ensure that the first nations are involved in the development of the regulations, which is a view consistent with that of other intervenors.

The Conservation Society also provided input throughout the process over the years and also represented the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. One of the major points, over and above the ones that I mentioned was that there should be enforcement legislation so that the results of this legislation would not be just recommendations, as they are now, but decisions. This would be regulatory legislation as opposed to advisory legislation. The five year review and involvement in the regulations were also mentioned.

The bill is complex because there is another land claim in the northern part of the Yukon which involves the Yukon North Slope. The Wildlife Management Advisory Council of the Inuvialuit expressed an interest that there not be duplication of the screening that comes under its processes related to its screening committee under that land claim, which would then overlap the assessment process in the Yukon system. There could possibly be two different results from the different assessment processes.

The Association of Yukon Communities was also an intervenor. It represents 100% of the municipalities in the Yukon and over 80% of the people in the Yukon.

It noted in its submission that it had been involved with the public consultation process from the beginning, since 1996. It met regularly and had input with groups, including the Council of Yukon First Nations, Yukon Chamber of Mines, the Klondike Placer Miners' Association, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Yukon Conservation Society.

The municipalities were concerned that because they were not recognized as an order of government in the bill, they may not have a right to appeal on every issue that occurred within municipal boundaries. They also suggested that it be mandatory on panels occurring within the municipal boundaries to have representation on the panel recommended by the municipalities.

In their reading, they thought it was unclear where CEAA and YESAA would cover a project and that there might be a dual assessment. The bill basically removes CEAA from the Yukon. Yukon will be one of only three parts of Canada that have their own assessment process. It will be designed by the local governments and people in the Yukon, for the Yukon.

It is exciting when people can work with the federal, first nations and territorial governments. It is a process that is unique to the country and to Yukon. They then do not have to follow the national legislation that may not be as sensitive to local concerns. The municipalities also thought that as other orders of government or decision bodies were in line within their jurisdiction, they should have the same provision in certain instances.

These were some of the ideas and suggestions that were raised during the debate. We have been processing this proposition created by three governments in Yukon for Yukoners. Whatever emerges from this Parliament will be unique to Yukon and to Canada. Perhaps it will contain elements of a model for the country for refinement and emulation.

Emerge it must. Our economy is at a low ebb and we need a regime to protect the environment while providing the certainty to entrepreneurs, corporations, first nations business persons and businesses so that we can all get on with building an economy so that Yukon families can survive and prosper in the beautiful country that has been given to us.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on Bill C-2, an act to establish a process for assessing the environmental and socio-economic effects of certain activities in Yukon.

We heard from the hon. member for Yukon and I do appreciate his concern for the environment and the socio-economic development of Yukon. All members in this Chamber are concerned. However, I wish that the hon. member had some influence on his government and the minister to address the issues which I will be addressing.

Let us consider some important elements about rural Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the world with a huge wealth of natural resources. Though we are sparsely populated in Canada, more than 60% of our population lives in 10 or so of our southern most cities.

In the last decade of the Liberal government's rule, rural Canada has more or less been ignored by the government. Rural Canada suffers because of poor roads, poor rail links, and a lack of infrastructure development.

The interior of Canada depends on resource based industry, which is not supported by government programs, and is suffering badly from the plight of the Liberal government. The reasons are political more than anything else. It likes to focus on the voter rich areas, but it forgets about the concerns of rural Canadians.

The mismanagement of our natural resources by the Liberals is quite evident. Softwood lumber, mining, oil and gas and the fisheries are some of the examples of Liberal government mismanagement. If the weak Liberal government had a vision Canada would have been exporting more value added products rather than the natural resources like raw materials that we export.

If we were to go to the port in Vancouver we would see big heaps of sulfur or lumber. Why can we not add value to the products? It would not only create jobs but it would contribute to the economy. That is the unfortunate plight.

Rural Canada is suffering because of Liberal government mismanagement. The government's approach to dealing with the environment, Kyoto, endangered species and wildlife, or even the gun registry has not been fair to the rural communities in Canada.

Bill C-2 should have been in the House at least six years ago. Despite the lengthy development process the bill is significantly flawed. The Canadian Alliance is opposing the legislation, not because legislation in this area is not needed, but because this particular piece of legislation is not what is needed. Our main concern with the bill is that it does not do the very thing the minister says it does. The minister and his department claim that the bill would hand over to Yukoners the task of assessing development projects that have been proposed on federal, territorial and first nations lands.

The government says the bill is about devolution, about putting into local hands responsibility for making these assessments, but the truth is that the minister would retain for himself the power to control the process and to control who sits on the board that would be set up.

Once again the federal government cannot keep its hands off areas that should be under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. When it says that it is handing over powers to another level of government, it is doing nothing of the sort. There is no true handing over of power to Yukoners. The minister would retain the powers that he claims would be given to Yukoners.

I would like to focus on other concerns that we have with the bill. The minister would have too much authority over project assessment in Yukon. The bill was supposed to be about devolving to the people of Yukon authority for project assessments. The public relations material from the minister's department and the spokesman of the committee have sold this bill as a devolution of power, but the opposite is true. The minister would hold all the strings.

We find that in a number of places in the bill, the most important of which is the composition of the assessment board, which would be the main body established by the bill.

Let me mention some of the amendments the Canadian Alliance moved in committee. These amendments would have curbed the minister's power over the assessment process, but each amendment was voted down by the Liberals in committee.

First, the minister currently has the power under the bill to make an unlimited number of patronage appointments to the assessment board. Two different amendments were proposed that would have restricted the size of the board. We made those amendments on the recommendations of an MLA from Yukon. This would have limited the federal minister's ability to make patronage appointments to the board, but the amendment was not passed because the Liberal members voted against it.

Second, another amendment would have forced the minister to establish minimum qualifications and other criteria for the selection of board members. The bill in its current form makes no such requirements and therefore patronage appointments are easier to make. Our amendment would have made patronage appointments more difficult for the government and the minister. Again, the Liberals on the committee voted down this amendment.

Third, we also proposed amendments designed to strengthen the role of the Yukon government at the expense of the federal minister's role. The bill is supposed to hand to Yukoners control of the project assessment process, so one would have expected these amendments to pass because they are very natural amendments, but again the Liberals voted them down.

One such amendment would have strengthened the role of the territorial minister by enabling him to nominate one of the three executive committee members of the board; just one of the three. At present the minister must merely consult the territorial minister on one of those three appointments. Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker?

Another amendment would have strengthened the role of the territorial minister at the expense of the federal minister by enabling him to nominate two rather than only one of the four non-executive board members. Again, the Liberals voted this down, choosing instead to keep all of the strings in the federal minister's hands.

Another amendment would have limited the size of the board to a maximum of 13 members, but the Liberals on the committee voted against this. So now, the federal minister can make as many patronage appointments as he or she wants, up to 13 at least.

Another amendment would have changed the process of how the additional board members are chosen. Currently half of these members are nominated by the Council of Yukon First Nations. Under another amendment, the other half would be nominated by the territorial minister. That is fair enough. Half would be nominated by the minister and half by Yukon first nations through the council.

The handing of power from the federal minister to the territorial minister would make sense if, as the minister says, the bill is about handing to the people of Yukon powers that have until now been with the federal government. However again the minister is holding all of the power rather than giving it to the people of Yukon.

Clause 22 would give the federal minister authority to select the communities in which six assessment officers would be located, because the bill would establish six offices in various communities in Yukon. This would create the potential of political influence in the selection of the communities. We have moved an amendment that the authority be transferred from the minister to the board so that a board could make those decisions but again the Liberals on the committee rejected that amendment too.

A second major concern with the bill is that it is silent on the subject of timelines for the completion of assessments by the board. This is unacceptable given the problems that have existed in Yukon in this regard. Project assessments have taken far too long. Given this major problem, the bill should have addressed the matter of timelines right away. The bill has failed the people of Yukon on that issue again.

Let me describe the problem that has existed in Yukon, with project assessments dragging on for so long. Development and the economy of Yukon are hurting and the people of Yukon are suffering for that.

Currently, environmental and socio-economic assessments of proposed projects in Yukon are assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It is administered by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The department has failed to conduct a timely, efficient and cost effective assessments of the projects in Yukon under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

These projects should be assessed in a timely, efficient and cost effective manner but the department has failed the people of Yukon. It is widely recognized. For example, in the mining industry, the recent annual survey of mining companies rated Yukon as having the second worst mining regulatory system in Canada. A survey was done by the Fraser Institute and it rated Yukon to be the second worst mining regulatory system in Canada. By the way, the first one was British Columbia.

As for hard data over the past 10 years, the length of time between the submission of an application and the delivery of a permit for a mining project has far exceeded what any reasonable person would consider acceptable. I did some research and have some examples.

Western Copper Holdings Ltd. made a submission in 1994 for an assessment. It is still not complete after 97 months. Imagine a business company applying for a licence and waiting for 97 months.

New Millennium Mining Corp. made a submission in 1996 for assessment. It is still not complete after 79 months.

I had an opportunity to visit the Cominco mine. Cominco Ltd. made a project assessment submission in 1996 and the permit was delivered in 2000, after 47 months, almost four years.

Minto Explorations Ltd. made a submission for assessment in 1994 and the permit was delivered in 1997 after 35 months, almost three years.

Viceroy Resources Ltd. made a submission in 1994 and the permit was delivered in 1996, after 23 months.

Most jurisdictions in Canada, at least for small mines, take six months to one year. Can members see the comparison? In the rest of Canada it takes just six months to one year. In Yukon it takes from 97 months. That is not acceptable. Globally it takes two years or less and that is the norm. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, has not come close to these Canadian norms of two years or less.

The failure of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to conduct timely, efficient and cost effective assessments of projects in Yukon has contributed to the economic slowdown in Yukon and destroyed Yukon's reputation as a sound and stable jurisdiction in which to develop new mines. How can Yukon attract foreign investments or investors in the mining industry when the government's standard is letting those miners down?

For example, the shutdown of the mine at Faro in 1998, I am sure the member for Yukon knows, had disastrous economic consequences in the region. This could have been mitigated by timely approvals of other projects prior to the Faro shutdown. However those timely assessment projects by the government were not there. One company had to shut down. The other projects for the assessment were not completed for so long and the economy suffered.

The federal government has not been equal to the task. As a result, Yukon's economy is largely dependent on the net federal transfer payments to fuel economic activity, whereas Yukon could be self-sufficient. Development should have been taking place if the government's approach was right.

Given the failure of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to conduct timely, efficient and cost effective assessments of projects in Yukon, we would expect the bill to correct these deficiencies so that worthwhile projects could proceed in a timely manner. However the bill does not do this nor even attempts to do this.

Instead the bill focuses on identifying and mitigating negative impacts of development. The bill shows little concern for development as something positive and desirable for the people of Yukon. It focuses on the negative impacts of development, including damage to lifestyles, heritage sites, the environment and community social systems. Therefore the bill is missing a needed balance between development and sustainability. It does not consider development as a public good which benefits communities.

The assessment board is therefore incapable of weighing costs and benefits in a balanced fashion since its only mandate is to safeguard against damage. Under the bill the board's preference when making assessments must always be to prohibit or limit development, even in cases when the benefits of a project would be great.

The only timeline that would come into play has yet to be determined, since it will be a part of regulations. That timeline does not relate to the assessment process. It relates to something that will follow the assessment process. Let me explain this, because it demonstrates just how much the bill fails to do what is needed.

Once a project has been assessed, the board, or one of the six offices in the communities that have conducted the assessment, will recommend to the responsible federal, territorial or first nations decision bodies whether the project should be allowed to proceed. These decision bodies, not the board or its six offices which are supposed to be listening to the people, have the final say. The board can only recommend. These decision bodies can accept, reject or vary the recommendation contained in the assessment.

The incredible thing about the bill is that timelines will be created under regulations for the decision bodies to issue their decisions. The bill specifies no timelines for the assessment board and its offices to deliver assessments to these decision bodies. That means the board can make its own decisions as to how long it wants to take to complete an assessment. People who do the labour of assessment get to decide how long they will take to finish their work, the while development will be held up.

I mentioned that the regulations will decide about the timelines and the fact that the regulations are not submitted along with the bill. Normally, the government submits the regulations after the bill is debated in the House. All members in the House passionately debate bills and passionately vote on bills, but without knowing the contents of a bill.

The government is in the habit of submitting the intent of the bill without any substance or subject matter. The subject matter and the substance comes through the back door by way of regulations. Why does the government not submit all regulations with the legislation when the legislation is tabled in the House so we can debate them and vote on them? We could then understand what the bill means. The government is not governing; it is ruling through the back door. Eighty per cent of the substance that we see in the law in Canada comes through the back door by way of regulations not debated in the House.

The Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, which is supposed to scrutinize those regulations, has very limited powers. The committee cannot even scrutinize regulations made by the delegation of authority to various agencies and boards. The disallowance procedure is not on statutory footing, but I will talk about that another day.

This is a non-partisan issue. The House needs to have a disallowance procedure for those regulations which are submitted through the back door to be scrutinized properly. If committee members decide that those regulations are not fair enough, or they are not legal or they are not valid, then they should be disallowed. That procedure should be on statutory footing, but it is not.

Sixteen years ago a committee set up a temporary experimental procedure to see if the procedure would work. For 16 years we have been following that temporary procedure rather than putting the statutory disallowance procedure on statutory footing. However that is for another day.

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has a history of foot dragging in completing assessments, and we have seen this in relation to the mining industry. Timelines should have been imposed on the board by the legislation itself, not by the regulations. The bill fails the people of Yukon in this important respect.

It is unfortunate that the bill fails to provide the people of Yukon with a true devolution of power as the minister has been touting. It also fails to provide a timely way to assess and approve projects so that they can get off the ground and development can begin in Yukon.

What is particularly shameful is the way in which the Liberals have concealed their failure to the people of Yukon by telling them the opposite of what the bill will do. The first thing mentioned in a Liberal press release was that the bill would hand over power to the people of Yukon. Once again we see the Liberals playing their power games with other levels of government. We are seeing again that confrontation between the provincial and territorial governments. The Liberals are hoping their public relations material will be slick enough that the public will not catch on.

We in the Canadian Alliance are opposed to the passage of this bill and will vote against it in the true interests of the people of Yukon. I am sure people of Yukon will understand. I wish the hon. member representing Yukon had some influence on the government in addressing these issues.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and indicate on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada that we will be supporting Bill C-2. We are pleased at the progress this demonstrates in terms of transferring authority and control to the first nations.

We do not see the bill, assuming it will pass into law and eventually be the law, as a panacea for all of the problems that will be confronted by the Yukon government and the first nations in Yukon with regard to environmental assessments. There are problems with the bill. However, because we have waited so long, we are at that stage where the party feels we must move ahead.

We expect that over the next number of years some of the problems that have been identified and that I will make reference to today will come to the fore. They will require either amendments to the legislation or some very generous interpretations to broaden the scope of the legislation.

One of the concerns we have with the legislation is that it will supersede the Canadian environmental assessment legislation. As the party representative on the environment committee, I have just gone through the review of that legislation. That legislation and the amendments to it will be coming before the House sometime between now and the spring. I am concerned because some of the amendments we made to it are not necessarily reflected in this legislation.

Again, going back to our support of the legislation, we see this as an initial stage. I will not say that it is an experiment, as we are beyond that, but it is the initial stage of having the first nations of this country take greater control of the environmental assessment process. For that reason alone, in spite of our concern about potential conflicts between the Canadian environmental assessment legislation and this bill, the Yukon environmental and socio-economic assessment act, we believe that it should go ahead, and we should develop experience from it.

One of the other concerns we have is that the legislation is not clear enough, we believe, as to how assessments will be dealt with when they cross boundaries, whether it is dealing with Alaska or with other parts of Canada, with the territories or British Columbia. It is quite possible, and I think of the pipeline in particular with the potential for pipelines coming out of the north, that it will require a number of jurisdictions to have environmental assessments. How that will be resolved, how the assessment process will take place when we have multi-jurisdictions, is not at all resolved in the legislation. That is a problem that will have to be dealt with at some time in the future and potentially in the near future.

Perhaps I will digress for a moment, if I may. Anyone who has looked at the territories and the north generally recognizes that they are under tremendous pressure and will be even more so in the next number of years from major endeavours to develop, whether it be in the mining sector, and the diamond mines are probably the best example, or in oil and gas. There is going to be tremendous pressure put on the governments, both in the north and in the provinces immediately adjacent to the north, to deal with how or whether those projects should go ahead. I would suggest that this legislation is going to be tested very early on and probably repeatedly.

It has some very good points in it. I think the major one is that it is not strictly the traditional environmental assessment approach. It does take into account and in fact give priority to socio-economic issues. It does not ignore, as we have on a number of occasions with the existing environmental assessment legislation, historical and cultural issues and topics. In fact, it makes it mandatory that they be taken into account.

The first nations who were consulted extensively in this process insisted on that being in the legislation, and rightfully so. I believe it is going to give us an opportunity, perhaps for the first time on the globe, for those issues to be taken into account significantly. We can point to other examples around the globe where assessment legislation will sometimes look at those issues almost as the periphery of the environmental assessment hearings that go on, but in Yukon they will be front and centre.

I suggest that we will see situations, and I am going to use an example, where perhaps a significant mining development wanting to proceed, that being the proposal that is before the hearing, will be confronted with the reality that there is a regional fishery that is very fundamental to that community, that forms the basis of that community. The importance of that historical fishery will be given prominence and may in fact override the need to have that mine developed. Given the fragility that we find in our northern territories, it is important and crucial that in fact those considerations be taken into account.

The first nations have argued strenuously in a number of areas, and we were confronted with this in the species at risk legislation, that traditional knowledge be given equal weight with what I will call European science. It was accepted in that particular piece of legislation and it is incorporated into this one also. It recognizes that the scientific technology and techniques that we have developed are not perfect. They are at times certainly not the best method to assess the significance of developments on the natural environment. In fact, the traditional knowledge that comes out of the first nations will be at times, in some cases many times, a better technique to be used. Again, as I said, that traditional knowledge, that concept, that principle, is incorporated into this legislation. It is an important step forward to be doing that.

The structure of the board and the executive committee I believe calls for commentary as well, because it reflects the importance of the first nations and local communities being involved in the process. The board will be composed of members of the first nations. Also, they will have not a majority but a significant representation at the executive committee, which is a three member committee. It will have one member from the first nations and one appointed by the government and then those two people will choose the third person. The larger board is roughly equally balanced between the local communities and first nations and the appointments from the government.

Therefore, the needs, the desires and the decision making will be flowing from the local community, not from the south. These will be people who know their communities, know their regions and know their territory. They will know what is best for it, where they want it to go and where they want to take it, what they want to save and what they want to develop. This is built into the legislation and I believe it is one of the strong points of the legislation.

There has been some debate and some criticism of the legislation over what will be considered. There is what is being touted in the legislation, the project list regulator, which will be the body that will determine which activities are subject to assessment and which are not. The goal of that body is to catch those projects that pose a potential risk to the environment and/or that have socio-economic impacts. It will also take into account and ensure that activities which do not pose any risk, either to the natural environment or with socio-economic impacts, will be cleared quickly and will not be assessed because they do not need to be.

The other point I want to make, which is both a strength and I think also a weakness in that it does not go far enough, is that of the cumulative impact. This has been a real weakness in the Canadian environmental assessment legislation to this point. We have attempted to deal with it in amendments that will be coming before the House shortly. I do not think we did so successfully.

Equally so, I do not think that this legislation is broad enough. It is one of the areas where some very generous interpretation is going to have to occur in order to take into account fully the cumulative impact of a series of developments and those developments impacting on the natural environment. One small mine may not be a problem, but if it is the first of a chain of mines in that particular region it may in fact be a major problem. More of that work and the questioning of cumulative impact has to be taken into account at earlier stages than what we have traditionally done under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Pharmacist Awareness Week
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, March 3 to 9 is Pharmacist Awareness Week. Every day pharmacists make a significant difference in the lives of Canadians by providing expert information and advice on health and medication.

As the most accessible health care provider, pharmacists are always available to answer questions, give professional advice and ensure better health outcomes for all Canadians.

It is therefore no surprise that pharmacists were recently chosen as the most trusted professional by the public at large. As we undergo health care reform, Canadians will see the role of the pharmacist continue to expand.

In the future we will see greater participation by pharmacists in medication management programs, patient safety initiatives and full involvement in new primary health care teams.

I ask all Canadians to join us in celebrating and thanking Canadian pharmacists for a job well done.

Justice
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have reintroduced my private member's Bill C-393 now for the third time.

This private member's bill would amend the Criminal Code by providing for the imposition of a minimum mandatory period of imprisonment of two years upon a second or subsequent conviction for the offence of breaking and entering where the offence was committed in relation to a dwelling house.

A break and enter offence is much more than a property offence. It is a crime against the person. It is a crime that violates a person's home, often the only refuge of private ownership and privacy left for Canadians to enjoy. It also has the potential to be a violent crime because every break and enter is potentially a home invasion.

The Liberals have been making this bill non-votable despite Canada-wide support from police organizations. For a change, can the Liberals listen to Canadians and do something about the break and enter problem?

Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, at this very moment the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous celebrations are occurring in Yukon's capital city. Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous is one of the top winter festivals in the nation.

We will be celebrating Yukon's lively and colourful past, so whether people are into dog sledding, chainsaw chucking, sourdough sam's, flour packing, watching can-can dancers, taking in the hairy leg contest or simply enjoying a get together with friends and family, everyone is guaranteed a great time during the festival.

The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous is run entirely by volunteers and supported by corporate and government sponsors. It takes a lot of hard work and an unbelievable amount of energy to make this annual event such a success.

I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the people who work so tirelessly to achieve the great and successful festivals. I know the logistics may be challenging but I urge all members in the House today to cancel their weekend plans, hop on a plane, head up to the Klondike for one of the greatest winter festivals around.

Foreign Credentials
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased by the announcement in the budget 2003 of the government's commitment to improve foreign credential recognition so many skilled immigrants can participate in our growing economy.

The government announced in the budget $13 million over two years to work in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments to develop efficient and transparent foreign credential recognition methods. It is essential to work with our partners across the country to break down the barriers to the recognition of foreign credentials.

Many Canadians do not realize that the majority of newly arrived immigrants in Canada are highly educated professionals with specialized skills. Governments, employers and communities each have an important role to play in helping immigrants fully achieve their potential and make a full contribution to our country's social and economic life.

Josée Lavigueur
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, each year, the South Shore's chamber of commerce and industry celebrates International Women's Day by inviting a local celebrity to speak.

I am very pleased to see that, this year's guest of honour will be Josée Lavigueur, Quebec's current fitness guru.

Josée Lavigueur, from my riding, has made a name for herself in this industry. She is a popular aerobics star, mother of two young girls and a professor of physical education. She also hosts the show Tonus on TVA, has a column in La Presse and has produced many videotapes.

My hearty congratulations to the South Shore chamber of commerce and industry, which is promoting women in our society.

National Defence
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, my St. Albert riding is home to many military personnel who are prepared to put their lives on the line to defend our country. It is therefore shocking that the government expects them to also put their lives on the line when using antiquated, outmoded equipment like the Sea King helicopters which are falling apart.

Yesterday a Sea King crashed on the deck of the HMCS Iroquois on the way to the war front, not because of the enemy but because the government treats the military like some kind of useless appendage to a state that prefers to distribute wealth rather than creating wealth.

This was a country that was strong and free but somewhere along the line the government lost the way.

Canadian Music Week
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to ask all Canadians to join in the celebration of our Canadian music industry.

This is Canadian Music Week. Every year the creators, broadcasters and entrepreneurs involved get together to share a vision, celebrate successes and lay the groundwork for addressing the new challenges they face.

For many, names like Alanis Morissette, Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Céline Dion, the Guess Who and other superstars define Canadian music. We can now add the name Painting Daisies to this list, an Edmonton based band that won the CBC's Great Canadian Music Dream on Wednesday night.

Indeed, Canadian music as a whole is a great success story with Canadian songwriters and musicians from all parts of the country playing an important role capturing and reflecting the diverse Canadian experience.

I ask all members to please join me in congratulating all of our Canadian talent and the many participants in Canadian Music Week who play a key role in supporting our music industry.

International Women's Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 8 is International Women's Day and the theme chosen this year by the Fédération des femmes du Québec is “women in solidarity for equality in the world”.

I want to bring attention to the importance of the role of women and their solidarity to the advancement of our society. Over the last century, women have struggled and made immeasurable gains, but these gains are constantly threatened by the impact of globalization.

Globalization affects women particularly, through their working conditions, increasing poverty, health and education.

If they are to preserve their gains, women have to be alert to the negative effects of globalization and ensure that their voices are heard in the debate on this phenomenon.

Today, all the members of the Bloc Quebecois join me in paying tribute to the women who have helped build, and who continue to build Quebec each day.

I invite the women from organizations in my riding to join me for a brunch in their honour on March 9.

Women's solidarity is a means for improving the world of tomorrow.

International Women's Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year's International Women's Day theme in Canada is “World-Wide Women: Surfing the Digital Revolution!”

Technology is changing. Information and communications technologies, or ICTs, and the Internet are no exception. They have revolutionized the way we communicate, access information and create networks. The Internet, in particular, has opened up a number of resources to individuals or organizations across the world.

Online activism, for example, has generated worldwide support for important issues such as human rights violation, gender-based exploitation and violence against women.

The World March of Women 2000 and the situation of women in Afghanistan are just a couple of examples of how the Internet can be used with success to mobilize people around the world on women's issues.

The Internet and ICTs are tools that everyone should have access to. Canadians should take the opportunity to learn about the benefits that these technologies have to offer and to reflect on how they can continue to benefit women.

Liberal Party of Canada
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, evidently today is international hypnosis day, which is as good a time as any to delve deep into the psyche of the members across the way. If they will just relax and follow the swing of the pendulum, I think they will find themselves growing sleepy, so sleepy.

Oh look, there is the promise to eliminate the GST. But wait, it is still in place. Surely they feel a little embarrassment about that one. And then there are those repressed feelings of guilt and remorse over cancelling the Sea King contract. They must just feel sick about that.

Oh, and here we see the billions of dollars of taxpayer money squandered on HRDC grants and contributions, the flawed gun registry boondoggle, and advertising scandals. They have even voted down their own promise for an ethics commissioner accountable to Parliament. It seems that is buried so deeply it has not even registered on their consciousness.

Well, it has been a full therapy session today. Looks like it is time for the Liberals to wake up.

Atlantic Canadian Artists
Statements By Members

February 28th, 2003 / 11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not always agree on every issue, but one thing on which I believe we can find common ground is that some of the most talented artists and performers in the world originate from Atlantic Canada.

Next week the National Arts Centre will unveil the artists line up of the Atlantic Scene/la Scène atlantique, a unique showcase of Atlantic Canadian artists who will hit the national capital region from April 22 to May 4. More than 400 Atlantic artists will perform in 85 venues for the 13 days of this festival.

I urge all Canadians to get out and participate in the Atlantic Scene when it comes to the capital. I commend the National Arts Centre for its vision in making the artists from Atlantic Canada a centrepiece of its programming.