House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

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Criminal Code
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3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is voting yes to this motion.

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3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, members of the Progressive Conservative Party will be voting no to this motion.

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3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Guy Carignan Québec East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of this motion.

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3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am voting in favour of this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

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3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

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

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3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, government orders will be extended by an additional 14 minutes for a total of 22 minutes.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-28, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 18, 2003, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003
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April 1st, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Windsor St. Clair has four minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks.

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3:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, before question period I was in the midst of doing the report card on the budget as seen by environmental groups. I was just concluding my comments with regard to the tax break that was given to the mining industry which will benefit specifically the coal industry, allowing it another tax incentive in effect to continue to pollute the environment.

As part of the goal of the environmental groups, there was also a request that a fund be established to deal with the agricultural sector, in effect to foster and encourage the development of organic agriculture. It is interesting that on its own it is the fastest growing industry within the agricultural sector. Even though it is a very small proportion, it could go some distance, we have been told. As much as 10% of the Kyoto target could be achieved if organic agriculture were allowed to expand to a significant degree.

I have a couple of more points with regard to the report card. That takes us over to the funds that were allocated for national parks. We had heard from the Prime Minister in the throne speech in the fall of 2002 about the expansion he was proposing in particular with marine conservation areas. When the budget came down the allocated funding was somewhat less than one-third of what would be necessary to obtain the desired results in terms of establishing those new national parks and marine conservation areas. There is no indication whatsoever where those funds will come from to establish them. The budget as proposed is simply not sufficient to meet those goals.

There was also a proposal to establish an information system for the environment. This would allow us much greater capacity in this country to monitor the state of the economy and whether we are achieving our goals on sustainability, on cleanup and on preparing the environment for future generations. There was absolutely no provision for that.

Finally, one item we had pressed for was a relatively modest one from a financial standpoint. It was to encourage ecological gifts and to allow them to be tax deductible. There would be a tax incentive to encourage private owners to make ecological gifts, mostly in the form of land transfers to governments and authorities. Again, a very modest amount was estimated. It was estimated that it would cost approximately $5 million per year in lost tax revenue. That was not proceeded with in the budget.

Coming back to my opening comments and the government's touting of this budget as a green budget, it is anything but that. Many additional items could have been put in, some that were of minimal expense and others that would have required significant financial contribution and commitment by the government. It did not do that.

Again, we are left way behind where we need to be in terms of meeting our Kyoto requirement, meeting our requirements to biodiversity and meeting our requirements to clean up the environment. It is just not there. The budget did not accomplish any of those ends to any significant degree. The government should be ashamed of its record in that regard.

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3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the member's remarks about Parks Canada funding.

I agree with the member that in the budget itself there was an announcement of $74.4 million. This was supposed to be for the establishment of new parks and national marine conservation areas. There was an additional amount of money equalling $15 million for the purpose of returning ecological integrity to the parks for a total of $74.4 million.

I agree with the member that this amount of money is totally inadequate for the purposes the Prime Minister wanted to put it to.

I have done a little research. I received excellent cooperation from the bureaucracy at Parks Canada. It turns out that in 2003, $27.2 million and in 2004, $32.2 million were the amounts announced to go to the new parks. Parks Canada submitted to the finance minister the following figures: 2005, $26.2 million; 2006, $29.2 million; 2007, $29.2 million, for a total of $144 million.

It is generally agreed that for the $144 million it is possible that the 10 parks and five marine conservation areas could actually be established. The mystery is why in the world with those figures having been submitted by the Parks Canada bureaucracy, by the people who knew the numbers, why those numbers were not included in the budget. It was a very baffling budget.

There is another very interesting figure. On ecological integrity the announcement was for 2003, $5 million and for 2004, $10 million. That was in the budget as part of the $74.4 million, but those were not all the figures. The department had set aside in its budget for 2005, $15 million; for 2006, an additional $20 million; for 2007, $25 million, for a total of $75 million.

These figures are reasonable to anyone like my friend and members of my party and I who are fully appreciative of parks understand the importance of what they represent within our society. I am told by people who are more knowledgeable than I that these figures are totally reasonable for Parks Canada to come forward with plans for ecological integrity or for the new national parks.

What I find tremendously baffling is why in the world with these numbers available we ended up with the bowl of porridge we got on the day of the budget. What was the motivation? What was the motivation for the finance minister to announce only $74.4 million when in fact the total was $144 million plus $75 million? I do not really understand. Was he afraid that there would not be proper support for national parks? Is that why he did it?

It was pointed out by one of my colleagues that the minister came forward with a budget that had some one year budgets, some two year budgets, some three year budgets, some five year budgets, one seven year budget, an awful lot of ten year budget figures and indeed one even with a figure for eleven years. It was a very confusing document.

In the case of Parks Canada he actually withheld information from the House that would have made it much clearer to my colleague, myself and others in Canada who are concerned about parks that the government was serious about going forward with the parks. I am not aware that anywhere in the budget there are additional figures for rust out funding and operating reserve that come to Parks Canada courtesy of the President of the Treasury Board.

I will give the House the following figures: 2000-01, $17 million; 2001-02, $58 million; 2002-03, $47 million; 2003-04, $12 million; and 2004-05, an additional $4 million for an additional amount of $138 million. Where do those figures appear in the budget? They do not appear anywhere in the budget. These are numbers that come from either previous budgets with the estimates, or from other supplementary estimates or from new planned supplementary estimates.

What kind of buffoonery is going on with our finances that the government feels compelled to come forward with incomplete and confusing numbers to the point where the Minister of Canadian Heritage stood in the House and said that Parks Canada would be receiving an additional $411 million or $417 million? She had taken all the numbers that appeared on a piece of paper and tallied them up to the best of her ability to come up with what the actual commitment of the government was to Parks Canada. Even the minister herself could not work through the financial maze of the Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board.

She also announced, at the second minister's round table on Parks Canada held in Ottawa last March 24, that $220 million over five years had been secured to create 10 new national parks and 5 new national marine conservation areas. She referred to the fact that an additional $54 million had been secured in ongoing funding.

The minister announced, more specifically, that over 5 years, Parks Canada would receive $144 million for the establishment of 10 new national parks and $75 million to improve ecological integrity. The minister confirmed the one time supplementary funding of $138 million between 2001-02 and 2004-05. The figures are a total maze. It is absolutely impossible to figure them out.

Parks Canada falls under the department of heritage. Taking a look at the requirements of Parks Canada and living with four mountain parks in my own constituency, I am aware of not only the rust out, but the fact that due to a starvation of funds from Parks Canada roads are literally falling off mountainsides. Sewage lagoons and sewage situations are completely out of control and damaging the environment.

There is a situation in my constituency in terms of ecological integrity where Parks Canada has undertaken a program of creating more forage and more winter range for the rocky mountain sheep in Kootenay National Park. This is immediately outside of the park and Parks Canada is working in cooperation with local landowners and the province. This is a worthy program.

As a result of the suppression of forest fires in my constituency, which is totally understandable being a built up area and having merchantable commercial timber in the area, we understand why we would have fire suppression. As a result of the fire suppression, the winter range for the rocky mountain sheep is all but grown over. As a consequence, Parks Canada, in a good cooperative program with the province and with local landowners, has entered into this program of clearing smaller growth trees.

It is doing it scientifically so that the trees are properly spaced so the sheep will have the ability to hide from predators or to see predators from a distance. It is all scientifically done. Some prescribed burns will be necessary in that area as well as building up the forage. That is part of the whole ecological integrity that must be done throughout the rocky mountain trench and I would dare say in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador or in Riding Mountain Park in Manitoba.

A lot of ecological integrity work must be done. Because of the haphazard, patchwork way that the government goes about doing its financing, without laying all its cards on the table and allowing people who have positions of responsibility to be able to look over its shoulder and hold it accountable, we do not have any idea if this winter forage area will go ahead or not.

There are many programs. As a matter of fact, it is estimated conservatively that at least $450 million would be required just to bring Parks Canada's facilities and ecological integrity back up to snuff. The budgeting system of the government is an unfortunate, sad joke that is being played, not only on humans but also on the animals that reside in our parks.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003
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3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

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3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.