House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre for the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-30, as amended, be concurred in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Budget Implementation Act, 2004
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, May 3, 2004, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Victoria
B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson Minister of the Environment

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave now?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege today to speak at third reading of the bill that amends the Canada National Parks Act to withdraw lands from Riding Mountain National Park of Canada and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada for the purpose of Indian reserves.

The changes relating to the withdrawal of lands are for the purpose of alleviating serious problems of housing shortage on the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation. In the case of the Riding Mountain National Park, they will correct an error in the wording of the legal description of the ceded lands, in compliance with a specific land claim.

I want to reiterate that Bill C-28 will not create a precedent for other national parks. These are unique circumstances we must collectively consider.

When Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was created in 1970, it completely surrounded the seven-hectare parcel of land occupied by the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation since 1889. At the time, Esowista was changing from a seasonal fishing camp to a permanent residential community.

The Government of Canada recognized that a larger site would eventually be required to meet the needs of the Esowista community, and it committed to finding a long-term solution.

The removal of the 86.4 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will help address the acute overcrowding problem in the Esowista reserve, improve infrastructures to remedy sewage disposal and water quality concerns, and support the development of a model community that will exist in harmony with the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

This land represents less than 1% of the park’s total land base. Withdrawing this land from the territory now occupied by the park will only slightly impact the ecological integrity of the park and will allow us to meet the needs of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

In 1929, when Riding Mountain National Park was created, it took in most of Indian Reserve No. 61A. The Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation was relocated to another site outside the national park. In 1994, an agreement for the settlement of the specific land claim was signed between the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin and Canada and Reserve No. 61A was restored. In 2000, most of the lands in question were removed from the Riding Mountain site when the Canada National Parks Act was enacted.

However, because of a mistake made during the preparation of the official instrument removing the lands in question, a five-hectare tract of land was omitted and remained within the park's boundaries. Therefore, the Canada National Parks Act will be amended to restore Reserve No. 61A of the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation in its entirety, and to correct the mistake made at the time.

What about environmental considerations? Removing 86.4 hectares from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will not unduly detract from the objectives of ecological integrity for the park because the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has promised to cooperate with Parks Canada to ensure long-term protection for the natural and cultural resources of the lands in the park surrounding the Esowista reserve.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have committed to use the land in a way that would respect the ecological integrity of the park. Also, several measures will be taken to help promote the sustainable development of the park.

The management of the lands to be withdrawn from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will be based on the guidelines for model communities developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Parks Canada will review the master plan for the site and then submit it for approval to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Also, each individual project will be subject to an assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

To ensure proper protection to the lands adjacent to the park, a $2.5 million mitigation fund will be provided to Parks Canada by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

I should also point out that the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will not require additional funding for the Esowista expansion. It is expected that 160 housing units will be needed, 35 of them in the short term.

Concerning the five hectares to be withdrawn from Riding Mountain Park, this is a requirement from the 1994 specific land claim agreement. I can reassure Canadians that this amendment to the Canada National Parks Act has no environmental impact.

Consultations on these initiatives indicate wide public support. Several stakeholders have expressed their support for the withdrawal of land from Pacific Rim Park. Among these are the first nations involved, first nations provincial groups, local, regional and provincial levels of government, as well as non-government environmental organizations, for example, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

All parties concerned view Esowista as a unique situation, and they support the need to make sure that members of the community stay together, and to provide lands for residential and similar purposes. I thank them for their support.

One of the priorities in Parks Canada's recent ministerial plans has been to strengthen relations with native communities. Our accomplishments in Pacific Rim Park clearly demonstrate our commitment to them.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has taken significant strides in recent years to promote aboriginal initiatives, forging relationships and making significant efforts toward the meaningful involvement of aboriginal people in the cooperative management of the national park reserve. The results have been remarkable.

By way of illustration I would like to highlight a few of these accomplishments.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve worked with the Ucluelet First Nation to develop the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail inside the national park. Opened in 2003, this interpretive trail provides extensive on site interpretation of regional first nations' culture, history and language.

On June 23, 2004, the Ucluelet First Nation will again honour the opening of the trail by erecting the first totem pole to be carved and raised in traditional territory of this first nation in 104 years, a source of great pride for this first nation community.

This “welcoming” pole will greet Canadians and international visitors to the trail and to Ucluelet First Nation and Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory. It will symbolize the long history and continuing presence of first nations peoples in the region and in the national park in particular.

On the West Coast Trail unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Parks Canada funds an initiative called Quu'as West Coast Trail Society. A not-for-profit group, this society is a training and mentoring program for three first nations along the famous West Coast Trail, one of the world's great recreational hiking routes.

By engaging in the cooperative management of the west coast trail with Parks Canada, young first nations members are exposed to the full gamut of park management issues and training related to public safety, resource conservation, monitoring and public interpretation.

As a result of this program, first nations graduates have gone on to secure full-time employment with Parks Canada, other agencies and industry.

Strong community relations are the basis for a wide range of formal and informal agreements that can advance our common interests.

I am pleased that this transfer of park lands for the purpose of an Indian reserve will help meet the needs of treaty negotiations and will create a better working climate with native communities.

I would like to warmly salute the Government of British Columbia for its support of this initiative regarding the expansion of Esowista. This collaboration is key to the withdrawal of lands from Pacific Rim and their transfer to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for the needs of Indian reserves.

I urge all members of the House to join me in supporting Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, Esowista is in Pacific Rim National Park, which is in my riding. We certainly support the initiative. However the big disappointment is the fact that when the memorandum of understanding, which was worked out between the Tla-o-qui-aht Band and parks officials with a lot of hard work, was signed back in June, nobody bothered to inform the local MP, myself, or our party about this agreement being reached until on the eve of our last break when there was no time for our party to discuss this issue. I know the local band was really upset about this because now we are trying to get this bill through quickly on the eve of an election.

I want to ask the parliamentary secretary why his government does not see fit to involve the local MP, especially once an agreement is signed. Does he think this is a good way to establish a collaboration of doing what is right for Canadians and advancing good work that has been done by Parks Canada?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As for consulting, I know that several attempts were made to meet with the opposition critic. The director of the Parks Canada Agency had also offered to meet him to discuss the project and give him some information. There might have been some shortcomings in that regard and we apologize for that.

However, this bill is in no way partisan. All this is done in order to solve a longstanding problem. Of course, it took a while for the whole consultation process with the communities to help us solve the problem. It was more a humanitarian and logic gesture that had to be made by the government in this regard.

As for the surrounding communities, everybody agreed. There is no land taken away from those people. Nobody lost anything. We are giving part of the park back to an Indian community who is suffering from a major demographic problem, in order to help that community expand a little.

I was listening to my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot yesterday when he was talking about the housing problem in the aboriginal communities. This is a good example. This bill will help them go forward with the construction of new housing units. It will also allow an aboriginal community to enjoy a better quality of life.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, things seem to change very rapidly in the House and this being a Friday it is expected that things get juggled around. However I was a little disappointed with Bill C-30, which was listed first and dealt with the budget, because I wanted to address the concerns of some people in Saskatchewan who were hurt by an audit that took place on amateur sports and which was not addressed in the budget. I brought this matter to the House two years ago and nothing has been done since then.

Even though this will probably be my last day in the House and last activity, I will not be done with that infraction against the province of Saskatchewan. I will have to take that up in public life.

When I first looked at Bill C-28 I could see nothing wrong with it. I could see that the bill, as it was presented to me, was to take some land from a park and add it to a reserve, mainly on the west side of Vancouver Island, to provide for additional housing and the growth of that particular community. That in itself I do not think any Canadian would deny.

The bill also deals with the Riding Mountain National Park in the province of Manitoba. There was an error there but I think that can be corrected. I do not think we will find any opposition to that.

When I look at the map of this area I see a number of little pieces of land which are listed as being Indian reserve land, IR, but nobody lives on them. They are not a place to live, even though they are on reserve, but what the bill would do for these 10 reserves is to provide that these people have additional land, as my hon. colleague mentioned, for the building of houses and so on.

What bothers me about this is that we have not heard anyone in the House talk about it. However I have not had this assignment long enough to know if indeed there has been any other action or opposition to the bill. I have never had the opportunity, and maybe that is my fault, to know if any environmental groups are opposed to it. I have not had the opportunity to know if all the other politically elected people, including in the province of British Columbia and the local municipal people, are totally in agreement with it.

One of the problems we have with the bill is that we are being asked to support the bill on the eve of an election and yet I, for instance, do not have all the information that I would like to have. I understand that access to the ocean and the beach will remain public but that point is one of the points that is under the memorandum of understanding and a memorandum of understanding is not a legal document. It can be cancelled at the snap of a finger. That causes me concern because, not only does that national park belong to the first nations who live there, but it belongs to everybody. Therefore, a memorandum of understanding, in my opinion, is not sufficient.

I do know that the Canadian Parks, the Wilderness Society and other groups have supported this but the Province of British Columbia has interest in the lands and I do not know for sure if it has totally given us the green light to go ahead with it. It concerns me a great deal when a piece of property within the province of British Columbia does not have the total okay of the provincial government. I think we should stop for a moment.

For instance, I know a family who lives just miles away from the Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan. If there were to be a change or alteration, that would affect them a great deal.

Therefore, the first people who would be affected and consulted would be the RMs of Mankota and Glen McPherson, and then it would go on to affect the provincial government. I cannot find if it has the total consent of the province of British Columbia. That concerns me.

Second, there are also concerns with the land use agreement. To bring the land use agreement up at the eleventh hour, which we are in now, bothers me a great deal. We have only heard from the groups supporting the agreement. We have not heard from any groups who are opposed.

If there are no groups who are opposed, that would be great. However, I have been around this place long enough to know that there is always someone opposed and always someone from which the committee and the House should hear. from. We have not done that and that makes me walk very gingerly on this bill. We have not heard from those who are in opposition. I have not and I understand that others have not.

I hope, hidden in this beautiful piece of legislation about a beautiful part of Canada, with a great idea for expansion for native housing, that I do not pick up the paper five years from now or even two years from now and see that the bill had a bit of a cynical trick to it. I have concerns that this bill is coming before the House at the eleventh hour.

On its own, I can assure the House that I would have no reason to object to this, nor would my party. However, the procedure is questionable and I worry about that.

This could be one of my last speeches in the House and I would not want to dare say that I suspect there is something wrong on the other side. Do not clap yet, because I will come back, even as a ghost, to haunt the House if this changes. I will be like MacArthur. I will be back because the bill is too important.

The bill will go through the Senate. Knowing what the Senate did with Bill C-250, I do not trust it either.

In a report of the Auditor General it states, “To promote accountability for implementation measures, we support the annual reporting of treaties and land claims consistent with the recommendations of chapter 9”.

The bill does not do that and therein lies my concerns. Does the bill have to pass right now? Is it really necessary for the next election? I cannot see any reason. I do not know any reason why I should not support it, but we have some very deep concerns.

On comes the bill with very little discussion. I have not been assigned to this long enough to even know if it has been discussed in committee, let alone having the opportunity to invite people so we could have this discussion in committee. We have not had that.

In conclusion, I hope, as I have said, that I do not have to come back here, even as a member to appear before the committee. I hope the government does not deceive me, or the House or my party, on any of the things I have mentioned, including taking away access to the beaches. If that portion of a beautiful national park is destroyed, all on the basis of a memorandum of understanding, that is not good enough for me, and I do not believe it is good enough for the people of British Columbia or the people of Canada.

Is it possible to hold the bill for a short time until it goes through the legal process?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to reassure my colleague that, indeed, the government of British Columbia has been consulted, since it even signed the agreement. It is a major partner.

I also told you earlier that we have already met all the major groups that we would have probably invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Parks Canada has discussed with them, as well as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, federal and provincial governments, regional and district administrations, as well as all provincial groups of first nations members. They were all involved in this negotiation or consultation process.

We must always keep in mind that this is a national park and that the reserve is in the national park. Thus, this is only a transfer of lands from the national park to the Indian reserve that is also in this national park.

We are not taking anything from outside the park. We are not getting anything from anybody. We are simply allowing an aboriginal community to get back some quality of life and to improve its living conditions.

I simply want to reassure the member that, indeed, all these people have been met. They unanimously endorsed this project. The government of British Columbia also endorsed it.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for responding to what I had to say. The fact is environmental groups such as Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, et cetera appeared before the committee. I do not know what their purpose was in doing that.

According to the information I have, the province of British Columbia holds some interests in the lands proposed for the expansion. Senior members have agreed to deal with this issue as the project moves forward. My understanding is the British Columbia government signed a memorandum of understanding. I do not think that signature is a rubber stamp that says everything is all well.

I want to make my last plea to the member opposite. Why do we not let this take its proper course and see an invitation go out to anyone who could be opposed to the bill so we can hear from them? Then when the bill is passed, we can say that we have covered all the bases. However, we cannot do that right now because of time. Therein is the problem. It is the eleventh hour rush.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, because auspicious occasions come and go here sometimes without acknowledgement, I would like to go on the record to compliment my colleague and thank him. He has been a mentor. He has been an encourager and good guide to a lot of us who came here in 2000 and those who came earlier. We really appreciate that.

As this may well be the last chance that he has, I think it would be only fair to point out that, as opposed to some who go off quietly into that good night, this gentlemen is working right until he hits the end of his career here. He is working with enthusiasm and spirit, as he always has, on issues affecting not only his constituents, but affecting people nationally. In particular, I have been impressed with his sincere concern for veterans and for widows of veterans. The work he has done on that issue is just exemplary. The people of southeastern Saskatchewan have been served tremendously well by this gentleman.

Is his concern for the national parks based on the fact that he and Mrs. Bailey will be spending an inordinately large amount of time in them over the next few months and years?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, when my career ends, I will have spent 55 years in public life, and so far I have not had time to visit national parks other than to drive through them. Let us hope that the future does provide the opportunity for me to visit this one in particular. I have never been there, but I would like to see it.

I am proud, generally speaking, of what Parks Canada has done. I am proud of the procedure that it took in my province with the addition of Grasslands National Park, albeit in two sections. What Parks Canada did there was far more in the way of an attempt to satisfy everybody than maybe this one. Therein lies my concern, not against the parks. I hope that it does not come back.

I may appear as a ghost if things do not go right, particularly with this bill.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think the House is back next week, but I am not sure the member for Souris--Moose Mountain will be speaking then. I want to take this opportunity to wish him well when he retires from this place and to say publicly that he is a very decent human being. He has become a very good friend over the last number of years, and is one of those people we can learn a lot from.

Sometimes there are those of us in politics who are very partisan and let that partisanship affect our friendships. The member for Souris--Moose Mountain is a partisan Conservative politician, but that has never affected his friendships. He has become a very good friend over the years. I wish him all the best. I will miss him around this place.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague echoed the words I wanted to say.

I listened to the hon. member's speech and while I do not agree with the entire content of his speech, I want to comment on the individual as opposed to the material that he presented to us.

The member for Souris--Moose Mountain is someone I would like to consider as a friend. We have known each other for a long time. I had the pleasure of leading a delegation only a few days ago of which he was member. Actually it is the only time he ever accompanied me on a delegation. I have nothing but excellent memories, not only of sharing that time together, but all the other occasions we had the opportunity to meet here on Parliament Hill, including receiving delegations from his constituency.

When I was leader of the government in the House, from time to time he would bring his constituents to my office, which was very ornately decorated. The hon. member would bring his constituents to see it. We would sit and chat every now and then, and meet with his constituents. I know he served them well. I wish him the very best.

Over the next few days or weeks, however long it is between now and the next election, he intends to tour post offices and community centres in his constituency to thank his constituents. That is a fitting way to end one's career around here. It is an easier rite of passage than the one that some people are subjected to, which is to leave involuntarily.

I know he will have an excellent time meeting his constituents. I know they will show their appreciation to him over the next few days, which is what I am doing now, not only on my own behalf but I am convinced on behalf of all my colleagues as well.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak briefly on Bill C-28.

First, I too want to salute my colleague from Souris—Moose Mountain and tell him how much I enjoyed making his acquaintance. Even if we did not often have the opportunity to work together, we crossed paths numerous times in the lobby, and he was always truly kind to us. He always had a smile on his face. So I want to wish him a wonderful retirement.

That said, we support Bill C-28, first because it corrects a past error with regard to land transfer agreements. Furthermore, I also salute the initiative to expand the land base of the first nations in question.

Population growth among the first nations is nearly double that of non-natives. So their need for space and housing is also growing. As my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry indicated, I consider housing for aboriginals to be a top priority.

This bill appears to have the support of all the parties. When a group such as Greenpeace supports a plan, with regard to the environment, that says it all. It means that, environmentally speaking, there is almost unanimous support for this bill.

I was listening earlier to my colleague from Souris—Moose Mountain ask if the non-aboriginal communities in the surrounding areas were consulted. I have another perspective on this plan to transfer lands and negotiate for lands and shared lands, as under the draft agreement with the Innu in Quebec.

When the Europeans first settled here, they did not ask the first nations for permission. When the aboriginals were parked on reserves, 130 years ago, they did not give up their rights to their lands. However, non-natives thought they had and exploited those lands without asking for their permission.

So, when we talk about this kind of agreement and other negotiated land claim agreements and aboriginal land use agreements, we need to keep an open mind and be prepared to make reparations. Legislation like this one is an example.

However, this alone will not suffice. It is nice to make the reserves larger but, fundamentally, reserves as such are concepts that should be completely eliminated, and negotiations on self-government, along with a valuable land base for aboriginal communities in the future, should be accelerated.

This is called the inherent right to self-government, also known as ancestral treaty rights, which clearly established, for the most part, the lands that belonged to the first nations when the Europeans first arrived in Canada.

I am in favour of this bill. It is a step in the right direction as far as an agreement on housing is concerned but I would remind the government that aboriginal housing is in a crisis situation.

Here again are the statistics I have been bringing up virtually every day for the past month. There are 93,000 housing units on the reserves of Quebec and Canada, and a large number of them have problems with major construction defects or generalized mildew and mould.

Not only do most of the 93,000 units have potential problems, but they have to house 113,000 households. So there is a shortfall of 20,000 housing units at this time. On some of the reserves I visited with my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain, there are close to two whole families living in one two-bedroom house. It is, for example, not unusual to see twelve to fifteen people under one roof. This makes no sense at all.

If memory serves, my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry has just referred to a project to construct 160 housing units and said that 36 units were needed in the very short term.

At the present time, thousands of units are urgently needed, so there is an absolute necessity to draw up an emergency plan for the construction of new housing for aboriginal peoples. In Quebec and Labrador along, there would have to be 8,700 built this year, and the plan is for only 450. The situation is becoming desperate.

It can be readily seen that the Bloc Quebecois is not here just for the sake of opposition. Despite what they say on the government side, when good government bills are introduced we support them. This has happened on a number of occasions. When, on the other hand, they are bad bills and do a disservice to the first nations, or to the population in general, naturally we come down heavily on the government.

Many people do not clearly understand the role of the opposition, and that includes people like Jean Lapierre, who goes around saying that we must vote on the right side, that is the side of the government, the side of power. Despite his great experience, he still does not get what the role of the opposition is. Our role is, basically, to make governments better.

If there is no opposition in a parliamentary system, there is bad government. Dictatorships is what they are then called. If Jean Lapierre sides with dictatorial regimes, then he has a problem.

It is the same for the President of the Treasury Board. He says, “Vote for the right party. Vote for the government. The opposition has nothing to offer”. That means he does not understand either and does not grasp the role of the opposition, which is to make much better governments and to reflect views that are slightly different from the government's, but that nonetheless represent the views of people who put their trust in us.

Even those who do not vote for us expect a strong opposition in order to avoid having a puppet government, a banana republic government that greases its own palm, or the palms of its friends.

Look at the sponsorship scandal. We did a public service. Had it not been for the Bloc Quebecois, no one would have known about the scandal. It would have been covered up. No government Liberal MP, no backbencher—not even a Liberal MP from Quebec—ever once stood up to denounce the sponsorship problem.

Yet on the opposition side, we have been talking about it for years. We have asked the government hundreds of questions. If it had not been for the opposition, we never would have known about the nearly $1 billion that was spent to promote Canadian unity and to steal the 1995 referendum from us. For that was what they did. It was a miscarriage of democracy. Nearly three and a half times more was spent than either camp was allowed to spend under Quebec's Referendum Act.

This did not bother the federal government. In this case we could say that the government was above the law. It took away Quebec's right to a referendum on sovereignty. Money from taxpayers in Quebec and Canada was used to skew the referendum in Quebec.

Is there any doubt that we lost the referendum by 30,000 votes because the federal government stole it from us? It used our taxes to deliver a hard punch, to thwart democracy and Quebeckers' freedom of choice.

Even federalists in Quebec should be upset because of what happened in 1995. Indeed, these people willingly took part in this democratic exercise. They wanted to debate the issue of Quebec's political and constitutional future, but the federal government came from behind, totally foiled this democratic debate and stole the referendum.

I feel that we are sovereign in fact, but that the federal government has covered up the result that we should have had in 1995. This is a shame. I am saying this calmly, but I am enraged. This rage will help me beat Liberal candidates in Quebec.

This aspect alone of what they did in 1995 is an incredible disgrace. It was an act of dishonesty, it was robbery, it was a denial of democracy and it was very reprehensible. They will pay dearly for that. In any case, I am making a commitment today to achieve sovereignty for Quebec and to work very hard in the coming years, regardless of their darn millions.

To top it all off, the President of the Privy Council is laughing about this. He is laughing because he stole the referendum in 1995 with the federal government's hundreds of millions. This is unbelievable. This is dishonest, these people are crooks—

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. President of the Privy Council on a point of order.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that I am not laughing at what he is saying; I am laughing at him.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that the federalists stole the referendum from us in 1995. I can take the insults and abuse from the President of the Privy Council; it does not bother me one bit, because it concerns the future of my people.

As for the $38 million put into the referendum campaign, it is disgusting. It is shameful. It is a miscarriage of democracy. These are dishonest people. These are people who thwarted democracy. These are people who have deceived the entire population of Quebec and I continue to maintain that—

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of the Environment.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great interest to the problems of Quebec as described by the hon. member, particularly the problems his party will have in the coming election.

Nonetheless, I thought we were talking about transferring a small piece on land in a park on Vancouver Island from Parks Canada to Indian Affairs. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Is Bill C-28 about Quebec referendum issues or is it about Pacific Rim and Riding Mountain parks?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of the Environment has raised a point of order on a matter I think is pertinent.

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot should, indeed, be speaking to the bill before the House instead of discussing the issue of referendums and other things of that kind because, as the Minister of the Environment has pointed out, the bill does not concern referendums or anything of that sort.

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude on Bill C-28. We support this legislation.

However, I want to say that I am upset this morning after reading in the newspapers that, in 1995, $38 million were spent to fight sovereignists in Quebec, to betray democracy. I will continue to say and maintain that each and everyone of those people over there is a robber of democracy.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

When we read something in the newspapers it is always interesting, but it is not what this debate is about.

Therefore, if the hon. member wishes to talk about Bill C-28, he may do so, but he may not go on talking about the morning papers.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am done. We support Bill C-28. That is all.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak this morning on Bill C-28.

An allegation was made a bit earlier today that this bill, somehow, was brought back to the House in a manner that some have felt was premature. Of course, this is not true. In fact, this bill was introduced at first reading, went to second reading and was referred to a committee, which tabled its report on April 27.

I am convinced that members remember, as do I, Sessional Paper 8510-373-41, with which we are all very familiar and which states that the committee, in its meetings, made no amendments to the bill.

Furthermore, parliamentarians who are not members of that committee have the opportunity to move amendments at report stage, the relevancy of which, amongst other things, is then considered by the Chair. Since no amendments were introduced in the House, it is quite proper this morning to move forward with this legislation and send it to third reading, debate and then refer it to the other place, which will pass it in due course.

The context of the bill is as follows. On the one hand, as was mentioned earlier, it concerns withdrawing the 86.37 hectares from the Pacific Rim National ParkReserve in order to increase the Esowista Indian Reserve land base and remedy a serious housing problem.

I congratulate the parliamentary secretary for his excellent speech a bit earlier this morning. In passing, he always does a wonderful job in the House, as we all know. His constituents in Beauharnois—Salaberry are well represented, and he will no doubt be re-elected by a healthy majority. He told the House this morning that the changes are being made, not to the park perimeter but to the lands within that perimeter, meaning the lands that will be inside or outside the reserve. That is the sole issue.

I want to take a few minutes to address this treasure called the Pacific Rim National Park. Every year at Christmas, parliamentarians receive calendars from Western Canada Wilderness Foundation, I believe, which have probably helped us, better than anything else, to get to know this park. These calendars contain beautiful pictures.

I have had the opportunity to visit a very small portion of the park. It is not, of course, fully accessible to people using conventional means of transport. Some parts have only water access, for instance. I have seen part of the park, however, and it is absolutely extraordinary. In my opinion, all Canadians ought to make this pilgrimage—I would call it that—to Pacific Rim National Park. That region of our country, with its mammoth trees and its ecosystem, is absolutely amazing.

Then—and this of course relates to another park—there is the removal from Riding Mountain National Park of a small parcel of land, 4.75 hectares—which, as a member representing a rural riding, I do consider a small parcel. The reason for this is merely to correct an administrative error that occurred in the implementation of a 1994 settlement of a specific land claim.

In addition, there is the withdrawal of lands, which can be done only by amending the National Parks Act. In other words, this is the only tool available to us to correct that anomaly.

The support for this initiative is fairly broad, particularly from the first nations concerned, the provincial first nations coalitions, the local, regional and provincial administrations, and NGOs concerned with the ecology. There seem, therefore, to be very little concern about negative impacts on the parks from adjustments to their borders as set out in this bill. Such groups are always the first to let us know when they think we are doing anything to spoil a park. This is not the case in this instance.

As far as environmental impact is concerned, the removal of this small parcel of land will not unduly compromise the ecological integrity of Pacific RIm. There is no impact at all as far as Riding Mounting is concerned.

I believe I see your signal that it is 11 a.m., so I am prepared to come back after oral question period to continue my explanation of the merits of this bill to my colleagues.

Softwood Lumber
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada won a major victory in its dispute with the U.S. on softwood lumber. A special panel formed under the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, found the U.S International Trade Commission threat of injury determination to be unfounded and inconsistent with U.S. law.

The Quebec Forest Industry Council favours a long-term solution through a negotiated settlement as the road to lasting peace.

Any negotiated agreement needs to include the reimbursement of duties paid by Canadian companies since May 2002, with interest.

Failing a negotiated, long-term agreement and full reimbursement of countervailing and anti-dumping duties, I call on the Canadian government to take legal action against the United States.

Taxation
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government knows no bounds when intruding into the personal lives of Canadians. It has come to my attention that if two people live at the same address, Revenue Canada is unilaterally determining that they are a common law couple and are having conjugal relations. This is preposterous.

How about a woman who has a female boarder living in her house? Revenue Canada determines that she is a lesbian and that she is having conjugal relations with this boarder. This is not true and it is very unfair to characterize her this way, to reduce her benefits, and to force her to appeal to get it reversed.

Let us consider a couple who are separated and divorced but unable to afford separate living quarters. She lives on one floor and he on another in the same house. Revenue Canada reverses their status and treats them as a couple.

Trudeau said that there is no room for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, but that concept is totally lost on this government and this minister. What a nightmare.

Canadian Forces
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday as I was waiting for my flight at the Montreal airport, I happened to meet soldiers who were on their way back from Afghanistan for a three-week break at home. One of them was Daniel Dupuis, from the Gaspé and the other Ben Gale, from Cape Breton. Daniel phoned home and his little girl Marie-Christine said, “Daddy, I put on my pretty dress to come meet you at the Quebec City airport later”, and Daniel, this brave solider, had tears in his eyes.

Two hours later when I arrived in Ottawa on the same flight as Ben, I saw him on the floor with his two and a half year old son in his arms and I saw his less than six month old baby in mother's arms. This was the first time this family had been together in many weeks because of the father's service in Afghanistan.

That is when it became very clear to me what sacrifices military families make when their loved ones serve abroad in the name of peace and the fight against terrorism, just as these brave soldiers are doing.

On behalf of my colleagues in this House, I thank these soldiers and today I also thank their families for the sacrifices they make that far too often go unrecognized. I also thank the nearly 1,900 Canadian soldiers who are deployed to Afghanistan.

Thank you to all these service men and women and their families.

Corporation d'aménagement et de protection de la Sainte-Anne
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Claude Duplain Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to report that on April 26 the Department of the Environment, through its EcoAction program, made a $34,044 grant to the Corporation d'aménagement et de protection de la Sainte-Anne. This contribution will help establish a project aimed at reducing drinking-water consumption in 1,692 homes, 215 businesses, and several institutions connected to the municipal water supply of Saint-Raymond de Portneuf.

In this way, the Government of Canada has renewed its commitment to the environmental policy it expressed in the throne speech.

I proudly congratulate the Corporation d'aménagement et de protection de la Sainte-Anne on the quality of its project. Such initiatives place the riding of Portneuf at the forefront, taking up the environmental challenges of today and tomorrow, while meeting the needs of the community.

75th Wedding Anniversary
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to announce the 75th wedding anniversary of two of my constituents, Walter and Regis Day.

Mr. and Mrs. Day were married on April 23, 1929 by Father Henry Barry in the original St. Joseph's Church in Little Bras d'Or, Cape Breton. They have 10 children, 44 grandchildren, 61 great grandchildren, 4 great-great grandchildren and 4 more on the way. That is a total of 119 offspring.

I was fortunate to be able to visit Mr. and Mrs. Day at their home to wish them a happy anniversary last Saturday, and what a pleasure it was. They shared a few stories and a few jokes, but in all seriousness, it is obvious why their marriage has lasted 75 years.

It is very rare that we have the opportunity to recognize such a wonderful, long-lasting marriage. Today in the House of Commons I would like to offer congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Day in celebration of their 75th anniversary. Along with the community, their family and friends, I wish for Walter and Regis many more years of continued happiness.

Railway Safety
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is an old baseball saying, “you can't hit what you can't see”, but when it comes to trains, one most certainly can. Fewer than one in four Canadian train cars has proper reflectors and Canadians are killed in preventable car-train collisions regularly because they simply did not see the trains. The railway companies like to blame driver error, but cars, trucks and farm implements have had to have reflectors for years, why not trains?

My urban colleagues need to understand that the rural crossings where most of these accidents occur are not equipped with flashing lights, with bells, with whistles, or with guard arms. The fact is no one in the Conservative Party is asking the government to equip each of the 50,000 uncontrolled crossings in such a manner. What we are asking for is that reflectors be placed on all trains.

I want the minister to immediately implement a rule which requires the immediate implementation of reflectors. The United States is planning a reflector program that will be phased in over 10 years. That is not acceptable to the Conservative Party. We--

Railway Safety
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Davenport.

Endangered Species
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is most unfortunate that the first recommendation under the new species at risk law by the scientific panel, COSEWIC, aimed at protecting 12 species of cod and other aquatic species has been postponed by the Minister of the Environment. Apparently the Fisheries Council has intervened and objected to the professional opinion of COSEWIC, which is the scientific panel whose only motivation is to protect endangered species.

I urge the Minister of the Environment to reconsider his decision, or at least accelerate the consultative process so as to reduce to a minimum the damage caused to these aquatic species at risk.

International Labour Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, May 1 is a day to celebrate workers. Let us take this occasion to pay tribute to the women and men who work every day to build a better world, a fairer world, a world that lives up to our aspirations and ambitions.

Valiant struggles over the years have made it possible to obtain better working conditions, but there is a great deal left to do. We think of the need to add anti-scab measures to the Canada Labour Code or the urgent need to review the regulations covering precautionary cessation of work for pregnant and nursing women, in order to help them have healthy babies.

My thoughts today are with the employees of Bauer Nike, in my riding of Laurentides, who are in a time of uncertainty. Along with the firm's survival committee, I will spare no effort to ensure that these people keep their jobs.

Workers can count on the Bloc Quebecois to make their voices heard and to defend their rights in order to improve their quality of life.

Bill C-250
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to applaud the work of Canada's Parliament in passing Bill C-250 this week. Bill C-250 will amend the Criminal Code by adding sexual orientation to the list of groups protected by the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code.

The bill is a significant step toward protecting Canadians from hate based attacks. Bill C-250 will not infringe on the freedom of speech, nor will it limit the rights of individuals to disagree on lifestyle issues, nor will it criminalize religious text. What Bill C-250 does is to ensure equal protection under the Criminal Code regardless of sexual orientation.

I would like to applaud the good work of the members of the House who helped pass the bill. My thanks to all who helped pass the bill.

Selkirk--Interlake Constituency
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, for what may be my last S. O. 31 due to the rumours of an imminent election call, I would like to tell the people of Selkirk--Interlake what a pleasure it has been to serve as their voice in Ottawa.

For the information of the House, Selkirk--Interlake is populated by Canadians with a tremendous diversity in ethnic backgrounds. We live in harmony with each other and work hard to make our region, our province and our country a better place in which to live. Agriculture, commercial fishing, light manufacturing industries, tourism, along with jobs in all economic sectors of Manitoba's economy are how we earn our living. Artistic efforts, along with many cultural activities enrich our lives.

Geographically the riding contains the largest southern portions of beautiful Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. Beautiful ranch and farmland, along with dynamic small towns nestled in a clean environment, make it a wonderful place to live.

Our future success as a region called Selkirk--Interlake is totally dependent on the opportunities for our children and grandchildren. Our youth and their futures are why I have spent the last seven years as the MP for Selkirk--Interlake doing the best I could, with my wife Faye by my side.

Bloc Quebecois
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the hon. member for Laurentides suggested that the Quebec caucus of this government was lacking arguments to prove the uselessness of Bloc Quebecois members in this House. Our government does not need arguments to demonstrate this reality. The empty rhetoric and the apathy of Bloc Quebecois members tell the tale.

The hon. member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis will agree with me, since she once said that her caucus was particularly good at scoring in its own net. The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie will also surely agree with me, after telling the media that he cannot prevent the Prime Minister from being re-elected, and after admitting to the daily Le Soleil that the Bloc Quebecois never does anything good and takes its orders from its head office, which is the Parti Quebecois.

Finally, our government is so acutely aware of Quebec's distinctiveness that a candidates manual was specially prepared for our Quebec caucus and will be distributed at the appropriate time.

I can assure the House that we will have no problems proving—

Bloc Quebecois
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dartmouth.

Cathryn Prince
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, when the rookie NDP members of Parliament arrived here in 1997, we were welcomed by the smiling face of Cathryn Prince. She helped us through our first days, eased our fears, talked about the mechanics of the job and inspired us even more about the importance of the House of Commons.

Cathryn loved this place. She worked on the Hill for over 25 years with a number of NDP MPs and with the public service. Cathryn believed passionately in the principles of social democracy, the union movement and the importance of reaching out and helping people. She had a twinkle in her eye and a warm smile. An incredible number of people counted her as a trusted, loyal friend, so great was her generosity of spirit.

Cathryn was also a loving mother, sister, wife, and an especially loving grandmother.

Cathryn Prince passed away on March 10 with one of her sons by her side. She passed from this life the way she lived it, feeling the love of her friends and her family.

Today in the House we want to celebrate the lasting contributions of Cathryn Prince.

Sustainable Development
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Minister of the Environment attended the session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development to discuss world challenges related to water.

It is estimated that diseases communicated by undrinkable water are costing in excess of $250 million annually. Economic progress and quality of life in developing countries are increasingly restricted by the poor quality and the lack of water. Access to water can become a source of conflict and a threat to peace and security.

As the Prime Minister mentioned yesterday in his speech delivered in Washington, there is an urgent need for the international system and multilateral institutions to operate more efficiently.

This is why Canada is playing a key role to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme and to improve the United Nations' ability to deal with the issue of water.

Also, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment will examine the best way for Canada to meet its international commitments regarding the development of integrated water management plans by the year 2005.

Bill C-250
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week the Liberal majority in the Senate passed Bill C-250. It was indeed a sad day in Canadian politics.

Many of my constituents in Skeena and I as their MP vigorously and vociferously opposed the bill as it moved through the House of Commons. The Liberal majority, with the help of both the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, supported Bill C-250 on its way to the Senate.

A government that supports such biased and undemocratic legislation as Bill C-250 does not deserve to be in office, much less re-elected.

I urge all Canadians to remember which candidates stood for freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expression in this country whenever the upcoming election is called.

Social Economy
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 22, I had the pleasure of presiding the national round table on the social economy hosted by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, in my role as the parliamentary secretary with special responsibility for the social economy.

The national round table discussion allowed me to meet with various stakeholders from across the country. I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to work with them and receive their views on key social economic issues.

Comments by such participants as Nancy Neamtam, from the Chantier de l'économie sociale du Québec, Rupert Downing, from the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), David Driscoll, from the VanCity Community Foundation in British Columbia, Réjean Laflamme, from the Conseil canadien de la coopération, and many others, will enable us to refine our strategy to encourage even more growth in the social economy in coming years.

Our government and our Prime Minister are committed to the social economy. We will continue to build on the measures announced in the Speech from the Throne and in budget 2004 in order to achieve our common goal of building communities rich in social assets.

House of Commons
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the 37th Parliament of Canada will soon come to an end. Many MPs will return to their homes in the various provinces with memories of having served their constituents here in the House.

My memories are many. I am grateful for the many friends I have on both sides of the House, but the friendships extend beyond that. What about the pages, the security staff, the personnel who help on committees, the people in the cafeterias and at the post office, and the bus drivers? The list goes on. They are all wonderful people who greet us daily with cheerfulness.

I will leave behind many wonderful people. As the MP of a huge rural constituency, I want to say thanks to them for their great support.

As I say goodbye, I offer my best wishes to all those people. I hope that perchance we will meet again somewhere, some time. If not, they will be part of my memories for the rest of my life.

Year of Acadia
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday we unanimously adopted a motion by the member for West Nova declaring 2004 the Year of Acadia. It is appropriate to make such a solemn gesture, in this the 400th anniversary year of the founding of Acadia. My colleague benefited from the enthusiastic support of the Bloc Quebecois members, “separatist” though they are. We would have liked to have the same kind of support from him at the time of the debate on Motion M-382, following the royal proclamation last December.

Although it is appropriate to recognize the arrival of Samuel de Champlain in the Americas, 400 years ago, I believe we would also render justice to history by also pointing out the determining role played by Pierre Du Gua, Sieur de Mons, in the founding of Acadia.

Curiously, the Liberals have chosen the end of April, with an election looming, to make this gesture. I had put forward the proposal by the general assembly of the Société nationale de l'Acadie here in this House on June 12, 2003. As in the case of the motion recognizing National Acadian Day, this manoeuvre appears to have been carried out with the sole purpose of trying to make the public forget the Liberal government's dubious role in the debate on acknowledging the deportation.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government finally released some of the information surrounding the secret unity slush fund.

The Prime Minister previously claimed he knew nothing about this honey pot. I quote the current Minister of Finance who said “the current Prime Minister has not made any use of that particular reserve”. However, the chart shows that the Department of Finance got $1 million.

Would the Minister of Finance clear up this contradiction when he said the former finance minister did not get any money, but the chart shows $1 million?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the present Prime Minister has not said that he was unaware of the fiscal reserve for purposes related to unity and the well-being of the nation.

He said that the actual use of such a reserve was determined, not by the finance department, but quite properly by the PCO and by the former Prime Minister.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about the $700 million fund that he did not seem to know anything about. I am talking about the million dollars that he got directly.

The former finance minister got $1 million for his department while it was under the current Prime Minister's watch. All it says on the chart is that it was used for communications.

Could the Minister of Finance explain to us what ad firms got the $1 million and where did the $1 million go? What was the $1 million used for by the former finance minister at that time?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the particular project had to do with information pertaining to the five year tax reduction plan that was introduced by the government.

Generally, it had the impact of reducing taxes for Canadians in the range of 20% to 27%. This was a major improvement in our tax system and it was important for Canadians to know about it.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like the finance minister to provide us with information indicating what ad firms were involved with that $1 million.

I want to ask the finance minister about the previous finance minister's handling of the $700 million. It went missing from the public treasury and the former finance minister said he knew nothing about it. He may have acknowledged that it existed, but he said he knew nothing about how it was used.

Could the finance minister explain how any finance minister could see $700 million slip through his or her fingers and not know where it went?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the question is utter nonsense. The fact of the matter is that every expenditure was duly included in the fiscal framework, duly included in the estimates, and duly included in the public accounts.

It is the obligation of every member of Parliament to review the public accounts and the estimates. It is all there.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, misleading financial reporting has become the norm for the Liberals

The Governor General did not spend $1 million on her circumpolar tour but $5.3 million. The Prime Minister's company, CSL, did not get $137,000 of federal business; it reaped $161 million. Now we know the ultra-secret unity reserve gave the Liberals not $500 million of taxpayers money but almost $800 million.

When will the Prime Minister tell Canadians, before they go to the polls, how many more scandalous accounting errors his government is hiding?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman's assertion is again simply nonsense.

My original estimate with respect to this matter had to do with how much my department felt we could save over the long term. It was a perfectly legitimate general figure.

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is nonsense is the so-called details that the government provides to the House of Commons.

The Liberals are habitual offenders when it comes to lowballing federal spending. The skepticism of Canadians about what their own government tells them has turned into downright disbelief. The unity reserve has united Canadians all right; it has united them in the mistrust of what Liberals tell them.

When is the government going to stop its Enron style accounting and come clean with taxpayers?

Government Expenditures
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the undertaking made in the House was to go through all of the official documents, including the public accounts and the estimates, and to put together a complete picture of the uses of the unity reserve over the course of the last 10 to 12 years.

A very comprehensive effort was made to do that. In the interests of full transparency, all of that information has now in fact been put before the House in a coordinated way.

Indeed, the information would have been there earlier because it is all included in the public accounts and the estimates.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal sponsorship scandal represents the misappropriation of taxpayers' money to the tune of much more than the $100 million out of a $250 million budget suggested by the Auditor General. Sheila Fraser did not know there was a hidden national unity fund, which, according to the list made public, was also used to fund sponsorships to the tune of $100 million.

Will the government admit that, with the regular Canadian unity program plus the secret funding combined, the sponsorship scandal cost a total of $350 million?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is still quite remarkable to see just how far reality can be twisted purely to win votes.

The national unity reserve was used for numerous projects, all of which aimed to promote fundamentally Canadian values, with which Quebeckers themselves also identify. I am referring specifically to promoting the Francophonie, the 2002 youth event in Toronto, the 400th anniversary celebrations of the French presence in America and other events I will refer to later.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the only thing he did not refer to is my question.

For the year 1996-97 alone, according to the Auditor General and the public accounts, $300,000 was directed into the sponsorship program, although, on the list we have been provided, that amount is $17 million.

So the government has doctored the figures to conceal the approximately $800 million for the hidden fund, the existence of which the Prime Minister denied. He said that he did not know it existed. It is strange nonetheless to claim ignorance of the existence of a fund when his own department received $1 million when he was minister—

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, is it normal to think that, by making allegations that are clearly false, they will end up becoming true? How is it possible to justify the remarks just made by the colleague opposite when no part of this was hidden? Everything was public, everything was disclosed and everything was subject to a transparent process.

Enough with the unfounded allegations. I think they are well aware that these allegations are unfounded.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the year of the 1995 referendum, more than $31 million was spent to promote Canadian unity. In 1996, the then auditor general, Denis Desautels, admitted to having hit a wall when he tried to find where the $4.8 million spent by Option Canada had gone. We still do not know who benefited from it, but we now know where the money came from.

Can the minister deny today that this money, which was meant for the Official Languages Program, was diverted to Option Canada instead?

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, during the referendum period, if I recall correctly, the Government of Quebec, a PQ government, spent money on the Le Hir studies, for example, and we all know what happened to them. It spent money on helping to create sovereignist, indépendantistes, and separatist movements all over the place.

We do not need any lectures from them because we were defending our country.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, following an access to information request, the Bloc Quebecois obtained briefing notes from the then heritage minister, who confirmed that Official Languages Program funding had indeed been diverted to Option Canada. We know where the money came from, but we still do not know where it went.

Can the Prime Minister talk to his friend, Claude Dauphin, who was in charge of the Option Canada program, and ask him where the $4.8 million from Option Canada went? It is simple.

National Unity Fund
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, that question has been asked in the House many times and we have answered it.

In 2000, all the documents relating to this issue were made public. I invite the members opposite to refer to those documents.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence and it is about the star wars missile defence program.

Today we learned that Canadian troops have been trained on missile defence equipment, despite the fiction from the government that no decision has been made.

How many times does the government have to get caught before it realizes that nobody believes it has not already made up its mind and hopes to hide the truth from the Canadian people until after the election?

Will the Liberals finally admit that the star wars missile defence scheme is a done deal and that their star wars policy is identical to the star wars policy of the Conservative Party on my right?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is drawing conclusions from news stories written by people who either do not know or are not interested in the facts.

I was able to confirm the facts this morning in a conversation with our Canadian representative at Norad, General Findley. He informed me that the so-called training that has been referred to was actually a simulation exercise for decision makers so that these decision makers could get a better understanding of the potential impact of BMD on Norad. It was not, and I stress very strongly, it was not operational training.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are some other facts as well. One fact is that the U.S. missile defence agency has a budget line for space based programs. An additional fact is that a former United States assistant secretary of defence said missile defence “is really star wars two”. Another fact is that Russia has already tested a hypersonic weapon capable of penetrating any missile defence shield.

Does the government have the courage to stand up today and say no to missile defence or is it happy to have the same policy as the Conservative Party to my extreme right?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we have been through these stale arguments from the NDP before and I expect I will be called to answer on these questions again.

Let me repeat. We are opposed to the weaponization of space. The Prime Minister has said that on a number of occasions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that and I have said that. The NDP members still do not get it.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the unity fund honey pot was kept so secret it was not even disclosed to the Auditor General. Just because the Liberals give a program a patriotic sounding name and blow a lot of hot air around, it does not mean the millions it cost are justified.

If these programs were so good, why not put them right out in the open so Canadians can see that for themselves? Is it not true that the Liberals hid this multi-million dollar spending because they knew it would not stand up to public scrutiny?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, maybe the easiest way to answer the question is to say no, it is not true.

What I did when I went through the preparation of this list was track each one of these transactions, verify it against the Treasury Board submission, and identify it in the public accounts. These were reported.

Had the member been doing the work that an opposition member is required to do and go through the estimates year after year, she would have seen all of this. None of this was hidden.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, even the Auditor General did not know about this program because the Liberals hid it.

The government says the money was all duly reported and duly transferred. Big deal. Cheques were written and someone kept the cheques in a file, but that does not mean the spending was the right thing to do.

What the Liberals did not keep was their word to Canadians to provide good and honest government, as they hide behind weasel words like “duly recorded” and “duly transferred”.

Why do the Liberals not finally admit that this was just another secret Liberal slush fund?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I think if members were to check, they would find that most Canadians are quite interested in unity and their country.

I would like to ask the member opposite, is she concerned about the fact that we invested in human rights promotion, the Queen's jubilee, and the Terry Fox youth centre, all of which were invested in by this program and duly reported?

Whistleblower Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, in committee yesterday a public service integrity officer, Edward Keyserlingk, trashed the whistleblower bill. Among other things, he observed that Bill C-25 was missing an independent investigative body, had no mechanism for reporting to Parliament, and provided no protection against reprisal for whistleblowers.

I ask the minister, will he amend the bill to add these provisions which Professor Keyserlingk has highlighted?

Whistleblower Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we will let the committee do its job.

I would like to refer to the recommendations of the working group on the disclosure of wrongdoing in the workplace, article 3.3, which talks about independence. It states:

To ensure such independence, we recommend the Office become an agent of Parliament, and be accountable to Parliament either directly or through a Minister.

I agree with that.

Whistleblower Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday in question period I pointed out that Bill C-25 contained no provisions whatever for disciplining persons who engaged in reprisals against whistleblowers. The minister responded by telling me to take a look at clause 9.

Clause 9 of Bill C-25 contains provisions for disciplinary action, including termination of employment, but this is for whistleblowers themselves who make disclosures to the public service integrity commissioner without getting prior departmental approval.

Would Bill C-25 not have mandated the minister to fire Allan Cutler for not asking Chuck Guité's permission to go public?

Whistleblower Legislation
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, once again, the hon. member has everything mixed up. In terms of sanctions, obviously, we are talking about reprisals against whistleblowers. This is a bill to protect whistleblowers. It can go as far, in fact, as firing the person who attempts reprisals against the whistleblower. So what he has said is completely wrong.

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, although the Supreme Court has recognized the right of public servants to engage in legitimate political activities, Canadian Heritage has just dismissed Édith Gendron. The Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada has described this dismissal as a political trial, particularly since a number of managers at Heritage are actively involved in the Liberal Party and their activities are unrestricted.

What will it take for the Minister of Canadian Heritage to call her departmental employees to order, speak out against the injustice done to Ms. Gendron, and take the necessary steps to reinstate her in her position as soon as possible?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say again what I have been saying from the outset: this is an internal matter involving the Department of Canadian Heritage.

To set the record straight, what the member is referring to is the June 1991 Osborne decision. In it the court pointed out that there was a convention under the Constitution recognizing the neutrality of public servants as essential to the principles of responsible government.

When a conflict arises between personal interests and public interest, the resolution should give precedence to the public interest.

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's inaction smacks of a double standard. The Minister of Canadian Heritage cannot allow such a double standard; she must ensure that her departmental employees are treated fairly and equally.

Does the minister intend to intervene forcefully with her departmental staff so that not only common sense but also the rights recognized by the Charter of Rights and the Supreme Court prevail?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, on a number of occasions, the minister concerned as well as the minister answering today have repeated that this is an internal matter and is the responsibility of human resources at Canadian Heritage. That said, Ms. Gendron has recourses available to her. These are readily accessible and I assume she will avail herself of them.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister expressed his openness to an amendment to NORAD, a prerequisite to Canada's taking part in the missile defence shield. The decision to support this amendment must be made in June, after the election, but in time for deployment this fall.

Is this not more proof that the PM has already decided that Canada will take part in the missile defence shield and that he does not want that decision known before the election?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has indicated very clearly that there are two key decision points here. One is in relation to the possible amendment to Norad and the other is a final decision on missile defence, which will be taken this fall.

The potential amendment to Norad does not in any way prejudge the final outcome of this decision.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the government recognize that, in this case, the authorization last October by Lieutenant General Findley for Canadian soldiers to take part in a two-week military exercise related to the missile defence shield is still more proof that Canada's participation in this plan is already a given?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there were two elements to the so-called training that occurred last October. One was a simulation exercise on missile defence, the likes of which has been conducted on a regular basis going back a number of years because that is one of the things that Norad does.

The other, as I indicated to my hon. colleague from the NDP, was a table top exercise for decision makers so they could understand the potential impact of ballistic missile defence on Norad.

They were not operational training.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday the Minister of Public Works and Government Services said “all the contracts that have been awarded to Earnscliffe or any company...are either already in the public domain or accessible for review”. Yesterday he admitted that was not the case but that the information could be obtained elsewhere by calling the 1-800 number. That is not true either.

What is the minister trying to cover up by providing incorrect information to the House?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, first, I did not correct myself yesterday. I explained by providing clarification because the day before yesterday an hon. member from the other side misquoted my answer on Tuesday, which this member has properly referred to.

I said that the services they are providing to the government are either already in the public domain or are accessible for review, and they are. We have access to information. We have direct inquires to my department. We have access to the Canada Contracts website. If the member has a specific question, give it--

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for St. John's West.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, according to the minister, the site he talked about provides an information number that one can call “for additional information, such as for contracts prior to three years...or perhaps by some other department”.

We called the number. They made it clear that they cannot provide any extra information on Earnscliffe.

Will the minister table a list of contracts and subcontracts that have been awarded to Earnscliffe since 1993?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I gather that question is already on the Order Paper, but I see no problem with providing that.

The member must understand that we may go back up to 10 years. Contracts and other documents are usually not kept for more than six years but we are making every effort to get that information.

Nothing is being hidden. There are various ways to receive it. Members just have to ask the specific question and we will make every effort to get it.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week is the sixth anniversary of the Liberals' decision to deny compensation for all hepatitis C victims of tainted blood.

We now know that in 1981, Health Canada knew of the risk of hepatitis C to the blood supply and yet the government said that it would only be liable from 1986 to 1990.

Now there is an opportunity for the Liberals to right that wrong. Will the government finally extend that compensation to all victims of the tainted blood and hepatitis C?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government has tried to be very sensitive on this issue because the people living with hepatitis C deserve that kind of conscientious attention and not just political hyperbole.

We have put together assistance measures that total some $525 million. In the administration of that program, the Minister of Health and previous ministers of health have tried to be as responsive and as conscientious as possible.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Krever inquiry called for compensation to all of the victims. Some of the members opposite, including the minister of public health, happen to agree.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars left in that compensation fund, more than enough to go around. In fact, less than one-quarter of that fund has gone to the victims from 1986 to 1990.

What does the government intend to do with the rest of the money?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I have pointed out, the government has committed a total of $525 million for individuals infected with hepatitis C.

In terms of the hon. gentleman's suggestion that not all of that funding has been used and his further advice on how it might be used, obviously we will take that as a representation.

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

We recently learned that the CBC has asked to be removed from legislation protecting people who disclose wrongdoings.

We all know how important it is to ensure proper protection for all employees who disclose wrongdoings in the public service and crown corporations. Can the President of the Privy Council tell us whether he intends to amend his bill to follow up on the CBC's request?

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, the bill is very clear with respect to crown corporations. I also learned of this request through the media and I received a copy of the letter. The response is simple. The CBC will not be excluded from the process. It will be fully included in the bill.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are wondering where the cabinet ministers went, the ministers who used to protect publicly delivered health care in Canada. There was no new base funding for health care in the budget and no commitment to any of the recommendations of the Romanow report. Now we have a health minister calling public delivery of health care a slogan.

Will the minister now rise and give us a guarantee that the Liberals will provide publicly funded and delivered health care in Canada?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first, let me make the observation that the budget did indeed include funding for health care: the $2 billion that had been committed to the provinces, plus an incremental $500 million approximately to advance our public health care system.

The government believes in a publicly funded, publicly delivered, publicly administered single payer health system.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that the Liberal government wants to turn health care over to private industries; after all, the Prime Minister brought an advocate for P3 into his cabinet.

The only difference between the Liberal government's plan for health care and the Conservative plan is how quickly it will hand it over to the big corporations.

Will the minister stand up and tell us exactly what the Liberals consider publicly delivered health care to be? Is it public money paying for private profits?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as much as our friends in the NDP try to stretch this point and twist it into a pretzel, they will not be able to achieve it.

I would remind the hon. member that I happen to come from a province called Saskatchewan which invented health care in the first place.

This government is profoundly committed to the principles of the Canada Health Act. We took that experiment in Saskatchewan that was so successful and made it a national reality that is one of the defining characteristics of this country, and we will not see it diminished.

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbia's pine beetle infestation is a natural disaster in every respect, and the crisis is dramatically increasing every day that these Liberals refuse to accept their responsibility to help in the fight against this disaster.

I will ask my question for about the fourth time. Will the Liberal government put aside its historic disdain for British Columbians and live up to its responsibility to help in the fight against these pine beetles?

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

R. John Efford Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what the hon. member just said in the House. It is one thing to ask a question but to make a statement that this government has the attitude toward the people of British Columbia as he just said is absolutely wrong. His question does not even deserve an answer.

We are as equally concerned. My department in forestry and research and development is just as interested in solving the problem with the pine beetle in British Columbia as the hon. member is. I have had meetings with the minister in British Columbia and we intend to work toward finding a solution to a very serious problem.

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is nonsense. The province of British Columbia came to the federal government well over a year ago with a five year plan to fight the beetle infestation. It has been waiting and waiting for the federal government to live up to its responsibility and respect the billions of dollars that have come into its coffers from the forest industry in our province but it has done nothing.

I will ask my question once again. When will the government stop playing politics with the lives of British Columbians and join in the province's five year pine beetle plan? When will it do this?

Forest Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

R. John Efford Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, only hon. members like the hon. member opposite would make a statement like that and believe that something could happen.

This government is not playing politics with anybody, in particular the people of British Columbia. This minister is not playing politics with anybody in this country, unlike the members opposite who continually stand day after day and play politics and make all kinds of accusations that they know are not true.

Labour
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Manitoba's NDP government is trying to stop non-unionized construction companies from participating in the construction of the Red River diversion around the city of Winnipeg. Now the effect of this ideological misadventure will be to raise the cost of the project, some estimates say by as much as $65 million.

Given that the federal government is a fifty-fifty partner in this project that will cost $700 million, could the minister assure the House today that the federal government will not be party to any exercise in forced unionization of Manitoba construction workers?

Labour
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, this is a big issue in Manitoba right now. I have met with the premier and have had discussions with him about the possible effects of these decisions that were taken after the agreements were signed. I have his assurance that we are working toward a solution. I met with other stakeholders on this and I believe the appointment of an arbiter to work this out will get us to the place we have to be.

Labour
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, that will not satisfy anybody. Those are just weasel words. The fact is that on the table right now is a proposal that will require forced unionization of Manitoba workers. Workers should decide whether they are unionized or not without the assistance of the federal and provincial governments.

Some 95% of Manitoba's construction industry is non-unionized. The federal government's silence makes it complicit in the forced unionization of construction workers that is going to increase costs.

It is time for Liberals to get off the fence they seem to be impaled on here and commit to vetoing any attempt to prevent non-unionized companies from participating in the construction of the Red River diversion.

Labour
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that replacing one hard-edged ideological position with another does not get us to a solution. In fact, the premier and I have had a discussion. A very competent mediator has been appointed. The industry is satisfied. The governments are satisfied. We will let the mediator do his work.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, after his initial hesitation about the UN's role in the Iraq conflict, yesterday found the Prime Minister in Washington proposing little informal get-togethers, no less, for the heads of state to privately come up with solutions to world problems.

Is this proposal by the Prime Minister not just another attempt to minimize and trivialize the United Nation's role in conflict resolution?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge
Ontario

Liberal

Dan McTeague Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I know that the Bloc Quebecois is trying to suggest that certain things proposed by the Prime Minister are a bit awkward. In reality, and the Bloc Quebecois as well as the members opposite are well aware of this, there is no situation which would lead to our denying the responsibility and importance of the United Nations.

At the same time, it must be emphasized that there are problems requiring an appropriate and immediate response, and that is what is referred to in this instance.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps my hon. colleague could answer the following: how exactly is it awkward that the Prime Minister has stated his intention to hold little get-togethers between leaders? Could he explain what he meant by that statement? Awkward how? We certainly find it so.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge
Ontario

Liberal

Dan McTeague Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Really now, Mr. Speaker, that is not what I said.

Let us make it very clear to the hon. members in the Bloc Quebecois, who like to play with words. There is absolutely no misunderstanding as to the intentions of this government with respect to the United Nations.

We are prepared to say right now, and very clearly and without any equivocation, notwithstanding the interpretation of members of the Bloc Quebecois, it is very clear to us that we understand the importance of the United Nations. We also recognize that there are immediate concerns that have to be addressed on matters of security and on matters of trade, which need to be responded to in a way that is adequate. I know the Bloc Quebecois would like to wait several months for these things to be resolved, but I think Canadians and the world need a faster response.

Search and Rescue
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Gander Beacon , a local newspaper in my riding, states that the Minister of Natural Resources has told the town of Gander officials that 103 Search and Rescue Squadron is not going anywhere. The article continued on to say, “Staff at his St. John's regional minister's office said he was able to make that confirmation through discussion in Ottawa”.

However, the town of Gander has no written guarantee or commitment from the Minister of National Defence. I ask the Minister of National Defence today, will he confirm to the House that 103 Search and Rescue Squadron will remain in Gander?

Search and Rescue
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, there are no plans whatsoever to change the location of that particular search and rescue squadron.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

That is good, Mr. Speaker. I am glad the minister can be as clear as the other minister from Newfoundland and Labrador.

As early as March 31, 2004, members of the House of Commons stood in the House to vote for changes to the EI program to benefit seasonal workers. The majority of Liberals in the House rejected that proposal.

On Wednesday of this week, the hon. Minister of Natural Resources stated publicly that he is pleased changes are coming to the EI program to benefit seasonal workers.

Over the last three years the government has failed to implement changes for seasonal workers, and we now see, prior to an election, that the government is talking about it again. Why is the government playing games with the lives of seasonal workers?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, we are not playing with the lives of seasonal workers. Exactly, we have brought changes to EI over the years, in fact, and we will continue to bring changes, as the hon. Prime Minister said the other day and as the minister has said. We will continue to improve the EI system, especially for seasonal workers, but we are also working with our partners to make sure that we have employment in those regions. This government has a track record on employment.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Claude Duplain Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, increasingly these days consumers in Canada and around the world are concerned with food quality and food safety.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us what Canada is doing to help producers meet consumer demands?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Sydney—Victoria
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mark Eyking Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Agri-Food)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Portneuf for asking this question. He always works hard on agricultural issues, not only for his riding and his province but also for the country.

In December 2003, $62 million was provided to support systems development for food safety, quality, tracking and traceability. Last month, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced $80 million to help producers implement food safety systems on their farms. This will put producers in a stronger position to meet consumer demands.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the conflict of interest code for members of the House of Commons addresses potential breaches of conduct for ordinary members of Parliament, government backbenchers and members in opposition.

However, this is not where the problem is. The problem is with ministers who control billions of dollars. Why has the government done nothing to address potential corruption and untoward behaviour on the part of cabinet ministers?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, a new code was introduced on December 12. It was fully respected by all members of the cabinet. The ethics commissioner requested clarification on some of these matters. These clarifications have been provided within the deadlines set. This process is transparent. I really do not know what he is trying to imply.

Ethics
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, this new code that has been tabled is essentially the same as the old code. The ethics commissioner still provides private and confidential advice to the Prime Minister, just like with Mr. Chrétien. The old code did not prevent millions of dollars from being derailed. Why should we expect that the new code, which is really a new name for the old code, would be any different?

Ethics
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to hear this question when this party had agreed to the code we are tabling in the House before prorogation. Are those members changing their minds? Are they flip-flopping? Or are they maybe playing political games?

We have done what we had to do. We passed Bill C-4 to implement the position of a commissioner of ethics. We have had an appointment of a commissioner of ethics. We have a code of conduct before the House to be debated and finished with. We have done everything we had to do and committed to do to make sure we are transparent before the Canadian public.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, three years after the tabling of the unanimous report of the human resources committee proposing a true reform of the employment insurance program, we are still waiting for the Liberal government to take concrete action and do the right thing by the unemployed and seasonal workers.

Will the government finally stop talking and start acting, and will it commit to voting in favour of EI reform before the elections? Will it support the motion I will be introducing shortly to that effect?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the premise of the hon. member's question. In fact, we have responded and made changes to employment insurance in the past three years. We have invested in excess of $500 million in Quebec for that very purpose.

We have made changes relating to the small weeks, enabling people to take part time jobs. The intensity rule has been abolished, the length of the benefit period increased, and the average weekly benefits raised by about 9%. We continue to make changes, as the minister has already said here in the House.

Maher Arar Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the Arar inquiry government lawyers are objecting to Mr. Arar being represented by legal counsel when the commission considers what evidence should be in secret.

How can the government justify arguing that it needs to be represented in these hearings but Mr. Arar does not? Will the government withdraw its objections and allow Mr. Arar to be represented on a fair and equal basis with the government?

Maher Arar Inquiry
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies
Québec

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Emergency Preparedness)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Ottawa West—Nepean for her question, which reflects the sensitivity of public opinion in connection with this case and this inquiry, for indeed it is an inquiry and not a trial.

It is not appropriate for a parliamentarian, minister or not, to comment on the arguments used by counsel for either side. I must emphasize to everyone here, as well as to the general public, that we have confidence in Justice O'Connor's ability to carry out the inquiry appropriately. He will be the one to hear representatives of both parties and he will decide on the proper way to hold this inquiry.

Copyright
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago the Minister of Canadian Heritage said she would “as quickly as possible, make changes to our copyright law” to end peer to peer file sharing on the Internet. Creators want to know, will the minister table legislation to deal with this loophole before the expected election is announced?

Copyright
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the minister has said that this matter is being addressed. It is being addressed, and as soon as the appropriate measures have been approved by the authorities within the government, these measures will be introduced to the House.

Port Security
Oral Question Period

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's national security police announced this week that the RCMP has established national ports enforcement teams at only three Canadian ports: Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal.

My question is simply this: What federal assistance will be given to enhance security at other significant Canadian ports, such as the port of Prince Rupert in my riding of Skeena?

Port Security
Oral Question Period

Noon

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I have said here in recent days, the government will participate in assisting our ports and port facilities in meeting international requirements. In the coming days, an announcement will be made to assist ports and port facilities in meeting that standard.

Marine security continues to be a very key priority in the overall transportation security envelope. Transport Canada is committed to working together with our stakeholders to ensure that not only do we meet a North American standard but that we meet the international standard by July 1.

Canada Labour Code
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, eloquent examples such as Radio-Nord Communications show that the absence of an anti-scab law prolongs the duration of a strike. We have been saying this for a number of years.

Today, on the eve of May 1, international labour day, we ask the Minister of Labour once again: when will there be an anti-scab law for businesses operating under federal jurisdiction? Does she understand that, because of her lack of action, she is taking the side of the employers in their disdain for employees?

Canada Labour Code
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, as we have always said, when there is an employer-employee process in place, we must respect that process. That is what the minister has been doing, since the beginning, and she does it very well, too.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Prime Minister has recently announced the establishment of a public advocacy and legislative secretariat at the Canadian embassy in Washington. Would the government tell us how this centre will function and what specific role is envisaged for members of the House?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

Noon

Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge
Ontario

Liberal

Dan McTeague Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, whose question is an extremely important one. I can inform the member as well as the House that the secretariat of course will work with the provinces as well as parliamentarians to plan and support new outreach activities directed at members of the U.S. Congress.

It is completely consistent as well with the commitment made by the Prime Minister in the throne speech--bad news for the opposition but good news for Canadians, of course--that the government will begin to improve by this process federal, provincial and territorial partnerships in implementing a new and more sophisticated approach to management of Canada-U.S. issues.

Port Security
Oral Question Period

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian ports cannot be expected to absorb all costs related to security and customs services.

For example, the new container port facility in Prince Rupert has been told that it must pay customs-related costs when it becomes operational. How can it be competitive with existing major ports that do not pay these costs? When will the minister change this very unfair policy?

Port Security
Oral Question Period

Noon

Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, with respect to ports I have said over and over again in the House that ports are an integral part of our transportation system. They are effective in terms of ensuring that trade comes to Canada and then is transshipped to other parts of the world, in particular the United States.

We will continue to work with our ports because we think they are economic enablers that contribute to our economy. I have said over and over again that as the Minister of Transport I will work with my stakeholders to ensure that ports are able to compete in North America and to ensure that in fact they can contribute to our economy.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NAFTA ruling gives the United States three weeks to lift countervailing and anti-dumping duties on softwood lumber from Quebec and Canada.

Can the minister assure us that the softwood lumber dispute will be resolved in full compliance with the ruling and that there will be full reimbursement of the countervailing and anti-dumping duties to the companies that paid them?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

Noon

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the ruling of the NAFTA panel that the hon. member refers to does give the International Trade Commission of the United States 21 days to respond and to ensure that they are acting within their own laws of the United States, which the panel found that they had infringed.

The government will continue its two track process of rigorously litigating before both WTO panels and NAFTA panels to ensure that the success we are seeing is continued, but also to continue to negotiate in concert with the industry and the provinces of this country.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques on a point of order.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to have the following motion passed:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should bring forward, before the dissolution of the House, a reform of the employment insurance plan to implement the 17 recommendations contained in the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Beyond Bill C-2: a Review of Other Proposals to Reform Employment Insurance”.

Do I have unanimous consent?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques have unanimous consent?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Liberal

Reg Alcock President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the final report to Parliament on actions arising from the Auditor General's report on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 13 petitions.

Fisheries Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-33, an act to amend the Fisheries Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege today to present five petitions to the House.

The first three petitions concern the issue of substandard housing on our nation's military bases, and are signed by hundreds of Canadians from across Canada. They come from communities like Rossland, B.C., Canmore and Coleman, Alberta, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Ste. Anne and Carman, Manitoba, St. Catharines, Cochrane, Windsor and Simcoe, Ontario, Kensington, P.E.I. and Springdale, Newfoundland.

They call upon Parliament to rein in the Canadian Forces Housing Agency by preventing any future rent increases, at least until improvements are made to bring substandard housing up to acceptable living conditions.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the next petition I am pleased to present today is on behalf of hundreds of citizens from the province of Saskatchewan. These concerned Canadians call upon Parliament to pass legislation that reconfirms the traditional definition of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the final petition I have the pleasure to present today is from constituents from my riding of Prince George—Peace River, citizens from Fort St. John, Charlie Lake, Baldonnel, Buick and other rural communities.

The petitioners are deeply concerned that with the passage of Bill C-250, which adds sexual orientation as an explicitly protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada, this could impinge upon moral and religious doctrines regarding homosexuality. Therefore, they call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs with no fear of prosecution.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the hon. member for Victoria, I have the privilege to present a petition concerning the legal definition of marriage.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have 10 petitions, all on the same subject. They are on the traditional definition of marriage. These petitions come from across the country, many from my own riding from the city of Nanaimo. Others come from across B.C., Manitoba and Toronto. Some come from New Brunswick and some from Quebec: Sainte-Anne-du-Lac, Charlesbourg, Prince Édouard, Montreal, Gatineau, and even from francophone communities in St. Boniface and St-Norbert in Manitoba.

They are all calling on the government to preserve the traditional definition of marriage. They claim that elected members of Parliament should decide the marriage issue, not appointed judges. They call upon Parliament to take all necessary steps to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify the answer I provided in question period today with respect to the Earnscliffe contracts with the government.

I was under the impression and had been advised that there was a question on the Order Paper with respect to those contracts. In fact the question on the Order Paper was with respect to Question No. 49. We will be taking action to provide and ensure that the information is available to the hon. members on Earnscliffe.

In response to some of the statements made today, yes, information is available, which is not on the website, through the 1-800 line and other ways of inquiry, including access to information. That information can and will be made available.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, that has happened two days in a row. While I appreciate the comments made by the hon. minister, it is incumbent upon ministers, when they rise in question period to provide information to the House and by extension to all Canadians, to ensure the accuracy of their statements.

This is twice in two days that we have heard this type of apology.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Basically, I keep going to and fro. Obviously, the House is getting itself into a debate. Clarification has been made by the minister. I have heard what was probably not a point of order either on either side of the House. However, I would like to put that matter to rest for the time being. The House will now continue with business.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I want to be clear. I will not continue to hear any other points of order related to the point of order that was raised by the minister, responded to by another member, a colleague of the member who is now rising from the official opposition.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 60, supplementary, could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 60
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

In regard to climate change: ( a ) besides Environment Canada, what other federal government departments have climate action programs and at what annual cost are they funded; ( b ) is funding for these programs by journal-voucher from Environment Canada or is it part of departmental operating funds; ( c ) why did the federal government stop funding the joint project “National Museum of Natural Sciences Project on Climatic Change in Canada During the Past 20,000 Years”; ( d ) what happened to the plan to set up weather data archives in Downsview, including a national registry of tree ring and other proxy data; ( e ) which non-governmental climate scientists, and exactly when, have Environment Canada sponsored to send to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or any other climate conference; ( f ) what fully refereed scientific papers have Henry Hengeveld and David Philips had published in peer-reviewed scientific literature; ( g ) when were they published; ( h ) what groups and individuals were given financial assistance, by Environment Canada or any other department, agency or Crown corporation, including funds for research, staffing, travel, meals (including alcoholic beverages) and accommodation to attend or present at the cross-Canada climate change secretariat stakeholder consultations held in the fall of 2002; ( i ) what groups and individuals were given financial assistance by Environment Canada or any other department, agency or Crown corporation, including funds for research, staffing, travel, meals (including alcoholic beverages) and accommodation to attend or present before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development during the past five years; ( j ) which scientists have presented climate science-related testimony before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development during the past five years; ( k ) when have environmental lobby group members, including David Suzuki, met with the Prime Minister or any members of his cabinet since 1993; and ( l ) which non-governmental climate scientists have met with the Prime Minister or any members of his cabinet since 1993?

Return tabled.

Question No. 60
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 60
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 60
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-28, the amendments to the Canada National Parks Act. These amendments would allow for the removal of lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada in British Columbia and the Riding Mountain National Park of Canada in Manitoba, for the purposes of Indian reserves.

These amendments to the Canada National Parks Act will serve to respond to a long recognized need in the Pacific Rim and rectify a past error in Riding Mountain positioning these first nations to meet the needs of their communities.

The amendments seek the removal of 84.4 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and would allow the Tla-o-qui-aht Reserve to address the critical infrastructure programs that it now faces. In addition, the amendments to the act would fully re-establish the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation Reserve 61A on the north shore of Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park.

We will be supporting the bill. When the bill first came along, it was the view of some of us in the NDP that we would be in opposition to the erosion of the national parks in any way, even if it would satisfy the legitimate claims of a first nation that had an historic right to the property by virtue of traditional use of land or a specific land claim dealing with what was in fact an error made in the survey of assessment of the first nation lands affected, as in the case of the Riding Mountain National Park.

However, we have changed our views since then, after extensive consultation. I would like to speak just briefly about this issue and how it has evolved. I will speak mainly about the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada in the context of the debate.

First, to strip away the situation and to see it in its most basic form, we believe that the debate is about section 35 of the Constitution. Some members may wonder how we would arrive at that, but quite simply, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 deals with aboriginal and treaty rights, but fails to give any definition to those rights. That is why the Government of Canada has spent the last 22 years in court, since 1982, to give meaning and definition to section 35 of the Constitution.

While the constitution recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights, it does not say what those aboriginal and treaty rights are. It is the position of first nations that aboriginal and treaty rights mean some rights, some legitimate claims, to some sharing of land and resources on their traditional land base, not just the narrow finite boundaries of reserve which are not in any way traditional or naturally occurring.They are constructs of the federal government and the Indian Act.

I am talking about the traditional area of land use as demonstrated through traditional land use maps. From time immemorial, the aboriginal people up and down the west coast, whether it is in the coast Salish or the any number of Tsimshian west coast Salish tribes up and down the west coast of Vancouver Island, have used the area for hunting, gathering, settlement and traditional uses. They never ceded that territory through the Douglas treaties which predated the rest of the treaties throughout Canada, and certainly not through the treaty areas of Treaties Nos. 1 through 8 in the rest of Canada.

Their aboriginal and treaty rights were never ceded and signed away in any formal agreement with the Crown, and they remain intact. Therefore, it is fitting and appropriate, and we feel proud to support this claim today, that this area of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada should rightfully be under the direct holding and title of first nations making that claim.

Obviously, there is vested interest on many claims. However, people are satisfied that there has been adequate consultation with local landowners, municipalities, town councils and rural municipalities in the immediate area and that their concerns have been taken into account. I do not know that anyone has strongly held views about recognizing the aboriginal and treaty rights in these cases.

As we deal with the bill, it is a lesson for us all that the Government of Canada and therefore the people of Canada could save themselves an enormous amount of grief, aggravation and cost in the future if we would simply take one step back and get our minds around giving meaning and definition to section 35 of the Constitution.

Frankly, the Government of Canada is not faring too well in its court challenges in this regard. Virtually every time aboriginal people make claims for recognition of those rights, they are denied by the federal government. First nations have no avenue of recourse but to go to the courts. They go to the Federal Court and to the Supreme Court ultimately and they always win. Court cases have been going on for 10 years, 15 years and 20 years, but they are finally concluding in favour of aboriginal people.

We are letting the courts do the work of Parliament. It should be up to Parliament to give meaning and definition to section 35. We have been afraid to or reluctant to do so. I do not know what the reasoning is on the federal government's part in this, but it has never tackled this very thorny issue. It has never embraced it as a priority and conceded that aboriginal people have a right to mud, clay, gravel and sand as much as they want. They can develop it in any way they want to, resourceful as they are. We have that broad range here in interpretation.

The fact that we have to bring forward a special bill dealing with national parks is very sensitive in that it affects aboriginal people and their rights. The Government of Canada could spend less time seized of this issue if it would dedicate the time, resources and energy to define what aboriginal and treaty rights actually are.

I think that there is generosity and goodwill among Canadian people. I think that Canadians are finally ready to recognize that 140 years of social tragedy as it has pertained to aboriginal people is enough. Our relationship with aboriginal people in Canada is our greatest failure, and some would say Canada's greatest shame, in that we have allowed these third world conditions to foster within our midst knowing full well that it was all unnecessary.

People on the west coast have to be ever cognizant of traditional aboriginal and treaty rights, unceded yet to be finally defined. In this case, my colleagues and I in the NDP will support this bill. We would like to see this move forward. It is a step in the right direction, but needs to supplemented with solid action on the issues of treaty resolution, housing on reserves, native children at risk, and many more issues that we know are facing aboriginal people in this country today.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank my colleague from Dartmouth for her intervention and, also, for the short note that she sent me earlier.

This is quite an important bill. I am proud to be able to sponsor it and to see that members unanimously support it.

Concerning the park on Vancouver Island, you know that it is a backbencher who worked extremely hard to make it a national park. This member is now Minister of the Environment and is responsible for parks. This shows clearly that a member does not have to be a minister to get things changed When he wants to get involved in an issue and move it forward, he can always do so; he has all the tools to do so.

It has been said earlier that the public and all the groups have been consulted on this issue. I had told my colleague that the Government of British Columbia had also signed an agreement on this transfer. I also want to point out that the issue is not to transfer a portion of land outside the national park. The reserve is in the national park; it is a part of the park that we would transfer to a reserve in the national park.

This will then enrich this aboriginal community. It will improve its living conditions and allow its youth to have access to a certain quality of life. I often talk about the fact that the aboriginal communities have the right to protect their interests. Governments must ensure that they respect and respond as positively as possible to the demands of aboriginal communities that have inherent rights.

In the case that my colleague from Dartmouth has raised, it is the whole problem of the demography of this aboriginal community that is involved. It needs more space to develop and to have access to housing. We were talking about 130 new units, including about thirty right away. It is important that this House recognize this legislation as a major change, as a very positive response to an aboriginal community. Aboriginal communities make many claims, often in connection with their rights.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the youth at risk committee which has spent a great deal of time studying the issues around the problems facing native children. Housing on reserves is an extremely important one. A sense of entitlement, having land, having rights, although abstract, are issues that impact on children strongly. This movement toward giving more recognition of native land is a start, and I am happy to support it.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-28 which is an act to amend the National Parks Act.

Lest anyone misunderstands, the bill is about transferring land out of two national parks. They are small amounts of land and both involve aboriginal bands and communities.

The one that concerns me the most is Pacific Rim National Park. It is in my riding of Nanaimo—Alberni. The other one is a small piece of land attached to Riding Mountain National Park that I understand was simply an error in surveying. A small piece of land along Clear Lake will be added to the Clear Lake Band, correcting a historical and factual error in the actual boundaries of the reserve adjacent to the lake. We have no problem with correcting a historical error.

The issue that had potential for a lot consideration and dialogue is about transferring land from Pacific Rim National Park out of the park to meet the needs of the band.

As has been said by other members, the small piece of reserve land known as Esowista is about eight hectares. It is the main housing area for the Tla-o-qui-aht Band. Although the band has about 10 small reserve areas in the coastal area, the only other one that is really inhabited is Opitsat which is on Meares Island across from the main dock in Tofino. It is a small community but of course people have the hassle of going by water taxi to join up with Vancouver Island in order to relate to the broader community and to have the advantages of the amenities of roads, grocery stores and things that are necessary for successful living in today's society. At Opitsat they have to cross by water taxi in a very rapid moving channel in Clayoquot Sound and the Tofino Inlet.

The only real place to expand housing where people want to live is in the small piece of land known as Esowista which existed before the creation of the park in 1970.

I have been on the reserve lands and have walked around the community. It is crowded. There is no question that the community's housing needs need to be addressed. The existing reserve is hemmed in by the park. There literally is no room to store boats and trailers, or to expand the population. The existing housing is overcrowded. There is a definite need for the young people growing up there to have a place of their own and to live in a more reasonable environment.

There are a number of concerns related to this. It has been quite an exercise. Parks Canada and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have been working on this for some time with the band. The Government of British Columbia, as has been pointed out by the parliamentary secretary, is on side with the transfer of the land. A wide range of environmental groups, as was mentioned also by the parliamentary secretary, have agreed to the transfer, as have the local communities, the mayors with whom I have spoken in Tofino and Ucluelet, and the Alberni Clayoquot Regional Council.

Everyone is pretty well on board with the transfer of this small amount of land. It is about 82 hectares and it will provide for housing needs for about 200 people.

I need to speak about the park. Pacific Rim National Park is one of Canada's most famous national parks. It has a reputation worldwide. Many visitors come from around the world, particularly from Europe, to visit Pacific Rim National Park. It is such an area of natural beauty. It is a thin strip of land on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. I will borrow some of the language from the Parks Canada website:

Its magnificent islands, beaches and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barclay Sound), and the challenging 72 kilometre West Coast Trail.

Long Beach is where Esowista is located.

People come from across the world to hike along the West Coast Trail. We did it ourselves a number of years ago. A marathoner might do it in three days. We did it in eight days. It is a rugged area of coastline, up and down wadis and valleys, creek beds, cable cars riding over creek beds, and rope ladders up and down the cliffs. There is camping on the beach at night and people carry their own food.

This park attracts people from around the world that come to enjoy nature. Off the coast of Tofino and Clayoquot Sound there is a wide range of wildlife: California sea lions, seals, sea otters, all kinds of fish and whales, and grey whales that migrate up and down the coast, particularly in the spring. Right about now, the whale festival is going on in Tofino, with the grey whales migrating along the coast. Of course, there are also the orcas, transients that visit the area from time to time, or killer whales as they are known.

This park is a beautiful area. There are long stretches, kilometres, of beautiful beach. The park comprises a total area of about 500 square kilometres stretching across 125 kilometres from Tofino in the north to Port Renfrew in the south. The larger portion of that is in my riding and some of it is in the neighbouring riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan.

When it came to taking land out of the park, there were a lot of concerns about where this land would be? How were we going to expand the reserve, where would the land be located, and would it respect the environmental concerns in the neighbouring area?

Having looked into this, the officials from Parks Canada and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs have done due diligence in working with this project. I want to commend the chief and the band members. They butted heads for some time over exactly where this land would be located. In talking to the chief, to the park officials, and to Alex Zellermeyer, the park superintendent, these discussions went on for some time over a period of approximately two years, assisted by David Nairne and Associates, a company that assisted in the development process of how this community would look.

The sensitive issues about removing the expansion from the waterfront have been addressed. The band made concessions. It did not get exactly what it wanted and everybody had to work together collaboratively to come up with an agreement that would work.

The actual area is adjacent to the small Esowista reserve as it exists now, about eight hectares, and is going to be separated from the addition by an area because adjacent to it is an access to a parking area. The park has built quite an elaborate access out to Schooner Cove. That is a popular area for people to hike out to, go up and down boardwalks, and visit the beautiful beaches.

In order to preserve the integrity of the park's infrastructure, the band agreed to take reserve land beyond the Schooner Beach Trail access and leave the access intact. That involves a connector road that is not on the main road.

Regarding the environmental aspects of looking at where they would choose the exact piece of land, if we look at the boundary that was chosen, it respects the geographical landmarks and the natural landforms that are there. It was developed and designed for the housing improvements with the environment in mind by preserving the local drainage and the local bog that slows the water from rushing immediately out to the ocean and onto the beaches. The bog filters the water and the local drainage.

It is actually a model community that has been designed here. The thing that caused us the most concern and caused me the most angst was when I heard that this was coming up, and it was to be debated and fast-tracked in the House. It was just before our last break a few weeks ago. The House was on recess and I heard that when we were to return, we were going to be moving very quickly to get this through.

We recognize that the needs in the community are great and we do not want to see this held up by a recess or by an election. It could be a year before this is advanced if it is not put through before an election, if indeed an election call comes in the next few weeks, or a few days.

When I look at the memorandum of understanding, when I first heard of this I happened to be on the west coast. I went immediately to the chief who was not present, so I did visit with one of the elders who walked me over to the reserve. I looked at the housing and the needs on the reserve. I met with Tom Curley who is a longtime resident of that area. It was obvious that the expansion needed to take place and that the housing needed to be addressed.

However, when I met with the chief later and looked at the memorandum of understanding, I recognized that the parks people had done due diligence. The department had done a very thorough job in addressing this issue. The attitude of the aboriginal people toward environment can be summarized by one word. They have an expression called “hishukishtsawak” which means everything is one. It is a traditional recognition that we are part of nature and nature is part of us, and we had better respect nature if we want to benefit from a longstanding and successful relationship.

They also use the term “isaak” which means respect. The aboriginal people understand that. The Tla-o-qui-aht band has lived on and around the land, and off the resources for as long as any history has been recording it.

When I read through the memorandum of understanding, I found very good clauses through it, all about where the land would be located, the village connector road, and the limitations of further transfers. There is another parcel in the memorandum of understanding. Frankly, I have not heard anybody address the memorandum of understanding and that is why I wanted to address it here today.

When we get to clause 9, suddenly we run into an obstacle. It states under “Legal Nature of this Understanding”:

This Understanding does not create legally binding obligations on the Parties.

Frankly, it seems that this is the kind of legal language that is sewn into all memoranda of understanding. It seems to me that lawyers sew in enough loopholes to these agreements to keep them busy for another 100 years. My concern is, if Bill C-28 were to pass, the land would come out of the park. That would be a certainty. How the land will be used needs to be addressed as well.

When I met with the chief, councillor Simon Tom, and officials from David Nairne and Associates, we had quite an extensive meeting relating to this with the superintendent for the parks, Alex Zellermeyer. We thrashed through our concerns about this issue. The chief agreed with me that the band wanted certainty in the language as well. The band was committed to using the land for residential purposes only. It was not about a commercial development.

There is an agreement in the memorandum for another parcel to be located later outside of the park that would be used for commercial purposes. The band agreed that it would abide by the terms in the memorandum. Because of our concerns for this loose language that says it is not legally binding, the parties came to an agreement with a lot of effort. We were meeting on the west coast and they called back to Ottawa on a Friday afternoon. The justice officials and the department officials worked rather hard over the weekend to establish an amendment to the memorandum of understanding for greater clarity.

I would like to refer to that briefly because it was a lot of work and we appreciate them doing that. After the appropriate introductory remarks, it recognizes what we are addressing here. It states:

Now therefore the Parties agree to amend the MOU as follows:

  1. For greater certainty, the Nation will adhere exclusively to the land uses as outlined in the MOU, namely, community development;

  2. Any proposed changes in, or additions to, the uses of the land being at Esowista Indian Reserve No. 3 will require written agreement from the Parties.

I appreciate that. It makes it perfectly clear that the chief of the band was willing to put his hand to that agreement. Department officials were willing to do that and we want to see this go ahead. We do not want to see the community held up. We want to see that development begin as soon as possible so the housing needs of the young people and the community can be addressed.

I want to mention the concerns we had with regard to that and to the loose nature of these things. If it has no legal binding, what is to say that five years from now a new chief, a young chief that we do not know, and some slick developer who now recognizes this land is worth millions and millions of dollars in the middle of a national park, would not try to convince the new young band members to develop a resort condominium or put a casino right in the middle of the park.

That is the kind of thing that concerns people. I saw something recently, when I was on the west coast, I had never seen before. Just out of the park on another beach that is very much like Long Beach--and I was up early in the morning--I saw somebody on a personal watercraft, one of those high speed things, buzzing the beach. I had never seen that before.

It raises some concerns that we do not have some certainty in this agreement. What would happen if some enterprising or development minded person tried to talk the band into putting a marina down there with jet skis and watercraft for the people on the beach in the middle of the park, or a liquor store, a candy store, and stuff up and down the beach with candy wrappers? Frankly, that is not what people want to see.

When we expressed these concerns to the chief and his councillors, and the officials present, they agreed that nobody wanted to see that happen. I do not believe that is the chief's vision. They want to do the right thing. They have a model community planned and we certainly want to support it.

I appreciate the work that officials did at the last minute. My objection has to be, frankly, with the arrogance of the government in not including us to give us time to address this without creating angst among all parties.

The agreement was signed back in June. I know the chief and his councillors asked if they should be talking to anyone else, as did David Nairne and Associates, the people who worked so hard on coming to this agreement?

The volume of work that was done is very impressive. The work done on the land assessments, the land use, and the analysis of where the stream and water flows go, and the diligence that was done is very impressive. It was not a fly by night or an overnight suggestion. It was two years of very hard work.

We would have appreciated it on our side if someone had given us a little bit more time to look at it, so that the committee could go through a proper process. I know that the parliamentary secretary mentioned that the parks had consulted the environment groups and so on. Frankly, it is the duty of the opposition and the environment committee to ensure that we have indeed heard from all groups. I think the members heard some concerns being expressed by the member for Souris—Moose Mountain because we did not have time to be satisfied that those groups had been heard.

I am satisfied because, as the member for the riding, I made a point of calling the local mayors and the parks people in order to come up to speed, and to ensure that consultations had been done. We wish that we had a chance to be involved with that, so everyone's blood pressure would not have gone up about whether we would see this come through the House.

I am very hopeful we will see it come through the House. I want to see the community advance. It is obvious that the needs of the community are there. We want to see this go ahead. I am hopeful, frankly, that out of the process we worked through that we might see something happen with the Tla-o-qui-aht band. I am hopeful that we can come to final agreements and final treaties with a measure of certainty that will see everyone go ahead. Perhaps this could be a step toward a final treaty situation for this band, which is progressive. It wants to see its young people have an opportunity to be successful in the world.

There is a win for the community. The sewage treatment will involve development in the airport lands opposite the expansion. That will tie in with the Tofino water and sewage system. It will benefit the community as well.

I think there is win-win built into this arrangement. It is a very good deal for the community. We want to acknowledge that and we certainly want to see it go forward. I am hopeful that all members will have this pass in time for progress to go ahead as quickly as possible.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the comments by the member for Nanaimo—Alberni. When you saw someone on a jet ski I hope it was not the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla. During the last election campaign he would go around on a jet ski. I am just joking.

Bill C-28 concerns two parks. In one of those instances, it is only to rectify a problem with the wording, an administrative problem. The one heard about most is Pacific Rim Park.

You mentioned a lot of good things about the work of Parks Canada. Its officials, namely its CEO Mr. Latourelle and his whole team have done a tremendous job on this file, as did the team at the Department of the Environment, which was the lead department.

It takes a long time to reconstitute or enlarge a new territory. Some might think that all that is needed is a notarial deed transferring a land register number to a new landowner. It is a lot more than that. As a matter of fact, it is the whole future of a native community that is at stake. That was indeed the issue. Lands are not transferred just for the fun of it. There has to be a good reason to do so, a particular objective.

It was first and foremost to enable a native community to have a better quality of life, have access to more land and improve housing conditions.

This shows that the Government of Canada is responsible. Collectively we are responsible for improving the quality of life of native peoples, who are Canadians nevertheless.

Now that he has all the information, except for some small details, can my colleague give us his word that his colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada as a whole will support the bill at this stage?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have seen the extensive amount of work that went into the program and I want to acknowledge that work.

I can only say that representatives of David Nairne and Associates spoke to us about this because they were concerned that after all the long work it might be held up for as long as a year. They were also disappointed that the government had not advised them that they should have spoken to at least the local member of Parliament and to his caucus. If we are trying to make things happen quickly, we need all members to participate.

I want to give credit to Jeannie Kanakos and Michael Kloppenburg representing David Nairne, who worked with the band. I think everybody, along with the chief, who I found to be a very open and honest individual, had a measure of angst about whether we could do this in such a short period. The chief is very transparent and quite clear about the band's intention to follow through to see the community advance.

I know there were some very serious concerns about the opposition to this because usually there is somebody who does not agree. It is our obligation as members of Parliament to hear from opposing views and make sure decisions that are made are the right ones, especially when we are dealing with something as close to the hearts of many as a national park.

I want to say that members opposite, with all due respect, put us in a tough spot and put a lot of pressure on me, personally, and our caucus to do due diligence with this. I had a bit of work to do to convince some of my colleagues.

I am not sure how the vote will be done on this but I believe that a majority of my party will support this because it is the right thing to do for the community. However we have to do it under a little bit of protest.

Whatever the balance of power after the next election, I hope, as we are working through these processes, that when we want to bring this into the parliamentary process we will respect that we need a measure of collaboration to assure that due diligence is done in the parliamentary process and that the communities are not held up just because of partisan concerns and the parliamentary process.

We could stick our heels in here and say that we want due diligence and that we want to hear from all these groups in committee but, as we all know, if we an election us called in the next few days there would be no time for that to happen.

I am very hopeful that we will see the bill pass speedily with the support of all parties.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform my colleague that I will be sure to pass the message to Parks Canada officials so that in the future the local MP will be involved in any negotiation with the stakeholders or, at least, consulted or kept informed right from the start.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the people of Esowista have been involved with the local community in Tofino. They live off the land and but most of them live off the sea and are very involved with the fishermen in the area.

When I first arrived on Vancouver Island, in going out to Tofino, one of the first things I wanted to do for a good friend of mine who was with me and who is an avid fisherman, was to go out on a fishing charter. Our guide, Tom Curley, a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht Band, took us out on his own boat. I am pleased to say that we were successful even though the weather was bad. Tom brought us in with a nice 11 pound salmon, much to the delight of my friend, who unfortunately was rather seasick from the rough elements, and I had to help him bring in that fish. The first fish I landed was in a boat owned by someone from the Esowista reserve. Chief Moses Martin is also a charter boat operator.

We want to see Tla-o-qui-aht Band do well in the community. I would like to see that second parcel of land move ahead quickly to give the band an economic foothold so that it can provide the occupational advantages its people need in order to have a stable future. This is in the community's interests. This could be a model development that would help see treaties advance and be finalized. It could be a model for many others to follow.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in the third reading debate on Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to remove lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada and Riding Mountain National Park of Canada.

When this bill first came before the House, I guess in my own inexperience I would have thought it would have been done by an executive council order. However, upon reflection, I can see the importance of legislation dealing with our national parks and any transfer of lands out of our national parks.

As other speakers have perhaps said better than I can say, our national parks system is a jewel. A lot of the exit surveys of both domestic tourists and international tourists indicate very clearly that the reason they came to Canada and the most enjoyable parts of their visit to Canada were their visits to the national parks. Something we have to bear in mind as we go forward as a society is the importance of our national parks system.

I was very pleased earlier this year when this government announced that our national parks system would be expanding by the addition of five national parks.

I have a particular interest in this as I come from a province that has, not a large national park, but a well-travelled national park. We have the Cavendish, Brackley and Stanhope areas, and now the new extension in Greenwich. However, compared to these national parks, it is a tiny park but one of the highest travelled parks in Canada. This of course leads to new challenges and issues that the employees of Parks Canada have to deal with.

As has been said by other speakers, the national parks of Canada represent not only Canada's heritage of magnificent physical landscapes but they also represent ancient cultural landscapes. Many of our renowned national parks are the traditional territories of aboriginal communities with living histories that predate Canada by several millennia.

In the same way that non-aboriginal Canadians take exceptional pride in their national parks, aboriginal Canadians also want to feel that national parks are important and relevant institutions for their people and their cultures.

As do Canadians in general, aboriginal communities want to be meaningfully consulted and to participate in our national parks planning and in their national parks management. They want to see their ancient and present day cultures accurately and respectfully portrayed in park information and in some of the interpretative programs. They want to see that sacred sites are protected and that traditional ecological knowledge is reflected in resource conservation and in management decisions.

I am pleased to point out that Parks Canada has worked hard to improve relationships with aboriginal communities, especially aboriginal communities that we have seen in this particular case that live near the national parks system.

This effort is focused on two main points: making national parks relevant to aboriginal Canadians and making the cultural landscapes of national parks known to all Canadians, giving all Canadians the opportunity to learn about and to appreciate the people and the cultures they are visiting.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has taken significant strides in recent years to promote aboriginal initiatives, forging relationships and making significant efforts toward the meaningful involvement of aboriginal people in the cooperative management of the national park reserve. The results have been remarkable.

By way of illustration, I would like to highlight a few of these most noteworthy accomplishments. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve worked with the Ucluelet First Nation to develop the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail inside the national park. Opened in 2003, this interpretive trail provides extensive, on-site interpretation of regional first nations culture, history and language.

In June, the Ucluelet First Nation will again honour the opening of the trail by erecting the first totem pole to be carved and raised in the traditional territory of this first nation in 104 years. That is a source of great pride for this first nation community. This “welcoming” pole will greet Canadians and other international visitors to the trail and to the Ucluelet First Nation and the Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory. It will symbolize the long history and continuing presence of the first nations peoples in this region and in the national park in particular.

On the West Coast Trail unit of the Pacific Rim National Park, Parks Canada funds an initiative called Quu'as West Coast Trail Society. A not for profit group, this society is a training and mentoring program for the three first nations along the famous West Coast Trail, one of the world's great recreational hiking routes. I believe the previous speaker gave a very detailed, illustrative description of this trail and how it is used both by Canadians from all parts of Canada and by our international visitors.

By engaging in the cooperative management of the West Coast Trail with Parks Canada, young first nations members are exposed to the full gamut of park management issues and training related to public safety, resource conservation, monitoring, and public interpretation. As a result of this program, first nations graduates have gone on to secure full time employment with Parks Canada, with other agencies and with industry.

I want to point out that there are seven first nations within the area encompassed by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. A manager of aboriginal programs sits at the park management table and directs cooperative programs such as the promotion of first nations languages, cooperative training, the establishment of aboriginal national historic sites, and the development of aboriginal tourism opportunities.

By way of contrast, in 1997 there was no representation of first nations in the workforce of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Today, first nations represent some 18% of park staff in virtually every aspect and level of park management. This represents the approximate representation of the aboriginal people within the general area of that park.

There is no better indicator of the relevance of the Parks Canada program to first nations than their willingness to participate in the protection and preservation of one of Canada's great national parks. I believe this and certainly the two speakers who have gone before me have pointed this out. Parks Canada has placed particular focus on its relationship with the aboriginal people, and the record in Pacific Rim clearly indicates this action.

Bill C-28, which will withdraw lands from Pacific Rim in order to expand the Esowista Indian reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation will further strengthen those relationships. It will also improve the quality of life for aboriginal people, a government priority identified in the recent Speech from the Throne.

I want to point out two additional facts that have been indicated by other speakers. This legislation has received broad support from the other parties. It has received support from the native bands that it affects. It has received broad support from the provincial government and other local governments. I believe that the people involved, the chiefs and the senior management of Parks Canada, deserve a lot of credit for the way this legislation was brought forward before the House. First I want to congratulate them and then I want to thank them.

Second, as has been stated, this allows some housing developments to go up on the adjoining first nations reserve, and also, before the land was authorized to be transferred, all the environmental concerns were addressed and mitigated, which I am glad to report.

I would ask all members of the House to support the quick passage of Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry
Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated the speech by my colleague, who comes from an area where there are beautiful national parks that I have had the opportunity to visit on several occasions. The whole Canadian east coast is graced with national parks. We are trying to develop more of them in Quebec.

As you know, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada is one of the most beautiful parks in Canada. It is a jewel in the Canadian crown. It is said that what happens outside the park has an impact on the park itself. Members of the reserve always say that it is one entity. It is multi-dimensional.

Native peoples are actively involved in managing the park. The Parks Canada Agency cannot do everything on its own, and cannot protect everything. Our responsibility, our main concern, is to protect the ecological integrity so that the community can play an active, healthy and effective role inside our parks. In this case the understanding that exists between Parks Canada and the native community has made it possible to solve the problem as a team, in partnership.

It also makes it possible for this community to be involved in managing the park, welcoming the many visitors and ensuring the complete respect of the fauna and the flora in the park.

I thank my colleague for his remarks. I would like to ask him how he sees the role of Parks Canada across our great country. Since he has had the opportunity to visit several areas in his region that belong to Parks Canada, how does he see it?

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, Parks Canada has a very significant role in protecting, enhancing and expanding our national parks system, which, as I have stated, is a matter of considerable pride for all Canadians. I have mentioned the exit surveys taken of the tourists who visit our country and our national parks and the complimentary statistics toward our national parks system that come out of these surveys.

Again, though, the point I want to make is that we cannot take our national parks system for granted. A lot of parks, including the one in my province as well as Banff, are getting a lot of traffic, so there is stress. We cannot take these parks for granted. I understand that Parks Canada is aware of the problem and is being careful. We have to be very cautious as we go forward.

I am very pleased to see that the government is expanding our national parks system. This is something for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. It is something that I urge this government and provincial governments to continue. This is a matter of trust.

One of the growing areas of the tourist industry is the area of cultural tourism, and these relationships that Parks Canada has formed with our aboriginal communities have hit the nail right on the head. When people visit our national parks they can see the interpretive centres that interpret the people who lived in this country before we lived here. I think it is tremendous. Not only will this be a good relationship with aboriginal communities, but I think it will be very beneficial for this country's tourism industry.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, the debate on Bill C-28 is a very good opportunity to examine the policy of Parks Canada and put on the record a letter which accompanied a report published almost four years ago, the report of Jacques Gérin, president of the Panel on Ecological Integrityof Canada's National Parks.

I would like to read this letter that accompanied the two-volume report:

In November 1998, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Sheila Copps, struck the Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks. Its mandate was to report to the minister through a comprehensive analysis of Parks Canada's approach to ecosystemic management and restoration of ecological integrity. Last November, the panel sent to you background papers concerning our future report, and a number of you acknowledged receipt.

I am pleased to present to you a copy of our report, entitled “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, on the protection of the ecological integrity of national parks in Canada, a report Ms. Copps made public recently.

The panel wanted to share...

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am always reluctant to interrupt the hon. members, but I have to remind the House that we cannot do indirectly what we cannot do directly, that is refer to a member by name.

When quoting a text—an article from a newspaper for example—we have to replace the name of the member by the name of his or her riding, or the department that he or she represents.

I just wanted to remind him of that for his benefit.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your intervention and I accept it.

The panel also wanted to share with a broader audience the fundamental substance of their findings and the thrust of their recommendations.The panel's report has two volumes:

Volume I: A Call to Action is an umbrella document that describes the serious threats that beset our national parks, presents an overview of values that may be lost if the threats are not resolved—

Volume II: Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks identifies specific issues and problems and makes equally specific recommendations to the Minister and to Parks Canada on how these issues could be addressed.

This is the text of the letter written by Mr. Jacques Gérin, the president of the panel.

I would like to refer to the substance of the report, first by referring to the panel and its composition because it gives a very broad picture of Canadians across the nation who were involved in this particular panel. The panel was composed of: Louis Bélanger; Stephanie Cairns; Jacques Gérin, the chair; Louise Hermanutz; Michael Hough; Henry Lickers, a well known ecologist; Thomas Nudds; Juri Peepre; Paul Wilkinson; Stephen Woodley; and Pamela Wright, the vice-chair.

The report puts forward challenges, first of all, and then highlights. I would like put on record the challenges that were discovered and outlined in the first volume. The challenges break down into a number of thoughts that are summarized, beginning with this task:

To empower the spirit of ecological integrity within Canada's national parks.

To create a spirit of learning and teaching for everyone in the Parks Canada family, to understand and acknowledge your responsibility for ecological integrity.

To examine the manner in which you work and to look for new ways of keeping your responsibility to ecological integrity.

To forge new tools to protect ecological integrity by knowing the land, questing for knowledge, and maintaining the spirit of ecological integrity.

To integrate Aboriginal peoples into the family of Parks Canada as trusted and knowledgeable friends within the spirit of ecological integrity.

To inspire in your neighbours an understanding of your responsibility to ecological integrity within national parks.

To build a spirit of ecological integrity which will unite the isolated places of the land into a mosaic that protects ecological integrity.

To bring into being a way of teaching about the land that strengthens the spirit of ecological integrity.

To welcome responsible activities that generate a greater spirit of ecological integrity while discouraging uses that create disharmony.

The next point is a beautiful one because it is almost poetic:

To walk softly upon the land in all actions and deeds.

To generate the needed equity to strengthen the spirit of ecological integrity, without which your responsibility to the land cannot be fulfilled.

To conclude this series of tasks,--and members must have noticed that the words “ecological integrity” are repeated regularly--it reads:

We, the Panel on Ecological Integrity, are willing to work with you to meet these challenges.

This is the essence of volume one of this report.

Volume two, which carries the same title “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, with the subtitle of “Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks”, has quite a number of highlights and recommendations. The panel recommended that:

Parks Canada transform itself, by confirming ecological integrity as the priority for Canada's national parks and as the explicit responsibility of every staff member through new training, staffing, decision-making and accountability structures.

I believe that everybody in this chamber would be fully supportive of this particular recommendation. Next:

Parks Canada revise and streamline its planning system to focus on ecological integrity as the core of strategic and operational plans.

The Minister direct Parks Canada to take immediate action to convert existing wilderness zones in national parks into legally designated wildernesses, as provided by the National Parks Act.

This is a very important key recommendation which we as parliamentarians ought to take very seriously. Next:

Parks Canada significantly enhance capacity in natural and social sciences, planning and interpretation, to effectively manage for, and educate society about, ecological integrity in national parks. Develop partnerships with universities, industries, Aboriginal peoples, and other learning-based agencies.

Parks Canada undertake active management where there are reasonable grounds that maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity will be compromised without it. Key actions are required in the areas of site restoration, fire restoration, species management and harvest.

Parks Canada initiate a process of healing with Aboriginal peoples. Adopt clear policies to encourage and support the development of genuine partnerships with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Today's Bill C-28 does exactly that. We welcome that development. Next:

Parks Canada develop partnerships that encourage the conservation of parks as part of larger regional ecosystems. Seek provincial and territorial co-operation to establish a comprehensive protected areas network. Work with other jurisdictions, industry and the public to find solutions on maintaining ecological integrity. Support these solutions with a fund dedicated to conservation efforts in the greater park ecosystems. Advocate for park values and interests in the greater ecosystems.

Parks Canada develop an interpretation strategy that presents clear and consistent messages about ecological integrity.

This next recommendation is very important:

Parks Canada cease product marketing to increase overall use of parks and concentrate instead on social policy marketing and demarketing when appropriate.

I am sure this is a very controversial recommendation, which is still being examined and discussed. Next:

Parks Canada develop a policy and implement a program for assessing allowable and appropriate activities in national parks, with ecological integrity as the determining factor.

This is also a very important and difficult recommendation to implement. Next:

Parks Canada reduce the human footprint on national parks so that parks become models and showcases of environmental design and management.

This is another very ambitious recommendation which will require very thoughtful implementation and will not be an easy one to put into practice. Nevertheless, it is a very important one.

The final recommendation states:

Following the taking of first steps to improve the broader management framework for ecological integrity within Parks Canada, allocate substantial new and additional resources to implement the Panel's recommendations on improving science and planning capacity, active management, monitoring, partnerships with Aboriginal peoples, stewardship initiatives in greater park ecosystems, and interpretation. Fund the establishment and operation of new parks from new resources. Enable management decisions in support of ecological integrity to be separated from revenue implications.

Here, there are quite a number of recommendations to implement.

As members can see, this report is far reaching. It looks at the long term. It places an enormous emphasis on ecological integrity because this term runs through the entire content of those reports. As I mentioned to Parks Canada, it probably makes the Parks Canada system unique in the world in that it is a fantastic approach. It commands a lot of attention and respect. Also, the chair of this panel, Jacques Gérin, was a deputy minister of the environment in the eighties and a very loyal and devoted public servant.

There is a passage in the first volume which is interesting. It offers an example of what is happening because of growth of population and other factors. It is devoted to the species loss in Point Pelee National Park, which as we know is at the very tip of Ontario along the shore of Lake Ontario. This is what it says:

An example of the major issues facing Canada’s national parks can be seen in the changes in biodiversity in Point Pelee National Park. Located in Ontario, Point Pelee is among Canada’s smallest national parks.

It is virtually an island. It is a minute piece of real estate the size of a postage stamp.

It goes on to say:

Since 1900, approximately 20 species of reptiles and amphibians have been lost from the park area. There are numerous reasons for this dramatic decline in species but in many cases the disappearances are not fully understood. Factors in species loss include:area and isolation-- the park is too small to support viable populations of some species. Point Pelee is isolated by intensive agriculture, roads and housing that surround the park. It is the only island of Carolinian forest protected within a national park.

--pollutants--DDT was used extensively in the 1960s to control mosquitoes, and higher residual levels may account for the loss of some species. Groundwater and sewage system monitoring programs indicate that excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds have been transported by groundwater to pollute the park's marshlands. Excessive nutrients in some areas may be a direct result of past cottage development, high visitation and the associated high density of sewage facilities depositing nutrients into the groundwater via outdated sceptic systems.

--over-use--with past visitations rates of over 750,000 visitors a year [which is three quarters of a million visitors] and the current visitation rates of over 400,000, human use continues to have a significant impact on this small park. Efforts in recent years to reduce trail development and consolidate facilities in services have improved the situation--and resulted in a deliberate reduction in the number of visitors--but impacts continue due to the still high volume of people in the park.

Therefore, it is the pressure by visitors that is being addressed as one of the reasons for species loss. It goes on to say:

Among the species loss from Point Pelee is the once-common bullfrog. Only a few years ago, visitors to the park could walk on the marsh boardwalk and hear a chorus of droning bullfrogs. Today that chorus is silent.

Perhaps we cannot address the global problems directly, but we can certainly take care of those stresses that we have created ourselves and that directly affect our protected areas. Until we have put our own house in order, we will have little credibility in advocating for global change.

I thought members might find it interesting to hear these quotations from volume I, “A Call to Action”, by the panel which I mentioned in this intervention.

It is an important document and it seems to me appropriate that it would be good timing to put this information on the record and bring it to the attention of hon. members. Because of the high quality of our parks in the country and because the ecological protection, significance and integrity of these parks, future generations of Canadians may want to pay attention to them to preserve their unique characters, be they in highly or nearby highly inhabited parts of the country or in remote parts of the country.

We have a network that is of unique beauty. It seems to me that the debate on Bill C-28 makes room for an intervention of this kind in order to bring these considerations to the attention of the House.

Canada National Parks Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member for Davenport about the environment and the parks. We know this has been a longstanding passion for him.

On the Pacific Rim National Park, very briefly let me say that they have really done due diligence on the ecological integrity, the land development, roads design, housing, location and site drainage. All these things have been done with due study and detailed mapping.

I wanted to say this about that member. He has been really a voice for environment for the term that I have been here and long before that. I am not sure how many years he was the chair of the environment committee, but for many years he has stood for environmental issues in the House. The story we understand is that it is possible the member will not run again. I simply want to acknowledge the contribution he has made in the House to environmental issues, and as chair of that committee.

I am sure all members, indeed in all parties, recognize the contribution not only to the debates in the House, but to the character of the House, and I dare say that his presence here will be missed. I am sure he will find a way to make his presence known. As another hon. member mentioned, he may come back as a ghost, but I am sure this one will be around in some capacity or another to influence the affairs, particularly related to environment.

We want to congratulate the member for his longstanding efforts on this behalf.

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support the bill of my colleague from Calgary on this very important issue; that of home invasions, break and enters involving people's homes and residences.

I just cannot resist prefacing my statements on the bill today by simply stating how jealous I am of this member and indeed of all the other members who in the last 10 years have been able to put forward private members' bills, have them debated and in some instances voted on in this place.

In the 10 and half years, and I cry in my soup again, I have never once been drawn. It seems so incredibly unfair to me because I have such excellent private members' bills, which resonate well with Canadians across the country because of some of the work I have done on them.

The one on standardizing the date format is an example. What does two, three, four mean? Is it 2002, March 4, or whatever? I had one that would at least standardize it for legal purposes and hopefully move Canadians toward some consistency on how they expressed dates in numerical format. I never got a chance to have it debated in the House.

I have another very excellent bill on EI, pertaining to students to ensure that they do not have to pay premiums on an insurance policy that they cannot possibly ever collect. Yet it never was drawn, and did not have the opportunity to have that debated in the House.

I have yet another bill on property taxes. We know that we are overtaxed in this country. Families are having a hard time making ends meet. Yet my very excellent private member's bill, which would exempt property taxes from income tax, the principle being a Canadian should not have to pay taxes on money earned for the sole purpose of paying taxes, never got a chance to be debated.

Here I am after 10 and half years, and I expect to be re-elected. However, in the event that changes, this will be my last opportunity to talk about my private member's bills, which I never got to talk about in a meaningful way in this place. There we go. I thank everyone in the House for all the sympathy I am getting.

Having used two minutes of the time on this bill to promote my own, at least I got it off my chest.

This bill is a most important one. We have somehow in our society increasingly lost the fabric of ethical and moral behaviour. It has become fashionable nowadays, and to our regret even within the high levels of government, to take things which are not our own.

I remember when I helped write the handbook for our private Christian school, of which I was the chairman when we started out. We had a little section in there which we copied from others that said that students should not bring valuables to school, the intent being that then they would not be subject to being stolen. I could not resist, working on that, inserting another statement in there that said, “Notwithstanding this, that students should not bring valuables to school, we still expect our students to not take things that do not belong to them”. Even if there is something there that is valuable, one should not be able to take it.

I remember, when I was youngster, my mother taught me a very important lesson. It was in a different language so the idiom does not fit at all. Basically the message was, “You cannot steal even so much as a thimble”.

I imagine many people here do not even know what a thimble is. A thimble was a little device, usually metal in those days. It was put on the finger of a person sewing so that if the needle went astray, it would prevent the finger from being injured. That was a thimble. It was a very small, almost worthless, device. However, she taught us, “You do not steal even a thimble”.

I remember also, when I was youngster, that our home on the prairies in Saskatchewan was never locked. In fact I do not remember if we even had a lock on the door. I remember my dad asking why we should lock the doors. He said that perhaps when we were not home, someone would come by who needed to use the phone.

That was the kind of trust we had among one another in rural Saskatchewan when I was growing up. We were taught both by word and by example, by our parents, by our schools and by our churches, that we did not take stuff that did not belong to us. It was just unthought of.

What a sharp contrast that is to what we are seeing in government these days. I find it despicable. A reporter back home asked me if I was not happy with everything happening here because, she said, we now have an excellent chance of forming the government. Surely Canadians will punish these Liberals for taking a whole bunch of money, she said, for misappropriating it and spending it in ways for which it was not intended--except that she used much stronger language. I have changed her language so that it is parliamentary.

I responded to her by saying, “No, as a matter of fact, it makes me incredibly sad”. It makes me incredibly sad that in our government this type of thing can be done. Where is it that people get the idea they can spend taxpayers' money, which is to be held there in trust? Where do they get the idea that they can just take it and use it for whatever personal purposes they have, with or without accounting and with or without justification? That should be so far from our thinking that it should just never happen.

However, I have digressed. We are talking about a bill that says there should be a harsher sentence imposed on people who engage in the act of breaking into people's homes and taking their things. Of course, one of the reasons for this, one of the large reasons, is that the invasion of one's personal space is such a violation of the person himself or herself.

I have talked with many people who have had their homes broken into. They have all said that they are not as concerned about the television or whatever because that can be replaced. In fact, the insurance company, after a deduction, will replace the things that are taken.

What people are really concerned about is the fact that they have had their personal space violated. We used to say that a man's home is his castle; it is one of the places where we have the privacy of our home, our families, and we do not expect it to be invaded by a stranger with all sorts of intents that could be very devastating.

I will never forget the case of Barb Danelesko in Edmonton. It is now a fairly old case from probably seven or eight years ago. Three young offenders broke into her house. She thought it was the dog that wanted to go out, as dogs sometimes do in the middle of the night. She left her husband in his bed, the children upstairs, and she went downstairs to let the dog out, she thought. Unfortunately, these three young thugs grabbed a knife from the kitchen cupboard and they murdered her. This happened because they were in the process of breaking in. They were young offenders. We were not even permitted to know their names. I believe they are no longer serving a sentence for this crime. In essence, they got away with it. This is the type of thing that can happen.

This bill has as its primary goal to put a large deterrence on breaking and entering into homes. It would require a minimum mandatory sentence of at least two years for individuals who have been found guilty of a second or subsequent offence.

We are still letting them get away with the first offence, so let the Liberals vote in favour of this bill because they are always the ones who want to be soft on crime. We are being soft on the first offence, but we hope that after the first offence for which a person is convicted that person would learn the lesson and never do it again. If people have not learned the lesson and do it again, hence the subsequent or the second offence, then we say a minimum of two years.

This will do two things. First, it will act as a deterrent. Second, it will prevent that individual from continuing this activity for at least two years.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to remind my hon. colleague who has just spoken that another prairie boy recalls a time when it was illegal to lock a rural church or school simply because in blizzards and storms those were places one could get into. Things have changed.

We will not find one police force across Canada, including the RCMP, that will not support this bill, not one.

Let me tell members very quickly what is happening now. In the rural areas where I come from, break and entry is now so common that when the RCMP are called, people are told, “Sorry, but we won't be getting there because we're three days behind in looking at breaks and enters”. That is what it is like. It is a common thing.

Now another thing has developed. Some of the insurance companies now are asking, “Was your property properly secured? Did you have the right locks and buzzers?” I do not know. Then the insurance companies are saying, “You must have done something wrong because you were broken into before”. Again it is the victim who takes the rap. Again it is the victim who has to pay for everything.

We in Canada are not helping young people one little bit unless we have legislation like this. That is not going to stop them. I have a nephew on the police force and many good friends on the police force who are dealing with the same person up to five times on break and enter.

In Regina and other cities, we have another terminology: home invasion. It happens every night. Groups of three or four people get together and go into someone's home. And it is not what they take: it is the collateral damage. We have people who move to another area. The value of their house goes down. They lose thousands of dollars because the same gang that has already served terms for break and enter moves about. It is home invasion.

If only these young people would follow the law, if only they were forced to know the law and if only the judicial system would follow this bill: what have we got to lose? What does society have to lose by adopting my hon. colleague's private member's bill? What loss is it to society? Society has nothing at all to lose and everything to gain.

I urge the government to stop playing around with these issues, pass the bill and show Canadians once and for all that it can adopt a bill from this nasty party over here which the government claims wants to get tough on crime. Let us see the government get tough on crime and bring some law and order to this country on breaking and entering.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Seeing no other member rising, I will now give the floor to the hon. member under whose name the motion stands for the right of reply for a maximum of five minutes.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to wish my friend who just spoke the best of luck in his retirement. I have been very privileged to have worked with him during the last seven years I have been in Parliament. I would like to thank him and his wife for all of their contributions to the Canadian public.

When I first introduced my bill, I was amazed at the amount of support that I received from citizens, from the provincial government and from police forces right across the country. I have given numerous interviews on radio stations and television stations across the country specifically talking about Bill C-393 and its importance.

The Toronto chief of police captured the whole debate on this issue as to why the bill is necessary and important when he said:

Deterrent sentences such as the one you have proposed are absolutely necessary if we are ever to realize the goal of truth in sentencing. Too often breaking and entering is viewed as a victimless property crime. In fact, it is a very serious and traumatic violation of a citizen's sense of safety and security.

That statement was made by the chief of police of the largest city in Canada.

I am sure that if government members were to go back to their ridings and talk with their citizens they would be told to support Bill C-393. I hope that when the bill comes up for a vote, people will know which of the members on the other side did not take this issue seriously and voted against it. I look forward to the upcoming vote.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 5 immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

It being 1:47 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:47 p.m.)