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

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

April 30th, 2004 / 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.