House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my minister I would like to table a petition where the petitioners ask Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being a lifelong union of one woman and one man to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have numerous petitions pertaining to the matter of a legal definition of marriage. The petitioners call upon Parliament to immediately hold a renewed debate on the definition of marriage, reaffirming, as it did in 1999, that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition dealing with the issue of two strikes legislation. The petitioners call upon Parliament to enact two strikes legislation, requiring everyone who is convicted for the second time of one or more sexual offences against a minor person to be sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility of parole or early release.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure of presenting a petition containing 1,445 signatures of people living in Verchères—Les-Patriotes and other Quebec ridings. The petitioners wish to inform the House of Commons of their opposition to the Canada-U.S. project to dredge and widen the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The petitioners feel that this widening and dredging project could have a significant irreversible impact on the shores, vegetation and waters of the St. Lawrence, in short on the entire delicate ecosystem of the region, particularly because of the risk of stirring up toxic sediment which is liable to contaminate the food chain and thus adversely affect human health.

As well, widening the channel might reduce the Seaway to nothing more than a means of channelling ocean-going supercargoes all the way through to the Great Lakes. As a result, they would no longer off-load in Quebec ports, Contrecoeur in particular, but would go directly to Ontario or U.S. ports, with disastrous effect on the economy of Quebec.

The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons to take all necessary steps to ensure that this Seaway widening projet never takes place.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table numerous petitions as part of the signatures of hope campaign.

The petitioners urge Parliament to use its influence on international financial institutions to cancel multilateral debt of impoverished countries, to increase Canada's official development aid to meet the goal of .7% of gross national income, to ensure that patents or trade related intellectual property rights do not block access to public goods like lifesaving medicines, and to double funding to the federal government's domestic program on HIV-AIDS.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my pleasure and privilege to present five petitions this afternoon to the House of Commons.

The first petition is from residents in my riding of Prince George, British Columbia. These petitioners note with concern the possible impact of proposed amendments to section 318 of the Criminal Code upon freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

They call upon Parliament to take all measures necessary to protect the rights of Canadians to freely share their religious and moral beliefs without fear of prosecution.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is mainly from residents of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but also from other communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

The petitioners note that adoptive parents make a significant social contribution to our society and that these parents often face significant adoption related costs, but out-of-pocket adoption expenses are not tax deductible.

They call upon Parliament to pass legislation to provide an income tax deduction for expenses related to the adoption of a child, as contained in private member's Bill C-246.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, finally, the last three petitions that I present today are on the issue of the high rent charged and the all too often substandard condition of housing for our military families found on bases across Canada.

These three petitions are signed by concerned citizens from all across the nation and they continue to pour into my office. These three petitions are from Brossard, Quebec; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and London and Walkerton, Ontario.

The petitioners note that housing accommodation provided by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency on bases serves as a valuable purpose by allowing families to live in a military community and have access to services to address their specific needs. The petitioners also note that the rent is increasing all the time.

They call upon Parliament to immediately suspend any future rent increases for accommodation provided by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency until such time as the Government of Canada makes substantive improvements to the living conditions of housing provided for our military families.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by people who live in the ridings of Témiscamingue and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik. They are calling on Parliament to put pressure on the federal government to put an end to transitional measures, to increase benefits and to adopt a universal employment insurance program. This petition is being presented specifically because this region has been hard hit by the softwood lumber crisis and because of the particular situation of workers in seasonal industries.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

May 7th, 2004 / 12:15 p.m.

Leeds—Grenville
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Jordan Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in support of Bill C-34, an act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999.

Most Canadians remember only too well the devastating pictures after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in one of the most environmentally sensitive habitats in North America. We all remember the oil drenching of birds, fish, seals and other marine life, and most of us were alarmed at the damage this caused.

Yet as devastating as that incident was, we have a tragedy of larger proportion that occurs every winter off the coast of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. We are quite certain it occurs in ocean waters elsewhere along the east and west coasts of Canada.

Some 300,000 seabirds die because of the illegal discharge of oily waste. The oil penetrates their natural defences against the cold Atlantic winter waters and they die a slow death. These birds have no hope of survival. Most of the time we find them alive, but they are totally exhausted from the struggle against the cold and they are beyond hope. This unhappy scenario happens every winter, and it does not have to happen.

In the shipping industry there are many fine environmental corporate citizens. They obey the law and they do the right thing by discharging waste where it belongs: that is on shore based facilities. Unfortunately, there are a few who dump their bilges at sea. They do this because our penalties are too low and they figure that a fine is better than doing the right thing. However, the cost to our marine wildlife and the environment in which they live is much too high. It is time for us to take additional steps to deal with this issue.

In the United States there have been some high profile prosecutions over illegal discharges at sea, prosecutions that have resulted in strong penalties. We now find ourselves in the position of having Canadian waters viewed as a safe dumping ground, or at least a cheap one. I am certain all of us here do not want Canada to be seen in this way.

Bill C-34 under consideration does not propose fundamentally new policy positions. Pollution of the oceans has been an offence in Canada under several acts. However, Bill C-34 proposes a strengthening of two important environmental laws and emphasizes our longstanding commitment in the area of biodiversity conservation through the biodiversity convention. These amendments also set the framework for close co-ordination among Environment Canada, Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, so that together they can be even more effective.

The act makes good sense for conservation. It makes better sense for habitat protection. It makes good sense for us all, because a clean marine environment also means cleaner beaches, cleaner estuaries and a better future for wildlife and for ourselves.

There are also opportunities with the bill. The key opportunity we should remember is that we can act to make stronger two major pieces of environmental legislation that will equip us to get tougher with those in the shipping industry who are breaking the law and who are polluting the ocean waters and killing seabirds. Another opportunity is that we can send a strong message that Canada is serious about this issue and is prepared to take serious measures.

I must acknowledge at this time and praise those in the shipping industry, and there are many, who take their environmental responsibilities seriously and do not pollute.

These proposed amendments will have no impact on those good corporate citizens, and we applaud them. Let us verify their good actions by ensuring that those who disobey the law are brought to justice, and let all in the House join me in supporting this bill.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

R. John Efford Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House and take the necessary time to talk about the bill. First, I want to congratulate the Minister of the Environment for tabling this bill in the House. Those of us who live in Newfoundland and Labrador to understand the major tragedies caused by the careless dumping of bilge water on the ocean. We have seen this throughout our life.

Environmental disasters are common to Newfoundland and Labrador, a lot of them caused by nature about which we cannot do anything. However, the impact on the ocean, on wildlife and on the fish stocks by the companies being so callous as to dump their oil is unimaginable. One has to see it to believe it.

I have lived in Newfoundland and Labrador all my life. I have witnessed this happen. All of us are astounded at how people could be so careless in destroying our wildlife and our oceans. It just does not make any sense to anyone.

We also have another major environmental tragedy taking place on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador. The means of stopping it was led by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and myself yesterday. This environmental disaster has been taking place for the last 40 years. Fishermen from other countries around the world come to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador. They use meshes that are no larger than the hairnets worn by the workers in a fish plant to catch small fish in the ocean. They have caught so much fish that the scientific community has recommended that some species of fish be put on the extinction list. That to me is absolutely unimaginable. This is a renewable resource, but nevertheless this is being caused by large ships at sea.

We have two major environmental disasters taking place in Newfoundland and Labrador on which now the government, led by the Prime Minister and the ministers responsible, is taking immediate action.

Let me give an example of what happens to a bird when it gets in an oil slick on the ocean. The feathers become totally coated by the oil, That means the natural way of that bird surviving in the cold ocean waters of the north Atlantic is no longer effective because the oil prevents the natural insulation those birds have enjoyed.

What do those birds mean to the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the people in Atlantic Canada? We all love the wildlife. However, we have to remember that when people came across the Atlantic Ocean, back 500-plus years ago, they came for a reason. They came to settle on the island off the east coast of Canada because of the rich environment in the fisheries and the rich fish stocks on the Grand Banks. Naturally, when they moved to the coastlines, a way of life was developed. They depended upon the fish stocks and the wildlife as a means and a way of survival. It was their food. For hundreds and hundreds of years, people living in the coastal communities of Newfoundland and Labrador have existed that way. It is part of our heritage, our culture and our environment. It is the reason why we live in the beautiful province surrounded by the north Atlantic Ocean.

How any captain of any ship could turn on a bilge and dump oil waste into the ocean is just unimaginable. The one thing we can be grateful for is that the people who are doing this are far fewer in numbers than the people who do respect the environment. Nevertheless, some ships, which are 700, 800 and 900 feet long, that sail the ocean by Newfoundland and Labrador, up through the Gulf of St. Lawrence and other places on the Canadian coastlines have absolutely no respect for the environment, for nature or for our wildlife.

Why has this been going on for so long? Why has not been stopped? There has been legislation in place for quite some time. Recently a major tragedy happened where a captain dumped his bilges and all that oil went into the ocean. The courts made a decision that would not deter captains of boats from continuing to do that in the future. The Minister of the Environment recognized that something else had to be done.

Changes needed to be made to the legislation. The first change concerned the penalties, which were not heavy enough. It was cheaper for a captain to dump the bilge at sea than to go and offload it into a port in a legal manner. Callousness, carelessness and the cost was not an impediment to a captain doing that.

The Minister of the Environment said that we had to make it so that the captains of these ships must stop. When operating a tanker or freighter the size that those ships are, we have to realize the fine of $15,000, $16,000 or $20,000 is not a lot of money.

The minister has increased the fines to make it so these people will not be able to do this anymore. The penalties that will be in place will certainly be a major impediment. When those captains have to pay a fine of $1 million, they will think twice about turning on that switch and dumping their bilges at sea.

There were questions raised in the House this morning by the Conservative member for Fraser Valley about this getting through the House in the next few days or in the very near future. All sides of the House support the legislation. I am very pleased as a Canadian and as a native of Newfoundland and Labrador to stand in the House with the total cooperation of all parties to get this legislation passed.

I want to say to the opposition members from all parties that yes, this can pass. With the cooperation of everybody, there is absolutely no reason why this cannot have speedy passage through the House. This is good news for all Canadians. This is a situation where all parties are putting partisan politics aside and working for the best interest of our environment.

We live in the greatest country in the whole world, bar none. I often say it many times and I suspect people from other provinces will also say that they live in the greatest part of Canada. Being from Newfoundland and Labrador, while we live in the greatest country in the whole world, I have to say I live in the greatest part of Canada.

I say that with a lot of pride because we are a large island. Newfoundland and Labrador is four times larger than Japan which has 125 million people. We have 510,000 people in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have a very pristine environment. The people of those communities protect their environment. The people of those communities do not do anything to destroy their environment. They are very careful over the land, over the beaches and over the ocean. They will not stand by while people from other countries come across our oceans and continuously dump waste and destroy our environment.

What is happening in the House today, with the Minister of the Environment having tabled the legislation, gives the people of eastern Canada, the people of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, confidence that this government cares about the environment, about Newfoundland and Labrador and about eastern Canada.

We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the environment will be protected for the future of the people living in the communities. I am compelled to say that as one member of the House of Commons, and with cooperation on all sides of the House, we have made the right decision and are moving forward to protect our future that we must leave to our children and our grandchildren.