House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

If the people across the way could just stop yelling.

I would just like to point out that the vote by each member of the Bloc Québécois constitutes a vote of non-confidence in the Liberal government, which no longer has the necessary moral authority to govern and which is headed by a prime minister who is discredited more every day in this House, as well as by the revelations coming out of the Gomery inquiry.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Obviously there are no points of order in this. The leader of the Bloc Québécois has stated his opinion. We can therefore continue with other House business.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Respectfully, Mr. Speaker, you determined that the last vote was carried. It was on a motion that the matter be referred back to committee. You did not say that. Is it in fact the instruction of this House that this matter now be referred back to committee?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Yes, it is.

It being 6.45 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

May 10th, 2005 / 6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

moved that Bill S-14, an act to protect heritage lighthouses, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to ask your opinion on Bill S-14. It seems that it ought to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

As Marleau and Montpetit notes:

Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may only authorize spending which has been recommended by the Governor General.

This is an essential feature of our system of responsible government.

I wish to draw your attention to section 17 of Bill S-14, which requires that:

The owner of a heritage lighthouse shall maintain it in a reasonable state of repair and in a manner that is in keeping with its heritage character.

Over time this requirement will necessarily involve the expenditure of very significant funds by the owner.

Most of the lighthouses in Canada are the property of the federal Crown, given Parliament's jurisdiction over “Beacons, Buoys, Lighthouses and Sable Island” under section 92(9) of the British North America Act, 1867.

The bill is, by section 5, made binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada, demonstrating a clear intention to include federal government properties within the scope of the bill. It is estimated that the cost to Parks Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans could be as high as $235 million over five years, with significant ongoing costs.

When this bill's predecessor was debated in the previous Parliament as Bill S-7, the Speaker ruled that the bill did not require a royal recommendation. This ruling seemed to focus on the fact that the bill did not immediately impose an obligation to expend public funds since there would not be any heritage lighthouses to maintain until the governor in council designated some.

To my knowledge, the timing of an expenditure has not been a factor in previous rulings. If a bill involves a new and distinct cost to the Crown, it surely does not matter if the cost is incurred immediately upon assent of the bill or at some future point.

Moreover, if we examine the provisions of government bills accompanied by a royal recommendation, we find that only a minority of them actually oblige the government to expend given amounts.

A money bill simply authorizes the activity that will incur an expenditure and leaves the decision in individual cases to a minister, the cabinet or some administrative body.

Erskine May disposes of the issue very succinctly. It states:

The same [i.e. the requirement of a new and distinct charge] applies to a totally new legislative purpose which imposes only a potential liability on public expenditure.

For example, the argument cannot be sustained that a proposal to confer on a Minister a discretionary power to expend money in certain circumstances escapes the need for a Money resolution because the circumstances may not arise or the discretion may not be exercised.

This is found in Parliamentary Practice , 22nd edition at page 763.

The Speaker also appeared to rely on the fact that the bill was modelled on the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, which had itself been introduced without a royal recommendation.

While the two bills share many features, they differ in one critical respect. The railway stations act does not impose an express obligation to maintain the structures, whereas Bill S-14 does. In any case, stations are owned by private companies, while the cost of maintaining heritage lighthouses will be borne by the public purse.

Therefore I conclude that this bill should properly be accompanied by a royal recommendation and I hope the Chair will consider these points carefully.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I am a little surprised that the hon. member chose to bring these points forward at this time. I have no problem offering a rebuttal, but usually on private members' business a member would take that opportunity to walk across the floor and speak to the member supporting the bill.

Obviously the bill does incur some financial obligation on the government if it were to pass in its present format. The suggestion would be that all of those details could be looked after at committee.

This bill, or versions of it, has now come to the House for the third time. It has passed the Senate. It was passed in the last Parliament by the Senate. What we are actually dealing with here is property that is incurring a federal cost now. This property is already owned by the federal government so we are spending money for the upkeep of lighthouses. We are not putting new costs in here.

Because many of these lighthouses are being divested to private ownership, we are asking that in the future the owners, be they provincial, municipal or private, would have some responsibility to keep at least the physical outside of the lighthouse in the condition that would speak to its heritage and the era in which it was built.

As far as additional federal costs, actually less federal money would be spent in the future on lighthouses than there is now. To this day, there is a federal cost to lighthouses. I do not understand the logic of the member's intervention.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the chief government whip is going to rise on a point of order on this issue she should get her facts straight.

In her point of order she referenced the BNA Act, 1867. There is no such thing as the BNA Act, 1867. There use to be an act entitled the British North America Act, 1867 but that no longer exists. There is an act entitled the Constitution Act, 1867. If she is referring to that she should clarify that. If she is rising on such a point of order, then I go back to my original point, which is that she should get her facts straight.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak briefly to the point of order.

It is very important for people to realize that we are dealing with federal government obligations that now exist and that the existing heritage protection for our lighthouses is woefully inadequate. This is broadly recognized as something that needs to be addressed.

I would simply add my voice to those who are pleading the case for the government spokesperson to recognize that the details can be debated at second reading.

I will quote directly from the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society which said, “We need help in keeping the lighthouses from the ravages of neglect and the processes of disposal”.

This is an urgent matter. I hope, in some spirit of making this Parliament work, and in showing that the acrimony is not so great that people are obstructing all progress in the House, that there can be debate and the bill can be referred to committee where the kinds of concerns raised by the government member can be addressed.

I hope she is not trying to kill a very important initiative that has been supported over many years by people who are concerned that we are losing our lighthouse heritage.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. chief government whip has raised this matter. I thank the hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's and the members for Halifax and Wellington—Halton Hills for their interventions.

It is quite normal to have this issue raised at this stage of proceedings on a private member's bill. The Chair will take the matter under consideration and get back to the House.

Debate can proceed on second reading. It can go, in fact, up until third reading and it is only at third reading that, if a royal recommendation is required, no further proceedings on the bill can go on. That question may not be determined until the bill has been reported from the committee and we see it in its final form, ready to proceed to third reading. However I will get back to the House and make a ruling on this matter in due course.

The hon. member for Durham is rising on another point of order in respect to the bill.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. Following consultations I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following amendment. I move, seconded by the member for South Shore--St. Margaret's:

That the motion for the second reading of Bill S-14, an act to protect heritage lighthouses, be amended by deleting the words “Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage” and replacing them with the words “Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development”.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to the proposed change to the motion?

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Amendment agreed to)

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to rise in the House this evening to once again support this bill from the Senate with the idea of preserving lighthouses, certainly not just in Atlantic Canada but throughout coastal Canada, across Atlantic Canada, in the north, in western Canada and even inland. There are only two provinces in Canada that do not have lighthouses: Alberta and Saskatchewan. All other provinces have lighthouses.

I would like to comment further on the intervention by the member for Durham. The importance of that intervention is that Parks Canada became a part of the Department of the Environment, a move that was passed by order in council in December 2003. The legislation making it official was passed in the House in February. Parks Canada is the correct department and that is where we should be going. Therefore, we have to go to the environment committee rather than the heritage committee.

There is a very good reason for putting parks under environment. It is believed to be a better fit with regard to the fact that for parks and the environment, historic sites such as lighthouses make up only a small part of Parks Canada. In one way, it seems like a bit of an odd fit but it is a fit. The budget for lighthouses comes from Parks Canada, which is under environment, so it needs to go to the environment committee. I wanted to have that on the record.

I also would like to read into the record some comments from my hon. colleague, Senator Forrestall, who has supported this bill and has done yeoman service in the Senate on this piece of legislation. I believe this is the third time that it has come to the House of Commons. Prorogation twice prevented it from being passed and we are back here once again with the belief that all members will support this extremely important bill.

I would like to read into the record a brief portion of hon. Senator Forrestall's comments, because I think they ring extremely true to the very gist of this bill. He said:

I am pleased...to speak to Bill S-14, [an act] to protect heritage lighthouses. This is neither a partisan nor a money issue. Steps must be taken to preserve and protect Canadian heritage for future generations, whether that be [heritage properties], railway property, lighthouses or, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, grain elevators...These are monuments to the Canadian way of life.

We have been over this ground three times. The bill has now passed through the Senate twice and then on to the House of Commons to committee twice before prorogation. Twice previously this bill has been fast tracked and we ask for speedy passage again.

He continued, saying:

--there is no question of the place of the lighthouse in the human heart and its simplistic beauty set against the rugged, dark sea and coast. One does not have to be from the shores of the Atlantic or the Pacific to be attracted to lighthouses.

I appreciate those words of Senator Forrestall. Once again I would like to be on the record in thanking him for all the hard work he has done in keeping this issue alive, and quite frankly, before we lose more of our lights, due not just to neglect but to the ravages of the ocean they are there to protect.

As I have mentioned, only two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, do not have a lighthouse. Of the roughly 500 lighthouses across the country, only 19 have full protection as heritage sites. While 101 others have partial protection, lighthouses have heritage status and they fall under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada. Surely we can do a better job than protecting just 19 of the historic lighthouses in Canada.

I have spoken to this legislation on several occasions in the House. Lighthouses are very much a part of Canadian culture, not just Canadian maritime culture but Canadian culture. Not only are they part of our culture, they are part of our storytelling, our folklore and our songs. There is as much of a lighthouse inside every Canadian as there is a maple leaf.

There is no Canadian who does not have a picture of a lighthouse. Very few Canadians have not visited the historic light at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia, which falls inside the boundaries of my riding of South Shore--St. Margaret's. I would argue strenuously that no Canadians living today cannot picture the Peggy's Cove lighthouse in their mind when I say the name.

Lighthouses stand as historic focal points for communities where they have watched over generations of our forefathers as they have traversed our seas. Further, some of these lighthouses serve as an important part of local economies across the country, as many have restaurants, inns or museums nearby.

Bill S-14 is of personal importance to me because there are 135 heritage lighthouses in Nova Scotia. Let us remember that only 19 lighthouses are fully protected and 101 are partially protected. In Nova Scotia alone there are 135 lights that should be protected. This figure does not include a great many of the smaller towers. It does include the 28 major lighthouses in my riding of South Shore--St. Margaret's.

These lights are not just part of our culture and our seafaring tradition but part of our communities. In the days when those lights were manned, the lightkeeper was an integral part of the community, often having access not just to the light but to Morse code and to a telegraph. The keeper could actually pick up, send to and receive messages from offshore vessels and certainly from vessels in distress.

There are dozens and dozens of communities in Nova Scotia and on the Pacific coast, in Atlantic Canada and in Quebec, where, when darkness falls, the light on the lighthouse can be seen rotating to this day. There are a lot fewer than there used to be, but they are still there and they are still very much a part of our maritime way of life.

Can anyone in the House imagine our province of Nova Scotia without its lights at Peggy's Cove, West Head, Hawk Point, Coffin Island, Seal Island--