House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

September 22nd, 2006 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Earlier this week the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons raised an objection pursuant to Standing Order 39 to question No. 90 from the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam. The basic argument was that the question was too long. On that basis the parliamentary secretary was arguing that it was out of order and should be struck from the list.

The purpose of Standing Order 39 is analyzed in Marleau and Montpetit at page 438 which states that those questions are put on the order paper “with the intent of seeking from the ministry detailed, lengthy or technical information relating to public affairs”.

Standing Order 39 is quite clear. There are certain rules that allow us to place before individual ministers, and in rare cases other members of Parliament, detailed questions for information that we require in order to perform our functions as members of this House.

The question that is being challenged by the parliamentary secretary is the only one on the order paper by the member for New Westminster--Coquitlam. Standing Order 39 allows for up to four questions to be on the order paper at any given time by any given member in the House. This is the only question she has on the order paper at this time. Without question it is lengthy; the question has a number of subsections in it.

There used to be no limit to the number of written questions a member could put on the order paper. About 10 years ago a new rule was introduced that limited the number of questions a member could put on the order paper to a maximum of four at any given time. My colleague is clearly in compliance with that part of the rule in the sense that she only has the one question.

The question is with regard to Afghanistan and the deployment of military resources there. What you have to do, Mr. Speaker, in making your determination as to whether the request from the parliamentary secretary is a reasonable one, is to look at the practice that has grown since the change in the Standing Orders. In particular, I would call to your attention questions that were put forward by Mr. John Cummins, who was a member of the Conservative Party in the last Parliament, and questions--

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I rise to remind the hon. member who is experienced in this House that we do not name members of this current House.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I am going to have the problem of not knowing which riding he is in: Delta—Richmond East.

In the last Parliament that member put forward two questions at the same time and they were Question Nos. 5 and 7. Those questions, and I am looking at copies of them right now, run on to a length that is longer, or at least as long as Question No. 90 which is the subject of the objection from this government and the parliamentary secretary at this time.

Those questions were in fact subsequently answered. They were on fishery items, I believe. The member was then and is still now quite interested in that topic. He was asking as I believe proper, specific questions, wanting specific answers to specific facts, wanting that detail, all of which seems to be well within the spirit and the wording of Standing Order 39 as is Question No. 90.

The position that is being put forward by the government, and the parliamentary secretary on its behalf, is one that is inconsistent with its own practice in the last Parliament when Conservatives were in opposition. Even the parliamentary secretary could go back and look at some of his questions in the last Parliament. They were fairly lengthy as well. It is inconsistent with the practice that has grown up since Standing Order 39 was changed.

I would argue strongly that the motivation behind this is really about the issue itself and the government being unhappy at having to provide this information from the Departments of National Defence and of International Cooperation.

Just to give an example, this morning in some of the national newspapers in this country in response to information that this same member gathered from the same government in the spring response to written questions, very interesting, factual and needed information came out.

The hon. member was doing her job in asking those questions and that information was necessary for the debate that is going on around that issue in the country. It is just a glaring example of why we need to be able to ask these types of detailed questions. She was very successful in the information she received.

Similarly, to the question she is asking now in Question No. 90, there is information there that the country needs to have as this debate goes on with regard to our deployment of troops and resources in Afghanistan at the current time.

My argument in summation refers to the fact that Standing Order 39 was changed. It limited these questions. She stayed within those boundaries. The questions have to be of reasonable length. If we look at the practice that has grown since the reincarnation of Standing Order 39, she has stayed within the practice that has grown up in that period of time, a practice that the political party now in government followed when they were in opposition.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments. This matter has already been raised in the House. I believe that the Speaker is taking the matter under advisement. I would add my own comments to this and would challenge the hon. member, who just made that intervention, on his reading of the spirit of the Standing Orders.

I would suggest that the question very clearly, if I can call it a question without pluralizing it, violates the spirit of the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders are there to provide answers to members of Parliament. It is a system that has worked well, but when an hon. member tries to jam 47 questions under the guise and trying to pass it off as one question, this goes far beyond what was contemplated in the Standing Orders. Quite frankly, it is not reasonable and is a violation of the spirit. I believe it is technically out of order as well. Mr. Speaker, I know you will take all that into consideration when looking at this case.

I challenge the hon. member as well. He indicated he believes the government is saying this because the government's motivation is not to answer questions on the subject of Afghanistan. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are here to provide information to hon. members. The member has unfairly characterized the motivation behind what the government is doing. We are here to be reasonable. We are here to provide answers to hon. members.

Quite frankly, I could say the same thing. The motivation behind the hon. member is to highlight the NDP's opposition to what Canada is doing in Afghanistan. I could make that claim if that is what it really wants to do. Again, I do not particularly want to probe that nor do I think the hon. member should draw the conclusion that the government is in any way not forthcoming on this issue.

We are very clear where we stand on the subject of Afghanistan. The President of Afghanistan gave a magnificent address and put very clearly before this nation the reasons why we are there. The government is very pleased to talk about Afghanistan and to provide information, but any time an hon. member tries to pack 47 questions under the guise of one question, surely that is far beyond what is contemplated in the Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask that you take that into consideration in your ruling.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I would like to thank the hon. government House leader and the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh for their interventions. Both submissions will be taken under advisement.

The House resumed from September 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When we last considered this item, the hon. member for Yukon had the floor and he has eight minutes remaining.

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to continue my remarks on Bill C-12, An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts.

Members may recall that in the first part of my speech I started out by saying that Liberals support the bill. It is just a reintroduction of a Liberal bill, with a few changes in the basis of the excellent work that we had done related to security after 9/11. We dedicated $9.5 billion on security. We created a department of public safety and emergency and established a national 24/7 government operations centre.

Then I talked about how we are in a new world now, a world that we have to change. We need bills like this to change emergency measures to keep up with a changing world, since 9/11, since the Montreal shootings, and climate changes. Then there are things like ice storms, dramatic hurricanes and tsunamis that we have had, potential meteorites, and diseases like SARS. It is very important that we change with the times and have administration chains to deal quickly with problems.

I also talked about how important it was to have coordinating efforts with the United States because in geographical disasters a border is artificial. We need the people along both sides of the border to have cogent plans to deal with emergencies quickly. Then I went on to talk about how the bill had neglected in certain instances the territorial governments.

I would like the people in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut to know I am constantly standing up to ensure that they are included. If they have any other issues that they think have been left out, not included, or having problems, they should please contact me as the critic for the north.

This modern management of emergencies is related to an issue that is dear to my heart and I want to talk about it for a while. I am referring to search and rescue and the ability to have search and rescue planes placed north of 60.

Right now all our search and rescue planes are based along the border of Canada and the United States. Certainly, that is where our greatest population is and certainly, that is where the greatest number of incidents occur. However, that does not mean that we should ignore the north.

In fact, half the range of those planes is really not used. They are in a spot where half of the range is not used because half the range would be in the United States, to the south, and some would be out over the oceans, to the south. Whereas, if we had one or two or three, the northern half of the country would be covered. We had actually promised to put four planes north of 60.

Just because most incidents are in the south does not mean we ignore the north. For example, the vast majority of crime in this country is in the south. It does not mean we do not have RCMP in the north. It does a wonderful job in the territories. It does not mean we do not have doctors in the north; they do a wonderful job. It does not mean we do not have food stores in the north because there is a very small population. They all do a wonderful job. Therefore, it is very important that we protect those people.

In the south, arguments could be made that there are a lot more civilian resources available to search for someone in densely populated areas than in the north. In fact, in the north, an accident could be far more critical. We have thousands of flights going over the pole now and a vast increase of activities because of global warming.

The Prime Minister has talked about sovereignty in the north, which is a result of global warming. He should accept that. With all this activity going on an accident there could be far more dangerous and critical than one in the south. There is less civilian capability to get to people, drop supplies, drop something warm, and far more chance of dying of hypothermia either on land or in the water.

I definitely want to continue the argument that I have been making for a long time at the defence committee for search and rescue planes with reasonable coverage north of 60.

I can be reasonable in the sense that I know these are expensive and there is a whole array of services that go with them, mechanics, et cetera. I am not opposed to a compromise so that these planes could have dual functions because there are other military planes in the north that need to be replaced or other planes that are used for various purposes. I do not mind if we have a dual purpose plane in the north that can do search and rescue and can do these other functions. Therefore, northerners and people who are not Canadians but end up having an accident in the north would be far more protected.

I encourage everyone involved to support the contract which we approved in Parliament some three years ago and see to it that it is finally tendered and done so in a manner that will allow us to have search and rescue planes to cover and protect northerners, people in the territories, the same way they presently protect people in the provinces.

The next item I want to speak to is sort of an esoteric part of the bill. I do not think anyone has spoken to it. It would allow businesses to share information to protect critical infrastructure. In the new world, that I spoke about earlier in my speech yesterday, one of the items under attack is infrastructure. Infrastructure is absolutely critical to the smooth functioning of our society, to the health of the economy and the people, and we want to protect it.

A lot of the information that is required to protect that is in private hands. The bill would allow for the cooperation and coordination of businesses to provide that private information to the public sector, so that it can be included in the emergency plans in order for our emergency plans to be comprehensive, make sense and contain all the information necessary.

Some of that information businesses would not normally give because it is protected, confidential and could help their competitors or terrorists who want to attack them. Therefore, there is a provision in the bill that, under these circumstances when it makes sense, would protect information and use it for the purpose for which it is being shared, which is to protect during emergencies.

Finally, in my last minute I would like to talk about the ability the bill gives to the Minister of Public Safety to monitor, evaluate and coordinate federal plans. All the institutions and departments must have a plan, but the reason I strongly support this is that sometimes it falls between the cracks if we do not have someone overall in charge. I will give one example.

The Liberal government put in a policy called a rural lens which means everything that goes through the Government of Canada, every program and every new law, should be looked at through a rural lens. Deputy ministers are required to report every year on that rural lens on what success they have had in promoting things for rural Canada. The member from Prince Edward Island and myself have been great champions of this.

I have asked a number of times in committee and some of the deputy ministers did not even know about it or had no reports. That is why it is important in this bill that theMinister of Public Safety has an umbrella authority over the various plans from the federal departments to ensure they are good and that they work.

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Yukon for his thoughtful remarks on Bill C-12.

One thing he raised was that in the north, and in fact much of the hinterland, people are faced with circumstances that we do not consider too much in urban Canada, and that is the threat of forest fires.

I know my friend is aware that I spent many years as a forest ranger in the Yukon territory. Our primary concern was fighting fires and fire management, but we also had a dual function as land use managers. The smaller communities would look to the forest service as their emergency measures operations leaders. It was really the only representation of that aspect of civil society to which they could look.

In a small community such as Dawson City where I lived, there was the school board, the mayor and city council, a couple of RCMP officers and the forest service. When it came to emergencies, or at least emergency measures preparations, people would look to the forest service as having the best capability of implementing whatever measures may be put in their emergency measures plan.

When my colleague mentions the need for more search and rescue, et cetera, one of the things I found useful in the development of those plans, and practising the constant evening rehearsals to be ready for emergency measures, was that we needed sometimes dual purpose functions, and we ran into jurisdictional difficulties.

Does the member see in the bill any opportunity to try to cut through the jurisdictional red tape so the emergency measures team could in fact use tools, airplanes, equipment and trucks that belong to some other jurisdiction without having to deal with red tape, protocol and stepping on the toes of other people from other levels, not of government but of civil society?

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member mentioned that point. This is the intent of the bill. It is a good point to raise in committee, that organizations outside of government such as the firefighting volunteer groups are not specifically mentioned in the bill, but various orders of government are. As I mentioned, it is too bad that the territories were not mentioned because in Yukon forest firefighting is now under Yukon, so it would need that coordination.

In my earlier remarks yesterday, and maybe the member was not here, I mentioned that because of the spruce budworm and global warming, forest firefighting in Yukon has more potential for disaster than ever. We have a huge swath of forest right beside one of our communities that is like a tinderbox ready to burn. This would put that community, and maybe other communities, at risk.

I agree totally with the member that we need this coordination in governments, which is in the spirit of the bill, but maybe there should be references to other organizations. There are some references to local governments, but that should be made quite clear, including the territories.

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear that the member for Yukon mentioned the rural lens.

I do not expect, and I will be speaking on it in a moment, that the Canadian government would use measures in the bill for alternative motives, but we have seen that happen in the United States. With the new regulations coming out under its inspection agency, the U.S. claims it is fighting bioterrorism and it is placing fees on agriculture products, animal and plant products. I believe it is $5.25 per truck crossing the border, $5.00 per passenger on planes, $566 for ships and then so much for a railway container.

It is really protectionism in the United States under the guise of security. It is going to cost $77 million and Canadians are going to pay it all. Yet the new government has failed to challenge those measures in the United States to anywhere near the extent it could. It relates in part to what the member has said about the rural lens.

Does the member see any difficulties in the bill where something similar could happen or does that just happen to the friends of the Prime Minister in the United States, who would impose those unnecessary measures on Canadians?

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

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

All members of Parliament should keep in mind that any time a bill comes up, these types of things may either inadvertently or purposely be included.

To give an example of what he is saying, there is a very broad reference to military in this bill, support for plans and our allies, and that is virtually all it says. It does not say what part in the world nor does it give any definitions of the circumstances. It is great that it is in the bill, but more clarity might lead to the intent and avoid the type of abuse that the member has suggested.

Emergency Management Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, previous speakers have opened the door on any number of interesting aspects of Bill C-12. We cannot look at the context of this actually quite thin and straightforward bill in isolation. By its very nature, it has broad, expansive implications into the very fabric of how we structure ourselves in many aspects of civil society, not the least of which is the point my colleague from Malpeque just made. I thank him for doing that because it segues nicely into some of the concerns and reservations I want to raise about the bill.

We have to use an abundance of caution and be ever vigilant that the things we do in the interests of national security do not trample and interfere on some of the very values by which we define ourselves as Canadians. We also have to be abundantly cautious and use great vigilance to ensure that those who would use the bill to advance other secondary objectives be cautioned now by astute members of Parliament, doing diligence in their study of the bill, that we will not tolerate this.

I want to stop short of impugning motives in the introduction of bills of this nature, but we can learn by example from other countries, certainly our neighbour to the south. I can say without any hesitation at all and without any fear of contradiction that the United States administration has used the national security crisis to achieve other secondary objectives, some of which have been punitive to Canada. I do not think that is telling stories out of school and it is not showing any disrespect to our American neighbours to point out that we are not idiots, we have noticed this.

My colleague pointed out some very helpful specifics in terms of levies and fees and stuff that are administered now to Canadian shippers as they export goods to the United States. An added burden is being put on them to meet the new standards put in place by our American neighbours, under the umbrella of national security, or fear of bioterrorism or any number of enabling themes and motifs they are using in those arguments. There are a number of examples that we could use.

We are very cognizant of personal freedoms and will not allow them to be violated, but let us be equally cautious that people are not using public fear to justify the unjustifiable in any other context. That would certainly apply to the U.S. experience of using the threat of bioterrorism to disadvantage Canadian exporters and essentially to put up what would otherwise be viewed as illegal tariffs and subject to trade sanctions or trade complaints being filed.

None of the parties that I have heard speak to the bill seem to find fault with the idea that emergency measures preparedness needs to be reviewed. The previous Liberal government in the previous Parliament had an almost identical bill, Bill C-78. With very minor tweaking and adjustments, we are seeing it reintroduced to Parliament today.

The times we are living in warrant greater scrutiny of our emergency measures preparedness. The jurisdictional question came up quite clearly in interventions from members of the Bloc. I think we can all agree, when it comes to personal safety and national safety, that there needs to be agreed upon crossover not to show disrespect for any jurisdictional boundaries, but to acknowledge that timeliness is of the essence when people are at risk or under some kind of natural or unnatural external threat.

I can speak from personal experience how, in the event of natural disasters, Canada is quite well served and quite well prepared. I will speak from personal experience in the Red River flood that affected my region as recently as 1997. I see a colleague here from the province of Manitoba from the government side. We can say, without doubt, that as we observed that freak of nature slowly inching toward us, pieces began to fall into place. I should remind people who were not there that the Red River was 50 miles wide. That is an unnatural circumstance for people. I am used to paddling on the Red River with my canoe. The Red River is usually not as far across as this chamber, so for it to be 50 miles wide and advancing relentlessly and steadily toward the city of Winnipeg, we were in a legitimate crisis in slow motion.

I suppose we could argue that perhaps we had the luxury of time to put together an effective emergency measures reaction. It was not like the ice storm that affected Ottawa where overnight the infrastructure, certainly the electrical infrastructure, of Ottawa collapsed. However, I can say with some sense of pride that the people of Ottawa had in place measures and circumstances that served the residents here very well too. I was a member of Parliament then and I watched how this city was able to react and absolutely minimize, not only the inconvenience, but the loss of life, the injury and the risk to services, to property and to people.

What I want to raise with the Red River flood, though, Mr. Speaker, if I could--I hope you feel it is in the context and order of the debate--is that there is a case to be made for collective, cooperative action in the preparation for and administration of emergency services. I cite as an example something that happened in the 1960s in Manitoba that could never happen today, and that is the digging of the Red River floodway, the largest engineering feat in history in terms of volume of earth moved, bigger than the digging of the Suez Canal. It was a public infrastructure initiative where, if we raised something of that scope and magnitude today, we would be laughed out of the room. People would say that we could not afford it, that it would be a waste of taxpayer money, that it would be a boondoggle. They would find 100 reasons to say why it should not be done and maybe they would say that we should let the private sector build it in a public-private partnership and maybe it could get done that way, but probably not because we are so timid now.

We are timid as rabbits when it comes to doing things like building a nation and building great projects. There is no collective vision and no national dream any more. That is the guts that it took. A Conservative premier, I will give him credit, named Duff Roblin simply would not listen to the naysayers and that investment, the largest infrastructure project in the nation's history and in the world at the time, has saved the city of Winnipeg, three, four and five times over. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when $100,000 meant something but it saved billions. It saved hundreds of thousands of homes and probably thousands of lives because somebody had the guts to show some real leadership, stand up to the naysayers and say that some things are important enough that we have to invest in the future.

To this day we invite Premier Roblin to the edge of the Red River floodway and collectively thank him for being that aggressive and that stubborn and not taking no for an answer. As we speak, that floodway is being widened. We are actually digging it deeper and wider because it is the best thing we ever did as Winnipeggers.

We cannot have enough emergency measure preparedness but it takes a collective wisdom and a collective political courage to implement that kind of collective action. I can just imagine the reaction of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation if we were to here with a proposal and said that we needed, for our own well-being collectively, to undertake an initiative the scope and scale of the Red River floodway. We would be laughed out of the room. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation would set up shop right outside of here and hold a press conference and ridicule us for being a tax and spend party or something. There is justification for that kind of thing when our national well-being is at stake.

I can say too, during the flood of the century in 1997, how heartened I was by not only the mobilization of the citizenship but the mobilization of the military for non-military purposes. The same training that goes into making great soldiers and an effective military unit is applied readily to emergencies such as forest fires, floods, et cetera. No one else has that capacity, whether it is the machinery, the engineering, the technology or the sheer manpower of a couple of thousand fit people who are used to working in a coordinated effort. That is a rare thing. Who else do we look to but the military when that kind of thing takes shape?

The only person who disappointed us was the prime minister of the day when he came to view the flood lines. We were all sandbagging into the middle of the night. The prime minister of the day made his obligatory visit and got his Guccis a little wet walking into some of the sandbag areas. Somebody gave him a sandbag and he said, “What am I supposed to do with this?”, and kind of turned and walked away. We were disappointed that the only person we could not get really interested in the initiative was in fact our own PM. The rest of the electorate was out there, the mayor of Winnipeg, the premier and all the MPs were on the sandbag lines, and I think citizens were glad to see that kind of effective mobilization.

The other thing I am proud of in the city of Winnipeg, in my home riding of Winnipeg Centre, is that it is home to the only level four virology laboratory in the country. We received this in kind of a backhanded way. Back in the mid-1980s, the Mulroney government gave a CF-18 contract to Montreal, even though Winnipeg had a far better bid and a far lower price. We had everything ready to go. It was an absolute slam dunk that the CF-18 contract would come to the people of Winnipeg. However, for political reasons, as happens so often, it had to go to the province of Quebec at a higher price. It was a bad deal for the taxpayer and certainly a slap in the face to western Canada.

I suppose as a booby prize, Jake Epp, the senior minister from Manitoba at the time, brought home the federal virology lab. Quebec received the billion dollar CF-18 contracts, maintaining our jets and promoting and advancing even more its aerospace industry, and we received a disease factory plunked down in a residential neighbourhood in the middle of my riding. We were not too appreciative at the time. It was a laboratory that the city of Ottawa turned down because it did not want ebola virus and every other disease in the country in its backyard, so we wound up with it.

In retrospect, we are delighted to have this level four virology lab and the international expertise that it brings to our community. However, we were concerned about the safety aspects. I can give an example of something that is in the context of an emergency. We were not so concerned about what happened in the laboratory and in the safety of handling the world's deadliest viruses in the context of the laboratory. I have toured the place. It has thick concrete walls and it is bombproof and bulletproof. However, what we questioned was the shipping and transporting of these deadly viruses from one place to the laboratory. That was the weak link in the chain. We were guaranteed this would be done with the utmost highest protocol, that Brinks trucks would be hired and they would travel in convoys, that there would be three of them and only one would be carrying the virus, so there would be decoys in case terrorists wanted to strike the one that was carrying the virus.

What happened was that as soon as our backs were turned, this was contracted out to FedEx. During a traffic accident on the corner of Logan and William where a FedEx truck ran into another car, what spilled out of the back of the van? It was a bunch of anthrax and Newcastle disease virus, which wipes out chicken populations immediately if it gets into the atmosphere.

Anthrax by FedEx is a far cry from Brinks trucks and decoys. I almost fell off my chair. I could not believe what a violation of trust this was. At the time I said, anthrax by FedEx, what is next, ebola virus by bicycle? That would be the only thing more ridiculous than anthrax by FedEx.

We were disappointed and let down in terms of emergency measures preparedness because that could have been a catastrophe. This level four laboratory is in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. It is not on the outskirts of town and it is not in an industrial park. As far as I am from you right now, Mr. Speaker, are occupied homes in a poor end of town. I guess that was some of the thought process, that it did not really matter that much because it was just in a poor end of town. It would not happen in Tuxedo, River Heights or some affluent end of town. They would not put up with a level four disease laboratory with guys shipping anthrax by FedEx but they did not seem to have any hesitation doing it in the middle of my riding, the poorest riding in Canada.

We are conscious of these things. It is a net benefit, I suppose, to the Health Sciences Centre campus that is in the heart of my riding and that this level four disease laboratory serves a national and international function in assessing and analyzing dangerous viruses, whether it is in animals or a threat to people. I should recognize and pay tribute to Dr. David Butler-Jones and Dr. Frank Plummer, the senior officials who run our level four laboratory in Winnipeg and my comments are in no way to show disrespect for the valuable work they do. I just wish they would tighten up their protocol for shipping their bugs around my city.

The last issue I would like to raise in terms of emergency measures and in the context of Bill C-12, which was also raised by my colleague from Yukon which was very helpful, is the issue of global warming. I hope the bill acts as the enabling legislation to allow senior ministers, no matter what their jurisdiction, to contemplate, prepare for and be seized of the issue of the consequences of global warming. On television the other day, I heard a climatologist say, with some sense of pride, that in the next year or two we would be able to sail the Northwest Passage uninterrupted with no icebreakers. He said that it would be open as a shipping lane and he cited the advantage to this.

I remind anyone who is thinking in those terms of the cautionary note of Tim Flannery, the world's leading authority on climate change, who was a guest at our convention in Quebec City not two weeks ago. He cited the fact that if we were ever to have the Northwest Passage open as a shipping lane, every other port in the world would be under four feet of water. He said that there would be no place for those ships to load and unload their product because we would be in a Noah's ark situation here. The world would be underwater and certainly coastal regions.

I raise that perhaps as the ultimate cautionary note as we enter into an analysis of our emergency readiness as a nation. Are we ready for this onslaught that we are bringing upon ourselves with climate change? What concrete steps are ministers of the Crown taking today to prepare ourselves for what could be a self-imposed Armageddon? I am not one of those to stand around with a sign saying “the end is near”, but I say to my colleagues and friends in the House of Commons that the end is near if we do not turn ourselves around and stop this looping effect, this compounding effect of global warming that we are doing to ourselves.

If there is any one single thing we need to do to prepare for emergencies, it is to prepare ourselves for this doom that will be upon us if we do not correct our practices, our man-made polluting of this planet to the point where it will not be habitable any more. We are soiling our own nest to the point where we will not be able to live on this planet and there is no amount of bills and legislation that we can pass that will turn that around without the political will of every minister, of everyone in authority at every level of government in the world in fact. If there has ever been an argument for world cooperation, it surely has to be to save the planet, and that transcends Bill C-12. That will need to be the motif that becomes a thread through all of our actions as elected officials.