House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was national.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, despite my fondness for the hon. member, I would like to clarify a few things. The Bloc Québécois wanted to extend the mission in Afghanistan until 2009, as though it were a value espoused by Quebeckers. We, however, said no. We said that an immediate withdrawal was needed. I do not think that the Bloc was really reflecting the interests of Quebec at that time.

Now, for two budgets and two non-confidence votes, the Bloc has supported the Conservative Party, regardless of what the Conservatives were doing to Quebec and regardless of the fact that the Bloc obtained nothing. The Bloc Québécois supported the Conservative Party. That is why, two years later, the Conservatives are still here and able to wreak havoc in Quebec and elsewhere in the country.

The Bloc Québécois made its biggest mistake in the softwood lumber file. I am sorry, but there are thousands of people in Quebec who have lost their jobs because the Bloc supported the Conservative Party. These people are in Abitibi, Saguenay, and Mauricie. These people lost their jobs because the softwood lumber agreement was a big trap for Quebec and for the softwood lumber workers in this country. The Bloc should have continued to defend the principle that it defended in the summer of 2006. At that time, the critic for international trade, the hon. member for Joliette, said he was against the softwood lumber agreement. However, the Bloc Québécois changed its position, which cost thousands of jobs in Quebec. So I am sorry but despite my fondness for the member, I cannot accept what he is proposing.

Actually, it is the NDP that supported the interests of Quebeckers in this Parliament. Sometimes the Bloc joins us, which is even better, but sometimes the Bloc Québécois has false starts and supports the Conservative Party. We all know how that turns out. It is too bad.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by commenting on that last answer, because we just heard a typical answer from the NDP, to the effect that “Ottawa knows best”. A member from British Columbia is telling us that everyone in Quebec was wrong. Everyone asked the Bloc Québécois to support the softwood lumber agreement: unions, employers, the National Assembly. The feeling was the same all across Quebec. If you had come to Quebec, you would have known that everyone supported that agreement. It was far from perfect—

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. I would like to remind the hon. member to avoid using the second person and concentrate on using the third person. In addition, I think he will want to know that, contrary to what he may have been expecting, instead of having 20 minutes to give his speech, he will have 10 minutes. He therefore has 10 minutes to make his comments, because, unfortunately, I will have to interrupt him at 5:15 p.m. to put the question.

The hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, that does not present a problem. I will proceed as quickly as possible. However, what the hon. member said needed to be corrected, just like the Afghan mission.

We need to get serious, forget about all the speeches and focus on actions. There have been votes. There have been three votes on this issue. On three different occasions, we have had to choose between extending and not extending the mission. When the first vote was held, on a motion to extend the mission, the Bloc, like the NDP, voted against extending the mission until 2009. But some Liberals voted for the motion, which meant that the mission was extended for a second time.

A second vote was held in this House on a motion not to extend the mission. The Bloc Québécois was consistent and obviously voted for the motion not to extend the mission. The NDP saved the government by voting against that motion to end the mission.

Now, the NDP can trot out all sorts of political and strategic arguments to justify its actions, but it used the wrong strategy, and because of its partisan interests, the Liberals are now supporting the government on extending the mission until 2011. The NDP can claim they were using partisan strategies, but when they come up with strategies and make a mistake, then maybe their strategists are not as good as all that.

But I digress. I could also have talked about the Clarity Act. For a party that calls itself the New Democratic Party, it is extremely paradoxical, shameful even, to vote for an act that basically denies Quebeckers the right to make their own decisions about their future—a right recognized in all international conventions, the right to self-determination. Until the NDP apologizes for this, it cannot claim to be defending consensuses reached in Quebec. Today, of course, it is supporting one of those consensuses.

I should take a moment to catch my breath. I got a little angry as I listened to what my NDP colleague had to say. I am sure that all Quebeckers who were listening to us got angry too—at least, many of the Quebeckers around me did.

That consensus was loud and clear in the National Assembly, where the following motion was unanimously adopted:

That the Assembly ask the Federal Government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project.

That seems pretty clear to me:

That the Assembly ask the Federal Government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project.

It is so simple that I think even a Conservative member might be able to understand it. Even Conservative members from Quebec can understand it. The Liberals might even understand it. Of course, they would have to be awake and alert enough to understand what people are saying.

Quebeckers elected 125 members to represent them, and these representatives have asked the federal government not to go ahead with this project. We got an answer this morning. I listened to the Minister of Finance speak with the sort of pathetic paternalism that borders on contempt when, much like the NDP did earlier, he told us that everyone in Quebec is wrong. The 125 members of the National Assembly do not know what is good for Quebec. Quebec's chamber of commerce does not know what is good for Quebec either. Unions do not know what is good for Quebec. Editorialists and political observers—all those people—are wrong because the Minister of Finance is the one who knows what is good for Quebec. He only wants what is best for us. And he will end up taking away the best of everything we Quebeckers have.

This type of arrogance was to have disappeared with the election of the Conservative government. For years, the Liberals as well as the NDP— with their comments on softwood lumber, such as those we just heard—have been taken to task for this attitude.

The Conservatives had promised Quebeckers that they would stop interfering in Quebec's jurisdictions. It was supposed to have been the end of Liberal arrogance, but it has persisted. In only two years, the Conservatives have learned many lessons, after observing the Liberals over the course of 13 years.

It is unacceptable that the promise made to Quebeckers has not been kept. It will be even more regrettable when Quebec MPs vote against this motion tonight. It is absolutely shameful. Tonight, they will choose between voting against their party or voting against Quebec. They will vote against the Quebec nation. If I am wrong, I will admit it in this House. However, I am convinced that these members will choose to vote against Quebec. This evening we will watch the Liberal and Conservative members from Quebec vote against this motion. Only the Bloc Québécois steadfastly defends Quebec. It does not do so occasionally, like the NDP; it does not do so from time to time, like the Liberals; and it does not do so by accident, like the Conservatives. Only the Bloc Québécois members always defend Quebec.

For 13 years, the Liberal members of Parliament from Quebec rolled over and toed their party's line. They always preferred voting against Quebec to voting against their party.

The Conservative MPs strut around Quebec saying they have recognized the Quebec nation. What is that recognition worth if they promote a position that goes against a unanimous decision of the National Assembly of Quebec? How can they claim even for a minute that they represent Quebec when they vote against a motion like the one before us today, which represents a consensus in Quebec?

Earlier I said that everyone in Quebec was against the government's bill to create a national commission. It was rather paradoxical to hear the minister talk this morning about national standards and the need for a national voice. What nation is he talking about? I thought we were told in this House that Quebeckers formed a nation. Will these Quebeckers have their voice within this federal agency? Of course not. That is why everyone in Quebec is opposed to this plan.

Everyone in Quebec is opposed to this plan, except 20 or so Liberal and Conservative MPs who will vote against this motion, unless I am wrong. Believe me, that is my greatest wish. I hope I am wrong. I hope that when the time comes to vote, all the MPs from Quebec, Liberal and Conservative alike, will say enough is enough. The National Assembly, the assembly of the nation of Quebec which represents all Quebeckers, unanimously passed a motion. I hope that, as members of the House of Commons who represent the nation of Quebec—as unanimously recognized by the House—they will put aside their party lines and their partisan interests. I hope they will stand up and vote in favour of the Bloc Québécois motion and thereby respect the areas of jurisdiction of the National Assembly and the nation of Quebec.

I see that I have to end my presentation. I would have been pleased to answer a few questions. The Liberal and Conservative MPs from Quebec still have 15 minutes left to accept the arguments of the National Assembly of Quebec and its unanimous motion.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

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

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Gallipeau) Royal Galipeau

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

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Securities Regulations
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #63

Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

It being 5:47 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

March 11th, 2008 / 5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

moved that Bill S-215, An Act to protect heritage lighthouses, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill S-215, An Act to protect heritage lighthouses.

As we know, this initiative has been before us several times previously and has always received broad support. In fact, this is the seventh edition of this bill since 2000. I am proud to sponsor this bill in the House, but there were many people before me that have taken up this cause and I would like to take a moment to mention them now.

This bill owes a great deal to the work done by the late Senator Forrestall and carried on by Senator Carney and Senator Murray, who together moulded this bill from a desire to protect part of Canada's maritime heritage into the legislation that we have today.

Senator Carney has worked tirelessly to champion this initiative. In fact, she worked right up until her last day in the Senate to ensure that a number of administrative and financial concerns were addressed.

As well, I would be remiss if I did not thank the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's for his help on this initiative.

I would also like to recognize the hard work of Mr. Barry MacDonald and his organization, the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. I thank Barry. Mr. MacDonald's contribution to this legislation was paramount when it came to continuing this process that would allow us to protect not just the lighthouses of the fine province of Nova Scotia but throughout the country as well.

In fact, there are nine lighthouses in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, which include some of the six imperial tower lighthouses. Cove Island is one of these and it is a treasure. Cove Island Lighthouse was built in 1858, while Griffith Island Lighthouse, which is also in my riding, along with Chantry Island, Point Clark, Nottawasaga and the Christian Island lighthouses were all built in 1859.

This bill would provide for the designation of heritage lighthouses to require that they be reasonably maintained to prevent unauthorized alteration or disposal and to facilitate the sale or transfer of heritage lighthouses. We can all appreciate the role that lighthouses have played in shaping Canada's history since the 18th century on Canada's coasts, along the St. Lawrence River and on the Great Lakes.

Lighthouses have long shaped the history and economic development of this country. These majestic structures have helped to open key transportation corridors into the heartland of central Canada and the markets of our neighbours to the south.

What makes lighthouses so special and memorable? Perhaps it is because they represent where we have come from as a people and a nation. They stand as unwavering proud and unique symbols of our maritime history.

If we look closely, it is hard not to imagine lighthouse keepers in their lonely outposts, protecting our mariners as they strove to steer their vessels safely through rough waters in fog and darkness. For those mariners, the glowing, steady beam of the lighthouse shining from the shore must have instilled a sense of relief, a sense that they had made it, and that their lives and their cargo were safe.

Let us talk a moment about some of the people who manned those often remote lighthouses across the country. Friends of mine, Bert and Pearl Hopkins of Tobermory are two of those people. They spent years in various lighthouses, finishing up their careers on Caribou Island in Lake Superior.

There is no denying lighthouses have played a critical role in the development of Canada as a nation. Like the railroad tracks that etch our landscape and the grain elevators that dominate the prairie sky, lighthouses are embedded in the Canadian consciousness. They are woven into songs, poetry, stories and art. Today, they are frequented by thousands of hikers and tourists from across Canada and around the world.

Light stations were pivotal in Canada becoming a trading nation, lighting the way for safe passage of mariners, commerce and opportunity. Lighthouses were essential, modern technologies that facilitated trade within and between nations.

The first Canadian lighthouse and the second oldest lighthouse on the continent was constructed at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in 1734.

Another important east coast lighthouse, the Sambro Lighthouse, was established by the very first act passed by Nova Scotia's House of Assembly in 1758. The act placed a tax on incoming vessels and alcohol imports to pay for the lighthouse. It is the oldest operating lighthouse in North America and a Canadian national historic site that celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, an event that makes passage of this bill so important and timely.

The history of lighthouses on the Great Lakes goes back to 1803 when a decision was made to construct a lighthouse at Mississauga Point on Lake Ontario. Several other towers were built on the lower Great Lakes during the next two decades. It was not until 1847 that the first lighthouse on Lake Huron was built at Godridge. The establishment of more lighthouses continued through the mid-1850s, prompted by the settlement of my region along the Bruce Peninsula and the free trade agreement with the United States in 1854, which considerably increased shipping.

John Francis is the owner and publisher of the Tobermory Press and one of my constituents. He is also a lighthouse enthusiast, and his comments on this bill should be heard by the House. He wrote, “The lighthouses on the Great Lakes are among the most important historical buildings in Canada. As government assets, lighthouses are valued only for their function. Preservation and public access are often incompatible with tight budgets and limited manpower. The transfer of responsibility from the federal ministry to private trusts and historical societies will ensure that historical lighthouses are carefully preserved and accessible to the public”.

Fish, fur and lumber were abundant in the upper Great Lakes area. Harvesting these resources led to increased economic activity and navigation through central Canadian waters. This fundamental need sparked plans for the imperial towers.

Named to denote the fact that their material and construction costs would be assumed by Great Britain, the imperial lighthouses were absolutely majestic. During the mid-1800s, 11 were planned and six were built. Constructed from limestone and whitewash, these stone towers are truly magnificent.

On the west coast, the start of the Fraser River gold rush in 1858 saw Victoria, B.C. go from a small frontier settlement to a thriving city in a matter of months. The huge increase in shipping that resulted from the gold rush quickly led to demands from shipowners and captains for aids to navigation.

The Fisgard Lighthouse was the first permanent lighthouse constructed on the west coast of Canada. It was constructed in 1859 along with Race Rocks Lighthouse, and thus began B.C.'s association with lighthouses in support of its maritime transportation and heritage.

By the first decade of the 20th century, more than 800 staffed lighthouses and other aids to navigation, such as lighted beacons and foghorns, were in service across the country. Before the advent of the automobile, our waterways were the highways of choice for travellers and their cargo. Today, however, rapid technological changes have set aside the traditional roles of our lighthouses.

In the 21st century, new marine safety and navigation technologies are replacing lighthouses as aids to navigation. These new technologies are more effective and accessible to vessel operators. As a result, many of our lighthouses are becoming operationally redundant. As a result of our focus on new and more effective aids to navigation, expenditures on upkeep and maintenance of lighthouses have been reduced and many are now in a state of disrepair.

Should we care about this state of neglect? Yes, we should. For one thing, since lighthouses often define a community, they can be integrated in community development and other activities that can support tourism and historical purposes. That is why we should all support Bill S-215, a bill that would provide statutory protection for lighthouses across Canada.

I want to speak a little about the role of lighthouses in the 21st century. For example, today much of the shores around the Great Lakes have been transformed into cottage country. Surplus lighthouses represent an opportunity to enhance recreational activities and help redefine communities. As a result, communities across the country are looking at these properties in a new light. There is ample evidence of this.

Ongoing growth and ecotourism has resulted in Fisheries and Oceans Canada divesting more than 130 lighthouse properties. Many of these have been successfully converted into interpretive centres, museums, bed and breakfasts, gift shops, restaurants and other small business ventures.

Let me talk for a moment about lighthouses in my home province which have undergone major, very successful transformations. Cove Island Lightstation, which I mentioned earlier, is in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound and is one of the few lighthouses on the Great Lakes that has retained navigational significance. It continues to be in top-notch condition, and is the only imperial tower to have its original Fresnel lens. Its incredible strength means the light can reach 20 miles.

Standing in what is now Fathom Five National Marine Park, the very first underwater national park in Canada, Cove Island Lighthouse remains the crown jewel of the 6 imperial towers. Its role in opening navigation on Lake Huron led to its designation as a federal heritage building. Standing tall above the rugged shore, this tower is one of the highest in the entire country.

During the summer months the light station is accessible to visitors through boat tours operating out of Tobermory. The sight success is largely due to the collaborative effort between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Cove Island Lightstation Heritage Association. This cooperation resulted in the restoration of both the tower and keeper's residence for multiple purposes.

Similarly, Cabot Head Lightstation, also in my riding, was refurbished by the Friends of Cabot Head who operate the restored building as a museum for local residents and tourists. Visitors to this area can also catch boat tours to the Flowerpot Island Lightstation, which is also located in Fathom Five National Marine Park.

Its lightkeeper's residence and several other buildings were renovated by Fisheries and Oceans and the Friends of the Bruce District Parks Association. Their efforts to restore the structures have resulted in the lightkeeper's dwelling operating seasonally as a museum and gift shop.

Thanks to the Friends of Fathom Five and the former St. Edmund's Township, the Big Tub Lighthouse was made more accessible to visitors. A viewing area was cleared and an interpretive sign was installed. This tower at Lighthouse Point was particularly important for guiding ships from the treacherous waters of Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay into the harbour.

Tobermory's light still guides boats through powerful currents, dense fog and shoals to the safety of Big Tub Harbour. Underwater shipwrecks are a testament to the dangerous waters, and those undersea monuments still attract scuba divers in large numbers from around the world. Big Tub, Flowerpot Island, Cabot Head and Cove Island are just a few examples of Ontario's lighthouses that have undergone noteworthy restoration as part of tourism and economic development.

With the help of community groups like those just mentioned, lighthouses are being restored to their original splendour.

This government is committed to working with community members and other levels of government, and Bill S-215 enhances our ability to join forces to preserve these vital links to our past. Light stations in central Canada hold tremendous heritage value, economic worth and architectural significance as they do in our many coastal areas.

What does Bill S-215 do? Bill S-215 enshrines in cultural and historical significance, and acknowledges the places of lightstations in our maritime and national heritage. This bill offers lighthouses much needed protection. Bill S-215 would protect heritage lighthouses under the legislative authority of Parliament. The bill would require heritage lighthouses to be reasonably maintained and would prevent unauthorized alteration or disposal.

Other provisions under Bill S-215 align with other federal government efforts to build a culture of heritage conservation in Canada. Honouring our maritime heritage is a shared responsibility. Under the proposed bill the minister responsible for Parks Canada would designate the heritage process and would task or establish a new organization to administer the provisions of the bill, and this includes developing criteria for designating, maintaining or altering heritage.

There is a proposed amendment coming forth, and the government wholeheartedly supports the spirit of this bill since the late Senator Forrestall first championed this initiative in 2000, and there has been general support for it in the House.

The government is pleased to support it, along with its Fisheries and Oceans divestiture program. It is the government's view that what this amendment does in a nutshell is it would amend the bill by replacing the terms “related built structure” with “related buildings”.

I see that my time is quickly running out, so I will urge all members of the House to support this bill. I think we may have unanimous support. It is a very non-partisan bill. It is something that will go a long way to protect the lighthouses.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I believe we will get unanimous support for the bill.

I thank my hon. colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound for carriage of Bill S-215. This is an important bill for coastal Canada. Those of us from the east coast think we have all the lighthouses. Those from the west coast think they have all the lighthouses. There are about 25 lighthouses sitting around me here. It is quite interesting to see the amount of lights in the Great Lakes.

I would like to recognize Senator Carney, who has since retired, for her carriage of this issue in the Senate, certainly Senator Lowell Murray, and most important, I would be remiss if I did not mention Senator Forrestall. The late Senator Mike Forrestall had carriage of this bill at least a half dozen times in the upper chamber. He was an avid advocate of lighthouses and the need to protect them. I quite frankly think if it were not for Senator Forrestall, we probably would not have this bill before us today.

I think it is a giant step forward. I appreciate the support that this place has shown.