House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. Since the Conservatives were elected, militarization has run rampant. Purchases of aircraft alone total $16 billion, not to mention procurement for land and naval forces.

The government promised to purchase a huge icebreaker, which is not a military item. It is required for travel in areas where there is thick ice so that Canada can maintain a presence in Arctic waters. It seems that this has been shelved and they are considering purchasing military vessels. That is a dead end. I said, as did my colleague, that we are all worried about the military presence in the far north. That is not the solution because we are facing much larger players than ourselves. We would not succeed even if we were to use Canada's total budget. The United States spends almost three times as much as Canada: $450 billion per year compared to our budget of about $200 billion. Thus, that will not work. That is not the answer.

My colleague is right. Diplomacy and science, the continental shelf, and the presence of the Inuit people are our best bargaining tools.

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-3. We in the NDP came out in support of the bill at second reading. After a fairly rigorous examination of the simple bill in committee, we felt we could continue to support it. It really does not have any negative aspects other than the fact that it is unable to provide the level of protection through the actions of the government, which a bill like this would tend to make people think would come.

Bill C-3 extends coverage of our environmental laws to 200 miles offshore, but in evidence given in committee, it was quite clear that this new limit really only applied in one part of the Arctic, and that is the area adjacent to the Beaufort Sea, now covered with ice. As the witnesses demonstrated in committee, there was no traffic at all into the region the bill was designed to expand our control over. It is covered with ice and no ships are entering other than perhaps research vessels or the Canadian icebreaker.

The area is not under dispute between different countries. This is a rather innocuous change but it is an important subject. That is why all of us are standing up one after the other to talk about it. That is why we took time in committee to look at all aspects of Arctic development and had witnesses appear from a variety of government departments and a variety of other concerns. The Arctic is important and what happens there is extremely important. What happens to the Arctic in terms of climate change will change the ice coverage in the area we are extending our jurisdiction over.

There will be more traffic. There will be other uses coming forward, whether it is shipping, tourism or other things. It is important that we join the rest of the world in understanding how we can deal with the Arctic. One of the key aspects we have to approach is our relationship according to how the other countries of the world, which have a stake in Arctic waters, approach the issue.

I had the opportunity to attend, on behalf of my party, the Ilulissat, Greenland meeting. As well, last summer I had an opportunity to visit with the Arctic parliamentarians when they met in Fairbanks, Alaska. I had a chance to learn about the attitudes of people across the world toward Arctic waters and to hear questions about the change in the nature of the Arctic ice cover to the importance of Arctic resources.

Quite clearly, the government needs to continue to expand its international presence on Arctic issues. When the government took office three and a half years ago, it had the attitude that it would use the Arctic sovereignty issue as a political football to enhance its image as standing up for Canadians. In some ways, that is exactly the wrong approach to take.

It is not a question of Canada's status in the Arctic. We have great status in there. Our status has come through our work, along with other countries, to ensure the Arctic is developed and used in a responsible fashion.

I am pleased to say, at the meeting in Tromso, which unfortunately I was unable to attend but which I have followed very closely, the 2009 Arctic marine shipping assessment report was delivered. That report has been in the making for a number of years. It speaks to many of the issues in the Arctic and it speaks to them on the basis of all the Arctic countries, which I think is a very useful approach.

When it comes to sea ice, what does the marine shipping assessment say? There is a possibility of an ice-free Arctic Ocean for a short period of summer, perhaps as early as 2015. This would mean the disappearance of multi-year ice, as no sea ice would survive the summer melt season. To people who live and work in the north, this is a truly frightening occurrence. We are completely changing the nature of the Arctic.

What does the retreat of Arctic sea ice over these recent decades mean? It has improved marine access to some degree, although when we talk about particular shipping lanes, we talk about the fact that when we take off, we will see a lot more movement of ice through the areas as well, as the ice cover comes off. There will be more pack ice moving through. There will be more intermittent access than perhaps steady, free access to that area.

We will see changes in coastal ecology and biological production. We see that in the types of fish that are coming around the coast of Alaska from the Pacific Ocean and that are starting to show up in the nets of fishermen on the Arctic coast.

On the other side, we see that the change in the melt ice has created a situation. This was talked about today on the radio, the decreased level of salt in the waters off the coast of Labrador and those areas. Those things are happening right now.

There are adverse effects on many ice-dependent marine mammals. We have the issue of the status of the polar bear, which came up strongly last year. We also have increased coastal wave action. That plays out very much in my riding on the Beaufort Sea, where the lack of sea ice cover has increased the type and severity of the weather there. Once again, we see these problems.

From the marine shipping assessment report, what is one of the main items that are considered? The most significant threat from ships to the Arctic marine environment is the release of oil through accidental or illegal discharge. In committee this was raised by the parties, through their witnesses, and the answers were much less than satisfactory. The answers that Environment Canada had for its enforcement or its ability to get out there and find out what was going on were very limited. The technology development in which we were all interested, in terms of how to ensure that these—

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could encourage somebody else to speak to this issue after my—

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member makes a good point. It is becoming increasingly difficult to hear him. He is on the other side of the chamber. Perhaps we could have a bit of order, as we should always have, to allow the Chair to hear his remarks.

The hon. member for Western Arctic.

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I bow to the goodwill of the other members of the House to continue my address.

When we looked at the problems that we had in terms of the major and most significant threats from ships in the Arctic, we did not have answers, at lease no answers that we could identify which suggested that we were on top of this issue.

How much is the Arctic being used right now? The marine shipping assessment report says that there are approximately 6,000 individual vessels making multiple voyages in the Arctic regions and that approximately half of them are on the great circle route in the north Pacific that crosses the Aleutian Islands. Approximately 1,600 of these vessels are fishing vessels.

Nearly all the movement in the Arctic is destinational, conducted for community resupply, marine tourism and moving natural resources out of the Arctic. There is no trans-shipping yet that occurs in the Arctic regions. That is something that probably would more likely occur once the future ice cover has moved back and we have a clear understanding of the intermittency of the pack ice in the area.

Significant increases in cruise ships, the majority of them not built for Arctic waters, have been observed in summer season around Greenland within the past decade, and certainly those ships have been identified as an area of potential concern.

What is the governance? When we are talking about the need to protect the Arctic, we are talking about the need to protect from marine vessels. We are not talking about much else when we talk about how we will deal with marine protection in the future. How do we deal with the governance of Arctic shipping?

The law of the sea is reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It provides the fundamental framework for the governance of Arctic marine navigation. The International Marine Organization is a competent UN agency with responsibilities related to the global maritime industry. It has been very active in developing guidelines for ships operating in Arctic ice-covered waters. I think that is one of the issues that we must come to grips with here. Guidelines are not good enough.

What we need for Arctic shipping to protect the Arctic is international regulation that says that ships operating in the Arctic must meet minimum conditions for Arctic waters. The International Association of Classification Societies has developed non-mandatory unified requirements for its members that addresses the issues around ship construction, which are defined again in the guidelines.

We need to move forward from that point, which is where Canada can work very effectively at the international level and potentially within our own waters to ensure that we have that quality of ships working in the Arctic.

There are no uniform international standards for ice navigators. Quite clearly, when entering into Arctic waters, one needs to have proper navigation, a pilotage system that can deliver those ships safely through very difficult waters. Even within the Northwest Passage, the charting that has been done there is very minimal.

We have a new marine terrain opening up and that marine terrain has to be well protected.

Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Western Arctic will have approximately six and a half minutes the next time this bill is before the House after question period.

Arts and Culture
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize one of the world's leading centres of performing arts and digital media education, the Sheridan College Institute in Oakville Ontario.

On Friday evening, Sheridan's School of Animation Arts & Design celebrated its awards evening for Sheridan's famous musical theatre school, one of the world's best, where some of Canada's most brilliant young performers develop and polish their art.

Sheridan graduates amaze audiences from the Stratford and Shaw Festivals to Broadway, Disney World and Hollywood. Graduates from Sheridan's computer animation department have led the world in artistic digital storytelling, helping create films in Canada and internationally; blockbusters like Star Trek, Star Wars and the Terminator series.

Every performer in Canada helps create jobs and opportunities for others, like stagehands, set designers and carpenters. Our artists also serve us by helping define who we are as Canadians. That is why federal funding for the arts and culture in Canada has never been higher than right now.

We salute the dedicated, talented young people at Sheridan and across Canada, and their teachers who put their futures on the line to tell Canadian stories and touch our hearts.

Katyn, Poland
Statements By Members

May 4th, 2009 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of the House and Canadians the horrific historical event that was the Katyn massacre of 1940.

It is commemorated each April by the Polish Canadian community to bring recognition to the systematic slaughter of 23,000 Polish military and civilian leaders in the Katyn forest and other locations and their burial into mass graves by the Russian army on the orders of Stalin.

Long denied, today the horrors that were suffered are only partially recognized. I invite members of Parliament to join with our Polish Canadian community in pressing internationally for full recognition of the Katyn massacre for the genocide it was and to help bring final peace for the victims and their families.

Aimé Despatis
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people of Les Moulins are in mourning, for Aimé Despatis has passed away. We have lost a great scholar, a true community builder.

Aimé Despatis was passionate about information. He was remarkably open and honest, easy to talk to, connected to people, generous and cultured. He brought significant cultural, social and political change to his community.

Among other things, he played an important part in the Quebec ministry of culture's acquisition of Île-des-Moulins, which is now Quebec's second-largest historical site. He also founded Terrebonne's independent La Revue, a newspaper that told the story of our growing city and region for 50 years. Thanks to Mr. Despatis, the people of Terrebonne have discovered whole chapters of their local and regional history. He was the heart and soul of “his” paper until the very end.

The Bloc Québécois members and I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to Mr. Despatis' family and friends, as well as to the staff of La Revue.

Employment Insurance
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I attended a rally held in front of the Beta Brands plant, in London, Ontario. This plant closed more than two years ago and workers are still waiting for money owed to them. They did not receive any severance and their pensions are gone. Workers at this plant have lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings. Some had to wait six weeks or more for EI and others six months or more to even find out if they could access retraining.

Plant closures and layoffs in London have been far too frequent and are devastating to the people involved and to our community. Lives are thrown into turmoil with every closure.

More needs to be done to address these job losses. The government needs to fix the employment insurance system, create more opportunities for retraining and implement all of the NDP's workers first bill to protect those pensions.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the past seven years, Ted Dawes has teamed up with the UFCW locals 175 and 633, and has raised closed to $75,000 in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

This year, Ted and his team are taking their efforts on the road and he is walking 440 kilometres from Parliament Hill to Nathan Phillips Square. Event coordinator, Sue Amsbury, and her team have worked tirelessly to organize this event and with great success.

Many companies have stepped up to support, including Imprinted Apparel, Jack McGee Chevrolet, Gold's Gym, the law offices of McGillen, Ayotte and Dupuis, Coca-Cola, Reebok, Del Mastro RV, as well as many individual donors.

Ted's official department from Ottawa will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. and he expects to arrive in Toronto on May 22 where the Toronto Argo cheerleaders will cheer him across the finish line.

I encourage all of my colleagues to come out to the reception this evening and support the “Ted on the Road” team and meet some of Peterborough's finest citizens.

With each step, he is putting the boots to leukemia and lymphoma.

Helen Graves
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all colleagues in the House, I want to acknowledge with sadness the passing of Helen Graves on Tuesday, April 14.

She was best known here for the political internship program designed by her for our House of Commons in 1984 and which she directed for over 20 years. It was the first of its kind then, an experimental education program, and to date, over 500 U.S. students interned in Ottawa under Dr. Graves.

It has provided valuable resources to MPs, given opportunities to students and added value to cross-border relations, benefiting both countries over many years.

Students learned parliamentary functions, did research for MPs and drafted written work. Many of these students went on to become active in politics and they all hold a special place in their heart for Canada and Canadians.

Helen believed deeply in the power of education and she was a professor for several U.S. universities where she implemented the internship program and earned numerous academic and civic awards.

We in the House join in celebrating her life, her love of learning and her manifest contribution to U.S. and Canadian democratic institutions.

Battle of the Atlantic
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, of all the important campaigns Canada was part of during the second world war, the Battle of the Atlantic was unlike any other.

For six years, day after day, courageous Canadians met the challenge of making the relentless crossings of the treacherous north Atlantic, sailing from Canada's east coast to a beleaguered British nation and bringing with them vital troops and much needed war supplies. These were ordinary Canadians who did extraordinary things.

Sixty-six years ago, in May 1943, the tide finally turned in favour of the allies but a terrible price would be paid for this victory as more than 4,600 courageous men and women lost their lives at sea.

They are our heroes and today we honour those who endured Canada's longest battle of World War II. We remember their supreme sacrifice to defend our values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, those whose final resting places cannot be marked by graves.

Canada's military men and women are fighting to protect those same values today.

Canada remembers the Battle of the Atlantic.

Trait d'Union Community Centre
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Trait d'Union community centre is celebrating its 25th anniversary today. That organization serves the people of my riding, especially those in the Sacré-Coeur neighbourhood of Longueuil. It provides a place for people to come together and share resources and ideas, and it serves as an anchor for the entire community.

Community involvement and the tenacity of many local stakeholders have produced positive results. Today, the Trait d'Union offers social and cultural recreation programs, summer day camps for children, sports and other physical activities, as well as community programs for all age groups.

I would like to congratulate and sincerely thank the staff and many volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to the well-being of their community day after day. I would also like to posthumously recognize the enormous contribution made by Raymond Guay, one of the founders of the community centre, who served as its director for 20 years.