House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was forest.

Topics

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I will not tolerate shouting or heckling from across the room. I would ask hon. members to hold their comments, please.

The hon. member for Windsor West.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, that is critical, because the climate change bill that we had was real hope and opportunity and set targets for Canadians. It was democratically passed and was killed by political hack appointments, and that is wrong.

However, I want to go back to the motion that we are talking about specifically, because I am talking about the value of it. The reality is that it does not have a lot of strength to it. It could have been beefed up.

I want to give a couple of examples. It does not call for certain types of action. There are other issues that have been passed in other Parliaments and other organizations related to the tree and its effect.

September 18 is Third World Tree Day. The goal is to plant trees on that day.

I mentioned my area and the deforestation. We can see, for example, a place such as Haiti that has recently gone through incredible devastation with the earthquakes, but also prior to that, the deforestation of Haiti created many of the problems that it faces today because it has no coverage anymore.

Ironically, the Dominican Republic, next to it, has been active in a reforestation program.

France eventually lost in the slave uprising, and when freedom came, the Haitians at that time had to actually pay billions of dollars back to the French. That is one of the things that is causing Haiti's great poverty, and the deforestation has affected Haiti quite significantly in terms of agriculture, the economy and a whole series of things. Those initiatives, such as the Third World Tree Day, call for action.

Many Canadians, especially in Ontario and Nova Scotia, are familiar with Arbor Day. Arbor Day was first started in the United States in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton. He was the founder of Arbor Day, and it is estimated that one million trees were planted that day. It called for specific action through the Arbor Day initiative.

I do not know whether we will see this. It is not in the motion. It was not discussed by the member. Perhaps we can work on that in the House and give meaning to this day with a collective goal set for planting.

In my community, we have planted more than one million trees over the last number of years, which has been very important for the economy, but more importantly, for the actual environment. We are seeing habitat restored that was long forgotten and lost, and we are releasing different types of animals back into the wild.

When we look at the motion and what it really means, there is not a lot of depth to it. It is a 17-word motion that needs an amendment, which apparently will be tabled by a Conservative member, to provide the specific week for it. But hopefully what we will hear are more specifics on what the government is planning to do to increase the planting of trees and there is going to be real action and perhaps resources. Is there going to be money behind this motion? Is there going to be a specific plan?

As I wrap up, it is important that if we are going to talk about it in an economic sense, then we have to look at our forestry sector and what the tree meant. In the past, the tree meant many more value-added jobs than today. With the pine beetle in British Columbia, for example, and the ash borer in southern Ontario now working its way through northern Ontario and other parts of Canada, these are all significant consequences.

Therefore, let us make policies as part of something as opposed to just a simple motion.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, I will be making a friendly amendment at the end of my speech.

It is fun to be here today to speak to this motion. I may get teased a bit about forestry because of the name of my riding, which is Cypress Hills—Grasslands. People have told me they think that every tree in the riding has probably been planted and that is almost true.

The Bloc member opposite who just spoke to the motion is on the natural resources committee with me. She said she was surprised that a Conservative would move a motion such as this one. I would love to invite her to come to my farm in Saskatchewan and we can walk up and down the six miles of hedgerows that I have planted. I certainly invite my colleagues from the NDP to come as well and see my contribution toward the environment, because it is very important to those of us on this side of the House.

I am rising on behalf of the government side in support of the motion to create a national tree day, put forward by my colleague, the member for Ottawa—Orléans. He has a tremendous commitment to establishing an annual national day of celebration to recognize and appreciate the role that trees play in our country. I urge all members to support the motion and the friendly amendment that I will make, which will have national tree day fall on the Wednesday of National Forest Week which is an annual event held every fall.

Canada's trees and forests are a big part of what defines the national identity of our country, whether one lives in urban or rural Canada. We are very fortunate to have almost 400 million hectares of forest. That is a number that is almost too big to imagine, but we can understand that amount of forest represents 10% of the world's forest cover and 30% of the world's boreal forests.

These forests include a tremendous variety of species, from the majestic red cedars that live up to 1,500 years in British Columbia to the subalpine fir, the smallest of the western firs that dot our northern landscapes, to the eastern pine which is the tallest tree in this part of Canada. Of course, there is the maple tree which paints the fall season particularly in this area with splendid colours and sustains our famous maple sugar industry.

Trees and forests in many ways are defining elements of our identity as Canadians. To give an example of Canadians' appreciation for trees and for nature, there were 11.9 million visitors to Canada's national parks in 2009. That number does not include the many people who visit provincial and municipal parks each year as well.

Trees provide us with many of the products we use every day, from the obvious items such as wood for home construction and paper products, to not so obvious things. Nail polish, eyeglass frames and photographic film are all made with products that come from trees.

In addition, our trees and forests provide obvious environmental benefits. They provide valuable protection against land degradation, ultraviolet rays, climate change and help to sustain biodiversity. For some of us on the flat prairie, they actually do stop the wind and give us a break from that as well. It is important to note that about 80% of our aboriginal communities are in forested areas.

The majority of the forest land in Canada is publicly owned. Less than 1% of Canada's forests is harvested annually. These working forests help to sustain tens of thousands of jobs in hundreds of communities across Canada.

Our government clearly recognizes the importance of the forest sector to the Canadian economy. The industry's contribution to our gross domestic product is a significant 1.7%. The Prime Minister has spoken about the importance of this industry to Canada. The federal government has made a number of key investments to support Canada's forest sector as the industry undergoes important restructuring due to competitive and market challenges.

We continue to directly support forestry programming in a variety of areas, including things as diverse as marketing, innovation, community development, environmental and green energy development as well.

Our support includes things such as the $1 billion pulp and paper green transformation program, which is part of our economic action plan. This program is helping pulp and paper mills in all regions across the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while assisting them in becoming leaders in the production of renewable energy from biomass.

As well, as part of the economic action plan, a total of $170 million is supporting market diversification and innovation initiatives for the forestry sector. This includes things like research and demonstration projects. In addition, the community adjustment fund injected funds into the forest-dependent communities affected by the global economic downturn. Financial support is also provided to the sector through the activities of Export Development Canada.

As is the case with many industries, changing conditions present new challenges for the forest sector. That is why we are seeing mills in the forest sector being transformed. They are no longer just producing pulp and paper. They are becoming biorefineries; they are using wood fibres to make a wide range of new products, from nanomaterials to biomaterials; and they are creating more clean energy.

Our most recent budget committed another $100 million to assist the sector with the green transformation that is well under way. The forest industry transformation program will assist this green revolution by facilitating the development, commercialization and implementation of advanced clean energy technologies in the forest sector.

I want to assure members that the Government of Canada is well aware that the sustainable management of our forests is critical to the survival of forests and trees and to the prosperity of forest-dependent communities. Sustainable forestry management is not just an idea or an ideal in Canada, it is actually a reality.

Something I did not know is that almost 40% of the total forest land in Canada is subject already to varying degrees of protection, including 8% that is already protected by legislation. As well, by law, all forests harvested on Canada's public lands must be successfully regenerated.

By December 2009, more than 142 million hectares of Canada's forests were certified as being sustainably managed by one or more of the three globally recognized certification standards. Although the future of our forests is something that Canadians cherish in their local communities, the forest sector also plays an important role globally.

In fact, the United Nations General Assembly has actually declared 2011 the International Year of Forests. The goal of this declaration is to raise awareness and to promote global action to sustainably manage, conserve and develop all types of forests worldwide, including trees outside of forests.

Supporting today's motion is a great way to showcase our country's recognition, appreciation and commitment to trees and forests and to sustainable forest management. If the motion passes, our inaugural National Tree Day would coincide with the International Year of Forests.

As members here know, we currently celebrate Maple Leaf Day, but in order to raise awareness of our Canadian forests, the member for Ottawa—Orléans feels that replacing Maple Leaf Day with National Tree Day will only build on our exceptional reputation.

Tree Canada, the organizers of Maple Leaf Day, support this initiative, as do the Canadian Forestry Association and the Canadian Institute of Forestry. National Tree Day would reinforce the objectives of National Forest Week: to celebrate Canada's forests, our sustainability efforts, and our innovative industry. I think we can all agree with these objectives.

I see my time is winding down, so before we leave, I would like to make a friendly amendment.

Madam Speaker, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting the words “September 22” and substituting the following: “the Wednesday in the last full week of September”.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It is my duty to inform hon. members that pursuant to Standing Order 93(3), no amendment may be proposed to a private member's motion or to the motion for second reading of a private member's bill unless the sponsor of the item indicates his or her consent.

I therefore ask the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans whether he consents to this amendment being moved.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The amendment is in order:

On debate, the hon. member for Elmwood--Transcona.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Motion No. 575 sponsored by the member for Ottawa—Orléans. It is a very worthwhile effort on his part.

Over my lifetime, I have seen times when trees and forests were taken for granted. Up until the 1970s and probably beyond, we had clear-cutting practices and all sorts of forest harvesting methods that today we would not approve of. I do recall knowledgeable people in those days talking about how Europe was so far advanced. Sweden, for example, had a program where if a tree was harvested then another tree was planted.

It is good to hear that people, like the member for Ottawa—Orléans, have been concerned with this issue for a long time and have been promoting the conservation of our forests.

We debated a bill that was before this House not along ago, which is still not through the final processes, but it would require governments to use wood in the construction of government buildings. The Province of British Columbia and, I think, the Province of Quebec have passed similar legislation.

While there is some push-back from the concrete industry on this whole issue, there are a lot of good reasons for us to use wood in some of our construction projects. I remember seeing some coverage of the earthquake in China where, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the Chinese were attempting to rebuild using Canadian lumber. They knew that structures constructed of wood survive in an earthquake a lot better than structures constructed of concrete or bricks.

I do not know what the government has or has not done with regard to the Haiti earthquake situation, but if the Chinese are excited to be committed to rebuilding their whole devastated area with Canadian wood, I would think the government should be looking into what can be done in the Haiti situation, rather than simply rebuilding buildings that would be susceptible to earthquake damage in a future earthquake, which will surely happen at some point. We should be looking into building these buildings out of wood so that they can withstand earthquakes and would also lead to less loss of life if and when another earthquake were to happen.

I asked the member a question during question period regarding the boreal forest, which, as the member knows, is a very important part of Manitoba. We have been attempting to have it designated a world heritage site under UNESCO. It is a huge forest that goes down the east side of Lake Winnipeg and into Ontario.

However, we are having a big debate right now in Manitoba over the Bipole III project on whether to run the bipole down the east side of Lake Winnipeg, which would cut through a corridor of the boreal forest, or whether to skirt around it, which would be a much longer process. The current government is supporting the longer and more expensive route but the Conservative opposition is raising quite an issue on this because it wants to take the cheaper route and cut down through the middle of the forest.

I do not know if Dorothy Dobbie, who was a member of Parliament and now has a gardening show in Winnipeg, has interceded on behalf of those who want to see the forest survive in its present state. I would ask the member, who I believe knows Dorothy very well, to talk to her about this whole issue. This is certainly something that—

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member. He will have about five minutes left in his speech when this motion reappears on the order paper.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight on a question that I raised in the House of Commons relating to the G8 and G20 summits.

We have been raising issues relating to the costs of the summits, especially at a time when taxpayers are hurting so much. Some of the costs of the summits are still unaccountable. Some of the decision-making was questionable at best but deplorable most likely, especially when we consider things like the fake lake and the gazebos in the middle of nowhere. Costs were exceedingly high for policing.

What we have been asking for is accountability because Canadians saw the photo opportunity of the G8 and G20 being made into a circus for the government, especially since it was held in Toronto where those costs were significantly inflated.

What is important here is that the government borrowed money for this and we will be paying interest on it, which will be a significant cost.

When we look at ridings like mine, Windsor West, where there is high unemployment, we really need to question the government's decisions on this. The fact that Canadians will continue to foot the bill for that and pay the interest on it is unacceptable, especially when people do not have employment insurance improvements.

A lot of Canadians in my riding would have done better in their lives if they had actually had the two week waiting period for employment insurance waived as opposed to the billions of dollars lost on the summits.

What is important is what we get out of the summits at the end of the day, and the government really did not get anything of it. There are many media reports right now about whether or not these are even purposeful anymore.

One of the things that is important to point out is the cost of a whole series of things, but one of them is the costs for a series of vandalisms in Toronto that took place at 40 different stores in the downtown Yonge Street business improvement area, which the government will not help with. About $750,000 worth of repairs need to be made.

I am familiar with some of this because in Windsor we had the OAS come in at one point. The city was reassured by the federal government that we would get all our expenses paid but that was not true. We were left with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and increased charges.

Years later, I remember touring our police station and seeing skids full of tear gas and other types of equipment that was no longer necessary. I believe at the end of the day we ended up actually selling that to another jurisdiction that was going to have one of these events in its riding.

When we look at the example of South Korea and its projected $25 million in security costs and our security costs of around $676 million, we have to wonder where the accountability is.

We do know there are a number of different costs that have yet to have been accounted for. We still have no details on the $100 million that the OPP had available to it. Where is the accountability? If the government says that it will be tough on crime, that it will be tough on ensuring there is accountability for taxpayer dollars and that it will be open and transparent, why can we not get all these figures? Why can we not have disclosure?

If public money is spent, surely there should be a great deal of accountability for that. We have seen improvements to the accountability of other types of departments, including the office budgets of members and so forth. We now have greater disclosure than ever before, which is an important improvement.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary where the value is out of this? Where is the accountability?

7:15 p.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this very important issue this evening.

I would like to take the opportunity to review the actions taken by the government to ensure that the appropriate security was provided for the G8 and G20 summits in a responsible, transparent and accountable manner.

The government detailed the funding requirements related to security through the normal parliamentary procedures, which identified funding requirements by fiscal year. These requirements were based on cost estimates that were generated using the best information available at the time, which included preparing for several security contingencies. It was the responsible approach to take.

Further to this, the government invited the Parliamentary Budget Officer to review these cost estimates prior to the summits as well as the Auditor General of Canada to review security costs following the summits. These actions ensured that Canadian taxpayers were informed of the funding requirements in an open and transparent manner.

In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer noted in his report, “the PBO does not feel the total cost of security of the 2010 G8 in Huntsville is unreasonable”.

I would also like to add that the Auditor General observed:

—I think we have to realize that security is expensive. There are a lot of people involved over a very long period of time...We may think that the meetings only last for a few days, but all the preparations involve extensive planning, extensive co-ordination for months before that.

Hosting two summits such as the G8 and G20 in such close proximity to each other was unprecedented and came with a tremendous responsibility to Canada as a host nation, not the least of which was security. The summits as well as the security operation that allowed them to take place were recognized as a unqualified success. Simply put, without security operations, the summits could not have been held.

The security operation in itself was the largest peacetime security operation in our history. To comply with Canada's international and domestic legal obligations, the provision of security was required for the summits. Summit security costs were higher than we would have liked, however, it was not a responsibility that could have been forsaken due to its cost.

Now that the summits have concluded, the Office of the Attorney General is in the midst of examining the security costs that were incurred for the summit. The Auditor General is receiving the full co-operation of the government and will continue to do so throughout the evaluation.

In addition to this, the government has provided full responses to all questions posed in the House and has recently ensured the availability of senior government officials for a technical briefing for the media.

The government is committed to being transparent and will report the full costs once they are known.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, to move this debate along, some of the processes that the parliamentary secretary talked about are still ongoing. The reality is, at the end of the day, the city of Toronto and the businesses there were affected dramatically, with $750,000 worth of damages. The government chose to have it in Toronto. It chose a very difficult logistical place. The government spent hundreds of millions of dollars on security, but still was unable to protect the citizens of Toronto and their property.

There is a responsibility for the government to now act to help those who were affected. The government failed on that. It was not successful as the damage was done and it was the government's choice.

To be reasonable and fair to people, the government needs to help with reciprocity. It should not be the ratepayers of Toronto or the small businesses of Toronto that suffer the consequences of the actions of the government.

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, I wish my colleague would recognize that it was thugs and anarchists who caused the trouble in Toronto. It was not the government.

I would like to remind the member of the opposition that not only did Canada have a moral obligation to protect visiting heads of state who were in attendance at the G8 and G20 summits, but Canada was also obligated under the United Nations convention that was adopted in 1973 to protect internationally persons, which includes participants of the summits.

Approximately 60 states, organizations and international groups had representation at the summits that were covered under this convention. This included heads of state, royalty, foreign ministers and leaders of world organizations. Their security was critical to the success of the summit, which will advance several significant global initiatives such as the Muskoka initiative that seeks to improve maternal, new born and under-five child health. These initiatives will ultimately have an impact on citizens of all nations.

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety for taking the time to review the issue of the costs associated with the G8 and G20 summits.

The Conservative government likes to pat itself on the back for properly managing Canadians' money since the recession in 2008 and 2009. However, upon looking at the costs and expenditures associated with the two meetings in June 2010, we see that the government is very selective about which departments have to adjust their budgets.

First, however, let us consider a few examples of this government's extravagant and wasteful spending. For the G8 and G20 meetings, the government spent $1.1 million on backdrops and cardboard displays. It spent $12,000 on tablecloths, $19,000 on a table setting for 24, and $1,900 on etched glasses.

It spent $1.9 million on building a theme pavilion for the foreign media. It paid $400,000 to restore an old steamboat that will not be ready until months after the summits. Some $275,000 in public money was spent on washrooms and a stage located 20 km from the meeting site. It spent $2 million on a fake lake, even though Lake Ontario was right there. It paid $1.1 million on a sidewalk that is 84 kilometres from the summit site.

It burned through millions of dollars to help the foreign media imagine the Muskoka landscape.

In the second place, we need to seriously ask ourselves if the Conservative government can be trusted with taxpayers' money when there appears to be blatant disregard for either political neutrality or fiscal responsibility in the spending. For instance, a $20 million arena was built in the Minister of Industry's riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka for the journalists who were going to attend the summit. However, days before the event, the organizers stated that the arena would serve neither the G8 nor the G20.

A fund was also provided to the industry minister to provide gifts to the voters in his riding who would be “inconvenienced” by the summit. Meanwhile, Toronto business owners received nothing for enduring the inconvenience, the riots and the profit losses that surrounded the G20 in the city of Toronto itself. My colleague said this a few minutes ago.

While the RCMP and the city of Toronto police force have submitted their costs for review, the committee responsible for reviewing the costs of the summit has not received any similar costing from the government for the $100 million allocated to the OPP. It has been suggested that these costs need to be hidden in order to protect compromising information regarding fund allocation for political motives.

These blatant miscalculations cost Canadians millions of dollars. The Minister of Public Safety approved a $27.5 million RCMP command centre that could have been bought for $3 million. Instead, it was rented for $1.5 million, it incurred another $24 million in operational costs and then, after just 72 hours, cost another $2 million to tear down. There goes $27.5 million.

The Conservatives inherited a $13 billion surplus, which they turned into a deficit before the recession even started. In March, the Conservative government promised Canadians that the two summits would cost $179 million, yet it spent $676 million on security alone.

7:25 p.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I truly wish that the member opposite would use the accurate numbers. Many of the numbers that have been bandied about here tonight are not accurate.

The real numbers have been brought forward by officials from this government, agencies and provincial agencies to a number of committees. The numbers she has quoted are simply not accurate.

The initial estimate was included in estimates that the government supported and did provide.

I would hope my hon. colleague would recognize that, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer indicated early on, the numbers were very much in line for the budget that would be expected in the Muskokas.

A number of items that the member has rolled into all of these things have to do with infrastructure spending that the municipalities applied for under other programs. These issues that she has brought forward are not all about the summit.

I would say to the member that, when we put the security requirements and the associated cost estimates into context, we must remember that security planning began a year and half prior to the event. Some of these facilities were not just set up for a weekend. They were there for months and months in advance.

This was a huge deployment of personnel; 20,000 security personnel were involved in these two summits. It was unprecedented in any country.

We have an obligation as a nation when we take part in these summits that we must host them. This is exactly what Canada did, and I think Canadians would be proud of what occurred. It brought the world to this country. It focused on this country.

We would not doubt that there were some hoodlums, anarchists and thugs who in fact did try to sully the reputation of Canada, but they were minimized because of the great security.

I would say to the member opposite that initially the RCMP has indicated that, after reconciliation, its expenses are coming in significantly under budget. Its initial budget was $507.5 million. Estimates to the end of this fall indicate that expenses will come in around $329 million, which is about 35% under budget.