House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

June 7th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Creating Canada's New National Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 Act
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-34, An Act to amend the Museums Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour a few moments ago to table an order in council to formally establish the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site, both of these under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act.

This is a remarkable achievement, one that this House envisioned some 23 years ago when it passed at that time a unanimous resolution supporting the protection of the lands and the waters around Gwaii Haanas. The House also called for the participation of the Haida in this conservation initiative.

Canada will become the first country to protect a region from the alpine meadows of the mountaintops, to the depths of the ocean floor beyond the continental shelf. For the Haida people, the land does not exist independently of the sea. By protecting some 5,000 square kilometres of water and land, we acknowledge that sacred connection.

We are working with the Haida to protect some of the world's most abundant and diverse marine habitats, home to over 3,500 kinds of marine species alone. It is known by many in the conservation world as the Galapagos of the north.

For hundreds of generations the Haida Nation has lived in harmony with this environment and today this wealth of marine resources continues to sustain local communities as well as recreational and also commercial fisheries. This new national marine conservation area reserve will ensure that this can continue.

With today's tabling, we take a significant step forward, the penultimate step forward, in protecting the incredible biodiversity in the reserves of Gwaii Haanas and we demonstrate world-class leadership in integrated oceans management.

I especially would like to acknowledge the strong and visionary leadership of my good friend, Guujaaw, President of the Haida Council and the many others within the Haida community, the Haida First Nation, who have done so much to make this marine conservation area a reality.

Together the Government of Canada and the Haida are demonstrating remarkable international leadership in protecting the lands and the waters of Gwaii Haanas for future generations, for our children, our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

I also want to acknowledge the oil and gas companies that voluntarily relinquished their petroleum rights in this special place: Petro-Canada, now Suncor Energy, Shell Canada, ExxonMobil Canada and Chevron Canada. Finally, I want to thank the Nature Conservancy of Canada for subsequently surrendering those rights to the federal administrator on behalf of the companies.

Tomorrow, nations around the world celebrate the oceans. It is a time for Canadians to reflect upon our remarkable marine heritage, from the Atlantic to the Arctic to the Pacific. This year we also celebrate 125 years since Canada created its first postage-sized national park, the Banff National Park at that time. What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day than to create a marine protected area that is unique in Canada, in North America and in the world? It is the first time on this planet that we have protected an ecosystem from 2,000 feet below the surface of the ocean to 4,000 feet above it on the mountaintops.

What better way to celebrate the legacy of our park system than by designating Canada's first national marine conservation area under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, a piece of legislation that is now 10 years old?

This year the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, Canada is bestowing another remarkable gift to the world. With Parliament's support, which started here 23 years ago, Canada will now provide opportunities for visitors to develop their own personal connections with the wilderness area and opportunities to experience and learn the Haida culture, a truly unique experience in the world. Through these experiences, all Canadians can develop a greater appreciation of the inseparable nature of the land, the sea and our people.

Twenty-three years ago, the House unanimously called for action to protect Gwaii Haanas. Parliament responds today with the finalization of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and the development of a collaborative relationship with the Haida.

Today, on the eve of World Oceans Day, we honour and renew the call to action through an order-in-council to formally establish the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site. I thank everyone in the House who makes this possible.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition, I am pleased to rise today to support the establishment of the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site. Today's announcement is doubly important because it creates the first ocean national marine conservation area under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act.

This law was passed in 2002 under a Liberal government. It was far-sighted and remains to this day an essential piece of legislation to meet Canada's commitments to protecting marine biodiversity and cultural heritage and ensuring sustainable marine use. This act, along with the Oceans Act of 1996, which the then-Liberal government also passed, were and are considered landmarks internationally for marine conservation.

Although progress has been made in designating marine protected areas, Canada's national and international commitments to establish a network of marine protected areas has yet to be realized. In establishing Gwaii Haanas, the people of Canada are fulfilling a long-held and overdue promise that successive governments have made to the Haida and the people of British Columbia to establish this as a marine conservation area.

Although we commend the government for today's announcements, it needs to be much more vigorous in meeting its commitments to protecting the health of our oceans by completing a national system of marine conservation areas that protect biodiversity and the ecological and cultural diversity of Canadian marine environments from sea to sea to sea.

Gwaii Haanas is to be a multiple-use conservation area that will have both zones of protection and sustainable use. The process that follows designation and the co-management model which underpins it provide an opportunity to work with stakeholders to design a conservation area that meets both the needs of local people and conserves and protects ecosystems for future generations. It will be important to provide for sufficient protection zones, uses which conform to conservation objectives and ensure that this development be adequately supported and resourced by the government in the future.

In short, this reserve and heritage site is a beacon to inspire more and better oceans management. It is an opportunity to develop a conservation model that will surely inform many more marine protected areas to come. At the same time, we are hopeful that it will inform our negotiating position, yet to be revealed to Canadians at the ongoing negotiations of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, to speak about the Gwaii Haanas national marine conservation area reserve and Haida heritage site. The Bloc Québécois believes that preserving national heritage sites is vital. It means that humans humbly recognize the majesty of nature and also its fragility.

The world is a place of beauty but we have the lamentable capacity to destroy it, as evidenced by global warming and the constant threat that we pose to thousands of ecosystems throughout the world. The Gulf of Mexico disaster is a bitter example of this. To protect the world's beauty, we must take the necessary measures to preserve conservation sites such as the Haida Gwaii Haanas reserve.

The Bloc Québécois will support the order to protect this area, which also has value added as a heritage site.

However, you heard, as did I, the Minister of the Environment use his statement to praise the oil companies which, he says,“have voluntarily relinquished their petroleum rights in this special place.” The Minister of the Environment! What a laugh! The oil companies, the nice corporate citizens, are agreeing to leave the Haida territory and the Conservatives, moved and grateful, are jumping on the opportunity to praise one of the most polluting industries in Canada in a statement on an aboriginal marine area that must be preserved. How about that.

If the Conservative government was again attempting to hide its true nature with this announcement, it has failed. This government uses every possible forum to announce the creation of a park or new protected area in an attempt to hide its stone age mentality when it comes to sustainable development and its catastrophic record on environmental protection.

Quebec's environmental values are diametrically opposed to those of the Conservatives. In Quebec, the environment is a priority. That was evident last week in a poll confirming that, according to Quebeckers, the priority for the G8 and G20 meetings to be held in a few days is, without question, the environment. The government has categorically rejected this idea. It believes the priority must be the economy, period.

That is not surprising. For this Conservative government, with its blind faith in market forces, anything that does not have a dollar sign attached to it is of no interest, anything that does not smack of deregulation, globalization, free this or free that, is just socialist propaganda. It is as though the environment and the economy were irreconcilable. This Conservative government and the environment, that is what is irreconcilable.

And since Quebec and the environment are very compatible, it is not surprising that this government always makes decisions that are not in the interest of Quebec and the environment.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my sincere pleasure today to rise and support enthusiastically the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area and Haida Heritage Site. We seek to expedite this work with all members of Parliament.

It is important for Canadians to understand the place we are speaking of because this truly is one of Canada's most remarkable gems. Five thousand square kilometres will be protected from the alpine tundra through to the temperate rainforest and into the depths of the ocean, 1,500 square kilometres of rainforest and 3,500 square kilometres of Pacific waters. Nearly 3,500 marine species are found within this archipelago and 600 coastal archeological sites identified by UNESCO's World Heritage Site SGang Gwaay.

In 2005 National Geographic named Gwaii Haanas first among 28 national parks across North America based on its incredible remote wilderness and in collaboration with the Haida.

I extend a personal invitation to all members in the House, including the minister, and all Canadians to come and spend some time in this most remarkable place. It is rare to have all parties join together in this place to do something that will benefit all Canadians, something that is good and lasting.

Canadians must also pay tribute to the courage and dedication of the Haida and the people of Haida Gwaii, who have led this process from the beginning. Special recognition must also go to the Council of Haida Nations and to its president, Guujaaw, who has embodied Haida pride and a traditional and unique sense of Haida herocity throughout.

We also must recognize the early and visionary work of the former MP for Skeena, Jim Fulton, who to his dying days believed in a Canada that would include first nations and environmental values in all of the decisions that we make.

We want to congratulate the federal government and the oil industry in their recognition that there are some places in this world that we simply must protect and not allow coastal drilling.

In 2006 Canada committed to protecting a minimum of 10% of our coastal waters. While we have made a good step today, there are many steps yet to take along this path. We have an expression in the north that “it is the land that makes the people”. Today we have taken a further step toward protecting that land and protecting its people.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to this very important announcement today, I would like to indicate that there have been discussions among all parties and if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development be the committee designated for the purposes of section 7 of the Canadian National Parks Act.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendments.

Employment Insurance Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-526, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (special benefits).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation that would amend the Employment Insurance Act to extend the maximum period for which special benefits for illness, injury or quarantine may be paid from 15 weeks to 52 weeks.

The inspiration for the bill came from Natalie Thomas, a cancer survivor from Coquitlam, whose story touched me and made me realize how important and necessary changes to the Employment Insurance Act were. Another cancer survivor, Marie-Hélène Dubé from Montreal, who is on the Hill today, has gathered over 200,000 signatures for a petition that calls for these changes.

Both of these amazing women had one thing in common. They had to focus on how they were going to find the funds needed to survive once their 15 weeks of medical EI ran out. This made it extremely difficult to focus on what they should have been focused on, recovery. That is why I am introducing this bill today.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Pension Plan
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-527, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (pension and benefits).

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to be introducing a bill that would finally put a legal end to the potential for people who have been convicted of spousal homicide to derive a CPP survivor benefit from their heinous crimes.

I had assumed that the long-established principle in law that no one should be able to benefit from a crime would also be enshrined in the eligibility criteria for government benefit programs. Imagine my surprise when I received the following correspondence, which states, “I have a relative who killed his wife, served very little time for manslaughter, and is (and has been) collecting CPP survivor benefits for over 10 years. Since 1-2 women per week die at the hands of their partners, how many more men are collecting this? How is this legal?”

I researched the file to verify that this could really happen and I learned that there was no legal prohibition that prevented people who had been convicted of spousal homicide from collecting either the death benefit or the survivor pension. Clearly, that loophole must be closed.

My bill would do precisely that. It would amend the Canada pension plan to prohibit the payment of the survivor's pension, orphan's benefit or death benefit to a survivor or orphan of a deceased contributor if the survivor or orphan had been convicted of the murder or manslaughter of the deceased contributor.

The integrity of the Canada pension plan is enormously important to Canadians. I know I am not alone when I say that the very thought that someone convicted of spousal homicide could derive a monetary benefit from such a heinous crime is an issue of fundamental justice. I trust all members of the House will feel the same way and I look forward to the speedy passage of my bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)