House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rcmp.

Topics

Durham and Victoria
Vacancies

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty to inform the House that vacancies have occurred in the representation: namely, Ms. Bev Oda, member for the electoral district of Durham, by resignation, effective July 31, 2012; and Madame Denise Savoie, for the electoral district of Victoria, by resignation, effective August 31, 2012.

Pursuant to subsection 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I address warrants to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of writs for the election of members to fill these vacancies.

It being 11:02, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from May 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

11 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-370, which would change the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park includes several ecologically important areas and over twenty islands between Kingston and Brockville. It was created in 1904. It was Canada's first national park east of the Rockies. Now, 108 years later, the Conservative member for Leeds—Grenville would like to change the well-established name of this national park to Thousand Islands National Park. He thinks that this name change would help brand the park and could increase tourism, since people are more familiar with the “Thousand Islands” name.

I am sure that his intentions are good, but I think that this is a bit too hasty. He claims that this is what the public wants. But I read over the debates and documentation related to this bill, and nowhere did I see any references to formal public consultations or public consultations that were open to everyone. There was no poll. There is nothing, other than guesstimates from the member. I think that the member should go back to the drawing board and provide more evidence of public support.

The Secretariat of the Geographical Names Board of Canada is provided by Natural Resources Canada. This secretariat strongly recommends that the respective geographic authorities be consulted when naming a park or any other land division established by legislation. Did the sponsor of Bill C-370 at least consult the Geographical Names Board of Canada before introducing the bill? Many problems can be avoided by taking such precautions.

I will give a very concrete example. The lovely riding that I represent, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, borders on the magnificent Mille-Îles River, and contains a majestic park known for its diversity of fauna and flora—the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles Park.

This park is made up of municipal and private land that was combined through awareness work by the organization Éco-Nature and with the involvement of the property owners along the river who wish to protect the environment. The park's rich and unique biodiversity is consistent with its status as a wildlife refuge. It received the protected area designation in 1998 and consists of 10 islands covering 26.2 hectares of private land belonging to the cities of Laval and Rosemère, and Éco-Nature.

In short, the member for Leeds—Grenville is proposing to rename a national park with the name of an existing park in my riding. He wanted to make things clearer for foreign tourists, but has failed. He will run into problems with his chambers of commerce when they find out that funds allocated to promote his park will target tourists from northern Montreal.

I take the member to task for not getting his priorities right, in addition to not conducting the necessary consultations and acting too quickly in this matter. If he were truly concerned with the brand of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park and maximizing tourist revenues, then he should start by holding a meeting with the Minister of Finance and the minister responsible for national parks—namely the Minister of the Environment—because they are the ones who are responsible for the budget cuts to Parks Canada.

Need we point out that the 2012 budget will result in cuts of $30 million to the Parks Canada budget by 2015? More than 600 employees were declared surplus and 1,500 employees will be affected in some way by 2015.

As we all already know, St. Lawrence Islands National Park will be severely affected. Don Marrin, superintendent of Parks Canada's East Ontario Field Unit, told the Gananoque Reporter that people should expect a significant reduction in services and hours of operation. So when the hon. member says he wants to improve the branding of the park, maybe he could start by keeping the park open and ensuring that there is enough staff to protect the region's biodiversity and heritage.

It is important to note that the park receives about 81,000 visitors per year, two-thirds of whom arrive by boat. Without checks and balances, these visitors could have adverse impacts on the park's ecosystem. In fact, according to the ecological integrity statement for St. Lawrence Islands National Park written in February 1999, visitor pressures present the primary threat to the park's ecological integrity.

Since this is a conservation issue, I would like to say a few words about the national conservation plan that is currently being developed. I take a particular interest in this issue because I was a member of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, which conducted the study. At committee, we received dozens of witnesses, including many from Quebec. Those witnesses felt that, with this government, there is a lot of talk but very little action when it comes to conservation. Even worse, some of its actions work against conservation.

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and cut the budget for the staff needed to conserve our parks?

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and eliminate the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which produced an excellent report on conservation in 2003?

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and eliminate funding to the Canadian Environmental Network, which could have helped develop a national conservation plan and implement regional initiatives?

How can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation and then turn around and repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, destroy the legislation that protects fish habitats and shut down an open-air laboratory that allowed experts to do research on our lakes?

Lastly, how can the Conservatives claim to care about conservation when they are trying to shove Enbridge's northern gateway pipeline down the throats of British Columbians?

In June, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development submitted its report on conservation. I invite all parliamentarians to read the report tabled during the last sitting and the NDP's recommendations in the dissenting opinion.

Basically, the NDP caucus is asking the government to develop strict conservation regulations so that clear rules and priorities can be established. Regulations should be based on rigorous scientific work and supported by a public service with adequate resources to carry out its mandate. Without these resources, the Conservatives' conservation plan will never be more than a charade.

I would like to invite the sponsor of the bill, who claims to care about conservation and developing our parks, to join us in urging the Conservative government to maintain Parks Canada's budget, to provide adequate funding for science and research, to maintain the Experimental Lakes Area program, and, most importantly, to implement a workable policy for fighting and adapting to climate change.

The member will no doubt agree that visitor impact, lack of Parks Canada resources, climate change, invasive species and shoreline erosion pose a much greater threat to the future of St. Lawrence Islands National Park than its name does.

Given the Conservative government's draconian cuts to Parks Canada's budget, the agency cannot be asked to expend resources on renaming a park that has been around for 108 years, at least not at a time when visiting hours are being cut along with staff responsible for protecting the park's plants and animals.

This government would be better off focusing on things that Canadians really care about, such as heritage protection, job creation and access to public services.

When will the government start listening?

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-370, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, namely to change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park. There has been considerable community consultation and there is broad consensus that this will be good for the region and the economy, as the name is recognized by tourists all over the world. I would therefore like to commend the member for Leeds—Grenville for this initiative and recognize that both he and the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands are both good friends of St. Lawrence Islands National Park and of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, an official United Nations biosphere reserve.

Very briefly, a biosphere reserve is where local communities or representatives from key sectors such as agriculture, business, conservation, education and tourism work together to develop projects that link conservation with economic development in the region. The committees are voluntary and community based.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is the smallest national park in Canada and the oldest national park east of the Rockies, having been created in 1904. The area is an important part of our history. The first inhabitants of the park were aboriginal people who began fishing and hunting about 10,000 years ago at the beginning of the Holocene epoch, the epoch that we are now exiting. Later, following the American revolution, European settlers began moving into the area, and during the War of 1812 the area of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park was visited by both American and British warships. In the early 20th century the area became a gateway for the rich and famous in North America, and today elegant homes and summer cottages are among the beautiful sights seen on the various boat cruises of tourist attractions.

The Thousand Islands region consists of 1,864 islands at the western edge of the St. Lawrence Seaway, right in the region of the park.

Why is the park important and why should it be renamed? The first reason is to accurately brand the area. The name that people use to quickly and easily identify the area is the Thousand Islands. If one were to conduct an Internet search for the St. Lawrence Islands, he or she would find very little information. However, if the search were for the Thousand Islands there would be many hits. This is absolutely an indication that the Thousand Islands name is the one that is popularly used to describe the region and the place where the park is located.

The second reason is to accurately describe the region. The St. Lawrence River passes from Kingston to Quebec and beyond. The St. Lawrence Islands National Park stretches from Kingston to Mallorytown, so it really is centred on the Thousand Islands region. It is important not to confuse the area with the whole of the St. Lawrence River and all of the other islands within the St. Lawrence River.

It is also important to distinguish this particular national park from the phrase “parks of the St. Lawrence”, which is used by the Province of Ontario to describe a number of other attractions in the area, including Fort Henry, which, by the way, everyone should visit the first chance they have. It is important to ensure that tourist buses passing on the 401 stop and visit the region and enjoy what it has to offer. The park is a very important part of the region's economy and provides a considerable number of jobs. The latest statistics show there are 438 enterprises, employing almost 6,000 people in Leeds-Grenville alone, that consider themselves visitor based.

While this is an important initiative for the Thousand Islands region, it is important to point out that the recent cuts to Parks Canada mean that the St. Lawrence National Park could be struggling. The Parks Canada agency is responsible for 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas in Canada, and it falls under the responsibility of Environment Canada. Sadly, the government is gutting Parks Canada through implementing $29 million in budget cuts. In so doing, it is undermining the health and integrity of Canada's world renowned parks, risking some of our world heritage sites, significantly reducing the number of scientists and technical staff, hurting relationships with aboriginal peoples and attacking rural economies. Indeed, a former deputy minister of Environment Canada said that the federal budget cuts would undermine a decade of progress on protecting the health of Canada's national parks, while another critic called the cuts a “lobotomy” of the parks' system.

PSAC reported that 1,689 of its members received affected notices and 638 positions will be eliminated, representing close to 30% of all scientists. According to the union, the affected workers include scientists, engineers, carpenters, mechanics, technicians and program managers. If the scientific monitors are reduced, who will know what is happening to Canadian ecosystems and what will restore endangered species like Canada's woodland caribou?

On July 12, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, CPAWS, issued a sobering report about the state of Canada's parks. It highlighted the dangers to our national parks due to funding cuts, the loss of science and monitoring capacity, the growth of inappropriate development within and adjacent to many current and proposed parks, the shortening of seasons, and inappropriate recreation and tourism activities.

Under the Aichi biodiversity targets, the commitment is to protect at least 10% of our marine and 17% of our land areas by 2020. Currently, just 1% of Canada's marine environment is protected and 627 species are at risk of extinction. The rate of extinction is expected to peak in the next 50 years because of climate change, economic expansion, habitat destruction and pollution, yet the government, through Bill C-38, has limited the environmental assessment process and stripped endangered aquatic species of habitat protection.

According Parks Canada's report on plans and priorities, it is likely that user fees at national parks and historic sites will increase at the beginning of the next fiscal year. These include entry fees, camping fees, lockage and mooring fees. A national user fee proposal is expected to be tabled in Parliament in early 2013, which will outline the business increases.

Our party has criticized the Minister of the Environment's claim that businesses near national parks and historic sites are getting a “free ride”. We have stated that it was insulting to the owners and operators of thousands of small businesses across Canada who are a key pillar of the Canadian economy and employ over 500,000 Canadians.

In conclusion, the name change has been thought through by the community. This is not rebranding but rather about attaching the name of a park to a brand that is very old and well-known throughout the world, and something that people naturally talk about when they talk about the region.

One of my earliest memories is visiting the Thousand Islands and sitting on the dock with my brother and dad, waiting for one of the cruises. In fact, it is that faded picture that my father always hung in his office and that now lies quietly in his drawer. I hope to revisit the renamed Thousand Islands National Park with my family very soon. It is time to take them back there. I encourage all members to do so as well.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, after the summer in my constituency it gives me great pleasure to come back to the House to support my colleague, the member for Leeds—Grenville, and his bill, which would do a tremendous service for Canada's national parks system, particularly for national parks located in Ontario. The bill would rename the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to the Thousand Islands National Park.

As this is the second hour of debate, I want to summarize what was talked about and presented in the House during the first hour of debate on the history of the current park, the St. Lawrence Islands National Park as it is called.

Our national parks are governed by framework legislation mandating that Parks Canada protects and presents outstanding representative examples of natural landscapes and natural phenomena that occur in Canada. St. Lawrence Islands National Park is an amazing example of a slice of Canada's biodiversity, not only in terms of its natural history and ecology but also in terms of its cultural history. This year being the 200th year anniversary of the War of 1812, this is an historical area that saw many of the conflicts that gave birth to the defence of Canada and to the early risings and stirrings of the Canadian identity.

It is also ecologically important. The park consists of several important ecologically important properties between Kingston and Brockville, Ontario. It is part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and it lies at the eastern end of the Great Lakes system. It acts as a land bridge and this is something many people may not realize. This park straddles two other major parks. There is Algonquin Park, which is a provincial park. In fact, I spent some time there this summer canoeing through North Tea Lake and Manitou and Three Mile Lake and Erables Lake through the northwestern part of the park. It used to be called Algonquin National Park. Even though it has always been a provincial park, at some point the provincial government decided to call it a national park, but it was renamed back to Algonquin Park as we currently know it.

The St. Lawrence Islands National Park sits between Algonquin Park, a major protected area in the near north in Ontario, and the Adirondacks in New York State. The Thousand Islands Park, as we hope it will be called, acts as a land bridge between these two very ecologically important protected areas. These areas are significant because they contain transition forests and transition biospheres between what is known as the eastern deciduous forests in the northern United States and the boreal forest zone that covers much of Canada's vast north. This acts as a bridge between the transition zone and is full of unique fauna and flora, many of which are at the very northern end of their habitat as southern species and many of which are at the very southern end of their habitat as northern species. That is why this park is significant and why we need to highlight it and draw Canadians' attention to it.

Part of this government's approach to national parks is to encourage more visits and tourists to our parks, both foreign and Canadians. All government departments, in conjunction with the private sector, are being encouraged to take whatever steps are necessary to encourage visitors to come to our national parks system.

It is unclear why the park was named St. Lawrence Islands National Park instead of Thousand Islands National Park, but it is an historic error that must be corrected. My colleague from Brant began discussing the history of the park. It had a long history before European contact. Aboriginal peoples had been in the area for many generations and centuries before European contact.

The French first called the area Les Milles Isles, the Thousand Islands, some 400 years ago when they first set foot in the region. They were the ones who first used the term “Thousand Islands”. Then the British Royal Navy arrived and charted and named the various islands. We saw the advent of the American Civil War in mid-1860s. After that war ended, the area opened up significantly to development. Many wealthy Americans from New York State came to the Thousand Islands to build their summer homes and cottages.

It was at this time that the area started to really get developed. It was also when local residents started to become concerned about the area they had once hunted, fished, farmed and picnicked on for generations. They were concerned that this land was rapidly being lost to private property and no trespassing signs.

In 1874, their concerns led to two petitions being presented to the then Governor General of Canada asking that this area be protected for public use. At the time, the government was not very interested in doing so. Nevertheless, local pressure continued to be brought to bear over the subsequent decades, and in 1877, a new champion in Thaddeus Leavitt, the editor of the Brockville Recorder and an historian in his day, started to push for this area to be protected as a park. He was not successful, but by the 1890s citizens on both sides of the river were becoming interested in a park and pressure mounted for an international park spanning both sides of the boundary waters.

In 1895, a number of islands were considered for formal park status and the federal government of the day took a first step toward establishing a park. It did so by saying that if the Americans established a protected area on their side of the border, the Canadian government would then follow, but because the Americans never did anything, the park was never established.

It was not until 1904 that St. Lawrence Islands National Park was created with a base at Mallorytown Landing, which was donated by the Mallory family. The natives in the region also agreed with the formation of this national park and the preservation of some islands. The government then began work immediately on establishing pavilions and docks. By the 1960s, the park had its own superintendent and over the years it expanded significantly. Only a few years ago it acquired some more inland property to expand the protection of some of the sensitive biosphere areas.

The reason for this lengthy history lesson has been to highlight that over the last 400 years, since European contact, the area has been known as the Thousand Islands. For almost four centuries, local businesses, companies and communities have known and talked about the area as the Thousand Islands. It is a brand that locals and people from outside the area know well. No one knows exactly why the original name was created of St. Lawrence Islands National Park, but there is no doubt that it confuses people and is one of the reasons why the park may not be visited as much as it could be if it had the same name as the local area.

Many of the local councils and communities, ranging from Elizabethtown to Gananoque and from Brockville to the Front of Yonge township and the Leeds and the Thousand Islands township, have petitioned the member to rename the park to Thousand Islands park. This is an opportunity for us to do it, and I will point out to members in the House who are considering supporting this bill why it is so very important.

Ontario does not have a great number of national parks. People who live in Calgary are within an hour's drive to Banff National Park. People who live in Edmonton have access to Jasper National Park. The people on Vancouver Island can access the Pacific Rim National Park. For people who live in Montreal there is La Mauricie National Park.

Within striking distance of many of our metropolitan regions across the country, there are major national parks that are well visited and well known. In Ontario there are much smaller national parks, such as Point Pelee and the one in eastern Ontario known as the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. They are not well visited and we need to encourage Canadians, especially new Canadians who flock in great numbers to Ontario, to access the great outdoors and to understand that part of what it means to be Canadian is to understand our north and our great outdoors. By renaming the Thousand Islands National Park, we would ensure better branding and visibility for the park and ensure that it gets the attention it needs as a protected area in one of Canada's most sensitive biosphere zones.

I encourage all members to support this bill. It is a great idea. It is a little thing that would not cost us any money but would raise the visibility of our national park system in Ontario, a province that I and the member for Leeds—Grenville are proud to call home.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk about Bill C-370, which would change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands National Park. I also want to welcome viewers at home and members of the House back from what I hope was a good summer in the ridings for what I know will be a productive and, hopefully, somewhat congenial session of Parliament. I think this private member's bill is a good way to start.

The bill the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville has brought forward for debate today would celebrate and recognize the national heritage that Canada and the famous Thousand Islands region have to offer.

What is in the name of a park?

A name with meaning builds the location in the consciousness of the public. It sets a site within the context of its surroundings. It is open and inviting to those who seek to engage with our nation's protected natural heritage. It is vast and it is something of which we are all proud. The St. Lawrence is a great and majestic river that originates from the outflow from Lake Ontario, near Kingston, and moves eastward 3,058 kilometres, one of the longest rivers in the world, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. There are several prominent islands in the St. Lawrence: Wolfe Island, Montreal, Île d'Orléans and Anticosti Island are just a few.

What does St. Lawrence Islands National Park, as a name, say to the average Canadian?

Those who do not know the park would not imagine a region where majestic castles and historic summer homes stand in contrast to rugged islands of granite and pine that are home to lumbering turtles, soaring eagles and countless other species. The current name says nothing about how the park is located in the heart of the Thousand Islands area, an 80-kilometre-wide extension of granite hilltops joining the Canadian Shield of northern Ontario with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State.

This is a park that showcases the unique landscape created by glaciers retreating 10,000 years ago, scraping sediments and exposing the rounded knobs of an ancient mountain chain. When the St. Lawrence River flooded the area on its path to the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 hilltops became the Thousand Islands. It is a land where soil was slow to form over the acidic granite; where even today the area retains a rugged beauty.

Plants and animals migrated to the region, encouraged by the moderating effects of the Great Lakes and the variety of microhabitats that were created by the rugged topography. The islands form a land bridge, as was mentioned by the previous speaker, from northwest to southeast, across the St. Lawrence River, aiding movement of species across the landscape.

Notable examples of species that are common in the area, but rare in the rest of Canada, include: the deerberry, a plant that exists in only two locations in this country; the black rat snake, Canada's largest snake; the pitch pine, a southern tree species with a range that extends along the Frontenac Arch to just north of the Thousand Islands; and the least bittern, a wading bird whose wetland habitats are decreasing elsewhere within its northern range.

This national park in the Thousand Islands forms part of the UNESCO-recognized Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. It is an area that has important natural and ecological values and is a place where people live, work and enjoy a variety of economic and recreational activities based upon respect for the environment. The people of the region recognize the importance of protecting this land. Local residents were lobbying as far back as the 1880s for the creation of a national park in the Thousand Islands. As was stated earlier, although it took until 1904, the park was still the first national park east of the Rockies.

So, why did the park end up being called St. Lawrence Islands National Park? That is a good question, which my colleague beside me failed to answer, as well. I do not know the answer, either.

Historic government records do not clearly explain why that name was selected but refer to the park land as islands in the St. Lawrence which comprise the Thousand Islands group. They should have had a clue right there.

Despite what may be on the entry sign, many locals and visitors have always used the name Thousand Islands National Park. Each year, the park receives many letters from visitors who address their comments to Thousand Islands National Park. Quite simply, the name St. Lawrence Islands does not fit. It does not fit what this park is, it does not mean anything, and it is not recognized by even those who return to the park on an annual basis.

The idea of changing the park name is not new. It has been debated at the local level for decades. There was a recommendation to change the name of the park to Thousands Islands National Park in 1978, by the St. Lawrence Islands National Park advisory committee. This committee was formed by the Hon. Judd Buchanan, the then Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. The committee was made up of representatives of local municipalities, chambers of commerce, local citizens, and provincial and national organizations.

For this current action to change the park's name, the City of Kingston, the Front of Yonge township, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, the Town of Gananoque, the Thousand Islands Area Residents' Association and the directors of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve all approved motions in support of the name change. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce also supports the proposal.

St. Lawrence Islands National Park is a tiny jewel comprised of over 20 islands with a rich and complex history of natural and human interactions. However, the current name does not fit the billboard. The current name does not build public identity and does not increase awareness and support for the park in the Thousand Islands region. It does not capture the imagination of the public. It does not fit the historical regional references to the park.

Our national parks are national treasures. They are also personal treasures. We have all grown up visiting national parks. Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we spent a lot of time at Riding Mountain National Park. As an Albertan now, I and my family spend a lot of time in Banff and Jasper national parks, which are just magnificent. Those who have not been there need to go. Vacationing on the west coast, we spent time in Pacific Rim National Park.

These are all fabulous areas that are the envy of the world. We should take great pride in them, and we should make sure that they are treated accordingly, whether it is respect for the environment or whether it is making the name mean something.

Let me conclude by saying that I respect the dedication of the hon. member in bringing this bill to our attention for a second time. Changing the name of a national park is not an easy thing to do and it should not be an easy thing to do. I support the member's obvious commitment to the protection of our national environment, and I support his commitment to inspiring the meaningful recognition of a national treasure that does not hold a proper place in the consciousness of Canadians at the present time.

Thousand Islands National Park is a name that has meaning. Thousand Islands National Park inspires imagination. Thousand Islands National Park says something specific about an incredible and unique region of our country. Thousand Islands National Park provides a direct link to the public with Parks Canada's mandate to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage, and to foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.

It is time for the Thousand Islands National Park to be recognized for what it is, what it has always been and what it will be for future generations. I would urge all members of the House to support this worthwhile bill.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

September 17th, 2012 / 11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand today on our first day back to the House from our summer recess to talk to Bill C-370, which would change the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to the Thousand Islands national park. I am happy to be talking to this today, but as someone who was born in Brockville, I thought the mover of the motion might rename the national park after me. That did not work out, but I do appreciate what the mover of the motion is trying to accomplish.

I would like to add my voice to those already in support of Bill C-370 and the renaming of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands national park.

Our national parks represent the very best that Canada has to offer. These special places are protected so they can be enjoyed by visitors today and tomorrow. In fact, through Parks Canada, the federal government is Canada's largest provider of natural and cultural tourism products and its iconic destinations: national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. These form the cornerstones of the Canadian tourism industry. Tourism represents a significant economic opportunity for Canada. In 2010, the tourism sector contributed $29.7 billion to the Canadian economy and employed 617,000 Canadians.

As in the whole of Canada, our national parks offer important economic possibilities for the province of Ontario. The Thousand Islands is known throughout the world as a tourism destination. Every year millions of tourists flock to the iconic Thousand Islands region, but very few people know that there is a national park located in the heart of those islands. In fact, it is the closest national park to the city of Ottawa and, even without the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, Thousand Islands national park will remain one of the closest national parks to the city of Toronto.

It is time for us to adapt and renew the possibilities of this majestic national park. Something as simple as changing its name will dramatically alter how Parks Canada engages and attracts members of the public who seek to create great personal memories through meaningful experiences in an incredible national space.

For over 100 years tourism has played a prominent role in the Thousand Islands community, supporting family-owned businesses from generation to generation. St. Lawrence Islands National Park has an annual budget in excess of $1.5 million. While some of that revenue is self generated, a majority comes from Canadian taxpayers. When Parks Canada has publicly stated that it is trying to encourage new Canadians, young Canadians and urban Canadians to visit national parks, it does not make sense for Parks Canada to work outside the regional brand of the Thousand Islands.

Parks Canada has an exemplary record of working within communities through partnering initiatives and stakeholder relations, yet in a region where other private tourism providers take advantage of the strong, recognized and powerful “World Famous Thousand Islands” brand name, in using the term St. Lawrence Islands, Parks Canada is not talking the same language as other Thousand Islands tourism operators.

If members were travelling from Vancouver, Newfoundland or England, would they not find it difficult to distinguish among the offerings of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Parks of the St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence Islands National Park? Two of these three organizations have many sites outside the immediate Thousand Islands area and are not interchangeable with the national park and have different mandates.

As the government, it is our role to help remove barriers that limit opportunities for Canadians to become more engaged with treasured natural places. We should be doing all we can to help provide opportunities to showcase what Parks Canada has to offer. Placing Thousand Islands national park on the map is a small but significant step that would help enhance public awareness of this incredible park. A name change would present an opportunity to renew Canadians' passion and support for our country's important natural spaces. A name change could help ensure that this national park would find a place in the consciousness of Canadians and would help ensure that future generations would be inspired by and would support this long-established protected treasure.

Economically, a name change to the Thousand Islands national park would align our public offering with those of other regional tourism providers. This would help initiate sustainable expandable growth generating activities and relationships. We would be creating a legacy that would say that lasting improvements could be made by this government. Parks Canada would be able to expand its reach and impact by taking advantage of the existing regional brand.

I realize there may be some in the House who oppose this name change initiative simply because the St. Lawrence Islands National Park has been the official name of the Thousand Islands national park for over 100 years. In fact, national parks have been renamed twice before. In both of these instances the new name better reflected the region in which they were situated. The Northern Yukon National Park was been renamed to Ivvavik National Park and Ellesmere Island National Park became Quttinirpaaq National Park.

Bill C-370 is an easy bill to support because changing the name of St. Lawrence Islands National Park to a name that better reflects the local region to a name that is already used by regional residents and existing park visitors, to a name that will help Parks Canada position the wonderful landscapes and features of the park in the psyche of Canadians, to a name that will immediately improve local, national and international recognition of the park, to a name that will facilitate better interactions with other regional tour operators and tour initiatives, improving the local economic opportunity, simply makes sense.

Thousand Islands national park fits the region, it fits the tradition and it fits the future. Thousand Islands national park is the right name for the right park at the right time.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the House for their input and discussion during the second reading of the bill that proposes to change the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park to Thousand Islands national park. I appreciate their interest and involvement.

When I opened this debate, I indicated there were a number of facets to my argument that the name of this park should be changed. I would like to review those again as I close the debate.

The St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in what is popularly known and identified worldwide as the Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands region is of significant importance in the geological history and cultural history of our nation. In fact, on a Monday 200 years ago this week, one of the first skirmishes of the War of 1812 happened with a raid on Gananoque by Americans, and we had a wonderful re-enactment of that battle just a few weeks ago.

Formed as a result of the last ice age, the Thousand Islands region provides a land bridge across the St. Lawrence River for plants and animals. We have heard from other speakers that it joins the Canadian shield in the north at Algonquin Park through to the Adirondack Mountains in the south.

The Great Lakes, particularly Lake Ontario, which lie to the west, provide a heat sink, which helps moderate both winter and summer temperatures in the region, which in turn attracts flora and fauna that might not otherwise be found in the area. As a result of all this, the area has been recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.

When Europeans first discovered this place, the French named it Les Milles Isles and the English named the islands in 1816 after the British Navy, but it has continued to be identified as the Thousand Islands. Today, many people in the area already refer to the park as the Thousand Islands national park because this is how the region is known.

Visitor services are a growing and important part of the economic development of the region that encompasses this park. This has always been the case as people flock from around the globe to visit the world famous Thousand Islands, but it is increasingly important as the economic mix of the area has changed from manufacturing to services. According to Statistics Canada, close to 6,000 jobs in my riding alone rely upon the visitor services industry.

Our government has been supportive of this economic change by helping to fund what was known as the Maritime Discovery Centre, which is now called Aquatarium, in Brockville at the eastern end of this part. This centre's exhibits will concentrate on the Thousand Islands.

When Parks Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011 and the parks were advertised across the country to promote this anniversary, there were questions raised about the name of the park. In fact, one of the television ads featured the park and said, “St. Lawrence Islands National Park”. However, many people did not know where it was on the St. Lawrence.

The St. Lawrence Islands National Park, as I mentioned in my opening remarks on the bill, could be anywhere on the length of the St. Lawrence River, all the way from Kingston to the Gaspé.

In my earlier speech on the bill I spoke about branding. Thousand Islands is the drawing card for the region. It is the brand upon which the region hangs its future and reviews its past.

My home town of Gananoque bills itself as the Canadian gateway to the Thousand Islands. Brockville calls itself the city of the Thousand Islands. Thousand Islands is the moniker that is used by everyone in the region to differentiate themselves from any other region.

Simple marketing theory demands that the park be easily identified in its location on the lengthy St. Lawrence River, and that location is the Thousand Islands.

I call upon my colleagues from all sides of the House to support the bill moving on to committee and then we hope it will be moved forward to see the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park for 2013 changed to the Thousand Islands national park.

Canada National Parks Act
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The time provided for debate has expired. Therefore, the question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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

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Some hon. members

Yea.

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members

Nay.

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 19, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.