Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act

An Act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


Sheila Copps  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 3:30 p.m.
See context


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I take part in the debate on Bill C-10, on marine conservation areas.

We know that the bill reflects the pan-Canadian vision that is characteristic of the present government. History will probably remember this government as the champion of centralization, as far as the development of this great beautiful Canada is concerned, a country that is more and more untied because Ottawa wants it to be so, even though it does not necessarily have the agreement of the Canadian population. Of course, members understand that if I mention the agreement of the Canadian population, it is because it is obvious that there are doubts about the agreement of the Quebec population.

We know that the present federal government, under this parliament and under the previous one, has been guided by the social union framework agreement, signed in February 1999 by nine provinces out of ten. Mr. Bouchard, the head of Quebec state, like all his predecessors no matter their party allegiances, refused to take part in a scheme aimed at trivializing Quebec by refusing to recognize its specificity and the existence of its people.

This is why Premier Lucien Bouchard refused to sign the social union framework agreement, which has nonetheless actually been implemented. It is a tragedy for Quebec and for the people of Quebec to see the actions of this institution, which is so pretentiously democratic. We saw it recently at the summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Canada praised democracy and demanded democracy from other countries, even taking a tough stance against the Cuban government. This does not ring true when one knows how things work in this great Canadian democracy, where returning officers are still appointed on a partisan basis.

When the premier of Quebec, the head of the Quebec state, refused to sign in 1999, as one of his predecessors refused to sign in 1982, the unilateral patriation of the constitution under Prime Minister Trudeau, it did not change anything to Canadian logic. It did not disturb the federal steam roller, which is there to level the provinces. It is there to standardize them, which may be necessary. That is one of the constraints of globalization to increase efficiency in Canada, but it is a tragedy for Quebec to be stripped of its specificity and of its distinct character and to be moulded, week after week, month after month, into the great Canadian whole with no attention being paid to its distinctive features.

No attention is being paid to the fact that Quebec is supposed to be, according to the member for Saint-Maurice and Prime Minister of Canada, a distinct society. It is the government people themselves who invented this concept, following the commitments made in Verdun, where Quebecers were told that they were a distinct society. Then, without even using that expression, commitments were made during the referendum campaign, just as Mr. Trudeau had made commitments in 1980. He had said that he would put his head on the chopping block if changes were not made, although he did not say which changes exactly. They put theirs seats on the line for Quebec to be duly recognized within the Canadian federation.

What happened in the following months? They announced that the constitution was being patriated, which happened in 1982 without Quebec's consent. This phenomenon occurred again in 1999 with the social union.

This is quite a change; the more it changes the more it is the same. No efforts were spared, through a shameless propaganda campaign to the tune of $1,000 or $2,000, as we say in Quebec “The sky is the limit”, to try to convince Quebecers they can be good Canadians. They have tried to convince Quebecers slowly and carefully of the value of the concept of nations, founding nations in particular, and distinct society to mention a few, to get back to this one, which was put forward by the Primer Minister himself. They never said to which areas distinct society would apply.

Would it apply to marine conservation areas? No, it would not. Would it apply to parental leave? No, it would not. Would it apply to the young offenders issue? No, it would not. Would it apply to privacy policy, where I dare say Quebec is far ahead of Canada as it is in many other areas?

We could also mention the personal information issue about which the Conseil du patronat as well as the Quebec Bar and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux told the government “stay out of this. Quebec's legislation is excellent. We do not need the strong arm of the federal government interfering in the area of personal information. Stay out of this. We have good legislation in Quebec”.

Distinct society does not apply in this area any more than it does with regard to parental leave, marine conservation areas and 5$ a day care. If the government was consistent, it would say “We made commitments during the referendum campaign. With all due respect for democracy in Quebec and for the people of Quebec, we are going to implement what distinct society means. Distinct society means an unconditional right to opt out, because Quebecers are distinct, because they have successfully handled a particular responsibility of our collective life. We therefore have no need to duplicate what already exists”.

No, that is asking too much. Why? Because we know perfectly well that, if this government dared to do such a thing openly, particularly with the knowledge of the English majority in this country, there would be quite an outcry from English Canadians, who would once again massively reject, as they did the Charlottetown accord, any vague desire by this government to recognize that the people of Quebec have distinct rights or characteristics.

It is a dead end for Quebec. Slowly but surely, Quebecers are coming to the realization that there is no future in this country. There is no future for characteristics specific to Quebec or for the normal evolution of the Quebec people in this country. It is two countries in one. It is two different kinds of logic: the Canadian one and the Quebec one. This was the simple description that Marcel Léger, the well known and marvellous Parti Quebecois organizer, came up with during the constitutional debate. René Lévesque described it as two scorpions in the same bottle. If we go further back in time, the Laurendeau-Dunton commission referred to two solitudes in 1963.

That is the real Canada, a country in which the provinces are all put on the same footing, a country in which the power will be inexorably displaced to Ottawa, where decisions from coast to coast will be made in Ottawa. It has no time to lose with Quebec, which will be made to fit in and slowly disappear.

People need to be aware that, particularly because Quebec cannot control its immigration, some demographers feel that the Island of Montreal will be non-francophone within eight, ten or twelve years. People need to be aware that, as a result of immigration and the birth rate, Quebec will go from its present 24% of the Canadian population to just 21% within 25 years and just 16% within 50 years.

There is, therefore, an implacable process under way that will end up with Quebec's being trivialized, neutralized, if it continues to be part of Canada. Quebec must leave, and the necessity of this is illustrated by Bill C-10 on marine areas, in which the government announces quite openly that the ownership of these will be federal, whereas there is a law in place which states that the beds of the rivers, the St. Lawrence and its estuary are the property of the government of Quebec.

This is confrontation. This is what all these squabbles about overlap are, these meetings of public servants who want to wage administrative battles to the detriment of the public purse. It is the poor old taxpayers who will have to pay through the nose for all these multiple meetings, evidence of how conflicted this country is, while the federal government ignores the recent example of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, which offered a model of a well administered conservation area. This is no longer a model for the new Canada that has been under construction since 1999, with social union and all the logic that goes with it. This needs to be understood in future by all concerned.

I am sure that some hon. members on the other side are unaware of the gravity of this situation.

There are social democrats and humanists among the Liberals, and among others, who have not assessed the situation. There are people of vision, who love Quebec and know it. I am sure they do not want Quebec to be minimized and ultimately wiped off the map.

Under the democratic process mentioned earlier, what are we reduced to, if we want some degree of vision? The people of Quebec are reduced to being cut down, and systematically so, and will end up looking like Acadia, with all its charming influence. Then, the next stage is Louisiana and folklore. That is the sad truth. It is relentless.

My colleagues from Quebec sitting opposite must understand what machinations they are involved in. It is abnormal to be so negligent, so careless. Or perhaps they are happy, I do not know. There is one thing, though, there are things to be said between Quebecers and between right thinking persons, on the evolution of this people.

I must mention the article by Lysiane Gagnon in La Presse on Saturday, which gave rather nasty and cavalier treatment to a report on the constitutional position of the Liberal Party of Quebec . The report was written by an eminent constitutionalist, Benoît Pelletier, from the Outaouais region.

It is a discussion paper for right thinking federalists, those who still dream of a Canada where Quebec will be respected, something I see as Utopian, a dead end. Ms. Gagnon says, and I quote:

In the next round, if there is one, God help us—

As if the problem were resolved.

—all the provinces, all the native nations and all of Canada's lobby groups will put their demands on the table, and the effect of this would probably move Quebec's position away from the status quo.

As if the status quo existed. This is the type of smoke and mirrors that we get from these types of individuals, such as Ms. Gagnon, and from others in Quebec, but Quebec is caught up in Canada's moving ahead.

It is somewhat like what the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport wrote in his document entitled “Building Canada through Sport”, which is a monumental mistake, but which at least is transparent. Since February 1999, Canada has been moving ahead, it is not the status quo. What we have is a Canada that is moving ahead like a steamroller, a Canada that trivializes the role of the provinces, something which may be necessary for its own good performance, but which is tragic for Quebec.

Ms. Gagnon continues by saying:

What would be achieved, for example, in having enshrined in the constitution a specificity that is obvious and that exists in any case?

“A specificity that is obvious and that exists in any case”. This “that exists in any case” is the type of smoke and mirrors used by Quebec federalists; it would exist in any case if it were enshrined in Canada's constitution. However Quebec's specificity does not exist in writing. According to these people, it is a perception, and yet, Quebec exists, the Quebec nation exists, the Quebec homeland exists. This is not recognized here and this is what is tragic.

In my opinion, this is why Quebecers will not always be able to have it both ways. We will lose at one level or at the other. If we do not react, as we are being asked to by the Premier of Quebec, Bernard Landry, it is going to be a matter of life and death for Quebec, in terms of its influence.

We know the influence Quebec has right now. Those who, like us MPs, have had the privilege of travelling, of meeting people on the international scene, see the planet differently. They see a planet with a rather impressive Quebec geographically, a Quebec that is home to seven million francophones who have a definite role to play and who contribute to humanity, which is unique, with its French influences, of course, and its English influences, with its important Montreal minority, a minority that is very respectable and very rich in every sense of the word, and its allophone population, because Quebec is incidentally a wonderful destination for immigrants.

There is also the Anglo-Saxon influences, particularly from Canada and the United States. We are a truly unique people, which is clearly an asset in terms of its contribution to the planet and to humanity. One just has to look at the situation from afar to realize that the fact that Quebec is not sovereign is a complete aberration, Mr. Trudeau would have said that it was a crime against humanity.

It makes one wonder where Canada's social democrats are and why they are not leading the fight for Quebec's sovereignty. Quebec has things to say. Quebec is different. What Quebec has to say would benefit not only Canada, but the international community as a whole.

I cannot get over how this great country of Canada has failed to grasp that Quebec's sovereignty would benefit everyone.

I cannot get over the naïveté, bad faith or cynicism of which Lysiane Gagnon is capable when she writes things like this about Quebec's specificity, which exists anyway. I cannot get over it. It is sticking one's head in the sand to reason like this when one is aware of the constitutional problem, because there is one. There is a constitutional problem in Canada.

I think we must go back to the basics of Quebec-Canada relations. There is something wrong with the course of action adopted following the 1995 referendum, which, in my view, consisted of three scenarios.

The first was the status quo, business as usual. The second scenario, driven by English Canadians frightened by the 49.4% of votes in favour, and the 60% of francophone votes in favour, and I think we are still allowed to say this, was to try to please Quebecers. The government would try to amend the Constitution of Canada so that Quebecers would feel comfortable in this country moving ahead. The country would amend its constitution to reflect the will of the people, because it had had a real scare, because for much of the evening on October 30, 1995, Quebec had decided in favour of sovereignty. As luck would have it, around 11.30 p.m., that sovereignty slipped out of our grasp. We have lived with this.

I think that English Canada could have learned something from this. The Liberal government therefore had the choice of making the country more welcoming to Quebecers.

A third scenario, which was the one the Liberals adopted, was to dig in their heels; let Quebecers do what they liked, let them make their own choices, but in Canada, this was the direction they were taking. Take it or leave it. They had no time and no energy to spare to try to find approaches that would make Quebecers happy because they would never be happy anyway.

So, they have chosen the hard line. They came up with Plan b and they enlisted the ineffable Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. All of this was part of one big scheme. The style the minister has chosen is not conducive to problem solving.

They dug in their heels and said that that was the way to go and that Quebec could get on board or withdraw. The ball is now in Quebec's court. I think this deserves more in depth consideration. To help us with our reflection, we have before us today a technical bill that is utterly misleading and is part of a Canadian centralist vision where the federal government calls the shots and the provinces have to yield. In 8, 10, 12, 20, or 25 years from now, the provinces will be just big regional county municipalities.

This may be a good thing for English speaking Canada, but I maintain that it would be a tragedy for Quebec. I will fight tooth and nail to prevent this tragedy.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Mississauga South Ontario


Paul Szabo LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the member suggested that Bill C-10 interfered in provincial jurisdiction. He also noted that the proposed legislation had areas of overlap with provincial legislation.

Would the member advise the House of one example of overlap to which he refers?

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2001 / 3:15 p.m.
See context


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak today before this House, not only as a member of parliament, but also as a citizen concerned with protecting the environment.

Like my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, I am in favour of legislation aimed at protecting the environment and of measures focusing on environments at risk, be they land or water.

Is it necessary to remind this House that the Bloc Quebecois supported the bill creating the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park? Our support, however, is neither blind nor naive. We will continue to support pro-environment bills, but not at any price nor in just any way. Hence our opposition to Bill C-10.

Our primary objection is that the federal government's intention is to use this bill to appropriate lands that are under provincial jurisdiction by making orders concerning the creation of marine areas.

The federal government would contravene section 92(5) of the Constitution Act, 1867, which provides that the management and sale of public lands are a provincial, not a federal jurisdiction. The federal government cannot use an environmental protection measure to appropriate provincial lands. It should seek the provinces' co-operation, instead of resorting to its usual steamrolling and centralizing approach.

This is yet another example of the federal government's stubbornness about a process that works well. Again, the establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is the result of co-operation and partnership. Why does the government refuse to listen to reason?

It is the case with the young offenders legislation. The Quebec approach, which is based on rehabilitation and reintegration, has proven effective, but the federal government continues its push for a hard line approach. Today, I realize that the government is using the same process with this bill in that it wants to pass it first and then look at the issues.

I fear for the future of intergovernmental relations because we cannot trust a process that does not respect the public interest and, more importantly, because we cannot trust a government that does not respect its own departments. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans already has a program of marine protection zones in place. I stress the fact that this program is already in effect.

The result of all this is a state of confusion, and particularly of lack of respect. This is a case where the winner will be the one that will manage to gain the upper hand. Within the same government, we could end up with a duplication of tasks and skills.

Why do we want duplication? How can the government justify this duplication? Why is it necessary? How many levels are required? How far will the federal government go in its quest for duplication?

What worries me about this scenario is the rivalry that will result. On the one hand, we have the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which has expertise in this area. There is the Department of the Environment, which also has expertise in this area. On the other hand, we have Heritage Canada, which has a mandate to promote Canadian unity. Which of them can we trust? Which of them should we trust: Heritage Canada, which uses the environment for national unity purposes, or Fisheries and Oceans, which manages our marine natural resources? Can we trust the federal government to make the right choice in this case? Sometimes, I wonder whether the government has any judgment left, let alone common sense.

My main concern about the bill is the flagrant lack of co-operation within the government itself. I strongly doubt whether such behaviour would reassure the other levels of government regarding the introduction and enforcement of a bill which intentions are noble, but which really boils down to unhealthy rivalry.

This brings me to another question: Who will have the upper hand in the event of conflict? Which department will have the last word? If the federal government answers this, it will be tantamount to revealing its true objective and its true nature as far as the purpose of this bill goes. This could easily become a two edged sword. On the one hand, it insists that the environment is a priority, while on the other it takes advantage of this fine principle to flog national identity, using Heritage Canada which, I would remind hon. members, possesses no expertise whatsoever as far as the environment is concerned.

The result is regrettable. Even if we do not go so far as to call it a downright dangerous appropriation of funds and resources, there is confusion, total and insurmountable confusion. There is such confusion that even those in charge of the various departments are lost themselves.

If there is confusion among the departments, it is easy to imagine what confusion there would be among the key stakeholders. Which department will be the one to really administer this protected zone? Which one will really administer the stakeholders? Which will penalize those breaking the law? All these questions remain without answers, and no answers will be forthcoming, for there is no one capable of answering without sinking into a morass of duplicating and overlapping policies.

With this much confusion within the federal government itself, it is easy to imagine the confusion there would be at other levels of government. To whom would a provincial government such as Quebec go in connection with the administration of a protected zone? I have no idea.

This confusion gives rise to another problem as well. The problem is a fundamental one. If the ministers of a government cannot work together, how can we expect the provincial governments and Quebec to collaborate? It is understandable why the Government of Quebec would refuse to collaborate in this project. The federal government is unable to tell us clearly and precisely why this bill comes from Canadian Heritage, when Fisheries and Oceans Canada already has a marine area protection program. The Bloc Quebecois cannot but oppose such an incredible administrative muddle as this.

The way this bill is to be implemented is not clear and cannot be because of the nature of its objectives.

Canadian Heritage is assuming jurisdictions that are not its own. It is also trying, with this bill, to take over areas that are not its areas and thus to meddle once again in provincial jurisdictions and in Quebec's jurisdiction, under cover of the environment. How far will the federal government go in taking over Quebec's and provincial jurisdictions?

I reiterate my opposition to Bill C-10 on protected marine areas for several reasons, including the overlap of the responsibilities of departments and, more particularly, because of the indirect approach taken in appropriating jurisdictions that belong exclusively to the provinces and Quebec.

Once again, the federal government has chosen to introduce a bill that ignores action already taken, and successfully.

I fear for the future of people who believe in this government, which takes no account of their interests. I fear for the future of our environment when the objectives of a bill put before us ignore its primary focus, the environment.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak with great concern about the government's Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada. Before I comment on the areas of the bill that I find quite concerning, I would like to make the following statement.

I believe that Canada's natural heritage should be protected and that it is our responsibility to ensure a viable environment is passed on to our children and our children's children in perpetuity. However, I also believe that the very survival of many remote and coastal communities, particularly those in my riding in northern British Columbia, depend on natural resources.

British Columbia has been blessed with beauty and an abundance of natural resources, many would say more than enough to go around. Yes, we must protect our natural environment, but we must do so with the understanding that not all industry is harmful to the environment and that the economic sustainability of many coastal and remote communities hinges on their ability to extract or harvest those natural resources, be it fisheries, forestry, mining or drilling for fossil fuels. This is a reality we cannot overlook.

As members of the House undoubtedly know, the bill has had a rather difficult time making its way through parliament in the past.

An earlier form of the bill was introduced in the House of Commons during the 36th parliament as the then Bill C-48. It was referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage which heard evidence in February and March of 1999. Bill C-48 then died on the order paper when parliament was prorogued.

It reappeared in the second session of the 36th parliament as Bill C-8. It made its way as far as report stage. Although it was amended slightly in committee, it too died on the order paper when parliament dissolved to the call of the October 2000 election.

Bill C-10 before us today is a reincarnation of both Bill C-48 and Bill C-8, taking into account the 1999 amendments.

I would venture to suggest that a lack of broad public consultation is the reason for previous versions of the bill being dumped from the government's legislative agenda in the past. I would say that it still needs much amending.

I do urge the government whip to allow her members to take a long hard look at the effects of the bill and allow their conscience to guide them in making much needed changes in committee and report stage.

At this time I would like to shift my attention away from the scope of the bill and narrow in on what I believe are some key areas of the bill.

To begin, let us take a close look at the preamble, specifically lines 4 to 10 in the government's definition of precautionary principle. The bill begins by stating:

Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to adopting the precautionary principle in the conservation and management of the marine environment so that, where there are threats of environmental damage, lack of scientific certainty is not used as a reason for postponing preventive measures;

The hon. members in the House today and the viewers at home may not realize that Bill C-10 considerably expands the concept of the precautionary principle. There is broad support for the wording of principle 15 of the 1991 Rio declaration on environment and development, which states:

In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Members of the House should be concerned that since the precautionary principle guides the government in its decision making process, this substantially expanded version allows the government to essentially create marine conservation areas wherever it pleases; the definition is that broad.

By removing the words serious or irreversible when dealing with threat assessment, the government has carte blanche to decide what warrants a designation of a marine conservation area and what does not. This is not in accordance with the Rio declaration that Canada signed on to and, as such, is not an appropriate definition of the precautionary principle.

I would urge members of the House to demand the amendment of the definition. The precautionary principle is the guiding force determining what regions become marine conservation areas. It is not acceptable that this definition be expanded arbitrarily.

I am concerned with a few other clauses of the bill, which I believe either need to be amended or entirely deleted.

The government has said that the purpose of the bill is to establish the rules that will allow for the creation of national marine conservation areas to protect and conserve marine ecosystems that are representative of the 29 marine environments in Canada's coastal zones and the Great Lakes.

Unlike national parks, whose resources are fully protected, marine conservation areas are managed for sustainable use, except where forbidden by clause 13, which deals with the exploration and extraction of any and all mineral or other deposits within a marine conservation area.

The bill would allow for sustainable use within the marine conservation area, with a focus on recreation, tourism, education and research.

Currently, federal-provincial agreements are either in place or under consideration for four parks, representing five of the twenty-nine marine regions. The proposed Gwaii Haanas park on Queen Charlotte Shelf in the Hecate Strait marine regions is in my riding of Skeena. This park could represent an area roughly equivalent to one-sixth of my total riding.

I must say that there are those who believe the intent of the legislation is to forbid any form of development within marine conservation areas and, further, to go beyond protecting the original 29 marine regions the legislation was designed for and to create many more new marine conservation areas. This is of grave concern to me and to many other Canadians.

As is mentioned in the bill, these 29 marine conservation areas would be zoned for different uses. Some may be zoned strictly for tourism, others for science, and there are many who believe most of these marine conservation areas would severely restrict any human activity, but more specifically industrial activity.

Whatever the original intent of the bill may be, I would urge members to take specific notice of clause 13, which specifically forbids any mineral or inorganic resource extraction within all marine conservation areas. Allow me to quote from the bill in clause 13 on page 9:

No person shall explore for or exploit hydrocarbons, minerals, aggregates or any other inorganic matter within a marine conservation area.

I ask the House to reflect on why the bill needs such a severely restricting, overarching clause affecting all marine conservation areas when it is supposed to be the intent of the bill to zone each area for specific usage, unless of course it is the government's intention to shut down those industries in Canada that rely on the extraction of such materials.

Furthermore, I find it quite strange that members of parliament representing areas of Atlantic Canada would not strongly object to such a clause since some of them hail from a province like Newfoundland, where the famous Hibernia offshore drilling program has successfully and, may I say, in an environmental manner penetrated the ocean's floor, and its very existence is ensuring the lives and well-being of many Newfoundlanders and Atlantic Canadians. Should such a bill and clause have been introduced prior to the Hibernia project and even prior to any exploration for that project, it possibly would never have been.

I would like to press on in this vein a little further and say that the legislation could prevent any further exploration and development off the shores of Newfoundland. For that matter, it could prevent such development off the shores of Canada, period, be it in our Atlantic, Arctic or Pacific oceans. Of course many will say that is true only if those specific areas are designated as marine conservation areas. That brings me to my next concern with the legislation.

I ask hon. members of the House to take note of clause 5 on page 4. Subclause 5(1) is most distressing and represents what is fundamentally wrong with the government. It seriously undermines the effectiveness of elected representatives in the House. I believe that once the members in the Chamber today hear what I will read from the bill they cannot help but understand that there need to be serious changes to the bill for it to be accepted in the Commons. I will quote from subclause 5(1):

Subject to section 7, for the purpose of establishing or enlarging a marine conservation area, consisting of submerged lands and waters within the internal waters, territorial sea or exclusive economic zone of Canada and any coastal lands or islands within Canada, the Governor in Council may, by order, amend Schedule 1 by adding the name and a description of the area or by altering the description of the area.

In plain English what this means is that the Prime Minister and his cabinet can decide out of the blue to create a marine conservation area in any member's riding or backyard. Yes, the bill does recommend that the Minister of Canadian Heritage consult with those she or he deems to be affected people, but it does not guarantee that their opinions will be heard and agreed to. It is conceivable, should parts of the St. Lawrence be considered a marine conservation area, that the government could restrict or reduce fishery catch levels for various species, or even shipping levels. The heritage minister might even choose some of the most fertile fishing grounds on the east coast or, for that matter, the west coast, and deem them marine conservation areas. There would be nothing we as elected members of parliament could do about it.

How does the minister think this will sit with Canadians and more so with coastal communities whose very survival in many cases depends on the resources they can extract from the sea? The power the bill in this clause takes away from Canadians and their parliament and places in the hands of a very few insiders, cabinet members, is appalling. I know my constituents will not stand for it and neither will I.

I implore members of the House to demand the amendment of the clause and to return the power of creation and enlargement of these marine conservation areas to the hands of parliament, where it will receive much reflection, consultation and thought. We are accountable to our constituents and to Canadians.

I know my comments in the House today may seem strong and passionate, but when I read on to the end of clause 5 to subclause 5(3) my blood really boils. There is no doubt that Canadians listening today should be outraged at the fact that cabinet is the sole body creating and enlarging marine conservation areas. However, it should incense them even more to learn that the body that creates these areas does not have the power to reduce or eliminate them.

Let me explain. It is all right for the government to expedite the creation of these marine conservation areas and to wield the swift power of cabinet to that end, but to reduce or eliminate an area would take an act of parliament. Allow me to read once again from the bill. I would ask members to take note of subclause 5(3) on page 5:

No amendment may be made by the Governor in Council to Schedule 1 for the purpose of removing any portion of a marine conservation area.

Of course I agree that parliament should be the body deciding on whether or not a marine conservation area should be designated. However, what Canadians may not realize is that only the government can raise in the House an amendment to an act of parliament, meaning that it would have to be the will of the government of the day to amend or remove a marine conservation area. It would not be up to individual members to do so. Although we as elected members would have the opportunity to debate such a bill, we could not make any changes on our own.

It is also important to note that it is not uncommon for a bill to take up to one year to make its way through the House of Commons and its standing committee, to the Senate and then to receive royal assent. Depending on the priority the government places on the bill, it could take even longer.

We know that in reality the time a bill spends in the House of Commons or the Senate is controlled by the government. It has been known to push bills through in weeks and it has also dragged its heels on some bills for years, not unlike what has happened to the history of this bill, I might add.

The point I am trying to make is that the government does not need to abrogate its democratic responsibility by allowing clause 5 to stand. It already has the power to push bills into law and could create as many marine conservation areas as it likes.

I would urge the government to do the right thing and allow parliament its due evaluation, consultation and amendment of bills relating to specific marine conservation areas, not ram this omnibus piece of legislation through the House.

I would ask members to support amendments to the legislation that would see the need for the government to introduce specific legislation for every marine conservation area it plans to designate.

I would ask members to support amendments to remove clause 13. As mentioned, that clause would eliminate the ability to ever extract resources from the marine conservation areas regardless of the environmental viability of any project.

I will leave you and my hon. colleagues with these final words of caution and conscience. Members should ask themselves how their constituents would react if their fishing grounds were to become protected under the bill. How would their constituents feel if their activities, those which, I might add, put food on their tables and clothes on their children's backs, could not be continued? What if they were told they could not work or that the bill would drastically affect the future of their community? I would venture to suggest members of parliament would want to consult widely, bring their concerns to the attention of the minister and have their day in the House to express those opinions and to convince their colleagues to support their endeavours.

As this bill currently stands, hon. members will never have that opportunity. That is wrong. Therefore I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor: Bill C-10, An Act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, be not now read a second time but that the Order be discharged, the Bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

May 10th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is the first opportunity I have had to respond to the hon. member in that capacity. Let me begin by congratulating her on the position she holds.

This afternoon we will continue consideration of Bill S-11, followed by Bill S-16 respecting money laundering. As a matter of fact the debate on Bill S-11 may have collapsed just before question period. That means we will start with Bill S-16 respecting money laundering, followed by Bill C-14, the shipping legislation. Afterward, if there is any time left, we will resume debate on Bill C-10 regarding marine parks.

On Friday we will begin consideration of Bill C-22 respecting income tax amendments at report stage and third reading. We will then return to the list I have just described should we not have completed Bill C-14, Bill C-10 or Bill S-16, for that matter.

On Monday next, if necessary, we will resume consideration of Bill C-22, followed by Bill C-17, the innovation foundation bill, at third reading. We will then return to the list that I described a while ago.

On Tuesday it is my hope that we will be able to commence and hopefully complete the third reading of Bill C-26, the tobacco taxation bill, as well as the second reading of Bill C-15, the criminal code.

Next Wednesday it is my intention to call Bill C-7, the youth justice bill at report stage. We also hope to deal next week with Bill S-3 respecting motor vehicles, Bill C-11, the immigration legislation, if reported, and Bill C-24, organized crime. As well there has been some discussion among political parties and hopefully we can deal with Bill S-24 respecting the aboriginal community of Kanesatake at all stages in the House of Commons, provided that it has been reported to the House from the other place.

Natural ResourcesOral Question Period

May 9th, 2001 / 2:35 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians want is a full public debate. Bill C-6, now before parliament, licences water exporters and its sister bill, Bill C-10, will establish where the water will be taken through cabinet order.

Why is the government not telling the people who live along the Great Lakes that it is setting the stage to allow the selling of their water in bulk?

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
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Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today on behalf of our party to indicate that, with some significant reservations, we intend to support the bill at second reading stage.

However, as happened in the last House, after committee and the refusal on the part of the government to make the necessary amendments to make the bill more meaningful, if we do not get those amendments then we will be opposing it at third reading.

By way of background, I will reflect on the need for the legislation. Canada is behind the times on having this type of legislation. We have this huge, magnificent country, surrounded on three sides by water. Unlike a number of our other allies, we do not have this type of legislation to protect our marine areas. Specifically, the United States has had legislation since, I believe, the mid-seventies. Australia and New Zealand both have had legislation for some period of time which goes a long way to protect their marine environment by creating these types of parks or conservation areas.

With regard to the environmental issues that confront us, Canada has been slow in preparing and advancing this type of legislation. It is high time that we have it. The proposed bill that is before the House today and which will eventually go to committee would empower the government to move into this area.

I want to take a moment to mention some of the areas that environmental groups in particular, and local communities, including, in some cases, provincial governments, first nations, individual local municipal governments and environmental groups, have been working on. There is a good number of these around the country and they are becoming very frustrated with the lack of involvement by the federal government in providing assistance to develop and protect these marine areas.

My friend from Nova Scotia raised the issue earlier this week or at the end of last week of the gully that is off Nova Scotia. It is a gully that is larger than the Grand Canyon but it is underwater and it is at serious risk. The oil and gas leases, which are not being exploited at this time, would create very serious damage and/or danger to the marine life and the ecosystem if they were to proceed.

A great deal of work has been done on a very large park that is being proposed called Gwaii Hanaas off the coast of British Columbia on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Some of the briefing background I have indicates that environmental groups worked very hard and for a great length of time on the particular marine park. They have done it in co-operation with and with a great deal of assistance from the oil industry that has oil and gas leases in the area.

To its credit, the industry has given up its right to those leases. Everything is ready for the area to be designated. I believe all the work was completed by 1997. They have now been waiting for over four years for the designation. Obviously it will still be some time before we get the legislation through.

There is an area in the north off Baffin Island where a significant amount of background work has been done to prepare the area to be designated and hence protected.

There has been work done in Lake Superior, in the northern part of my home province, to designate an underwater park, which would enhance some of the other work done by the provincial government to preserve underwater parks for the enjoyment of the population. All these projects are at significant risk, so the importance of moving ahead cannot be overstated.

The NDP will be supporting the legislation. Hopefully it can be moved to committee where there will be amendments to strengthen it. The importance of the legislation is that it rounds out other legislation, to which we have had some reference today by other speakers.

Certainly the Fisheries Act provides some mechanism for the government to protect marine species and ecosystems, but it is not enough. We have the terrestrial land in the form of the work Parks Canada does in its empowering legislation, but this legislation fills a gap in the jurisprudence required to cover off the need to protect these areas. I emphasize it is our responsibility to act as good stewards of the marine territory in a country the size of Canada. The legislation is lacking in that regard.

I would like to cover some of the strengths and weaknesses in the specific legislation. There is provision in the bill to provide for public consultation. That would require consultation specifically with the provinces and the first nation communities involved.

We have some serious reservations. We heard concern expressed by the previous speaker from the Bloc on whether the consultation process was broad enough, extensive enough and meaningful enough to satisfy the provinces and the first nation communities. We share that concern. In fact we feel it does not go far enough in that the bill needs to be amended and strengthened in that regard.

I will deal specifically with a number of other issues now. One is with regard to the lack of prohibition in the legislation in terms of bottom trawling. It would be very detrimental to the ecosystem in the canyon off Nova Scotia. It is deep water trawling. It would be very damaging to fish species if it were a permitted use of that area. The legislation does not deal with that, and we will seek an amendment to prohibit such commercial activity in designated marine parks.

We have a similar concern with regard to dredging and the impact it has on fauna, currents and the general ecosystem. The legislation does not prohibit dredging, deep sea or otherwise, in marine parks. We will seek to change that.

The bill is also lacking in the whole area of aquaculture. The royal society's report on genetically modified organisms warned in very strong language that genetically modified fish must absolutely not be allowed into the general fish population. The bill does nothing to address that concern. It is a serious issue because we know of instances around the world where whole fish stocks have been wiped out. One can only imagine the impact on our marine parks if genetically modified species escaped and ran wild. The bill must be amended to address that issue.

We are concerned that the bill does not make ecological integrity the primary consideration when drafting management plans. The bill's emphasis on ecosystem management is reasonably strong. It applies the precautionary principle and I applaud it in that regard. It may be the first piece of legislation in Canada to do so. That is the good part of it.

Again, however, the bill does not recognize that ecological integrity must be the primary consideration. It is a glaring omission, and the preamble and other sections must be amended accordingly.

We have other concerns which our colleagues in the Bloc have expressed. The Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park is a model for co-operation among all three levels of government. The arrangement is not perfect but it has worked reasonably well. It is a model that should be incorporated into Bill C-10 and we will be pressing for that when it goes to committee.

A final point with regard to the bill is that it does not take into account terrestrial sources of pollution or other impacts that terrestrial activity could have on marine parks.

That has implications at the national, provincial and international levels. Activities may be carried on in the United States, for instance, that have a negative impact on marine parks in Canada. The legislation does not contemplate that but it should.

It will often be land based pollution that impacts on marine parks. There are all sorts of examples where this has occurred. Forestry and farming in British Columbia have affected coastal rivers and streams and led to problems with salmon stocks. The bill does not take into account that risk or the need to deal with it.

Those are all the points I will make. We will be supporting the bill at second reading with the reservations already mentioned. We hope the government will adopt the amendments. They would make the legislation more meaningful and help it achieve its aim of preserving marine parks for the Canadian population and for global use.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2001 / 4:45 p.m.
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Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-10, an act respecting the national—they have now become national—marine conservation areas of Canada. They were only marine conservation areas before. Now they have become national marine conservation areas. It is a huge change that occurred between the 36th and the 37th parliaments.

For the benefit of the people who are watching us, I would like to remind the House that, in the first session of the 36th parliament, the government introduced Bill C-48, which dealt with this issue but left out the word national and just talked about marine conservation areas.

The bill died on the order paper, because the Prime Minister decided to prorogue the House and start a new session.

There was a new throne speech, in which the Prime Minister told us that his government had realized that it was time to put an end to federal-provincial overlap. That was quite a major announcement. We looked forward to see how it would come about. It was a disaster.

Soon after, Bill C-8 was introduced. It came earlier in the session, as we can tell from the number it was given. It was introduced at the beginning of the second session of the 36th parliament.

During the first session, the bill had gone through first and second reading. Witnesses had appeared before the committee, a report had been tabled in the House and recommendations had been made. At the time, we thought that Bill C-8 would include improvements since the government had taken its time and had let public officials, lawyers, parliamentarians and witnesses spend time on it. We thought “All this money will not go to waste; the government will improve Bill C-8".

No such luck. Bill C-8 was a carbon copy of Bill C-48. The bill went through first reading, second reading, and was referred to a committee, which heard witnesses and reported back to the House and made recommendations.

My former colleague, the hon. member for Portneuf who made the wise decision of going back to teaching, would be very disappointed to see Bill C-10, because after spending so much time on Bill C-8, he would feel that it was a waste of his time.

However, in all fairness to the government, I must say that Bill C-10 does include a few changes.

Some changes were made in the preamble. For example, the French version of the old bill provided that marine areas had to be “représentatives et protégées", whereas in the new bill, they must be “protégées et représentatives". It goes without saying that this change, which is found in the preamble, adds a lot to the bill.

The government also seeks to "recognize that the marine environment is fundamental to the social, cultural and economic well-being of people living in coastal communities". If the marine environment is essential to the development of coastal communities, from a social, cultural and economic point of view, why should we have marine areas where people will have to pay, as is the case with every national park? We have beautiful national parks, but we must pay to visit them.

The idea was to protect ecosystems. The idea was to make sure that future generations would see the splendours of this vast country, but those who do not have money can no longer see this natural beauty, because they have to pay to do so.

One has to see how the government behaves. I will use an example with which I am very familiar. I see my colleague from Charlevoix. We both live in a coastal area, an area where there are problems in the lumber industry. What is being done to help our loggers? Nothing.

We have a lot of problems with fishers. What is being done? Sure, there are all kinds of problems. Quotas are being given to other provinces, but the government is even unable to honour Quebec's historic fishing quotas. We are demanding our fair share, but it is being denied. Quotas are being given to people who never had any before, when the policy has always been to honour Quebec's historic quotas.

We have problems with loggers, with fishers, with seasonal workers. We were promised a reform of the employment insurance plan, which is not forthcoming. How do you think our coastal communities will react when the government tries to take their lands to create national marine conservation areas? I think we will be able to occupy our lands to fight expropriation. We will take action in due course.

This government's arrogant attitude in forging ties with the communities will not serve it well when it tries to take their marine property, ignoring all social, cultural and economic considerations. A marine area will not put food on the table for people in our ridings.

There is something else. The government wants to promote an understanding of the marine environment and provide opportunities for research and monitoring. If being ridiculous were fatal, the people in the government over there would all have been dead long ago.

I am going to return to some of the statements referred to by my colleague, which I find extremely important.

In the 1996 report of the auditor general, chapter 31, on the management of national parks by Parks Canada, the auditor general makes the following statement “In the six national parks we reviewed, Parks Canada's biophysical information was out-of-date or incomplete except for La Mauricie".

It seems that everything is fine in La Mauricie National Park. Curiously it is in the Prime Minister's riding. In five national parks out of six that were studied, there were problems with biophysical information. What are we going to do to promote knowledge of the marine environment and encourage research and monitoring activities? How can the minister do so when the parks have been in existence for some time and are incapable of doing this at present?

The text continues "Monitoring the ecological condition of the ecosystems in national parks is a high priority, according to Parks Canada policies and guidelines. However, in many national parks—he looked at six—the ecological conditions are not monitored on a regular, continuing basis." What will be done in the marine parks if this is not even being done in the major parks?

The text also states that management plans for 18 national parks were an average of 12 years old, even though they ought to be reviewed every five years. A fine business: the plans are to be reviewed every five years, but 18 parks had an outdated plan. This is the best that can be said in order to be elegant.

The plans set out strategic guidelines to protect the parks' ecosystems. If the plan is out of date after five years, what state can the ecosystems of the park be in when the business plan is 12 years out of date? That makes no sense.

The auditor general added “Delays in preparing management plans and ecosystem conservation plans reduce Parks Canada's ability to preserve the ecological integrity of national parks".

The auditor general's findings on the state of our national parks were pitiful. He said that in almost the majority of the parks visited there was no link between business plans and management plans. That is pretty terrific.

I wonder why officials are asked to do them if there is no link between the two. The auditor general also expressed concern about the fact that, in some instances, park management plans focus mainly on economic and social factors and little on ecological factors. This is what they are setting up in the parks to protect the ecosystems, and this is the department's last concern. The least of Parks Canada's concerns is looking after ecological factors, the very reason for its existence.

When the government says it is going to do this in marine areas, how can we be expected to believe what is written in black and white? The government's intent, its political desire, is not worth even the cost of the paper these things are written on.

The auditor general is also concerned about the impact of the marketing plan on the preservation of ecosystems. Thanks to its marketing strategy, Parks Canada expects to draw an increasing number of Canadians and foreign visitors, who will stay longer. This is about making more money, not protecting our ecosystems. This strategy should increase visits in off seasons.

We are concerned that Parks Canada's ability to preserve ecological integrity in national parks and ensure sustainable park use will be seriously challenged.

We want the legislation to be updated through Bill C-10, which includes good intentions, but already the government is not capable of doing what it is supposed to do with the parks, and I am not at all convinced that it will be able to do it with marine areas.

Another change is the provision to involve federal and provincial ministers and agencies, affected aboriginal organizations and coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including bodies established under land claims agreements, in the effort to establish and maintain the representative system of marine conservation areas.

Again, I see a good intention. However, when we look at how the government proceeded with the consultations on its own bill, we cannot give any credibility to that process.

When the original bill, Bill C-48 was introduced, we told the government “Show us the results of the consultations that took place". We talked about these consultations in committee. Officials came to meet us and said that consultations were held and that this or that came out. However, when we wanted to get the real results of the consultation process, we had to apply under the Access to Information Act.

You know what happens when you make an access to information request, Mr. Speaker, because you were once an opposition member. What it boils down to is that we have access to nothing, because what we receive are eight and a half by eleven sheets, usually with so many lines blacked out that it is impossible to read the text.

When I was young, we did exercises where we filled in the blanks. It would seem that access to information officials have retained memories of this experience and are supplying us with all sorts of blanks by blacking out the important bits that would allow us to understand the text. Since the text is full of blanks, it takes quite a bit of imagination to be able to make any sense of it.

Consultation produced absolutely nothing. We received 300 sheets of paper. Only 73 of them resembled a sort of little reply coupon, which was attached to the consultation document. Even then, we were unable to see the real results of the consultation.

When the department tells us that the purpose of its bill is to respond to the concerns of those consulted, I say that that is false. There is no evidence of this in the bill. In any case, we are unable to obtain the evidence. When someone is unable to prove what he is telling me when questioned, it is because there is no proof.

If there were, we would be handed the results of a real consultation, without a fuss, and told “Here are the questions we asked, here are the answers we received, and here is what we did with those answers". Instead, we are kept in the dark and told “Yes, we consulted".

It is very important to be increasingly more democratic in this country. The government just had 34 heads of state sign a declaration to the effect that democracy is the most important value. The government should apply democracy here, in our own country, before asking others to do it.

The bill also expands on this. This is an addition to the bill. After all, I can be fair. Clause 2(2) reads as follows:

For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

This was added in response to a request that they made or a concern they had expressed. I can see that the government responded positively to that concern, and this is a good thing.

Clause 2(3) provides the following:

The establishment of a marine conservation area within the exclusive economic zone of Canada does not constitute a claim to any rights, jurisdiction or duties beyond those set out in section 14 of the Oceans Act.

Earlier, my colleague pointed out the interesting points in this bill. When the government decided to end the overlap in federal-provincial jurisdictions, it forgot to look at itself.

The government will find itself with all sorts of marine areas. We will no longer know how to distinguish among them, what to call them, or who is responsible for what. I assume that at some point, if something happens, everyone will pass the buck and people will be left asking what is happening and who is responsible for what.

The Department of Canadian Heritage wants to create national marine conservation areas. Under the Oceans Act, Fisheries and Oceans Canada may create marine protection zones.

Frankly, how can one tell the difference between a marine protection zone and a national marine conservation area? The government is playing with words, with concepts, trying to take over as much territory as possible.

Under the Canadian Wildlife Act, the federal government, through Environment Canada, can create national wildlife areas and marine wildlife areas. Under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, it can create migratory bird sanctuaries.

I am thinking about the beautiful area I come from and about my colleague in whose riding the beautiful Saguenay-St.Lawrence park is located. The government might want to create not far from there a national marine conservation area, a marine protection zone or a national wildlife area because they might be useful to have in this area of the country. This would bring in more tourism, since this seems to be the goal. Moreover, a marine wildlife area could be created there, as well as a migratory bird sanctuary.

That would mean five things in the same spot because it is a beautiful area and the federal government will say “It is so beautiful, we are taking it over".

The government always finds a way to get into trouble. I hope that this session will quickly be prorogued, so that this bill will die on the order paper, because the government did not do its homework on this bill.

It has already been considered twice. We will have to ask witnesses to come back, once again. The government will probably say “So many witnesses were brought before the committee that there is nothing more to add". On the contrary, they would say “You did not understand a thing about what we said before".

The bill must be overhauled. It must take into consideration what the public wants. I see that my time is running out, so I will conclude.

I hope the government members have been listening carefully and have realized that the time has come to follow up on things that make sense. I really rely on the member opposite.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2001 / 4:25 p.m.
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Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, before dealing with today's issue, namely marine areas, I would like to point out that the members who are wearing a carnation today are doing so to mark the tough battle that is fought by people suffering from multiple sclerosis, a disease that primarily hits young people, including my daughter.

The bill before us today was introduced in the House by the Liberal government for the third time, after dying on the order paper during each of the two sessions of the last parliament, as Bill C-48 and Bill C-8 respectively.

This government, which is short on ideas, is coming back with the same bill, except for one thing: it has a different number. As for the rest, it is all the same as before. One would have thought that after listening to a large number of witnesses in committee during the last parliament, after hearing the concerns of parliamentarians in this House and after seeking a new mandate from the public, the Minister of Canadian Heritage would have changed her approach.

I would have thought the minister would have gone back to the drawing board to come up with a bill that was a bit more sensitive to the concerns raised by witnesses before the committee and by members in the House. Nothing was done. We are therefore very disappointed.

By introducing a bill which is a carbon copy of the previous version, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and her government have once again ignored anyone who did not share their views. That is why the bill is no more acceptable today than it was earlier.

The purpose of Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, is to provide a legal framework for the establishment of 28 marine conservation areas, representative of each of the Canadian ecosystems. The Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park is the 29th marine conservation area. It will not be governed by this legislation since it already has its own legislation.

It is also important to note that this bill follows a commitment made by the present Prime Minister at the 1996 convention of the World Conservation Union, held in Montreal. On this occasion, as in 1994, the World Conservation Union, which represents 74 governments, 105 government agencies and more than 700 NGOs, passed resolutions calling on all coastal nations to put marine conservation measures in place quickly.

First, I wish to say that the Bloc Quebecois has always been in favour of measures to protect our environment. I remind those listening that the Bloc Quebecois supported the government when it introduced its legislation to create the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Why is the Bloc Quebecois opposed to this bill? Despite the fact that we support the establishment of environmental protection measures, the Bloc Quebecois opposes it because, instead of focusing on working together, as it did in the case of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park or phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan, the federal government is introducing marine conservation areas with no regard for Quebec's jurisdiction over its territory and environment.

Heritage Canada is planning to introduce a new structure, marine conservation areas, which will duplicate the marine protection zones of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the protected marine areas of Environment Canada.

Heritage Canada wants to have marine conservation areas, while it has shown itself incapable of protecting the ecosystems in existing national parks.

One of the conditions essential to the establishment of a marine conservation area is federal ownership of the land where the area is to be established. Moreover, clause 5(2) of the bill provides that the minister cannot establish a marine conservation area, unless, and I quote: a ) the Governor in Council is satisfied that Her Majesty in right of Canada has clear title to or an unencumbered right of ownership in the lands to be included in the marine conservation area, other than such lands situated within the exclusive economic zone of Canada;

There is a fairly significant legal problem here, because subsection 92(5) of the Constitution Act, 1867, recognizes that the management and sale of crown land are matters of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. There is therefore no federal title in this context.

Furthermore, Quebec legislation on crown lands, passed by the Quebec national assembly, applies to all crown lands in Quebec, including the beds of waterways and lakes and the bed of the St. Lawrence river, estuary and gulf, which belong to Quebec by sovereign right.

In addition, this legislation provides that Quebec cannot transfer its lands to the federal government. The only thing it can do is to authorize the federal government to use them only in connection with matters under federal jurisdiction.

According to the notes provided us by the Minister of Canadian Heritage with regard to the bill before us, marine conservation areas are planned for the St. Lawrence, the St. Lawrence estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These are three areas in which the ocean floor is under Quebec's jurisdiction.

This almost sick propensity for the federal government to interfere where it has no business being is quite simply unacceptable. Fortunately, the Bloc Quebecois is here to remind it of this, and to condemn its actions.

This approach is even more incomprehensible because co-operative mechanisms already exist to protect ecosystems in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park, and in the St. Lawrence River under the agreement entitled "St. Lawrence action plan, phase III" which was signed by all federal departments and Quebec departments concerned.

There are two examples that should be followed: the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan.

In 1977, the governments of Quebec and Canada passed identical acts to create the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. This resulted in the creation of Canada's first marine conservation area.

One of the main features of that legislation is that the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park is the first Marine Park to be created jointly by the federal and Quebec governments, without any transfer of territory. The two governments will continue to fulfil their respective responsibilities.

This park includes only marine areas. Its boundaries may be changed only through an agreement between the two governments, provided there is joint public consultation in that regard.

This ought to have served as a model for the federal government in the creation of other marine conservation areas, but no.

Another model that the Minister of Canadian Heritage could have followed is phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan. That phase, which was announced on June 8, 1998, represented a total investment of $230 million that was shared equally by both levels of government.

Why does the heritage minister not follow these two successful initiatives and why is she now claiming exclusive ownership of the seabed to set up marine conservation areas, when partnerships in the area of the environment have so far been successful?

We wonder about the true intentions of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Will the federal government respect Quebec's constitutional territorial rights in that regard, or will it again ignore it to create marine areas where it believes such areas are necessary?

The environment is a shared jurisdiction. Let us never forget that, under the Constitution Act, 1867, the governments of Canada and Quebec share responsibility for the environment.

Under section 92(1)( a ) of the Constitution Act, 1867, Quebec passed an act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife that specifies, in section 2, the role to be played by the Quebec minister of the environment and wildlife. It is the following:

The Minister of the Environment and Fauna ensures the conservation and development of wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Under Quebec's legislation, the minister also has the authority to appoint conservation officers.

By refusing to use the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act as a model and by making title to the territory an essential condition for the establishment of marine conservation areas, the federal government would be able to establish marine conservation areas on submerged lands to which it claims to have title and thus bypass Quebec's environmental jurisdictions.

This is why it is important to be on the lookout and to reject any form of regulation or action which would undermine the national assembly of Quebec in this regard.

The Bloc Quebecois will not let the federal government have its way on this issue nor let it fulfil its insatiable desire to trivialize our institutions, our rights and our laws, just as it is not giving in on social policy in the young offenders legislation saga.

Respect for the integrity of Quebec's territory alone justifies the fight the Bloc Quebecois is waging against this bill, but there are other reasons we must oppose it.

The federal government intends to create marine conservation areas under the responsibility of Heritage Canada, so there is a lot of overlap within the federal government. On the one hand, there is Heritage Canada and, on the other, there are marine protection areas under the responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans and marine wildlife areas under the responsibility of Environment Canada. A lot of people are involved here.

One question immediately comes to mind. What are Heritage Canada's reasons for establishing marine conservation areas? They can be found in the preamble to this bill.

It is establishing marine conservation areas “to protect natural, self-regulating marine ecosystems for the maintenance of biological diversity"; second, “to establish a representative system of marine conservation areas"; third, “to ensure that Canada contributes to international efforts for the establishment of a worldwide network of representative marine areas"; fourth, “to provide opportunities for the people of Canada and of the world to appreciate Canada's natural and cultural marine heritage"; and, fifth, “to provide opportunities within marine conservation areas for the ecologically sustainable use of marine resources for the lasting benefit of coastal communities".

As for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, it proposed the establishment of marine protected areas. However, in a discussion paper released by Fisheries and Oceans in January 1997 and entitled “An Approach to the establishment and Management of Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act", the purpose of marine conservation areas is also described.

In both cases, we are told that local people will have a significant involvement in the establishment of marine protected areas. I wonder how many information or organization meetings local people will be invited to in order to satisfy its bureaucracy.

Finally, Environment Canada is proposing, so as not to be left behind, to establish marine and wildlife reserves, expanding the notion of the national wildlife sanctuary beyond the territorial sea to the 200 mile limit within the exclusive economic zone under the Canadian Oceans Act.

These areas are also subject to the Canadian Wildlife Act, but require a different set of regulations, as the Fisheries and Oceans Canada discussion paper states on page 49. It is quite the pandemonium from what I can see.

At the hearings in February 1999, almost all coastal groups who appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to speak out against this bill emphasized their lack of understanding of the federal government's position.

They argued that the Canadian heritage initiative would duplicate what is already being done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and create a great deal of confusion.

I will read from some of the testimony given. According to Patrick McGuinness, vice-president of the Fisheries Council of Canada:

If the challenge for Canadian industry in the milieu of globalization is to be streamlined and efficient, we should be able to demand government structures that are also focused and streamlined. Regardless of the merits of MCAs, of this initiative, the manner in which it is brought forward will lead to confusion, duplication and conflicts in its implementation

Quoting from another witness, Marc Kielly, executive director, Newfoundland, Aquaculture Industry Association:

To empower the Minister of Canadian Heritage for the MCA initiative effectively undermines the authority and mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as provided for under the provisions of the Oceans Act. This should not be permitted to occur.

Here is another excerpt, from the testimony by John Melindy, project co-ordinator, NMCA feasibility study advisory committee:

Now, through the Oceans Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is empowered to declare marine protected areas to conserve species under threat. In view of this fact, we are mystified as to why Canadian Heritage is attempting to run a parallel conservation initiative under a separate piece of legislation.

Why, then, call witnesses and then not pay any attention to their concerns? Why not look into the areas we were directed to by the various witnesses?

One thing is clear. The government would have been better advised to have a single department oversee the protection of ecosystems and the departments concerned conclude a framework agreement delegating their responsibilities to the one chosen to be accountable in this matter, but the Minister of Canadian Heritage refuses to listen to reason.

A number of witnesses emphasized the duplications within the bill, but that is not all. Is there even more confusion in this bill? If you answer yes, you hit the jackpot.

As unbelievable as it may seem, the bill provides that each federal department will retain its own jurisdiction over the marine conservation areas.

However, when the Department of Canadian Heritage deems it appropriate, it may, in co-operation with the department concerned, adopt regulations regarding a marine conservation area that differ from the existing provisions.

Although this might seem normal in other circumstances, the difficulties can only increase when Heritage Canada regulations are enforced in marine protected areas, marine wildlife reserves and marine conservation areas, each with their own regulations.

We have another good reason for opposing this bill: Heritage Canada is incapable of protecting the ecosystems in existing national parks.

In 1996, the Auditor General of Canada published chapter 31 on the management of national parks by Parks Canada. In this chapter, the auditor general made some, to say the least, embarrassing observations, some of which follow:

Monitoring the ecological condition of the ecosystems in national parks is a high priority, according to Parks Canada policies and guidelines. However, in many national parks, the ecological conditions are not monitored on a regular, continuing basis.

On average, the management plans for the 18 national parks were 12 years old, when they should have been reviewed every five years. The park management plans provide strategic direction for the protection of park ecosystems.

The auditor general added:

Delays in preparing management plans and ecosystem conservation plans reduce Parks Canada's ability to preserve the ecological integrity of national parks.

They cannot do their own homework regarding the follow up on national parks. How will they be able to do it for marine areas? The auditor general went even further when he said:

We are concerned that Parks Canada's ability to preserve ecological integrity in national parks and ensure sustainable park use will be seriously challenged.

Before duplicating what is basically being done elsewhere, including with marine wildlife reserves by Fisheries and Oceans, would it not be logical for the Minister of Canadian Heritage to ensure that national parks ecosystems are protected for future generations, as stated in the National Parks Act?

This bill is a means that the Liberal government wants to have to impose its centralizing vision.

This is a government that is anxious to intrude in provincial jurisdictions. With this bill, we are seeing the exact opposite of the “flexible federalism" that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs boasts about.

Thank goodness the Bloc Quebecois is there to condemn what the federal government is planning on doing, namely to duplicate and totally lack any consistency.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2001 / 4 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak as the official opposition critic for Canadian heritage on this bill, Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, at second reading.

What we have before us today is the third attempt to pass this legislation. This bill was Bill C-48, then Bill C-8 in the last parliament, and now returns as Bill C-10 in this parliament. What does this tell us about the commitment of the government to this legislation? It tells us that the commitment is not very great and it is very evident why. Even after three tries this legislation remains seriously flawed.

First, let us not be fooled by the language that was originally used to introduce this legislation. I certainly would not disagree with a proposal that would require marine conservation areas to be established for the protection and conservation of “representative marine areas of Canadian significance” and would be “for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada and the world”.

However, upon closer inspection the bill does far more than the government is prepared to admit.

The first area of concern I wish to draw attention to is one involving the consultation process and where these 29 representative marine conservation areas are to be established. As with the first two bills, in this current bill the schedule is blank.

What is the government afraid of? The government is afraid that the same thing will happen as what occurred in the Bonavista and Notre Dame Bays area in Newfoundland, when political pressure from the local Liberal member, and I suspect from the current industry minister and former premier, stopped a marine conservation area from going forward.

I am not criticizing the former member for Bonavista—Trinity—Conception for representing his constituents and their well founded fears that unemployment and economic hardship would follow the good intentions of a federal bureaucrat over 2,000 kilometres away in a comfy office, drawing a salary of $100,000 a year.

What about those ridings that have upheld the democratic process and elected a member of the loyal opposition or, worse, have an elected or weak or too compliant member of the government?

We have real fears when we read the literature from the minister's department that talks about replacing the checks, balances and safeguards of parliament for, in the words of her department, the “simple, cost-effective procedure” of order in council to establish or enlarge marine conservation areas. Previous debates have pointed out this very serious flaw and yet here it is a third time and still this flaw remains.

I pay tribute to my colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River, for his input when this bill was Bill C-48. He very clearly pointed out the Henry VIII clauses in the bill. I encourage recently elected members of the House to read the hon. member's speech. Henry VIII believed in the divine right to rule and was always looking for ways to sidestep parliament and its ultimate authority as an elected body. It seems some things never change.

The current process, where the act has to be opened up and amended when a new national park is contemplated or changes to an existing park are considered, may not be as efficient as the government would like but it is consistent with our democratic heritage.

As the government is now beginning to realize, democracy can be messy. It is this style of legislation, the Bill C-10s, that will span more Quebec City types of demonstrations. As this government seeks new and creative ways to exclude people from the democratic process, unfortunately we will all pay the price with a fractured nation. Separatism feeds on these sorts of government dictates. If the minister were truly interested in freedom of speech, she would not be proposing government by order in council legislation.

The people of Canada have much to fear from the consultation process of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The process is so flawed that not only does it ignore the advice of the people, it will not follow the advice of its own studies. Nowhere is this more evident today than in the example of Parks Canada and its reaction to a health and safety issue regarding park wardens.

The minister should know that there have been three separate reports since 1993 that have identified unsafe working conditions for park wardens, particularly with the significant increase in fines for poaching in our national parks. Park wardens are being put at greater and greater risk in the performance of their duties.

It took a ruling from the HRDC labour program inspector to force the department to respond. Did the department and the minister do the right thing and accept the recommendations of three separate reports, recommendations, I might add, that are supported by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Animal Alliance of Canada? No.

The minister chose to ignore the best advice given and is blundering forward with an ill conceived and costly measure that makes no sense at all. It is very clear that the minister has a very poor record when it comes to taking good advice.

The only reason we in the official opposition can see for the government to ignore its own advice would be because of some hidden agenda. The reported plan to replace park wardens with RCMP officers, with a detachment in every national park in Canada, is absolutely sinister. What better way for a federal government to enforce unpopular laws, laws that the provincial governments want no part of, than to do it with its own police force?

As the federal government enacts more unpopular laws on an unwilling rural population, how convenient that the federal police officers are there for the Liberal government to call upon.

This labour dispute that Parks Canada is having with its park wardens will impact upon this legislation in a very significant manner. Clauses 18 to 23 of Bill C-10, the enforcement section of the act, in the current labour dispute means the act would not be enforced. It is one thing to require RCMP officers on land to go after poachers. Has the minister, in her $37 million request to the treasury board for the money to replace park wardens with RCMP officers, also put in a request for boats?

This is beginning to sound like the gun registry boondoggle, where an $85 million cost has skyrocketed to $600 million and counting. The people of the city of Pembroke in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke are currently in the process of raising the money locally to buy a CAT scanner, thanks to the federal government's two tier health care policy. That $637 million would save a lot of lives in the community of Pembroke and a lot in other parts of rural Canada.

I and members of the official opposition are very concerned about the consultative process, based on the concerns expressed to our members over the bias of this government against rural Canadians.

While I understand that the letter from the Mayor of Kitimat was made available to the members on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage when this legislation was called Bill C-48, I would like to quote from his letter as I believe it to be a fair reflection of the thoughts and feelings of rural Canadians:

Sadly, urban Canadians and senior levels of government seldom grasp the values associated with rural life, whether it be fishing, farming or forestry. All too often, regulation and legislation occurs that impacts rural Canada and rural Canadians significantly, while having little or no impact on urban life and, therefore, is supported wholeheartedly by the non-rural vote. In the best case scenario governments end up conceding ignorance. At other times a blatant disregard for rural Canadians occurs and is only rectified once social or economic crisis occurs.

It continues:

As a misunderstood rural population, we often wish the same commitment and daily practice toward our environment would be evident in urban centres. Often it appears that those who push for environmental and conservation laws do not enact the same values with their own regions...We understand our rural and remote populations are small, however...we chose to live in rural locations. At best, it is our hope that Canada be governed based on assessed needs and values of all Canadians...Further, we hope that persistent inaccuracies and ignorance of rural and remote lifestyles can be overcome.

The letter is quite a bit longer. However, I hope the essence of what the mayor was trying to convey about the legislation is apparent. The majority of Canadians, especially those of us in rural Canada, do not trust the federal bureaucracy to represent our interests fairly.

Even when we get good people who as public servants are trying to do the best job possible, they are overruled by their political masters, as is the case with the park wardens. Too often our interests have been sacrificed to political expediency.

There are too many votes for the Liberals in the city of Toronto to require it to deal with its own garbage. It is so much easier to dump it in someone else's backyard, in this case the backyard of the people in the riding of Timiskaming—Cochrane, near the pretty town of Kirkland Lake. Better to lose one seat than to jeopardize that big urban vote, and this government wonders why rural people should fear Ottawa when cynical calculations such as this are made by a troika of political manipulators. Actions speak louder than words. Where was the Minister of the Environment? For a government that is constantly looking for ways to intrude into areas of provincial jurisdiction, it suddenly became remarkably silent on the issue of Toronto's garbage.

I am optimistic that maybe this time, the third time the legislation has come forward, the government might surprise Canadians and address some of these concerns. For this I look beyond the minister and her cabinet cohorts to her caucus colleagues, in particular those MPs who represent rural constituencies.

Those Ontario MPs whose ridings border the Great Lakes should be very concerned about how the legislation will adversely impact farmers, fishing enthusiasts, resort operators and other small business people who are the backbone of our nation. They should not be fooled by the soothing words of the minister and her bureaucrats when they tell them not to worry, be happy.

How about the farmer who sprays his or her crops with herbicide? Once the marine parks act is in place the regulators will move into the watersheds. The legislation will finish off those farmers who have not already been pushed out of business by foreign subsidies.

The people of Newfoundland got off lucky when the marine conservation area in their backyard was stopped. Will others be so lucky when the legislation is passed? It was lucky for them when they raised their objections that it was not yet law. Do rural constituents favour letting the bill drop the way it was the first two times?

It is ironic that the minister's own riding borders Lake Ontario. It has been pointed out previously that her own legislation could be used to shut down her constituents' largest employer. Cootes Paradise is certainly a unique waterfront, so unique in fact that several years ago the answer to the pollution in Hamilton harbour was to pave the bay. I am very surprised that the minister is proceeding with the legislation that has the real possibility of doing great harm to her constituents.

By the department of heritage's own admission there is already enough federal and provincial legislation in place to protect and conserve heritage resources. Federal-provincial agreements are in place for marine conservation areas in Ontario and British Columbia.

Currently federal legislation is in place for the Saguenay region of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. The federal legislation for St. Lawrence park was accompanied by complementary provincial legislation. Obviously the Quebec government saw the threat of federal intrusion and reacted accordingly. Why is there a need for the legislation other than the usual power grab by the Liberals?

It is no secret that the Liberal government is being pressured by NAFTA and the United States to allow bulk water sales. The trial balloon floated by the member for Toronto—Danforth before the summit of the Americas was no coincidence. Some Canadians are concerned that Bill C-10 is a Trojan horse for bulk water sales.

The legislation clearly impacts on provincial jurisdiction and would give the Liberal government the wedge it needs to start negotiations for bulk water export from the Great Lakes to the United States. These people are concerned that the government operates on the basis of multiple hidden agendas, except this agenda for water sales is being exposed for what it is.

What a coincidence that at the same time as Bill C-10 shows up on the parliamentary agenda a sister bill, Bill C-6, shows up. Surprise, surprise, it is all about licences for those people who want to engage in bulk water exports.

Perhaps it should be the Minister of Foreign Affairs who is identified as the sponsor of the bill. The legislation is a clear encroachment into an area of provincial jurisdiction. Once the bill is in place, the minister has arranged for any changes to be by order in council and thus avoid public debate in the House of Commons and in the media.

The province of Ontario is on record as opposing bulk water exports from the Great Lakes, and the federal government is currently unable to act without provincial agreement.

The legislation is conceived in such a way as to avoid that scrutiny. I challenge the federal government to accept amendments to the legislation that would expressly prohibit the bulk export of water from the Great Lakes and a clearer definition of sustainable use in national marine conservation areas.

The decision about whether Canada should or should not allow for the bulk export of water should be done in open and in public. The Toronto Star , as the in house organ of the Liberal Party, is opposed to bulk water sales. We know the government is deathly afraid of doing anything to disturb that Toronto vote and recriminations that would be heaped upon it by the Star in any debate regarding water.

The government is government by stealth. Unlike the Liberals we in the official opposition want open debate regarding any issue that impacts the public. Barring that and other changes we in the official opposition intend to propose, we are willing to tell the government to let the bill drop once again until, and only until, the concerns of all Canadians are met.

It is clear that the third time out the government is timid about Bill C-10 in public. I have had the privilege of meeting some parliamentarians on the government side who feel the same way the rest of us do who represent rural constituencies and must share the same fears I have expressed about this type of legislation.

The legislation, even if it were needed, is too flawed to go forth in its current form. We in the Canadian Alliance affirm the role of the federal government in the preservation of Canada's natural and historic heritage such as national parks.

We also affirm the right of Canada as a sovereign nation to govern itself in a way that benefits all its people. We do not recognize the inevitable loss of sovereignty every time the Prime Minister goes off and makes a commitment before an international body, in this case the IUCN World Conservation Congress in October 1996, without first consulting the people who will be most severely affected by such an agreement.

More important, we require the input of parliament before the people of Canada are put on the hook for something they may be very unwilling to support. The pretext for the legislation was that it was an international agreement. I do not believe the framers of that agreement at the UN intended the Government of Canada to use it in any other way to erode democracy in Canada.

This is not an issue for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. This is legislation, albeit in a greatly changed form, that more properly should be in the name of the Minister of the Environment. This point was made previously in debate on Bill C-48 and Bill C-8. The point needs to be emphasized here again: the issues before us and our international commitments concerning the environment should remain with that ministry.

On behalf of the Canadian Alliance I would like to be able to support legislation to create national marine conservation areas. However as the legislation is presented it is not justified in its current form.

I would now like to respond to those individuals who might be tempted to say that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater because there are some worthwhile aspects of the bill that we surely can support. To those individuals I say there is nothing in the bill the government could not accomplish if it would just sit down and take the time to talk to the provinces, which in turn would require the federal government to talk to those communities that would be affected by the creation of a marine park. As proposed, the shortcut the bill is all about is not acceptable.

In conclusion, I call upon the minister to send the bill back to the drawing board. Maybe the fourth time out the government can get it right.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2001 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, for over 100 years, Canadians and their governments have built up a network of national parks of world renown. This parliament now has the opportunity to prepare the way for the establishment of a network of national marine conservation areas.

Accordingly, future generations of Canadians will be able to appreciate the diversity of our magnificent marine environments and benefit from them as they already do in the case of the exceptional natural spaces of our parks.

The long term objective we are promoting is to have each of the 29 marine regions in Canada represented in the national network of marine conservation areas. We will similarly establish a national park in each of the 39 natural land regions in Canada.

Each of the marine conservation areas, like each national park, should illustrate the region it represents exceptionally.

There are some who believe that national marine conservation areas will be just watery national parks. That is not so.

In the national parks, the first priority is preservation of ecological integrity where park zoning and visitor use are concerned. In other words, parks are administered so as to keep them basically unchanged by human activity.

However, marine conservation areas are designed to be models of sustainable use. They are administered so as to balance protection and use. That is why we need legislation that is specifically adapted to the national marine conservation areas.

I will take advantage of this opportunity to provide a brief overview of the legislation, indicating how it is designed to manage protected areas in our complex marine environment.

The bill establishes the legal and regulatory framework for creating and managing national marine conservation areas. It does not by itself create any specific area. Instead, it provides the mechanism for formally establishing national marine conservation areas under the act.

A national marine conservation area is formally established when its land description is added to a schedule of the act. This brings those lands under the formal protection of the legislation.

As in a recently proclaimed Canada National Parks Act, Bill C-10 sets out an order in council process for the establishment in law of national marine conservation areas.

While the order in council process will speed up the scheduling of new areas, I want to assure the House that the supremacy of parliament remains. The bill requiring the proposals to establish new national marine conservation areas must be tabled in both Houses and referred to the appropriate standing committees for their consideration. Should either House reject the establishment of the new areas, the order in council would not proceed.

I would like to stress, however, that the order in council process would not be used for any proposal to remove lands from a national marine conservation area. Like national parks, these areas are established in perpetuity and thus the bill requires an act of parliament to reduce the size of any existing site.

As is the case for our national parks, Bill C-10 requires federal ownership of all lands to be included in a national marine conservation area, both above and below the water. This ensures that the Minister of Canadian Heritage will have administration and control of these areas.

If a province owns all or part of the seabed in an area where Parks Canada proposes to establish a national marine conservation area, the province would have to agree to the use of those lands for a marine conservation area and a federal-provincial agreement would be required to transfer ownership to the federal government.

Again, without such an agreement the proposed national marine conservation area cannot proceed, and for greater certainty, this requirement is specified in the legislation.

In marine areas where there is contested federal-provincial jurisdiction, I would like to assure the House that the federal government has no intention of acting unilaterally. There will always be consultations with the province concerned with a view to finding a mutually satisfactory resolution.

I would now like to address the role of consultation. There is a very clear requirement for public consultation in the establishment of any national marine conservation area, with particular emphasis given to affected coastal communities. The nature of these consultations is set out in Parks Canada policies. The steps required by these policies can take years to complete. The national marine conservation area feasibility studies, which have already been launched by Parks Canada, illustrate that this policy is already in action.

I wish to emphasize again, if there is no public support for the creation of a national marine conservation area in a given location, then the proposal would not be brought forward to parliament. Parks Canada will look to another area with which to represent the marine region.

When the government decides to take the final step and formally establish a national marine conservation area, parliament will have an opportunity to examine the proposal in detail and satisfy itself that there is indeed community support.

Bill C-10 also calls for active stakeholder participation in the formulation, review and implementation of management plans. Again, the legislation provides for accountability to parliament through the tabling of management plans for each marine conservation area. In addition, the minister must table a report in parliament every two years on the state of national marine conservation areas and on progress toward completion of the system.

Coastal communities need certainty before an area is established. Therefore, when a new proposal comes before parliament, along with the report on the consultations held and any agreements reached with the provinces and other departments, there will also be an interim management plan. Management advisory committees will be created for each marine conservation area to ensure that consultation with local stakeholders continues on an ongoing basis.

The management plans for each area must be reviewed at least every five years. Thus the government will take a learn by doing approach for every national marine conservation area. Ongoing consultations within each marine conservation area will allow Parks Canada staff to learn from local people, drawing on the traditional ecological knowledge of coastal communities and also aboriginal peoples.

Parks Canada has taken a partnership approach in the management of the program and this is clearly reflected in the bill. Other ministers have statutory responsibilities that will affect the management of national marine conservation areas. Bill C-10 has been carefully drafted to take that fact into account.

I would also like to address how Bill C-10 reflects the government's commitment to working with aboriginal peoples. The legislation includes provisions to establish reserves for national marine conservation areas. These are established when an area or a portion of an area is subject to a claim by aboriginal peoples that has been accepted for negotiation by the Government of Canada as a comprehensive land claim. Reserves are managed as if they were national marine conservation areas, but without prejudice to the settlement of the claim.

A non-derogation clause has been added regarding aboriginal and treaty rights. No provisions of the act will derogate the right guaranteed to aboriginal people under the constitution. There is also a specific requirement in the legislation to consult with aboriginal organizations and bodies established under land claim agreements.

Finally, the legislation explicitly recognizes traditional aboriginal ecological knowledge in carrying out research and monitoring studies in national marine conservation areas.

Certain activities are indeed prohibited throughout all national marine conservation areas. The most important of these prohibitions concerns non-renewable resources, specifically mineral, oil and gas. Marine conservation areas are managed for sustainable use and by definition extraction of non-renewable resources is not sustainable.

Other activities would also be regulated through zoning. I would like to emphasize to the House the importance of zoning as a powerful and flexible tool for managing use within a marine conservation area.

In each national marine conservation area there will be multiple use zones where ecologically sustainable uses are encouraged, including fishing. There will also be zones where special protection is afforded. For example, critical spawning grounds, cultural sites, whale calving areas and scientific research sites would be protection zones where resource use is not permitted.

Each marine conservation area will contain these two types of zones. At the same time enough flexibility is left in the bill to ensure that each area can have a zoning plan that is appropriate to its individual situation. Parks Canada will identify the location of protection zones and surrounding multiple use zones for each proposed marine conservation area during the feasibility study for that area in full consultation again with local stakeholders.

Federal legislation, such as the Fisheries Act and the Canada Shipping Act, is already being used to manage activities in the marine environment. These statutes were not intended to cover the special requirements of national marine conservation areas. Thus, Bill C-10 includes a number of regulation making authorities which would be used to fill in the gaps in these other statutes.

For example, the bill includes authorities to make regulations for the protection of cultural resources, for visitor safety, for the establishment of zones and the control of activities within those zones, and finally, for the control of overflights by aircraft that pose a threat to wildlife.

The bill also provides checks and balances on the substance of the regulations that may be made under the act. Specifically, any regulations that impact on the jurisdictions of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or the Minister of Transport must be made on the recommendation of both the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the affected minister.

The proposed legislation also includes penalties for offences against the Canada national marine conservation areas act or its regulations, which would be exactly the same as those that are in fact under part II of the Oceans Act. Fines of up to $500,000 may be levied for offences under the act.

I would like to reiterate that Bill C-10 is framework legislation. It provides the tools needed to create national marine conservation areas and to manage each one in a way that is appropriate to its unique characteristics.

I believe that we have indeed struck an appropriate balance between protection and sustainable use. Very few activities are completely prohibited, but tools are available to regulate activities to ensure that the structure and function of each area's ecosystems are not compromised.

We have an obligation to consult affected communities during feasibility studies, in the management planning process, and in preparing the applicable regulations.

Each area will be unique, unique in its characteristics and also uniquely managed. A national marine conservation area in Georgian Bay will be distinct from one in the Beaufort Sea or in the Strait of Georgia or in the Bay of Fundy.

Canada needs this legislation so that outstanding examples of our country's natural and cultural marine heritage can be provided with long term protection and so that all Canadians can learn more about and experience this shared heritage.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2001 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved that Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, be read the second time and sent to a committee.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

April 26th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by congratulating the opposition House leader on his appointment and to extend as well similar words of congratulation both to his seatmate, the new chief whip, and the other officials of his caucus.

This afternoon we will continue debate on the second reading of Bill C-6, the water export bill. I intend to seek adjournment of the debate after the speech from our colleague from the Bloc Quebecois on this matter.

If there is any time, we will commence the second reading of Bill C-25, the farm credit amendments bill. It would be my intention as well to adjourn the debate after the lead off speech from either the government minister or parliamentary secretary, as the case may be. We would then propose to move immediately to private members' business this afternoon.

Friday we will debate second reading of Bill C-26, the tobacco tax legislation.

On Monday we will return to Bill C-6, which will not be completed this afternoon. We will then continue with Bill C-25 for the same reason, and then, if necessary, to Bill C-26, the tobacco tax legislation, if we do not complete it tomorrow. If we have any time left, it will be spent on Bill C-10, the marine parks bill, as I previously indicated to my colleagues at the House leaders meeting earlier this week. In the afternoon we will debate Bill C-16, the charities bill. I wish to give notice pursuant to Standing Order 73(1) that the government will propose that this bill will be referred to committee before second reading. This should, in essence, take roughly the time between 3.00 p.m. and the adjournment later in the afternoon.

Tuesday shall be an allotted day. In the evening it is my intention to seek the usual co-operation to hold the second of the take note debates on the modernization of House rules. It would be pursuant to consultation with others. My intention is to see if we want to have this debate using the forum we used very successfully earlier this week, but, as I said, I intend to consult with other House leaders on that.

On Wednesday I would propose that we continue with any unfinished business from the previous days, adding thereto Bill S-16 which was introduced in the House earlier this day. Should we be ready to do so, and should time permit, I would then commence the report stage and third reading of Bill C-22, the income tax amendments bill.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActRoutine Proceedings

February 20th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Hamilton East Ontario


Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am very excited about the introduction of this act respecting the national conservation areas of Canada. I think it will add to the framework that we have for ensuring that our collective heritage is saved not just on land but also at sea.

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