Species at Risk Act

An Act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session.


David Anderson  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.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 5:35 p.m.
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Rick Laliberte Liberal Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, it would be appropriate if I first expressed myself in my first language, otherwise it is hard to say what I have to say.

I beg forgiveness from the species that we have threatened by our large egos as human beings, by our greed to sustain ourselves and to sustain ourselves beyond what we really need to sustain life on the planet. I beg forgiveness from the mammals, the four-leggeds, the ones that have wings, the ones that swim and the ones that crawl. I beg forgiveness from all plants and life on the planet Earth. I beg forgiveness because without consciousness the bill would not be. If we had not done what we have done until now, we would not require Bill C-5. We have done great damage to ourselves.

This beautiful planet comes under the jurisdiction of the law in Canada. If we were to measure the history of Canada on a yardstick, there is a measured history here of 35,000 years and even beyond. Our extirpation of animals has occurred in the last few decades. The impact has been done by ourselves and we have to correct it somehow.

I look at Bill C-5 as a vessel for future decisions to be made on the inevitable problems we will have. In the journey we have as a young country, Bill C-5 is finally a commitment that our country has made to the world.

The United Nations convention on biodiversity challenged Canada to come up with legislation that says we will protect endangered species at risk. This is what we have done.

We are debating a group of amendments on stewardship action plans. The main crux of it is clause 10, how to do it. The Canadian conservation council is created by the bill. Thirteen territorial ministers and three federal ministers, they being heritage, fisheries and environment, would make up the Canadian conservation council. These decision makers will be making recovery strategies and action plans. They will be implementing them in many regions, in the provinces and under federal jurisdiction.

Thanks to the work of the standing committee and the work in large part by ourselves in the House of Commons, we have included the aboriginal people. We have created a national aboriginal council on endangered species. It completes the circle because we will have to work at this together. It calls on all of us to exercise our responsibilities to take care of the species.

Sure, our rights have to be protected but we have to exercise our responsibilities. We must exercise our responsibilities in a co-operative manner. It has been highlighted that the provinces, the federal ministries and the aboriginal jurisdiction are all very much part of the discussion.

The landowners, land users, farmers, trappers, ranchers, hunters, fishermen, people who live off the land, tourists, outfitters, miners and loggers, all these people will have to look at a proper way of dealing with endangered species.

We have a framework and vessel that we can use. Our children will be able to use this legislation to protect themselves in the future. A proper dialogue is being created. Federal-provincial disputes can be clarified at the Canadian conservation council. If there are disputes involving aboriginal, federal and provincial jurisdictions, the aboriginal council will speak to these issues and sort them out before legal challenges take place.

This is what I speak about regarding Bill C-5, that this co-operative manner will succeed. I have faith that the bill will proceed to an honourable end. We will have opportunities to correct it. We are a young country as was mentioned. This is the first time this law will come into place. Once it passes, there will be opportunities to review it and change it in the future.

The other challenge I would like to put forward is not necessarily to the House. The bill will create a national aboriginal council. I beg that when the six representatives are chosen for the national aboriginal council that they be chosen by region. We must protect all regions of the country. If we were to do it by political jurisdiction and demographics, the cities and the southern jurisdiction would make the decisions on strategies and action plans for the country.

Let us dissect our country into six regions which could represent the river regions. The St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast could be represented. The Hudson Bay watershed, the old romanticized Rupert's Land region, could be represented. The Mackenzie River that flows to the north, and the north and south Saskatchewan rivers that flow into Lake Winnipeg could be represented. The Pacific watershed that flows into the west and the Arctic waters in the coastal region of the north could be represented. Those are the regions that could be represented on the national aboriginal council.

Not only would aboriginal people take their grievances to the council, but any landowners such as farmers and ranchers could take their grievances to the council as well. The council could be a consciousness of our people and of our species.

The relationship we have is very critical because we are bound by consciousness. We can make the changes here as human beings. We as parliamentarians, as decision makers, can make the decisions when it comes to law, but when it comes to action plans and strategies, let us depend upon the Canadian endangered species conservation council. The 13 provincial and territorial ministers, the three federal ministers and the six aboriginal representatives can sort out how we make our decisions in the future.

A very scary comment was made by one of the members opposite. It was in the context of hoping that one species would be gone. I would say let us humble ourselves from having the power to say let us wipe out a species off the planet. All of these gifts we have been given on mother earth are for a purpose. They are tests. If we do not pass these tests, we will fail and the generations to come will pay. Sure, a deer mouse tests us because of the illness it gives us, but it may wake us up to a bigger mistake that we are making. Let us humbly respect all species on the planet.

I close by giving thanks to the aboriginal working group and its co-chairs for their foresight in bringing these issues forward. I thank the Minister of the Environment and his staff for making this possible. I also thank all the leaders of the national aboriginal organizations who contributed toward making the necessary amendments that I had put forward.

I thank the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. It has done well. Also, all the members opposite and on the government side have done well in bringing these issues forward. For making this debate possible, I thank our leader the Prime Minister for seeing the bill as a priority for us to deal with before we rise. It is very appropriate that we handle it now.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 5:25 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to address Bill C-5, an important piece of legislation. I want the House to know that the Canadian Alliance feels very strongly that there should be endangered species legislation. We have always argued that. However we have also always taken issue with the government's approach.

I remind the House that this is the government's third attempt at this legislation which should tell people something. It tells us that in the previous two tries it was very ham-fisted in how it approached this. It did not take the efforts of local land holders and lower level governments into account when it brought down its legislation.

As my friend from Souris--Moose Mountain pointed out, the government has been top down in the past. I admit that it is trying to correct some of this now but I have to fundamentally disagree with the chair of the environment committee who just spoke a moment ago. When we get down to the issues that are at the nub of the difference between the Canadian Alliance and some of the other parties in this place, it is the issue of compensation.

My friend across the way says that we should be comfortable leaving regulation to define this. However I think the member across the way would recognize that it is also true that when we do that things can go any which way. Because this is at the nub of the whole issue, the issue of compensation and what is fair and reasonable to fair market value, it should be laid out in the legislation.

I think the member would also acknowledge that the issue of compensation was clearly one of the big problems in the United States. Having no guarantee of fair market value for compensation invited the sorts of troubles the United States ran into. We all heard about shoot, shovel and shut-up which was the concept where it became a liability for property owners to have endangered species on their property because there was no guarantee of compensation, so people would destroy endangered species. In the end there was endangered species legislation that led to the destruction of endangered species, and we do not want that in Canada.

That was why we have been very tough on this issue. I grew up in a rural area and I had the chance to get to know mother nature a little bit. My father always took me out hunting when I was young. I appreciate the environment. My father used to get so angry at government programs that encouraged farmers to farm every square inch of a piece of property, really pay them to destroy the corners of fields where the pivots did not reach and there was wild habitat along fences. It led to the destruction of a lot of habitat and undoubtedly led to the decline of endangered species.

We want to avoid that so we are being as tough as we can be on the issue of compensation. We do not want a situation where somewhere down the road regulations are made or courts define this legislation in a way where there is not that full and fair compensation that the member who just spoke talked about. We need to have that or we will have exactly the opposite effect to what we were trying to achieve. We will end up putting in place a regime that encourages the destruction of endangered species. We do not want that.

In my riding we have burrowing owls. I think we have loggerhead shrikes still around. We have swift foxes. We have some animals that are on the endangered species list and we want to keep them.

In response to the chair of the environment committee I want to say that we are concerned about endangered species. We want them but we think that the nub is the issue of compensation.

Although the government has come some distance, it is thanks to a pretty powerful opposition, not only the official opposition, the Canadian Alliance, but from landowners and others as well.

A while ago the chair of the Liberal rural caucus, the member for Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey, rose and spoke in this place. Have members ever noticed how people start to conform to their environment after a while? The member for Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey is a chicken farmer. I see him conforming to his environment. He squawked, beaked off and his feathers were clearly ruffled but in the end he laid an egg. He laid an egg because for many months on end he told anybody who would listen how they were going to force all kinds of changes to this legislation and that if they did not do it that they would vote against the bill.

About a week ago that same member, who apparently represents a lot of rural MPs, caved in like a house of cards and said that they would be relying on the Senate to make the changes that they want. There were a number of changes. Some had to do with compensation, others had to do with how endangered species would be designated and those kinds of things.

In the end, once again we saw a Liberal member rise, make all kinds of promises about what he would do and when the whip came down he caved in. I think rural people, especially in Ontario, deserve better than that. They deserve better representation.

When rural Ontarians and people across the country who are represented in Liberal ridings have valid concerns and a member, like the member I just referred to, makes promises about what he will do if legislation does not get changed and then completely caves in, I think the country should note that and hopefully remember it and remind the member of it when they do not get the changes that they want.

The member sent out a press release and said that he had spoken to the minister and the Senate will go ahead and make the changes.On the face of it that sounds to me like almost a question of privilege. I do not see how he can go to the minister and somehow the Senate, which is an independent body, will do the minister's bidding. That to me is absolutely crazy. It presumes that the minister is calling the shots. I would think that the Senate would be upset about that because it sounds like it is completely in the pocket of the minister. I would think the Senate itself would stand up and say that it will do exactly what it wants to do based on what it thinks is best.

The Senate is supposed to be the chamber of sober second thought. Let us hope that it is. Let us hope that it brings about some of the changes that we would all like to see happen. However there is certainly no guarantee of that.

I really think the member for Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey completely overstepped his bounds and made all kinds of empty promises that he could never keep in the hope that somehow magically it would all turn out, but it did not.

I regret very much that we are seeing closure invoked on this issue. The government is again resorting to this anti-democratic method to close off debate on an issue that does not just concern the official opposition. Members on the government side, as I have just pointed out, are very concerned about this, as are members of the NDP, the Conservatives and the Bloc. Everybody has concerns about the legislation.

The government has already invoked closure more times than any government in the history of Canada. I think Canadians deserve to have their voices heard through their elected representatives. Unfortunately those voices will not be heard to the extent that they should be on this legislation.

I hope at the end of this debate, which will be prematurely cut off, that members across the way summon the courage to do what they said they would do and vote against Bill C-5.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 5:15 p.m.
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Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will try to discuss a few of the points being made this afternoon, beginning right away with the very spirited and passionate intervention by the member for Souris--Moose Mountain. The member for Souris--Moose Mountain has done a terrific job this afternoon because he has in a very clear and lucid manner described step by step exactly what this bill is all about as it is written now.

I am glad that he made this point because certainly what this bill is doing is rejecting the U.S. approach, no matter how often members opposite claim that the approach of Bill C-5 can be compared to that of the American approach. It definitely is not. It has been written on the basis of the principles outlined by the member for Souris--Moose Mountain, namely, co-operation first not confrontation.

I can assure everyone that this is how the bill is written and anyone who wishes can see how it would work with action plans, consultations, planning and a sequence of events which leaves the confrontational aspect as the very last resort to be invoked when everything else fails. I can assure the House about that because we have lived with this bill, as the member for Souris--Moose Mountain knows, for quite some time. In that respect I am in a way grateful because his impassioned intervention has really helped to make it quite clear what this bill is all about. He has done it better than I could have.

The second point has to do with the very thoughtful intervention by the member for Windsor--St. Clair. In his intervention he invoked the necessity of the need for flexibility. He spoke about the carrot and the stick. Again we see a different approach because the member for Windsor--St. Clair wants a balance between the two. Whereas the member for Souris--Moose Mountain wants co-operation first rather than confrontation.

The bill itself invokes the stick as a last resort measure. It is a sequence of steps that shows there is a desire to be flexible, to avoid the experience south of the border and to develop the highest degree and level of co-operation that can be achieved with civil society. Of course time will tell whether that is the right approach. We now have to give this approach a chance to see how it works. Of course legislation can always be improved in a second phase.

That leads me to the various rather passionate interventions this afternoon on compensation. I have the impression that the researchers on the side of the Alliance perhaps have not done as good a job as they could have. The member for Skeena, if I understood him correctly, as well as the member for Kelowna did recognize, unlike the member for Red Deer, that compensation was written into the bill. It is no longer permissive. It is a must.

Not only that but the writing of the bill is now mandatory and also the words “fair and reasonable compensation” are in subclause 64(1). Some members opposite have made the point that instead of “fair and reasonable” they would rather have “fair market value”. That, of course, can be discussed. I would argue that fair and reasonable can be as good as fair market value at times of market depressions. It could actually help and be useful as a concept or a guideline to the affected farmer or woodlot owner rather than fair market value.

Of course that is a debate for economists and we do not want to invest too much time in that. There is one opinion for every economist in this respect.

The fact is that on page 36 of the bill it states:

The Minister may...provide fair and reasonable compensation--

It then sets out the procedure, the methods and the terms and conditions for the provision of compensation, but not in detail. Some members of the opposition would like to have the regulations written into the act but that would be absurd. The regulations are called regulations because they are not law. The law sets the parameters for the regulations. The regulations then are written to implement the law. It is then the task of a parliamentary committee to see to it that the regulations are in conformity with the law. To expect that the law would define every detail of the regulation would be absurd. A committee of parliament would be sitting for years before it could report the bill back to the House. Let us be practical here, for Heaven's sake. The official opposition party actually claims to be one of the most practical parties in the world so let it live up to that reputation.

I would be remiss if I did not make a reference to the speech by the member for Fundy--Royal. He made a fair intervention but we must correct one impression that he left in the House about migratory birds. Migratory birds have not been forgotten. Migratory birds and their habitat have been included in the bill. The protection of the habitat for migratory birds is now mandatory on federal land.

Some people will ask why we left out the provinces. The official opposition would be screaming if we were to impose it on the provinces.

It seems to me that not many in the House would have a strong argument to blame the government for having limited its mandatory provision for migratory birds only to federal land, of course in the hope that the provinces will adopt mirror legislation and adopt the same approaches on provincial land.

Let us hope that in a few years when the bill will be debated again, birds which have the unfortunate experience of landing on a provincial stone will not be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis birds which land on a federal stone, but that the provinces will in good faith adopt the approach of the federal government, adopt mirror legislation so that we have an approach to the protection of endangered species that is not hampered by political boundaries.

To conclude, it would be remiss on my part not to indicate to the House that the Prime Minister has taken an interest in the bill. The result has been that vast improvements to the legislation have taken place on the subject of mandatory habitat protection on federal land and also on the dimension of the scientific list. That could then be the subject when we go into third reading because these are items that are not covered by this particular group of motions.

Let me tell members that the bill has been vastly improved. It has certain features that are highly welcome. On the theme of compensation, I would urge members of the opposition to carefully read section 64(1) and to become fully aware of what it contains rather than listening to hearsay or hastily prepared papers as apparently was the case this morning with the member for Red Deer who launched into a criticism of the bill, which actually his own members corrected, for which we were extremely grateful.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 5 p.m.
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Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, in the waters off Atlantic Canada there are fishers and tour boat operators who are part of programs to keep the leatherback turtles from getting caught in the nets. No one told them they had to do this. When they learned about the problem, they worked with conservation and recovery groups to find solutions.

What message do we want to send these people? Do we want to tell them it is not good enough and give them notice that we will see them in court? I do not think so. I think we want to say they are doing great work, to thank them and find other ways to work together.

That is how those people feel too. They are exactly the people that Bill C-5 will support in efforts to protect species at risk. Bill C-5 is a good piece of legislation. It is a combination of co-operation backed by strength. It is time to get it into place.

In Atlantic Canada provinces have worked hard to fulfill their obligations under the accord for the protection of species at risk and to put provincial legislation into place to protect species. All over the shores of Atlantic Canada conservation organizations are working side by side with tour operators and fishing communities, with beachfront owners and the whale watching community. This is what we mean by a co-operative approach. It reflects the people of Atlantic Canada. It reflects the people of Canada as a whole. It is the way to get things done.

The bill before us fulfills a federal commitment with the provinces and the territories under the accord for the protection of species at risk. It sets out in the full letter of law the key components of assessment and listing, of recovery planning and of habitat protection. It also reinforces stewardship.

I am here today to support the government motions that restore co-operation as the preferred approach to protecting critical habitat.

We farm over 1,000 acres of woodland and it often concerns me. We also want to protect the species.

Canadians are giving of their time and resources to protect our wildlife species and their habitat. It is happening all over Canada. These are individuals and they are also big companies. They are fishers, farmers, miners and loggers. Others wish they had our success.

In the United States, where many will point to endangered species legislation that has been in place for 25 years, our success so far on stewardship and conservation is the subject of envy. U.S. courts are choked with cases under the law, drawing precious resources away from actually protecting wildlife.

We have already made huge strides and backed them up with the establishment of the habitat stewardship program. Under the program $45 million over five years has been targeted for stewardship activities.

In its first year the habitat stewardship program established over 70 partnerships with first nations, landowners, resource users, nature trusts, provinces, the natural resource sector, community based wildlife societies, educational institutions and conservation organizations. In its second year the habitat stewardship program funded nearly 160 projects.

These projects targeted more than 200 species identified to be at risk. They also assisted in developing partnerships among more than 400 individuals and organizations across Canada.

For instance, volunteer Canadians from all walks of life are involved in the beach guardian programs in Atlantic Canada to protect the habitat of the piping plover, the Gulf of St. Lawrence aster and the maritime ringlet butterfly. We are monitoring the population of the right whale and helping fishers to find ways of preventing the whales from getting tangled in gear.

We are assisting those stranded leatherback turtles which I mentioned. We are also preserving the Trois Monts de Coleraine area from the Vermont border to Mont Caribou with its 30 indigenous plant species that are rare or endangered. We have also provided more favourable tax treatment for the contribution ecologically sensitive lands. Over 23,000 hectares already have been donated as ecological gifts.

I point out that the co-operative approach is reinforced in government motions to further strengthen critical habitat protection in federal jurisdictions. The government has proposed that Bill C-5 provide automatic critical habitat protection in a national park, a marine protected area, a migratory bird sanctuary or a national wildlife area as soon as it is identified in a recovery strategy or action plan.

To further strengthen the protection of critical habitat in other areas of federal jurisdiction, we are proposing mandatory protection if critical habitat is not protected through stewardship initiatives within 180 days of its identification.

These government motions on critical habitat are reinforced by a further motion that requires all federal ministers to consider the possible impacts on identified critical habitat prior to issuing any licence or permit for any activity.

We all share a responsibility for protecting wildlife. The federal government is a leader in protecting species at risk and their critical habitats in Canada. The rest of the world can be proud of us. In active partnership with provinces, territories, landowners, farmers, fishermen, aboriginal people, conservation groups, the resource sectors and others, we are using what works and providing more tools to make it work better.

These are the actions that make the difference. These are the people we must support. This is the approach we must take. Debate will not get us any further. Debate will not reinforce our appreciation for the work already under way and get more work done. Debate is delaying the response we must make to our obligations. It is time to move on and reinforce the work and actions of so many.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 4:50 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this important stage of Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation. It has had a rough and tumble ride on the Liberal benches over these last few weeks and for good reasons.

The House may be well aware that the bill was incredibly void on what we viewed as four principal points. It did not have the scientific aspect that we needed to determine the list regarding whether a species was at risk or not. Having a true scientific listing would ensure that it was scientific and not political.

The economic and social implications should be taken into account at the recovery stage, in the action plan of the act. The government has made a move on this particular plank. It has moved in a positive direction on having a better framework and having mandatory protection of critical habitat on federal lands, including aquatic species.

That is another position that the Progressive Conservative Party has held true. Our position is from the document that we tabled in March 2000 known as “Carrots before sticks”. It is a comprehensive program that follows closely the recommendations of the species at risk working group on what good, sound and effective species at risk legislation should have.

Beyond the listings and looking after its own backyard and having better protection on federal lands, including aquatic species, the Government of Canada has not moved that far. Let us be quite clear. The Minister of the Environment only moved in that direction because Liberal backbenchers were going to stand with the opposition and vote down this act because it was not effective.

That was clearly the signal that the Liberal members were sending across the board. The Minister of Environment had a choice. One was to lose not only the bill but likely his position in cabinet. He would have been next Sunday's Shawinigan sacrifice had he not implemented these particular amendments. Kudos to him for at least making the recommendations he did to move in that direction.

The bill is void on four points. Not only is the listing format not a true scientific listing, although it is better than what the government has proposed in the first place, it is still somewhat discretionary and is too discretionary with respect to mandatory protection of critical habitat on federal lands. However, kudos to the government for at least moving in a better direction. The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada will be supporting the amendments of that nature that have been added.

Another point where the act is still weak relates to the fact that we do not have mandatory protection of migratory birds, which is clearly in the purview of the federal government. There are even amendments in Group No. 5 that pertain to that particular aspect. We have lost an opportunity there on migratory birds. I am not saying that as a spoof, as some members have before, because of my last name being similar to that of a blue heron.

However, the greatest deficiency in the bill is that there is not enough clarity with respect to the compensatory regime that the Government of Canada will have in this act. It is not a matter of whether the law will be tough enough. It is whether it will be effective as well. If we are always saying that a law has to be tough, we are using a punitive approach as opposed to rewarding stewardship.

There was a comprehensive amendment that was adopted in clause 10 of the bill known as a national stewardship plan. It would foster positive behaviour by providing scientific advice to landowners and perhaps even consideration of financial incentives for protecting species at risk because all Canadians benefit from the preservation of our biodiversity as well.

I am heartened by the government's wisdom, although it may have been precipitated by pressure from the rural Liberal caucus. We had tabled an amendment which said at the very least that the government needs to notify landowners that there is a species at risk on their property so that they can take the appropriate action. The government wanted to gut that Progressive Conservative amendment known as Motion. No. 109. The government has chosen not to remove the provision the Tories presented in committee which was supported by all five parties in this Chamber. That was a positive step in the right direction.

I want to talk about the compensatory regime again. The previous speaker mentioned that it is a very difficult issue to reduce to law. That is what we are here to do. We are here to write laws and to provide the framework so that we know what actions will or will not be predictably made by the Government of Canada. We write laws. That is what we do. It is extremely condescending to take the approach that we would not want to reduce it to law because at the end of the day, it will have to be addressed through regulations.

If the Government of Canada wants to provide a framework for compensation through a regulatory regime as opposed to enshrining it in the act, that would be okay if that was its choice to go that route. However the minimum the government would owe rural Canada would be to simultaneously table draft regulations. It should simultaneously table the regulations with the act so the landowners know what they are getting in the package to protect species at risk. That would provide more clarity. Perhaps the intergovernmental affairs minister should have lent a hand on that particular aspect.

This is where the bill is still void. It is still weak on listing, although it is better than it was before. It is still weak on mandatory protection of critical habitat on federal lands, although it is better than it was before. It is still too weak and unacceptable on the protection of migratory birds. It is definitely not acceptable in providing clarity with respect to the compensatory regime and about what landowners should expect to have.

Kudos to the government for at least keeping the notification aspect in the act itself. I would like to point out one aspect which Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are very well aware of through a heated debate you may have had in the context of your own caucus. All members of the committee wanted to ensure that we included the traditional knowledge of our aboriginal people to complement the scientific knowledge, the actions the Government of Canada should take and knowledge about the dwindling populations of species, information from aboriginal people which should be absorbed in the act to make it better.

Instead of making aboriginal peoples a full partner, the Government of Canada added a provision that actually gutted first nations contributions. The member of parliament for Churchill River in Saskatchewan tabled an amendment that reversed the government's reversal. The Government of Canada has now seen the light and will support that Liberal member's motion.

Let us not be too revisionist here, although we are on the revision of the revision of the revision. The Government of Canada had an opportunity to welcome first nations contributions and it almost rescinded them. That is an aspect of the bill we should highlight as well.

Again, given that we have had eight years to prepare legislation, we should have developed sound and effective legislation as opposed to mediocre legislation at best.

I tip my hat to my friends and colleagues on the environment committee from all parties, the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc, the NDP and Liberal members as well, because any gains that were made in the bill were made through the hard work of that committee. It is very anti-democratic for the Government of Canada to have rescinded a lot of the good hard work that we have done.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 4:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find myself with mixed feelings standing in the House during report stage of the species at risk act to address the motions in Group No. 5.

I am of mixed feelings because the government has forced through a motion to limit debate, meaning it has had enough of listening to the legitimate concerns brought forward by members of parliament as expressed to them by their constituents. The government in its wisdom has decided to ignore the concerns we and many Canadians have raised about the bill. Instead the Liberals have decided to use the power of their majority government to ram the bill through. They will crack the whip, defeat opposition amendments and pass a flawed bill.

I remind the House that the Canadian Alliance supports legislation to protect species at risk. The government would have Canadians falsely believe Bill C-5 is designed to protect species at risk even though mandatory compensation, a major component to ensuring species are protected, has been left out. Canadians should therefore disregard the Liberal government's false claims of heroism toward species at risk. Bill C-5 would not protect such species unless it included compensation.

In an effort to rectify the many flaws evident in Bill C-5 the opposition has moved some 60 amendments at report stage. The government has also moved many amendments which I find quite unorthodox. The government had every opportunity to ensure the bill was properly crafted before introducing it in the House of Commons. It introduced similar legislation on two other occasions but has still failed to get it right.

The government has failed to such an extent that the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, an all party committee dominated by Liberal MPs, had to do additional drafting work and spend several months fixing the bill. The committee reviewed over 300 amendments to Bill C-5. Yet the government has seen fit to introduce nearly 60 amendments at report stage. As a legislator I cannot help but compare the current bill as amended by the committee to what it would look like if the government's many motions at this stage of debate were accepted. The government amendments to the bill at this late stage in the process seek to reverse most of the work done by the committee.

Canadians must find this ironic coming from a government which prides itself on its wish to democratize parliament and make it more accountable to constituents. The government claims to allow MPs to vote the wishes of their electorate before those of their party leader, yet in this case it is doing exactly the opposite of what it promised to do. Not only is the government backing down on its promise to respect the wishes of Canadians as represented by their MPs. By limiting debate as it did earlier today it is effectively saying “Democracy is okay, but it has its limits and we are tired of democracy now”.

This is exactly the kind of make up the rules as it goes along tactic one could expect from a Liberal majority government. The Canadian Alliance, I am proud to say, not only respects species at risk. It respects the wishes of MPs to represent their electorates first. Partisan politics aside, I hope the government will see fit to support our amendments. They would result in more protection for species at risk, which is what we are here to debate today.

As members know, I have moved some 19 amendments to the bill at report stage. Several deal with intent to cause harm to a species as opposed to inadvertent harm. Others attempt to ensure adequate consultation with stakeholders, landowners and land users. One seeks to add in the preamble that sustainable development and the protection of species at risk should be the main goals of legislation. Others deal with the need for mandatory compensation to landowners or resource users in the event that complying with the legislation caused loss of property, decline in property value, loss of use or enjoyment of the property, or financial costs.

I have moved two motions in the group before us today, namely Motion No. 21 and Motion No. 26. Both motions touch on voluntary agreements, recovery strategies, and action and management plans for the preservation of species at risk and their critical habitat. These are all important endeavours. The Canadian Alliance supports these objectives of Bill C-5.

As currently written the bill would allow the minister to enter into agreements with other governments or environmental groups but does not specify the possibility of entering into agreements with landowners. Motions Nos. 21 and 26 would add this as an explicit option for the minister. Landowners, lessees and other users should be specified to send a signal that the government is open to a co-operative approach to implementation.

My amendment in Motion No. 21 would provide that a proposed agreement be made public 30 days before being finalized and that the minister consult with all people affected. This is to give legislative certainty that the minister would respect the rights of property owners and involve them in discussions.

The Canadian Alliance believes every opportunity should be taken to stress that property owners, resource users and others with a direct or on the ground interest in the administration of the species at risk act are involved in every step of the process. At this time the legislation does not allow for hands-on involvement by landowners. We in the Canadian Alliance are trying to fix that with the amendments in Group No. 5.

As I mentioned earlier, the government has made numerous amendments to the legislation. Although many of the government motions in Group No. 5 are of a technical nature, a few pose serious concerns. Motion No. 75 seeks to eliminate accountability of action plans. Motion No. 109 would have eliminated requirements for the minister to develop regulations for compensation. The government withdrew it, thank goodness, a small step in the right direction we were thankful to see. Motion No. 116 would reduce the requirement for the minister to consult. Motion No. 131 would cause jurisdictional concerns with the provinces over delegation of authority under the act.

Government Motion No. 131 specifies that the minister may delegate his powers under the act to any other minister of the crown in right of Canada, meaning any other federal cabinet minister. This would narrow the clause to prevent delegation to provincial ministers. The motion is unnecessarily restrictive. It would prevent possible avenues of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments. Given the bill's huge potential to trespass on provincial responsibilities it is highly inappropriate that provincial ministers be excluded. Provincial ministers are included in other sections, so why not here?

Government Motion No. 38 says that if the minister added a species to the list on an emergency basis COSEWIC would have to submit a written status report on the species to the minister within a year and put the report on the public registry. This is positive. It would allow landowners and other interested parties to see the scientific justification for the new listing.

This high degree of ministerial discretion means landowners would need a clear process for protecting their interests and definite rules for compensation should they incur losses. Unlike municipal rezoning there would be no public process in which landowners could have input. Being at the mercy of the minister they would have to be able to put their confidence in firm, transparent rules. I commend my hon. colleagues opposite for a positive amendment. It is too bad there are not many more.

Government Motion No. 43 would make drafting amendments to subclause 32(1) by removing a phrase that is not necessary.

Motion No. 75 introduces an amendment to clause 49. Subclause 49(1) currently says action plans must include a whole list of things such as:

(e) an evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the action plan and the benefits to be derived from its implementation--

The government seeks to change this. Socio-economic cost benefit analysis should be part of any all-encompassing bill like Bill C-5. How can the government introduce such sweeping legislation and not know the costs of implementing it as well as the costs of not protecting a species? This lack of knowledge would impede the government's ability to determine adequate compensation plans. It is inconceivable that the government would want to delete the entire section, but it would do so with Motion No. 75.

Finally, Bill C-5 does not adequately deal with the issue of compensation. Compensation is not an extra. It is essential to the entire framework of protecting species at risk. It would not only ensure landowners and resource users did not bear all the costs of protecting species single-handedly. It would send an important symbolic message that the government understood their fears and recognized the need to take account of their interests. Compensation at fair market value should be an integral part of any species at risk legislation.

In conclusion, without explicitly mandating compensation the legislation it would stand to harm landowners and the species it was designed to protect. For struggling landowners compensation is often the only incentive for protecting species at risk. It is human nature for landowners to resort to the shoot, shovel and shut up method of dealing with species at risk. Quite frankly, without compensation Bill C-5 would encourage that kind of behaviour.

We do not want to see that. If we are all committed to protecting species at risk we will make this change to the bill. I urge all members of the House to support adding compensation to Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 4:05 p.m.
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Murray Calder Liberal Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise and speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk act. As the chair of the national rural caucus this is something with which the rural caucus has been very involved.

Before I go into my speech I would like to take the time to help the member for Red Deer. I understand he has a television show to do on this subject tonight. I listened to his facts and some of them are wrong. This all hinges around clause 64 within the bill.

Subclause 64(1) basically gives direction to the minister for compensation and subclause 64(2) now states that a governor in council shall develop regulations for compensation. The confusion for the member for Red Deer was the fact that Motion No. 109, had it carried, would have changed the word “shall” to “may”. The rural caucus found that totally unacceptable.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, the member for Kitchener Centre, can verify the fact that we repeatedly went after her on this issue of “may” versus “shall”. I commend the minister. I believe he had three meetings with the rural caucus on the issue and the parliamentary secretary had a couple more. Two of the members of the rural caucus who were very active in this included the member for Churchill River, who was very concerned about the issue, and the member for York North.

The minister saw fit to listen to our arguments on Motion No. 109 and withdrew it. The rural caucus was very appreciative of that because it helped us out very much on the compensation aspect. I believe it has taken us in the right direction.

The people of rural Canada have been heavily involved in the development of the legislation that we are considering today. They support Bill C-5's emphasis on stewardship. They have had a big role in the formation of our policy in this area and for a very good reason. They know how important stewardship is because they have acted as stewards for generations and generations.

I was a farmer in my other life and I was taught by my father that if we were to see a killdeer's nest out in the centre of a field we would immediately stop the tractor, set up stakes and make sure the nest was not destroyed. I was taught that as a child and it has stayed with me as an adult.

Farmers and people in rural Canada are very good stewards and they were naturalists long before it came into vogue. That is the reality of the people who live in rural Canada.

This work is being done through small actions and huge projects but it all conserves Canada's rich, national heritage. We need to make sure that these people see that this work is valued, that it is essential and that it is at the very foundation of Canada's approach to habitat and species protection. If we delay, we send a message that this work is not good enough. No one here intends to do that. If we act now we let rural Canadians know that their contribution is the foundation of our policy on species at risk and habitat protection.

Let us not delay on that message any longer. Let us get on with it. Let us put federal species at risk legislation in place in Canada. It is the least we can do.

The proposed species at risk act ensures that there is involvement of the people closest to the species and to the land. That is something rural caucus fought for and received, and we thank the minister for that. This involvement stems from an overall co-operative approach. We did not just happen across this approach. In fact we set about developing it after much studying, many discussions and after an examination of what works and what does not in other countries and situations. We know that this one will work.

Fundamentally, we have to remember that our constitutional structure is such that we must work at all times with the provinces and the territories on any major policy.

There is a good reason for this structure and most everyone here would agree that it is one that is fair, workable and, above all, Canadian.

There are few examples as good as the development of the strategy for the protection of species at risk to show how well this system can work. There was co-operation among governments, co-operation that began many years ago, to set the stage for a successful strategy. That success can be found in the federal-provincial-territorial agreement called the accord for the protection of species at risk. Under this accord, we have all committed to protecting species, their habitats and to bringing in legislation and programs.

For decades the federal, provincial and territorial governments have been working together on wildlife management. Rural Canadians have been directly involved in this approach in many ways. This is not just for species at risk. All species benefit.

Stewardship, such as that under the North American waterfowl management plan, where provinces and territories have joined the federal government and their counterparts in the United States to preserve hundreds of hectares of wetlands and protect species of waterfowl. Farmers, hunters, landowners and conservation organizations have worked side by side to make this happen. Clearly we all have to recognize that species at risk is truly an issue of national concern and nobody can do it all alone.

We need this continued co-operation. We need to be able to lean over the fence between the federal government and the provincial or territorial governments. That fence makes good neighbours and it makes us partners. That neighbourly spirit brought us the accord in 1996, the accord that commits governments to legislation and programs. These are commitments that many of our provincial and territorial partners have met. These are commitments that the federal government must meet.

The accord formed the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council which has met a number of times and is working on an assessment and recovery planning that is so essential to meet the needs of the species.

The accord provides for the early identification, protection and recovery of all species at risk throughout the country.

Considerable progress has been made by the provinces and the territories in improving a legislative base for the protection of the species at risk in Canada since the endorsement of the accord.

Now it is our turn. The provinces and territories worked with us in developing Bill C-5. The proposed bill recognizes their contributions. Their support is absolutely critical to the success of the bill. We cannot protect species at risk throughout Canada without the provinces and the territories. It is they who manage most of the lands and the activities that affect the species and the critical habitat. They set the land management policies, direct the development laws and deliver many of the programs. Provinces and territories control a significant amount of land and many species rely on these lands. They have had many resources that we need to deliver the habitat enhancement and the protection, including the protection of wetlands and parklands.

Together we set a course for the concept of a safety net that ensures that no species will fall through the cracks before a government has failed to act. That safety net ensures that all species and critical habitat are protected everywhere in Canada. That is the work we need to do and that is the work we are doing.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 3:55 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise during report stage of Bill C-5 to speak to the amendments in Group No. 5.

I have been listening to and following the debate. A number of issues have been raised by the government to which I and other members in the House take exception. Part of the responsibility of the government is to pass legislation that is workable and recognizes the diversity represented not only in the House but across the country. Recognizing diversity will be necessary to protect species at risk.

As a number of government members have said, it has been a nine year process so far. Quite frankly, it has been a process of trial and error. From what I have seen it has involved mainly delay, obfuscation and deception. We have still ended up with a less than satisfactory piece of legislation. We have seen the government force closure 76 times in the House. It is now doing so again.

I will speak directly to the amendments. I will use an example of a species representative of all species at risk in Canada to illustrate the government's lack of political will to do anything about species at risk in a workable, concrete or coherent manner.

The fact that Motion No. 109 has been dropped is commendable because it allows the hard work done by the committee to be noticed. The amendment was brought in with the consent of committee members including a number of Liberal members. It is nice to see the motion back in the legislation.

Motion No. 75 would enable the minister to make regulations for critical habitat for aquatic species or migratory birds on federal lands. It would remove the enabling authority for aquatic species and migratory bird protection through regulations. It would allow the minister to recommend regulations to the cabinet for the protection of critical habitat at which time the cabinet could choose whether or not to act. That is totally unacceptable. Either we protect wildlife in Canada or not, but we should not leave it to cabinet to decide.

The committee was uniform in its declaration that there should be a third party scientific agenda. It is not a problem. It is a simple issue. Protecting endangered species or habitat in Canada is absolutely no problem. The only problem is lack of political will. The government has come up with a fantasy that the co-operative approach would somehow work. Co-operation is fine and important. In the long run it may be the key to successful legislation. However the legislation must have teeth. There must be a reason for private landowners and people to buy into it.

The issue hinges on compensation. It is the key to the legislation. However the issue has not been addressed. If we provide compensation for landowners who must take land out of production because an endangered species is found on it we will have found the key to a successful piece of legislation.

The public has bought into the idea of protecting endangered species. However Bill C-5 would not provide the tools to do so.

I said earlier that I would like to take one species to show what the inaction of this government has done toward making that single species extinct, because it is still barely hanging on. There is still just a little bit of a gene pool that allows a few Atlantic salmon, which is the species I am talking about, to actually return to the rivers in Atlantic Canada, spawn, go out to the ocean, come back and spawn again. It is inconceivable that the government, in the time it has been here, has done as little as it has done to protect Atlantic salmon.

Atlantic salmon are extinct now in 14 rivers in Nova Scotia's southern uplands, the area of Nova Scotia that I represent. When I was a kid those rivers had thriving populations of Atlantic salmon. We are talking about one generation here. We are not going back to the turn of the century or the 1850s. We are talking about 25 years ago when there were thriving populations of Atlantic salmon.

Those rivers today have 10% of their salmon remaining, the ones that are not extinct that is. Another 50 rivers in Nova Scotia are in serious danger and have seriously threatened salmon populations from acid rain. While salmon stocks remain in some of the rivers, it is a barely viable population base and has been recognized for some time as a species at risk.

In their own brochure, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association criticized the government. It wanted to show the negative impact of acid rain on fish stocks, which it called the silent killer. The association notes state that like the canary in the coal mine, Atlantic salmon is the biological indicator that signals loss in water quality. If we do not have good freshwater quality, we cannot have Atlantic salmon reproducing.

What has the government done about Atlantic salmon? It has shut down the hatcheries in Atlantic Canada, in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia. There is no such thing as restocking the rivers unless it is strictly a private restocking effort. It has done enough genetic research to find out that the Atlantic salmon stocks in the rivers in the inner Bay of Fundy are distinct species, a subgroup of Atlantic salmon, and it has done nothing to protect the critical habitat for that subspecies.

The Atlantic Salmon Association, a privately run organization, raised $500,000 to study the genetic make-up of those salmon in the inner Bay of Fundy. The government, which is supposed to protect endangered species, managed to find $150,000 to dedicate to the project and it has not even given the money over yet. It is scandalous.

In 1960 we found out Nova Scotian salmon, eastern Canadian salmon migrated to the west Greenland Sea and overwintered there. In the late sixties, early seventies, eighties and nineties, the fishery that developed in the offshore made that whole group of species nearly extinct.

In 2001, 40 years after we found out where the salmon were going, Greenland set its harvest at 200 tonnes of salmon, or approximately 70,000 salmon. However low numbers and low prices resulted in a catch of only 40 tonnes, representing 15,238 salmon, 9,800 of those salmon were from Nova Scotian and eastern Canadian rivers. Nothing has been done. This is just one species. We can name a dozen.

My point is that one species alone tells the story and sets the record of the government on protecting endangered species.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.
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Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, considering that the debate has gone through clauses and so on, I would like to begin by making a remark in response to the member for Red Deer.

I was listening with great attention to what he had to say today about compensation, which is a huge issue for many of us in the House. If I heard him correctly, and I hope I did not, he suggested that the elimination of Motion No. 109 in the bill would somehow eliminate any attempt at compensation in the bill.

The fact is that the reverse is true. If the hon. member were to reread the bill he would find that the elimination of Motion No. 109 means that the government shall make regulations. It is very clear.

I will give him the benefit of not comprehending what is in the bill because I know, as a colleague working on the committee, that we all worked together with the best of intentions. I would hope that perhaps he could correct that at some later time.

One party complains that the compensation scheme will leave landowners stranded. Another party says that the compensation is outrageous and it should be done away with altogether. From one side we heard that the stick in the proposed bill is too soft a stick and that there is too much wiggle room for violators. On the other we hear that it is coercive and that it will not work.

I believe that over the many years and three manifestations of the bill we have actually come up with the Canadian thing. It has involved a good deal of compromise and understanding on the part of everyone but we believe we have something that will at last be workable. I am not talking about a lot of compromises. It is a matter of balance.

The standing committee worked very hard on this over many years. Well over 300 motions were considered and over 120 amendments were passed. The government should be commended for its commitment to work with landowners, land users and resource users in the protection of species at risk.

The promise made by the Minister of the Environment to make compensation regulations shortly after proclamation and the subsequent withdrawal of Motion No. 109 is reflective of this commitment. I say to my hon. friends who are so upset about compensation that they should reread the bill so they can fully understand what is in it.

Motion No. 109 concerned clause 64 which provided for compensation. The effect of withdrawing the motion was that the governor in council will now be required to make regulations necessary for the provision of compensation under the act.

Bill C-5 is built on the principle of co-operation first. We are committed to a co-operative approach. Through the accord for the protection of species at risk signed in 1996 with the provinces and territories, we have already made it quite clear that we agree that co-operation is the way to get things done. After all, laws do not protect species, people protect species.

The protection of species at risk is the responsibility of every Canadian, whether they be rural or urban Canadians. We all have an impact on species and we should all be conscious of that.

There have been enough successes under the accord to show that our approach is right. We studied the United States and its legislation, held up as an example by those who support a different kind of approach, one that is more coercive. What we found was a backlog of court cases and a lot of will. That is not Canadian. It does not fit with our constitution. It is not who we are and it is not how we do things.

The policy development for this bill has taken nearly nine years. We have learned through trial and error and through study and research that the co-operative approach is the one we must lean on, the one we must foster, the one that each amendment must support.

We will see evidence of this in the government motions on voluntary measures to encourage landowners to protect critical habitat. I must commend the landowners in the country who have taken that to heart and are doing so much already.

This means too that scientists identify the critical habitat and activities that could destroy it and pass this along to landowners to try to find common sense solutions to preserve it. We are not living in a dreamworld here. We know there will be times, and we hope that they are few, when voluntary measures will not work. In that case the government will step in quickly and act decisively.

The legislation contains the steps to prohibit activities that could destroy the critical habitat of endangered species. It focuses on building co-operation rather than attempting to coerce action by Canadians. In other words, we are not going to clog the courtrooms and give rise to a new specialty of law if habitat in Canada goes unprotected.

We are going to work to get things done and quickly.This means getting out there on the land, on the waters, in the forests and on the shorelines.

A new general prohibition against any activities that may “adversely affect” critical habitat under federal jurisdiction for these reasons is not acceptable. We cannot have scientists' decisions triggering legal prohibitions. This both removes government's accountability as well as the incentive for stewardship as the first course of action.

The government has to protect critical habitat in its own jurisdiction. The government motions strengthen protection of critical habitat under federal authority.

We are moving to automatically protect critical habitat in national parks, marine protected areas, migratory bird sanctuaries and national wildlife areas.

To further strengthen the protection of critical habitat in other areas of federal jurisdiction, we are proposing mandatory protection if critical habitat is not protected through voluntary or other means within 180 days of identification. The timeline of 180 days provides an opportunity for those using the land or resources to voluntarily protect the critical habitat. At the same time, this approach ensures that critical habitat is protected in a timely manner.

The government and our partners will be working with those who use lands in federal jurisdiction to come up with voluntary measures to protect critical habitat. We are going to work as hard as we can to get stewardship arrangements into place to protect critical habitat within the timeframe.

The government is also proposing that the bill will require all federal ministers who are authorized under other federal acts to issue permits or licences for an activity to consider whether those activities could result in destruction of critical habitat prior to issuing the permits and licences.

The co-operative approach has won the support of many people. They have had a bit of trouble being heard but they are out there and they are already at work. We must ensure the approach we put forward continues a co-operative approach with these partners.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 3:15 p.m.
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Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, after this slough of petitions, I am pleased to rise again and resume my comments on Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act.

At the outset of my speech, I was trying to convince the House that there was a major inconsistency between what the provinces and the federal government agreed to on October 2, 1996, under the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada, and what we are debating today in the House, Bill C-5.

While we completely agree with the principles of the accord with regards to conservation—I say this because Quebec has already had an act respecting threatened species in place since 1989, as I stated, in addition to an act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife, and fishing regulations to protect threatened and vulnerable species on its lands—I point out that there is an inconsistency. The principles laid out in the accord clearly indicate that when it comes to protecting species, the federal government is committed to improving its co-operation with the provinces.

Again, the Quebec legislation on endangered species was passed in 1989 by the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa. Some of the Liberal members who supported this legislation are sitting in this House today. They are about to accept the fact that the government will pass a bill that will duplicate a Quebec act, overlap existing measures and create a double safety net, this in spite of what the Quebec national assembly did in 1989.

We on this side of the House can only condemn this blatant violation of the principles of co-operation that underlie the national accord for the protection of species at risk in Canada.

Through this bill, the federal government is trying to set aside the Quebec model of protection, which works fine. Here is what the then Minister of the Environment said in 1996 regarding this accord:

We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlap between the future federal legislation—

the “future federal legislation” being Bill C-5 now before us.

—and the act that has been in force since 1989, an act that works well and has already proven useful.

The then Minister of the Environment added:

We risk creating more red tape instead of dedicating ourselves to what really matters to us: the fate of endangered species.

The then Quebec Minister of the Environment was right. We have before us a bill that will allow a federal act to apply on the Quebec territory. This is useless duplication. As I mentioned, the Quebec act already exists in Quebec and has allowed for the legal identification of over 340 species. Not only does this legislation allow us to identify species but, since 1989, a series of measures have been in place to allow for the implementation of recovery plans for endangered and threatened species

Today, in the year 2002, as the federal government is about to adopt a bill that affects the provinces, it was already 12 years ago that Quebec was defining principles to legally establish recovery plans for certain species. Direct enforcement was also provided for.

Certain clauses of the bill, especially 32 and 33, provide for direct enforcement. The proposed legislation would create federal officers responsible for enforcing this federal legislation on lands which would not necessarily be designated federal only or even come under federal jurisdiction. This legislation would allow these officers to take action on lands under provincial jurisdiction, when Quebec has had wildlife conservation officers for years now under its act respecting the conservation of wildlife.

Why duplicate officers? Why add a second group of enforcement officers, when the first is doing its job perfectly well?

This bill goes against the 1996 principles underlying the protection of endangered species in Canada. These principles are about co-operation. With this bill, they are now deciding to dispense with co-operation and bring in powerful legislation giving the federal government authority to interfere directly in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

The federal government is also deciding to make provision for a compensation scheme, but at the same time it is not, because it has just imposed a gag and has given itself permission to again put forward amendments which would alter the committee's decisions. This government could perfectly well have spelled out the compensation scheme. Beyond future regulations, it could have taken this golden opportunity to spell out the compensation scheme for landowners in Canada and in Quebec. But no. It has decided to ignore the studies done by the experts, such as well-known academic Mr. Pearse. The latter proposed that landowners who lost 10% of the value of their property be eligible for compensation of up to in excess of 50% of its value.

The government has decided to bring in legislation, but it is not sticking to its own jurisdiction. It has decided to interfere in provincial jurisdiction. Not only that, but it is refusing to tell us how the compensation scheme will work.

We are disappointed in the government's initiative and we will naturally be voting against it. A number of the amendments in Group No. 5 are, in our opinion, unacceptable. I will come back to this a little later. I now leave the floor to my colleagues.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.
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Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again on Bill C-5, which we are addressing again today.

We have got to the fifth group of motions of this major bill, which has stirred up opposition, not just on this side of the floor but also some considerable opposition leading to a crisis on the government side. This bill runs counter to what the protection of Canada's endangered species is all about.

A bit of a historical review will remind us that Quebec and some other provinces decided as early as 1996 to sign the national accord for the protection of species at risk in Canada. This was a commitment by the provinces to protect the species and habitat within their territory in order to provide greater protection to our ecosystems and to the habitat, which is where the endangered species are to be found.

At that time, the accord represented an important federal initiative. It set out a number of principles relating to co-operation and collaboration with the provinces. As far back as 1996, Quebec had presented the federal government with a number of initiatives and legislation that had already been enacted by the Bourassa government.

I have a very clear recollection of this endangered species legislation. It took effect in Quebec in 1989. It was adopted and sponsored by members on the other side of the national assembly, even Quebec Liberal MLAs voted in favour of this legislation which protected endangered species on Quebec territory.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 1:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day that we are standing to speak to the last group of motions. The government has chosen to use closure to shut down consultation with the grassroots people and frontline soldiers the minister talks about: the farmers, ranchers, people in the forest industry and all those who pay taxes to allow the country to exist. On this dark day I will speak briefly to the motions in Group No. 5.

It is interesting that the government has totally withdrawn clause 109 which may have someday put compensation into the regulations. I defy any rural member across the floor here to go home and say “Guess what, guys? Now you will not get any compensation for sure”. I dare them to stand on the election platform and justify that one. I wonder how they would handle it.

We see what the Liberal government is really about. It brought its rural caucus onside by saying it would change the word may to will. It has now cancelled the whole thing. That is pretty shocking. It is shocking to find out about it in the House in the 11th hour. Under the current bill there would not be compensation or fair market value. It does not even contain the term fair and reasonable which is what the committee finally agreed on. Real estate people and lawyers who were consulted said it had to be fair market value because fair and reasonable could mean anything. Now the bill contains nothing, not even fair and reasonable. That is pretty shocking.

We talked earlier about the issue of mens rea. This means if farmers who plow the fields, ranchers who put cattle into the pastures or miners who exercise property rights do not do environmental impact studies to find out if an endangered species or habitat is present they would be guilty before even entering a courtroom. What kind of justice system is that?

Why would the government not want to consider the socio-economic issues? The possibility of losing 10,000 jobs, 20,000 jobs or whatever should be a factor in considering whether to save habitat or species like the wart toad, liverwort or whatever. It seems only reasonable that the government consider these things.

The process of consultation and co-operation is a farce. It is a lie. It is nowhere in the legislation. Landowners need to be involved in the consultation process, yet they would not be. Bill C-5 would be exactly what the American legislation is. Americans experts who have been looking at this type of legislation for close to 30 years have said the Endangered Species Act in the United States has yet to save a single species although it has been in effect 27 years. They have predicted SARA would be equally ineffective in Canada.

The money would be used for litigation. It would be a great time for lawyers but not for landowners and those who care about species. Bill C-5 would endanger the species it is trying to save. We hope it will endanger the party across the way in the next election when the Canadian people find out what it really means.

I have spoken to a number of environmental groups which say if we do not compensate people on the ground they will not co-operate. That should be common sense. However the government does not realize that. The withdrawal of motion 109 further emphasizes how bad the legislation would be.

Co-operation is what it takes. I will tell the House a story about a time a long time ago when I worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service. I had some money and my job was to go out and protect habitat. We would go to farmers and say they had marsh land we wanted to protect. The farmers might say they had planned to drain it or do something else with it. However when we offered compensation for the land there was not one person who did not sign the agreement. That is what co-operation is all about. That is how to protect habitat.

Farmers and ranchers across the country are already preserving habitat and species. Bill C-5 would do nothing but antagonize them and make them stop doing what has been normal practice for them up to this point.

What does the government not understand about getting the co-operation of landowners? How does it hope to work with the provinces when it is putting in a safety net proposal that says federal legislation would rule? If the federal government deemed that provincial governments were not doing an adequate job it would come down on them with overriding legislation. That would mean court action and more court action. It would mean lawyers and more lawyers. It would put more money in the pockets of lawyers and less in the hands of the front line workers the minister talks about.

I could go on about all the amendments put forward and the hard work of the committee to try to make the legislation better. For the first time since I have been in the House we had co-operation among all members on the environment committee. We really cared.

Today we voted for some motions put forward by an hon. member regarding aboriginal issues. We co-operated because we knew the members would co-operate on some of our big concerns. We worked hard on it. What did the government do? It came in and reversed all the things we fixed in the legislation. It did not listen to members from all parties. Five parties worked together to make the legislation better. The government then had the nerve to come in at report stage with all these amendments and reverse everything we did. It makes one wonder why we bother to get involved in committees or do any work. We worked hard on the legislation for 9 or 10 months to try to make it work.

It is a sad day. The government has used closure. Under the bill there would be no compensation. It would make landowners and users guilty until proven innocent. We are slapping the provinces in the face. Bill C-5 would do nothing to save species at risk. We should be disgusted with this piece of legislation and what we have seen today. The government should pay a big price for using closure to pass Bill C-5 and ram it down people's throats.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario


Bob Nault Liberalfor Minister of the Environment


Motion No. 131

That Bill C-5, in Clause 135, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 5 on page 73 with the following:

“4.2 (1) The Minister may delegate to any minister of the Crown in right of Canada any power conferred on the Minister under this Act. The other minister may then exercise the power subject to any terms and conditions that the Minister specifies.

(2) The other minister may delegate any power delegated under subsection (1) to any person employed in any department for which that other minister is responsible.”

Motion No. 132

That Bill C-5, in Clause 138, be amended by replacing lines 28 to 30 on page 74 with the following:

“minister of the Crown in right of Canada or of a province or to any person who is employed by the Government of Canada, the government of a province or any other government in Canada any power conferred on the Minister under this Act relating to its enforcement or the issuance, renewal, revocation and suspension of permits. The minister or other person to whom the power is delegated”

Motion No. 133

That Bill C-5, in Clause 139, be amended by replacing lines 2 to 4 on page 75 with the following:

“minister of the Crown in right of Canada or of a province or to any person who is employed by the Government of Canada, the government of a province or any other government in Canada any power conferred on the Minister under this section relating to permits. The minister or other person to whom the power is delegated”

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB


Motion No. 129

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 125.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario


Bob Nault Liberalfor Minister of the Environment


Motion No. 116

That Bill C-5, in Clause 74, be amended by

(b) deleting lines 30 to 36 on page 40.

(c) replacing lines 3 to 6 on page 41 with the following:

“74. (1) The competent minister may enter into an agreement with a person, or issue a permit to a person, authorizing the person to engage in an activity affecting a listed wildlife species, any part of its critical habitat”

“have been considered and the best solution has been adopted;”

Motion No. 117

That Bill C-5, in Clause 75, be amended by replacing lines 14 to 31 on page 42 with the following:

“75. An agreement, permit, licence, order or other similar document authorizing a person or organization to engage in an activity affecting a listed wildlife species, any part of its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals that is entered into, issued or made by the competent minister under another Act of Parliament has the same effect as an agreement or permit under subsection 74(1) if

(a) before it is entered into, issued or made, the competent minister is of the opinion that the requirements of subsections 74(2) to (6) and (9) are met; and

(b) after it is entered into, issued or made, the competent minister complies with the requirements of subsection 74(7).”

Motion No. 118

That Bill C-5 be amended by adding after line 18 on page 43 the following new clause:

“77.1 (1) Despite any other Act of Parliament, any person or body, other than a competent minister, authorized under any Act of Parliament, other than this Act, to issue or approve a licence, a permit or any other authorization that authorizes an activity that may result in the destruction of any part of the critical habitat of a listed wildlife species may enter into, issue, approve or make the authorization only if the person or body has consulted with the competent minister, has considered the impact on the species' critical habitat and is of the opinion that

(a) all reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species' critical habitat have been considered and the best solution has been adopted; and

(b) all feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species' critical habitat.

(2) For greater certainty, section 58 applies even though a licence, a permit or any other authorization has been issued in accordance with subsection (1).”