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 / 12:20 p.m.
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Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

“Mr. Speaker, on October 2, 1996, when the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada was signed, the Quebec Minister of the Environment said in Charlottetown, and I quote:

We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlap between the future federal legislation and the act that has been in force since 1989.

He was referring of course to Bill C-5. He also indicated the following:

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

Does the minister not recognize that he is going against the Quebec model, a model which has existed for 11 or 12 years, which has proven itself and which works well? The minister is trying to derail the way endangered species are managed in Quebec. Does he not recognize that he is only creating a cumbersome administration that is totally unacceptable for the provinces?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 12:15 p.m.
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David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member came in perhaps a trifle late. As you explained, the debate is on the issue of time allocation.

Certainly, if I am permitted to depart from that strict issue, I would give the greatest credit to the committee members, including the hon. member who just spoke. They did an immense amount of work, not just on the current bill, Bill C-5, but also on the preceding bills, Bill C-33 and Bill C-65 in previous parliaments.

However, and I hope he understands this, the fact that I point out that the critical people who will be protecting endangered species are those who are out on the land, namely farmers, ranchers, trappers, fishermen and people who work in the woods, I hope does not suggest to him that somehow we are denigrating the work of the committee. No, these are the people who are particularly important.

With due respect to the hon. member, he comes from an urban riding. He spends a lot of time in the House. He is not always out there on the land. Perhaps he should give a little credit too, to those people on whom the bill will depend for its success and whose co-operation is so important in getting this bill.

I hope that does not denigrate the committee.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister surely knows that Quebec has had its own species at risk legislation since 1991, which is even one year before the earth summit was held.

Given the fact that, in 1996, Quebec and the provinces signed the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada, in which co-operation was deemed to be a fundamental principle by the federal government, and given the fact the Quebec has had its own legislation for more than ten years and has ratified the accord that I just mentioned, can the minister assure us that Bill C-5 will not apply to Quebec as he has already promised?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / 12:05 p.m.
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Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the first point made by the hon. member was that the time allocation motion should not be put.

I point out to him when we combine Bill C-5 with the two preceding pieces of legislation, Bills C-33 and C-65, we have had a total of 93 days of debate in the House discussing endangered species legislation. That totals 246 hours in the House and committee.

The time has come for us to recognize that we are running out of time before the summer and we must get on with this because this piece of legislation has had more exhaustive debate than any other legislation that comes to my mind at the present time.

On the second point with respect to compensation, as the member well knows we attempted to draw compensation regulations initially but we found this to be quite new and experimental in some respects. We were unable to do so without risking denying compensation to people on the land who might conceivably deserve it under conditions which we have not yet fully envisaged.

We decided to have a period of experimentation. I can assure the hon. member that we fully expect to have compensation provisions and to use the compensation provisions in the act.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2002 / noon
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Main Estimates, 2002-03Government Orders

June 6th, 2002 / 7:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, you have my firm promise that I will be referring only to you in the course of my comments, tempted though I am.

I would like to refer back to the debate that occurred between the member for Toronto--Danforth and the Conservative House leader and to address one of the issues they had raised in their comments. The member for Toronto--Danforth suggested to the Conservative House leader that there is no distinction between a minister's position and that of an ordinary member and that ministers ought not to be restricted in how they represent their constituents and to what degree they work as ombudsmen on behalf of their constituents.

There is a fundamental distinction here. It used to be traditional for members of parliament to step down and seek re-election when they were becoming cabinet ministers on the understanding that they would be incapable of representing their constituents to the same degree as an ombudsman because they would have the power to represent the interests of their constituents over the interests of the people of Canada.

That was a practice which was abandoned in the early 20th century because we believed we had other protections that would ensure that ministers could no longer represent the interests of their constituents over the interests of the people of Canada who they were representing as ministers of the crown. I am afraid that we are seeing some of those protections being eroded.

More particularly and further to the point the hon. member was making, when the Prime Minister defended the solicitor general he was referring to the fact that the minister was representing the people of Prince Edward Island in his capacity as a regional minister. The solicitor general is a regional minister charged with the task of bringing home the goodies that are dispensed on a discretionary basis by the government to his part of the country in competition with various other regional ministers who have these non official but apparently extremely important portfolios. They are so important in the mind of the Prime Minister that they override their official functions. They override their duty to the crown and their duty to the people of Canada.

They bring home the pork and in consequence exercise discretion in such a way that they pay people in the area where regional ministers are official pork dispensers to hire members of their family to be in parts of their institution to ensure the pork will come to their institution when it is being delivered to the region. That is the fundamental problem and that is the distinction between ministers and ordinary members of parliament, be they on the government side or the opposition side, who are not in the position of power to disburse public funds.

Tonight we will be voting on well over $1 billion in government spending in the form of several votes on several different issues. Due to the vagaries in the way members of parliament submit their motions of objection, it turns out we will almost certainly spend the entire period of time debating the first motion. As it turned out the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough submitted first and therefore we will focus not only on his motion but also on the item which he selected to put in a motion. The result is we will talk about the privy council.

I would like to go through the various votes that will come up tonight and point out the number of dollars involved in each. Under Vote No. 1, which we are debating, $101 million; Vote No. 2 is $3,423,000; Vote No. 3 is $426 million; Vote No. 4 is $110 million; Vote No. 5 is $325 million; and Vote No. 6, grants and contributions from the justice department in the amount of $399 million.

The item we are debating is not the largest item on tonight's agenda and for that reason my remarks will stray a little into some of the other areas other than the privy council. We cannot therefore just focus, as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister did, on a civics course essay on what the Privy Council Office does, informative as it is for those who are enrolled in civics courses.

To me what is happening tonight with these votes is symptomatic of a problem which affects so many votes in this place. We find ourselves debating whatever is first on the agenda and then we are simply unable to deal in detail with votes that come up later on the agenda, notwithstanding their importance.

I can give a couple of examples. When Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act, was up for debate, the House got hung up on a motion that I had put forward when time allocation and closure was put in place. The motion was not outstandingly important and the result was that it got debated far more than it deserved and we never got on to the other items, many of which were important. Something like that is happening tonight. With Bill C-5 something similar has occurred.

If I were to pick out the item that seems to me to deserve the greatest consideration among the various votes that are occurring tonight, I would probably say that it would be the grants and contributions, vote 6, in the order of just under $400 million in the justice department. I say that because there is a crisis in the country of confidence in the government, and as polls show, a crisis in the faith that Canadians have in their government not to be corrupt. It is based on the assumption, which is backed up by an outstandingly large amount of evidence, that when governments have the capacity to spend funds in a discretionary manner and when individual ministers have the capacity to allocate in a discretionary manner, and grants and contributions of course fall under this category, then we see the tendency for them not merely to bring the pork home to their region but the bring the pork home to those who might just happen to make contributions to their party or to their own campaigns or indeed in certain cases to their own leadership campaigns.

That is a serious problem. It is more than a serious problem. It is verging on a national crisis.

There are vast amounts of government grants and contributions in other departments, not just the ones we are voting on tonight. I want to give some examples tonight, taking the estimates for this year in three other departments: in the ministry of finance, $675 million in grants and contributions; in the human resources department, just shy of $1 billion in grants and contributions, $925 million to be precise; and in industry, $933 million in grants and contributions.

What this involves of course is money that is given out on a discretionary basis. I do not mean to suggest, and no doubt someone on the other side will insinuate that this is what I mean to suggest, that this is all in the form of grants and contributions to Liberal contributors. However, when we have this amount of money, we have a very large haystack in which more than one or two needles can be buried and of course huge opportunities for abuse.

We all know that these grants and contributions are recorded in the public accounts of Canada. How much does that actually mean? The Public Accounts of Canada list the various grants and contributions given out by the Government of Canada. To give an idea of what it means and how it is supposed to protect the public interest, let me quote from a recent article in the National Post , written by Andrew Coyne. He says:

An informed electorate, so the theory goes, should then be able to decide for itself [by reading the public accounts] whether politicians are too cozy with business or other interests, and punish them at the next election. It's perfectly simple, really. Voters have only to check the list of recipients of grants and subsidies in the public accounts, keep tabs on all untendered contracts issued by Public Works, sift through the files of the various federal lending agencies to see which companies have received government loans, scan the text of each piece of legislation or order-in-council, then cross-reference these with the list of donors maintained at Elections Canada, not only for the current year, but previous years as well.

Presumably we could do this through access to some kind of teleporting device into future political contributions as well. That is what we are up against.

To make things worse than that, we do not get access to all grants and contributions, only those over the amount of $100,000. Any grant or contribution up to $99,000 is completely off the public accounts.

That is a change, incidentally, which occurred during the lifetime of this government. It used to be any grant or contribution over $10,000 but then the rules changed. Why did they change? We were told that there was a problem with the size of the public accounts books being produced. They were getting too large so rules changed to save paper.

This change came through just about the time the Internet came into use and these things were being posted on the Internet. The argument was that too much paper was being used and it was expedient to make this change. It is expedient all right but not perhaps for the reasons suggested by the government at that time.

Is there an opportunity for needles to be hidden in these vast haystacks? There certainly is. The way these accounts are put together, there is not merely one big haystack out there. We have to go through elaborate cross-referencing and we have to have access to information requests to get this information which is not readily or quickly available. Having launched over a 100 access to information requests last year, I am well aware of the fact that they can be delayed, deferred or any number of tactics to deny information to the person seeking it, particularly when it is something worth seeking.

All these things are designed to ensure that there is a separate haystack for every needle out there. As a result, we only ever see what I would like to say is the tip of the iceberg, but actually 10% of the iceberg is actually shows. It is the tip of something much larger with much less showing. That is what is going on.

Here is the tip of the iceberg as it stands now. This is a partial list because I do have limited time. There is something fishy going on with the various Groupaction contracts. There is the new Groupe Everest contract. Media IDA Vision controlled 75% of government advertising contracts last year, when only 25% can be permitted to one company under the rules. There was the overspending on the promotion of the La FrancophonieGames, which has been raised so eloquently by our colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois.

There was a $101 million untendered contract for new jets for our ministers. The Cascade Data Services incipient scandal is emerging in which Cascade Data Services is receiving money when it has no website, no public telephone number and no address known to people who live in the immediate vicinity of its supposed location.

Faced with this situation and all this administrative convenience we have a serious problem. Even if it were the intention of MPs, and more particularly of ministers in the House, to try to be as clean as they possibly could be, the temptations and competitive pressure under such a system for a person to veer from the straight and narrow would be overwhelming, particularly anyone running for the leadership of the governing party when all their competitors are out there raising money with the potential to give favours.

I suggest the only solution is to raise the political costs to the actors who seek to become the leader of the Liberal Party to the point where it no longer pays to get involved in any kind of trading of favours. When this is done, there will be an elimination of any hint or threat of the misuse of public funds.

In my remaining time let me suggest one way in which this sort of thing could be done so that we could improve the public access to the information that would raise the political costs for getting involved in the kinds of conflict of interests that we see emerging. I would suggest we eliminate the $100,000 floor for reporting. I do not suggest taking it down to $10,000 but taking it down to zero.

If a grant or contribution is given out, I suggest it would be recorded in the public accounts, period. Moreover, I suggest it should be placed on the government's website. I would suggest one step further. Being on the website, it should be placed in the form of a manipulable database so individuals can do a few experiments and see, for example, if there are any commonalities in the names of the individuals who are recipients. It can be manipulated by name of recipient.

I would suggest that would make a huge difference. It would greatly reduce the potential for hiding money from the public view. Moreover it would make access instant. It would substantially reduce the costs to those who are looking for this kind of information.

If this were done, I think we would see a tremendous increase in transparency. I think we would see a great reduction in the temptations for people, who perhaps might otherwise be the most honest people in the world, to get ahead in politics and in their search for the leadership of their party without finding any need to put themselves in either a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 6th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I do not usually comment on the content of question period. We all have our own views of how good or bad they were. I will instead refer to the government's legislative program.

This afternoon and this evening we will consider the business of supply with the opposed motions and so on. That takes place as it does normally, with the later completion of the appropriations bill.

Tomorrow we will do the following business. I would like to first call Bill C-53, the pest control bill, at report stage. Once that is completed we will then call Bill C-55, the public safety legislation. I believe those two bills should complete the day tomorrow.

Next Monday it is my intention to call the report stage of Bill C-5 and third reading of Bill C-5 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday of next week and/or after the completion of Bill C-5, I would then call Bill S-41 respecting legislative language. We will consider at that point an address to Her Majesty concerning the jubilee.

Once that is completed, and in the event the House wants to continue with other business, the bills I would call next Tuesday, subject of course to consultation between House leaders, would probably be the following: Bill C-19, the environmental protection legislation; Bill C-48, the copyright bill; and possibly Bill C-54, the sports bill which I understand should be out of committee sometime within the next short while.

That is the business I propose to call after we complete the address to Her Majesty that I described.

I also intend to consult with opposition House leaders to see if it is still their wish to hold the take note debate next Wednesday on the future of Canada's health care system.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 6th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been negotiations among political parties. I believe all opposition parties have a copy of a motion for which there has been tentative agreement. I would now like to offer it to the House. I invite them to consult a copy of the document that we have put together.

I ask for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice, in consideration of the report stage of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, the texts of report stage Motions Nos. 35, 84 and 96 shall be altered to read as provided in the document entitled “Proposed Revised Report Stage Motions at Report Stage of Bill C-5”, tabled in the House of Commons earlier this day on June 6, 2002, provided that these motions shall be deemed to remain in the same status for consideration by the House as the unaltered versions of the motions were at the time of the adoption of this order.

Bill C-5Routine Proceedings

June 6th, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.
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Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I am tabling in both official languages, a document entitled “Proposed Revised Report Stage Motions at Report Stage of Bill C-5”.

It is this document that is referred to in the notices of motions standing in the name of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Species at Risk ActRoutine Proceedings

June 5th, 2002 / 3:20 p.m.
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Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to lay upon the table, in both official languages of Canada, a document entitled “Proposed Revised Report Stage Motions at Report Stage of Bill C-5”.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 3rd, 2002 / 4:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the bill, as I do have a number of rural constituents although my riding is now close to 70% urban. Certainly I know that 30% well and in fact I am part of that constituency.

I want to start off by expressing my total displeasure with the use of closure in the House. Closure has been used 70 to 80 times since I have been here. It used to be that the government really thought about doing something like that. In fact a government could easily fall at the next election because of the use of closure. The government now uses closure in the House like we change our socks and thinks nothing of it. I hope the Canadian people are now seeing what they have because of not watching and keeping an eye on the government and providing pressure to keep it from doing this.

As far as the bill is concerned, obviously all of us would be opposed to any kind of cruelty to animals. We have to really differentiate between what we mean by cruelty and what we mean by strict agricultural practices.

The policy of the Canadian Alliance is pretty clear on that. The Canadian Alliance in no way condones intentional acts of cruelty toward animals and supports increasing the penalties for offences relating to such acts. However, while cruelty to animals cannot be tolerated, the criminal law should not be used as a tool by special interest groups to destroy the legitimate farming and related food production industry. We will strive to ensure that the legitimate use of animals by farmers, sportsmen and medical researchers is protected.

That pretty much sums up our position and where we stand. Anyone who portrays it any other way obviously has not listened to the words that I have just said and that our party and all our members stand for. Sometimes I even think that probably Air Canada is behind the bill because it certainly is opposed to serving any kind of meat products on its planes. I think most of us are getting tired of vegetarian pizza, vegetarian omelettes, vegetarian fajitas and all those things.

Let us talk about the bill itself. The critical point is that this is an assault on agriculture. The farmers see it as nothing else. They see an ongoing assault. We have to remember that farmers are 1.9 million Canadians creating about $26 billion in exports. In the province that I come from we have hundreds of trucks heading south with cattle every day to serve the huge market in the U.S., which adds directly to our GDP and is so important to our standard of living and what we all have in this country.

This attack on the agriculture industry has been going on for a long time. I suppose it has been going on from the beginning of the country's existence. There are all kinds of examples. We could talk about the Canadian Wheat Board. Certainly the people in my constituency feel that while it is an agency that was needed in the 1940s, it is now subject to real questions about marketing and about whether a bureaucracy, a monopoly, is the way to sell grain products. They feel that it is an assault on their rights and particularly when it only applies to the prairie provinces. It does not apply to farmers in Ontario, Quebec and so on. They definitely see that as an attack on the west.

As well, of course, and more recently, we had Bill C-68. I received 13,000 letters in my riding telling me to vote against that legislation. Obviously 13,000 letters on anything tells us what they thought about it and obviously they have been proven right. It does not work. Licensing and registering farmers, ranchers and duck hunters is not going to work and it is certainly not going to make any difference to the crime situation.

Then there is the bill that I have been involved with as the environment critic, Bill C-5. Again the people of my riding feel that is a direct assault on them as individuals and as farmers. They feel that the bill has to include compensation. If it is in fact going to affect their livelihood and their way of life, they obviously have to be compensated.

Bill C-15B is just another example of their concerns not being taken into consideration. They do not want anything special. They want to be treated as an industry that does the very best job. I must say that most of the farmers and ranchers I know care about those animals a lot. Those animals are their livelihood. They really care about those animals that do not have the calves in the spring or for some reason have been injured out in the field. They will go a long way to preserve those animals. Sure, there are practices that we may not necessarily like. Castration is certainly not a pleasant thing and neither are dehorning and those kinds of things, but they are necessary agricultural practices. The concern is that the bill will now impact on that industry. We have to remember that it is an industry providing a livelihood for a lot of Canadians and that it adds to our GDP.

As well, our farmers look at the subsidies out there, which Canada objects to. The recent OECD figures show that a U.S. wheat farmer gets 49% of his income from the government. An EU farmer gets 43% of his income from the government. In Canada the farmer gets 17% of his income from the government. Obviously they look at that and say that the government really does not care about a guaranteed food supply, that it really does not care about the agricultural industry. If the government did, it would be doing more to help farmers get over what are considerably tough times for them.

The member who spoke previously mentioned the rodeo. I do not know how many members of the House have been to a rodeo. I cannot say that I am a great fan of rodeo. I do not follow the rodeo around. I do not know how many points the people get. When I was in business I used to do a national finals rodeo tour down to Las Vegas and I saw the thousands of people who paid thousands of dollars to watch rodeo. I know that on every weekend in my constituency from now until October there will be a rodeo somewhere in my riding. Rodeo is a way of life. Those people live that very existence and it is part of the cultural base of western Canada.

I would love to take every member in the House to Daines Rodeo, just north of Innisfail, Alberta, so that they could get the feeling of being Canadian. There are Canadian flags everywhere. Girls carrying Canadian flags come in on their horses. It is quite a show. Calves get roped, but those calves almost look like they are smiling. They are used to it. They are bred for that. The horses are bred for that . There is a very specialized industry around the rodeo. It is entertainment. We can watch the NHL hockey games and maybe we think they are kind of brutal. Maybe they should be outlawed too, with no checking. The NHL could be a powder-puff league with no-hit hockey. Maybe that is what we should have. It is rough, but that is the sport. The first time I saw rugby being played in Australia, my God, I thought the players were going to kill each other.

What we really have here is an assault on the agricultural community. A rural caucus member said there is no problem, that the bill will be fixed in the Senate. That is a cop-out. That is giving in to pressure from the whip and saying what they think people want to hear. I hope that people in the riding of Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey will not be conned by this sort of garbage with members saying they will vote for the bill because it will be fixed in the Senate. That is not the way to be a good legislator and it is sure not the way one should act in this House.

PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, sometimes to get to that point it takes some basis of building up to the argument. I know the Speaker has been around a while but I wanted to ensure this was all put into the proper context.

In the last parliament the Reform Party offered a unique approach to filibuster. Since the government, under the current House leader, was in the habit of preventing filibusters by closing off debate early and often the Reform Party targeted voting instead of debate and introduced hundreds of motions causing the House to vote around the clock for 42 hours straight. The Bloc Quebecois used it for the clarity bill and so on.

The member for Red Deer argued that the species at risk debate was a successful classic textbook filibuster in that it raised the profile of a controversial issue in Bill C-5.

Why this story is so important is because the debate on Bill C-15B is just beginning to get the attention it needs. The Canadian Alliance has fought for stronger penalties for those who break the law, including individuals who abuse animals. We object to recent sentences for blatant animal abuse that were far below the maximum penalties. Clearly this is inadequate.

Unfortunately, because of the way Bill C-15B is currently worded many ranchers, hunters and medical researchers may be subjected to harassment. The Liberal cabinet states that the bill would protect farmers, ranchers and researchers but the argument has three fatal flaws. Farmers would have to hire lawyers.

PrivilegePrivate Members' Business

June 3rd, 2002 / 12:05 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question of privilege arises out of a motion that the government intends to move with respect to time allocation on Bill C-15B. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, on Friday the government House leader gave notice of his intention to close off debate on this important bill.

I must report that if the motion were moved it would be the 76th time a motion to curtail debate has been moved by the government. The last time this issue was raised with you, Mr. Speaker, the government's record was 69 times. I am aware that you were not sympathetic at that time, nor were you sympathetic on the several other occasions the issue of time allocation was raised. However I believe and I will argue that a Speaker does indeed have the authority to intervene in these matters and prevent a time allocation motion from going forward. It is not a matter of a Speaker having authority, but under which circumstances should a Speaker feel it necessary to intervene.

The government House leader should not be allowed to move his motion because the circumstances that justify an intervention exist more today than at any other time. The right of the opposition to prolong debate has not been respected by the government and one of the last tools the opposition had to slow down a majority government has been taken away. I am referring to the procedure developed by the Reform Party in the last parliament involving the report stage of a bill. Because it was so successful, the government took it away.

The right of the opposition to prolong debate is essential. Without it the public is left without an opposing point of view. We had one successful filibuster in this parliament and it was successful, not because of the opposition, but because the government allowed the filibuster to take place. Bill C-5 represents how essential it is to a democratic institution to have an opposition with the ability to prolong debate.

Let us consider the case of Bill C-5. The member for Red Deer made a good case for the virtues of a good, old fashioned filibuster that was published in a number of papers. He talked about the former Quebec Liberal Senator Philippe Gigantès, who filibustered the GST in the Senate for 17 hours and 45 minutes. Mr. Gigantès told the Hill Times that to delay legislation is the last great tool of democracy. Speaker Fraser put it this way in 1988 when he said:

It is essential to our democratic system that controversial issues should be debated at reasonable length so that every reasonable opportunity shall be available to hear the arguments pro and con, and that reasonable delaying tactics should be permissible to enable opponents of a measure to enlist public support for their point of view.

The member for Red Deer argued that if a filibuster is to be successful it must raise the profile of an issue and enlist enough public support to: put the necessary pressure on the government to back down, or make the government pay a price at the polls in the event it insists on passing the bill into law.

He described how the naval aid bill of 1913 represented the first time in Canadian parliamentary history that closure was ever used. The proposed legislation was introduced by the Conservative government of Sir Robert Borden and if adopted would have authorized the cash donation of $35 million to Great Britain for the construction of the Dreadnought class warships for its navy. Sir Wilfrid Laurier strongly opposed the bill and the Liberals filibustered throughout second reading and committee of the whole. At one point in committee of the whole they kept the whole House virtually in continuous session for as long as two weeks: the House sat from 3 o'clock on Monday March 3 until Saturday at midnight and then again from 3 o'clock on Monday March 10 to Saturday late in the evening. The naval bill was eventually defeated in the Liberal dominated Senate.

Closure was used again to close off the famous pipeline debate in 1956. Well known academic C.E.S. Franks said the pipeline debate was perhaps the most important debate in parliament's history and it had inaugurated the modern parliamentary age of both obstruction and reform.

The debate on the omnibus Energy Security Act of 1982 was made famous because the opposition caused the division bells to ring from 4.20 p.m. on Tuesday March 2, until 2.28 p.m.--

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 31st, 2002 / 1:10 p.m.
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Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today, like a number of other speakers, to acknowledge the work that the member of the Alliance for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley has put into the bill. It is one that I am happy to support.

When I first saw the bill it brought back to mind a trip that I had taken to the United Nations program in Nairobi, Kenya where there was a United Nations conference on biodiversity and a number of other issues. While we were there the delegation was taken to a national wildlife park which was adjacent to and almost a part of Nairobi. We were taken to this one site to see some of the wildlife.

There was a plaque there commemorating the burning of elephant tusks. This was the response of the Kenyan government to the international trade in ivory. It undermined in a significant way that trade by destroying a great deal of ivory. This was ivory which had been confiscated after the poachers had been apprehended. I am told, although I must say it is secondhand information, that it was just a huge pile. There were literally tonnes of tusks of ivory that were burned at that time.

When I saw the member's bill it brought back that image because at the time I thought how desperate that government must have been for it take that action. I then look at some of the arguments that we are hearing, particularly from the government, about the bill going too far and how it cannot support it.

It makes me wonder if we as a government ever want to find ourselves in that type of a situation. Obviously the answer is that we do not. Therefore, the House must take all necessary steps within our legislative, constitutional and criminal law framework to protect the wildlife in this country.

It is important that people understand the role that Canada must play in the protection of wildlife on the planet as a whole. We make the mistake, because of the familiarity of our own situation, of looking to Africa and saying that it has a lot of work to do to protect its wildlife because it is under such pressure. That of course is true. We may do the same thing if we look at Australia. The reality is that Canada is in a similar boat. The biodiversity that we have is among the greatest in the world. We have a stewardship responsibility to protect and enhance wildlife. Bill C-292 is a way of doing that.

Just within the last week or 10 days there was a rather in depth report which came out of the same United Nations office in Nairobi. Scientists were sending back information and having it compiled about the threat to wildlife around the world. Their estimate was that no matter what we do and how hard we push right now, today and into the future, we will lose 25% of all species across the globe.

There were something like 1,000 scientists around the globe who contributed to that study. These were the top environmentalists in the world on the issue of biodiversity and the whole issue of protecting the environment for our wildlife. No matter what we do we will lose 25%.

I come back to the bill and say it is a very small part. When I hear the government say it cannot even do that little bit, I ask where is our responsibility? Are we upholding our responsibility? Where is the stewardship role? Is Canada and the Canadian government responding properly to it?

We are not responding properly to it because all we have to do is look at what happened with Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation. It was promised by the government in one of its red books in 1993. There have been three incarnations of it and it is stalled in the House because the Liberals cannot get their act together.

The bill came back to the House significantly amended and reflected a great deal of hard work by members from all sides of the House. There was a serious attempt on the part of the minister and his department to gut it, to minimize it, and not to provide any protection at all for our wildlife.

We have been working for over nine years on that bill in one form or another and we still do not have it. We promised this at Rio in 1992. We have signed a number of protocols since then as a country, committing ourselves to protect the biodiversity of the planet, in Canada's case, and we have done an abysmal job of living up to those responsibilities.

It is a simple bill which says if a person were to trade, sell or kill wildlife for the purposes of profit, that person would face criminal charges. I probably would have said to the parliamentary secretary in law school that he is nitpicking on this issue of whether the bill should be a dual procedure offence. If he felt strongly about that, he should support it and send it to committee and move an amendment to include it both as a summary conviction offence and an indictable offence. It is a simple solution and not a basis to oppose the bill.

I take umbrage on the whole argument that it is a regulatory function and not a criminal matter. I totally reject that. The member may want to take a look at the supreme court decisions on Hydro-Québec and the more recent Hudson case in its analysis as to what it is prepared to allow. To suggest that it would be constitutionally unsupportable flies in the face of the logic, reasoning and basis for both those court decisions.

The Supreme Court of Canada is saying it would bend over backward on any legislation if it were to protect the environment and our wildlife. That is what the bill is about. It would go some distance to send a clear message, assuming the government would then take the second step to enforce it, to tell people who are prepared to traffic in animal and animal parts that we will not put up with it any more.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 31st, 2002 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec


Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-292.

Bill C-292 is the proposed legislation to deal with the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts. I would like to say to the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley that her motivation behind the bill is admirable.

However, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation and on behalf of the government, I want to express the government's views as well as my own views because I have read the bill quite carefully and have researched the criminal code to see what actually exists in it.

As the government we fully support, as I do personally, ensuring that wildlife is preserved and protected in the best possible way, and that preservation and protection certainly has to extend to species at risk.

In fact there are many years of conservation actions behind us in Canada, and there are a number of statutes that are already on the books that accomplish the goal that the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley seeks to address with Bill C-292.

Let me speak about the tools that this particular private member's bill would create. The proposed legislation would create three indictable offences under the criminal code for selling wildlife or wildlife parts or for killing, capturing or possessing wildlife or wildlife parts for the purpose of selling them.

Under the proposal there would be exemptions from prosecutions for people who sell wildlife in accordance with a licence permit or an exemption order. The bill also says that the sale of threatened or endangered species would mean high penalties and that all offences would be subject to the money laundering provisions of the criminal code.

As the House may have noted at the outset of my remarks, these are admirable objectives and I commend the member for her bill. I cannot deny it. I do not think anyone else would deny that these objectives are in fact admirable.

I applaud, and I am sure that my colleagues would probably be unanimous in applauding, the notion behind these objectives. However we want to make sure that there is a good fit with other legislation in place or pending. This is very important.

I am a lawyer by training and I have had the privilege of practising in the area of administrative law. I know firsthand the difficulties that can happen at times when drafters of one piece of legislation have not done complete and adequate research of all the legislation that could impact on or have some bearing to a particular area or jurisdiction and we end up with anomalies.

That is one of the reasons even the government, either through the Senate or by its own bill, brings in bills to clean up, clarify or correct errors in past legislation that has already been adopted.

Looking at Bill C-292 and looking at the provisions that already exist under the criminal code for example, as well as other legislation, clearly Bill C-292 is not a good fit with the legislation that is already in place. I am not even talking about legislation that may be pending before the House at this time.

Therefore I would like to point out that in the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, known as WAPPRIITA, there are dual procedure offences. These are also found in the Canada Wildlife Act.

Dual procedure offences mean that they can begin with a summary conviction or with an indictment. The maximum prison term set out for proceeding by indictment in both statutes do not exceed five years.

Let us also consider a piece of legislation that is currently pending, the government sponsored Bill C-5, the species at risk act. That bill as I mentioned, currently pending, is at report stage in the House of Commons.

One of the offences created in Bill C-5 is the prohibition on the killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking of a wildlife species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Bill C-5 also includes a prohibition on the possession, collecting, buying, selling or trading of a wildlife species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened.

There is some overlap between this offence and the ones outlined in existing legislation, as well as the offences set out in the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-292.

Bill C-292 provides only indictable offences. The maximum prison terms vary from two years to eight years, depending on whether the offence is a first or subsequent one and whether the wildlife involved is an endangered species.

The question here is not that we need to do this. The question here is whether it is already being done and, if it is already being done, is it being done in a better way.

Is Bill C-292 the best way to accomplish the goal? Are the provisions about prohibiting behaviour that is traditionally associated with parliament's exercise of its criminal law power. Or perhaps we should say that Bill C-292 is describing a public welfare offence traditionally associated with regulatory matters in a civil context.

That is why I believe this approach is inconsistent with the classification of offences elsewhere in the criminal code.

The sale of wildlife, as I have previously mentioned and hope I have demonstrated, is well covered in existing legislation. Therefore Bill C-292 is a duplication and in my view is not necessary. I also submit that in many cases we would be using the heavy hand of the criminal code for some sales that would be considered quite minor, such as the sale of a few muskrat pelts or of one skin. I truly believe we do not need such a heavy approach.

Let me explain further. The offence of sexual assault is classified as a dual procedure offence, which means that the crown may elect to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment. From a policy point of view, it would appear inconsistent to classify the selling of wildlife as an indictable offence when other offences considered much more serious by Canadian society are classified as dual procedure offences.

I will not get into the cost implications to the provinces and territories if they were straight indictable offences, but I do call on the members of the House to remember that under the Canadian system provincial governments are those with the constitutional powers to regulate the use and protection of wildlife on provincial land.

I will not be supporting the bill but I do commend the member for White Rock--South Surrey--Langley for her good intentions with this.