An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

Sponsor

David Anderson  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

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.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

May 14th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 6:56 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck,

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act--Chapter No. 18; Bill C-20, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts--Chapter 19; Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act--Chapter 20; Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences--Chapter 21; Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004--Chapter 22; and Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa)--Chapter 23.

I also have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 9:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act--Chapter 24.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

May 7th, 2004 / 10:45 a.m.
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Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak on this bill, which is overall an interesting piece of legislation. It imposes harsher penalties on shipping companies that illegally dump toxic substances at sea. When we get to committee, moreover, we will have to examine the issue very carefully to make sure there are no loopholes. We have already seen the loopholes that were left in Bill C-28, loopholes relating to tax perks for the shipping industry. We need to be sure that the same thing does not happen with this bill, and that there are no possibilities for certain companies to get around the law.

This bill also confers considerable authority on game officers when it becomes necessary to intervene with respect to shipping companies behaving in a manner that may or may not be illegal. Human rights must be protected, however. In committee, we will pay particular attention to these particular aspects of the bill.

Obviously prevention is also important. The focus should be less on the ability to clean up after an oil spill—take the Exxon Valdez for example—and more on imposing conditions to prevent this type of accident from happening. Constraints have to be strong enough to prevent companies from being in a major environmental disaster situation.

Nonetheless, I would have liked this bill to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act to address other issues as well. In my riding, for instance, the environment minister is currently trying to eliminate sanctuaries for geese that use the banks of the St. Lawrence as a place to stop on their migration north or south, depending on the time of year. The federal government had set up sanctuaries to keep hunters out of certain areas, L'Islet, in particular, where the sanctuary ended up being set up in a schoolyard. Hunters are particularly unwelcome in that setting because reopening the hunt would be dangerous for the children and the entire community.

The same kind of situation exists at Trois-Saumons. Everyone in the field agrees that the sanctuaries should be maintained in the future and that the federal government should withdraw its proposal to make them disappear. At one time, it was said that there were too many snow geese. The new spring hunt has taken place for several years and has brought things into much more reasonable proportions. It is as if the bureaucratic machinery had had the goal, three or four years ago, of using the disappearance of the sanctuaries as a way of decreasing the flocks of snow geese. Today, we no longer need this measure.

I would have liked this bill to give us much more serious guarantees. Of course, there is the question of maritime accidents. Action could be taken, nevertheless, under the bird protection legislation. They move from country to country; they have no borders. Therefore, I think it would have been relevant to have more of an omnibus bill covering other aspects of this field.

The same thing is true of the spring hunt. An experiment has been conducted and the results so far are clear. The pilot project could have turned into a provision in the law. Indeed, it has an interesting economic impact and an interesting ecological impact. The species had truly multiplied too rapidly and that could have created health problems for entire flocks. There is also an impact on the land where the geese stop over—obviously a negative impact—especially on farmland.

In recent years, there have been a number of problem situations. The UPA has had to argue frequently to ensure that, when the geese are migrating, the farmers are compensated for their losses. The explosive growth in the flocks has meant that the geese go farther and farther inland. They land in cultivated fields. In half a day they can easily destroy all possible production in that field. For a farmer, this has a serious economic impact.

There are currently programs to compensate farmers. However, we should have taken the opportunity provided by this bill to improve these programs and to involve farmers in the environmental operation that we are conducting. This could be done in a more concrete fashion and we must ensure that the federal government truly does its share in this regard. Indeed, it is ironic that, while the federal government wants to get involved in many areas in which it has no business, there are other areas—such as migratory birds—in which it is not fulfilling its responsibilities.

Earlier, I gave the examples of the sanctuaries that they are trying to eliminate. This is a bad decision. Incidentally, the whole community in my region shares this view, whether it is people from l'Islet, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli or, more generally, from the l'Islet RCM.

It is the same thing regarding the whole issue of spring hunting. The federal government is not doing enough. It should do more.

This is a bill which, on the whole, is interesting, but it should be much broader in scope, it should be a kind of omnibus bill to improve the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Also, when the bill is reviewed in committee, we will have to take a closer look at the issue of overlapping jurisdictions. It is important to respect provincial jurisdictions. Incidentally, we are told that the Quebec Liberal Party, which is not a sovereignist party, recognizes the existence of a problem in this regard. A document on the priorities of the Quebec Liberal Party includes a strong commitment to this effect. It says that the provincial government will have to:

Negotiate with the Government of Canada to obtain jurisdiction over Quebec's freshwater bodies (lakes, rivers, bogs, wetlands), which will allow us to better monitor aquatic activities.

This is a jurisdiction where things must be clearly defined. We must ensure that the federal government discharges its responsibilities without encroaching upon Quebec's responsibilities. Therefore, if the measures contained in this bill ever had an impact on areas under Quebec's jurisdiction, there would eventually have to be an agreement on what is acceptable. We must not create a situation where, on the one hand, the federal government legislates and, on the other hand, provincial governments are faced with court cases for something that is not their responsibility in the first place. Obviously, it will be very important to ensure that this kind of legal wrangling does not occur.

It is absolutely essential that we focus on prevention to avoid spills. We must ensure that rules set out to prevent spills, the fines and the various actions that can be taken are so clear and precise that all ship owners will understand perfectly that it is much better for them to make the necessary investments and take all the required safety measures than to have to suffer the consequences of a spill that could cause considerable environmental damage.

It is certainly very spectacular but, above all, very sad when environmental mishaps occur because adequate measures were not taken to prevent them.

Hopefully this bill will cover all possible situations. Hopefully there will be no loophole allowing people to get off scot-free. Nobody in the shipping industry should get special treatment.

In this respect, let us hope that the past will not be an indication of the future. Certain harmful behaviours proved that the federal government had granted special treatment to corporations. In so doing, it weakened the law making it less credible and less viable.

I hope that, at committee stage, we will meet witnesses who will tell us what should be changed in the bill. I hope the government will be open to amending the bill. I dare hope that it will even be open to broadening its scope to make it an omnibus bill and include changes to the legislation on migratory birds to answer the questions I raised before. I hope to see that kind of attitude on the part of the federal government.

For instance, the bill expands the area over which the law applies. It will be possible to inspect and search a vessel and direct it to a Canadian port if the offence took place within the 200 nautical mile limit. The current legislation is limited to 12 miles. I see that as an interesting improvement. The 12 nautical mile limit is the limit for the fisheries. It would be interesting to have a larger one for migratory birds.

The bill is also designed to deal with the uncertainty regarding the three departments that are involved when a polluting vessel is stopped. If things can be clarified it will simplify operations and it would be good to do so. In fact, it will allow for more coherent actions and will give much more satisfying results in the end.

As a whole, this bill is interesting. It remains to be seen if it goes far enough to make owners of vessels accountable. We believe that it is essential to get expert opinion. The shipping world is full of numbered and intermediary companies in charge of managing vessels. This opens the door to a lot of loopholes. The criminal responsibility of corporations must be very clearly defined.

There must be a balance between the powers given to game officers and the protection afforded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In conclusion, the bill is worthy of our support. It is important to send it to committee as soon as possible. We expect the government to be open-minded so as to make this a truly airtight bill that will cover all possible situations to prevent environmental accidents linked to waste being dumped by vessels.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2004 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the passing of Bill C-28 would rectify an error made to the detriment of the Keeseekoowenin First Nation and solve the acute housing shortage on the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

If its passing allows us to make progress on the quality of life and land claims of these first nations, it is largely thanks to Parks Canada's work, which has transformed the Canadian government's commitment to enhance its relationship with aboriginal peoples into reality.

In 2000, land from Riding Mountain National Park was removed and given to the Keeseekoowenin First Nation. At that time, the government was re-establishing that reserve. Subsequently, the government determined that a survey error had been made when five hectares were not returned with the original parcel. The government, through Bill C-28, is correcting that oversight now.

The Riding Mountain field unit consists of Riding Mountain National Park of Canada and the Riding Mountain East Gate Registration Complex national historic site of Canada. Established in 1929, Riding Mountain National Park protects approximately 3,000 square kilometres of ecosystems representative of the southern boreal plains and plateaux natural region of Canada.

Build in 1933-34, the Riding Mountain East Gate Registration Complex national historic site was designated in 1992 and is a significant example of the rustic design traditions and early auto tourism of the 1930s. The national park is a part of the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, designated under UNESCO's “Man in the Biosphere” program in 1985.

In 2002, approximately 350,000 visitors took advantage of the programs and services delivered in the national park and national historic site in this field unit.

There are six first nations reserves within 100 kilometres of the park, falling geographically within three different treaty areas. Three of these reserves are located south of the national park boundary, with one, reserve 61A, falling within the national park on the northwest shore of Clear Lake. A ministerial agreement exists with Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation for the Senior Officials Forum, whose objectives are to develop more positive, productive and mutually beneficial working relations.

The community of Wasagaming is located in Riding Mountain National Park and provides recreational, educational and cultural activity for visitors to the park. The community contains 525 cabins, 254 cottage lots and 37 commercial leases.

The Riding Mountain field unit employs 60 people year round and 170 people in the summer. It is estimated that the socio-economic benefits to the region are $50 million annually.

Employment of people of aboriginal heritage currently represents 15.7% of the field unit workforce, an increase from 7.2% in 1998 and exceeding the province of Manitoba workforce availability by 10%, the Parks Canada representation at 8.2% and the national aboriginal labour market availability at 2.5%. However--and we must work on this--the majority of these positions are entry level.

The Senior Officials Forum was established through ministerial agreement in 1998 between Parks Canada and the KOFN with the objective of achieving a mutually beneficial, positive and productive working relationship that would assist in resolving issues of common concern and common interest. A contribution agreement was approved in 1999 in support of the forum.

A concept for the establishment of a coalition of first nations with interests in Riding Mountain National Park is currently being discussed with nine first nations who are members of the West Region Tribal Council. The coalition, if successful, would provide opportunities for discussion and resolution of issues that are of mutual interest to both Parks Canada and the first nations.

In relation to Bill C-28, in 1896 land on the north shore of Clear Lake in the province of Manitoba was set aside as an Indian Reserve 61A to be used by the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation as a fishing station. The Indian reserve was located within a Dominion Timber Reserve.

When Riding Mountain National Park was created in 1929, it included most of the Dominion Timber Reserve and Indian Reserve 61A. The Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation was relocated outside of the national park.

A specific land claim settlement agreement concluded in 1994 between Canada and the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation re-established 61A. Most of the associated lands were removed from Riding Mountain in 2000 with the passage of the Canada National Parks Act.

Due to an error in the preparation of the legal description for the land removal, a five hectare strip of land was omitted and remained within the park. The amendments to the Canada National Parks Act would fully re-establish Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation Reserve 61A and rectify the error that occurred.

I think we are dealing with a pretty straightforward situation. The government made an error and Bill C-28 would rectify it.

In the case of the Esowista Reserve, lands are being removed to address a housing shortage on the reserve. The reserve was a seasonal reserve for fishing, which due to population growth has become a place of full time residence. Consultations were conducted with stakeholders, including local communities and environmental organizations, who recognized the unique nature of the situation and agreed the land must be provided to the first nations.

British Columbia agrees that the province and federal government must work together. Environmental assessments have been done and the area that will be given to first nations is the area that will be least impacted. Moreover, environmental assessments will continue to be done through the $2 million mitigation fund. In no way are parks being closed. The parks would remain open and available to all Canadians protecting the ecosystems these two parks represent.

It is time to correct the mistakes in Riding Mountain National Park and address the situation in the Esowista Reserve. I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2004 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Christian Jobin Liberal Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to share some thoughts with you on Bill C-28, the purpose of which is essentially, as other colleagues have pointed out, to transfer lands from two national parks to two adjacent Indian reserves.

Most Canadians are aware that Parks Canada is the agency to which the federal government has entrusted the mandate of protecting and showcasing examples representative of our unique natural and cultural heritage.

To that end, Parks Canada has created three major components. Two of these, National Parks of Canada and National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada, deal with representative examples of our natural heritage, land and marine respectively. The other, National Historic Sites and Historic Canals, is responsible for Canada's program of historical commemoration, which recognizes nationally significant places, persons and events.

That is not all. Parks Canada also directs or coordinates other programs aimed at preserving other aspects of Canada's heritage, including federal heritage buildings, heritage railway stations, heritage rivers, the gravesites of Canadian Prime Ministers, and archeology.

Activities associated with the management and operation of Parks Canada focus on maintaining the ecological integrity of our national parks, the commemorative integrity of our national historic sitesand the viable use of our national marine conservation areas.

This is consistent with the federal government's commitment to put the principles of sustainable development into action.

In its most recent action plan tabled in this House, Parks Canada also stated the major directions it would take over the next five years.

One of the fundamental elements is the commitment to get Canadians more involved in all facets of Parks Canada. This is a matter of shifting from a culture of consultation to a culture of involvement.

We also need to recognize the important economic contribution made by heritage areas. Almost one-quarter of Canadians visited a national park last year and 2.5 million visited a national historic site, contributing more than $1.2 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product.

Heritage places are often the main economic driver in many rural and isolated communities in particular. Every dollar the Government of Canada invests in Parks Canada generates economic spinoffs of $3.50. This certainly has a significant multiplier effect.

This is why Parks Canada, with the support of the Canadian tourism industry, is now putting the emphasis on the notion of sustainable tourism. This is perfectly compatible with the desire to provide visitors with the best possible experiences and with the agency's public education mandate. However, to achieve this goal, the agency must first be able to welcome these visitors.

The reality is that the heritage assets for which Parks Canada is responsible are deteriorating. The Auditor General pointed this out in her previous report. Close to two thirds of our national historic sites are in a state that ranges from poor to marginal. In light of these figures, the Auditor General reminded us that once a heritage asset is lost, it is lost forever.

The places that have marked Canada's history can take various forms. It can be a building, a battlefield, a shipwreck, a park, a sacred aboriginal site, a bridge, a house, a burial site, a railway station, a whole urban neighbourhood, ruins, a school, a channel, a court of justice, a theatre or even a market.

During the last generation, one fifth of these historic sites have disappeared. This is why the Government of Canada has launched a broad consultation process on how to best preserve and commemorate our country's historic sites. These consultations led to an exhaustive strategy for historic sites.

I should point out that the historic places initiative is mentioned as an excellent example of federal-provincial-territorial cooperation.

Parks Canada's business plan also reflects the agency's desire to put more emphasis on aboriginal people. Some of the places where the history of aboriginal people was written take us back up to 10,000 years.

Moreover, we must recognize that Parks Canada would be unable to establish and to manage the majority of new national parks and new national historic sites without their enthusiastic and committed help.

Parks Canada seeks to respond to this enthusiasm by working closely with aboriginals at the local, regional and national levels.

The CEO of the agency says that he is convinced that the wise counsel of elders and chiefs will make it possible to continue on the road of restoration and learning. The bill accomplishes just that.

By taking lands from national parks without affecting their ecological integrity to solve serious housing problems and to correct an ongoing irritant, the Government of Canada shows that it is firmly committed to improving the lot of aboriginals and that it wants to preserve the ecological health of the treasures that are our national parks.

I therefore invite my colleagues to join with me in passing Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2004 / 12:45 p.m.
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Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Liberal

John Harvard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House on the occasion of the third reading of Bill C-28.

Canada has the distinction of having established the first national park system in the world. Over the decades, this system has grown to 41 national parks and reserves, preserving for future generations almost 265,000 square kilometres of lands and waters, and there are plans to add an additional 100,000 square kilometres through the creation of eight more national parks. This legacy is possible because aboriginal people have worked with us to create many of these new national parks.

The creation and management of national parks is a delicate balance between preserving ecologically significant areas of importance to wildlife and meeting economic and social needs of communities, including those of aboriginal people. Parks Canada has increasingly worked in partnership with aboriginal people and communities to achieve these mutually supportive goals.

Bill C-28 is an important part of that effort, a bill which strives to provide for the aboriginal people of Esowista while working to maintain the ecological integrity of a national park whose focus is the preservation of the northern temperate rainforest, one of the earth's truly magnificent ecosystems.

The Government of Canada is committed to working with aboriginal people and other Canadians and stakeholders to protect other examples of our precious natural heritage through the creation of new national parks and national marine conservation areas.

In October 2002, the government announced an action plan to substantially complete Canada's system of national parks by creating 10 new parks over the next five years. This will expand the system by almost 50%, with the total area spanning nearly the size of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Five new national marine conservation areas will also be created.

Canada is blessed with exceptional natural treasures. We owe it to Canadians and to the world to protect these lands and waters.

This action plan calls on Parks Canada to work with all of our partners, the provinces and territories, aboriginal and rural communities, industry, and environmental groups and others, to complete this effort.

In March 2003, a little more than a year ago, the government allocated $144 million over five years and $29 million annually thereafter toward this effort.

This action plan has already produced two new national parks. The new Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada protects 33 square kilometres of ecologically rare land in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

At over 20,000 square kilometres, Ukkusiksalik National Park of Canada protects virtually an entire watershed close to the Arctic circle in Nunavut. This park is the product of an agreement between the Government of Canada and the Inuit of Nunavut, forged over several decades of hard work, all focused on protecting land, water, caribou and polar bear for present and future generations.

Specific sites for more national parks have been selected in other natural regions across Canada: the southern Okanagan; lower Similkameen in interior British Columbia; Labrador's Torngat Mountains and Mealy Mountains; Manitoba's lowland boreal forests; Bathurst Island in Nunavut; and the east arm of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Sites for the two remaining national parks are being identified by Parks Canada.

The government is also working with partners to establish five new national marine conservation areas, adding an estimated 15,000 square kilometres to the system. This will be a major step forward for global conservation of marine habitat. Canada has the world's longest coastline and 7% of its fresh water.

These national marine conservation areas will be located in ecologically unrepresented marine regions. Four sites have been identified, including Gwaii Haanas off British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands, western Lake Superior, British Columbia's southern Strait of Georgia and the waters off Îles de la Madeleine. A site for the remaining national marine conservation area has yet to be finalized.

In addition, the government will accelerate its actions over the next five years to improve the ecological integrity of Canada's 41 existing national parks. This will implement the action plan arising from the panel on the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks, whose report was endorsed by the government in April 2000, four years ago. Parks Canada, in order to achieve its mandate to protect ecological integrity, will have to work closely with aboriginal people and communities to ensure that we work toward common conservation goals.

Nowhere will this be more important than in the area of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and the Esowista Indian reserve. Bill C-28 reflects our common goals of protecting the park while meeting the economic and social needs of the reserve's aboriginal people.

Bill C-28 reconciles the aspirations of Canadians for this national park and the aspirations of aboriginal people for their reserve. In the broader context, the government's action plan is the most ambitious action plan to expand and protect national parks and national marine conservation areas in over 100 years, since Banff National Park, Canada's first, was established way back in 1885.

It is a plan that requires the support of aboriginal people to achieve and I look forward to that day.

I urge the members of the House of Commons to give speedy passage to Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2004 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak to third reading of Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act. This legislation would remove lands from the Pacific Rim National Park reserve and the Riding Mountain National Park for Indian reserve purposes.

Other hon. members have spoken to the specifics of this bill and about Parks Canada's national parks program and its celebration of our natural heritage. I would like to take a moment to speak about Parks Canada's cultural heritage program, the National Historic Site Program.

Based on its “National Historic Sites of Canada System Plan 2000”, Parks Canada will continue to mark the historic achievements of Canadians, in particular aboriginal peoples, women and ethnocultural communities. Parks Canada's goal is to bring about 135 new designations of national historic significance within a five year window, including 55 destinations specifically commemorating the history of aboriginal people, ethnocultural communities and women.

It should be understood that while the Minister of the Environment and Parks Canada are responsible for officially honouring the designated places or people, the actual choice of designations is made by the minister on the advice of the independent Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Any Canadian individual, group or government can make a formal submission to the board. This is a very thoughtful process we have created.

That said, it takes time, effort and extensive know-how to learn about the process and to complete the requisite submission. The process is rigorous because Canadians expect any national historic recognition to have deep meaning and importance. Parks Canada has launched major efforts in the past few years to ensure that more Canadians know how to initiate and complete a submission.

A good example is a major outreach program to ethnocultural communities launched last year. The program consisted of both information meetings and user-friendly education material. Parks Canada is going to communities and asking for their participation rather than waiting for communities to come to it.

The agency's recent efforts have ensured that sufficient nominations have been submitted to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board to meet its overall goal of an annual average of 27 new designations. Parks Canada is confident that it will achieve its targeted goal of 11 new designations a year specifically related to the achievement of ethnocultural communities, women and aboriginal peoples.

To achieve the three strategic designation priorities--women, aboriginal and ethnocultural communities--identified in the system plan, Parks Canada will maintain its focus on partnership efforts with aboriginal people, build awareness of the commemoration program, expand its work with ethnocultural communities, and strengthen its planning related to the history of women. The target for designations will be reviewed annually with the aim to ensure that historic achievements of Canadians of both genders and from all backgrounds are appropriately honoured by the nation.

As it moves forward with its system plan, Parks Canada can take pride in the achievements to date in celebrating aboriginal people's history through commemoration of significant people, places and events.

Let us look at a number of these sites in more detail. Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung National Historic Site, also known as Manitou Mounds, is near Fort Frances, Ontario. Parks Canada's partnership with the Rainy River first nation will ensure that this site, an important aboriginal religious and ceremonial ground for 2,000 years, is conserved and presented to all Canadians.

Chiefswood National Historic Site on the Six Nations Grand River reserve in southwestern Ontario is the birthplace of famed poet-performer Pauline Johnson. Chiefswood is being developed as a museum by the Six Nations Council in partnership with Parks Canada. Pauline Johnson has also been designated a person of national historic significance.

Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia is now also commemorated as a national historic site, recognizing first nations use and occupation of the land. The earliest inhabitants of this park were Maritime Archaic Indians about 4,500 years ago. They were followed by the nomadic Woodland Indians who set up seasonal campsites along Kejimkujik's rivers and lake shores.

The Mi'kmaq, descendants of these people, have called this area home for the last 2,000 years. It is they who have produced the park's famous petroglyphs that represent the lifestyle, art and observations of the Mi'kmaq people in the 18th and 19th centuries. The park is administered by Parks Canada for all Canadians, but a Mi'kmaq network has been established to provide Parks Canada with advice on Kejimkujik from band members, elders, and political and spiritual organizations.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was designated a national historic site in 1968. It is one of the world's oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps known to exist. In 1981 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has been used continuously by aboriginal peoples of the plains for more than 5,500 years and is known around the world as a remarkable testimony to pre-contact life. As a world heritage site, the jump is among such other world attractions as the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge and the Galapagos Islands.

Parks Canada is only one of the circle of friends that has provided support for a first nations-owned national historic site in Saskatchewan. Wanuskewin Heritage Park was created to be both a heritage park and a first nations centre. Wanuskewin became a reality in June 1992 and hundreds of thousands of people have visited this model of cross cultural partnership since opening day. Over 14,000 school children participate in cultural and educational programs at Wanuskewin each year.

Batoche was declared a national historic site in 1923. Its commemoration initially focused on the armed conflict between the Canadian government and the Métis provisional government in 1885. Today, Batoche also commemorates the history of the Métis community and is the home of Métis culture and heritage.

Surviving portions of the Carlton Trail and river-lot system and the roles of first nations in the Northwest Rebellion resistance are also commemorated. Administered by Parks Canada, the site benefits from a formally established shared management board with the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.

Among persons of national historic significance, we might mention Mokwina, not a single man but several who held the name as a hereditary title given to the chiefs of the Mowachaht First Nation confederacy in British Columbia.

Nagwichoonjik national historic site is in the Northwest Territories. It covers that part of the Mackenzie River between Thunder River and Point Separation. It is of national historic significance due to its prominent position within the Gwichya Gwich'in cultural landscape. The Mackenzie River flows through Gwichya Gwich'in traditional homeland and is culturally, socially and spiritually significant to the people. Gwichya Gwich'in express the importance of the river through their oral histories, which trace important events from the beginning of the land to the present.

Gwichya Gwich'in history is told through names given along the river, the history and stories associated with these areas, and the experience drawn from these stories. The river acted as a transportation route, allowing Gwichya Gwich'in to gather in large numbers to dance, feast and play games during the summer. Archaeological evidence supports Gwichya Gwich'in oral histories concerning the importance of the Mackenzie River. Sites along the river show extensive pre-contact fisheries and stone quarries, which have ensured Gwichya Gwich'in survival through the centuries.

Canada's national historic sites are part of a larger family of special heritage places which include national parks and national marine conservation areas. They stretch from coast to coast to coast, from the Arctic to the Great Lakes and from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Together, the national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas tell the story of Canada, with each one contributing its own unique story and sense of place and time. These special places have been set aside for the benefit of all Canadians.

Protecting our heritage is a national enterprise and can only be achieved through collaborative relationships. Just as aboriginal people help Parks Canada advance its mandate, Parks Canada endeavours to assist aboriginal communities. Bill C-28 is a good example of just such an initiative and I ask all members of the House to give speedy passage to Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2004 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

I look forward to hearing the discussion on it by the member for Medicine Hat.

These land removals can only be done by amending the National Parks Act, which is what we are discussing today.

There has been broad public support, including support from affected first nations, provincial first nation groups, provincial, regional and district governments, including environmental NGOs.

The environmental assessment suggests impacts can be mitigated and the removal of lands will not unduly compromise the ecological integrity of Pacific Rim. There will be no impact on Riding Mountain.

No additional funding is required by Parks Canada or DIAND, and a $2.5 million mitigation fund will be provided to Parks Canada by DIAND.

The outcome of these minor amendments will be that the removal of lands from Pacific Rim will resolve the critical housing problems in Esowista and improve the quality of life of its residents. The removal of lands from Riding Mountain Park will fulfil Canada's obligation to re-establish an Indian reserve. Of course, it will strengthen our relationships with those aboriginal communities.

As I said at the beginning, there will be a minimum impact on the ecological integrity of Pacific Rim Park. That is the one aspect I want to talk about today.

The excising of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to provide for the expansion of the Esowista Indian Reserve has raised a question of whether this has implications for the ecological integrity of Pacific Rim. I am pleased to address this question directly.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is located on the beautiful western coast of Vancouver Island. It is a narrow strip of lush rain forest buffeted by Pacific winds and waves. It is a landscape intertwined with first nations' history and culture. This reality is embedded in the art of the west coast first nations. The representation of ecological elements of the forests as well as the adjoining waters is a characteristic of this art. One has only to recall the marvellous works at the hands of the late Bill Reid.

This is the culture that will dominate the management of the future Indian reserve lands currently within the park. It is a culture that matches with the primary purpose of all national parks, the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity of national parks.

As was intended, the report was very frank in pointing out the challenges that face our national parks. It confirms that most of Canada's national parks have been progressively losing precisely those important natural components which they are dedicated to protect. Accordingly, the panel has called for a fundamental reaffirmation of the legislative framework that protects the parks, together with policies to conserve these places and the appropriation of funds necessary to support these efforts.

Parks Canada committed itself to implementing the report and the recommendations fully insofar as it was legislatively and fiscally possible. It is now being done with full dialogue with all affected parties and is helped tremendously by the funding announced in the budget of 2003.

Parks Canada's first priority is to maintain or restore the ecological integrity of our national parks. This was prescribed by the governing legislation, the Canada National Parks Act, proclaimed in February 2001. Clause 8 states:

--the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity through the protection of natural resources and processes, shall be the first priority when considering all aspects of the management of parks.

Why is ecological integrity so important? It is important because the loss of natural features and processes deprives Canadians of the opportunity to use and enjoy these places for the purposes for which they were intended. Loss of ecological integrity contradicts the very purposes for which our parks were set aside and constitutes an irreversible loss of heritage to both current and future generations.

Thus, by making ecological integrity our priority, we are also making people our priority by protecting our precious heritage places, now and forever.

Achieving the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity also means putting science first. Parks Canada is committed to become a science-based organization. This includes traditional ecological knowledge.

Our parks and our national historic sites are very important symbols of Canada. Canadians, through personal visits and other learning mechanisms, can use these places to enhance their pride and knowledge of Canada and Canadians.

Parks Canada is committed to an expanded outreach program to convey accurate, interesting and up to date information to Canadians. I am sure many people have seen the tremendous visitor sites at Canada's national parks and the various interpretative programs for those visiting the parks. The provision of information by the Internet is a priority for Parks Canada. This approach is paying off, as millions are visiting the Parks Canada website on a monthly basis from not only Canada but also from countries such as Australia, Japan, Italy and Germany.

This type of proactive outreach continues to intensify and is aimed at our urban areas. The objective is, in effect, to bring our national parks and their values to people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit them or may visit them only infrequently.

Our marketing programs emphasize the primary conservation purposes of our national parks. Accordingly, visitors are encouraged to understand and respect these purposes and to plan their activities and visits to align with them.

Parks Canada is committed to improving ecological integrity in a number of ways: first, through communication, specifically, enhanced interpretation and educational activities; second, in reducing facility impacts; and third, by implementing up to date environmental management practices and technologies.

Within our tourism and marketing planning, it is important that we are fully aware of the huge economic value and significant social contribution of our parks, both on the local and the national levels.

I would stress that one cannot sustain economic benefits without enhancing both the natural environment of the parks and the visitors' enjoyment of them. It is only common sense that we must maintain or restore the ecological integrity of our parks. People will simply refuse to visit parks that are unacceptably degraded.

I would equally stress that any changes must and will be implemented in full consultation with partners, including provinces and territories, national and regional tourism, non-governmental bodies and of course first nations.

A priority area of the panel's report concerns the impact developments that have their origin in places external to park boundaries. To deal with such factors, the panel has called for renewed and extended partnerships. The proposed transfer of lands is one such partnership.

In this respect the panel was coming from a place of which we are all familiar, the notion that what I do in my own backyard can have significant effects in my neighbour's backyard. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of these issues. As we know, our national parks have many concerns which are shared in common by partners such as territories, provinces, aboriginal peoples, private landowners and various other interests.

In particular, I have never known nature to recognize or respect a human boundary. One day a grizzly bear may be in a national park and the next day in another jurisdiction. Rivers likewise flow through various jurisdictions. Acid rain from many kilometres away becomes a park problem when it impacts national park resources, and the list goes on.

Fundamentally, renewed and extended cooperation among neighbours who share common concerns is the only option toward maintaining ecological integrity. It is in this spirit that first nations and Parks Canada intend to work together to ensure that the ecological integrity of Pacific Rim is indeed a priority.

The bottom line is that we must improve the ways we work together if we are to safeguard the future of national parks. The nature of programs we devise will be so established in cooperation and consultation with interested partners. It is very important to keep good relations with those people on all sides of the park. They indeed are very important in helping to build the success of the park and to maintain its ecological integrity because of the effects they have on the park even though they are outside the borders.

Throughout this process the prerogatives of constitutionally defined jurisdictions, as well as the rights of private property owners, will be respected.

I will sketch a very broad overview of where Parks Canada is coming from and where it hopes to go. I am well aware of these types of considerations. In my own riding of Yukon we have some beautiful national parks, the last bastions of certain ecological protection of species. Therefore, it is very important that our partnerships with the adjacent people are good so we can protect that ecological integrity and some species that may not otherwise exist, right from the Arctic coast to Kluane National Park in the south.

In summary, first, the panel report on ecological integrity was an important milestone for the future of national parks in Canada. Parks Canada is taking it seriously and is moving forward implementing the directions it recommended. Its implementation in a purposeful yet sensitive way is bringing benefits to us all. Its neglect would have meant untold costs to all Canadians forever.

The provinces, territories and aboriginal peoples are and will be significant partners in achieving the protection of our national parks. Of course, because of the various interests and demands on those interests, this has to be done diplomatically and cooperatively with all stakeholders.

Viewed narrowly in terms of jurisdiction alone, Canada's national parks and other federally protected places, fall under the stewardship of the federal government, but they really belong to all of us. They are a legacy of each and every Canadian.

Let us enable future historians to say that on our watch we protected this precious legacy and even left it in better condition than we found it.

Let me assure members of the House that Bill C-28 would strengthen the relationship between Parks Canada and the first nations. In doing so, it would lead to the development of a model housing community living in harmony within the Pacific Rim National Park reserve.

I therefore urge all members to support passage of this bill. It would not only protect the ecological integrity of the parks involved but perform very important functions for adjoining first nations that need this very small amount of land so that they can be successful.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2004 / noon
See context

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill C-28. As the environment critic for my party, I have several concerns with the bill.

The first thing is to understand what national parks are really for and what they are all about. As far as I and I think most Canadians understand, national parks are there to preserve the natural environment, which can then be enjoyed by future generations, our children, our grandchildren and so on.

I have great difficulty when I read that we may be taking part of a national park and using it for some other purpose. It goes against the very grain of why national parks were set up. It is strange that a government would be promoting taking parks out of existence when it talks in public so much about creating new parks. As far as the discussion at places like the United Nations, we brag about the fact that we are going to increase our parks system. The former prime minister created new parks which was one of his legacies.

Most of the world thinks of Canada as a natural place, as a place that preserves its water, air and natural environment. Therefore, as the parks critic I find it difficult to stand and speak about taking a park out of existence for any purpose.

It is not the tribe's fault that this 84 hectares will become part of the native reserve. It is something that started in 1971 that has been a misunderstanding for a number of years. In talking to their chief, his great concern is for the people he represents, their lack of housing and the crowding on that Indian reserve. However we are talking about a national park, the Pacific Rim National Park, which many tourists visit and which I am sure will become a much more valuable part of our environment in the future. We also see that Parks Canada calls it one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Obviously, if it is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, it is rather difficult to understand why we would be taking it away from a national park.

We then have this philosophical argument about what parks are and how we should be preserving them. We can also talk about the slippery slope that we are creating by taking this park out of existence. I do not think, if I were to speak to people in Halifax or in most parts of Canada, that they would understand or support that sort of a concept.

The real fault for this whole issue rests with the government. I will go through a bit of the chronology. Obviously the negotiations have stalled and have not gone ahead, and promises were made and broken.

The first time we were contacted as the official opposition was one day before the bill was introduced into the House. First reading was on March 26. Our first briefing on this whole concept was on March 25. As everyone can see, we had one day's notice. It was introduced into the House with no time to read what it was about or to get any background. The formal technical briefing for the bill was held on Tuesday, April 20, one day after the government sought unanimous consent for second reading on April 19. It received second reading in the House the day before the briefing occurred. This is a blatant abuse of what this Parliament should be about and it is an abuse of doing due diligence on a bill of this nature.

Carrying on with this abuse, the bill was sent to committee. The committee defeated a motion to call any witnesses, to hear any expert opinions or to hear what the people of the area thought about this. The motion was defeated in committee on April 26. Report stage of the bill was held on April 30, four days later. Here we are today after report stage on Friday and we are being asked to debate third reading, which the government will ram through.

What is the problem with that? It is not a matter of opposing the bill or the people or anything like that. It is the process that the government is using to ram this sort of bill through.

Future generations will want to know if Parliament did due diligence. They will want to know if Parliament checked with the people of the region. They will want to know if Parliament talked to Canadians about this issue. The answers to the questions, of course, will be no.

I have gone through the chronology for the House. We can see how blatant the whole process has been as far as the government is concerned. We have had no public hearings and no complete environmental impact study but here we are today being asked to approve this, vote on it and it is a done deal.

All of us in the House should take serious consideration of what we are about to do. We argue about the importance of having public hearings. What else are we here for other than to listen to the public and then carry out their will? I do not feel that this has been done on this bill. This bill is a promise in the dying days of this Parliament and it will be delivered. I know the government supports the bill and, in its normal dictatorial fashion, will ram it through and there it will be.

As the senior environment critic for the official opposition I want to have a clear conscience. I want to know what the rush is. We should make sure we do due diligence, that we ask the right questions and bring in the right witnesses. We should find out what local people think. Only after we have done all that should we support and move ahead with this bill.

I find it difficult sometimes to stand here and say that I want public hearings. As most members know, a number of us have attended government hearings and they are anything but always public. I will go back to my most famous example, the 14 Kyoto public hearings which had an invited guest list. No opposition members nor the media were allowed to attend. The only speakers were those on one side.

When I talk about public hearings I mean that we get out where the people are. We should go to Tofino and to places where this affects people and then let us look at the broader issues that affect parks.

What is there now to stop any group from simply saying, “All right, this national park is in the way of our development and so I think we should just take out a few hundred acres of this park and turn it into something else. Let us turn it into a nice summer village“. The government could decide down to road that if it we were to sell Banff or Jasper it could make a good profit.

This bill would set a precedent of being able to remove a national park from the status of being a national park. We would limit access to it and it would no longer become part of the public legacy that national parks are set out to be.

It is not so much that we oppose the dire situation that this band is in. It is just that the whole process has been one of lack of due diligence and lack of concern. I cannot say that enough times.

There are questions there. What does it mean that this understanding does not create legal, binding obligations on the parties? That is what it says in the bill. It sounds like we are going to do this but it is not legally binding. Would that not end up going to the courts and becoming another one of those huge expensive boondoggles in which the government gets involved?

It goes on to say:

Nothing in this Understanding is intended to, nor is interpreted so as to create, recognize, affirm, limit, abrogate, derogate or deny aboriginal rights, including title or treaty rights.

I have had that interpreted for me because that is lawyer's talk. It means that no land claims would be affected by this and that other land claims of the same nature could simply be brought forward. Bill C-28 does not stop nor does it in any way change that.

This could in the future become a precedent to be used by others in taking national parks out of existence and using them for something else. No matter what that other use will be or how good it will be, I do not believe we can justify the removal of national parks from their prescribed use for future generations.

As the environment critic I have great difficulty understanding the issues and the dire crisis of the people to support something that would do something like this.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your intervention and I accept it.

The panel also wanted to share with a broader audience the fundamental substance of their findings and the thrust of their recommendations.The panel's report has two volumes:

Volume I: A Call to Action is an umbrella document that describes the serious threats that beset our national parks, presents an overview of values that may be lost if the threats are not resolved—

Volume II: Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks identifies specific issues and problems and makes equally specific recommendations to the Minister and to Parks Canada on how these issues could be addressed.

This is the text of the letter written by Mr. Jacques Gérin, the president of the panel.

I would like to refer to the substance of the report, first by referring to the panel and its composition because it gives a very broad picture of Canadians across the nation who were involved in this particular panel. The panel was composed of: Louis Bélanger; Stephanie Cairns; Jacques Gérin, the chair; Louise Hermanutz; Michael Hough; Henry Lickers, a well known ecologist; Thomas Nudds; Juri Peepre; Paul Wilkinson; Stephen Woodley; and Pamela Wright, the vice-chair.

The report puts forward challenges, first of all, and then highlights. I would like put on record the challenges that were discovered and outlined in the first volume. The challenges break down into a number of thoughts that are summarized, beginning with this task:

To empower the spirit of ecological integrity within Canada's national parks.

To create a spirit of learning and teaching for everyone in the Parks Canada family, to understand and acknowledge your responsibility for ecological integrity.

To examine the manner in which you work and to look for new ways of keeping your responsibility to ecological integrity.

To forge new tools to protect ecological integrity by knowing the land, questing for knowledge, and maintaining the spirit of ecological integrity.

To integrate Aboriginal peoples into the family of Parks Canada as trusted and knowledgeable friends within the spirit of ecological integrity.

To inspire in your neighbours an understanding of your responsibility to ecological integrity within national parks.

To build a spirit of ecological integrity which will unite the isolated places of the land into a mosaic that protects ecological integrity.

To bring into being a way of teaching about the land that strengthens the spirit of ecological integrity.

To welcome responsible activities that generate a greater spirit of ecological integrity while discouraging uses that create disharmony.

The next point is a beautiful one because it is almost poetic:

To walk softly upon the land in all actions and deeds.

To generate the needed equity to strengthen the spirit of ecological integrity, without which your responsibility to the land cannot be fulfilled.

To conclude this series of tasks,--and members must have noticed that the words “ecological integrity” are repeated regularly--it reads:

We, the Panel on Ecological Integrity, are willing to work with you to meet these challenges.

This is the essence of volume one of this report.

Volume two, which carries the same title “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, with the subtitle of “Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks”, has quite a number of highlights and recommendations. The panel recommended that:

Parks Canada transform itself, by confirming ecological integrity as the priority for Canada's national parks and as the explicit responsibility of every staff member through new training, staffing, decision-making and accountability structures.

I believe that everybody in this chamber would be fully supportive of this particular recommendation. Next:

Parks Canada revise and streamline its planning system to focus on ecological integrity as the core of strategic and operational plans.

The Minister direct Parks Canada to take immediate action to convert existing wilderness zones in national parks into legally designated wildernesses, as provided by the National Parks Act.

This is a very important key recommendation which we as parliamentarians ought to take very seriously. Next:

Parks Canada significantly enhance capacity in natural and social sciences, planning and interpretation, to effectively manage for, and educate society about, ecological integrity in national parks. Develop partnerships with universities, industries, Aboriginal peoples, and other learning-based agencies.

Parks Canada undertake active management where there are reasonable grounds that maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity will be compromised without it. Key actions are required in the areas of site restoration, fire restoration, species management and harvest.

Parks Canada initiate a process of healing with Aboriginal peoples. Adopt clear policies to encourage and support the development of genuine partnerships with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Today's Bill C-28 does exactly that. We welcome that development. Next:

Parks Canada develop partnerships that encourage the conservation of parks as part of larger regional ecosystems. Seek provincial and territorial co-operation to establish a comprehensive protected areas network. Work with other jurisdictions, industry and the public to find solutions on maintaining ecological integrity. Support these solutions with a fund dedicated to conservation efforts in the greater park ecosystems. Advocate for park values and interests in the greater ecosystems.

Parks Canada develop an interpretation strategy that presents clear and consistent messages about ecological integrity.

This next recommendation is very important:

Parks Canada cease product marketing to increase overall use of parks and concentrate instead on social policy marketing and demarketing when appropriate.

I am sure this is a very controversial recommendation, which is still being examined and discussed. Next:

Parks Canada develop a policy and implement a program for assessing allowable and appropriate activities in national parks, with ecological integrity as the determining factor.

This is also a very important and difficult recommendation to implement. Next:

Parks Canada reduce the human footprint on national parks so that parks become models and showcases of environmental design and management.

This is another very ambitious recommendation which will require very thoughtful implementation and will not be an easy one to put into practice. Nevertheless, it is a very important one.

The final recommendation states:

Following the taking of first steps to improve the broader management framework for ecological integrity within Parks Canada, allocate substantial new and additional resources to implement the Panel's recommendations on improving science and planning capacity, active management, monitoring, partnerships with Aboriginal peoples, stewardship initiatives in greater park ecosystems, and interpretation. Fund the establishment and operation of new parks from new resources. Enable management decisions in support of ecological integrity to be separated from revenue implications.

Here, there are quite a number of recommendations to implement.

As members can see, this report is far reaching. It looks at the long term. It places an enormous emphasis on ecological integrity because this term runs through the entire content of those reports. As I mentioned to Parks Canada, it probably makes the Parks Canada system unique in the world in that it is a fantastic approach. It commands a lot of attention and respect. Also, the chair of this panel, Jacques Gérin, was a deputy minister of the environment in the eighties and a very loyal and devoted public servant.

There is a passage in the first volume which is interesting. It offers an example of what is happening because of growth of population and other factors. It is devoted to the species loss in Point Pelee National Park, which as we know is at the very tip of Ontario along the shore of Lake Ontario. This is what it says:

An example of the major issues facing Canada’s national parks can be seen in the changes in biodiversity in Point Pelee National Park. Located in Ontario, Point Pelee is among Canada’s smallest national parks.

It is virtually an island. It is a minute piece of real estate the size of a postage stamp.

It goes on to say:

Since 1900, approximately 20 species of reptiles and amphibians have been lost from the park area. There are numerous reasons for this dramatic decline in species but in many cases the disappearances are not fully understood. Factors in species loss include:area and isolation-- the park is too small to support viable populations of some species. Point Pelee is isolated by intensive agriculture, roads and housing that surround the park. It is the only island of Carolinian forest protected within a national park.

--pollutants--DDT was used extensively in the 1960s to control mosquitoes, and higher residual levels may account for the loss of some species. Groundwater and sewage system monitoring programs indicate that excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds have been transported by groundwater to pollute the park's marshlands. Excessive nutrients in some areas may be a direct result of past cottage development, high visitation and the associated high density of sewage facilities depositing nutrients into the groundwater via outdated sceptic systems.

--over-use--with past visitations rates of over 750,000 visitors a year [which is three quarters of a million visitors] and the current visitation rates of over 400,000, human use continues to have a significant impact on this small park. Efforts in recent years to reduce trail development and consolidate facilities in services have improved the situation--and resulted in a deliberate reduction in the number of visitors--but impacts continue due to the still high volume of people in the park.

Therefore, it is the pressure by visitors that is being addressed as one of the reasons for species loss. It goes on to say:

Among the species loss from Point Pelee is the once-common bullfrog. Only a few years ago, visitors to the park could walk on the marsh boardwalk and hear a chorus of droning bullfrogs. Today that chorus is silent.

Perhaps we cannot address the global problems directly, but we can certainly take care of those stresses that we have created ourselves and that directly affect our protected areas. Until we have put our own house in order, we will have little credibility in advocating for global change.

I thought members might find it interesting to hear these quotations from volume I, “A Call to Action”, by the panel which I mentioned in this intervention.

It is an important document and it seems to me appropriate that it would be good timing to put this information on the record and bring it to the attention of hon. members. Because of the high quality of our parks in the country and because the ecological protection, significance and integrity of these parks, future generations of Canadians may want to pay attention to them to preserve their unique characters, be they in highly or nearby highly inhabited parts of the country or in remote parts of the country.

We have a network that is of unique beauty. It seems to me that the debate on Bill C-28 makes room for an intervention of this kind in order to bring these considerations to the attention of the House.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, the debate on Bill C-28 is a very good opportunity to examine the policy of Parks Canada and put on the record a letter which accompanied a report published almost four years ago, the report of Jacques Gérin, president of the Panel on Ecological Integrityof Canada's National Parks.

I would like to read this letter that accompanied the two-volume report:

In November 1998, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Sheila Copps, struck the Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks. Its mandate was to report to the minister through a comprehensive analysis of Parks Canada's approach to ecosystemic management and restoration of ecological integrity. Last November, the panel sent to you background papers concerning our future report, and a number of you acknowledged receipt.

I am pleased to present to you a copy of our report, entitled “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, on the protection of the ecological integrity of national parks in Canada, a report Ms. Copps made public recently.

The panel wanted to share...

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate today in the third reading debate on Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to remove lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada and Riding Mountain National Park of Canada.

When this bill first came before the House, I guess in my own inexperience I would have thought it would have been done by an executive council order. However, upon reflection, I can see the importance of legislation dealing with our national parks and any transfer of lands out of our national parks.

As other speakers have perhaps said better than I can say, our national parks system is a jewel. A lot of the exit surveys of both domestic tourists and international tourists indicate very clearly that the reason they came to Canada and the most enjoyable parts of their visit to Canada were their visits to the national parks. Something we have to bear in mind as we go forward as a society is the importance of our national parks system.

I was very pleased earlier this year when this government announced that our national parks system would be expanding by the addition of five national parks.

I have a particular interest in this as I come from a province that has, not a large national park, but a well-travelled national park. We have the Cavendish, Brackley and Stanhope areas, and now the new extension in Greenwich. However, compared to these national parks, it is a tiny park but one of the highest travelled parks in Canada. This of course leads to new challenges and issues that the employees of Parks Canada have to deal with.

As has been said by other speakers, the national parks of Canada represent not only Canada's heritage of magnificent physical landscapes but they also represent ancient cultural landscapes. Many of our renowned national parks are the traditional territories of aboriginal communities with living histories that predate Canada by several millennia.

In the same way that non-aboriginal Canadians take exceptional pride in their national parks, aboriginal Canadians also want to feel that national parks are important and relevant institutions for their people and their cultures.

As do Canadians in general, aboriginal communities want to be meaningfully consulted and to participate in our national parks planning and in their national parks management. They want to see their ancient and present day cultures accurately and respectfully portrayed in park information and in some of the interpretative programs. They want to see that sacred sites are protected and that traditional ecological knowledge is reflected in resource conservation and in management decisions.

I am pleased to point out that Parks Canada has worked hard to improve relationships with aboriginal communities, especially aboriginal communities that we have seen in this particular case that live near the national parks system.

This effort is focused on two main points: making national parks relevant to aboriginal Canadians and making the cultural landscapes of national parks known to all Canadians, giving all Canadians the opportunity to learn about and to appreciate the people and the cultures they are visiting.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has taken significant strides in recent years to promote aboriginal initiatives, forging relationships and making significant efforts toward the meaningful involvement of aboriginal people in the cooperative management of the national park reserve. The results have been remarkable.

By way of illustration, I would like to highlight a few of these most noteworthy accomplishments. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve worked with the Ucluelet First Nation to develop the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail inside the national park. Opened in 2003, this interpretive trail provides extensive, on-site interpretation of regional first nations culture, history and language.

In June, the Ucluelet First Nation will again honour the opening of the trail by erecting the first totem pole to be carved and raised in the traditional territory of this first nation in 104 years. That is a source of great pride for this first nation community. This “welcoming” pole will greet Canadians and other international visitors to the trail and to the Ucluelet First Nation and the Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory. It will symbolize the long history and continuing presence of the first nations peoples in this region and in the national park in particular.

On the West Coast Trail unit of the Pacific Rim National Park, Parks Canada funds an initiative called Quu'as West Coast Trail Society. A not for profit group, this society is a training and mentoring program for the three first nations along the famous West Coast Trail, one of the world's great recreational hiking routes. I believe the previous speaker gave a very detailed, illustrative description of this trail and how it is used both by Canadians from all parts of Canada and by our international visitors.

By engaging in the cooperative management of the West Coast Trail with Parks Canada, young first nations members are exposed to the full gamut of park management issues and training related to public safety, resource conservation, monitoring, and public interpretation. As a result of this program, first nations graduates have gone on to secure full time employment with Parks Canada, with other agencies and with industry.

I want to point out that there are seven first nations within the area encompassed by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. A manager of aboriginal programs sits at the park management table and directs cooperative programs such as the promotion of first nations languages, cooperative training, the establishment of aboriginal national historic sites, and the development of aboriginal tourism opportunities.

By way of contrast, in 1997 there was no representation of first nations in the workforce of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Today, first nations represent some 18% of park staff in virtually every aspect and level of park management. This represents the approximate representation of the aboriginal people within the general area of that park.

There is no better indicator of the relevance of the Parks Canada program to first nations than their willingness to participate in the protection and preservation of one of Canada's great national parks. I believe this and certainly the two speakers who have gone before me have pointed this out. Parks Canada has placed particular focus on its relationship with the aboriginal people, and the record in Pacific Rim clearly indicates this action.

Bill C-28, which will withdraw lands from Pacific Rim in order to expand the Esowista Indian reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation will further strengthen those relationships. It will also improve the quality of life for aboriginal people, a government priority identified in the recent Speech from the Throne.

I want to point out two additional facts that have been indicated by other speakers. This legislation has received broad support from the other parties. It has received support from the native bands that it affects. It has received broad support from the provincial government and other local governments. I believe that the people involved, the chiefs and the senior management of Parks Canada, deserve a lot of credit for the way this legislation was brought forward before the House. First I want to congratulate them and then I want to thank them.

Second, as has been stated, this allows some housing developments to go up on the adjoining first nations reserve, and also, before the land was authorized to be transferred, all the environmental concerns were addressed and mitigated, which I am glad to report.

I would ask all members of the House to support the quick passage of Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 12:40 p.m.
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Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the comments by the member for Nanaimo—Alberni. When you saw someone on a jet ski I hope it was not the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla. During the last election campaign he would go around on a jet ski. I am just joking.

Bill C-28 concerns two parks. In one of those instances, it is only to rectify a problem with the wording, an administrative problem. The one heard about most is Pacific Rim Park.

You mentioned a lot of good things about the work of Parks Canada. Its officials, namely its CEO Mr. Latourelle and his whole team have done a tremendous job on this file, as did the team at the Department of the Environment, which was the lead department.

It takes a long time to reconstitute or enlarge a new territory. Some might think that all that is needed is a notarial deed transferring a land register number to a new landowner. It is a lot more than that. As a matter of fact, it is the whole future of a native community that is at stake. That was indeed the issue. Lands are not transferred just for the fun of it. There has to be a good reason to do so, a particular objective.

It was first and foremost to enable a native community to have a better quality of life, have access to more land and improve housing conditions.

This shows that the Government of Canada is responsible. Collectively we are responsible for improving the quality of life of native peoples, who are Canadians nevertheless.

Now that he has all the information, except for some small details, can my colleague give us his word that his colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada as a whole will support the bill at this stage?

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-28 which is an act to amend the National Parks Act.

Lest anyone misunderstands, the bill is about transferring land out of two national parks. They are small amounts of land and both involve aboriginal bands and communities.

The one that concerns me the most is Pacific Rim National Park. It is in my riding of Nanaimo—Alberni. The other one is a small piece of land attached to Riding Mountain National Park that I understand was simply an error in surveying. A small piece of land along Clear Lake will be added to the Clear Lake Band, correcting a historical and factual error in the actual boundaries of the reserve adjacent to the lake. We have no problem with correcting a historical error.

The issue that had potential for a lot consideration and dialogue is about transferring land from Pacific Rim National Park out of the park to meet the needs of the band.

As has been said by other members, the small piece of reserve land known as Esowista is about eight hectares. It is the main housing area for the Tla-o-qui-aht Band. Although the band has about 10 small reserve areas in the coastal area, the only other one that is really inhabited is Opitsat which is on Meares Island across from the main dock in Tofino. It is a small community but of course people have the hassle of going by water taxi to join up with Vancouver Island in order to relate to the broader community and to have the advantages of the amenities of roads, grocery stores and things that are necessary for successful living in today's society. At Opitsat they have to cross by water taxi in a very rapid moving channel in Clayoquot Sound and the Tofino Inlet.

The only real place to expand housing where people want to live is in the small piece of land known as Esowista which existed before the creation of the park in 1970.

I have been on the reserve lands and have walked around the community. It is crowded. There is no question that the community's housing needs need to be addressed. The existing reserve is hemmed in by the park. There literally is no room to store boats and trailers, or to expand the population. The existing housing is overcrowded. There is a definite need for the young people growing up there to have a place of their own and to live in a more reasonable environment.

There are a number of concerns related to this. It has been quite an exercise. Parks Canada and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have been working on this for some time with the band. The Government of British Columbia, as has been pointed out by the parliamentary secretary, is on side with the transfer of the land. A wide range of environmental groups, as was mentioned also by the parliamentary secretary, have agreed to the transfer, as have the local communities, the mayors with whom I have spoken in Tofino and Ucluelet, and the Alberni Clayoquot Regional Council.

Everyone is pretty well on board with the transfer of this small amount of land. It is about 82 hectares and it will provide for housing needs for about 200 people.

I need to speak about the park. Pacific Rim National Park is one of Canada's most famous national parks. It has a reputation worldwide. Many visitors come from around the world, particularly from Europe, to visit Pacific Rim National Park. It is such an area of natural beauty. It is a thin strip of land on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. I will borrow some of the language from the Parks Canada website:

Its magnificent islands, beaches and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barclay Sound), and the challenging 72 kilometre West Coast Trail.

Long Beach is where Esowista is located.

People come from across the world to hike along the West Coast Trail. We did it ourselves a number of years ago. A marathoner might do it in three days. We did it in eight days. It is a rugged area of coastline, up and down wadis and valleys, creek beds, cable cars riding over creek beds, and rope ladders up and down the cliffs. There is camping on the beach at night and people carry their own food.

This park attracts people from around the world that come to enjoy nature. Off the coast of Tofino and Clayoquot Sound there is a wide range of wildlife: California sea lions, seals, sea otters, all kinds of fish and whales, and grey whales that migrate up and down the coast, particularly in the spring. Right about now, the whale festival is going on in Tofino, with the grey whales migrating along the coast. Of course, there are also the orcas, transients that visit the area from time to time, or killer whales as they are known.

This park is a beautiful area. There are long stretches, kilometres, of beautiful beach. The park comprises a total area of about 500 square kilometres stretching across 125 kilometres from Tofino in the north to Port Renfrew in the south. The larger portion of that is in my riding and some of it is in the neighbouring riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan.

When it came to taking land out of the park, there were a lot of concerns about where this land would be? How were we going to expand the reserve, where would the land be located, and would it respect the environmental concerns in the neighbouring area?

Having looked into this, the officials from Parks Canada and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs have done due diligence in working with this project. I want to commend the chief and the band members. They butted heads for some time over exactly where this land would be located. In talking to the chief, to the park officials, and to Alex Zellermeyer, the park superintendent, these discussions went on for some time over a period of approximately two years, assisted by David Nairne and Associates, a company that assisted in the development process of how this community would look.

The sensitive issues about removing the expansion from the waterfront have been addressed. The band made concessions. It did not get exactly what it wanted and everybody had to work together collaboratively to come up with an agreement that would work.

The actual area is adjacent to the small Esowista reserve as it exists now, about eight hectares, and is going to be separated from the addition by an area because adjacent to it is an access to a parking area. The park has built quite an elaborate access out to Schooner Cove. That is a popular area for people to hike out to, go up and down boardwalks, and visit the beautiful beaches.

In order to preserve the integrity of the park's infrastructure, the band agreed to take reserve land beyond the Schooner Beach Trail access and leave the access intact. That involves a connector road that is not on the main road.

Regarding the environmental aspects of looking at where they would choose the exact piece of land, if we look at the boundary that was chosen, it respects the geographical landmarks and the natural landforms that are there. It was developed and designed for the housing improvements with the environment in mind by preserving the local drainage and the local bog that slows the water from rushing immediately out to the ocean and onto the beaches. The bog filters the water and the local drainage.

It is actually a model community that has been designed here. The thing that caused us the most concern and caused me the most angst was when I heard that this was coming up, and it was to be debated and fast-tracked in the House. It was just before our last break a few weeks ago. The House was on recess and I heard that when we were to return, we were going to be moving very quickly to get this through.

We recognize that the needs in the community are great and we do not want to see this held up by a recess or by an election. It could be a year before this is advanced if it is not put through before an election, if indeed an election call comes in the next few weeks, or a few days.

When I look at the memorandum of understanding, when I first heard of this I happened to be on the west coast. I went immediately to the chief who was not present, so I did visit with one of the elders who walked me over to the reserve. I looked at the housing and the needs on the reserve. I met with Tom Curley who is a longtime resident of that area. It was obvious that the expansion needed to take place and that the housing needed to be addressed.

However, when I met with the chief later and looked at the memorandum of understanding, I recognized that the parks people had done due diligence. The department had done a very thorough job in addressing this issue. The attitude of the aboriginal people toward environment can be summarized by one word. They have an expression called “hishukishtsawak” which means everything is one. It is a traditional recognition that we are part of nature and nature is part of us, and we had better respect nature if we want to benefit from a longstanding and successful relationship.

They also use the term “isaak” which means respect. The aboriginal people understand that. The Tla-o-qui-aht band has lived on and around the land, and off the resources for as long as any history has been recording it.

When I read through the memorandum of understanding, I found very good clauses through it, all about where the land would be located, the village connector road, and the limitations of further transfers. There is another parcel in the memorandum of understanding. Frankly, I have not heard anybody address the memorandum of understanding and that is why I wanted to address it here today.

When we get to clause 9, suddenly we run into an obstacle. It states under “Legal Nature of this Understanding”:

This Understanding does not create legally binding obligations on the Parties.

Frankly, it seems that this is the kind of legal language that is sewn into all memoranda of understanding. It seems to me that lawyers sew in enough loopholes to these agreements to keep them busy for another 100 years. My concern is, if Bill C-28 were to pass, the land would come out of the park. That would be a certainty. How the land will be used needs to be addressed as well.

When I met with the chief, councillor Simon Tom, and officials from David Nairne and Associates, we had quite an extensive meeting relating to this with the superintendent for the parks, Alex Zellermeyer. We thrashed through our concerns about this issue. The chief agreed with me that the band wanted certainty in the language as well. The band was committed to using the land for residential purposes only. It was not about a commercial development.

There is an agreement in the memorandum for another parcel to be located later outside of the park that would be used for commercial purposes. The band agreed that it would abide by the terms in the memorandum. Because of our concerns for this loose language that says it is not legally binding, the parties came to an agreement with a lot of effort. We were meeting on the west coast and they called back to Ottawa on a Friday afternoon. The justice officials and the department officials worked rather hard over the weekend to establish an amendment to the memorandum of understanding for greater clarity.

I would like to refer to that briefly because it was a lot of work and we appreciate them doing that. After the appropriate introductory remarks, it recognizes what we are addressing here. It states:

Now therefore the Parties agree to amend the MOU as follows:

  1. For greater certainty, the Nation will adhere exclusively to the land uses as outlined in the MOU, namely, community development;

  2. Any proposed changes in, or additions to, the uses of the land being at Esowista Indian Reserve No. 3 will require written agreement from the Parties.

I appreciate that. It makes it perfectly clear that the chief of the band was willing to put his hand to that agreement. Department officials were willing to do that and we want to see this go ahead. We do not want to see the community held up. We want to see that development begin as soon as possible so the housing needs of the young people and the community can be addressed.

I want to mention the concerns we had with regard to that and to the loose nature of these things. If it has no legal binding, what is to say that five years from now a new chief, a young chief that we do not know, and some slick developer who now recognizes this land is worth millions and millions of dollars in the middle of a national park, would not try to convince the new young band members to develop a resort condominium or put a casino right in the middle of the park.

That is the kind of thing that concerns people. I saw something recently, when I was on the west coast, I had never seen before. Just out of the park on another beach that is very much like Long Beach--and I was up early in the morning--I saw somebody on a personal watercraft, one of those high speed things, buzzing the beach. I had never seen that before.

It raises some concerns that we do not have some certainty in this agreement. What would happen if some enterprising or development minded person tried to talk the band into putting a marina down there with jet skis and watercraft for the people on the beach in the middle of the park, or a liquor store, a candy store, and stuff up and down the beach with candy wrappers? Frankly, that is not what people want to see.

When we expressed these concerns to the chief and his councillors, and the officials present, they agreed that nobody wanted to see that happen. I do not believe that is the chief's vision. They want to do the right thing. They have a model community planned and we certainly want to support it.

I appreciate the work that officials did at the last minute. My objection has to be, frankly, with the arrogance of the government in not including us to give us time to address this without creating angst among all parties.

The agreement was signed back in June. I know the chief and his councillors asked if they should be talking to anyone else, as did David Nairne and Associates, the people who worked so hard on coming to this agreement?

The volume of work that was done is very impressive. The work done on the land assessments, the land use, and the analysis of where the stream and water flows go, and the diligence that was done is very impressive. It was not a fly by night or an overnight suggestion. It was two years of very hard work.

We would have appreciated it on our side if someone had given us a little bit more time to look at it, so that the committee could go through a proper process. I know that the parliamentary secretary mentioned that the parks had consulted the environment groups and so on. Frankly, it is the duty of the opposition and the environment committee to ensure that we have indeed heard from all groups. I think the members heard some concerns being expressed by the member for Souris—Moose Mountain because we did not have time to be satisfied that those groups had been heard.

I am satisfied because, as the member for the riding, I made a point of calling the local mayors and the parks people in order to come up to speed, and to ensure that consultations had been done. We wish that we had a chance to be involved with that, so everyone's blood pressure would not have gone up about whether we would see this come through the House.

I am very hopeful we will see it come through the House. I want to see the community advance. It is obvious that the needs of the community are there. We want to see this go ahead. I am hopeful, frankly, that out of the process we worked through that we might see something happen with the Tla-o-qui-aht band. I am hopeful that we can come to final agreements and final treaties with a measure of certainty that will see everyone go ahead. Perhaps this could be a step toward a final treaty situation for this band, which is progressive. It wants to see its young people have an opportunity to be successful in the world.

There is a win for the community. The sewage treatment will involve development in the airport lands opposite the expansion. That will tie in with the Tofino water and sewage system. It will benefit the community as well.

I think there is win-win built into this arrangement. It is a very good deal for the community. We want to acknowledge that and we certainly want to see it go forward. I am hopeful that all members will have this pass in time for progress to go ahead as quickly as possible.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-28, the amendments to the Canada National Parks Act. These amendments would allow for the removal of lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada in British Columbia and the Riding Mountain National Park of Canada in Manitoba, for the purposes of Indian reserves.

These amendments to the Canada National Parks Act will serve to respond to a long recognized need in the Pacific Rim and rectify a past error in Riding Mountain positioning these first nations to meet the needs of their communities.

The amendments seek the removal of 84.4 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and would allow the Tla-o-qui-aht Reserve to address the critical infrastructure programs that it now faces. In addition, the amendments to the act would fully re-establish the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation Reserve 61A on the north shore of Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park.

We will be supporting the bill. When the bill first came along, it was the view of some of us in the NDP that we would be in opposition to the erosion of the national parks in any way, even if it would satisfy the legitimate claims of a first nation that had an historic right to the property by virtue of traditional use of land or a specific land claim dealing with what was in fact an error made in the survey of assessment of the first nation lands affected, as in the case of the Riding Mountain National Park.

However, we have changed our views since then, after extensive consultation. I would like to speak just briefly about this issue and how it has evolved. I will speak mainly about the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada in the context of the debate.

First, to strip away the situation and to see it in its most basic form, we believe that the debate is about section 35 of the Constitution. Some members may wonder how we would arrive at that, but quite simply, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 deals with aboriginal and treaty rights, but fails to give any definition to those rights. That is why the Government of Canada has spent the last 22 years in court, since 1982, to give meaning and definition to section 35 of the Constitution.

While the constitution recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights, it does not say what those aboriginal and treaty rights are. It is the position of first nations that aboriginal and treaty rights mean some rights, some legitimate claims, to some sharing of land and resources on their traditional land base, not just the narrow finite boundaries of reserve which are not in any way traditional or naturally occurring.They are constructs of the federal government and the Indian Act.

I am talking about the traditional area of land use as demonstrated through traditional land use maps. From time immemorial, the aboriginal people up and down the west coast, whether it is in the coast Salish or the any number of Tsimshian west coast Salish tribes up and down the west coast of Vancouver Island, have used the area for hunting, gathering, settlement and traditional uses. They never ceded that territory through the Douglas treaties which predated the rest of the treaties throughout Canada, and certainly not through the treaty areas of Treaties Nos. 1 through 8 in the rest of Canada.

Their aboriginal and treaty rights were never ceded and signed away in any formal agreement with the Crown, and they remain intact. Therefore, it is fitting and appropriate, and we feel proud to support this claim today, that this area of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada should rightfully be under the direct holding and title of first nations making that claim.

Obviously, there is vested interest on many claims. However, people are satisfied that there has been adequate consultation with local landowners, municipalities, town councils and rural municipalities in the immediate area and that their concerns have been taken into account. I do not know that anyone has strongly held views about recognizing the aboriginal and treaty rights in these cases.

As we deal with the bill, it is a lesson for us all that the Government of Canada and therefore the people of Canada could save themselves an enormous amount of grief, aggravation and cost in the future if we would simply take one step back and get our minds around giving meaning and definition to section 35 of the Constitution.

Frankly, the Government of Canada is not faring too well in its court challenges in this regard. Virtually every time aboriginal people make claims for recognition of those rights, they are denied by the federal government. First nations have no avenue of recourse but to go to the courts. They go to the Federal Court and to the Supreme Court ultimately and they always win. Court cases have been going on for 10 years, 15 years and 20 years, but they are finally concluding in favour of aboriginal people.

We are letting the courts do the work of Parliament. It should be up to Parliament to give meaning and definition to section 35. We have been afraid to or reluctant to do so. I do not know what the reasoning is on the federal government's part in this, but it has never tackled this very thorny issue. It has never embraced it as a priority and conceded that aboriginal people have a right to mud, clay, gravel and sand as much as they want. They can develop it in any way they want to, resourceful as they are. We have that broad range here in interpretation.

The fact that we have to bring forward a special bill dealing with national parks is very sensitive in that it affects aboriginal people and their rights. The Government of Canada could spend less time seized of this issue if it would dedicate the time, resources and energy to define what aboriginal and treaty rights actually are.

I think that there is generosity and goodwill among Canadian people. I think that Canadians are finally ready to recognize that 140 years of social tragedy as it has pertained to aboriginal people is enough. Our relationship with aboriginal people in Canada is our greatest failure, and some would say Canada's greatest shame, in that we have allowed these third world conditions to foster within our midst knowing full well that it was all unnecessary.

People on the west coast have to be ever cognizant of traditional aboriginal and treaty rights, unceded yet to be finally defined. In this case, my colleagues and I in the NDP will support this bill. We would like to see this move forward. It is a step in the right direction, but needs to supplemented with solid action on the issues of treaty resolution, housing on reserves, native children at risk, and many more issues that we know are facing aboriginal people in this country today.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak this morning on Bill C-28.

An allegation was made a bit earlier today that this bill, somehow, was brought back to the House in a manner that some have felt was premature. Of course, this is not true. In fact, this bill was introduced at first reading, went to second reading and was referred to a committee, which tabled its report on April 27.

I am convinced that members remember, as do I, Sessional Paper 8510-373-41, with which we are all very familiar and which states that the committee, in its meetings, made no amendments to the bill.

Furthermore, parliamentarians who are not members of that committee have the opportunity to move amendments at report stage, the relevancy of which, amongst other things, is then considered by the Chair. Since no amendments were introduced in the House, it is quite proper this morning to move forward with this legislation and send it to third reading, debate and then refer it to the other place, which will pass it in due course.

The context of the bill is as follows. On the one hand, as was mentioned earlier, it concerns withdrawing the 86.37 hectares from the Pacific Rim National ParkReserve in order to increase the Esowista Indian Reserve land base and remedy a serious housing problem.

I congratulate the parliamentary secretary for his excellent speech a bit earlier this morning. In passing, he always does a wonderful job in the House, as we all know. His constituents in Beauharnois—Salaberry are well represented, and he will no doubt be re-elected by a healthy majority. He told the House this morning that the changes are being made, not to the park perimeter but to the lands within that perimeter, meaning the lands that will be inside or outside the reserve. That is the sole issue.

I want to take a few minutes to address this treasure called the Pacific Rim National Park. Every year at Christmas, parliamentarians receive calendars from Western Canada Wilderness Foundation, I believe, which have probably helped us, better than anything else, to get to know this park. These calendars contain beautiful pictures.

I have had the opportunity to visit a very small portion of the park. It is not, of course, fully accessible to people using conventional means of transport. Some parts have only water access, for instance. I have seen part of the park, however, and it is absolutely extraordinary. In my opinion, all Canadians ought to make this pilgrimage—I would call it that—to Pacific Rim National Park. That region of our country, with its mammoth trees and its ecosystem, is absolutely amazing.

Then—and this of course relates to another park—there is the removal from Riding Mountain National Park of a small parcel of land, 4.75 hectares—which, as a member representing a rural riding, I do consider a small parcel. The reason for this is merely to correct an administrative error that occurred in the implementation of a 1994 settlement of a specific land claim.

In addition, there is the withdrawal of lands, which can be done only by amending the National Parks Act. In other words, this is the only tool available to us to correct that anomaly.

The support for this initiative is fairly broad, particularly from the first nations concerned, the provincial first nations coalitions, the local, regional and provincial administrations, and NGOs concerned with the ecology. There seem, therefore, to be very little concern about negative impacts on the parks from adjustments to their borders as set out in this bill. Such groups are always the first to let us know when they think we are doing anything to spoil a park. This is not the case in this instance.

As far as environmental impact is concerned, the removal of this small parcel of land will not unduly compromise the ecological integrity of Pacific RIm. There is no impact at all as far as Riding Mounting is concerned.

I believe I see your signal that it is 11 a.m., so I am prepared to come back after oral question period to continue my explanation of the merits of this bill to my colleagues.