Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks Act

An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Canada National Parks Act to create Sable Island National Park Reserve of Canada.

It also amends the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to prohibit drilling for petroleum in Sable Island National Park Reserve of Canada or within one nautical mile seaward of Sable Island’s low-water mark, to restrict surface access rights provided for under that Act and to provide for the issuance of licences and authorizations with respect to activities that may be carried out in Sable Island National Park Reserve of Canada.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

Part 2 amends the Canada National Parks Act to provide that the dedication of the national parks of Canada to the people of Canada is subject to any Act of Parliament.

It also amends the description of the commercial zones for the Community of Field in Yoho National Park of Canada in Schedule 4 to that Act and of the leasehold boundary of the Marmot Basin Ski Area in Jasper National Park of Canada in Schedule 5 to that Act.

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.

Votes

June 6, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-15, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the Bill; and that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to speak on Bill S-15.

I first want to stress the fact that despite the importance of the debate and the exchanges on the subject, the Conservative government has again imposed a limit on debate. Consequently, there is once again an undemocratic short-circuiting of the customary parliamentary process.

That said, as stated, Bill S-15 amends the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and makes consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

In more concrete terms, this initiative from the Senate would designate Sable Island as Canada’s 43rd national park. Quite obviously, we are delighted at the move to protect this unique place, which has stirred our imaginations with its beauty, its history and the ecological heritage it represents.

The bill includes a number of measures. First, drilling less than one nautical mile from the island, or on the surface of the island, would be strictly prohibited. This would make it possible to protect the visible areas from any petroleum development. Of course, this would be an important step in preserving the integrity of the area and the ecosystem that is part of it.

On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that exploration activities would be tolerated, provided they had little impact on the ecosystem of the island. Moreover, this partial prohibition would not include seismic testing, which can have an environmental impact on the area.

In that connection, we note that unfortunately, the concept of impact is not formally defined in the bill. This will be one of the factors to be explored in committee. However, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board should consult Parks Canada on the conduct of such exploration activities. This is important, because it would ensure collegial management of the space occupied by Sable Island and maximize its protection.

In the same vein, while surface drilling will be prohibited, underground drilling would be allowed. This would clearly constitute a first for a national park. Consequently, we shall have to know exactly how this significant aspect of the bill will be overseen. While the technology is not fully developed in this area, the fact remains that we will be confronting that aspect sooner or later.

Another element found in Bill S-15 is the installation of landing platforms for helicopters used to evacuate offshore workers. We applaud this inclusion, as we value the safety and security of all our people. The spirit that guides these measures takes us one step in the right direction in order to protect that jewel, Sable Island.

Let us remember that this ecosystem harbours many unusual species of flora and fauna, some of them unique to Sable Island. They include the 250 wild horses, the seals that reproduce there and the many bird colonies.

In 1977 the government had already recognized the ecological importance of Sable Island and designated it a migratory bird sanctuary. As a result, the unique ecological heritage of this area is well known and our duty as parliamentarians is to work to protect it.

Naturally, like many environmentalists, the NDP agrees with the principles expressed in Bill S-15. We are in favour of protecting Sable Island in all its facets and establishing boundaries for the human activities that take place there.

Certainly, there are several aspects of this legislation that should be studied in committee. It will be essential to consider the concepts of exploration and impact we find in the bill. What will be considered a low impact? How much petroleum exploration activity will we allow on the island? What will the relationship be between the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and Parks Canada? What will we do if a petroleum deposit is discovered beneath Sable Island?

It will also be important to consider the possibility of exploration using seismic testing. These are questions that must be asked by the parliamentarians who are members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

In short, the work done in the committee will determine the future success and survival of this national park. Moreover, we believe that we must be in constant contact with the various stakeholders involved in the current legislative process. They include the Nova Scotia provincial government, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Ecology Action Centre, the Green Horse Society and the Friends of Sable Island Society.

This is a serious matter. We must ensure that all stakeholders work together with parliamentarians to complete this project and set up a national park that will meet ecological and environmental objectives.

That said, the Conservatives are trying to present Bill S-15 as environmental good news. It was true, although certain reservations have been expressed about the creation of this national park. However, that does not diminish the fact that ever since it came to power the government has done all it could to eliminate, weaken and stall environmental measures.

The fact that Canada withdrew from Kyoto clearly showed that the Conservatives had abdicated their environmental responsibilities. Then they cut back considerably on environmental assessments, which must be done for companies' projects and routine activities. This is clearly having a significant impact on various practices, and it will have serious effects on our ecosystem. What is worse, the Conservatives deny that there is a problem with the environment or that climate change exists, which seriously taints the creation of Sable Island national park.

The NDP, on the other hand, has done everything it can to promote environmental values. We remain the only credible political party the public can trust to protect ecosystems and ensure that sustainable development is at the heart of everything we do.

That will be the basis for our work on Bill S-15. We will support the bill at second reading, so that it can be sent to committee. However, we will do everything we can to limit potential and foreseeable environmental abuses. We will be listening to stakeholders and will do what we can to develop the best bill possible for the creation of Sable Island national park.

I am now prepared to take questions from my colleagues.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the great speech by my colleague and the fact that on all sides of the House we are interested in preserving our environment for current and future generations of Canadians.

One comment my colleague made, however, did cause me some concern. She drew attention to the fact that we withdrew from the Kyoto accord. Is she aware that during the time of the Kyoto accord that the Liberal government had signed on to, our emissions actually rose by 30%? Under our government, between 2005 and 2010, our greenhouse gas emissions have actually reduced by 6.5% in a time when our economy grew by 6.5%.

It is hard for me to square the circle as to how my colleague could be upset about withdrawing from Kyoto, which was so ineffective, it is obvious, yet not recognize the great work that has been accomplished over these last six or seven years.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is very serious for this government to withdraw from Kyoto, and we denounced this action. If the government claims to want to protect the environment, it cannot turn around and do the opposite. Obviously, since my colleague acknowledged that emission levels have remained steady and even increased, we cannot disregard our environmental responsibilities. It is more urgent and necessary than ever to focus on the environment and protect our ecosystem.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can see what kind of government we have here. I appreciate my colleague’s comments, because they are bang on. She has put her finger on the real environmental issue here and how this government simply does not pay any attention to the many environmental needs.

We have said that we are prepared to support the bill so that it can move forward. We have concerns about the oil companies and the fact that they would be able to explore for oil under the island. That is why we want the bill referred to committee.

However, this government slashed the Parks Canada budget by $29 million, while providing $1 million in federal grants to highly profitable gas and mining companies.

We heard comments from the Conservatives about what they did at Lake Simcoe. What they did was eliminate environmental protection under the Navigable Waterways Protection Act, while providing $29 million to remove the phosphorus. On one hand, the government says it wants to provide assistance, but then it takes it away with the other hand.

Could my colleague speak about the fact that the government hands out a great deal of money with one hand and takes it away with the other?

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments and her speech.

As she pointed out, the Conservatives' logic is ridiculous, given that they made $29 million in cuts and eliminated 600 jobs at Parks Canada. At the same time, they would like us to believe that they are in touch with what is going on with the environment and our ecosystems.

They are clearly not doing enough with respect to the environment. There are also concerns, which is why it is important that this bill be referred to committee for further study, particularly with regard to matters related to oil companies and any potentially related activities.

It is absolutely clear that this bill needs to be referred to committee for further review because a number of issues are very worrisome.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to speak at second reading in support of Bill S-15, which is the expansion and conservation of Canada’s national parks act.

The main purpose of this legislation is to legally protect forever the natural and cultural values of that treasure known as Sable Island. As the title of the act suggests, through this legislation, we would be expanding the national parks system to conserve Sable Island as our nation's 43rd national park.

As anyone who has resided or visited eastern Canada knows, islands are plentiful throughout this great region. Two of our nation's 10 provinces are islands: the inspiring rock of Newfoundland and Labrador; and the red sands and green fields of Prince Edward Island. There is New Brunswick's Grand Manan Island, Cape Breton Island of Nova Scotia, the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, P.E.I.'s Lennox Island and Fogo Island off Newfoundland. Each of these and other islands have contributed to shaping the distinct nature and culture of what we call Canada.

Over time, as we have settled and developed these grand islands, we have seized the opportunity to protect the nationally significant landscapes on some of these islands.

For example, Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks provide an opportunity for Canadians to explore and discover the east and west coast of Newfoundland. Prince Edward Island National Park is famous for its sandy beaches, red cliffs and the house that inspired the novel Anne of Green Gables and for protecting the piping plover habitat. There is the world renowned Cabot Trail that winds through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Our government is working with the Province of Quebec to assess the potential for a marine protected area in the waters off the Magdalen Islands.

Now we are on the cusp of adding that mysterious and far offshore place known as Sable Island to our national parks system. I hope that all hon. members will join me in supporting Bill S-15.

Throughout this debate, we have heard many testimonials on the natural and cultural attributes of Sable Island that have inspired us to add it to our national parks system. We are impressed by the fact that this island of 30 square kilometres, rising out of the Atlantic Ocean almost 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax, continues to survive as a shifting sandbar on the edge of the continental shelf.

We are inspired that on this island, composed mainly of sand, with sparse vegetation, so far from shore, life abounds. There are 190 plant species, 350 bird species, including the endangered roseate tern and Ipswich sparrow, grey seals and those famous Sable Island horses.

We marvel at the attempts made throughout the 1600s and 1700s to settle the island, despite the rough seas, the storms and fogs that make Sable Island such a hazard to navigation. The more than 350 recorded shipwrecks in this area stand as a testament to the difficulty of simply accessing Sable Island, let alone trying to settle it.

We are hopeful that in taking action to protect Sable Island under the Canada National Parks Act, future generations will be proud that the House of Commons, in 2013, developed, debated and passed legislation that enabled the protection of this magnificent and mysterious island.

As I have followed this debate, it appears to me that all parties in the House support the proposal to establish Sable Island as a national park reserve. Many members spoke of the urgent need to get on with the job, as this has been so many years in the making. It is clear from public consultations undertaken by Parks Canada in 2010 that this support and sense of urgency echoes the passionate views of Canadians, especially Nova Scotians. Establishing Sable Island national park reserve of Canada is the right thing to do, and the time to do it is now.

I would also observe a high degree of support for putting in place a legislative ban on drilling, from the surface of Sable Island out to one nautical mile from the shoreline. Many who have participated in this debate have acknowledged and thanked the petroleum companies, such as ExxonMobil Canada, for amending its existing significant discovery licenses to incorporate this legislative ban on exploratory and development drilling.

However, there appears to be one key concern with Bill S-15, and that is the proposal to allow the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to authorize low-impact seismic activity on Sable Island.

I would point out that in reality, the board currently has the authority to permit seismic activity on Sable Island. What Bill S-15 proposes is to limit that authority to low-impact seismic activity. In light of this, I would like to spend the next few minutes speaking to this concern.

As previous speakers have noted, we are establishing Sable Island national park reserve in one of North America's largest active petroleum fields. As we heard earlier, there is a federal-provincial legislative framework in place under the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act that administers all petroleum matters in the Nova Scotia offshore. Since 1988, this legislation has taken precedence over all other federal legislation in this region, including the Canada National Parks Act. As the preamble to Bill S-15 makes clear, this legislation will continue to take precedence.

In August 1986, the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia signed the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore petroleum resources accord. Under the accord, Canada and Nova Scotia agreed to develop oil and gas in the offshore in a manner that would harmonize the interests of all Canadians and those who reside in the province.

The accord called on both parties to pass mirror legislation to create a unified administrative regime for offshore petroleum resources. This goes to the heart of our deliberations. To give legal effect to the 1986 accord, both governments passed legislation in their respective legislatures, with essentially the same wording.

While the names of these bills are a mouthful, for the record, the Government of Canada passed the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act, and the Province of Nova Scotia passed the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act. Members will recall that the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act takes precedence over all other acts. Thus, to put in place a legal ban against drilling on the surface of Sable Island and to limit potential seismic activity to low impact, both the federal and the provincial accord acts must be amended. This fact has profound implications for our deliberations.

On April 24 of this year, the hon. Charlie Parker, the New Democratic Minister of Energy, tabled Bill 59 in the Nova Scotia legislature to amend the provincial petroleum accord act for several purposes. First was to prohibit the carrying on of work related to drilling for petroleum, including exploratory drilling, in or within one nautical mile of Sable Island national park reserve. Second was to limit the surface access rights provided for under the accord act to, among other things, low-impact seismic activity. Third was to set out a process under which the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board must consult with, and consider the advice of, Parks Canada when considering an application to authorize petroleum-related work or activity in the national park reserve.

When the proposed provincial bill was referred to its law amendments committee, there was one witness, the Ecology Action Centre, that recommended that the bill be amended to delete the option of conducting low-impact seismic activity on Sable Island. However, the New Democratic government chose not to amend its legislation to delete the reference to low-impact seismic activity. The Nova Scotia legislature followed suit, passing Bill 59 without amendment. On May 10, 2013, the provincial bill was given royal assent.

In short, the provincial New Democratic government has passed the legislation called for under the terms of the 2011 national park establishment agreement signed by Premier Darrell Dexter and the federal Minister of the Environment and witnessed by Mr. Leonard Preyra, the provincial Minister of Communities, Culture, and Heritage, and the hon. member for Central Nova.

The provincial New Democratic government was satisfied with the arrangement and was not prepared to amend its legislation. Nova Scotia now awaits the outcome of our deliberations to designate Sable Island national park reserve under the Canada National Parks Act.

I recount this history, because given the concerns expressed about low-seismic activity, it is important to accurately outline the work that would be required in the weeks and months ahead should consideration be given to amending Bill S-15 as the only means of remedying these concerns.

Given that Canada and Nova Scotia passed mirror legislation in 1988 to implement the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore petroleum accord, and given that our Bill S-15 and the Province's Bill 59 have developed mirror legislation to amend these acts to implement the drilling ban and to limit seismic activity to low impact, and given that Nova Scotia has passed its Bill 59 without amendment, the implication for our work is clear: should we decide the amend Bill S-15, additional work would need to be undertaken.

The provincial New Democratic government would have to decide whether it is prepared to once again amend its provincial accord act, this time to delete or amend references to seismic activity.

While I cannot speak for the provincial New Democratic government, it is clear that in negotiating the national park establishment agreement and in rejecting a prior recommendation to alter the seismic activity reference, they are supportive of the current approach.

Additional consultations would also have to be undertaken with the petroleum industry to determine its views on such a change. Again, while I cannot speak for the industry, it would seem to me that since petroleum activity within the broader Sable basin will continue, industry and the offshore petroleum board would require the most accurate seismic data in order to reduce the exploration risk when drilling expensive offshore oil and gas wells.

Allow me to offer a few observations on the issue of low-impact seismic activity.

It is my understanding that the offshore petroleum board has indicated to Parks Canada that it is currently not aware of a need for additional seismic data to be collected on Sable Island. However, these needs may very well change in the future.

In addition, should a company seek an authorization to collect new data from Sable Island, the board would require justification from the company that the current seismic information is not sufficient and that information could not be gathered beyond the national parks reserve.

Failing the above, the board would also seek from the company assurances that other less intrusive techniques could not be used to augment the existing seismic information.

Finally, if after all this it had been clearly demonstrated that a seismic program that would place equipment on Sable Island was required, an environmental assessment would be conducted under the policy of the offshore petroleum board. This assessment would have to meet the Canadian Environment Assessment Act standard of determining the likelihood of an activity to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

Given the requirement of Bill S-15 that the board seek the advice of Parks Canada on such a proposed authorization, Parks Canada would clearly have an opportunity to influence the nature of any proposed seismic undertaking.

I look forward to the in-depth discussions that will ensue at committee on these and other issues related to the designation of Sable Island as a national park reserve, and I trust that clarity will be brought to the issues that have been raised in this chamber.

I would like to address one other major concern that has been expressed during this debate: the notion that Bill S-15 will undermine the integrity of our internationally renowned national parks system. The concern focuses on the suggestion that by continuing to allow the offshore petroleum board to authorize seismic activities, although Bill S-15 proposes to limit that authorization to low impact, we are somehow setting a precedent for other national parks across Canada as well as for future national parks.

I appreciate this concern. It speaks to the non-partisan support that exists in the House for the desirability of protecting our nationally significant lands and waters in protected national parks for the benefit of present and future generations. It speaks to the actions that Parliament has taken over the decades, indeed, spanning the last three centuries since 1885, when it created Banff National Park to forever set aside iconic landscapes and their resident plant and animal species.

However, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment made clear in her remarks last Thursday, we are giving effect to the drilling ban and to limiting seismic activity to low impact by amending the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Accord Implementation Act, not the Canada National Parks Act. We are not introducing any changes whatsoever to the Canada National Parks Act that could be remotely interpreted as allowing seismic activity in any other existing national park. I cannot be clearer on this point. It will not be allowed in Aulavik National Park or in Yoho National Park or in any other national park in between.

I would also like to make it clear that we are not amending the Canada National Parks Act to permit low-impact seismic activity on Sable Island: seismic activity is already allowed on Sable Island. We are amending the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to restrict any future seismic work to low impact on Sable Island. Thus, it will only be within Sable Island national park reserve that at some future date the offshore petroleum board may authorize low-impact seismic activity.

Through Bill S-15, we are enhancing the integrity of our national parks system. We are bringing the highest level of federal legislative protection to Sable Island as a national park reserve.

As the parliamentary secretary also made clear, when we negotiate for the creation of new national parks, we are often challenged to consider whether or not to allow certain activities to continue on a case-by-case basis. For the most part, we are able to achieve a new national park that respects the act and that is completely true to the best of our intentions, but sometimes that is just not possible. That simple reality is no reason to completely abandon the idea of designating an area a national park.

I would remind the House that it was only in 2009 that Parliament passed legislation authorizing the permitting of several mineral access roads through the expanded Nahanni National Park Reserve. This was no doubt a difficult decision, but one that made possible a six-fold expansion of Nahanni, producing what was referred to as the greatest conservation decision of this generation.

As we move forward with Bill S-15, I trust that we will balance our duty to maintain the integrity of our national parks system with the opportunity to finally provide Sable Island with the level of protection and conservation framework that has been called for over the past 50 years. With this approach in Bill S-15 to balance the conservation and development needs of Sable Island with the broader Nova Scotia offshore needs, with the balancing of the goals of the offshore petroleum accord act with the Canada National Parks Act, we are achieving real conservation gains for Sable Island.

Let me paraphrase the hon. Minister of the Environment in his remarks last Thursday night. Through Bill S-15, we are accomplishing the following: a new national park reserve for Sable Island, Canada's 43rd national park; the application of a comprehensive conservation framework to Sable Island for the first time in 50 years; a legislative ban that for the first time will prohibit all exploratory and development drilling for petroleum resources from the surface of Sable Island; the creation of a legislative buffer zone around Sable Island that will prohibit drilling out to one nautical mile; a prohibition on the extraction of non-petroleum resources from beneath the surface of Sable Island; a limit on the number of petroleum-related activities that can be authorized by the offshore petroleum board on Sable Island national park reserve; limiting the current ability of offshore petroleum board to authorize any seismic activity on Sable Island to low-impact activity; providing a legislative requirement for the offshore petroleum board to seek and consider advice from Parks Canada should it choose to authorize activities listed in Bill S-15; and developing a management plan within five years that will direct the necessary measures to protect Sable Island to enable visitor experiences that respect the fragility of the island and to forge partnerships with interested stakeholders.

Finally, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment for their dedicated leadership on collaboratively developing legislation that will enable the creation of Sable Island national park reserve as Canada's 43rd national park. It is their leadership that has brought this legislation before us today. Now it is up to this chamber to complete our business to ensure that Sable Island will be forever protected so that future generations, whether they choose to visit it or not, will know that this Parliament took action to ensure that the natural and cultural values of this place persist forever.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of Canada's eight national wildlife areas, the Baie de l'Isle-Verte National Wildlife Area, is in my riding in Quebec. It is one of the largest protected marshlands in the whole country.

Since the government got its majority, the organization in charge of this protected area, the Corporation PARC Bas-Saint-Laurent has had to wait nine months every year for its tiny envelope of funding to be renewed, funding that was cut by 56% last year. Local partners now have to cover the cost of 90% of the resources the organization needs just to keep trails open and maintain the park. That is the true impact of the Conservatives' cuts and their attitude toward parks in our regions.

Creating parks is all well and good, but we have to wonder whether that comes with legitimate protection and the resources to maintain a protected area.

We will support the Senate bill before us, but we are actually quite concerned. The federal government keeps talking about low impact, but it will not tell us what that really means. What is the standard? What qualifies as low impact? They will not tell us. The government's lack of transparency here is par for the course, particularly when it comes to environmental issues.

How can my colleague be okay with creating parks—our Conservative friends even included it in their 2012 speech—when the facts show that parks are getting fewer and fewer resources and less and less protection? There are more parks, but they are receiving less protection and not enough resources for maintenance.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that under times of fiscal restraint, we all face difficult choices in terms of how much action the government can take on any specific issue, but there are times when, in spite of fiscal restraint, action has to be taken that shows vision and demonstrates leadership. No government in history has demonstrated more leadership in terms of preserving the environment and creating more national parks than this government in the last seven years.

I would like to refer to something that happened well over 100 years ago, also in a time of extreme fiscal restraint. In 1893, government officials decided that the government would not establish Canada's fourth national park, suggesting it was best to focus on the three existing parks: Banff, Glacier and Yoho. The minister of the day rejected their advice, signing the order, creating a new park, and remarking, “Posterity will bless us”—and it has.

Alberta's Waterton Lakes National Park is a remarkable ecological jewel, a world heritage site and the world's first international peace park. It has prompted conservation partnerships between the Nature Conservancy of Canada and a number of ranchers adjacent to the park. Imagine what would have happened if government had not taken that action.

I am convinced that 20, 40 or 100 years from now our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will say that Parliament acted in 2013 to preserve Sable Island and that they are really thankful we did.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Kitchener—Conestoga and he had nice-sounding words, but making a national park is just not enough to do the job.

Prince Edward Island National Park, or Green Gables, is in my riding, and the big issue is the resources that will accompany the putting in place of a national park to establish the protective measures necessary.

I can tell the member that with the cutbacks at Parks Canada over the last number of years—and I do not know what will happen this summer with further cutbacks—there are not sufficient wardens to show people how to handle things within that national park now. The sand dunes are very fragile structures and depend on grass to hold the sands in place. People are going up those sand hills and coasting down them. They are tearing the sand hills apart, and there is no one there to explain how that cannot be done within that national park zone.

Yes, Liberals support its becoming a national park, but resources are required to do the job that has to be done to preserve the natural resources that are there, and I do not see those resources accompanying this bill.

Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague commented on “words and no action”. Well, of all people to use that phrase, I do not think this member should be the one. Under the member's government in 13 years, the Kyoto accord was signed with big intentions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We all know what happened: they went up 30% under Liberal leadership.

Under this government, at a time of 6.5% growth in economic activity, our greenhouse gases have gone down by 6.5%. If one is to talk about words and no action; this is action.

Bill S-15—Time AllocationExpansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 11:40 a.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to Bill S-15, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the Bill; and

That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-15—Time AllocationExpansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, often when time allocation is moved in the House, we, the NDP, the official opposition, stands. We are angry, because we find time allocation to be an abusive process for shutting down debate.

However, I am not angry today. I am actually standing here with sadness, because there was a legitimate attempt by the NDP to work with the government on this bill to get it through the House. This is a really important piece of legislation about a park, Sable Island park, that will actually be in the riding of Halifax, and I want to support this bill--

Bill S-15—Time AllocationExpansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I want to support this bill. I want this bill to get through. I want park protection for Sable Island. That is the thing I want most.

We opened a door for the Conservatives to say, "Let us talk about how we can expedite this and how we can get it through the House together and work on some of the problems together". We opened that door, and now the Conservatives are slamming it in our faces.

I am not angry standing here. I am profoundly sad. I apologize to the constituents of Halifax for thinking I could actually work with the Conservatives and that we could move something along together. I apologize for my naïveté.

My question to the minister is this: Why are they doing this? What it says to me is that there are other things I cannot trust in this bill. It says to me that maybe I should not be supporting this bill, because I cannot trust what the Conservatives put forward when I cannot even trust them to work together to get this bill through the House. I think there are other things in this bill I cannot support.

Why is the minister doing this? Why is he using time allocation?

Bill S-15—Time AllocationExpansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, and I have spoken to my colleague about this on a number of occasions, our government appreciates the support we have received from other parties, both in the House and in the Senate. There was an agreement with regard to the number of speakers we would put up for the bill, which is largely embraced not only by all parties in Parliament but by all parties in the Nova Scotia legislature and beyond. I am talking about first nations, environmental groups and others, who for two years have considered and celebrated the action that has finally been taken, after 50 years.

This legislation, this protection of an iconic piece of Canadian nature, has been 50 years in the making. As we address many other bills in the final weeks of this session, the time has come for the House to vote.

Bill S-15—Time AllocationExpansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is yet another sad day. This is not about Bill S-15. This is about a Conservative majority government under the Prime Minister and his attitude and his lack of respect for due parliamentary process.

The Prime Minister, more than any other in the history of Canada, has demonstrated borderline contempt in not allowing members the opportunity to address important issues. Canadians have a right to know that parliamentarians have been afforded the opportunity to speak and the opportunity to see a bill go through a natural process. The Conservative government has incorporated in its standard process as a majority government something that is totally abhorrent and disrespectful toward democracy.

My question is not to the minister. My question is to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons or to the Prime Minister. Why has the government decided to take such strong action with time allocation, unprecedented in the history of our country, to deny members the opportunity to debate?

If there were an ounce of good-faith negotiation, that is what should be taking place. We should have negotiation through House leaders so that there is a proper procedure to pass legislation through the House of Commons. Why is the government not doing what it should be doing in terms of preserving democracy inside the House of Commons?