House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.


EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario


Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment


That the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development be designated as the committee referred to in section 139 of the Canadian Environment Protection Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to lead off this debate in Environment Week on the referral of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

The review itself is required by provisions of the act passed by Parliament in 1988. By moving this motion today our government is meeting our legislative duty, but we are also meeting another duty with this motion. We are keeping a promise we made to Canadians in the red book to give parliamentary committees more power in policy development and to allow members of Parliament more say in the development of laws that affect their constituents.

This motion makes no reference to the mandate, the reason being that we have decided to let the parliamentary committee draft its own mandate. The committee will have the latitude to decide on its own the scope of its review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The government will not be recommending an approach. This will be for the committee to decide.

We will not force the committee to choose from a series of options. We want members from all political parties to play a legitimate role in protecting our country's environment.

The review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is the first statutory review of an act undertaken by a parliamentary committee since the election. The Minister of Health and I who have joint responsibility for this legislation believe this is an excellent opportunity to provide individual members of the House of Commons with a greater voice in drafting our laws. This is an innovative approach, an experiment which we are confident will bear positive results.

The Minister of Health has occasionally had some differences of opinion with Bloc and Reform members, just as I have had, although I must admit that I have been impressed with the keen interest of the committee members, regardless of their political affiliation, in environmental protection. I know that the committee's contribution to the process will be quite significant.

I cannot begin to count the members of our Liberal caucus who have shown tremendous enthusiasm for, and extensive knowledge of, the issues.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act was passed six years ago to respond to a number of concerns: the need to control toxic substances; the need to prevent environmental harm; the lack of coherence among federal laws; and the inadequacy of enforcement.

Since the passing of the act six years ago our understanding of the importance of sustainable development and biodiversity has increased dramatically. Throughout Canada and indeed the world there is an increasing desire to move from merely controlling or cleaning up pollution to preventing it in the first place.

Just as there is a heightened awareness that economic and environmental policies must be integrated, so there is a new appreciation that we must take an ecosystem approach to issues of air, land, water and living organisms. There is a widely held commitment to link issues of environmental health with issues of human health. There is a range of new international agreements to take this into account, agreements which affect the environmental health of our planet and more particularly the health of human beings. They must be considered when we review national legislation.

I believe there is a new-found willingness among all levels of government in Canada to get our own act together through proper environmental practices and elimination of duplication and waste.

The Canadian public, the people of Canada, are demanding more information and more say on environmental protection. Green consumers are prompting the development of green technologies and green services, and those technologies and services are leading to exciting new possibilities for Canada in the realm of sustainable development.

The review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act will allow a great opportunity to consider all these important new developments, in particular pollution prevention.


The parliamentary committee will give the provinces and territories, ecology groups, industry, labour unions, workers, natives and all Canadian citizens an excellent forum in which to voice their opinions of the handling of current environmental protection issues.

With this goal in mind, the committee will hear from Canadians, who will also have the opportunity to submit their views directly to their members of Parliament. You are undoubtedly aware, Mr. Speaker, that the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has made remarkable progress in harmonizing environmental management practices in our country.

This work is the final stage in the parliamentary review process. Through the invaluable cooperation of provincial environment ministers, we have eliminated some instances of duplication which are costly to the taxpayers, which drive responsible companies crazy and which make it virtually impossible to penalize polluters.

The success of the CCME will be a great inspiration to the parliamentary committee as it goes about its work. However, I want to make myself very clear. This parliamentary review will not stop the government from following up its red book commitments.

In our view, these commitments lend support to the work of the committees and reflect the desire of all Canadians to enjoy a prosperous economy and a healthy environment.

In fact, only yesterday we announced an expanded plan to protect North America's wetlands that will benefit wetlands species as well as the communities depending on wetlands for their livelihood.

The Minister of Industry and I are now working on an environmental industries strategy. The Minister of Finance has also undertaken with me a full review of obstacles to sustainable development and a study of new economic tools likely to promote good environmental practices.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has already announced major Canadian contributions to environmental initiatives around the world.

All of these actions and others we have taken and will take are a sincere effort to make sure that we promote the twin goals of improving our environment and our economy. The government is acting quickly in areas where we believe action must be taken, but none of our actions should preclude the parliamentary committee from suggesting realistic improvements. All members of Parliament clearly want the government to take measures which safeguard the environment, create new jobs and encourage national and international co-operation.

In that spirit of co-operation, this summer I will be seriously reviewing the recommendations of the parliamentary committee for the federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. I have already had some preliminary discussions with the chair of the committee on that particular issue and we are encouraged that we will move quickly on a number of the recommendations.

Today, I am also pleased to table an outline of the issues to be considered by the committee. This document sets out in simple and objective language a rather exhaustive list of the concerns expressed about our Environmental Protection Act. It also summarizes a number of major developments that occurred in this country and abroad since our current law was adopted.

This document should give interested members and other Canadians a general idea of the range of problems to be taken into account if and when we decide to amend the Environmental Protection Act. It should not restrict in any way the issues that the members will want to examine. In fact, officials from the Environment and Health departments will be on hand to provide the committee with documentation on any other subject it deems important. Environment Canada and Health Canada employees will be there to help the committee as it sees fit.

To be a further help to the committee, the government will provide members with an independent assessment of the administration of the act. The committee will have an opportunity to consider a variety of mechanisms to advance pollution prevention, from voluntary actions to market based concepts, to mandatory rules.

There have been important international changes since the act was first introduced, from the climate change convention to the convention on biological diversity, to a number of other international agreements. Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to examine the scope and complexity of these recent

international agreements and how they should influence changes within Canada.

The committee will be free to examine whether there are alternatives to court action in order to obtain speedy and effective results for obeying the law.

I know members of Parliament will not shy away from the thorny issues. From coastal zone management to environmental protection on reserve lands, in tackling these issues I know members of Parliament will listen first and foremost to the people who are affected by those difficult issues, be they representatives of First Nations, representatives of resource management, or others.

The government sincerely wants to hear the committee's advice on major pollution prevention issues, from prevention plans to the right of citizens to be informed, to technical assistance.

The parliamentary committee will probably want to consider seriously whether we can do better in preparing for and preventing environmental disasters.

Members have good ideas, and so do other Canadians. We want to listen to them. We want the parliamentary committee to make recommendations to strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and recommendations are more than welcome.

Pollution prevention and sustainable development must remain national objectives. Our standards must be fair, firm and enforceable. The review of our environmental legislation must be an open and transparent process. We must find ways to give the public better opportunities to be heard and to hold governments accountable for their environmental decisions. We must also find ways to move from an approach based on reaction and restoration to one focused on the prevention of environmental problems.

The committee will be free to tell the government how it thinks we can encourage people to make responsible environmental decisions, thus protecting us for generations to come.

The government's only requirement is that the committee report back to Parliament within the next 12 months so we may have an opportunity to respond to its report and to act on it forthwith.

Members of Parliament are of course free to criticize the government and I know they will at any time. However I am sure that when we launch this initiative with the committee of the environment on sustainable development, the committee members will take this initiative to work together to produce a world class review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It is an issue on which we have a real chance at winning a better future for our children.

EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the request of the Minister of Environment, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development will review the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Having considered creating an environment commissioner position and having examined the Wildlife Act as well as the legislation concerning migratory birds at length, the committee will now devote itself to reviewing this extremely complex act over the coming year.

When the CEPA was passed, it stirred up passionate debates, and it is to be expected that they will be every bit as heated during this first review which, by reason of its scope, includes many aspects which are not regulated and emphasizes structural problems within the Department of Environment.

Initially, this act was intended to fill regulatory gaps in certain environmental matters, particularly with regard to toxic substances, the consolidation of federal environmental statutes and performance improvement of the federal government in the area of environment.

The act is also aimed at enabling Canada to fulfil international commitments. This review following the first five years of operation of the act is automatic and mandatory. Pursuant to section 139 of the Act, its administration must be reviewed by Parliament within five years after enactment.

The CEPA came into force in 1988. The primary objective of this act is of course to protect the environment, but also to protect human health. That is why both Environment Canada and Health Canada are involved. Given the diversity of aspects to be reviewed, Environment Canada's evaluation directorate commissioned a study by Resource Futures International for this first review. The firm presented its report to the department's audit and evaluation committee on December 17, 1993, as well as at the January meeting of Environment Canada's Management Board.

According to Environment Canada officials, this impartial report will give us a better idea of many aspects of the application of the Act. For those not familiar with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, such a report shows us the shortcomings in this law. It examines, among other things, the effectiveness of the particular management mechanisms and provisions for implementing CEPA.

I noted the points in this report which I think give us a clear idea of possible problems. It is important to begin by noting a particular feature of this law. Despite what one might think at first, CEPA cannot be called an anti-pollution law, even though it brings together previous federal laws on dumping waste at sea and air and water pollution. Let me explain that many federal and provincial laws already regulate polluting activities. CEPA's

scope is thus limited since it cannot deal with these activities that are already regulated.

You may suppose that this overlapping regulation by the provinces and the federal government concerns me as a member of the Bloc Quebecois. I therefore read with interest the report's analysis of federal-provincial relations. Since environmental jurisdiction is not clearly defined in the Constitution, I am not telling you anything new when I say that the expanded environmental activities of both levels of government since the 1980s have created some tension.

In the beginning, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act contributed to this tension by increasing the federal presence in a field that was largely a provincial responsibility. Nevertheless, it seems that the disruptive intrusion feared by the provinces has not occurred. CEPA provides three mechanisms to harmonize federal and provincial responsibilities for environmental protection, but we are told that two of them are not yet in effect, so it is hard to assess how effective they will be.

Nevertheless, the report maintains that the many difficulties faced in negotiating equivalency agreements suggest that the mechanism is not effective in its present form. The report says that even if the law has already been harmonized with respect to the regulatory approach for certain matters, difficulties in co-ordinating federal departments, as well as the federal and provincial governments, still persist.

However, one body seems to be making quiet progress. It is the federal-provincial advisory committee whose members say that they are satisfied with the way it operates. Nevertheless, we must be careful not to mistake this attitude for provincial agreement with the status quo. Some provinces wonder if it would not be appropriate to merge this committee with the environmental protection committee.

While we are on the subject of provincial jurisdiction, I should mention that the uncertainty about the future scope of federal jurisdiction in the field of environmental protection will probably have an impact on the implementation of the Act.

In recent years, the political climate has undoubtedly had the effect of slowing things down in terms of implementing regulations whose scope is close to that of the provinces' jurisdiction.

However, provinces must be involved in the process, since in these times of budget cuts, Environment Canada does not have sufficient resources to take full responsibility for the implementation of the Act, as pointed out in the same report. Needless to say that separating these regulations is like walking on eggs.

A thorough review of this issue by the committee is absolutely essential. It is true that environmental issues transcend boundaries, but this is no reason for the federal government to interfere in provincial affairs.

Each province can define its own policies and then conclude agreements with its neighbours. I want to point out another aspect of the report which is very interesting, namely the ambiguity of Environment Canada's mandate. On the one hand, this department must promote sound environmental practices and encourage businesses to implement them, while on the other hand, it must take action against offenders.

In other words, Environment Canada must say what should be done, but it must also take action if it is not already done. In the end, the department finds itself sitting on the fence. Generally speaking, the evaluation report contains the following conclusions.

The first one is that since the Canadian Environmental Protection Act does not cover all environmental aspects, its impact is limited. The second conclusion is that the government has not yet looked at all the problems targeted in the Act because of administrative decisions made concerning priorities. Third, it is too early to tell whether initiatives taken under this legislation have been directly responsible for improving health or the environment, except in a very limited number of cases. However, although we do not have extensive knowledge of the many aspects of the question, we could at least consider these three observations and try to find effective solutions to correct these problems.

Another point is that, apparently, it was not easy to evaluate how well the legislation functioned during the first six years it was in effect. The firm that conducted the study maintained it was very difficult to evaluate results, because the information required to evaluate the impact of this legislation was not already assembled with a view to establishing a connection between cause and effect.

However, the real problem is the absence of specific objectives in the legislation. Many were of course formulated during the past five years, but they were not regrouped to reflect specific priorities. We must not fall into the trap of evaluating the success of the CEPA on the basis of the number of activities it has generated rather than the results obtained. In that case, our conclusions and recommendations would be superficial.

Another interesting point raised in the report was the public's perception of this legislation. It seems there is a substantial gap between the actual impact of the legislation and the way its benefits were extolled to the public.

Expectations were very high because the powers provided under this legislation were not clearly explained to the public. It will be difficult to establish the level of satisfaction from statements that are made before the committee.

The report says that many environmental groups were very disappointed in the federal government's efforts to pass strict environmental legislation through the CEPA. They may be right or perhaps they overestimated the powers provided under this Act. However, the crux of the problem is quite straightforward, as presented in two fundamental questions put in the report.

The first question: Does the Canadian Environmental Protection Act allow the federal government to do what must be done about the environment? The second question: Does the federal government administer the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in an effective way?

As soon as we can answer both questions in the affirmative, we will have done our job. I intend to concentrate on the second question, because in my opinion, it is crucial. We can revamp legislation as much as we like, but if Environment Canada does not have the human and financial resources to implement the legislation, we are no further ahead.

According to an historian who has looked at how the Department of the Environment has progressed over the years, progress and effectiveness are limited by four factors.

First, the department's inability to establish and implement strict observation procedures; second, cuts in staff responsible for research and investigations and an increase in their workload; third, the element of uncertainty in federal-provincial and interdepartmental relations; and fourth and last, insufficient knowledge of the economic and legal aspects.

I am therefore doubtful as to the real impact of any recommendations or changes we might make with respect to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It is all very well to have plans, but if you cannot implement them they are not going to help the environment very much.

My point is that it seems, from the information I got from various sources, that the Department of the Environment is poorly equipped to enforce the legislation. I will repeat that: It seems to me that the Department of the Environment is poorly equipped to enforce the legislation.

I will give you a very concrete example which supports these allegations. During a sitting of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Terrebonne, questioned the deputy minister on the ability of Environment Canada to adequately enforce the legislation.

The senior official explained to us that the department does not have the resources to fully enforce all the provisions contained in the legislation, that resource allocation to departments is done by the cabinet and Parliament. Therefore, technically, the minister, despite all her goodwill, cannot fully enforce the Canadian Environment Protection Act. The same senior official also said that the Act is rather soft.

The logical conclusion is that we do what is specifically required by the legislation and we neglect the rest. The question I ask myself is this: To what extent can we make this evaluation effective? There are two alternatives. Either we relax the legislation, keeping only what the department can do, to have a real idea of the impact of the legislation, or we provide the department with legislation so good that cabinet will have no choice but to give Environment Canada what it needs to act.

This last alternative is by far the preferred one. The only way to adequately protect our environment is to put pressure on the mandarins in the finance department. However, with the creation of the job of environment commissioner, I fear that we might be told to limit the scope of the CEPA since some of its provisions will likely be in the environment commissioner act. However, the CEPA is probably the fundamental instrument of environmental protection and it is crucial to evaluate its first six years to be able to refine it.

It is very difficult to assess the results since the necessary data to evaluate the impact of this Act are gathered in such a way that it is impossible to link cause to effect. This review and the approach taken prove that it is essential to take all the time needed to make the legislation efficient. All I can do this morning is ponder over the themes which will lead our committee's reflection.

I hope that when I come back here next year to present our comments, I will be thoroughly convinced that I have contributed to advance the cause of environmental protection. In conclusion, I must say that I am pleased to see that the Minister of the Environment seems to be willing to let the committee on the environment and sustainable development play a greater role. I see that most committee members are in the House today. I recognize our chairman, the member for Davenport, and as the Official Opposition, we can already assure the standing committee of our complete co-operation in this review of the legislation which is the cornerstone of the Department of the Environment.

My colleague, the member for Brome-Missisquoi, was telling me last night that he went to the Imax theatre to see "The Blue Planet" and that it gave him a lot of food for thought. When we watch programs of that kind and read about this issue, we realize that on this blue planet of ours, we are all in the same

boat, we breathe the same air, we drink the same water. Since the creation of earth, the quantity of water has not changed.

As the great scientist Lavoisier said, matter is neither lost nor created. Of course, there is the natural cycle, like the cycle by which water purifies itself. Yesterday, all newspapers carried a Canadian Press report which said that Canadians were the fifth-largest consumers in the world and thus Canada is the fifth-largest producer of waste per capita. Canada is tied with the United States as the largest producer per capita of carbon dioxide, CO2, a polluting gas which causes the greenhouse effect and global warming.

As the member for Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis said in a speech, the greenhouse effect and global warming could wipe out some countries because it will melt glaciers and cause the sea level to rise. Low lying countries and islands could eventually disappear.

We are all together on this planet and we must pull together. We must reach out to one another. I would remind the Minister of the Environment that we must reach out to one another but that she must still be careful to respect others' jurisdiction. We as members of the Bloc will always make sure that Quebec's jurisdiction is respected. There can be agreements similar to those we have signed with the United States like the International Joint Commission for the Great Lakes. That can be done with Quebec, of course. It can be done now, as equal partners.

I encourage the environment committee, especially its chairman, to assess the Canadian Environmental Protection Act with all the wisdom for which he and his committee are known.

EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I remind the House that as we pursue this debate, members who will now participate will be limited to 20 minute interventions, of course subject to a 10-minute question and comment period.

EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on this motion before the House. I was particularly pleased to see the minister respond personally to this bill.

Canada's environment and natural heritage give Canadians a sense of pride and ownership. With that comes the responsibility to protect our environment for future generations as well as the obligation to clean up the ills that we have done in the past.

Protection of the environment in human life and health is clearly the top priority of any government. The relationship between the environment and the quality of Canadian life and the economy is integral and inseparable. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act is Canada's act respecting the protection of the environment and human life and health. It was proclaimed in 1988.

CEPA replaces and incorporates several previously existing acts such as the Environmental Contaminants Act, the Ocean Dumping Control Act and the Clean Air Act. To summarize, CEPA gives the federal government authority to regulate toxic substances throughout their life cycle; establish environmental quality objectives, guidelines and codes of practice; regulate cleaning agents, nutrients and water conditioners; regulate waste handling and disposal practises, emissions and effluents for federal departments, crown corporations and federal agencies; and control of ocean dumping.

The main purpose of CEPA is to keep toxic substances out of the air, water and soil. For example, the law makes it illegal to dump anything into federally regulated waters that could harm fish. The act also regulates a list of toxic substances. Included are provisions for penalties and enforcement. Currently the maximum fine is $200,000 and a six-month jail term.

When it was proclaimed six years ago the Conservative government bragged that it was the toughest environmental law in the western hemisphere. Yet according to several sources, including the final report on CEPA of December 1993, this has proven to be quite an exaggeration. I will address some of the concerns raised in the final report a bit later.

Included in its provisions was a section stating, as the minister has noted, that the act must be reviewed every five years. In fact that is why we are here today. Given the significance of the act this clause is crucial as it allows the government the opportunity to examine, evaluate, critique and amend where necessary sections of the act which hinder its successful implementation.

The question which now needs to be asked is how are the various activities under the act contributing to achieving the protection of the environment and human life and health? We need to examine whether the act is fulfilling its original intentions. Is the act being administered effectively? What is working and what is not working? This is what has to be looked at in committee.

I would like to take the opportunity to look at some of the criticisms of the act which I hope will be brought forward during committee and seriously addressed if necessary in the revisions to the act. Uncertain areas of federal and provincial jurisdiction with environmental issues remain one of the biggest challenges in regulating and enforcing environmental laws. This seems to have played a role in CEPA's performance over the past six years.

Environmental problems rarely respect geographic or jurisdictional boundaries. Environmental problems are never just regional concerns as what impacts one end of the country may affect us all. However the division of powers when dealing with environmental concerns is not always clear. Federal and provincial areas of jurisdiction have remained a complicating issue with the legislation. There is no explicit mention of environment in the division of powers laid out in the Constitution

Act, 1867. In practice jurisdiction has been shared among the various levels of government. This partnership in responsibility is vital to the successful implementation of national environmental policies and objectives.

While the final CEPA report addresses this concern, the report points out that the lack of enforcement of this act may be due to uncertain constitutional grounds for federal action in this area.

One of the basic concepts behind CEPA was the promotion of federal-provincial harmonization. One way of promoting this was the development of working agreements among the federal and provincial governments. Equivalency agreements were to maximize efforts while minimizing overlap and duplication. This would allow both parties to achieve the desired results, protection of the environment and human health most effectively, while at the same time saving money.

Yet after six years only recently has the first agreement been signed with the province of Ontario. It has been suggested that perhaps equivalency agreements should focus more on equivalent efforts rather than on equivalent results. This is another area of the act which needs to be scrutinized. The development of working agreements with provincial environmental enforcement officials needs to be pursued more fully and more effectively. Federal-provincial overlap concerns must be addressed in this review and resolved as it is one of the recommendations in the final CEPA report.

Another area of federal-provincial overlap which needs to be addressed is that of regulations and policies and the provinces. The preliminary findings of the regulatory review noted overlap with the provincial regulations concerning asbestos mills and mines, release regulations, secondary lead smelter release regulations, storage of PCB materials and ozone depleting substance regulations.

There are two sets of regulations which is one set too many. We must work toward one clear set of regulations as a second set not only complicates matters but weakens the efficiency of both the federal and provincial regulations. Both parties have the same common goal and as such the two levels of government must co-ordinate their efforts and work together.

It appears that the implementation of the act has also been slow at the start with the priority substances list. Back in 1988 the act provided for the compilation of the list. The priority substance list was intended to identify chemicals and other materials that required urgent assessment and evaluation in order to determine their toxicities. Once the toxicity was determined regulations were then to be recommended. Forty-four chemicals were identified as priorities for assessment on the priority substances list. Yet three years after the act was passed only two had been fully identified. Even as recent as this February it was reported that the list of 44 chemicals was still awaiting assessment.

This week I learned from the environment department that of the 44 chemical substances approximately 33 had been assessed and reported. Yet information to properly assess the 11 remaining substances was still inadequate. This delay in chemical assessment and reporting needs to be evaluated as it is critical to the development of regulations and recommendations that guide the implementation of the act.

Toxic substances must be identified before they can be regulated. It is hoped that 100 chemical substances will be evaluated by the year 2000. That is 56 substances in six years or almost double the number which the department has barely managed to assess in an equivalent time. This is an issue which the committee will need to address carefully to get at the roots of this matter.

Not only the assessment of toxic substances but also the definition of toxic appear to be areas which may warrant further examination. Critics have noted that toxics are defined too narrowly in the act. One problem with this narrow definition has been its failure to deal with environmental emergencies. Perhaps an expanded definition may allow for greater application of the act. As a result this is certainly an area for discussion.

Another area of CEPA which needs to be addressed is that of its ability to address the harm that toxics cause to the environment and human health. CEPA needs to move forward to a more proactive position. Policies to date have been largely reactive.

One aspect of the act which I have mentioned is the regulation of the discharge of toxic substances. The act needs to take the next step forward and focus on discouraging the manufacture and use of these toxic substances. Rather than constantly cleaning up our mess afterward, we should stop making it in the first place. This will be an area on which the review should concentrate.

One of the main criticisms of the administration of CEPA has been the enforcement of its regulations. Out of more than 5,800 inspections carried out from June 1988 to March 1990, 300 violations were found. Of these only five companies or individuals were successfully prosecuted on nine charges. The average fine was less than $3,000.

Following this track record, the auditor general made recommendations in his 1991 report that Environment Canada needed to make enforcement and compliance with its regulations top priorities. The report also noted that clear levels of compliance needed to be established. Yet a year later the auditor general in his 1992 report noted that the previous year's recommendations had not been carried out. The 1992 report emphasized that standards of environmental quality were still lacking. There was still a lack of knowledge surrounding the whole issue of compliance and enforcement. The department seemed unable to provide the facts on how well the act was being implemented, how many businesses and individuals were complying with the laws, where enforcement was necessary and who needed to be prosecuted. Four years after its enactment it was not possible to assess the effectiveness of these existing regulations.

In 1992 the department investigated 103 cases of polluting in the 12 months ending March 31, 1992 but only prosecuted 20 cases. A recent report notes that Environment Canada lays fewer than 30 pollution charges a year in the entire country. Most polluters are let off with warnings.

The auditor general's report of April 1990 to March 1991 stated that legislation and regulation were only as good as their enforcement. However when examining the act I should emphasize that this may not be the direction we would necessarily take.

Enforcement is not the key word here; it is compliance. A law may only be good if it successfully punishes the individual. However it is better if it deters the individual from breaking the law or, even better yet, if it encourages the individual to follow the law. The effectiveness of CEPA must be measured in its level of compliance.

This is the old carrot and stick principle. It is much better to lead the donkey with the carrot than to beat it with a stick. Not to confuse people with donkeys, people should be much more willing to comply with incentive than to be focusing their efforts on not getting caught.

What needs to be looked at here is how we can build incentives around the act as with all environmental legislation and principles. The December 1993 CEPA report makes many excuses for the lack of enforcement of CEPA. This says to me that something is drastically wrong. The difficulty is targeting what it is so that we can fix it.

Some environmental groups have complained that this law is not tough enough and needs a major overhaul. CEPA has been called toothless because it is so seldom enforced. Even a former policy adviser with the department called the approach wimpy as it allows industrial polluters to continue contaminating places such as the St. Lawrence River.

As we look at the bill we need to ask the question is the act not stiff enough or is the act not being enforced? There are three possibilities: first, that the penalties are too lenient; second, that the enforcement is inadequate; or, third, that there is not too much wrong out there at all, which I rather doubt. This enforcement dilemma should be examined in detail and I look forward to doing that in committee. The final report includes many excuses for its lack of implementation. Some of these excuses contain some valid concerns.

In conclusion, I would like to say that environmental laws can no longer be just reactive; they must be proactive. This philosophy must be applied to all our environmental legislation if we are to achieve our goal of sustainable development. We must leave this planet to future generations in better condition than we inherited.

There are many concerns with CEPA that will be addressed. Some of the concerns I have mentioned, and it is not a comprehensive list, included federal-provincial overlaps, the priority substances list, and issues concerning enforcement and compliance of the act.

Over the next year as a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development I look forward to participating in the task before us. We will take the act apart, examine it and look at it carefully. We will need a balanced perspective from both industry and environmental groups to help us with the task. In the end I hope we will put together a more efficient and effective act that does the job of cleaning up the environment which each and every one of us so much enjoys.

EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member a specific question about national standards. There are times when I get confused about the Reform Party's position on national standards.

EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member will have time to put his question when we resume after question period today.

It being 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Right To LifeStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Roseanne Skoke Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I commend to the House private member's Bill C-235, an act to amend the Criminal Code relevant to the issue of abortion introduced by the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

The purpose of the bill is to make it a criminal offence to require a physician, nurse, staff member or employee of a hospital or health facility to perform or participate in an abortion procedure.

The bill would also make it a criminal offence to discriminate against any of these persons for refusing to perform or participate in an abortion procedure.

It is time Parliament exercised its jurisdiction to enact legislation to protect and safeguard the rights and life of a child ventre sa mere, the child within the womb.

Enact legislation now to guarantee the right to life at all stages from the moment of conception until natural death.

Normrock IndustriesStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to praise the work of a company in my riding by the name of Normrock Industries.

This company specializes in environmental restoration projects. Recently, it finally received the go ahead for its Amphibex excavator project.

The unique feature of this piece of equipment is that it eliminates the need to use dynamite to clear ice debris, thereby safeguarding wildlife, aquatic and riparian habitats.

The Amphibex uses technological innovations that have been internationally tested to recover contaminated materials from an aquatic environment.

This new technology is environmentally friendly and geared to sustainable development.

What more can we say about this initiative other than bravo!

Cherryville, British ColumbiaStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend I attended the 75th anniversary of Cherryville, a community of 1,200 people at the edge of the Monashee Mountains in my riding of Okanagan-Shuswap.

It rained all day so you did not have to go into their dunk tank to get wet. They had me decked out in a roaring twenties red and white striped bathing suit and I got dunked several times. More than the dunking, what impressed me was the spirit of small town fun and friendliness. They made me feel at home.

In its 75-year history this former gold mining community has heard many a shout of joy in English as well as Chinese when prospectors of both races found gold nuggets as heavy as four ounces in their gold pans.

As often happens, some who came for gold stayed for the rich soil, beautiful scenery and abundant water, going into farming, ranching and logging.

I want to say a special congratulations today to Cherryville and all the little communities to which mining has given birth across this great country.

Amateur SportStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to meet with Karen Nystrom, a member of the Canadian women's ice hockey team which captured the world championship for a third consecutive time.

Karen is a constituent of Scarborough Centre who worked diligently in preparing to represent Canada in international competition. The efforts of Karen and her teammates continue the fine tradition of Canada's excellence in international hockey and amateur sport. As we prepare ourselves for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, this repeat performance holds great promise for our athletes.

It is efforts like theirs that need and deserve our support. I urge the Minister of Canadian Heritage to improve the funding of our national teams.

I would also like to extend on behalf of the House to Karen and all her teammates, congratulations.

The PhilippinesStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, as you may be aware, Sunday, June 12 marks independence day for the Philippines.

I want to express my sincere wishes for the joyful celebrations which will be taking place this weekend in my riding and across Canada to mark this event.

The Filipino community in Canada is a strong and vital one. They have made and are making a significant contribution to our national life. They are also a lively and vibrant presence in Rosedale and my involvement in their community over the past few years has been a truly rewarding part of my political life.

I hope members of the House will join me in congratulating the people of the Canadian Filipino community in saying mabuhay to them and in particular to the member for Winnipeg North who sits in this House.

We wish them all the best in their celebrations at the multitude of events planned to mark this day and to their success in the rich contributions they make to Canadian society.

Global VisionStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the parliamentary chairman for Global Vision, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the young students from across the country who participated in the Global Vision regional seminars held in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, North Bay, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.

These seminars brought young Canadians together to learn about international trade and commerce, and to encourage them to prepare themselves for the economy of tomorrow. Five hundred senior high school students from all regions of the country participated in these seminars.

I would also like to congratulate and thank the sponsors of Global Vision. I sincerely believe that by sponsoring a program such as Global Vision, they demonstrated their commitment to youth and the challenges they will be facing as our future leaders.

These sponsors are Canadian Airlines, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agencies, the ministries of multiculturalism, international trade, Industry Canada and natural resources.

I would also like to extend a special thank you to my fellow MPs, employees of the Canadian government and private company individuals who accepted our invitation to speak to the students at the seminars.

National Action Committee On The Status Of WomenStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, this weekend the National Action Committee on the Status of Women will be holding its convention in Ottawa. Women will gather to discuss issues of critical importance to the harmonious development of our society.

The work of NAC compels governments to find solutions to the many economic, social and political problems that women face. The convention will be an opportunity for NAC to engage the attention of the various political parties and direct their focus toward the challenges associated with women's issues.

NAC is a pioneer in bringing to the forefront political, economic and social issues as they affect women. The committee's work benefits all Quebecers and Canadians and the Bloc Quebecois will be an interested participant in the annual convention.

The FamilyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this statement is a personal one reflecting on my family. Anyone who has raised children knows the highs and lows of family life, the joy of a newborn's first cry, indeed the heartbreak of a teen's major mistake. My wife and I have raised seven children and an aboriginal foster son. I miss them a lot as I stand today in the House.

The family is as powerful a force today as it has ever been and it deserves recognition and protection.

To families in every region of Canada, I salute you. To families in disarray, I anguish with you. To my own family, each of you is the reason for my existence, the focus of all my efforts when I am far away in Ottawa.

Quebec EconomyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, today's newspapers report that the economist most often quoted by Quebec separatists when the question of the economic consequences of Quebec separation arises has taught Mr. Parizeau and the Bloc Quebecois a lesson in economics and given them a reality check.

Mr. Raymond Théoret, an economics professor at UQAM, is quoted as saying the following: "Obviously the climate of political uncertainty in Quebec will push up the high cost of borrowing on international markets. This will translate into higher costs for people taking out mortgages or bank loans. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to delude the public".

Furthermore, he had this to say about the statements made by the president of the Bank of Montreal: "The banks are not wrong". He concluded with the following remarks: "Quebec sovereignty is the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, it could prove to be the straw that breaks the camel's back".

In light of these statements, is Mr. Parizeau planning to retaliate in some way against Mr. Théoret? Will he threaten to fire him should he become the Premier of Quebec?

Human RightsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jack Iyerak Anawak Liberal Nunatsiaq, NT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by acknowledging the presence in the gallery of the grade six Mutchmore enriched class.

Intolerance, ignorance, misinformation, misunderstanding and racial stereotyping diminish this country and its people. Such attitudes are not acceptable outside or inside the House and all hon. members have a duty and responsibility to condemn them whenever and wherever they occur.

In recent days in different forums Canada has witnessed divisive debates on subjects as diverse as headgear, the future of our nation, same sex benefits, et cetera.

Yesterday during debate on the Yukon land claim and self-government bills, unacceptable and denigrating remarks were made about the character and integrity of aboriginal peoples.

I and all aboriginal peoples are deeply pained and offended by these statements. Such remarks do not belong in this House of wisdom and justice.

The statements must be withdrawn and an apology issued. They are a blot on this House and this nation.

South AfricaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to acknowledge the recent readmission of the Republic of South Africa to the Commonwealth.

Because so many of its members, Canada included, found the policy of apartheid racist and repugnant, South Africa in 1961 under pressure withdrew from Commonwealth membership, the same year communist East Germany erected the Berlin wall.

During the early 1960s communist tyranny and racist oppression appeared set in stone; immutable and resistant to change. But in 1990 we have seen both the Berlin wall and apartheid fall, toppling before an irresistible worldwide surge to democracy.

Canada played a major role in ensuring that South Africa's first non-racial election in April was free and fair and we as Canadian parliamentarians should be proud of Canada's continuing help to the new South Africa as it makes the difficult transition to full democracy.

We welcome South Africa back into the family of free nations.

RwandaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the political crisis in Rwanda is continuing to escalate. These past few days, the Rwandan Patriotic Front reported killing 13 clergymen, including the Archbishop of Kigali and two bishops. Yesterday, UN officials said that fighting in Kigali had made nearly 100 new victims, including nine priests.

While hundreds of thousands of Rwandans have already been killed and several million others have fled to the countryside and into neighbouring countries, the international community seems to be turning a blind eye to this human drama.

We applaud however the UN's recent decision to deploy approximately 5,500 peacekeepers to Rwanda and we hope that Canada will actively support this major international peace effort.

I call upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs to urge the entire international community to come to the assistance of the Rwandan people.

The FamilyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be confusion about defining the family.

Yet for a millennia the term has been understood worldwide. Ancient Assyrian, Babylonian, Hebrew, Hittite and Roman law refer often to the family and assume the common understanding. Current legal definitions also support what the vast majority of Canadians believe. From the Income Tax Act to the Oxford English Dictionary the definition is clear and I do not think we can improve on it.

The Dictionary of Canadian Law states: "Family includes a man and a woman living together as husband and wife, whether or not married in a permanent relationship, or the survivor of either, and includes the children of both or either, natural or adopted-and any person lawfully related to any of the aforementioned persons".

The Minister of Justice has indicated his great respect for jurisprudence. We hope he will take into account historic, global precedents, along with the volumes of western jurisprudence before responding to the demands of special interest groups to redefine the family.

Financial InstitutionsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois.

In spite of our differences of opinion on federalism, I think that the Bloc members are great believers in the notion of democracy and the privileges that flow from it.

That is why I ask them today to collectively denounce the tactics used by the Parti Quebecois Leader Jacques Parizeau, who bullies and utters shameful threats against financial institu-

tions that dare to speak out on the adverse economic costs of separation.

What does Mr. Parizeau fear? Why resort to blackmail to suppress the legitimate, democratic right to speak that these financial institutions have? Perhaps Mr. Parizeau is afraid that the people of Quebec will learn the truth and take an informed and democratic decision on the issue of separation.

First NationsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the chief of the Chippewas of Georgina Island, Bill McCue, from my riding of York-Simcoe, extends an invitation to the member of Capilano-Howe Sound so he can visit his south sea island to witness the many people all actively working in and for their community, seeking employment and working hard to create employment. Chief McCue wants the member to know that if the federal government is sponsoring laziness, it is not evident in his band.

First Nations people everywhere deserve an apology for this unacceptable accusation. The lack of enlightenment and sensitivity by members of the Reform Party was clearly demonstrated yesterday. I was personally outraged by the paternalistic attitudes exhibited in the many speeches of the Reform members. In particular the statements of the member for Capilano-Howe Sound were reprehensible, irresponsible and completely unworthy of our First Nations people.

Philippine Independence DayStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Sunday, June 12 is the 96th anniversary of Philippine Independence Day. Canadians of Filipino heritage across Canada celebrate this occasion with pride. I share this pride and find special meaning in our heritage and history.

Fellow members, we know that it is the dream of every people to live in a country which has the ability to shape its own economic, social, cultural and political destiny. This is only possible in an independent and democratic united country.

Filipino Canadians know too well the legacy of centuries of oppression their country of birth suffered. Because of that history we bring to Canada in our celebration of Philippine independence a reminder for the need for vigilance to ensure the security and permanence of freedom and the dignity of nationhood wherever we are.

Please join me in saluting the Filipino people and the Filipino Canadian community on this historic occasion.

Presence In GalleryStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, in a slight departure from our normal procedure, I draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of my brother Speaker, le président de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec, l'honorable Jean-Pierre Saintonge.

Presence In GalleryStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.