Mr. Speaker, not long ago Bill S-7 was introduced through the back door by the government and passed into law without serious thought about its long term consequences.
With Bill C-275 we again see Liberal environmental policy being brought to the House surreptitiously. Why do I say this? By a curious coincidence, a discussion document issued by Environment Canada last winter contains, almost verbatim, material now incorporated into Bill C-275.
For example, section 9 provides for the prohibition or restriction of any activity deemed threatening to an endangered species on privately occupied land under federal jurisdiction or, with provincial consent, on any provincial lands.
That clearly threatens grazing and timber leases in western Canada. Also, according to the definition in the bill of provincial lands it threatens any private lands registered under provincial law. So much for property rights.
What evidence would the environmental bureaucrats need to designate a species as endangered and its habitat as protected? Pursuant to section 4 the minister would have the arbitrary authority to declare a species endangered. Page 26 of the discussion paper recommends that scientific uncertainty should not be used as a reason not to act.
I will read briefly from this document:
In cases when high quality scientific data are not available for a candidate species, methods involving estimation, inference and projection are acceptable. The effect of current or potential threats may be extrapolated into the future as long as it can be reasonably supported. If estimates about the status of a species vary, it is appropriate to choose the one that leads the listing in the highest risk category as a precaution.
The sorry state of science in 1995 is that witch hunting bureaucrats are forthrightly recommending that the scientific method be discarded. I think the envirocrats are smoking something and it is not environmentally friendly.
That pamphlet refers to public consultation work shops to be held in cities across Canada. Consultation with whom? Certainly not with the people most likely to be affected, Canada's farmers and ranchers and their municipal councils which brought this matter to my attention.
This document and the bill spawned by it illustrate the typical attitude of Canadian urbanites that rural Canada is their playground, unfortunately cluttered up by all those quaint rustics who do nasty things like cultivating land and producing cheap, wholesome food for Canada and for the world.
Much of rural Canada is lawfully owned by those who live on it. Urbanite nature lovers looking for pleasant places to have picnics, build fires, ride dirt bikes and dump their beer cans should consider the convenience of doing these things on the lawns of the hon. member for Davenport or the hon. member for Hamilton East. Perhaps then those members would have a more sympathetic attitude toward our much put upon farmers.
Farmers do not have much clout in today's Canada. They made up 30 per cent of the population in 1931 but account for only 3.2 per cent today. They are the real endangered species because in the eyes of Liberal politicians and bureaucratic whiz kids they are irrelevant.
Rural people are as powerless to stop this bill as they were to stop gun control Bill C-68 which the House shoved down their protesting throats last June with no significant input from them. With their feeble numbers they do not matter to a government preoccupied with the electoral map. Like Napoleon, Liberals measure the importance of a group by the size of its battalions.
Legislation of this nature can be counterproductive because it casts Environment Canada in an adversarial role. For example, any farmer with burrowing owls in the pasture would have to be demented to report their presence to anyone. I do not think that we in Canada will ever reach the point that has been reported in
Oregon where it is claimed that some woodlot owners shoot spotted owls on sight. When someone's livelihood is threatened, who knows?
Most rural Canadians, especially ranchers in the west, have been very good stewards of the land and most are appreciative of the wildlife which sometimes grazes on their crops and competes with them for native forage. As a result, wildlife populations in the rural west, especially in my riding, are immeasurably larger than they were 50 or even 20 years ago.
Canadians like to poke fun at the endangered species lunacies of our friends south of the border. It has been 17 years since the Tellico dam project in Tennessee was stopped to protect the habitat of the snail darter, a species remarkably similar to scores of others which, in the fullness of geological time, has become extinct. The silliness took place because under the stringent conditions of the U.S. endangered species act the regulators had no choice.
If that act had been literally applied the deliberate international extinction of the smallpox virus could have led to fines or jail sentences for the public health officials who so wantonly and cruelly destroyed the species.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent down there to preserve the habitat of various rodents, including the Choctawahatchee beach mouse in Florida and the kangaroo rat in California.
When the U.S. fish and wildlife service learned of the presence of kangaroo rats on 800 acres of Cindy Domenigonis' California farm it would not allow her to work her land for three years. That is the direction in which Canada will be heading if this so-called private member's bill becomes law.
Bill C-275 epitomizes the Liberal propensity to regulate, control and run roughshod over individuals who do not have big battalions at their command. I oppose it and I urge anyone who believes in sound science, effective conservationism and the rights of rural people to oppose it as well.