House of Commons Hansard #222 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was species.


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5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Pursuant to a request made by the deputy government whip, the division on the motion is deferred until tonight at 11.15 p.m.

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Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, I was watching the House proceedings on television. I heard you ask: "Is there further debate" and saying, "no further debate" you grabbed your papers before a member had a chance to stand. I think that is unfair.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I am very sorry but no one in the House stood up when I asked for questions and comments. That was prior to calling for debate.

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Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, if no one stood for questions or comments, then you call for debate and you have to recognize someone when they are prepared to stand for debate.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I repeat, no one stood at all.

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Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly a debate about a ruling after it has been made is entirely out of order and a little contemptuous of the role of the Speaker.

In addition, however, you very clearly said: "Is the House ready for the question?" Nobody said no. You then asked as you normally do for those in favour and those against.

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Alfonso Gagliano Liberal Saint-Léonard, QC

Madam Speaker, it is almost 5.30 p.m. If the members are here we could go into private members' hour right away.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Shall I call it 5.30 p.m.?

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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

moved that Bill C-275, an act respecting the protection and rehabilitation of endangered and threatened species, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the debate taking place this afternoon on the protection and rehabilitation of endangered and threatened species. I would like to thank the member for Scarborough-Rouge River and the member for Fraser Valley West for their support in their respective committees when it was decided that this bill should become a votable item.

In essence the reason for putting forward this private members' bill is very simple. It emanates from one important commitment made by Canada to the UN conference on sustainable development and the environment in Rio in 1992.

When the convention on biodiversity was arrived at with the consensus of some 150 nations, Canada was among the first, if not the first nation to sign it, if I remember correctly. It was among the first to ratify it. In other words, there was definitely a very quick response on the part of Canada. There was an understanding of the importance of the issue and the political sentiments of the nation. The aspirations of Canadians were expressed rapidly through these steps.

The signing or ratification of the convention has now reached a fairly large number and has been put into motion by virtue of the fact that a sufficient number of nations in the world have ratified it to make it workable.

What does a bill on the rehabilitation of endangered and threatened species mean? With this piece of legislation, which I hope will be followed by a measure to be introduced soon by the Minister of the Environment, we want to highlight the importance of the ecosystem to which we belong and the importance of protecting the richness that makes Canada so unique in the family of nations.

If one compares the richness in biodiversity and the number of species both in flora and fauna that exist today with what existed a hundred years ago, one has to admit with regret that there have been losses with respect to some species that may never be recovered. In other words, we have lost ground as humans have settled in the country and have adopted various agricultural and industrial practices at the expense of nature. If one looks down the road 100 years from now at the richness of fauna and flora our grandchildren may be able to enjoy, unless we do something

about it fairly soon we would suffer perhaps the equivalent or even greater losses.

Therefore it is necessary to put on the political agenda and on the agenda of Parliament, as well as those of the provincial and territorial legislatures, something that coagulates or gels our thinking on the subject matter. The bill before us attempts to do exactly that. It is inspired by article VII of the convention, the one I referred to earlier, which requires countries to:

-develop and maintain the necessary legislation and/or other regulatory provisions for the protection of threatened species and populations.

That is how it was put in the Rio convention which we have signed and ratified. It is a very simple, straightforward concept. I am sure that its application and implementation can be achieved if there is adequate political will.

I am glad to report that four Canadian provinces have endangered species legislation today. They are the provinces of New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Close co-operation with provincial and native governments is necessary to protect endangered species. Preventing the extinction of species becomes a method of national and even international concern.

I am not claiming this private member's bill can achieve all that, but it is at least an attempt to subject the matter to parliamentary scrutiny, to encourage colleagues on all sides of the House to think about the importance of the matter, and to ensure that respective governments take the necessary steps.

There are 120 species that are either threatened or endangered in Canada. Of those 120, 43 are under federal responsibility: 18 species of migratory birds and 25 fish and marine mammals. The habitats of these threatened or endangered species are quickly disappearing. According to Statistics Canada calculations the wetlands have been reduced by 70 per cent to 80 per cent so far and the old growth forests by as much as 85 per cent to 90 per cent. These are considerable figures which I commend to the attention of the House.

The following commitment appeared in the red book of the Liberal Party in 1993:

Managing economic development in human growth without destroying the life systems on our planet and a vision of a society that protects the long term health and diversity of all species on the planet are matters of concern.

In a study conducted in 1991 Statistics Canada concluded that 86 per cent of Canadians supported the protection of the abundance of species we have today. Bill C-275 is simply aimed at identifying, protecting and rehabilitating endangered and threatened species both in the realm of flora and fauna and both in the sense that they have become directly or indirectly threatened or endangered. Why? It is as a result of human activity.

The bill provides the Minister of the Environment with the powers to develop and implement programs aimed at restoring the populations of threatened and endangered species to self-sustaining numbers. Time does not permit me to list the names of the various species. There are too many. However, they are attached to the bill by way of a schedule for any member who would wish to examine it. The bill attempts to provide a context for existing federal and provincial legislation in a complementary and unifying sense that is concerned with protecting threatened or endangered species.

The bill provides a legislative basis for two institutions: COSEWIC, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and RNEW, the Recovery of National Endangered Wildlife. For members who might not have heard the terms before, they are two important committees in the protection of endangered species. However they are not required by law and the bill before us today would change the situation.

In addition the scientific expertise of Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada would continue to provide the important first step in identifying threatened or endangered species. In the recovery of nationally endangered wildlife groups it would still be a required step in protecting endangered species. However, Bill C-275 seeks to provide both COSEWIC and RNEW with a common legislative framework to allow for a more responsible, consistent and accountable approach to the identification and recovery of threatened and endangered species. It draws from the categorization prepared over the years by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC. The bill contains two schedules which are available to members. Schedule A lists endangered species and schedule B lists threatened species.

The listing of certain species and requiring the minister to represent their interests have the purpose of allowing recovery programs to be developed prior to species becoming endangered. It is a good precautionary concept. The preventive approach is more sensible and less expensive than simply allowing threatened species to become endangered species and then trying to recover them from the brink of endangerment and to regain ground. In other words the present approach can be subjected to improvements, and this is what Bill C-275 is all about.

As to public accountability, Bill C-275 contains a provision whereby any Canadian may make a representation to the Minister of the Environment in writing requesting the minister to add or delete a species from the threatened or endangered list. I hope it will be used for adding rather than deleting.

The minister must respond within 180 days, advising what course of action will be taken and why. This will have the effect of allowing for public knowledge and traditional knowledge systems such as those offered by the aboriginal people to work together with the scientific process represented by COSEWIC in determining which species in Canada are identifiable as endangered or threatened.

Every year the Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife group shall report to the minister on the effectiveness of the recovery programs carried out in the previous year. The report is to be tabled in Parliament not later than June 1 of the year the report was submitted to the minister. This will be done to address the criticism presently levelled at the Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife group that it lacks accountability and is too slow in enacting recovery programs.

I am sure many members of Parliament and the public at large would be fascinated, rather intrigued and quite attracted to becoming involved if they were familiar with the work done by both COSEWIC and RNEW.

To conclude very briefly, according to the bill the minister shall table no later than June 1 of every a report of a list of every species added to or removed from either the threatened or endangered list. The report will include the summary of the information that led to the species being removed or added to the respective list.

In essence the bill would provide a more coherent approach than we have at present to the protection of threatened and endangered species in Canada, while recognizing the importance of working in close co-operation with the provinces, the territories, the municipalities, aboriginal people and so on, so as to ensure recovery programs for endangered or threatened species are successful.

Furthermore the bill builds on the established systems of expertise represented by the people involved and presently active in COSEWIC and RNEW, so as to ensure that sound scientific principles are maintained when listing threatened or endangered species while providing the opportunity-and this is the main point of the bill to which I keep returning-and the importance of public input and public accountability.

This ends my presentation on Bill C-275 which I commend to the attention of my hon. colleagues. I hope they will find some positive aspects and sufficient substance in the bill to warrant having it sent to committee for necessary improvements and reinforcements.

As I said at the outset, it is a measure that emanates from the Rio de Janiero conference. It flows from Canada's fascination and understandable pride in the richness of its wildlife and in the desire to ensure that what we have inherited will remain for generations to come because we all love our wildlife and we all love nature.

Also as politicians we want to make a contribution to the work that is being done outside the political ranks in the communities at large in order to ensure that this richness remains one of the great things that makes Canada known and admired and desired by so many people abroad.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great interest that I rise to speak today to Bill C-275, a bill tabled by the hon. member for Davenport.

For approximately one year now, I have had the good fortune of sitting on the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development chaired by the hon. member for Davenport. He is so interested in the cause and devotes such effort to it that he is undoubtedly a first rate environmentalist and a true defender of our environment. However, the hon. member is also a staunch federalist, which, in my opinion, makes him lean dangerously towards centralization, which we do not consider an option and which can only have nefarious effects on the environment.

Centralization would burn bridges with the community; centralization would distance us from the community; centralization would make us more out of touch with the community. Therefore, the environment would lose out under an excessively centralized system, because the environment is very much a hands-on field and the local and provincial governments have a bigger presence in this field than the federal government.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we have to give jurisdiction for the environment to the provinces and to the local governments. Furthermore, I would like to stress that the hon. member stated himself at a press conference this morning that aboriginal peoples should be given full jurisdiction over the area. He seemed to have really been caught off guard by a question that a journalist asked, which was whether the federal government was being hypocritical by denying the provinces the jurisdiction which it wants to give to aboriginal people. Obviously uncomfortable, he muttered that certain provinces wanted national standards.

Therefore, I would ask him the following questions: Will he, who is so big on democracy, impose his standards on the other provinces which do not want national standards? Will he accept that certain provinces refuse to adopt the standards? These are questions which merit a reply and for which the hon. member for Davenport is not very clear.

The summary of the bill indicates that it provides for: "the identification, protection and rehabilitation of flora and fauna in

Canada threatened or endangered by human activity, to provide for the protection of habitat and the restoration of population".

Certainly, nobody can be against the protection of endangered animal species and populations. As inhabitants of this planet, we have the duty of respecting and protecting all species with which we share the planet. Otherwise, we are opening the door to the extinction of our own species. Too often, however, we remain oblivious to the need to protect the environment. More and more species are becoming extinct and more and more are threatened, mainly because of human interference.

Recently, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development sponsored a seminar on wildlife. This very useful and interesting activity gave us an opportunity to become more aware of all the threats to wildlife. Believe me, it was not a pretty picture. Witnesses who were invited to speak on the subject described an alarming situation that required prompt and decisive action. They described the impact of poaching, smuggling and destruction of natural habitat with a lot of expertise and considerable emotion.

They also pointed out the inadequacy of federal action in this field. Not enough financial resources were available to provide for more effective local control of the situations already mentioned. It was clear to us in the Bloc Quebecois that once again, the federal government was not up to the task in this area.

Canada is even incapable of complying with certain international agreements in this sector. One example is the CITES agreement to monitor and stop the trafficking in organs or endangered species. At the seminar, intervenors made it abundantly clear that the federal government failed to allocate the resources to meet its commitments in this respect. As a result we have considerable misgivings about the federal government's desire to protect threatened wildlife and plants and also about its ability to do so.

That is why we cannot allow the federal government to intrude even further in provincial jurisdictions. Although the bill presented by the hon. member for Davenport has its merits, some of its clauses reflect a desire to encroach on provincial jurisdictions, and that we cannot accept. For instance, in clause 8(2), the minister shall secure the carrying out of a recovery program by agreement with the province or municipality concerned. But, and this is the sticking point, the clause includes the phrase: "where possible".

What does the hon. member think would happen if it were not possible? And what about possible agreements with the municipalities? As far as I know, they come under provincial jurisdiction. This clause is typical of the attitude of government members. The Liberals are very good at saying "where possible", although they know perfectly well that very often it would be impossible. If we consider current federal-provincial harmonization agreements, it is clear there are quite a few problems with these agreements.

The federal government has quite simply failed to get the provinces to agree on quite a few issues. The authoritarian approach of the Minister of the Environment has been one of the main reasons why agreements have not been signed. According to our information, the minister has even been challenged at these federal-provincial sessions. I may point out to the hon. member that Quebec, with whom Canada will soon have to negotiate on an equal footing on these matters, recently launched its policy on biodiversity and at the same time asked Ottawa to mind its own business as far as provincial jurisdictions were concerned.

In fact, the Quebec minister of wildlife and the environment, Jacques Brassard, made public his proposed strategy for preserving Quebec's biological diversity, on May 18. In announcing it, he said: "Its actual implementation will be Quebec's responsibility in the end. This was the decision of the Government of Quebec in 1992". I close the quotes by pointing out that the Government of Quebec in question was red and federalist, like those opposite. It was not the wicked separatists.

Mr. Brassard went on to say: "We will be the ones to act. This is why the federal strategy contains no measures and ours has over 200. I do not foresee any trouble, so long as the federal government stays where it is". Make no mistake: the Quebec minister was talking on May 18 about the bill the federal minister was to table, which has since vanished never to be heard of again. To replace what the federal minister withdrew, the government is proposing the bill of the member for Davenport. It decided to give him a bit of rope and to untie his hands. This is a good way to give Liberal members the impression they are useful for something in Parliament.

Moreover, the minister has her hands full at the moment. With all the mail she has to check and even her fictional mail and with everything she says here and there, she and her acolytes have a lot of salvaging to do and corrections to make. The minister has become a great big surprise package. The same rabbit that pops out of the magician's hat could pop out of her mouth. This is farce, burlesque. I think the minister has really missed her calling.

To finish up what I was saying about Mr. Brassard, he told the federal government clearly to focus its actions on areas under its jurisdiction and, more particularly, to regulate international and interprovincial trade and to maintain a constant vigil to stop the illegal traffic in endangered species.

Quebec's message is clear-no encroachment in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction. We therefore oppose the bill proposed by the member for Davenport. In our opinion, it will be the source of confrontation with the provinces. Furthermore, for the federalist provinces, this bill is no pledge of effectiveness in species protection. As I mentioned, the federal government has the unfortunate habit of not applying its environmental legislation.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this private member's bill put forward by my colleague from Davenport.

Bill C-275 provides for the identification and rehabilitation of flora and fauna in Canada threatened or endangered by human activity and provides for the protection of habitat and restoration of populations.

Endangered species is an important Canadian environmental issue that should be carefully considered within a comprehensive, biodiversity strategy. According to one estimate, species are going extinct globally at the rate of several species a day. Since the arrival of the Europeans, only nine species have been rendered extinct in Canada.

Last April reports indicated that Canada had 263 species listed at risk. Some of the endangered species include the whooping crane, beluga whale and the peregrine falcon. The list is growing steadily and only last April eight new species were added. Once a species is lost, it is forever and the actions cannot be reversed.

The Brundtland commission identified one of the prerequisites to sustainable development as the protection of species and ecosystems. The fundamental goal of endangered species legislation must be to ensure that no further native species go extinct and that already endangered species recover to healthy, self-sustaining population levels using the most efficient, effective, fair and balanced means possible.

In 1992 Canada signed the Convention on Biological Diversity. This agreement calls on nations to retain a healthy population of the many varied species in the wild and commits signatories to introducing legislation to protect endangered species. Japan, Australia and the United States all have federal endangered species laws in place at the moment. The development of comprehensive legal protection for endangered species is a first step in meeting Canada's international commitments.

The federal government has jurisdiction over the management and preservation of wildlife on federal lands such as national parks. Provinces have jurisdiction over the management of all wildlife not falling within the federal jurisdiction. Only four provinces, as my colleague has mentioned, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have provincial endangered species acts. These laws enable, but do not compel, governments to develop a national list of endangered species and implement recovery plans. The remaining provinces have no endangered species legislation.

There are 12 pieces of federal legislation ranging from health regulations to trade rules that address species protection. These federal laws must be harmonized. Rather than developing a weak and ineffective set of standards, the federal government should work with the provinces to come up with a common set of standards that will be agreeable to all parties right across the country.

It is my hope that the federal environment minister will work co-operatively with provincial and territorial governments to develop such a strategy. I understand that harmonized endangered species legislation is currently in the works.

Last November the environment minister stated in the House that framework legislation would be introduced this spring. Members have seen a discussion paper and working document but there has been nothing concrete as yet. However, I suspect we will see endangered species legislation in the fall.

With federal legislation already in the works, this private member's bill may best serve as an example for discussion and consideration by the standing committee and the environment minister.

As part of the process, it is important that all interested parties have the opportunity to take part in the consultation process. The government should consult a broad cross section of stakeholders, including rural and urban centres, and consultation must be open to the public.

It is important that when we develop endangered species legislation we give serious consideration to the variety of options available. Laws must be balanced in meeting both the environmental and economic needs of the country.

Habitat protection will be a contentious and difficult issue when dealing with endangered species protection and laws must be fair and balanced. We need to encourage private land owners to protect endangered species and their habitats as opposed to heavy handed legislation that would penalize land owners. Clearly we have to have the land owners on side.

Bill C-275 does not set out how far the minister can go in taking action to protect endangered species and it is unlikely we will see this clearly spelled out until the minister tables the bill this fall.

Canadians do now want laws that will be economically destructive. We recently saw the U.S. Endangered Species Act shut down a large portion of the west coast logging to save the

spotted owl, thus devastating entire communities. Endangered species legislation must be fair and reasonable and not draconian in approach.

Section 9 of Bill C-275 proposes to give the minister the power to forbid or restrict use of, access to, activity on, or the use of any substance on lands that directly threaten the success of a recovery program. It is most important that we ensure private property rights are respected when any activity or use of lands is being restricted.

Section 11(1) of the bill empowers the minister to pay compensation when actions to protect endangered or threatened species affect a person's property or livelihood. This clause merits serious consideration. When personal property or restriction on the use of property are affected by government action, compensation must be addressed. I am sure my colleague will address this in detail when his turn comes up.

Another area of concern with the bill is section 5(2). This section gives the minister power to implement a recovery program if the minister is advised the cause or probable cause is of human origin. I am concerned this section may be too open ended as it allows the minister to take action before an investigation has taken place. The minister is not required to have proof that actions are warranted or justified. I feel this is dangerous.

Section 5(2) must be tightened up to ensure individual rights are protected. It is not good enough to take action because the minister has been advised of probable cause; rather, cause must be determined and action should, if necessary, be implemented.

In addition, endangered species legislation should apply equally to all Canadian citizens regardless of race or ethnicity. Two sections of the bill imply native Indians may be exempt from legislation or subject to a separate set of rules and regulations. This needs to be reviewed, as there can be only one set of laws applied equally to everyone in Canada.

Whatever rules and regulations are drawn up regarding the protection of endangered species they should be applied nationwide and with equality. The minister should not be negotiating private deals with one group and applying a set of regulations to another.

I am concerned about the potential implications of this section. Legislation should establish one comprehensive set of rules to be applied equally to all Canadians.

I take the opportunity to voice my concerns regarding the trade in endangered species and animal parts. The bill addressed endangered species but Canada is also faced with serious problems regarding the trafficking of wildlife and animal parts and continues to be used as a transit route for shipments of illegal wildlife destined for other countries. This is particularly so in my riding of Comox-Alberni on Vancouver Island. Penalties must be severe enough to act as a deterrent commensurate with the commercial value of endangered species and their parts.

I thank the hon. member for bringing this private members' bill forward in the House. Although I do not agree with all sections of the bill, some of the proposals warrant serious consideration and I hope the environment minister will look at some of the ideas contained in the bill as she drafts her legislation. I look forward to looking at the issue more closely when the minister tables the legislation.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, in rising to speak on Bill C-275 I congratulate the hon. member for Davenport for his tireless work to bring the bill before the House of Commons. More important, I congratulate the hon. member for his tireless efforts to protect Canada's endangered and threatened species.

The caribou, the sea otter, the wolverine, the burrowing owl, the blue ash and the red mulberry are just a few of the more than 240 endangered, threatened or vulnerable species in Canada.

Human activity is putting those species at risk. It is up to us as human beings to understand our failings and to work to reverse those failings. When we kill or injure an endangered species we are putting at risk a unique life form. When we buy or sell, import or export an endangered species we are trafficking in the extinction of a species.

All Canadians have a responsibility to prevent native wild species from disappearing from the face of the globe as a result of human activity. All Canadians have a responsibility to protect endangered species to the full extent of our powers. All of us must do what we can to help those species recover.

In Canada wetlands have been reduced by over 70 per cent. We have lost 99 per cent of tall grass prairie. No single Canadian is to blame. We are all to blame and it is up to all of us to act at every level of government, in every occupation, in every community and neighbourhood across the country.

Four provinces have acted to introduce endangered species legislation; Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick deserve credit for their actions. It is now clearly time for the federal government to do its part in areas of federal jurisdiction. It is also time for the federal government to push hard for co-operative national and international action.

My colleague, the hon. member for Davenport, understands that and the Minister of the Environment understands that. That is why the minister last fall outlined the federal government's intention to introduce endangered species legislation. It is why she held the first ever public consultations on the basics of such a law. It is why she has committed herself to bring such a law before cabinet in the next few weeks and to allow Canadians to

comment on the law before it receives detailed scrutiny by Parliament.

I am very pleased the hon. member for Davenport and the Minister of the Environment are working so closely together to advance the cause of endangered species. Obviously as Liberals we support their efforts and we are pleased to see real federal leadership.

However, this is not a partisan cause and I regret some of the comments I have heard in the House which clearly appeared to be of a partisan nature. I know members of Parliament from every party and every part of the country, including Quebec, want to see Canada a true world leader in protecting endangered species.

Canada was the first industrialized country to sign the United Nations convention on biological diversity. We need to transfer our goodwill and our signature on a piece of paper into real action to preserve our country's biological diversity. We owe that to future generations of human beings and we certainly owe that to future generations of endangered species.

Canadians like to keep their word. In article 8K of the convention on biological diversity, Canada promised to develop or maintain necessary legislation and/or other regulatory provisions for the protection of threatened species and populations. That is one good reason the hon. member and the minister are pushing for action.

There is another good reason to take action. Canadian children expect us to act. They have petitioned and written the Minister of the Environment in unprecedented numbers to call for the protection of endangered fish, marine mammals and migratory birds.

I recently received many responses from my spring-summer householder, something all members send out. Concern for the environment was at the top of the list.

I have heard it described as a sexy issue that has now been pushed to the background. That is nonsense. If we let this issue be pushed to the background we will all pay a very heavy price.

Canadian children and all Canadians believe or should believe that living organisms have the right to live. They do not understand how someone could make a living by selling off the parts of an endangered species. Canada's children are right.

Important scientific and financial issues must be addressed. There are certainly important issues raised by provinces, aboriginal peoples and farmers that must be addressed. Legislation must be realistic and fair. Not all the issues are easy but all of the issues must be resolved.

The biological foundation for our world depends on its diversity of genes, species and ecosystems. We need each sphere of our society to demonstrate both leadership and partnership in protecting endangered species. We do not need overlap or duplication or wasteful actions. We need swift action.

Conservation of endangered species is not the sole responsibility of the federal government, nor of any government. All elements of society have an interest in protecting species and all elements of our society should be intimately involved in planning, developing and implementing conservation programs.

It is important for the federal government to pass legislation that can be a model to the world, legislation that seeks to put an end to the extinction of species as a result of human activity. The federal government must do its part to make things right for Canada's wild plants and animals.

That is the policy underlying the legislation introduced by my friend and colleague from Davenport. That is the policy underlying the actions taken by my friend and colleague the Minister of the Environment. I believe it is the policy that must guide Parliament in our work to protect endangered species, and I am very pleased to have added some thoughts to today's debate.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my intention, in the next few minutes, to demonstrate to those watching that Bill C-275, which is before us today, is a typical example of inefficiency resulting from the overlaps that are caused by poor co-ordination between the federal government and Quebec.

This bill, as was pointed out by my hon. colleague, the member for Laurentides, and I am going to repeat it because it is important, provides for the identification, protection and rehabilitation of flora and fauna in Canada threatened or endangered by human activity-the hon. member for Davenport has provided a fairly impressive list, I believe-to provide for the protection of habitat and the restoration of population.

This is a laudable sentiment, and obviously this bill is interesting because the government is limiting its legislation to federally owned lands. After all, the government is perfectly justified in taking environmental action on lands that belong to it.

But the problem lies in the fact that fauna, understandably, do not stay in one place, and sooner or later appear on sites where the federal government does not have exclusive jurisdiction. There is therefore a need for an agreement with the other governments concerned, including the government of Quebec, all the more so as the latter has already made known its intentions in this regard in a letter sent to the attention of the Minister of the Environment last March 28.

In the circumstances, the least we could expect from the federal government is that it would consult the government of Quebec to find out its intentions and that it would table a bill taking into account the potential conflicts of jurisdiction with Quebec.

With respect to the environment, the distribution of powers is not fully spelled out, adding to the risk of overlap, overregulation and duplication. Let us look more specifically at the somewhat ill defined distribution of powers.

With respect to terrestrial fauna, Quebec has full authority over the species inhabiting the public or private lands held by Quebec.

It may also take steps to protect species and their habitat. The federal government has jurisdiction over land animals on federal land only.

As far as our feathered friends are concerned, the federal government was responsible for implementing the 1916 convention on migratory birds. Since this was an international agreement, the federal government at the time assumed responsibility for protecting these birds.

Today, Quebec is responsible for all bird species, including migratory birds, except on federal land. One wonders what happens when birds are neither on provincial land nor on federal land. Furthermore, following a number of administrative agreements, Quebec is now responsible for enforcing Canadian legislation on the 1916 convention on migratory birds.

Finally, as far as marine mammals and fish are concerned-certain fish species are also on the endangered list-the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over ocean and inland fisheries. As of 1922, however, an administrative agreement gives Quebec full responsibility for fisheries management, without any regulatory powers, however.

This delegation of authority has changed over the years, and today, Quebec is responsible for managing freshwater resources and the species they contain, while the federal government manages salt water resources. The division of powers remains a problem.

In the light of the foregoing, it is clear that agreements on the division of powers in environmental matters will require a very sensitive approach. Bill C-275, however, ignores the very existence of this problem, which is why it merely increases the likelihood of overlap and jurisdictional disputes between Quebec and the federal government.

In fact, the Minister of the Environment is well aware of the dangers of overlap and the potential for jurisdictional disputes. In a letter dated March 28, her Quebec counterpart, and I referred to this letter earlier, wrote that the federal bill on endangered species constituted an intrusion into one of Quebec's jurisdictions.

Not only does this government not consult Quebec but there is no attempt to consult within the government itself. In his letter, the Quebec Environment Minister suggested ways to regulate this area, saying that the minister should focus federal action on aspects that were obviously federal in scope, in other words, regulating international and interprovincial trade and exercising constant vigilance to prevent unlawful trafficking in endangered species. The bill before us today, however, does not reflect these suggestions, which means that the Liberal government's spokespersons for environmental matters may not have bothered to discuss the matter. Or even worse, they did and deliberately decided to "invade" an area over which Quebec has specific jurisdiction.

We certainly do not doubt the sincerity of the hon. member for Davenport, and I am sure, because I know him personally through the Standing Committee on the Environment, that the bill he introduced today is based on a genuine desire that is found the world over to protect the environment.

However, despite this sincerity, there is a significant risk that this bill will encroach on Quebec's jurisdictions. Even if the hon. member's motions are sincere, this is something we cannot accept.

I realize, and here I want to add a more personal note, that this is not the first time we rise in the House to speak out against bills or to say that there is a risk of encroaching on Quebec's jurisdictions. Every time we do, we look like troublemakers. I feel a bit like a troublemaker myself when I do this. Quite often, the bills introduced in the House are, to all intents and purposes, good bills.

From time to time, in committee, we draft dissenting opinions on committee reports which, all things considered, were excellent. However, we had to file our minority reports because the majority reports contained some very serious threats to Quebec's jurisdictions.

I think we should consider the demographic evolution of Quebecers since the founding of Canada.

When Canada was founded, the number of francophones and anglophones was about even. Today, we represent only 23 per cent of the population. We used to be one of four provinces. Today, we are one of ten and may become one of 12 or 13, when the territories gain provincial status. Quebecers are one of Canada's endangered species.

That being said, I think we must protect the interests of Quebecers. That is what we were elected to do. I know this bill is sincere and relatively well drafted, but because it represents a

serious threat to Quebec's jurisdictions, we intend to vote against this bill.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on the bill introduced by the hon. member for Davenport.

First, I want to praise the hon. member for his unflagging commitment to environmental issues. Second, I want to point out how dedication to a cause can result in progress. Third, I wish to talk about the importance of protecting and rehabilitating endangered and threatened species.

My colleague from Davenport is well known for his commitment to environmental issues through his work as chair of the standing committee on the environment and sustainable development.


The hon. member has devoted his political career to keeping the environmental cause in the foreground in society and at the centre of debates in the House of Commons. He knows that sustainable development is the only way to secure our generation's prosperity without endangering the prosperity of generations to come.

He knows that preservation of the world's biodiversity is central to the preservation of the world's environment and the world's future success. He knows that taking an ecosystem approach to environmental issues is critical. We have to look at the big picture and understand that every action in any sphere of the environment can have and does have implications for other parts of the environment.

That brings me to my second point, that the dedication of the hon. member has helped to ensure that the protection of endangered species has become a national priority. Thanks to forceful advocacy by the hon. member and others, our party made protection of endangered species a core part of the Liberal red book. We promised to introduce Canada's first comprehensive federal law to protect endangered species, and we are going to keep that promise to Canadians.

Bill C-275 received first reading in the House of Commons last September. Since that time the Minister of the Environment has called for wide-ranging public consultation on a law to protect endangered species. A few weeks ago the minister completed those hearings and outlined the fundamentals of the new law to the last national consultation meeting.

As the minister herself said, she received over 5,000 very articulate letters from grade school and high school students in support of such a law. That is why she drafted the bill hand in hand with representatives of the industry, the farming sector, aboriginal organizations and the provinces and territories.

In addition, the Minister of the Environment and the hon. member for Davenport joined forces to ensure that their wishes for a law to protect threatened species became a reality. Their determination reflects the determination of the Liberal Party and our government. Their determination reflects the wishes of the vast majority of the members of this House and, more importantly, the desire of the vast majority of the Canadian public to bring in such a law.

The law is coming very, very quickly thanks in large part to many years of hard work and dedication by the chair of the standing committee on environment and sustainable development.

This brings me to the third point. The preservation of endangered and threatened species is of vital importance to this country. As the school children who mounted the campaign for endangered species legislation said, "There otter be a law". Mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, plants, and other wild organisms all play a critical role in the environment of our country. Endangered fish, endangered marine animals, endangered waterfowl, and endangered migratory birds are all an important federal matter.

The species of the world contribute to the ecological wonders of the world. Of course these species have the right to exist for their own sake, but it is important to remember how much these species matter to us. They provide us with learning opportunities. They are part of our history. They offer artistic and spiritual inspiration. They are part of our identity as a country and as human beings. They help to sustain us environmentally, culturally, and economically.

Consider the list of endangered or threatened species in Canada and imagine how much poorer a country we would be without them. The Vancouver Island marmot, the beluga whale, the peregrine falcon, the leatherback turtle, the Acadian whitefish, the prairie orchid, the wood poppy, the wood bison, the harbour porpoise, the white-headed woodpecker, and the trumpeter swan are some of the endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species in Canada. These are some of the species that need protection and restoration. They are species whose habitat is disappearing or who have been victims of pollution or have been

slaughtered so that a few human beings may trade in their precious products. That is clearly wrong. That is clearly foolish.

It is important to note the efforts undertaken by conservancy organizations throughout the country to preserve and protect some of our endangered species. I can think of no better example than the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland, Ontario, which is located in my riding of Simcoe North. A few weeks ago I had the extreme honour of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the official opening of the Wye Marsh centre with many of its supporters. The centre is today a national example of leadership and ecological awareness and understanding of the importance of wetlands and wildlife in our world. In the past few years this centre has been very active in its program to increase the trumpeter swan population, which we know is very vulnerable.

It is now the time to assist Wye Marsh and similar organizations with meaningful and effective legislation. In addition to this private member's bill, the member for Davenport went to great lengths to organize a forum on wildlife, which was hosted last April by the standing committee on environment and sustainable development. This was a great opportunity for the members of the committee to discuss this serious matter with a variety of experts and organizations devoted to the protection of endangered species. I know that for me personally it gave me a newfound understanding of the consequences at hand and an appreciation of the urgency of this type of legislation.

The hon. member for Davenport and the Minister of the Environment are determined to put an end to these unfortunate practices in the federal jurisdiction. They are determined to have Parliament pass a law with teeth. They are also determined to see Canada adopt a credible and co-ordinated action plan to protect threatened and endangered species.

In our red book we committed the Liberal government to a vision of society that protects the longterm health and diversity of all species on the planet. The initiative we are debating today is one important contribution by the hon. member for Davenport to advance that vision and to advance that cause. We all ought to join him in this worthwhile cause. His bill is proof that he remains as committed as ever to providing good government for this country and responsible policies for the world's environment.

Endangered And Threatened Species ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, the time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustmentact, 1995Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec


Alfonso Gagliano LiberalSecretary of State (Parliamentary Affairs) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the motion regarding consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-69, I move:

That the debate be not further adjourned.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustmentact, 1995Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustmentact, 1995Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Electoral Boundaries Readjustmentact, 1995Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members