This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ocean.

Topics

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should not spend any more public money on non-parental day care initiatives at this time, and any existing expenditures for child care should subsidize financial need, not the method of child care chosen, and further that the program subsidize children and parents, not institutions and professionals.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce a motion which the Liberals were so afraid to debate that they refused to make it votable. As a consequence, this debate is limited to just one hour. What will be confusing for so many Canadians is that the Liberals are restricting debate on an important promise they made during the 1993 election campaign.

The Liberal promise for a national day care program was so important that it takes up almost two and half pages in the Liberal red book-pages 38 to 40 for those government members who are now running for their red books.

The Liberal broken promise on child care states:

In each year, following a year of 3 per cent economic growth, a Liberal government will create 50,000 new child care spaces to a total of 150,000.

Guess what? Economic growth using real GDP measured 4.6 per cent in 1994. According to the red book promise the Liberals should have created 50,000 new child care spaces in 1995. How many did they create? None that I know of. On page 39 of the Liberal red book, they promised to spend $120 million in 1995-95 to create 50,000 additional child care spaces. How much did they spend? Nothing that I am aware of.

The red ink book promised a total of $720 million in federal funding for a total of 150,000 new day care spaces. Another Liberal broken promise.

On January 24, 1994 the Deputy Prime Minister repeated the Liberal promise in the House of Commons. She said: "As soon as the economy has grown by 3 per cent we plan to open 150,000 new day care spaces within three years. That was clearly indicated in our red book and there is no doubt that the Prime Minister will fulfil the promises made in that book". Oh, really? We will see how prominent the Liberal red book is during the next election campaign.

In December 1995 the government's first minister of human resources promised $630 million to expand and improve day care spaces, but he made the offer conditional on the participation of the provinces. On March 8, 1996 the Secretary of State for the Status of Women, in response to a question in the House of Commons regarding the government's support for a national child care program, said: "Everything she quoted in the red book is true. It was true then and it is true today".

In June 1996 the new minister of HRD promised the provinces just $250 million over three years. Again the provinces were reluctant partners.

Now the broken election promise will be defended with the excuse that the provinces are to blame, not the Liberals in Ottawa. However, the reason I point out so clearly another broken red book promise is not that I am attempting to pressure the government to spend more tax dollars. I bring it up to illustrate how out of touch Liberals are with reality, to demonstrate how out of touch Liberals are with the real priorities of parents, how out of touch Liberals are with the real priorities of Canadian taxpayers. You cannot believe their promises.

The other reason I bring up the Liberal broken promise is to illustrate a serious flaw in the democratic and parliamentary process. How can the government go about offering $720 million, $630 million or even $250 million to the provinces for a national day care program when the matter has not even been debated in the House of Commons?

Let us get to the real reason for the debate today. If we are going to have a national day care program then the matter has to be debated in public and in the House of Commons. Frankly, I disagree with the federal government spending any money on a national day care program, and that is what the debate is about today.

The Liberal government should be embarrassed that it has to be a Reform MP who has to bring this issue on to the floor of the House of Commons as a private member's motion rather than as a government legislative initiative for a measure it promised in the 1993 election campaign and repeated in the Speech from the Throne.

The Liberal government should be embarrassed that it limited debate on this important issue to just one hour by deciding not to make this motion votable when it passed all 12 criteria for determining if an item will be votable in the House. It passed all 12 of the government's own guidelines.

I believe my motion is self-explanatory but when we deal with this government, nothing can be left to the imagination.

My motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should not spend any more public money on non-parental day care initiatives at this time, and any existing expenditures for child care should subsidize financial need, not the method of child care chosen, and further that the program subsidize children and parents, not institutions and professionals.

My motion is based on longstanding Reform blue book policy. Reform's blue book is distinctly different from the Liberal red book. Reform's policies are made by our members in a democratic process that is open to all members of our party and voted on by delegates at our assemblies which, according to our party's constitution, are the highest authority and supreme governing body of the party.

Here is where Reformers stand on a national day care program. Reformers support child care programs that subsidize financial need, not the method of child care chosen, and that subsidize children and parents, not institutions and professionals. That is our policy.

Reformers oppose state run day care. Reformers support government regulation of day care standards by respecting provincial jurisdiction in this matter. Reformers support a system of flat rate taxation with continued recognition of the costs associated with the care of children. Until such a time as a system of flat rate taxation can be implemented, Reformers support the concept of income splitting between legally married couples to support and nurture families. Those are our policies.

Reformers believe, fundamentally, that the care of children is the domain of families and that parents must have full responsibility in Canadian society to nurture and provide for children.

Current federal programs are intrusive and restrict choices that parents may make in deciding on the best type of care for their children. We believe that the appropriate role for government is to provide a fair tax and benefit system that provides parents with the opportunity to properly care for their children in a manner of their own choosing, not the government's choosing. Government must uphold the exclusive authority and responsibility of parents in the area of raising children. The only acceptable role for government is as an intervener to protect children in cases of abuse or neglect.

Day care is a service that private organizations, families and individuals can provide efficiently and effectively. Because of this it is unnecessary for government to provide state run day care.

The provinces currently set their own regulations for day care and there certainly is not any reason for the federal government to set up another bureaucracy in Ottawa to duplicate work already being done by the provinces, nor does the federal government have the constitutional authority to intrude into yet another area of provincial jurisdiction.

Currently federal program spending in child care creates a system of incentives that favours institutionalized day care to the detriment of home care. This occurs through government subsidies for day care, financed by higher taxes on stay at home parents and, through the child care expense deduction, allowed only to parents with children in receiptable day care institutions, thereby creating further inequity and a clear bias in favour of institutional day care.

Another key point I would like to make in my speech today is to inform members of the House about the negative effects that institutionalized day care or, as my motion says, non-parental day care, has on the lives and future development of children. What effect does separating a baby from its mother for long periods of time have on the future development of the child? The answer to this question is truly alarming and proves beyond any doubt that institutionalized day care is a recipe for disaster.

Here is the proof. In February of 1995 I had the honour of hosting a news conference on Parliament Hill with Dr. Mark Genius, executive director of the National Foundation of Family Research and Education. At the news conference Dr. Genius released the findings of two extensive studies regarding the influence of regular separation from parents on young children.

Dr. Genuis said:

Research collected over the last 40 years on non-parental care demonstrates clearly that prior to five years of age, regular separation from parents results in an unmistakably negative effect on emotion and behavioural development in children, as well as a hindering effect on the security of the children's bonds to their parents. Further studies have linked children's insecure bonding with parents to clinical, emotional and behavioural difficulties, including youth crime.

Dr. Genuis continued:

The research demonstrates definite risks to the emotional health and behavioural adjustment of children when they are separated from their parents on a regular basis, most noticeably for periods of 20 or more hours per week. Further, improved cognitive skills have been argued by some as a reason for increased use of regular non-parental care. This is not supported by the research. In fact, the results indicate a minor negative effect for those children raised in regular non-parental care of more than 20 hours per week. There is also no scientific support for the claim that high quality day care is an acceptable substitute for parental care.

Dr. Genuis had this recommendation to the government:

Any program facilitating regular separation of children younger than five years of age from their parents, such as the government's present plan, will contribute to a destructive cycle within Canada. Canada's citizens will feel the effect through higher taxes, emotional distress, increased crime, lower work productivity and higher business costs due to mental illness and personal and family stress. The information now available to us in the area of regular non-parental care compels the government to reconsider its present plan. Further, based on the information that is now available, we recommend that the federal government give serious consideration to plans that would better enable families to take care of their own children.

I would like to clarify for the benefit of all members that Dr. Genuis' research involved a comprehensive analysis which combined and standardized the findings from all the studies conducted on day care since 1957 from throughout the world. All the problems identified by Dr. Genuis' research were not because day care institutions are bad places but a direct result of insecure bonding between the children and their parents caused by long periods of separation.

This is an impressive research effort and the findings are difficult, if not impossible, to refute. This is not to say that Dr. Genuis and his research have not come under attack; they have, but I might add that neither has been successfully challenged. No doubt my Liberal colleagues will have read articles and columns in the country's left-wing newspapers which regularly try to extol the virtues of institutionalized day care.

A study released this spring by the U.S. National Institutes of Health concluded that children's attachment to their mothers need not be harmed by as much as 30 hours a week of non-maternal care, the exact opposite of Dr. Genuis' exhaustive research. How can this be? I have to thank Financial Post columnist David Frum for pointing out the serious flaws in the study conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and reported on so favourably by the country's so-called national newspapers. I will quote directly from Mr. Frum's column published May 4, 1996:

When asked by a New York Times reporter why the National Institutes of Health team had found that children were less harmed by day care than previous researchers had found, the study co-ordinator replied that one explanation might be that previous studies focused on child care centres, which were found to provide the lowest quality of care. For a child to be spared the ill effects of separation from the mother, the National Institutes of Health team agreed it needs high quality care, which the NIH team found means care by fathers, or relatives or in the home by a caregiver. In other words, it does not hurt babies to be separated from mom, provided they are cared for by dad, grandma or an in-home nanny.

Mr. Frum also pointed out an obvious flaw in the National Institutes of Health study. It tracked the effects of day care only up to the age of 15 months. Mr. Frum also reported: "Even the authors of the National Institutes of Health study conceded that their results are as yet so provisional and tentative that it would be irresponsible to put too much weight on them".

On the other hand, Dr. Genuis' research on the negative effects of institutionalized day care are conclusive. What is amazing is that the Liberal government would propose spending almost three-quarters of a billion dollars without knowing exactly what the effects of institutionalized day care are on the future of our children, our families and our country.

By their actions the Liberals have proven they are prepared to take the latest left-wing fad and run with it, spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers hard earned dollars in the process without having any regard for the consequences. In light of the evidence, I would call the Liberal policy on day care as reckless disregard. Liberals obviously live by the credo of old style politicians: If the promise sounds good and will help us get elected, let us run with it.

The referendum on the Charlottetown accord proved that Canadian voters are smarter than the elitist politicians run by backroom bureaucrats and slick pollsters. Canada's political system is undergoing a major overhaul. It started in the kitchens, living rooms and coffee shops across the nation. People are paying very close attention to what politicians say, what they promise and more important, what they do when they get to Ottawa. Those politicians who become arrogant and out of touch, politicians who disregard the opinions of the silent majority do so at their own peril.

This is what the silent majority is telling the government about institutionalized day care. Liberal MPs should pay close attention. The people are trying to tell them something about their policies.

In the 1991 Decima poll, 70 per cent of women surveyed said they would prefer to stay home to care for their children, if they had a choice. The Angus Reid group confirmed these opinions in the April 1994 survey which found that 68 per cent of Canadians agreed and 58 per cent strongly agreed that the traditional two parent family with one parent at home is the best type of family to raise children. Amazingly, even 68 per cent of single parents also agreed with the statement.

Reformers are listening very closely to the people. That is why I introduced Motion No. 101. That is why I encourage everyone present in the House, including the hecklers across the way, to listen to the scientific evidence I have introduced. I introduced Motion No. 101 and I encourage everyone present to support a full and open debate on the day care issue before we compound our past mistakes by committing more money to build more day care bureaucracies across the country.

Institutionalized day care is clearly a big mistake, a very big mistake. Taxation has put extra stress on children because both parents in some households must work to keep afloat financially. Children in day care are more at risk and institutions cannot solve the problem, no matter what the quality of care is.

The fact is that institutionalized day care creates more problems, increased costs to justice, increased costs to education. In the process, it undermines the very fabric of society. The transmission of values from one generation to the other is seriously put at risk.

In conclusion, I ask the Liberals to honour their promise to make private members' business subject to free votes. Consequently, I ask for unanimous consent of the House to make Motion No. 101 declared a votable item at this time.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the request of the hon. member. Is there unanimous consent to make this motion votable?

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I hear a no. Accordingly, the motion is not a votable item.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the interest of the hon. member in the child care issue. It is a matter of great concern to all parties in the House. Whatever our political stripes, many of us have had to confront the challenge of assuring quality care for our own children.

For all his concern, I cannot support the member's motion which suggests that the government should not spend public money on non-parental day care initiatives. This measure would restrict rather than improve child care choices for Canadian families. Such a proposition is not only unreasonable but unrealistic in today's world. I emphasize unrealistic. It seems to me that the member and his friends are still operating as if they were in the 1950s and not in the world that we live in today.

Before debating the merits of this motion I am obliged to point out that the delivery of child care services as well as the regulation and licensing of child care falls under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government indirectly funds social service programs such as child care through the Canada health and social transfer.

Unlike its predecessor, the Canada assistance plan, the CHST does not attach conditions about the way those federal funds are spent. Each province has the discretion to determine the level and nature of funding for child care. Most provinces ensure that subsidies are directed to those in greatest need, particularly low income families.

Federal involvement in child care includes: the child care expense deduction; under the Employment Insurance Act part II, funds can be directed toward supporting child care expenses; the First Nations and Inuit child care initiative; and finally, the child care visions research and development program.

In areas where the federal government does have influence, it has taken a very flexible approach. Canadian parents are able to decide how best to meet their individual family needs. This government strongly supports parental choice, not some sort of weird interest in telling people that they have to stay at home whether or not they would like to. If that was their choice, a lot of people would, but obviously in today's environment that is not always the case.

The family of the 1990s is very different from the traditional two parent, stay at home mom variety many of us grew up with. Clearly a one size fits all approach to child care could not begin to meet the many demands facing dual income families, single working parents or adults trying to move off social assistance and into the labour force. Accessible and affordable quality care outside the parental home is crucial to these people.

This government recognizes the challenges facing Canadian families. That is why there are no stipulations as to the type of care that can be declared under the child care expense deduction. Families can claim any form of non-parental child care so long as they provide receipts for their expenses.

The federal government has introduced a number of new measures that support families with children. Changes to child support regulations in the Income Tax Act will protect the interests of children by ensuring that non-custodial parents live up to the responsibilities and provide child support payments.

The maximum annual level of the working income supplement designed to help low income parents meet the extra costs related to working will double over the next two years from $500 to $1000. Starting on January 1, 1997, an innovative family income supplement will increase employment insurance benefits for low income claimants with children. These measures complement the child tax benefit which is specifically targeted at low to middle income families.

Nowhere, and I stress nowhere, is the need for federal support greater than among Inuit and First Nations families. The Government of Canada is providing $72 million over three years for the First Nations and Inuit child care initiative which will lead to the development of 6,000 new or improved spaces in these communities.

We have also invested another $18 million over three years in the child care visions research and development fund. This fund will seek new solutions to balancing work and family responsibilities by supporting studies into the adequacy, outcomes and cost-effectiveness of child care practices and offering insights into the most appropriate types of care.

No one denies that in an ideal world probably the care of children would take place by one parent in the home. In reality that is not always possible. I stress reality.

In 1993, 70 per cent of families have two earners compared to 30 per cent 20 years ago. Labour force participation of women with children under six has increased from 47 per cent in 1981 to 63 per cent in 1993. Whether by choice or of necessity, these women and their families depend on having access to quality, affordable care for their children outside their homes.

These parents want the assurance that they are putting their little loved ones in the hand of trained child care providers who can nurture the social, physical and emotional development of their young children.

Reformers would like to turn back the clock but we cannot. In 1950 just 30 per cent of couples with children were in the workforce. By 1990 the number of families with both parents working had increased to 70 per cent. This is today's reality. The majority of Canadian families want and need access to quality child care, often community based centre care or regulated home care.

I suggest to the hon. member that what is really important is not who is getting paid, but ensuring that whoever provides the care is offering the best quality of care for Canada's children.

At the first ministers' meeting last June there was broad support for governments to work together to develop a national child benefit. The federal government is collaborating closely with the provinces to determine how such a benefit might be implemented.

I hope the hon. member will be a part of this important process. I encourage him to set aside his unnecessary motion and instead work with the government as we try to improve the well-being of Canadian children.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate this morning. Before I begin, I must clarify the motion of my Reform colleague. On the one hand, the Reform party wants the government not to spend any more public money on non-parental daycare, in other words to keep the funds earmarked for it at the same, limited, level. We must bear this point in mind. On the other hand, they want all of the existing expenditures for child care to be used to subsidize parents rather than institutions and professionals.

As for the first aspect, all provinces will agree that the money currently being spent on daycare is insufficient. Now that we are aware of the situation families are facing, these sums ought to be raised considerably in order to provide quality services. Most definitely, choices must be made. Should this money go directly to parents, or to a daycare system that is already in place and monitored?

We in the Bloc Quebecois feel that, at this time, the daycare system already in place-which is of course, as I have said, under-funded-ought to be improved. This is the way to go to provide better services to children.

I will take a closer look at the concept of having child care funding go directly to subsidize parents, rather than to institutions and professionals. My Reform colleague may think that this motion is the solution to all of the problems of insufficient daycare spaces. Not so.

Even this government, the Liberal government, managed to sell the public during its 1993 campaign on its plan to increase the number of daycare spaces, a promise they have not yet been able to keep-nor will they before the next elections.

Proposing such a motion indicates a very poor understanding of the problems faced by parents who have to work.

The problem will not be solved by giving the money directly to the parents. On the contrary, I think this would only make the problem worse. At this time, our child care centres are effective and provide an important service to parents who rely on them to care for their children.

There are different types of child care. There are both public and private facilities, as well as small centres caring for fewer than nine children in residential neighbourhoods in each of our municipalities. These centres offer an ongoing presence and promote child development. In fact, their activities are focused on the social development of their small charges.

Child care centres do not serve only the parents who, for various reasons, choose to send their children there. They also help other parents who must turn to them on a periodic basis because they work or go to school, or because of illness in the family.

In Quebec, this is an area of provincial jurisdiction. As we know, the federal government transfers money to Quebec so it can run the child care network. The hitch in all this is that, in transferring this money, the federal government sets certain conditions the Quebec government must meet.

As you probably guessed, I would like the federal government to completely withdraw from this area of jurisdiction and authorize the transfer of tax points directly to the provinces, which will then

be able to set up the system they want. If the federal government insists on continuing to transfer money without giving us the tax points, it should stop imposing so-called national standards that simply confuse the issue.

To help parents and the child care network, the Quebec government gives the money to the child care centres themselves for certain reasons. First, it helps preserve the quality of services. This approach assures parents their children will be in an environment that will allow them to develop normally.

Quebec's child care centres must meet certain standards and undergo inspections by a monitoring agency to ensure that these standards are being maintained.

If, as the Reform motion suggests, the money were given directly to parents, would the exact same level of service be provided? Of course, it is another option, but would controls be available? Why change something that is working well as it is?

If we really want to make child care more like that provided by the parents, we could draw inspiration from the child care project underway in my riding, where a not-for-profit organization offers home day care services in rural areas. The services are provided under the supervision of an agency which, as I just said, is a not-for-profit organization. The purpose is not to make money, but to make sure the services parents are entitled to are available everywhere. Visits can be made to these homes to ensure the children are receiving the services they are entitled to. As I said earlier, existing day care centres promote the social development of children. They do more than that: they teach these children how to live in society.

As we all know, today, families have few children, often a single child. In this context, daycare centres will a void. They focus their action on the modern family concept.

I think that the social integration of children should be fostered from a very early age and that daycare centres are one way of achieving this. This is a place where young children can prepare for entering the school world. If we think back to this time of our lives, we will remember that it was not always easy. Daycare centres play a role in helping children and, indirectly, their parents. As far as I am concerned, daycare centres are useful, efficient and necessary.

The problem, of course, is the lack of day care spaces. Unable to meet the promise it made in 1993 to create day care spaces, this government will have to review its position on this issue as well as on social housing. In fact, it has taken the same approach to day care as it did to social housing, completely withdrawing financial support. There is indeed a need for daycare centres.

My hon. friends from the Reform Party are headed in the wrong direction with this motion we have before us today. There is also a danger. Subsidizing parents could create a new problem: parents could use the money for themselves, as it will certainly happen. Not everyone will do it, but some parents might use the money to hire people who are not always qualified for this type of work. Such an arrangement would also promote moonlighting. As we know, no level of government can currently afford such schemes. Governments are trying to stop clandestine work in other areas, but to bypass the daycare structure would actually open the door to such activity.

Hiring a good person to look after the children is probably a parent's primary concern. Sometimes though, mistakes can be made. Sometimes, people do not have the proper qualifications to do the job. People who work through the daycare system are, of course, paid a salary. This salary is taxed, which means it is easier to monitor the situation.

Moreover, daycares often provide support for single-parent families which, as we have often said it this House, are usually headed by the mother. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that, more often than not, these women have to rely on social assistance. Therefore, they must have access to quality services.

However, I think there is room for improvement in daycare services. A lingering problem in my region is that few daycares take into account the needs of parents who work in the evening, at night and on weekends. We must absolutely look at this issue and provide services seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This is an improvement that must be made as quickly as possible.

As I said earlier, Reformers are again headed in the wrong direction, because daycares come under provincial jurisdiction. If the Reform Party wants to do something about this issue, it should team up with the Bloc Quebecois to ask the federal government to completely withdraw from this area, and to pay fair compensation to the provinces. The federal government is far from taking this position.

During the federal-provincial conference held in September 1995, the federal minister even went so far as to say he was prepared to co-operate with the provinces, provided that-

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but his time is up.

I now recognize the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 101.

The motion presented by my Reform colleague from Yorkton-Melville has three main points to which I will speak today. First, the government will not provide any more public money on non-parental day care initiatives. Second, existing expenditures should go to the needs, not the method of care. Third, the subsidy should be to the parents and children, not to institutions and professionals.

The Reform policy is described in the blue book, which my colleague from Yorkton-Melville has explained. There is so much I could say on this issue but I will not repeat much of what he has said.

However, this week is most appropriate to address matters relating to the family as this is national family week. Families do not exist separately from government policy. The government attitude to the importance of family is reflected in its attention to or its neglect of families in its policies.

I will look briefly at the Liberal government's record and its shabby treatment of families in its public policy. This government, that spends tens of millions of dollars every year on gender issues, billions of dollars on children's issues, seems to have a very myopic, shortsighted vision of a stronger country through stronger families.

The legacy of this myopia is seen in the record of the last quarter century, which has been controlled by the old vision of old governments, the legacy of the failure of the Liberal vision, of more taxes, more government in the lives of Canadians and quite frankly, the wrong priorities in public policy.

The first statement in this motion is that government should not spend any more public money on non-parental day care initiatives. The plain truth, which I can say quite briefly, is that the government is now bankrupt both of ideas and of money. The government has been forced lately, with the help of the Reform Party, to start to put its House in order. However, we still need a clear statement of deficit elimination because sadly we are still digging that debt hole.

The legacy of the government's spending will add within its mandate $100 billion to the national debt. The interest alone on that increased debt will be paid every year even when the budget is balanced. If we stop to think for a moment, the interest only on that increased debt courtesy of the present Liberal government would be enough to pay 100,000 families in excess of $70,000 every year from now until forever. Let us decide right now that we do not need increased government spending.

The second point in my colleague's motion is that existing expenditures should go to need, not to the government's prescribed method. When families are looking for solutions to their problems, do they need to go first to government, particularly the federal government? Would I want a federal bureaucrat coming to my kitchen table and saying to me: "I am here from Ottawa, I came to help?" Hardly. Le probléme c'est Ottawa.

Where has this brought us, this feeling that Ottawa can solve the problems of this country? Child poverty in the last 20 years has not been brought under control by government policy. In fact it is more of a problem now than it used to be. Youth and child crime are epidemic. Teen suicides have grown in epidemic proportions. Our families are disintegrating around us. Just last week we heard that teen pregnancies, the greatest precursor of poverty in our society, will be more of a dilemma for the next generation than it has been for this one. They have gone up 20 per cent since 1987.

The history of the involvement of government in people's lives has been costly, has been through misdirected social policies and in fact, as we have already heard, it parallels the growth of duel income families.

Do families today have the choice? Hardly. As my colleague stated, 70 per cent of women with preschool children told an Angus Reid poll recently that they would remain home if they felt they could afford to do so. However, the government has removed that choice from them. In other words, misdirected government spending eventually translates into greater demand for the programs set up by the government to deal with those problems. How convenient for a Liberal minded government that simply wants an excuse to justify programs and to continue its existence in the future.

The history of government in the involvement of private affairs of law-abiding families is a history of greater and greater intrusion, a vicious circle which can only be alleviated when the government withdraws its meddling hands from the lives of Canadian families and when it allows them to keep more of their hard earned income rather than taking half of it.

This is the product of the old vision for a Canadian society which still grips the hearts and the minds of those who are determining government policy on that side of the House. Government programs must be directed to need. Government programs must not create greater dependency and thus create a greater problem for society.

There is not a need for dependence in our society but a need for empowerment through a recognition of wise choices, not government choices, and of faith in Canadians and a faith in Canadian families.

The third point in my colleague's motion bill is that the government's interest should be in a subsidy to parents and children and not institutions and professionals. I often hear the mantra from the Liberals concerning the best interests of the child.

They would translate that into a saying that the best interests of a child are more government programs, more government spending.

I question their child care expense deduction. In fact the Liberal member mentioned that. Right now that program is only of benefit to those who can present receipts. How in the world can a parent at home present receipts to a government and yet that care is valid. In fact that care is preferred by the majority of Canadians.

We talk about the best interests of the child, Liberal style. In fact, it is the worst interest of the future of our country. As I have said on the expensive programs, those very children as adults will be passed the bill for the very programs that supposedly were for their good. That debt is passed on with interest over the years and it is the children who will be paying that. Their jobs and their security will be at risk because of it.

As my colleague mentioned, studies such as the 40-year study compendium put forward by Dr. Genius of the National Foundation for Family Research and Education said non-parental day care of more than 20 hours a week in early childhood posed a significant risk factor in developing insecure bonding with parents. Once established, that insecure bonding is a central factor in social and behavioural development.

That has been ignored by the other parties as they have talked to this bill. In 1993 there were 2,232,250 children in licensed day care in Canada. That is not the choice of parents but courtesy of misdirected government policy. There are other problems as well. I speak today of the spread of disease and the long term complications both to individuals and society because of that, the long term risk of overuse or early use of antibiotics and that overuse to public health.

Today I have brought a few clippings from June 9, 1996. The number of recurrent ear infections, the bane of preschool children and their parents, rose 44 per cent in the 1980s. This increase was blamed largely on the earlier entry to child day care and exposure to germs. Also I have an article by Dr. Harrison Spencer, chief of parasitic diseases at the Centres for Disease Control in Minnesota. I quote: "Day care children are at risk anywhere from 2 to 18 times as much as non-day care kids for certain infectious diseases that run the gambit from diarrheal diseases to respiratory and flu like illnesses".

As well, Winnipeg disease expert, Dr. Ron Gold says: "The 200,000 plus Canadian children in day care are twice as likely to get sick as those cared for at home. There is a horrible litany of day care related diseases, as they are called. Over 70 per cent of clinical cases of hepatitis A can be traced to a day care setting", and on it goes.

The Liberal response to these problems presented by day care are that they would choose their well-funded feminist agenda that state funding of day care is a priority and that women must be in the workplace.

I recently received a letter from a constituent which reflects the priorities of the government and refers to parental care and its priorities in the taxation system. The letter actually states that the government rejects a certain method of taxation because it can involve work disincentives for the second spouse to enter the workforce, that is, the government has said that it rejects a certain taxation system because it might stop the second spouse from working. Does this not reflect a bias toward having both parents in the workforce? This is full in the face of evidence which says that children need their parents at home and many parents would prefer to stay at home.

The government's social engineering policies have been tremendously effective. In the 15 years from 1977 to 1992 the number of mothers with children under the age of six who were in the workforce grew from 38 per cent to a full 63 per cent. But this choice, as I said before, was not made freely.

There is a new vision required for children in Canada, a vision that requires aid to those who are truly in need, a vision that empowers people instead of fuelling institutions-

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to tell the hon. member that her time has expired.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the motion of the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville. Though well intentioned, the motion is misdirected. Imagine bringing forward questionable research to support arguments.

Few issues matter more to the millions of parents in the country than ensuring that their children have every opportunity to play and learn in safe, nurturing and healthy environments. I am surprised that the member, who travelled with the human resources development standing committee, who listened but really did not hear the voices of the parents who appeared before the committee on this subject. Assuring the welfare of our children is critical to this country's future. Quality care provides the foundation for lifelong learning and increases the employability of the next generation.

Happy, well adjusted children today will go on to lead productive and rewarding lives as parents, workers and taxpayers. While I am sure that we all agree on that, I am convinced this motion will not advance that objective.

Motion No. 101 seems to be based on a number of incorrect assumptions. As my colleagues have already noted, the delivery of child care services as well as their regulation and licensing comes under provincial authority. The federal government only indirectly funds social service programs such as child care through the Canada health and social transfer. This provides maximum flexibil-

ity to provinces, allowing them to design and deliver their programs according to their priorities and to suit the needs of their communities.

The changes suggested by the hon. member's motion would require revisions to the CHST, changes that would be unwelcomed by provinces and in fact would be contrary to the spirit of the speech from the throne.

The Government of Canada has stated that it will not use its spending powers to influence how provinces provide social services, including child care. I am sure that the hon. member supports this position.

I would like to remind the House that at last summer's first ministers meeting, the premiers and the Prime Minister agreed that more effort should be directed to improving the well-being of Canadian children. The government is currently discussing a possible national child benefit program with the provinces.

The federal government is investing $90 million over three years in two initiatives alone. The government already provides support to families and children through such initiatives as the child tax benefit, which is targeted to low and middle income families; increases in the working income supplement; the child care expense deduction; changes to the child support regulations in the Income Tax Act; funds which can be directed toward child care expenses under the Employment Insurance Act; the First Nations and Inuit child care initiative; the child care visions research and development program. There are many programs totalling millions of dollars. This is a reflection of the importance we attach to this issue.

These programs highlight the legitimate and appropriate role of the federal government in fully addressing the needs of families and underscores two important points. The first is that the federal government supports parental choice. I think this is lost on the members of the other party. This especially applies to aboriginal communities. Child care there must reflect the unique traditions and circumstances of First Nations and Inuit families and must be sensitive to their cultural priorities.

The federal government is concerned that Canadian families have access to quality child care. Ideally, parents should have reasonable and affordable alternatives, whether found in community based centres or regulated home day care.

Women particularly could be penalized by this motion which might severely limit rather than strengthen their child care choices.

Women's participation in the workforce is increasingly important to family incomes and women's career aspirations. Many families now need two incomes just to make ends meet. Today almost two-thirds of women with children under the age of six work outside the home. I am sure that the hon. member recognizes that our economy depends on the contributions of women in the workplace.

We also know that accessible and affordable child care can help more mothers move into the labour force and off social welfare rolls. Being able to leave their children with qualified care providers can mean the difference between dependence and self-sufficiency for these women. They must have child care choices that will allow them to enter or re-enter the workforce and provide for their families, something which Motion No. 101 could restrict.

The second key point I want to make is that we are beginning to understand the factors that go into assuring quality care. That is why the child care visions emphasis on research and evaluation is so important. The hon. member's motion rests on the assumption that parental care in the home is always the best option. Doubtless in the vast majority of cases this would be true if working parents had the choice.

No member in this House today would argue that the best setting for young children is at home in the care of a loving parent. However, this is not a viable choice for an increasing number of parents who must work, take training or who, for other reasons, cannot remain at home. The facts are that more and more children are spending longer hours each day in the care of adults other than their parents. This fact cannot be denied.

Is it not, therefore, incumbent on all levels of government to ensure, to the degree possible, that children receive quality care not only for their safety and well-being but also to contribute to their healthy development? It is not enough to assume that child care is just child minding and that anyone can do. Do we not want the very best for Canada's children?

There are no easy answers to the child care question. Canadian parents are often confronted with difficult choices. That is why it is essential we increase and improve their options, something this motion clearly would not do.

I urge the members of this House to bear in mind that we should not play politics with something so precious as our children. This is why I urge them to defeat Motion No. 101.

What really matters is doing what is best for Canada's families. Let us work together to ensure that we do precisely that.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. The order is dropped from the Order Paper.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In light of the fact that this is the beginning of national family week and in light of the fact that I have heard some speeches from both sides of the House over this very debatable item of universal day care, with the confidence that the government has that it is doing the right thing, I believe this item deserves full debate.

I would ask, on a point of order, that each member of this House carefully consider taking this item and moving it to a votable motion in the sense that it is an extremely important one. The Canadian people deserve their say and the way they will have their say is through the votes of their members. I encourage them to do so as I make that motion.

Child CarePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The notice had already been read that the matter had expired because the hour had expired. Although, in fairness, the member gave me prior notice of that, his point is not really a point of order. As he knows, the matter was raised earlier by another member. The House was asked to express its view on that about a half hour earlier.

He is on the record, but the Chair cannot rule that is a proper point order and cannot, therefore, ask for unanimous consent.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau Liberalon behalf of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

moved that Bill C-26, an Act respecting the oceans of Canada, be read for the third time and passed.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I have the great pleasure of leading off this final debate in the House of Commons on the oceans act, which confirms Canada's role as a world leader in the management and protection of oceans and marine resources. It is a bill in which I take a great interest because of my training in international law, including the law of the sea.

The bill being presented to Parliament is an extremely important one for two reasons. First of all, this bill confirms Canada's role as a world leader in the management and protection of oceans and marine resources. Second, this bill is proof that our Parliamentary process can work in the best interest of all Canadians.

The bill which was introduced June 1995 was very good legislation. The bill we have before us today, however, is much better legislation. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans under the chairmanship of the hon. member for Dartmouth and then under the chairmanship of the hon. member for Egmont has demonstrated the thoughtful, practical and far sighted vision Canadians expect from members of Parliament.

Last September the former minister of fisheries and oceans told the House of Commons we want the strongest possible bill that can be provided. In doing so, he called the members of the standing committee the conscience and the voice of the oceans.

The standing committee conducted an exhaustive and pragmatic review of the bill. There were and there are some disagreements, as there almost always are, on the details of comprehensive legislation. Those differences were aired in a spirit of honesty, and an earnest exchange of views between committee members and witnesses allowed for some common ground to be found.

When the former minister had the chance to appear before the committee, the opposition members gave him a fair hearing. The hon. member for Gaspé, representing the Bloc Quebecois, showed a keen interest in this bill as he provided his views and concerns with the bill. These issues were thoroughly discussed and debated at that time, and some consensus was reached despite his very profound differences on other issues of national importance. And the Reform Party represented by the hon. member for Skeena showed a commitment to put the well-being of our oceans above the well-being of our respective political parties.

Indeed it was the member for Skeena who stated at the committee: "I would like to say that the principle of the bill is valid and it is past time that Canada should adopt such an act".

The legislative process, the committee process, has worked partly because the government has responded positively to suggestions made by members of Parliament. The real success, however, comes from the fact that the standing committee listened attentively to the recommendations, a wide range of witnesses and then acted on those recommendations by suggesting improvements to the bill.

Jeremy Bentham recognized that law is not made by judge alone but by judge and company. The member for Dartmouth put it this way at committee: "People outside of the ministry and outside of senior advisors to ministers actually have a role to play in ensuring that there is better legislation".

The witnesses making valuable contributions to this bill ran the gamut from the Canadian Nature Federation to the Naval Officers' Association of Canada, from the Snow Crab Fishermen's Association to the Inuit Tapirisat, from the Newfoundland Oceans Industries Association to the Pacific Fishermen's Alliance. Canadians

spoke, the standing committee acted, the government acted and now Parliament is acting.

The oceans act accomplishes three key legislative ends. It stakes out Canada's jurisdiction over 6.5 million square kilometres of ocean areas. It establishes the framework for proactive oceans management strategy based on collaboration among all Canadians. It gives authority to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to act as the federal lead in ocean related policies and activities.

The basic principles underlying the bill are quite straightforward. The first principle is that we must ensure the sustainable development of our oceans. The economic and environmental actions we take to meet our needs must not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

The second principle is the need for integrated management of activities in our marine coastal waters. For too long we have allowed our actions to be thought of sector by sector. We cannot afford to compartmentalize ocean activities, because each of these activities can have a profound impact on the health and wealth of the oceans as a whole.

The third principle is the need for a precautionary approach to oceans management. We must choose to err on the side of caution. We cannot take the risk of destroying our oceans ecosystems forever because we took a gamble today.

This bill has been a long time coming. Over 70 per cent of our planet is covered by oceans. Canada's oceans have shaped us a country and defined us as a people. Our oceans have long served as beacons of hope for individual success and collective prosperity. Our Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic waters make Canada the only country in the world with three distinct ocean ecosystems. Our country has the world's longest coastline.

The simple fact is that Canadians, whether we live along the coast or thousands of kilometres inland, have long had a love affair with the oceans. We have long shown strong international leadership on the protection of ocean resources. It is time to turn those noble sentiments into wise policy. It is time to back up our strong global voice in ocean resources with strong domestic action.

Canada has never had a comprehensive co-ordinated blueprint for responsible management of our three oceans and the renewable and non-renewable resources they contain. It is time to lead by example. It is time to respond to changes in international law and to advances in environmental understanding. It is time to end what the former national advisory board on science and technology, now the Advisory Council on Science and Technology, called our haphazard and ad hoc approach to ocean policy.

The World Commission on Environment and Development and the Rio summit both called for actions taken in this legislation. Our experience from resource crisis and the turbot dispute calls for the actions undertaken by the bill. Our oceans are deeply important to Canadians. We need to exercise jurisdiction over those oceans not only in the interests of Canadians but in the interest of the wonders those oceans contain.

The national advisory board on science and technology specifically called for an oceans act. At the meeting in Charlottetown last November provincial and territorial fisheries ministers publicly endorsed the intent of the oceans act. At hearings across the country during the last year, Canadians from every sector and every community overwhelmingly urged the adoption of an oceans act.

Bill C-26 will formally define for the first time in Canadian law a 12 nautical mile contiguous zone and also an exclusive economic zone that stretches 200 nautical miles from our coasts. In the contiguous zone, Canada will have new powers to enforce our customs and tax laws. In the exclusive economic zone, Canada will control the management of all resources. What is most important is that this new jurisdiction enables Canadians to apply the same environmental laws to our oceans as we apply in the rest of Canada.

Having staked out that jurisdiction, Bill C-26 establishes the basis for an oceans management strategy. This will allow Canadians to develop and implement high standards for ocean stewardship, high standards for partnership and co-operation and high standards for meeting national goals based on regional and local needs.

The foundation of the new strategy will allow Canadians to accept shared responsibility for ocean knowledge and understanding, marine resource management, marine environmental management, coastal economic development, ocean safety and continuing international leadership on ocean issues.

Bill C-26 obliges the federal government to rationalize and modernize its own ocean policies and programs.

At the present time, management responsibilities for oceans and marine resources are handled by 14 government departments and agencies. The oceans act clearly designates the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as the primary federal body with responsibility for these areas.

This means the elimination of overlap and duplication. This means a considerable increase in federal government accountability. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will not pass on to others the responsibility of taking action where oceans are concerned.

The debate on this bill has raised certain concerns that I feel deserve our attention.

There have been some fears raised that the oceans act may somehow be a means to deal indirectly with fisheries licensing and allocation issues. This bill is not about the setting of fish quotas or privatization of fisheries. This bill is not a fisheries management act. It is an oceans management act.

Parliament will be dealing with a new fisheries act. When it is debated I am certain it will spark, to put it mildly, lively debate. I trust though that members of Parliament will not delay the oceans act because of disagreements they may have over the future fisheries act. That would be a very unfortunate undermining of the really good work we have accomplished on the bill currently before the House.

Another concern raised about the oceans act is that it may lead to more bureaucracy and higher spending by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We want to guarantee to Canadians that the reorganization of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has resulted in significant spending cuts. Following the merger of DFO and the coast guard, the total reduction in net spending will be about $500 million by the year 2000.

The final concern raised by Bill C-26 is that it might give jurisdiction to the federal government at the expense of the provinces and territories. Let me make it as simple as possible: There is zero impact on the jurisdiction of the provinces or territories. This is not a bill about taking power from other governments; it is about bringing governments and people together to manage our oceans with intelligence, innovation and consensus.

In fact, I think it is fair to say that the legitimate reservations anyone may have had about this legislation were thoroughly considered during the committee hearings and thoroughly addressed through the valuable amendments made to the bill. The preamble to the bill is considerably stronger than it was only a few months ago.

The final bill underscores that our three oceans are the common heritage of all Canadians and that conservation based on an ecosystem is essential to the diversity and productivity of those oceans. The preamble now contains a clause which states that Canada will promote the application of the precautionary approach in order to protect resources and safeguard the ocean environment.

The preamble also highlights the point now made repeatedly throughout the bill. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will work with provincial and territorial governments, aboriginal organizations and bodies established under land claims agreements, as well as other federal ministers, boards and agencies to develop a comprehensive oceans management strategy for Canada. It emphasizes the important function of other levels of government and aboriginal people in assuring that a national oceans policy truly serves all Canadians.

The improved bill strengthens both the power and the fairness of enforcement procedures. The Government of Canada now has clear authority to prevent the entry to Canada of any person in the 12 nautical mile contiguous zone who is likely to commit an offence in Canada. The law now authorizes search and seizure and arrest powers in the contiguous zone if there is reason to believe that an offence was committed on Canadian territory.

The bill has been substantially strengthened by obliging the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to show leadership in the establishment of marine protected areas. As amended, this bill enables the establishment of marine protected areas for a variety of purposes. These include: the conservation and protection of commercial and non-commercial fishery resources including marine mammals and their habitats; the conservation and protection of endangered or threatened marine species and their habitats; the conservation and protection of unique habitats; the conservation and protection of marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and the conservation and protection of any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfil the mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The standing committee has made it clear that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans may recommend regulations on zoning or the prohibition of activities within marine protected areas in order to protect fish and marine mammals, endangered species and their habitats, and any marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity. This is a major step forward in assigning responsibility and power for the creation of a national policy for the establishment of marine protected areas. The standing committee also amended the bill to give the minister emergency powers to protect any marine resource or habitat which is deemed to be at risk.

The original version of the bill authorized the minister to set marine environmental quality guidelines. The new version authorizes the minister to give those guidelines the force of normal regulations and also gives the minister the authority to set the duties of officers designated to enforce those regulations.

Once again, these amendments illustrate that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is the conscience and the voice of the oceans.

It could have been tempting for members of Parliament from coastal communities to water down environmental provisions of the bill in order to ensure short term economic gains for their communities. They have done exactly the opposite. They have toughened up the environmental provisions of the bill. They have strengthened the provisions to guarantee sustainable development, integrated management and a precautionary approach to oceans issues. They have made the substance of the bill reflect the preamble of the bill.

The standing committee has also toughened up the requirements on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to show leadership, to

seek consensus, to take action and to be held responsible for his actions. This same spirit of political accountability is found in amendments which make the minister, not senior officials, responsible for coast guard services and hydrographic services.

The minister will be ultimately responsible for federal policies on the safe, economical and efficient movement of ships, including aids for navigation, pleasure craft safety, and marine pollution prevention and response. The minister will be responsible for setting hydrographic standards and for providing hydrographic advice, services and support to other governments and international organizations.

The bottom line is that the standing committee has amended the bill to give the minister more powers to do the job of protecting Canada's oceans. The bottom line is also that the committee has amended the bill to make certain that the minister cannot hide behind public servants or cabinet colleagues in carrying out those powers.

There is one more amendment which deserves special praise. Clause 42 of the bill has been expanded to permit conducting studies to obtain traditional ecological knowledge for the purpose of understanding the life and the mysteries of our oceans. That is a very smart move. The people who for generations have survived by and on the oceans have enormous knowledge of currents, tides, temperatures and marine organisms. They more than any of us appreciate both the fathoms of the ocean and what is unfathomable.

When you live by the sea, you learn to revere the sea. I am certain all of us have much to learn from that hard won and time honoured knowledge. The truth is of course that Canadians have been learning about the oceans ever since the first inhabitants of our far north crossed over the Bering Strait from Asia thousands of years ago.

The oceans act is the modern day expression of what we know and what we do not know, where we are and where we must go. For all the accumulated wisdom, for all the international calls to action, for all the hard work by researchers, environmentalists, businesses, fishers, aboriginal peoples, governments, coastal residents and others, we are still only at the stage of saying it is time to claim full jurisdiction, time to get the federal government's oceans management structures in order and time to pull together on devising a long range oceans management strategy.

We are not yet at the stage of having a complete oceans strategy in place. The bill does not attempt to do that. Effective strategy can only come about through the formation of collaborative agreements among all Canadians and the acceptance of responsibility by all Canadians.

This bill provides the mandate and the basic tools to develop the strategy but it is only a beginning. Leadership by the federal government is important but we will only make the best decisions with local leadership, community involvement and an ongoing willingness to create a collegial, collaborative, holistic, cross-sectoral, cross-country approach to the management of our vast and diverse ocean resources. That is the new pluralism in our federalism and federal government.

This bill sets the stage but it is up to Canadians now to write the script and play our roles. Planning for the ocean jobs of the future is not a one day nor a one person operation. Decisions that affect our children's future and our grandchildren's future require the input, the initiative and the involvement of us all.

We do know that this bill may need to be revised in the future, that we may need to hold ourselves to account. To reassure those who worry that we may not have crossed every t or dotted every i in this bill, there is a critical and democratic improvement recommended by the standing committee. The amended bill now requires a review of the administration of the oceans act within three years by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Parliament will have the right and indeed the duty to ensure that both the provisions and the operation of the oceans act meet the desires of Canadians and the needs of our oceans.

We all know from our contemporary history that Canadians have an enormous capacity to come together in order to defend the interests of our ocean resources internationally. It was two years ago that Parliament passed Bill C-29, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, and Parliament passed it in two days. We know that Canadians will come together to support our global oceans conservation measures and that they will put aside partisan differences to do so.

Canadians all agree on the need to rally in support of the wise and prudent precautionary management of Canada's oceans and ocean resources. The bill before Parliament calls upon us to rally domestically for our oceans in the same way we are willing to rally internationally. The organisms of our oceans would not know one politician from another. We know however that unless we act to protect those organisms, they may not survive and we will all be the losers.

It has been 50 years since the Right Hon. Lester Pearson called upon Canadians to demonstrate international leadership through national commitment on the law of the sea and the oceans. It has been nearly 40 years since the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker ensured that Canada took a position at the vanguard of the first UN conference on oceans. It has been nearly 30 years since the Right Hon. Pierre Trudeau and our current Prime Minister as one of his colleagues acted to protect Arctic waters from pollution prevention. It has been nearly 20 years since our current Governor General asserted Canada's 200 mile fishing zone.

As members in this House, we do not, perhaps, have the vision of Mr. Pearson and of Mr. Diefenbaker. What we do have, however, is the common ability to work toward the achievement of their vision of a responsible country that undertakes to do what it can to resolve the major issues facing this planet.

We have in common the ability to introduce an oceans act, which marks a step ahead in meeting our own needs, while respecting those of generations of Canadians to come.

This is a good bill and it has been made much better by the diligence and the energy of a broad array of Canadians and by the very effective efforts of all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

We encourage members of Parliament to pass this bill with enthusiasm and with optimism for the future.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, unlike my colleague across the way, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I must admit that I am not necessarily enthusiastic about speaking to this bill on ocean management.

I must start out by indicating that the Bloc Quebecois disagrees with the government on it, and I will take the next few minutes to explain why.

The lengthy efforts put into it by the standing committee have been referred to, and I must acknowledge that, indeed, much work has been put into it, and the parliamentary secretary is the one who deserves all the credit. However, all partisan feelings, which may be present in this House, aside the ideas and principles defended by the Bloc Quebecois during the committee stage were put forward precisely in order to ensure a better basis for participation by the various provinces in this strategy.

This concept of partnership is necessary if the strategy the Government wants is to work properly. Since the Government has-pardon my expression-closed its ears to those proposals, the Bloc Quebecois finds itself forced to vote against the bill in question.

I must also make it clear, for the benefit of all environmental groups in Canada and Quebec, that the Bloc Quebecois is not opposed to the form and principle of an ocean management strategy. No one can be against virtue. But, precisely in order to ensure that this virtue serves a purpose, we wanted to ensure that the proposals contained in this bill could be implemented in practice.

The partnership of trust required to implement this strategy had to be reflected in the bill, and it was the duty of everyone to get involved in it with honour and enthusiasm. We did not see that notion of partnership in the bill, nor in the final version we have here before us. Nor do we see the attitude that was reflected in committee. It is absent from the bill.

Under these circumstances, people will therefore understand that the Bloc Quebec would be in favour of an ocean management strategy if it were efficient, supported by everyone, and reflecting the views of everyone. Everyone would recognize their rights, and more important, their obligations, as things are not as clear as they seem. This is why the Bloc feels obliged to oppose the bill for the moment. I will therefore have an amendment to propose at the end of my speech, when you indicate to me the point at which I will be able to table this amendment.

As my colleague across the way has just pointed out, Bill C-26, the Oceans Act, contained three parts.

Part I recognizes Canada's jurisdiction over its ocean areas. The content seems to be similar to that of the convention on the law of the sea as drafted by the United Nations and, so far, we have no problem. However, I do not see the need for Parliament to pass a specific piece of legislation since we are only dealing with adapting the vocabulary.

Part II-I will go back over each part later in my speech-mentions a legislative framework to develop a national ocean management strategy, and that is the rub. This is where the Bloc Quebecois is telling the government side that there is a major flaw, something is very wrong, because the foundation, namely the relationship between partners, is not defined in a satisfactory way for the partners, I will discuss this later in greater details.

Part III, last but not least, deals with the powers, duties and functions of the minister, in other words his power to set fees with regard to marine sciences and the coast guard. First, I will say that the fact that the minister intends to grab increased powers in this area does not augur well, it is not reassuring for the Canadian people since, in the absence of regulations, he has already gone ahead this year with making changes to the coast guard fees for navigational aids, against the wish of stakeholders in this area. This does not augur well. I will deal in greater detail with the three parts later on, explaining why the Bloc Quebecois cannot support this government bill.

To amuse this assembly before dealing with part I, I would like to share with parliamentarians part of the preamble to the bill. It makes me smile. I smiled when I read this part. The third paragraph of the preamble states:

Whereas Parliament wishes to affirm in Canadian domestic law Canada's sovereign rights, jurisdiction and responsibilities in the exclusive economic zone of Canada;

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

I am happy to see that the Liberal members are quite alert on this Monday morning, but here is the rest of my comment. The last time I heard the former minister of fisheries and oceans, Brian Tobin, pronounce the word sovereignty, it was automatically associated with separation. Big question. Will I read somewhere, or expect the United Nations to declare, that Canada wants to separate from the rest of the world? I see the Liberal members are awake, and I am not sure that this is what they want to do.

Let me seize this opportunity to make an instructive comment: beware people of Canada, sovereignty does not mean separation. Sovereignty means sovereignty in the text you have here; it means the Government of Canada is acting like someone who owns the place and, accordingly, it lays down the rules and takes all the necessary measures to reach its goals. I am happy to see the maturity of Canada in this aspect. When, in a near future I hope, we can talk to each other as mature people, we will remember the meaning of the word sovereignty.

What is also amusing, even though I do not want to insist on this point, is that, at the end of the preamble they say:

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

So first they speak of sovereignty and then they refer to Her Majesty. Excuse me, but I see some inconsistency there. The way I see sovereignty, once you are sovereign, you decide by yourself and you do not necessarily refer to somebody else. This is all I wanted to say about that excerpt. I only wanted to shed some light on this morning's debate.

Now that everyone is wide awake thanks to the quality of my introduction, let me go on to part I, which follows the preamble. As I mentioned, part I only reproduces the text of the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. I do not necessarily see any problem with this definition.

However, despite the fact we proposed amendments to ensure the terminology was correct when we talk about definitions relating to the law of the sea, these amendments were not accepted. The parliamentary secretary held out his hand to us by saying the Canadian government had no intention of infringing upon the rights of the provinces and other parties to this bill.

Since this is probably the last time I have an opportunity to talk about Bill C-26, I must remind the House that the amendments tabled by the Bloc Quebecois and, unfortunately, defeated were aimed at clarifying the scope of the powers and rights of the provinces and the federal government, to ensure everything was very clear in order to establish the partnership relationship right at the beginning.

As these amendments were not passed at the rewriting of the bill, allow me to remain sceptical about what the government really wants. When it is said on one side that it will not hurt and we propose a way of doing things to ensure it will not hurt us and our proposals are refused, I have some difficulty following.

As I mentioned, part II of Bill C-26 provides a legislative framework. This legislative framework is inappropriate since there are still many grey areas in federal responsibilities concerning ocean management. I repeat, the amendments we had tabled were aimed at clarifying the powers and rights of the provinces and the federal government.

To this day, we have received no guarantee there would be no federal intrusion in the powers of the provinces. There are issues where, even before the inttroduction of Bill C-26, there were grey areas. The environment, for instance.

Since environmental law is a relatively new concept, it has some flaws. I understand how important it is to discuss this concept in developing a management strategy. Since this is recognized as a relatively new area of law, now is the time to look at potential impacts and reassure the partners we will have to deal with. I can see no reference to this in the bill.

Odder yet, and more embarrassing I might add, is the fact that, regarding all the dealings the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is required to have with his colleagues from the various departments in matters relating to the environment, because this must all be done in conjunction with other federal ministers, the respective powers of the fisheries minister and the environment minister have not been delineated.

It is somewhat amusing, in developing an oceans management strategy, not to clearly define what the relationship should be between two brothers from the same party, the government party. It takes some gall, on the government side, to tell us how to run the strategy when they have not even established what relationship should exist between themselves to begin with.

As I said earlier and contrary to what some of the Liberal members who got up this morning may think, the Bloc Quebecois is not against what is right. I repeat again, we are always prepared to discuss a management strategy, but it must be a consistent strategy that will provide for the provinces' active participation. I emphasize again the fact that the success of this strategy rests on partnership because, if the hon. members opposite tell us that this, that and the other needs to be done in terms of oceans management, not having defined from the start their own roles and responsibili-

ties, it will be difficult, first, to establish this policy and, second, to implement it.

I also mentioned earlier that the amendments put forward by the Bloc Quebecois were only designed to specify and delimit the scope and legal significance of the federal government's authority in relation to possible encroachments. We just had a referendum campaign, during which promises were made for a renewed Canada, new things and a new attitude. I was expecting greater attention would be paid to sparing feelings. Unfortunately, I can see none of that.

Regarding the management strategy and the whole legislative framework around it, two things have happened since report stage, last June. Things have happened regarding the partnership I insist is required, the significance of which is still unknown.

I must first congratulate B.C. members for their premier's initiative in walking out of last June's first ministers' conference because he did not feel he was being listened to. He went on to say-as I understood from the interpretation into French-that he felt he was wasting his time. Imagine, wasting his time at a first ministers' conference. That is saying something.

So you can understand how an opposition backbencher like myself who is trying to talk some sense into other members of this House who, in my opinion, are full of common sense, at least on this side, can be very sceptical.

What I want to bring to other members' attention is that the federal government, the minister of fisheries himself stepped in, probably at the urging of the Prime Minister of Canada, who told him: "There is an urgent need for you to go to B.C. because there is trouble brewing in that province. I got the door shut in my face. They want to talk about fisheries and I did not know what to say about it. Can you go and find out what it is they want?" The premier of British Columbia asked that the impact of the salmon fishery streamlining plan on that province be reviewed because no one in B.C. agreed with the plan put forward by the minister of fisheries. Yet, the minister in Ottawa kept on saying: "Yes, that is what we should do and it will be done". So the premier had to get involved.

What I want to stress is the fact that-and, if I may, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read from the press release: "This agreement in principle is aimed at reviewing the respective roles and responsibilities of the federal government and the province in managing the Pacific salmon fishery and reviving this industry. The review will be conducted by DFO in co-operation with an interprovincial team".

What we must look at is mentioned at the end of the press release: "The responsibility review will be completed in February 1997".

We are four months away from that date. The results may be published a little later, but what I want to draw your attention to is

this: the elements to be reviewed include, but are not limited to, resource management and conservation, licensing, fleet management, resource allocation, habitat rehabilitation and clean-up, the reduction of administrative overlap and duplication, and the improvement of client services.

This is precisely what the Bloc Quebecois sought for all the provinces: to be able to discuss ocean management on an equal footing with the federal government.

I will not mention other related points which have to do with the quantities that can be fished and the available quotas, since another bill was introduced in the House and will be reviewed. The press release refers to an agreement in principle between the federal government and the Government of British Columbia, precisely to review the issues of resource conservation and habitat cleanup. These issues concern all the oceans and relate to Bill C-26, which is currently before us.

I still believe that the rights of the provinces are not respected and that the obligations of the federal government toward the provinces are not fulfilled. This was evidenced by the fact that, when it came to finding out who would do what and how, a provincial premier had to slam the door behind him during a first ministers' meeting before the issue was taken seriously.

It is very important to specify this aspect in today's bill and to give it this spirit. Otherwise, will other premiers have to do the same thing every time? Here is a trick for the other provincial premiers: when you see that the federal government will not budge, slam the door and leave. Then the federal government will propose to negotiate an agreement in principle, in which your rights will be taken into consideration.

Come on. We, as parliamentarians, must show a little more maturity and realize there is a grey area that must be defined.

This issue deserves some attention. We must review the content of these clauses, without obviating the need for a commonly developed management strategy. I want such a strategy to be developed. I do not want a situation where every province will have to bang the door. I want us to clearly define how things will be done.

Another point, and I do not want to belabour it, is that the management strategy lists the partners. What I wanted was for the provinces to clearly define all this, and we would list the other partners that needed to be included and with whom we had to work.

I must say at the outset that I am for the notion of a law-abiding society, a democracy, and that, when the democracy turns to its judges for a ruling, perhaps their word should be followed. I refer

to the most recent Supreme Court ruling, handed down last Friday. I do not yet know what the impact of this ruling will be.

In line with the spirit of the Sparrow ruling, which has been the precedent for some time now, concerning fishing and subsistence rights for native peoples, the most recent ruling refers to the fact that native peoples would be entitled to fish without permits, for their subsistence, throughout the province of Quebec. Will this also apply to all other provinces in Canada? I do not know. I do not want to get into the merits of the ruling, but I would like to remind the minister immediately that the order of precedence will now have to be borne in mind.

Account will have to be taken of how cohabitation will be managed, because it is now no longer just a question of divvying up fish, but also of isolating responsibilities, or at least of knowing what they think of it, what they can do with us. Without wishing to go into more detail, I think that this is something that Canada has been refusing to look into more deeply for too long now, and I think it would be a good idea, as I will mention a bit later one, to postpone passage of Bill C-26, precisely so that this can be examined more fully, I will therefore limit my remarks in this regard for the time being.

I will now take a look at part III of Bill C-26, which sets out the general powers, duties and function of the minister, followed by his powers, duties and functions with respect to the oceans and Coast Guard services.

I will begin by repeating, because I have probably already said this at the beginning of my speech, that it worries me to see that they are now increasing the regulatory powers of the minister. The minister did not have these powers last June. What happened?

I will take the example of the services provided by the Coast Guard. When they talk about navigational aids, they are talking about the presence of buoys. The minister's intention was to charge duty every time a ship went through our Canadian waters, but look out, this bill, as it stands, applies only to Canadian ships. I did not see, in the description of the minister's functions, the possibility of imposing this tax on all ships.

Lacking the regulatory power allowing him to charge for navigational aids, the minister has decided, at the last minute, to circumvent publication in the Canada Gazette because, usually an order such as this must appear in the Canada Gazette within 30 days. But, instead, he took the other route, which allows him to appear before a Cabinet committee and get approval in one afternoon. One day for publication, and bingo, we have to pay.

What you have to know is that the industry did express its opposition to this bill, not because it refused to pay, but because it wanted to know if these navigational aids are used efficiently, if the fees requested are right and, more importantly, what would be the impact on the Canadian industry in terms of shipping and, also what would be the impact on the people who use shipping services.

The minister chose to ignore all of this, to ignore the recommendations. He went even further stating: "There is a second part coming up, but I will play fair and wait for the impact study before implementing it." Despite the lack of regulatory power to everything, the minister was able to find a way to go ahead, which is far from reassuring, because once he has full power within a much simpler process, he might do worse yet. Do you understand now why we are worried and why this piece of legislation does not really set our minds at ease.

There is another small point I want to make, also about the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is made up of two divisions. There are the people who deal with shipping, with the huge vessels, and there are the people who deal with smaller, recreational boats.

When they saw that the people who deal with the larger vessels could get a minor regulation passed and make shipowners cough up $20 million, the Coast Guard people dealing with the smaller boats probably told themselves: "We will try to do the same." They made some representations and held consultations last June.

Their objective was to set some kind of registration fees for small boats. For a rowboat, for a pedal-boat, for any kind of craft, the fees would vary from $5 to $35. They decided to travel throughout Canada to find out what the people thought about their idea. That kind of behaviour is worrisome. Where was the feedback process in all of this? The Quebecers and Canadians who were consulted said: "No way, what is wrong with you people this morning? You would have me pay $5 for my rowboat. Who would control all of that? What will it cost?"

So they backed off a bit. It is a good thing that the minister did not yet have the regulatory powers that would have made it very easy for him to implement such a scheme. If this bill had been in force in June, would the coast guard have acted so cautiously? Would it have not gone ahead with its plans? Its unstated objective was to recover $14 million by charging these fees. This bill needs transparency. We need a way to be sure that there will be co-operation.

I just mentioned two instances where the coast guard used its powers to impose its will and people are not about to forget that. We are not off to a good start. It is not reassuring for people to work with the coast guard. Each time they take part in a consultation process, when they think their views are really being taken into account, they realize it was not the case at all.

I even heard the former commissioner-it seems that he has gone to another part of the department-say that there could be a consultation process but the legislation would still be in place by a

certain date. That shows a flagrant lack of respect for the people who pay the government officials' salaries.

People expect us, as parliamentarians, to analyze the pros and cons. When decisions regarding a bill are unilateral and, I would say, arrogant without regard to those who will suffer their consequences, the bill cannot be said to be created with honour and enthusiasm. We have re-establish the notion of relationship.

Again with regard to part III, which deals with the minister's powers, I would like to mention that the government ignored amendments concerning an information feedback mechanism. We are told that the minister will consult with such persons or bodies as he or she considers appropriate to consult-that is how it is defined. What kind of transparency is the government displaying to Quebecers and Canadians?

The bill also says further on that any other regulations or modifications do not have to be published. I do not want to start the debate on the amendments all over again, but I just want my fellow parliamentarians and the people who are watching us on television to realize that we are not headed in the right direction.

We also talked about the way fees for services are set. I remember the amendments proposed by the Bloc and by the Reform Party called for more transparency in that respect. We asked if we could come back to this subject. A three hour debate to determine new Coast Guard fees is not much. I think these fees should not be determined in one party's back rooms. The issue should be discussed right here, because all Canadians will be affected.

I cannot remember which of my colleagues made that request, a fair and reasonable request, but it too was rejected. As far as I know, the government party has a majority. If a request is made to have a bill referred back to committee, well they have a majority in committee too. They can place a limit on discussion, but at least we can discuss it and report to the House. And they have a majority here too.

Once the bill is passed, we know for sure there is no way we can repeal it. We would like to be able to use our right as parliamentarians to express the views of the people on these fees. After hearing all points of view, the government will be able to make a fair and informed decision. But when certain facts are ignored on purpose, the decision will be lacking, in certain respects.

I talked to you then about what the Coast Guard had done concerning navigation aids. I also talked about potential fees and about studies on fees that could be levied on recreational boaters. There is nothing very encouraging about all of that.

That is why we, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, would like to move an amendment. My amendment deals with the following three points, if I were to sum up my remarks. First of all, the concept of partnership with the provinces does not seem to be clear enough as it stands now. I referred to an agreement in principle, a report that should be made public by the end of February involving B.C. and the federal government.

I think we must take into account the spirit in which Canada signed with British Columbia and let the bill reflect that so no other provincial premier is forced to slam the door in order to bring this to the attention of the government.

I must say that I put this amendment forward because there are still grey areas in the text, which will hinder the implementation of the strategy. I am still talking of the provinces, of communications between provinces, environmental matters, which are grey areas. There are grey areas even in communications between the fisheries minister and the environment minister at the federal level. This is one more reason to consider the amendment which I will table.

Finally, I put this amendment forward because part III of this bill increases the powers of the minister concerning the fees charged for services and because there is a lack of transparency and feedback on the efficiency of the services and the price-setting process.

Most hon. members would be well advised to think twice before opposing this amendment, which we want to table, since, as I remind them, the Bloc Quebecois is for virtue, that is to say that it agrees with the establishment of an oceans resource management strategy. We believe, however, that such a strategy should be consistent and efficient, which it will be when the three points I just mentioned will be taken into account.

Therefore, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:

"Bill C-26, An Act respecting the oceans of Canada, be not now read a third time but that it be read a third time this day six months hence."

I submit this amendment, which is seconded by my colleague for Chicoutimi. I hope that the hon. members who are now here will remember that, with this amendment, the Bloc Quebecois wants to further the spirit of partnership, that the Bloc Quebecois does not want to hinder the establishment of an oceans resource management strategy for partisan purposes, but wants to make sure that such a strategy is efficient and effective.

I will wait to hear about the admissibility of my motion and I will follow gladly the debate on this bill, hoping that most of my colleagues will have understood that the Bloc Quebecois is promoting the cause and not partisan quarrels.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The amendment by the hon. member for Gaspé is admissible. From now on, debate is on the amendment, which is seconded by the hon. member for Chicoutimi.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, is this on the amendment or on the bill?

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The debate is now on the amendment, the amendment having been ruled receivable. I will indicate further to help that since it is a six-month hoist amendment it should not change or alter his intended intervention.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, as this House gives consideration to Bill C-26, the oceans act, I would like to make reference to the statement of the chair of the fisheries committee when the bill was initially before his committee:

Many times a piece of legislation is passed, and for the people who sit around this table it's clear as crystal. Then two years later, when regulators get at it and they start reinterpreting it, it's not in the same interpretation. It's not interpreted in the same way as it was meant when it was debated in the House-.

That's one of the problems when language is unclear, and that is really one of the reasons the legislative process-[is] so important.

The members of the fisheries committee from both sides of this House made improvements to the original bill and should be congratulated for their work. Work by my colleague, the member for Skeena, was most notable. He made several amendments during report stage which attempted to ensure consultation and strict adherence to the user pay, user say principle.

He insisted that fees be implemented only after a full socioeconomic impact analysis had been carried out, that fees reflect the level and cost of a specific service and that they be implemented in a fully transparent manner with full ongoing consultation with affected resource users. The amendments he proposed endeavoured to accomplish these goals. Unfortunately our amendments were not accepted and as a result the ocean act remains unchanged in this regard.

Reformers view full and ongoing consultation with resource users and grassroots Canadians as essential to good government. Implementing marine service fees without first completing a socioeconomic impact analysis is what this Liberal government stands for and what we oppose.

I would like to address what are for me several key aspects of the bill. With the exception of Australia, Canada is perhaps more affected by oceans than any other nation. When I first looked at the oceans act I assumed it dealt equally with the waters on our three coasts. Unfortunately that is not the case. Perhaps a third of the waters of Canada are in the area adjacent to the Nunavut land claim. Nunavut waters do not come under the act in the same way that the waters off Nova Scotia do.

When this bill was before the committee, the main Inuit organization in the Nunavut territory advised the committee that certain sections of the bill were ultra vires given the Nunavut land claims agreement.

For instance, the Inuit organization suggested that the bill be amended to acknowledge that the governor in council could not make regulations under the act unless they were approved by the Nunavut land claims authority. Clearly the Nunavut interpret their treaty as limiting federal authority over legislation affecting Arctic waters within the Nunavut settlement area.

The response of the government was to acknowledge that federal authority in Arctic waters is limited by the land claims agreement. I quote from section 2.1:

For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Section 36.1:

The Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, may make orders exercising any power under section 35 on an emergency basis where the Minister is of the opinion that a marine resource or habitat is likely to be at risk to the extent that such orders are not inconsistent with a land claims agreement that has been given effect and has been ratified or approved by an act of Parliament.

That is to say, the government has conceded that land claims agreements may constrain the ability of the Government of Canada to protect a resource owned by all the people of Canada.

The implications for British Columbians are significant. Land claims agreements when negotiated are likely to cover virtually the whole of the west coast. The Nisga'a land claim agreement was only the first. The wording of land claim agreements has diminished the authority of the federal government in an area completely under its control.

This bill simply acknowledges what the government and its officials have negotiated and continue to negotiate away. Land claims must never again be rushed through Parliament. They must receive thorough review and debate on the implications of their entrenchment within the Constitution.

When land claim negotiations are complete in the Arctic and Pacific coasts, the applications of the Oceans Act to these waters is likely to be greatly diminished. A patchwork application of Canadian marine and environmental law to Canadian waters does not inspire me with confidence. While this bill would give the minister of fisheries and cabinet broad powers to manage and protect Canada's marine resources, the government has decided to cut the coast guard on the west coast by one-third.

I want to quote from a department of fisheries document written in early September which details the folly of these cuts at a time when the government is asking for more authority to manage and protect the marine environment. The document was discussed earlier last week by my colleague from North Island-Powell River, therefore I will not give the whole document but I would like to mention some points.

The cuts will have an impact on our ability to manage the resource. For example, Canada is required to collect data and enforce provisions of specific fisheries agreements in the Pacific salmon treaty. The data is critical to stock assessment biologists in Canada. Canada and the United States have agreed to provide specific levels of enforcement patrol of shellfish closed areas to protect consumers from contaminated and toxic shellfish. The United States provides the largest market for British Columbia commercial bivalve fisheries.

Will this cut to inspection hurt our sales in the United States? What happens if an outbreak of shellfish contamination occurs? Surely the U.S. market will dry up overnight if it is undetected.

The ability of vessels to remain away from home on a regular or sporadic basis is critical to both fisheries enforcement and management. Coast guard currently plans to replace vessels in Tofino and Bamfield with a 47-foot class lifeboat with no accommodation for crew or shore based fisheries officers. This demonstrates an expectation that there will be little opportunity to participate in fisheries patrols in remote areas.

Another matter that these cuts are going to affect is this. Uncertainty about vessel support from multi-tasked vessels or insufficient vessels will result in fewer fisheries. The new initiatives implemented to rationalize the salmon fleet, the Mifflin plan, will be compromised.

There is currently a demand for increased habitat investigation and monitoring of projects in remote areas as a result of the Oceans Act, which we are discussing today, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and agreements made with First Nations by Aboriginal Fishing Strategy and land claims initiatives. Yet the cutbacks will impact on the ability to live up to obligations.

Fisheries notes that developing a highly motivated and effective marine fleet is essential for fisheries patrol. A marine enforcement program within the coast guard has the potential to boost enforcement capability in specific areas. Current tasking and restrictions on fleet movement will limit the overall effectiveness of this part of the coast guard program. It is not likely that priority areas for fishing enforcement will always coincide with search and rescue zones.

Again, this is how these cuts will impact and this is the direction this government is taking. I doubt very much it will be able to live up to the commitments under the Oceans Act.

There is a huge list of deficiencies and ways in which the cuts will impact on the ability to manage the fisheries. The one to which I would like to refer is the ability to act under the Oceans Act.

What if a major emergency like the one that nearly occurred last August near Campbell River occurred? The issue to which I am referring was the near collision between a passenger ship and a barge loaded with propane and dynamite. Currently we lack the ability to respond to such a disaster, and yet the government is imposing even further cuts on the coast guard. It is horrifying to imagine the implications of these cutbacks.

Furthermore, international boundary enforcement patrols are of significant concern and the reduction in patrol capability will limit DFO's ability in the area. The international grey zone in the lower straits and in the north are of particular concern to us.

The language of Bill C-26 gives the minister and the cabinet the power to legislate. They will write the oceans law and policy under the regulation making power in the bill.

For many years after Confederation legislation typically defined not only the objectives and principles of government policy in a particular area, but also the precise details. This is true of the current Fisheries Act. For example, section 28 states that no one shall hunt or kill fish or marine animals of any kind by means of rockets or explosive materials. Section 29(1) states that no one shall erect, use or maintain any net, weir or other device which duly obstructs the passage of fish. The current act states in section 32 that no person shall destroy fish by any means other than fishing. Section 33 states that no person shall purchase, sell or possess any fish that has been caught in contravention of this act or the regulations.

It is clear. The fine tuning is in the regulations but the law is clear in the act. The oceans act lacks such clarity in what is prohibited. Everything is up to the minister, even the generality of oceans law and policy.

It has been said that the present practice is for legislation to outline the policy to be followed in an area and to delegate the authority to prescribe the details of the law to the cabinet or the minister.

The bill would, for example, in part II, the oceans management strategy, mandate the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to develop and implement an oceans management strategy. The bill does not

say what the oceans law is to be, it says that the minister has the authority to write one after he consults a long series of groups which may have an interest in oceans law. The writers of the bill obviously do not know what the law or policy ought to be, only that it is needed and that it ought to have the force of law once the minister decides what it ought to be.

If this were a bill for the Minister of Finance it would undoubtedly authorize him to set tax rates after he had consulted various groups. If it were taxes we would instinctively know that the bill was ridiculous. If the Minister of Finance wants a new tax he must come to Parliament to obtain specific authorization.

I would have preferred to have seen some detail in the oceans act. What is the oceans law and policy which the minister wants to implement? Under this bill Parliament effectively loses control of lawmaking. In effect, the government is given a free hand to do as it sees fit in the realm of oceans law and policy.

Such problems are not new. A very distinguished former member of the House, Stanley Knowles, gave a caution that is even more valid today in regard to the oceans act than it was when initially spoken in the House. He stated:

It is our experience in Parliament time and time again to think we know what we passed when we gave final approval to a piece of legislation, only to find months later that things were being done or restrictions being imposed of a kind we did not believe appeared in the bill at all. We try to find out what happened, and we discover that we had given authority to the Governor in Council to make regulations for the carrying out of the purposes of the act and that under this authority restrictive regulations were passed, or restrictive definitions introduced of such a nature as to produce quite a different result from the result we thought had been intended.

The aboriginal fishing strategy is clearly an unexpected and unintended policy created by regulation under the Fisheries Act. Even though the Fisheries Act is, for the most part, very traditional legislation with a fair amount of detail, the government has been able to twist the meaning of the act to create a native only commercial fisheries law as regulations under the act.

The native only commercial law stands against 150 years of Canadian history and law. The Supreme Court this year in the Nikal decision held the policy of the crown, both before and after Confederation "was to treat Indians in the same manner as non-Indians with respect to the allocation of fishing grounds for commercial use". The native only commercial fishery law has wrecked havoc on the west salmon fishery.

If the courts ever get the opportunity to consider the native only commercial fisheries regulations I believe they are likely to strike them down as being incompatible with the intentions of Parliament when it wrote the act.

If the government can get away with native only commercial fishery for fours years, we can only guess what will happen with a very open-ended act like the oceans act. Virtually anything could be done.

Some legislation in only a shell that enables the cabinet to write its own laws. In the past bills were substantive and the regulations involved only technical standards, such as the size of a net or the variety of fish. Sadly we often find that it is the regulations where substantive law is found.

In 1993 in the last Parliament a subcommittee of finance, the then subcommittee on regulations, spoke with clarity about the problem that occurs when parliamentarians demand too little and give too much in legislation they approve. I commend the members of this House who in the last Parliament wrote this report.

The subcommittee noted the "tendency, beginning with energy legislation in the early 1980s to enact framework legislation, leaving substantive provisions to be set out by regulations. The new regulations often affect the rights, duties and obligations of citizens. This contrasts with the more traditional approach under which only technical standards and details tended to be left to regulations".

In the first chapter entitled "Inadequate Legislative Overview" the report reminds us that "under our system of government, Parliament is supreme, subject to limits imposed by the Constitution. In concrete terms this implies that the cabinet cannot raise taxes that Parliament has not sanctioned, or spend money that Parliament has not approved".

It goes on to warn "that regulations promulgated by government departments- have the force of law just as primary legislation does. They can be promulgated lawfully only if appropriate authority has been delegated under a statute that Parliament has passed. However, when the delegated authority is broad and use of that authority is not adequately supervised by Parliament, the implied parliamentary control is absent and the supremacy of Parliament is undermined-The cabinet's formal accountability to Parliament for regulation making amounts in practice to a dead letter".

The oceans act is a shell. It authorizes the minister and the cabinet to write their own law after they have decided what it is they want. It would be better parliamentary practice, I submit, if after the government decides what it wants for an oceans law and policy for it to come back to Parliament and submit a bill to Parliament.

I am anxious to get good environmental legislation on the books. But is this good environmental and oceans law or is it just another Canadian Environmental Protection Act? What ought to have been our basic environmental law has left the development of the law to the government to be done through regulation.

Let me tell members from firsthand experience in Delta why I have some doubt about this approach. The Tsawassen Indian Band in my riding has developed a condominium project in an environmentally sensitive area. As of late it has also built a sewage plant on an intertidal marsh, class 1 habitat.

When the sewage project was under consideration, I hoped that our basic environmental law would require that an environmental assessment be done. Lots of games were played but no real environmental assessment was done. We were told that since no government money was directly involved, none had to be done. Perhaps no government money in the bricks and mortar of the condo project, but lots of offshore money. So much for what environmentalists and others had called our foremost piece of environmental legislation.

With regard to the sewage project, the Minister of the Environment in a letter to me dated July 17, 1996 acknowledges the weakness of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. He said: "My department has no decision making responsibilities that would require it to initiate an assessment in accordance with the act".

In the same letter the Minister of the Environment admitted the involvement of his officials was through the Fisheries Act, not the Environmental Assessment Act. He stated: "Given the shared responsibilities between environment and fisheries with respect to the Fisheries Act, officials from my department are working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on this review".

Let me read from fisheries documents that I received under the Access to Information Act: "We are concerned there will be a sewage discharge into what is a very ecologically important habitat. This project has the potential to adversely affect an internationally important area for migratory birds, particularly migrating and over wintering waterfowl and shore birds. Intertidal habitats can be extremely sensitive. There is insufficient information provided to demonstrate that fish protection requirements will be met".

There was a hole in the law, a loophole so big that the law, we were told, did not apply on Indian reserves. Why? Because the regulation affecting reserves had not been written yet. Now who would have thought that the law did not apply to all of us equally and that the minister could write a separate law for natives? How did this happen? Because the legislation was deliberately vague. It did not say what was prohibited. It left it to the discretion of cabinet. It encouraged behind the scenes influence peddling.

When the band went about bulldozing an environmentally sensitive area to make room for the sewage plant for the condo project, I did not spend much time on the Environmental Assessment Act. I went to the Fisheries Act. I went to the kind of environmental legislation that works, that has teeth. When we read it, we knew where we stood. We did not have to check to see if the minister has made a policy statement or what the regulations say as there is nothing much in the act.

I complained to the fisheries department that someone was quite possibly breaching the act by destroying environmentally sensitive fish habitat. The department did its job, though not before some environmental destruction had occurred.

I am concerned that the same hole exists in the oceans act with regard to environmental issues, especially if natives are involved. Let me show one reason why the Fisheries Act worked and why the oceans act will not and why the Environmental Assessment Act does not.

Section 35 of the Fisheries Act does not say that the minister may make regulations or make a policy after consulting everything that moves. Instead it says: "No person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat". How is that for clarity? No mumbo-jumbo, no weasel words. Destroy fish habitat and the act kicks in. No special exemptions for environmental destruction by a province or native bands. The act leaves an out. The minister can authorize the destruction of habitat. If not, the law has been broken.

As an aside, some would trash the Fisheries Act and the fisheries department and turn the job of fish habitat protection over to the environment department or the province. I am not one of them. The Fisheries Act and the fisheries department can, when push comes to shove, do what needs to be done. I would say to those in Victoria and Ottawa who would trash the fisheries department authority to protect fish habitat: You are no friend of fish. If it works do not trash it.

We as parliamentarians can do better. We must demand more. We receive poorly written shells masquerading as potential legislation because we have demanded too little and the government has been allowed to safely ask for too much authority.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

George Baker Liberal Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, listening to the members from the Reform Party and the Bloc, one would think that this was a terrible piece of legislation we have before us. One would wonder why the Government of Canada would introduce such a terrible piece of legislation according to the official opposition.

The fact is that the bill before the House today is the first of its kind. It is a historic event in the House of Commons because Canada for the first time in its history will actually pass a law, if the majority of the people in the Chamber vote for it, to put into law that Canada has an exclusive economic zone.

It took the present Liberal administration under our Prime Minister to bring in this act. The act was brought in by the minister, the MP for Bonavista-Trinity-Conception in Newfoundland, a rear admiral, a man who knows more about the ocean than perhaps any other member of Parliament knows. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans represents a riding that perhaps has more fishermen than any other riding in Canada has.

As well, the parliamentary secretary is a learned and extremely well educated colleague. I do not know of anybody ever in the Chamber who has received the education that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has. He has a masters in law. He is on the judicial committee at the Hague. He knows international law inside out and upside down.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is bringing in this bill, which the opposition does not want to praise him on because there is too much in the bill that is good politics, good for Canada and good for our fishermen. Where else would we find such terms as contiguous zone, Canadian waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone, territorial sea?

Never before have we ever seen that in legislation before this Chamber. Why is that? The reason is quite simple. Never before have we had a government that has brought in a piece of legislation that outlines two things, one of which is conservation and the other of which is proper management.

The Bloc stood in the Chamber today and put on the record how bad the management of DFO has been over the years and how terrible it is that it has not been able to manage the resource properly. I suppose one could agree with that statement if one looked at what happened under the previous Tory government.

There was no logic behind the management decisions made by that government. It led to the destruction of the northern cod stock off the east coast of Canada. It led to the destruction of the fish stocks that the northern cod stock fed on. It led to the destruction of the pelagic resources of our oceans. It led to the destruction of some of the greatest spawning grounds for fish in the entire world.

I remind the hon. member who spoke for the Bloc to look at the great spawning area for mackerel off Quebec's coast, the greatest spawning area perhaps in the world. For year after year after year when those mackerel at the end of May were trying to get in from the ocean to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to go to those great spawning areas, the Government of Canada, then led by the Tories of course, assigned foreign quotas to block the migration of those mackerel into their spawning grounds off the coast of Quebec. That was done simply because of poor management decisions by the Government of Canada.

However, under this legislation and under the actions of this government, the minister and the parliamentary secretary in bringing this legislation forward, that will no longer be possible to do. In other words, for the great resources of the fishery off the coast of Quebec, especially along the north shore of Quebec where the great spawning areas are for those fish that were blocked from their migration pattern on to those spawning grounds, never again will there be quotas assigned. Quotas were assigned under the previous Tory administration to Norway, to Sweden, to Denmark, to Cuba, to Japan, to the Russian states, in order to block that migration on to the coast of Quebec.

It is a two-way street, is it not? Not only did the mackerel disappear from the coast of Quebec where they spawn, but they disappeared as well off the coast of Nova Scotia where they were on their way into the spawning ground. They disappeared along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador because that is where the mackerel go after they spawn at the end of May. It takes them until about September to become eight or nine inches long as they travel up around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and go out into the ocean again.

That migration was prevented. It was stalled. It was stopped by those quotas to foreign nations in Canadian waters, assigned by the Tory government. That is perhaps the blackest mark we have on our fishery. It was poor management.

Under this legislation the minister and the parliamentary secretary are bringing forward today, fisheries management takes top priority. Conservation becomes the most important thing in the decision of quotas and the assigning of them.

As well, it operates both ways for the fishermen of Quebec. The hon. member representing the Bloc should remember that the squid disappeared in the early eighties off the Quebec north shore. The reason they disappeared was that the squid which are prevalent on Canada's east coast are not born like the mackerel are along the coast of Quebec. They are born way down in Florida. Their migration path is almost like the Trans-Canada Highway of the squid. They go up past the east coast of Nova Scotia.

What was happening there under the poor management of the previous administration, the Tory governments of this country? We had vessels from Cuba, Japan, the Soviet Union and from other nations with licences from the federal government to block that annual migration of squid in the month of July.

All of a sudden the squid did not show up on the coast of Quebec or on the coast of Newfoundland or on the coast of New Brunswick

or Prince Edward Island. Why? It was poor management, poor decision making. That would not be possible under the legislation passing this Chamber today. Why? The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is bound to consult and not only consult, but the fishermen themselves and the industry itself will have to have an input.

On the same argument, as far as the Quebec coast is concerned, at the same time in the early eighties there was the tragic disappearance of the capelin, a very tiny fish that does not spawn as the mackerel does on the coast of Quebec, as the squid does down in Florida; it spawns off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and off the south coast of Labrador.

Due to poor management, because it did not have an act of Parliament like this at the time, what did the previous Tory administration do? In 1980 the Tory government gave a quota to the Soviet Union for over 100,000 tonnes of capelin. That is more than has ever been caught in any one year in Canadian history by all Canadian fishermen put together. Why? The Government of Canada was not bound by an act like this. The Government of Canada was not bound by these regulations.

I point out to the member from the Bloc what has happened in the past under previous administrations because they did not have this bill. They did not have the Liberal government we have today. They did not have that before, and what happened to his shore, his coastline, was that yes, the mackerel were prevented from going to their spawning ground at the end of May; yes, the squid disappeared at the end of July and were not seen anymore after 1980 because of the decisions of the federal Tory government at that time; yes, the capelin that spawn off Newfoundland and southern Labrador and Nova Scotia were never seen again because all of their biomasses were practically eliminated by overfishing licences given by the federal government.

There is a reason I mentioned those three species of fish for the benefit of the hon. fisheries critic for the Bloc. Those are the three fish that form the main food supply of what the hon. member has been so concerned about, codfish. They are the main food supply of the cod.

One would think that if we catch the food of the cod we would actually affect the codfish. According to the scientific evidence that was available at the time the Tories were in office, that conclusion could not be drawn. This was the reason they claimed it could not be drawn. They said we would have to have fishing of this food for about a year and then non-fishing, fishing of that food stock and then non-fishing, to be able to compare it year after year. A common sense thing like that. That is why this bill allows the minister to take certain measures in consultation with the fishermen and the industry to ensure this does not happen.

The main food supply of the cod was destroyed through mismanagement under the previous Tory administration. With this bill we

will have brought in a measure by which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will be able to step in to prevent that from happening in the future.

The other point which the hon. member from the Bloc did not consider was that the bill will also allow the minister, more than ever before, to step in as far as types of fishing gear are concerned.

We could imagine the effect of factory freezer trawler dragging the bottom of the ocean, ripping through a spawning area where fish accumulate at a certain time of year to reproduce. Imagine the effect that would have on the fishery. Imagine the common sense which went into the decision which said "yes, you can use that type of equipment". Where was the common sense? It just was not there.

This bill will enable the minister to make decisions based on consultation with fishermen. They would never allow that to happen. It amazes why this problem was created in the first place. When we look at all the scientific evidence which is available on how codfish and groundfish spawn it is amazing that the Tory government would ever have allowed those types of licences to be issued.

The scientific studies all point to the same thing. They say that during that four week period when fish are in the process of and preparing for their spawning season that even a little food cannot be dropped among them because they will disperse. There were studies done which used gigantic fish tanks to examine the spawning habits of various types of groundfish. When the studies reached that four week period the fish could not be fed. No food could be dropped into the tanks during the four week spawning season. Why was that? The fish would then swim at such a speed they would collide with the sides of the tank. If we disturb a groundfish in the process of spawning it will not spawn.

This bill will enable the minister and any future minister of any future federal government in Canada to look first and foremost to conservation and then to management. There must be management committees. They must consult with the fishers, as it is stated in the bill and as my learned, educated and civilized friend, the parliamentary secretary, pointed out a few moments ago.

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra has written 23 books and co-authored another couple of dozen, all concerning an aspect of this bill, international law, the law of the sea.

The Speaker is telling me I am out of time.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Actually, my colleague, you had about 15 seconds left. I was worried you were going to start using that act as a prop of some kind. I have never known you to use props in this House before.

I rushed in to get the tail end of your speech. You will have one brief question before we go to Statements by Members.

Oceans ActPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I note that the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls is in his usual fine form this morning.

He has given us a brilliant lecture on the food chain. I would even add, although I have said I was going to attempt to be non-partisan, that-and I shall offer him a pun in his own language-to listen to him, one would believe that the mother of the cod is a Grit.