Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this bill at report stage. We will support the amendment.
Establishing the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is an idea that originated in the Saguenay area. Its purpose is to give heritage status to one of Quebec's most spectacular regions—the whole Saguenay River—while also promoting tourism.
The consultation process which then took place resulted in the project being expanded to include the St. Lawrence. Those who worked on this initiative deserve to be congratulated. A major consultation process was properly conducted before the project went ahead. Several years went by between the time the idea first came up, in the early nineties, and the time when the House finally votes on the legislation.
The bill includes new and interesting points which had not been raised before and which do not all reflect ideas put forward by those behind the project. It should also be noted that the then federal environment minister, who is now the premier of Quebec, had managed to get the federal government to be receptive to the idea, which has since followed its course.
Let us not forget that the park will be jointly managed by the federal and provincial governments, through a committee on which both will be represented. For the first time, Quebec will maintain ownership of the seabed.
In the sixties and seventies, there were epic battles concerning Forillon national park, among others, where the issue of ownership generated problems. In the case of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, the two levels of government have come to an agreement whereby Quebec will maintain ownership of the seabed. This is a good step and a good result.
As a member of Parliament, I took part in the consultation process and a great of representations had to be made.
The final form this is taking allows our tourist industry on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River to have critical points of contact with the park through—and we make no secret of this—the special efforts made by firms like Duvetnord, which have turned the river into a major tourist area worthy of preservation.
I think there are significant elements in the whole Lower St. Lawrence region, from Trois-Pistoles to Île aux Basques, which incidentally is one the far extremities that will not be directly included in the park but could be considered as part of a whole system. I think that, in the future, we should take advantage of the fact that the federal government has not yet met its targets for the year 2000 and may have a hard time meeting them as far as marine areas are concerned. Perhaps thought should be given to finding a way to include the south shore even more, somehow.
However, I feel it is important to understand that the amendment be positive. It is also important to know that consultations were conducted properly and that, in the end, we will have a park that, in my estimation, stands to become a world renowned tourist attraction at a time when adventure tourism is so popular. We will have everything we need to let the world know about this outstanding region to attract tourists from abroad. I think that the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park will be a fantastic tourist attraction.
What is interesting about this legislation is that, if passed, it will make it possible to develop the necessary infrastructures and for centres on both sides of the St. Lawrence River and the Saguenay River to have a really significant tourist accommodation capacity. For the Lower St. Lawrence region at least, this will help give it a stronger position as a tourist region. In that sense, this is very desirable.
Before I conclude I would like to remind the federal government that it is essential to have a logical plan of action. If on the one hand, a Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is established but, on the other hand, no effort is made to implement sufficiently stringent environmental standards regarding, for instance, greenhouse gases and everything having to do with climate, as beautiful as the marine park may look, if there is not a drop of water left in the St. Lawrence and an environmental disaster is caused, the result will not be very satisfactory.
So, we should promote an equally open attitude at the international level and take on an advocacy and a leadership role in promoting strict and stringent environmental rules to ensure that our part of North America is at the forefront and can provide this product. There is nothing worse in the tourist industry than to offer a product that loses its appeal. When a park like this one is established, it should be for 10, 20, 30, 50 or even 100 years, and that is what we are trying to negotiate. That is what will be happening in Kyoto for instance and in the ongoing negotiation process regarding environmental rules. This has to be the basis for the federal government's position.
I will conclude by saying that establishing this park is a good thing, it is the result of an innovative approach that leaves the ownership of the seabed to Quebec, it was made possible by the participation of the people of the Saguenay and was spearheaded by a person who believed that joint management from a position of equality was possible in Canada. Having Quebec and Canada deal on an equal footing can give interesting results and today we have this bill to prove it.
Hooray for the establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park. Let us now look at adding to Canada's marine areas as well as setting a goal for the year 2000, and I am sure you will find on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River all the support necessary to add to this beautiful new park.