House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crtc.


Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-273, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (political activities by charities receiving public funds).

Mr. Speaker, passage of this bill would ensure that charities that have charitable status and therefore are able to issue tax receipts would have their charitable status revoked if they use any of the money for political activities, since the act concerned with charitable status specifically prohibits those charities from so doing. It is time to put some teeth into the act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-274, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (electronic voting).

Mr. Speaker, back in 1994 I ran an electronic referendum in my riding using electronic touch tone voting. It came in for a lot of criticism at the time. However, in 1996 the Harris government wrote electronic voting into the elections act for Ontario and subsequently the city of North York carried out an electronic referendum in March of this year in which 152,000 people voted by touch tone telephone in five languages.

The time has come to amend the Canada Elections Act to permit Elections Canada to carry out some experiments with electronic voting.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present to the House today.

The first one has to do with health warning labels. The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may cause health problems and that fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol related birth defects are 100% preventable by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to mandate the labelling of alcoholic products to warn expectant mothers and others of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with the family.

The petitioners would like to bring to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society and that the Income Tax Act discriminates against families who choose to provide care in the home to preschool children.

The petitioners, therefore, call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families who decide to provide care in the home for preschool children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition has to do with everyday heroes, our police officers and firefighters on the front lines.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that police officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at risk on a daily basis and that the public mourns the loss when one of them loses his or her life in the line of duty.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund for the benefit of families of public safety officers, our police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 8 and 10. .[Text]

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

With respect to Captain John MacKinnon of Chilliwack, B.C., (a) when will compensation be given to him in accordance with the recommandation of the summary investigation into alleged professional misconduct, (DND Document #1080-3TD 9307 dated November 29, 1993), and (b) when will the minister consider the alleged injustices of his inappropriate postings and final discharge from the military?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

The various complaints of Captain (Ret'd) Mackinnon are now before the courts. This matter is being reviewed by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian forces, and Captain (Ret'd) MacKinnon will be advised shortly through his lawyers of the position of the Canadian forces in respect of his most recent request.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

What percentage of those who claim to be self-employed did not pay any taxes, or declared losses, during the 1996 taxation year, and what percentage of those people who claim to be self-employed did not pay taxes, or declared losses, for every year from 1993 to 1995 inclusive?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.


Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Statistics for the 1996 taxation year are not yet available as processing of tax returns related to the 1996 taxation year is not yet complete. Shown below are the requested data for taxation years 1993 to 1995 inclusive for those individuals whose major source of income in the taxation year was self-employment:

(Link to table)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario


Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-7, an Act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of presenting the bill to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park at second reading.

Everyone will agree that our parks and national historical monuments are viewed as treasures both here and abroad.

In fact, yesterday I attended a meeting of heritage ministers from across Canada in St. John's, Newfoundland, and we were in unanimous agreement, including the Government of Quebec, that Canada's heritage is a great treasure as far as tourism is concerned, and benefits our economy, as well as nature.

I would like to show you just how much of a collaborative effort this bill has been for the people of the Saguenay. Even MPs who were not from our party were involved in creating the idea of having the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park as the first marine park created by Canadians. The member for Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean himself was the one who conceived this idea and proposed it to the then Minister of the Environment, Lucien Bouchard.

That hon. member, André Harvey—my apologies, Mr. Speaker, I know we are not supposed to name MPs, but I feel this is important. Why? Because it shows that a Liberal member is now putting the finishing touches to a fantastic bill that started out with a Conservative minister and has the support of the Parti Quebecois government in Quebec.

This shows how this country can function when we want it to, and how we can work together.

Why did this happen in the Saguenay? Why did we create the first marine park in Canada? We Canadians are often the first to do things. We were the first country to set up a parks department, which is now more than a century old.

We were the first in the world to sign an international treaty on the environment, the International Transboundary Waters Act, which dates, I believe, from 1909. We have worked with the Americans on major environmental matters. All Canadians in their heart feel a bond with the land they live in because of its size and because of its complexity.

We have how many time zones, how many climate zones? A small group of people spread out over a very vast territory, and what does that give us? It gives us a very unique feeling of how we and the land are partners together. That is why we were the first country in the world to establish a national parks agency, the first country in the world to establish a transboundary agreement on the environment back in 1909. Now today we have another first.

We are establishing the first marine park which started off more than 10 years ago. It was the dream of a member of Parliament who was not of my persuasion. He happened to be the local member of Parliament for the area. He proposed the idea to the then minister who happened to be a member of the Conservative Party but who subsequently joined another party. Now we see it all coming to fruition in a way that I hope and believe every Canadian can support.

I think we are justified in being proud of our efforts, generation after generation, in hanging on to the jewels of our natural and historical heritage. This is in fact the thrust of the resolution passed unanimously in Newfoundland yesterday, in which all the ministers, regardless of political party said “It is our responsibility to preserve our heritage and to improve it for our children”.

This same vision and commitment has led us to establish parks and historical sites. Today, they underlie our efforts to create a new network of national parks and of marine conservation areas comprising 29 natural marine areas within Canada.

The federal government has a role, but it is really the people of Canada who are determined to establish legislation to protect this extraordinary and vital marine wealth.

Together we are fulfilling a vision for parks and marine areas that is truly pan-Canadian in nature.

In the past two years alone we have made tremendous progress with the signing of agreements to establish Wapusk and Tuktut Nogait national parks. We have also proceeded with the withdrawal of lands for future Canadian parks at Wager Bay and on Bathurst Island.

In total we have set aside a land mass of over 60,000 square kilometres, an area larger than the entire country of Switzerland, and we have done that in the past two years alone.

As we work toward completion of our Canadian parks system by the millennium we anticipate establishing new parks and conservation areas on Baffin Island, in Lake Superior, in Bonavista Bay and hopefully in the Torngat Mountains, to name just a few.

The bill before us today is the result of a joint project and the fruit of a real partnership, proof that Canadians are quite capable of producing grand visions together, when they pool their efforts to achieve a common goal.

The Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park is a reality today because of co-operation between members of Parliament, various levels of government, the communities involved and the native peoples of the region, who played a very important role.

I would also like to point out the great diversity of individuals, organizations and governments involved in this great vision. The lesson learned was that nothing is impossible and anything is possible when people put politics aside and work together for the good of the planet.

This principle is what the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is all about. It is about working together. It is about setting aside our political differences and uniting around a common goal, that of preserving the ecosystem. Of course it is what Canada and Canadians are all about, people working together in the spirit of shared vision and co-operation; people coming together as we did during the Saguenay and Red River floods with the spirit of co-operation and vision; people from diverse communities with various political backgrounds, different levels of government, different ideas and interests coming together to protect a unique marine environment, to establish a unique marine park and to preserve this magnificent part of Canada's national heritage.

Through today's legislation we are following through on our shared goal of protecting and preserving the natural environment contained in the park. Most significantly, we are ensuring better protection for the beluga whale, a threatened species that is native to this region.

The beluga whale grows up to six metres in length. With its distinctly white coloration, high rounded forehead and lack of a dorsal fin, it is one of the world's most extraordinary creatures. For years they have been known for their remarkably varied vocal repertoire. Canadians have listened to their voices calling out from the sea for marine protection.

More than 500 beluga whales live within the park's boundaries. The vast majority of Canadians have never seen a beluga whale, but they want to save the habitat for their children and for the children of the whales.

In creating this new marine park we are making sure that our efforts are working in harmony with our strategy for sustainable development and biodiversity. Together Canadians are moving toward that goal.

The Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park will be a meeting place for Canadian and foreign tourists, as well as the main attraction of a region that is unique, given its incomparable natural beauty.

Over a five-year period, the marine park will result in over $11 million being invested in the local, regional and national economy, and in the creation of 350 jobs in the region. So far, the federal government has invested more than $15 million and we are planning to put in another $15 million before the beginning of the new millennium. The purpose of this initiative is to increase the level of protection of the marine ecosystems and to promote public appreciation for the park.

Our natural heritage is an important element that distinguishes us as a people and a country. The establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park will allow us to reinforce Canada's identity and values, and to become even more responsible as regards nature and our common future.

The bill before us today has the support of environmental organizations, aboriginal people and local businesses, which have already contributed $30 million toward the creation of the park. The park is a unique natural treasure in a prime location, not only in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence region, but in the hearts of all Canadians.

The park is also unique in that it is the first federal-provincial salt water park.

Canadians are proud to live in a beautiful, vast and very diversified country, with coasts that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

We can stop environmental degradation in this particular region of Canada and we can protect our natural heritage thanks to the efforts and the will of all concerned.

I had a privilege and a thrill this summer which probably most people would never have in a lifetime. I had the privilege of sailing a boat from Newfoundland to Boston. We started from Newfoundland and as we came out of the St. John's harbour, within a quarter of a mile of the harbour, I was able to pull the boat beside an iceberg which towered over us by about 300 feet. What you do not see is about 90% of the iceberg below.

Not only did we see this iceberg but as we sat beside it and marvelled at its intense beauty as a part of an ecosystem which has been there for 20,000 years, a whale jumped out.

Within the graph of a quarter of a mile of our land, we had mother nature of 20,000 years and mother nature in the form not of a beluga whale but a less endangered species of a whale.

There are times when the battles of the workforce in politics or otherwise can make you lose site of the bigger picture. When I was there in the boat watching the whales from the pod jump, I had to say this is the nature of the land which we have inherited from our ancestors.

It is the nature of a land that we have a responsibility to give to our children. That is why I was so proud last night when our prime minister in his address in Ottawa underscored the environmental challenges we face in the future. We cannot just think of today. We cannot just think of tomorrow. We have to think of future generations.

In the establishment of the first federal-provincial marine park in salt water, we are setting a framework to keep this park forever, into infinity, not just so we can sail, if we have the means—and not everybody does—but so generations of young Canadians in the future can see what it is that drew people inexorably to this fantastic country called Canada.

When people like Radisson and Desgroseillers travelled through Hamilton on their trips to find furs, they experienced a feeling for their country that was shared with aboriginal people. We have somewhat forgotten the true nature of this country called Canada. This country is winter and winter is our country. I believe that with the small step we are taking today by establishing the first marine park, we are recreating—

A magnet brought people to this fantastic country, whether it was several hundred years ago, thousands of years ago over the Bering Strait, or as late as this year when thousands of people chose to call Canada home. I think the bill is one of the reasons we will continue to preserve a way of life that people around the world see as a magnet for their hopes and their aspirations.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, this being my first formal speech in the House of Commons in this session, I wish to congratulate you on your position in the chair and the Speaker of the House on the democratic process that we went through a couple of weeks ago. I know all of you are working very hard to make sure that parliament is conducted in a way that we can have our political differences but at the same time in a way that all decisions by the Chair are fair.

Another thing I would like to do obviously is to thank the people of Kootenay—Columbia for vesting their confidence in me. I had a vote of 62% and certainly I thank those people for their vote, but I also feel a tremendous responsibility to the other 38% who chose to vote for someone else, that they would see me as representing them in the Kootenay—Columbia constituency and be worthy of the trust the people have given me.

I was very interested in the comments of the heritage minister about her personal experience on the Atlantic. Of all the divisions within the heritage department probably parks are closest to my own heart. I have been very fortunate. My wife and I have reared three children on a lake in the Rocky Mountains. It is not unusual on my way home either to see muskrat, elk or deer. We have white swan. We have loons. We have everything constantly around us. I have a tremendous appreciation for nature.

Probably the difference—this is perhaps a personal difference and a political difference—is the vision I have of parks in Canada as creating more of a balance. There is a tension between the side of preservation of what we have in Canada and the access citizens and visitors to Canada should have to parks. Perhaps that is where we would end up with a difference of opinion.

Because of the time I have spent at my home and in our own area I have personally seen and smelled grizzly bear, seen the caribou and the moose.

About 15 years ago in the fall during the rut I was rather chagrined. I was driving a TransAm. That car rode very close to the road. As I was driving between two centres in my constituency a moose walked out very slowly. I had just finished passing a Greyhound bus and I slowed down to a stop. The moose was absolutely a gigantic, magnificent animal. He kind of looked at the front of the car with that great big thunderbird on it. I was wondering if he saw it as something he wanted to mangle or attack. I was particularly concerned about the bus coming up behind me, that somebody might honk the horn in which case this animal might do something unexpected.

That is the kind of country I come from and I am very proud to represent. I have a strong feeling about nature and what we have in Canada.

It is with that vision that I speak to the bill before us. My understanding is that this is federally enabling legislation for an agreement between Canada and Quebec, signed in 1990, to create a marine park at the confluence of the Saguenay fiord and the St. Lawrence estuary and to conserve and manage its marine resources. Bill C-7 does not involve any transfer of land. The Government of Quebec retains ownership of the seabed and subsoil resources. The Government of Canada continues to exercise its responsibility over navigation and fisheries. Existing laws remain applicable in the park.

The legislative process that we enter into in the House is very important. All steps in the process are very important. In this case the committee work will be a very valuable part of putting this important legislation in place.

There is collaboration in the involvement of local and regional organizations in protecting the site. It suggests that there is support for this 1,138 square kilometre protected zone.

It will be very important for the committee to hear from people about the issue so that we clearly understand we have representation from people and, if there are two sides to this issue, so that we clearly understand where the local people are coming from.

Funding was provided for in the February 1995 federal budget and the federal contributions toward development and operating costs totalled $20.7 million over three years. Additional funding from the federal government has been $6 million between 1989 and 1993 and $4 million for green plan funding between 1993 and 1995.

I am a little confused with the funding. It will also be an important part of the job of the committee to take a look at the issue of funding. I have the numbers for 1989-90, 1990-91, and so on and so forth all the way up to 1996-97, where I see a total of $16.3 million in federal money went into the park.

I have two figures in front of me that I find a little confusing, $20.7 million and $30.7 million. I heard the minister in her speech talk about the figure of $30.7 million. I am trying to portray the issue of the dollars and cents.

The Reform Party is noted for looking after the financial affairs of Canada and calling the government to account for the way it spends its dollars. The dollars that have been spent to this point do not appear to have been exorbitant or out of line. However there does seem to be some confusion about them. I would look to the committee to examine expenditures.

Parliament must approve all new parks and all changes to existing parks. This should ensure some accountability to parliament and ultimately to the public. Our national parks are owned by all Canadians and purportedly managed on their behalf. The legislation attempts to put in place a federal-provincial management regime that is already operational.

I also had the good fortune, as the minister just indicated, to visit Newfoundland this summer. I was on the opposite side of the island. I was at Gros Morne National Park. I cite this by way of example of the kind of work we must do in committee. I cite Gros Morne as a template. If we take a look at it we should be able to see the kinds of questions we should be asking in committee.

Gros Morne is 20 to 25 years old. It is still in the formation stages and is working under an agreement between the federal and provincial governments. The applicable laws and their enforcement come under the provincial government because enabling legislation has not been brought through the House to bring it under Parks Canada.

One of the good things I saw in Gros Morne Park was the relationship of the services being provided either to the park or to the visitors of the park. They were very simple.

In Jasper National Park, Banff, or Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba people constantly run into conflict between commercial interests providing services to the park and its visitors because of an overlay, duplication, and many years of trying to jig and redo leases.

The beauty of Gros Morne is that the leases that have been negotiated have been done on the basis of a percentage of gross revenue. That is something we could take a look at for any leases in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Park. We should be looking at simplifying leases, particularly for people who provide boat services and things of that nature.

Another very good thing about Gros Morne is that the towns, although geographically within the park, are nonetheless not contained within the actual park boundary. This has tremendously simplified the relationship of the towns to the park and to the park administration.

This is something we could learn about, for example, when we take a look at the conflict we are currently undergoing in the town of Banff. Jasper certainly is not far behind, as are the other towns within park boundaries.

We have a very interesting situation in Gros Morne. We are talking about the moose and land animals there. They do relate to Beluga whales and to the marine life in this marine park. The problem with moose in Gros Morne is that they are literally eating the park to death. I can see a situation forthcoming where there may even have to be a cull of moose because the park could actually be killed by the overgrazing of moose.

One interesting thing about moose in Newfoundland is that they are not actually natural to Newfoundland. They were imported at the turn of the century. I believe the year was 1906. As a consequence they have adapted to an absolutely ideal territory but unfortunately are eating the park to death.

Another interesting point is that we can learn from the Gros Morne template relative to this act and what happened with respect to the agreement on snowmobiles in Gros Morne. When the agreement was negotiated some 20 years ago there was no vision, nor could we have had a vision, of how the capability and capacity of snowmobiles could be increased to extreme heights in terms of speed and carrying people.

As a result the agreement negotiated with the people in the area at the time is now called into question. With access to the high plateau areas in Gros Morne Park there is actually what I call shoulder season problems. In other words, if the snowmobiles are out too soon, or particularly in the spring when the snowmobiles are out too late, they are actually causing damage.

That is why I am suggesting to the House and to the committee that we must take a look at flexibility in anything to do with the legislation so that we do not end up finding ourselves in a box with respect to people who are running boats in this area.

We cannot possibly foresee the technological capacity of boats that will be in this area. As a consequence we must ensure we have flexibility within any legislation and within regulations so that we do not end up with the same kind of problems with boats at Saguenay that we are currently experiencing with snowmobiles at Gros Morne.

As I indicated at the outset of my comments, I believe that the majority of people in the Reform Party and I have a different vision of Parks Canada than the minister and certainly the Liberal government. We see parks as being areas that must be properly confined and protected for the benefit of our children and our grandchildren and for the benefit of all people in the world, which is why Banff is designated a heritage site. We understand that. However, we have a lot of difficulty when we try to apply preservation techniques and policies on an area where people are already coming into the parks.

I believe there has to be a better balance and a better approach to parks and preserves. My vision of this in committee would be to look at it more from the perspective of the people who are presently going into this area. As the minister indicated, it is important to protect the beluga and its environment. At the same time we have to take into account that one of the major reasons for this park is for all Canadians and all visitors to have the potential for the same kind of experience the minister had with the whale and the iceberg.

I have one criticism that could be considered partisan. Once again the Liberal government is using the House as a rubber stamp. And it is not just the Liberal government. Between the Liberals and Conservatives who have bounced back and forth across this Chamber frequently there has been the implication that because one has a majority government, it will simply bring in the legislation in due course, in due time.

When the minister talked about “putting the final touches” on this legislation, she also indicated there was a Conservative initiative to this. Why does the legislation come at the very tag end? Why is it that when these parties are in government they consistently use the House as a rubber stamp?

All the details were worked out with the province of Quebec long before it was brought to the House for any kind of discussion. That is really unfortunate and takes me back to the first item on my shopping list for committee. The people in the area and all concerned parties must be heard relative to their support for this park. We have some documentation to back it up but let us hear the people in place.

What are the implications for commercial and sports fisheries on the St. Lawrence? What are the implications for other uses of the river? It is absolutely essential that the people who are presently using that area for its marine life be taken into account.

I cite by way of example a situation in my constituency. We in Kootenay—Columbia are part of one of the major flyways for waterfowl that come from northern Canada and head south to the U.S. and further. On the Columbia River are very delicate nesting areas. We have to be very conscious of power boats being used in specific locations on the Columbia River, otherwise we would be really fouling up the waterfowl.

However, last summer in particular several idiots on personal watercraft roared through some of these areas. I cannot imagine what if anything was going through their heads. The net result of these few people who chose not to use their brains, who were acting in a reckless and irresponsible way—there was only a handful of them—was that the B.C. ministry of environment suddenly slapped a 10-horsepower limit on an 80-mile stretch of the river.

That really flies in the teeth of the people in my constituency, the vast majority of whom are very responsible, the vast majority of whom choose to live there, as I do, because we respect the area and we respect nature. Those people use the river responsibly. Now, all of a sudden out of the clear blue sky, boom, a 10-horsepower motor limit. That kind of knee-jerk reaction by bureaucracy not only does not solve the problem but actually ends up seriously irritating responsible people.

Why do I say that it does not really solve the problem? If you could put a 10-horsepower motor on something like a canoe—which you could not do because you would sink it—and ran it full bore up the river, you would create as much damage as these personal watercraft are creating in these nesting areas. The 10-horsepower limit means nothing.

With that in mind, what are the implications for commercial and sports fisheries on the St. Lawrence as a result of this bill and particularly as a result of the overlay of park regulations? That is another question we must answer to our satisfaction to ensure that we do not end up doing things unnecessarily and making people angry.

This 10 horsepower limit is seen by myself and many others like trying to kill a mosquito with a 10 pound sledgehammer. It is unnecessary and would probably create more damage than was intended in the first place.

There is another issue. Unfortunately because of the separatist aspirations of the BQ and PQ we must take into account what kind of implications this bill may have. We cannot just say “It is all drafted and it looks fine”. We must seriously examine what this bill means, what its implications could conceivably be relative to the relationship between the federal government and the government of the province of Quebec, particularly as long as the province of Quebec is represented by people who would break up this country. We must be very careful with this bill.

Finally, what precedents does this bill establish for future parks? Probably more important, what precedents does it set for the establishment of other marine parks in Canada?

Legislation does not happen in a vacuum. Legislation works almost like an onion, layer upon layer. For the people in the rest of Canada who may have a marine park brought forward in their area, we must be very careful to determine what precedents this bill establishes. We cannot see the establishment of this park and the marine control in isolation.

The minister has already said there is a movement afoot—probably a good movement—to establish a full park system. If we do not take into account what happens on the west and north coasts as it relates to marine life and the use of that water by existing and potential future users, we would be making a mistake.

We are concerned about a number of things. We insist the committee go through these questions and other questions that will be raised by other members. This will not be a committee rubber stamp process, nor do I expect it to be. The parliamentary secretary, the secretary of state and the chairman of the heritage committee are fine gentlemen who will see to it that this is not a rubber stamp process and that we will have the opportunity, in a totally non-partisan way, to establish answers to some of the questions I have posed and hopefully some of the questions that other members will pose.

However, because we do believe this is a good bill in principle, the Reform Party will support it at second reading.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-7, the short title of which is the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act.

I am pleased to announce at the outset—and this will not come as a surprise either—that the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill.

On December 12, 1996, the governments of Quebec and Canada announced they were tabling a bill on the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park before the Quebec National Assembly and the House of Commons respectively, to implement the April 1990 agreement between the two governments.

At that time, the two ministers responsible for the bill, that is to say Canada's Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec's environment and wildlife minister, stressed how important their two bills were. While identical in many respects, these bills take into account each government's jurisdictions.

These bills were Bill 86 in Quebec and Bill C-78 in Canada. They are aimed at enhancing the level of protection of the ecosystems in part of the Saguenay River fjord and the northern St. Lawrence estuary to ensure conservation, while at the same time promoting its use for educational, recreational and scientific purposes, for the benefit of present and future generations.

At the time these two bills were tabled, the Minister of Canadian Heritage described the legislation as, and I quote:

—the result of several years of concerted efforts between the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec.

As for the hon. David Cliche, then Quebec's environment and wildlife minister, he stated:

We are proud of the positive result of our consultations and are convinced we have met the expectations of the public and of the many partners who will be associated with a project of this magnitude.

What therefore was the purpose of the agreement that led to the establishment of this marine park, which is located in an internationally recognized tourist sector and which will boost an already strong and lasting tourist industry?

The marine park project was apparently launched in 1985. On June 3, 1988, Canada and Quebec agreed that they should sit down together and talk about establishing a marine park in the Saguenay.

The parties recognized, and I quote:

The importance and the urgency of protecting and preserving for the present and for future generations the exceptional flora and fauna of the marine territory at the confluence of the Saguenay River and the northern half of the St. Lawrence estuary and of developing said flora and fauna.

It was to be almost another two years before the two governments worked out an agreement, which they signed on April 6, 1990. Under this agreement, both governments undertook, within the limits of their constitutional authority, to cause to be passed legislative or regulatory measures for the purpose of, and I quote:

(a) establishing a marine park to be known as the Saguenay Marine Park located at the confluence of the Saguenay River and the northern half of the St. Lawrence estuary;

(b) preserving the aquatic flora and fauna, and maintaining the integrity of ecosystems in this territory;

(c) protecting the territory and other resources;

(d) developing these resources for the benefit of present and future generations;

(e) creating public awareness of these resources.

In addition, this agreement created a joint committee that was to report to each government within six months of the signing of the agreement, in other words around October 1990, regarding the legislative or regulatory measures they should pass.

In article 2, the agreement set out the provisional boundaries of the Saguenay Marine Park and both governments gave themselves four months to agree on a detailed description of the park's provisional boundaries, and a maximum of nine months within which both governments would carry out a public consultation prior to defining the permanent boundaries of the park.

Article 3 of the agreement confirmed the rights and authorities of each of the governments, which became, as it were, co-owners of the park. Thus, under this agreement, the Quebec government maintains ownership of the sea floor and of surface and subsurface resources, whereas the federal government continues to exercise its jurisdiction in matters including navigation and fisheries.

This is in fact a first in Canada, since this park will be under joint federal-provincial management, and neither party will have to relinquish anything to the other.

With an increasing willingness to co-operate in the best interests of taxpayers who are always seeking an end to useless duplication and overlap, the two governments have agreed to harmonize their initiatives and the initiatives of their respective departments and agencies. They have even agreed, under article 4 of the agreement, to share present and future infrastructures, facilities and equipment in the marine park, provided that one of the governments makes such a request to the other.

In addition, the two governments have created a committee with two representatives from each of the governments, whose task will be to find ways to further harmonize efforts. The committee's mandate is to harmonize initiatives by Canada and Quebec, especially in the areas of planning, research, management plan development and programming activities, consultation with concerned individuals and groups, integration of development efforts, arrangements for sharing existing and planned infrastructures, facilities, and equipment, scheduling, personnel exchanges, communications and organization of seminars, symposiums and exhibits, marine fauna and flora and public security.

This proposed marine park innovates in three main areas. To begin with, it is the first time in Quebec that a park is given the mission of protecting a marine environment. Furthermore, it is the first time that the governments of Canada and Quebec work together to establish a park. And finally, there has never before been such an innovative consultation process.

In this regard, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that this project originated at the grassroots level and evolved to finally reach Parliament, contrary to numerous projects that are of a centralizing nature and that originate with the government and are imposed on the population. The Reform Party must be very pleased with this, because the establishment of this park reflects exactly what the population of this region wants.

I would like to give a broad outline of the consultation process. In December 1990, the two governments held joint public hearings to determine the park's boundaries. Following that, they set up an advisory committee including representatives from the regional county municipalities affected by the project, from the scientific community, from the Quebec union for the conservation of nature and from the coalition for the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park.

The mandate of the committee was to advise planners on, first, the way the park project was perceived in the area and, second, the content of a development proposal. The committee and the representatives of the ministers concerned were able to bring to the fore the issues involved and to show the interest the people had for a marine park.

In April 1993, both governments made public the boundaries of the park and announced at the same time public consultations on the development proposal. Two months later, at the end of the consultations, the governments had received 63 submissions which were thoroughly reviewed. A report was submitted in December 1993.

The governments had everything they needed to prepare the master plan for the marine park, which was released at the beginning of 1996. This major consultation effort produced at least two changes: the name was changed from Saguenay Marine Park to Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and the area covered went from 746 square kilometres to 1,138 square kilometres, almost double the original area.

After more than 10 years of talks and negotiations between the governments in Ottawa and Quebec, the National Assembly made the project official on June 5, 1997, by passing Bill 86 which had been introduced on December 12, 1996. However, the Quebec legislation will only come into force once Bill C-7 receives royal assent.

However, Bill C-78, which was introduced in the House of Commons in December 1996 at the same time as the bill in Quebec City, met with a very different fate. Last April, during the 35th Parliament, the Bloc Quebecois, which at the time was the official opposition, feeling it was becoming increasingly obvious that the Prime Minister was going to ask the Governor General to prorogue the House and call a general election, made representations on several occasions to the government to speed up the process and pass the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act as quickly as possible before the general election. Instead, the government chose to let it die on the Order Paper.

The long awaited Bill C-7 before the House today at second reading is the result of many years of joint efforts on the part of the governments of Quebec and Canada.

The establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park provided for in this bill is also the result of the co-operation between the many organizations already active in surrounding areas, local and regional communities, environmental groups, native peoples and the scientific community. Thanks to this co-operation, they were able to set joint objectives for the management and protection of the area's rich and diverse marine resources, particularly to better protect an endangered species, the beluga.

The management plan tabled in February 1996, after extensive public consultation, mentions the existence of a consensus on the conservation of marine ecosystems and the development of the park. The Canadian and Quebec acts creating the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park are mirror images. Both pieces of legislation have the same objectives, namely the conservation and development of the marine environment. The two bills complement each other, without losing sight of the constitutional jurisdiction of each level of government.

Without going into detail, I will recall the main elements of the bill as outlined in the summary. This bill creates the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. It will be the first federal-provincial salt water marine park.

It sets out the role the federal government will have to play, mainly with respect to managing the park in conjunction with the Government of Quebec. However, a provision in the bill allows the minister responsible for Parks Canada to enter into agreements with the other levels of government or with organizations, if this is necessary to insure maximum effectiveness in establishing innovative partnerships that will help achieve management objectives for the future.

It implements the 1990 federal-provincial agreement.

It deals with the water column within the park boundaries.

The bill provides for joint management of the parks and the creation of committees for that purpose. Among other things, the governments will jointly establish a harmonization committee to coordinate their respective planning and management activities. The legislation also provides for the creation of a co-ordinating committee, which will give members of the community the opportunity to participate in the improvement of the protection measures and the promotional activities for the park. That co-ordinating structure involves both levels of governments, the regional stakeholders and the band council of the Essipit Montagnais.

Furthermore, the management framework included in the management plan published jointly by both governments under the title “Crossroads of Life, Site of Exchanges, Wellspring of Riches” states that this plan has created a co-ordination zone. The document defines that zone as follows:

The marine park territory and the surrounding regions form the co-ordination zone. Besides the territory of the park itself, the zone stretches from Chicoutimi to Tadoussac and includes all municipalities bordering the fjord. Along the north shore of the St. Lawrence, the co-ordination zone stretches from Saint-Fidèle-de-Mont-Murray to Les Escoumins and includes the territory of the Essipit aboriginal community. On the south shore, municipalities along the estuary from Kamouraska to Trois-Pistoles are part of the zone.

The co-ordinating committee will be composed as follows: one representative for each of the north shore regional county municipalities adjacent to the marine park, that is Charlevoix-Est, Fjord-du-Saguenay and Haute-Côte-Nord; one representative only for the three south shore regional county municipalities concerned by the park, that is Kamouraska, Les Basques and Rivière-du-Loup; one representative of the scientific community; one representative of the groups concerned with resource conservation and preservation as well as with education in natural environment and its interpretation; one representative of the Department of Canadian Heritage; and one representative of the Quebec Department of Environment and Wildlife.

The bill requires that management plans be prepared and laid before Parliament. It provides that a management plan shall be laid before Parliament within one year after the establishment of the park. Afterwards, the management plan will have to be reviewed at least once every seven years and laid before Parliament.

The bill creates a procedure for changing park boundaries. As presently provided, its territory contains 1,138 square kilometres and covers a representative part of the marine environment of the fjord and the estuary. This territory includes the Saguenay River from the mouth of the river up to Cap de l'Est, located about 40 kilometres east of Chicoutimi, as well as the north estuary of the St. Lawrence River from Gros Cap à l'Aigle, located about 10 kilometres east of the town of the same name, up to Pointe Rouge or Les Escoumins.

The boundaries could be changed by order in council, provided that the Government of Quebec has given its approval and that both ministers of both levels of government have jointly consulted the public on this issue.

It is interesting to note that, in this bill, the public is directly involved in the management of the park, since both the federal and the provincial minister must encourage the people to take part in the development of the park's policies and management plan and in the examination of all major related issues.

The bill reaffirms the protection of natural and cultural resources and of the park's ecosystems. Is also includes measures to protect the health and safety of all visitors inside the park.

The bill also stipulates the offences and penalties for every person who contravenes this legislation or its regulations. It gives the park wardens the same powers of arrest granted peace officers in the Criminal Code.

Anyone found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction is liable in the case of a natural person, to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and in the case of a corporation, to a fine not exceeding $100,000.

Anyone found guilty of an indictable offence is liable in the case of a natural person, to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.

In the case of a corporation, the maximum fine is $500,000.

The bill will complement existing federal legislation that could be affected by its provisions, such as the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and the Canada Shipping Act.

The bill is quite clear. All resource exploration and development activities in mining and energy production will be prohibited within the park's boundaries. Oil and gas pipelines and power lines will also be prohibited.

The bill describes clearly all the management and planning activities that will be necessary for proper operation of the park. The Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park will benefit the whole area. Local residents will be provided with the means to conserve this area, and its flora and fauna. The park will generate jobs in the areas of nature conservation, site development, territory protection and tourist industry.

During the development phase, there will be jobs in infrastructure construction and site development. Scientists will certainly contribute to the supervision of environmental aspects of this work. In the longer term, there will be job creation for conservation officers involved in the protection of the park and the security of visitors, for employees in charge of the maintenance of the park and its various sites, and interpreters to help visitors enjoy the park.

The marine park will be a new attraction that will bring new tourists in this area and keep those who had already been going there for a longer period. These tourists will generate new benefits for the accommodation industry, restaurants, and cultural and leisure activities.

The establishment of this park will especially help preserve, for future generations, a precious and unique regional ecosystem that is found nowhere else in Quebec or in Canada. It is Heritage Canada's job, through Parks Canada, to assign resources to the protection of the environment, just as Quebec's environment and wildlife department does in Quebec.

Quebec has always been protective of its territory and has always reluctantly accepted to let Canada settle on its land. Today, the Department of Canadian Heritage has given Parks Canada the mandate to manage two national parks in Quebec, Forillon and la Mauricie; a national park reserve, the Mingan Islands; four navigable historic canals; 21 historic sites; and a development program of approximately a hundred commemorative plaques.

Through its environment and wildlife department, the Government of Quebec already manages 50 ecological reserves and 17 parks, and it has reserved 18 territories in the north with the intention of turning them into parks.

In the issue before the House today, the Government of Quebec has worked in good faith with the Government of Canada because it wanted to establish this park, because it did not want to give up any rights—the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park does fall under the jurisdiction of both governments—and, consequently, the government could not act alone. It had to act in co-operation with the Government of Canada.

Of course, if Quebec were a sovereign state, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park would probably have been established by now. The establishment of a new partnership with the Government of Canada meant that the Government of Quebec had to initiate a whole process of discussion, of consultation, of co-ordination and of planning before going ahead with this marine park. If Quebec had acted alone in creating this park, there would certainly have been less discussion, less compromise, no jurisdictional problems and, most of all, no need to wait for Ottawa to pass this legislation.

But, for now, Quebec is still part of Canada. The adoption of this bill will allow Quebec to go ahead with the joint project to create a marine park and to recover some of the tax money it pays each year to the federal government.

I call upon my colleagues from all parties to co-operate in order to ensure speedy passage of Bill C-7, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act.

In closing, I would like to read another excerpt from the management plan to which I was referring earlier. I quote:

The Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park is a product of the richness and diversity of its natural and cultural components as well as the interest expressed by the public in their increased protection—. Today, our society is looking to renew its interest in the marine environment and all the memories it holds. Like yesterday's explorers and hunters, today's visitors relive the excitement of an encounter with marine mammals; they become image hunters. A good look at the long-term human intervention in the area of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park will reveal the importance of the marine ecosystem in humanity's heritage.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very proud today to rise on behalf of my constituents of Sackville—Eastern Shore to declare the New Democratic Party's support in principle for Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.

In my riding the significance of our natural surroundings affects our very lives and livelihood. Our streams, rivers, lakes, forests and agricultural lands provide sustenance to all who reside there. Whether it is the citizens in the north or the citizens in the south, the need to maintain and preserve the ecosystem is a belief shared by everyone.

I commend the Liberal government's effort to fulfil at least one election promise made to Canadians. I am pleased that the proposed legislation will enable all Canadians the opportunity to visit and enjoy another jewel in our country's natural heritage.

Bill C-7 is the reincarnation of Bill C-78 tabled late in the 35th Parliament which died on the Order Paper with the dissolution of Parliament. Its reintroduction is a continuation of the effort which began in the 1970s when the need for marine life protection along the St. Lawrence achieved national attention.

The disgraceful state of the river at the time was best signified by the dead and dying St. Lawrence beluga whales washing ashore. Toxic contaminants from upriver sources have been identified as the primary culprit. The establishment of a marine park it is hoped will assist in the recovery of this endangered species.

The rich diversity of marine life found at the confluence of the Saguenay fjord and the St. Lawrence River supports many species and is visited each summer by blue whales, fin whales, minke whales and on occasion by humpback and sperm whales. The whales represent the top of the park's marine food chain and efforts to correct the damage to this area inflicted by man deserve our support.

There is another fact which may be overlooked. Millions of people depend upon the waters of the St. Lawrence for drinking water, recreational and employment purposes. Given the endangered state of the St. Lawrence beluga, a victim of outdated practices and environmental impacts, the risk to people is acknowledged. The requirement for the protection of this ecosystem becomes an absolute necessity.

The significance of the establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park goes beyond the benefits of this ecosystem. It is a hallmark in intergovernmental co-operation. The process to guarantee the conversion of an acknowledged jewel involved the active participation and conciliation between the governments of Canada and Quebec. Both levels agreed upon a need to correct the errors of the past and to proceed with a common purpose to achieve a noble end, the protection and preservation of this marine ecosystem.

Both levels agreed to honour their respective jurisdictions. Throughout the years which followed, they discussed, consulted and overcame adversity. On June 5, 1997 the proposed legislation received Quebec legislature assent.

The degree of public participation and input must also be recognized. The communities were consulted. Aboriginal participation was ensured. We hope that the co-ordinating committee, a key component toward the park's success, will continue the spirit of goodwill to provide input and direction that is both productive and proactive.

A fine example of how the public consultation principle can be incorporated into a decision making process occurred when all parties agreed to expand the park boundaries from 746 square kilometres to 1,138 square kilometres. Environmental groups and marine scientists for the most part were acknowledged and listened to beyond political agendas or preferences of the day.

The process will not end with Parliament's assent. A new stage begins: the definition and implementation of the management plan. The management plan will define the ability for the ecosystem to survive, to thrive and to provide a sustainable use of the natural resources. There are several concerns that various stakeholders have expressed on proposed management plans, parameters and restrictions. I look forward to raising these important considerations at committee.

I am confident that the co-operation shown throughout the years can continue at committee and the matters related to a successful, sustainable marine park management plan specific to the Saguenay—St. Lawrence area will be included for final reading.

There is agreement between all proponents that it is imperative to establish the park for the belugas, for the hundreds of marine species, for the preservation and enjoyment of future generations. There is agreement between many proponents that to ensure this principle's success, several basic standards are absent from the proposed legislation as written today.

There is very little language in Bill C-7 referring to the conservation mandate of the park and Parks Canada. A suggestion from the World Wildlife Fund, active proponents and contributors to this process, is the strengthening of the language in the preamble and the purpose of the bill. The park is being created not just to protect but to conserve and maintain the integrity of the natural ecosystems within the park's boundaries.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, the initial impetus to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park came out of the efforts to protect and recover the beluga whale population living in that region. Perhaps we should ask why there is no mention of species at risk. Through the years this can be interpreted as a basic oversight easily corrected by committee.

I believe that a second sentence can be added to the purpose of the bill or to the preamble to the effect that “this will be done by preserving and maintaining the natural ecosystems within the park boundaries, and in particular by protecting and aiding the recovery of species and populations designated as at risk”. Fine words written by our friends and a principal tenet I am proud to refer to the House.

Proponents have requested that the bill should include the Parks Canada guiding principles to be used as the definitive reference to guide park operations. Proponents have requested that some of the zone one areas, those areas deemed as vital for integral preservation, be expanded. Concerns on a complete ban on bottom trawling to prevent the disturbance of contaminated sediments which will cause further ecological damage is proposed also.

The cornerstone to this park's sustainable success will be restrictions on recreational and commercial impacts upon breeding areas and other areas in this region deemed as critical for marine life preservation. We believe a balance can be struck to ensure the economic benefits gained by the surrounding communities through ecotourism initiatives. We believe that the environment and jobs are not inconsistent when managed wisely in a sustainable manner.

This process has evolved over many years. I am confident that any conflicts or differing views in management plan procedures can be addressed at committee. A national marine conservation areas policy is in its infancy. Although a national marine parks policy was produced over a decade ago, a lack of practical experience has led to a continuing study and consultation period.

Parks Canada is recognized internationally for its professional standards, its high degree of determination to ensure the conservation and preservation of Canada's national parks. It is truly to be congratulated.

The protection of our wilderness areas is often thought of in terrestrial terms, semi-closed ecosystems which have defined components based on specific locations and limited outside impacts. There are Jasper, Gros Morne, Wood Buffalo, Fundy, Kluane, La Mauricie, Grasslands, Prince Albert, Cape Breton Highlands and over 20 other national parks in this fine country. Banff, the original jewel, was established in 1885.

Today we refer to committee another effort to preserve a part of our national heritage for future generations. There is a significant difference between the proposed Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and this country's efforts across the past century. However, I must explain to my colleagues the responsibilities we accept today are on behalf of all Canadians.

The proposed legislation recognizes the respect for alternate jurisdictions and I join my colleagues to commend the fine degree of co-operation demonstrated by the federal and Quebec governments toward this noble cause.

The federal government's responsibilities will include the overlying water column and exercising its legislative jurisdiction over marine resources and maritime transportation activities in this territory. The Quebec government retains administration for the seabed and subsoil resources.

The water column is the fundamental component for this park's success. The water column is a transportation medium for the pollutants which contribute to the near demise of the St. Lawrence belugas. The water column is a fluid highway that delivers the outfalls and ecosystem degradation from a distant point to impact upon our best intentions and efforts which will determine a recovery or loss.

The establishment of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park will require close co-operation and collaboration across many jurisdictional boundaries. There will be a new era of scientific and educational unity which cannot be destroyed by political interference or self-serving agendas of the day.

The water column has the capacity to transport the nutrients and support requirements for the regeneration of this area. Through conscious efforts to conserve and maintain the integrity of the marine ecosystems within the park's boundaries we have the opportunity to improve and contribute to the betterment of adjacent and distant regions.

The protection of the proposed park will require an effective management plan and I agree with the concerns raised by my colleagues on behalf of concerned Canadians and international organizations. In addition to the aforementioned concerns and comments we must accept the responsibility which is this and future governments' duty to ensure.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans must commit to a comprehensive monitoring program in the park. The department must commit to acting in a responsible and co-operative manner. This responsibility will include the budget allocation for adequate personnel and sufficient equipment to fulfil jurisdiction requirements. This responsibility will include a comprehensive emergency spill contingency plan and a capability for effective implementation. This responsibility will include swift response and acceptable enforcement measures on those occasions when deleterious and detrimental impacts from beyond park boundaries are identified. This responsibility will include first and foremost the capacity and sincerity to act within park boundaries to ensure the park's success to maintain and preserve the marine ecosystem.

I believe a balance can be struck to ensure the economic benefits which can be attained through ecotourism initiatives. I believe that jobs and the environment are not inconsistent when managed in a wise and sustainable manner. However, the pursuit of one must not damage the effort of another.

Parks Canada has stated that an integral component for the success and sustainability of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is the expected tourist income from whale watching operations. The first test of this government's sincerity for marine protection will arise during the definition and restriction phase of management plan parameters.

Again, a balance can be struck to affirm long term recovery and park viability. However, the concerns raised by the scientific community cannot be ignored or misrepresented as has been done in the recent past.

The Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park can succeed if it is memories and photographs which are harvested, not the marine inhabitants. Without conscientious efforts to balance tourism and the protection and perhaps the expansion of zone 1 areas within the park we will end up without marine inhabitants to present to tourists.

In the words of one marine scientist we must avoid the project becoming “Disney does Beluga”. I am confident that such concerns will be presented at committee and acted upon with foresight and objective considerations. I am pleased to join my colleagues across both sides of the House in support to refer this bill in principle to committee for final review.

For our children's future I encourage all my colleagues on both sides of this House and in the Quebec legislature to support not only this bill but other environmental initiatives that protect the future for our children. On behalf of the New Democratic caucus I am pleased to offer my support to referring this bill to committee for final review.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Hélène Alarie Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I have just listened to the previous speaker and I am very pleased that he approves of Bill C-7, since it is a bill that has its roots in an enhanced community consciousness.

I have also listened to my colleague from Rimouski—Mitis, who explained the mechanisms that will enable local and regional authorities to remain actively involved in this matter.

I have already said, and will repeat it here in this House, for it is a statement that comes from the heart: my roots are in the Bas-du-Fleuve, the lower St. Lawrence, Kamouraska to be precise. This bill touches me particularly, therefore, in some ways.

There has been much reference to the beluga, but there is also much to be said for the beauty of the whales that frequent this region, to the delight of visitors. Obviously the population density is such that, as there is as yet no recognized park, we have visitors who are passing through. But once the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park has been established, I imagine still more will come to enjoy the beauty, dare I say the ecstacy, of this environment.

There has been reference to the beluga and it must also be pointed out in this context that the presence of visitors must be properly managed if we want to still have these animals around and to be able to observe them. In the past, and this may be what has raised people's awareness, there has been abuse, or at least there have been problems in regulating who would show visitors around. Now I believe this is a thing of the past, and we will no longer have such abuse, once there is a regulated park.

The need for environmental standards was also mentioned in the speeches. I think we have no choice but to tighten environmental standards if we are to keep and increase marine animal populations. On this subject, people speak of the mouth of the Saguenay. However, there is an extraordinary population of marine animals and birds along the shore, by Kamouraska. They have already been studied by professors from Laval University and must be preserved. This area too has hardly been touched and is largely unknown by the public, but interest has been shown in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park in developing this aspect and making it more widely known. The Kamouraska archipelago is populated by wild migratory birds.

One final point has not been raised. I am speaking of the culture of algae, which is part of the ecosystem and perhaps a part of the future. On the coasts of Norway and of Europe, people have come to live on, use and speak of marine algae. These people, who enjoy working with algae, are delighted by the number and variety of algae on the rocks of the Kamouraska archipelago.

For all these reasons, which are partly emotional, I admit, and partly for the pleasure of tourists, I am delighted at the co-operation between the governments of Quebec and Canada on Bill C-7, and I invite all members of this House to support it.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, again I echo the comments of my colleague from Quebec. I reiterate that Bill C-7 is an example of what can happen when federal and provincial jurisdictions get together to work with a co-operative nature, not just for the marine park for the Saguenay—St. Lawrence but also in areas off the coasts of Nova Scotia, Îles de la Madeleine, British Columbia and in our various Great Lakes. It is an example of what we can do when we have a vision of the future, of what we can do not only to protect other species but to protect ourselves as well.

A true testament of man is not what we have left for our children in terms of finances and the type of homes they live in. If we see species in our realm today will our children be able to witness them as well? I know my great grandparents read about things like the passenger pigeon which is no longer available. We in our lifetimes in this House will never get to see such a beautiful creature.

We are hoping that this bill will protect the beluga whale so that our children may go to the shores of the St. Lawrence and one day witness those belugas.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Chicoutimi who, I am proud to say, has been involved with this project since its inception.

Although this is not the first time I rise to speak in this House, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters of West Nova for having placed their faith in me. I will do my utmost to bring their concerns forward during this 36th Parliament and beyond.

It is also an honour for me to be sitting in this House with members from all regions of the country. After only two months in this House, I have a deeper appreciation for this great country and a new respect for the diversity of our fellow citizens.

As an Acadian from St. Marys Bay, I am very proud to represent a riding where anglophones and francophones have been living together for hundreds of years, and where the sea always played a key role in the lives of its inhabitants. Our ancestors, whether English, French, Scottish, Irish or German, all lived off the fisheries in one way or another.

Having two distinct or unique marine areas in our backyard, it is difficult to think of a marine park and not be reminded of western Nova Scotia. Having grown up on the shores of the majestic Atlantic Ocean and the world renowned Bay of Fundy, the preservation of our marine ecosystem is very important to me.

On behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, it is an honour for me to speak in support of Bill C-7, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

As members may be aware, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is part of a larger effort to protect Canada's marine environment.

In 1986 the PC government approved the national marine park's policy. In 1987 the country's first national marine conservation area known as Fathom Five in Georgian Bay was established.

In 1988 the government signed a federal-provincial agreement with the province of British Columbia to create a national marine conservation area at Gwaii Haanas in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

On April 6, 1990 the Progressive Conservative government signed a historical and unique agreement between Canada and Quebec to create a marine park at the confluence of the Saguenay fiord and the St. Lawrence estuary.

This federal-provincial agreement represented years of co-ordinated conservation effort, and for the first time the two levels of government had jointly agreed to establish a park and to co-ordinate their park activities.

Bill C-7 is a mirror act to bill 86 which was passed by the Quebec legislature last year. Our government also called for the creation of an additional four marine conservation areas by the year 2000.

As my colleague from Chicoutimi will attest to, there is much work involved in establishing a marine park. There are various components that need to be examined. Above and beyond preserving the marine ecosystem of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence, there are impacts such as tourism.

We knew that terrestrial parks brought in large numbers of tourists, and therefore it was safe to assume that there would be an influx of tourism to this community.

Our government consulted the local residents who would be impacted, and we are happy to see that this government has continued this consultative approach.

Two very constructive rounds of public consultations were conducted. The first took place in December 1990 regarding the boundaries of the park. This marked the first time the proposed boundaries of a park had been increased. Local residents wanted a larger protected area.

The second round of public consultations to be carried out by the Progressive Conservative government was held in June 1993 to consider a development plan for the park.

We all know the more people you consult the more ideas are brought forward. More ideas often bring more changes and it takes time to make changes to a document. What I find dismaying is that it took the government this long to finally approve the management plan for the marine park and to bring forward this bill.

In 1994 the Canadian heritage minister of the day introduced the national marine conservation areas policy. This was followed up by the national marine conservation areas system plan in 1995. This plan would divide Canada's three oceans and great lakes into 29 distinct marine conservation areas or NMCAs. In typical Liberal style of environmental one-upmanship, the government set a goal for itself of establishing 10 such marine parks by the year 2000. To date there are three marine parks on the Canada Parks map but only Fathom Five is a legal entity.

In December of 1996 the government introduced Bill C-78, an act to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park and to make a consequential amendment to another act. The government must have thought it was moving too quickly on this and called an early election, effectively killing Bill C-78. Finally, here we are in November 1997 with Bill C-7, which is essentially identical to Bill C-78.

The clock is ticking. As we approach the millennium we cannot afford to waste any more time in this very urgent matter. With less than three years to go, we have yet to establish a marine park in each region, let alone the 10 parks promised by the government.

We must adopt this legislation as soon as possible. I look forward to dealing with the specifics of the bill when it goes to committee, as well as examining the feasibility of other NMCAs. I am very excited by the prospect of establishing other marine parks, especially in the Bay of Fundy and off the Scotian Shelf. Aside from the obvious benefits of preserving the ecological integrity of our marine life, marine parks would increase tourism and create much needed jobs for the people of my area.

I would like to share with you a small story. In spending some time in the waters off Nova Scotia, specifically off Briar Island while doing some sailing, I have had the opportunity of seeing the majestic whales that many tourists from across the world come to see. I see this as a perfect opportunity to protect this environment and make it better than it is at this point.

I look forward to working with this government toward achieving the main objective of the marine park, which is to preserve our marine environment for the present and future generations to enjoy.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member in regard to the establishment of these marine parks.

There was one plan a number of years ago for my riding of Charlotte. It was referred to as the Fundy Isles Marine Park. It was to include areas of Campobello Island, Deer Island, Grand Manan and the surrounding area. One of the concerns expressed at the time was the question of the marine park versus the traditional fisheries and what impact that would have on traditional fishing areas.

For example, would lobster fishermen be restricted in the areas they could trap lobster, or scallop draggers restricted? This collision between the park and the traditional fisheries was there. It was a major obstacle at that time. Other matters had to be taken into consideration as well the debate between fisheries and park officials about the park concept, somewhat like the debate which is taking place this very day between the aquaculture fisheries and the traditional fisheries.

Has consideration been given to that? And is it being debated at the local level in Nova Scotia?

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, the comments I made regarding looking into a marine park for the areas I described were on a preliminary basis. The points the hon. member raises are very important.

A park could not be developed without consultations because it is another very important aspect of our economy. Without those consultations there would be dangers. I would say very strongly that anything of that nature taking place would be as a result of consultations with all parties.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Progressive Conservative Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, let me point out that my primary reason for rising today is to thank all stakeholders in this matter.

Today is indeed a wonderful day not only for myself but also for the people I have the honour of representing. After a dozen years of efforts, work and consultations, the government finally agreed to designate land located in the heart of my riding as a national marine park.

Allow me to thank the majority, if not the vast majority of my colleagues from all parties, who, so far, have supported this bill to formalize the establishment of a national marine park. I also wish to thank the ministers, who, one after the other, have brought this project to completion. I would like to acknowledge in particular the contribution of former federal minister McMillan, who, in 1985, launched the co-operative effort with the Quebec government then in office, including then minister Clifford Lincoln, who is now the Liberal member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

I thank them all for their valuable help in developing and then selling the project to both levels of government.

I would be remiss if I did not thank all the stakeholders in the vast region affected by the establishment of the marine park, including the municipalities that helped promote the idea of this marine park, which was probably the park that underwent the largest consultation process ever held in the country.

I also want to thank all the mayors who testified, and also the representatives of economic and environmental organizations who did the likewise to help further a project which is a model of co-operation between the various levels of government and which is the result of the positive contribution made by all the community organizations that have helped, during the past 12 years, to build the case for the establishment of this national marine park.

Many investments have been made in recent years by various research centres, for analysis and research work on fauna and flora, with a view to establish the marine park.

I was elected on June 2, 1997 because I told my fellow citizens I was not going to come here and pretend to be representing them, pretend to be upset on a daily basis. I am here to promote issues that will benefit my region, which is severely affected by major economic problems.

We know that the action plan on the national marine park will be revealed soon. We hope that specific measures will be announced, especially to increase as quickly as possible the number of visitors to the area. We know that the Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine area receives between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors.

We hope that the action plan, which will focus on economic development and the need to increase tourist traffic, will be sensitive to the needs of local communities and provide for new facilities that will accommodate a growing number of visitors to our region, especially by building in close cooperation with the Quebec government a highway between Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Petit-Saguenay so that visitors will not have to drive through Saint-Siméon to get to the fjord and the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

In addition, there are sites that need to be promoted and made more accessible. I refer in particular to an extraordinary site, which is known nationally and almost all over the world, namely Cap Trinité, where the population is aging and where it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to reach the cape which is located 350 metres above sea level and which is probably one of the most unique and extraordinary observation sites in the country.

I am convinced that when the government will reveal its action plan, it will be possible at that time to provide input and suggestions for the development of infrastructures that will allow the region to benefit from increased tourist traffic. An increased number of visitors will bring more jobs and economic development. So this is important for the whole region.

A lot of money will be invested over three years, and we are very pleased with this. You can rest assured that our regional organizations will follow very closely the implementation of the action plan by the two levels of government and that the member from Chicoutimi, as he has always done since 1984, will play a positive role in improving the action plan so that the money to be invested will contribute to the economy of the area and of all the communities along the St. Lawrence.

This is obviously not a good day to engage in partisan politics. I would like to thank the minister for her kind words for the member from Chicoutimi who, since 1984, has worked on the development of this wonderful project. People say that hard work is its own reward. Often this work is done quietly, not always in front of the cameras, but today is indeed a great day.

I should like to point out that back then, our government had a very substantial agenda. It was substantial environmentally with the acid rain treaty. It was also substantial from a trade point of view with the free trade agreement, which enabled us to increase our exports to the U.S. by 140%. In addition, it was substantial with respect to fiscal reform, particularly with the passage of the GST, the ultimate purpose of which was to lower taxes.

I hope that the government will also be listening with a view to finalizing tax reform, so that all our constituents will benefit and see their taxes go down and their employment insurance premiums decrease, because back then—I think we must give credit where credit is due—there were reforms, there were bills introduced by a government with a vision based on structural measures, which are now helping us to control the deficit.

I am obviously very happy to take part in the vote today on this bill that, with the support of my regional constituents, I set in motion. Several ridings are affected. I thank everyone who played a role in this wonderful project.

Rest assured that, in the decades to come, we will not regret having created this national marine park, which enables us to preserve all living things in our environment, but also to promote the economic development of a region sorely in need of assistance.