House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ports.


Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members present will vote no, except for those who have been instructed otherwise by their constituents.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, NDP members in the House will vote no on this motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed.)

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

moved that Bill C-232, an act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate my appreciation to the hon. member for Regina-Lumsden for seconding Bill C-232. I appreciate this has been an issue of major concern of his for many years. We have worked on this initiative together for the last three years and we do hope that time will permit passage of this legislation in the House as well as the other place.

I also want to acknowledge my colleague from Peace River who also indicated an interest in seconding the legislation. I want to say how much I appreciate his support on this initiative, and also that he has been steadfast in his support over the last number of years on this very important issue.

I want to indicate what was behind the initiative to introduce the bill. In my previous life I was a professional geographer and today I am also a governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. I have studied the issue of water transfers and water sales for nigh on to 35 years. My interest and concern today is as much as it was at the time the infamous North American water and power alliance proposal, often referred to as NAWAPA, was receiving a great deal of public attention.

This was a major project initiated by the Ralph M. Parsons' Engineering Company of California to divert all the rivers of northwestern Canada, including parts of Alaska, into the Rocky Mountain trench and other river basins for eventual sale to the American southwest and northern Mexico.

That issue, interesting enough, has not gone away. I noted with some interest that Mr. Dale, who at one time was the United States ambassador to Canada, two years ago was providing interviews to Western Report magazine about the renewed interest by southern California in revitalizing the concept of the NAWAPA plan to divert large amounts of water from Canada to the greater Sacramento basin which consequently would be a great business proposal.

This has many of us very concerned. I was concerned in a professional way as a geographer and in my capacity as member of Parliament for Kamloops by a recent initiative taken by entrepreneurs in western Canada and the western United states to divert50 per cent of the flow of the North Thompson River during the freshet period for eventual sale in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. The preliminary drawings had been put together. It certainly was economically, environmentally and engineeringly feasible in the traditional approach of evaluating projects. It was receiving a great deal of attention until people of the North Thompson River realized what was up and decided to take some steps against diverting one of the major tributaries of the Fraser River for eventual sale in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.

I have a personal involvement as the member of Parliament representing that area. I also think it fair to say we have seen a number of initiatives in the last while, beginning with the free trade agreement with the United States and ending with the North

American Free Trade Agreement and more recently with the multilateral agreement on investment.

These three agreements would facilitate the sale of fresh water from Canada to the United States and Mexico. In particular, the free trade agreement and the North America Free Trade Agreement have identified water as a good or commodity. Once water is identified as a good or commodity, it comes under the purview of the North America Free Trade Agreement which makes it virtually impossible for even a national government, let alone a provincial or any kind of local government, to take any serious steps to stop the eventual sale of that product or that good into the United States or into Mexico.

I suspect that people might wonder if that is the case. I suppose we should see these trade agreements and more recently the multilateral agreement on investment in some context.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world with no water policy stated in any formal way. There is no legislation that would indicate water policy. This is appalling considering that Canada is the second largest country geographically in the world. A tremendous amount of the world's fresh water exists within our national boundaries. Yet we have no water policy.

In the absence of water policy, the free trade agreement with the United States, NAFTA, and now eventually if we sign this the multilateral agreement on investment will take priority in terms of the rules and regulations that will govern the eventual sale of water to the United States and northern Mexico.

I want to reiterate that the North America Free Trade Agreement includes water as a good under the terms of the agreement for essentially the same reason, as I stated, than does the free trade agreement with the United States. The purpose of the free trade agreement as set forth in article 102 is to eliminate barriers to trade in goods and services between the territories of the parties, to facilitate conditions of fair competition within the free trade area, to liberalize significantly conditions for investment within the free trade area, to establish effective procedures for the joint administration of this agreement and a resolution of disputes and to lay the foundation for further bilateral or multilateral co-operation to expand and enhance the benefits of this agreement.

I want to go on to quote from article 102 under NAFTA. It sets forth the objectives which include to eliminate barriers to trade in and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between the territories of the parties, to establish substantially investment opportunities in the territories of the parties, and to establish a framework for further trilateral, regional and multilateral co-operation to expand and enhance the benefits of this agreement.

When we consider that the point of these two trade agreements to which we are a signatory is to eliminate barriers in trade for goods, is water a good under these trade agreements? Article 201.1 of the FTA states that goods of a party mean the domestic products as these are understood in the general agreement on tariffs and trade.

Similarly, goods of a party are defined in article 201 of NAFTA as products, as these are understood by the general agreement on tariffs and trade. This means that any good covered by a GATT trade heading is subject to the provisions of the agreements themselves unless explicitly excluded in their respective text.

Raw logs were exempt, cultural industries were exempt, some beer was exempt and some fish products were exempt. What was noticeably absent from the exempt list was water.

Therefore to understand the basis for inclusion of water in the trade agreements one must first look to the relevant sections of the harmonized commodity coding system of GATT. I know most members are familiar with this coding system, and 22.01 states that waters, including natural or artificial mineral waters and aerated waters not containing added sugar or other sweetening matters, are included.

To provide further clarification in case there is any confusion at all, the GATT harmonized commodity description and coding system explanatory notes were adopted by the GATT signatories in 1986. The explanatory note for heading 22.01 which represents the only GATT sanctioned elaboration of the text is as follows: "This heading covers ordinary natural water of all kinds other than sea water. Such water remains in this heading whether or not it is clarified or purified".

I could go on in some detail but I think this is sufficient to indicate that however we look at this, however we interpret it, water is a good, and goods are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

I panic when I consider what our country is now involved in, the multilateral agreement on investment. My guess is that 99.99 per cent of Canadians do not know what I am speaking about at this point because the negotiations for the multilateral agreement on investment have been taking place in secret, behind closed doors. They are high level negotiations that no one has been informed about. Provincial governments have not been alerted to this. Most members of Parliament and senators have not been alerted to the fact that the negotiations are taking place let alone any of the items being discussed.

The MAI's definition of investment is very broad. In the MAI investment means "every kind of asset owned or controlled by an investor". It extends to "rights under contracts" and "rights conferred pursuant to law or contract such as concessions, licences,

authorizations and permits". By implication the definition even extends to real estate or other property, tangible or intangible, acquired in the expectation of or used for the purpose of economic benefit or other business purposes. It seems quite clear that this definition of investment would open the door to international investors mounting direct challenges against governments for water exports.

Some people sometimes define water as a special commodity, a special good or a special product, that it is technically owned by all the people, that the government owns those water resources or products until they are sold or licensed off and so on. I do not think we can take much comfort in this. When we consider that government is the owner, often no one takes serious claim of that ownership. I point out the gas and oil industry, how that too belonged to the people and how it has been essentially sold off to the highest bidder wherever and whenever it is found. This is to say nothing about my own province where the timber resources theoretically belonged to the people but have now been allocated to the last branch to one of the major forest companies for its exclusive use.

We are now being confronted with a most serious issue. The only product in Canada the United States does not have access to right now is water. Until recently there was some indication that parts of our cultural industry were protected from American inclusion. In the last number of days the Minister for International Trade has made it clear that will be impossible to protect in the future. Even culture, the one industry that was named in the free trade agreements to receive some protection, is now being abandoned and put on the sacred altar of the free market. We are now down to one item, water.

We have to ask ourselves why the Government of Canada is reluctant to introduce a clear water policy for Canada and why the House of Commons, through the government initiative, is not prepared to introduce legislation to prohibit the interbasin transfer of water for export.

Two jurisdictions have taken steps. British Columbia has recently taken some steps to prohibit the interbasin transfer of water for export and the province of Ontario under previous administration introduced strong legislation to prohibit the interbasin transfer of water for export sales. Saskatchewan has done this too. When we consider that some provincial governments have taken strong steps, why is the federal government silent on this issue? Why does it refuse to take any initiative at all? Why does it refuse to even discuss it? Why does it refuse to even have the most simplistic water policy concerning the importance of water in the second largest country in the world? These are questions that must be asked.

As we speak there are all sorts of people who are quite anxious to sell our water to the Americans. Americans are anxious but many

Canadians are too. I refer first to the American Society of Civil Engineers which recently published a handbook that points out all the benefits of diverting water from Canada to the United States, of selling Canadian water to the United States. It points out that we already have 54 interbasin transfer systems within Canada. This is nothing new to our country. The export of course is.

Even if the federal government were to pass legislation, even if provincial governments were to pass legislation, we must us acknowledge that as a result of international law, trade agreements take priority over national, state or regional legislation.

We can imagine if the state of Montana passed legislation that went against the general trust of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It would be laughed right out of the international court. So too would provincial, national or state governments.

At the moment we are locked in. If we agree to eventually sign the multilateral agreement on investment, we will lock those decisions in for a 20-year period. For 20 years a decision under that agreement cannot be reversed once a trade or business initiative is taken.

We have serious problems. I reluctantly say that in my own province the Fraser Institute is an enthusiastic booster, a cheerleader for the whole idea of selling Canadian water to whomever. Whether it is the United States or Mexico it is anxious to see water designated as a commodity. Recently one of its publications articulated its position very clearly. Not only are Americans anxious to purchase Canadian water. Some Canadians are very anxious to sell it.

We do not have to look very far. The person who negotiated the trade agreement with the United States, NAFTA, was Simon Reisman. He was one of the main proponents of the interbasin transfers of water to the United States. The thesis topic of Manitoba's Gary Filmon when he was studying at the University of Manitoba was an investigation of the diversion of northern Manitoba waters into Lake Manitoba. The major objective of the study was an assessment of the possible future scope of water developed in western Canada and the feasibility of water exports to the United States.

Not only are entrepreneurs and industrial and business leaders often anxious to sell Canadian water to others, particularly the United States and Mexico, but some of our political leaders are on record as feeling similarly.

The lack of any initiative by the government, let alone the previous government which we assume would have sold us out to the United States, raises suspect whether the government is tacitly

approving the notion of selling Canadian fresh water to United States and Mexico.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

An hon. member

The Prime Minister and President Clinton were golfing and talking about giving away water.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

They were talking during their golf game about various matters. I could go on at some length but I want to hear what my colleagues have to say about this important initiative.

Maybe Canadians are wondering how significant the issue is. When someone goes into a store to buy a litre of water or a litre of oil, often the litre of water is actually more expensive than the litre of oil. We know to what extent the United States will go to ensure its secure oil supplies. We can all agree that water is even much more valuable than oil. We can imagine the extent to which Americans will go to eventually have access to our fresh water.

It is important that we take whatever steps we can as a country to indicate that Canadian water is not for sale. Canadian water is the lifeblood of our country and is not to be treated in the same spirit as we treat cod, copper or timber.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Don Valley West Ontario


John Godfrey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, there is good reason to applaud the initiative of the hon. member for Kamloops in introducing the bill. The government supports the objective of sustaining Canada's water resources and Bill C-232 proposes one way in which we could do it.

I am concerned, however, that the prohibition of water export by interbasin transfers may be too narrow an approach to a complex issue. Access to adequate clean water supplies is critical to our health, to our quality of life and to Canada's competitive position. Much of our economy and jobs are tied directly or indirectly to our supplies in water from farming, forestry and industrial development to tourism and recreational sectors.

Growth in these areas will depend on sustaining the benefits of adequate and clean water resources.

To put it another way, water is an essential part of all ecosystems, from the functions and life support provided by lakes and streams to the role of the global hydrological cycle in sustaining water in all its forms.

Our drainage systems do not conform to political boundaries but continue to unite different parts of our country through travel and commerce and through co-operative efforts to conserve and protect these waterways and their ecosystems.

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River connect most of eastern Canada, as the north and south Saskatchewan Rivers link the prairie provinces; the Fraser, most of British Columbia; and the Mackenzie River and its tributaries, much of the north.

Current initiatives such as the Great Lakes, Fraser River andSt. Lawrence action plans are excellent examples of all levels of government working together and with industry and non-government organizations to address health and sustainable development within these aquatic ecosystems.

It is essential that our decisions reflect a comprehensive approach to sustaining water resources. On the question of water export, we must ask ourselves at what point water removal may result in damage to an ecosystem. It is clear that interbasin transfers have the potential to cause the most significant social, economic and environmental impacts.

What about other means of withdrawal of water for export purposes such as the use of supertankers taking water from coastal lakes and streams, the mining of groundwater reserves or the cumulative impacts of a series of small scale withdrawals from the same source?

Without doubt Bill C-232 is consistent with the federal water policy which explicitly opposes water export by interbasin transfer.

I have to take issue with the hon. member in his interpretation of the NAFTA when it talks about water as a good and refers to it as bottled beverages. It does not refer to the large scale exports of water to which he alluded.

Interest in water export has shifted away from proposals for the construction of megaprojects, despite the obvious vested interest of civil engineers, which would result in large scale interbasin transfers of water, the focus of Bill C-232. Large scale exports through massive engineering work such as the Grand Canal proposal are not considered viable under current market conditions. The costs associated with the delivery of water would greatly exceed the prices that users would be willing to pay for water. That is not to say that future water shortages could not result in prices that might meet the costs of such export proposals.

The current focus of water export proposals, however, is by tankership using water from coastal lakes and streams or by tanker trucks or pipelines carrying water from surface to groundwater sources.

Not only have the economics of water export clearly changed in terms of capital investment needs but our understanding of the scope and extent of potential environmental, social and long term economic impacts. Water is possibly the most basic and unifying element in ecosystems.

As I have already stated, water export must be viewed from an ecosystem approach. Concerns relating to all forms of water export which were not considered in the 1960s now must be factored in. These include the effects of climate change for which recent predictions suggest losses of water availability of about 20 per cent for some of the settled regions of the country; the potential biotic

transfer and contamination resulting from the discharges of ballast supertankers withdrawing water from coastal streams and lakes; the fragility of our ecosystems, particularly northern ecosystems, to disturbance; the concerns of First Nations whose ways of life are intimately tied to the cycles of abundance of water; the displacement of communities or depletion of water resources available to downstream communities; and the loss of recreational and commercial benefits.

The measures we propose to address the water export issue must reflect both the current and future focus of export proposals and the broad environmental, social and long term economic impact of such proposals. Bill C-32 fails to do.

This leads to a second concern. We should take action to address the broad range of concerns facing fresh water in a comprehensive way rather than limit ourselves to the one concern of water export. The need for such an approach is based on the growing recognition of the importance of water, the diverse and complex jurisdictional responsibilities associated with sustainably managing water, and the pressures on governments to continue to manage these responsibilities effectively in the current climate of financial restraint.

All Canadians have stewardship responsibilities for water. It is important that we consult with them in developing a comprehensive approach to water export and to the many other freshwater issues currently facing us.

Over the past 10 years the government has consulted Canadians on a wide variety of water issues, most recently through a series of workshops held across Canada to identify water priorities and directions for the next century. Contrary to the suggestion of the hon. member we are not silent. We are taking action. We are currently conducting a review of our programs and legislation relating to sustaining Canada's water resources. It is through this review that a comprehensive approach to water can be developed, including legislative measures to address water export.

I will conclude by reiterating that, first, it is imperative we address the full range of water export options to ensure the sustainability of Canada's water resources and the continued health of our ecosystems. We must adopt measures whether in legislation or by other means which provide a clear approach to resolving the issue and which reflect the concerns of all Canadians.

Second, we must not limit our actions to the single issue of water export in addressing the challenges facing fresh water. Taking a piecemeal approach to the broad range of fresh water issues reflects the ways of the past. We need an integrated and comprehensive solution to sustaining environmental, social and economic health, which depend on water.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great interest that I rise today to speak to the bill introduced by my colleague in the New Democratic Party, an act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers.

Our colleague was undoubtedly motivated to introduce this bill because of the fear that one morning he would see Canadian water basins emptying into American ones. We would see these basins drained or greatly reduced without being able to do anything about it. In light of the present water shortages and climatic fluctuations caused by greenhouse gases, this fear seems entirely legitimate to me and certainly justifies our giving this whole issue serious consideration.

We must ask ourselves whether our water resources are in fact threatened in the short, medium and long term. It is clear to me that water will be an increasingly precious resource in the future and that people, industries and countries will therefore want to lay claim to it by any means possible.

In the era of free trade and globalization of markets, it should come as no surprise that fresh water is becoming a rare, not to say very rare, commodity. We in Quebec and in Canada are lucky enough to have large quantities of this precious commodity and could therefore export it.

The main question we must ask ourselves is this: Can we keep this resource, which is so abundant in this country, for ourselves while other people on the same continent as us are suffering shortages with very serious consequences? Can we not share this resource intelligently for the benefit of everyone?

Moreover, can we leave this resource unprotected, at the mercy of anyone who wants to appropriate it, which may have a disastrous impact on the resource?

The bill standing in the name of the hon. member for Kamloops is intended to deal with interbasin transfers, which means transfers of huge quantities of water. According to the hon. member, it is up to Canada to protect this natural resource, since NAFTA contains no measures to protect or prohibit the export of this resource. According to the hon. member, we need legislation to prohibit massive exports by interbasin transfers.

I agree there are a number of situations that must not be allowed to arise. For instance, the harnessing or diversion of rivers without a licence or without authorization from the appropriate authorities. We must of course prohibit anything that would have harmful consequences for our resource, but is a total ban really necessary?

Since the beginning of this century we have considerably modified our river systems. By using various technologies we have

substantially altered the natural course of our lakes, rivers and streams. Immense reservoirs like James Bay in Quebec, built to produce electricity, and the reservoirs created for the pulp and paper industry are good examples of the impact we have had on our waterways.

Today, few waterways are without a dam, a dike or at least some control mechanism. It is clear that all these changes have had are on a vast territory. Gradually, these changes will have consequences on a huge scale. I think we should consider the impact these changes have had and recognize our responsibility.

We must find out whether these artificial changes in our systems have not had a harmful impact outside Canada. And if so, should we not try to remedy the situation using intelligent strategies that respect the resource?

In fact, in addition to these artificial changes, we have actually changed quality of the water. Throughout the world we have been remiss in the way we treated surface water by polluting it. The consequences are reflected in the exorbitant costs of making water safe to drink, and, even worse, in the dwindling supply of fresh, potable water.

In fact, surface water that is potable without being treated is practically non existent. It is found exclusively below ground at varying depths, and we are now pumping this water in huge quantities to sell it as bottled water. This is another phenomenon which disturbs me and which we will have to look at seriously without delay.

The picture is pretty clear: in Canada we have a lot of water that we use exclusively for our own benefit. In recent years, we have contained and dammed it by various means. Should we today open the gates to the south, to the United States for instance, which sees us as a huge body of water that it may endlessly dip into? Our neighbour to the south feels that we are wasting water because we are not using the huge reserves in the north. But when it comes to waste, we certainly do not have anything to learn from our neighbours south of the border.

Another aspect of the bill introduced by my colleague from the New Democratic Party to which we should give our attention is once again the whole issue of jurisdiction. Even though the federal government has jurisdiction over international trade, is it desirable for it to legislate the export of water? Imagine the situation where Quebec decides to export water from its large reservoirs to the United States, without any significant impact on Quebec's system. Should the federal government block this export if it has no negative impact? The federal government again?

The federal government is certainly no guarantee that the environment will be protected these days. Its disengagement is obvious and very disturbing. I wonder therefore whether we can trust it when it comes to the management of water and the related analyses and evaluations.

Whether it be for personal consumption, irrigation or other purposes, I do not think we should systematically prohibit interbasin transfers. Of course we should conserve, protect and clean up our resource, but we can also share it.

I think there should be a broad public debate of this issue. I also think we must continue to keep water a public resource. It would be a much greater threat to water as a resource to leave it to the private sector. The prospect of making a large profit quickly could empty all of Canada's basins. The public nature of the resource therefore constitutes a good guarantee, a sort of safeguard against possible exploitation.

I think we should also look into this issue of export with an eye to all the possibilities for agreements with future foreign markets that would respect the resource itself and that would be based on complete and transparent impact studies. We must also develop policies with the long term in mind, based on sustainable management of the resource.

I cannot support the bill at this stage in the debate. However, I am considering it and I continue to weigh all the factors. This is a major issue that deserves an open-minded approach and greater study.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, the issue of fresh water export has troubled Canadians for at least three decades. There are new dimensions in the 1990s, however, which were not part of the debate in the 1960s.

Public concern has been heightened, for example, by aboriginal resistance to export proposals threatening their traditional areas and by recent predictions that global warming could result in losses of water availability of about 20 per cent for some of the settled regions of the country.

At the same time, we should be aware that there is, as of this date, no significant export of water resources from Canada, only a little trade in beverages and some small exchanges of treated supplies between neighbouring border communities. No lakes or rivers in Canada have been diverted out of their natural courses to flow south of the border. No supertankers have departed Canadian shores under contract to deliver bulk water supplies to overseas destinations. That is the reality of our present situation.

There have been, and there will continue to be, of course, proposals for water export which range from the use of pipelines and tanker trucks to draw on groundwater reserves, to marine transport from coastal streams, to the more grandiose schemes involving large scale diversions of rivers. All of these proposals

have the potential to affect the social, environmental and economic benefits Canadians derive from their water resources.

For this reason it is of paramount importance that the issue of water export be considered in its entirety, that we do not develop solutions to one problem at a time at the expense of a more comprehensive approach to this whole issue.

Over the last 30 years, concern about exports of Canada's water resources has risen primarily as a result of proposals to divert massive amounts of water to the United States to deal with water shortages or to allow for increased agricultural, industrial and urban development in areas in the United States with limited supplies. Concern has also focused on the possibility that once these taps are turned on, it would be very difficult to turn them off.

Several of these megaprojects are worth mentioning. One of the best known is the North American water and power alliance project of the 1960s. It involved the diversion of water from Alaska, northwestern Canada and watersheds surrounding Hudson Bay and James Bay to the dry, arid areas of the western United States, the prairie provinces and northern Mexico.

Another megaproject was the grand recycling and northern development grand canal project which would have transferred James Bay into a freshwater lake by building a dike at its northern end and impounding the rivers that empty into the bay. The flows of rivers would have been reversed to deliver water to the Great Lakes and from there to other destinations in North America.

These megaprojects, while having the potential to create jobs and investment in Canada in the short term, would not benefit Canadian society in the long term.

With 9 per cent of the world's renewable fresh water resources, it is easy for us to assume that Canada has an abundance of water and can support limited export of its water resources. This perception is not well founded. The idea that if we do not use all the water, it is somehow wasted fails to recognize that there is no surplus of water in an ecosystem. All the water serves a purpose in sustaining the dynamics and functions of that ecosystem.

Thus, although Canada would seem to possess substantial water resources there are regions in Canada in which scarcities exist or will exist. These areas include the river basins of the Okanagan, Milk, South Saskatchewan and the Red-Assiniboine Rivers, as well as nearly all of the smaller river basins of southern Ontario.

Within this context it is worth considering whether we would be better served by addressing all means of water export and not limiting discussion to interbasin transfers. Bill C-232 also mentions a need for policy, research and consultations among federal, provincial and territorial governments on the subject of interbasin water transfers within Canada. It provides no guidance, however, in this area.

That is unfortunate because Canadians have a great deal of experience with interbasin transfer projects. In fact, the volume of water transferred across drainage basin boundaries in Canada is several times greater than in any other country in the world. Virtually all of the larger existing interbasin diversion projects support hydroelectric power generation with smaller volumes used for irrigation, municipal supply and flood control.

Members of the House will be interested to know that the largest of these projects was constructed in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then construction and expansion of such megaprojects have been shelved in all regions of the country: the Kemano Alcan project in British Columbia; the Nelson River program in Manitoba, expansion of the James Bay hydro project in Quebec.

Energy demands have fallen and it is less costly to promote efficiencies on the part of the users of energy and water, rather than to continue to develop the new supplies.

The federal water policy addresses Canada's experience with interbasin transfer projects, but advocating caution in considering their needs, and by endorsing other less destructive alternatives such as demand management and water conservation.

There are no plans under consideration to proceed with any further interbasin transfers at this time anywhere in this country. That tells us two things of importance.

First, not only do Canadians oppose the large scale diversion of our lakes and rivers across the international boundary, they have learned from experience that interbasin diversions carry a high price for their own regional economies and environments.

Second, it would be shortsighted to pursue this issue in isolation of the larger context which considers changing public values, competing in complementary water use relationships and governmental priorities.

Federal programs and legislation related to the sustainability of Canada's water resources are currently being reviewed and the issues of export and interbasin transfers should be addressed in that larger context.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on the bill introduced by my colleague from Kamloops. I know he has a very deep concern on this issue of water exports.

I share that concern, although I believe we are adequately protected. However, it is not as crystal clear as it could be. Therefore, it is important that we take whatever steps necessary to

make sure that Canada does not get into a situation where it is required to export water by any means such as interbasin transfer.

Water is a very important resource and will be even more important in the future. In my riding of Peace River we have a lot of oil and gas development. Oil and gas companies have consistently tried to use potable ground water for flooding their oil zones when salt water is available at a not much larger cost. I believe we should continue to resist this misuse of potable water because it is going to be a very serious problem in the future.

I support the bill introduced by the member for Kamloops and I will state my reasons for supporting it.

Reform policy dating back to 1993, prior to the last election and prior to the passage of NAFTA, makes a specific statement on water. It states that the exclusive and unrestricted control of water in all its forms should be maintained by and for Canada and that both free trade agreements should be amended to reflect this.

I admit it is a little late to be talking about amending NAFTA. Furthermore, there have been assurances from all sides that water in lakes, streams and basins can in no way be considered a commodity. Therefore, water in its raw format is not covered by NAFTA. Consequently, there is nothing in NAFTA that could force us to transfer water to the United States. Prior to signing the NAFTA the three governments issued a joint statement to this effect. It stated that the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico in order to correct false interpretations issued a joint public statement such as the parties in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The NAFTA creates no rights to the natural water resources of any party to the agreement. Unless water in any form has entered into commerce and become a good or product, it is not covered in the provisions of the trade agreement under the NAFTA.

Nothing in the NAFTA would oblige the NAFTA partners to exploit water for commercial use or to begin to export water in any form. Water in its natural state in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, aquifers, water basins and the like is not a good or product. It is not traded and therefore is not and never has been subject to any terms of the agreement.

Just the fact that we are having to clarify it makes people wonder whether it was missed in the free trade agreement. I restate that we want to make sure we tie it down and not allow any possibility of it happening.

From this statement it would seem we are safe as long as water does not enter into commerce, but I do have that concern. Canada already has a policy of prohibiting interbasin water transfers, but policy is not law. New governments can bring in new policies. Why not take he advice of the member for Kamloops and back this policy with legislation? I agree that we should do it.

Back in 1988 similar legislation was introduced but it died on the Order Paper and was never resurrected. Off and on over the past decades the United States has faced significant water problems. Despite occasional droughts Americans have an extremely high water consumption rate per capita. This is partly due to irrigation practices of the agriculture industry and the fact that Americans persist in growing water intensive crops.

To deal with this recurring problem various American and Canadian interests dreamed up massive water diversion proposals in the mid-fifties and early sixties. There was the North American Water and Power Alliance, PRIME and the Grand Canal scheme. They used different methods like tunnels, canals, pipelines and dams to divert water from B.C., Alberta and Quebec south of the border. That was their dream.

Although the public uproar against such projects pretty much killed them, occasionally there is still talk about scaled down versions. Why have Canadians become so concerned? The fact is that Canadians have less clean fresh water than one would think. Many of southern lakes and rivers are polluted with industrial waste and sewage, and most of our rivers of course flow north away from our major centres. We cannot really afford to squander the fresh water that remains. Commercial interests that want to use fresh groundwater have put it under great pressure in some areas of the country. Water will be a very important issue in the future and we need to maintain it.

A further problem has to do with the environment. Sending our water south can have massive ecological repercussions. Interbasin transfers can introduce parasites and other organisms into new environments where they can have devastating effects. A recent example is the introduction of zebra mussels into the Great Lakes.

There could also be detrimental effects on fish and bird species where fresh water flows are introduced into estuaries affecting the salinity of the water. Massive water diversions can change climactic conditions and introduce mercury and other contaminants into the food change.

In conclusion, the House should support the bill. The Reform Party has always insisted that Canada maintain control of its natural water. It would have been preferable to include water rights under the NAFTA. We failed to do that. They should be included in legislation. We should have a policy that restricts interbasin transfer that might make water exports possible. We support our colleague from Kamloops.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kamloops deserves to be complimented for bringing the bill before us. It allows us to discuss the question of water policy.

Under a Liberal government in 1983 a study was commissioned on water which resulted in the Pearse report entitled "Currents of Change", an inquiry on federal water policy which saw the light of

day in 1986. Chapter 12 of the report contained a thorough analysis of water exports as one of the many components of water policy.

The Pearse report has been languishing since then. Its main recommendations are waiting either to be implemented in their original form or modified. In this sense Bill C-232 is extremely helpful because it reminds us that the whole question of water needs to be visited urgently.

The bill relates to the export of water. I concur with the main thrust of the private member's bill. However I cannot find, as he does, any reference in the NAFTA that would commit the Government of Canada to export water. My recollection is that there is only a reference to mineral water, as the parliamentary secretary indicated in his intervention. Nevertheless, if the member for Kamloops has a section of the NAFTA that specifically implies Canada's commitment to export water, I would be grateful if he were to bring it to our attention.

We are talking about the role of the International Joint Commission which needs to be revisited to determine whether it is timely and effective and, if not, whether it has to be recast in a new role.

We are also talking about whether our water research facilities, particularly with respect to fresh water, are adequate; whether we are using water in Canada in an efficient manner; whether the quality of water at the municipal level is adequate; and whether there are ways of improving it.

As the member for Laurentides indicated, we need to look at the trends in groundwater. If the trends are downward, as she and some hydrologists indicated, we need to look at the predictions for the long term so we can ensure the use of water is sustainable and future generations, the grandchildren of our grandchildren, will have access to groundwater in the same manner as we do despite the predicted increase in population.

The member for Kamloops said there was tacit approval for the sale of water to U.S. and Mexico. He seems to be stretching it a bit beyond belief. I do not see any evidence of that. The strong point of the bill is that it draws our attention to the fact that whenever there is an interbasin transfer of water there is an impact on the ecosystem. There is an impact on plants, animals and even sometimes on the micro climate.

Therefore interbasin transfers should be a thing of the past and ought never to be considered again, if at all possible, as was the case with the not lamented disappearance of the Grand Canal proposal. That proposal received under the Conservative regime of 1984 to 1994 a grant to facilitate its fulfilment. It was one of the greatest misuses of public money I can remember.

I welcomed the parliamentary secretary indicating that a review of water policy was currently taking place. That was the best kept secret in town. Nevertheless it is a good one We welcome that fact. We all look forward to the phase when the review will become open, which will then allow parliamentarians, the public, interested parties and so on to participate.

In discussing the management of water and how humans relate to it, one cannot help but make a brief reference to dam construction as the member for Thunder Bay did so eloquently in his intervention. We all hope the construction of dams remains a thing of the past. It has had its phase but we must learn to operate and function in relation to water within the means made available to us without interfering and damaging nature in the way we have done so far.

In this respect I can only thing of the horrendous damage to the native economy that has been caused by the construction of the Great Whale Dam in northern Quebec and the proposal which fortunately was suspended thereafter because of strong opposition to it.

The times of megaprojects are over. At least I hope they are over and we can manage our requirements for water in a more thoughtful and careful manner, being aware of the ecological impact.

We need to examine the pricing, quality and management of water; the international questions including the question of water export; and the role of the institutions we have established over time to manage better the waters we share with our neighbours.

In conclusion, I cannot stress too strongly the necessity of the Pearse report finally being made the object of a thorough review and a policy being announced that will implement the recommendations contained therein.

I would ask that the member for Oakville-Milton be allowed to speak for 10 minutes.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Davenport has proposed that there be unanimous consent to permit the member to speak for 10 minutes. Is there unanimous consent?

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville—Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose the private member's bill put forward by the member for Kamloops. It seems appropriate that a bill to oppose water export has been introduced in the House by the member from British Columbia. No other province has figured as prominently over the past three decades in proposals to export fresh water from this country. He is justifiably concerned about this state of affairs, which I would like to review briefly.

In the 1960s the most publicized of all the mega schemes to redistribute continental water resources was the North American Water and Power Alliance, sometimes called NAWAPA, designed by the Ralph Parsons engineering firm of Los Angeles. It was premised on the capture of headwaters of the Yukon, Skeena, Peace, Columbia and Fraser Rivers and their storage in the huge Rocky Mountain trench of British Columbia before diversion elsewhere.

Geologists questioned the capacity of the trench to bear the weight of such a massive reservoir without increasing earthquake and slide hazards. In a mountainous province where habitable lowland is at a premium, planners were reluctant to take the risks that such a mega scheme implied. Agricultural acreage, wildlife habitat and communities as large as Prince George could be flooded out. West-east rail and road links between B.C. and the rest of Canada could be disrupted by this creation of such a huge reservoir. At the time, British Columbians were already experiencing enough valley floods in projects serving the Columbia River treaty and Peace River power projects and so the NAWAPA scheme was rejected.

In the mid-1980s, however, the provincial government in Victoria decided to entertain another form of fresh water export, inviting applications for marine transport from streams in its coastal region. When drought struck, American southwest communities like Santa Barbara looked north for supplemental supplies and B.C. entrepreneurs were quick to respond with supertanker proposals. Just as the first contract was about to be signed 1991, however, the province was forced by public controversy to declare a moratorium on this development. Problems included aboriginal land claims and a proliferation of applications by various proponents to draw fresh water from the same source region. As well there were concerns about navigation hazards and fisheries protection. This moratorium was replaced in 1995 by provincial legislation banning bulk water export of any kind.

This 1995 legislation effectively scuttled another interbasin transfer scheme. Multinational Water and Power Incorporated planned to divert 1 million acre-feet of flow from the North Thompson River to the Columbia River where it would flow across the international boundary and then be sent by pipeline to the Shasta reservoir in California. This was the proposal which motivated the hon. member for Kamloops to rally his constituency and neighbouring communities in opposition and to table well over 100,000 signatures in this House toward that end. Had the proposal not fallen flat among British Columbians, it might well have had a difficult time anyway passing existing federal hurdles, namely the approvals required under the International River Improvements Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act.

Meanwhile smaller exports of water have proceeded in several forms. Treated water from greater Vancouver regional district pipelines serves the community of Point Roberts in Washington. Ground water supplies in the northern Okanagan Valley are trucked in bulk to bottling plants south of the border. And of course bottled water is exported. These represent negligible volumes at present compared with available resources.

There is no conflict between the B.C. legislation and the federal water policy which was tabled in this House in 1987. The policy opposes large scale water export, as by diversion of lakes or rivers, but allows for consideration of small scale exports under provincial licensing, providing that federal interests such as navigation, fisheries, aboriginal rights and external trade and treaties are taken into account.

The Government of Canada therefore supports B.C.'s decision to prohibit the large scale or bulk export of fresh water from the provinces. The province's legislative initiative will encourage a growing water bottling industry and at the same time protect its salmon fishery and other public values.

As the hon. member for Kamloops suggested, the last chapter of the water export story has not been written. Further proposals will appear in response to international crisis or opportunities. If British Columbia has passed legislation specifically to address the water export issue to its own satisfaction, the federal government and other provinces have not taken the same path.

The issue and its many dimensions continue to evolve. It is more than likely that the British Columbia approach, which simply prohibits bulk water export, will not be the solution chosen by all other jurisdictions in Canada. Newfoundland, for example, has decided to take advantage of the latitude allowed by the federal water policy to explore small scale trade opportunities from supertanker exports.

Ontario realizes that protection of its Great Lakes advantages depends less on unilateral declarations against exports than on forming a common bond with neighbouring state governments in this international drainage system.

It is clear that the hon. member's bill is too narrow to resolve the longstanding water export issue. It addresses one prominent threat to Canada's water heritage, proposals for the diversion of lakes and rivers to flow to the United States. But it ignores other means by which water can be exported and it does not offer a framework of national applicability suitable for adoption by the Government of Canada.

I suggest that it is not necessary to rush Bill C-232 into law in order to save Canada's water resources from being lost to foreign markets. There is enough time for the federal government to consult with provinces and public interests about a more comprehensive approach that would apply across the country, one which is sensitive to the various water resources of our various provinces

and territories and one which will sustain Canada's regional and national advantages over the long term.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

April 16th, 1997 / 7:05 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec


Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

moved that Bill C-84, an act to amend the Citizenship Act and the Immigration Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House to support what I feel to be an important and necessary piece of legislation.

Recently, it became apparent that we needed to strengthen the provisions of the Citizenship and Immigration Acts . The Federal Court identified this problem and brought it to the attention of the Government. Now we intend to fix it. That is what good government is all about: continually seeking to improve the institutions that serve the public and the legislation that governs society.

The issue addressed by Bill C-84 is a technical one which potentially affects only a very small number of people. Nevertheless, it is vital that we address it now, as it concerns two things which are of supreme importance to the people of Canada: national security and our citizenship.

It is clear to me that Canadians of all backgrounds and all parts of the country value their citizenship. This is a distinction which is very precious. Being a Canadian means belonging to a very special home. It means holding a passport which is respected and honoured around the world. And it means sharing a colourful national history and a beautiful and iverse country.

Being a Canadian citizen is a special right which we share. Every year, many immigrants come to this country with the hope of one day becoming Canadians themselves. We are happy to share our citizenship with those who want it and work hard to deserve it.

But there is always a small number of people who do not deserve this distinction. There are a few individuals whose actions threaten to tarnish and diminish the value of our citizenship. And there are those who would use Canadian citizenship as a shield for their subversive activity. Why should we allow them to become citizens, or even permanent residents? No, we should not. I am sure we are all in agreement about that.

But the reality of the situation is that we might have no choice in certain circumstances.

I know that this sounds surprising. But given the problem in the law the courts have identified, there are situations in which we might not be able to prevent men and women who are security risks from becoming permanent residents or citizens.

Citizenship would be granted under the existing legislation despite the best judgment of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Government and the people of Canada.

That is why I am standing before you today, and why I feel that the House must support this Bill. Our citizenship is precious, and we must strive to protect it.

One of the primary roles of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is to protect the national security of Canada. This is an important organization which serves this country very well. But in a democratic and free country like ours it is important to have checks and balances in place to ensure that our law enforcement agencies conduct themselves in a just and fair manner. We impose safeguards to protect the rights and freedoms of all our citizens.

One important safeguard is the Security Intelligence Review Committee. It monitors CSIS activities on behalf of Parliament and the public. Over the years its members have performed their functions professionally and admirably. Routine security checks are an important part of the approval process in the granting of both citizenship and permanent resident status. There are provisions in both the Citizenship Act and Immigration Act to deny citizenship and permanent resident status if in the opinion of both the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Solicitor General of Canada there are reasonable grounds to believe that an applicant is linked to organized crime, poses a security threat or was a senior member of a government that engaged in terrorism, flagrant human rights violations, war crimes or crimes against humanity.

In such instances they may make a report to the Security Intelligence Review Committee and ask for a review of the case. An individual can be declared a threat only if the committee agrees. This system works well. It achieves a fair balance between the rights of the individuals concerned and the need to protect the Canadian public from potential harm.

There are occasions when the committee may be unable to execute its duties. There are exceptional cases where members of the committee may find themselves in conflict of interest situations or somehow open to a perception of bias. Under the current system

there are no provisions to deal with this eventuality. The result can be very disturbing.

If, for instance, the committee is unable to render a decision in a citizenship case because of the perception of bias the minister would have no choice but to grant citizenship to a person who could compromise our country's national security. This is clearly unacceptable.

The purpose of Bill C-84 is to deal with this potential situation. While the cases we are discussing are rare, we cannot simply ignore them. When we are talking about security issues we must be vigilant and act decisively. We want to put in place an alternative solution that would serve to replace the Security Intelligence Review Committee when that body believes itself to be incapable of performing its duties.

The bill proposes to give the governor in council the power to appoint a retired judge to perform the review committee's duties when this occurs. This judge will have the same powers and obligations that are accorded to the review committee.

It is that simple. We need to have a mechanism in place to deal with relatively rare but potentially very serious situations. This will not affect the existing criteria for refusing people entry into Canada. This legislation will not diminish the powers of the CSIS or the review committee in any way.

What we are proposing to do today is simply correct potential procedural irregularities. It is a small step, but an important one.

We have found a problem and are taking steps to fix it. This bill is an efficient and necessary measure. I am told that opposition parties will be introducing amendments to improve the bill. We will be pleased to support improvements in the interest of all Canadians.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-84, an act to amend the Citizenship Act and the Immigration Act.

This bill was introduced on February 20 by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and will be passed today, with our consent, on second and third reading. The minister has just expressed her thanks to the official opposition for its co-operation. You have already seen in the past four years that the Bloc Quebecois is a responsible party.

We are a sovereignist party, and Quebecers have entrusted us with the role of official opposition. We have fulfilled our mandate with a great deal of ability and a serious attitude, which is why today we are co-operating in the passage of this bill, which we feel is an important one. We also agree to this bill being fast tracked.

The amendments to the legislation mainly address the possibility for a retired judge appointed by the Governor in Council to replace, and therefore perform the duties of, the security intelligence review committee, or SIRC, when the latter is of the opinion that it cannot fulfil its duties, because of apparent lack of impartiality, conflict of interest, or any other reason deemed necessary.

The government has just told us that these legislative changes are intended to ensure the security of the country. Should a situation arise in which an individual constitutes a threat to the security of Canada, SIRC carries out an investigation in accordance with section 19 of the Citizenship Act. The committee then reports to the Governor in Council, who decides whether citizenship is to be granted or not. In the case of an application for permanent residence, the process is the same, except that the decision comes from the Federal Court.

Bill C-84 is presented as an alternative solution, when SIRC cannot perform its duties, for instance by reason of lack of impartiality. Under Bill C-84, the governor in council may appoint a retired judge for a term of three to five years to perform the duties of the review committee set out in the Citizenship Act and the Immigration Act.

The bill can be retroactive. It includes transitional provisions aimed at recognition of a legal decision rendered with respect to the jurisdiction of SIRC before the coming into force of the bill. The decision must, however, be definitive and without appeal.

According to section 19 of the Citizenship Act, the Minister may make a report to the Review Committee, when of the opinion that a person should not be granted citizenship, administered the oath of citizenship, or issued a certificate of renunciation.

In such cases there must be reasonable grounds to believe that the person concerned will engage in activity that constitutes a threat to the security of Canada or that is part of a pattern of criminal activity planned and organized by a number of persons acting in concert in furtherance of the commission of any offence that may be punishable under any Act of Parliament by way of indictment.

The minister shall, within ten days after a report is made by CSIS, send a notice informing the person concerned of the report. The review committee shall investigate the grounds on which the report is based. The review committee shall, as soon as practicable after a report is made to it, send to the person with respect to whom the report is made a statement summarizing such information available to it. The review committee shall, on completion of an investigation, make a report to the minister and provide the complainant with the conclusion of the report.

Bill C-84 follows on the heels of the Zundel case. Zundel, a German citizen, applied for Canadian citizenship in 1993. On the basis of information obtained by CSIS, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration sent a report to the Security Intelligence Review Committee stating there were reasonable grounds to believe that Zundel constituted a threat to the security of Canada.

Zundel was advised that the SIRC had been ordered to investigate him. If the report was confirmed, his application for citizenship might be turned down, which was the case. Zundel is a person with extreme rightwing views who denies the existence of the Holocaust. He is a member of so-called hate organizations and is therefore a threat to the security of Canada. These conclusions can be found in a report on the Heritage Front. And as you know, that particular case attracted the attention of the media.

Zundel therefore asked the Federal Court to prohibit the SIRC from conducting an investigation on the grounds of a reasonable apprehension of bias.

Zundel's counsel then filed an application for judicial review on the grounds of this apprehension of bias on the part of the SIRC. The federal court judge issued an order prohibiting the SIRC from continuing its investigation, on the grounds of bias. The federal court therefore upheld the appeal by Zundel's counsel. Furthermore, the judge suggested how the legislation could be amended to deal with such situations.

So far, the minister was not in a position to reject Ernst Zundel's application for citizenship. He might be forced to grant him his citizenship, even if this individual might be a threat to national security.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with the bill but obtained the consent of the government party for moving two amendments. The first one concerns the appointment of a retired judge and reads as follows: "After consultation by the Prime Minister of Canada with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons and the leader in the House of Commons, of each party having at least twelve members in that House, the Governor in Council may".

With this amendment we want to avoid any hint of patronage with respect to appointments made by this government, as has happened in the case of commissioners appointed to the IRRB.

We also agree with the amendment moved by the Reform Party.

The second amendment by the Bloc Quebecois reads as follows: "The person appointed under subsection 39.1(1) must, not later than September 30 in each fiscal year, submit to the Solicitor General of Canada a report of the activities of the person during the preceding fiscal year and the Solicitor General of Canada must cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the day the Solicitor General of Canada receives it."

I agree with the points made earlier by the minister. This individual denies the existence of the Holocaust in which more than six million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis during the second world war. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Jewish community for its exceptional contribution to Canada and Quebec. I visited the Museum of the Holocaust recently in Washington, and I again realized of why we must not let this happen again today.

For all these reasons, I support Bill C-84.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:25 p.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-84. Although the bill is very simple and straightforward, it concerns the Citizenship Act and the Immigration Act.

The bill would allow a retired judge to review cases where SIRC is deemed incapable of fulfilling its responsibilities. While the bill is very straightforward its history is not. Before landed immigrants obtain Canadian citizenship their backgrounds are reviewed. Some individuals applying for a Canadian citizenship have involved themselves in activities that can be deemed to be a threat to the security of Canada. Therefore, there is a process in place to prevent these individuals from becoming Canadian citizens, as there should be.

Sections 19 and 20 of the Citizenship Act define the procedure that is to be followed. These procedures are: If the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant for Canadian citizenship will engage in activities that will constitute a threat to the security of Canada, the minister may make a report to this effect to the Security Intelligence Review Committee or SIRC as it is more commonly known. Within 10 days of making this report to SIRC, the minister shall notify the applicant of the report. SIRC is then required to conduct an investigation. The applicant is sent a statement of circumstances that sets out the grounds that give rise to the minister's report.

Following its investigation, SIRC then reports the results to the governor in council. The governor in council may then make a declaration that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant will engage in activity that constitutes a threat to the security of Canada.

Such a declaration precludes the applicant from being granted Canadian citizenship but only for a two-year period. The applicant can then make another application. What constitutes a threat to the

security of Canada and how SIRC conducts its investigation is all laid out in the Canadian Security Intelligence Services Act.

Section 48(2) of the CSIS act states that during the course of the SIRC investigation, the applicant, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and CSIS may all present evidence and make representation either personally or by counsel.

I would like to refer to the Zündel case. This case which has inspired C-34 concerns the application of Ernst Zündel. Mr. Zündel has obtained enough notoriety that I do not believe that it is essential to repeat his claims to infamy.

Suffice it to say that Mr. Zündel immigrated to Canada on September 2, 1958. On October 24, 1993 he applied for Canadian citizenship. On August 5, 1995 he was notified by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at that time that the minister had made a report to SIRC pursuant to subsection 19(2) of the Citizenship Act. The letter informed Mr. Zündel that there were reasonable grounds to believe that he would engage in activity that constitutes a threat to the security of Canada. The letter also stated that the minister made his determination based on information and advice provided by CSIS.

On August 31, 1995 the executive director of SIRC, Maurice Archdeacon wrote to Mr. Zündel advising him that SIRC had received the minister's report concerning his application for citizenship. The letter also advised that SIRC would send Mr. Zündel a summary of information available to SIRC to permit him to be as fully informed as possible of the circumstances giving rise to the minister's report.

On October 30, 1995 SIRC sent a letter to Mr. Zündel advising him that a review committee was conducting an investigation and included a statement of circumstances that gave rise to the minister's report. The letter advised that the activities which CSIS believed he would engage in were those described in paragraph 2(c) of the CSIS act which defines threat to the security of Canada to mean "activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political objective within Canada or a foreign state".

On November 22, 1995 counsel for SIRC and others met with Mr. Zündel and his lawyer to explain the investigative process and answer any questions.

In a letter dated December 11, 1995 Mr. Archdeacon wrote to Mr. Zundel's counsel to advise him that SIRC was prepared to proceed with the hearing part of the investigation. A number of adjournments postponed the hearing phase of SIRC's investigation, but then in a letter of February 26, 1996 Mr. Zundel's counsel requested another adjournment so he could file an application for judicial review on the grounds of a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of SIRC.

The basis of Mr. Zundel's allegation of bias was a report written by SIRC entitled "The Heritage Front Affair". In a letter dated February 28 Mr. Archdeacon refused the request. On March 21 a motion was brought before the Federal Court of Canada seeking a stay of proceedings concerning the SIRC hearing that was scheduled for March 25 and an order for an expedited hearing ofMr. Zundel's application for judicial review.

Madam Justice McGillis refused to grant the stay of proceedings but she granted the motion for an expedited hearing. On June 10 and 11 the application for judicial review was heard before Justice Heald of the federal court in Ottawa.

After dealing with a number of procedural motions the court got down to the narrow issue of the case to decide if SIRC should be prohibited from carrying out the proceedings mandated by section 19 of the Citizenship Act. First the court had to determine what test for bias was applicable to the case while acknowledging that all administrative boards owe a duty of fairness to those whose interests they must determine. The courts have recognized that the duty of fairness varies depending on the nature and function of the particular board.

For example, a board that performs policy formation should not be susceptible to a charge of bias just because it expresses opinions prior to its hearings. On the other hand, administrative boards that are primarily adjudicative in their functions are expected to comply with the standard applicable to the courts. In arguments before the courts counsel for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration argued that SIRC's role is closer to a policy formation board, while Mr. Zundel's counsel argued that it was primarily adjudicative and therefore attracted the higher standard of impartiality mandated by the informed bystander test.

In determining where on this broad spectrum SIRC's function fell, the judge reviewed SIRC's mandate under section 19 of the Citizenship Act, which in the words of SIRC's executive director was to conduct an investigation to determine whether there were reasonable grounds to believe that Zundel would engage in activities that constituted a threat to the security of Canada.

The judge noted that while the applicant, the minister and CSIS could make representation, SIRC's investigation would be conducted in private. Once SIRC completed its investigation it would make a report to the governor in council. It is the governor in council that upon SIRC's report decides whether or not to declare there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr, Zundel would engage in activity considered a threat to the security of Canada.

The court pointed out that while it is not disputed it was the role of the governor in council and not SIRC to make the final decision,

SIRC's role could not be understated. It is SIRC that conducts the hearing at which it assesses the witnesses and weighs their evidence. It is SIRC that receives the submissions of the interested parties. It is SIRC that takes all the available information and issues the report.

Since Mr. Zundel could not make representation before the governor in council, the only opportunity for him to challenge the allegations against him was in front of SIRC. The court determined that while SIRC was not the ultimate decision maker as to whether there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Zundel would engage in activity that constituted a threat to the security of Canada, SIRC played a vital and paramount role in that determination.

In the judge's view the function of SIRC at least in relation to section 19 of the Citizenship Act came closer to the adjudicative end of the function. Thus it attracted the standard of impartiality that was required by the informed bystander test. Once the federal court came to this conclusion it was then faced with the process of applying the informed bystander test for bias to the Zundel case.

Mr. Zundel claimed that the view of SIRC in the Heritage Front report gave rise to reasonable apprehension of bias against him. While the court ruled that the accuracy of the content of the Heritage Front report was irrelevant to the issues, it was important to note that SIRC offered the report and made the statements contained therein. In other words the court did not have to decide whether SIRC's findings in the Heritage Front report were valid. What was important to this case was the fact that SIRC made those findings.

Having been involved for over 19 months in the study of the Heritage Front report, it was very evident to me that SIRC had made statements about Mr. Zundel which were very biased in their nature. The court quickly found that the statements of SIRC in the Heritage Front report were extremely similar to those used by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in another incident. It is not terribly surprising because CSIS is a source of information both for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and SIRC. It was evident that the conclusions in the evidence given by SIRC from the information received from CSIS led to the bias in the report that was reported.

The Reform Party believes some individuals have landed immigrant status in Canada who should be denied Canadian citizenship. Bill C-84 is an attempt by the government to undo the difficulties created by the Security Intelligence Review Committee overstating in the report and being too political in its discussions and deliberations. It has placed the government in the position where it has to protect Canadians and Canadian citizenship by tightening the rules and regulations to allow a retired judge to take the job that SIRC should have been able to do on its own.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Kilgour in the chair.)

(Clause 1 agreed to.)

On clause 2

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC


That Bill C-84, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 1 with the following:

"19.1 (1) After consultation by the Prime Minister of Canada with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons and the leader in the House of Commons of each party having at least twelve members in that House, the Governor in Council may"

(Amendment agreed to.)

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC


That Bill C-84, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 2 with the following:


and expenses

"(3) The appointed person shall be paid, for each day that the person performs duties under this Act, such"

(Amendment agreed to.)

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC


That Bill C-84, in Clause 2, be amended by adding after line 22 on page 2 the following:

"19.3 The person appointed under subsection 19.1(1) must, not later than September 30 in each fiscal year, submit to the Solicitor Gneral of Canada a report of the activities of the person during the preceding fiscal year and the Solicitor General of Canada must cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the day the Solicitor General of Canada receives it."

(Amendment agreed to.)

(Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.)

(Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.)

On Clause 5

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC


That Bill C-84, in Clause 5, be amened by replacing line 17 on page 3 with the following:

"39.1 (1) After consultation by the Prime Minister of Canada with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons and the leader in the House of Commons of each party having at least twelve members in that House, the Governor in Council may"

(Amendment agreed to.)

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC


That Bill C-84, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 27 on page 3 with the following: Remuneration and expenses

"(3) The appointed person shall be paid, for each day that the person performs duties under this Act as, such"

Amendment agreed to.