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House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct. We will move all those to the end of today when the Speaker will call for the bells to ring and then at that point we will defer the vote until Monday.

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3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion?

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3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

You understand the terms of the motion. Do you agree to the terms of the motion?

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3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

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3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Before we get into debate, I must take a point of privilege from the hon. member for Thunder Bay-Atikokan.

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, that is April 23, in this House the member for North Vancouver made a statement during question period and made reference to a householder that I had published.

First correction, it was not a householder. It was a 10 percenter. However, there is a mystery involved here. I demand that there be some attempt to solve this mystery.

There were only two places where that 10 percenters existed yesterday on the Hill. One of them was in my office and the other was in boxes in the post office on the first floor of the West Block.

It may be just a coincidence that the member for North Vancouver has an office right next door to the post office and somehow obtained a copy of that publication.

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not want to bog the House down in technicalities, but did the hon. member notify me prior to this that he would be raising a question of privilege?

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Yes, I sent you a note, Mr. Speaker.

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I understand there is a mystery here. I will tell you what, to the extent that I can I will look into this mystery. I will try to get the information and return with this information to the House. Is that agreeable to the hon. member?

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

That is agreeable, Mr. Speaker.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-65, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species in Canada from extirpation or extinction, as reported (with amendments) from the committee; and of Motions Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 19, 25, 27, 50, 54, 56 to 60, 62, 63, 65, 66 and 82 to 109.

(Divisions deemed requested and deemed deferred.)

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3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The question of privilege always takes precedence. That is why I did what I did.

Resuming debate.

Pursuant to an agreement made earlier, all motions in GroupNo. 2 are deemed proposed and seconded.

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3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-65, in Clause Preamble, be amended by replacing lines 27 and 28 on page 1 with the following:

"levels of government in this country and that under the National Agreement on the Protection of Endangered Species it is essential for them to work together to"

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-65, in Clause 3.1, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 13 on page 6 with the following:

"3.1 Where a provincial minister advises the Minister that the government of the province does not wish a provision of this Act or a regulation made thereunder to apply in the province in respect of wildlife species and their habitats in so far as individuals of those species are found on lands in the province that are not federal lands, that provision or regulation, as the case may be, shall not apply to those species and their habitats until such time as the provincial minister consents to its application to those species and their habitats."

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-65, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 28 and 29 on page 7 with the following:

"disparition des espèces sauvages et à per-"

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-65, in Clause 7, be amended by adding after line 33 on page 8 the following:

"(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), no responsible minister may enter into an agreement under that subsection with an organization or person in a province unless the minister advises the provincial minister of that province of the responsible minister's intention to enter into the agreement with the organization or person, as the case may be, and the provincial minister informs the responsible minister that the government of the province does not object to the responsible minister entering into such an agreement with that organization or person."

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-65, in Clause 8, be amended by adding after line 10 on page 9 the following:

"(1.1) Notwithstanding subsection (1), no responsible minister may enter into an agreement under that subsection with an organization or person in a province unless the minister advises the provincial minister of that province of the responsible minister's intention to enter into the agreement with the organization or person, as the case may be, and the provincial minister informs the responsible minister that the government of the province does not object to the responsible minister entering into such an agreement with that organization or person. "

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-65, in Clause 20, be amended by replacing line 15 on page 13 with the following:

"tion of COSEWIC and with the approval of the Council, make regulations estab-"

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-65, in Clause 26, be amended by replacing line 2 on page 15 with the following:

"COSEWIC and with the approval of the Council, may restrict the release of any"

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-65, in Clause 33, be amended by adding after line 24 on page 16 the following:

"(1.1) Where a provincial minister advises the Minister that the government of the province does not wish subsection (1) to apply in the province in respect of a wildlife animal species in so far as individuals of the species are found on lands in the province that are not federal lands, this subsection shall not apply to the species until such time as the provincial minister consents to its application to the species."

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by ( a ) replacing line 1 on page 21 with the following:

"38.(1) With the assistance of the Council, the responsible minister must" b ) by replacing line 9 on page 21 with the following:

"recovery plan together, with the assistance of the Council."

Motion No. 55

That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 34 on page 21 with the following:

"advice of COSEWIC and with the assistance of the Council, must determine wheth-"

Motion No. 64

That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing line 2 on page 23 with the following:

"recovery plan, the responsible minister, with the assistance of the Council, must"

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

moved:

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-65, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing lines 39 to 41 on page 5 with the following:

"habitats."

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of the Environment

moved:

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-65, in Clause 3.1, be amended a ) by replacing line 3 on page 6 with the following:

"42 or 45.1 apply in respect of wildlife species and" b ) by replacing lines 8 and 9 on page 6 with the following:

"habitats mentioned in paragraph 3( a ) or ( b ) or section 33;''

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-65, in Clause 33, be amended by replacing line 33 on page 16 with the following:

"equivalent provision. Despite the order, subsection (1) continues to apply on federal land."

Motion No. 74

That Bill C-65, in Clause 46, be amended by replacing lines 21 to 25 on page 25 with the following:

"activity affecting a listed species, its residences or any other part of its critical habitat."

Motion No. 81

That Bill C-65, in Clause 49, be amended by replacing line 16 on page 27 with the following: b ) in the case of a project outside Canada, its continental shelf and its exclusive economic zone,''

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3:30 p.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this second round of debate on the amendments.

This bill is one which presents a topic that most Canadians are in support of, the protection of endangered species. However, this bill as it is crafted creates many problems, problems for land owners and users, problems for those who have a sincere concern for those endangered species, because it not only threatens the land owners and the users and people who enjoy that land, it is also an endangerment to the species that are threatened themselves.

This is a bill that clearly has not been carefully thought through. I would like to begin by reading a short statement from Mr. Jack Munro, chairman of the Forest Alliance of British Columbia. He says: "Firstly, you have an approach in this bill that does not pay nearly enough attention to social and economic impacts. I am not suggesting that the protection of threatened species is not worth paying a price, but I am saying that we should assess that price and be sure that we come up with a fair way of deciding who pays. The furthest this bill goes is the reference in clause 38 to the need for an evaluation of costs and benefits of research and management activities. Presumably that includes social and economic costs such as lost jobs if timber harvest is no longer allowed in a particular area. But where something as crucial as people's jobs and way of life is concerned, we should not have to presume anything. The government should have to do much more than merely a general evaluation of costs and benefits".

In my mind the great difficulty of this bill is the lack of thought that has been put into it. Unfortunately the Minister of the Environment has not given any thought to how much Bill C-65 would cost land owners and taxpayers as a whole. When asked at a committee meeting in February what cost he would be willing to impose on an individual or society, the environment minister replied: "I have not thought of that threshold".

No wonder Canadians are worried about the impact this legislation will have on their lives. The minister responsible for Bill C-65 has not even considered their needs. He has not even taken time to think through the possibility that Bill C-65 may have enormous negative effects on the lives of Canadians, as well as the economic effect on our nation as a whole. This kind of tunnel vision is characteristic of this government as it attempts to legislate for the benefit of one special interest group after another, without keeping in mind the Canadian people as a whole and their needs and the benefits that they deserve and the enjoyment that they are entitled to.

There is a flavour of the legislation from so many areas that this government presents that is of deep concern to me. I am concerned about a general attitude of moving responsibility of matters from the House, from Parliament, to the cabinet table with the increasing amount of discretion that is built into legislation for ministers and avoiding accountability to Parliament, to the elected representatives of the people.

What I have just outlined are several flaws in this endangered species legislation, Bill C-65. For these reasons Reformers, while we are favour of the protection of these endangered species, cannot support this bill. It needs to be changed. It has to be changed to receive the support of the Canadian people. This bill needs to be entirely rewritten. It needs to go beyond the interests of special interest groups and their agendas.

Therefore Reform has put before this House 42 amendments to Bill C-65. These amendments would require the minister to consider the social and economic impacts prior to recommending what action should be taken regarding endangered species. The government should ensure fair compensation to land owners and users. The government should ensure co-operation by all those who are concerned and there should be a commitment most of all to the preservation of endangered species. That certainly is not in this bill.

There is a threat to land owners and users who make their living and derive their income from these sources. If they are told that their land may be subject to being cut off or protected for an endangered species and their economic benefits may be taken away from them, what would be their reaction? The ranchers and the land owners have said the reaction would be simply to plough under, to destroy, to get rid of it so the threat would be taken away.

That is not what we are trying to achieve. What we are looking for is a legitimate and fair means of protecting the endangered species of this country.

I encourage the House to pass these constructive, fair and even handed amendments which the Reform Party has brought to Bill C-65.

To state it briefly, we have three things in mind. We might consider them the three Cs for the endangered species. The first is there should be a commitment made by all to the preservation of endangered species. The second is there should be fair compensation for those who suffer a loss or who are deprived for some reason

in the course of the protection of endangered species. The third is there should be co-operation.

There should be a commitment, there should be co-operation and there should be compensation. If these three Cs were adhered to, and if these objectives were written into the bill, Reform would have no difficulty in supporting it.

I remind the House that Reform supports the responsible protection of endangered species but it does not support Bill C-65 as it is written. This bill needs to be entirely rewritten. Therefore if the government refuses to pass Reform's 42 amendments, I will be voting against Bill C-65.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Liberal Elgin—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have listened attentively to the comments of the opposition parties and I want to make a few comments about the first group of amendments.

Members of the Reform Party made two main points. First, they felt this legislation was similar to the legislation in the United States and that we would have major upheaval similar to the upheaval the Americans have had in their forest communities because of the owl. I want to point out that this legislation is not at all like the legislation in the U.S. It is actually more similar to the legislation in Ontario and other provinces, where there have not been major disruptions. There has not been a major infringement on land owner rights.

Members of the Reform Party should stop whipping up all of this misinformation regarding the bill. They should read it for what it is, do their research and appreciate that we are not in an American jurisdiction and the laws are applied quite differently.

The other point they make concerns compensation. If they knew anything about Canadian law they would know that the right to compensation when a public authority takes away a private right is well founded in law and that people would be eligible for compensation, regardless of whether it is in this bill or not. It is a well founded principle in common law.

The point more generally is that the protection of species can only be met through co-operation and partnership, since no single jurisdiction acting on its own can meet the needs of all endangered species. The beluga whale, the whooping crane and the horned owl do not recognize political boundaries.

We will be able to protect species at risk only through a partnership with the provinces, the territories, municipalities, private land owners, farmers, the environmental and scientific communities, aboriginal peoples and individual Canadians. The co-operative approach has had many successes. The peregrine falcon, for example, last year nested in Toronto for the first time in over 40 years. It is making a comeback, thanks to the dedicated work of hundreds if not thousands of people at all levels of government and in communities across the country.

Biologists from Timber West Forests and MacMillan Bloedel have been working with provincial governments to relocate the Vancouver Island marmot to the Nitinat alpine tundra. The handful of marmots in the Nanaimo watershed represent the entire world population. The relocation project is an effort to restore the species to an area it may have once occupied. These are examples, and there are many more, of what co-operation has done and can do.

In the Canadian context, we must begin with the understanding that species protection is a shared jurisdiction. It is not exclusive to either provincial governments or the federal government. All levels of government see the necessity and the benefits of working together on behalf of nature. There is a long history of co-operation with the provinces and territories to protect endangered species. Continued co-operation among all levels of government will be essential to the success of species recovery efforts.

In Charlottetown last year agreement in principle was reached on the national accord for the protection of species at risk. The accord recognizes that co-operation and collaboration are crucial to the conservation and the protection of species at risk. Conservation of species at risk is essential to conserving biological diversity in Canada.

Governments must play a leadership role in providing sound information and measures for conservation and protection. Complementary federal, provincial and territorial legislation and programs are needed to effectively address species conservation. Last but not least, Canadians must be involved.

The accord commits governments to providing complementary legislation and programs that provide for an effective protection of species at risk in Canada. The accord recognizes the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as a source of independent advice on the status of species at risk nationally.

Finally, the accord establishes a ministerial level council for the conservation of Canadian endangered species. This council will provide the political direction and energy necessary to make the accord a success.

Four provinces, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario currently have endangered species legislation. Nova Scotia has just recently introduced an endangered species bill and the sky has not fallen. Other provinces and territories have programs specifically aimed at the protection of species at risk.

The government, through Bill C-65, will meet its commitment under the national accord for the protection of species at risk. This legislation meets our international obligations on the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In the same vein, the Minister of the Environment recently signed on behalf of the government a framework for co-operation and protection of the recovery of wild species at risk that occur in both the United States and Canada.

The framework for co-operation will encourage partnerships with all levels of government in both countries and the private sector in endangered species recovery efforts. Both agencies will develop a joint work plan and an initial list of shared priorities species by December 1997. I say bravo to the governments in both the United States and Canada for making such an historic agreement.

In recognition of the continental nature of endangered species and their habitat, Canada and the United States also intend to invite the participation of Mexico in the framework for co-operation. This cross-border co-operation is very important. For example, the monarch butterfly, added to our list at risk only last week, faces ongoing threats to its wintering habitat in Mexico. The monarch butterfly launches from two points in Ontario, one being in Long Point in my riding and then to Mexico where oftentimes it faces the danger of insecticides as well as a variety of other dangers. It is only through shared co-operation between Ontario and Mexico that we can properly protect the monarch butterfly.

Bill C-65 reflects the importance of federal leadership in the protection and recovery of our international cross-border species at risk. The federal government will ensure that these species receive immediate protection on listing and will lead recovery planning efforts, both within Canada and with our international partners.

This legislation is truly an example of co-operation. It does not replace action at the provincial level, it enhances it. It does not replace existing provincial frameworks, it enhances it.

The bill represents the traditional and constitutional roles that each jurisdiction has played in wildlife protection and conservation. New provisions have been introduced to more clearly recognize provincial and territorial authorities with respect to the management of endangered wildlife species.

In fact, in a letter to provincial governments, the federal government indicated its willingness and active interest in negotiating an equivalency agreement for the protection of international cross-border species. The bill recognizes that habitat protection is a fundamental requirement for the protection of a species.

We have difficult challenges to face. Our wetlands have been reduced by 70 per cent to 80 per cent in some parts of Canada. Old growth forests are down by 85 per cent to 90 per cent in some areas. Tall grass prairie has diminished by 99 per cent since the earliest settlements. The less natural habitat we have, the more important it is to protect what is left.

Under this bill, when a species is listed, anything that causes damage or destruction to its residence, whether a den, a nest or a burrow, will be prohibited. The legislation also goes beyond the protection of just the immediate residence of a given species. Recovery plans must address all threats to the survival of a species, including threats to critical habitat.

We will rely on scientific experts to tell us what constitutes a critical habitat and what measures are necessary for its protection. We owe it to future generations to make sure that the wildlife that exists in Canada in the 20th century is still here in the 21st century and beyond.

This is an important bill. I believe that preventing species from becoming extinct is an honourable goal, a goal that will ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a country as rich in wildlife as the one we enjoy today. I call on all members of the House to support the bill.

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the motions in Group No. 2 on Bill C-65.

The Bloc Quebecois moved some motions in this group. First of all, I would like to draw the attention of the members, and of our viewers, to some points. I see members from the other side waving at me, so I will reply with a similar motion.

The Bloc moved several motions in this Group No. 2: Motion No. 2, Motion No. 16 on Clause 3, Motion No. 21 on Clause 5, Motions Nos. 24 and 26 on Clauses 7 and 8, Motion No. 44 on Clause 33 and Motions Nos. 49, 55, 64 and 68.

The main purpose of theses motions is to repeat for the government, and enshrine in the legislation, the principle stating that there should be some joint action by the provinces and the federal government instead of a supremacy like the one the Minister of the Environment seems to be going after in Bill C-65.

Let me remind the House that when the present environment minister developed Bill C-65-although develop might be too big a word-I see some of my colleagues turning around, but we never know how the environment minister might interpret something. Let me rephrase this. The minister initiated the process leading to Bill

C-65 during a meeting of provincial and federal ministers which took place in September 1996.

That meeting resulted in the signing of an agreement in principle, a national agreement as they called it.

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3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

More like sweating.

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3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Yes, I am told that the minister and his colleagues sweated out an agreement in principle.

I will come back to my own train of thoughts. This resulted in Bill C-65. It was presented as a national agreement, whereby they all agreed on a system to come up with a list of endangered species in Canada.

The provincial environment ministers almost fell off their chairs when they learned, at the end of October 1996, a mere 30 days after the so-called national agreement, that the minister had brought forth a bill.

In just thirty days, he came up with legislation that will allow him to decide how the list of species will be drawn up and which measures will be used to protect these endangered species.

When it comes to protecting the environment, or threatened wildlife, everybody is in agreement. The Bloc Quebecois agrees that endangered species should be protected. The Quebec environment minister is also of the same opinion. However, what we disagree with is the process followed by the minister.

In Quebec, we already have legislation to protect endangered species and regulations to protect them. Why is the Minister of the Environment in Ottawa giving himself the power to act on our territories? We were prepared to work in co-operation with him. Why does he want to go over the heads of the provinces? That is the rub.

I have a few quotes I would like to share with the House. Bill C-65 came about because Canada wanted-and I think Quebec, as a future country, will do likewise-to comply with the UN international convention on biological diversity signed in 1992. This convention calls for signatory states to develop and enforce the legislation and other statutory provisions required to protect threatened species and populations. I am referring to article 8(k) of the convention.

Was it necessary for Canada to have Bill C-65 apply from coast to coast, when four provinces already have provisions and legislation protecting their environment and threatened species? They already have regulations providing for the protection of these species. I think that, once again, Ottawa is looking for confrontation with the provinces, which do not want anyone interfering in their jurisdictions.

In their red book, the Liberals said they had, and I quote: "a vision of a society that protects the long term health and diversity of all species on the planet". We could live with that, since Quebec and other provinces, like Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, already had their own legislation. All they had to do was to urge their provincial counterparts who did not have similar legislation to pass some or at least to exclude those provinces which had legislation. But that is not what is happening here. You will understand that the Bloc Quebecois cannot accept that the current Minister of the Environment is grabbing that much power.

To make it quite clear what I mean when I say we represent the interests of Quebecers, I would like to quote the Quebec environment minister, Mr. Cliche, who signed the agreement establishing how the list of threatened species should be drawn up. But this was an agreement in principle basically indicating that the signatories agreed with the idea. It was then up to each of them to enforce it at home.

On October 2, 1996, Mr. Cliche said: "We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlap between the future federal legislation and the act that has been in force since 1989-he is referring to the legislation in Quebec- an act that works well and has already proven useful. We risk creating more red tape instead of dedicating ourselves to what really matters to us: the fate of endangered species". As you can see, whether it is the Bloc Quebecois, or the Parti Quebecois which currently forms the Quebec government, everyone wants to protect endangered species.

However, we do not agree with the powers the minister is seeking with Bill C-65. If he wanted to make this legislation acceptable to the provinces and to the Bloc Quebecois, why did he not accept our amendments in committee, and why will he not accept the amendments that we are moving today, at report stage?

Again, these amendments only seek to obtain some assurances, because there is a legal provision whereby none of this is formally spelled out. In other words, there is a procedural defect. The federal government is trying to interfere, to take responsibility over a greater territory on environmental grounds, but Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick are not happy about this, because they already have their own legislation in place.

In short, Bill C-65 gives very broad powers to the federal government regarding the protection of species and, to make things worse, this bill was concocted 30 days after an agreement was reached with the provinces. This about-face by the federal government irritated a number of provincial ministers.

Again, after expressing his support for harmonization at the Charlottetown meeting, the current environment minister came up with an all encompassing bill that has too much impact on provincial jurisdictions. We ask members opposite to come to their

senses and to support the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois.

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4 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Madam Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-65 which attempts to bring in measures to protect endangered species.

We have a rich natural environment in Canada, one of the richest in the world and we are very proud of it. It is an important part of our high quality of life. It is a wonderful heritage that must be preserved and protected for our children.

The Reform Party's founding principle number five states: "We believe that Canada's identity and vision for the future should be rooted in and inspired by a fresh appreciation of our land and the supreme importance to our well-being of exploring, developing, renewing and conserving our natural resources and physical environment". In addition, Reform policies include a number of measures in the area of environmental reform including: sustainable development, co-ordinated action, pollution control, and environmentally sensitive zoning.

Since environmentalists, forestry workers, farmers, ranchers and many other citizens play an integral role in the protection of endangered species, a variety of needs and interests must be respected and wisely balanced by our legislators and legislation.

Bill C-65 gives the minister the power to make an emergency order to protect a species. Where this results in limiting the social or economic activities in an area, the losses and corresponding costs or financial burdens must be justly allocated.

Many present land users want to have their rights and concerns fairly addressed concurrent with the implementation of measures to protect our natural habitat. These include lost property values, curtailment of recreational opportunities, and withdrawal of land availability for economic activity. I am not satisfied that Bill C-65 is at all adequate on this important point. We need to find ways to ensure proper compensation for citizens who lose current land use rights. This will require close consultations with interested stakeholders from all parts of the country.

It is very interesting to note that a framework agreement was worked out, as other speakers have referred to, with some of the provinces with respect to protection of endangered species. In fact, the agreement was worked out among federal, provincial and territorial governments about seven months ago and here we have Bill C-65 which absolutely violates the framework agreement which was worked out among all levels of government.

We have to ask ourselves how we as federal legislators can retain trust, credibility and co-operation within the federation if we enter into a framework agreement and seven months later attempt to pass a bill which violates and ignores the agreement that was put into place.

I have in my hand two letters from environment ministers. In as nice a way as possible they point out the outrage and concern of provincial governments at this repugnant action by the federal government and by the federal environment minister.

In a letter dated January 24, 1997, Mr. Graham, the environment minister for New Brunswick writes to the federal environment minister:

I have been requested, on behalf of provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife, to pass on to you our comments respecting Bill C-65.

He goes on to talk about the co-operative work that has been done over the last 25 years between all levels of government to preserve and protect endangered species, and in fact all species of wildlife in Canada. He then writes:

Through continued co-operation and hard work over the past two years of all provincial, territorial and federal agencies responsible for wildlife, the National Framework for the Conservation of Species at Risk in Canada was developed. This was a landmark achievement considering the biological and political complexity of a country as large, and as diverse in species and lands, as Canada. Political support for this framework and a clear commitment to improved endangered species conservation in Canada was formalized with the endorsement of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk by all ministers responsible for wildlife in Canada at a meeting in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on October 2, 1996.

The letter goes on to say that Bill C-65 violates the provisions and intent of this accord and sets out specifically where it does so and where the concerns lie. If other members wish to review this letter, I would be happy to table it in the House. The letter ends:

We believe the National Accord and Framework are the model of what we can achieve co-operatively together. Surely this opportunity should not be lost because we were unable or unwilling to work together and resolve our differences. We understand that the standing committee will complete their review in early February. Obviously, there is urgency in addressing these issues.

Unfortunately the concerns that were so clearly and so specifically brought to the attention of the environment minister and members of the environment committee were unaddressed.

I have a letter dated March 26, 1997 from the environmental protection minister of the province of Alberta. The minister writes:

I am writing to you to express my growing concern about proposed Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act. All provincial and territorial ministers responsible for wildlife in Canada have identified several major concerns in the bill. The Hon. Alan Graham recently wrote to the Hon. Sergio Marchi on behalf of my colleagues and myself outlining these concerns.

Minister Graham's letter is the one to which I just referred.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has completed its deliberations, and unfortunately, the majority of the concerns raised were not resolved.

The minister asked that the outstanding issues and concerns brought forward by the provincial and territorial governments be resolved. The minister points out the need to pursue a co-operative and harmonious approach involving provincial and territorial wildlife agencies in a collaborative effort to amend this legislation. Unfortunately again these agreements and discussions and the results of them have been largely ignored in this legislation.

The point of my intervention and to tie together and sum up the material I brought forward is simply that there are two different approaches at the federal level to issues relating to the interests of Canada and Canadians. This protection of endangered species is only one example of the two approaches.

The old approach and unfortunately the approach practised by this Liberal government has been a father knows best, made in Ottawa, we will decide approach. It does not matter that other stakeholders have concerns. It does not even matter if clear agreements are simply tossed aside. The approach is that somehow this federal government and its ministries can just ignore the wishes and even discussions that were agreed to by other levels of government and put into place its own framework.

There is a better approach. The Reform Party believes that the federal government needs to focus its efforts on 10 clear areas of federal endeavour and otherwise co-operate with the provinces. It must allow the provinces to order their affairs to meet the unique opportunities and needs of their own areas. It is very clear from the material I put forward that this approach can and does work well.

I urge the federal government to respect the jurisdiction and the involvement of the provinces and territories and withdraw this legislation.

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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this bill that concerns my riding to some degree.

This bill may, at first glance, affect my riding since Berthier-Montcalm is located between Montreal and Trois-Rivières. This riding includes all the islands of Sorel and Berthier where, every year, many migrating birds, some of which are endangered, come to spend a few days or a few weeks before leaving for other places.

Unfortunately, even though it deals with endangered species, I have to say I am not in favour of this bill. It is not because its subject matter is not important, not because it is not dealing with fundamental issues, but simply because I feel Bill C-65 does not respect provincial jurisdiction.

It is not the first time the federal government has tried to interfere in this area of jurisdiction, probably because it wanted to keep its 1993 election promises, its red book promises. This will no doubt remind you, Madam Speaker, of the time when the minister talked about "a vision of a society that protects the long-term health and diversity of all species on the planet".

I am sure you remember that phrase from the red book. Although that vague commitment on endangered species can be interpreted in a number of ways, the red book contained more specific commitments which the government has not met. I would have told the government to forget about its promise, since this is an area of provincial jurisdiction. But, once again, the government has decided it wants to legislate in this area.

Hon. members will remember that, in Spring of 1995, the kite and flag lady, the current Deputy Prime Minister, then the environment minister, introduced a bill along the same lines as the bill before us today.

At the time, there was such an outcry in the environment community and also in the provinces and among the people who have to enforce the law that a year later, after a cabinet shuffle, the new environment minister decided to call a meeting of environment ministers to try to reach an agreement.

Indeed, on October 2, 1996, in Charlottetown, a famous city which has often left its mark on Canadian history, an agreement in principle was reached. However, if you were to compare the provisions of Bill C-65 with the so-called agreement in principle reached on October 2, 1996, you would soon realize that they are completely different.

Either we do not speak the same language in this country or we do not understand the same things. However, a bird is a bird and a whale is a whale, but we do not seem to understand the same things when a bill has to be drafted to ensure the agreement comes into force.

This is so true that on December 2 of the same year, the Quebec environment minister, David Cliche, wrote to the current federal Minister of the Environment to indicate that there were in fact some inconsistencies between the agreement in principle that was reached and the bill. I will not read the whole letter, because I know the minister has a copy, but for our viewers and the many Liberal members who are carefully listening, I would like to quote parts of the letter sent by Mr. Cliche.

It says: "Nor was it ever agreed that ratification of a treaty by Canada changed anything in the distribution of jurisdictions and gave the federal government exclusive jurisdiction to implement

the treaty". The purpose of the treaty is still to protect endangered species.

Further on, he adds: "Under the pretext of protecting species at risk, the bill is in fact an attempt to rewrite or reinterpret the Canadian Constitution and the way it gives certain powers to various levels of government". This is a minister of the Quebec National Assembly writing to the federal Minister of Environment to tell him: "Listen. There are several differences between what we agreed upon and what there is in the act, in particular a marked difference in jurisdictions."

He says a little further: "Thus the federal government's definition of federal land for the purposes of the bill has no relation to reality. We never understood that the management of fish stocks or inland or coastal waters navigation meant that the federal government had jurisdiction over all aquatic ecosystems, along with the seabed and the subsoil and the airspace above these waters".

The federal government took advantage of this legislation to provide more than was necessary and to try once again to go against Quebec's views, even on issues that I think are quite neutral, on which we could easily agree if people would truly respect the agreements in principle that have been hammered out and the Canadian Constitution. This is a minimum and this is not asking too much but, at this stage, it seems to be extremely difficult to agree on these factors.

On Bill C-65, the Bloc Quebecois will be true to its mandate to protect Quebec's interests and those of the true Parliament in Quebec, that is, the National Assembly, since that is what all men and women of Quebec identify with. It was quite natural for us to propose amendments to the bill that would reflect that.

One motion requires co-operation between all levels of government. I understand that a migratory bird landing in the riding of Berthier-Montcalm can take off and land again in the riding of Beauséjour. I can understand that and I think it requires co-operation between all levels of government.

Motions Nos. 16, 24 and 26 call for the recognition of provincial primacy. Why? Simply to respect the Canadian Constitution. Nobody can accuse us, as members of the Bloc, sovereignists, nationalists and all the other ist-words, of not wanting to respect the Canadian Constitution in this House, the Constitution the Liberals across the way signed in 1982 and whose 15th anniversary they celebrated not too long ago. We did not celebrate that anniversary for other reasons.

I think it is just normal to want to respect the Constitution which gives each level of government certain responsibilities, but it seems to be difficult.

I will read to you Motion No. 24 so you understand that what we are asking is really not complicated. Here is what it says:

"(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), no responsible minister may enter into an agreement under that subsection with an organization or person in a province unless the minister advises the provincial minister of that province of the responsible minister's intention to enter into the agreement with the organization or person, as the case may be, and the provincial minister informs the responsible minister that the government of the province does not object to the responsible minister entering into such an agreement with that organization or person."

It is crystal clear. In other words, we are saying to the federal minister that, if he wants to enter into agreements with organizations in Quebec, for example, he must simply inform the environment minister of that province.

Madam Speaker, I could have spoken all afternoon about these important motions, but you are indicating to me that my time is up. Am I right? May I have the unanimous consent of the House to conclude my remarks? I need five or ten more minutes to finish my argument on these motions, if the House agrees.

Canada Endangered Species Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is there unanimous consent of the House?