Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill C-38. The Reform Party will be supporting it in our efforts to support conservation in Canada. However, I am greatly disappointed in the activities of this government over the past year with respect to protecting our endangered species and our parks.
I wonder if the hon. secretary of state knows that what is going on in the Arctic today is truly a tragedy. Teratogenic and carcinogenic materials in the form of radioactive isotopes are coming across to the northern Arctic. They are poisoning the Inuit people who live there. Those materials are bioaccumulating in the flora and fauna and causing serious trouble for the environment. Some of these isotopes will not go away for hundreds of thousands of years. We hear absolutely nothing about it yet the government has been warned repeatedly over the years. I would strongly recommend the government look into that.
Over 240 species are at risk in Canada today, including the prothonotary warbler, beaked whales, Mississauga rattlesnakes, black-footed ferrets, Vancouver Island marmots and many others. The people who are trying to preserve these species are not getting the help they require.
The minister of heritage has taken a knee-jerk response to Banff. She has done the exact opposite of what she should be doing. She should be enabling the people of Banff to generate the necessary funds to not only protect their wild spaces but also to expand the park.
I have heard the hon. secretary of state speak eloquently about this so he knows very well that the degradation of our environment and the destruction of our habitat seriously threaten endangered species. In a nutshell, we have to give endangered species a home. We cannot kill them. We have to protect them and we have to work with the people to do that.
There are many serious threats, from the destruction of our habitat to trafficking. Canada is one of top 10 countries in the world in the international trafficking of endangered species. There is trafficking of tiger parts, black rhino horn and many other endangered species around the world. That is not part of the Canadian legacy and it is not something we should be proud of having within our midst.
There is the issue of lack of support for our conservation staff. There are difficulties and jurisdictional problems between the feds, the provinces and the municipalities.
These issues have to be cleared up in a very substantive way for many reasons. One reason is that we have derived many medicinal and other benefits. We will derive more in the future if we can preserve these species for the benefit of all, not to mention the philosophical benefits of being able to give to our children what we have received from our parents.
There are some sensible solutions. What has worked around the world has been to get parks and wild spaces to generate their own funds. If parks and wild spaces can earn revenue, that revenue can be ploughed back into the parks. This is a very sensible and eco-friendly way to preserve and expand the parks.
Buffer zones could be created around the parks and the people living in the surrounding areas could derive benefits. When the people in the surrounding areas derive a benefit from the park they can use the area as a poaching buffer zone around the park. Different parks around the world have used this strategy. It has worked very well in Central America and elsewhere.
It could also be a very useful way of engaging developing countries in creating revenues in an eco-friendly way. Parks in south central Asia and Africa could generate revenues that would benefit the people in the surrounding area in a sustainable way. It enables people to support themselves.
In terms of the jurisdiction of the environment we have to clean that up. Currently federal regulations only cover 4% of the Canadian land mass. Species do not know boundaries. They cross over municipal, provincial and national boundaries. They need to be protected within that context. We have to remove the jurisdictional entanglements that prevent strong legislation from coming forward to protect our endangered species.
The trafficking situation is appalling. We have to have enough conservation officers and we have to give them the powers to enforce the laws. They are not getting the support of the justice system. They must do this for Canada to end its miserable legacy that it has before the world in being a conduit for wild animal parts.
I recognize that there are no new moneys, but funds can be generated through using the parks in an eco-friendly way. One example is to put a 2% levy on hotels deriving benefits from the parks. Those moneys could be poured back into the parks for conservation measures, habitat protection, extending the habitat, doing scientific research and education. In this way we would not have to ask the government for more money. The money would be there.
Hunting is actually useful. I do not hunt as I could never kill anything, but as has worked in the past, if money could be derived from hunting, those moneys which could be quite extensive could be poured back into the parks and used to preserve many of the other species. It might sound cold hearted but it is pragmatic and it does work.
We also have to deal with enforcing our obligations under CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. We are a signatory to this convention but as I said before, we have been an embarrassment with respect to our enforcement of those issues.
We have a number of opportunities within our midst. The power of the federal government is enormous. It has to sit down with its provincial counterparts to establish jurisdictional differences. Perhaps it would be best for the federal government to take the responsibility and work with the municipalities. It also needs to work with farmers and land owners. They could be a natural support for conservation measures. Where that has been done on the prairies it has worked very well.
Generally speaking land owners do not want to see the decimation of the biodiversity within their midst. They would like to see that preserved for many reasons, yet they need people to work with them. If the government could manage to work with them then we would be able to expand our biodiversity and use the private land owners as friends rather than as enemies. This could be a useful way of expanding today's situation.
I will go back to the situation on trafficking. We live in a world that is intertwined; what happens half a world away affects us here at home. Canada has taken a leadership role in signing international treaties on biodiversity in the past. The world needs a leader in working with other countries in this area.
We have to put aside our prejudices and deal with some very pragmatic ways in which we can support our environment. Yes, it does take money. One of the things we could examine is that the environment can generate revenues in an environmentally sound, pragmatic and sustainable manner and those moneys could then be poured back into the environment.
When the minister prevented development within the city boundaries of Banff, that was not sensible. This did not involve an encroachment on the park. The minister could have taken a leadership role. She could have said that it would be allowed within the park so long as it fit certain federal regulations with respect to the environment. If the minister had done that and taken a leadership role in putting forth sensible ways for the park to generate revenues which could be poured into the conservation measures, Banff National Park would be stronger today.