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House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreed.

Topics

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for this order of reference:

That the House give its consent to an order of reference to travel to allow the Chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to visit Canadian and national immigration offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Thai refugee camps from June 26 to July 11, 1998.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 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?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, an act to amend the National Parks Act, be read the third time and passed.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 1998 / 12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today at third reading of Bill C-38 introduced by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and entitled, after our motion at report stage, an act to amend the National Parks Act and establish Tuktut Nogait park.

The aim of this bill is to create a national park in the Northwest Territories, more specifically, in the Inuvialuit land claim settlement region.

To understand the situation fully, members have to know that, in 1984, the federal government signed an agreement with the native peoples traditionally occupying and using the region of the Beaufort Sea. This agreement was known as the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and accorded the Inuvialuit ownership of part of the lands they claimed.

In exchange for their transferring to the crown their interest in other lands they claimed, the Government of Canada undertook certain obligations with respect to the Inuvialuit living in the region. This agreement was implemented with the 1984 passage of the Western Arctic (Inuvialuit) Claims Settlement Act.

As part of the obligations the federal government undertook with respect to the Inuvialuit, the agreement provided, and I quote “The granting or setting aside for the Inuvialuit of certain lands in the designated region, their right to hunt, to trap and to conduct certain commercial ventures there”.

So, the government begun negotiations concerning the establishment of a national park in this region in 1989 partly to honour its obligations to the Inuvialuit.

The six parties involved in the negotiations were the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Inuvialuit regional corporation, the Inuvialuit game management council, the Paulatuk community corporation, and the Paulatuk committee of hunters and trappers.

In 1996, after seven years of negotiations, the parties to this lengthy process signed the agreement to create a national park in the region covered by the Inuvialuit land claim, in the vicinity of Paulatuk, Northwest Territories. The short title for that agreement is the Tuktuk Nogait agreement.

In the Siglik dialect of Inuvialukton, Tuktut Nogait means “caribou calves”, which is not surprising since the park is at the heart of the Bluenose caribou herd's calving grounds.

As everyone knows, the reason for creating a park is that it protects a specific geographical aspect. The 16,340 square kilometers of Tuktuk Nogait Park will represent the natural region of tundra hills.

It is characterized by a rich biodiversity, for its hills and valleys offer lush vegetation and therefore an excellent habitat for the caribou and muskox. Its many cliffs and ramparts provide ideal nesting areas for birds of prey.

Within the park are archaeological sites which confirm that there was a human presence thousands of years ago. There have been settlements in a large part of the park at various times over the last millennium.

The region provides visitors with an opportunity to discover untouched Arctic landscapes, and to observe wildlife and plant life. Activities include hiking, camping, birdwatching, nature watching and photography.

According to the agreement, the objectives of the park's creation are as follows. First, to protect the Bluenose caribou herd and its calving and post-calving habitat.

Second, to protect in perpetuity a natural area in a region of tundra hills, and encourage the public to understand and appreciate the region in such a way as to leave it intact for coming generations.

Third, to promote co-operation among the Inuvialuit, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories in planning, operating and managing the park.

Fourth, to encourage and support the creation and maintenance of jobs and businesses in the region by permitting hunting within the park solely for subsistence purposes.

Fifth, to promote greater understanding and respect for the Inuvialuit cultural heritage and the natural surroundings of this nation.

Sixth, to create an environment suitable for long term research on the ecological and cultural history of the park.

And, seventh, to preserve the park's ecological integrity.

The park will be managed jointly with the Inuvialuit community. The park's board of management will comprise five members, two appointed by the Inuvialuit, two by the federal government—including one on the recommendation of the Northwest Territories government—and a chair appointed with the approval of all parties.

The park board of management will reconcile the various objectives of natural preservation, economic development and respect for native traditions.

The agreement provides for the formulation of a training and community assistance plan to help the residents of Paulatuk develop tourist and economic resources for the park, the priority hiring of qualified Inuvialuit employees and the priority awarding of contracts to Inuvialuit businesses that meet the terms of the contract on the provision of quality goods and services.

In short, the establishment of the Tuktut Nogait park should benefit the Inuvialuit community and all Canadians by protecting and developing this region for generations to come.

However, the park project recently was the focus of a dispute between the Inuvialuit and the government. On February 19, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation CEO Nellie Cournoyea wrote the Secretary of State responsible for parks, asking him to revise the park boundaries.

In light of recent information on the geological possibilities of one region, which occupies 2.5% of the park's area, the Inuvialuit were asking to have that area excluded from the park in order to allow future development.

On March 25, the Secretary of State responsible for Parks wrote back denying the request to review park boundaries.

Since then, things have speeded up. On March 30, the government introduced Bill C-38 at first reading. It was debated at second reading on April 3. On May 26, 28 and 29, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage held hearings on the bill. On June 1, a clause-by-clause examination of Bill C-38 was begun, and yesterday, June 11, we passed it at the report stage, while today we have moved on to third reading.

The rapidity of this process, given that the agreement was signed two years ago and that nothing had been done since then, makes us uncomfortable.

We regret that some information was not available to us, particularly the text of the final Inuvialuit agreement and its implementing legislation. As well, we got the text of the Tuktut Nogait agreement only very belatedly.

The very brief hearings did not allow us to get a complete picture of the situation and to fully weigh the arguments of the parties involved.

Let us look now at the arguments from both sides.

For the Inuvialuit, the mining potential represents a much needed opportunity for economic development for their community. They were convinced they could obtain a revision of the park boundaries under section 22.1 of the agreement, which states that the agreement may be revisited with the consent of all parties.

There has been no environmental assessment proving that mining would compromise the park's integrity. The Inuvialuit were prepared to accept the findings of a study on this.

The agreement will give the Inuvialuit the means to preserve their cultural identity and values, while participating fully in society and in the economy.

In section 16 of the agreement, the federal government undertook to promote full Inuvialuit participation in the northern Canadian economy, and Inuvialuit integration into Canadian society through development of an adequate level of economic self-reliance and a solid economic base.

From their point of view, the refusal to amend the park's boundaries constitutes the loss of an opportunity to realize their economic development without having to rely on federal government subsidies.

For its part, the government is opposed to re-opening an agreement that took seven years to negotiate. It does not wish to amend the boundaries because this could set a precedent and lead to other requests for changes in unmanaged parks.

The government often holds out the park plan to protect caribou breeding grounds as an important and vital argument.

Canada is also trying to limit mining projects on the American side of the border.

The park's board of management has asked the government to go ahead and create the park. Both sides' arguments have merit and it is difficult to decide clearly which option would most benefit all three groups, the Inuvialuit, the federal government and the general public.

It is hard to decide whether the environmental or the economic arguments should take precedence, because a number of questions remain unanswered. Here are some of these questions.

Will changing the park's boundaries as requested by Inuvialuit officials compromise the main objective sought in creating the park, which is the protection of the Bluenose caribou herd and its calving and post-calving habitat?

Is the area affected by the change a sensitive area that is essential to the park?

What would have been the results of environmental impact studies on mining projects in that area?

Are the prospects of sustainable and long term development for the Inuvialuit community as a whole—through the creation of the park and their participation in its management—better than those provided by a mining project in a part of the territory that is supposed to become part of the park?

In spite of all these unanswered questions, the government decided to go ahead with the creation of the park, with the boundaries that were originally set. I deplore the fact that the government could not find a compromise that everyone could live with. There is no doubt that the creation of the park will have a positive environmental and economic impact on the region, but we will have to make sure the Inuvialuit are not penalized by the government's decision.

This is why I urge the secretary of state responsible for parks, and also his colleagues for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Natural Resources and Human Resources Development, to make particular efforts to meet the federal government's commitments under the Inuvialuit final agreement, which are to promote the Inuvialuit's full participation in northern Canada's economy, and to help them reach an adequate level of economic self-sufficiency.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be dividing my time with the member for Calgary East.

Creation of the new park of Tuktut Nogait is a good idea. We should have some tundra hills preserved for posterity. However, I would hasten to point out that this site certainly is not unique. There are hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of virtually identical terrain. The boundaries that were arbitrarily developed are not necessarily the ideal ones. It is very unfortunate that they were established without any environmental assessment and without a resource inventory.

As a matter of fact, with respect to the resource inventory, there was a mining company with exploration rights on a portion of that park. It was proposed as the hon. member for Rimouski—Mitis has just explained to have a small portion of the proposed area removed so that the mining company's exploration program could proceed. The proposal by the Inuvialuit was actually presented by no less a personage than Nellie Cournoyea.

Nevertheless the government in its wisdom has decided to press on. The mining company was pressured to “voluntarily” relinquish its rights and here we are. It is the usual story of urban know it alls from central Canada dictating to the local people with respect to parks.

Unlike the great parks of the Rocky Mountains which have negligible mineral potential, Tuktut Nogait may contain economically important deposits. Nobody knows because nobody has ever made a serious effort to find out.

Fortunately future generations will be able, I suppose if it is deemed in the public interest, to change the boundaries of the already established park. But why not start out correctly from the very beginning? There should have been an assessment. This should be true of any new park.

There should always be an economic and environmental assessment, a cost benefit study to decide where the park should precisely be and then cast the boundaries in stone. Do not just draw lines on maps and say “Gee I think it is a good idea to have a park here”. It requires a bit of science and a little thought.

As far as the possible disturbance of the bluenose caribou by this exploration proposed in two and half per cent of the park is concerned, my personal observation is that caribou are quite compatible with human activity. I have seen them browsing in the shadow of a mine headframe. It is well-known that prospectors or explorers in the barren lands have had their tents knocked down because the caribou find that they are very convenient rubbing posts. Caribou are not shy animals; they are anything but.

The local people regard them as being a little on the dumb side and easy pickings for hunters. There is not much glory, not much honour, going out and shooting a caribou. It is like going out and milking a cow on the farm.

Talking about interfering with local people, just a few days ago our revered heritage minister vetoed a very carefully thought out and democratically approved development plan in Banff park. The local people looked at this very carefully. They decided what they felt was needed, decided what was suitable for their own particular environment. But no, our heritage minister gets up on her white horse, comes roaring in and says “They shall not do it. Never”.

The same people in Banff had to fight for years to preserve their airstrip. Fortunately they were able to enlist the assistance of the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association who pointed out that the airstrip in Banff as well as the one in Jasper are very important for safety reasons, for emergency landings.

They have been able to keep the airstrips but one wonders what the furore was about. Both of these parks are bisected by a highway and a railway. They were going to shut down a little 3,000 foot grass strip, which is highly essential to the preservation of human life, because somebody got a bug in their ear. Anyway, that battle has been won.

Hopefully when the present minister is sent to her reward with whatever patronage appointment she will get, this airstrip will again be returned for the local people to use. There are people in Banff who fly and use their aircraft for search and rescue. They have done so for many years.

Eventually I think they will get their airstrip back. It probably will revert to the situation which existed wherein they did the maintenance work at no cost to the federal government. Since these airstrips are going to be strictly for emergency use, the federal government's parks department will have to cut the grass and plough the snow.

I have another example of the local people being run over roughshod by Parks Canada.

This one is rather near and dear to me because it is in my own riding, the Grasslands park in southern Saskatchewan. The local people are really frightened by this vast area of ungrazed prairie which is beside their farms and ranches. This is a powder keg, a potential fire hazard of unparalleled proportions. They have begged and pleaded with Parks Canada to allow limited grazing of cattle in that park.

The natural condition of the prairie land is to be grazed by large ungulate. They used to be called buffalo. We have no buffalo any more. So not only does the prairie grow wild and present this terrible fire hazard, but it is deteriorating because in the natural balance certain species tend to overcrowd the others when ground is not grazed. Any rancher knows this, but the academic geniuses in Parks Canada who have never probably seen a cow or a buffalo or a blade of grass do not know what is happening out there.

The same parks people also continually get into unpleasant situations with the local people simply by being bad neighbours. They unlawfully impound stray livestock, for example. They refuse to participate in the maintenance of line fences. They say “that is your problem”.

On one occasion they actually were convinced under great duress to put up a fence. A fence the local ranchers had moved off the survey line for generations was then placed exactly on the survey line right down the middle of a creek. Brilliance. So naturally the first spring it went away and there was no fence at all and the rancher had to rebuild the fence back on his own land.

The problem with stray livestock was taken seriously enough that the local municipal government has passed the only open herd law in Saskatchewan that I am aware of. You can now run your cattle anywhere, including on your neighbour's front lawn, between I think October 1 and April 1, simply because Parks Canada is so obdurate that they will not get along with their neighbours.

I have to leave some time for my hon. colleague but I could go on for a long time about people at Parks Canada, some of my favourite whipping people.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte NDP Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I find it hard to restrain myself from commenting in respect of other members.

I take exception to the hon. member's statements on a number of occasions. The first is that there is no honour in hunting. I beg the member to reconsider this. Sport hunting and sustenance hunting are two different forms of hunting.

When northern people enter the tundra and kill a caribou to bring home and feed their child and sustain life for their family, for their generations to come, there is no greater honour than entering the woods, surviving the elements and bringing back the meat and the sustenance for that community or for that family. One does not need honour to be up in a chopper with a telescopic gun aiming at unprotected species on the ground. There is no honour in that. But when you sustain your family, when you hunt for the privilege of honouring and respecting the land, there is great honour in that.

We no longer have buffalo, as the hon. member said. There was no honour when the hunters climbed on to the trains and used automatic weapons and killed and piled buffalo bones on the banks of Wascana Lake, as it was later created. Wascana means piles of bones.

There is no honour in that. But when you retain the national parks and the integrity of the national parks, there is some security for the future generation. They can see in the past what ecological measures were taken.

I challenge the member to travel along the west coast of the United States. He will see the cathedral red woods standing in a protected area of northern California. Then he will arrive in Oregon where it is clearcut.

In terms of resource inventory, environmental impacts and challenging Parks Canada to retain its integrity and resources this costs money. The Reform Party time and time again has tried to be accountable. This government has made cutbacks that have had an impact on Parks Canada. Let us invest and put money in our budgets to retain the future of our parks.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should dig out his ears and listen to what other speakers are saying.

When I spoke of the caribou being an easy mark, I was not making any disparaging references to native people. I have had conversations along this line with Inuvialuit people who know that the caribou is a stupid animal and easy to shoot. That is all I said. Please pay attention.

The member was talking about wiping out the buffalo with automatic weapons. That would have been quite a trick inasmuch as automatic weapons were not developed until about 20 years after buffalo were nearly extinct. But that is a sideline.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have risen on this bill on many occasions and talked about the importance of national parks in Canada for future generations. We have supported this bill in the past. We are now aware of the controversy that took place about taking out a portion of the boundary due to the mineral finds in them.

I would say that both sides have good arguments. I would like to agree with my colleague from Cypress Hill who said future generations can change this if so desired. Although he says let us do it right in the first place, I would venture to say that at this time, due to the fact that this area has also been identified as a calving ground for the bluenose caribou, we not change it.

It is important to recognize that national parks are an ecological treasure. We are the custodians of this ecological treasure for our future generations. Therefore the Reform Party says we should support the concept of environmentally sensitive zoning.

The Reform Party supports cost effective and efficient initiatives that protect and preserve Canada's wildlife and wilderness areas for future generations to enjoy. Based on this, my party is in agreement with this act and will support this because it follows what we support.

However, I would like to talk on another point on Parks Canada. This is the user fee, the entrance fee into the national parks. I come from the riding of Calgary East which is at the foothills of the greatest natural treasurer we have in Canada. It is the Banff National Park at the foot of the Rockies. A tremendous amount of traffic goes through that park.

Over the 20 years since I first came to Canada I have marvelled at that area. I have noticed time after time that the user fee keeps rising.

Today it has come to the state where there are serious concerns as to what is the aim of this national park. One U.S. ranger said U.S. parks are set aside for the specific purpose of being available for all people, not specific people who can afford to go there.

We support our national parks as they are our national treasures for all Canadians. We should not raise the user fee to a level where only those who can afford to go can. That has happened. I do not go frequently to Banff National Park but I did at one time. Now I do not because of the high cost of going into my own national heritage. This is a cause for concern.

Imagine going through Banff and having to use the washroom. Our bodies do not say we are in a national park and cannot go to the washroom unless we have paid the user fee. If we have to go and we stop we are liable to a $2,000 fine.

As was quoted in the Calgary Herald one out of four cars going through Banff National Park does not pay the fee. Why? Do we think they do not wish to comply with Canadian laws? Nonsense. They do but the user fee is too expensive.

I am asking the government to consider that user fees for national parks is not revenue generating. We pay taxes. Taxes have not been reduced. Therefore this government should not use user fees as another form of taxation. It is important we recognize this fact.

User fees should be at a level where all Canadians can afford to go into national parks to enjoy themselves. Members of parliament have just been given pay raises of 2% so I presume they can afford to go to national parks. But I am talking about general usage.

My party supports this bill. We agree with this bill.

I would like to wish a happy summer to all my colleagues in the House. Go back to your constituencies and work for your constituents. I would like to pass a motion to adjourn the House for the summer.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

That will happen in due course in any event. Before questions and comments, the hon. government House leader.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

I want to take a moment to thank Mr. Speaker, all occupants of the chair, our very able staff from the clerks to the pages and all the support staff on Parliament Hill for the excellent help given to all of us during this session. I wish my very best to all hon. members of this House.

I think each one of us has deserved a bit of a break, some more than others perhaps if I can put it that way, but it has been an excellent session. I congratulate all hon. members and hope they will work very hard doing constituency work until we get back in the fall.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question not so much for my own benefit but for the benefit of members in the House, most of whom are central Canadians who have never seen Banff.

What is the current day rate to enter Banff National Park? I also remind my colleague that it is pretty difficult to maintain accessibility of the public to a park when all that money is needed for Bombardier.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, yes, it is pretty expensive. I have the 1996 rate, which I think has gone up, by the way. It says $6 for adults but I think it has gone to $10 per day for adults, if I am not mistaken.

I remember when I was there it used to be $1 per day. Now it is $10 per day and $10 per day is pretty expensive. It is $75 a year to go to that national park. Again I appeal to the government to revisit that fee.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte NDP Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have two points to make. The Reform Party spoke about its support for the ecological integrity of the Arctic region. This park is certainly one way of guaranteeing it.

This past week we had a motion ready to be introduced on an international agreement on persistent organic pollutants that affect endangered species of northern Canada. Why would his party not support an international agreement on persistent organic pollutants?

I congratulate all members on the successful parliament of the last year and ask them to enjoy our national parks. I look forward to a safe summer.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Deepak Obhrai Reform Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I think everyone is concerned about pollutants and the ecological damage done to national parks.

I was born right next to national parks in Africa and I treasure national parks and animals. I share the sentiment that we should be very careful to ensure that pollution does not damage our ecological environment.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

National Parks ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion for third reading of Bill C-38. Pursuant to order made earlier this day, the motion is deemed carried on division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Motion No. 15

June 10, 1998—Leader of the Government in the House of Commons—That, when the House adjourns following the adoption of this motion, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 21, 1998, provided that, for the purposes of sections (3) and (4) of Standing Order 28, it shall be deemed to stand adjourned pursuant to section (2) of the said Standing Order and provided that on any day prior to June 24, 1998, if any Standing Committee has a report ready for presentation in the House, the said report may be deposited with the Clerk of the House and shall thereupon be deemed to have been tabled in the House; and that the Order of the House of June 8, 1998, regarding motions pursuant to Standing Order 57 and Standing Order 78(3) is rescinded and that the Clerk of the House shall be directed to prepare amendments to Standing Order 81 that will provide as follows:

  1. The number of allotted days in each year is changed to twenty-one, with seven allotted days in each supply period; of the twenty-one, not more than fourteen may be used for votable motions;

  2. On the last day in the supply period ending not later than June 23, until 6:30 p.m. the House shall consider an opposition motion as on all other allotted days and at 6:30 p.m. all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition shall be put and any division requested deferred to 10:00 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. the House shall consider motions respecting estimates and any bill or bills based thereon, provided that at 10:00 p.m. all questions regarding the Business of Supply shall be disposed of in the manner presently provided for by the Standing Orders; and

That, after the Clerk has obtained the approval of the House Leaders of each recognized party to the text of the said amendments, they be deemed to have been adopted by the House.

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to order made earlier this day, Government Business No. 15 on today's order paper is deemed carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

On behalf of all occupants of the Chair, the hon. member for Saint-Lambert, the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest and Mr. Speaker, may I thank the government House leader, the hon. member for Calgary East and the hon. member for Churchill River for their best wishes and say how much we wish all hon. members a very safe and enjoyable summer.

I wish all members and employees of the House a very good summer.

Accordingly the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 21, 1998, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1.18 p.m.)