House of Commons Hansard #177 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nafta.


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1 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The time has expired for questions. On a brief response, the hon. member for Lethbridge.

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1 p.m.


Rick Casson Reform Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, certainly discussions should take place at a very high level, the highest level possible because of the importance of the issue.

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1:05 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me only fair to say at this point in the debate that there seems to be fairly unanimous consent and support for the motion today, particularly on the part of those who believe in a role by the Government of Canada in protecting the interest of Canadians in all provinces.

There seems to be, however, some confusion in connection with the alleged link between water and NAFTA. Some speakers who preceded me seemed to labour under the impression that water is in the NAFTA. It might be desirable therefore to dispel this notion once and for all because it only damages Canada's position vis-à-vis the United States and the NAFTA partners.

There is no reference to water in NAFTA except for bottled water. The sooner we put our thinking to rest on this matter the better, so that we do not raise in the House the notion that water is in the NAFTA. It is only in the form of bottled water. Anyone who can read and takes the trouble to read that portion of the NAFTA will see for himself or herself that is the extent to which water is mentioned in that agreement.

Therefore any debate on the motion which brings in through the back door the impression that we have to deal with the NAFTA only tends in the long term, and even in the short term, for that matter, to weaken Canada's position because certainly what is said in parliament has a certain weight.

The motion, which is highly laudable, puts the emphasis on matters related to trade and that is where the pressures are coming from at the present time. It is refreshing, however, to read what the British Columbia Wildlife Federation wrote some 15 years ago as quoted in the report entitled “Currents of Change”, the final report of the inquiry on federal water policy, a commission launched under the Trudeau government in 1983. It says:

The issue is much broader than the consideration of habitat for fish, more than irrigation or energy development, more than jobs or recreation. It is fundamental to the overall human condition.

This is how water is described. It is important to amplify the point of the B.C. Wildlife Federation because it is so well put.

There is also the issue of how Canadians relate to water. We have heard some very passionate interventions this morning on this subject and I would like to add one from the “Currents of Change” report on page 130 where it reads:

Water evokes special feelings among Canadians. On the surface it appears unreasonable to object to exporting a renewable resource like water while supporting exports of non-renewable resources like minerals, coal and natural gas. The explanation lies, at least in part, in the special heritage value that many Canadians attach to our water resources.

I underline the word heritage because it is extremely important. Those were inspired words by Mr. Pearse who was the head of that commission, who reported to the Conservative government in 1985, and whose recommendations are still waiting for action.

Mr. Pearse at that time recommended a full range of water related policy initiatives including drinking water safety, research programs, intergovernmental arrangements and water exports.

The central message of the inquiry's report, it must be said at this point of the discussion, in the words of Peter Pearse was:

We must protect water as a key to a healthy environment and manage what we use efficiently as an economic resource.

We certainly can say that a lot of time has gone by. Members of the opposition have already stressed that point. We are now at the point where a decision must be made in this respect, not only within the confines of the motion but also going beyond so as to encompass water quality, conservation and the concept of security.

Security needs to be redefined. We have to move gradually away from a concept that limits itself to military security to one that is related to natural resources. Certainly water plays a major role in providing the sense of security that any society needs for its present and future.

Today as we speak we can recite a number of applications on water exports that have been proposed in recent months: one in Ontario, one in British Columbia and very recently one in Newfoundland. Evidently we have to take action at the federal level and give the necessary leadership.

As recently as last July an interdepartmental panel of officers representing foreign affairs and Environment Canada debated in Toronto the matter of water. A considerable amount of work has been going on within departments. Now it is a matter that will have to emerge at the political level.

In the ultimate, as the motion suggests, it will have to be a decision that will assert the sovereign right of Canadians. Therefore parliament and the Government of Canada must play a leading role.

The question of quality of water deserves to be given greater emphasis than so far. The confidence of Canadians in drinking water has over recent years declined as demonstrated by the increased sales of water filters, bottled water and the like. There is an impression which has not been dispelled to the effect that the quality of water is not as high as it used to be. Therefore we have to pay attention to that fact either by restoring confidence or by taking measures to improve the quality of municipal water as provided by municipal suppliers.

The addition of chlorine is an issue that emerges from time to time in reports by the International Joint Commission. In one of its reports three years ago it indicated its concern about that particular substance as it affects human health. Evidently we are dealing with a very difficult issue because we all know the advantages of the use of chlorine in disinfecting water. Nevertheless we have signals to which we have to pay attention if our major concern, as I am sure it is for everybody in the House, is for the quality and the health aspect of water.

I have been given an indication that I am splitting time with the member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford. Therefore I will comply with that request in the assumption that my time is up.

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1:10 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Davenport for his support of the motion.

I also raise a concern with respect to the issue he identified around NAFTA and the implications of NAFTA for bulk freshwater exports.

The hon. member is a very distinguished and longstanding member of this House. He knows that there are serious questions at this time about the possible impact of NAFTA. There have been a number of challenges by American companies that seek to take advantage of what they allege are the provisions of NAFTA with respect to bulk water export.

Judging by the lawsuits that have been launched, for example Sun Belt claiming over $100 million in damages under the provisions of NAFTA, does the hon. member not agree that if Canada, the United States and Mexico really believe NAFTA does not apply to freshwater exports that there could very well be a memorandum of understanding that would have equal force and effect as the NAFTA itself just to clear up any misunderstanding?

In the absence of that, of course, there is still the possibility of ongoing legal harassment and actions. In light of that, would the hon. member be prepared to support both the amendment and the main motion?

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1:15 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for having raised again the question of NAFTA and water.

I could allege that the moon is made of Gorgonzola and ask for a memorandum of understanding that it be disclaimed. Having read several times the portion of the NAFTA that covers water, I am fully satisfied that the only reference in that section is to bottled water. If there are certain business interests in the United States that wish to allege the contrary that is their business.

However, I do not think we should fall into the trap of those who claim that assumption in the NAFTA because we just reinforce that kind of notion. The text is clear. It refers only to bottled water. There is no way Canada would go for any agreement in the NAFTA arrangement that would include water. I do not think any government in its right mind would ever agree to that.

Therefore I must confirm what I indicated earlier. This motion ought to be disallowed and should not be given new life in this parliament because it just gives credence to those outside parliament who would like people to believe that water is included in NAFTA.

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1:15 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Davenport may be missing the point. Because water is not specifically excluded, it is therefore in. The problem is that it is in the pot. Raw logs and unprocessed fish are exempted from NAFTA because they are on the list.

What we are suggesting is that we add water to that list. It would take water out of NAFTA. Because it is not specifically excluded, it is by definition in. That is the difficulty we are dealing with today.

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1:15 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, there may be a long list of items that are not specifically excluded that one would like to have reference to. However, the fact is what the agreement states is what the agreement is all about. If the agreement specifies water in its bottled form and nothing further than that, it seems to be pretty clear and evident.

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1:20 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a major issue that we address today and one that relates very much to my riding of Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, impacted as we are by the health of and the need to preserve one of Ontario's major lakes, Lake Simcoe.

Canada is a water rich nation. We are stewards of 9% of the world's renewal freshwater. But in the context of the motion under debate it is important that members realize that export is but one facet of how we manage this life giving resource.

While Canadians enjoy one of the highest standards of clean water in the world, pollution remains an important problem in some of our waters. In some areas people cannot swim or eat the fish they catch or drink the water without it going through extensive purification.

The quality of Canada's freshwater and marine areas is affected by three major water pollution problems, toxic substances, excess nutrients and sedimentation. Toxic substance from industrial, agricultural and domestic use form major pollutants in our water. These include trace elements of PCBs, mercury, dioxins, furans and some pesticides. Some of these substances accumulate through the food chain rather than breaking down in the environment.

These substances enter our water in a variety of ways, including industrial sources such as mining, steel production, accidents such as oil or chemical spills, and contaminated sites such as the Sydney tar ponds in Nova Scotia, municipal waste water effluents and atmospheric deposition from Mexico, the U.S. and Europe in Canada through rain and snow.

Excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds come mainly from municipal sewage and farm run-off containing fertilizers and animal waste. These nutrients can cause excess growth of aquatic plants which then die and decay, depleting water of dissolved oxygen and killing fish.

Sedimentation which we have difficulty with in Lake Simcoe is an increase in the amount of solid particles in water caused primarily by human activities, coming from farming, from forestry and construction. When sediment settles it can smoother the feeding and spawning grounds of fish and kill aquatic organisms.

Water pollution affects our health, our environment and our economy. Some of the toxic substances in water have been found to cause cancer. Others pose a threat to reproductive and immune systems and have already been found in the milk of some mothers. The health of all Canadians is threatened, especially that of young children, seniors and natives in the north, who depend on local wildlife for their survival.

Pollution lowers the value in the eyes of industry and raises the household cost of this resource. The economic value of Canadian fresh water used in homes and industry is estimated to be between $15 million and $20 million annually.

Canada has made progress in reducing many important water pollution problems. For example, 30 years ago Lake Erie was largely considered to be dead due to excessive nutrients from municipal waste. Today several of the original wildlife species have returned and the lake supports a commercial fishery.

Recent improvements in water quality have resulted in a decline in levels of DDT detected in the breast milk of mothers in southern Ontario and in Quebec since the early 1970s.

Pulp mills have reduced dioxin and furan discharges since 1988 as a result of tougher federal and provincial regulations on pulp and paper effluents. Many B.C. shellfish and bottom fish harvesting areas which we closed because of these pollutants have now reopened. Ecosystem initiatives in several major watersheds have helped to improve water quality. Under the St. Lawrence action plan pollution from 50 priority industries has been reduced since 1988. Under the Great Lakes action plan the harbour in Collingwood, Ontario is restored. The Fraser River action plan has led to a 90% reduction in the release of toxic wood preservative chemicals.

Treatment of wastewater has also evolved. For example, municipal treatment systems process up to 75% of Canada's wastewater. Through its infrastructure program, the federal government has given communities $700 million to help them establish and improve their water and wastewater treatment infrastructures.

The Government of Canada is now addressing water quality concerns through various actions, including a renewed Canadian Environmental Protection Act, CEPA, and the development of a federal freshwater strategy.

The minister of the environment and the standing committee on the environment are engaged in the process of developing a new CEPA which must improve enforcement as well as control toxic pollutants and other wastes. The freshwater strategy is founded on the need to work co-operatively with provinces and territories in order to better integrate the environmental, economic and social dimensions of freshwater management.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments, industry and communities are also working together to take action on the worst toxics and the worst polluters, broaden the participation of Canadian businesses and establish Canadian-wide standards.

Canada has significantly reduced the flow of pollution into its waters, but the future continues to hold tremendous challenges as environmental issues become larger and more complex. Global demands for pesticides, manufactured chemical goods and products are rising. The number of substances known or strongly suspected to be toxic continues to grow.

The challenge for Canada is to continue to build international co-operation, in particular on heavy metals and persistent organic polluters. Domestically we must continue to build and encourage leadership and partners with communities, industry and provincial and territorial governments. But it is the federal body which must provide the leadership and initiative to provide the legislative framework which will ensure the protection of Canadian water.

It is this broad approach and not just a focus on water export alone that will provide Canadians with the clean water they need now and in the future. At this critical time I would agree with the motion before us that the government should in co-operation with the provinces and the territories place an immediate moratorium on interbasin transfers and the export of water.

Interbasin transfers can negatively impact the social and economic well-being of people who live in watershed areas. In my community around Lake Simcoe we are tremendously impacted by a watershed area. Indeed it is this major concern that we are debating here today.

This action should be a joint action taken in co-operation with provincial and territorial governments. I have promoted these policies with my colleagues and I stand in the House to do so today.

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1:25 p.m.


Peter Mancini NDP Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the comments of my hon. colleague. I am particularly pleased to hear her highlight the Sydney tar ponds as an area of concern. I look forward to the commitment of some funds in the budget to help remedy that site.

I think her comments are well informed and indicate how important and how scarce freshwater is becoming, given the environmental problems and the whole environmental context she discussed.

Would she support a ban on the export of freshwater from this country?

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1:30 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member's question and share with him a grave concern about the acute problem in Nova Scotia. It is one that I think will leave us with memories of the Love Canal for those of us who are old enough to remember.

As I have said, I endorse the motion before us for a moratorium on bulk water exports and interbasin transfers. I believe it is the beginning. It allows us for the time to move in a legislative manner in future.

It is ours to show the lead but it is ours also to continue the feeling, the spirit that has been engendered by our recent signing with the provinces on health and social policy, to continue that spirit as well in this very important endeavour.

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1:30 p.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her comments. She focused on two areas that I think are critical.

One obviously is that this is an environmental issue. The other is the importance to Canadians, particularly in municipal areas.

My riding of Oak Ridges is part of the Oak Ridges moraine, a very sensitive area in Ontario and one where there are studies being done currently to deal with water issues. We have rivers such as the head waters of the Don.

A few years ago a commentator made the pronouncement that the next conflicts in the 21st century will be over water, that water is the critical issue. I certainly support the comments I have heard from all sides of the House today.

With regard to the issue which clearly involves federal, municipal and private sectors, what type of elements does she see as critical in the development of a federal freshwater strategy for Canadians?

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1:30 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with an emphasis the member has brought to the discussion on the need to be working with colleagues at the municipal level because they are perhaps most closely connected with the issues on a daily basis.

In that regard, I make reference again to Lake Simcoe, a very large and major lake in Ontario, one impacted tremendously by growth and development in the watershed from urbanization and from the agricultural and industrial base as well.

As he mentioned, it is imperative that in developing a freshwater strategy we work closely with our municipal partners as well as our provincial partners to contain and to deal with those issues they are encountering on a daily basis as a result of watershed problems.

We look to an overall freshwater strategy as one that has to encompass before us today, the export of bulk water and a moratorium on interbasin transfers but we look at a larger view. We will be looking to legislation that we know is in process with regard to a freshwater strategy from the federal perspective but again in partnership with our provincial colleagues.

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1:30 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on the motion before the House today on the marketing of water.

Before getting into the commercial aspect, I would like to address the environmental aspect. We are all familiar with water, as we use it on a daily basis. We need it as part of our diet and for washing.

But that is not our only use of water. Water is found in the environment, in the form of rivers, lakes and oceans. By fresh water, we mean water that contains no salt, the water in streams, lakes and rivers, as opposed to that in oceans.

Where does this water come from? It comes from rain, which runs off hills and mountains to become streams, which flow into rivers, which become lakes, which in turn empty into streams, and then rivers to finally reach the ocean.

If these patterns are disturbed, we change the way in which the lands through which these waters pass are irrigated. If we change the way in which these waters reach the ocean, we will eventually alter the salinity of parts of the ocean.

Water, however, does not just irrigate land or quench our thirst. It also transports heat. And one of the by-products of differences in salinity is that ocean currents transfer heat from the south to the north, where waters cool, drop to the bottom of the ocean and return south.

This creates a thermal equilibrium on the planet and large-scale changes. Therefore, if quantities of soft water were to end up in a specific part of the ocean, its salinity would be affected, and this could have a significant impact on the climate of the planet. When reference is made to transfers between catchment areas, we are speaking specifically and definitely of measures which could affect the runoff of freshwater into an ocean or oceans. The consequences of such a transfer might be considerably greater than we were able to foresee.

The greatest caution is therefore necessary, on the engineering level alone, when contemplating changing the movement of water from one basin to another.

The Bloc Quebecois shares the concerns that have been expressed by a large number of members of this House since this debate began this morning. We must, however, touch on the aspect of commercialization. Here it is possible that the Bloc Quebecois has concerns that are not shared by all hon. members in this House, particularly if they do not come from Quebec.

Where the commercialization of water is concerned, we are looking at water as a natural resource to be exploited, and no longer as an element of our environment. I have already addressed the question of the environment, and it must not be lost sight of.

Let us look as the aspect of exploitation of a natural resource, nevertheless. Small quantities of water are readily moved from place to place to meet humanity's needs. For instance, a municipality can draw water from a lake to pipe it into our homes. In the country, people drill up to hundreds of feet below the ground to tap the groundwater table for their drinking and washing water. These are small transfers.

If, however, these small transfers multiply, the consequences can be dramatic. In the southwestern United States, for instance, farmers and municipalities have made heavy use of the groundwater table for agricultural irrigation as well as other needs.

The water table has been lowered and is drying up. We recognize that water, our natural resource, must be treated in a very circumspect manner.

Water does not renew itself quickly or readily. Today, as it rains, there is an abundance of water. Next year, maybe it will rain less, maybe there will be less snow. The level of the lakes will drop. We must be very careful therefore on matters involving water; still, it remains a renewable natural resource.

So the question arises: Whose responsibility is it to manage the use of this resource on a daily basis? I think that, in all the provinces and in Quebec, municipalities have regulated the careful use of drinking water. A number of municipalities already meter the quantity of water used, ensuring that consumers are aware of the quantity consumed, and keep the cost down, with consumption limited to what is needed.

Other municipalities have regulations on watering. Occupants of even-and odd-numbered houses water their lawns on alternate days. Why? To make careful use of a limited natural resource.

The municipalities are also treating the environment with respect by processing waste water. Waste water containing matter in suspension that could harm the environment is not released back into nature, either domestically or industrially. Who is responsible for making sure such measures are in place? To my knowledge, it is the provinces.

In short, water as a natural resource may be used commercially, industrially or municipally in compliance with regulations that are put in place and applied by the provinces and by Quebec.

Today, we have a motion indicating clearly that this government should adopt regulations and impose measures to make better use of our fresh and drinking water resources.

I am very aware of the importance of caring for our natural resource, water. But I also have a dilemma: the federal government has never had to do anything to ensure communities' access to water resources. It was the provinces, and Quebec, which introduced water conservation, protection, filtration and purification measures. Quebec and the provinces have always shouldered their responsibilities in this sector. So why is the federal government butting in now?

I can understand the federal government, in consultation with the provinces, being given a mandate to make representations internationally, in order to negotiate international accords and amendments to agreements such as NAFTA. This was done in the past, and will no doubt be done again in the foreseeable future.

But if we are talking about authority for marketing the natural resource, I think the federal government is overstepping its bounds. Furthermore, this is an issue in which Quebec has taken an interest for many years and one which has already been in the news for several months in Quebec.

All of a sudden, the federal government wakes up and begins to make a fuss, without realizing that others have already taken the matter in hand, for the very reason that it was their responsibility to do so, not the federal government's.

While I share the concerns of our friends in the New Democratic Party, I differ with them on who has responsibility for marketing this natural resource. We in the Bloc Quebecois will therefore be voting against this motion, which would basically deprive Quebec of its historic rights to manage its water resources and turn those rights over to the federal government, which, to all intents and purposes, has never really concerned itself with them.

I would submit to the House that, if it were serious about playing a useful role in this respect, the federal government would have done so 50 or 60 years ago, by protecting the Great Lakes against the shameful pollution that travelled down the St. Lawrence River, turning it into a gigantic sewer for a number of years.

I can remember swimming in Wolfe's Cove, in Quebec City, in my youth. On a nice summer day, there were 5,000 people on the beaches at Wolfe's Cove. There were beautiful sandy beaches and the water was clean enough for swimming. Only 10 or 15 years later, the water had become a public sewer. And as members may suspect, the City of Quebec was not to blame for all this pollution; it was coming from down from the Great Lakes.

Today, with the international agreements on both the American side and Ontarian side, pollution has been controlled to a large extent. In another 10, 15 or 20 years maybe, we can look forward to having our river back, and swimming will be safe and will not pose a health risk.

As members can see, the federal government's record on protecting our environment and the issue of freshwater and drinking water is not great. I have a problem with a motion like this one being put forward today as if this government, here in Ottawa, were some kind of saviour for the planet, the country or Quebec. So far, the provinces have successfully taken their responsibilities. Arrangements are already in place in British Columbia, and steps are being taken in Quebec. What business does this House have debating a motion on a topic under provincial jurisdiction?

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1:45 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can remember my very first question in the House of Commons. It was 11 years ago and it was to the then environment minister for the Conservative Party who is now the Premier of Quebec.

My first question dealt with the challenge that the national government had in cleaning up the hot spots of the Great Lakes, including the St. Lawrence River. I remember vividly how Mr. Bouchard stood in the House of Commons to courageously and proudly proclaim the responsibility of the Government of Canada to deal not only with the problems of the hot spots on the Great Lakes, but also the St. Lawrence River. In no way shape or form did Mr. Bouchard ever walk away from the responsibility of the Government of Canada to deal with issues related to water.

I do not think for a second that the national government can absent itself from this debate, we well as the fact that it has a major national role to play. Any suggestion by the Bloc Quebecois that taking inventory and managing our water resources is strictly a provincial issue is something I would oppose to the death.

I think the record will show that over the years the Government of Canada, the people of Canada, not just in Quebec but in Ontario, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars not only attempting to reclaim some of our water resources but also making sure that the proper infrastructure is in place so the water resources can be maximized through municipal infrastructure, grants and programs.

The NDP has put the motion before us. Let us approach it in such a way that we work as a national government with the provinces.

I urge members of the Bloc Quebecois not to become so parochial or territorial so as not to interact. These waters flow back and forth from one province to another. We share the Great Lakes. I would appeal to Bloc members to view water as a national issue. The Government of Canada must have a responsibility and a role to play and the Bloc should encourage the Government of Canada to assume that role.

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1:50 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, if, at some point in time—and I am talking about 40 years ago, not 11—the Government of Canada had taken appropriate measures to make sure our American neighbours did not dump their wastewater into the Great Lakes, thus polluting the St. Lawrence River, which is the backbone of Quebec's development, we would not have the pollution level that exists today.

But this is not what the federal government did 40 or 30 years ago. I am not surprised that the issue was raised 11 years ago in a question. I do not have the wording of the question or of the answer, but the crucial role that the federal government had to take in negotiating with the Americans to ensure the protection of the quality of our water was overlooked. In fact, the same question could be raised on acid rain. The federal government had, and still has, a duty to negotiate on a bilateral basis with the Americans regarding this issue.

Speaking of water in Quebec, the member said that it flows back and forth. I am sorry, with Quebec it is only forth. It comes from here. It goes down to our place.

Quebec has assumed its water management responsibilities for 400 years. The hon. member's claim that Canada has a major role to play in showing us how to do things right—something which it has never done, while we have been taking action and achieving good results—is just not valid. The water in Quebec belongs to Quebec.

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1:50 p.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois that I find it most unfortunate that he would once again be so narrow-minded in his interpretation of this rather broad motion, which encompasses the federal government and the provinces. I would like to inform him that, when there was a major federal program on cleaner water for Canada, in the 1970s, Quebec was the only province that did not take advantage of this program.

Quebec was the last province—and I know what I am talking about, having been the Quebec minister of the environment—to establish a water purification program. To start telling us that this is a purely federal, or purely provincial, affair, that Quebec is as pure as the driven snow in this matter, and that the federal government has full responsibility for this, is to once again start up this business of picking quarrels, blaming the other guy, without even looking at one's own faults.

This is most unfortunate, because the question of water goes far beyond narrow-minded parochialism. It is a question that defines the cycle facing us. We should look at the far bigger picture, and try to associate ourselves with a motion that refers not only to the federal government but also to the association of federal and provincial governments in the development of a shared water policy. This, I feel, is the key to everything.

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1:50 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

This is not narrow-mindedness, Mr. Speaker. The motion before us is very clear. It states that the government should place an immediate moratorium on the export of bulk water shipments. It goes on to say “in co-operation with the provinces”. Such co-operation ought to precede the motion. It ought to be verified with the provinces, and with Quebec, whether the moratorium is necessary and desirable.

They are putting the cart before the horse, and yet when we protest about this happening, we are told that we are being too narrow-minded. No, we are not, but we are capable of reading between the lines and capable of protecting Quebec.

Injury PreventionStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Gary Pillitteri Liberal Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, a recently published study is telling Canadians that the economic and social costs of unintentional injuries in Canada are staggering.

From this study we learned that each year these injuries leave 47,000 Canadians partially and permanently disabled. For example, in the Niagara area alone we had more than 30 deaths this year all due to vehicle accidents.

The officer in charge for the Niagara region at the public health department wrote to me, saying that citizens of Niagara Falls should find this figure totally unacceptable, especially when it is known that 90% of these deaths are both predictable and preventable.

There is a need to acknowledge and seriously address the magnitude of this staggering health and economic problem. Today I am adding my voice in support of those who are calling for a national injury prevention strategy to be established. We must take action so as to cut costs for all Canadians and ultimately save lives.

TaxationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have just received the following e-mail message: “Fraud alert. Persons receiving an envelope from an organization calling itself Revenue Canada should treat the contents with great suspicion.

“This group appears to be operating a scam in which it claims the recipients owe it money to pay for the essential operations of the Government of Canada. The money is actually used to fund an endless list of inefficient and pointless social engineering programs.

“Revenue Canada also has ties to a shady outfit known as the Canadian pension plan, whose paycheque deductions have been known to end up financing the same type of wasteful government boondoggles supported by Revenue Canada.

“If a solicitation for funds is received from Revenue Canada, keep in mind that the entire annual taxation scam originates not with it but in the office of the Minister of Finance. It is time that he was held accountable for bilking so many hard working Canadians out of billions of dollars every year”.

Co-Operative HousingStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Recently the minister responded to the strong and united voice of the Ontario Liberal caucus by ensuring that co-op housing funded by the federal government will not be part of a transfer of the management of social housing resources to the Government of Ontario.

As a result, some 21,000 individuals and families in Ontario will have their homes preserved in federal hands.

In my riding of Etobicoke North, members of the Comfort Living, Summerlea Park and West Humber Community Co-operatives are fiercely proud of their community lifestyle and applaud the minister for protecting their co-operative.

They, like other co-op members from across the province, will now sleep better knowing that their housing is in safe hands.

Economic DevelopmentStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 2, the Canadian government announced an investment of close to $1 million in the regions of Quebec, under the Canadian Rural Partnership Program. Of that amount, $475,000 will got to 11 regional projects in Quebec.

Our government is committed to strengthening rural communities and helping rural citizens take advantage of new economic development and employment opportunities.

This type of governmental action has a direct impact upon the communities concerned. We hope to continue this partnership with as many rural communities as possible, in Quebec as well as in the rest of Canada.

Calgary And Quebec City Information ExchangeStatements By Members

2 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I had the pleasure to attend le Carnaval in Quebec City. I would like to report to this House that it is possible for friendly people and good cheer to overcome chilly temperatures.

One thing I noticed this past weekend was that there were a number of Calgarians attending the Quebec carnival. I later found out that Calgary and Quebec City signed a new agreement to co-operate in promoting the exchange of information in the areas of science, technology, economics and tourism.

The two cities also renewed an agreement on the youth exchange program. This agreement has all the elements of improving the prospects for national unity in this country: goodwill, direct communication and above all else, keeping the federal Liberal government out of the process.

House Of Commons InterpretersStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, 40 years ago, on January 16, 1959, the House of Commons took the innovative step of providing simultaneous interpretation in English and French thereby giving Canadians an opportunity to follow the debates in the language of their choice.

Today I would like to pay tribute to those individuals who have been our partners ever since.

I urge all members of the House to join with me in paying tribute to the invaluable contribution of our interpreters. They make it possible to share our ideas and everything we feel most passionate about in both official languages as well as in sign language.

Public Works and Government Services Canada and the Translation Bureau can take pride in having such professionals on their staff. Their work does parliament proud.

Congratulations to all of our interpreters. Félicitations.

Government ExpendituresStatements By Members

February 9th, 1999 / 2 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong with the government when the Department of National Defence spends $1,000 on a tricycle. That is one sample of the insane spending in my latest waste report. It shows that there is plenty of rot in the system. Taxpayers deserve better than this.

Taxpayers' blood will boil when they hear that foreign affairs spent $113,000 on Royal Doulton china and that an admiral had a $120,000 hotel bill while some of our sailors were standing in line at the food bank.

Finally, the government is spending $4,000 on the provincial flags unity project. The concept is to express national unity, which is quite appropriate because if it keeps spending money like this, Canadians will all be in the poorhouse together.

Publishing IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-55 is imperative for the continuing success of the Canadian magazine industry.

Advertising revenues represent the single most important source of revenue for Canadian periodical publishers. These revenues have allowed them to nurture the careers of some of our most important literary figures and social commentators.

Without Canadian magazines, how would the first works of future Canadian authors and poets find their way to Canadian readers? Would large foreign publishers print the poetry of a future Margaret Atwood or the historical commentary of a future Jacques Lacoursière?

Advertising revenues allow Canadian publishers to provide a venue for thousands of Canadian photographers, journalists and editors. These revenues help pay the salaries of many creative Canadians.

Allowing foreign publishers unlimited access to the Canadian advertising services market would mean the death of a vital cultural industry, an industry that has played an essential role in the cultivation of Canadian literature, photography and political thought. This is what is at stake in Bill C-55.