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House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nafta.

Topics

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is that agreed?

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed. .[Text]

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

The following table lays out the sources of matching funds by category. These figures apply to projects where final agreements have been concluded. This represents 470 projects for a total CFI share of $164.5 million. Many larger projects are still being brought to the final agreement form. The total project dollars, CFI plus matching, amounts to $431.9 million so the CFI share is 38.1%. All cash values are in millions of dollars as of April 2000, the most recent figures available.

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other questions be allowed to stand.

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is that agreed?

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent of the House to revert to motions for the purpose of moving concurrence in the 36th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I believe that all parties are in agreement and that we can proceed.

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is there unanimous consent?

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Starred QuestionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read a second time and referred to a committee.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act.

Water is a most precious resource for humankind. It has become a cliché to say that. Water is the very basis of life on earth. However, despite what we have believed for a long time, we could run out of water as a resource. Recent studies show that in some areas water is practically non-renewable.

For instance, the report of the International Joint Commission, released last August, says that precipitation and underground water barely contribute 1% to Great Lakes water renewal every year. This is cause for concern.

Under the circumstances, we must recognize that even if the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River account for one fifth of all freshwater reserves on the surface of the planet, it is not a limitless resource.

Moreover, in recent years discoveries and research on greenhouse gases and the potential risks of rising temperatures have shown the acute fragility of resources and the threats facing them.

The membership and duties of this commission are defined further on. Because of climatic risks, desertification on a planetary scale, limited resources of freshwater throughout the world and energy development on the basis of that resource, the idea of exporting large quantities of water by tanker or of diverting rivers has been seriously considered in the last decade in Quebec and Canada.

Therefore, a serious threat has now been added to the environmental threats already facing our water resources, and that is the bulk export of water and diverting lakes and rivers on a large scale.

Obviously, the bulk export of water opens up tremendous economic opportunities. Acknowledging that fact, some provinces examined the feasibility of issuing licences allowing companies to study bulk water export projects.

Following a drought in California at the beginning of the 1980s, British Columbia issued export licences to five Canadian companies and one American company. Over time, the province became concerned about the possible impact of such exports on its natural resources and passed legislation to forbid the bulk export of water.

We know that other provinces have considered issuing export licences. We recently saw some headlines about Newfoundland in this regard. The province quickly changed its mind but the possibility of issuing licences still exists. This, coupled with recent legal action by Sun Belt Water Inc., a California company, against the Government of British Columbia creates fears and raises once again the issue of commercial risks associated with the export of that resource. This is the context in which the federal government has been promising to legislate for a year now. This is the background.

Now I want to talk about the federal government strategy to date. Early this year, the federal government announced that it intended to take more direct action with respect to water exports, and to present a three-point strategy.

This strategy is a follow-up to a motion passed in the House of Commons on February 2, 1999, with respect to the protection of water. It was a New Democratic Party motion, which received the support of the House, and read as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should, in co-operation with the provinces, place an immediate moratorium on the export of bulk freshwater shipments and inter-basin transfers and should introduce legislation to prohibit bulk freshwater exports and inter-basin transfers and should not be a party to any international agreement that compels us to export freshwater against our will in order to assert Canada's sovereign right to protect, preserve and conserve our freshwater resources for future generations.

That was the New Democratic Party motion introduced in the House.

The federal strategy consists of three elements. The first is an amendment to the International Boundary Waters Treaty, which would give the federal government authority to regulate bulk water removal from boundary waters.

The second is a reference with the United States to the International Joint Commission to investigate the effects of consumption, diversions and removals, including those for export purposes, in boundary waters.

The third is a proposal to develop, in co-operation with the provinces and territories, a Canada-wide accord on bulk water removal so as to protect Canadian water basins.

On February 10, 1995, Canada and the United States created the International Joint Commission, following implementation of the 1909 boundary waters treaty. Its primary mandate is to ensure co-operation between the United States and Canada in the management of storm drainage systems along the border.

Six commissioners sit on the commission, three from Canada and three from the U.S. It is their responsibility to study the various problems arising in the management of basins. The shores of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence system are borders to eight states—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York—and two provinces—Ontario and Quebec.

After noting a growing number of proposals to export water from the Great Lakes and other areas of the U.S. and Canada, the two countries agreed to ask the commission to study the question and make recommendations within the next year. The final report is expected in February 2001.

On August 18, the International Joint Commission submitted a preliminary report. Briefly, it recommended that, during the next six months it will need to complete its report, the federal and provincial governments and the American states not authorize any removal or large scale sale of water. It pointed out a number of things that warrant mentioning.

It indicated that there was no surplus in the Great Lakes system, that large scale removal of water could limit the resilience of the system and that information on the removal of underground water is inadequate.

This point causes problems, because underground waters can have a considerable effect on the integrity and quality of ecosystems. The report pointed out as well that we do not know—and this is a very important point—what the demand will be for water in the future. We must never forget that other generations will follow us and we have the job of ensuring these future generations are not penalized by our decisions.

Also, because of the possible climate change and other natural considerations, it is impossible to assess with any degree of certainty what the level and the flow of the Great Lakes will be in the years to come.

Last week, the federal environment minister submitted to his provincial counterparts a Canada-wide agreement banning bulk water removal from watersheds. The response was rather timid, since Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan indicated that they would make their position known at a later date. Quebec withdrew from the discussion, stating that it found that the agreement was premature and that its Bill 73, the Water Resources Preservation Act, provided temporary measures prohibiting the transfer outside Quebec of surface water or groundwater taken in Quebec until December 31, 2000.

Quebec, however, kept the right to divert large quantities of water to produce electric power, keeping in mind the Churchill Falls project where it is looking at diverting the river to be able to produce electric power in the Labrador region.

The Quebec government considers that its legislation is adequate. It also stated that it will wait for the results of the public hearings of the BAPE and of the Quebec environmental assessment panel, before developing a comprehensive water strategy. New Brunswick, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and the Yukon have all endorsed the agreement.

The only missing element of the three-pronged process is the changes to federal boundary waters legislation. Bill C-15 completes the federal strategy announced last February.

I will give a brief summary of Bill C-15. Bill C-15 derives directly from the federal government strategy announced in February 1999 and it fulfils its desire to regulate the removal of water from transboundary waters. According to the federal government, the purpose of this bill is to pave the way for the implementation of the treaty relating to boundary waters and questions arising along the boundary between Canada and the United States.

As such, the proposed amendments prohibit bulk water removal from boundary waters out of their natural water basin. The proposed amendments will also require persons to obtain licences from the Minister of Foreign Affairs for water related projects in boundary or transboundary waters that would affect the natural level or flow of water on the United States side of the border.

Thus, the federal government wishes to add clauses 10 to 26 to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act. Clauses 11 and 12 deal with the licences that have to be obtained for any project which uses, obstructs or diverts boundary waters in a manner that affects the natural level or flow of the water. Both clauses indicate that the licences do not apply in respect of the ordinary use of water for domestic or sanitary purposes.

Clause 13 of Bill C-15 seeks to prevent the removal of water from the boundary waters to take it outside the water basin, notwithstanding clause 11. General clauses 14 and 15 of the bill provide that sections 11 to 13 do not apply in respect of projects in existence immediately before the respective coming into force of those sections, unless their impact lasts after their coming into force.

Clauses 16 to 20 list the powers of the minister and summarize his capacity to issue and revoke licences and to impose penalties. Clause 21 deals with the regulations that can be made under the legislation and that will be a guide for ministerial decision making. The bill indicates, for example, that the governor in council, on a recommendation by the minister, will be able to define the concept of water basin, under paragraph ( b ) and identify exemptions to sections 11 and 12 under paragraph ( c ).

Under this paragraph, the department has already raised possible exemptions like humanitarian uses over a short period of time or the use of water to produce food and drink. An example that comes to mind is bottled water. Paragraph ( d ) deals with the prescription of classes of licences and paragraph ( j ) with the prescription of cases where no licence can be issued, and so on and so forth. Clauses 22 to 25 determine the punishment for offences.

The general public recognizes that our water resources should be protected, but it is far from obvious that Bill C-15 will result in better protection. In fact, a legitimate question concerning Bill C-15 is whether the Liberal government is taking advantage of the panic over water resources created by events in Ontario to grab powers outside its jurisdiction. Again this government is showing that it wants to interfere in areas under provincial jurisdiction.

I am forced to say today that the government never changed its tune during the three and a half years of this mandate, which will soon come to an end. It always declared that it respected provincial jurisdiction. But when the time came to put those words into action in the bills it introduced, we saw the true nature of this Liberal government. Liberal values were not reflected in the bills.

The Liberals said that they respected Canadians from all provinces, from Ontario, from Manitoba, from Saskatchewan, from British Columbia and from the maritimes. But that kind of language can be very deceiving because, when they introduced bills, we saw the opposite. They are two-faced: they say one thing, but their actions day in and day out go against the interests of the people and the provinces. They should provide services to allow individuals to have real courses of action and they should give some money back to the provinces for the environment, because it is a very important issue.

I have noticed that what the government and the Minister of the Environment say, beyond the rhetoric, is a drop in a sea of indifference.

The minister ought to have put billions of dollars more in his mini-budget. He gave us crumbs. The government has ignored the environment.

We had ministers who were not able to stand up to their cabinet colleagues and say that it was time to take action.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

And being returned:

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActThe Royal Assent

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate Chamber the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-5, an act to establish the Canadian Tourism Commission—Chapter No. 28.

Bill S-26, an act to repeal an act to incorporate the Western Canada Telephone Company—Chapter No. 29.

Bill C-24, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, a related Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Budget Implementation Act, 1997, the Budget Implementation Act, 1998, the Budget Implementation Act, 1999, the Canada Pension Plan, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Employment Insurance Act, the Excise Act, the Income Tax Act, the Tax Court of Canada Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act—Chapter No. 30.

Bill S-25, an act to amend the Defence Production Act—Chapter No. 31.

Bill C-27, an act respecting the national parks of Canada—Chapter No. 32.

Bill C-14, an act respecting an agreement with the Norway House Cree Nation for the settlement of matters arising from the flooding of land, and respecting the establishment of certain reserves in the province of Manitoba—Chapter No. 33.

Bill C-41, an act to amend the statute law in relation to veterans' benefits—Chapter No. 34.

Bill C-45, an act respecting the provision of increased funding for health care services, medical equipment, health information and communications technologies, early childhood development and other social services and to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act—Chapter 35.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the hiatus, the people watching our debate may have forgotten what I was saying about Bill C-15.

I would like to recap and remind the House what the purpose of this bill is. I also want to describe the government strategy I was referring to when we had to leave for the other House.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the leader of the Bloc Quebecois for appointing me critic for the environment. I think that we held some very important debates during the last three years and a half and that we considered some major issues.

One need only look at the legislation on the environment and on endangered species. The government wants to pass a bill to protect endangered species, but apart from the environment minister's fine words, what is it doing? I do not disagree with the minister's words, but we are still waiting for him to act.

It is too bad, because I reached out to him on a number of occasions, including the endangered species bill, the Environmental Protection Act, and even the debates on pesticides. There was no unanimous report, since Reform dissented because they are pro-business.

Currently, there are two different visions in this parliament: the ordinary people's vision, represented by the Bloc Quebecois, and the vision of the Liberal Party and Reform. I still call them Reform because they have not changed; it is still the same old Reform Party. They have not changed a whit. Their vision is still short-sighted. According to their vision, big business is to be in charge of everything that has to do with the environment.

I have denounced with all my strength this vision of the Alliance and the Liberal Party, which is to highjack provincial jurisdictions.

Once again we caught them red-handed, this time with Bill C-15. This government cannot help trying to control everything, be in charge, be the king of the castle, as it were.

I am proud to report that, today in Jonquière, a minister of this government, accompanied by the member from Chicoutimi who crossed the floor—we call them turncoats—was to announce an investment. Earlier the government House leader talked about Bill C-44, an act to improve the Employment Insurance Act.

Twice in two weeks, workers in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean told the revenue minister, the minister who represents our area, that we were quite capable of looking after our own administration.

Government members do not represent their constituents properly. It is going to blow up in their face, as we say.

This morning, the revenue minister was unable to give his press conference. He was told by people in our area to go back where he came from, through the Parc des Laurentides. We have been having quite a debate in our area. We would like to invest in the infrastructure, but the federal government has made cuts in road upgrading programs.

We have taken part in every debate, saying that 26% of the money they hold is Quebec's. A substantial portion of this money should go to my area. The minister was told to go back where he came from, because the kind of change he made to the employment insurance program is not worth the paper it is written on.

I applaud those people. They have shown all of Quebec and all of Canada that they were capable of standing up for themselves, of stating that the fund is theirs. The government has no business using it as it pleases; it is for us to administer, with the workers and the employers. We are the ones to have the say, as the gap keeps widening for seasonal workers thanks to the government.

The government makes the directives, but makes no financial contribution. It has been raiding the fund. Bravo to the people of the Saguenay and Lac Saint-Jean. I hope that all Canadians will stand up for themselves like the people in my area did this morning, and will continue to do so throughout this election campaign.

I will conclude my speech by saying that, although the Bloc Quebecois is well aware of how vitally important it is to protect our water resources, the bill as it stands strikes us as useless and is not in keeping with the division of jurisdictions.

It has a huge potential for encroachment onto provincial jurisdictions, without providing any additional protection against massive water exports.

We ought therefore to be opposed to the principle of the bill. I wish the Minister of the Environment, and whoever his successor is after the election, to know that we, the representatives of the Bloc Quebecois, will never accept interference in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to salute you and to thank you for all your well-chosen words and for the professionalism you have brought to the House as deputy speaker. I will always have very pleasant memories of you. I wish you the best of luck in the future.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I thank the hon. member for her kindness.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour NDP Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to discuss Bill C-15 with reference to one of Canada's most precious natural resources, water. Canada owns most of the freshwater resources in the world. Almost 9% of the world's soft water is on Canadian territory and 60% of Canadian water flows into the Arctic Ocean.

The exportation of bulk water is not a new issue. It is actually a major issue that the Conservative government in 1984 was very much concerned with. We believe it is imperative to protect the interests of Canadians with reference to the export of bulk water. It is why we made sure that water was protected under NAFTA.

Bill C-15 introduces amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in order to prohibit bulk removal of water from Canadian boundary waters, including the Great Lakes. The prohibition on removals will apply principally to the Great Lakes and other boundary waters.

Apart from prohibition, the amendments will also set in place a licensing regime for boundary waters projects such as dams, obstructions or other works that can affect water levels and flows. The International Boundary Waters Treaty Act was passed in 1911, implementing the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Its main objective was to establish the International Joint Commission, a binational organization.

Canada's border is the longest in the world, with over 300 lakes or rivers that either form, cross or straddle it. It is the Canadian government's responsibility and duty to protect that border.

NAFTA and the WTO generally prohibit restrictions on the exportation of goods subject to certain exceptions, none of which are likely to be applicable to the present purpose. The difficulty lies with the absence of a legal definition of goods. Obviously water in its natural state is not considered a good. Subject to trade agreements, bottled water is.

The purpose of Bill C-15 is to protect water which in its natural state would not then be subject to international obligations concerning trade in goods. From this perspective any possible precedent from a water export project would be limited to the province involved and would arise from the particular legislation that permitted removal for export and not from trade agreements.

If one province's legislation permitted removal of water and a project were to be approved, other provinces could still have legislation that prohibited removal of water. The point is to illustrate that water, in its natural state, is not a good and therefore not subject to international trade agreements.

Water is an integral part of Canada's boundaries. This most precious resource has to be protected and managed in the best interest of Canadians. I can assure the House that the bill will be supported by us.

I want to speak about the importance of communities having good, safe drinking water. That is why I asked the minister today about the safety of water and talked about the federal government's role of ensuring that in this great country, where we have so much water, we are doing everything to make sure Canadians in all parts of the country can drink water safely. We do not want another Walkerton.

Even in my riding every month or two a small community has a boiling order. Do we have an infrastructure problem? Is enough money going to the communities and municipalities to make sure we have the facilities so that our children, seniors and all of us do not get sick from drinking water?

We cannot take it for granted any more. We did that in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent before getting that pig factory installed. We asked for an environmental impact assessment. The federal government had both the responsibility and the obligation to do an environmental impact assessment. It had the obligation. The Liberals lured Metz Farms to Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. It is clear the Liberals in Ottawa were told an environmental impact assessment was not wanted, and that is what happened.

What is happening today? We have communities and families not speaking with each other. On top of that we have a federal government that has realized that maybe we have water problems. Maybe we have communities with health risks. Maybe the drinking water is not safe any more and tests should be done.

We have 30,000 pigs being processed over there. That could have been prevented. Metz Farms invested a lot of money to install this. It was told it could. The federal government said it did not need to do an assessment, that Metz could go ahead and set up. It would not intervene. It would not use what was available to make sure the people of Sainte-Marie would not be at risk.

Definitely the department is on autopilot. It is not even in neutral but going in reverse. We did not have the technology in the past to identify why there were contaminations. We have it now, but we have a federal government that continues to close its eyes to it. This is not acceptable.

The federal government said last week it would do some water testing in Sainte-Marie. The government is now recognizing that it should have done an environmental impact assessment. I say the government should do what the manager of Metz Farms said to do: buy it out.

There is a problem here. Communities are not happy with this. We have our farms. Nobody is against farms. Our leader spoke on farms this week. Our critic spoke on farms and on how the federal government is abandoning our farmers. We do not mind farms, be it cow, pig or sheep. We are not talking about farms here; we are talking about factories. There is a difference.

The difference is that before we had Metz Farms in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent both the farmers and the non-farmers would actually eat together in the morning. They would have coffee together. They liked each other. They would help each other. What do we have because of this factory? We now have family divisions. There is no more harmony. That is what bothers me. No one is against farmers.

Where was agriculture in the mini-budget to make sure our farmers would survive? They do not survive. They are eaten up by the big factories. That is what the Liberal government is pushing for now, the megafactories. They did it with fishing as well. We have to protect our farmers. We have to help our farmers. Our farmers are saying they need what Metz is giving them because that way they get free fertilizer for their lands. That means our farmers are in difficulty. They might need financial help. What does the government do for our farms be they small, medium or big but still not factories?

A farm is not 30,000 pigs. I lived next to a farm that had pigs and one that had a milk dairy. They were great people. It was nice to hear the cowbells in the morning. My fence was electric, so I had no problem buying a home among farms. I like farms. A factory, it has been proven, is an environmental disaster.

Can hon. members imagine that we have actually put a pig factory in the middle of a region where we have invested millions and millions in tourism, aquaculture and fisheries? Let us try to mix the two together. There was a smell over the summer from the piggery. It was not supposed to smell during tourist season, but the pigs could not figure out how to hold it back during the summer months. What happened? We had a bad smell during tourist season.

What about the health risks? Today I was on a call-in show. There were calls from Carmelle, Maria, Lisa, Rhéal, Richard, Raymond, Edmond and more. They called because they were very concerned, and with good reason: they were not consulted. Nobody knew about it. It was a secret deal. Nobody knew this factory would be set up. That is not right. Let us allow communities to talk to about it.

There is legislation in place. I know farmers are worried that if we put forth too much legislation it would hurt the farmers. I believe we have the legislation in place now. We had a minister of DFO who could have requested an environmental impact assessment to make sure that what we are seeing now would not have happened. The mechanism is in place. We do not have to add any extra burden to our regular farmers. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a pig megafactory that has tremendous potential impact in terms of health, economics and the environment.

Even this week the Liberal government announced $19.5 million in tourism for Atlantic Canada. That is nice, and we will take it, but how do we balance it off with developments like the pig factory?

It could have been put somewhere else. It was a terrible location. There are other areas. The two just cannot be mixed together. At some point there will have to be a decision made on whether the government will keep investing millions in tourism and aquaculture or keep investing in pig factories. I do not think they blend.

Right now people are saying we cannot risk thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries for a few jobs in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. We cannot gamble that.

I believe we needed both an environmental impact assessment and a socioeconomic assessment. We needed to have this studied before it happened, but no, it looked as though it just went through. All of us in government have to sit together right now and fix this.

The people of Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, Saint-Paul, Saint-Lazare, Sainte-Anne, Fond-de-la-Baie, Bouctouche, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Joseph deserve better. All levels of government need to sit down and look at the situation. People deserve it.

I believe the solution is to compensate Metz. Metz has told me that if it gets the money it will close its doors. Let us compensate. For the few millions it will cost to close Metz we will save millions in the fishing and tourism industries. That is not counting the health bill. The health of the people of that region is at risk.

The government has to look at that option. People from the communities are telling me they want it closed. People working in Metz are telling me as an MP to find the money and it will close its doors. At the end of the day that will be the only option.

It was wrong from day one. The government does not know where it started or when it started. We know all of this started several years back. As was said on the radio talk show today, it really does not matter who brought it. We are stuck with the problem. We are stuck with a health problem, an environmental problem and an economic problem. This has to be addressed.

I do not agree that communities have to take it upon their shoulders the way they are doing. They have no choice. One politician alone cannot solve this problem because one politician alone did not bring it there. To be honest, it was two.

They need help and support. They need to know that the government will recognize that it failed big time when it could have intervened, when it could have requested an environmental impact assessment because of the possible impact on our fish habitat. It could have, but it closed its eyes to it.

That is not right. The government recognized it this week by requesting testing. What will it do if it finds the water is contaminated? What will the minister do? Will he close it then?

The assessment would have proven that the water would eventually be contaminated and would affect the fish habitat and all the money we have invested in aquaculture, in our fishing communities. We have communities that are practically totally dependent on the fishing industry and tourism.

At one end we have a government that says it will cut EI and people have to be working all the time. At the same time it is bringing in facilities going against what we are trying to do, which is work as much as we can. As usual there is no plan.

We need a regional development plan. We need environment ministers to agree to it and abide by it. Communities need to be consulted. No longer can we have facilities like this one. There are 30,000 pigs being processed per year in a community.

The one thing we do not talk about, and maybe one of the least important things for a lot of people, is the value of the homes. What about the value of the family? Many families have told me about being outside for barbecues and all of a sudden smelling it. They have to get into the house, close their windows and shut everything tight. That is not right. What about the value of their homes?

Sainte-Marie-de-Kent is a place where everybody would like to live. I remember going for drives there all the time and saying to my husband, “My God, it's nice in Sainte-Marie”. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not saying that any more. It is not because we do not have nice people. We have great people in Sainte-Marie.

Sainte-Marie is not the only place that has the smell. I live in Buctouche and the smell is there too. How about the golf course? How many millions does it take to build a golf course? We did not even look at the impact on the golf course but we are putting money in there too into pays de la Sagouine. It just goes on and on. It is a decision I will never understand.

I will never understand provincial politicians apparently lobbying to have this factory set up there, the same politicians who invested money in both tourism and the fishery. I will never understand why they believed that bringing in this factory would benefit our region. I hope someday that they will participate in the call-in, such as the one we did this morning where they refused to comment. I believe it was because they could not explain it or did not want to. However, I would like to see the day when they will explain that decision. It was a terrible decision. I have to say I do support the community and I do understand their frustration.

They talk of communities working very hard to develop their region, but not of the private sector. How many people have invested their own money, in a campground or in cottages, in starting up a fish plant or in many other things? Did anyone consult these entrepreneurs and ask them “Is this going to hurt your business?” No. No one consulted them. Everyone has to be consulted. The government cannot go on making decisions for communities at the expense of the people living there.

I had a call from a man who had to leave his work to go and care for his children because the spreader had gone by his house. It makes no sense for this man to leave his work for such a reason. This week, a truck was taken off the road. But were the people who did the inspection not within their rights? The truck was taken off the road. It was not allowed on the road because it failed to meet the requirements of the Department of Transport. How many other things are not right? I congratulate the committee. I congratulate the pool patrol for all their work.

It is true that all the communities, with our help, and all levels of government must sit down together and reach a solution. I hope that other people will insist that the government compensate Metz Farms, and close it down to save jobs in the tourism sector and to protect the health of our families, children, seniors and young children, who often have asthma, as Maria said when she called me.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you. It has been a pleasure for me to sit here these past three years, five months and few weeks. I know you will not be coming back to the House, and I want to wish you not only good luck, but success in your future endeavours. Thank you again for your patience, knowing that those of us who had arrived recently needed a little advice. I look forward to our next meeting.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the speech of the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac was so full of inherent contradictions that I felt I had to stand up and ask for some clarification. The most noticeable contradiction was a glaring omission. She failed to mention the fact that, even though she was a member of the NDP caucus and should know better, it was the NDP that moved the opposition day motion back in February of 1999 which called for the government to do something to ban the bulk sale of water and the interbasin transfer of water and to protect that precious natural resource. I am wondering if that was a deliberate omission, because, frankly, it could be taken as being rude to fail to at least acknowledge that in a lengthy speech.

There is another contradiction that exists. Now that the member is in fact a member of the Progressive Conservative Party and a sitting member of the Tory caucus, she did not mention anything about the real nature of the Tories' attitude toward the bulk sale of water and the interbasin transfer of water. I use two examples because I only have a few minutes. I could mention many more, but these are two glaring examples. One is the right wing Tory premier, Wacky Bennett. They did not call him wacky for nothing because his big plan was to flood the Skagit Valley, divert the great northern rivers of British Columbia and sell the water to Washington State.

As if that was not crazy enough, other Tory premiers came along with similar ideas, like Gary Filmon, the former premier of Manitoba, who wrote his engineering thesis in school with a plan to use nuclear blasts to blast a trench from Lake Winnipeg into North Dakota, then divert the water further into the Columbia River system and into the United States.

All throughout history right wing Tories have had this plan to commercialize Canada's water and turn it into a marketable commodity. When they went into the NAFTA deal we begged and pleaded—the opinion of the NDP is that we should not have entered that deal at all—“Make sure that water is off the table. Do not commercialize our water. Do not make it subject to these liberalized trade agreements”. It was the Tories who put the future of our freshwater supply at risk by doing that very thing.

It is Tory prime ministers and premiers who have said “Water is the oil of the next decade”. Can we believe anyone who would view a substance that is so essential for life itself as something that should be subject to the profit motive?

I guess I am asking the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac when she was lying. Were you lying when you were a member of our caucus or are you lying now that you are a member of the Tory caucus?

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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre knows full well that to put such a question in such a way is unparliamentary and will not be permitted. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre will have one opportunity to retract with no other words, one opportunity and one opportunity only.

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1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I apologize for the comment and I retract any statement to do with lying. I was taken up in the heat of the moment.

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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We will go on to the next question or comment. We are not going to have a response.

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1:20 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a few minutes to this very important topic. We all know the importance of water. I suppose some of the occurrences in the province of Ontario in the last couple of months have really underlined that for us.

I remember that when my son was in Africa he reported to us that one of the greatest problems and challenges in the continent of Africa is to provide a plentiful and a safe water supply to the people on that continent. There is nothing that is more important than an adequate supply of water that is safe, free from contamination and free from anything that would harm us.

We are also aware of the fact that water is a renewable resource. I often marvel at the different engineering cycles that have been designed into our planet. One of the most amazing ones when we stop to think about it is the design of the water cycle, which goes up into the clouds. We fly through it with some bumps when we are on an airplane. The water precipitates, comes down and is so necessary.

I remember when I was a farm kid in Saskatchewan that if we did not get rain we did not get food because the very plants required that water. That was all part of the big cycle. That water of course would then eventually evaporate. Some of it found its way into creeks and rivers, some of it into the South Saskatchewan River near where I live, and some of it found its way over to the Hudson Bay and into the ocean. Once again, the sun evaporated it and it came back in clouds. It is a large cycle. We need to recognize the fact that a lot of this is really quite beyond the control of people and, specifically, it is beyond the control of governments.

Therefore, it is very important for us to make sure that the water supply and the basins that we have in Canada are protected from exploitation and from harm. We need to make sure that our water supplies are kept intact and not subject to being drained so that our own people suddenly no longer have an adequate water supply.

In principle, I agree with this particular bill before us today. It is regrettable that when NAFTA was being negotiated there was not a specific reference made to the total exclusion of water from any trade considerations. The wording in the NAFTA agreement unfortunately is ambiguous. It says that NAFTA creates no rights to the natural water resources of any party to the agreement.

As Canadians, we sit here with our water supply and wonder if this means that neither the United States nor Mexico, nor any other country, has any rights to our natural water resources. Or does it mean that we as Canadians, since we are also a party to this agreement, do not have the rights to our own natural water resources? It is regrettable that the people who signed NAFTA did not pick up on that and correct it before it got into its final form. Hence, we now have this dilemma.

I really believe that when it comes to the sale of water we could make pretty good use of that resource. As I said before, if it is taken elsewhere in the world, through the design of our universe, it will come back to us. We could sell the same water over and over again and it could be a very good thing for us economically. However, as soon as we begin to do this it becomes a tradable commodity and subject to NAFTA which means we would, at that stage, lose control of it.

As an interim measure, I think we should pass the bill so that commercialization, sale of bulk water, is not even contemplated. To do so under NAFTA would get us into a real bind.

I will concede now and give the floor to the member for Mercier.

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1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know I really do not have much time.

However, I do want to take the last few minutes of this parliament to point out that Bill C-15, despite its good underlying principles, is in sync with all the other legislation the current federal government, which as we all know does not have much time left, has come up with. It is using every opportunity to infringe upon the jurisdiction of the provinces, and especially that of Quebec.

Yes, water is of the utmost importance for life, health and economic development.

The report of the International Joint Commission proposed that, on both sides of the border, the United States and Canada and the American states and the Canadian provinces agree to suspend bulk water exports for a period of six months.

What is important to realize here is that this bill goes much further than the recommendation and authorizes the foreign affairs minister to determine by himself Canada's jurisdiction over Quebec's water resources.

This is totally unacceptable. It explains why we insisted on saying that this is not the way to go. We should trust the provinces to exercise their jurisdiction and let the federal government exercise its own jurisdiction, which is not at all the one the government is trying to set out in Bill C-15.

My final words in this parliament are much the same as my first words.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for all the work you have accomplished. I would like to pay tribute to you. For the members who rise in such a busy House as this one, the mere fact that the Speaker is listening to them, as you have very often listened to us, allows us to be better speakers for the Canadians who watch us, to better explain the various bills and why we oppose them, which is our responsibility as members of the opposition.

For this as well as all your other qualities, I am convinced that my colleagues will join me in thanking you sincerely for the high level of parliamentary work you have done as acting speaker in this House.

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1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I thank the hon. member for her kind words.

It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Canadian Forces DayPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2000 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government, in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty, United Nations peacekeeping missions, the NATO alliance, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue operations, should proclaim June 15 “Canadian Forces Day”.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order which relates to the text of the motion that is before the House. I think if you request it you would find unanimous consent to change the text of the motion very slightly. The motion as it now reads is:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government, in recognition of the tremendous contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty, United Nations peacekeeping missions, the NATO alliance, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue operations, should proclaim June 15 “Canadian Forces Day”.

The amendment I would like to have considered by unanimous consent would be the following: that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the Canadian Forces and substituting the following: both at home and abroad, in such areas as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, search and rescue and UN peacekeeping, should proclaim the first Sunday in June as Canadian Forces Day.

It is a relatively minor amendment, but I think you would find unanimous consent to have the House agree to that.