Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada.
I very much enjoyed hearing the comments of my colleague from Edmonton North. She mentioned the pleasure she derived from driving her Honda GoldWing through Canada's national parks, always on the pavement though, not through the woods and trails. That would not be possible in one of Canada's new marine parks. While it would not be possible, it would not be politically advisable either to do it on a Sea-Doo or perhaps a pumpkin, but that is another story.
The legislation in general makes a great deal of sense. For generations we have recognized the importance of protecting our parklands and national parks. These have been a source of pride for Canadians, as we recognize the importance of protecting our ecosystem and our natural environment, not simply for the sustainability of that environment but also for the pleasure that we and future generations derive from that national environment.
We recognize that we have the same responsibility over our coastlines and our water areas as we have over our lands. If we compare our responsibilities up to the 200 mile limit with those responsibilities we have over our terrain, they are almost identical. It is only intuitive that we move in the direction of recognizing the importance of protecting marine conservation areas in the same way we protect our national parks in Canada.
This is particularly important as we enter an age where ecotourism is becoming increasingly important. Many people who travel to Canada and its coastlines are not coming for theme parks or shopping. However, with the Canadian dollar having been bludgeoned so consistently by this government, perhaps shopping would not be a bad alternative.
In many cases, tourists who come here from other parts of the world come because of our unique, important and very special ecosystem and environment.
We have seen many examples of bad environmental policy in Canada in the past, in part, because we have taken for granted the wealth of our natural resources. Canada has wide open spaces and much natural beauty. In many ways we have taken that for granted over the years. We have seen bad environmental policy ultimately become bad economic policy. The cost to fix some of the catastrophic effects of decades of neglect does not take into account the sanctity of our lands and our natural resources.
Canadians can be united under the vision that bad environmental policy ultimately is bad economic policy. This becomes increasingly self-evident as ecotourism becomes a more important industry in Canada. That is certainly the case in our national parks and their surrounding areas and is obviously will be the case in our marine conservation areas.
I heard some concerns expressed in the House today, including some by the member for Dewdney--Alouette who has stewarded this legislation at committee for our caucus.
Some concerns that I share are the degree to which the federal government has a habit of consistently running roughshod over provincial jurisdictional boundaries. Instead of working with the provinces or with some subnational governments in a pre-emptive way to develop legislation that fully respects the sanctity of provincial and subnational jurisdictional boundaries, the government tends to create the legislation. Then, during the post-implementation period, it determines exactly how far it can push and trample on the legitimate jurisdictional responsibilities of provinces and other governments.
It would make far more sense for the government to sit down with provinces and subnational governments, consult pre-emptively and develop legislation as partners, as opposed to presenting legislation and ultimately creating what would and could very easily become an adversarial environment. It is unfortunate the government does not take that opportunity and take its responsibility more seriously to consult with and work with the provinces in a more genuine way.
The member for Edmonton North made a great point earlier. She said that if the federal government took a proactive role and worked with the provinces, this could be an initiative of which all Canadians could feel proud and which would be a uniting initiative as opposed to what ultimately can be a divisive initiative of the government.
Some other concerns I have heard expressed in the House have been addressed by the government. The government has moved somewhat and there has been some success at the committee level and beyond.
In terms of order in council powers, this government, more than any government before it, has abused those powers and that authority. As the power has become increasingly concentrated, not just in cabinet any more but in the Prime Minister's Office, we have seen a significant reduction in the role parliament and in the role of members of parliament in determining the priorities of legislation like this and in helping shape this type of very important legislation. That is unfortunate not just for members of the House, but it is unfortunate for every Canadian represented by members in the House. When we reduce the rights of parliament and the rights of individual members of parliament, we ultimately reduce the democratic rights of individual Canadians.
If there is something that can unite almost every member of the House, regardless of whether they are on the government side, in the back benches or in opposition, it is the need for greater parliamentary input. This is not just lip service to legislation to make the television viewers happy when watching our deliberations. It involves genuine input that shapes legislation which will have a significant effect on future generations. Institutional reform is something to which we ought to devote far greater effort.
We support in principle the direction of the legislation. It makes a great deal of sense at this juncture to move in this direction. However we believe that the provinces and other subnational governments should have been, and should be, consulted in a more vigorous way prior to the formation of this legislation. If we expect the subnational governments to be part of the solution, we cannot impose this type of legislation on them. We need to work with them to build legislation that will impact significantly on their general business.