House of Commons Hansard #112 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was area.


Canadian GovernmentRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec


Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, in order to provide parliamentarians and Canadians with information on the government's performance, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, reports on the performance of 84 departments and agencies.

Canada Customs and Revenue AgencyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Outremont Québec


Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first annual report of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency for the year ending March 31, 2001.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations with order of reference of today's date, Thursday, November 8, on C-38, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act.

The committee studied the bill and reports the bill back to the House without amendment.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, as co-chair, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

moved that the second report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, presented on Tuesday, June 12, be concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the concurrence motion on the second report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs on the subject of defence procurement.

We are all preparing to head back to our constituencies tomorrow for Remembrance Day and it is an occasion on which we all look back upon the heroism and the sacrifice of our serving troops in the first and second world wars and certainly those who have served in subsequent campaigns, Korea, the gulf war and others.

The report, which was tabled last June by the standing committee, states in no uncertain terms that the Canadian forces of today need enhanced resources. They need those resources if they are able to play the kind of role in the current war against terrorism or potential future conflicts that our forefathers played in World War I and World War II and in subsequent campaigns, Korea and others.

Just yesterday the committee tabled another report in the context of the prebudget consultations again calling for a large new infusion for our Canadian forces. While the new report contains many useful suggestions, unfortunately it leaves the specifics out of the recommendations. The Canadian Alliance felt that it had to table a minority report in order to put the specifics on the table.

The official opposition believes that the Canadian armed forces need at least $2 billion per year to be added to their base budget in addition to the operational costs of the current naval campaign in support of the coalition in Afghanistan. Troop strength must be brought to at least 75,000 personnel from the current level of 56,000. Our CF-18s must be retrofitted with new anti-missile and communication systems and provided with an inflight refuelling capacity so they can be used effectively in air campaigns like the current mission in Afghanistan and other missions in the future which may well face us as we move into this uncertain century.

We need dedicated airlift and sealift capacity so we can get our ground forces and their equipment into theatre without having to rely on commercial transportation or the goodwill of our allies.

We all remember only too vividly the sight of much of our equipment floundering at sea some time ago because of a lease arrangement that was not apparently able to be met by the government. That is not a sight that we want to see ever again either for our equipment or, even more important, for our personnel.

We need a special forces unit that is larger than the current JTF2 which has only approximately 250 personnel. Let me make it very clear that whether I am talking about the JTF2 or our armed forces in general, we believe the serving people in our armed forces are the most dedicated and courageous in the world.

My remarks on the government's lack of willingness to properly fund our troops and personnel is no reflection on the personnel themselves. We stand with them, we admire them and we support them, which is why I stand here to deliver this message today. That brave force, the JTF2, which has about 250 personnel, has to be divided between domestic security and foreign missions.

We note that when the government faced difficulties involving the Canadian airborne regiment, our existing 1,000 person strong special forces component, instead of doing things it felt must be done in terms of reforming that regiment, the government, in a fit of political correctness, chose to abolish that regiment. Our allies could use a regiment like the airborne at this time, but when they came asking for our support our cupboard was bare when it came to a regiment of that size.

As we prepare to honour the service of those who fought and died in the past, I invite the House to consider that there is no greater way of honouring past veterans than by providing our troops of today with the resources and equipment they need as they follow in the footsteps of those who went on before them.

I have spoken in the House before in great detail about the defence readiness policies of the Canadian Alliance. Our defence critic, the member for Lakeland, has done excellent work in this area both in the House and in committee, so I will not repeat the details of the policies we have discussed in our paper “Canada Strong and Free”, and elsewhere, in order to reflect a bit more on the service of those who fought for Canada in the past and what these lessons mean for us today.

As I said, the details of this project, which are very specifically the hard work of our MPs, can be found in other places. We and I have spoken about them in the House of Commons.

The Canadian Alliance thinks it is necessary to increase immediately by at least $2 billion the defence department budget. The crisis the Canadian Forces are facing is so serious that half measures are not good enough.

Unfortunately, the story of Canada's military being caught unprepared because of underfunding when it comes to the call for war has been witnessed before in Canadian history. Canadian military history is simply proof of Santayana's dictum that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We honour the heroism and the sacrifice of those who died in World War I and World War II and in other engagements, but how often do we pause to consider that many of those men died or were permanently disabled in part because of the politicians of the 1910s and 1930s, who had left our forces in a state of unpreparedness even as the signs were there that there was an imminent military threat?

In world history there will always be a threat to peace. There will always, in the global village, be those bullies who want to abuse the neighbourhood by the exercise of their force and there must always be, in the global village, including in Canada, those forces who are ready and prepared to stand firmly against those who would abuse the freedoms and peace of others. It is when we back off from that preparedness that we send a sign, and in a way send a signal of encouragement, to those who would try to use the powers of force and tyranny to abuse others.

There is always a threat to peace and democracy. I will quote from a remarkable article that was written by Cliff Chadderton, the CEO of the War Amps of Canada. He is chairman of the National Council of Veterans Associations. Mr. Chadderton, with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, fought on D-Day and his experience and those of his comrades who never returned should stand as a warning to those in the House who look to the armed forces as a source of easy spending cuts during peace time and to those who begrudge our military the modern equipment it needs and has requested.

Mr. Chadderton wrote:

It is remarkable that the First World War, which affected the development of our nation fundamentally, had no long term influence on this country's defence policy. In the First World War, 628,000 Canadians served and 60,000 lost their lives. Canada intervened on a large scale on European battlefields, and our troops were recognized as being the most formidable on the Western Front. Notwithstanding, when the emergency was over the country reduced the armed forces to a level of insignificance. Lack of funds restricted training and prevented the acquisition of new equipment. In fact, the losses and the horror of 1914-1918, despite the achievements of our military, led to disarmament.

Mr. Chadderton states, then, that there was a practical disarmament following that war. He continues, writing about when the second world war broke out, and states:

When war broke out in 1939, Canada had no troops ready for immediate action except for local coastal defence against very small raids. The state of the Canadian Militia was utterly inadequate.

Let's get close up and personal.

He then gives a very vivid account, which is necessary for us to understand to be able to reflect on the magnitude of unpreparedness and what that cost us in terms of brave Canadian citizens. He states:

We were in Normandy and it was D-Day Plus 2. Three companies of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles had been completely surrounded on the Caen-Bayeux railway line at Putot-en-Bassin.

I had brought up a squadron of tanks from the 1st Hussars of London, Ontario. Across the railway line, we could see have a dozen German tanks; some Panthers; some Mark IVs. Our Shermans opened up with their 75mm guns. When the Jerry 88s fired back it was “game over”.

Later that afternoon I took a reconnaissance party into Putot. I saw maybe 60 of Canada's best-trained riflemen lying in defensive positions. They were dead. Their main weapon was a $3 Sten gun or a World War I rifle--no match for the 12th SS with their Spandaus and Schmeissers. Just one example of many.

On that day, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles paid the price in fighting for a country which had not prepared for war.

A greater shock was when I saw our A Company position. Corporal H.V. Naylor had set up his 6-pounder anti-tank gun to cover the railway bridge. They were decimated, but he got out. Later, viewing the scene, his crew had fired 16 rounds, and managed only to knock off the tracks of a Jerry Mark IV tank. There were 11 Royal Winnipeg Rifles who died trying to get off more rounds.

Final story. On D-Day Plus 6, our Commanding Officer sent a section of our carrier platoon out “tank hunting” with PIATs (projector, infantry, anti-tank) [weapons]. Compared with the Panzerfausts of the 12th SS, the PIAT was a monstrosity. It took two men to fire it, and they were lucky to be standing on their feet after they dispatched the first round.

Mr. Chadderton states:

We cannot seem to learn from history.

History has not convinced Canadians that there is a close connection between our nation's welfare and military preparedness. We seem to believe that there is always time enough to begin preparations after war is declared. The unwillingness to spend more money upon armaments between World Wars I and II is due in great part to our geographic location. As well, most of our politicians have no appetite for “things military”.

And so the profession of arms in Canada remains today caught between the jaws of insufficient resources and military imperatives.

Our military is under-funded and over-tasked. Our equipment is outdated. Personnel are leaving for private-sector careers because of poor compensation--the shabby quality of life on bases and, in some cases, lack of leadership.Yet our forces are among the busiest in the world.

Let me add again, I would say they are the most dedicated in the world.

Mr. Chadderton states:

With its budget and resources scaled back, our forces are still expected to complete the mission of a national armed force, one with G-7 and NATO membership.

Between major conflicts, it has always been the task of the much-maligned profession of arms to strive for a semblance of military preparedness. Today, plagued by reports of scandal and political indifference, perhaps this may not even be enough.

These words of Mr. Chadderton stand both as an eloquent memorial to those who died in the two great wars of the last century and as a warning to those who argue for starving our armed forces and leaving them unprepared for the possible wars of the 21st century.

As we are on the eve of Remembrance Day, I hope the House will forgive me if I quote a poem which I think is a fitting reminder of what we owe to those who found and served in Canada's previous wars and to those brave men and women who even as we speak are sailing into possible danger in the Indian Ocean to support the Afghanistan campaign.

We all are quite familiar with In Flanders Fields , by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. Another great Canadian poet, Robert Service, wrote a series of moving war poems in his volume Rhymes of a Red Cross Man . Perhaps the best known and best loved of these poems is Young Fellow My Lad , words of a father to his son leaving to serve in the first world war. These words have a special meaning for me, as both my grandfather and father served in the navy during the first and second world wars, and my mother's father served in the Hong Kong campaign.

As I stood with the Prime Minister a few weeks ago in Halifax watching our ships sailing by, standing among families, men, women and children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, loved ones, many of them crying and waving to their loved ones on those ships, I realized that my father and one of my grandfathers had sailed from that very port. I wondered what thoughts were on their minds as they sailed away on that day and what thoughts were on the minds of their families waving goodbye to them.

I was asked by a family I was talking with there if my grandfather and father had returned. Of course my father returned. His university education was interrupted when he went to war and he completed it when he returned. My grandfather returned paralyzed. His legs were rendered permanently incapable after he received shrapnel in his spine.

Having grown up in more peaceful times I must confess that my own military experience was confined to being a member of No. 137 Ashbury College cadet corps, a compulsory high school cadet auxiliary of the Governor General's foot guards.

Going to school in Ottawa we had the honour one year of being inspected by Governor General Vanier himself. It was interesting. We were told he could not do a full inspection of all the ranks because of wounds he had received in the war. He had a leg amputated. Last night on the news there was a biography of his life and I got to hear in detail of the war injury he had received under fire in the war.

Today as I reflect on the words of that poem I recognize that I am the father of three young men who would have been of serving age during World War I and World War II. I am also a grandfather as we stand on the cusp of a new century. I have young grandsons. In the uncertainties of the century ahead of us young people are still being called on to prepare for war.

While a war on terrorism is being waged, the Canadian Forces are looking at a capability crisis. After decades of negligence, they do not have the resources they need to meet our commitments and protect our security.

The present crisis demands a firm and unanimous response from parliament. We should do more than what the government is suggesting if we are to rebuild our national defence. This involves a frank and open discussion on all relevant issues.

The Canadian Alliance will work towards that goal, and we know the Canadian public will not settle for less than that.

I honour those who served in the first and second world wars and the campaigns that followed including Korea, yet I hope I never live to have the kind of dialogue with my own sons or grandsons that Robert Service captured in this poem:

“Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad, On this glittering morn of May?” “I'm going to join the Colours, Dad; They're looking for men, they say.” “But you're only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad; You aren't obliged to go.” “I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad, And ever so strong, you know.”

“So you're off to France, Young Fellow My Lad, And you're looking so fit and bright.” “I'm terribly sorry to leave you, Dad, But I feel that I'm doing right.” “God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad, You're all of my life, you know.” “Don't worry. I'll soon be back, dear Dad, And I'm awfully proud to go.”

“Why don't you write, Young Fellow My Lad? I watch for the post each day; And I miss you so, and I'm awfully sad, And it's months since you went away. And I've had the fire in the parlour lit, And I'm keeping it burning bright Till my boy comes home; and here I sit Into the quiet night.”

“What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad? No letter again to-day. Why did the postman look so sad, And sigh as he turned away? I hear them tell that we've gained new ground, But a terrible price we've paid; God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound; But oh I'm afraid, afraid.”

“They've told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad: You'll never come back again:

(Oh God! the dreams and the dreams I've had, and the hopes I've nursed in vain!) For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad, And you proved in the cruel test Of the screaming shell and the battle hell That my boy was one of the best.

“So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad, In the gleam of the evening star, In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child, In all sweet things that are. And you'll never die, my wonderful boy, While life is noble and true; For all our beauty and hope and joy We still owe to our lads like you.”

Robert Service reminds me of what is essential this Remembrance Day. All the beauty, hope, joy and freedoms we enjoy as Canadians we owe to those once young lads who fought for Canada in those great wars, those who remain from the battles and are now old men and those who are fondly remembered in photograph albums.

This summer my uncle Mr. Bruce Gilbert prepared a presentation for a family gathering that was in a sense a memorial. It was a display of the badges, souvenirs and letters of my grandfather and his cousin who had gone to Hong Kong.

When my grandfather left for that campaign he was 36 years old. He left my grandmother and four children including my mother. His young cousin was only 15. He had changed the date on his birth certificate so he could proudly join the forces.

Most poignant were the letters which came back, censored, during the few years my grandfather and his young cousin spent in a prisoner of war camp because they had been captured. One of the saddest letters was from the cousin who had yet to turn 18. He was writing to his mother and telling her not to worry.

Following that letter by about two months was a letter from the young cousin's commanding officer who was also a prisoner in the camp. He wrote to the young cousin's mother to tell her he had died in the prisoner of war camp but that he had died bravely.

My grandfather returned from that campaign but had to be literally carried out of the prisoner of war camp. He was out of hospital only a couple of days to visit family over Christmas. He had to return to the hospital because of what he had gone through in terms of torture in the prisoner of war camp. He died in the hospital. He died on Canadian soil after the war was over and after he had been rescued from the prisoner of war camp.

These are just two examples of the thousands upon thousands of young Canadians who have died in war. In that campaign there was a frightful lack of preparedness, funding and resources. There was a frightful lack of proper political consideration in terms of what they were getting into.

I will make it clear. Those young men did not die in vain even though their efforts were underfunded. They died bravely. They were part of the effort that finally brought peace back to our country.

My heart, the hearts of Canadian Alliance members and, I am sure, the hearts of all members of parliament are for doing everything we can to support our troops who sign up. They are so committed and dedicated to the country that they are willing if necessary to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

That is why we as members of parliament must always be looking to their preparedness and giving them the resources they need. Should they have to pay the ultimate sacrifice we will know they were doing the fullness of their duty with the fullness of resources behind them. It will be the sign of our commitment to our armed forces if we provide them the resources they need to keep our land truly strong and free.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

The Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria Liberalfor the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved that Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, what a great pleasure to speak on behalf of Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada. In so doing I would like to bring the international perspective into the debate as well as make the House aware of one of the unique aspects of this program; the importance given to education and interpretation.

The creation of national marine conservation areas responds directly to several international initiatives. For example, establishment of protected areas is an important strategic direction in the Canadian biodiversity strategy that was endorsed by federal and provincial governments to guide implementation of the United Nations convention on biological diversity.

Both a 1994 resolution of the World Conservation Union and a joint action plan issued by the World Conservation Union, the World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations environment program called on coastal communities to establish representative systems of marine protected areas under national legislation.

As the House has previously heard, we are indeed making progress in establishing national marine conservation areas. Saguenay-St. Lawrence marine park in Quebec was established in 1998 under separate legislation. Federal-provincial establishment agreements are already in place for Fathom Five in Ontario and Gwaii Haanas in British Columbia. A feasibility study is nearing completion for a proposed national marine conservation area in Lake Superior.

Nevertheless, we are lagging behind a number of other coastal nations which have also recognized the importance of their marine environment and the need to protect it.

The United States has so far designated 13 national marine sanctuaries. New Zealand has created 16 marine reserves. In addition to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the world's largest marine protected area at over 350,000 square kilometres, Australia's state and federal agencies have designated over 30 other marine protected areas. Member states of the European Community have also established a significant number of marine protected areas.

These countries protect a diversity of habitat and species, from coral reefs to boulder reefs to kelp forests, from endangered right whales to sea otters to multicoloured tropical fish. Canada's national marine conservation areas play a similar role in protecting and conserving a diversity of marine environments, habitats and species.

What have we learned from these initiatives? Marine protected areas contribute to the maintenance or restoration of both biological diversity and abundance.

It is not feasible in today's environment to divorce resource use from conservation. Marine natural resources and their habitats are all sought by many different users for many different purposes. Marine protected areas should be designed to serve both sustainable use and environmental protection objectives, and all stakeholders must work together in planning and management.

Local people must be closely involved from the beginning, if a marine conservation area is to succeed. Socioeconomic considerations usually determine the success or failure of an area. These considerations, in addition to biophysical factors, must be addressed when identifying sites and in selecting and managing them.

Canada's Bill C-10 and national marine conservation areas policy, both reflect and build on international experience.

In addition to environmental and socio-economic considerations, let us not forget the importance of education in building support for protecting the marine environment.

Canada has responsibility for over 5.5 million square kilometres of ocean, equivalent to the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia combined or about 55% of Canada's land mass. How many Canadians realize this?

How many Canadians know that we have the world's longest coastline, 243,792 kilometres to be exact, stretching along not one, not two, but three major oceans?

How many Canadians know that we have the second largest continental shelf and some of the world's richest fishing grounds or that the Great Lakes are the world's largest freshwater system, containing almost one-fifth of the planet's supply of fresh water?

How many Canadians know that we have colourful and diverse undersea communities which rival those of the tropics?

How many Canadians know that 22 species of whales and dolphins and six species of seals pass through our Atlantic waters every year and that their numbers in fact far outstrip the human population of the east coast?

How many Canadians recognize that we are truly a maritime nation and that much of our pre- and post-colonial history is ties to these waters?

Everything we do on land impacts on the oceans and comes back to haunt us sooner or later. There is growing concern about the health of our oceans and inland seas and that our efforts to protect and conserve marine environments are out of step with our dependence on them. Canadians need to be reminded that it is our duty to conserve the rich marine natural heritage with which we have been entrusted, not just for our own benefit but for the world's as well.

National marine conservation areas will help to overcome this lack of knowledge. They will serve as focal points for education and interpretation which are essential parts of the program and mandate of Parks Canada. Our marine environments will not be adequately protected unless the public understands the importance of conservation and actively participates in this endeavour.

We are engaged in a great undertaking to move forward with the establishment of a Canadian system of national marine conservation areas. Canada is well positioned to make a meaningful contribution to a global effort to establish a representative system of marine protected areas.

We have more to gain from a comprehensive system of marine protected areas than most countries, given our massive coastline and the world's second largest continental shelf. The creation of national marine conservation areas is a time consuming and complex undertaking. They cannot be established by the federal government alone. They require the support of provincial or territorial governments and, most important, the support of local communities. Baba Dioum, an African ecologist, stated:

For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.

Through this legislation national marine conservation areas can accomplish much to increase our understanding of our marine heritage, both natural and cultural, and in so doing conserve it for future generations.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, at third reading debate on behalf of my riding of Skeena and my party.

I have much to say about this very ominous bill. My comments reflect not only my observations about the bill but those of the witnesses that came before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage both last month and in late May of this year. My comments will echo the concerns outlined by numerous municipal and chamber of commerce representatives who wrote to the committee but were not afforded the opportunity to present their concerns as witnesses.

It was the government's wish to get the bill out of committee and through the parliamentary process as quickly as possible thereby eliminating debate and discussion. I will endeavour to explain why the government might have wanted to rush the bill through. I hope that the Senate and its committee will take more time to review the bill and consult widely with coastal Canadians before they decide the its fate.

I suggest that members in the other place take the time to travel with their committee to those coastal communities. That suggestion was made numerous times in the House of Commons heritage committee by the communities themselves but it was ignored.

I will speak to the lack of consultation on Bill C-10 by the heritage department and the lack of understanding of the effects of the bill on coastal communities. I am surprised Liberal members representing coastal communities and ridings are not as offended by the legislation as I am. They should take a long look at the impact the bill could have on the economies of their ridings and stand with me in opposition to the bill.

It is worth noting that many times during the clause by clause review of the bill in committee the opposition and a Liberal member or two were united in opposition to a clause or supported an amendment I was making. Unfortunately when it came time to vote the parliamentary secretary called the shots and all the good Liberals fell in line.

They gave the appearance of listening to the arguments of the opposition on issues like guaranteed consultation, jurisdictional concerns and provincial or coastal community vetoes. The record will show that in the end they voted against amendments which would have made the bill far more palatable to coastal communities. Government members were not interested in making Bill C-10 palatable. They were simply tired of the bill dying on the order paper.

Commitments were made that the bill would go through. The government believed that come hell or high water Bill C-10 would see the light of day in this parliament. It is my hope that it will not without serious amendment, and I will speak to that in the body of my speech.

I take exception to claims by government members that we on this side of the House do not care about the environment or parks so why we even consider supporting the bill. This is a totally false assumption on their part.

The Canadian Alliance has a good track record of concern for the environment. We do not, as opposed to the Liberal record, pander to one group over another. We seek a balance in legislation that speaks to the concerns of environmentalists and addresses the realities of industrial and socioeconomic problems.

I consider myself to be an environmentalist. Environmental groups in downtown Vancouver and Toronto may not subscribe to my definition of an environmentalist but that does not make their way any better than mine. I will explain.

I have lived in northern B.C. all my life. When one lives in northwestern B.C., surrounded by coastal mountains, the Pacific Ocean, the Grand Skeena and Nass rivers and blue glaciers, one cannot but have a healthy respect for mother nature in all its glory. Anyone I know that lives in the north respects the environment, not only for its beauty but for what it has given the communities that exist as a result of its riches.

Most northern communities in my riding of Skeena were founded on industries that harvested the renewable or non-renewable resources of nature. Thriving communities erupted as a result of a need for workers because industries took the risk and situated themselves in northern B.C., and the cycle continued.

It is because of one sided legislation like Bill C-10 and poor provincial management by the previous provincial NDP government of B.C. that natural resource industries fled northern B.C. As a result many people in those northern resource based communities had to pack up and leave as well. They had to go where the work was. Unfortunately that has been a reality of much of northern B.C.

I consider myself an environmentalist, not only because of where I am from and my respect for the environment, but because I hunt, fish and camp in that environment. It is in my best interest that I treat it with respect and ensure its strength for future generations to come.

I am not opposed to the creation of marine conservation areas. I am opposed to legislation such as Bill C-10. It was introduced and passed by the federal Liberal government without concern for the effect that it would have on coastal communities and without any real consultation with the people and industries that the bill would seriously affect.

How could bureaucrats in Ottawa really understand what a piece of legislation like Bill C-10 would do to the economies of coastal communities? The reality is that they cannot because Ottawa is too far removed from the issue of life on the coast.

The official opposition would likely have been in favour of the bill had the government taken the time to travel to B.C., Atlantic Canada and northern Canada. It should talked to coastal communities about Bill C-10 before it introduced the bill as opposed to drafting it with only the environmental lobby on hand. We are opposed to the bill because of the Liberal government practice of secrecy at all costs and input at a minimum.

We should not for a second believe what the government says about the environmental record and concerns of the Canadian Alliance. It is just not correct. We are strong on the environment but also strong on balance, and the bill is not balanced.

We have major concerns over the lack of consultation. I will give members of the House some background on the lack of consultation on Bill C-10 prior to it coming back to the House at third reading.

The parliamentary secretary and members of the government will say that in its previous incarnations as Bill C-48 in the first session of the 36th parliament and as Bill C-8 in the second session of the same parliament the subject matter was consulted on widely. Let me clarify that claim by explaining that the government circulated Bill C-48, the predecessor to Bill C-10, to about 700 stakeholders across Canada.

Only a few were ever heard in committee, some of whom came from my riding of Skeena. Many expressed their concerns over the bill's obvious duplication of efforts with the recently created Oceans Act by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

We are told that departmental officials listened to the concerns of those stakeholders and amended the bill accordingly, reflecting their concerns in the new Bill C-10. Not only do I disagree with this claim, because Bill C-10 does not reflect the changes the witnesses asked for, but I find it disturbing that the supposed new and improved bill was never sent back to the original 700 stakeholders to see if the changes met with their approval.

If the government amended a piece of legislation based on comments from the stakeholders from which it had requested comments, it would seem logical that it would take the time to show off how well it listened and acted on their concerns. In this case it did not.

The point could be made by the government that it did not see the point in mailing the new and supposedly improved bill to the 700 stakeholders because it was not new or improved. If the government had done a proper consultation on Bill C-10, it would have found out early on, like its predecessors, that it too was not satisfactory to the identified stakeholders.

I guess the minister did not feel it necessary to tip off opponents to the bill that nothing had changed. She was prepared to push through unwanted, inaccurate legislation that as currently written would have an adverse effect on the economies of most coastal communities in northern British Columbia, particularly in my riding of Skeena.

Many of my constituents and I believe the committee consultation process was equally disappointing. The consultation process prior to the drafting and introduction of Bill C-10 was a farce. I will elaborate.

Bill C-10 was introduced in the House in February and sent to committee shortly thereafter. Initially the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage had every intention to do precious little in the way of consultation and planned to send the bill back to the House for report stage and third reading prior to the House rising for the summer recess. This did not happen as planned and I will explain why.

As a member of parliament representing a coastal riding, representatives of coastal municipalities and various chambers of commerce came to me asking for an opportunity to be heard by the committee dealing with Bill C-10. I immediately expressed this concern to the committee, which had at that point in early May decided to limit the number of witnesses and close off debate. I had to fight hard with the committee members to allow my witnesses to be heard. They used every trick in the book and blamed me, if members can imagine, for my constituents not being heard.

Because I pointed out rather publicly that the committee had only heard from witnesses representing either environmental groups, industries or communities from eastern Canada and had ignored the west coast, the committee reluctantly agreed to re-open the witness list.

Throughout the summer months the concern over certain aspects of Bill C-10 grew in my riding, and in fact all over coastal B.C., to the point where my list of witnesses expanded from a mere 3 or 4 to a full 25 to 30. These were not industry representatives. They were mayors, councillors, presidents of chambers of commerce, small business owners, fishermen and even people currently living close to a marine park on the Queen Charlotte Islands. They all had their areas of concern and all wanted their opportunity to speak to the committee.

Mr. Speaker, you can imagine my surprise when I presented this enthusiastic list of concerned coastal Canadians to the committee and received a less than enthusiastic reply. It was obvious the committee was not pleased with what had transpired over the summer.

I will not single out any particular member of the committee as they know who they are, but I was faced with the committee saying that it could not hear from all my witnesses because it would just take too long. The committee also said that if it heard from all the witnesses from my province then it would have to hear witnesses from other provinces and that there simply was no time.

I think there was a lot of time. If we are going to create a proper bill we should listen to witnesses from all over. If we take the time to do it right there will be a whole lot less opposition to the bill. The committee said that the bill had to be back in the House right away.

Mr. Speaker, I am paraphrasing but I hope you get the picture I am painting about the reluctance of the committee to hear from my witnesses. In the end I was told to negotiate with the clerk of the committee to get my witnesses on the list.

I understand that the committee did decide, reluctantly I believe, to set up video conferencing facilities in my riding and in Vancouver in order to hear from some of these witnesses. It was not enough to open the witness list to witnesses expressing concern for areas of the bill. The government would not be outdone. It filled the witness list with more environmental groups or representatives supporting the bill in order to more than even things off.

In the end the committee heard from more environmental groups supporting the bill than representatives of coastal or affected communities expressing concerns or reservations about certain aspects of Bill C-10.

I have to say that I am particularly disappointed that of my 25 to 30 prepared witnesses I was in the end allowed representation from 12 but only 4 of those were allowed to come to Ottawa. However I will say that those 12 witnesses were very representative of areas in B.C. I had, for instance, the mayor of Prince Rupert, Don Scott; the mayor of Kitimat, Richard Wozney; the mayor of Port Clements, Joan Ann Allen; the mayor of the village of Telkwa, Sharon Hartwell; the chair of the regional district of Bulkley Valley-Stikine, Joanne Monaghan; the regional district of Skeena-Queen Charlottes represented by Paddy Greene; the village of Smithers mayor, Brian Northup represented by Cress Farrow; industries like the B.C. Fishermen's Survival Coalition president, Phil Isaac; and the B.C. Seafood Alliance president, Michelle James. Representatives from the north coast oil and gas task force, Dave McGuigan and Reg Stowell were also present, as was a representative from the B.C. Chamber of Commerce who spoke on behalf of both the B.C. chamber and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, noting that both had concerns about the potential economic effect the bill would have on communities.

I know I am going into a lot of detail about the process of the bill at committee, Mr. Speaker, but to understand just how much distrust there is out there, particularly in my home province of B.C., over the bill and its supposed guarantees of consultation, you need to know how little consultation there actually was and how hard it was to achieve the little leeway I was given for witnesses by the government.

Mr. Speaker, you need to understand that there were a number of letters received by the committee, phone calls to my office, faxes from concerned communities and even a unanimously passed resolution by the Union of B.C. Municipalities. By the way, it is nearly unheard of for UBCM to pass a resolution on the need for further consultation on federal legislation, and to pass it unanimously is an even greater feat. Even with that kind of pressure to slow the process down of approving Bill C-10, and with that strong suggestion from a group of elected officials representing a province with over three million residents, the committee chose to limit debate and discussion and, most of all, testimony from concerned witnesses to a mere 12.

I would suggest that it is no wonder British Columbians take no solace in the federal Liberal government's promise of full consultation with not only the provincial government prior to the creation of an MCA, but there is also no trust in its claim that an MCA will not go ahead if the local affected community is not in favour of it.

I would also argue that the government of British Columbia wanted more time to study the bill. To that end, I believe the B.C. minister of energy himself asked the federal government to delay passage of Bill C-10 until B.C. could complete its study on the potential for offshore oil and gas development in coastal B.C. This was a study planned to be completed by the end of January 2002 and the federal government could not wait a mere three months to appease the province with the largest coastline in Canada.

That is shameful and again exemplifies why coastal communities are simply afraid the federal government will come in with proclamations that it is there to help and charge in with directives and decisions without any concern for the needs and realities of those coastal communities. They believe, and with good reason, that the feds will force MCAs on coastal communities and the reality is that there is nothing in the bill that will prevent it from doing just that.

That brings me to the discussion on the amendments the official opposition tried to suggest in the committee's clause by clause review of the bill and were denied.

First I must say that we certainly did our homework. The official opposition listened to witnesses, read the submitted briefs and reacted. We came to committee prepared with a list of 30 amendments which, in our opinion, would have made the bill more palatable to both the province and, most important, to those affected coastal communities. Disappointedly, the Liberal government dominated committee and voted down all but one of my amendments.

Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to give you a brief synopsis of some of those defeated amendments, what they would have meant to the bill and how they could have been viewed as positive changes by the many concerned coastal communities.

On 10 separate occasions, in clauses 2, 5, 6 and 7, I tried my very best to include amendments that would have guaranteed the provinces a veto over the creation of any marine conservation areas created by the legislation and, as such, by the federal government, on either provincial land or areas where the jurisdiction of the land was under dispute by either the federal or provincial governments.

These were simple amendments that would have allayed any fears of either the province of B.C. or its residents of a unilateral federal government directive to institute an MCA in an area where, quite frankly, either the province did not see the need for one or because the provincial government of B.C. believes in consultation, that the coastal communities obviously did not want one.

In many cases the entire opposition parties were in agreement to these amendments. The Bloc member on numerous occasions expressed her concern about the legislation which once again trounces on provincial rights assured in the constitution. The PC/DR coalition member echoed these concerns as well and yet in the end, as per usual, the government members feigned interest but voted against the amendments.

At first I honestly thought it might be because they realized how good these amendments were and how needed they were to secure the support of coastal B.C. and, believe it or not, I thought the government might actually vote against these amendments in committee to save face and then introduce similar amendments at report stage to make it look like these were its ideas. We all know the government does that all the time with Alliance amendments. However, in this case, unfortunately, it did not.

This speaks to the horrible track record the Liberal government has when it comes to listening to the concerns of Canadians and then acting on them. As I mentioned earlier, it listens and feigns interest but rarely, if ever, does anything unless forced.

Here is an example of the wording of one of these amendments and the rationale I expressed as to why the bill needed to be amended. The amendment, known in committee evidence as CA amendment No. 3, dealt with clause 2. Specifically, we were trying to create a new clause 2, subclause (2) which would have read as follows:

For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the existing rights of a province over public lands, including submerged lands, which fall within its provincial boundaries. As such, no marine conservation area shall be created without the specific approval of the affected province.

My rationale for such a simple amendment was simply that many of the witnesses on both sides of the issue expressed concern over not having an explicit provincial veto over MCAs in their province. Although clause 5, subclause (2) explains that the land needs to be the unencumbered right of Canada, it does not specifically address the requirement of the province to agree with the creation of the MCA.

Further to that, I explained that the purpose of adding the new clause in that section of the bill was specifically to mirror the reassurances the drafters of the bill felt necessary to include for the aboriginal peoples of Canada. We simply felt that if it was important for the sense of clarity that protection of rights given to aboriginal peoples in the constitution be included that it too was appropriate for the bill to include the rights of provinces to a veto as well.

It was not my intention to delete the current clause 2, subclause (2) dealing with the aboriginal veto to the creation of MCAs, but to move it to a new clause 2, subclause (3), thereby coming after the provincial veto in the bill. Although in my opinion this was, on the surface, a simple and practical amendment, the government decided to oppose it in committee and take another more negative approach to reassuring provincial rights in the bill. Allow me to explain.

The federal Liberal government members on the committee instead supported an amendment to clause 5 which put the onus of fighting the creation of an unwanted MCA on the backs of the affected province. The following is the government's amendment creating a new clause 5, subclause (3). It reads:

If a court of competent jurisdiction finds that Her Majesty in right of Canada does not have clear title to or an unencumbered right of ownership in lands within a marine conservation area, the Governor in Council may, by order, amend Schedule 1 by removing the name and description of the area or by altering the description of the area.

Further to my comments earlier about how this is the wrong way of going about creating MCAs, meaning that if they are created in an area that the province believes the ownership of that area is disputed and the federal government goes ahead regardless of that claim and creates an MCA, as mentioned, the onus is on the province to challenge the ownership of the federal government to that land. Not only could this process take years and end up costing taxpayers a hefty sum, but in the end a new clause is drafted such that even if the province wins the dispute and requests that the MCA be removed, the clause does not require the governor in council to amend it.

Instead it clearly states “The Governor in Council may, by order, amend Schedule 1”. That clearly is a may and not a shall, meaning that even if the province is successful in the courts, the federal government, through the governor in council, can choose to ignore the results of that court case.

For the record let me state that my amendment was not only much clearer and far simpler but was in the end opposed by the government. I hope the members in the House today and the senators, who hopefully will read this testimony, understand the picture I am painting. There is nothing in the bill explicitly stopping the federal government from imposing a marine conservation area on any province, whether it wants one or agrees to cede its rights to the land or not. This is a blatant abuse of power and is exactly why the federal Liberal government has such a poor relationship with the provinces of this great country.

That brings me to my amendment dealing with the environment and with resource uses within the MCAs. I brought forward, on eight separate occasions, amendments that would have made the legislation more balanced. As it is currently drafted, it is, in my opinion, far too heavily weighted on the environmental side of things and does not take into account the realities of life in coastal communities as well as the realities faced by industries that make their livings from harvesting the resources of the seas.

These amendments were not unrealistic and certainly were representative of the sentiments expressed by the witnesses who testified in committee and in written submissions sent by those who did not speak directly to the committee. Among those amendments, the most palatable to the committee should have been my amendment to clause 13. Clause 13 dealt with the prohibition of exploration and development of hydrocarbons within MCAs. The current clause 13 specifically outlines the prohibition of any exploration, development and exploitation of hydrocarbons, aggregates or inorganic matter from within an MCA. When I asked departmental officials to clarify whether this prohibition also outlawed directional drilling underneath an MCA, I was told that it did.

Therefore, again to allay any fears of coastal communities looking to the development of offshore oil and gas as a potential economic boom to their area, and because the passage of the bill would prohibit in perpetuity the development of that potential, I suggested the following amendment: “That clause 13 be amended to include an exception to the listed prohibitions”.

That exemption was to be a new clause 13.1 and was to read as follows:

The minister may permit the use of directional drilling equipment, in the case of sub-seabed drilling for hydrocarbons, from a point outside a marine conservation area, to a point below the seabed, within the marine conservation area, where the practices are determined by the minister to not pose any serious threat to the existing ecosystem of that marine conservation area.

To explain further, the amendment put the onus on the oil and gas industry to prove to the minister's satisfaction that directional drilling techniques are safe and pose no serious threat to the environment. I really thought this would be a win-win for both the government, or might I say the minister, and for the industry. In my opinion this was not slanted in favour of industry but, if anything, it did not close the door fully to oil and gas exploration but did not leave it wide open either.

However, as with the other amendments, the government summarily dismissed it and steadfastly voted against it in committee. That is why I had to move my report stage Motion No. 6 to delete clause 13. I felt that if we could strike a deal on setting guidelines for offshore oil and gas that the government should remove that clause and not specifically mention it so as to keep the door open a crack, just a little bit, for future consideration.

We can see the pattern. The government cracked the whip and its members one by one stood in their places and opposed this report stage amendment as well.

I could go on at length about the concerns I still have with the bill and about the abuse of power by the government throughout the entire consultation process on the bill but I do not have much time left.

I close by saying that this has been my first attempt at what is called shadowing a government bill. Many members may know that this is my first term in parliament and I am certainly new at it.

For a place which supposedly prides itself on its standards of democracy, on representing the wishes of those who elected its members and on working toward modernizing parliament to make it more effective, I can truly say that based on the experience I have had in dealing with the bill since early this year, this place and its committees are neither democratic nor representative.

I know the federal Liberal government has the seats and therefore the votes to pass the bill without a problem. However I stand here to strongly urge those MPs with coastal communities or MPs concerned about giving too much power to the federal government and the erosion of rights given to the provinces in the constitution, to stand strong with me and my party to oppose this badly flawed legislation. Oppose the bill. Send it back to the drafters for some severe editing.

If the government wants to create marine conservation areas, which I believe is a worthy endeavour, let us ensure it is done the right way the first time. I urge members to oppose Bill C-10 at the third reading vote.

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor:

Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for the purpose of reconsidering clause 10 with the view to ensure that the affected provinces are given explicit veto powers over the creation of marine conservation areas.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The motion is receivable.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-10. Bills respecting marine conservation areas have been introduced in this House for several years.

Today, I will deal with the impact of this bill on Quebec in terms of the province's territorial integrity, duplication, heritage and management of national parks. I will also talk about how Heritage Canada will take over a jurisdiction, and the impact of the distinct society motion, passed in this House, when it comes to approving the way Quebec does things. Regarding this motion, the Bloc members were fully aware that it was an empty shell.

I will also talk about culture and its link with marine areas and I will give a few examples of co-operation on environmental issues and the protection of the marine ecosystem.

In Quebec, the government to two different approaches to dealing with the federal government; first, it established a consultation process through the mirror legislation on the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, and through the phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan.

Again and again, the Bloc Quebecois opposed such legislation. During the previous parliament, similar bills were introduced and we wanted them to be passed.

This time, the Liberal federal government is determined to introduce a framework legislation allowing it to create 28 marine conservation areas, without having to defend each of its bills before parliament. Moreover, the government wants to make sure it has the power to go ahead without the agreement of provinces or local communities or even native communities.

It was not possible to bring substantial amendments to the bill during its consideration by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The Bloc Quebecois will therefore continue to oppose, at third reading, the bill respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada.

During the time that is allotted to me, I want to recap the main arguments that we have made in this House. The purpose of this bill is to provide a legal framework for the establishment, as I said earlier, of 28 marine conservation areas, including 8 in Quebec, representing each of the ecosystems identified to date in Quebec and in Canada.

These marine areas will eventually have to be built by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is the 29th marine conservation area, but it is not included in the bill before us today because it has already been dealt with in an act of parliament, both in Canada and in Quebec, following a process, as I said earlier, of dialogue and partnership between both governments.

Bill C-10 results from a commitment made by the Prime Minister of Canada, when he spoke at the congress hosted by the World Conservation Union in Montreal, in 1996.

At this congress, as was the case in 1994, the World Conservation Union passed resolutions calling on all coastal nations to put marine conservation measures in place quickly. Also, the United Nations declared 1998 as the year of the ocean; action was needed in that respect.

At the same time, the international community wanted to take outstanding actions following these events—and the Bloc Quebecois recognizes these—such as the adoption of the ocean charter by UNESCO, which is a policy statement in favour of co-operation for preserving oceans and coastal areas.

This charter was presented at the summit of the sea that was held in September 1997, in St. John's, Newfoundland. There was also the universal exhibition of Lisbon, Portugal, from September 22 to 30, 1998, whose theme was “The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future”. The Bloc Quebecois applauds to all these initiatives.

It is in that context that the marine conservation areas were created, with a view to meeting the objective put forward by several international forums or documents, such as the “World Conservation Strategy”, published in 1980, the report entitled “Caring for the Earth”, published in 1991 and drafted by the World Conservation Union, the United Nations Environment Program and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, partly funded by the government of Quebec.

I wanted to highlight those initiatives. If we are opposed to this legislation, it does not necessarily mean, and certainly does not mean, that we are against protecting ecosystems and the environment.

As we have shown, through words as well as actions, we are in favour of measures aimed at protecting the environment. The Bloc Quebecois did not hesitate to support the government when it proposed passing mirror legislation to create the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and to establish the legal framework for its joint management by the two levels of government.

Moreover, the Bloc Quebecois knows that the Quebec government, for its part, is launching initiatives, the goal and objective of which is to protect the environment, especially the seabed.

Furthermore, the Quebec government is opened to the idea of working in co-operation or in partnership with the federal government on any project which would guarantee or promote environmental protection, as shown by the agreement signed by both governments on phase 3 of the St. Lawrence action plan.

However, the Bloc Quebecois is against Bill C-10 for the following reasons: first, instead of focusing on a dialogue like it did in the case of the Saguenay--St. Lawrence marine park, the federal government now wants to create marine conservation areas without taking into consideration Quebec's expertise in the area of environmental and territorial protection.

Second, Canadian Heritage is proposing a new structure. The marine conservation areas will overlap the marine protected areas of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the designated marine protected areas of Environment Canada. Three departments would be protecting marine areas.

Also, Canadian Heritage wants to create marine conservation areas when it has shown to be relatively inefficient in protecting the ecosystems in the existing national parks. There are several deficiencies in the management of national parks, and we should be much more proactive in that area.

Bill C-10 does not respect the territorial integrity of Quebec and the other provinces. One of the essential conditions for creating a marine conservation area is federal ownership of the land where the area is to be established.

This can be seen in clause 5(2) of the bill , where it is stipulated that the Minister can establish a marine conservation area only if “satisfied that Her Majesty in right of Canada has clear title to or an unencumbered right of ownership in the lands... other than such lands situated within the exclusive economic zone of Canada”. This is what we do not agree with.

Subsection 92(5) of the British North America Act of 1867 recognizes that the provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over the management and sale of public lands.

Furthermore, Quebec legislation on crown lands, passed by the Quebec National Assembly, applies “to all crown lands in Quebec, including the beds of waterways and lakes and the bed of the St. Lawrence river, estuary and gulf, which belong to Quebec by sovereign right”.

In addition, this legislation provides that Quebec cannot transfer its lands to the federal government. The only thing it can do is to authorize the federal government to use them only in connection with matters under federal jurisdiction.

However, the protection of habitats and wildlife is a shared responsibility and the Government of Quebec is planning shortly to create a framework for marine area protection.

According to the notes we have been provided by the Minister of Heritage concerning Bill C-10, marine conservation areas are planned for the St. Lawrence river, estuary and gulf, all three of these coming under the jurisdiction of Quebec. This is a privilege we insist on retaining.

There are, moreover, mechanisms of co-operation already in place to protect the ecosystems of the Saguenay--St. Lawrence marine park, and those of the St. Lawrence itself, under phase 3 of the St. Lawrence action plan, which was signed by all federal and Quebec departments concerned. This agreement calls for the investment of $250 million over five years for various activities relating to the St. Lawrence.

Why is the Department of Canadian Heritage claiming ownership of the seabed where it would like to establish marine conservation areas, instead of encouraging bilateral agreements between the governments of Quebec and of Canada or the other provinces? Why is it seeking one more way of trampling over areas of provincial jurisdiction, in this case that of Quebec, as well as one more opportunity to invade fields that come under provincial jurisdiction, namely education, education on the means of protecting our marine habitat?

The environment, as we all know, is a field of jurisdiction shared by both levels of government, according to the 1867 British North America Act. The governments of Canada and Quebec share jurisdiction over the environment. Accordingly, paragraphs 10, 11, 12 and 13 of section 91 provide that the following powers are recognized by the federal government.

Section 91 provides that the exclusive legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all matters coming within the classes of subjects next hereinafter enumerated: paragraph 10, navigation and shipping; paragraph 11, quarantine and the establishment and maintenance of marine hospitals; paragraph 12, sea coast and inland fisheries; and paragraph 13, ferries between a province and any British or foreign country or between two provinces.

Furthermore, Quebec also has powers that are recognized by sections 92 and 92(a) of the 1867 British North America Act.

In section 92, we read that in each province, the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to matters coming within the classes of subjects next hereinafter enumerated: paragraph 5, the management and sale of the public lands belonging to the province and of the timber and wood thereon; paragraph 13, property and civil rights in the province; and paragraph 16, generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the province.

It is therefore very difficult for us to support the bill before us today.

We have raised another argument in connection with the overlap within the federal government. Bill C-10 creates duplication within the federal government itself. The reasons the Department of Canadian Heritage is proposing to establish the marine conservation areas are set forth in the preamble to the bill. The aim, among others, is to “maintain healthy marine ecosystems” and to provide opportunities for the people of Canada and of the world “to appreciate and enjoy Canada's natural and cultural marine heritage”.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, for its part, proposed the establishment of marine protected areas. In a discussion paper it released in January 1997, entitled “An Approach to the establishment and Management of Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act”, it described the aims of the marine protected areas as follows:

These zones are established to ensure the conservation of commercial and non-commercial fisheries resources and their habitats, endangered or threatened species and their habitats, unique habitats, productive ecosystems and biodiversity, any other marine resource.

Finally, Environment Canada proposed, in turn, to establish, and I quote:

—marine conservation zones, that could also be called natural marine reserves, expanding the notion of the national wildlife sanctuary beyond the territorial sea to the 200 mile limit within the exclusive economic zone under the Canada Oceans Act. These zones are also subject to the Canadian Wildlife Act, but require a different set of regulations.

If we add to the triple overlap at the federal level the overlap with provincial jurisdictions, we have a federal maze where people can get lost.

Therefore, under the various laws, the Government of Canada is proposing to create marine conservation areas, marine protection zones and natural marine reserves. According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the same territory could find itself with several different zonings under different regulations that could confuse the user.

We can see the potential for problems when a territory is a marine protection zone, a natural marine reserve and a marine conservation area, each with its own regulations. Indeed, the bill provides that each of the federal departments will keep its jurisdiction over the marine conservation areas.

The government would have been better advised to have a single department oversee the protection of ecosystems and the departments concerned conclude a framework agreement delegating their responsibilities to the one chosen to be accountable in this regard.

I now come to another argument on the protection of the national parks by Canadian Heritage.

In the spring of 2000, the panel on the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks published its report and urged the government to once again make ecological integrity central to the parks' missions The panel found that ecosystem integrity was at risk.

In some national parks, the stress on the resource was so great that some species were disappearing. In Fundy park, in New Brunswick, three species have disappeared since the park was created, in the 1940s. Only one of the 39 national parks of Canada is not experiencing this stress.

The situation is worse than what the panel and its scientific researchers expected.

There is a dramatic shortage of scientists to analyze the ecological system in the national parks. Ecological principles are not applied consistently.

The minister's answer was a bit tepid. She merely created a position of executive director in charge for ecological integrity and prepared a charter for Parks Canada Agency, without providing the necessary resources. In light of this information, we have to ask ourselves how Parks Canada will be able to preserve marine conservation areas when it does not even seem to have enough resources to protect the existing national parks. That is the question.

A fourth argument deals with consideration of the bill by the committee.

As I said earlier, the Bloc Quebecois firmly believes in environmental protection measures. This should not be forgotten. We are not opposed to the creation of marine parks, on the contrary. We supported the government when it introduced legislation to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park. We did so because we believed in building partnerships first and foremost.

We did so because we believed that future marine conservation areas in Quebec should be patterned on the above mentioned model. In order to make this possible, Ottawa would have to agree not only to consult the provinces but to negotiate with them and obtain their agreement. Amendments to that effect were proposed by the opposition before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage but, for all intents and purposes, they were all rejected.

Our amendment read as follows—we also asked that a proposal from the Bloc Quebecois be agreed to—:

Where a provincial legislature has adopted an act to protect marine areas, the federal government must negotiate with that province an agreement allowing the federal government to establish a marine conservation area in the province.

The wording of our amendment opened the door to negotiations for each marine conservation area, whereas the bill includes 28 marine areas. Under our amendment, if the federal government wanted to establish a marine conservation area, it would first have to come to an agreement with any province wishing to exercise its shared jurisdiction over the environment, even when the area comes under federal jurisdiction.

If another province agreed to let the federal government go ahead in this fashion, I do not see why we would want to object, but this is definitely not the case of Quebec.

Quebec wants to establish its own framework for the protection of marine areas. Since the protection of habitats and fauna is a matter of shared federal and provincial jurisdiction, we want to ensure that on Quebec's territory nothing can be done by the federal government without the agreement of the provincial government, without transferring to the federal government the rights relating to the sea floor, as the government wants to do under Bill C-10.

The Bloc Quebecois wants the government to follow the example of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and to negotiate a partnership with Quebec whenever it wishes to set up a specific marine conservation area. That was the purpose of the amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois but the amendment was rejected.

It is interesting to note that the Bloc Quebecois asked that the federal government not be required to act in partnership with a province unless that province had legislated with regard to the protection of marine areas. In other words, the provinces that so wished could leave it up to the federal government. This is typical of flexible federalism, as it would allow the partners in the federation to act in the best interest of their respective populations.

One cannot but see there the centralizing focus of the federal government. Moreover, if the government members had voted for that amendment they would have been consistent toward Quebec. We must remind them that on December 11, 1995, the Prime Minister succeeded in having a symbolic resolution adopted in this House. We referred to it as an empty shell. Under that resolution, the House recognized Quebec as a distinct society within Canada. The motion read as follows:


Whereas the People of Quebec have expressed the desire for recognition of Quebec's distinct society;

(1) the House recognize that Quebec is a distinct society within Canada;

(2) the House recognize that Quebec's distinct society includes its French-speaking majority, unique culture and civil law tradition;

(3) the House undertake to be guided by this reality;

What happened to that reality? The motion also provided:

(4) the House encourage all components of the legislative and executive branches of government to take note of this recognition and be guided in their conduct accordingly.

That was the motion to be debated. Its adoption did not prevent the federal government from implementing policies that do not reflect the infrastructures and programs existing in Quebec.

There is the young offenders legislation, on which the Senate has not yet voted, and which does not in its present form respect the jurisdiction of Quebec or its way of doing things. Then there are the millennium scholarships, and what a battle the Bloc Quebecois had to wage over them in order to get the message across that they were not wanted by the community. They stubbornly stuck with them, however.

Then there is the aid to the homeless, not that we did not want that money. It was the way the federal government went about it that we did not like. A promise was made, however, a bit before Christmas, “the minister's Christmas gift” we called it. How much time did it take before it was put in place and before the provinces were consulted?

Before funding is announced, perhaps the gouvernment ought to have a look at how things are done in Quebec. Then there might be less criticism from the public. This seems to be viewed as a squabble between two levels of government but it is far more than that. The people are often the ones who bear the brunt of it.

In this area, as in many others, Quebec either has in place or has plans for programs that take the specific needs of Quebec into consideration, such as the parental leave program. We have our own way of doing things. It is great that there are $560 million available but we do not know how Quebec's way of doing things, infrastructures and programs will be respected. Often for petty political reasons, our way of doing things has been turned totally topsy-turvy.

Six years have now passed in which, if it had really wanted to put some flesh on the bones of its distinct society resolution, the federal parliament could have allowed Quebec to opt out of new federal initiatives with full compensation, so that it could improve the services available to Quebecers still further, rather than seeking to either replace or duplicate what we are doing.

With this resolution, the House was committing to allowing itself to be guided by this reality. With the marine conservation areas, once again the House is missing out on a fine opportunity to allow Quebec to do things in the way that suits it, or to at least work in partnership with it.

We could carry this logic even further. Since the bill speaks of marine conservation areas, is Canadian Heritage not the department for culture, without being called that? Why could Quebec not have been allowed to opt out of this bill with financial compensation, since culture is a provincial matter.

Even former Prime Minister Trudeau had agreed to this in the amending formula for the Constitution Act, 1982, in section 40. Of course we are not taking about amending the Constitution here, but the spirit is the same, namely the right to opt out with financial compensation in the area of culture. I am not inventing this. The former Prime Minister said so. What he said is often quoted.

In short, the federal government had a number of reasons to co-operate with Quebec where marine conservation areas were involved, namely in the case of Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, shared jurisdiction over the environment, the motion on distinct society and the principle of opting out in the field of culture.

Do not think that the Bloc Quebecois is alone in opposing allowing the federal government to act unilaterally in creating marine conservation areas. Other parties have advocated not only consultation with the provinces but the need for their agreement. The Canadian Alliance called for an agreement with the provinces and local communities in all cases. There may be slight distinctions but it is there in all cases.

The Progressive/Conservative Democratic Representative Coalition requested that the government not be able to act if its jurisdiction over the territory is contested. This is where the problem lies. Nowhere in the bill is there provision to the effect that, if the federal government's jurisdiction is contested, if the federal government considers that it can proceed and is entitled to do so, it will create the marine area.

The Liberal members have systematically rejected these amendments, including our own, alleging that they involved a provincial veto, even when the territory is under federal jurisdiction. This is, however, a restriction parliament could decide to include in its legislation on the creation of marine conservation areas.

The government refused all these amendments claiming that section 5(2) provided sufficient protection for the provinces. However, this section does not cover cases where a province or a first nation challenges the jurisdiction of the territory in question. Therefore, with the federal government acting as both judge and jury, and history has shown this, if it is convinced that it has jurisdiction or it undertakes negotiations to solve land claims with aboriginals, even if these negotiations fail, it can go ahead.

This is where we have problems with the bill. When the bill was before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage the government rejected amendments that would have made it acceptable. This, despite the fact that the Bloc Quebecois was acting in good faith and was open to considering certain types of amendments.

We agreed to support some of the amendments the government was making but we could not support improving the bill because it was the very essence of the bill that was in question. We wanted to create marine areas. The bill does not include a guarantee to consult and negotiate partnerships. These are easy words to understand but they are not to be found in the bill.

We do have principles. We figured that in general the government amendments should have been along those lines, that is: involving the provinces and consulting with local and aboriginal communities; reducing the role of Heritage Canada, which should not be interfering in conservation; reducing the number of stakeholders involved because the Departments of the Environment and Fisheries and Oceans also deal with marine conservation areas; harmonizing the regulations with those of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and ensuring that as a rule the environment takes precedence over economic considerations.

However the improvements brought about at that stage were inadequate.

The Liberals added clause 5(3), which states that the government may remove a conservation area if a court finds that the government does not have clear title to the territory. However the government is under no obligation to do so. It “may” do it. When one “may” do something that does not mean that one “will” do it.

Liberal members extended the period for parliamentary review by parliamentary committees for changes to the list of marine conservation areas, changes to their boundaries or the addition of new areas. However there is some scepticism regarding the possibility that the government could sidestep the process if the changes are submitted at a time when the committee is unable to examine it. When this is the case, the changes would be considered accepted and the government could go ahead with the order in council. Several cases that we could mention show that we are right to have our doubts.

The Liberals amended section 10.1 to require the government to consult with “the relevant federal and provincial ministers and agencies, with affected coastal communities, aboriginal organizations and aboriginal governments”. This may be an improvement over the former wording, in which the government was encouraged to consult. Now, according to the bill, the minister will consult instead of encourage consultation. However this consultation will not prevent the federal government from acting as it sees fit if there is disagreement.

This reminds me of an old saying, which I will paraphrase for the occasion today. In a dictatorship “you have nothing to say”. In a democracy “you can say whatever you want”. In other words, it is hardly a real consultation if the government has no intention whatsoever of listening to its partners.

We know all about this. We sit on committees. There will be a list of witnesses who often appear before us and give us their opinions, and amendments are proposed by the different opposition parties. It would be impossible to say that the government listens to us.

We provided an example to follow, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park. This is the example that the Bloc Quebecois proposes instead of this bill. We deplore the fact that the government did not use this as a model and allow Quebec to opt out with compensation. We know Quebec was acting in good faith and wanted to negotiate with the federal government. Why is the government imposing this type of legislation on Quebec? Why is the government imposing its way of doing things and interfering in provincial jurisdiction by transferring submerged lands to the federal government?

In order to encourage local involvement, the legislation passed by the Quebec and federal governments under the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park mirror legislation confirms the creation of a co-ordinating committee whose composition will be determined by the federal and provincial ministers. It therefore cannot be said that Quebec is acting in bad faith.

The committee's mandate was to recommend to the ministers responsible measures for attaining the management plan's objectives. This plan was to be reviewed jointly by both governments at least every seven years. All the provisions were there. Why set a precedent? Keeping a friend sometimes means making a few concessions.

Any exploration, utilization or development of resources for mining or energy protection purposes, including the building of oil lines, gas lines or power lines, is prohibited within park boundaries. This agreement contains provisions for protecting ecosystems. It is all there. That is why the Bloc Quebecois is saying that it will protect the environment. We believe in this. Our environment critic often gives the government ways of looking at the environment protection issue.

Under their respective legislation, the governments of Quebec and of Canada will be able to determine measures for protecting the park's ecosystems and resources and for protecting the public. More specifically, they will be able to define how each category of area will be used and for how long such use shall apply.

This first partnership initiative should have served as a model to the federal government for the creation of other marine conservation areas. Rather than demonstrating open-mindedness and co-operation, the federal government is still taking an arrogant, aggressive, invasive approach that overlaps other jurisdictions and that is hardly calculated to encourage us to work with them another time.

Phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan could have served as another model. Let us look at what actually happened.

On June 8, 1998, the environment ministers of Quebec and of Canada announced phase III of the St. Lawrence development plan. This is another example.

In conclusion, we will be voting against the bill mainly because it interferes in the jurisdiction of the province of Quebec and of other provinces when they are concerned, and because Quebec cannot operate under such a system. I do not think that the government has got it yet.

Given the goals of the Canadian government, we have been quite open concerning the management of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park. We regret that the government did not draw any lesson from this.

The federal government should not go against the will of the Quebec government to create marine conservation areas. We advocate partnerships in this area.

We have more reasons to oppose the bill. It provides for a new structure under Heritage Canada that will duplicate what is being done in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of the Environment, and also what is being done in Quebec.

Things are getting confused. Heritage Canada is getting involved with marine conservation areas when it is not even doing its own work properly with the national parks. We have mentioned the shortcomings in the management of national parks.

We wonder how this department could do this work properly when it is not capable of protecting ecosystems on the ground, in the national parks.

We are very disappointed with the lack of openness of the government concerning Bill C-10. It would have been nice if for once the government had agreed with Quebec and supported its way of doing things. We did our homework as far as co-operation and partnership is concerned.

This is far from over. There is still strong support in Quebec for sovereignty and sovereignty means respect for the Quebec way of doing things.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

From now on, the speeches will be 20 minutes long, followed by a 10 minute period for questions and comments, unless an hon. member indicates to the Chair that he or she will split his or her time.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus to join in the debate on third reading of Bill C-10. I will be splitting my time with the member for Dartmouth.

I am pleased to make this speech on behalf of the environment critic for the NDP caucus, the member for Windsor--St. Clair. I would like begin my speech by paying tribute to the member for Windsor--St. Clair for the dedication that he has shown to this issue and for his the research, the commitment and the involvement over many months to this important issue. It is indicative of how seriously the NDP caucus takes this issue with the amount of time, research and capital that was invested into trying to make meaningful changes to Bill C-10.

It is worth noting that we find ourselves in a rather unique situation. Because we were so committed to the tone and the spirit of Bill C-10, we voted for it at second reading. That is how eager we were to see it go to committee so that we could invite witnesses, have honest and fruitful debate and even propose amendments.

We find ourselves now in an inverse situation. We cannot support the bill because there was such intransigence at the committee stage and such an unwillingness to recognize the legitimate points that were raised by witnesses and by opposition members. Now we have a very flawed piece of legislation.

As inadequate as it was at second reading, we were compelled to vote for it just to have the opportunity to take it one step further to improve it, to hone it, to fine tune it and to make it useful to Canadians. In the best spirit of parliament, we acted in a very responsible way rather than just oppose everything that came at us from the other side.

In this case we said that the idea had merit and although it needed fine tuning and refinement, we were willing to support it at that stage just to move it along through the steps for the well-being of Canadians. We went through an exhaustive process and dedicated a great deal of time and energy. I should point out that the member for Windsor--St. Clair brought this to our attention almost weekly at the NDP caucus.

The subject of Bill C-10, the marine conservation act, came up regularly. It was given a great deal of our attention and energy. Of all the issues that we have to deal with and all the competing interests that we have as members of parliament, the bill got a disproportionate amount of our time, energy and resources. I am trying to express how frustrated we are at this juncture to have to say that all our work was perhaps for nothing. That is why members are hearing critical speeches at this stage.

As interested as people were to take part in a meaningful debate on the bill, we find ourselves as opposition members now unable to support what we thought was a very important piece of legislation.

I know the member for Windsor--St. Clair would want me to express that we view this as a lost opportunity. We view this as a missed opportunity, not just for Canadians, but for the environment. This was one of those bills and one of those times that we as a community could deal with our environment in a way that we could actually show some stewardship and leadership, and we failed. I think we failed Canadians. I think we have failed future generations. We certainly have failed the marine ecological environment.

Some of the changes that the member for Windsor--St. Clair put forward were so elementary and so basic that it defies logic. How anybody could have found fault with some of these amendments is beyond me. I was not at the committee when these amendments were put forward, but I have read the transcript from the committee. I have seen the arguments that were put forward and they were remarkable.

It is remarkable to me that the amendments put forward were rejected. I have read some of the arguments and some of the debates in Hansard . The principles were as basic and fundamental like the way we developed oil and gas reserves. We all know we explore for oil and gas under the water by seismic explosions. These blasts are detrimental to marine mammals.

An amendment was put forward that we simply could not do that. It would be irresponsible to allow that type of seismic activity in a region where marine mammals would be affected negatively.

I am just trying to envision what the argument could be against an amendment of that nature. We all know that the big draggers that stir up the bays all across our eastern and western shores are detrimental to our marine environment. Yet we chose not to comment or deal with that compelling issue in Bill C-10.

What is remarkable to me, in researching for this speech, is just how naive we are about our marine environment. We live in a country that is surrounded on three sides by ocean. We have more ocean perimeter and shore than many island nations, yet we are so painfully naive about the environment.

I built a house one time for a marine biologist who told me that they were starting to age groundfish so they would know when it was a good time to harvest groundfish and when was not. Only in recent years, at the Nanaimo biology research station, have they finally started to age groundfish, date them and say that maybe 12 years old would be the optimum time to harvest this type of groundfish. Until then, it was just by hook or by crook, by happenstance. They just took and took and hoped that the resource survived. We cannot be that irresponsible any more. It is painful to see how naive we are in this regard.

We are only just learning about our marine environment now. Maybe it is premature to put this bill in place because there is so much discovery going on.

In reading about this issue, I was interested to learn that only recently we realized there was a gully off Nova Scotia that rivalled the Grand Canyon in scope. Huge underwater environments are out there. Even though we have the capability to learn about them and deal with them, we have chosen not to. We have occupied our time, some would say capably or not, on the terrestrial side of our environment and we have ignored the underwater environment. The oil and gas interest is really in that grand canyon. This underwater canyon exists with a whole environment and culture that we can only dream about.

The research is in its infancy. The science is relatively new, yet we are passing legislation that is supposed to serve us for 100 years. We find Bill C-10 hopelessly inadequate. It does not serve what we would hope a well drafted piece of legislation coming out of the House of Commons would do for Canadians, for our future and for our marine environment.

Groups have pointed out that the inadequacies range from not only the environmental community, although it is pretty much unanimous in its criticism of the shortcomings of Bill C-10, but also the cultural communities that have pointed to real serious omissions and lack of substance in Bill C-10. Even provincial governments and other levels of government are blowing the whistle and saying that this is not ready and that it has not evolved to a degree where we should be enshrining it in legislation.

We thought that some of the changes we sought to achieve were quite reasonable. I mentioned seismic blasting and trawling. The other issue we felt should have been dealt with was the burgeoning new economic development of aquaculture and fish farming. We need to address this issue.

I have been on the west coast of Canada and toured some of the fish farms where Atlantic salmon are being raised in the Pacific Ocean. They get out of their cages. These are not an easily controlled species. They are an aggressive species. They are an invasive species. This industry is in its infancy and should have been dealt with in Bill C-10. I believe that it was by deliberate omission that it was not dealt with in Bill C-10.

We are very critical that it is more notable for what is not in the bill than what is in the bill. For that reason the New Democratic Party cannot support Bill C-10, inasmuch as we would have liked to have had a piece of legislation that we could support.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I understand the hon. member was speaking on behalf of his critic and I appreciate his submissions.

I noticed in his comments the hon. member did say that this seems to fail as environmental legislation. I am wondering, when he was having these weekly consultations on the bill whether he ever discussed the fact that this was not environmental legislation. It was complementary legislation to the Oceans Act and the environment act. The whole purpose of this bill is to balance protection and sustainable use. The key word is balance. There is a balance between protecting and being able to use the resources under the water. That is my first question.

I was also surprised that the member stated the committee had not listened to any amendments. In fact, at the committee stage no amendments were presented for discussion. They happened to be put forward in the House at report stage by the NDP. There were certainly no amendments at committee stage. It is perhaps unfortunate that we did not have the benefit of that information at committee.

Under clause 16 concerning the regulations about prohibitions, of the prohibitions the member is worried about, would he not agree that they could actually be regulated under clause 16?