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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.

Topics

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the judge has ordered the government to pay the vets, their families or their estates the money that the judge ruled was owed. The judge ordered the government to do so.

Why not settle the dispute rather than going on and on and spending government money on litigation?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

November 8th, 2001 / 2:55 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government chose to contest the decision and it is doing so now. It will continue to do so because it feels as if it intrudes into an area of decision making of government. The process is happening. We will await the results.

St. Hubert TechnobaseOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec praised the management of the St. Hubert South Shore Technobase, saying that an audit report recommended staying the course.

Oddly enough, this report cannot be found, and the CEO of Technobase refuses to release it, despite a request from the town of St. Hubert.

Since the minister used that report as the basis for stating that things should not change, could he table it in the House, so that we can look at it, otherwise we might be tempted to conclude that the report is far from being as positive as the minister claims?

St. Hubert TechnobaseOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, the documents requested are subject to the Access to Information Act. I would simply suggest that the hon. member use that route.

TradeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade.

The final report from the WTO on the Air Wisconsin transaction is expected soon. If the ruling is not in favour of Canada, what would happen to the financing commitment that convinced Air Wisconsin to buy 150 regional jets from the Canadian company, Bombardier? After all, the parliamentary secretary knows that many aerospace jobs are at stake.

TradeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario

Liberal

Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the parties involved will receive the report by the end of the week and WTO members will receive it within two weeks when it will be made public to them, so I cannot comment on the report now.

I can make very clear the commitment of the government to Bombardier, to its employees across Canada, and I can tell the House that in the face of illegal Brazilian subsidies the Canadian government will stand up for Bombardier, its employees and clients right across the country.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on the subject of cluster bombs, the Prime Minister said, and I quote: “—we must also be realistic. If, tomorrow, I were to ask the U.S. president to stop using these weapons, I doubt it will happen”.

If the Prime Minister thinks he has so little influence over President Bush in connection with the fight against terrorism, how can he convince Canadians that his phone calls will influence him in the case of softwood lumber?

When will the Prime Minister take this industry seriously? When will he go to Washington himself?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the hon. member's attention to a statement today by the B.C. lumber council, representing most of the B.C. industry. The statement said:

We congratulate the Prime Minister on his efforts to date and urge him to continue to do everything within his power to work with President Bush and his Administration to negotiate a fast, fair and free trade solution to this dispute.

The industry obviously knows a lot more about the facts of the successful efforts of the Prime Minister than the leader of the discredited fifth party in the House.

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, when our troops go overseas it is tough enough for them to be away from their families. It is tough enough for them to be in harm's way. The government has now placed severe restrictions on schoolchildren across the country from sending get well wishes and Christmas cards to our troops overseas.

My question is for the Minister of National Defence. Why put severe restrictions on schoolchildren sending Christmas wishes and best wishes to our troops overseas? Why put this hardship on children?

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we want to encourage Canadians to send Christmas wishes or other good wishes to our troops overseas. I would particularly suggest that e-mails or postcards would be most appropriate. We are in fact trying to keep down the number of envelopes, in particular envelopes that do not have return addresses, for obvious security reasons.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I wish to inform the House of the presence in the gallery of General Tiécoura Doumbia, the Minister for Security and Public Protection of the Republic of Mali.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to make a small correction to one of my answers. The press release of the British Columbia lumber council came out yesterday. Inadvertently I said it came out today, but my quotation from it in the House was accurate and remains accurate today, right now, in support of the Prime Minister's efforts in the lumber issue.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it being Thursday I will ask what the House business is for the rest of today, tomorrow and for the week after the recess in our ridings.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with Bill C-10, the marine parks bill.

Tomorrow we will consider Bill S-31, respecting a number of tax treaties.

As indicated by the deputy House leader for the opposition, next week is a week in our constituencies. When we return we will consider: report stages and third reading of Bill C-38, respecting Air Canada; second reading of Bill C-41, respecting the Canadian Commercial Corporation; report stages and third reading of Bill C-27, the nuclear waste legislation; Bill C-35, respecting foreign missions; and second reading of Bill S-33, respecting carriage by air. During that week the government may introduce another bill dealing with public safety and we would begin debate on that matter as soon as possible.

Finally, I intend to consult colleagues later this afternoon, given the uncertainty in the airline industry, to see whether there would be a favourable disposition, notwithstanding the tabling of the report on Bill C-38 today, to see if the House would agree with dealing with third reading tomorrow. I intend to consult later this day on this matter.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised yesterday by the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough concerning the Hansard of Tuesday, November 6, 2001, specifically on the exchange between the right hon. Prime Minister and the hon. leader of the New Democratic Party during question period.

I have had an opportunity to look at all the relevant information in this regard.

I have reviewed the videotape of the exchange, the blues, the official Hansard , and I have asked for a report from my officials on this matter.

The videotape of the exchange shows the Prime Minister's reply with the phrase “shake a lot”. This has been erroneously transcribed by House staff as “shake it a lot”. I have asked that a corrigendum be issued to rectify that error.

I have further ascertained that at no time were there any interventions, either by the Prime Minister or his office, on this matter. The error, regrettable as it is, appears in the original blues.

I am therefore satisfied that the allegations of impropriety are totally without foundation and that there has been no interference with the usual practices in the preparation of the official record of the House Debates .

I thank the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough for raising the matter and now consider it closed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague the member for Surrey North.

I am pleased to join in the debate on Bill C-10, an act respecting national marine conservation areas in Canada. As has been said several times today, this is the third time the government has brought the bill to the House of Commons. Each time the Liberal government allowed the bill to lapse before it completed its parliamentary course. That is the reason it has taken three years to do the bill.

One would hope that after three tries the government would get it right, but that is still not the case. We have a number of problems with the bill. We have raised our concerns during debate sessions in the heritage committee meetings. We have also tried to remedy this through the amendment process. We have been unsuccessful.

Earlier today my hon. colleague from Simcoe--Grey made a comment that I found particularly offensive regarding what we have been trying to do with the bill. I would like him to name one of the ridiculous amendments that he claims has been put forward by this party. The amendments we have put forward to date have all been in the interests of all stakeholders concerned.

I need to give a bit of background about what it is our party has been trying to do. In order to give that background, I am asking for a bit of leniency.

The province of British Columbia is not the only province that is affected by this marine conservation bill, but I can only speak for the province of British Columbia on this one particular issue.

The northern part of British Columbia has a problem with the pine beetle epidemic which is threatening our lumber industry. The only support or help that has been suggested so far by the government side of the House has been to hope for a very cold snap. If there is a very cold snap the beetles may die, otherwise B.C. will lose part of its forest.

If that is not enough to concern British Columbians, there is also the problem of the softwood lumber issue. The softwood lumber issue was no surprise to the Liberal side of the House. The government had five years to prepare for this but it did not so now Canada is in a crisis situation. Once again we are forced into being reactive instead of proactive.

We also have another serious issue in my province and that is the native land claim issue.

Members may wonder why I am raising these issues. I am trying to give the House a bit of the picture of how the province of British Columbia stands today and how this new conservation bill is a further slap in the face.

When British Columbia came to the federal government level and asked for time to look at what was going on and have more input and consultation take place because it was a brand new provincial government, that request was turned down. When the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, which represents every community in British Columbia, asked for the very same consideration, it was turned down. When the native component came before the committee and asked for those considerations, it got them.

I accept that native people need to have a voice in this issue. My party has been fighting for a better voice for native people for a long time. Yes, they do have to have a voice in this issue, but the government also has to consider all the other stakeholders in exactly the same vein and it did not do that. The government turned down the province. It turned down the municipalities. The only people the government has given legislative rights to in the bill are native people. That is what my party objects to. This is completely wrong. All parties have to be given equal access.

I do not know how we are going to resolve all of the problems we face in Canada today. Some of the problems we face would be very simply looked after if the government side would just listen carefully to the amendments that were made. I would again challenge my colleague from Simcoe--Grey to point out one ridiculous amendment that was put forward by the Canadian Alliance Party. There was none. We only put forward amendments that were going to give the same consideration to all stakeholders that the government side of the House had given to native people.

I am new to the heritage committee, but that does not make me foolish. I have listened very carefully to what has been said. I do not understand the method that the bill has taken.

I am personally not going to support the bill. It is not because I do not believe in conservation; I do severely. But as I pointed out earlier, the bill as it stands today is going to slam the door in the face of the province of British Columbia for any alternative it might have for economic reasons.

We are in serious trouble in British Columbia. We may very well need to look at doing something offshore. If the legislation passes, we cannot. That is what I object to. The government cannot slam the door of the economy in the face of British Columbia and expect us as representatives across the country to accept it. We are not going to.

We have coastal communities that were not consulted. Well, that is not fair. They were consulted. They were consulted, but the government is under absolutely no obligation to do anything they say.

Another concern I have and I have had this raised by many of my colleagues is where are the lines for this conservation area? Generally speaking, in Canada when we designate a park or a conservation area there are nice, clearly defined lines on a map. We can look at it and say “That is where we are going to conserve. We will not do anything in here. There will be no mineral exploration, nothing will happen”. In this particular case that line is out there somewhere in the ocean. I have not seen where the government is drawing it. I am not certain what the aim is, but I do not like the way it is being done.

It is not the fault of anyone in the House, except perhaps the government, that it has taken three tries to get this marine conservation act in place. There is no need to rush it at this point in time. There needed to be more time for consultation and that is all we asked for as a party. We did not get it.

This is third reading. I want to make it very clear that the reason I will not support the bill and I will vote against it are for the reasons I have outlined today.

There was a lack of consideration given to the province of British Columbia. I object to that strongly on behalf of all the people in that province. We need to do things better and we need to do things in a more co-operative manner.

I would further say that I resent when a member of the House, especially a member of the same committee that I sit on, takes the facts and skews them to their own good. Members cannot say that anything the Canadian Alliance has done with heritage did anything but try to improve the bill for all stakeholders in Canada. We wanted it expanded so everyone had the same equal opportunity to voice their concerns. That is all we asked for. There is nothing ridiculous about that. I am not supporting the bill.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her comments.

I wish to thank all the committee members again for their input on the legislation. As Alliance Party members know, there were three amendments which were proposed and actually incorporated, and one of those happened at report stage. There was one which was the same one that the government proposed. One of the concerns that the member raised was that there is no obligation on the government to do anything at all.

I would ask the member to read clause 10 of the bill. This is an amendment that came about from all the committee members working together and being concerned that there were no mandatory words, that there were prefatory words about consultations. Indeed, the amendments made to clause 10 at committee that the minister shall consult are definitely mandatory words versus prefatory words.

There were other concerns, not just on a federal marine reserve, but on any proposed reserve. Those words were put in as well.

Again, I would ask the member in the spirit of co-operation, having listened to the concerns raised by people about the fear of consultation, certainly would she not admit that this is one area where there is mandatory consultation?

Also, clause 7(1), which again was a proposed amendment by the Alliance Party, ensures that consultations list the organizations, the dates, times and people who were consulted. Is this not perhaps a clear indication of trying to allay those fears and to work with all parties in the House?

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, first let me say that I recognize the hard work the member has put into the bill. I take nothing away from what she has tried to do.

Yes, there were amendments that were passed. I actually have one in front of me. It says that the results of any assessments of mineral and energy resources undertaken will have to be made public. That is one of the 30 recommendations we put forward. The other 29 were equally reasonable but this is the only one that passed.

The consultation process the member talked about is a valid thing. We need to consult. I am very supportive of it and that is what we have been pushing for. The way it reads, one can consult but one does not have to take any advice. We can go around, ask questions and hear what people have to say, but it does not make us change anything. That is what I object to.

For example, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has been having a consultation process. He came to my community to speak to native people.

For the last six months I have been going around the country and talking to native people in their settings. I have gone to reserves. I have had meetings on back roads because some people are very nervous about saying what they need to say in the presence of anyone else. I accept that and I will go to back roads and meet with these people. I will go to reserves and meet with these people. I will go to rehabilitation centres. I will do whatever I have to do.

In the case of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the consultation with native people which took place in my community took place in a very nice hotel, one of the finest in our city. I think 20 people showed up in total. The reason for that was they were not very comfortable in the setting that was selected. That is not how to get feedback from people.

I use that only as an example. When you are doing your consulting process for this bill, and you say you are going to ask for input from other people, you may ask for input, but if you do not do it in the right way, or you do not take the results that come from those meetings, the consulting is worth nothing.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before resuming debate I would like to have the attention of the hon. member who last had the floor. I remind all colleagues that when interventions are made, they must come through the Chair. Sometimes they can be rather cordial, as the case may have been in this last instance, but other times we know that with our enthusiasm, energy and passion, it may not be the case. That is why everything must come through the Chair and not directly across the floor from one member to another.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys for allowing me to share her time.

I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-10, the Liberal government's attempt to create national marine conservation areas, which will have a far reaching impact on the entire coastal region of British Columbia as well as on the Atlantic coast.

The bill started out as a policy initiative of Parks Canada in the 1980s. As I am sure all members of the House know the history of the bill, I will not belabour the point except to say that two previous versions of the bill did not pass in earlier sessions of parliament.

On this point, I have to say that this gravely defective and punitive bill would have passed had it not been for members, particularly my colleagues from the Canadian Alliance, such as the hon. member for Skeena and the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast. I thank them for their efforts.

Preserving our marine areas and managing them in a sustainable fashion is a laudable goal. However, when we seek to protect marine ecosystems, we need to balance this with the economic interests at stake, as well as the environmental aspect. The bill utterly fails to realize this fact.

At second reading, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Canadian Heritage said that marine conservation areas were designed to be models of sustainable use and that they were administered so as to balance protection and use.

Our coastline holds vast treasures, including a deposit of hydrocarbons, and the legislation would put the future development of these reserves at stake. Should Bill C-10 pass with clause 13 intact, the future of British Columbia's offshore oil and gas industry will most certainly die with the bill.

Why is such a blunt prohibition needed against resource development, so that our companies cannot use their sophisticated drilling equipment and drill under the marine conservation area from a point outside the park?

It would seem that a truly balanced approach would have sought to preserve the integrity of the marine conservation areas and provide a future income for B.C. However, departmental officials tell us that as the bill is currently drafted this is not possible.

My colleagues tried to arrive at a compromise in committee by introducing an amendment that would have allowed directional drilling from a point outside an MCA to a point within an MCA to place the onus of environmental safety on the backs of the oil companies to prove their methods posed no harm to the environment.

The Canadian Alliance heard expert witnesses plead and try to fix the problem but the Liberals, as my previous colleague mentioned, ignored them in the committee.

In fact the government called mostly witnesses representing the environmental side of the issue. It chose to ignore the voices of experts from the oil and gas field, as well as the fisheries.

This is not about opening up marine conservation areas for big businesses. This is about protecting the interests of small fishermen who depend on the sea for their livelihoods, as well as the oil companies, which form the future potential for the province and will be the backbone of our economy, I believe, in the future.

If the areas that are slated for at least one MCA each and the jurisdiction of their waters is currently under dispute by the provincial government, how does this affect the creation of MCAs and the rules laid out in Bill C-10?

The federal government does not consider these areas as under disputed jurisdiction. It believes they are the federal governments, period.

Getting back to clause 13, if the federal government can unilaterally place an MCA in an area it believes is within its right to do, and that same area holds an untold amount of reserves of oil and gas, clause 13 prevents, in perpetuity, that area from ever being harvested and explored. This could potentially have a devastating effect on the already poor economies of coastal British Columbia.

We need oil and gas reserves to put our province back on the map. If Bill C-10 goes through the House without clause 13 deleted, B.C. can kiss its future economic potential goodbye. We know what happened to the fisheries and other industries, like mining, tourism and now the softwood lumber industry, all because of mismanagement by the federal government.

Government rhetoric aside, what I see on paper in Bill C-10 is a blank cheque for government to carve out marine conservation areas wherever it pleases, regardless of the cost to local interests.

The people of British Columbia have already been victims of the government's short-sightedness in many industries but most important in the softwood lumber resource. Now we are expected to hand over stewardship of offshore hydrocarbon and sub-seabed mineral and gas exploration to the government as well. I for one do not trust the government's track record enough to hand over such power to the government or its cabinet.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage tipped the government's hand when she said that Bill C-10 would require federal ownership of all lands included in the national marine conservation area, both above and below the water. This would ensure that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has the administration and control over these areas. Even though the member is working very hard, I am concerned about her comments on the issue.

The message the government is sending is that we should trust it because it knows what is best for us. This does not work in British Columbia. British Columbians are sick and tired of this type of wanton paternalism. We watched the government destroy the softwood lumber industry and now we are supposed to watch passively while it destroys British Columbia's future economic prospects.

Communication with all interested stakeholders should have been done prior to the creation and implementation of Bill C-10. This would have ensured a balanced approach and ensured that the legislation was drafted in a manner acceptable to British Columbia, the province with the largest coastline. Since this was not the approach chosen by the government, the bill remains poorly drafted from the preamble to the creation of marine conservation areas to the consultation and regulations.

One of the big concerns is that no one will ever be able to use the natural resources within or below that seabed.

The Liberal government has a defective piece of legislation. Should those MCAs be on disputed lands I am sure the federal government will be looking at constitutional challenges from the province, and likely will be won by the provinces, which is what worries me most. All of this could be avoided if the government would just amend Bill C-10 by deleting clause 13.

I have not focused on the jurisdictional dispute over water in Atlantic Canada but that could also be held hostage if the clause is left in the bill.

In conclusion, the bill is faulty, defective and must be corrected. We still have a chance. We are giving the government a chance to correct this before it puts the lives of many British Columbians and people in Atlantic Canada in jeopardy.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that was discussed time and again at committee was the concern for consultations. After the member from Kamloops made her presentation, we spoke about clause 10 where we had worked as a committee to make it stronger to ensure that there are indeed consultations.

I would like to point out to the hon. member that subclause 5(2) sets out how a marine conservation area can be created. It can be done in three cases: first, if the Government of Canada has unencumbered clear title; second, if the province transfers its control and management; and third, if it complies with the land claims agreement.

I have said time and again, and I will stress it again, the government does not and will not act unilaterally. I suppose one of the best examples of that is a year or two ago they were looking into doing a feasibility study on the east coast in Bonavista and preliminary consultations began. What we are talking about is preliminary consultations and then the feasibility study. I would like to guide the hon. member to subclause 7(1). It deals with consultations in the proposed area. The member from Kamloops was asking where the area was. Having come to the both Houses of parliament and to committee, we deleted clauses that would have limited debate on this matter to address those concerns.

I would ask the member to look at those clauses, which I think we as a committee have made stronger. With respect to oil and gas exploration, again using the Bonavista example, we did not proceed because people did not want it. I would also refer to the Gwaii Haanas area where oil leases were surrendered by four oil companies to the Nature Conservancy of Canada which in turn ceded them to the federal government after a feasibility study found that there were no renewable resources or very little potential for oil and gas. Having addressed the concern that was raised at the committee just a day or so ago, we, by unanimous consent of the House, agreed to a further amendment to address these concerns.

I ask the hon. member to look at these clauses. Do they not provide more comfort, that we will not act unilaterally as a government?

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for shedding some light on some of the issues. However the issue still remains that the only witnesses who appeared before the committee were from the environmental sector. No one from fisheries or from the oil and gas sector appeared before the committee.

The major concern is about the oil and gas sector as well as the fisheries. I am quite positive that my hon. colleague, who is our chief critic on fisheries, will speak on this issue and address the fisheries aspect. That is why I did not discuss it in my speech.

Could the hon. member on the other side name a single witness who appeared before the committee either from fisheries or from oil and gas? I am sure that she cannot name even one witness who appeared.

On another note, the government is getting into a habit of governing through the back door through the regulations. We see time and again that either the contents of a bill are vague or defective and this bill in particular is defective.

I am sure the government is doing it again through the back door by throwing in a big lump of regulations which will never be debated in parliament and people will not have access to making any input in those areas.

I would argue with the parliamentary secretary as well as my friends on the other side that we still have a chance. Let us look at the issues. Let us not kill industries one by one in British Columbia and the west. We still have a chance.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as committee chair, I have taken part in the deliberations and hearings on the marine conservation areas, which started in 1998 and culminated in Bill C-10 and the major amendments at report stage in the House.

I would like to address the following aspects today: the background of the bill, the need for legislation and the benefits of it.

Parks Canada has had a mission in the area of the aquatic environment for the past 15 years. The policy Bill C-10 is based on is the product of intensive consultation over a number of years. In fact, the discussion paper on the bill dates from 1997—four years ago. It was followed by the tabling of Bill C-48 in 1998. Since then, the bill has been the subject of consultation and ongoing discussions.

I am happy and grateful that this bill can finally come to fruition, since it is vital to the conservation of our aquatic resources, to initiate sustainable development within our community and to meet Canada's international obligations.

Over the course of the hearings, the bill received solid support from conservation groups and scientists in the marine sciences, who consider it vitally urgent for the conservation of our aquatic resources.

My colleague from Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys whom I esteem as a member of our committee mentioned the lack of consultation in British Columbia. In the last days of the bill before it went to clause by clause, we had three video conferences: one in Prince Rupert, one in Vancouver and one in Kitimat. Members from British Columbia came before the committee in person. At least 20 people were involved in video conferences, including six mayors or municipal leaders, the B.C. chamber of commerce and the oil and gas industry.

To pretend the bill would destroy the oil and gas industry in British Columbia or somewhere else is a complete negation of the law. It is obvious that the member cannot have read the law, if he says the bill would suddenly destroy the oil and gas industry in Canada, British Columbia or anywhere else.

Under the bill no marine conservation area could be set up without extensive consultations. Any management plan would need to be tabled in both the House of Commons and the Senate and referred to the appropriate committees of both houses.

What about the precedents that have been carried out before? They should satisfy the member from British Columbia that this would not be a takeover. It happened before with the Gwaii Haanas marine conservation park. There was a signed agreement between the province and the federal government before it could go forward.

It was the same with the Saguenay park in the St. Lawrence. The Saguenay park has not stopped shipping in the St. Lawrence or anything else. The province and the federal government agreed and a marine park was created. If they had not agreed it would not have happened.

Right now there are extensive negotiations in the Lake Superior area and the same thing is happening. If there is no consensus by the community involved, nothing will happen. To say the act, which is only a framework legislation, would suddenly destroy the oil and gas industry or the fishery in British Columbia is a total exaggeration. It is a complete negation of the facts and the provisions of the law. It is a lot of nonsense.

We should not be ashamed to say the purpose of a marine conservation area is conservation of the area and its natural resources. I will quote Dr. John Lien, one of our leading marine scientific experts from Memorial University in Newfoundland. He said:

The collapse of the groundfish and northern cod resources in Newfoundland was caused by human error, and that is very important to understand. It was errors of science and it was errors of greed. The effects of these errors were profound on the stocks, because natural sanctuaries that had existed forever simply were gone.

Historically, we could not fish through ice. We couldn't fish at great distances from the shore because we did not have refrigeration. We couldn't take certain kinds of weather because our boats weren't secure, and so on. There were all kinds of areas of the ocean where fish naturally had protection from us, but our technology has changed since the Second World War. We can now catch fish through pack ice, at great depths, in any kind of weather, and at any distance. Fish have no place to hide. So when we make mistakes and when we are greedy, there is no cushion. That has disappeared.

Fundamentally, that's the reason we need marine protected areas, and it doesn't really matter how we get them, under what legislation. We must now artificially restore sanctuaries as a hedge against these kinds of human error. It's not just the fish that need protection, and I want to emphasize this. It is the fish and our coastal communities, because they go hand in hand.

Professor Philip Dearden of the department of geography at the University of Victoria in British Columbia spoke convincingly of the need for this legislation. He told the committee a scientific consensus statement on the value of marine protected areas had been issued by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That is a prestigious body if ever there was one.

The consensus statement was endorsed by the world's most eminent marine biologists. They set up tests around the world to see what would happen to fisheries if certain areas were declared no take areas. The findings were surprising even to that prestigious committee. It found that after only one or two years of protection population densities were 91% higher, biomass was 192% higher, average organism size was 31% higher and species diversity was 23% higher.

Dr. Dearden added “These same results have been duplicated on the coast of British Columbia. We know for sure that fisheries are one of the main beneficiaries if areas are set aside as marine reserves”.

The scientists who appeared before our committee spoke strongly of the need for conservation legislation. Bill C-10 would also ensure the long term viability of coastal communities. The committee heard from community representatives who consistently had the same message about the importance of marine resources to coastal communities, whether they agreed or disagreed with the bill.

Bill C-10 would provide for long term protection of marine resources and sustainable use through a zoning mechanism. The bill's provisions for public consultation and involvement during every step of the process from identification, evaluation and designation to the subsequent management of the areas would ensure local support, something that is essential to the success of the legislation. If there is no local support marine conservation areas do not happen.

There is an explicit mandate for public education in the bill. Parks Canada is an internationally recognized leading agency in public education and interpretation of natural ecosystems. This would ensure Canadians gain a better appreciation of their connection to the ocean and the need to take greater responsibility in its stewardship.

Bill C-10 is also an affirmation of the importance of marine ecosystems to the preservation of overall global diversity. In 1996 the Prime Minister of Canada made a commitment at the World Conservation Congress to introduce marine conservation legislation. As a signatory to the biodiversity convention Canada is committed to passing such legislation.

Again I will quote Dr. John Lien of Memorial University, who addressed the international implications of the legislation. He said “It's important for you to realize that in an international context Canada is far behind in establishing ocean sanctuaries”. He told us he recently attended a meeting of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, under NAFTA, where Mexican colleagues told him 19% of their territorial waters are in sanctuary status and they have an annual budget of $45 million U.S. to manage them.

Dr. Lien added that the U.S. vice-president's commission on ocean policy had received a recommendation that 20% of all U.S. waters be placed in some kind of sanctuary status. President Clinton implemented this under executive order. The steps are already underway to place 20% of America's coral reefs in sanctuary status and the initiative is moving forward.

Dr. Lien said it is not only governments that are coming to this realization. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, probably one of the most distinguished bodies of science in North America, has recommended that 20% of all ocean area be set aside for protection from the kinds of errors we make.

We hear our hon. friends say we need to drill for more oil and gas and exploit every corner of the ocean. What we say is this: Not all corners of the ocean should be exploited for oil, gas or mineral exploration. We need sanctuaries. We need areas of protection. This does not mean oil and gas exploration and mineral exploration cannot go on next door. There is a lot of ocean to do both.

Canada has a role to play in protecting the biodiversity of the planet and this legislation is needed urgently in the effort. Bill C-10 is a forward looking piece of legislation that would give Canadians a closer connection to our great marine environment and protect precious marine resources for future generations.

That is what it is about. It is not about exhausting our marine resources. It is not about repeating what happened on the east coast and part of the west coast when the total fishery disappeared and thousands of coastal communities were out of work.

This bill has noble goals and is well designed to ensure the achievement of those goals. It would ensure conservation of our marine heritage and provide a model for sustainable use.

The bill's strong provisions for local community involvement and consultation would ensure the successful implementation of the act and give Parks Canada new tools to bring knowledge and pride to Canadians about their marine heritage. I urge the House to adopt Bill C-10 for the benefit of marine conservation and for all Canadians.