House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was foundation.


Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should undertake a study of the issues posed by the fish-farming industry, with particular regard to ecosystem health.

Mr. Speaker, members may want to know what I mean by a study. Either an independent scientific panel or a House of Commons standing committee or subcommittee should investigate and examine this issue so long as the study is conducted at arm's length from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and so long as it is comprehensive.

Members may also want to know what is meant by ecosystem health. What I mean is aquaculture's impact on water quality, other species such as marine species and birds, and the genetic integrity of the wild salmon stock.

The motion also focuses on the environmental risks posed by fish farming. A comprehensive study would also consider the impact of this industry on aboriginal and coastal communities.

In explaining to the House why a study of the environmental impacts of this industry is necessary, I will begin with a brief description of the industry itself. I will then describe the level of public concern with the impact of that industry, the federal government's involvement in promoting and regulating the industry, and finally a brief outline of the evidence of the damage caused by aquaculture.

By this I hope to demonstrate that the environmental impacts of fish farming in Canada is a significant issue of national concern. More important, this is an issue where there is an urgent need to provide a forum for Canadians to express their views and for an independent comprehensive study of its environmental impacts. This is the intent of the motion before us today.

The major form of fish farming in Canada is salmon farming which currently accounts for 64% of total aquaculture production in Canada. Salmon are raised initially in freshwater hatcheries and at the juvenile stage transferred to open net pens in marine coastal waters to complete their growth. It is while in these net pens that possible interaction with wild salmon and their habitat occur and where escapes of farmed salmon take place.

Canada is the world's fourth largest producer of farmed salmon. British Columbia and New Brunswick produce almost all of the farmed salmon in Canada. While fish farming takes place mostly on the east and west coasts, it is an issue of significance to all Canadians since this fish ultimately ends up on our dinner table.

In fact, a recent pilot study conducted by a British researcher found that farmed salmon had higher levels of toxins such as PCBs and pesticides than wild salmon. Therefore this is an issue that should concern us all.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages and regulates the aquaculture industry. Just last December the report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons contained a chapter entitled “Fisheries and Oceans: The Effects of Salmon Farming in British Columbia on the Management of Wild Salmon Stocks”. It is disturbing to find that the first main point of the auditor general's report is that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is not fully meeting its legislative obligations under the Fisheries Act to protect wild Pacific salmon stock and habitat from the effects of salmon farming.

The auditor general found that the department is not enforcing the Fisheries Act with respect to salmon farming operations, that there are shortfalls in the research and monitoring to assess the effects of salmon farming operations, and that the department has not put in place a formal plan for managing risks and for assessing the environmental effects of new fish farm sites.

According to the auditor general, a major constraint to enforcing the habitat provision of the Fisheries Act is the lack of scientific information. Hence, that is the importance of a comprehensive study as proposed in this motion.

Historically the federal government has provided substantial funds to support and promote aquaculture in the form of technical support, engineering assistance, moneys through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in the form of direct grants to fish farms, processing plants expansions, interest free loans, training programs through Human Resources Development, et cetera.

In August of last year the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced $75 million in support of the aquaculture industries. Such extensive government support calls for an indepth analysis of the benefits and the costs of this industry.

The aquaculture industry has been one of the most rapidly growing industries in Canada and it is now time it came under public scrutiny. Therefore, I believe a thorough study by the government is the appropriate procedure to deal with this matter.

We must note that there are approximately 17 federal departments and agencies with responsibilities relating to the aquaculture sector. It is evident many aspects of environmental health have fallen through the cracks of the current patchwork of regulations.

We tried to close one of those gaps in 1998 when the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development conducted its review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The issue at the time was to clarify the authority of the Minister of the Environment to protect fish habitats from deleterious substances. Apparently the Department of Fisheries and Oceans still fails to enforce the fish habitat provisions of the Fisheries Act when it comes to aquaculture.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in February and March of last year had a few meetings to study aquaculture. No report was issued but the records of those meetings reveal how anxious many Canadians and members of parliament are to see this industry adequately regulated.

In June 1999 the commissioner of aquaculture instigated a legislative review of all acts and regulations applying to the aquaculture industry with two perhaps conflicting mandates to this review. One was to undertake a comprehensive review of all federal legislation and regulations to identify and remove, where appropriate, constraints to aquaculture development. The other was to develop and implement a responsive and effective regulatory and policy framework to ensure aquaculture is conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The review is now completed but it is not yet published. In the meantime the auditor general has warned that in responding to the review the department ought to give appropriate consideration to environmental issues in accordance to its mandate.

It is evident that the department is committed to expanding this industry despite growing evidence of its damages and that a double mandate as both regulator and promoter of the industry is inappropriate given the statutory mandate to protect fish habitats. I would go one step further and submit that the promotion and development side of the aquaculture industry, as with any other industry, should be left to the Department of Industry.

The debate of this motion is very timely as some members may have seen last week's excellent documentary on salmon farming on The Nature of Things by Dr. David Suzuki. The documentary presented a wealth of scientific research and reports on the environmental impacts of aquaculture, many of which I will make reference to.

For instance, Environment Canada recently released a study on the dispersion and the toxicity of pesticides used to treat sea lice on salmon in net pen enclosures. The study outlined the negative impact of those pesticides on water quality and other marine organisms. Fish farming also generates the release of cage wastes, feces, nutrients from the fish feed, antibiotics and other veterinary drugs, pesticides, antifoulants and other chemicals.

These wastes are deposited and accumulated on the sea floor. This accumulation can actually lead to the area being too rich in nutrients, triggering algae blooms which are toxic to fish. The composition of the accumulated waste can also lead to the release of noxious gases like ammonia and methane. This affects animals like crustaceans and arthropods that live in the sediment. It is worth noting the area under the net pens is actually often referred to as the dead zone.

Aquaculturists manage feeding regimes, temperature, light levels and genetic selection of fish. Atlantic salmon raised in fish farms frequently suffer from the salmon anaemia virus, a disease that spreads rapidly due to the conditions under which these fish are raised. What is even worse is that there are reported cases of the disease spreading to our already endangered wild stock of salmon. Fish in fish farms suffer from a wide range of bacterial, viral and parasitological diseases and these epidemics are controlled by extensive use of antibiotics and pesticides. These health problems are associated with ever more intensive production, the objective being to always bring the fish to market in the shortest possible time.

A recent scientific study entitled “Potential Genetic Interaction Between Wild and Farm Salmon of the Same Species” concluded that the large influx of genes from farm fish into wild gene pools could cause severe declines in the wild fish stock. Already escaped farm fish have been reported in streams and rivers of British Columbia and New Brunswick. The situation will likely get worse as the industry continues to grow unchecked. Escaped fish can spread disease, compete with wild salmon for food and habitat and interbreed with the wild stock.

Wild salmon fish stocks are already declining due to loss of habitat and salmon farming puts an additional stress on this precious resource.

Wild salmon and fish farms can coexist. There is a possibility for a sustainable aquaculture industry, no doubt. However, we are clearly not on that path at the moment. We must put the brakes on the promotion and funding of the status quo and conduct an comprehensive study identifying the environmental effects before considering further expansion of the industry. Only then will we have accurate directions on how to put the existing fish farms on a sustainable path and whether and under which conditions the industry can be allowed to expand.

This improvement will likely require fulfilment of the government's statutory duty to protect the wild salmon stocks, changes in fish farm techniques, reductions, strict control and containment of pesticides, drugs, feed and the fish themselves. A greater regulatory presence in the aquaculture industry would prevent long term negative impacts on the environment and thus be beneficial to the long term economic health of this industry.

What is also at stake here are the stocks of wild salmon. Those great big fish, gifted travellers, covering immense distances to return to their native river, those accomplished swimmers, brave waterfalls, strong currents, grizzly bears and other obstacles in their way. Enduring symbols of nature's strength and determination and yet, now serving as a warning to us all of the fragility of the great Canadian wilderness, of how our once plentiful resources, the wild salmon stocks, can quickly be decimated when exploited for profits.

In conclusion, there is a serious problem that warrants this motion: the extensive influx of the aquaculture industry on the environment; the inadequacy of the current regulatory framework; and the negative publicity the industry will receive if the situation is not corrected. This issue is of significant concern to Canadians and it must and can only be addressed by a comprehensive parliamentary study, as suggested in this motion.

I look forward to the participation and input of my colleagues.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I respond to the hon. member's motion, as this is my first time speaking in the House I would like to thank the citizens of Nanaimo—Alberni for the trust they have given me to represent their interests in the House. As I begin my career in serving them I pray that I will honour that trust. I thank my campaign manager and the wonderful team that worked hard to ensure our success during the election. I also thank my wife Helen for her love, constant support and encouragement.

Mr. Speaker, if you will permit me a small personal digression, I would like to pay tribute to my late father, Albert Lunney, who passed away during the election campaign on October 24. I know that there are a number of hon. members who have followed their fathers' footsteps into the House and I congratulate them. On his deathbed my father told me that he had bought a pair of shoes a number of years back and he liked them so much that he bought a second pair. He had never been able to wear out the first pair, so he wanted me to have the second pair. To my surprise, they fit me. When I visited him in the hospital the next morning, although he was unable to lift his head from his bed I could see the pleasure on his face when I whispered to him “Dad, I am going to wear your shoes in the House of Commons on my first day”.

It gives me great pleasure to have fulfilled that pledge the day we first assembled in the House for the 37th parliament, the same day the Speaker was elected and, Mr. Speaker, you yourself were appointed. I congratulate you also. It is a day that I and many of us will never forget.

I have one final word and then I will turn to the matter of debate. One of the things I learned from my dad was a love for truth. My dad used to say that truth is stranger than fiction. It is my hope that during the 37th parliament members of both sides of the House will be known for a passion for truth and for service to the people who have elected us to this House.

Turning to the matter of debate, Motion No. 119 reads:

That in the opinion of the House, the government should undertake a study of the issues posed by the fish-farming industry, with particular regard to ecosystem health.

I am pleased to address this issue because it is one of particular significance, study, opinion and debate in my own constituency of Nanaimo—Alberni. Aquaculture in B.C. began in the early 1900s, with shellfish, oysters, clams and mussels. Farmed salmon were introduced in the early 1970s and have quickly become the leading product in the industry. The B.C. coastal area currently employs about 2,400 people and produces product worth about $200 million Canadian.

Aquaculture shares elements of concern with all elements of agricultural activity. Indeed, all human activities leave a footprint of some kind on the environment. It falls to us as good stewards of the environment to consider the short term and long term impacts of that footprint and to make sure our practices are balanced so that our needs of food production and the growing demands of humanity for food are balanced with the environmental concerns to protect unpredictable wild stock and natural resources. We must ensure that we employ best science practices to balance these potentially competing concerns.

That said, we know that extensive studies have been and continue to be done. The minister announced last August, just in time for the election, a commitment of about $75 million over the next five years for sustainable and environmentally sound aquaculture. I understand that included about $32.5 million for science and research.

I know that we have an aquaculture commissioner's office now, with a $2 million budget, and we have had travel to both coasts by the fisheries and oceans committee to look into the issue. Ongoing studies are continuing. We might wonder in this request in Motion No. 119 whether we are asking for funds for a study to study what the government is already studying and spending.

Referring to the Commons debate on the issue in the 36th parliament, I quote my colleague for Vancouver Island North, who stated:

The creation of a big budget aquaculture commission in Ottawa is not the answer. What is needed is a clear progressive mandate and budget for more biologists to vet project proposals. The committee heard from private investors who either had already or were prepared to invest their money in labour intensive aquaculture only to see their hopes and dreams dashed on the bureaucratic rocks.

The frustration of many in the industry has resulted in a brain drain coupled with capital shift as many highly skilled and experienced personnel from B.C. are increasingly leaving for countries such as Chile, Norway and Asia. Indeed, on my last flight home to Vancouver Island I spent considerable time in conversation with one such individual returning from Chile to his home in Nanaimo.

Many genuine and serious concerns about protection and wild stocks and the environment have been advanced. We have heard them articulated very well this morning by the hon. member in his motion. The concerns include, as he mentioned: escapement, the potential for escaped salmon to interbreed; disease; sea floor contamination; bioactive chemicals; and potential nutrification of the sea floor. Also, there are economic concerns on the west coast as commercial fishermen see their market undercut by low priced farm fish.

All of these are legitimate concerns and are worthy of scientific and public scrutiny. These issues have been studied, are being studied and no doubt will continue to be studied. I will say that intense scrutiny and study has brought about some changes, at least on the west coast where our provincial government has put in rather extensive controls. There was a moratorium on expanding fish farms a few years ago and to my knowledge it has not yet been lifted.

There have been improvements. The early farms involved shallow water which was sheltered. That of course led to real problems with disease and to sea floor problems. All farms now have to be in deeper water where there is a greater flush. That has reduced the problem of disease, at least in our end of the world, and the sea floor problems.

I understand that treatment is also expensive. Treatment has to be prescribed by a veterinarian and that adds to the cost of the feed. That in itself encourages good farming practices. Science has contributed to safety.

Predators do attack the nets. Auxiliary nets are now being used to keep them away.

A recent advance is the use of cameras to control feeding so that when feeding slows the dispensing of food also slows and reduces the sea floor pollution.

Although we have had escapes of Atlantic salmon and there are anecdotal stories of salmon in our coastal streams, there is no indication they have been successful at spawning or crossbreeding.

Many of the concerns originally advanced have been addressed by good science applications. A whole new area of concern is the attempt to develop genetically modified fish. The report of the Royal Society of Canada which was recently presented calls for an intense protocol of scientific screening before any GM organism is released into the environment. This principle should rightly be upheld in Canadian waters.

On the other side of the coin, I know that in our environment the fish farmers often come under criticism for being found in pristine areas where boaters or kayakers do not expect to find them when they are seeking solitude. However, occasionally these people have also been involved in rescue and in harbouring and sheltering boaters who have been in trouble. Also, they are involved in cleaning up the environment as they pick up after other boaters who discard diapers and floating bottles and other paraphernalia.

The hon. member mentioned some of the horror stories that have happened, where production has gone unbalanced. Indeed, there is going to be a need to maintain balance. There is a dynamic tension among production, regulation and conservation. To be successful we must find the balance. We must retain fundamental respect for the earth. The earth is our home. We must use the best tools of science, such as observation, measurement, quantification, verification and diligence, to ensure that production is optimized with minimal long term impact, but we must also strive to ensure that bureaucratic and unwieldy regulations do not frustrate an industry that has the potential to contribute to growing demands for food and to an urgent need for stable, long term, year round employment in our coastal communities.

The hon. member has raised some very good issues. The need for ongoing study is certainly there. We hope that much of the available funding already committed to by the minister for the next five years will be invested in continuing the research that needs to be done.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to intervene on the motion concerning aquaculture and the environmental impact of aquaculture as presented by the member for Davenport.

When a person rises to speak after two presentations like those, naturally there are a number of points, both statistical and actual, to be presented to the House. I would like to address a number of issues that have not been considered yet.

First, why is fish farming so often chosen? Why do we choose this type of production to raise populations of fry and fish, often for commercial purposes?

The fact is it is rather odd. Quite recently, the government decided to create the position of aquaculture commissioner to manage and oversee the operations of the various types of aquaculture in Canada. At the same time, it decided to invest several tens of millions of dollars in aquaculture.

There is something rather odd. There is something rather—the word is quite specific—paradoxical about the federal government's policy on aquaculture. It decides to spend tens of millions of dollars on an industry—and we can call it that—which, creates jobs and helps raise the gross national product, but this industry is defeating the environmental efforts of this selfsame government. For years, it has been signing international agreements, including one on biodiversity, but now it is financing this industry. This also defeats the efforts made on behalf of the environment in Canada.

We must remember that the whole issue of Atlantic salmon, the ever shrinking population of salmon in the ocean at the moment, is due in large part, naturally, to the environment of the commercial situation and to the major industries, which in recent years, have polluted the various oceans, if we may say so.

It is paradoxical as well, according to what I was reading recently: a report on the issue published by a university in Indiana. It speaks reams. A number of groups have referred to it. I am surprised that the member for Davenport did not refer to that study, which is rather eloquent in that regard. Many environmental groups quoted it, as recently as in January 2000.

That report indicated that there were major impacts linked to the new phenomenon of aquaculture. It also mentioned that fish which is genetically modified and transgenic through aquaculture is seriously affected. According to the report, the biggest fish can concentrate on preys that had so far been left alone while also going after a bigger volume of traditional preys. The imbalance that could result becomes obvious when one looks at a natural species such as the Nile perch which could, less than a decade after being introduced, eliminate 50% of the species in Africa's Lake Victoria.

This environmental impact from transgenic fish is also found in Quebec. The introduction of mere minnows in trout lakes is enough to cause drops of up to between 50% and 60% in fish stocks.

Aquaculture is a type of production that must not be analyzed merely in commercial terms. While the government is investing in that industry, it might be appropriate, from an environmental point of view and for the sake of public health and the balance of ecosystems, to also invest money to deal with the environmental impact of that industry.

A number of researchers have made other eloquent findings. That same report from a university in Indiana mentioned that researchers and officials from Atlantic coastal countries indicated:

Wild salmon stocks in the North Atlantic are always in trouble and, according to scientists, they are currently at their lowest level ever reported.

There is an obvious reduction in the level and volume of wild salmon stocks in the North Atlantic.

We must ask ourselves whether aquaculture can be the solution to this reduction in salmon stocks. The answer is no. I sincerely think that, instead, we should work on our ecosystem and improve the environment in which this salmon lives.

Two strategies were put forward. The first one consists in reducing salmon catches. It is not merely a matter of introducing into our ecosystem, into our oceans, new transgenic fish; it might be wise as well to give some thought to reducing catches. As well, this fish's ravaged habitats on both sides of the Atlantic need to be restored.

It is, therefore, not a matter of merely increasing the stock through aquaculture, producing transgenic salmon fry, but rather of finding and working on solutions further back in the system, in order to reduce catches, restore habitat and ensure the survival of the species.

It might be wise, while the Canadian government is busy making noise about applying the principle of caution, to remind it, if I must, that at no time in 30 years has the Canadian government applied the principle of precaution to the aquaculture industry. At no time has the principle of precaution been applied. The only thing that counts is production. The only thing that counts is commercial markets. There is no assessment of the risks inherent in aquaculture and in this introduction of fish that have been transgenicly modified to some degree.

Might it not be wise also, when looking at amending the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, to seek some advice from the International Joint Commission in order to have a proper analysis of the impact of aquaculture on our environment? Why would this not be the time?

This is a joint commission that analyses a number of elements from certain points of view. I, and we, propose that it be consulted on water exports. Why would it not be the time as well for it to analyze the impact of aquaculture and transgenic fish on our waters? The joint commission could analyse the situation.

Unfortunately, the joint commission has nothing to say on this matter. I see my time is up. In principle, I support the motion by my colleague from Davenport, provided of course that this is done in close collaboration with the provinces and with Quebec.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am more than happy to address Motion No. 119 of the hon. member for Davenport which pertains to a study of fish farming and ecosystem health. I think that issue has been discussed in parliament. Certainly it has been discussed at the fisheries committee for some time. There are several areas that need to be looked at.

I should like to make a couple of points before I get into the gist of my speech today. I should like to comment on the documentary on the David Suzuki Foundation that was aired earlier about ecosystem health. It was very anti-fish farming.

All of us have a responsibility in this place to understand the facts as best we can and to present them in a manner that shows both sides of the story, not just one side of the story. A number of issues deal with fish farming in Canada. A number of issues will continue and will be ongoing.

I will quote from Suzuki's report. I have a serious problem with some of the science in that report. I also have a serious problem with members of parliament who simply want to quote something verbatim without taking a long, hard, serious look at it.

In the Suzuki report there was mention of the salmon that were tested. This is a major report which causes some doubt about a major food source on the planet. Millions of tonnes of salmon are grown every year by Canada, Norway, Scotland, Ireland and Chile. We also have some very serious salmon farming operations in New Brunswick, some in Nova Scotia, and a lot of salmon grown in B.C.

The Suzuki Foundation tested just eight salmon, four wild salmon and four farm salmon, and put out a report. That is far too few to reach any scientifically defensible conclusions about contaminant levels.

That does not say that we should not be worried about contaminant levels, that we should not be vigilant about contaminant levels, but it certainly says that it is based on bad science. The Suzuki study has been neither independently reviewed nor published and the organization has not released any of its findings to date.

The Scottish study to which he referred found no discernible difference in the PCBs and dioxins found in wild and farm salmon. The author of the Scottish study, Dr. Miriam Jacobs, has called the BBC 3 show claim absolute nonsense. The levels of the PCBs and dioxins that the Suzuki Foundation reportedly measured in farm salmon were well below the safety standards set by Health Canada and enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

We have to question both on a scientific basis and, more important, on a public basis the use of limited, unpublished and unsubstantiated data purporting to claim health concerns respecting farm salmon. If there are health concerns, we should be the first people to be concerned about them. If there are not, we should not be supporting a bogus claim of such.

After that little statement on Suzuki's evidence, I make clear that I grew up on a small salmon river in Nova Scotia called the Gold River. As a young boy I was able to catch salmon in that river. We actually still have a few wild Atlantic salmon that return to that river every year. That should indicate that I am very friendly to the Atlantic Salmon Federation and to anyone who supports wild salmon.

I learned a long time ago to be very cautious in the aquaculture industry not to point the finger of blame at some place that it may not quite belong. Do we have some problems in the aquaculture industry? Absolutely we do. Have those problems been attended to, reported and looked at in a very serious manner over the last 10 years? A lot of them have. Do we still have problems with escapees, with algae bloom and with feces on the bottom? Yes, we do. Have most of those problems been attended to? Yes, they have.

I should like to break that down into a bit of detail. Last year the fisheries committee proposed a study on aquaculture. We finished the majority of that study, although we did not finish it all. We visited the west coast of B.C. and Washington State. The report will tell hon. members that we also visited the east coast. We were there for two days. All members were not able to attend. We were in Maine, New Brunswick, and had one quick stop in Nova Scotia. It is a long way from being an indepth study on aquaculture on the east and west coasts.

We also spent six days in Scotland. While we were there we were able to meet with the minister responsible for aquaculture in Scotland, the minister responsible for aquaculture in Ireland, and a number of officials in Norway as well dealing with fin fish aquaculture. That is another difference that needs to be explained. We are dealing with two totally different types of aquaculture. It should be made very clear to the listening public that we do not want to get the two mixed up. Fin fish aquaculture and shellfish aquaculture are two entirely different things.

I can remember when shellfish aquaculture, which has been around for the last 20 years, was first becoming an important industry on the east coast. If anybody in the House is not aware of it, 95% of the blue mussels in the world are raised on P.E.I. A lot of oysters have been raised traditionally for the last thousand years.

I can remember in Mahone Bay in Indian Point when the Indian Point Mussel Farm first opened. There was a lot of fear between the traditional lobster industry and the farmer who was trying to introduce the blue mussels. What happened was that the mussel socks were put over muddy bottom, which is not lobster bottom. It attracted a lot of predators, including crabs and lobsters for the dead mussels that were falling out of the socks, and actually improved the habitat.

We have the same type of potential not necessarily to improve the habitat for other species by having salmon farms, but we certainly have the potential if we look at it in a smart, reasonable and responsible way to have fin fish aquaculture side by side with the traditional fishery. Will that be an easy process? Absolutely not. Is there a lot of fear out there from the traditional fishery about fin fish aquaculture? Yes, we do. Have there been some mistakes in the past? Yes, there have been.

Let us look at a couple of those mistakes. It is a fact that in the past way too many antibiotics were used on fish farms. That antibiotic rate has been cut down in the last three or four years in particular, first, with the use of more vaccines and less antibiotics. Second, it has been cut down so that probably today we can fairly accurately state that aquaculture uses less antibiotics than any other veterinary science. That is a big statement. If members visit some beef lots and some feed lots for the beef industry, and I am very familiar with those as well, they will see lots of antibiotics.

Another issue, which is a very real and significant one, is that of escapees. We have a problem with escapees. There is absolutely no question about it. If members have studied the aquaculture sites where they have significant problems with escapees in the past, they will see that problem has basically been managed. The escapee level has dropped dramatically in the last five or six years. The previous speaker said there were no incidents of escapees actually surviving. Unfortunately that is not true. There are incidents of escapees on the west coast. Incidents have also been recorded in New Brunswick and more incidents in Norway.

Do we need to protect the biodiversity and the salmon stocks that are there? Absolutely. Can we do that? Yes, a methodology can be applied that will do that and still allow for fin fish aquaculture.

The real culprit for the decline in the wild stocks is that we overfished them. We overfished them on the west coast. The government helped to do that. We overfished them on the east coast in a very serious way. When wild stocks were found off Norway, Canada, Norway and the United States fished them to extinction.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend the hon. member for Davenport for bringing this very important issue to the House of Commons, the place where these issues should be debated.

I do not think we are here to either slam aquaculture or to promote aquaculture. We are here to debate the discussions and the perceptions that are around aquaculture in Canada.

Aquaculture is not new. A lot of Canadians think the industry is perhaps 15 or 20 years old, but in reality it has been around for a long time. It was in our hatcheries well over 100 years ago.

Aquaculture in Canada and around the world has expanded very rapidly. People have concerns over genetically modified foods. They have concerns over trangenics, or what is called frankenfish. People have concerns about what they are eating when it comes to fish proteins.

I and other members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans have studied aquaculture but not to the extent that we should. When the committee does meet, we will be meeting again on the concerns of aquaculture.

The Liberal government and the previous Conservative government were sleeping when aquaculture was happening. The industry said that it was looking for support and resources in order to ascertain the industry in the new world. How do we replenish fish stocks when we cannot do it for the wild species?

Wild species of salmon, cod, hake and turbot, as well as many other species, are declining in our oceans. The void is being filled by aquaculture, and therein lies the debate. There are people within the department who are traditionalists and who believe commercial fishing is the way to go and that it must be maintained. We also have people within the department saying that the commercial fishery is a thing of the past and that we have to go to aquaculture.

Exactly what does that mean? I and my party believe that aquaculture and the commercial fishing sectors can co-exist but only—and this is where I want to thank the member for bringing the issue up—when we have clear scientific evidence to move ahead.

In the Aspotogan Peninsula near St. Margarets Bay a big battle is being waged by a local community group that does not want to see an aquaculture site expanded in the area. The DFO is doing an environmental assessment. It will pass its recommendations on to the province and the province in the end will make a decision.

Meanwhile the community waits. Meanwhile the businessperson who wants to run the aquaculture site waits. Members can understand why there is so much friction between the community, the commercial fishers who harvest the lobsters and the person who will invest a lot of money in an aquaculture site. There is no streamlined process yet, and this is where a lot of the debate and anger heats up.

On the west coast the aboriginal people are saying that they will, under no circumstance, eat Atlantic salmon because to them it is foreign. When the debate involves all these sectors, it is no wonder people argue and facts go out that are maybe not correct and that there is misinformation. It is not fair to the aquaculture industry, the commercial sector or the communities.

We need clear guidelines on who is responsible for what. Right now the DFO is responsible for the environmental work and the provincial governments are responsible for the licensing and leasing of the sites. That is a contradiction that needs to be streamlined.

Open net aquaculture farming has been going on for many years. Along with the David Suzuki Foundation and many other people we have advocated it is time to move toward a closed net system because the problem with escapees is very real. It is extremely real. The aquaculture industry used to tell us that escaped salmon could not go up rivers and could not survive in the wild or reproduce. We know to the contrary that is not correct.

We also heard that 15 to 20 years ago a tremendous amount of antibiotics used to be added to the feed and to the other sources that feed the penned salmon that are there now. That has been greatly reduced. However, what is feeding those salmon today? Canada does not have that information. We know that a lot of it comes from grains and from vegetable proteins, but a lot of it comes from other fish stocks as well.

Years ago, three pounds of wild fish used to be taken out of the ocean to market one pound of aquaculture salmon. That used to be so, but it is not that way any more.

I believe the aquaculture industry's greatest problem is its public relations efforts. It does not come consistently clear with the information that Canadians need, especially those in coastal communities. Aquaculture can be a future industry. It can have positive growth in the country. However we must make sure the Canadian people know exactly what they are eating when they buy salmon or have it at a restaurant. Almost all salmon in stores, restaurants or on airlines is farmed salmon.

I am encouraging the industry. I tell Mr. Rideout, the head of the CFIA, all the time that he should label the salmon that is in the supermarket. If we are proud of our farmed salmon then we should say so. We should say the salmon came from a particular farm.

We do it with eggs. We mark eggs properly. We tell Canadians what area they come from. We do it with chickens. We do it with beef. Why not label salmon as well? Why not label other fish stocks that are marketed through the farm method, like mussels, oysters, clams, et cetera? If we did that, a lot more Canadians would be aware of what they were eating. They could then ask the questions that are needed.

The North Sea oil in Norway is about to evaporate, probably around 2015. Norway has made it clear that the industry it will focus on in the future is aquaculture. It will be the world leader. It is the world leader now and it does not plan to let that go. Norway is way ahead of Canada when it comes to science, when it comes to co-operation with communities and when it comes to marketing its product around the world. If we want to be in the market we will have to be more open with Canadians and with government officials when the questions come around.

Yves Bastien is the commissioner of aquaculture at DFO. Most of the information on his government website comes directly from the industry. There is a perception that something is not right. If the commissioner of DFO for aquaculture must get his information directly from the industry, there is a perception that the information may be tainted or misleading. That is completely unacceptable.

If DFO is to be in the business of promoting aquaculture, it must make sure it is a completely separate entity. It must gather its own information and not information from the industry.

A cultural clash is happening within DFO between the traditional managers who were born and raised in the commercial fisheries and the new ones who are more used to aquaculture. They will have to get their act together, otherwise aquaculture will not grow in the country. It will be completely at loggerheads.

We cannot and should not ever say that aquaculture will replace the commercial fishery. If we do that we will have abrogated our responsibility as parliamentarians to the natural health of the country and of the planet.

There was a battle the other day between Maine and the U.S. federal government about making Bay of Fundy salmon stocks an endangered species. The American government did so, simply because it does not know what is causing the stocks to collapse. It could be aquaculture. It could be forestry. It could be mining. It could be commercial fishing. It could be environmental problems, global warming or the whole bit.

However when it comes to aquaculture issues, if we want to protect natural species we must have all the information at hand. We simply do not have the information right now.

On behalf of my party I thank the member for Davenport for raising the issue. I wish we could discuss it more and I am sure we will during the committee stage.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador


Lawrence O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to respond to the motion put forward by the hon. member for Davenport. I thank him for his continuing interest in aquaculture.

Canadians want to know the implications of aquaculture for the environment. For Fisheries and Oceans Canada the matter is a very high priority. The program for sustainable aquaculture announced by the minister last summer is an investment in aquaculture's ability to grow and flourish as a key Canadian industry. It also ensures that such growth does not come at the expense of our aquatic ecosystems.

Over the past decade DFO has undertaken a number of initiatives to examine the environmental impacts of aquaculture. Since the announcement last summer, the department has accelerated its work in this area.

We do not support the hon. member's motion for an entirely new study of the issues posed by aquaculture, simply because such work is already going on.

In past reviews a large part of the work has already been done. For such a relatively young industry, aquaculture has been the focus of rigorous studies and reviews over the past decade. There have been federal studies, provincial studies, international studies and industry studies. A number of these have included indepth public consultations.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the member's speech, but it being 11.57 a.m., and according to Standing Order 95(2), the main mover of the motion has five minutes to reply.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me first thank the members for Nanaimo—Alberni, Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, South Shore, Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, and Labrador for their interventions, for the input they have provided and for sharing their knowledge on this rather complex issue. I very much appreciate their interventions and what they said and I will comment briefly.

The member for Nanaimo—Alberni asked what I thought was a very relevant question: Why we are asking for funds to study something that is already being studied?

The member for Labrador just informed us that the process is in action. We will only be able to find the answer when we see the study publicly. The public has not yet seen the study, and neither have we. We are not in a position to determine whether the many interesting questions raised during the past hour are being dealt with in an appropriate manner in the departmental study.

With that kind of ignorance, so to say, we have to let the matter rest until the study is published. We sincerely hope the department and the government will publish it very soon.

As for the remarks by the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Prairie, he has raised as usual a deeply philosophical question. I agree with him that there is something of a paradox in fish farming, but the same could be said of government activities in all industries.

If we take for example government activity in the asbestos industry, in the lumber industry, or in agriculture, there is always a contradiction between activities on behalf of commercial interests and on behalf of those who want to protect the integrity of the environment.

Obviously, our task is to find solutions that protect all interests at the same time. This is not always feasible, but that is what is called sustainable development, and it is the subject matter of Bill C-4, which we will discuss in a few minutes.

The member for South Shore, who has displayed a tremendous amount of knowledge of the subject, recognizes the problem, and particularly with escapees. We are all happy to learn that in his experience and knowledge there is an inherent need to protect biodiversity.

I was struck by his conclusion, which was very apt, that the real culprit of the situation in which we may find ourselves with aquaculture is the overfishing of the wild stock to extinction.

The member from Sackville, in his usual incisive style, thinks there can be a co-existence between commercial fisheries and aquaculture provided of course that we take the necessary precautions for the long term, which is in essence the substance of this motion.

Fish FarmingPrivate Members' Business


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders


Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved that Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present for second reading Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology. I will begin with some context.

We live in an era in which the economic, social and environmental well-being of Canadians, and indeed of all the world's people and nations, hinges on our capacity to innovate, to respond to new challenges and new opportunities in new ways.

The bill is all about technological innovation in support of sustainable development, a clear and compelling priority that was identified in our Speech from the Throne.

Sustainable development is a complex balancing act among economic, social and environmental values and goals. Furthermore, it is a balance that constantly changes, influenced by such variables as science, population growth, economic circumstances and environmental requirements.

The optimism that we can stay on top of all the challenges, that is keep our balance, assumes that as we move down the road our ability to respond to those challenges will also evolve and develop, that we be refreshed and re-equipped with new knowledge, ideas and technologies to keep the equation balanced in our favour and that we redefine the limits of what is possible. All of that is fundamental to our future.

New technology by itself is not a silver bullet that will slay every dragon that we will face but it is indispensable to our success.

Leadership in developing and deploying new generations of sustainable development technology will bring economic, social and environmental rewards.

Canada is in a worldwide race to reap those rewards. The United States, the European Union, Japan and others are committing major amounts of money to support new technology for sustainable development, and Canada must keep pace.

That is why the principle of sustainable development is written right into the legislative mandate of my department, Natural Resources Canada. That is why our government tabled a whole series of departmental sustainable development strategies just last week. For the same reason, significant new dollars for sustainable development activities were committed in both last February's federal budget and in the economic statement last October; over $1 billion worth all together. That is why we have this new legislation before us today.

In budget 2000 we first announced the government's intention to establish a foundation with initial funding of $100 million to stimulate the development and demonstration of new environmental technologies, in particular climate change and clean air technologies. Bill C-4 delivers on that commitment from budget 2000. It creates the organizational structure, the legal status and the modus operandi of the foundation.

I will talk for a moment about goals and points of focus for this new foundation. The proposed foundation gives funding support for development and demonstration of new and promising sustainable development technologies. It will also support measures to get these new tools into use as quickly and as widely as possible. A bright new idea is only an idea as long as it remains in the laboratory or in some academic institution. We need to get it into the field where it can really make a difference.

The foundation will focus in particular on the funding of new and emerging climate change and clean air technologies, including some in which Canada has already established an early international lead and in which further investment is very likely to produce new breakthroughs and new benefits.

Many hon. members in the House will be familiar with certain projects of this kind in their own regions, provinces, some even in their own constituencies. They will be familiar with the environmental and economic benefits that these initiatives have brought to Canadians.

I think, for example, of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source before they enter the atmosphere. I think of technologies, such as carbon sequestration, that allows us to capture and store greenhouse gases underground. I think of the development of new and alternative fuel sources, including ethanol, solar energy and wind power.

I think of energy efficiency technologies to conserve our resources and reduce emissions at the same time. I think of technologies in the field of enhanced oil recovery that reinforce our energy independence by squeezing new oil from old wells and, at the same time, reduce the environmental footprint. I think also of technologies that reduce particulate matter in the air.

Within these areas and others, the foundation will concentrate support by mobilizing collaboration among partners, partners in industry, government, the universities, academic institutions and not for profit organizations. Let me expand on that point for just a moment.

When we analyze various strategies for spurring technology innovation throughout the world, we find that a common characteristic of those that truly work is support for collaborative effort, people working together. The sum of these combined efforts is much more than their individual parts. Synergy succeeds.

In effect, the bill is about supporting synergy, about putting money into the pooling of skills, resources and expertise, bringing people and their talents together. It will help to finance projects that bring together Canadian experts from industry, from universities, from a variety of associations and many others.

It will pull together team members from the whole spectrum of technology innovation, each bringing a specific competence to the table. In doing these things, the legislation will fulfil another vital need. It will use the leverage of the foundation's funding to bring other money, new money, private sector money, into the development and demonstration of new technologies.

None of these objectives are unique, nor are the strategies for achieving them. They are similar to those of several other federal programs that occupy a specific niche in support of technology development. This foundation will complement and will reinforce these other efforts through its emphasis on collaboration and specifically its emphasis on sustainable development technologies, in particular climate change and clean air. It will also bring new money into the system.

The achievement of these goals requires attention to several complex issues: administrative, technical quality and otherwise. As hon. members will note, the legislation takes these issues very much into account, for example, the question of intellectual property rights: who owns and who can access the fruits of all of this co-operative, publicly funded labour.

There are issues related to funding. The bill requires recipients to conform to certain principles that the foundation would set on funding issues, for example, the question of who qualifies for funding. The legislation defines these qualifications and requires that they be addressed. Details on these matters will be spelled out in the specific funding agreement to be entered into between the government and the foundation.

Ultimately the benefit of this funding to the Canadian environment and to the Canadian economy depends on the quality of targeting and team building. This requires careful design of the machinery of governance for the foundation. The legislation outlines this machinery. It calls for the creation of a board of directors. The board would operate at arm's length from government. It would report annually to parliament.

The second component in the governance structure is a committee representing stakeholders and potential clients of the foundation. We call the people on this broader body the members of the foundation. The board would consist of 15 directors, all of them drawn from outside government. The first seven, that is six directors and the chairperson, would be appointed by the Government of Canada. The other eight would be appointed by that broader group known as the members of the foundation.

The board would be an executive group. It would supervise the management and services of the foundation and, subject to the foundation's bylaws, it would exercise all of its powers.

The board would need to be balanced in a number of ways. First, it would need to be balanced in terms of expertise. It would comprise directors who collectively represent the whole spectrum of sustainable technology development in Canada, public, private, academic and not for profit. Last but not least of course, the board would have balance in the geographic sense with members drawn from all regions of Canada.

The legislation requires the board to establish financial and management controls to ensure efficient execution of the foundation's business. It calls for the board to appoint an auditor and it outlines the qualifications for that role. It requires the annual report, that I mentioned earlier, to include an evaluation of results achieved by the funding of projects year by year and also cumulatively since the start of the foundation, so that we in the House, and Canadians generally, will be able to know and to track the progress that is being made. Here again the funding agreement between the government and the foundation will spell out these requirements in detail.

One last thought that I will leave with the House before I close is about the relationship between knowledge and technology on the one hand and our national well-being on the other.

In the knowledge based world in which we live, we are now well across the threshold of an era in which the winners are not only the swift and the strong but also the smart and the innovative. Nowhere is this more true than in Canada's natural resources sector, a sector in which economic and environmental imperatives converge, a sector in which the cause and effect relationship between innovation and success is clearly demonstrated.

In Canada today our resource companies are among the biggest of the big spenders on innovation. They account for 22% of all new capital investment in Canada. Of the ten most innovative Canadian industries, five are resource based. Collectively the companies in this sector are in the first ranks of being the creators and the consumers of new technology. The results are there for all to see.

The new Dow Jones sustainability group index, which was introduced about a year ago, rates major corporations around the world on their success at integrating economic, environmental and social performance. That Dow Jones sustainability group index ranks four Canadian companies at the very top of the index. Significantly, all four are resource based.

During the past two years, average productivity growth rates in our resource based industries have been two to three times higher than those of the Canadian economy overall. These are powerful facts, refuting the simplistic analysis of some, which tends to think that natural resources are only the mainstay of the so-called old economy, with a great past but little future in the new economy of tomorrow.

In Canada today, energy, mining, forestry and earth sciences account for more than 11% of our gross domestic product. That is close to $90 billion. Looking outward, they account for about $100 billion every year in Canadian exports, with a favourable trade surplus of $60 billion. Canadian resource knowledge and technology are being marketed and applied throughout the world.

In short, innovation is paying off for Canada. However, to meet challenges like climate change, to meet challenges like clean air, we must maintain and indeed accelerate our momentum in the field of science, knowledge and innovation. We must keep building our brain power and move rapidly to put new ideas into action. Our record of performance thus far is encouraging, but we need to do more, and that is what this bill is all about.

In the new millennium, Canada must become and must remain the world's smartest natural resources steward, developer, user and exporter. That means being the most high tech, the most environmentally friendly, the most socially responsible and the most productive and competitive, leading the world as a living model of sustainable development and successfully so. The legislation now before the House will help us to reach those goals, goals that I believe are worthy Canadian aspirations.

We have an enormous wealth and an enormous heritage of natural resources in our country. It is exceedingly important when it comes to developing and managing those resources, not just for the current generation but for generations of children and grandchildren yet to come, that we do so in a responsible manner, a manner that effectively balances our economic, social and environmental imperatives. The new fund proposed by the legislation will help us get there.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-4. Certainly the minister paints a fine picture and I would not disagree with much of what he said.

However, as the critic for the Canadian Alliance Party, I begin the debate quite frankly undecided as to what position to take on the bill, because it is generally quite vague and lacks a lot of specific detail. Certainly in his presentation the minister did little to add any of that detail.

In the seven years I have been in the House, many as the critic for natural resources and for this particular minister, I have found that he has always been a master of words and is able to get around specifics while presenting a very encouraging picture. However, I need to understand some of the details around the bill and specifically why we need to create this new bureaucracy to achieve the goals the minister spoke about.

Since the Kyoto protocol in 1997 and Canada's commitment at that conference, the government seems to have been in a constant search for that silver bullet the minister referred to and seems to be shooting bullets in every direction rather than focusing on any particular strategy.

Certainly the billion dollars the minister referred to that has been put in place to help us to reach the objective has been scattered around in so many directions that it is quite frankly hard to keep track of. There have been a number of programs: the climate change early action fund, $150 million; the $60 million for renewable energy initiatives; $15 million for the procurement of green power; $125 million for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to support environmentally friendly technologies; $100 million for international capacity building; and the list goes on.

What I was hoping to learn from the minister's presentation was why there is a need for the new bureaucracy and specifically what it would achieve in enhancing our chances of reaching the Kyoto protocol, the possible achievement of which seems to be quickly evaporating in regard to the government and Canada. In spite of how many times we read the government's action plan on climate change, which was introduced before the election, it just does not cut it in regard to the possibility of achieving the Kyoto protocol targets. By my calculations, at least, if all of the objectives under action plan 2000 were achieved we would only be one third of the way to the Kyoto commitment, so we are certainly not there.

The other concern I have is in regard to the minister speaking about how our survival depends on our ability to innovate. I suggest that there is some truth to that, but I certainly would also suggest that our survival depends very much on our ability to afford and to implement those innovations as they come along. Of course that has been part of the problem with this whole climate change initiative and where we are going.

The technologies that are emerging and will emerge and become available generally, at least in the timeframe of the Kyoto protocol, are totally unaffordable for the average Canadian who would use this technology. I refer to the Ballard power cell and the development of prototype power cell vehicles and electric cars and those kinds of things, and to the government's own initiative in investment in green power. These cars are three times the price of standard cars on the market today and are certainly far out of reach of the average citizen who drives to work every day.

Also, the government's investment in green power comes at a price at least double that of even today's marketplace electricity rates, so again it is a wonderful idea but unaffordable in general society.

Our challenge is not only to develop these innovative ideas and technologies but to make them affordable so that we can put them to work in society. If we cannot achieve that, the development of these things has little impact on or benefit for mainstream Canadians.

Having said that, I have to spend a little time on the bill itself because I have some real concerns with how it is put together and what it is advocating.

Again I ask why we need the bill. Why could these funds not be delivered through existing mechanisms that are already in place under the climate change envelope, through the Business Development Bank, through some regional development agencies that a lot of government dollars are funnelled through? As well, why could they not be delivered through some of the grassroots community development associations that fund the development of new technologies, new ideas and new projects? One has to wonder why the government is choosing to go with this format. I did not hear any indication as to why in the minister's speech. I am really concerned simply because it is the creation of another 30 bureaucratic positions, albeit 15 of them are not in a true sense paid bureaucrats and the establishment of the foundation is a good idea.

On the other hand, long ago the minister established all kinds of these bodies to help him understand his portfolio and to advise him on all kinds of issues that fall within that portfolio. They are called ministerial advisory committees. All kinds of very knowledgeable and pretty sharp people sit on these advisory committees at no cost to the people of Canada other than the cost of their expenses, as would be the case for this foundation. I do not think we need to create this foundation to get the services of these people from industry and from society at large in order to achieve what we want. Of course the board of directors is another story because the directors will be paid.

The foundation itself will set the terms and conditions, the salaries, the job descriptions and all of the rest of those things that do not exist in the bill. The bill gives broad powers to the foundation itself to set up all of those things. As the minister suggested in his speech, the specific funding agreement between the foundation and the government will come at some time after the creation of the bill. Based on the government's record of accountability and transparency and its record on the appointment of people favourable to the government for these kinds of positions, this is cause for concern for most Canadians. If the government is just going to use this as another source for patronage appointments to reward those loyal to the government, I do not think we need more of them. We have more than enough already. The government, or the governor in council as it is called, has abused that power in the past. We do not need to create more of those positions.

Having said that, we need only to look at other crown corporations that the government has created in the past to deliver funding in partnership with the private sector and for good causes.

The creation of the foundation generally sounds like a good idea, particularly when the minister presents it. Why will this be different from, for example, what happened to the president of the Business Development Bank when he chose to turn down a project in the Prime Minister's riding favourable to the Prime Minister? It did not take long for him to change his mind and it did not take long to find somebody else to replace the president of the Business Development Bank.

My concern is whether the foundation, its president and board of directors will be treated any differently by the government than those other organizations. That is totally unacceptable.

It is difficult to determine exactly what this arm's length organization, as the minister put it, will be. It appears to me that it is in fact a crown corporation created by the government to move the disbursement of funds away from the government, away from direct responsibility of the minister and to remove it from scrutiny by the Auditor General of Canada. That is one of my biggest concerns with this whole foundation.

The bill deals a fair bit with the creation of an auditor who would be hired and directed by the foundation itself. However, it would be accountable only through its financial statement once a year to parliament. I do not think that is sufficient scrutiny or sufficient transparency to satisfy most Canadians.

The auditor general must have access to this thing. It must be more than simply an effort to move the whole idea of funding the development of new technologies away from the government so that the government can deflect a lot of the criticism for the failure of these projects. Of course the government always accepts the accolades for the success of the projects. Essentially if it moves away from the department as it exists now to this crown corporation, then the crown corporation is a shield for the minister and for the government for any undesirable results that might in fact happen.

That has to be addressed and hopefully we can talk about that. I will be introducing some amendments in the process to hopefully achieve some of that transparency and some of that accountability for those things.

Essentially, it could be a good tool for the government to use to move and to help create this development of new technologies. However, it is very hard to determine just exactly how this foundation and its board of directors will achieve the goals that are laid out for them. Clause 19(1) of the bill states:

From its funds, the Foundation may provide funding to eligible recipients to be used by them solely for the purposes of eligible projects in accordance with any terms and conditions specified by the Foundation in respect of funding—

Again, this is okay expect that nobody knows what those terms and conditions will be or what the agreement between the government and the foundation will be. Hopefully we will have some clarification of that as we go through the process.

However, what concerns me is that it states:

—including terms and conditions as to repayment of the funding, intellectual property rights and the maximum amount and proportion of funding for eligible projects to be provided by the Foundation.

It is difficult to understand whether the foundation is simply seeking out projects that show potential and helping to provide funding in those projects or whether its role is to provide loans to these projects. It does not appear that the foundation has the ability to actually have any ownership in these projects. It says:

—the Foundation shall not acquire any interest, whether through the acquisition of share capital, a partnership interest or otherwise, in any research infrastructure acquired by the eligible recipient for the project.

It is a little hard to understand what the objective is, whether it is for the foundation simply to cast around and pick winners and losers and when it thinks it has a winner to heap money on to the project in the hopes that it will be successful or whether it is something else.

Both provincial and federal governments certainly do not have a good track record when it comes to picking winners and losers in business. I do not think that should really be the role of government. At any rate, the government's role is to provide an environment where business can flourish, be successful and develop these kinds of technologies. Government interference through the use of tax dollars into business and into the development of business can make winners if enough is invested. If we invest enough money we can grow bananas at the North Pole.

The reality is that it distorts the marketplace. It distorts market forces of competition and innovation. I do not know that that should be the government's role. In fact, I do not think it is. Say we have a promising private sector company in one part of the country and a similar private sector company in another part of the country, both with some interesting projects that show potential. We have this foundation of people generally appointed by the government and favourable to the government. Again, if we look at the history with the Business Development Bank, which is vulnerable to political pressure and political interference by the government, it is easy to see how choices can be made to influence the success or failure of a particular project. Depending on where the company is located in the country and how favourable that particular organization is, or perhaps even how large a donation it has made recently to a particular political party, could have an effect.

I hate to be so skeptical. However, after the years that I have been here it just seems to happen over and over again. I have no reason to expect that this particular venture will be any different from the ones in the past.

We have learned some things already from the government's efforts on greenhouse gas emission reduction. It is worthy to note that the government has already made some serious mistakes in this rush to reduce emissions, to clean up our environment and to create sustainable technologies.

Right from the very beginning of the conference of the parties in Buenos Aires, I believe it was, and as we move forward, the environmental side of the equation has always presented the theory that we had to force, either through taxation or through market forces, the cost of fossil fuel energy higher. It was too cheap in North America and we had to do something to force energy prices higher, much higher than those in Europe. We had to force energy conservation which would help us achieve our objective of reduced emissions because we have used less fossil fuel and less energy, thereby fewer emissions.

If there is anything to have been learned in the last year with the energy crisis that we are facing with spiralling energy costs in electricity, in natural gas in particular and gasoline, it is that higher energy prices are not the answer for conservation.

Fossil fuel intense projects like greenhouses, transportation, commercial and residential heating are switching back to technologies less favourable to the environment instead of simply using conservation measures to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.

With organizations like the Pembina Institute, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the others that had this idea, it is becoming clearer that there were other agendas at play other than just energy conservation through higher prices for energy.

We have to look at that, learn from it and understand that the development of new technologies will be the answer and will be our saviour. They will reduce emissions and use less energy. The fact is that the average citizens out there would love to be more environmentally conscious and would love to do their part in the reduction of emissions and saving the environment.

What has the government actually done to help them do that? To my knowledge the only thing under this climate change initiative the government presented was an offer of $100 to pay half the cost of an energy audit for one's home, so that a new industry, energy auditors, could be created and could go around telling people how they can be more efficient and save money on their energy costs.

It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that once the energy auditor presents recommendations, the real cost in that initiative is going to be the implementation of those recommendations. The upgrading of residential and commercial buildings and all of things that go with it can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At some point the government is going to have to look at a program to help Canadians take hold of the new technologies which have been developed and implement them. That would not only be in residential situations but also in transportation and all kinds of sectors. There are some terrific ideas that will come forward and that are already coming forward. However, the cost of implementing them cannot be borne by the individual or by the corporate sector that will be expected to use them.

Imagine what would happen to the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables if the cost of transportation continues to rise as it has done in the last year? We clearly have to find better and newer technologies to implement in the transportation sector. Because that sector operates on such a fine margin, there has to be some kind of program and thought put into just how that sector could implement those technologies and still be able to provide a service to Canadians that is affordable and reasonable.

I have not seen any indication from the government that it would do that. The only thing it has done so far is the recent energy rebate which has turned into the biggest boondoggle we have seen in a long time. People in penitentiaries, dead people and people who never paid an energy bill in their lives are receiving rebates, while those who are responsible for those costs are not getting anything.

Just this morning I had a call from a lady not too far from Ottawa. She was wondering what the longer term plan of the government might be and what we could suggest to the government that might help Canadians next winter and the winter after that. It is inevitable that energy costs will continue to rise, hopefully not at the rate they did this winter. It is a finite resource and the cost of energy will continue to rise either because of the depleting resource or because of the implementation of these new technologies of which the minister spoke.

I was hard-pressed to give the lady a lot of assurance that there was anything on the drawing board that would help her in particular. However I did suggest, as we have suggested to the government on a number of occasions, that by just simply designating home heating fuels as an essential commodity and removing excise tax and GST from those commodities would be a step in the right direction. Gas bills having now reached a point where in many cases they are higher than mortgage payments, I think the removal of those taxes would go a long way toward showing some compassion for the hardship created by those energy prices.

I look forward to the bill getting into committee so we can hear witnesses and hear an explanation of all these things. At that time we will make up our mind whether to support the bill at third reading stage. There needs to be a lot of discussion and a lot of answers from the government side on exactly what we are trying to achieve, how we will get there and how we will assure Canadian taxpayers that this foundation is a good use of their tax dollars. Canadians need assurance that their dollars are not being squandered and abused as so often is the case.

I look forward to the debate and discussion in committee. We will speak further to the bill at third reading stage and go from there.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

At the outset, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment, and the new Speaker on his election. I am sure you will show fairness and impartiality in your work.

This is my first time speaking in the 37th parliament. I would have liked to rise before, but I was unfortunately gagged during the debate on Bill C-2. I wanted to speak on behalf of my constituents from Sherbrooke, but unfortunately I was unable to do so.

I would also like to salute my constituents and to thank them for the trust they put in me last November. I know many members talked about their majority when they rose for the first time and I will limit my comments to the fact that I increased mine 11 times. Figures should be interpreted when they are most favourable.

The bill before us today had been introduced before parliament was dissolved. It was then know as Bill C-46. The new Bill C-4 aims at establishing a foundation to fund sustainable development technology. Incidentally, the word foundation is reminiscent of the sad chapter of the millennium fund.

At the beginning of this session, it is difficult to see in what direction the government is aiming. Of course, the throne speech and its promises could provide interesting leads. We realize that all that can be found in that document looks like déjà-vu.

In fact, the legislative program looks the same as what it was before the election was called. Just consider the legislation concerning young offenders and the employment insurance program. Even with regard to Bill C-3, a minister's assistant said only the cover page was changed. That is a nice program. Even the Cabinet remained unchanged. The old federal reflexes of interfering in everything and anything are likely to carry on.

Let us put things briefly in context. Bill C-4, formerly Bill C-46, sponsored by the Minister of Natural Resources, would create a corporation, the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology. The objects and purposes of that foundation would be to provide funding for projects to develop and demonstrate new technologies to promote sustainable development, including technologies to address climate change and air quality issues.

The establishment of the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology is one of the initiatives that the federal government announced in its February 2000 budget to promote environmentally desirable technologies and practices. The foundation would operate as a not for profit organization. It would consist of a chairperson, six directors and eight members, some of them appointed by the government.

The foundation would have to table in parliament an annual report of its activities. The foundation would also have to administer a sustainable development technology fund, which would be provided with an initial amount of $100 million.

According to the backgrounder entitled “Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology”, which was released by the government when the bill was introduced, the foundation would provide funding in two dominant areas: new climate-friendly technologies that hold the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and technologies to address clean air issues. This undertaking is not as clear in the bill, however.

The funding would be for specific projects. In order to benefit the maximum number of innovative sources, the foundation would accept proposals from existing and new collaborative arrangements among technology developers, suppliers and users, universities, not-for-profit organizations, and organizations such as industrial associations and research institutes. Small and medium size enterprises would be strongly encouraged to participate and lead projects supported by the foundation.

The foundation's activities would complement other government programs encouraging technological innovation, such as the Technology Early Action Measures component of the Climate Change Action Fund, and Technology Partnerships Canada in the case of environmental technologies.

The creation of a funding agency responsible for promoting the development of ecological technologies was recommended by the Technology Issues Table. In its December 10, 1999, report on the development of technological innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Technology Issues Table recommended the creation of a fund to develop climate change technologies in order to encourage the development of target technologies with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas effects and stimulate international sales.

The technology issues table called for an initial investment of $20 million annually, to be increased to $200 million annually starting in the fifth year. It also recommended that 50% of the funding come from federal sources, 25% from provincial sources and 25% from private sources, although it felt that this could vary from one project to another.

Noting that one of the major challenges of innovation is the initial introduction of new technologies and new services in the market, the issue table also recommended the creation of a climate change technology demonstration program that would offset some portion of the financial risks involved in early domestic commercialization of greenhouse gas mitigation technologies.

According to the issue, this option should ramp up from $60 million per annum for year one to $300 million per annum for year five. The federal government should provide, on a portfolio basis, up to 30% of the investment, with the remainder originating from provincial and industry sources. The federal component would be repayable.

In this context the government decided in its budget 2000 to create the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology, which would support both development and demonstration activities but would not limit itself to climate change technologies.

Instead, it would fund various projects aimed at promoting technologies that contribute to sustainable development. Thus, this is a category of much larger projects.

While the government said it intended to put the emphasis on the funding of new technologies relating to climate change and clean air, the bill does not reflect this priority. It simply deals with the funding of sustainable development technologies, particularly those that are aimed at bringing solutions to climate change and air pollution issues.

Under the definition of “eligible project” in clause 2, the bill does not give express priority to the latter type of projects. Therefore, it might be up to the foundation alone to determine, under clause 19, what types of projects relating to sustainable development it would be prepared to fund.

It is important to note that the definition of eligible recipient in clause 2 refers to an entity that meets the criteria of eligibility established in any agreement entered into between the government and the foundation. It is not clearly indicated if this power, whose concrete aspects are not defined anywhere in the bill, could be used by the government to restrict the definition of “eligible recipient” to those claimants that carry on specific types of projects, thus influencing or restricting the foundation's funding decisions.

In other words, could the government and the foundation agree on eligibility criteria that would impact on what is an eligible project? It would be appropriate to get some clarification on that point, particularly since the government said that the foundation will not be an agent of Her Majesty.

The round table on technologies recommended initial funding of $80 million for the two phases of the projects, that is $20 million for development and $60 million for demonstration. It also recommended that this amount be increased to $500 million after five years, or $200 million for development projects and $300 million for demonstration projects.

Under the bill, the foundation would get an initial amount of $100 million to support development and demonstration projects. Now, since the foundation's mandate goes beyond the financing of technologies linked to climate change, one could come to the conclusion that the financing provided is insufficient, at least for the initial period.

I would also like to talk about some Liberal commitments regarding the environment. I would like to remind the House of some promises made by the Liberals during the last election campaign and contained in the third edition of the red book. However, the events of last week have shown the real usefulness of such documents. They do not seem to stand the test of time, since the authors of the promises contained in the red book voted against a motion containing one of those promises word for word.

Here are some of those promises which are directly linked to the subject matter of today's debate. Again, these are promises made by the Liberal government. They are the following:

(1) A new Liberal government will help the private sector by maintaining R&D tax credits that are already among the most generous in the world, and by working to commercialise discoveries made in government and university labs.

(2) A new Liberal government will act to significantly improve air quality for all Canadians. We will make special efforts to clean-up the air of our cities, where the population and the pollutants are most highly concentrated.

(3) A new Liberal government will continue to support the development of cleaner engines and fuels, and we will strengthen emissions standards for vehicles. We will greatly reduce sulphur in diesel fuel.

(4) A new Liberal government will attack the problem on several fronts under our Action Plan on Climate Change. We will promote increase energy efficiency in industry and in the transportation system. We will fund the development of new energy technologies, such as fuel cells, and help farmers to reduce agricultural emissions through improved farming methods.

Those are promises still. I continue:

We will increase Canada's use of renewable energy, such as electricity from wind and ethanol from biomass. We will encourage consumers to buy more energy-efficient products by providing information and setting high product standards.

That makes a lot of promises. In the throne speech, the government essentially repeated the same things. It said, for instance.

As part of its efforts to promote global sustainable development, the Government will ensure that Canada does its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will work with its provincial and territorial partners to implement the recently announced first national business plan on climate change.

I am not going to comment on these statements and promises one by one. A number of them, however, were already known. For instance, the action plan on climate change was announced last October 6.

In the 1997 and 1999 throne speeches, the Liberals announced that they would make the environment one of their priorities, that they would address the matter of climate changes and commit to promoting sustainable development on an international scale. Yet the budget allocated to the environment has done nothing but decrease since 1994-95.

How then can the Liberals be believed? We have no choice but to conclude that there is a lot of difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. For example, Environment Canada announced several months ago that it was going to call for tenders for the design of an import-export policy for PCB contaminated waste. This was made necessary by budget cuts at Environment Canada. As a result of these cuts, the private sector was entrusted with the mandate of designing policies on the import and export of hazardous waste. Really now.

I have, nonetheless, retained a few words from the vocabulary used in the promises and the throne speech: “on several fronts”, “provincial and territorial partners”.

Several fronts suggests a shotgun approach, in all directions and none at the same time. I presume that the government has good intentions and is acting in good faith. However, what does such concern hide? We saw the government move on several fronts in the case of the millennium scholarships and other initiatives in the education area, but its partners are given very little consideration. The federal government always acts as if it was the holder of absolute truth.

Let us now turn briefly to what the environment and sustainable development commissioner said. If the federal government really wants to take the path of sustainable development, it should start by examining its own operations to identify the areas it could improve before telling people that they should consume more ecological and energy efficient products. In his report for the year 2000, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development said:

Since 1990, the federal government has made commitments to Canadians that it would green its operations. Yet, a decade later, there is a lack of rudimentary information about government's vast operations, the costs of which are likely more than $400 million annually for water, energy and waste disposal. We found that the government does not have complete and accurate data on the annual cost of running its buildings and on the environmental impacts of its operations.

When compared to Liberal commitments, this statement by the commissioner reveals that what is probably lacking the most at the federal level is concerted action. After the fiasco of the heating bill visibility operation we see clearly that the government does not have a long term vision.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not underline the recent findings of the auditor general on various appointments. The establishment of a foundation necessarily implies the appointment of a board of directors. I hope that the ministers who will make the appointments will base their decision more on the competence of the candidates than on their political allegiance.

Another point is the fact that Canada clearly will not fulfil its Kyoto commitment. Not only does Canada not appear to be on the way to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, but it actually appears to be increasing them.

In the February edition of Le Monde diplomatique , it is reported that Canada is part of group of countries called the umbrella group. Reference is made to the November 2000 conference held in The Hague, which ended in failure due to these countries' intransigence.

These countries are attached to loopholes such as the unlimited emission rights instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and insist on taking forests into account in the determination of efforts made by each country. Organizations have already denounced the hypocrisy of Canada, which is hoping to boost its reactor sales by trying to include nuclear energy among clean tools of economic development.

At the Vancouver environment and natural resources ministers conference, Ottawa tried to address only public awareness measures and investment projects in less energy consuming technologies. And yet, if the trend holds, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada could be 35% above what they should be.

We must therefore conclude from these examples that what Canada is lacking is the firm political will to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Resorting to its age old strategy of invading provincial jurisdictions rather than developing a joint strategy, Canada will not be able to meet its international commitments.

The establishment of foundations and other similar initiatives will only ease the Canadian government's conscience without leading to any tangible result.

Would this be a new hobby aiming at shrinking the provincial role? Quebec does not need anybody's advice. As Mr. Pierre Elliott Trudeau used to say:

One way to offset the attraction of separatism is to put time, energy and huge amounts of money at the service of federal nationalism.

No doubt, the environment will be the next area to be invaded by the federal government to try and shrink Quebec's role even more. After the Canadian millennium scholarships, education, the health minister's plans for a family medicine program, the new federal hobby may well be the environment.

In this respect, the bill under consideration, which establishes a foundation to develop and demonstrate new technologies to promote sustainable development, appears to belong to the Canadian government's continued effort to have its way in many spheres of human action. What will the foundation do? How much money will it have at its disposal? The news release announcing the bill states:

The new Foundation will administer the Sustainable Development Technology Fund for the development and demonstration of new technologies, in particular, those aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

We are told as well that the foundation will have a budget of $100 million. How will the federal government reconcile the many efforts being made in the area of climate change and sustainable development? How will the money allocated for this foundation differ from the climate change action fund? Part of this fund is intended for cost effective technological projects promoting a reduction in greenhouse gases.

The Liberals have a long tradition of unfulfilled promises with respect to the environment. More specifically, in the area of greenhouse gases, not only is Canada not sufficiently reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, it is significantly increasing them. Rather than making a serious commitment to reduce them, Canada is now one of the group of countries that is looking more for loopholes in the Kyoto protocol than it is for sustainable ways to reduce emissions.

In this regard Quebec's energy choices are exemplary, and Quebec is resolutely committed to reducing greenhouse gases.

Will this foundation support initiatives in the nuclear sector? We could think so, since Canada has lobbied vigorously to have nuclear energy considered green.

In our election platform we noted that an investment of $1.5 billion was required for the environment. The federal government must attack this problem seriously. Had it not implemented the policy of $125 for heating oil, for example, it could have saved $1.3 billion. Will the foundation's $100 million be enough? Only the future will tell.

The Bloc Quebecois of course would support this bill because our party is concerned about the environment.

We would support the bill if it were amended on six factors giving rise to concern and opposition from the Bloc.

The first one is the division of powers. We see this as an underhanded way for the federal government to intrude once again in provincial jurisdiction.

The second one is that Quebec already has such a foundation. The creation of this foundation comes as a surprise, since a $45 million action fund for sustainable development already exists in Quebec.

Instead of creating this foundation, the federal government should transfer the money to Quebec's agencies, which are already working along the lines recommended by the table and which have a good understanding of the issue.

Concentration of powers is another factor. Practically all the directors of the foundation are appointed by the governor in council. Under the bill, the governor in council, on the recommendation of the minister, appoints seven of the fifteen directors. However, the eight other directors are appointed by the very members appointed by the governor in council.

Finally, the chairperson and all directors may be removed for cause by the governor in council. This method of appointment seems to be a roundabout way of allowing the federal government to interfere in an area under provincial jurisdiction and to have control over an organization that is not accountable to parliament.

The fact that the governor in council has the authority to enter into agreements with the foundation to set eligibility criteria regarding eligible recipients shows that this organization would not really operate at arm's length from the federal government. The latter would, in a roundabout way, have a say as to how funding is granted to eligible recipients.

Another factor is the dangerous definitions contained in the bill. For example, since the term “eligible project” deals with technologies that include, but are not restricted to, those to address climate change and air quality issues, this could allow funding for nuclear technology projects justified as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which would be contrary to the commitments made by the federal government in Kyoto.

The fifth factor to consider is the disparity between the recommendations from the table and the bill. The foundation would be responsible for managing funds to support technologies to promote sustainable development. It is certainly a lofty goal, but it is rather vague when used in a bill.

The establishment of such a foundation would not reflect the main recommendation of the table which was to allocate money for the development of technologies to reduce greenhouses gas emissions and to stimulate international sales.

The bill does not reflect the general direction of the recommendations of the technology table, mainly because it does not include a goal oriented implementation strategy. Also, the bill does not promote co-operation between the federal government, the provinces and industry and does not contain a qualitative definition of the benefits and factors contributing to our quality of live for each of the options.

The bill only focuses on two of the eight options brought forward by the technology table.

The last factor has to do with the level of funding. We are concerned about the small amount allocated to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In 1998, the Anderson strategy had a budget totalling $1.3 billion over a period of five years to fight this problem.

On December 10, 1998, the table released a report on the development of technological innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in which it recommended that a fund be set up, with an initial contribution of $80 million for both stages, development and demonstration, and that the funding be increased to $500 million after five years.

Since the terms of reference of the foundation are not limited to technologies addressing climate change, the funding for the initial phase is not enough.

In conclusion, I would say that, through its environmental policy, the Bloc Quebecois does support positive and proactive actions, provided they take into account the fact that Quebec is an important stakeholder.

Therefore, we will be moving amendments at committee stage.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I say a special merci beaucoup to the translators of the House of Commons who do a great job interpreting what we are trying to say to the Canadian people.

What can we say about the bill? It is sustainable development technology. It is a $100 million fund that will go into a pot somewhere and then some people will look at it and do something about it.

If it is anything like the millennium scholarship fund, we in the New Democratic Party fear that it will go absolutely nowhere and benefit very few people. I find it pleasing that the government is at least talking about sustainable technology. We fear that the government will not do very much about it. Anyone needing more proof should look at our commitments at Kyoto and Rio. What did we do about those commitments?

We set targets and guidelines for CO2 emission reductions for 2006 and 2008. The goal posts have now been moved to 2010 and 2012 and so on. It is quite ironic that while we are debating the bill there is a report from the UN coming out today mentioning that global warming is indeed real. It is happening and it is having a great affect on the population of the planet, not just in one specific area.

For those of us on the east coast, as my Conservative Party colleague from the South Shore knows, people living by the ocean are getting a little nervous. On the prairies this has probably been one of the driest winters my friends in Calgary have ever had. Yet St. John's, Newfoundland, has had over 16 feet of snow and it is still coming down.

After the floods on the Saguenay River in Quebec and the Red River in Winnipeg, it is very important that all Canadians start to realize that they should not be critical of the reports by scientists from around the world and the UN. Global warming is a fact although I have to say, tongue in cheek, that members of the Reform Party, now the Canadian Alliance Party, stated in the House many times that global warming was a myth. They said that it did not exist and asked what we were worried about. We should be very worried about it.

I am pleased that the government is at least discussing sustainable development technology. However I suspect, like the millennium fund, that it will be just a group of people who the government mostly appoints. Most NGOs, groups like International Fund for Animal Welfare, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Sierra Club of Canada, the World Wildlife Fund Canada and a group from my own riding like the Ecology Action Centre, are great people who volunteer a lot of their time to promote sustainable technology in the world and in their own community. I suspect they will be left out of this so-called inner circle.

It is astonishing that the government wants to bring something in like that. At the same time it says not to worry because it knows that Canada has to be the number one nation in the world when it comes to sustainable technology. It knows that Canada has to care for the planet and be world leaders. At the same time it says that, CIDA gives $280,000 to Monsanto so that it could have its genetically modified cotton and corn seeds grown in China. This is absolutely unbelievable. It is incredible that the government would give a large corporation like that any tax dollars at all to support genetically modified foods.

I suspect that the fund will end up supporting large multinational corporations such as Monsanto so that they in turn could promote genetically modified foods and all kinds of things of which Canadians are simply unaware. That simply would not be acceptable.

If the government were serious about sustainable development technology it would have incorporated into law two motions that were passed in the House. One was in the name of my colleague from Winnipeg Centre that asked for a major retrofit of the 50,000 government buildings that Canada owns. Not only would that create green jobs, but it would reduce the amount of energy those buildings currently use. The savings would be enormous and it would create work at the same time. So far the government has been silent even though the motion was passed in the House.

Another one was in the name of Mr. Nelson Riis, a former member of the House. His motion passed in the House. It basically said that any company of business that wished to give its employees a transit pass to take a bus to their workplace instead of using a vehicle would be allowed to claim the transit pass as a business deduction. That makes a lot of sense, especially for urban areas like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax. It may not be so big in Bridgewater down on the South Shore or in areas like Sheet Harbour, but in the major urban centres it would make a lot of sense. So far there has been silence from the government.

These are the kinds of initiatives that we as New Democrats bring forward. Many government members voted for the motion, so why has it not been incorporated? It would reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, which would be great for all of us.

Having $100 million going to a specific fund that other people could access to do various projects basically means that the government could then turn around and say it is not responsible any more and be at arm's length. The government would supply taxpayer dollars. There are no assurances that taxpayers will get the best bang for their buck. This group, whomever they are, will decide how to spend it or what to do with it. When a problem arises, the government could easily wash its hands and say that it is not responsible and that the group is.

More proof of that is the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. I believe oil and gas exploration and commercial fishing can co-exist, but the fears of commercial fishermen in the communities along the coastlines, especially in the areas of Cape Breton, New Brunswick and P.E.I., should be allayed.

They are basically asking for clear, independent scientific assessments on what seismic drilling and gas exploration do to the fisheries along their coast, especially on the inner coast. That is all they are asking for and they cannot get it.

The government says it is not its responsibility any more. It handed that responsibility over to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. When the province is approached, it says the same, that it is not responsible. It turned that responsibility over to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board which is now responsible.

We have seen this happen already. Seismic drilling leases have already been granted in phase 1, which is the Cabot Walk just off Cape Breton. The company will do the assessment afterwards. That is putting the cart before the horse. What should happen quite clearly is that the assessment must be done first and then a lease should be granted, depending on the environmental assessment.

The assessment may say it is not a good place to drill because it could do harm to the fish stocks. We do not know. We should not be drilling or even testing until that information is brought forward first. If the information says they can co-exist, that is great for everybody. As long as we do not have an assessment, we will always have a large percentage of people opposed to oil and gas drilling.

In previous discussions we had earlier this morning we discussed aquaculture. I believe aquaculture could be a very good thing for the country only if the precautionary principle is taken. That means that we do all the environmental work upfront to ensure that the aquaculture site, the oil and gas sector or whatever is using our waterways is done within the strict guidelines of the environmental assessments.

Those assessments must be paid for by the government. They should not be paid for by industry, because there is always the perception that the advice or the information may be tainted. The perception is that if we pay enough money and get the right scientists they will tell us whatever we want to hear. However, when it comes to our environment, the thing that sustains us the most, we should take every precaution when it comes to protecting our environment.

The $100 million fund will simply not be enough. We believe the government should put a couple of billion dollars into the fund and see what happens. The fact is that $100 million will simply not cover what is required to develop new sustainable technologies.

Going back to the aquaculture industry, I have said many times that the federal and provincial governments should be working with industry to develop the closed net systems. By doing that we would have no escapes and no effluent running from those cages into our waterways. We need to do that.

The government should be working together with the industry and with other groups for the best technology that is out there. The government must accept its responsibility. It cannot hand off its legislative ability to an arm's length body. It cannot do that.

Many people come to us, whether we are in government or in opposition, to express their opinions and their views. They do not see these other groups and organizations. All they know is that they elected us to protect them when it comes to their environment.

We as legislators, whether federal, provincial or municipal, have a responsibility to the citizens of Canada to ensure that they, their families, their children and their children's children have a proper, healthy environment in Canada and worldwide.

The minister was right when he spoke about Canada being a world leader. If he had said that from his heart and his head I would have believed him, but he was reading a prepared speech at the time he said that. It is a little tongue and cheek when I say that I am rather doubtful that the Liberal government will once and for all understand the environmental damages some of its policies and past Conservative policies have placed on the Canadian people.

A classic example of environmental damage is at the tar ponds in Cape Breton. I am sure my Conservative colleague has been there. The Sydney tar ponds are an absolute disaster, a major blight. I am not talking about Prince Edward Island and the potato blight problem it has. I am talking about an eyesore not only on Cape Breton but right across the country. It is our worst environmental mess.

What did the government and the province do about it? They set up a committee called JAG to work out solutions and figure out what was going on. They have been talking about it for years and still nothing has been cleaned up. People are getting cancer and dying from the residue. The NDP has been encouraging the government to put the resources behind it and clean up the mess once and for all. There was even a proposal, and I am not sure if it was this particular group, to cement it all in, cover it up or maybe put a parking lot on top of it. These are the kinds of ideas they come up with and they are unacceptable. It is time the government accepted its responsibility when it comes to protecting our environment.

There are many great organizations out there that are saying to the government that they will help. They are saying that they would like to become part of the so called inner circle when it comes to these types of funds. They want to work with industry not against it. They want to work with the provinces and the municipalities. As my colleague from the Bloc said, one of the things the Bloc will have concerns with is that this may intrude in the provincial powers that Quebec has.

I say to the Bloc that it should lighten up a bit because the environment knows no boundaries. The federal government has a responsibility in all parts of the country, whether it is in Quebec or anywhere else. We are opposed to the legislation at the current time because it is too vague and wishy-washy. It is $100 million so the government can show what it did. However it has not done anything. It will not reduce CO2 emissions one ounce when all is said and done. It will not encourage the environmental groups to get onside and give them their ideas and work together. It will not do any of that. Some of the people here will be appointed by the government. We know what happens when the government appoints people. The former member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Mr. Lou Sekora, was appointed, I believe, to the immigration board, a $100 million board, to discuss citizenship and immigration.

I like Mr. Sekora. He is a great guy and a lot of fun. However when he sat on the fisheries and oceans committee we had to wake him up all the time. Now this guy, who happens to be a Liberal, has been appointed to the board of citizenship and immigration. What qualifications does he have for that job?

I greatly admire Mr. Sekora but he should have appeared before a committee and the committee should have decided whether he was qualified to do the job. It should be the same for this kind of board. If the government spends $100 million of taxpayer money parliament should, especially in the environment committee, have a say in who is on the board. That is open and transparent government.

Unfortunately we do not have that in the House of Commons. The vote the other day showed that. The Liberals voted against their own 1993 promise, with the exception of a couple of members who had the fortitude to say that what the government was doing was wrong. They supported the opposition.

Politics get in the way. If the government can do that, who says it will not do it with this type of legislation? Over and over again, decisions are made within the PMO and to hell with anybody else. That is why a lot of people have no trust in either government or opposition MPs.

I believe most Canadians understand that Ottawa has an obligation and a right to protect them in terms of the environment. However if we asked any Canadian they would say that the government does not know the first thing about protecting the environment.

As legislators we have done a bad job of protecting the environment because we have been afraid of upsetting major multinational corporations. There is a court case in B.C. involving a company called Metalclad. The company wants to override Mexican laws and put its plant in Mexico. Its plant will pollute the air and do all kinds of things but Metalclad does not care what the Mexican government says.

The same is true on MMT. We tried to ban a manganese additive from gasoline in Canada but we did not have the legislative ability to do it. While it is banned in other countries and in many U.S. states, we cannot ban it here because of our trade agreements.

The bill does not address the trade agreements. It does not address whether Canada will have the ability to protect itself. Will the people appointed to the board administering the $100 million fund go to the government for answers on what they can do, or must they go to some obscure place like Brussels and ask some trade panel what they can do? These are the worries we have over on this side.

We support the initiative the government is finally talking about. We appreciate the government for doing that. However we are disappointed that it is very vague and superficial. There is no hard evidence in the legislation that the government will finally get serious about global warming and other environmental effects on our country. Without further amendments we simply cannot support the initiative at this time.

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1:30 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a little correction to my friend's comments about MMT.

I was very closely involved with that legislation. The member has led us to believe that some U.S. states still outlaw MMT. In fact the U.S. supreme court overruled the EPA about a year and a half ago, making MMT legal in any state where the refiners still want it. I wanted to make that correction.

The legislation is incredibly timely when we hear reports continually about global warming and the fact that it is accelerating to a degree we did not imagine even six months ago. The challenge is how to deal with it and properly address it.

The government has introduced the bill on sustainable development technology to try to address it. It has proposed that a board be set up to look at proposals on new technologies and hopefully to assist in their development.

I heard my hon. friend say that the people making the proposals should come directly to government. I may have misunderstood what he said, but I think he said that government itself should intervene with the developers rather than an arm's length organization. Perhaps I was wrong.

I have another question for the member. Why does he say that $100 million is not enough? It may not be enough and may be a fraction of what is needed but what amount would the member suggest? Would he suggest we get into the dozens of billions of dollars? Does he have some foundation to put an accurate figure to the question?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, on the MMT debate, I will check my notes again. It was very interesting that he asked about the amount. When the millennium scholarship was started it was $2.5 billion. That was a good figure to start with. If it can be done for the millennium fund, why not put the same amount into something of this nature?

The government is ultimately responsible for environmental protection. It is amazing to hear a member of the government say that the government had no idea six months ago that global warming existed. It is as if the member just had an epiphany and found out about the issue.

People have been talking about global warming for many years. It is not new to the people of Canada or to the citizens of the world. Unfortunately, however, it may be new to the federal government.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to correct my hon. friend. That is not what I said at all. I said that the government had no idea that global warming had accelerated to the extent that it has.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for pointing that out but the facts are there. Where are the real commitments? Where are the Kyoto commitments? Has the government completely ignored them? I bet it has.

The government will now come up with something new. If it would honour the commitments it made in world cities like Rio and Kyoto, maybe we would not need $100 million. If it had honoured its commitments initially we would perhaps not be having this debate today.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, before I start into the bulk of my speech on the Canada foundation for sustainable development technology, I will comment on a couple of points made by my colleague from Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore. My colleague in the NDP could not resist the urge to take a swipe at the Conservative Party.

First, the Conservative policies did recognize climate change and climate warming on the planet. We were the people behind the Rio summit and we started the whole operation.

My colleague also mentioned a small problem with potato blight. If he was a farmer in P.E.I. with a million dollars worth of potatoes in cold storage, and if he was looking at $10 million that the Liberal government put into a composting program while it did absolutely nothing to help farmers in P.E.I., he would not think it was a small problem.

I am getting off subject, but as far as the tar ponds go, I spent a good part of my life mixing mud on oil rigs and know a little bit about how to make mud. Anybody with a couple of tons of barite, a couple of tons of gel and a little bit of resinex could mix that stuff in the tar ponds and would have had it pumped out of there long ago.

What we had was an abrogation of responsibility by the former Liberal provincial government of Nova Scotia and by federal governments in Ottawa that did not deal with that issue. It could have been dealt with, the waste could have been incinerated and it would have been gone and we would not be dealing with it or discussing it today.

Back to the point of the debate, the Canada foundation for sustainable development technology act is a bill that would establish a foundation to fund innovative projects specifically in the areas of climate change and air quality. Those are two areas we must deal with. We were never able to ignore the fact that climate change was taking place, but we can no longer afford to look the other way and not deal with it.

I was quite shocked to hear that the bill could not get at least tentative support from the NDP to go to the committee stage. My tendency, as critic for the Conservative Party, is to at least support the bill going to committee stage where we can have a look at it, debate it much more indepth and then see what comes out of committee.

The purpose of the foundation will be to support the development or demonstration of new technologies or innovations that will help to reduce the impact of climate change, whether through energy efficiency, alternative energy sources or other developments. It is a lofty and commendable objective since we all know that Canada needs to do its share to help reduce climate change worldwide.

Canada committed itself at Kyoto to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1992 levels. I will address today whether establishing the foundation is one way of achieving that objective, but I will also be closely examining it at committee stage.

There are numerous alternative energy sources available on the market but getting them into public use or making them cost effective can be challenging. Canada may be a world leader in some areas, such as the Ballard fuel cell or solar technology, but I question whether we are fully exploiting these capabilities.

The United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change, which was mentioned earlier, released its assessment two weeks ago. In its report it states:

There is now new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.

I do not think this is anything new but it is very damning evidence when a number of countries and industries on the planet say that they are not contributing to climate change or, even worse, that climate change does not exist.

Capitalizing and exploring opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be a challenge for Canada. Although Canada offers generous tax credits for research and development, the private sector has been slow to embrace the new technologies.

We may have the ability and the ideas but we are not bringing them forward or pushing them into mainstream applications. There are large markets for these technologies or ideas if they can be shown to be effective. However, Canadians need to be encouraged to bring forward ideas, to seek new solutions and to develop them for the market.

If the research and development tax credit has failed to spur innovation can the proposed foundation overcome the obstacles and help bring new ideas to the market stage? That is the gist of what this is about, and it is really the issue we are talking about.

Andrew Weaver made an interesting argument for more action on greenhouse gas reductions in his article in the Edmonton Journal . In asserting that countries should continue to try to meet their Kyoto commitments, Mr. Weaver stated:

The reason lies not so much in the carbon-dioxide reductions that will ensue, but rather through the spawning of new technologies which will lead us to a less fossil-fuel-based society.

This is precisely what the legislation hopes to accomplish in some small way. With $100 million to allocate over a period of time that will likely span five to seven years, it will be a job for the foundation to ensure that the money is used in the most effective manner possible. By leveraging projects at a 25% basis there is a maximum potential to spur $400 million worth of new projects.

As members of parliament we all know many people are seeking government funding for good ideas. Projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however, are the target of the legislation. It will be up to a board of directors and a board of members to make decisions about which projects receive funding.

It should be noted, as was noted by other members who spoke to the legislation, that one of the items in the bill we really do not fully understand is the remuneration that will go to board members. The per diems that will go to board members will be the same as those that go to any federal employee.

We also need to find out at committee stage who comprises the board. We know that seven of the fifteen board members will be appointees of the federal government. Who comprises the board? Who picks the board? How much industry representation will be on it? How much exactly will the board cost Canadian taxpayers who take the money out of their back pockets to run this operation?

As I mentioned, the foundation will be provided with $100 million that it will have to allocate over a period of time with the aim of helping those projects that best meet the qualifications.

One of these qualifications will be that the development or demonstration be widely applicable and not limited to a single application. Since the objective will be to help Canadians, the idea and the developing technology must be made available to other interested parties. That is why the issue of intellectual property, while not belonging to the federal government or the foundation, will have to be discussed by the partners to ensure accessibility for anyone else who would like to utilize this technology.

I would like to take the time to highlight a few technologies and ideas which I think are relevant to this discussion. One example is LNG, liquefied natural gas. It is a gas that has been cooled to a liquid state, meaning that the higher volume can be stored in a smaller space. There is improved fuel economy and lower emissions because there is greater optimization of engine performance with liquefied natural gas. Obviously this is one option for helping to reduce emissions and ultimately improve air quality.

There are limitations, however, with liquefied natural gas. The gas has to be cooled to -125°C, presenting some challenges and some additional costs. Otherwise vaporisation would occur and some of the fuel would be lost. That is one of the reasons why this fuel is geared toward long distance, heavy duty vehicles which could conceivably handle the storage challenge. These challenges, however, are being addressed with a growing emphasis on alternative fuel sources. There may be greater attention paid to developing more practical applications of liquefied natural gas.

Although the first patent for liquefied natural gas was issued in 1914, it was not until the 1990s that it really moved beyond the experimental stage to the point where today its application as a fuel alternative is being seriously examined and tested. By offering a fuel alternative with lower emissions, it is an example of the type of innovation that the legislation would want to promote and encourage.

Another example that is more broadly familiar to Canadians is the Ballard fuel cell. Ballard Power Systems began in 1979 but it was not until 1983 that it began testing the concept behind fuel cells, mainly the combination of hydrogen fuel and oxygen to create electricity. With heat and water vapour the only byproducts of the combustion process, fuel cells show immense potential as a means of reducing greenhouse gas.

A prototype vehicle powered by Ballard fuel cells was unveiled in March 1999 and can travel 450 kilometres before refuelling. Ballard hopes to have fuel cell powered cars on the market for public use in 2003 to 2005 from major auto manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Toyota. Although not yet available on a commercial scale, the focus for Ballard will be to help develop viable alternatives and applications on a wide scale mass market level. If cost reductions could be achieved by mass marketing, this technology would allow the advantages of the product to be widely applied.

That is the point behind the government's bill. It is to take good ideas and good concepts that are not mainstream now, put them out there and apply them on a very wide scale. It is this type of innovation that the legislation before us today hopes to promote and encourage.

Much room exists for renewable energy sources. Currently renewables make up only 2% of the global energy supply, but the International Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests that by 2020 it will make up only 3% of the global energy supply.

We can see from that statement that the world and certainly Canada, the United States, the developed countries and the G8 nations are moving painfully slow in the direction of renewable energy.

If we are to improve the projection, it will be imperative for the Canadian government to encourage the development of new technologies and to encourage not just new ideas but to challenge people to think of new applications for the regional, national and global markets.

Energy demands are increasing as a result of our increasing reliance on the high tech industry and its immense need for electricity. If any of us need to think that over, we best think about brownouts and blackouts in California where the high tech industry for the entire world is situated. The fact is they use so much electricity in that field that they are taking more electricity than the grid can offer.

In addition, the rapid industrialization of developing countries will also increase global demand for energy sources. If there are new options that provide cleaner fuel sources or that use alternative energy sources, we could take steps toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. It is a challenge for everyone but the federal government needs to be taking the lead if it wants to demonstrate any commitment to meeting its Kyoto standards.

The legislation is another step, but further study will help us to determine if it is truly a step in the right direction or simply another government initiative that looks good but really does not accomplish its objective.

Questions were raised before that there was not enough money, that $100 million was not enough money. If members would do their research on the legislation, they would recognize that it dovetails with a lot of other existing legislation.

I would like to review the other legislation that the new piece of legislation would dovetail with. The existing federal technology programs all have features that distinguish them from the sustainable development technology fund but are complementary in nature.

First, the program of energy research and development has an allocation of $58 million.

Second, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada does not fund development or demonstration projects led by the private sector as the SDTF will.

Third, there is a budget for the Canada Foundation for Innovation of $2.4 billion, quite a substantial amount of money.

Fourth is Technology Partnerships Canada with another budget of $300 million.

Fifth, the industrial research assistance program funds for small and medium size enterprises to help them improve their innovation capacity through research and development projects that could span the full spectrum of technological and industrial sectors. It has an annual allocation of $7 million.

The technology early actions measures funds technology projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nationally and internationally while sustaining economic and social development. Its allocation of $57 million over three years is basically now depleted. I suspect the $100 million may dovetail quite nicely into that program.

A lot of federal funding is going into sustainable energy and alternative energies. There is a lot of commitment by the government and previous governments to deal with the issue. We have to ensure any time we are spending taxpayer money, and ultimately it is always taxpayer money, that the money is allocated in a proper manner and that the government spends it responsibly.

The issue if there is one with the $100 million fund is certainly that there are a number of other programs out there now.

Many of those programs would dovetail very neatly into the existing program. I should like to find out more about the other existing programs at the committee stage before we support the bill when it comes to a vote in the House. I certainly encourage and applaud the government for moving in the right direction with the bill. We will take into consideration at the end of the day whether or not we will support it.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was very happy and excited to hear the member's comments in support of the bill and getting it to committee to be properly scrutinized and perhaps amended and improved as we go along.

The member's heart is in the right place. He understands the direction that the country has to go in. We do not have a choice any more. I would leave him with one question. How does he consider a finite resource is sustainable?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, how do we consider a finite resource is sustainable? All resources ultimately are not sustainable and we will end up using every resource on the planet.

When we talk about sustainability of finite resources and if we are speaking about fossil fuels, the issue becomes how we better utilize the fossil fuels in the ground today. We have new technologies. We have new ways of getting more gas and more oil out of the ground. We have found ways to develop the tar sands that were not in existence 20 years ago.

The finite resources may not be as finite as we once thought, but it is an issue we have to deal with. The government has to deal with it. We simply cannot continue to ignore it.

In the future, energy sources will become even more valuable than they are today. We will depend upon larger sources of electricity. We will be using more electricity as the IT sector takes off.

We have done it in every other resource. We do not use less energy; we use more energy. Some people would argue that we use too much energy. The fact remains that we use energy and we have to find ways to produce it, more sustainable ways not only of finding alternative and new energy sources but new ways of utilizing and extending the energy sources that are there already.

Ted ChiswellStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate one of my constituents, Mr. Ted Chiswell, on his outstanding efforts working oversees for the Canadian Executive Services Organization.

Ted went to Georgetown, Guyana, to assist the auditor general. He was asked to advise on policy and procedural manuals. During Ted's time with the auditor general's office he prepared two manuals, one dealing with internal office procedures and the other with audit procedures. He trained 16 people as reference guides. Ted anticipates a reduction in audit costs as a result of the standardization of preprinted audit programs.

I say congratulations to Ted on a job well done. He has been a great ambassador for Canada.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I draw attention to an urgent matter in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan.

As the House sits, the first urban treaty in B.C. is being negotiated with the Snuneymuxw band that resides in the Nanaimo area. While I personally want to see a resolution to all outstanding land claims, I believe the government is again conducting negotiations behind closed doors and ignoring the wishes of the residents of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island.

To date neither the city of Nanaimo, the regional district of Nanaimo nor the Islands Trust are official parties to the treaty negotiation process. I believe that these local government bodies should be formally invited to the table as full and equal voting partners.

The people of the Nanaimo area have a vested interest in the negotiation process and are duly represented by these elected governments. The Nanaimo city council and regional district have specifically asked for the minister's attention to this matter and the opportunity to meet with him personally at his earliest convenience.

With what is at stake in all these negotiations, I believe this would be in everyone's best interest. I again offer my assistance in setting up any meetings with local officials. Perhaps the minister would like a briefing from my office on this important issue.

Shawky FahelStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to recognize and congratulate Shawky Fahel, a successful Kitchener entrepreneur who has been named Citizen of the Year by the Twin City Jaycees.

Shawky is well known to many of us on this side of the House for his hard work within the Liberal Party. I personally appreciate his commitment as president of my local riding association.

His humanitarian service extends around the world. He founded the Canadian International Development Organization, a non-profit organization that provides poverty relief and improved health care in developing nations. His commitments to peace in the Middle East and trade development with Palestine are well regarded by the government.

An avid volunteer, Shawky's community service includes the Kitchener Rotary Club and the Waterloos of the World Gathering. Shawky's business success with the JG Group of Companies is a further testament to his hard work and resourcefulness.

As an entrepreneur, humanitarian and volunteer, Shawky Fahel is a leader in Kitchener-Waterloo. I ask members to join me in congratulating him as Kitchener-Waterloo's Citizen of the Year.

McWatters Mining Inc.Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 14, McWatters Mining Inc. announced that it was immediately closing down operations at its Sigma-Lamaque complex for an undetermined period for financial reasons.

This closure will put 120 permanent employees out of work. If McWatters does not get any additional funding, it will not be in a position to resume full operations on a permanent basis.

McWatters is the eighth largest gold producer in Canada, with reserves of 2.4 million ounces of gold and additional resources of 4.6 million.

McWatters is also involved in developing a sizeable portfolio of exploration properties.

If there is a complete shutdown, this will be a hard blow to Val-d'Or and the Abitibi region, with a total of 946 direct and indirect jobs affected if all the permanent employees, subcontractors and service providers are counted in.

Stratford-Perth ArchivesStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure I rise in the House today to announce that on February 24 and February 25, 2001, the Stratford-Perth Archives will be holding its 13th annual collectors exhibition.

The Stratford-Perth Archives is the municipal repository for the city of Stratford and the county of Perth. Over 6,000 people use this facility annually. Collections in the archives range from postcards to antique dishes, military memorabilia, antique cameras and teddy bears.

The Stratford-Perth Archives is a recipient of a Canada millennium partnership grant. The components of the grant will be available for exhibition and include the microfilming of the Listowel Banner from 1971 to 1986 and the oral interviews of 12 Perth county war brides after the war in 1945.