House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was compensation.


The House resumed from February 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-5, which is before the House today, is a very significant bill, a bill that I think we would all do well to look at very seriously, because it attacks and has within it a consideration of some of the basic principles that govern and underlie democracy.

I wish to address two parts of the bill. The first has to do with the concept of how the selection of the endangered species at risk is done. The second has to do with the right of private property and how the bill deals with that particular aspect.

I would like to have the members of the public who are out there watching this debate understand exactly what it is we are talking about here this morning: Bill C-5, which is here to protect endangered wildlife species.

I will focus on the purpose of the bill as it is stated in this particular legislation. It reads:

The purposes of this enactment are to prevent Canadian indigenous species, subspecies and distinct populations of wildlife from becoming extirpated or extinct, to provide for the recovery of endangered or threatened species, to encourage the management of other species to prevent them from becoming at risk.

I wish to completely endorse the purpose of the bill. Clearly one of the things we want to be very concerned about in our society and in Canada is that we do protect our wildlife. We do want to create an environment in which wildlife can prosper, live and provide enjoyment for each of us.

It is important to recognize our support of the intent of this particular bill. I want to be sure that everyone out there recognizes that the Canadian Alliance, myself in particular, and its constituents support the protection of wildlife.

What we need to recognize here, though, is how the bill will be handled. I wish to refer to certain provisions in the bill. The first provision of the bill is the selection of the list of species and endangered wildlife that will be registered and protected by the bill.

Clause 14 deals with this particular part of the activities, so I will refer, then, to clause 14, which suggests that a committee be established. It is called the COSEWIC committee and many of the listeners will wonder what in the world we are talking about. That is an acronym for a long title, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. As shorthand we say COSEWIC. This is really what we are talking about. The committee is established by this particular bill.

I am so happy that there are at least some members opposite in the House listening to the debate, because it is really important. Some of the points we will make are points that the Minister of the Environment in particular should recognize and change in this legislation, and we want the minister and all members opposite to know that the idea of protecting endangered species is indeed an area and an action that we support.

With the establishment of the committee, we need to recognize who its members are. This committee shall carry out its functions “on the basis of the best available information, including scientific knowledge, community knowledge and aboriginal traditional knowledge”. That is what the committee is supposed to do. This is a major issue.

Who are these people? The committee is to be composed of members appointed by the minister after consultation with the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council and with any experts that the minister considers to be appropriate. I would like to underline the word experts. The second part of the clause, subclause 16(2), is extremely significant:

Each member must have expertise drawn from a discipline such as conservation biology, population dynamics, taxonomy, systematics or genetics or from community knowledge or aboriginal traditional knowledge of the conservation of wildlife species.

That is a blue ribbon membership for the committee. These are very significant and very powerful people. They are people who understand the reality of science and understand what it is to use knowledge and to make observations that others can verify. They are not subject to political interpretation or the vagaries of somebody's imagination. They are based on facts and on observations which can be replicated by other people.

The people who are supposed to comprise this committee are independent and objective. This is very desirable and highly commendable. I support the minister in identifying this as the way the committee should be comprised.

One might say that the blue ribbon committee will go about doing its business, but what is the principle involved in creating the list of Canadian endangered wildlife? What are the decision making principles underlying this committee of scientists? The principles involved are truth and integrity.

What are we talking about when we talk about truth and integrity? Truth concerns a clear knowledge of the facts. I am speaking of things that are commonly accepted as being true in fact. They can be believed and acted upon with confidence and courage, recognizing that what has happened before will happen again because the basis on which the decision is made is verifiable by an independent person in an objective and independent manner and the findings can be replicated.

Integrity means that the people on the committee will actually say what was discovered, what has been put there, and that the basis on which those decisions are made is indeed one that is verified by the various observations that have been taken. On the committee we will have scientists who are objective and reach conclusions on the basis of verifiable interpretation, experiments and observations that could carried out by other people.

There is no problem with the committee or with the intent of the bill. Why then is there a problem with the bill? There is a problem with a provision in another clause of the bill. Subclause 27(1) makes a very interesting observation:

The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, by regulation, establish the List of Wildlife Species at Risk and amend the List by adding a wildlife species to the List, by reclassifying a listed wildlife species or by removing a listed wildlife species from the List.

All the work of the committee, all the science involved, suddenly becomes subject to whatever the governor in council decides. This puts into question the whole integrity of establishing a committee in the first place. In this clause we have a group of scientists who are ignored and whose integrity is at least insulted if not denied. The governor in council can do this.

However, subclause 29(2) is an even more difficult area. It follows subclause (1), and I think for clarity I should probably read subclause 29(1) as well:

If the Minister is of the opinion—

The section refers to the minister now, not the governor in council.

The section goes on:

—that there is an imminent threat to the survival of a wildlife species, the Minister must—

It is interesting to note here that it is not that the minister may, but that he must.

It goes on:

—on an emergency basis, after consultation with every other competent minister—

Notice they are all ministers.

—make a recommendation to the Governor in Council that the List be amended to list the species as an endangered species.

There is no reference here to the committee at all. Subclause 29(2) reads:

The Minister may arrive at that opinion on the basis of his or her own information or on the basis of COSEWIC's assessment.

This really creates a dilemma for the scientists and for Canadians who are to place confidence in the Minister of the Environment and cabinet itself.

There is no attempt in this criticism to suggest that we should not have legislation of this kind. That is not the purpose of my criticism. The purpose of my criticism is to recognize that the principle of truth and scientific integrity needs to be observed throughout the legislation. It should be there in a consistent fashion all the way through. I submit to the House that clause 29 does not allow this to happen.

We need to move from there to the next step in the debate, which has to do with why it is so important that we have this truth.

The hon. members opposite are all Liberals and they had a leader at one time by the name of Trudeau who initiated and passed in the House a constitutional amendment called the charter of rights and freedoms. At the end of the charter of rights and freedoms this is what he wrote:

We must now establish the basic principles, the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties there is a way of life and a system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us such freedom and such immeasurable joy.

Those are wonderful and great words. We are now establishing one of those principles. Surely the right Hon. Trudeau, at the time he was Prime Minister and wrote that paragraph, recognized that one of the foundational principles of a democracy to function properly and adequately is that of truth and integrity.

I will now move into the next step of the legislation. That has to do with the recognition of private property. The bill recognizes clearly that there is such a thing.

Our charter of rights and freedoms does not grant that right in the constitution to individual Canadians, but the basis of liberty is the ownership of private property. It is not just the amassing of property that is the issue. The ownership of material things recognizes the dignity of human beings. It recognizes the basic integrity and beauty of human creativity and the ingenuity and innovativeness of human beings.

That is what private property does. Think about real property, intellectual property, all the novels that have been written, the poems that have been written and the songs that have been written. These are all matters of private property.

That does not mean, however, that the right to private property means we can do whatever we please with that property. Neither do we have the right to amass private property based on cruelty or intimidation or on things of that nature.

It means we must use private property to the interests of the people around us. It does not mean we can use private property to destroy endangered species. The bill makes that clear. If that is the case then the implications of the bill must be looked at.

Does the enforcement of the provisions in the bill have implications for private property? The bill clearly identifies that yes, it is probably true, there probably are implications.

Let me look at subclause 64(1). Subclause 64(1) of the bill clearly indicates:

The Minister may, in accordance with the regulations, provide compensation to any person for losses—

Again I draw to the attention of those listening and of our colleagues in the House, both on the other side and on the opposition side, that the operative word here is may. It is not that he shall compensate; it is that he may compensate.

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10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

It does not say how much either.

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10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

No, it does not, so it is very significant that we recognize this point. Not only that, but it says:

—suffered as a result of any extraordinary impact of the application of (a) section 58—

Then it goes into specific details as to where he may or may not. The government, in its wisdom, appointed Dr. Pearse who presented a report. That report suggests that if somebody experiences a loss of 10% the compensation should be 50%. That is a very interesting report. If an individual has a loss of more than 10% he can get compensation for 50%.

Let me put into perspective what that could mean in one economic sector. I refer to the forestry sector. It is critically important to Canada. It produces nearly $60 billion of products every year. More than one million Canadians depend on the industry for their jobs and it contributes more to Canada's balance of trade than any other sector.

Some will ask what that has to do with the bill. It has a lot to do with the bill. Forestry is critically important to B.C. It generates more than $15 billion annually and nearly 300,000 jobs. Thirty-one out of thirty-seven regions of the province are dependent on forestry. Across Canada there are 53 forest dependent species at risk. Out of the 53 forest dependent species at risk, 32 are of concern and 21 are endangered or threatened. Of the 53 species, 26 are located in B.C. Ten of these are considered endangered or threatened.

That is a clear indication of the potential loss that will be experienced by a major sector not only in British Columbia but in Canada as a whole. If people have a loss of 10% and are only compensated at 50% of that loss, how would they be able to continue their operation? How would they be able to employ the people who are supposed to be employed?

Those are very serious implications and that is only in one sector. We must deal with the agriculture sector. We must deal with cattlemen. We must deal with a whole host of other businesses directly affected by the implications of the bill.

The Canadian Alliance position is very clear. We take the view that private property ought to be recognized and honoured. Our policy statement is very clear. We believe the right to contract freely and to own, use and benefit from private property, including labour and real, intellectual and personal property, lies at the very heart of our legal and economic systems. I suggest that it lies at the heart of a democratic system in Canada and that it distinguishes a free society.

We will therefore seek the agreement of the provinces to amend the charter of rights and freedoms to include this right as well as a guarantee. Referring to the ownership of private property, here is the guarantee that applies directly to the bill:

—no person shall be deprived of it—

That is, the ownership of private property without the due process of law and full, just and timely compensation.

That is the key under which we operate. I reiterate that it is not the position of the Canadian Alliance to oppose the bill because it wants to protect endangered wildlife in Canada. We want legislation that will protect endangered wildlife. We want democracy protected. We want that protection to take place so that the integrity of scientists will be recognized and applied in this case, not political vagaries that are subject to political interference from special pressure groups or special interest groups.

We want to make sure everybody understands that we support the protection of endangered wildlife. However at the same time we recognize that the minister ought to include an amendment in the legislation that requires full compensation for those who experience loss and that the decisions based on science of COSEWIC are recognized and applied and not subject to the vagaries of cabinet or of the minister.

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10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's presentation and he made a couple of key points. I wonder if he could comment on the area of compensation, which I think he explained very well.

I will comment by saying that at committee, when asked directly whether he would compensate and whether the legislation would ensure that loss of property or loss of the use of property would be compensated at full market value, the environment minister would not say that would be the case.

I think what my colleague said is absolutely accurate. We can fully expect that the legislation will not compensate at fair market value people who lose their property or the use of their property. Surely in a society that believes in people's right to own property we would expect that compensation would be paid at fair market value.

On that issue I would ask my colleague if, under the study that was done, there is no compensation if the loss is less than 10%. I know of many cases in agriculture and probably in forestry where there is not a margin of 10%. I know of many cases where, if the damage and the loss is above 10%, only 50% of the loss is compensated.

Is my colleague really saying that under the study that was done, and the government has not said it would do anything different, it is likely that if people lose their property or the use of their property they would be compensated for only half the loss? I know as a farmer that half the loss on any significant amount of property could cause me or other farmers to go out of business. I would like the member to comment on that.

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10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, the answer is that I and my party believe there should be full compensation at the full market price at the time. That is what it ought to be. This whole business of proportions is simply not acceptable. The level of compensation ought to be full and complete at the going rate in the market.

However I think the more significant point is that the legislation does not say that there will be or must be compensation. It says that there may be compensation. Hence, the minister, regardless of what the conclusion is, may still deny compensation. That is one part. The other part is that it is subject to regulation. The rate of compensation, or even that there will be compensation, is not part of the legislation.

There is a fundamental amendment that ought to be made to the legislation to indicate that there will be full compensation and that the minister will not only be required to pay that compensation but to pay it in a timely fashion. That is very important and it should not be delayed unduly.

I hope that allays the fears of my hon. colleague and other people out there because every person could be affected either directly or indirectly by the legislation, not only the people in the lumber and farming industries.

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10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, as you may know, my constituency is an urban core riding. This whole issue can become an urban-rural split on the way people approach the legislation. There are people in urban ridings who do own two or three acres of land. They may own cottages or properties near the lake.

Could the member comment on how the legislation could impact those of us who live in urban ridings? It is not necessarily just something to be looked at in terms of agriculture and farms.

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10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely correct. It does not have to be a two or three acre plot. It could even be a 30 by 100 foot lot in the city. It is technically possible but not likely.

We need to be very careful. That is all the more reason the legislation which declares and creates the COSEWIC committee is very good. It could deal with this issue in an objective and independent fashion, which is neither rural nor urban, and on a scientific basis.

It reminds me of a story I cannot resist telling. There was a kindergarten teacher who had a show and tell day. One of the pupils brought a rabbit to school. The child was really excited about the pet rabbit. The pupils were looking at the rabbit and describing its features. One of the kids in the back of the room asked whether it was a boy or a girl. The teacher looked at the rabbit and did not how to analyze whether it was a male or a female. Again one of the pupils asked whether it was a boy or a girl, and the teacher said “Let's vote on it”.

The sex of a rabbit cannot be determined on the basis of a majority vote. That is the nonsense of putting it into the hands of a political vagary to decide which way things go. It could be determined in an objective and verifiable way. It does not matter who looks at it, no one can determine the sex of a rabbit. The situation in this regard is similar, and that is the point that has to be made.

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10:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the same person would not want to be candling eggs either, I am sure, because he or she would be in real trouble.

It is a pleasure to speak to the species at risk act. My colleague from Fundy—Royal has spoken eloquently on the bill and clearly laid out the PC Party position respecting the legislation. I should like to address some of the specifics of the legislation and how they may be applied to those of us who live in the rural and urban areas of Canada.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Brandon—Souris. I am sure everyone in the House will be waiting patiently to hear his words of wisdom on this legislation.

I have spoken in the House on previous occasions to highlight the plight of wild Atlantic salmon. When we are discussing species at risk legislation, I realize that all species encompassed by the legislation are in need of more support. There are many more species in need of support than just the wild Atlantic salmon.

However there is a need for more support not just from Canadians but also from government organizations at all levels, or wild Atlantic salmon and other species at risk in Canada will become extinct. Wild Atlantic salmon are decreasing in alarming numbers and the problem is that we do not know the cause. The salmon go out to sea but fail to return. What we are seeing as the years go on is fewer and fewer wild Atlantic salmon returning to our rivers.

We knew for a long time that many of them were being caught by commercial fleets off Greenland. Today the numbers have diminished to the point where they are not actually able to go out to sea to breed and produce enough smolts to return. We have few grilse and very few multi-sea winter salmon coming back to our rivers in eastern Canada.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation has been vocal in its efforts to highlight the problems facing this important species and to initiate more research into what is happening to prevent the return of more salmon.

At the same time a number of factors are contributing to the decline in general numbers: climate change, the corresponding warming of ocean temperatures, acid rain, pollution, the escape of farm salmon and predators. This is why none of these species should be looked at in isolation. There are many overlapping factors that need to be examined if we are to ensure that these species exist for future generations.

Bill Taylor, president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, sums up very clearly and concisely the issue at stake:

We need a comprehensive, five year research, restoration, protection and community watershed management program dedicated to the wild Atlantic salmon and its habitat.

The legislation before us would be a step in the right direction except for the major flaws the bill entails. My colleague from Fundy—Royal clearly explained these limitations, and I would like to repeat two points.

First, the legislation does not require the protection of habitat. Second, by allowing the decision on which species are endangered to be made by cabinet and not by scientific experts, the effectiveness of the legislation has been severely constrained.

The Speech from the Throne on January 31 mentioned the need to protect species and stated that the government would be reintroducing the bill. What is disappointing is that the government did not take the opportunity to learn from its previous discussions on the subject.

Suggestions and recommendations from interested and affected stakeholders were not incorporated into the legislation. If changes proposed by stakeholders had been incorporated into the legislation, we could have had a more meaningful discussion on the real merits of this legislation.

There is one more thing that I would like to mention with regard to wild Atlantic salmon. The species is seen as a barometer that indicates the health of our oceans. If the habitat has become unsuitable for wild Atlantic salmon, it is also negatively affecting other species. They too will soon be listed as endangered, threatened or otherwise at risk.

It tells us that we do not have much time to deal with the problems affecting the species and its habitat. Yet the government has delayed making any effective changes. It has talked the talk since 1993, but we have yet to see any real meaningful steps taken to help endangered species in Canada.

Being from Nova Scotia I will focus my attention on a couple of other species that are threatened in the province. The Nova Scotia Nature Trust recently identified more lakes in Nova Scotia that have some of Canada's rarest plants along their shores. Shingle Lake, Ponhook Lake in Queens County and Harpers Lake in Shelburne county are a few lakes that have been recognized as having rare plant species along their shores.

Now that these rare plants have been identified, appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that they are protected. The trust plans to expand its landowner outreach program and public education program to make more people aware of these rare plants. The first step is to disclose to the landowners that such rare plants exist on their property.

Originally these plants were found on many lakes in Nova Scotia between Digby Neck and Mahone Bay. However the use of all terrain vehicles, damming and development have been contributing factors in their decline to the point where they need to be protected today. I would hope the legislation would protect these types of plants in the section on endangered species and threatened species.

I seriously stress and support the idea of encouraging landowners to help in this endeavour and to be adequately compensated for their assistance in protecting such species for all Canadians.

In no way should the financial burden be placed on an individual when all Canada benefits from the protection of these species. That is the trouble with this piece of legislation. It is certainly not the landowner's responsibility and it cannot become the landowner's responsibility to protect endangered species. All Canadians benefit from the protection of species and must somehow contribute to the continued protection of the species.

There are a number of birds, plants and animals in Nova Scotia. A few years ago we had a small mammal called the sea mink. It was completely different and did not interbreed with the inland mink. It was larger and lived in coastal areas. That animal is extinct today.

We have a number of birds that live in very small and isolated groups. The ipswich sparrow on Sable Island is a prime example. There is the piping plover which I have been fortunate enough to have actually seen. There are 50 or 60 breeding pairs left in the world. They breed upon the shores and the beaches of the south shore of Nova Scotia. It is these types of animals and birds that we have to protect. We have to find a way to protect them.

The legislation is simply wrong-headed. What is even more disappointing is that the government had ample opportunity to listen to the dialogue of opposition parties, the Sierra Club, landowner groups and big industry, but it did not hear what those groups were saying.

It refused to change or alter the bill. It refused to take it out of the hands of government, members of cabinet and privy councillors. It refused to list rare and endangered species in a meaningful way so that we could do something about the protection of these plants and animals. We have ended up with legislation that is kind of warm and fuzzy and sounds good but in reality will not work.

I will give an example. I have a number of cousins who are loggers in Sonora in northern California. Their logging operations have been shut down because of the spotted owl. They log mostly on government land and they simply cannot get timber contracts. They cut wood that is diseased, and that is the only wood they are allowed to cut. If there is a diseased tree on government lands in northern California they are allowed to cut it. Their own timber tracts are severely restricted and it is just about impossible to cut on public land. I will just take a couple of more seconds because I know—

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10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sure someone will ask the hon. member a question that would allow him to finish what he intended to share with all of us.

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10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, my hon. friend and colleague from South Shore has a number of relatives in the industry in California who unfortunately do not have the opportunity to expand their livelihood because of implications with respect to endangered species.

Could he tell us exactly why these individuals have been impacted? What in the legislation would cause the same problems in Canada?

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10:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the point I should like to get across is that our legislation very much mirrors the American legislation. The American legislation did not involve the landowners, loggers or farmers. It very much pitted landowners against land users.

What they have ended up with in the States is that when people find a rare or endangered species on their property they shoot it, bury it, and do not tell anybody. That is the type of legislation that we are looking at today.

If we want to protect endangered species, especially plants and animals, we must find a way to compensate landowners. If as a landowner I had to exclude 10, 20 or 100 hectares because of a rare or endangered plant or animal which needed protection, I would want to be compensated for that. I am more than happy to allow for the protection, but if agricultural or forestry land is being taken out of production, all the onus cannot be upon the shoulders of the landowner. There has to be some sharing of that responsibility.

The legislation does not do that. It did not do it in California. It put people out of work south of the border. It caused animosity between people who depend upon the land to make a livelihood and people who simply want to enjoy the benefits of walking and looking at a beautiful piece of real estate. We cannot afford to do that in Canada, and unfortunately that is what the bill would do.

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10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from South Shore for allowing me to share his time on Bill C-5. I will not be sharing it with my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska. He does not want to speak, so we are okay on this one.

I pay special tribute to my colleague from Fundy—Royal who has taken the lead. He has basically acted as the official opposition with respect to the legislation. He has been extremely effective. He is very knowledgeable about the legislation and in face put forward a white paper that has been more accepted by the stakeholders than the legislation presented by the government. He has spent an enormous amount of time and energy on the legislation and has spoken with great eloquence and great knowledge of the subject.

His white paper was accepted by a rather large stakeholder group encompassing the Canadian Pulp & Paper Association, the Mining Association of Canada, the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Nature Federation and the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

When we look at the people who came forward as part of that group we realize that it is a rather diverse group. It contains representatives from industry as well as environmental activists who sometimes do not get along very well with industry. They said they had to put together an effective piece of legislation that would work, not something that was warm and fuzzy and on the surface looked like the government was doing something. They presented some very good recommendations to the government and, lo and behold, none of them were incorporated into the legislation.

I will talk about some of the deficiencies of the legislation and about why the government has failed miserably in trying to protect something that Canadians want to protect. Since 1993 the government has said that there must be endangered species legislation. It was identified in the 1997 red book. Also the government mentioned it in the last three throne speeches in 1996, 1999 and 2001, but it is still not on the floor in the way it should be in order to protect all endangered species.

Let us talk about a couple of areas in which the legislation falls down quite dramatically. As my colleague mentioned, landowner rights would be impacted quite dramatically by the legislation.

I come from an area that encompasses an urban and a rural community. About 50% of my constituency is rural. The economic backbone of the area is agriculture. Farmers and producers of the area are stewards of the land. In most cases they accept responsibility for stewardship, not only of the land but of the habitat on the land and the endangered species.

Landowner rights are not reflected properly in the legislation. We in the PC Party agree that there have to be more carrots than sticks. That comment was made by my colleague from Fundy—Royal. If we think about it, there have to be more carrots out there than there are sticks.

There is no compensatory opportunity under the legislation to allow producers with endangered species and habitat on their land to continue their operations to the benefit society. People in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and other urban centres are demanding that producers, ranchers and landowners make sure that the habitat and species are retained, but they are not prepared to pay anything for that to take place. That is absolutely wrong. If landowners are not able to farm, ranch or do what they wish with their property, the species will be endangered even further.

Right now the Americans refer to the three esses: shoot, shovel and shut up. That does not solve the problem. Nor will the legislation. We must make sure that fair compensation is provided to landowners, that the necessary dollars are provided.

The legislation would result in an inability to work with the provinces. It deals with federal lands but unfortunately only deals with about 40% of the problem. Some 60% of endangered species and their habitat will not be affected by the legislation. We should work with the provinces to make sure that the legislation is effective, not simply something that would be thrown out by producers or landowners.

Carrots and sticks, protection of critical habitat, partnerships with the provinces and scientific listings are some of the issues. It was mentioned earlier that responsibility for the identification of an endangered species would be given to the cabinet. Politicians, as much as we would like to think otherwise, are not terribly well respected in their abilities to put forward the truth and the necessary intelligence to ensure that the decision is a proper one.

We are suggesting the decision should be based on information from the scientists, the people who know the issue better than politicians. We are asking for decision making to be taken from the cabinet table and put into the hands of the people who know the issue. We should let them make the decisions on the listing of protected species. It is a very important issue.

There must be an accountability mechanism for citizens to ensure the government enforces its own act. If the act is to include an accountability mechanism, the PC Party believes there should be an independent process for the public to ensure the act is being effectively implemented. The process should allow citizens to challenge the federal government and not other citizens. We believe very seriously that it is the citizens who will enforce Bill C-5.

I believe and Canadians believe there is a need for endangered species legislation. The legislation that we are debating right now would not solve the current problems. It will go forward to committee where I ask the government to listen with an open mind. A number of stakeholders are prepared to come forward with some interesting amendments to the legislation. When it goes to committee, I ask the government not to handle it as it does other pieces of legislation.

It is too important for that majority government to ramrod it through. We must make sure that the legislation comes forward for final reading in the House in the proper fashion and is the proper piece of legislation. I look forward to the legislation coming back from committee in a different form.

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10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member's discussion on Bill C-5. He added a lot to the debate by providing the PC Party's position on the legislation.

I would like to hear an additional comment from the member, especially on the one issue that I see as a major flaw in the legislation, which is the lack of compensation for landowners. As other opposition members have mentioned, that contributes to the rural-urban split.

I can give an example of that. We in Nova Scotians used to like to say that we had landowners and land users. For years I took that attitude as well. I learned over time, actually about 25 years, that those land users could be our friends. Whether they were birdwatching, hunting or skidooing on our property, if we had a good relationship with them they would be our friends. They would make sure that our cabins were not being broken into, fires were not being set, no one was stealing our Christmas trees and they were not causing a problem.

The legislation will force many of us who are landowners back to resenting the land users because we will be the people who will be paying the bills. I would like the member to comment on that.

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10:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would correct one thing that the hon. member for South Shore said. It may have taken him 25 years to learn this lesson but he is not quite as slow a learner as he may have indicated to the House. He is actually a very astute individual and has a background in farming and in the stewardship of the land. He knows of what he speaks.

With respect to the compensation factor of the land itself, I could not agree more. They are stewards of the land and, as I said earlier, not everything is perfect in this very imperfect world but in most cases the owners of the land believe in the stewardship of the land. They make sure to protect the habitat and the species that enjoy that habitat. They certainly utilize the land in the best interest not only of themselves, because that is their livelihood, but also in the best interest of people outside the rural area.

The issue I would like to point out is that urbanites within our country wish to make sure that they have access to other lands. They also want to make sure those lands will be available to them. I sincerely believe that they should be required to pay some of the costs of that stewardship. It means the carrots instead of the sticks that we talked about.

There should be proper compensation built into the legislation to allow producers to access compensation for the impact on their properties. It is essential that compensation be in the legislation. If it is not there then some of those stewards of the land may not be quite as co-operative as we think they should be in order to make the legislation work.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, despite much effort, there are still too many Canadian children living in poverty.

This past November, Campaign 2000 released its ninth annual report card on child poverty in Canada. The report is positive about the role social policy can play in addressing child poverty issues. This includes recent government initiatives, such as increases to Canada's child tax benefit, extension of employment insurance parental benefits, agreement on early childhood development and enhanced tax measures for children with disabilities.

The report also indicated improvements were evident over the previous two years. Societal improvements include the national child benefit, which has injected millions of dollars back into low income family budgets and has enhanced programs and services for these families.

The condition of children in poverty will improve because of strong government initiatives. We must sustain these efforts to give children the good start they deserve. Children are a priority of the government.

AgricultureStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, farmers are struggling for their very survival. Many are facing the loss of their homes and their businesses to the banks and the federal Farm Credit Corporation. Some of these farms have been in the family for close to 100 years and these people desperately want to keep them but cannot because they are not being paid for their work.

What these farmers need is simply a fair return on the sale of their product. They need to cover all their costs and to make a reasonable living for their families. They are asking for the payment which they have already earned.

Would a lawyer work for only one-half to one-third of his fees? Would an accountant accept $500 when he bills for $1,000? Would a labourer whose collective agreement calls for $18 per hour accept $8? Would a doctor take a second job so he can keep on practising medicine?

Our policy is to end subsidies when other countries stop theirs. The Liberals stopped the subsidies first and let the farmers take the hit.

Why not give the farmers their pay? They have earned it, they deserve it and they need it now.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will soon see the first telltale signs of spring and our thoughts will turn to greening lawns and blooming gardens. I rise today to recognize an exciting local initiative that is providing useful alternatives to urban pesticide use.

With the assistance of Environment Canada and the city of Kitchener, Get Rid of Urban Pesticides, known as GROUP, recently launched a two year campaign to help homeowners wean themselves off pesticides. In response to rising local concerns on the use of pesticides on urban lawns, 24 homeowners who currently use pesticides will become pesticide free.

The homeowner commits to kicking the pesticide habit and GROUP provides expert advice and assistance with lawn work. Over the next two years, these eco-lawn conversion kits will divert approximately 8,720 kilograms of pesticides from entering the environment of Kitchener—Waterloo.

I look forward to seeing traditional lawns transformed into healthy and beautiful gardens of wild flowers—

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Mount Royal.

ColombiaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, although Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in Latin America, and until two years ago had the strongest economic record on the continent, its history of chronic political violence, accompanied by massive human rights violations, has never been worse.

Witness the following: there were 5,000 deaths and 3,000 reported kidnappings in the year 2000 alone; Colombia has one of the highest homicide rates in the world; over 1,000 Colombians have been displaced in the last five years; and massacres of civilians by both paramilitary and guerrilla forces continue.

This week, representatives of the Invisible Popular Struggles Tour in Colombia brought their witness testimony to Canada and to parliament, putting a tragic human face on this horrific situation, including the following: the number of human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists and other representatives of civil society targeted for assassinations and disappearance is increasing; most of the victims of the political violence are unarmed black, indigenous, Campesino, women, labour and other popular leaders and civilians; and worst of all, there is total impunity for political violence.

I trust that the forthcoming summit—

ColombiaStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Nepean—Carleton.

Computing Devices Canada Ltd.Statements By Members

11 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier today I joined the Minister of National Defence and the hon. member for Ottawa West—Nepean at a press conference announcing the awarding of a $58.6 million contract to Computing Devices Canada Ltd.

The contract to replace the acoustic system for Canada's 20 year old CP-140 Aurora aircraft will mean the creation of approximately 40 to 80 highly skilled, well paying local jobs.

The awarding of this very important contract to Computing Devices is further evidence of the depth and breadth of our local high technology industry. This is a company which has over many years consistently shown itself capable of producing some of the most advanced defence technology anywhere in the world.

I am particularly pleased that Canada's long range maritime surveillance aircraft will once again be the envy of our allies. Whether it is performing search and rescue functions, watching for drug traffickers or illegal immigrants, monitoring foreign fishing fleets and environmental violations or engaging in humanitarian operations, this contract provides a—

Computing Devices Canada Ltd.Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam.

The SenateStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbians have six seats in Canada's Senate and, of the six, there is one vacancy. Two of B.C.'s senators have announced that they will resign and run in elections if the Prime Minister will commit to appointing the winner of any future Senate election.

In 1998 Albertans elected two senators in waiting but the Prime Minister did not commit ahead of the election to appointing Alberta's two elected senators. He appointed his choice instead of that of Albertans.

The lesson learned from Alberta's experience is that until the Prime Minister makes the commitment to respect democracy in the Senate, real reform will remain out of the grasp of Canadians.

If the Prime Minister is serious about addressing western alienation, if he is serious about democracy, fairness and openness, he will commit today to allowing the democratization of 50% of B.C.'s Senate delegation today. British Columbians are ready to take a step in the right direction toward a new beginning.

Is the Prime Minister ready to demonstrate that step as well? Let us hope so.

St. Patrick's DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, March 17 we will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day, the national day of the Irish people, whose struggle to take their place among the nations of the world remains a source of inspiration to the Quebec people.

In the early 19th century, Louis-Joseph Papineau and the patriotes of the day were inspired by the nationalist convictions of Ireland's Daniel O'Connell.

We are told that 40% of Quebecers, many francophone, may have Irish ancestry, so there is a good explanation for the tenacious character of the Quebec people.

The beauty, richness and open-mindedness of the Quebec people and its culture is due to the contribution of all the immigrants who have settled here, each bringing with them something of their own history.

Today I and the Bloc Quebecois wish everyone a happy St. Patrick's Day.