Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-10, which replaces the now defunct Bills C-48 and C-8 dealing with the creation of marine areas, more specifically 28 marine conservation areas.
The Bloc Quebecois is not against protecting the environment, but it is against Bill C-10 for several reasons I will list now.
First, we are opposed to the bill because the federal government is grabbing the power to create marine conservation areas without any regard for provincial jurisdictions. Why is the federal government not consulting the provinces on this, more specifically Quebec, as it did for example with regard to the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park? Why in the case of Bill C-10 on the establishment of marine conservation areas is it not consulting Quebec and working together with it?
There is another example, phase 3 of the St. Lawrence action plan. There were consultations. Why is it that when it comes to Bill C-10 there was no consultation, which would be desirable and would benefit the population? Although it is being said that the federal government wants to establish marine conservation areas for the benefit of the people and their social life and to help the economy, it is ignoring the government of Quebec and provincial jurisdictions in this area.
The Bloc Quebecois opposes any attempt to duplicate and trivialize Quebec's jurisdictions over the environment, fisheries and oceans.
Again, this goes to show the bad faith of the federal government. When Canadian Heritage is involved, not too much attention is paid to Quebec's jurisdictions and to shared jurisdictions.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage has just announced an investment of $500 million in culture. It is typical again of this department: no consideration for provincial jurisdictions and no consultation. It just goes ahead without examining the action plan, if only on culture, with Quebec. Here again, in the marine conservation areas issue, the federal government's way of doing things is there for all to see.
Several witnesses appeared before the committee and said that there would be duplication and that there would be a new structure. The government wants to duplicate even within its own bureaucracy. We are wondering how consistently this bill will be applied.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of the Environment are both involved in the protection of the environment. When I talk about duplication inside the federal government, I am referring to these two departments.
How can we accept such a bill when several witness have told us there will be inconsistencies in the way it will be applied and in the management of marine conservation areas? A number of witnesses told us that this made no sense. Among those appearing before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage was the vice-president of the Fisheries Council of Canada.
The Fisheries Council of Canada is a trade association representing provincial fisheries associations in Atlantic Canada and Ontario. He told us:
If there's a need for legislation to establish marine conservation areas, it is our view that such legislation should be incorporated into the recently passed Oceans Act under the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and administered by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It is simply inefficient—
These are his words, not mine.
—cumbersome public administration to bring forward this MCA initiative in its own act under the responsibility of a separate minister and a separate department.
We can therefore see that there is duplication, inconsistency and inefficiency to come, if Bill C-10 sees the light of day. He goes on to say:
The fishing industry, for example, is working with the Fisheries and Oceans minister and Fisheries officials regarding development of an oceans strategy for Canada and an approach to the introduction of marine-protected areas. These tasks are the result of the establishment of the Oceans Act in 1996, an act that states that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans shall lead and facilitate the development and implementation of a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems.
He went on:
Bringing forward this MCA initiative at this time under the responsibility of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to be administered by officials of Canadian Heritage, undermines the oceans leadership role assigned to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans under the Oceans Act.
If the challenge for Canadian industry in the milieu of globalization is to be streamlined and efficient, we should be able to demand government structures that are also focused and streamlined. Regardless of the merits of MCAs, of this initiative, the manner in which it is brought forward will lead to confusion, duplication and conflicts in its implementation.
This witness testified at the committee hearings on the defunct Bill C-8, and the government has not really made any changes in Bill C-10. This is nearly exactly what was found in C-8. The witness called for the withdrawal of the bill and added:
The bill should be withdrawn. Discussions should be initiated with officials of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with a view to bringing forward an amendment to the Oceans Act to specifically provide for the establishment of marine conservation areas, where warranted, as part of Canada's oceans strategy.
Another quote comes from Marc Kielley, the executive director in Newfoundland of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, in February 1999. This is an association representing the interests of regional and sectoral aquaculture associations and their members, who raise fish and shellfish. He said:
Overall, while we respect the need for conservation, we object to the bill for a number of fundamental reasons. At issue: The coming into force of an act to create the national marine conservation areas will result in unnecessary and expensive duplication of existing legislation, specifically the Oceans Act, 1996, as well as the National Parks Act as amended in 1988.
Again, a witness representing the aquaculture industry felt that Bill C-8 should have been withdrawn. Therefore, if Bill C-8 should have been withdrawn, so should Bill C-10, because it is basically headed in the same direction, except for a few changes. The French version of the preamble of C-8 provided that marine areas had to be “représentatives et protégées”, whereas in the new bill, they must be “protégées et représentatives”. This is a very cosmetic amendment that does not deal with the core issue, namely duplication, overlapping and the ineffectiveness of this legislation.
In a number of departments, including two in particular, it would be hard to be consistent in implementing the law. The organization also stated:
So with regard to the implementation of the integrated management plans, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans shall develop and implement policies and programs with regard to matters assigned by law to the Minister, and shall coordinate with other ministers, boards, and agencies of the Government of Canada the implementation of policies and programs of the government with regard to all activities or measures in or affecting coastal waters or marine waters.
Based on the foregoing, it is abundantly clear that Bill...is redundant legislation and, if passed, would only serve to confuse and complicate issues relating to the protection and conservation of marine resources and marine ecosystems.
To empower the Minister of Canadian Heritage for the MCA initiative effectively undermines the authority and mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as provided for under the provisions of the Oceans Act. This should not be permitted to occur.
What is the difference between a marine protected area and a marine conservation area? How do these two seemingly similar elements fit into the overall tapestry of integrated coastal zone management? What about marine wildlife areas?
So, there are several issues here. It is somewhat in that spirit that we can emphasize the inconsistency of such a bill and its ineffectiveness. A number of people may have difficulties making a decision.
When the minister tells us that this is for the good of people, for the good of the community, from an economic, cultural and social point of view, we wonder.
When credible people, people with a certain amount of expertise on the issue, come and testify, we as parliamentarians are there to analyze the experience behind and the relevance of their recommendations. We always listen in good faith. However it is always disappointing when we see the government dig in its heels with a bill. The government has gone back to the drawing board three times and each time it has come back with a bill that is no different. It has ignored what the witnesses had to say.
I wish to cite what Tom Lee, the Director General of Parks Canada, told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. He said:
The marine conservation areas fall under a partnership with other federal departments, basically, under the general direction of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Under the Oceans Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans takes leadership in putting in place the protective and management measures for Canada's oceans. That involves a number of federal departments, and the two other major ones are noted here, Environment and Canadian Heritage.
Once again, there are doubts about Heritage Canada's effectiveness in managing marine conservation areas.
I have here more testimony, this time by Marlon Quinton, a project co-ordinator who appeared before the committee. He said, and I quote:
This brief is submitted to the House of Commons standing committee on behalf of the Bonavista Bay and Notre Dame Bay National Marine Conservation Area Advisory Committee Cooperation.
As a committee, we have held a series of stakeholder meetings to exchange information and obtain feedback on the suitability of the proposed marine park, to date.
Stakeholder workshops have been held on commercial fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, and mistrust of government and how to build trust. In our deliberations we have taken a careful look at what impact this initiative would have on the Newfoundland people who earn a living on the water and at whether Bill C-48 and the proposed NMCA could negatively affect traditional and existing livelihoods, incomes, property rights, and freedoms.
He added, for another reason:
We are mystified as to why Canadian Heritage is attempting to run a parallel conservation initiative under a separate piece of legislation.
We were presented with about two pages full of objections in connection with Bill C-10, should it ever see the light of day.
There is another. I wonder how all these recommendations came to be ignored, when they simply suggested that Bill C-10 be withdrawn and not proceeded with, as there were so many witnesses who were opposed to it.
Jean-Claude Grégoire, a member of the board of directors of the Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Québec, also indicated the harmful nature of the bill. He spoke of the alliance membership, describing them as primarily inshore fishers who generally use fixed gear and fish along the coastline.
He went on to say that, for all manner of reasons, he would:
—not be interested in seeing a marine conservation area as intended by the spirit of the law. This is unlikely to be accepted by those industries or communities that depend on the sea for their livelihood. It will clearly have to be acceptable to stakeholders.
Once again, we see economic concerns expressed.
In light of the inefficacy Bill C-10 would have, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to going ahead with and supporting, this bill.
Then there is the matter of Quebec jurisdiction. Why in this bill did they ignore Quebec jurisdiction over marine areas? We find it regrettable that Bill C-10 did not respect the integrity of the territory. Why did we set up the Saguenay marine park in consultation with the community, the federal government and the Quebec government?
The Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park would have been a model to follow. In 1997 the governments of Quebec and Canada agreed to pass legislation to create the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park. That legislation established the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, the first marine park to be created jointly by the federal and Quebec governments, without any transfer of territory. Both governments will continue to fulfil their respective responsibilities.
There was also the St. Lawrence action plan, another example the government could have followed. The environment ministers of Quebec and of Canada announced phase 3 of the St. Lawrence development plan, representing a total bill of $230 million. How did they manage to agree in these two examples, and in the case of Bill C-10, which is on the table, and in the establishment of the 28 marine conservation areas, the government ignored Quebec's jurisdiction?
The government also knows that jurisdiction over the environment is shared under the Constitution Act, 1867. The federal and Quebec governments share jurisdiction over the environment. Here again, we can see the federal government's bad faith in this matter. The Constitution Act provides that: “in each province, the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to: exploration for non-renewable natural resources in the province, development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province, including laws in relation to the rate of primary production therefrom”.
When we see the lack of respect for provincial jurisdictions, which pertain to the exploration for natural resources, development, conservation and the management of natural resources, we see the government is ignoring provincial jurisdictions.
By refusing to use the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act as a model and by making title to the territory an essential condition for the establishment of marine conservation areas, the federal government would be able to establish marine conservation areas on submerged lands to which it claims to have title and thus bypass Quebec's environmental jurisdictions.
We are very disappointed with what the federal government did with the recommendations made by various witnesses, including with regard to the protection of provincial jurisdictions.
There is more. The witnesses came to tell us that marine conservation areas should not be the responsibility of Heritage Canada because of duplication within the federal government, with Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada both having a certain role to play with regard to the protection of ecosystems.
National parks come under the responsibility of Canadian Heritage, which is not necessarily doing its job. There are serious problems in some national parks. I could mention the case of Forillon park, where a cliff is threatening to slide and collapse. Nothing has been done to reinforce it, which puts the life of tourists and workers in danger. In the case of Mingan Islands park, money is needed. Several islands are threatened by erosion. Witnesses raised several problems in national parks.
Why does Heritage Canada not fulfil its responsibility in this area instead of dealing with problems that are not its concern? If it wants to do things right, it should start by doing the things for which it is responsible.