House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


Auditor General's Report

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Auditor General of Canada on the Export Development Corporation's environmental review framework.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e), this document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario


Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario


Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding changes to the parliamentary calendar.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 16th report later this day.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2002.

The report was the result of a very full and frank discussion with both the Minister of Human Resources Development and status of persons with disabilities, and the Minister of Labour. The discussions ranged over skills, union-management concerns, employment insurance, disability issues and homelessness.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario


Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move that the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented earlier today be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 15th, 2001 / 10:10 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present, on behalf of the workers of the Sigma mine, in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, and of the residents of the City of Val-d'Or and of the Vallée de l'Or, a petition asking the government to take action to reinforce its presence and increase its activities in resource regions that are experiencing difficulty in adapting to the new economy.

The petitioners are asking the government to make the rules governing existing programs more flexible and to ensure they are used in resource regions.

At the same time, the petitioners call upon parliament to set up a financial assistance program for thin capitalization mines in Quebec and Ontario resource regions.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have a petition signed by any number of people in Edmonton, Cold Lake, Bonnyville and the Northwest Territories. These people are very concerned. They are asking that practitioners of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, and herein after referred to as Falun Gong, are being discriminated against and persecuted in China by government officials and around the world through agents of the Chinese government.

The petitioners pray and call upon parliament to pass a resolution condemning the discrimination and persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong and request the Chinese government to lift the ban on the practice of Falun Gong.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present another petition from citizens mainly of the Peterborough area who would like to see VIA Rail service between Peterborough and Toronto re-established. They point out that this would strengthen Peterborough as a business community, as an educational centre and as a tourist centre. They also point out that it would save the environment by reducing greenhouse emissions, reduce accidents on the main highways and generally, by the way, improve the efficiency of public transit in the greater Toronto area.

This is a petition which has support in eight federal ridings. We are pleased that it has already resulted in one very constructive meeting with the Minister of Transport and representatives of the Peterborough area, and also very constructive discussions with VIA Rail.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of constituents in Saskatchewan concerning the use of liquid strychnine for controlling Richardson's ground squirrels. The Richardson's ground squirrels have been doing a great deal of damage to rural Saskatchewan. The constituents who have forwarded the petition to me wish to have the government take this issue very seriously.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario


Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bellechasse—Etchemins—Montmagny—L'Islet Québec


Gilbert Normand Liberalfor Minister of Transport

moved that Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Algoma—Manitoulin Ontario


Brent St. Denis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to open the second reading debate on the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987.

Bill S-3 focuses motor carrier regulation on safety and specifically on the federal-provincial national safety code for motor carriers. The bill is one of several initiatives to further improve road safety with the overall goal of making Canada's roads the safest in the world by the year 2010.

Canada currently ranks ninth in the world when measured by the number of people killed per 10,000 registered motor vehicles; a stark statistic. That is why the council of ministers responsible for transport and highway safety have announced an extension of the national road safety vision initiative to the year 2010. Included in the vision is a national target calling for a 30% decrease in the average number of road users killed and seriously injured during the 2008-10 period compared to the five years from 1996 to 2001.

Those countries at the top of the league, notably Norway, the U.K. and Sweden, are themselves still working hard to improve road safety. There is a lot of work to be done to ensure that Canadians enjoy the safest roads in the world.

To focus this work, the minister and his provincial colleagues have identified nine subtargets. One of these subtargets is a 20% decrease in the number of road users killed or seriously injured in crashes involving commercial vehicles, a toll which currently stands at 500 killed and 11,000 injured each year. It is this subtarget to which Bill S-3 will contribute directly.

The target for deaths and injuries involving commercial vehicles is 20% and not the same 30% as the overall target. Why should this be? The reason is a very important one. According to the best information we have, in collisions involving commercial vehicles it is much more often the non-truck vehicle involved that is found to be at fault. For example, drivers of vehicles other than commercial vehicles are found to have committed a violation in 45% of such collisions. Drivers of commercial vehicles are found to have committed a violation in 20% of those same types of collisions.

This is very important because there is often a perception that heavy trucks are the cause of all accidents when in fact the problems which need to be tackled frequently lie elsewhere. Therefore the major opportunity to reduce fatal and injury producing collisions with commercial vehicles is in the hands of the operators of other vehicles, mostly private cars, sport utility vehicles, light trucks and vans. It is a shared responsibility.

This is not in any way meant to minimize the importance of ensuring that commercial vehicle transport is as safe as it can be. Bill S-3 is a major goal for the federal and provincial governments. This is what the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act are about.

One of the important realities is the undoubted success of trucking as a means of transporting goods in our economy. The preference for road transport is pervasive. It is consistent with other developed countries and very likely will continue into the foreseeable future.

Over the last decade domestic truck tonne kilometres increased by 60% and even more impressively international activity, that is north-south traffic, has tripled. These figures support the observation by many Canadians that there are ever more heavy vehicles on our roads.

The government believes that the House will recognize the importance of truck transport to the Canadian economy and will fully support the goal of ensuring that it is carried out in the safest possible manner. With this background I will talk in more detail about Bill S-3 and the amendments.

Bill S-3 updates the federal government's longstanding involvement in road transport regulation. This is founded on federal delegation to the provinces and territories of federal constitutional responsibility for certain parts of the road transport industry, those parts that cross provincial and international boundaries. There is a shared jurisdiction which will be respected in the bill.

The federal Motor Vehicle Transport Act supports provincial regulation and specifically safety regulation of motor carriers. By so doing it provides a national framework for provincial regulations and enables provincial governments to co-operate in regulating motor carriers that operate from one province to another. The act governs the tens of thousands of truck and bus companies that fall under federal jurisdiction. These are known as extraprovincial motor carriers or federal carriers.

Extraprovincial motor carriers are those that operate beyond the boundaries of a single province. This is a large and increasingly important proportion of all truck and bus operators. Regulation of extraprovincial motor carriers is the constitutional responsibility of the federal government. Provincial governments are responsible for carriers that operate solely within a province, which are known as intraprovincial or local carriers. Provinces are also responsible for licensing drivers and vehicles and for traffic enforcement.

Recognizing the prominent provincial role, the federal government has historically delegated the implementation of its authority for federal motor carriers to provincial administrators. The Motor Vehicle Transport Act provides the mechanism by which provincial and territorial governments are empowered to regulate federal carriers. The legislation is therefore an essential component of a shared responsibility for national motor carrier safety regulation. It is also important for the policy direction it provides to the national regulatory framework.

As I have already indicated, the trucking industry regulated by this act is a vital part of our economy and is a significant engine of growth. The value of trucking activity in Canada as measured by freight revenue is $40 billion annually.

Trucking accounts for 84% of all Canadian surface freight revenues and about three-quarters of this activity is by federal carriers. The trucking industry is diverse. It features a number of large international companies, many intermediate and small businesses, and a great number of individuals who drive their own trucks. There are over 700,000 heavy vehicles in Canada and nearly 250,000 fleet operators.

The Canadian intercity bus industry is much smaller but also meets an essential transportation need. Intercity and charter buses generate a half billion dollars in annual revenues. Buses account for about one-third of all intercity passenger travel that is not made by private passenger car.

It is in all our interests that buses can continue to provide Canadians with economical and safe transportation. Buses have a continuing impressive record of safely transporting passengers. In fact there are years when there are no bus passenger fatalities at all. There is however the occasional tragic accident and any collision involving a school bus rightly creates significant public concern. Bus safety must remain a priority, just as heavy truck safety is a priority.

In February of this year the minister released a report on cross-country consultations on bus safety recently conducted by Transport Canada. The recommendations are currently being considered by the department, the provinces and industry.

I would like to say a word about a related act administered by Transport Canada. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act prescribes safety standards for new trucks and buses. This is an important part of ensuring that all vehicles on the road are manufactured to be as safe as modern technology can reasonably make them. Recent advances in the standards for commercial vehicles include anti-lock brake systems, automatic brake adjusters and reflective markings to increase visibility. The House can be confident that by virtue of these standards new heavy vehicles coming on to the road incorporate appropriate safety technology as it becomes available.

Once a vehicle is registered for use on the road its operation and maintenance falls under provincial jurisdiction. As indicated earlier, each province has laws and regulations governing the operation of commercial vehicles. These provincial safety regimes are patterned after a set of national standards called the national safety code for motor carriers. There are 15 national safety code standards covering all aspects of safe commercial vehicle operation. The standards address the driver, the vehicle and motor carrier management.

Over the past few years federal, provincial and territorial governments in consultation with industry and public interest groups have made a major effort to develop an umbrella standard based on real on road safety performance. This effort recently culminated in new national safety code standard No. 14 under the category of safety rating. This safety rating standard provides a framework for provincial government to assess and rate motor carriers, that is commercial vehicle operators, based on their actual on road safety performance.

Based on this knowledge governments are able to take appropriate enforcement action. Carriers know where they stand relative to the industry and shippers are able to choose a carrier in a more informed way. The safety rating process will ensure that all involved parties will have important real world information on motor carrier safety. At the same time the safety rating standard places primary responsibility for safe vehicle operation clearly where it should be, with the motor carrier itself.

The new standard No. 14 safety rating regime means that records of collisions, traffic offences and violations of safety standards will be collected for each motor carrier. This information will be gathered from every jurisdiction where a motor carrier operates. The province in Canada or the U.S. state where a motor carrier safety incident occurs will transmit the information to the province where the carrier is registered. Based on a compilation of all those records the home jurisdiction creates a safety rating for each motor carrier.

This may be a useful juncture to mention the matter of commercial vehicle driver hours of service. The hours of service regime in Canada is implemented by federal and provincial regulations, all of which are based on national safety code standard No. 9. Drivers' hours of service performance is one of the several elements which contribute to the calculation of a carrier's safety rating. I want to make clear that the specific issue of hours of service is not however the subject of Bill S-3.

Members may know that on April 30 the minister requested the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations to examine the rules governing commercial drivers' hours of service. The matter is therefore the subject of a separate examination, one that is distinct from the bill before us today. I understand the committee has already started those hearings.

As indicated earlier, the federal government has the constitutional authority to regulate extraprovincial motor carrier undertakings. The amendments being debated today will enable provincial and territorial governments to apply the new national safety rating regime to federally regulated motor carriers as well as to local carriers.

In practical terms this means that a province will be authorized to issue safety fitness certificates to all motor carriers registered in that province. Clearly in a national program it is important that carriers are rated in a similar fashion in every jurisdiction.

A carrier has the right to receive the same safety rating in every province or territory for comparable safety performance. For this reason the bill establishes a framework for nationally consistent safety ratings. The certificate will be the carrier's permission to operate anywhere in Canada: one stop shopping at its best.

The volume of Canada-U.S. motor carrier traffic has increased dramatically, threefold since 1991. Bill S-3 recognizes that fact and contains provisions to encourage reciprocal recognition of motor carrier safety supervision in other countries, particularly our immediate neighbour, the U.S. and our next closest continental trading partner, Mexico. In this way motor carriers can look forward to seamless treatment from safety regulators north to south on the North American continent.

I want to close by drawing the attention of the House to the partnership and co-operation that exists among governments and stakeholders in the area of motor carrier safety. The national safety code for motor carriers is the product of a federal-provincial-territorial memorandum of understanding signed in 1987.

National safety code standards are developed and maintained by federal-provincial committees that also comprise industry, labour and public interest groups. Since the inception of the code all governments have made a strong effort to develop national approaches to motor carrier regulation, including vehicle and driver licensing training and enforcement.

The bill before us today reflects the resulting progress. Since 1987 we have moved from a patchwork of local regulations toward consistent national safety regulations. This process is not necessarily completely to the satisfaction of all safety interest groups or the national and international motor carrier industry. However there is serious interest by all governments and other participants to see it progress and keep progressing to achieve maximum safety results with efficient implementation.

In this regard the Canadian Council of Ministers of Transport is preparing a memorandum to update the original 1987 document to re-energize the national commitment to harmonization of safety regimes. The minister expects the council of ministers responsible for transport and highway safety will consider this document at its meeting in September.

The bill establishes a framework for a program founded on the national safety code and administered by provincial governments in a consistent manner toward all motor carriers. We believe that this co-operative arrangement is the best way to achieve the highest feasible level of safety for commercial vehicle operation throughout Canada.

In conclusion, road fatalities in Canada are at their lowest level in history. In spite of this, road accidents still kill nearly 3,000 Canadians a year and cost Canadian society over $10 billion annually. The toll in human suffering cannot be measured.

All governments need to keep road safety a priority. The bill to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987, is one of several important steps toward improving highway safety in Canada. The bill is a product of consultation and consensus and is founded on partnerships.

The passage of the bill will provide an important impetus for a continuing co-operative process among governments, industry and public interest groups, building on work that has already been accomplished.

The bill would apply safety regulation based on real life performance. It would recognize responsible motor carriers and encourage their efficient operation across Canada and North America.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and with the provincial ministers, together with the motor carrier industry, to further the improvement of highway safety in Canada as provided for in this legislation.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will indicate at the outset that the Canadian Alliance is supportive of the bill. That does not mean the bill is perfect. We feel that the bill is a half measure. The bill deals with the important issue of highway safety in the country and that is a worthwhile area for public policy and for government to be involved with. I will spend some time talking about the role of the private sector in this whole area and also about the areas the bill missed the boat on.

I would like to acknowledge the improvements I have seen in highway safety because of innovation by the private sector. My learned colleague mentioned anti-lock brakes. Anti-lock brakes were developed in the private sector. The government was very quick to pick up on that, take credit for it and make a regulation. However, anti-lock brakes were developed by the industry before government even thought of them. The area of airbags is another area where the industry was away ahead of government. As well, the reliability of motor vehicles on our roads today is far superior to that of the vehicles we had 20, 30 or 40 years ago and there are more innovations on the way. Fuel economy has improved tremendously and from an environmental standpoint that is good.

Why has industry been able to improve the safety and quality of motor vehicles? Is it because of government regulation and bills such as this one? I think not. It has more to do with a competitive global market in which industry cannot stand still. Industry has to constantly improve its products. Improvements also have a lot to do with something called ISO, the international standard that assures quality in parts and in the system of putting products together. ISO probably has a lot more to do with safety than any bill that this House could pass.

I raise these issues to acknowledge the private sector's contributions to improved safety on our highways.

My learned colleague pointed out that there has been a massive move into truck transportation in Canada. For the most part, the reason we have had a massive movement into truck transportation in the country is the government's failure to move on modernizing our rail transportation system.

The government has had two excellent reports on rail transportation, the Estey commission and the Kroeger report, but has been very slow to respond to those reports and modernize the rail system. A lot of shippers are being forced to use the highways and to use trucks. From a safety standpoint I would suggest that there are a lot of products being moved by truck that should be moved by rail. There are hazardous products out on congested highways such as the 401 highway and if there is an accident there is a real problem.

Rail is a much more suitable means of transporting a lot of these goods, but because of our reluctance to modernize our rail system a lot of shippers are forced into shipping by highways whether they like it or not. In that respect government is the problem, not the solution.

That brings me to another point. I am sure that if you asked truckers or people who are on our highways a lot what their single biggest safety concern is today, they would say it is the highway system, the roads they have to drive on. The roads are falling apart. They are full of holes.

Anyone from my part of the country who wants to take a summer trip to visit relatives in Ontario or Quebec, unless they have their heads screwed on wrong, will find the first interstate in the United States and drive through the U.S. to get to Ontario or Quebec. They do not use our national highway system because the roads are just not that good.

That raises a point. The bill misses a very important angle. The government collects $4.5 billion in fuel taxes. Approximately 5% of that goes back into our highway system. That is not the policy in other countries. Other countries have policies whereby fuel taxes are reinvested in infrastructure and highway systems. The U.S. is a good example. That is why it has its interstate system and a good highway system. However this government refuses to deal with that problem.

I want to raise another point. There is a philosophy that is far too prevalent in the government, which is that the solution to a problem is more government, more laws, more regulation and more bureaucracy. The government thinks that is the way to get results. It has been my experience and the experience of many other people that if we want results we need a plan, teamwork, co-operation, vision, management and enforcement.

The government is too quick to create more bureaucracy, more laws and more regulations. It forgets about all the other components that make for good public policy. The government's attitude is that if we wanted a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup next year we would pass a law saying it is the Montreal Canadiens' turn to win the Stanley Cup. It would pass a law in the House of Commons and dictate that result. We know that is not how the world works.

If we want a result we have to manage that result. Passing laws will not solve a problem. Last week there was a good case in point. Everyone in the House basically got up in support of the feel good motion about safe water in Canada, but no one in the House addressed the real question, which is how we are going to get modern water treatment systems into all the communities across the country. The assumption of course is that if the federal government passes a law, we will solve the problem. If we look at the fisheries, we see that we have more people in the fisheries department than we have fishermen, I think, and look at what has happened to our fisheries. If the federal government is so darned good at water, why are most people, even aboriginals on their reserves, reluctant to drink tap water? Reserves are an area that federal government has had jurisdiction over for 125 years.

However, that is the government's approach: more government, more regulation and more bureaucracy. The government thinks that if we get enough of that sort of thing in place somehow through the vast weight of the state we will get some results. I think there is a better way of doing things and I wish the government would start to look at it. The auditor general has been pointing out for eight or nine years now that the government just does not get results. It comes up with these feel good bills and laws, passes more laws and regulations and hires more bureaucrats, but the results are not there. In fact, sometimes they are counterproductive, but I guess it makes my colleagues on the other side of the House feel good at night because they say all these warm, fuzzy things in the House about safety and so on.

In conclusion I would say that the bill is a half measure. If we expect government to have regulations, laws and bureaucracy in place, the Liberal government is strong in those areas. It knows how to do that and thinks that the more laws, regulations and bureaucracy we have, the better things are. However, in a lot of the other areas the government is deficient. The biggest single deficiency in the bill is the biggest safety issue we have in highway transportation in the country: the state of our roads.

My colleague from the government side pointed out that there has been a massive movement of transportation on our highways, especially extraprovincial. That is a federal area, if I understand my law correctly. When we move into extra-provincial issues, that is federal jurisdiction.

Where is the government's commitment to building our highway system and getting it up to high standards? In the bill there are high standards for motor vehicles, the operators and everything else, but it completely misses the roads on which these vehicles have to drive. It has not done a darned thing about them. It runs away from that.

If the water safety bill ever becomes law, I am sure the real omission in that area will be that the federal government will just not put the money into it. I recall the government moving into the health area, which is a provincial jurisdiction, with the five principles of the Canada Health Act and all the rest of it. However, how much funding does it provide? It provides something like 13% of the health care budget. This is a bad habit of the federal government. It intrudes into an area, passes laws and then does not provide sufficient funding to make the plan work. The thing then falls off the rails, so to speak.

We support the bill but we are not enthusiastic supporters. It is a typical Liberal half measure. The Liberals always lean toward more regulation, more government and more bureaucracy and forget the other things that are required to really manage a result. If we do not have those ingredients, we will have limited results from the bill.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

10:40 a.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, since I became the transport critic, at the beginning of the session, the Bloc Quebecois has supported with reservation the bills dealing with transport put forward by the government, because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This time, however, the Bloc will oppose Bill S-3.

This bill concerns the safety of motor vehicle transport. Theoretically, that is a bill designed to say it all, which ends up saying nothing. Why? Simply because the government is basing the whole bill on the National Safety Code for Motor Carriers, which is already in force. For many years, the provinces have been trying to harmonize a series of measures to ensure that road safety standards are enforced.

It is all very well for the government to put on kid gloves and say “Today we are tabling a bill on road safety”, go on about the number of road accidents and claim to be this great advocate of safety in this country, but there remains a harsh reality.

Safety is not only a matter of quality of the work done by truckers. It is also a matter of road conditions. We do not see federal money getting into provincial treasuries to help the provinces put in place an effective highway network in Canada, a network safe not only for trucking users but also for all those who share the road with these huge vehicles.

This safety component, which was intended as a true highway renovation program across Canada, does not originate with this government. I was present at the last meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport when the President of the Treasury Board presented the allocation figures. There is still the same good old figure of $600 million hanging around in the federal government's coffers for the next five years for all highway projects throughout Canada. In the last election campaign, in Quebec alone, the federal government promised $3.220 billion in investments, whereas the total figure allocated for the next five years is a mere $600 million.

A true policy, a true bill on highway safety could have involved the industry but needed to involve government as well, in order to ensure significant investment in the quality of the highways across Canada and, of course and above all, across Quebec. A true highway safety program, a true highway safety bill, should have included a whole chapter, a whole component, on highway renovations.

Returning to this bill, there must also be an understanding of the desire for a Canadian highway safety code, saying “We will harmonize our efforts with the provinces”. A little realism is required about all the work the provinces are trying to do to harmonize their legislation. We are not telling all those listening to us, all the people of Quebec, anything new.

There must be an understanding of the provinces, who have the responsibility for highway safety. Besides, the bill states that safety is a provincial jurisdiction, and declares that all highway safety legislation in each of the provinces is valid.

We have to understand that the provinces are working together to harmonize their extraprovincial transportation standards. As we speak, they still have not managed to agree on a procedure, a modus operandi, that would satisfy all stakeholders.

The government introduces Bill S-3 and says “Here, we are dealing with road safety throughout Canada”. It says in this bill that safety is a provincial responsibility. What it fails to say is that, as we speak, there is still no harmonization between the provinces, between the governments, with respect to a safety system.

Before we, in the Bloc Quebecois, can support such a bill, efforts will have to be made in the field. Mere wishful thinking, introducing legislation and claiming to be the champion of road and highway safety throughout Canada is not enough. The government must at least be sensible and realistic about the implementation problems in the territories and about the will to have a Canadian-wide safety standard.

Of course, what we have to consider, before such a bill is voted on, is harmonizing the definition of basic jurisdiction using as models—and these are only suggestions—the International Fuel Tax Agreement and the International Registration Plan, to state that the basic jurisdiction must be the Canadian place of residence of the carrier or the place where he carries out the most part of his activities.

Thus a base of operations must be designated if carriers are to be held accountable under some legislation. To begin with, we must agree on a definition, which we do not at the moment. In none of the provinces throughout Canada is there agreement on a base of operations for which each administration could be held responsible.

We must also establish, in each administration, rating systems with compatible ratings. It is all very well to say that throughout Canada we have a road safety system. But, to some extent, we must be able to monitor the trucker, the extraprovincial trucker.

We must have an rating system to monitor him in order to rate his behaviour, and this system must be consistent throughout Canada.

So, in this regard, the federal government does not have the authority to implement a road safety regime. This authority rests with each of the provinces. So we must have an acceptable rating system approved by each province before introducing a bill on road safety and saying to good Quebecers and Canadians that we are dealing with road safety.

We must be able to rate the drivers, those who make a living from the system and the industry. We must be able to rate them to ensure that they perform adequately and, ultimately, to make them accountable, and to rate them through a system that is consistent throughout Canada, which is not the case now.

Today, the government is saying to citizens of Quebec “Look, the federal government is dealing with road safety”. The problem is that there is no rating system, no way to find out if a driver is really reliable. There is no process in place by which we could track him, monitor his activities in each of the provinces and set standards that would make it possible for the industry to know what is going on.

It is not enough for the industry to be accountable. The industry must also be able to know what is going on in each of the provinces where some extraprovincial activity is occurring, and that is not the case at this time.

We must develop a tool to assess each and all of the behaviour elements referred to in standard No. 14. They implement a standard, standard No. 14, which the government member praised earlier, but that standard is based on the national safety code for motor carriers and we should be in a position to assess it, at least to some extent.

One must check all the regulations adopted by each of the provincial administrations to be able to follow the carriers and the industries, to be able to rate them, to reprimand them if needed, with some consistency, and that is not provided for in this legislation.

At the present time, there is still no agreement among the provinces, which are responsible for road safety. They are doing a very good job within their territorial limits, but what they have to do is harmonize with each other, which is plainly admitted in this bill. Each province is being given authority for enforcement. This bill gives official recognition to the road safety standards of each of the provinces.

The problem is that, before introducing this bill and telling the Canadians and Quebecers who are listening that there will be one trucking safety code, the government did not look into whether it would be feasible and whether it would be possible to monitor the industry throughout Canada, so that carriers are given the fines they deserve and, if things go well, good behaviour is recognized.

The bill provides for comparable monitoring from one administration to another. Our goal is to have standards that are similar to within about 5%, and to monitor carriers and administrations Canada-wide. In this country, we should always be able to monitor between point A and point B, or between one ocean and the other. We should be able to monitor effectively and have standards that are understandable and understood by the industry in each of the provinces, which is not now the case.

The government is introducing a bill and telling the public “After this bill is passed, there will be one Canadian safety code enforced across Canada”. The problem is that, when it comes right down to it, this is still wishful thinking. This bill will not be enforceable, because this is an area that comes under provincial jurisdiction and the provinces have not yet managed to reach an agreement.

It is not for lack of trying. On the contrary. But there are important industry lobbies in each of the provinces and they are trying to maintain the existing systems. We should give provincial and territorial authorities, and agencies in charge of road safety a chance to set up standards, have discussions and reach an agreement.

The government should have called a meeting of all relevant provincial agencies before introducing such an important bill and stating “We now have a safety code in effect throughout Canada; do not worry, we are taking care of you”. The problem is we do not know how this code will be working in each jurisdiction, for the simple reason that harmonization is lacking.

We also need to develop in each jurisdiction a penalty system setting out the action that will be taken against carriers who do not comply, and keep reducing ratings until their permits are eventually cancelled. We need a process to do this. If we want to have a follow up and to ensure the safety of the transport network, we must be able to monitor the industry and the carriers, record their offences and deduct merit points and eventually revoke their permit. That is the way to get a national safety code that will work in all the provinces.

We must find a way to evaluate the efficiency of the assessment mechanism based on the results. If we are to have a national code in effect throughout Canada, we should make sure the provincial agencies in charge have a common harmonized standard, a follow-up plan to monitor the carriers, a penalty system that is complementary and easily accessible for all agencies through electronic means or otherwise, and an evaluation plan.

It is not good enough to say “We are putting a plan in place”. We must do a follow up, determine whether the carriers did something wrong, list these wrongdoings and even cancel licences, if need be. And all the provincial authorities must have easy access to the registry of cancelled licences, because, as I said, they have to enforce the Canadian code, under the terms of the bill. The provinces have the responsibility ,but they do not have a common rating system.

Right now, it will be very difficult for the industry to organize, because the provinces do not yet have a common system to follow up on the carrier and enforce safety standards.

We could use a conformity registry, a negative points system or another similar system that would make the carrier understand that, over a certain number of infractions, he could lose his licence. There is no such system and it is not the federal government's responsibility to implement one. It is the provinces' jurisdiction.

Right now, there is no harmonization. The Quebec government did not harmonize its standards, but it is holding very serious discussions with the neighbouring provinces. There are almost daily exchanges between governments on the harmonization of road safety standards, to protect the public. The industry must understand these laws, there must be a carryover from one province to another.

At the moment, the provincial governments have no objection. They all agree on the need for a uniform standard across Canada that each of them may apply.

The problem is that they have not managed to select a standard and to agree on a way to harmonize it between provinces. The systems must be effective so statistics may be compiled on the carriers, their progress followed, infractions revealed, potentially resulting in the cancellation of their extraprovincial licences. Once again, these licences are given by the provinces and followed by them. So the whole system of harmonization must be in place before such a bill is voted on.

I repeat, this bill was meant to provide for everything, but, in the end, it provides for nothing. This is another example of a government trying to make political hay over highway transport safety. This is a very complex area, and all the provinces daily face the problems that highway transport on the roads of Quebec and Canada can cause. In Quebec, this is a daily concern.

Everyone wants greater safety. It takes a modicum of ability to get it to happen, to ensure it is respected, to ensure it is applied uniformly across Canada, something that is not the case at the moment. Once again, our Liberal federal government has decided to introduce prematurely a bill intended to say it all and, in the end, says nothing. We oppose this bill.

A harmonization table between the provincial governments should have been created, so that the result of its work could have been communicated before the introduction of this bill, whose purpose is to tell Quebecers and Canadians “Look, we have a Canadian road transportation safety code. We just passed an act giving it effect”.

Finally, it will not be possible to implement this code, because there is no harmonization between the provincial administrations responsible for road safety, which is a provincial jurisdiction. The only positive thing about this bill is that it states that road safety is a provincial jurisdiction. If it is a provincial jurisdiction, then the government should wait until the provinces harmonize their systems to be able to closely follow a carrier who does not comply with the standards or breaks the law and, if possible, cancel his licence if he is responsible for too many accidents, or if he commits too many offences under that safety program.

This is the message that the Bloc Quebecois wants to convey. I will conclude by saying that Quebecers, and surely all Canadians, would have appreciated finding in this bill a part dealing with the upgrading of Canada's highways. This infrastructure deserves a lot more than the $600 million the federal government has earmarked for the next five years.

An amount of $600 million to be spent through partnerships across Canada, on a 50-50 basis with the provinces, means that if we only relied on federal investments for highway transportation across Canada, a mere $1.2 billion would be spent over the next five years on a very extensive highway system that deserves a lot more funds.

I repeat that Liberal members knew this very well because, during the election campaign, they promised to invest $3.2 billion in Quebec alone. These investments were to made rapidly. They promised bridges and roads. Finally, they promised to improve the whole system throughout Quebec. Imagine, an election promise of $3.2 billion for Quebec.

However, in terms of appropriations, the federal government only set aside $600 million for 50/50 agreements with some provinces, agreements totalling $1.2 billion of work throughout Canada, despite promises of $3.2 billion in Quebec alone.

This means once again that the government can still fool some of the people to win an election. But with this bill, the Bloc Quebecois will not be fooled.

The government cannot introduce a bill that purports to be the champion of people's safety, when it knows full well that this bill is not applicable in any of the administrations at this time.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

11 a.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today on behalf of the New Democratic Party on second reading of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

New Democrats are going to be supporting this bill. It certainly is not perfect, as many other people have said earlier in this debate but it is a start, and we need that.

The bill establishes a framework for harmonizing the way different provinces administer parts of the national safety code for motor carriers. The national safety code pertains to both buses and transport trucks and is administered at the provincial level. It was introduced by the Mulroney government in 1987 in response to safety concerns that arose due to the deregulation of the trucking industry. However federal government left the provinces to adopt and administer the code themselves. So far none have fully adopted it. In essence the national safety code, therefore is nothing more than a set of suggestions which is a major concern for New Democrats.

The framework established in this bill would allow provinces and territories whose safety compliance regimes are compatible with the national safety code to give extra provincial bus undertakings a safety rating and issue safety certificates. This is a nice idea but functionally useless unless all or most of the provinces adopt the code. This does not appear likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

In the words of the Canadian Truckers Alliance, the safety code harmonization framework is “putting the cart before the horse”. Regardless of what administrative framework the federal government comes up with, the national safety code will remain toothless unless the provinces adopt it.

The Liberal government has the constitutional authority to impose the national safety code on the provinces but is not doing it.

Road safety, as was mentioned several times earlier, is the central concern of everyone in the House. We can write all the bills we want, but quite frankly we all know the highways that we drive on are in many cases treacherous at this time of year. They have potholes, cracks and great divides. These are very damaging to our cars and very often cause accidents between trucks and cars on our highways. I am sure Nova Scotia is right up there with Churchill, Manitoba and with many other parts of our Trans-Canada Highway as being a national disgrace.

The question is what is the Liberal government doing about road safety? It is one thing to have this bill but the real question is one of road safety. We need safe highways. We need a real road infrastructure program that is going to at the end of the day make it safe to drive from one end of the country to the other.

For starters, I would suggest in this respect that we need to see some real investment in improving our highways. Every year over 200 Canadians are killed because of bad roads and 16,000 more are injured. These statistics are of accidents caused by bad roads, not by driver error, bad weather, drunk drivers or problems with vehicles. They are accidents caused by problems with the road. Again it has to do with improving the infrastructure and putting money into our roads. These accidents alone kill hundreds of Canadians and injure tens of thousands each year.

Studies have shown that if the government would spend $1 billion a year improving our highways for the next 20 years, the roadwork would pay for itself in the form of lower health care costs because of fewer accidents. It would pay for itself in terms of disability payments and the many additional costs involved in road accidents.

Let me repeat that because it is a remarkable fact. Fixing our highways could actually save the government more money in health care costs than it would cost to fix the highways.

In conclusion, we support the bill. It is not perfect, but it would be useful some day when we have a federal government with the conviction and the determination to make the safety of Canadian highways a priority and turn the national safety code into something relevant, instead of just a set of suggestions that none of the provinces follow. We will support the bill at this stage.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is the House ready for the question?

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from May 14 consideration of the motion that Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the intent of Bill C-10 without a doubt is a very laudable intent. In taking a look at the condition of our oceans and waterways, not only in Canada but indeed around the world, the environment has to be protected. There can be absolutely no question about that. There are many areas of degradation which have occurred and continue to occur.

The intent of the bill is a good one. Coming as it does though under the auspices of the heritage department, we have some idea of what the heritage department is capable of doing, particularly with respect to preservation in parks. We therefore have an idea of some of the challenges that face the department, indeed some of the challenges that have been created by the department for people who also have the laudable intent to protect the environment under parks.

We should briefly take a look at the template or pattern we have. We know Canada's oldest national park, Banff National Park, is under a tremendous amount of pressure, created in no small part by human beings. The resulting pressure, which has been created to the changes of the flora and the fauna, has impacted the wildlife in the area. What has been the response of the park and what is some of the history relative to Banff and indeed the four mountain parks?

If we look at the history of Heritage Canada and Parks Canada, we again realize that with laudable intent they have attempted to create a situation where we could have interaction among human beings and the flora, fauna and wildlife in the parks.

In trying to create that situation, they have taken action which has allowed the build up of ski hills, riding and walking trails and a whole tourist infrastructure over a period of time. If we look at Banff Park as an example, believe it or not the town site generates almost three quarters of a billion dollars a year in gross domestic product. It is a gigantic amount of money which comes into Canada, and in no small part from Europe and particularly from the U.S.

In developing the projects around the park, care was taken over a period of time to get a proper balance to ensure that the park would be preserved for future generations of Canadians. What has occurred though, and it has become clear, is that some of the provisions to take into account the pressure which this would create on the environment within the park have some distinct deficiencies. As a consequence, some gapping holes have been left in what was formerly the very pristine wilderness area, not the least of which of course is the location of the town site of Banff itself. This has a direct bearing.

Under Bill C-10, Parks Canada would be responsible for the enactment for the use of the legislation. As a consequence, if we look at the way it has its work historically on land, what would the results be in terms of marine conservation area?

First, it is a fact that, if we were to take a species like the grizzly within the confines of Banff Park, clearly the habitat of the grizzly has been very seriously negatively impacted. As a consequence there are fewer and fewer grizzlies in that area. Furthermore, with the number of visitors going into Banff Park it is undesirable that there would be an increased amount of interaction between grizzlies and human beings. The two are simply not compatible.

What does that mean relative to Bill C-10? If we look at the number of interests with respect to ocean and Great Lakes areas, we will find that commercial and recreational interests are already in place in many of these situations.

In trying to come to an accommodation of the environment, the flora, fauna and the animals contained within a park, it strikes me that Parks Canada has swung the pendulum absolutely to the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of now saying we have created the situation where human beings, tourists, from all five continents can come and enjoy what we have, because of these experiences there will be a cost to the wildlife in the area. There is a very strong swing to the entire idea of absolute conservation.

There has been a movement to ban any human interaction into the back country within the four mountain parks of Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay. Yoho and Kootenay are parks that are in my constituency. These back country areas basically account for 90% of the park. If we look at it through a very simplistic lens, it is probably a commendable thing to do, but it really is not because it does a couple of things.

It means that there is far more pressure brought into the remaining 10% of the park with far more wear and tear. I will give an example. Many of us have carpets in our homes or we have seen carpets in commercial areas. If we had people walking over the entire carpet it may last for many years, even 50, 60 or 70 years. Theoretically a carpet could last that long even with a great number of people walking over the entire area. The problem is if we confine them to only 10% of that area we have wear marks and have to replace the entire carpet.

That may be a weak analogy, but it presents a picture of what is currently happening within our park structure. With the correct intention of not wanting interaction in the back country human interaction in over 90% of the area would be excluded. That is a very laudable objective, but it has not been fully thought out because of the wear and tear on the last 10%.

We are trying to learn from what we are doing on land within Parks Canada to see how we might apply these things when it comes to lakes, rivers and oceans. The difficulty is that under the legislation there is a sufficient amount of discretion on the part of the government. We may see government whims gaining speed and decisions swinging back and forth like a pendulum.

People have some very legitimate concerns and a commitment to preserving what we have in terms of aquifer, species, flora and fauna that exist below the surface of the water. These people share the concern of Parks Canada and governments. They are saying that if we have not learned how to correctly do what we need to do on land, what will we be doing with respect to the parks or the water area?

I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton North. Taking a look at intent is one thing, but we should also keep in mind the legislation and history. For example, we created a situation in Kootenay National Park, which is in my constituency, that does not make any sense. At one point there was no road there. The road I am referring to is now called Banff-Windermere Highway 93-97. It ends up circling its way down from Lake Louise, up over Storm Mountain, down into the Kootenay River, up over the top and into Windermere.

There is a bottleneck at Sinclair Canyon, which is right between Radium Hot Springs and the town of Radium itself. Sinclair Canyon is exceptionally narrow and only wide enough for a two lane highway. As a matter of fact a river went through the canyon that has rock going about 200 to 300 feet straight up in the air. We put in a two lane highway at that particular point and had to dig the river underneath the highway.

When the national parks built Radium Hot Springs, it encouraged service providers and private industry to build chalets, bungalows and tourist accommodations so people could enjoy the hot springs. These people have ended up having a constant, neverending battle that has been increasing in noise to the point where they are now talking about removing those facilities at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayers. Why? They say it is because it is a wildlife corridor.

It could not have been a wildlife corridor in the past, particularly for the larger animals, without the highway there. Putting in the highway meant that the animals could now, at very low traffic times, walk back and forth through Sinclair Canyon while dodging the 18-wheelers and the ore trucks.

We will be spending $4 million to $6 million to buy out the tourist service providers. These service providers are people who have been paying taxes and fees to Parks Canada. Not only will we spend $4 million to $6 million to remove those facilities but in addition we will lose the revenue from the facilities once we have removed them. This is the concern that I have with Bill C-10.

I realize this will be the fifth or sixth time that I have said this but I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that the Canadian Alliance is in favour of the intent of Bill C-10. The difficulty is that once the bill is enacted it would be under the control of Parks Canada which has a history of not managing its assets very well.

For example, there are people on the Queen Charlotte Islands who have seen the establishment of a park on the islands. They have also seen the husbandry of the Department of Canadian Heritage with respect to the west coast trail and all these things. Parks Canada's track record makes people concerned and nervous about the commercial access to the Pacific Ocean, and I understand their nervousness. It does not have a good track record of consistency and of following through on a prescribed course of action.

I have consistently accused Parks Canada of using the word consultation as a noun instead of a verb. It says that it had consultation. No, it did not. It came out and let people talk but it had already made up its mind. Consultation is a noun, not a verb. It is not a form of action. On the basis of the history of Parks Canada, it is with a tremendous amount of trepidation and concern that we look at Bill C-10.

There are literally hundreds of examples but I would like to present one or two more.

Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba has an area with a lot of natural grasses. Back in 1910 someone decided to plant some spruce trees. Those spruce trees did very well and grew to be very tall, straight, clear spruce. This wood is almost priceless. Each tree is counted in the thousands of dollars. Then some people from Parks Canada said that the trees did not really belong there, that we should get rid of them. Not only did they chop them down and uproot them, they burned them. Does that make sense? Hundreds of thousands of dollars in trees were chopped up for firewood so the grasslands could be restored.

Let us assume that the Creator did not intend there to be trees there and that someone planted them. By the same token, we could go to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, which is an absolute wonder. It is a wonderful place to go and I recommend it to all Canadians if they want to see something absolutely spectacular and be treated wonderfully by the people in Rocky Harbour and Corner Brook. The park has moose like we have never seen before. Mr. Speaker, I know you have very large moose in your constituency but we could have a contest with these moose. They are that big and there are about 7,000 moose.

Gros Morne is kind of interesting. It is like the top of a mountain that has been taken off. It is perfect moose country full of marshland. In its brilliance, in the same way that someone planted the spruce trees, Parks Canada decided to import moose to Newfoundland, a place they should never have been. As a consequence, Gros Morne is literally being eaten into extinction by the moose.

Someone said that there should be a culling of the moose. Heaven forbid, we could never do that. Parks Canada can chop down the trees and burn up invaluable wood, but it cannot have anything to do with the management of that area because moose are animals that walk on the earth. The inconsistency of Parks Canada in its management, as I stated, gives us great pause for concern with respect to Bill C-10.

Canada National Marine Conservation Areas ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-10 to create national marine conservation areas in Canada. This bill comes back to us under a different form that during the last parliament.

First, I must say that the Bloc is in favour of measures aimed at protecting the environment. Speaking of that, we can all recall how successful the creation of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park was. It ought to have served as a model for this bill to ensure that the necessary consultations were carried out so that, in the end, the measures taken and the management of the marine conservation areas respect the various jurisdictions and the initiatives taken by the various governments.

We have examples of this, such as Vision 2000 and other projects where the jurisdictions were taken into account and where some interesting results have been achieved.

In this case, is it because it is a more general bill, a kind of umbrella act, which will establish a general framework for the management of marine conservation areas, that the consultations do not seem to have been carried out appropriately and to respect what we would like to seeas the bottom line? To those of us on this side, the consultations do not seem to have been carried out properly and do not seem to respect what we would like to see as the bottom line.

As I said earlier, instead of focusing on collaborative efforts, as was the case for the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, with this bill the federal government will have the right to create marine conservation areas without regard for Quebec's jurisdiction over its territory and its environment.

In addition to having a problem with the provinces as far as jurisdiction is concerned, there are also areas within the bill that are not very clear as far as the future relationship between Heritage Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada is concerned. We have experienced certain rather patent examples of difficulties with Heritage Canada, in connection with management of the ecosystem. This does not necessarily strike us as being very promising for the future.

For example, there is the overlap and duplication of Fisheries and Oceans-protected and Environment Canada-protected zones. This means that, even within the federal government, there is no clear vision of marine area management, because several departments are involved. The wording of this bill does not seem to reflect what we might have expected in terms of qualifying the situation. What we have instead is something that requires more time and more work.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois considers this bill unacceptable in its present form. It does not respect the territorial integrity of Quebec. For example, one of the conditions essential to the establishment of a marine conservation area is federal ownership of the land where the area is to be established. One of the clauses relating to this states that the minister cannot establish a marine conservation area, unless, and I quote:

—the Governor in Council is satisfied that Her Majesty in right of Canada has clear title to or an unencumbered right of ownership in the lands to be included in the marine conservation area, other than such lands situated within the exclusive economic zone of Canada;

We see in this, therefore, an approach very different from that used, as I was saying earlier, in the case of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, where the government agreed to respect provincial ownership of the riverbed and, thus, build a model that was unique and that respected the jurisdictions of each.

We know that, under section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, the management and sale of crown lands are matters of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The bill before us does not totally respect this jurisdiction.

In addition, the same Constitution Act provides that Quebec cannot transfer its lands to the federal government and can only authorize the federal government, by order, to use them under its federal jurisdiction. Finally, the protection of habitats and fauna is a matter of joint federal and provincial jurisdiction, and the Government of Quebec plans to establish a framework for the protection of marine areas in the near future.

I think that, in the context of the consultations, it would have been a good idea to take this plan into consideration, in order to achieve a successful outcome in the end. We spoke of examples of the right of way of doing things. I mentioned the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, but there is the third phase of the St. Lawrence action plan, another example to follow.

In 1998, the federal and Quebec ministers of the environment announced the third phase of the St. Lawrence action plan, representing a total bill of $230 million to be shared equally by both levels of government. One of the objectives of this action plan is to increase the area of protected habitats by 100% from 12,000 hectares to 120,000 hectares. The third phase follows on the first two phases, in which both governments invested over $300 million.

This co-operation we find in specific projects such as the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and the third phase of the St. Lawrence action plan, we would also liked to find it in the present bill. On reading it, we did not.

Another important consideration is the fact that jurisdiction over the environment is shared, and so both the provinces and the federal government have responsibilities for it.

For example, section 91 of the Constitution Act provides that “the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next herein-after enumerated; that is to say,—...Navigation and Shipping...Quarantine and the Establishment and Maintenance of Marine Hospitals...Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries...Ferries between a Province and any British or Foreign Country or between Two Provinces”.

This basically sums up the content of the Constitution Act, 1867, as regards the federal government's responsibility.

Quebec's jurisdiction is also recognized in certain sections of the British North America Act, including section 92, which reads:

In each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next herein-after enumerated; that is to say—...The Management and Sale of the Public Lands belonging to the Province and of the Timber and Wood thereon...Property and Civil Rights in the Province...Generally all Matters of a merely local or private Nature in the Province.

So, some co-ordination is required to ensure that the federal acts respect this jurisdiction. The Constitution Act, 1867, also states that:

In each province, the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to ( a ) exploration for non-renewable natural resources in the province; ( b ) 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—

Clearly, this bill should involve some kind of partnership that does not currently exist.

The example of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park could have been followed as an essential condition to the creation of marine conservation areas, as far as land ownership is concerned. If the bill is passed as it now stands, the federal government could set up marine conservation areas on the seabed that it claims as its property and ignore Quebec's jurisdiction over the environment.

This is not satisfactory for the Bloc Quebecois and it also breaks a tradition I referred to earlier, a tradition of co-operation, which could have led to the establishment of interesting programs.

It is all the more frustrating and questionable, because this is framework legislation, which will define the way the federal government will act in this field. The government is proposing new principles as far as respect of mutual jurisdictions is concerned.

It seems that the federal government intends to create marine conservation areas under the responsibility of Heritage Canada, marine protection areas under the responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and marine wildlife areas under the responsibility of Environment Canada. This covers a lot of territory.

We could for example end up with one site with several zonings, each one of these departments considering that there is, according to its own criteria, a marine reserve or marine protection area for Fisheries and Ocean Canada, a marine reserve for Environment Canada or a marine conservation area for Heritage Canada. Then, in each of these cases, there would be three monitoring levels, three jurisdictions for three different departments.

Perhaps I could give an example. If Heritage Canada felt that certain wrecks in the St. Lawrence River had a historic role that deserved to be recognized and the environment was part of the conservation area, but Environment Canada wanted this same location recognized as a marine reserve for fauna, and there were a contradiction between the two, it is clear that the bill does not contain the desired logic to settle the matter.

Is it not fair to wonder today whether, ultimately, this bill will not create even more confusion?

We believe that it will. We believe that the fact that the bill allows each of the federal departments to maintain its jurisdiction over marine conservation areas may end up creating total confusion. As we explained earlier, with three departments having jurisdiction and being able to define marine conservation areas according to their own different objectives, the final results might not be consistent.

The bill also provides that, when the Department of Canadian Heritage deems it appropriate, it may, in co-operation with the minister concerned, pass regulations, in respect of a marine conservation area, which differ from the existing provisions. In such a case, the amendment arrived at between Heritage Canada and the minister concerned takes precedence over the other regulations passed under the Fisheries Act, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and the Aeronautics Act.

In other words, despite the fact that this is framework legislation, there is provision for the Department of Canadian Heritage, through its minister, to negotiate a piecemeal situation such as this, when it deems appropriate, and for the results to take precedence over all the legislation mentioned.

This discretion should be controlled very differently to make sure that it will not lead to squabbles between departments. It would also be subject to a change in ministers. If a minister from the Atlantic or the Pacific region has his own priorities in that area, he could use his powers under the act to put pressure on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or another minister, to demand some kind of acknowledgment of marine conservation areas not included in the planning by existing departments.

This section of the bill provides for a fourth way to create marine conservation areas, very specifically, on a case by case basis. I do not believe that framework legislation should provide for something like that.

We are all the more concerned by this situation that in the past there has been very severe criticism from the auditor general, among others, about the inability of Heritage Canada to protect ecosystems in existing national parks. Now that they want to get involved in marine conservation areas, are we going to be faced with the same kind of situation?

Very concrete examples can be found in chapter 31 of the auditor general's report, which states:

In the six national parks we reviewed, Parks Canada's biophysical information was out-of-date or incomplete.

The report states further:

Although monitoring the ecological integrity of the ecosystems in national parks is a high priority according to Parks Canada policies and guidelines, in many national parks the Department has not monitored ecological conditions on a regular, continuing basis.

How can we trust a department that was the subject of such comments in relation to existing parks, when there are plans to establish new parks in an even more unclear situation, where the government will not be accountable for its actions?

In another comment, the auditor general said:

In almost all of the parks visited by the auditor general, there was no link between business plans and management plans.

In the end, it meant a lack of co-ordination in the activities listed in the business plans to make the parks better known and help them reach their public, as well as in day to day management, to make sure the services that are in demand and that are offered to the public can be provided. If park visitors do not get this kind of service, it is inappropriate to give this responsibility to a department which has had big problems in the past.

Last spring, the panel on the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks made its report public and urged the government to put ecological integrity back in the centre of its missions. The panel found that the integrity of ecosystems was at risk.

For example, the panel found that, in some national parks, the stress on the resource was so great that some species were disappearing. All the more so in marine areas, where we can have this type of situation if they are is not properly managed.

In Fundy park, in New Brunswick, three species have disappeared since the park was created, in the 1940s. Only one of the 39 national parks of Canada does not experience this stress. The situation is worse than what the panel of scientists expected.

Given all this information, one really has to wonder how Parks Canada will manage to preserve the marine areas of conservation, when it does not seem to have the wherewithal to protect existing parks.

There are more reasons to oppose this bill. Consultations before the introduction of the bill have been more or less a failure. A consultation paper was made public and sent to 3,000 groups across Canada, but unfortunately there has been no real consultation on the report.

For example, the Bloc Quebecois had asked for a copy of the 300-page report, which was really only 73 pages long, the large majority of which constituted the reply-coupon joined to the consultation paper. That was very succinct as a consultation result. We could hardly use it to improve the bill.

We must also realize that the decision concerns the fishing industry, which is in turmoil. In the past, we have witnessed tremendous failures in the federal policy dealing with stock management. Entire areas of Quebec and Canada saw their regional economy suffer badly.

Clause 10(1) of the bill states, and I quote:

10.(1) The Minister shall provide opportunities for consultation with relevant federal and provincial ministers and agencies ... in the development of marine conservation area policy—

How are they going to ensure that there will be consultation in the fisheries area in order to avoid an unacceptable outcome, when we are already aware of the failure of the federal fisheries stock management policy?

The way this bill is worded, the information given does not provide assurance, despite reassurances by departmental officials, that the objective will be attained, i.e. that marine conservation areas will be better protected. We have no assurance that Quebec's jurisdiction will be respected.

When the application of this bill is reviewed in another five, ten or fifteen years, we will probably find it was just one more failure. This review will probably show that the Bloc Quebecois was justified in what it has said about the bill being passed within a context of insufficient consultation of the provinces and insufficient co-ordination by the various federal departments involved. By then, we will have one or two examples available in which the discretionary power conferred upon the minister will have been used to solve problems in a specific region, not necessarily within the spirit of the law.

Given all these facts, the Bloc Quebecois invites the House to vote against the bill. We do not feel it is acceptable at this stage.