House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.


Science And TechnologyOral Question Period

May 3rd, 2001 / 2:55 p.m.


Claude Drouin Liberal Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development.

Since we are celebrating this year the 30th anniversary of our unique co-operation agreement with Germany in the area of science and technology, could the secretary of state tell us whether the government expects to renew this agreement and ensure that Canada's scientists and high tech industries can continue to have access to Germany's technology markets and sources?

Science And TechnologyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bellechasse—Etchemins—Montmagny—L'Islet Québec


Gilbert Normand LiberalSecretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Indeed, for the past 30 years, Germany and Canada have been co-operating to promote technological exchanges. During these 30 years, over 500 high tech projects were exchanged between our two countries and about 100 of them are still active in close to 14 activity sectors.

Last week, the German minister of science and myself have agreed to continue this co-operation between our two countries and celebrate its 30th anniversary in the fall.

The German minister will also be visiting Canada at the beginning of June to see what is being done in our high tech sector. The co-operation between our two countries is excellent.

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the people of Zimbabwe are living in fear of a president who will stop at nothing to hold power. President Mugabe and his government must be sanctioned for their actions.

Will the foreign affairs minister lead the charge against human rights abuses and, I ask again, cut international assistance to Zimbabwe?

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa—Orléans Ontario


Eugène Bellemare LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the hon. member wants us to help the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick.

That is what CIDA is doing. We will not support terrorists or governments that terrorize people. We are dealing with human poverty.

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, pretty soon in Halifax, military men, women and veterans will be honouring the dead of the Battle of the Atlantic. Many merchant mariners will be there as well.

My question is for the Minister of Veterans Affairs. The merchant mariners have waited a long time for their second compensation payment. The minister has reviewed this file over and over again. Could he please tell the House, the remaining merchant mariners and their families when they can expect to see their final compensation payment?

Veterans AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba


Ronald J. Duhamel LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Francophonie)

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues know, I have worked very hard on this file in the past and continue to do so with my colleagues, including the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. I hope to have a solution very soon. The moment I do, I will be delighted to share it with all my colleagues, and I will do so.

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, Lancaster Aviation was awarded a contract to sell aerospace parts on June 13, 1997. It was amended on May 15, 1998 to include 40 CH-135 helicopters and 10 DND Challenger jets.

Could the minister of public works tell us why this significant change in terms and conditions and who is looking out for the estimated $50 million of Canadian assets currently in the control of an indicted felon living in the United States?

National DefenceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel Québec


Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, Lancaster Aviation is using those warehouses for warehousing services and Canadian assets are not in danger. This contract was put out for competition again in June 2000. Three firms competed and Lancaster Aviation was again the winner.

Everything in this matter has been done according to the rules and the law.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of the hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Dubem Onyia, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

During oral question period, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot used certain words I would hope he would withdraw immediately.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

I do, Mr. Speaker.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I have heard the hon. member's answer.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, may we have an outline of the business for the rest of the day, for Friday and for next week?

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my opposition counterpart for this excellent question.

This afternoon we will continue with Bill C-6, the water export bill. If this business is finished earlier than the end of the day, which I understand it might be, I would then propose to call Bill C-15, the criminal code amendment. If that is the case, I would ask for the minister and the official opposition to speak. After that, I would adjourn the debate and we would not proceed further.

I want to take this opportunity to indicate that it had been my original intention to call this bill last Monday. However I was informed that the text I had and the text that was provided to other hon. members was not the same. I apologize for the differences that appeared in the texts. It is my intention to at least start Bill C-15 this afternoon. I will get back to the next time we will consider Bill C-15 in a moment.

Tomorrow there has been an all party agreement to consider Bill S-5, the legislation regarding the Blue Water Bridge, at all stages.

We would then deal with Bill S-2 respecting marine liability. That would probably be the end of the consideration of legislation for tomorrow. As a matter of fact I do not propose calling anything else given the progress today.

There has also been similar all party agreement to consider Bill S-4 regarding civil harmonization of civil law at all stages on Monday. We would do second reading stage and by unanimous consent the bill would go to committee of the whole and subsequently third reading all in the same day. This would be followed by Bill C-15, which we will start later this afternoon pursuant to the remarks I just made.

After question period on Monday, regardless of the progress, I would propose to call Bill S-17, the patent legislation. Tuesday shall be an opposition day.

Next Wednesday and Thursday we will be looking at cleaning up any leftover legislation that I have just described and also adding: Bill C-17, the innovation foundation bill; Bill S-11, the business corporation bill; Bill S-16, respecting money laundering; and Bill C-14, the shipping act amendments to the list of matters that may come up.

I will also be speaking to other House leaders about arranging early consideration, and hopefully we can do that now, about Bill C-7, the youth justice bill, given that the committee has now concluded its consideration of this bill.

This is the program I offer to the House for the upcoming week. I thank hon. members on all sides of the House for their usual co-operation.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government House leader corrected me by saying that the Deputy Prime Minister had never specifically asked me to table the lease between the Auberge Grand-Mère and the Grand-Mère golf club, but rather that the Deputy Prime Minister had asked that the evidence I had in my possession be made public.

But what better place to table the lease than this House, which supposedly epitomizes democracy in Canada?

Again, for the fifth time, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table this document.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent of the House?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Canada has the extraordinary responsibility of having 9% of the freshwater in the world. This bill will go a long way in dealing with the important issue of regulating freshwater within Canada and excluding it from NAFTA, which the public wants to see happen.

It is easy to get misty eyed over water and to think of it as something akin to the Holy Grail, something beyond reproach and discussion. I am very glad we are having this discussion on whether or not we should export bulk water. This debate is in its infancy in Canada. It is important for us to deal with the facts.

The bill will prohibit the removal of water from the basins in which it is located, specifically in those areas that are in the boundary between the United States and Canada. It will require a licence from the Minister of Foreign Affairs for any activity of boundary or transboundary waters which would have the effect of altering the natural level or ebb and flow of freshwater.

As a party we are absolutely adamant that we ensure Canada has control over our important water resources. We support exempting water from NAFTA.

It is a renewable resource resting within science. Therefore, whatever decisions we make on this particular subject must be rooted not in emotion but in science and fact.

Interestingly, a Pandora's box has been opened. Right now six sites in our country are selling bulk water. One of those particular sites is called Waterbank. I encourage people to take a look at it. It demonstrates that the cat is out of the bag and that private landowners are selling water over the Internet.

We need to address this issue but it is not being addressed in this particular bill. Why do we have to address it? Because water flows through a hydrological cycle. That hydrological cycle is interconnected between private and public lands. There is no way to differentiate or separate that because water flows in that cycle regardless of what we do. It is also affected by what we do, such as the building of dams. At the end of the day, that hydrological cycle will let us know what will or will not be allowed in terms of bulk export of water.

We are going to support this bill. It is a very important first step, not only for public debate but also as to what we should do in the future. I certainly hope the minister responsible will find the best scientists in and outside our country and use the best scientific research when determining the pros and cons with respect to bulk water sales. On one hand, it can be an enormous renewable resource for Canadians who desperately require it. On the other hand, it can be a source of jobs and job creation, particularly in areas such as Newfoundland and my province of British Columbia.

In British Columbia, water actually evaporates from our oceans, falls onto the land as freshwater, runs through the cycle, through the rivers and then goes back into the ocean. It is possible that there is a resource there. However, if we extract anything, it must be done on the basis of good solid science.

There are other aspects with respect to water that are not touched on in this bill but should be. One is the issue of water quality. We saw the Walkerton tragedy. We know from our communities that many of them are suffering the ravages of water which has been abused. Pesticides and fertilizers in particular are acidifying our groundwater. Water tables are eroding. As a result of that communities are finding it very difficult to find the freshwater they require. I know that some communities in and around my area of Victoria have had some very difficult times with respect to access to water. We have been on water emergencies and water has been rationed as a result of that.

The extent of the pollution has being largely ignored. I know I mentioned examples in this House before of how badly our water tables are and how our water has been eroded with respect to poisons.

For example, if we were to test the flesh taken from a Beluga whale found in the St. Lawrence Seaway we would find it polluted with cancer causing and taratogenic agents. It would be considered a toxic substance. Imagine, we have large mammals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that are considered toxic waste. The only reason those mammals would be considered as such is we have poisoned our water. Those chemicals, which flow through our ecosystem, are being bioaccumulated in the mammals that live in our water systems.

As we go from smaller to larger species, the bioaccumulation of these carcinogenic and taratogenic substances are magnified. Therefore, in the top line predators there are considerable amounts of these toxic substances, to say the least. This should act as a bellwether for us, the ultimate predator within our ecosystems, because we eat some of these fish.

One of the great gaps in the government's analysis of these issues is environmental assessment. The government has been told time and again that environmental assessments are required not at the end of a project or after a project but at the beginning of a project.

The public would find it shocking that environment assessments on 40% of all development projects take place near the end or after the project is complete. It is an utterly useless exercise. If development is to be done with environmental protection in mind, those assessments must take place at the beginning. I encourage the relevant ministers to review this practice which simply must end.

Wars in the future will be fought over water. Access to potable water in other countries is often a serious problem. Here are a few facts. Chronic water scarcity now impacts 10% of the world's population. Eighty countries, imagine, 80 countries, with 40% of the world's population already experience critical water shortages.

I need only draw attention to the Middle East, to Jordan and Israel, and to what could become a Palestinian state. These areas have an absolutely critical water shortage. While people there are fighting over other issues, what may ultimately determine their actions and who can live in the area is not the gun but the amount of potable water.

One-quarter of the world's population is expected to face severe water shortages in the next 25 years. To show how bad it is, much of the world's population lives on eight litres of water a day. That may seem like a lot, but each person in Canada uses 325 litres of water per day. That is extraordinary. Canada possesses 9% of the world's freshwater, the lion's share.

Ultimately other countries will look at our water supply with a great deal of envy and some of them may at times need urgent access to it. It is up to us to protect the resource, be good stewards and implement solutions that will affect the resource in a positive way.

More than five million people die each year from illnesses related to unsafe drinking water. Thirty thousand children die each day from water related diseases. Having worked in Africa I know, as many people here know, that children are dying of dysentery. It is a very serious problem in many developing countries.

In closing, I encourage the Government of Canada to work with other parties here today to put forth a bill that will protect our resources. We must ultimately be stewards not only in what we do with our water but in how we protect it to ensure the potable water we have today will not be polluted.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened very intently to the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. He said we had an obligation to enter into trade in the area of freshwater. He talked about people who are unable to get the water they need.

The people who are looking to buy our water are in fact not the people who cannot afford it. The people who want to buy it are our cousins south of the border. The hon. member also said we had poisoned the water in the St. Lawrence River and that we had whales that were proof of this.

I am trying to reconcile those two points of view. Do we have the right to sell something we have proven ourselves incompetent to look after? At the same time can we talk about selling it to other people who, due to their own incompetence, have ruined their own water supplies?

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. The issue is how to manage our water resources responsibly. I do not for a moment suggest that we sell any water. I am saying that the cat is out of the bag. There are Internet sites right now where private individuals with private land have offered to sell bulk water from their land. That is not being addressed in the bill and it should be addressed.

The hydrological cycle, as I mentioned in my speech, is an interconnected one. Water does not know the difference between public and private land. All water flows together. What a person does on private land can have a dramatic impact on what happens on public land. We must build that into the system.

On the issue of pollution, it behoves the hon. member to ask the Minister of the Environment why we have been such appalling stewardship of our water and why we have not implemented environmental laws to prevent rampant pollution from taking place.

Why are we not taking a critical look at the impact of fertilizer on the pH levels of water? Fertilizers have a dramatic impact and cause algoblooms that kill off vast swaths of fish. We need agriculture. We need to develop the best practices to ensure that our agricultural products are safe and that we maximize productivity from our land. However we must also respect our water resources. Our future depends on it.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the bill today. I come from a riding in southern Alberta where one river, the Milk River, flows south and ends up in the Gulf of Mexico, while another river, the Oldman River, flows into the south Saskatchewan river system and ends up in Hudson Bay. My riding is unique in that way. In my riding water is an absolutely precious commodity. If we did not properly manage and protect the water in the area we would be in serious trouble.

We are in the throes now of a drought that has seen in some places a 30% snowpack in the mountains, 70% below normal. Our runoff this spring will be very low. One of our irrigation districts has already told its producers they will be rationed. Those producers will receive half the water through the irrigation system that they would receive in a normal year.

In the irrigated area of southern Alberta 4% of the land produces 20% of the crops. This shows that if water is added to an area that gets as much sunshine as we do then the area can produce almost anything. We grow all the pulse crops. We grow beans, peas, sunflowers, sugar beets, all kinds of crops that demand high heat units. We grow all these things, yet in that part of the Palliser triangle we would not have anything without proper water management.

The irrigation districts in our area take great pride in the fact that they are good managers of our water. There is a gentleman in southern Alberta who has been a friend of mine for a long time. He often comes to speak to me about water issues such as NAFTA, protecting our waters from trade, and interbasin transfers. My riding is one area where it would be possible to take water out of a river basin and put it into another and send it in a different direction.

It is important that we are dealing with this issue. The gentleman's name is Tracy Anderson. I must mention him when I talk about water because to me he is Mr. Water. He has spent his entire life dealing with water management. He knows full well how precious a resource it is. Former Premier Lougheed of Alberta said that by the year 2000 water would be more valuable than oil. He had the foresight to know that in time good, clean pure water such as we have in Canada would become a commodity more precious than oil.

It is interesting that we are proposing amendments to the treaty signed in 1909 between Canada and the U.S. The government is doing so because it failed to exempt water from NAFTA, something it promised Canadians it would do in 1993 but never did.

If water is ever traded as a commodity among Canadians then our NAFTA partners will have a right to the commodity as outlined in the agreement. We cannot say yes to each other without also saying yes to the rest of North America. There are situations in Canada where we could help each other. In drought situations landowners could give up their share of water to a neighbour. However if we start trading water as a commodity it opens up a whole new area of concern.

The International Boundary Waters Treaty Act would do three things. First, it would prohibit interbasin transfers, the removal of waters from the basin in which they are located. Second, it would require a licence from the Minister of Foreign Affairs for any activity in boundary or transboundary waters that would alter the natural level or flow of waters on the U.S. side. The Americans would do the same. Third, it would provide clear sanctions and penalties for violation.

We need such penalties. As the previous hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca said, there are Internet sites in Canada offering to sell Canadian water. We must be very careful how we handle this.

We realize the provinces have jurisdiction over water. However the federal government must work in conjunction with the provinces to structure legislation so that there is shared responsibility.

Canadians are becoming more concerned about the control of freshwater. We notice this every time there is a proposal to sell our freshwater to another country because many Canadians come forward.

We have 9% of the world's renewable freshwater supply. That is a huge amount for the size of our country. We need to realize that it is absolutely the most precious resource we have. Without good clean water nothing else can happen.

An outright ban on exports would run contrary to NAFTA because water was not exempted. These amendments are a way around that. Water should be exempted from NAFTA but it was not. We therefore must deal with the issue in a different way.

Let us talk about our neighbour to the south. What will happen if the U.S. has a crisis situation where it runs out of water? If we get to that stage our neighbour will put forward a hard case to come and get our water. We must promote conservation the best we can. We have the water supply. Some of the things done on the other side of the border should perhaps not be done because water there is not as abundant as it is here. Weather and climate permitting, these functions should take place here. If there is a process where water is needed to a great degree, it should also take place here. Water should be treated as a raw material. I suppose any time it can be valued added to, it should be. It should be turned into crops, into vegetables and into food for the world.

We see that in the riding. I was actually raised on five acres of what was called an irrigation camp. My dad worked with the irrigation district. I learned to appreciate at an early age the value of water and what it meant to our neighbours and the farming community in the area.

It is important that we protect our water for future generations and that we ensure it stays under the sovereignty control of Canada. The bill would go a long way in doing that, and we will be supporting it.

I do not think that we can ever forget that water as a tradable good should be exempt under NAFTA. That is something that should be addressed by this government or maybe by a future government. Canadians should be able to help each other in need of water without putting it into the world market.

I will conclude by saying that we will support the bill. It is an important aspect of our environment and of our laws. It does not go far enough, but what it does do we will support.

International Boundary Waters Treaty ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-6.

This bill to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act is only seven pages long and contains only 26 clauses. Yet it is a very important bill because the length of a bill is no indication of its significance.

Why is the bill so crucial for Quebec? For various reasons. First, it has to be recalled that in Quebec in the fall of 1997 a large symposium on water was held, bringing together several stakeholders, from the private sector as well as the community, institutional and municipal sectors, to develop a policy on water management not only at the international level but also within our borders.

At that symposium, the participants agreed to give the BAPE, the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement, a clear mandate. They came up with a fairly eloquent report which reflected their desire to have their own water policy within a reasonable timeframe. The report was published in May 2000 and included many recommendations.

Recommendation No. 4 essentially stated that:

The Quebec government should make the Water Resources Preservation Act, which bans bulk exports of groundwater and surface water, permanent legislation.

The Commission is of the opinion that bulk exports need to be forbidden by law and no chances taken, with the uncertainties of international trade agreements, such as NAFTA, WTO and the like.

I recall the BAPE recommendations because they establish the framework in which Quebecers wish this resource essential for Quebec be exploited.

On one side, well before May 2000, there was a symposium on water. On the other side, the BAPE report in May 2000, established the framework within which we wanted the Quebec government and the federal government to act.

Following the consensus reached by the BAPE, the government is now introducing a bill—the act is already in force in Quebec, it was passed on November 24, 1999—aimed at preserving water resources.

I mention this because that bill said very clearly that the transfer of Quebec ground and surface waters outside Quebec was prohibited. That bill was passed unanimously by the national asssembly in November 1999 and became law.

That new act said we did not want to see a natural resource such as water being transferred outside Quebec. It also said clearly that not only the Quebec government but also the national assembly—its institution—wanted to prohibit the export of water since the bill was passed unanimously.

If we look at the federal strategy, which has three elements, we see the government clearly wants a Canada-wide accord to prohibit bulkwater removal out of Canada's five major water basins.

We must remember that the provinces gave this agreement a rather chilly reception at the time. Why? Not because the provinces reacted on a whim but, quite the contrary, because there already was in some provinces, namely Alberta, British Columbia and even more in Quebec, a moratorium. Why? Because we had passed unanimously, on November 24, 1999, an act for the preservation of water, which is a natural resource. This is the reason why this bill got a chilly reception.

What was Quebec asking for? It was asking for two things, even before signing the agreement. First, we wished to wait for the report of the International Joint Commission on Canada's referral concerning water exports. Second, there is the water management policy issue, which is a current issue, since it is still being debated. I am deeply convinced that the government of Quebec will announce, in the months to come, a real water management policy.

We were asking that the joint commission be given the time to render a decision on the referral and that Quebec be given the time to develop a water management policy, table that policy and adopt it.

It has to be recognized that the bill does not take into account even one of Quebec's demands. Water management policy is not a trivial issue but a fundamental one since it inevitably interferes with Quebec's laws. With the bill, the federal government will not allow Quebec partners—not only the government, but also its partners—to establish this policy.

Another clear demand made by Quebec, and not only Quebec but also by BAPE partners, regarding the export of water was that the federal government take its responsibilities and have this issue excluded from trade agreements.

I recall the evidence and documents the group Au Secours gave to the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement. I also recall the evidence, documents and briefs the Centre du droit de l'environnement du Québec gave to that same agency. These people had only one wish, which is that the Quebec government would show leadership and call to task the federal government and the minister in charge of the negotiations to ensure that water export will not be included in international agreements.

In the aftermath of the summit of the Americas in Quebec city, we would have liked our government and the Minister for International Trade to show this kind of leadership.

The 35 states that took part in the negotiations met in Montreal two weeks before the summit of the Americas. The 35 environment ministers who met to discuss this issue did not indicate clearly the principles that should be included in the free trade area of the Americas agreement concerning this issue. The government should have taken its responsibilities.

Another important point is the whole concept of watershed. The bill does not give a definition. Regulations will take care of that. In Quebec, our great fear is that the federal government will once again use this new power to interfere in provincial jurisdictions.

The environment ministers held a conference on Monday in Winnipeg. The federal minister and the ministers of all provinces and territories were present. The Quebec minister of the environment took that opportunity to express his concerns regarding the bill before us. It was not one of the main topics, but the environment ministers discussed it.

Again, the Quebec minister of the environment clearly stated that in his opinion Bill C-6 interfered with Quebec's jurisdiction over the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries and duplicated the Water Resources Preservation Act, which was passed unanimously by the Quebec national assembly on November 24, 1999.

The minister also indicated that the government of Quebec clearly responded to the wishes expressed by Quebecers. It has already banned bulk exports of groundwater and surface water from Quebec.

On Monday, the Quebec minister of the environment, who was at that meeting in Winnipeg, took that opportunity to reiterate the fact that through this bill the federal government clearly showed its will to interfere directly in areas under provincial jurisdiction.

Another aspect relates to section 13 in Bill C-6, which deals with water removal. It is rather clear that the provision prohibiting water removal could be interpreted as applying to waters other than boundary waters and to water basins within Quebec's territory.

We believe that such a disposition would go beyond the requirements of the 1909 treaty, to the point of encroaching upon Quebec's jurisdiction over water resource management within its territory.

I remind members that Minister Bégin wrote to the federal Minister of the Environment on November 29, 1999.

He indicated to his federal counterpart that he would never tolerate federal interference in these areas of jurisdiction through this bill.

The other aspect concerns the powers that the minister tries to give to himself through this bill, powers that we on our side of the House, at least we in the Bloc Quebecois, consider substantial.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the federal government both use Bill C-6 to blow their powers up like a big balloon. We will not accept that.

Need I recall that the minister is assuming all the powers. In the area of licensing, he assumes all the powers for the selection of the eligible projects.

I will remind the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Environment that, whether we pass Bill C-6 soon or not, the International Joint Commission already has these powers.

Even if we were not to adopt the bill, there is still a process or mechanism under the 1909 treaty and agreement providing that a country or a province cannot make a unilateral decision as far as the analysis is concerned.

The International Joint Commission is playing an important role. This bill will not change the mechanisms used by the International Joint Commission.

Section 14 deals with general provisions whereas sections 11 to 13 “are binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province”, and the Canadian Constitution is clear on this. Section 109 of the Canadian constitution grants the provinces clear title.

Whether the government passes the bill in the House or expands its powers through the bill, it will not be able to override the constitution since section 109 grants the right of ownership to the provinces.

Sections 92.5, 92.13 and 92A of the constitution clearly grant the provinces broad powers in the areas of land use, land management and the development of natural resources. Moreover, jurisprudence has established that the term “lands”, as used in the bill and in section 92.5 of the constitution, extends to waters and mines. Section 92.5 of the constitution is clear: the term “lands” also covers waters and mines.

How can the minister, the government, have put before us today a bill which obviously encroaches on stated, recognized provincial jurisdictions?

In a letter dated November 29, 1999, the then Quebec environment minister, Paul Bégin, warned his federal counterpart, the Minister of the Environment, that Quebec would not accept this encroachment on its constitutional jurisdiction. In his January 18, 2000 reply, the minister was pretty clear when he said:

With regard to the prohibition clause, the use of the terms “water basin” in the proposed amendments in no way broadens the area of federal jurisdiction. The prohibition will apply to boundary waters.

That is what the Minister of the Environment of Canada said. That is what he wrote in a letter, and I quote:

...since they are defined in the International Boundary Waters Treaty, which prohibits bulk removal of boundary waters from the water basins in which they are located... it will not apply to the removal of other non-boundary waters inside the water basin over which the provinces have full responsibility.

Must I recall that, in spite of the minister's letters, all the documents from the federal Department of Foreign Affairs say exactly the opposite. It is hard to make any sense out of this. Between what the minister says, what his department believes and what for us is undeniable, which is that where there are projects the International Joint Commission is always involved. What we are asking is that the federal government recognize the consultation process put in place in Quebec following the symposium on water, through the Bureau d'audiences publiques en environnement, which made public its report in May 2000, and to respect the Quebec water preservation act.

This would ensure that the consensus reached in Quebec on the exportation of water is respected and that in future accords such as the FTAA, the government include the fundamental issue of water not being treated as a commodity.

Finally, we wish that the federal government would start respecting more generally Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. That is what we are asking today, that is what we will be asking tomorrow and that is the reason we oppose Bill C-6.