Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act.
Like so many of these issues that come up, they are very interesting to me because I was here when the Conservatives were on the other side of the House and the Liberals were on this side, and of course the argument was completely reversed.
In that case it was very vocal. The Liberals were adamant that we must ban all bulk water exports from Canada. They were adamantly against us and raised a huge furor in the House about it during the free trade debate in 1988-89. Now all of a sudden they have come in with this half-baked half measure of a bill to protect some of our water, the water closest to the United States border but not the water in the inland provinces, such as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, only those waters that straddle the borders.
This is a complete reversal of their position in 1988-89 when they were most eloquent and forceful in their arguments about banning all bulk water transports. They were fearmongering about all the things that were going to happen, that all the bulkwater was going to be transferred and sold. Now what do they do? They come up with a half-baked, half measure program to ban some waters, put in some rules and put on some restrictions but it in no way addresses the needs and feelings of Canadians and the actual issue at hand.
It is absolutely amazing to hear the Liberals now stand and defend their position when just a few years ago they were on this side demanding far more measures. In fact, we have had events in Canada that increase, not decrease, the sensitivity and the demands for protection. The Liberals are slipping and going the other way instead.
Some of the things we have talked about in the House recently really focus on the need for the protection of our water. One obviously was the Walkerton issue involving safety. The other more recent one was the terrorist acts in the United States which involves security. However, both involve potential demands and potential threats to our water.
Since the Walkerton case, there have been many more examples of contaminated water as we become more sensitive to the issue, which means our water is even more important than ever. The future and safety of our water is far more important than it was even 10 years ago. We have had changes in reporting and in identifying the contamination and the sources of contamination of water. We have had complete changes in the responsibility and accountability for the safety of water right across the country. Probably every single member of parliament in the House has had reports of contaminated water since Walkerton because the standards are so much higher and our sensitivities are so much more focused on our water.
The recent terrorist acts in the United States present tremendous security issues for huge amounts of water. There is now speculation that some terrorists have planned to contaminate water using spray planes. Some of these discussions and plans appear to have occurred in Canada and could involve Canadian waters. However, whether it is in the United States or in Canada, if any water is contaminated through natural sources or through man-made initiatives, it would mean an increased demand for water in North America, which would also mean an increased demand for our water and increased pressure on us. If we do not have the legislation to prevent bulk water transfers we will be under a lot of pressure. As the last speaker said, the effects of global warming and droughts will put increased pressure on our water supplies.
This is not a time for half measures and half-baked actions like Bill C-6. Any of the three issues I have talked about could create a large shortfall in the water supply in Canada and in the United States, which will put increased demands on our Canadian water and demands for access to Canadian water.
Those of us involved in foreign trade recently have had just a sample of the strength and the power of the Americans and the tools they use to access our resources. In the case of softwood lumber, they have used laws, legislation, political influence, the administration, the media and every possible angle to prevent access to our softwood lumber by the U.S. and to gain access to our raw materials in the softwood lumber industry. They leave no stone unturned. They apply extreme pressure. If there is a shortage of water in the U.S., their efforts to access our water will be even more focused and more intense.
We require legislation to ban all exports, not just some exports, not just the export of water in the 300 lakes and rivers that straddle the border between the United States and Canada.
We have thousands of lakes and natural reservoirs. They must all be protected from bulk exports, not just those that straddle the border. Now is the time for strong legislation on this, not after the horse is out of the gate, not after the fact.
Many people predicted that it was just a matter of time before terrorist acts took place in the United States but no one reacted or prepared for it. I predict that it is just a matter of time before North America has a strong demand on our water. I do not know where it will come from or what the reason will be, but I predict that we will have increased demands on our water, even above the projected increased demands by demographics, which predicts a 40% increase in demand on water in Canada and a large explosion of growth in the world's human population. Many millions of people already have no access to water. As the population grows the demands will be more and more.
Bill C-6 does not meet current realities. It does not meet potential threats. It does not impose conditions on provinces. Even if Bill C-6 passes, bulk sales of water are still possible. If the bill is not amended we will be subject to demands on our water, and when the pressure does come, it will be enormous.
I hope that somewhere in the bowels of government there is a group of people drafting further legislation or amendments to the bill that would ban all water exports. As I have said, it is just a matter of time before the demand for our water will be unbearable.
So often a government tries to react on issues but this government, in particular, reacts after events have happened even though they were clearly predicted in advance. One that comes to mind is the one in my area close to Burnt Church where everybody predicted there would be a problem with the fishery when the judgment came down. The government was not prepared for it and is having a huge problem now trying to react to it. It is trying to manipulate the rules. It is trying to work with the natives and the non-natives and the lobster fishery. It has been a disaster and is continuing to be a disaster.
The government had lots of warning but it did not act. It has lots of warning now on the water issue and it is not acting. It has brought in this half-baked bill to protect some of the water but none of the water on Prince Edward Island especially. It is imperative that the government move quickly to bring in a full ban on all bulk water exports.
We will reluctantly support the bill even though it is a half-baked measure. However, we will continue to press the government for the proper legislation that bans all exports of bulk freshwater from Canada.