House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.


Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely without conscience to suggest that this amount should be invested in alternate energy.

The government can invest in other forms of energy in numerous ways. However, without question, there needs to be greater investment in that area. Only by properly investing can the government present itself as a government that is serious about dealing with some of the issues that are out there, that it is really serious about improving things for the future.

The number of jobs that could be created through that investment would be excellent. It also would be something for which Canadians could be proud. It would be something we could hold up to other countries.

Germany has invested far more in wind technology than has Canada. Let us look at the size of Canada and the availability of resources that we have to use alternate methods.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

A lot of wind and a lot of hot air.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Listen to that man. He says a lot of wind. That is my colleague from the Conservatives who took great offence to my comments about the not so Devine government in Saskatchewan.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question. We are talking about energy such as nuclear energy, which is difficult to control and complex. For instance, in terms of the Candu reactors, even with new technology there is still the waste generated from all this energy. Even if it were perfect, it is still not controlled very well. There is much discussion about all the waste produced by nuclear energy and its dangerous nature.

The banks are lobbying hard in connection with this energy, in order to obtain an amendment which appears minor but which has quite an impact. How can we let the banks off the hook when it comes to lending money and investing in energy as dangerous as nuclear energy? The government will not be asking people who are financially capable of decontaminating—

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. We must allow the member for Churchill to respond to his comments. There are one and a half minutes left. If the member for Châteauguay uses this up, the member for Churchill will not have any time left to respond. It is a question of cooperation. The hon. member for Churchill.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the Bloc raises a very good point. If the banks do have an interest in this operation a lot can be gained by allowing a whole lot of things to happen in the background, a whole lot of possibly not so safe things to happen to ensure that their investment continues. We all know that the banks hold a lot of power over the government, which I think is a reason to be greatly concerned.

I asked my colleague from the Alliance what would happen with the waste. It is not all right to say that we will think about it tomorrow and that we will come up with something.

I saw a situation where first nations in this country have been held to literally begging for dollars for numerous programs. They were being coerced into possibly taking waste from other communities. I was greatly concerned that they would be pressured into taking not just the rubbish kinds of waste from cities but other kinds of waste as well. I do not want to see that happen either.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Even though it is only 5:42 p.m., I would ask you to check if there is unanimous consent to see the clock as 5:45 p.m.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to see the clock as 5:45 p.m.?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Business of the House
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I have received notice from the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle that he is unable to move his motion during private members' hour on Thursday, December 5. It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence. Accordingly I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will continue with the business before it prior to private members' hour.

It being 5:45 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

moved that Bill C-280, an act to amend the Criminal Code (selling wildlife), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to once again speak to a bill to protect wildlife, Bill C-280.

This bill has had quite a ride. It was first introduced on April 30, 1996 but was only drawn earlier this year. It was debated but the vote was deferred until the first sitting in September. Then the House was prorogued and a new Speech from the Throne was delivered. Now we are starting the process all over again. It does give me a chance to speak once again to Canadians about why this private member's bill is on the table.

Like many Canadians, I am concerned about what happens to wildlife in the international community. Once they were very abundant but all of a sudden they have become endangered or few in number.

It was brought to my attention in my own riding how individuals will kill animals for profit. I was concerned with the way that issue was dealt with. I thought there had to be a better way to deal with people who deliberately killed animals, not for their meat and not because they were trying to feed their families or that they were hungry themselves, but simply because they could make money by killing our wildlife.

The purpose of Bill C-280 is to protect animals from that type of poaching. In 1995, 25% of the bears killed in Canada were illegally poached. That translates into about 1,300 bears a year. That includes 90 grizzly bears, which some claim are diminishing in numbers to a point where we should be seriously concerned. It is not just black bears, of which we seem to have lots and sometimes they can be a bit of a pest, but grizzly bears are also victims.

It is not just bears, although that is the instance that brought it to my attention; it is all wildlife. In Jasper National Park and Banff bighorn sheep are being poached for their horns. This is in total disregard for the provincial regulations that control the hunting of these species.

In my riding a couple of Surrey residents were fined $7,000 and given 17 days in jail for illegally selling 18 bear gallbladders. It does not sound like much of a deal, 18 gallbladders, but they cost $800 each. That is quite an incentive for people to continue this kind of activity.

Bill C-280 brings to the attention of Canadians that this is not about something that is happening with elephants over in Africa or in Asia, it is something that is happening right here in our own backyard.

There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen just last week. It said that wildlife agencies and enforcement officers had crushed a Quebec centred crime ring of more than 100 hunters, trappers, taxidermists, furriers and smugglers who killed bears for the gallbladders and shipped the organs illegally to markets in Asia.

Let me explain what has happened to the market in Asia. Asia's bear population has been almost completely wiped out in order to supply the medicinal trade.

In the early 1990s with the collapse of law enforcement in the Soviet Union, bear gallbladder traders were given a ripe new hunting ground in Russia's far eastern region of Kamchatka. By the mid-1990s these bears too had become rare and a search for a new source of bear bile and bear gallbladders brought Asian dealers to Canada. Now we have a developed market for these parts.

The bill tries to give provinces greater ability to deal with these most serious poaching incidents. Provinces now are quite limited when they are dealing with this problem.

In Quebec where more than 200 bear gallbladders were seized, the people were only able to be given a penalty of $1,825. If over 200 bear gallbladders were seized, that is not the amount that had already been marketed. At $800 each, it shows that $1,825 is a very small price to pay to do business. With that kind of return on one's investment, that fine does not mean a whole lot. The Quebec provincial officials were talking about trying to find a way that those people would not do it again.

That is where this bill comes into play. We are trying to toughen the legislation and to bring it under the Criminal Code. If it is a minor issue that a province is not concerned about, it can handle it under provincial jurisdiction and merely fine someone. That may be appropriate in some instances. However, in a case like the one in Quebec last week, where people in an organized ring are slaughtering bears illegally for profit to line their own pockets, there has to be some dramatic way of saying that this will not be tolerated. There has to be more than an $1,825 fine. This legislation tries to do that.

In the debate that we had in the past, the Liberals said that there already is legislation in place. I would argue that it only covers a very small portion of the problem. The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, WAPPRIITA, is only relevant if the wildlife or the wildlife part crosses provincial or international boundaries. In order for the act to be enforced, that action has to be proved. The gallbladders are put in jars of jam or they are dried and made into powder. It is difficult to know that they are being exported. It is very difficult for the Crown to prove that they are crossing international or provincial boundaries. WAPPRIITA has similar penalties to what my Bill C-280 proposes.

My private member's bill tries to accommodate the limitations that the provinces now have to deal with in these serious poaching issues. It allows them to have a choice either to proceed under the provincial legislation and the provincial fine structure or to proceed under the Criminal Code.

With this bill, as with WAPPRIITA, it is a substantial fine. It is a $150,000 fine with up to five years imprisonment. It deals with it in a harsh enough manner that there is a deterrent for people who poach bears or other wildlife.

Eliminating the need for the prosecutors to prove that the bear part, elk horn or sheep horn crossed provincial or international boundaries would make it much easier for enforcement purposes.

I want to reiterate that the bill does not force the provinces to use the Criminal Code. It does not encroach on the provinces' right and the provinces' ability to use their own legislation if they so desire. I stress very strongly, particularly to my Bloc colleagues, that this does not encroach on provincial jurisdiction.

The bill does not create any new rules or regulations. There is nothing new that the provinces have to deal with. Anybody with a valid licence, permit or an exemption order issued by either level of government, for instance, aboriginals with their exemptions, would not be committing an offence. That is clearly outlined in order that there is no confusion.

In order not to encroach on provincial jurisdiction, in order to give the provinces choices, we decided to handle this like we handle driving charges. Driving regulations are a provincial jurisdiction, but serious driving offences, such as impaired driving causing bodily harm, impaired driving or driving under the influence, can all be handled under the Criminal Code. The choice is there for prosecutors to select either the provincial statutes or the Criminal Code on which to proceed.

We are suggesting that the same method could be used here. In a case where 100 individuals are massively killing off wildlife, they could be dealt with differently from the person who hunts out of season and kills a bear. We might want to cover that under a provincial statute.

We wanted to make sure that there was a way to deal with the most serious offences in a manner that would stop the behaviour.

Having debated this issue before, I hope that the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party still will support this legislation. I know that the Bloc feels it cannot support it because of the provincial jurisdiction issue. I must say, though, that it confuses me when that party can pick an issue like this one, poaching wildlife parts, as a provincial intrusion, but is more than willing and will argue vociferously that the federal government should be interfering in provincial responsibility and jurisdiction with Kyoto. The Bloc argues that poaching is a provincial jurisdiction and should not be dealt with at a federal level and yet the energy policy that Kyoto will bring down is okay. I would like those members to explain to me why there is this inconsistency in their arguments.

The Liberals say that they support the concept or the intent of the legislation but they will not support this private member's bill. I have a letter from the environment minister that states there is an overlap with provincial legislation, but I would argue that there is an overlap with driving legislation as well. There is also Kyoto. There is plenty of legislation that overlaps provincial and federal jurisdictions.

The minister also stated that there are enforcement difficulties, but I would argue that my bill would be far easier to enforce than the existing WAPPRIITA because it has to be proven that the animal or the gallbladder or whatever went across provincial or international boundaries. I would argue that the argument from the minister should be in reverse: that this private member's bill would make it much easier to enforce.

In conclusion, let me say that the intent of Bill C-280 is to deal with a serious poaching issue in our country. We can either do something constructive about it now while there is still a species to deal with, or we can ignore the problem and worry about it when it is too late. I suggest that Canadians would like to see the House dealing with the problem now while there is still time to protect the wildlife that the bill zeroes in on, which is our bear population.

I feel that Bill C-280 deserves support from all members of the House. I look forward to seeing that when it comes to a vote.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.



John Finlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-280, an act to amend the Criminal Code (selling wildlife). There are some admirable motivations behind this proposal and the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley has put them very well.

As a government, we fully support ensuring that wildlife is preserved and protected in the best possible way, and certainly that extends to species at risk. In fact, there are many years of conservation actions behind this in Canada and there are a number of statutes already on the books that accomplish this goal.

The proposed legislation would create three indictable offences under the Criminal Code for selling wildlife or wildlife parts, or for killing, capturing or possessing wildlife or wildlife parts for the purpose of selling them. Under this proposal there would be exemptions from prosecution for people who sell wildlife in accordance with a licence, permit or an exemption order. It also states that the sale of threatened or endangered species would mean high penalties and that all offences would be subject to the money laundering provisions of the Criminal Code.

As noted at the outset of my remarks, these are admirable objectives. However, we need to make sure that there is a good fit with other legislation already in place or pending. In this case, this is not so.

I would like to point out that in the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, known as WAPPRIITA, there are dual procedure offences. These are also found in the Canada Wildlife Act. Dual procedure offences mean that they can begin with a summary conviction or an indictment. The maximum prison terms set out for proceedings by indictment in most statutes do not exceed five years.

Let us also consider the government sponsored Bill C-5, the species at risk act. This bill is currently under review by the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. One of the offences created in Bill C-5 is the prohibition on the killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking of a wildlife species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened. Bill C-5 also includes a prohibition on the possessing, collecting, buying, selling or trading of a wildlife species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened.

There is some overlap between this offence and the ones outlined in existing legislation, as well as the offences set out in Bill C-280.

Bill C-280 provides only indictable offences. The maximum prison terms vary from two to eight years, depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offence and whether the wildlife involved is an endangered species.

The question here is not that we need to do this. The question here is whether it is already being done or has been done, and in a better way.

Is Bill C-280 the best way to accomplish the goal? Are the provisions about prohibiting behaviour that is traditionally associated with Parliament's exercise of its criminal law power? Or perhaps we should say that Bill C-280 is describing a public welfare offence, traditionally associated with regulatory matters in a civil context. That is why we believe this approach is inconsistent with the classification of offences elsewhere in the Criminal Code.

The sale of wildlife, as I have demonstrated, is well covered in existing legislation. The bill is a duplication that is not necessary. I can also submit that in many cases we would be using the heavy hand of the Criminal Code for some sales that are quite minor, such as the sale of a few muskrat pelts. We do not need such a heavy approach.

Let me explain further. The offence of sexual assault is classified as a dual procedure offence, which means that the Crown may elect to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment. From a policy point of view, it would appear inconsistent to classify the selling of wildlife as an indictable offence when other offences considered more serious by society are classified as dual procedure offences.

There also would be a cost implication to the provinces and territories if straight indictable offences were created for the offences in Bill C-280. All persons charged with any of the offences under the act would have a choice of trial, including the possibility of a jury trial.

We need to remember that under the Canadian system provincial governments are those with the constitutional powers to regulate the use and protection of wildlife on provincial lands. We must also take note that these offences are well covered in Canadian statutes and will be reinforced with the passage of the proposed species at risk act.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.


Richard Marceau Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate suggested by my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock—Langley on Bill C-280 to amend the Criminal Code, particularly concerning the selling of wildlife.

My colleague from the Canadian Alliance had already tried to have this amendment made to the Criminal Code in the last legislature. At the time, my colleague from Châteauguay firmly opposed this legislative measure.

His reasoning and particularly the relevance of his argument still hold today, since there has been no amendment to the legislative measure.

Indeed, the bill re-introduced by the member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley still contains the same irritants that justified the opposition of the Bloc Quebecois to Bill C-292 on May 9.

Let us remind the House that, despite what she said earlier in her speech, the bill before us is a typical example of the federal government intruding into provincial jurisdictions. This is a situation that we have seen too often in the past and that we are still seeing today with this bill.

While the sponsor of this bill still insists that the intent is not to replace provincial wildlife laws but rather to complement them, this does not change anything. It is surprising to see a member of the Canadian Alliance ask the federal government to get involved in an issue that concerns the provinces, when in their speeches, the members of her party are such articulate advocates of a decentralized Canadian federation.

Besides, the hon. member from the Canadian Alliance is talking about Kyoto. This is a different debate altogether. I will touch on the issue anyway. The implementation plan for Kyoto has yet to be released. We advocate a very ecological vision of society. That having been said, it seems to me that any attempt to draw a parallel between the debate on Kyoto and today's debate is lopsided and somewhat offensive.

The purpose of Bill C-280 is to make the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts an offence, unless carried out under a licence or permit issued by a competent authority.

Simply put, the purpose of this bill is to prohibit the trading of wildlife, dead or alive, to afford it some protection against unscrupulous individuals who abuse the credulity of people by painting an enticing picture of the aphrodisiac qualities of certain animal parts, raising certain species in inappropriate conditions or simply selling their meat clandestinely.

The basis for the legislative measure put forward by our hon. colleague is noble and reflects her commitment to the conservation of nature, and wildlife in particular. This is something I applaud.

However, we must recognize that the bill she is proposing is only filling a legal vacuum left by a number of provinces in Canada.

As the hon. members know, I am sure, Quebec already has very comprehensive, and also very effective, legislation in this regard. Under the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife, anything that directly or indirectly concerns the purchase of wildlife is covered by chapter C-61.1. The Government of Quebec has already provided a legal framework for the protection of wildlife, and this initiative was recognized on many occasions in the past.

The Bloc Quebecois' position basically falls within the same ideological spectrum. Moreover, we are taking into consideration the constitutional distribution of jurisdictions between the provinces and the federal government.

The member from the Alliance wants federal legislation that can be implemented throughout Canada. This reasoning does not work.

First, she wants the federal government to intrude in an area outside its jurisdiction. She also wants the federal government to do the work that some provinces have neglected to do in their own legislative sphere.

I am sure no one will be surprised to learn that Quebec has once again taken the lead on this issue.

The penalties proposed by the member are almost the same as the ones stipulated in the Quebec legislation. In Quebec, we have fines ranging from $500 up to $16,400. We also have jail terms of up to one year. We even have administrative penalties causing the suspension of licences for up to six years.

Before I conclude, I repeat that the Bloc Quebecois is against Bill C-280. In fact, it reminds me of the heated debates led by our party against Bill C-5, the Liberal government's bill on endangered species.

I do not understand why the Canadian Alliance would want to give the federal government another opportunity to infringe upon an area of provincial jurisdiction. Not only does this boggle the mind, but it is the complete reverse of the general policies usually developed at their conventions.

Provinces that have not had the fortitude or determination to legislate in this area only have themselves to blame. Quebec took its responsibilities a long time ago. The other provinces should do the same.

Using tools such as the Criminal Code to make up for provincial legislative shortcomings is contrary to the spirit of the Criminal Code. Moreover, it somehow absolves the provinces of their responsibilities by allowing these pernicious intrusions by the federal government into areas of provincial jurisdiction.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on this very important bill. I listened to the comments of my colleague, the Bloc Quebecois member. However, my position is quite different from his.

I understand completely what my hon. friend is saying about the jurisdictional aspects of this legislation. However I believe that the intent of the mover of the motion, my colleague from the Alliance Party, is truly about the protection of animals and to enhance the Criminal Code to send a deterrent message for those who continually flaunt the laws for their personal gain and for the financial gain which can result in many cases from the killing of these rare and beautiful animals. She spoke of many of those, the bighorn goats and sheep in the Rocky Mountains, the grizzly bears, many of them endangered species.

This is clearly a bill that is very much coming from the heart from this hon. member. I congratulate her for her persistence in continuing to bring this issue before Parliament.

It is very important to increase our country's awareness of this issue.

This issue is meant I am sure to work with and to enhance provincial legislation as alluded to by my colleague from Charlevoix. The issue is one in which all Canadians can agree, can rally around and can unify in the cause of protecting animals.

We have seen sadly few initiatives from the government side of this subject matter. We have seen few genuine efforts to enhance and to protect the very valuable wildlife of which we share this beautiful land.

I again want to express the support of the Progressive Conservative Party for this initiative. I believe the intention is to put in place a further deterrent to buttress in effect the current provisions of the Criminal Code. By buttress I mean send a message that there is a cost associated with the criminal justice system to contravening the laws as they pertain currently to animals and the protection of animals.

Wild animals, and I believe the mover of the motion would agree, are in a particularly unique position in this expansive, vast country of ours. Certainly there are areas where urban sprawl is impacting on the natural habitat of animals. Increasingly humans are coming in contact with wild animals in their natural habitat.

There is a need to remind Canadians of an obligation to interact and to not prey upon this species, our wildlife, and not to do so in a way that is meant clearly to bring forward financial gain. We know that there are many hunters and trappers in the country who do so extremely responsibly.

It hearkens back to another time when this was a more wild country and people relied on wildlife for subsistence. People relied on their ability, their skill and their prowess at hunting, trapping and fishing. Yet what we have seen sadly in some instances are individuals who engage in the activity of hunting and trapping for pure fiscal and financial gain and greed in may instances.

The delicate balance that has to exist between man and animal can often be upset because of this greed. It is certainly not particular to this country. We have seen many instances around the world where some of the most beautiful species are endangered. In fact some species have been lost.

Clearly the intent of the mover of the motion from British Columbia is to bring forward a genuine and very direct effort to enhance and protect that species, to allow for the criminal justice system to intervene with serious consequences when that occurs and to send the message that the Parliament of Canada is interested that the criminal justice system will respond and will response with serious consequences through our laws in Canada.

Again I extend my congratulations to the mover of the motion. I would similarly express the hope that all members of Parliament will support this very worthwhile motion.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too compliment my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock—Langley for Bill C-280, an act to protect and prevent the trafficking of endangered species.

It is reprehensible and irresponsible for the government not to support the bill and I will get to the reasons why.

If Quebec wants to say that this infringes on provincial jurisdiction and that it will somehow harm its ability to protect and prevent the trafficking of endangered species, that too is irresponsible. It would not have a problem if it supported the bill.

The objective evidence of the problem in Quebec is the fact that 200 bear gallbladders were found and trafficking organizations were busted a month ago. Those organizations are there because the penalty is only $1,800 if one is caught, compared to the federal penalty of $150,000 and five years in jail. I ask the Bloc Quebecois and the Government of Quebec to join us in supporting this bill and in trying to convince the federal government to support it, for the reasons I will mention.

After drugs and weapons, trafficking of endangered species is the third largest illegal activity in the whole world. It amounts to anywhere between $6 billion and $11 billion a year. We do not have a handle on that and I think Canadians would be utterly shocked to know that we are one of the leading conduits in the trafficking of endangered species in the entire world. Not only are we putting at risk endangered species in our country such as peregrine falcons, Peary caribou, the Vancouver Island marmot, small amphibians and plants, but we are also endangering species throughout the world.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, the port authorities have found horns from black rhinos, Sumatran rhinos, Javanese rhinos, Bengal tiger bones and a whole swath of international species that currently are at serious risk of disappearing from the face of the world.

The trafficking of endangered species is intimately entwined with organized crime. That is why the Bloc Quebecois should support this. Organized crime gangs combine drugs with endangered species products. It has been found that 40% to 50% of all drugs also have endangered species products attached to them. Organized crime gangs are profiteering from this trafficking and we, as well as many other countries, have been unable to deal with this plague because of the huge profits.

The reasons why we have been unable to deal with it are many. People can make up to an 800% profit in trafficking an endangered species product. It is too difficult to catch. The chances of being caught are low because our monitoring is very marginal and sporadic at best. Our port authorities do not have the tools to go after organized crime gangs and penalties are too low. It is exceedingly important that the House adopt this bill as soon as possible.

People may get between $100 to $800 for a bear gallbladder. However in places like Japan they will receive several thousand dollars for that same gallbladder.

In the trafficking of live animals, only one in ten arrives alive; 90% die en route. Some are laden with cocaine and other drugs. In fact in a drug bust in Colombia snakes had been force-fed condoms filled with cocaine.

The impact internationally has been massive. Let us look at some species that we know. Up to five years ago, the Congo used to have 10,000-plus eastern lowland gorilla. Now there are fewer than 100. There is a massive poaching operation taking place in West Africa. The forest elephants, forest gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and many others are slaughtered for their babies and for body parts. The chances of getting caught are minimal. The profits again are huge.

What must we do to deal with the trafficking? First, we must increase patrols. Second, we need more powerful and stronger penalties including jail time and heavier fines. We must decrease consumption, because the trafficking in these endangered species is driven by consumption in affluent developed countries.

On the issue of CITES, the convention on international trade in endangered species, our viewers would be shocked to know that although we are a big proponent of CITES we do not live up to our commitments. I have a private member's bill that will enable us to meet those commitments. It will be before the House in February 2003. Unfortunately the government would not make it votable, which is too bad because the bill would enable us to meet our CITES commitments.

On the issue of the importing and exporting of live animals, we must have a system of permits, both import and export. Safety norms must be established under which animals can be transported back and forth. If people were to violate those norms and not treat the animals properly, they would be subjected to a fine. I also have a bill on that.

On the commodification of wildlife, hon. members would be shocked to know that there is a massive trade in putting together species that do not belong: ligers, a combination of lions and tigers; zedonks, a combination of zebras and donkeys; and fainting goats. They are all produced for markets in North America. This is a plague and a national situation of producing species which are not normal and in fact pose a threat not only to people, but also to natural species.

On the issue of protecting endangered species, habitat protection is the most important thing that we can do. Although we have a Species at Risk Act, it has loopholes that need to be plugged.

The following three things must be done. First, the identification of endangered species must be done under objective scientific evidence and COSEWIC is the organization that should do that. That would remove politics right out of the system. Second, COSEWIC should be tasked with the identification of critical habitat. Third, there must be an obligation on the part of the federal government, the provinces and individual private owners to come together to protect critical habitat. There must be an obligation for compensation at fair market value of lost private land in the protection of habitat.

All this would require money in the end, so where should it come from? If we look at the example of a place called KwaZulu Natal in southern Africa, it managed to do this. It combined conservation and development.

There has been a singular failure in conservation. Conservationists have ignored developers and developers have ignored conservationists at their mutual peril. We must have a system where conservation sites can generate funds which can be poured back into our conservation sites and also help the people in developing countries. In Canada our conservation sites must be used to generate funds through ecotourism, but also through limited hunting of excess species.

We can generate an awful lot of money if we cull a sustainable amount of certain species, but the cull is given to hunters who are prepared to spend a lot of money to hunt those species. I am not a hunter, other than with a camera, but I can tell hon. members that those kinds of hunts generate moneys that, if poured back into the reserve, could go a long way to giving our conservation patrols and employees and our conservation sites the tools to protect those sites. Right now conservationists and Canada Parks are having a huge problem getting the funds to protect our parks. That is why our parks are having a serious problem.

The bill is critically important. The trafficking of endangered species is an international problem. Canada is not doing a good job. We must increase the penalties and increase the patrols. We must adopt racketeering, influence, and corruption charges so that they can be applied to organized crime gangs which are responsible for more than half of the trafficking of these products. This has become a $6 billion a year industry. If we were to fail, the species that we have come to know and love would be wiped off the face of the earth and we would only have ourselves to blame. In the future our children would ask us what we did to protect tigers, elephants, lions and spotted cats.

There is a multitude of species in Canada including blackbirds, grizzly bears, peregrine falcons and whooping cranes that are important to our country, our history, and indeed that of the world.