Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to participate in the report stage aspect of the bill, but I must add that given that we have waited for species at risk legislation for over eight years since the government came to power, we now have proposed legislation that has been panned by most environmental groups because of its inadequacies in providing fair and reasonable compensation. It has been panned by landowners. As well, the provinces were clearly not on board beforehand.
I also want to add that the government had a glorious opportunity to utilize a consensus built among environmental groups and industry groups alike. They actually developed a common position paper which ensured that we had the principal aspects of a bill. There was scientific listing, which means that a species being or not being at risk should be based on science and not political choice. We should have mandatory protection for critical habitat on federal lands. We should also include migratory birds. Also, clearly landowners and all stakeholders need to ensure that we have a proper compensatory regime for those situations when writing a cheque is necessary to compensate landowners for loss of income where it can be identified. Clearly that cheque has to be at least fair and reasonable.
I do applaud the Canadian Alliance members and their efforts in committee on these aspects. They teamed up with the Progressive Conservatives and, I might add, the NDP to some degree to at least try to improve some aspects of the bill.
In regard to the motions before us, on clause 1 the amendment by the member for Lethbridge is clearly going in the right direction. It states:
--landowners should be compensated for any financial material losses to ensure that the cost of conserving species at risk are shared equitably by all Canadians--
I think that is a very good amendment.
I might add that there is another aspect of what is wrong with the compensatory regime in the bill. When Bill C-11, the immigration bill, was passed, we saw that it was framework legislation with the details to be provided in regulations some time down the road. If the government truly had its act together on the bill before us and knew what it was doing, the regulations pertaining to compensation would be tabled simultaneously with the bill itself. They should be. The fact is that the reason we do not have those regulations in play is that the government does not have its game plan down with respect to compensation.
We should not be surprised. The minister stated that reasonable behaviour is “something we expect, not something we need to buy”. He was a late arriver on the issue of compensation, which is one of the reasons why we do not have this aspect sorted out in the bill itself.
Other motions in this group include Motion No. 12, tabled by the member for Red Deer, which we do not support. In our view, the Tory view, the purpose of the bill should be to protect species at risk. The hon. member wants to ensure that it is done in a cost effective manner. I am okay with that but it is not the primary purpose of the bill itself. Clearly social and economic implications have to be taken into account during the recovery plan. That is where this aspect is done. Therefore I support the intent of what the member is looking at, but I do not support the language of the motion. Motion No. 13 brought forward by the member for Lethbridge is a similar motion. For the very same reasons we are not on board with it
We are clearly on board with Motion No. 28 in this first group. The motion brought forward by the member for Skeena states:
The agreement shall provide for fair and reasonable financial or material support--
At the committee stage of the bill the only substantive amendment that passed and at least improved the compensatory regime was the language tabled by the Progressive Conservatives on the words “fair and reasonable”. Before that it was entirely vague.
I thank members of the CA, the NDP and some very learned principal members of the Liberal caucus who stepped up to the plate to support the motion.
Moving to Motion No. 103 of the group we are debating at the moment, it has been tabled by the member for Lanark--Carleton. In our view he is trying to ensure that in accordance with regulations full, just and timely compensation is provided to any person for losses. Essentially he is trying to put a time line on it. We think it would strengthen the act and should be worthy of support of the House.
Moving to Motion No. 108, we are on board on that aspect as well. Essentially the member is advocating a strengthening of the compensatory regime. He is referring to the issue of the loss that one suffered as a result of the application of the act. We think that is indeed worthy of support.
Moving to Motion No. 111, it is a very good amendment by the member for Lanark--Carleton. It is more comprehensive than what we saw at committee stage when we went through this aspect. He tried to provide a bit more clarity with respect to what would be and would not be recovered.
He made reference to rules for the recovery of reasonable legal and other costs as a result of the compensation claim. We know that it is more than just the dollars that could be potentially lost. A lot of energy, time, effort and legal costs may come into play for one to win a potential claim with the Government of Canada if it ever gets its compensatory regime and regulations sorted out.
Moving to Motion No. 121, tabled by the member for Red Deer, we are not in support of the particular option. He is advocating that of the cumulative fines a potential landowner may have only one fine as opposed to a person making a series of infractions.
We want the legislation to have balance, in the words of the minister. We need to provide carrots to ensure we have reasonable behaviour by having a very strong stewardship regime and by perhaps even providing tax incentives, scientific capacity and the like.
I refer to the Tory amendment that was passed under the national stewardship strategy plan which outlined some of those aspects. However, if we want to be able to provide those carrots first, we know the stick is a component of strong legislation. We think that Motion No. 121 waters down that aspect. First and foremost we should be providing incentives so that we all collectively get the job done.
The last motion in this group is Motion No. 128. This will conclude my remarks on this section. We will support it. It says the minister shall in all circumstances advise the affected landowner, lessee or land user of the location of a wildlife species or habitat that is at risk.
The Progressive Conservatives had at least two amendments passed in the clause by clause section that were accepted by the committee. I am not sure if that will be gutted or not. We have not reached that section just yet.
To encourage landowners to take reasonable action the first thing we must do is notify them. They need to know there is a species at risk there and that steps may need to be taken. Those steps may just be to provide some very low level efforts to avoid a section of a woodlot or, depending on what particular species it might be, it could be tax incentives. However the first thing we need to do is notify them. That concludes my remarks on this group of amendments.