This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was compensation.

Topics

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

moved:

Motion No. 111

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 36 with the following:

“sion of compensation, including rules for the recovery of reasonable legal and other costs arising as a result of the compensation claim.”

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

moved:

Motion No. 121

That Bill C-5, in Clause 97, be amended by deleting lines 21 to 26 on page 56.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

moved:

Motion No. 128

That Bill C-5 be amended by adding after line 3 on page 69 the following new clause:

“124.1 The Minister shall, in all circumstances, advise the affected landowner, lessee or land user of the location of a wildlife species or its habitat.”

Debate arose on the motions in Group No. 1.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to speak to the motions that you have ruled out of order, Motions Nos. 40 to 42, and that entire list, and Motion No. 110 which I believe you ruled out of order as well.

I have several arguments. The first one is based on the importance one of the motions has for landowners. The bill talks about being guilty until proven innocent. This goes against all principles and destroys the goodwill many landowners will have in dealing with the legislation.

The chairman of our committee, the member for Davenport, did an exceptional job of working with our committee. Our committee worked in a co-operative manner that I have never seen before, certainly as long as I have been in the House. I believe that by exempting these we not only exempt a very important aspect to the landowners but we also exempt something on which, while committee members could not agree on, many members should have a say.

Some of the resolutions were put forward by the member for Skeena, the member for Lanark--Carleton and the member for Lethbridge because they were not on our committee and did not have an opportunity to speak on behalf of the landowners who would be affected by the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I bring to your attention that the slender mouse-ear-cress and the western spiderwort are endangered species. The only person who would know those species would be a botanist. The argument is that by debating this in the House we could alert the public to the fact that they will need to start finding out what these endangered species are because if the habitat is destroyed or if anything is done to that endangered species they will be guilty of a criminal act.

I have about 20 pages that we could talk about the legal ramifications and I am not even a lawyer. However, this will end up in court cases and take money out of what should go to conservation and be put in the hands of the justice system.

I really feel that the mens rea argument is one that we should strongly put and one that we should be discussing in the House. I just do not believe that by not talking about it and having it in the act that it will be fair to any of those landowners. In effect, they will be guilty until proven innocent, which is not the legal system that I understand and certainly not one that is very defensible. We say that we want to co-operate, consult and build a relationship with landowners but we introduce a bill that does not even identify a critical habitat. If landowners damage it, they will have committed a criminal offence.

I feel it is essential for all members to have the opportunity to talk about those amendments in the House. We are not talking about a driving ticket. We are talking about a criminal offence having been committed. It is not right to simply say that due diligence is the responsibility of landowners. Landowners do not have time to check out every worm, every mollusk and every plant that might be on their land to find out if it is on some list. We must discuss this in the House.

The minister said:

It's a legitimate matter for concern. The accident, the unwitting destruction—it is a concern, and we want to give the maximum protection we can to the legitimate and honest person who makes a mistake, who unwittingly does that.

The minister is arguing that we should discuss this and that it is a major problem in the bill. By exempting those, we are certainly going against that basic principle.

The best solution would be to debate the amendment to the bill which would require what Roman law used to refer to as a guilty mind, mens rea.

The requirement that in order to commit a criminal act a person had to know he or she was doing something wrong, has been the standard division between criminal and civil offences in English common law since the late middle ages. It is absolutely essential in this case but the bill does not take that into consideration. It states that the person is guilty. I believe no one, no landowner or company, will be able to function this way with the legislation.

Let me close by quoting the minister. He said:

We have all seen, as politicians, what happens when people get fearful of their government or angry with government programs. We've all seen the damage that's done to public trust when perfectly reasonable people suddenly decide the government has some hidden and nefarious agenda. There is no reason to stir up those kinds of concerns with this legislation.

The minister's speech writer seems to understand the issue. The only problem is that it is not in Bill C-5.

On that basis I believe all members should have the opportunity to speak to this issue and that we should be looking at mens rea as opposed to due diligence.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Williams Canadian Alliance St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Red Deer pointed out, there is a matter of fundamental justice in our country where one is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

I want to refer to some of the motions that have been cancelled and will not be debated in the House. I would like to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that committees can receive delegated authority from the House but we do not relegate the House to a committee. We are not answerable or dictated to by a committee. This House is paramount and supreme.

Mr. Speaker, while motions are sometimes debated in committee and you have, in some cases, ruled them out of order because of repetition, I draw your attention to your ruling under 76.1(5) and what is basically an editorial comment on the standing order which states “The Speaker will not normally select for consideration”. This is not a black and white rule of saying you shall. It means normally. It continues on by stating:

For greater certainty, the purpose of this Standing Order is, primarily, to provide Members who were not members of the committee, with an opportunity to have the House consider specific amendments they wish to propose.

Again, nothing is absolutely cast in stone as far as these two points and the editorial comment regarding the standing order are concerned.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, if the House is to recognize its supremacy, I would suggest that you consider the remarks made by the hon. member for Red Deer. If motions are properly made in the House and deal with an issue that is fundamental to our whole premise of justice, of being innocent until proven guilty, then I think the matter should be debated in the House rather than saying that the committee has already dealt with the issue and therefore it cannot be dealt with in the House, because we must recognize the supremacy of the House. Therefore, if a motion is of fundamental importance and is legitimately introduced in the House--and I am not asking you to rule on every motion that may be deleterious, repetitive and so on--it should require debate in the House even if it has been debated in committee.

I ask you to think about that, Mr. Speaker, and to take the comments from the member for Red Deer under advisement as well.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair is ready to deal with this point. I should make two things clear. First, I understand this matter was debated and discussed in the committee and I believe amendments were moved on this point in the committee. Whether some were adopted or all rejected I am not clear. In any event, I am satisfied the matter was discussed there, and, because of the importance of the issue, I have elected to allow amendments here even though the matter was discussed and decided at some point in committee.

However, there are four amendments in question moved in each case and the words are almost identical. The first amendment reads “No person shall knowingly kill, harm, harass”. The second reads “No person shall intentionally kill, harm, harass”. The third reads “No person shall recklessly kill, harm, harass”. The fourth reads “No person shall negligently kill, harm, harass”.

What the Chair has ruled, and I stand by that ruling, is that these are repetitive. I have allowed one in each case and that is the one that states “shall knowingly”, which I believe covers mens rea extremely well, very clearly and forcefully. I am allowing those amendments to be put to the House and debated.

I believe it will cover the subject of mens rea in a way that is fair to hon. member, and I do so fully aware that the committee has dealt with the matter. I am allowing this even though there is authority for the Chair to rule these out of order entirely on the basis that the committee dealt with the issue. I think it is important. I agree with the hon. member that it is important and for that reason I am allowing one, but not four, on each point. That is what I have ruled out of order but I stress that I have allowed one in each case. The hon. member for Lanark--Carleton has won the draw on that one.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not want anyone to think we are not prepared to do battle on this group of amendments because the Tories are ready to do battle.

We have just saw the groupings moments ago. As you know, the details of this bill are quite complicated. It would be prudent if members had a chance to identify the groupings and look at how they play on each other, particularly given that a myriad of amendments were in turn ruled out of order for this stage of action. Given the complexity and the number of amendments that we have to deal with, it would be appropriate for members to be given sufficient time, perhaps one day, before dealing with them on a report stage basis.

If we do battle today, we are ready. However perhaps on future occasions when groupings are made, you may wish to give members of the House one day's notice to see how the amendments play on each other as they head toward report stage. I think it would be a prudent use of members' time. However, if you deem we are going ahead with them today, then we are ready.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member knows that it is not for the Chair to decide what the business of the House is. That is decided by others, including in a rather influential way, the government House leader. I know the member will want to make his representations to the government House leader. If he would like to change the standing orders, the procedure and House affairs committee is well equipped to hear his representations on that point too.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, you read the numbers in your statement with the speed of light and I thought you mentioned Motion No. 50 under Group No. 3, which is not in the printed version that has been distributed. It could well be that I misheard you. If not, could you perhaps confirm that Motion No. 50 is included in Group No. 3?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I understand that it is. I read it. I see it in my list in my ruling. I will double check to ensure that I did not read it in error.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this issue. Back in 1997, we first campaigned for this position in a federal election and the protection of species at risk was an item for debate at that time. It was again in 2000. Here we are in 2002 and the bill is at report stage and there are still lots of items for debate.

This issue is an extremely important to Canadians and certainly to my constituents whether they live in the city or in the country. Whether they are farmers, lawyers or accountants, they realize that we have to do something if we are to protect our species at risk.

The Canadian Alliance supports meaningful legislation that will truly protect species at risk. However, if there is no compensation for lost property in the bill, then we will do more to harm species at risk than we will to protect them if we pass a bill that does not include those things.

Our country is the envy of many around the world. Being a young country, we have not had the opportunity to destroy our environment to the extent that many other countries have. When we advertise Canada, we show a pristine wilderness. We are proud of what we have as an environment, with all the animals and plants that go with that. Many countries around the world really wish they had the opportunity that we have right now; to do something to protect species that we have still in existence.

There are many more things in life on this planet than human beings. We have to realize that in recent history we have done far too much harm to our environment to promote what humans have believed at that time to be right. Now we realize that we have to go back and start to do some things that will be slightly different than what we have done so that the creatures of Earth are protected for our children and grandchildren.

The amendments are grouped in different areas, and this area is a key issue for me. If we do not put mandatory compensation into the legislation, we will promote some things that are probably less than constructive to our environment. We must be very cautious that we do the right thing so that we are not back here in a few years realizing that we have made a mistake and that the legislation has not protected species at risk but has put them at harm.

Let us do the right thing. Let us do it now. Let us look at these amendments, bring them forward and have the government accept them. I know it is not usual for the government to accept amendments from the opposition, but I believe on this issue, as the member for Red Deer stated at committee, the committee has worked in a co-operative way to try to bring forward the best legislation possible. However there are some things that have not been done and that is what we are here today to debate.

I want to focus on landowners, farmers, ranchers and resource people. If they know there will be full value market compensation offered to them for any of the earnings that are lost or any of the production that is taken away from them, then they will buy into this bill and will help to preserve species at risk. However, if there is a chance they could lose their ranch or farm and lose their means of income through the act because of species at risk being on their property, then we could get to what we have seen in the United States; the use of a heavy-handed approach which is the shoot, shovel and shut up approach. That is something we want to avoid at all cost. We need to have the legislation to address the situation and make it meaningful. If we do not have mandatory compensation in the act, then it will not protect species at risk. In some instances it will harm.

The whole issue of people inadvertently, and we will get into that in later amendments, harming species on their land, not knowing they were there and doing something to disrupt their habitat, goes back to this issue. If we are to make people aware that they have to be open, appreciate what is around them, ensure the species are there and the habitat is protected, let us ensure that they will be compensated.

If they voluntarily take some land out of production and have some loss in income, let us ensure they are compensated.

If the minister says that he will guarantee there will be compensation issues in the regulation, then let us take that guarantee and move it into this aspect of the process. When we vote on the bill, let us ensure that Canadians realize the compensation is in the legislation and is embedded in law.

People from the agriculture community have come to me. They are very concerned that this could be very detrimental if not handled properly. Some realize they do have endangered species on their properties. Many are going to extraordinary lengths already to ensure that the habitat surrounding these species is protected. We have to enhance and expand on that attitude. We have to ensure that it gets into the rest of our society. People who are voluntarily doing this need to be recognized and supported for that so this can move into the other aspects of the community.

The whole Pearse report, and I am sure we will hear a lot about that, said that the compensation should be 50% for losses of 10% or more. That is not fair. The compensation needs to be at fair market value. If society as a whole wants this act in place, then society as a whole should have the responsibility for implementing and supporting the act. The cost of protecting endangered species should not lie alone at the feet of landowners and people who have direct access to these endangered species.

I believe the whole compensation suggestion is not right. It has to be full compensation and it has to be up front. When this legislation goes into effect, we have to ensure that people realize the compensation issue has been addressed, that it will be there for them and that they can go at this with an attitude of co-operation and not the heavy-handed heavy stick approach that we have seen in the United States. It has not worked. We were hoping for more in the legislation to ensure that the proper things were being done in Canada.

I know we will have lots of opportunity later to address the issues or they will be dealt with elsewhere in the amendments. However, if the compensation is not embedded in the legislation, then the species at risk act will do more to harm species at risk than it will to protect them.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-5, which we have had the opportunity to examine in committee. A number of amendments were introduced in committee, some of which were rejected and others accepted.

This is an important bill. Hon. members must keep in mind that Quebec has had endangered species legislation since 1990. This was introduced by the Liberal government of Quebec and passed by the Quebec National Assembly with a very large majority, if not unanimity.

To put ourselves in context, Quebec had this legislation from 1990 onward, along with fishery regulations and a wildlife conservation act. So, as far back as 1990, Quebec was in the vanguard as far as the protection of endangered species was concerned, 11 years ahead. As well, as far back as 1996, the provinces and the federal government entered into what was called the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, which committed them as follows, and I quote:

Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for wildlife commit to a national approach for the protection of species at risk. The goal is to prevent species in Canada from becoming extinct as a consequence of human activity.

This was signed in 1996, six years after the Quebec endangered species legislation.

We are not opposed in principle to legislation protecting species and habitat in Canada, provided it applies to federal territory, affects crown land and national parks, and we might go so far as having the Migratory Birds Convention, which we acknowledge as federal jurisdiction, come under the federal legislation we are looking at today.

Where we do have a problem is that with this bill, clause 34 in particular, the federal government is preparing what is termed a double safety net. This means that, from the very moment the federal government of its own accord, the national accord notwithstanding, decides that the Quebec legislation, or the province is not protecting its species and its habitat sufficiently, the federal legislation is going to kick in and apply to the entire territory of Quebec, regardless of what has been enacted by the National Assembly, despite its endangered species legislation, its wildlife conservation legislation and its fishing regulations. This is totally unacceptable.

It is also totally unacceptable that certain amendments proposed in committee will end up determining the mechanism that will trigger the safety net. Not only are some of the amendments proposed in committee unacceptable to the Bloc Quebecois, but they are also unacceptable to the Liberal government opposite.

On this subject, I received a missive last week, a letter from the Minister of the Environment, who indicated that some of the amendments proposed in committee strengthened the federal government's ability to determine how the safety net would be triggered.

Some of the amendments will have the effect of giving the federal government more power in determining how the safety net will be established. This will apply despite the fact that an accord was signed in 1996, as I mentioned, to protect endangered species.

The minister's letter specifies that the provisions of the safety net set out in Bill C-5 are there to ensure that, and I quote the minister:

If a province or territory fails to live up to the commitments that it has made under the accord, the federal government will react. However, it is up to the provinces and territories to act within their jurisdiction.

It makes no sense to have legislation that does not apply to provincial lands, yet have in the same bill, based on one single clause, a safety net that is triggered and that would apply to a province. This is somewhat troubling, particularly because Quebec already has its own legislation on endangered species and species at risk.

It is also important to point out that this bill creates what are known as enforcement officers. These federal enforcement officers will be responsible for enforcing the federal act, even in the case where the safety net is triggered in a province.

We can ask ourselves the following question: who will be responsible for the protection of species in Quebec? Will it be wildlife conservation and protection officers under the provincial legislation or federal agents?

The government must not act like a police officer. Rather, it must co-operate and promote harmonization, as is provided in the national Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk since October 1996.

So, it is rather disturbing to see what the government is about to pass in the House, because this act might apply in Quebec if we had not passed our own legislation. However, in spite of the fact that Quebec has its own legislation, the federal government is about to steamroll the work done by the province and this is rather disturbing.

It is also rather disturbing to see that the federal government has decided to assume the authority to protect endangered wildlife species in Canada. It is also disturbing to see that it refuses to give the necessary additional funds and to set up the mechanism through which landowners will be compensated.

As we know, the Pearse report—and the Canadian Alliance member referred to it earlier—recommends that a landowner be compensated when the losses that he absorbs exceed 10%. If these losses reach 10%, a compensation mechanism would come into play and 50% of the property's market value would be paid back.

If the federal government really wants to protect endangered species and make this a priority, it must inevitably ensure that assistance and compensation to landowners reflect its priorities.

Therefore, we will support the first group of motions by Canadian Alliance members, because we feel that protecting species also implies compensating people. So, we will support these motions. I will come back later on in the debate.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the interventions made so far.

I draw members' attention to a document which was discussed in committee. It was prepared by Peter Pearse of Vancouver and is entitled “Sharing Responsibility: Principles and Procedures for Compensation Under the Species at Risk Act” which is the bill we are debating right now. It is a report to the Minister of the Environment. It is worthwhile to put on record the following paragraph which is found on page 18:

Compensation should be paid strictly to people who have a legal interest in the land subjected to the regulatory controls. This is not to say that others will not be adversely affected--contractors, employees, local communities and others, even taxpayers may suffer direct or indirect losses. But measurement of all the economic effects--positive as well as negative--that might ripple through a community or region would be unmanageable. In any event, the objective is to deal fairly with people whose property rights are infringed, which does not require an attempt to offset all other effects on other people and their interests. Moreover, I have found no precedent, even in expropriation law, for compensation to people who have no property rights infringed.

The author concludes on page 31:

At several points in this report I have emphasized the need for caution in developing and implementing the compensation arrangements provided by the proposed act. One reason for this is that the Species at Risk Act contemplates compensation only when owners of the affected land do not enter into cooperative arrangements, which, in effect, threatens to weaken incentives to cooperate.

That is a key sentence as far as I can make out. The author goes on:

Another reason is that providing compensation for environmental controls of this kind is a break from established policies of governments in Canada and implies a precedent with far-reaching implications. A third reason is the need to reconcile the sensitive, overlapping responsibilities and programs of federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal authorities in wildlife management.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the single biggest flaw in the bill is that the species at risk legislation will never be effective. It will be a failure because it fails to deal with the issue of compensation for landowners who will suffer economic losses as a result of the implementation of measures to protect species at risk and their habitat.

Compensation. The word sounds so grasping, so selfish, so un-Canadian. Why would people expect to get paid for obeying the law? Why should property owners not be willing simply to absorb the cost themselves in the service of a greater social good?

When people's livelihoods are at stake, they have a different view of things. Maybe a farmer will have to leave sections of land untouched for a number of years, or adopt farming practices to accommodate nesting birds. Maybe areas of the forest will be off limits during migration.

There are lots of ways property owners and resource users will be affected, some temporary, some permanent. In many cases they will face costs, lost income from not being able to use their land, or perhaps actual costs incurred to protect habitat or provide for individuals of an endangered species.

It is completely incorrect to think that farmers, for example, are just sitting there waiting for the government to put compensation into the bill so they can sell their land. Some members seem to imply this. The government seems to think that every farmer just wants to get rid of his land and that they will react that way to this legislation. Anyone listening to the minister talk about compensation would think that he believes that.

For the farmers and ranchers whom I know, their land is their life. Often it has been in their family for generations. They are not looking for an easy way out or to sell it to the government. They respect the wildlife on their property and would be happy to work co-operatively in a voluntary stewardship program. However when costs arise they do not want to be left holding the bag. Losing 10% of their land could easily put a farmer or rancher out of business.

No doubt the minister will say that the bill recognizes the principle of compensation. Let us look at the bill. Yes, it does say that the minister may, and I emphasize the word may, provide compensation. It is good that is there. The government even seems willing to retain the committee's wording of fair and reasonable compensation. That is even better.

However, in Bill C-5 any compensation that is left entirely to the minister's discretion will not be fine with the farmers I know. These will be hollow promises. “Trust us” is not something that people will accept. Until property owners and resource users know the losses they will suffer and the compensation that will be there, this bill will not work.

Instead, what has the government done in the legislation? It is moving to reverse what the committee did and instead make even the very drafting of regulations at the minister's discretion. He might, he might not. That is not very convincing. Again as I have said, most people will not accept “trust us”.

It would have been a token of good faith had the minister tabled the draft regulations for us to look at prior to the bill being passed. He has promised to have a draft ready soon after royal assent. That does not do anything to convince people that the act will be fair to them. What can they expect if he will not even put it in the bill?

In practice, what does the bill mean when it says that compensation will only be in the case of extraordinary impact of regulatory restrictions? Can people trust the process to be fair? The minister owes Canadians answers to these questions.

In fact, the only public picture of what the regulations might look like is the Pearse report. Obviously, the government has ruled out the Pearse report, but many people have read it and are concerned about it.

The very principle by which we have this legislation is the UN convention on biological diversity which Canada signed. This convention recognizes that because the objective of maintaining bio- and ecosystem diversity is so important, costs must be equitably borne by everyone and not just primarily by developing countries.

Applied at home, this principle would mean that landowners should not bear the cost of species protection but that since they are helping to achieve a greater social good, compensation should be extended to offset any losses that might result. The Species at Risk Working Group also recognized this in its brief to the standing committee. It wrote:

SARWG strongly urges Parliament to...recognize that the protection of species at risk is a public value and that measures to protect endangered species should be equitably shared and not unfairly borne by any individual, group of landowners, workers, communities or organizations. Provision for compensation helps to balance the effect of efforts to protect species at risk and instills necessary trust among all stakeholders.

The bill should specify that. It was amazing to hear industry, environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and foresters all saying that the whole of Canada could benefit by sharing that load of protecting those species at risk.

We believe in protecting these species at risk. That is the most important thing. If a government says it is going to take people's land, affecting their incomes and livelihoods, then obviously we are concerned that the ones who will be threatened even further are not only the landowners but the species that are at risk.

There are lots of examples internationally. Tasmania has a threatened species protection act which it introduced in 1995. It states that a landowner is entitled to compensation for financial loss suffered directly resulting from an interim protection order or a land management agreement.

In the European Community, a person who is required to comply with a notice under section 36 is entitled to compensation for financial loss as a result of being required to comply with that notice.

Switzerland runs an integrated production program, a voluntary scheme whereby farmers are given standard amounts based on profits forgone in return for agreeing to certain restrictions.

The U.K. has a natural habitats regulation which it introduced in 1994. It states:

Where a special natural conservation order is made, the appropriate nature conservation body shall pay compensation to any person having at the time of the making of the order an interest in land...who...shows that the value of his interest is less than it would have been had the order not been made.

Those are international examples. Nowhere, except it appears in our country, are people expected to give up their lands and livelihoods for the sake of the public good.

In the committee the minister even reported to us about his concern. He said that he would like to have compensation in the bill but that he lost the battle in cabinet. In fact in a leaked letter from the then minister of fisheries he said “I won't go along with any compensation”. It appears that is what happened more than the reality of trying to protect endangered species.

Environment Canada has said it knows there will be problems if compensation is not in the bill. It is easy to use all of the international examples and to talk about what people are telling us on the ground. Compensation does not have to be money. It can be land swaps. It can be tax breaks. It can be all kinds of things such as help with fencing or different equipment. There are lots of things that should be part of the bill but are not. There are lots of examples as well where it has worked to help save species.

I implore the government to look at the bill again. If it really cares about endangered species, it will include compensation in the bill.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will address the motions on compensation in the proposed species at risk act.

The legislation would allow for compensation to be paid for losses suffered as a result of any extraordinary impact when it is necessary to prohibit destruction of critical habitat or to make an emergency order to protect habitat. This has been a very difficult policy issue. There is little precedent on which to draw and I am aware of the many hours of study and analysis that have gone into this aspect of the proposed act.

We are committed to the standing committee amendment which clarifies that any compensation provided to anyone who suffers a loss from an extraordinary impact of the critical habitat prohibitions will be fair and reasonable. However, the government is moving to restore the discretion for the governor in council to make regulations in a way that is consistent with standard practice in other laws.

I spoke at the outset of the difficulty in framing this part of the species at risk act and the precedent it sets. Many of us have debated the issue for some time. Clearly what we truly need is several years of practical experience in implementing both the stewardship and recovery provisions of SARA and in dealing with questions of compensation. This would give us more to draw upon in forming the precise eligibility requirements because we would know so much more about value, process and eligibility.

We are already gaining some valuable experience on the stewardship and recovery side. With each passing year we get even more. We will put it to good use. The bill stipulates that these measures will be developed.

In the meantime there will not be a vacuum on compensation in the species at risk act. The Minister of the Environment has already begun to develop general compensation regulations that will be ready soon after SARA is proclaimed. The regulations will specify the procedures to be followed for claiming compensation.

I will use a few examples of how detailed and tricky the compensation questions can be. For instance, this is not about giving money to mining companies or pulp and paper companies for not cutting trees or extracting ore. We have to continue to foster stewardship and corporate responsibility.

Compensation is for those few people, particularly landowners, who are adversely affected by a direct request to change the way they are using their land.

The farmer who leaves his haying for two weeks so the nesting of a burrowing owl can be complete is likely to suffer an inconvenience but not a major financial loss. But there may be a campground owner whose property borders on Wood Buffalo National Park and a pair of whooping cranes nest in the middle of one of his prime rental spots. With less than 170 birds of this species in all of North America, we would discuss compensating him for the lost rental until the eggs are hatched and the babies are fledged. These are very specific situations. One can see how the difference could become a fine line. That is why we need the experience.

The general regulations would allow us to use compensation if there was an extraordinary situation, moving toward the more comprehensive guidelines after several years of relevant experience and knowledge in implementing the stewardship and recovery provisions of SARA, and in dealing with questions of compensation.

Then we will know much more about the methods to be used in determining the eligibility of a person for compensation, the amount of loss suffered by a person and the amount of compensation in respect of that loss. Our approach to compensation will be open and transparent. For now, determinations of compensation will be made on a case by case basis.

We are committed to thorough consultation with everyone who can help us gain that experience and who has a stake in a fair and effective system. It is also essential that everyone understands that there is, as there has been in the past, a commitment to consultation with all those who can help in gaining the experience needed for the development of a fair and effective compensation regime. We have listened for a long time and we will continue to do just that.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, in looking at the amendments in Group No. 1, I will be addressing in particular two amendments that I have put forward, Motion No. 103 and Motion No. 111. Both of them deal with the very important issue of compensation to landowners, particularly farmers, for land use loss they may suffer as a result of the rules under the species at risk act.

Motion No. 103 amends clause 64(1) to read as follows:

The Minister shall, in accordance with the regulations, provide full, just and timely compensation to any person for losses--

The current wording in that clause is:

The Minister may, in accordance with the regulations, provide fair and reasonable compensation to any person for losses suffered as a result of any extraordinary impact of the application--

of the law.

I just want to point out the obvious flaws that exist in the current wording of the legislation as regards compensation. First we notice that under the current wording the law says compensation may be provided, not that it shall be provided. That means that it may not be provided.

The previous speaker from the government side said that compensation will be provided in exceptional circumstances, so we may assume that it will not normally be provided, that most farmers, most landowners, will in fact suffer the complete cost of protecting species, however large that might happen to be. He said that it would be decided on a case by case basis whether or not compensation should be provided. That means that there will be no certainty for landowners ahead of time as to whether in their case compensation may or may not be provided.

This kind of uncertainty is the very opposite of the rule of law on which our society is founded. It is precisely when this kind of uncertainty is created and when individuals may, on a more or less random and unsystematic basis, be subjected to bear all or most of the costs that people are in fact most likely to react with irresponsible husbandry practices or to feel victimized by the government and therefore respond by taking matters into their own hands.

There is plenty of international experience of this. The rule in the United States, where some of these laws have been applied without any consideration for compensation, has been that some people “shoot, shovel and shut up” when they find an endangered species on their property rather than try to exercise the kind of responsible husbandry of the natural environment that would result in those species being protected. When a species that is endangered is discovered on their property, they react not by protecting it but by eliminating it before the government authorities have a chance to find out about it and impose the costs of protecting that species on the owner.

The amendment I have proposed would change this dramatically. It states that the minister shall provide compensation. It also states that the compensation shall be full, just and timely as opposed to being, as in the current text of the bill, fair and reasonable. Fair and reasonable could be interpreted as meaning occasional, partial and more or less arbitrary in application. We can already see that the government side is interpreting it this way. This is simply unacceptable. It is bad for the environment. It is bad for landowners. It is just bad all the way around.

Fair and reasonable compensation has been described by the Pearse report as being 50% of the cost. There are cases where 50% of the cost of losing the use of a chunk of land will put individuals out of business and cause them to lose their farms or their land. I know of one example where this type of thing has already occurred in my own riding under provincial legislation of the same sort. It is a piece of land that an individual purchased and was living on. The mortgage depended upon the development of one lot on that piece of land.

The ruling that came down from the Ministry of Natural Resources of the province of Ontario was that because a species known as the loggerhead shrike, or butcher bird, had a nesting site in one of the landowner's fields it would be impossible to develop any land within a 500 metre radius of that nesting site, notwithstanding the fact that the particular lot did not actually have any use for the relevant species or for the loggerhead shrike. The result was that this individual was unable to develop the land. The value of the land fell and the mortgage could not be renewed. I am actually not certain if the individual has lost the property yet but that is the expected result of this legislation.

I do not see why we would want to replicate this kind of flawed model at the federal level. What would have been the harm in providing that individual with compensation for that land?

There are low cost solutions that are available. As my colleague from Red Deer observed, it is possible to compensate someone for the loss of the use of a piece of property. It is also possible to help subsidize the cost of protecting that species if some form of active measure is needed. There is no reason why that should not be the way things are done.

In fact, under the voluntary system that has been developing in Canada we already see measures being taken that impose very limited costs on landowners and provide very effective compensation and very effective protection for the species. I am thinking in particular, if I may give another example, of an individual who lives near Greely, Ontario, just south of the city of Ottawa, who was approached by a private organization requesting that he agree to sign a covenant that a wetland on his property would never be used for development purposes. The individual agreed. That wetland is now protected and serves as a nesting site for ducks as they migrate from north to south and south to north. This kind of voluntarism that we see seems to be preferable.

When the government wants to impose rules and national standards it certainly can do so for the benefit of the entire country, but only if it takes into account the responsibility and the willingness of people, in farming and in other rural occupations, to assist in conservation and only if it takes into account the fact that people, no matter how responsible they may be, are not likely to be as responsible when they are in danger of being driven out of business as they are when they are provided with some compensation.

Turning very quickly to the other amendment I propose, Motion No. 111 contemplates the amendment of the rules to permit individuals to have some compensation for legal costs. One of the unfortunate aspects of the elaborate bureaucracy that would be set up here is that it would allow a large government agency to go after small landowners who have limited resources. In order to defend their rights to their property and in order to seek compensation, they would have to go to court or through some form of arbitration process, which involves a considerable upfront expenditure.

If there is one thing that I think distinguishes people who are in farming it is that they tend not to be cash rich. Because of the nature of the business, they tend to be perpetually short of cash. Depending upon a lengthy process that may produce compensation for them at the end without allowing them to gain some kind of compensation for their legal costs more or less assures that they will be unable to pursue any compensation that is due to them. I think this requires an amendment to reflect the particularly difficult circumstances they find themselves in when faced with a powerful bureaucracy.

If I may, I would like to make one last comment regarding the issue of whether or not people could be prosecuted for unknowingly damaging a species. Clearly this is an unreasonable thing in this law. The law should say that one could not be prosecuted for harming an endangered species unless one knew about it. The idea that someone could accidently plough over a plant or destroy a nesting ground of some animal that he or she is unaware of is unacceptable under our system of law and within a civilized society.

I would strongly encourage members to consider adopting these amendments.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

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.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Kitchener Centre Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, one of the most noteworthy aspects of the species at risk act and the one that has drawn a great deal of attention is the provision it makes for compensation. I would like to address my remarks today to this part of the bill.

Clearly wildlife does not live within a certain set of boundaries that we can just cordon off to protect them. We cannot tell the piping plover to build its nest only on a protected lakefront in Saskatchewan any more than we can tell the loggerhead shrike to stay away from cattle grazing areas.

We do have protected wildlife areas and sanctuaries and we are getting more all the time, but we cannot simply turn all of Canada into a protected area. Farmers, trappers, fishers and woodlot owners and their families are the people who make their livings from the land. Many of them have done so for centuries. We need to work together with the people who are using the land and waters in a way that also protects habitat as much as possible. We need to work with farmers, ranchers and trappers to find means to look at total land use including habitat protection. We call this stewardship. We call this a conservation approach.

This working relationship is important for many different reasons. By fostering stewardship we are emphasizing the co-operative process first when it comes to habitat protection. We understand that Bill C-5 is strong legislation. There are prohibitions where they are needed, but these prohibitions are designed to come into effect when the co-operative approach does not work.

We know from firsthand experience that most people want to do the right thing. During the development of the legislation, which has been nine years in the making, we realized that should a situation arise where the co-operative approach does not work and the prohibitions kick in, the legislation would also have to provide authority to compensate for losses that are suffered as a result of extraordinary impact.

We also realized this compensation regime was something quite unique. We are not afraid of making new policy. That is what we were elected to do, but extreme care must be involved in this very important aspect of the legislation.

We have looked at examples of other compensation regimes for land use restrictions though there was not much to choose from. We have consulted far and wide. There are many different views and the process has proved to be much more complex than we originally had thought.

We have no intention however of abandoning the idea. It is quite the opposite. We know what compensation will not be. It will not be a superfund that pays resourced based companies for not mining or for harvesting. We will continue the many partnerships that have grown over the years with large forestry and mining companies, with fishers, with farmers and with others, partnerships that are building conservation and stewardship into the way they do business. Integrating conservation and stewardship into the way of doing business is not just good for species and their habitats. It is just plain good business. It is sustainable development.

Our approach to compensation will be open and will be transparent. For now determinations of compensation will be made on a case by case basis. Clearly we truly need several years of practical experience in implementing both the stewardship and the recovery provisions of the species at risk legislation and in dealing with the question of compensation. This will give us more to draw upon in forming the precise eligibility requirements because we will know so much more about the value, the process and the eligibility.

In the meantime there will not be a void. We will develop general compensation regulations soon after the act is proclaimed. These regulations will specify the procedures to be followed for claiming compensation. This will enable the compensation provisions to be used should an extraordinary situation arise.

Work has begun already on developing these general compensation regulations. We will be able to develop more detailed regulations after several years of practical experience in implementing the stewardship and the recovery provisions of species at risk and in dealing with the question of compensation. Then we will know much more about the methods to be used in determining the eligibility of a person for compensation, the amount of loss suffered by a person and the amount of compensation in respect of that loss.

We are committed to continued thorough consultation with everyone who can help us gain the experience and who has a stake in a fair and effective system. The government is moving to restore the discretion by the order in council to make regulations in a way that is consistent with standard practice of other laws.

The direction provided by the standing committee says that compensation should be fair and reasonable. That is maintained in the government's motion. The commitment to compensation remains a commitment to be fair, to be open, to listen and to move carefully in designing a regime that works for everyone.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure today to speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk act. I have moved 19 amendments to the bill at report stage. Several deal with the intent to cause harm to a species as opposed to inadvertent harm. Others attempt to ensure adequate consultation with stakeholders and landowners. One suggests that sustainable development and protection for endangered species is an attainable goal for the legislation.

Three of my amendments deal specifically with the need for mandatory compensation to landowners or resource users in the event that complying with the legislation causes loss of property value, use or enjoyment or even financial costs. I am referring to Motion Nos. 28, 105 and 106.

I know there are other amendments made by other members of parliament that deal with the need for compensation for financial losses incurred as a result of the legislation. I will speak to them as well as to my own.

Many Canadians want endangered species legislation. I for one want to see workable legislation that will help struggling species at risk rejuvenate in numbers. I want to see action plans put forward to bring back species already endangered or even extinct within Canada. However I want this all done in a manner that takes into account Canada's current economic realities and in a manner that respects landowners and resource users.

I believe we can move forward with sustainable development and respect species at risk at the same time. To do so we need to ensure mandatory compensation is included in the bill, or the opposite could very easily happen.

What I see in the bill is an attempt at balance, but I believe a few more changes may make the balance I seek achievable, a balance between industry and environment or between sustainable development and species protection. It is only achievable if mandatory compensation is the philosophy entrenched in Bill C-5.

That is why I propose to amend this bill by including the changes outlined in Motion No. 28 which reads:

That Bill C-5, in Clause 11, be amended by adding after line 29 on page 11 the following:

“(4) The agreement shall provide for fair and reasonable financial or material support, unless there is an agreement otherwise”.

Clause 11 of the bill deals with stewardship agreements which are reached with other governments in Canada or organizations and even persons to provide for conservation of the species at risk.

Subclause (2) goes on to outline the ways in which the agreement may provide for conservation including monitoring the status of the species, developing and implementing awareness programs, recovery programs to ensure protection of not only the species but its habitat, and to undertake research projects in support of the recovery of the species.

Subclause (3) reiterates the need for the stewardship agreements to involve only activities that benefit species at risk.

My amendment would create a new subclause (4) and would require that any agreement reached included fair and reasonable financial or material support, which I believe is not only acceptable but required if the government expects a landowner to go to some of the extents outlined to protect the species and its habitat.

The financial costs of creating and implementing recovery strategies, action plans and managing and monitoring these plans effectively, let alone establishing research projects, is more than what can be expected from anyone regardless of his or her financial or social status.

If the intent of the bill is to save the species at risk in Canada, I would urge members to support Motion No. 28. Without financial help and material support for those Canadians saddled with such an awesome responsibility, I fear that not only will landowners not come forward with news of such species living on their lands but that without Motion No. 28 reaching stewardship agreements with those landowners might be next to impossible in a great many cases.

We must ask ourselves what good legislation without compensation and support will do for species at risk it is supposed to protect and enhance. In other words, we end up with the shoot, shovel and shut up mentality which is not acceptable to any of us.

Further to this motion I should like to point out the merits of Motion Nos. 105 and 106. Motion 105 seeks to amend clause 64 and reads as follows:

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing lines 14 and 15 on page 36 with the following:

“with the regulations, provide fair market value compensation to any person for losses”.

It is hard to grasp what exactly I am trying to get at with only a section of the clause being read, but allow me to explain the intent.

Clause 64 deals with the possibility of providing some compensation at the discretion of the minister. The original bill suggested that the minister could provide compensation if he so desired. The committee amended this section to include the need for fair and reasonable compensation. I would like to clarify what I believe is fair and reasonable compensation by specifying that compensation should be based on the fair market value of any losses incurred as a result of complying with the legislation.

This is just an example, but if I were a landowner with several acres of bush that I bought with the intent to log for profit at some point, the value of the property was increased because of the type of timber upon it. As such, the purchase price reflected the market value of the property which took into account the income potential of the land.

Say an extremely rare bird, maybe the sage grouse of the B.C. population, is found on this land of mine and as such several acres are now deemed as its critical habitat. In this bill I would not allowed to touch that land. I could forget about cutting the grass or trimming the trees for better growth, not even raking the leaves, let alone cut down the forest for profit.

Because the federal government legislates that I must protect this now extirpated species and its habitat and maybe even assist in recovery plans, I lose potential income. My property value is decreased as a result and my ability to sell my property for at least what I bought it for is now impossible. If I refuse and cut down the trees anyway, I face hefty and even bankrupting fines, a jail term and a criminal record. All this when all I wanted to do was own some land, make a living and pay my taxes.

This is a prime example of how the legislation, as it is currently written, will affect landowners everywhere in Canada. This situation will not be unique and is certainly not fair to the landowner. My amendment seeks to identify and rectify the situation by ensuring landowners are compensated for fair market value losses incurred as a result of the loss of use of their property.

If Motion No. 105 were supported by the House, this change would go a long way to ensuring that the livelihoods of landowners are not threatened by the cost of protecting a Canadian common resource. That cost should be borne by all Canadians and as such the federal government should bear that cost and compensate the affected landowner in a way that reflects the fair market value of the loss.

Motion No. 106 is similar in that it amends the same section of clause 64, but instead of compensation based on fair market value, it would provide for fair and reasonable compensation to any person for loss of use or enjoyment of property as a result of the legislation.

The loss of use of property can be interpreted to mean that for farmers this bill could force them to keep certain lands fallow for a growing season or longer. They could be forced to wait longer to plant crops because of noise concerns on newborn birds nearby or might be forced to limit or restrict the kinds of pesticides or fertilizers on their lands because they are near a prime feeding ground. These qualify as compensation for loss of use of property and I believe it is necessary to ensure property owners comply with the act and better still, come forward voluntarily with discoveries of endangered species on their lands.

As for the loss of enjoyment of property, this could mean ranches with acres of horse trails and pastures are no longer accessible. This would be a loss of enjoyment of property and I would deem deserves legitimate compensation.

These are all examples that will likely happen more frequently than the minister is willing to admit. To protect the species themselves from further harm and to ensure their habitats are truly left untouched, compensation must not only be at the discretion and interest of the minister, but must be made an integral part of the bill. Without mandatory compensation, the very species which the minister is charged with protecting will suffer unduly. This is simple. It is fair and just. It will encourage not only compliance, but foster positive stewardship relationships between landowners and environmental conservationists.

Compensation can be the win-win that we are looking for in the bill. I urge all members to support Motions Nos. 28, 105 and 106. They would strengthen the bill and provide the needed stability for landowners and eliminate the current fears associated with finding an endangered species on privately owned or leased property.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the process during the last nine months, prior to the committee tabling the report with amendments, has been interesting. On this area in particular, I wish to acknowledge the work done by the Alliance members who sat on the committee because to a great degree these members were able to shift some positioning on this by other members of the committee, including myself.

When it came to this issue, we obviously had the same position in the sense of looking at what the issues were. On the one hand, there were concerns about protecting species and to make that financially possible. We did not make it impossible because of cost to protect species. We had that consideration on one side.

On the other hand, we had consideration for people who owned land on which endangered species were found or might be found in the future. We had to consider how to deal with their interest so that the cost of protecting the species and ensuring that they survived in a vibrant and healthy way would not be borne exclusively or unfairly by landowners or people with an interest in property.

When we looked at this, a number of the environmental groups that first came before us had the attitude of not having compensation at all. Again, because of the work of the Alliance members, people were drawn to looking at what was a fair way of dealing with this. I believe that was accomplished with the amendments at committee stage. Even though this is coming up in one of the other blocks, the government is now looking at taking back some of those measures which we put into place at committee stage.

I am a little critical of the Alliance members because they were a part of this group. There were a number of horror stories, red herrings, brought forward of just how bad the problem was. The issue that is always trotted out is the spotted owl in the United States. That is an example of environmental protection of an endangered species run rampant in overrunning all property rights and property ownership rights.

In fact the experience in the United States is nowhere near as bad as was made out. What I found most interesting was the experience we had in British Columbia. It was a limited area and there had been a fund set aside for about $5 million to compensate people. As part of that compensation fund there were also provisions for stewardship agreements.

The end result, and they had just about finished the process when the committee was meeting, was that very little of the $5 million was used. In fact, with co-operation on the part of the landowners and the government agencies in that case, the species was protected and very little compensation was paid out. All parties involved were satisfied with the process. I believe that is the more common response we get.

The bill has a number of provisions in it that provide for stewardship type agreements for co-operative arrangements. If those are carried out, in keeping with what we have seen in the past, the compensation issue may not be nearly as severe as has been made out by some parties.

Like my friend from Fundy--Royal, the NDP can support a number of these provisions. I would note that there are some that we cannot, in particular Motion No. 12. The purpose of this act is to protect species is as far as it needs to go.

I have some concerns with Motion No. 13 with regard to the use of the socio-economic interest of Canadians in that section. It is covered in other parts of the bill.

I would oppose some amendments simply on the fact that the members of the committee did good work and that work should be honoured. However there are some additional provisions that have come to my attention that we may not have covered in sufficient detail but we could support them.

Motion No. 28 is one of them. It is in keeping with the work done by the committee and the amendments made specifically to section 64 of the act. Motion No. 28 proposes amending clause 11 to provide for compensation in those circumstances of that agreement. This section could use that enhancement and we would support it.

Motion No. 103 also proposes amending section 64. After a great deal of deliberation, some of which I have already recounted, the committee came to the conclusion that the terminology of fair and reasonable, which was an addition to the section originally received from the minister, was the wording we felt most adequately, appropriately and accurately represented where all parties in Canada were at. I cannot support the proposed amendment to section 64 that is in Motion No. 103.

With regard to Motion No. 105, the terminology “provide fair market value” should be brought to the attention of the House. We heard a great deal of evidence from legal experts and other people who had backgrounds in compensation in a wide variety of fields. What was very clear, after hearing all that evidence, was the terminology of fair market value, although anyone with a legal background has an appreciation of what that means, brings baggage with it, baggage that is inappropriate in the setting of the bill. We were looking for a broader perspective on the types of compensation. After looking at all of that, including the definition of fair market value, the committee in its wisdom determined that the use of the term fair and reasonable was the most appropriate for the protection of endangered species in this country.

Motion No. 111 is probably a clarification of the committee's work and is one that all parties, which supported the rest of the work the committee did, could support.

Finally, Motion No. 128, as my friend from Fundy--Royal said, makes sense. If the government is aware that a species is at risk or is in danger and is on private property, it is simple enough to make the landowner aware of that and hopefully give the owner some direction on how to deal with that species. It should not conceal the fact. This is one of those sections that clearly is a housekeeping one and should go through.

I have indicated the motions we can support as a party. Going back though, I emphasize that the compensation issue is one that will be an evolving issue. I recognize that. However I strongly argue to the House that it is not as great an issue as a number of other ones in the bill.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to be a member of the standing committee on the environment. As such I voted for some of the improvements that the standing committee made to Bill C-5. I voted against several amendments which were passed by the committee because I felt they undermined the co-operative and accountable approach of the legislation.

There is no question that our country needs federal legislation to protect species at risk. We need a law that will encourage positive actions and behaviour, an act that will motivate and nurture the will to build upon a strong foundation of stewardship across our country. In fact, at this important point in our federalism the legislation comes at a time and in a manner that co-operation across the country is being achieved so that species at risk and their habitats would be protected.

As parliamentarians we know that building co-operation and partnerships is the most productive way to change things for the better. If we want our citizens to modify their behaviour to achieve a common goal then we should give them the tools and encouragement to do so. We cannot expect to earn this commitment simply because it is mandated by a law.

As a member of the committee I learned that there is much anxiety about endangered species legislation. Our job now is to achieve legislation that Canadians could trust and support and that would result in unequivocal support for legislation that would make all the difference to the 387 species at risk across the country.

Some Canadians are afraid that endangered species legislation could result in the government taking away their land as soon as species are found there. We need to pass legislation that would make Canadians full partners in species protection. We need legislation that would not remove people from nature but instead finds ways to have people and wildlife living in harmony. We should not risk arbitrary legislation but legislation that would encourage co-operation.

Other Canadians are worried that the bill would include too much discretion. They fear that the government will not act. As a committee we added many reporting requirements to ensure that no government would be able to ignore a species at risk in Canada. Every species at risk listed by the independent scientists of the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC, would receive the attention of the government within 90 days.

I am proud to support a government amendment to Bill C-5 that would add every single species recommended by COSEWIC for immediate protection to the legal list. This clearly demonstrates how seriously the government takes its job to prevent any more species from extinction.

I also support a government motion that would restore the accountability of the government for decisions to protect species and habitat. Canadians expect that decisions that may affect their lives and livelihoods will be made by the people they elect to represent them. We cannot shirk our responsibility and pass the buck to non-elected scientists to make these tough decisions for us. We need to keep the scientific and political processes separate but co-ordinated and accountable.

At this time when we have already accomplished a better understanding of our shared jurisdictional responsibilities the provinces and territories are concerned that this act would undermine their own work to protect species and habitat. We need to maintain their full partnership for species protection in Canada. They manage the majority of lands where species live and we need their full participation in wildlife protection.

We should not dictate to provinces and territories how to protect species and habitat under their jurisdiction. We need the provinces and territories as equal partners. We need to work with them to find the most effective ways of protecting species and habitat. This is what we committed to do when we all signed the accord for the protection of species at risk in 1996. We need to ensure Bill C-5 is consistent with the co-operative approach that we agreed to under that accord.

We are all in this together. Canadians overwhelmingly support passing the species legislation and they want us to get on with the job of protecting species at risk. We can achieve this by making new partners and improving the partnerships we have already started.

Once passed, Bill C-5 would help us off to a good start and 233 species at risk across Canada along with their residences would be protected by law. Recovery strategies for all 233 species at risk would proceed. When parliament reviews the legislation in five years' time I am absolutely certain that we would look back at the legislation as a seminal period, when we made Canadian wildlife much safer and that we delivered on our commitment to pass along a stronger natural legacy for future generations.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am against a group of motions that put cost effectiveness into the purposes section of the bill. The purpose of the proposed species at risk bill is to protect and recover species at risk. The assessments of the status of species prepared by COSEWIC are based on the best available information on the biological status of the species.

In determining whether a species is at risk these independent experts examine scientific information as well as aboriginal and community knowledge about the biological status of the species. The bill is clear that social and economic factors would not influence COSEWIC's decisions.

Similarly, the goals for the recovery of the endangered species as set out in recovery strategies would be biological objectives. Recovery strategies would set out population and distribution objectives that must be met for the survival of a species. They would identify threats to a species and its critical habitat where possible.

As in the case with COSEWIC assessments social economics would not factor into developing biological information. SARA is firm that we should not interfere with science. However, when we respond to the science we need to think about social economics.

The bill has safeguards to make sure that other important needs of Canadians would not be ignored. There are several situations under the bill where social and economic factors must be taken into account. These factors are taken into account by the government in determining how to respond to COSEWIC's assessments.

Under any federal legislation there must be consultation involved in making of orders and regulations. This allows for an opportunity to consider social and economic impacts. SARA is no exception in this regard. For example, there are orders to legally list species and regulations to implement recovery strategies, action plans and management plans.

National Flag of Canada DayStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday was National Flag of Canada Day.

This day is an occasion to recognize the most important symbol of our country, the maple leaf. Along with the national anthem, the flag is the most important symbol of a country. The flag represents not just the land and the people, but also its values.

First raised on February 15, 1965, Canada's national flag symbolizes our hope for the future and our ability to triumph over hard times and remain strong in the face of adversity.

In this period of uncertainty, the Canadian flag assures us that our values and our way of life will not be jeopardized.

National Flag of Canada Day is a time to reflect on how tremendously lucky we are to live in this vast and magnificent land.

Bill BarclayStatements By Members

February 18th, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, today I pay tribute to Bill Barclay, dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion, who passed away on February 11, 2002. This past Friday roughly 1,000 people showed up for the funeral in his hometown of Coleville, Saskatchewan, which only has a population of 300.

Bill Barclay assumed the office of dominion president on May 27, 2000, after the sudden death of then president Chuck Murphy. During his tenure, Mr. Barclay oversaw the legion's 75th anniversary, the continuance of progress in the ongoing fight for veterans' benefits, the growth in Canada's commitments to remembrance and the teaching of history in Canada's school systems.

He did his country and fellow veterans a great service and I am proud to stand today to give him honour and respect which he well deserved. Bill Barclay served this country with distinction.

National Flag DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was with pride that we celebrated National Flag Day on February 15. Six years have passed since the government proclaimed February 15 as National Flag Day. Our flag is recognized around the world. Canadians wear it both at home and abroad with pride.

It was with great pride and admiration that we watched our gold medallist, Catriona LeMay Doan, carry our flag during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Salt Lake City. We were doubly proud to witness the raising of our flag and the playing of our national anthem during the medal ceremonies when three of our athletes received their gold medals.

Our flag has been a continuous source of pride for our nation since it was inaugurated in 1965. The creation of our own distinctive flag came to be in the early sixties when Prime Minister Pearson proposed a flag with three red maple leaves on a single stem on a field of white and a blue bar on either side. His proposal met with opposition in various quarters. Eventually a parliamentary committee, after viewing countless submissions, proposed our present flag with the red and white colours, as those are the official colours of Canada proclaimed by King George V in 1921.

Our flag is a symbol of who we are as a nation. That is why I salute the adoption and the promotion of National Flag Day.