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House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was compensation.

Topics

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

February 20th, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, in January of last year the Prime Minister told the House the Government of Canada would create a legacy to honour the memory of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. On that occasion the Prime Minister spoke of Mr. Trudeau in the following words:

--Canadians were moved to reflect on and discuss not only the Trudeau legacy but the meaning of Canada and our attachment to it.

His vision was of a mature, confident Canada shaping its own destiny, tied together by a common citizenship, based on shared rights and mutual responsibility--

A bilingual Canada in which citizens could enjoy and benefit from our rich French and English heritage. A country respectful of the special place of aboriginal people. A multicultural Canada, opened to the world and fully seized of its global responsibilities. A just Canada in which opportunity is truly equal.

Last week the Minister of Human Resources Development and I published our innovation strategy. In the strategy we spoke of the need to create a Canadian program similar to the Rhodes scholarships to promote excellence, encourage those who seek it and reward those who achieve it.

I am honoured to announce today that the Government of Canada will endow the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation with $125 million allocated in the budget to enable the creation of a truly world class program for advanced studies in the humanities.

The Foundation will award internationally competitive doctoral fellowships, similar in value and stature to the Rhodes, so that Canadian universities will continue to attract the very best students from our own country, and around the world. And all of this, in the name of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

What is a more fitting legacy to man who symbolized youth, excellence and the innovative spirit?

The innovation agenda that we announced last week spoke of creating in Canada a culture of excellence to strengthen our economy and to increase our prosperity, but excellence is not measured by material progress alone. Yes, we want the highest standard of living in the world. We want to make the best products and services to create a research climate that will fire technological achievement and spur scientific discovery. The knowledge economy demands no less. Together we will do all of that and more.

But there are equally urgent and important questions of first principles, of values, that go beyond our standard of living to our quality of life. These are questions that can be answered only by excellence in the human sciences, in philosophy and in law, in government and public policy.

The endowment that we announce today will challenge young people to address the great questions to which Prime Minister Trudeau devoted his life, both in and out of politics, as an academic, a lawyer and a statesman.

How can we build a Canada that creates the conditions for, and removes the obstacles to, individual and collective freedoms?

How can we move forward with confidence, fully expressing our sovereignty in a world in which our interests are entwined with those of other, equally sovereign countries?

What are our responsibilities to one another as citizens both of Canada and of the broader world beyond our borders? How can we advance that great Canadian project to move ever closer to the ideal of a just society in which liberty is assured and opportunity is equal?

Thirty years ago this month Pierre Trudeau acknowledged that the pursuit of excellence of the highest values, of the just society will never end. He said:

To seek the Just Society must be amongst the highest of human purposes. Because we are mortal and imperfect, it is a task we will never finish; no government or society ever will. But from our honest and ceaseless effort, we will draw strength and inspiration; we will discover new and better values. On the never-ending road to perfect justice we will, in other words, succeed in creating the most humane and compassionate society possible.

We pledge today to continue that honest and ceaseless effort. To do so we have enlisted the participation of a remarkable group of people. We are delighted that the board of directors of the Trudeau Foundation will include such distinguished Canadians as Peter Lougheed, Louise Fréchette, Bob Rae and Bill Davis.

I also want to recognize the participation of Marc Lalonde, Senator Jacques Hébert, Roy Heenan, Ted Johnson, former premier Roy Romanow and university leaders Robert Lacroix, Martha Piper and Sean Riley. I am also indebted to my colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage for her help in shaping this program and to her deputy minister, Alex Himelfarb, for his invaluable assistance.

But two people deserve particular credit. Without Sacha and Justin Trudeau's determination, idealism and yes, their father's famous stubbornness, today's announcement would simply not have been possible. Their father would have been very proud of Sacha and Justin and I thank them on behalf of Canadians everywhere.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, may I take a few moments to describe the foundation's purpose and mandate. The Trudeau fellowships will serve two equally important objectives.

First, they will help us keep the most promising young talent here in Canada because 75% of the Trudeau scholars will be Canadian. While each of these gifted young people will be based at a university in one region of Canada, consistent with the Trudeau vision of a Canada greater than the sum of its parts, each of them will also be encouraged to work with colleagues at universities in other provinces. Up to 25 fellowships will be awarded each and every year.

Second, in keeping with Mr. Trudeau's vision of an open, mature and confident Canada, the fellowships will bring the best and brightest from around the world to study the human sciences here.

This purpose befits a man who himself studied in Montreal, London, Paris and Boston: a man who opened Canada to the world, because he was confident of our place in it.

The Foundation will create a virtual network linking all of the Trudeau scholars. At the peak, up to 100 students will be enrolled in the doctoral programs. An annual conference will also take place, and the proceedings will be available to all Canadians.

Prime Minister Trudeau's achievements are recorded faithfully in Hansard , in the national archives and in the history books, but what he truly meant to our country, what he truly meant to the world, cannot be found in any of those places. He helped us see ourselves in a different light. He brought out the very best in us. He demanded great things of us and in so doing he showed us that we were capable of doing great things together. In short, he reminded us that we are capable of excellence.

We have the sense that Pierre Trudeau would have little interest in the bronze or stone monuments that traditionally commemorate our past leaders. He would have wanted us to look ahead, to inspire young people, to build a better future in Canada and from Canada for the world. Today we secure a living legacy for Prime Minister Trudeau enabling the pursuit of excellence, promoting a just society and building a better world. There can surely be no more fitting tribute to Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast B.C.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege today to stand in the House to say something about Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I think the member for Davenport and myself are the only two members of the House who spent some time with the prime minister, myself in the 1972 election and in 1974 and maybe the Minister of the Environment and the House leaders from 1974-77.

It is interesting that in the last couple of minutes I have had three notes from my people in the back that the media wants me for the scrum. I would think Sacha's father would be smiling in heaven saying “Ah, we got the opposition again”.

We are pleased that the Minister of Industry has come forward with a specific application of his innovation strategy. The one thing we can all say about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, whether we are on this side or that side of the House, we never questioned his integrity and certainly we never questioned his love for Canada. It was a great time to be here even, if one was on the other side and in the 1972 election we darn near beat him. However, he was a great Canadian and we should honour great Canadians and that is why I am pleased to stand here today.

I welcome Sacha Trudeau and the involvement of his family in higher education in Canada.

The Canadian Alliance is on record supporting increases to the federal research granting agencies. We are happy that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will be involved in the Trudeau fellowship. The social themes named by the minister for this fellowship are good ones. I am sure the former prime minister would not mind my making some suggestions from this side as to what should be done. With his stubbornness he always wanted to be sure he got his ideas across.

The Canadian Alliance would also like to see greater emphasis placed on all sciences, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, physics, biology to name a few disciplines, by the federal government. In studying impacts on our natural environment as a theme for this fellowship, perhaps the Trudeau Foundation might consider at some point expanding this fellowship to include the applied sciences. For instance, the Sydney tar ponds could be studied not only because of the impact they have had on the families living around the ponds but also the impact the pollution has had on the ecosystem and the food chain. The granting councils have a good track record in science and technology investments and we applaud their work.

On a personal note, I would like to offer my best wishes to Sacha and his family. I am very pleased that they are involved in this project. Their father was not only a man of integrity, a decisive leader and a humanist, but more important, he loved his family and he loved his sons. I have seven children and eight grandchildren. For me, there is nothing more important in life than the family and Sacha's father put the family first. Even with all the important things he had to do in this world, his family was always first. I appreciate that as a father and as a grandfather.

We welcome this initiative by the government. We believe great Canadians should be honoured. This is a great way to honour a great Canadian.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to rise following the announcement made today by the Minister of Industry.

Allow me to begin by making a short comment on procedure. When a ministerial statement is made in the House, it is customary that the statements made afterwards by opposition members take about the same amount of time as the minister's statement, or that they do not exceed it. It is also customary, out of courtesy, for ministers who are going to make a statement to give an advance copy of their speeches to opposition parties, and this was done earlier this morning.

However, I was stunned to receive from the minister, right in the middle of oral question period, a new text which had been inflated, if I may use that expression, in the sense that it was much more detailed. Unfortunately for you, Mr. Speaker, and for the members of this House, this means that I will probably not take as much time as the minister did when he made his speech.

As we know, human knowledge is at the core of what is now called the new economy. Indeed, this new economy is primarily based on the production, use and communication of human knowledge. The grey matter is becoming the single most important factor of a nation's economic development.

This new economic situation, to which Quebec, Canada and all the countries of the world are confronted, requires a number of adjustments to the role of the state, in order to allow our respective economies to keep pace with the changes and to remain competitive.

Consequently, Quebec, Canada and all the other nations of the world must work to successfully enter the era of this new knowledge-based economy. Therefore, we cannot oppose any initiative that seeks to promote the development of human knowledge.

Nor are we opposed, and far from it, to letting the federal government use this noble objective to pay tribute to the refined intellectual that former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was.

The rather laudatory comments of the minister reflect the deep attachment that many Canadians, particularly among the members of the federal Liberal Party, still have to Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

While we certainly applaud the principles on which today's government initiative is based, we nonetheless question the appropriateness of such an announcement at this time.

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is currently studying the whole peer evaluation system in the process of granting research grants and scholarships. It would have been proper, or at least prudent, for the minister to await the recommendations of the committee before launching this new initiative with such unbridled enthusiasm.

Moreover, we also question the vehicle chosen by the government to channel the amount of money that it plans on allocating for higher education merit scholarships in the humanities and social sciences. It would appear as though the choice to establish the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a private foundation that does not report to parliamentarians, is based more on sentimental considerations than on requirements for efficiency or transparency.

Why has the government chosen to transfer the envelope allocated for this purpose to a private foundation instead of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, for example, which could very well have accomplished this mission that comes under its mandate?

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology's study, to which I made reference earlier, has shown that 55% of researchers and graduates work in the humanities and social sciences, whereas less than 13% of federal research grants are in awarded this sector. So we agree that something must be done, but as I mentioned, this may not be the most appropriate vehicle.

How will this foundation be held truly accountable for managing the considerable sums of public money—after all, we are talking about $125 million, which is no modest sum?

We are also concerned about the tangent that this government seems to be taking with this initiative, which will no longer assess candidates based on the excellence of their work and proposed projects, but based on themes decided by someone who has not been specified.

Indeed, the minister stated, a few minutes ago, that “the Foundation's board of directors, in consultation with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian universities and other partners”—without specifying who—“will choose the specific themes of study”.

To finish, we hope that the quality of those who will make up the board of this foundation, some of whom, incidentally, are no strangers to the Liberal government, far from it in fact, will be able to allay the concerns we have about the public interest, scientific research and about researchers themselves.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our party I wish to say a few words in support of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau foundation fellowship that was established today.

The foundation comes out of the budget with an allocation of $125 million over the next number of years. The idea is a superb one. The foundation would be comparable to Rhodes scholarships over the years and would retain a lot of bright people in the country. It would have people from other parts of the world come to Canada to study as well.

The foundation would have 80% of the students from Canada and 20% would come from other parts of the world. We applaud that. This is a great honour for the former prime minister. The pursuit of excellence is an excellent idea. This country needs to invest a lot more into knowledge, research and ideas.

Knowledge is power and ideas are power. Innovation, and the whole area of research and development, is extremely important. I also think it is a much more appropriate thing to do in memory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau than the naming of a mountain would have been about a year ago when that was suggested by the government across the way.

I knew Pierre Elliott Trudeau very well. I spent 16 years in the House of Commons with him from 1968 to 1984. I remember him as prime minister for almost all of that time. For a short while he sat as leader of the opposition when my friend from Calgary was the prime minister back in 1979 to 1980. When I think of Pierre Elliott Trudeau I think of a person who had a lot of courage, a person of ideas and perhaps more than anything else a person of great determination who had a vision and would fight for that vision. We would often disagree with him but we had to admire his courage and determination to succeed with the vision that he fought for.

I think of the Official Languages Act, which I supported; multiculturalism; and his fight for the patriation of the Canadian constitution with a charter of rights enshrined in the constitution. That was a very divisive issue that divided all parties in the House of Commons. We had differing ideas but it was his sheer determination that eventually got us a constitution with a patriated charter of rights. Even at that time he had to compromise on issues in the charter of rights and the amending formula. It showed he had some flexibility as well when he pursued his vision.

This is an appropriate way to remember Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He was a person who exonerated youth and exuberance. He was a great Canadian who loved this country, but he was also a great internationalist. This scholarship would also be available for people in different parts of the world.

My only regret is that this is a little late in coming. We should have had a foundation like this many years ago. When we look at the drop in our standard of living compared to the United States and many other parts of the world a large part of that is due to the fact that we have not been as strong in innovation, research and development and education, nor as productive as many of the other countries in the world. Over the past few years for example we have seen all of the cutbacks in funding of post secondary education. It is something like $5 billion since 1993.

When I look back when Pierre Trudeau enrolled as a first year law student many years ago the tuition fee was probably $200 or $300. It is worth about $3,000 today. Today there is a university in Canada that charges $12,000 for a first year law student. I understand it is considering doubling the tuition fee from $12,000 to $24,000 in the very near future. We are limiting the accessibility to education.

Even though it is late in coming this is an excellent idea.

I am very pleased to support the creation of this foundation in memory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada.

I can say to the family, to Sacha who was here earlier today, that they can be proud of the contribution their father made and that a foundation in his name would carry that memory forward in terms of looking for new ideas, excellence in research, and positive things to not just improve our country but to improve the world.

Often in parliament we have great political differences. We debate a great number of issues. However today we have parliament coming together to honour a great Canadian for a great contribution and we do that by establishing a foundation that would be there as a worthwhile cause for generations to come.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau FoundationRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Pierre Trudeau left a profound mark on Canadian public policy and in the hearts of many of our citizens. As with all prime ministers people still debate the ways he contributed to public life. What can be said unequivocally about Pierre Trudeau is that he continually challenged people to think about their relationships to one another as fellow Canadians and as active citizens in the bigger world. A foundation created to help fund advanced studies seems appropriate and timely, especially given that these studies would focus on excellence in the humanities and human sciences, and would be recognized the world over.

As the minister mentioned in his remarks, special credit goes to Sacha and Justin Trudeau for searching for and advocating a proper and appropriate legacy for their father, to university leaders such as Robert Lacroix, Martha Piper and Sean Riley for their advice and assistance, and to former premiers Roy Romanow and Bill Davis for their encouragement and help, and to many others who helped to pull this foundation together.

The creation of the foundation points to another big issue of concern to Canadians and particularly to university students. This foundation, to quote the minister, would be the equivalent of a Rhodes scholarship. That is an admirable goal, but is something that would directly benefit only a few dozen students, not the tens of thousands of students who are expressing growing concerns about sky-rocketing tuition fees and exploding student debt. Students, many of whom have seen their personal debt and tuition fees double, hope to see more from the government in the days ahead.

Education must be a priority for every country in today's globalized world where we must challenge ourselves and compete with the best that the world has to offer. For example, when Ireland talks about the Celtic miracle, it does not talk only about how tax cuts helped its country and turned around a stagnant economy. It talks first and foremost about education and how it developed an education system second to none with broad access to all.

For decades, Canada has been a country built on the raw power and availability of its natural resources. The Canada of tomorrow would be built upon the strength of its education system and the excellence of its students, scholars, innovators and entrepreneurs. To make that possible, education for all Canadians must be top-notch and it must be made accessible to everyone. The Government of Canada can contribute to that future and has done that today, but it can contribute more by replacing the cuts it has made to the Canada health and social transfers.

I thank the government for putting in place a legacy for a former prime minister who gave of himself, served others and left an enduring impression on Canada. I want to quote from an op-ed piece I wrote shortly after the Trudeau funeral in the year 2000 and the extraordinary outpouring of emotion that followed:

Perhaps our relatively young nation went through a similar period of introspection during the state funeral, and will serve us well as we start out on the 21st century. For a country like ours, perhaps it will also give us pause to stop and think not only about “what was,” but also to ask ourselves “what should it be?”

Part of what this country should be is a country known for its excellence and opportunity in its educational system. We remain hopeful that the House will make further decisions in the days to come that will leave that as a positive legacy for generations to come.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Yolande Thibeault Liberal Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour today to present a petition signed by over 80 individuals in my riding of Saint-Lambert.

The petitioners, residents of Longueuil, while deploring the terrorist acts of September 11 perpetrated in New York City and Washington, respectfully call upon Parliament and all heads of state to follow the path of active non-violence.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would seek unanimous consent for the opportunity to go back to presenting reports from interparliamentary delegations.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Canada-China Legislative Association regarding the fourth bilateral meeting held in Canada in October 2001, and I might add that it was a most successful one.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Kitchener Centre Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 28 minutes.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Kitchener Centre Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers by allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 18 consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise again to finish my thoughts on Bill C-5. It bears repeating that the Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species. In that vein there are a few comments I have left to make.

The objection that we have as a party to the bill is the shift in the cost to landowners rather than it being fair. We are to spend $45 million for species at risk, which is a very minimal amount of money when we think about the fact that we are trying to protect animals and plant life that will disappear from the earth forever. Yet the government has seen fit to spend over $700 million on a gun registry. One has to ask what are the priorities when there is such discrepancy in spending. I believe it is an unconscionable thing to do and that we have to correct what is happening in the House.

The government has failed miserably with the softwood lumber agreement and the cost of that mistake is being paid for by innocent people across the country. We cannot afford to let this happen again. The endangered species bill must be looked at very seriously.

What upsets me the most about the bill is the fact that when it comes to compensation there are two words that can be used: the word may which means we are allowed to do it and the word will which means we must do it. The word will has to be substituted in here. Otherwise people who own their own land and have done all the work for many years risk losing the land without compensation to save a species.

As I said previously, my colleague from Wild Rose has made it very clear that shoot, shovel and shut up will be the way things will happen in Canada. We do not want that. We need to protect species and in protecting species we must also protect the rights of landowners. We must give adequate compensation. Until that is addressed within the bill I cannot support it, and neither will my party.

Other matters have been raised inconsequentially and I would like to address them a bit more seriously. In this piece of legislation we have race based law. What applies to non-aboriginal people does not necessarily apply to aboriginal people. We may find ourselves in the position where private land backs on reserve land and the person on private land is obliged to follow the rules about endangered species whereas those on the other side on the reserve land are not required to do so.

How can we do this? Will we draw an imaginary line and say that if someone is living on this side of it they must preserve the species and if they are on that side of it, it is up in the air? It has been said that it was for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, but that does not specify what needs to be specified in the bill.

This should be a concern for aboriginal people as well because they have been stewards of plant life for many years. They do not have a unique view in this regard. Many of us have been stewards of plant life. However in the case of aboriginal people they use plant life a great deal for medicinal purposes.

I have a list of 47 endangered plants, some of which would be very familiar to both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. One is a lichen and another a moss. They are on the endangered species list. Some 25 fall under the threatened category. If the legislation is put through with its bias and its unfairness in its lack of compensation, we can expect those numbers to grow by leaps and bounds.

When we are talking about fairness and when I mention the phrase race based law there is a reason for the concern. I will take the opportunity to read from an article which states:

A Coast Salish mask dancer is sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a restitution fine of $147,000 for smuggling, trading and selling eagle feathers in Washington State. Terry Antoine, a 47-year-old medicine man from Cowichan First Nation near Duncan, B.C., was found guilty on one count of illegal importation of eagle parts and four counts of violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Antoine's lawyer argued that he traded eagle parts to other Aboriginal people who use them in religious ceremonies. Although Cowichan First Nation has members on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, it is not among the 550 tribes that are federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

I think we can see the danger. We need something that applies to both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. In fairness that must take place. The current legislation does not address that adequately and I think that is a huge gap in the legislation.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to discuss some of the amendments put forward in Group No. 1 respecting Bill C-5. Even though it is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak to various government legislation, in this case I do so in complete and utter dismay. When I was serving as environment critic of the official opposition I was dealing with many of the issues on which we heard from the government that it would move, such as the issue of compensation.

Your Honour is no newcomer to this place. You know of some of the legislation that has gone through the House and how long it takes for the government to move legislation through. This is the third time we have dealt with this legislation. Some of the issues coming back to the House have still not been rectified, especially in the area of compensation. This leaves opposition members shaking their heads when there is an opportunity for the government to take advantage of bringing all stakeholders together on this bill.

Canadians have said loud and clear that they would like to see effective endangered species legislation. I believe over 90% of Canadians have said that they are in support of some form of endangered species legislation. I know I am. Once again the government continues to polarize Canadians when it could bring stakeholders together on the sensitive area of compensation.

We are talking about people's private property. We are talking about taking it away from them and not guaranteeing effective compensation to them for their private property.

The last time I checked I thought we lived in a free society. I believed we stood up for people's rights. I thought we believed in the right of people to own property. If people own property and it is taken away from them by government sources for whatever reason, one would think they would have the responsibility to compensate them.

When I worked on the legislation I remember some of the arguments against fair compensation which the government put forward. It still astounds me that it continues to hang on to arguments like there would be abuse among farmers, ranchers or landowners who want to make a buck if endangered species were found on their land. This is utter nonsense because some of the best stewards of the land are the people who work, live and take care of particular properties in large areas of wilderness. They want to see endangered species protected.

We have seen over and over again that some of the best stewards of the land are these people. Yet the government does not recognize that. Instead it points fingers at these people, some of the best stewards of the land, and says that they may take advantage of any compensation which might be provided by the government. That is completely outrageous. These are the people closest to the land. Yet the government points fingers.

I take a moment on the issue of compensation to identify what has been done in other countries to accommodate the idea of compensation so that fairness for people who own property is taken into the mix and they do not have, as my colleague who spoke immediately prior to my rising said, the shoot, shovel and shut up attitude on behalf of farmers, ranchers or others closest to the land.

One might think that members of the European Community are not sensitive to private property rights. In some cases they are very strong environmentalists and would perhaps be opposed to the idea of fair compensation. Within the European Community landowners receive compensation if they agree by a management agreement to maintain features of the landscape. This is what Canadian landowners are prepared to do, but they have had no indication from the government that it would live up to its part of the bargain on compensation.

Let us look at some of the examples of what happens in the European Community when it comes to compensation and how much the government could learn from these jurisdictions and apply at home. The U.K. operates the environmentally sensitive area scheme with 10 year agreements. Payments are on a per hectare basis. There are currently 43 ESAs in the U.K. covering about 15% of agricultural land. It is not that much. Obviously there is not much abuse going on there.

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

That sounds like it is moving in the right direction.

In Scotland the goose management scheme, run by the Scottish national heritage trust, pays farmers per head of Greenland white-fronted goose recorded on their land for over a 12 month period.

There are countless examples of this sort of responsibility among other jurisdictions when it comes to the idea of compensation. It is fair compensation to landowners. I think people expect fair compensation to be brought into the scheme of things.

I would like to take a moment to share with everybody something that we were all very excited about when I was the environment critic. We were waiting to see what sort of compensation equation the government would produce in the hopes it would be something that could bring all the stakeholders together.

Dr. Peter Pearse, a UBC professor, was asked to study what would be a fair compensation equation. He suggested that landowners be compensated for up to 50% for losses of 10% or more of income. That was all we heard as a suggestion on compensation for private property from a study that was commissioned by the government from an expert.

Since then, the government has remained silent on whether or not it agrees with it and whether or not it plans to incorporate it, because currently it is not in the legislation.

The government is talking about leaving it up to the regulations. Once the bill is passed in the House some bureaucrats who have no accountability to this place will be filling in the regulations. We have to trust that they will be fair to landowners.

If the government respected the House and democracy, and if it would allow this particular House to function, then we would be able to deal with important changes to legislation in this place. It would be debated openly and we would know exactly the intention of the government when it comes to compensation. However, we do not know. We do not have a commitment at all.

To take it further, according to the bill, compensation is entirely left to the minister's discretion. I do not know about Canadians out there, but many of our colleagues in the House shudder at the thought of giving more responsibility to ministers. We have seen irresponsibility in many cases in managing money within their departments.

I know there are many from the opposition who feel strongly about the legislation. The Minister of Justice, being from Alberta, is very sensitive to the issues of compensation when it comes to landowners and people who care about landowners.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

I do not think he is from Alberta.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

We were hoping that maybe the Minister of Justice and others would have stood up in their caucus to defend the rights of property owners. It makes us question her commitment to Albertans or others when it comes to fair compensation to landowners.

This is what we have to focus on when it comes to dealing with endangered species legislation. Do we want to have legislation that is effective, that has teeth and that will deal with bringing all the stakeholders together no matter what portfolios they have? Endangered species is an issue all Canadians are behind. We know that. I know my hon. colleague in the corner there would agree. If we had more people trying to bring stakeholders together rather than the divide and conquer mentality of the government, we would have an effective endangered species legislation with which members on all sides of the House would agree and support.

The issue of fairness should be taken seriously by the government. It would give the sense to landowners that they could continue to do the job they are already doing on a voluntary basis. They are being stewards of the land and protecting endangered species. If their land is taken away, they should be compensated fairly for that. Is that too much to ask? We in the opposition feel it is not. It is too bad the lights were not on over on the other side so that government members could at least see the value of fairness to Canadians.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Of course we are all concerned about this, but I would just say that as of January 14 or 15, we all need to know and respect the fact that the present Minister of Justice is not from Alberta. He is from the province of Quebec. The Minister of Health, who was formerly the minister of justice, is from Alberta. At least we ought to all know who is who in this place and what they are.