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House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

Privilege

9:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, February 20, 2002, the hon. leader of the official opposition raised a question of privilege in which he made several assertions concerning my conduct and behaviour. He has raised a most serious issue of privilege and I take it very seriously. Therefore I asked for and appreciate the chance in the House to consider his comments and respond more fully.

You know better than anyone, Mr. Speaker, that for the business and decorum of the House it is vital that House officers work together in a spirit of courtesy, honesty and integrity. That is a responsibility I take very seriously. This is what I have done consistently, not as a tactic and not as a way of operating but as a genuine expression of my real respect for those people with whom I have to work, for you and for the House, Mr. Speaker.

I was accused yesterday in the House of intimidation, of harassment, of goonish misconduct, of threatening not only my own colleagues but opposition members and a staff member of the official opposition, and of running roughshod over the rights of opposition members.

All these accusations arose simply because I was doing my job, carrying out my responsibilities as chief government whip, responsibilities I have in common with every other whip in the House. For instance, the standing orders specifically provide that our responsibilities as whips, individually and collectively, are constituted as a steering committee for the purpose of naming the membership of committees in the House. A committee is only constituted when the chief government whip asks the clerk to convene a meeting of the committee for the first time.

In carrying out these duties and others the five whips regularly consult with each other. It is not unusual for us to communicate directly with each other or through our staffs. I will regularly communicate with them, as they will with me, a course of action I would like to see taken and ask for their support. The other whips do precisely the same. They have done on numerous occasions and will continue to do so, I trust, in the future.

I categorically deny the accusations brought against me by the Leader of the Opposition. At no time did I intimidate or harass anyone. Nor did I have any intention of doing so.

In his statement the hon. leader chose to accuse me of feeling free to intimidate government members. This accusation too is simply false. I taught my children at a young age not to be bullies and not to give into bullies and I have not become one. The hon. Leader of the Opposition also stated that parliament must use all its powers to condemn any conduct of harassment. On this I agree totally.

I want to refer only briefly to the statement by the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle with whom I have a relationship going back 13 years. I am appalled that he would repeat as fact an allegation concerning my conversation with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue which she has denied, which I have denied repeatedly, which he knows has been denied, and which he only heard, he claims, third hand.

As for the member for Kings--Hants I similarly deny any attempt to intimidate or coerce him into any form of action. To request his co-operation is a legitimate part of my function.

I particularly regret, however, if a member of the whip's staff of the official opposition felt intimidated. We had a conversation in which I communicated with her as she or another representative of the opposition whip communicate with me on numerous occasions. I hope we will continue to do that. I certainly did not intend to intimidate or to harass. I regret very much if that were the impression she was left with.

Once again I categorically deny, as I did yesterday, the statement attributed to me and any action of intimidation, harassment or anything else I have been accused of. I look forward to a continuing good relationship with the other House officers in this place.

Privilege

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has heard the submissions of the chief government whip on the question of privilege raised by the hon. Leader of the Opposition yesterday and commented upon by the hon. member for Regina--Qu'Appelle and the hon. member for Kings--Hants.

I have heard all the material and I must say that having heard the explanation of the chief government whip, and having heard the words that she was alleged to have used in direct quotes, not the third party ones, I am satisfied that there does not appear to be any question of privilege and that, indeed, the discussions that went on, while they may have been interpreted one way or another, were ones that are normal in the House and certainly normal between whips.

I say that never having been a whip but having been whipped the odd time, and not by the current chief government whip, I may say. I am sure all hon. members have experienced the joys of whipping from their whip except those very few who sit as independents in the House. We appreciate that sometimes this work involves discussions that are quite frank and sometimes might be perceived as intimidating.

In my view, given the explanations we have heard today and the comments that we heard yesterday, there is not a question of privilege here and accordingly I consider the matter terminated.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I hope no one will be intimidated that pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to three petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two reports by the Canadian branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie and the related financial report.

The first report is on the political committee meeting, held in Paris, France, from January 25 to 27, 2002. The second report has to do with the executive committee meeting, also held in Paris, France.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I am pleased to present this final report on the services provided in both official languages by Air Canada.

This is the outcome of close to ten months' work, and we hope to raise the awareness of the government and all parliamentarians on the importance of compliance with the Official Languages Act by this country's largest air carrier.

The committee wishes to underline the outstanding collaboration and support of the people who appeared before the committee and also of the people who serve the committee.

We wish to thank the researchers in the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament, Françoise Coulombe and Robert Asselin, as well as the clerks, Tonu Onu and Jean-François Pagé, and their support staff for their invaluable co-operation. I also wish to thank my administrative assistant, Royal Galipeau, whose influence is felt pretty well throughout the report.

I would like to particularly mention the staff of the Parliamentary Publications Branch, as well as the House of Commons translation services, for their remarkable job within deadlines that were close to impossible.

Finally, thanks to the numerous Senators on the joint committee for their excellent contribution to the work of the committee, and to this report in particular.

In addition to the recommendations contained in the report, we are asking some questions of the government, a new formula we trust will attract its attention. We are calling for a response within 150 days as stipulated in the standing orders, but sooner if possible, so as to expedite the task before us.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek unanimous consent of the House to present a dissenting report to the report of the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages.

The reason for which this dissenting report is being submitted in this unusual manner is that the committee adopted a rule last Monday at its sitting which stated, if I may quote, that:

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(1)a), the Committee authorize the printing of the dissenting or supplementary opinions by Committee members as an appendix to this report immediately after the signature of the Co-Chairs, that the dissenting or supplementary opinions be sent to the Co-Clerk of the House of Commons, in both official languages, on/or before Tuesday, February 19, 2002 at 5:00 p.m.

I was in Toronto on February 19 and was flying back to Ottawa on a flight from Toronto Island airport. An electrical fire developed in the airplane and it was forced to turn around and return to the airport. It was quite exciting, actually. There were rescue vehicles and the trucks that spray the foam out on the runway. It slowed us down. The result was that by the time I was able to reschedule my flight and come to Ottawa the deadline had passed.

It was not possible for the committee to change its rules in that very short period of time. Moreover, it would have been impossible for the committee to print its report in time to place it before the House today. For that reason the committee was unable to change direction on a dime, as it were, and allow me to submit this dissenting report.

That was the reason for the failure to submit it by the deadline. There was no ill will on anyone's part nor were the rules that were set up in any way meant to cause this sort of situation.

So that members who are trying to decide if they would give their unanimous consent are aware, the nature of the dissenting report is not to disagree with the points of substance in the main report but rather to present a different philosophical point of view in which I maintain that the rules that affect Air Canada, by being different from the rules that affect other airlines, create a unlevel playing field. Fundamentally this is in conflict with the rule of law. That is the substance of the distinction between what I am saying and what the report of the committee as a whole is saying.

On one last note, I wish to second the thanks that the chairman of the committee has given to the clerk of the committee and to the researchers and others who helped the committee.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Lanark--Carleton has given an explanation. Does the House give its consent for the tabling of this dissenting report?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to present a petition not only from citizens from the Peterborough area and Lakefield, but also from communities like Sidney, East Saanich and Victoria in British Columbia, and from Hamilton, Brampton, Dundas, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Simcoe in Ontario. These are citizens of Canada who are concerned about Canada's role in Antarctica. They point out that the Antarctic continent contains a pristine, scientifically valuable environment that is in need of protection.

They also point out that Canada, despite being a polar nation, lags behind many nations as far as environmental initiatives in Antarctica are concerned. The environmental protocol to the Antarctic treaty system presents practical guidelines concerning environmental issues in Antarctica. These citizens call upon parliament, representing a signatory country to the environmental protocol, and say that Canada should ratify all of that protocol's guidelines in Canadian law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from many citizens of Peterborough who would like to see the name of the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, which is one of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, changed to include the word kidney. These citizens believe that the fine work this institute does would be improved if the general public could understand its title.

They call upon the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research in one of the institutes in its system, to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 84 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 84—Routine Proceedings

February 21st, 2002 / 10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

With respect to victims of crime, what is the number of lawsuits filed against Corrections Service Canada and the National Parole Board since 1988, and what is the nature of each such lawsuit?

Return tabled.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 20 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

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White Canadian Alliance North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday when we finished up the opposition was lambasting the government because of its failure to bring forward a useful species at risk bill, its failure to recognize private property rights and its failure to give some sort of standard by which a landowner could judge the value of the property that would be confiscated by the Liberal government in its vain attempt to protect species at risk.

As many of us pointed out, the experience in the United States is that failure to compensate landowners who have their land confiscated simply results in a kill and bury policy whereby people who find these endangered species simply kill them and bury them because of the risks involved.

I do have an apology to make to the Liberals, though. Yesterday I was lambasting them for their $115 million waste of money on the Trudeau humanities research foundation. I have discovered that it is $125 million they are wasting.

This is a complete waste of money on a humanities research council if it does the same thing as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, for which I can give some examples: $2,267,350 of hard earned taxpayer dollars spent on the history of the book in Canada; $100,000 for the first intermediate period settlement and burial patterns at Mendes; $62,000 for an investigation of the motivations underlying undergraduates' alcohol consumption behaviour; $50,900 for cabarets, nightclubs and burlesque in Vancouver; and $35,200 for figure skating and representation of gender and sexuality in sport. What a waste of money, and they are going to blow $125 million more. This is another example of their lack of thought and their inconsideration for the taxpayers of Canada.

Bill C-5 is just another example of this. We should be voting it down.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to rise to speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk act. Let me assure the House and all those who may be interested, the Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and our endangered species.

We have an obligation and responsibility to preservation because we have been blessed with a nation that has such a wide diversity of terrain, species and the great wonders of nature. People come from all over the world to see this beautiful land. It is certainly up to us to ensure that we are good stewards of our total environment.

We are concerned about preserving the water, air and land for those who will follow us. We also need to be concerned about preserving the species that reside in the water, air and on the land. We are talking about the act that would impact upon some of those different species that live in all those environments.

I will mention at least four of the major areas of concern that I have noticed in the bill and then probably spend more time addressing the first one, which is the fair and reasonable compensation that must be guaranteed for property owners and resource workers who might suffer loss because of the expense incurred in protecting an endangered species.

Second, we need to be aware that any criminal liability resulting from the legislation must require intent; that it not simply an accidental act that may occur, which is entirely possible under the legislation. We would not want to see someone prosecuted for an accident they had not intended.

Third, there must be co-operation with the provinces for success. It would be unworkable for the federal government to impose legislation without ensuring the provincial governments are in place or without having agreements for administration and enforcement.

The gun control act is a good illustration of how the federal government sometimes fails to bring on the support of the provinces. It was even sued over that act because it was so unnecessary, unusable and ill-applied in some of our rural areas, especially in the prairie provinces. We noted recently that we allowed $200 million for the war against terrorism but we spent $700 million for the war against duck hunters and farmers in the registration of guns.

Fourth, there needs to be an acceptance of at least some advice and suggestions that the voices of the opposition bring. Those who sit on this side of the House are representatives of the people, the same as those who sit over there. Our voices need to be heard and it needs to be more than just giving lip service in committee where committee work can have an impact on the legislation being made.

Hundreds of changes have been proposed over the years to this type of legislation and very little has been received. It is interesting to note how the government comes along, lets the committee go through all its work and then steps back in and even reverses the work of the committee. That is a terrible thing to have happen to those who have worked so diligently.

The government has failed repeatedly to enact the will of the majority of Canadians on many occasions and the autocratic actions of the government have happened on a daily basis.

It is really hard to understand why the government is so set against making obvious improvements to legislation. We in many committees make good suggestions. There have been dozens of them to this bill that would simply improve it, make it better and safer for the people. It would protect a few people as well as a few endangered species, yet we see a government that has ignored the voices from the other side simply because the opposition has accepted it.

I suggest that it would be a lot better if we could see some of this legislation changed in committee and changed in the House rather than just let it go through as was written by some government employee.

There are several categories that are affected by this endangered species act. In Saskatchewan there are birds, mammals and fish that will be affected and in particular, the swift fox, the sage grouse, the burrowing owl, the piping plover, the mountain plover, the sage thrasher, the prairie chicken and a number of others.

Full compensation should be outlined in this legislation by elected members and not left to regulations and discretionary actions of bureaucrats later on or left to the pressures of special interest groups that may later on push through their agenda. It needs to be specified clearly that landowners and resource users will be protected from over zealous ploys.

The phrase “may apply for compensation” is not good enough. The legislation should read they shall be compensated. The phrase “opportunity to sue” is not good enough. Why is it that the little guys, the individuals, are always told they have the right to sue for compensation? Why do we have to leave it to the little guys to sue? Why can we not just say that they have the right and it will be given? Why do we have to demand that these people go through a long legal process to receive what is perceived to be a normal ordinary right?

As my colleague has already mentioned, in the rural areas there is the kill and bury principle. There is another name for it. I do not want to categorize all landowners or all farmers in this, but I have actually heard this said in the rural area of Saskatchewan. It is the SSS movement. That stands for shoot, shovel and shut up.

If we truly want to protect the endangered species, we have to have the landowner on side. We have to have him convinced that he does not need to shoot, shovel and shut up. We need to have him convinced that he will be protected as well as the endangered species and therefore he can lend his co-operation fully to protecting these endangered species rather than having some fear that somebody will swoop in and overtake a part of his land.

Sometimes these landowners may even go as far as to make their land unattractive to these endangered species. They may go so far as removing them from their land. This act may in fact go the opposite way of what it is meant to do.

The regulations are such that they may mean, for example, that farmers may have to adapt practices that accommodate nesting birds or in logging they may have to go around areas where certain species exist. They may lose a part of their land. Just recently in Saskatchewan a number of farmers lost hundreds of acres because of a couple of successive winters and springs of extra water in a particular area which flooded their land. They were unable to drain it because of some regulation under the oceans and fisheries act to protect fish. That was in the middle of Saskatchewan.

The family impact can be high, income can be decreased, the value of farmland can decrease and whole families can sometimes be displaced. That is a hardship that we do not need to place on our rural people. There is no reason why the frontline soldiers in a battle should be expected to bear the cost of the war. That is what we are trying to do with those landowners and those workers in this area.

Respect for the rights of property owners is what we are talking about. Endangered species, yes, protect them, but let us also protect the rights of the individual landowners.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is the House ready to vote on the motions in Group No. 1?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.