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House of Commons Hansard #148 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was competition.

Topics

2002 Winter OlympicsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a wonderful moment when all members of the House agree that our Canadian athletes brought great honour and pride to all of us as Canadians in their performances and contributions to the success of the Olympics. They demonstrated what can be achieved through dogged determination, a high degree of self-discipline, impressive skills and outstanding teamwork. We need to learn from what we have seen them accomplish.

The sense of celebration was shared widely by Canadians. There was something symbolic about the feeling of pride that Canadians expressed so widely as we watched the wonderful accomplishments of those who won and those who simply contributed their best. For me it was a particular joy to watch the winning men's hockey game yesterday, after the thrill of the women's victory on Friday, with 190 men and women steelworkers who paused in the middle of a very important conference on human rights to join in that celebration. There was a great deal of talk about the great sense of loss of self-respect and sovereignty that so many Canadians have felt in past months because of recent events and decisions by the government.

Let us take the opportunity to build on the sense of pride and self-respect that we all celebrate in the aftermath of the Olympics and move forward with that. It is a moment for us to remember that amateur sports are an incredibly important part of community building. They are about athletics but they are also about community and solidarity building. Let us celebrate and move forward with that same spirit.

2002 Winter OlympicsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I join others in the House in saluting the athletes, coaches and managers of Canada's Olympic teams. For two weeks they held us spellbound as they captured the imagination of the country. Time and again Canada held its collective breath watching seconds tick away as our athletes made that one last effort that would bring them to victory. We are immensely proud of every one of them. We are proud of their 17 medals and successes. Medals and winning are not the only things that count. We are especially proud of the way they conducted themselves no matter how trying or how controversial the circumstances.

Let us celebrate the huge effort put in by our athletes to bring to their country the greatest number of medals Canada has ever won at the Winter Olympic Games. The talent, determination, passion and great panache of our athletes have provided a window to the world for Canada, and the whole world has fallen in love with them. Canada could not have asked for better ambassadors.

I join with my colleagues, here in this House, and all Canadians, I am sure, to congratulate all the members of Canada's Olympic team and especially to thank them for representing so well the Canada that we have become. You have inspired all of Canada. The olympic spirit you carry within yourselves has made us realize how great it is to be Canadian, how proud we are of being Canadian.

Thanks again and congratulations.

Remembrance Day National Flag ActRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-432, an act requiring the national flag of Canada to be flown at half-mast on Remembrance Day.

Mr. Speaker, in the environment of what is happening in the south and the great thrill that we have been talking about as Canadians, we should remember that 100,000 Canadians have spilled their blood across the world. The purpose of the bill is to remember and honour those 100,000 people by having the national flag of Canada flown at half-mast on all government buildings every November 11.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-433, an act to amend the Criminal Code (puppy mills).

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an amendment to the Criminal Code. It would, for emphasis, allow for a sentencing judge to take into consideration the horrific circumstances that exist when an individual engages in an activity that has become known colloquially as a puppy mill.

This does not have a friendly connotation by any means. It involves horrendous conditions that put cruel and unusual circumstances on any animal. Most often they are dogs and cats which are used for commercial production.

I want to thank my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest for seconding the bill. It would allow a judge, in my opinion, to send the proper message, one of deterrence, one of denunciation for horrific acts against animals. I would hope all members of the House would support the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has missed two items by calling the wrong order so we will go back to presenting reports from interparliamentary delegations.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present two reports in both official languages.

The first is from the Canada-Japan Interparliamentary Group on the Chair's annual visit to diet members held in Tokyo, Japan in November 2001.

The other is the report of the 10th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in Honolulu, Hawaii in January 2002.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a number of petitions with hundreds of signatures from people in my riding. The petition states that whereas, aboriginal people over the last two months have been netting--

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. member for Yorkton--Melville knows that it is out of order to read petitions. He will want to give us a brief summary. I know he is always a stickler for compliance with the rules.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will briefly outline the substance of the petition.

A number of aboriginal people have been netting fish from a stocked lake in my area, Lake of the Prairies. These fish have been sold on the commercial market. The petitioners respect the aboriginal right to fish. However, Lake of the Prairies was built in the 1960s to act as a water reservoir and was stocked with fish for the benefit of all citizens to become an economic generator in that area.

The petitioners are asking that parliament enforce the laws of Canada so that those who take advantage of their status and breach federal laws be held accountable for their actions and that our government ensure that we have a single justice system for all citizens.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from citizens who are concerned about Antarctica. These citizens live in Peterborough, Lakefield, Curve Lake, Bailieboro, Ennismore, Toronto, Norwood, Cavan, Millbrook, North Monaghan and Douro.

The petitioners point out that Antarctica contains a pristine, scientifically valuable environment that needs protection. They point out that Canada, despite being a polar nation, lags behind many nations as far as the environmental initiatives in Antarctica are concerned.

The petitioners point out that the environmental protocol to the Antarctic treaty presents practical guidelines concerning environmental issues in Antarctica. They call upon parliament, as the parliament of a signatory country to the Antarctic treaty, to ratify all of the environmental protocol's guidelines into Canadian law.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: No. 101.

Question No. 101—Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Does the government have a plan to increase the federal role in passenger train service, and in particular, what progress has been made on plans to return VIA service to Peterborough and other communities in Ontario?

Question No. 101—Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord Québec

Liberal

André Harvey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

In April 2000, the government announced that it was providing VIA with approximately $402 million in new capital funding. This funding will enable VIA to revitalize its services through the acquisition of additional cars and locomotives to expand capacity, upgrading infrastructure to allow faster train speeds and increased frequencies on some routes in the Quebec-Windsor corridor, and refurbishing stations.

At the same time, VIA was asked to examine its system to determine if there was a business case for expanding its services. Last fall, VIA added a new Toronto-Kitchener frequency, extended a Toronto-Windsor train to Oshawa and extended a Montreal-Toronto train to Aldershot.

The Minister of Transport is presently awaiting a report from VIA on the feasibility of other service changes, including the introduction of service to Peterborough. VIA has met with interested parties such as the municipalities and the Canadian Pacific Railway, the owner of the track. The report will assess necessary capital investments and operating funding requirements as well as the degree of community support. Once the report is received, it will be carefully considered. As VIA’s operating funding has not been increased, the introduction of new service can only be considered if a business case has been demonstrated and if it will not require an increase in VIA’s current funding level.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.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. 102 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 102—Routine Proceedings

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

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Since 1994 and for each of the subsequent calendar years, what has the government through Statistics Canada determined to be: ( a ) the total number of homicides; ( b ) the total number of homicides involving a firearm; ( c ) the total number of attempted murders; ( d ) the total number of attempted murders involving a firearm; ( e ) the total number of all other offences against the person, excluding murder and attempted murder; ( f ) the total number of criminal offences against the person involving the use of a firearm, excluding murder and attempted murder; ( g ) the total number of suicides; and ( h ) the total number of suicides involving the use of a firearm?

(Return tabled)

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

Question No. 102—Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 102—Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 2.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 13 minutes.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was speaking about the difficulty most people would have in recognizing an endangered species or its habitat in a wildlife area. Many people in Canada would have great difficulty recognizing or enumerating any of our endangered species, particularly with a bill that is punitive for those who do not recognize them. This is one of the difficulties with this legislation. What happens to tourists and campers who explore Canada? The burden of proof is too high for innocent Canadians.

We must protect endangered species. It is a critical goal and a responsibility this side of the House takes very seriously. People want to co-operate but this entrapment approach by the government is adversarial and does nothing to encourage co-operation. Without co-operation we simply cannot move ahead.

The minister must be more reasonable and realistic in exercising his discretion. It would be almost impossible for companies that deal with mineral or oil and gas exploration to demonstrate due diligence over operations covering hundreds of thousands or even millions of hectares when they do not even control all of the external factors involved. What would happen if the practices approved today were deemed fatal to species later? Who would take the fall?

There are 70 million hectares of agricultural land and 25 million hectares of privately owned forest lands in Canada. How would farmers and operators exercise due diligence over these areas, especially when many are small operations with very limited resources and no familiarity with endangered species regulations? Who will provide education for the yet to be determined caretakers of these species?

The government knows this is a problem. In response to a question from the official opposition, the minister said that it is a legitimate matter for concern. He said that the accidental and unwitting destruction is a concern and that the government wants to give the maximum protection possible to the legitimate and honest person who unwittingly makes a mistake. If it is such a concern, why is the government not doing anything about it? The bill would make such an honest person a criminal. Some protection.

This bill reminds me of the gun registration legislation, Bill C-68. In fact, this endangered species legislation is part of a disgraceful pattern in the government's handling of rural issues. Its cruelty to animals legislation makes farmers worry about the continuing standard animal husbandry practices. Its heavy-handed approach to registering long guns utterly fails to consider everyday living and farming practices in rural and northern Canada.

The Kyoto accord will potentially add heavy costs to agricultural producers across Canada. The premiers are united against this type of government shortsightedness. Now the endangered species legislation threatens to criminalize farmers and property owners, the very people who are in the best position to help our endangered species.

The official opposition's amendments would restore the balance by requiring that the crown prove some measure of intent before someone could be convicted. Did the farmer willingly harm an endangered species? Did the farmer wilfully harm the species and do so with intent?

All of these amendments would go some way to ensure that innocent people would not inadvertently commit a criminal offence. It would be a better start than the one the government is offering in the bill before us.

At a minimum the federal government must work with the provinces to provide training for landowners and users who would be required to meet the due diligence standard but do not have the knowledge or information to identify listed species or their critical habitat and residences. If the government does not provide the proper and realistic education on endangered species, we can only hope that the courts will act as a check and balance for our protection.

Is it realistic for everyone in an area to know everything about an endangered species? If it is not, the courts will likely rule most convictions out of order. Then we are back to square one.

Canadians want to protect endangered species. Everyone wants to do that but it will not come willingly under the heavy-handed approach outlined in the bill.

Canadian Alliance Motion No. 80 also covers the critical need to have criminal intent outlined in the legislation. Canadians deserve to be innocent until proven guilty.

Canadian Alliance Motion No. 94 deals with important provincial jurisdictional issues. The preservation of endangered species is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. Just over five years ago, in 1996, the federal and provincial ministers agreed to a national accord for the protection of species at risk in Canada.

Sadly though in this legislation the minister unilaterally assumes discretion to apply the new species at risk accord to provincial lands, a giant step backward in federal and provincial relations. To confuse matters more does not happen automatically. Instead, it is completely up to the minister to determine whether the laws of a province are adequate. If he decides they are not, he can invoke using his heavy-handedness to apply the federal law in the province. Is it only me who sees a political showdown coming?

This completely undermines the principles of co-operation which were developed in the 1996 accord. Co-operation under my rules only, trust me politics in this House have shown that co-operation must be a shared responsibility where both sides are happy with the results. Dictated co-operation does not work.

Because it is completely at the minister's discretion, it leads to an uncertainty and confusion for provinces and, more important, for land resource owners. How does the minister feel about the provincial laws of today? What side of the bed did he wake up on? The provinces will try in good faith to arrange their affairs to comply with the law but they have no idea what the law will be if the federal government can step in at any time.

Lawsuits and appeals in the supreme court will undoubtedly choke the courts for generations to come and the species that we are trying to protect will disappear in the meantime. It will undermine collective efforts to protect species and show to the world that Canada is not serious in its commitments to co-operate in meeting this important goal.

This is like the approach of the former minister of health to health care co-operation. We must do better on this issue.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak once again to Bill C-5. As all members in the House are aware, this bill is supposed to protect endangered species. The motions in Group No. 2 deal specifically with jurisdiction and criminal intent.

The last time I had the opportunity to speak on the bill, it was with regard to the motions in Group No. 1 and the idea of compensation. As many of my colleagues have, I talked about the importance of obviously putting together legislation that brings together all the stakeholders involved in protecting endangered species. Why should we even deal with the bill if it does not create the atmosphere in the country of all the stakeholders coming together to protect endangered species.

Those stakeholders are various groups. They are landowners, ranchers, others have agricultural backgrounds and some of them are basically enthusiasts of nature, environmentalists or people who are interested in various forms of wildlife. All of them have an interest.

It is clear that even when Canadians are polled on this issue and even if endangered species does not rank at their top priority, over 90% of Canadians have expressed the interest in putting together some form of legislation that would protect endangered species.

In going through the bill and trying to deal with the legislation that hopefully will be effective in protecting endangered species, the question is can we get all Canadian from all those sides that I have mentioned working together. This is where the government has failed.

We have identified where it has failed over and over again in trying to bring stakeholders together. Instead, its mentality has been a divide and conquer mentality which refuses to bring all stakeholders together and jeopardizes the future of the protection of endangered species no matter what we do in this place.

We identified the idea of compensation. I will take a moment to repeat those concerns. Landowners who currently are stewards of the land, who make efforts usually on a voluntary basis, because they care so deeply about their land and about the endangered species that may be present on their land, make an effort to try to protect those habitats specifically on their lands without any involvement or legislation by the government.

How can we continue to do that in light of the government saying that if there are particular types of endangered species found on their land that this land could be confiscated without any form of compensation? The compensation question is still not clear. To get landowners on side and people involved in the agriculture industry, we have to give them the confidence that the government will respect private property rights. In fact, the government has no commitment to private property rights. This is the fear behalf of a lot of the landowners. If they are actually making the effort to be stewards of the land now and in future if the bill is passed and the compensation question is not clear, they are at risk of losing often generations of livelihood and generations of tradition on some of these lands because the government has not clearly put into the bill a mechanism or equation for compensation. This is outrageous.

I went on to talk about various communities in Europe that have actually outlined ways to deal with that compensation question. I wish the government would take that seriously. That is one other area that will pull apart the stakeholders when it comes to dealing with endangered species.

Group No. 2 motions talk about the area of jurisdiction and criminal intent. The Bloc is very concerned. I know Bloc members have many interests in the environment. They are pushing on many fronts to ensure the federal government respects the environment. We saw that with Kyoto and with a number of environmental bills. I am sure their commitment to endangered species is no less.

However the idea of jurisdiction in this case brings forth a lot of questions of how this relationship that is managed by the federal government will bring in the partners, the provincial governments.

When I talk about the stakeholders in the area of compensation, here is another example of trying to bring the stakeholders together, outside of the people who are directly related to the land, which are obviously the different levels of government. We can all be shooting on the same cylinders: co-operating together in this place and in the provinces to ensure that the paramount importance is put on endangered species. The government is refusing to even look at the way it will be trampling on provincial rights.

We have seen it time and time again from this government in health care, education and in a host of other areas where we know the government has no real commitment to working with the provinces. If anything, it would run roughshod over the provinces and invoke its own types of laws, when in fact those responsibilities may be of a provincial nature.

My colleague from Edmonton East, who spoke before me, talked about the idea of a national accord when it comes to environment, especially in the area of endangered species. This is an area where the government has lacked leadership in trying to bring those stakeholders together. I mentioned health care and education.

There has been talk of trying to bring the stakeholders from the provinces together in other areas. Let us face it, being federal representatives, we have to respect the provincial jurisdictions, but there are ways we can work better together if leadership is shown at the federal level to engage those provinces in the areas of health care, education and obviously the environment.

In creating a national accord, there would not be the duplication that we see in so many areas because the government has grown so large and tries to get involved in so many different things. We would try to eliminate the areas of duplication and obviously work in better co-operation with the provinces. The government has failed to do so and refuses to deal with the areas of jurisdiction that may be unacceptable to the provinces, where they may feel there is duplication. It obviously would not be in the best interests of taxpayers unless we address the jurisdictional issue.

That is why the idea of a national accord, such as in areas of education and health care, is something on which we should try to work together to allow provinces the flexibility to take care of its citizens and allow better co-operation and co-ordination with the federal government.

My colleague also spoke, as other colleagues have, about one of the big concerns we have in the bill outside the jurisdiction area. That is how the bill could affect criminal intent when it comes to people who are stewards of the land. The bill puts the burden of proof on the accused and not on the prosecution, meaning that farmers, ranchers, or anyone inadvertently destroying a species at risk or its critical habitat are guilty until proven innocent. This is unacceptable.

On the principle of obviously wanting to prosecute people who intentionally commit crimes against endangered species, I do not think we would find anyone opposed. When I was the environment critic for the official opposition, I had some discussions with some land management and agricultural groups. They said they had a real problem with the particular part of the bill that would invoke criminal intent. Even though we all know, and I think the parliamentary secretary to the environment minister would agree, there are people out there who are stewards of the land and who are currently working to protect endangered species, there are times in the daily operations of farmers, ranchers or others who deal in the natural resource industries when habitats might be affected negatively.

In many cases that could be done unintentionally. It is not the intention of many of these groups to damage habitats but unfortunately it could happen. What is being suggested in the bill is that even an innocent farmer or someone who is going about the business of dealing with their own business could be prosecuted in the event of an accident. This is unacceptable.

If there is obviously clear intention, which can be proven without making this sort of change to the bill, on the part of people who are going to actively destroy habitat, then we should prosecute them to the highest levels. We should ensure that fines are levelled and everything else. However we have jeopardized totally the whole notion of justice with this change of saying that a person is guilty until proven innocent. That goes against our belief in the justice system.

As I have said, the government has an opportunity to bring the stakeholders together. We have been repeating this message over and over again in the official opposition. The stakeholders involved have been repeating this message over and over again. This is the third time the government has tried to put this type of legislation through the House. Why has it failed? Because each time it consistently has refused to listen to the opposition and various stakeholders to bring people together on an issue that is very important. It refuses to listen to Canadians. That is unacceptable and that is why we have a really big problem with this bill.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise again to take part in the debate on Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.

What strikes me with this bill as with many others is that its real purpose is to allow the minister responsible to grab powers that do not belong to him. The primary purpose of this bill is to allow the minister responsible to get hold of certain powers, to centralize the decision making process.

This could be done in a fairer manner, but that does not seem to be the government's intention. It prefers to use so-called noble objectives to give itself the means to take what it should not take. In this case, the minister responsible is using the species at risk to give himself powers that he did not have before.

Sure, we must protect species at risk, but why is the minister responsible giving himself powers that do not belong to him? The Bloc Quebecois believes that it is possible to create standards to improve and help species and ecosystems that are at risk, while also respecting Quebec's jurisdictions and avoiding useless interference.

This interference is not hidden in any way, but is an indirect way of running things. And this is not acceptable in a parliamentary system. As we all know, ours is a political system with a constitution, and it is critical that we respect the division of powers.

This is supposed to be a federal system, but the government is increasingly behaving like a centralizing agent, which goes against the principles that should apply. Jurisdictions and powers are being usurped, and this is totally contrary to the division of constitutional powers.

It would have been more appropriate to strengthen what is already in place by working on existing structures.

It would be more appropriate to adequately use available resources with programs that already meet existing needs. It is totally useless to waste time and money duplicating what already exists by appropriating these powers. Let us not forget that these powers are currently held by another level of government under the constitution.

What gives the federal government the authority to ignore the constitution and take powers that do not belong to it? Of course the government will provide a vague and evasive answer, in an attempt to lull the public, which is wondering about the appropriateness of acting in this fashion. But what is of even greater concern to me is where this appropriation of powers will stop.

The environment is an area of shared responsibility between the federal government and the Government of Quebec, and we are working to ensure that this is how it will apply. So why is the federal government using this so-called authorization to usurp powers that belong to others? This way of acting is both inconceivable and unacceptable.

Interference will no doubt result in administrative duplication. This approach will result in a cumbersome administration that will rapidly become antiquated and outdated. None of this adds anything to the effective protection of species at risk.

I deeply regret the fact that the federal government is using something as fragile as the protection of endangered species for its own political purposes. Indeed, it is the political agenda that is driving the real objectives of this bill. It seems clear that the government wants to fulfill political objectives first and foremost.

The government talks about shared responsibilities, but there is no real sharing. It is more like a one way street, or rather highway, where the government decides first, then discusses. The consultation process is backwards. Under this bill, the minister is appropriating incredible discretionary powers, with no consideration for the constitutional division of powers.

I already said it, sharing necessarily implies dialogue and discussion between parties. Yet, based on the actions of the federal government, this is not the case. It would seem to be that the minister is attempting to grab power for himself at the expense of the provinces and Quebec. That is the definition of interference.

To make progress on such an issue, we have to start at the beginning, and not by interfering in Quebec's areas of responsibility. We have no choice but to be offended when we see that Quebec's legislation in the field of wildlife protection is completely ignored. It would have made sense to incorporate the related legislative provisions from Quebec in order to come to the required protection outcomes, but they are not included in the objectives of this bill.

Negotiations would have been desirable and beneficial for all, but once again, the federal government prefers to disregard results in this area to do as it pleases and ride roughshod over the division of powers, while yet again centralizing its powers.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that we must act to establish measures that will provide sufficient protection for species at risk. However, it is impossible for us to support this bill, because it disregards the management responsibilities of the provinces and Quebec.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that prompt action on this is necessary. The undue appropriation of powers by the federal government must not, however, be allowed. As a result, an effective consultation process must be put in place between the federal government and Quebec, in order to successfully arrive at an appropriate solution to this emergency situation. We will then be able to put in place a suitable approach for meeting the requirements of the situation.

Those requirements have nothing whatsoever to do with national identity. This appears to be the case, however, when one reads the first “whereas” statements in the bill. It appears obvious that this is in fact an attempt by the minister responsible to appropriate the powers incumbent upon Quebec and the provinces. This is tantamount to contravening the jurisdictional division as set out in the constitution.

All of us hope for, and want, concrete measures to protect endangered species. Before my consent is given, however, not only would the objectives have to be clearly identified but it would also have to be made clear that the protection of endangered species is the one and only priority. This is not what we see in Bill C-5.

I shall therefore wait for a bill that is respectful of the division of jurisdictions and includes an objective of conservation before my support is forthcoming. I cannot give it to Bill C-5 because of the lack of respect with which it was drafted and the pernicious intent of the federal government.

The primary purpose of this bill is political advantage. This is obvious from the way it was drafted. The government appeals to Canadian national identity as our heritage, which deserves protection, but totally ignores the primary clientele of this bill, that is species at risk. Concrete measures must therefore be taken before it is too late to really protect species at risk while at the same time respecting the constitutional division of powers.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to put forward my position and that of the PC/DR coalition with respect to Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation more commonly referred to as SARA.

First I would like to congratulate the PC/DR coalition member for Fundy--Royal, who has put a lot of effort into this legislation. He has walked it through the committee stages and the House. I can assure the House that he is very disappointed with the way the Liberal government has seen fit to bring forward this piece of legislation, and now we are speaking to amendments which I am told had the support of committee members, inclusive of government members as well as opposition members. They were good amendments to the first piece of legislation that the government has brought forward not in three years but in three terms, and now unfortunately it is a piece of legislation that is supported by no one.

It is supported by none of the stakeholders and none of the producers, ranchers and farmers whom it will impact. It is supported by none of the provinces and now comes forward as basically an empty shell of itself, as legislation that will cause nothing but irreparable damage in areas that have been depending on this legislation. The people I represent, the producers, farmers and ranchers out there, are very supportive of endangered species or species at risk legislation. They are and have been the stewards of the land, the stewards of the habitat of the animals and birds and flowers that it is necessary to protect, the endangered species.

All these people want is to be treated fairly. They are the ones who on behalf of society have made sure that the habitat is available for the animals so that society can take advantage of that. However, there are a few areas of the legislation that will impact these people and the obvious one is the area of compensation. I do not think that anybody should expect a farmer, producer, rancher or owner of land to be forced to do something on behalf of society without ever having the opportunity of compensation.

There was an amendment that went forward. That amendment talked about fair and reasonable compensation on a case by case basis, fair and reasonable compensation when something impacts a particular piece of property or piece of land. We must not forget that this is about people's livelihoods. These farmers, producers and ranchers depend on the land to feed their families and certainly to pay the necessary bills in their communities.

There should well be a fair and reasonable compensatory package. In fact, our member for Fundy--Royal put together a white paper, a discussion paper with respect to that, and he called it “Carrots Instead of Sticks”, the carrot being the compensatory package as opposed to the stick of government that will whack everybody over the nose.

The fact that the “fair and reasonable” has been yanked by the minister is absolutely and totally objectionable. There is no way that the minister should have changed that instead of having the committee bring forward that amendment. We know that everyone benefits from the protection of our habitat, yet we cannot demand that farmers and agriculturalists pay the costs.

There is also an issue with respect to the amendment on scientific listings. Scientific listings should be based on the science of the endangered species, not on political requirements, as has been identified by the Minister of the Environment on the Liberal side. The Liberals have now allowed the politicians and the politics to be involved in those listings as opposed to having just simply scientific listings. That is objectionable. This is headed in absolutely the wrong direction.

I find it really interesting that we have a government that is prepared to tell others what to do and how to do it. It not only tells people what to do and how to do it but insists that they do it. However, in its own jurisdiction, the federal jurisdiction, the government has not made this mandatory in the legislation. Does that not say to hon. members that there is a big brother attitude in the federal government?

Every provincial government had letters of support for the hon. member for Fundy--Royal when they put forward the amendment with respect to provincial criteria regarding when the federal government would insist the provinces get involved in specific areas. When the amendment was put forward the government removed it even though Alberta, Ontario, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick supported it. It was pulled. It was yanked by a government that is not prepared to put its own signature and apply its own criteria to its own lands. Yet it insists on having it done by provinces, municipalities, producers, farmers and ranchers.

It is totally abhorrent. It should not have happened. It is not what one would consider co-operative federalism. It is not working with provinces, stakeholders or the people affected. It smacks of the big brother attitude of the Liberal government.

The other issue is legality. It is about turning producers into criminals. This category of amendments deals with the criminality of not dealing with species at risk. Producers, farmers, ranchers or people who have habitats on their land may not know what all the endangered species are. A lot of these people live in my area. In my riding there are bluffs, woodlots, wetlands and wild lands which contain habitats for endangered species. Some producers may unknowingly and unwittingly have an impact on habitats because it is their job. It is their livelihood. It is their land.

Under Bill C-5 that would be criminal. These people do not know they are affecting habitats. They have not been told. They have not been made aware. However our good friends from the government can come forward and say it is a criminal act. A criminal act under Bill C-5 could mean jail or a huge fine. It could destroy lives.

Members might say pshaw, that would never happen. They might say our government does not do things like that to Canadians. However there is not a lot of trust out there among Canadian citizens for governments and bureaucrats.

In western Canada the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has taken its job extremely seriously to the point where if the book is black and white it will go to the black and white. It does not matter how it impacts municipalities, property rights or people's lives. DFO personnel are there now. There have been instances in my own riding where they have decided they must make their signatures come whatever or high water. It has had a great impact on a lot of my producers.

Let us not say it will never happen. It can and it will. The government and its bureaucrats are prepared to do anything to make those signatures.

There are a lot of areas in the amendments that should be supported. We in my party will not be supporting the legislation as brought forward. We find it objectionable that the amendments that were approved in committee and supported by members of the government were not allowed to come forward and make Bill C-5 the right piece of legislation.