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.


Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to participate in the debate however briefly.

I will address in a few words the concerns that my friend across the way has expressed about intent, painting a situation that is not real. The difficulty with which I would like to challenge him is this. If we were to introduce the kind of clause that he would like in the bill, we would find ourselves unable to prosecute virtually anything that takes place. There is a discretionary aspect. I am sure if my friend runs over a burrowing owl with a mower or a peregrine falcon with his car, there will be no chance of him being charged. He can rest easy with that.

I want to ensure that the landowners of Canada, rural Canadians are not forgotten in this debate. A lot of debate that takes place is at the urgings of well meaning urban Canada. Somehow rural Canada is in danger of getting the short end, so I want to speak for the country people in this land. These are the people I have had in mind throughout the entire deliberations of the standing committee. As a committee member I voted against several of the amendments that ultimately passed because I knew they jeopardized our good relations and working partnerships with rural Canadians.

Rural Canadians are the people who are already living the story behind the proposed act. These are the people, when all is said and done, who will make the act work. Critical habitat is often on the land of rural Canadians and we must never forget that. We should not forget that the co-operative approach, especially for rural Canadians, has already yielded success. Their stewardship actions for generations are living proof of their commitment. If we want to stop the destruction and degradation of habitat, we must do it together, not with the heavy hand of the law.

The bill is about co-operation among provinces, territories, private landowners, conservationists, local authorities, aboriginal people, farmers, fishermen, ranchers and voluntary organizations. I supported the standing committee amendment to include the protection of the critical habitat of extirpated species, species that still exist but whose natural habitat is gone, and in addition, aquatic species and migratory birds, protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the critical habitat regime within federal jurisdiction.

The federal government is best placed to offer this protection as it already does this kind of work under the Fisheries Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act. Canadians expect this to be the level of government that helps them protect these species. However I had to vote against other amendments that significantly undermined how we deliver this protection. I voted against the amendment that would require any person to obtain a permit or licence to engage in an activity that may adversely affect any part of the critical habitat of listed species under federal jurisdiction as soon as habitat is identified by scientists in action plans.

The new general prohibition runs contrary to everything for which Bill C-5 stands. It removes government accountability for decisions that may have social and economic impact. It removes the opportunity for Canadians to first try to protect habitat through voluntary stewardship action. It tries to coerce Canadians into compliance and relies on enforcement to protect species. It makes the legislation much more difficult for Canadians to understand because adversely affected critical habitat is a lot less obvious than destroying critical habitat.

In essence, it would destroy the co-operative and accountable approach of the bill and replace it with a coercive approach. In the long run this will not work. Laws will not protect species; people will. We must do all we can to help people protect species. We must remember that prohibitions are important as the backbone of legislation.

The first opportunity for all of us to succeed at protecting species and habitat is to work together as active stewards. Let us think outside the box of doing it because the law says so. Species and Canadians deserve our co-operation.

The bill is the third manifestation of legislation that has been in the works off and on for about eight years. On the positive side it has given us the opportunity to look at other legislation. We have found that command and control does not work.

The American legislation is nicely worded, but it has resulted in litigation to such an extent that I am sure the minister is asking himself where he wants to spend his budget. Does he want to spend it on litigation or on programs and recovery processes that will help to restore endangered species?

This is a new direction that the government has taken. I want to reassure those who are bound and determined to follow a command and control approach that there is a five year review clause in the bill that would allow us to look at the legislation and ask: what did we do right and what did we do wrong? How can we clean it up and make it work? Surely, that is a more progressive approach than simply coming down with a hammer on Canadians.

Maybe in five years we could show what Ducks Unlimited have done, what prairie farmers have done and what people in rural Canada have done. Perhaps by that time urban Canada will understand that the majority of endangered species are in the water and not on land. In that respect I want to tell everybody in urban Canada that every time they flush a toilet and every time industrial waste goes into the Great Lakes or water bodies of any kind, they have to bear equal responsibility. We want them to come along with us too.

We should get over the command and control idea and move into a co-operative spirit that will result in a positive future for endangered species.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk bill. We know it is a flawed bill that will require amendments. There are some 80 amendments right now.

I will begin by emphasizing that I, along with my Canadian Alliance colleagues, fully support increasing protection for endangered species and habitat. However as speakers from the government side have mentioned, the majority of this protection would be happening across the prairies and it would disregard the fact that houses and condominiums are being built across a lot of habitat in southern Ontario.

Does the government not understand that the bill should be applied across Canada? It had better look at some of the urban planning issues in regard to habitat for our wildlife and forget about applying it strictly to what it perceives as marginal prairie land that is the home for many Canadians.

Will the species at risk legislation as it is currently written give Canada's endangered species the support that they need to survive and flourish? Will Canadians who use the land get the necessary backing they need to protect our fragile environment? I do not think so and because of this both people and species at risk are threatened.

The main reason why the bill will fail to achieve its goal is the refusal of the federal Minister of the Environment to create an atmosphere where all stakeholders will work together to protect endangered species. There is a good example of this presently on the Canadian prairies where the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is enforcing what it believes to be fish habitat under section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act.

Years ago there was a man-made drain built to take excess water from some farmland. That drain eventually ended up connecting into Lake Manitoba. There are some minnow type fish species that are on the edge of this man-made drain and that drain cannot be cleaned out because DFO now says this is fish habitat. There is a limited amount of fish spawning in that waterway. DFO is applying this rule because it happens to have water in it for part of the year.

If DFO is an indication of the kind of co-operation between the government and local farmers and producers that is envisioned in the bill it is showing that this co-operation and assistance will not be forthcoming. DFO is now causing a massive resentment on the prairies by municipal officials who are fighting with tough budgets and trying to ensure a viable environment for economic activities of our farmers and ranchers. Ranchers are having massive problems with DFO.

This is the whole point of the legislation and debate. There should be a co-operative effort between landowners and land users. Where there is a necessity of enhancing habitat or taking land out of production, 100% full compensation should be paid to that land user or landowner.

There is a lack of cooperation with individuals and municipal governments and the federal government is also failing to co-operate with the provinces.

The Minister of the Environment claims that his legislation is vastly different from the endangered species law in the United States. This is the U.S. law that prompted the shoot, shovel and shut-up response from many who found endangered species on their property. The U.S. law resulted in great hostility from both landowners infuriated with the loss of their lands and environmentalists exasperated at the slow progress of recovering species. It is an example of what will happen if teamwork is not achieved.

The new Canadian law would suffer from the same failure because the federal government is only paying lip service to ideas of co-operation and compensation.

For example, the fish catches of our inland fishery on Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg have been excellent over the years as a result of the management by Manitoba's natural resources and conservation ministries. DFO is coming in and we have a legitimate reason to be seriously concerned that the great work done with the fish species, their numbers and viability, could well be ruined by action taken by the federal government.

The government has told Canadians it would develop guidelines for compensation after the bill becomes law. The government says to just trust it. Because of many past decisions by Liberal governments that abused farmers and ranchers, they do not trust the government. We must have it in writing in the legislation to ensure that it is clear to everyone including the courts.

Rural Canadians feel as if the Liberal government has painted a target on their backs. The failed Liberal gun control is turning ordinary law abiding Canadians into criminals. The cruelty to animals bill before the House would threaten farmers and ranchers with costly harassment in the courts. The government's rush to support the Kyoto agreement threatens to dramatically push up costs to farmers. These attacks on the rural way of life are combined with the Liberal government's failure to protect farmers who are fighting against foreign subsidies and an ongoing national drought. They are virtually on their own with limited support from the federal government.

The list does not stop. Minister after minister in the government is putting policies and legislation in place that attack rural Canadians. The Liberals do not consider the needs of our agriculture sector and rural Canada when they draft legislation or regulations. For example, did the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans consider the cost to producers when he chose to enforce the habitat regulations on the prairies that protect fish-like common suckers that are breeding in man-made ditches? No he did not.

Last Monday in Stonewall, Manitoba, Mr. Bill Ridgeway told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food that he lost approximately 25% of his crop for the last three years due to inadequate drainage that was caused by the fisheries regulations. In my own area, where my ranch is, we have lost close to 10,000 acres to flooded land that was farmed, grazed and had hay cut off it for the last 30-40 years. A simple ditch out to Lake Manitoba is all that is required. What is the problem? We cannot get approval or the money.

That is the other thing with this fisheries and oceans business. The problem is that when fisheries and oceans talks about having biologists doing studies and enhancing fish or protecting fish habitats it brings zero dollars. It does not bring one penny to the table. It is left up to the municipalities and the provincial government to do that. There has to be a financial commitment from the federal government if we are going to actually protect species as they should be protected. It cannot be left up to those who are unable to pay.

The federal government is asking a small group of strong Canadians but financially vulnerable Canadians to bear the burden of protecting species at risk. If the development of a fair system of compensation is not guaranteed I am concerned that these environmental frontline soldiers, once friends of nature, will be forced to back away from the species protection bill.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak once more at the report stage of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada. Today, the debate is on amendment motions in Group No. 2.

The amendments are rather substantial. One hundred and thirty-eight amendments have been moved at the report stage by members of all opposition parties in the House, members of the Bloc Quebecois, well as other political parties.

This being said, I want Quebecers to understand that it was not easy to bring this bill back to the House where it will be voted on. The legislation introduced in the previous parliament was Bill C-33. We have to wonder: when opposition parties move 138 amendments to a bill, there has to be a problem somewhere.

For Quebecers and especially for stakeholders in Quebec whom we are representing, and for the members of the Bloc Quebecois, the very principle of Bill C-5 has been in question. Why? Because Quebec, in the area of species protection, passed the appropriate legislation at the right time. I would like to provide a brief historical overview.

In 1990, the Quebec government passed the act respecting threatened or vulnerable species, the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife, and fishing regulations. These three legislative measures are designed to protect, among others, wildlife species at risk. So, the Quebec government had already made the effort to create a whole structure to protect wildlife. In this regard, I congratulate wildlife conservation officers who, for decades, have been responsible for implementing these regulations.

So, a protective structure was put in place in Quebec. Why? The question we must ask ourselves as Quebecers is why the federal government is proposing independent or different regulations or legislation. We must ask ourselves this important question, particularly in Quebec, because we took our responsibilities in 1990.

In 1996, there was even a federal-provincial accord, the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada. This accord between provincial ministers of the environment and the federal government meant that now, we will have an accord on the protection of species at risk. In 1996, we did not need an act, but that never stopped the federal government.

Since 1996, it has been trying to impose an act that would supersede all provincial legislation. This is where the problem lies. The federal government is once again telling us “We will create a double safety net. In Quebec, you have your own provincial laws, your safety net, but we will have a federal act that will create a second safety net”. I am sorry, but back home it is not a double safety net: it is overlapping in jurisdictions.

If the federal government felt that certain species transiting in Quebec on their international journeys are lesser known in our province and are thus at risk, it would have been so simple to ask the Quebec government to include them in its regulations on the protection of species at risk. Quebec has never refused to amend its list of protected species. It would have been so simple to ask the Quebec government to make changes to its regulations to include certain species.

This is not what the federal government chose to do. It decided to enact legislation that even provides for the creation of federal officers. In Quebec, we already have wildlife conservation officers who do some wonderful work, given their limited resources and the financial resources of the Quebec government.

Instead of negotiating an accord with the province and investing funds to upgrade the network for wildlife protection, instead of granting certain sums and new budgets to wildlife conservation officers in Quebec, the federal government chose to create positions for federal officers.

I repeat for all Quebecers who are listening that this is a double safety net; we call that duplication, we call that spending twice for the same thing. In order to improve the wildlife protection network, it would have been much simpler to give some additional amounts to the existing wildlife protection officers. That would have increased their effectiveness, they might have worked less overtime in high activity periods and might have recruited more help. No; instead, the federal government chose to create an independent network.

It is hard for Bloc Quebecois representatives not to propose a series of amendments to this bill. Naturally, we know these amendments will be rejected systematically by the Liberal majority, but it is good to have the opportunity to discuss this legislation once again. We think the issue was clearly defined in the federal-provincial accord, the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada.

Today, the government is proposing a bill on the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada. The difference with the accord are probably the words wildlife and Canada. The government could very well have changed the accord by saying that it was the Accord for the protection of Species at Risk in Canada. All the provincial ministers of environment would have signed the new accord with the federal government.

The government could have had an accord on new budgets to be allocated to monitoring, instead of creating an independent network of federal officers. The government would have helped Quebec's conservation officers by increasing their salary, which would have allowed them to do a better job. Once again, I want to say that they are doing a great job. At some periods of the year, they have to work many extra hours because of limited budgets. However, the federal government has decided to create an independent network of federal officers. This is what we will have in the near future.

Moreover, we will have a duplication of legislation and new regulations that will force users once again to respect not only the Loi sur la conservation or the Loi sur la mise en valeur de la faune, which are in effect in Quebec, but also to abide by the new federal regulations.

We are being told that this is a double safety net, but it is not a double safety net for users. This is another instance of overlap and duplication. We already have wildlife conservation officers, and Quebec already enforces its own legislation.

As concerns the accord signed by the Quebec government in 1996, it could have been improved, and joint action by both governments was possible. It could also have been a good opportunity to set up a real compensation plan—even though it did not happen and it was even criticized by the Liberal majority—for crucial habitats of endangered species. If a property is affected, the owner would be entitled to decent compensation thanks to a sizable fund. This bill does not provide for any compensation fund.

The only interesting thing for landowners in Quebec and Canada would have been compensation for their land, if it contained a crucial habitat for the protection of an endangered species. We needed a real compensation plan to compensate any loss to landowners. If an owner is prohibited from using his land, he should get adequate compensation.

But it was not to be. In this case, just like in health care and education, the federal government will not pay. It passes legislation and sets standards, and it wants all Quebecers and Canadians to abide by them, but it never gives any money to improve wildlife protection or compensate landowners who could incur losses.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, I will begin the debate by focusing on one item: We need co-operation and not confrontation with the provinces, farmers and ranchers. However in light of past examples demonstrated by the House I have great fears. On Thursday afternoon last week I addressed a group of people who had selected a topic for me called “Regulating agriculture: can farmers cope?” In each instance farmers were not properly dealt with but had to cope with regulations imposed from the top down.

I will tell the House an even bigger fish story than the one the hon. member for Selkirk--Interlake told. Early one morning last summer the fax machine buzzed. The fax was from the Rural Municipality of Scott, about 20 miles northwest of Weyburn on the flat Soo Lines. The fax said the municipality was having trouble with the DFO. I thought wait a minute, not the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I phoned and they told me to get up there. They had built a ditch years ago to help drain the land which drops about one to two feet every mile and finally makes up the headwaters to the Souris River. If any water runs down there this year it could probably be bailed out with a scoop.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans did a study on the possibility of fish moving upstream. The rural municipality of Scott was billed $42,000 for the study. In the bill DFO says we should trust them. We talk about visible and invisible minorities. The prairies would be the invisible minority. They are being billed $42,000. The size of the fish or anything that looks like fish would not be enough to supply bait for the people downstream.

We need co-operation. I am sure the rural municipality would have co-operated but that is not the whole story. It was left with a bunch of regulations governing what it could do along the side of the ditch now and in the future.

We cannot preserve and protect endangered species without looking at the natural environment. The farmers south of Guelph told me on Thursday they could not cope with the provincial regulations. What about on the prairies? What about prairie towns such as the one I where was born? A creek goes through the town. It is called Long Creek. The creek makes its way to the southeast and ends up at the Boundary Dam in Estevan. If all the land 40 feet from the creek were declared habitat for endangered species about 20 to 30 farmers and ranchers would be cut off from the water supply for their cattle.

We must go through these things in a co-operative way. They cannot come from the top down.

I would like to read this:

The government must do more for property owners, farmers and others who feel their livelihoods or prosperity may be affected. It must not simply say “trust us”. It must stipulate that a commitment to protecting endangered species would be cost effective and respect the economic interests of Canadians.

I could quote many others that I am really concerned about. We know that we cannot protect endangered species without protecting their habitats. The two go together. One can think historically about the passenger pigeons. Two things happened. They were good shooting as they were big birds, flew slowly and were easy prey to knock down. When settlement came and people settled the land, they destroyed the trees which provided the pigeons with habitat and food.

If we are going to set aside land for habitat for the endangered species, we must enter into agreements with the people involved.

Voluntary agreements, recovering strategies, action plans and management plans for the preservation of endangered species and their habitats are important. We on this side of the House, and certainly those on the environment committee, respect that. Clearly co-operative agreements between the government and the landowners are the best way, and I might say they are the only way, to do just that.

The bill was written to allow the minister to enter into agreements with governments, environmental organizations and wildlife management boards, but it does not, I repeat it does not, specify the possibility of agreements with landowners and others who have an interest in the land. That is wrong. It is the wrong way to go. If we can enter into co-operative agreements with industry and the big players, we can also enter into co-operative agreements with those who are not such big players.

We presented an amendment that the minister had to give 30 days public notice. We would be in big trouble with a “trust us” approach. I have seen too many things happen on the prairies before my very eyes. There are so many things that I do not think we cannot proceed on the basis of “trust us”.

There is a rapid demographic change. The number of rural people is going down, including in Ontario. We are going to become the endangered species pretty soon. Not too far from where I live, in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, a huge chunk of land has been protected for all time. They had to or it would have been completely destroyed.

In southwest Saskatchewan where my colleague from Cypress Hills--Grasslands comes from, Grasslands National Park has been established. Without any consultation, no grazing has been allowed. That has caused a real problem because the prairie land was meant to be grazed. As a result, most of the runoff does not penetrate the sides of the hills, which is necessary. Further, the deer and the antelope always grazed after others that had already grazed the land. They are having a tough time pawing away at the long grass which lays straight down.

I want to underline the following statement. Is it fair to convict people of a serious criminal offence when they may have had no idea that they were even coming close to committing one? We have to have a lot of co-operation. We made changes at committee. They have been slashed and I am disappointed. We cannot support the bill as it is right now.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in favour of the amendments put forward by my colleagues on the issues of federal-provincial jurisdiction and criminal intent. The hon. member for Lanark--Carleton, the hon. member for Lethbridge and the hon. member for Red Deer have moved amendments to address these issues.

I want to continue the theme raised by the member for Souris--Moose Mountain. If the past record of the federal government and its environmental efforts are any indication, this bill is a disaster waiting to happen.

When I was first elected in my riding, constituent after constituent and municipality after municipality in southeast Manitoba told me that the biggest threat to agriculture in that area was the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I could not believe it. Fisheries and oceans is destroying drainage. Agricultural land is being destroyed. Costs are being added to the municipalities.

The reeve of the RM of Morris told me about the construction of the dyke around the town of Rosenort, a very progressive, hard working community in the flood plain in the Red River Valley. Doing an environmental assessment and looking at fish habitat in the middle of the plain added an extra $200,000 to the study. I thought it was an isolated example. Constituent after constituent and municipality after municipality tell of the heavy-handed approach of the federal government in working with the province and the municipalities.

Last weekend I was in Kola, Manitoba which is in the Brandon--Souris constituency. It borders my colleague's riding of Souris--Moose Mountain. One can imagine how dry it is in these areas. Again I was told by constituents in the Kola area that the biggest threat to agriculture is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. There is no co-operation with local authorities. It is destroying agriculture.

Along with the heavy-handed unco-operative approach of the department and the federal government in general, now there is this endangered species bill, and what do we see? We see a clear rejection in the bill of one of the most important legal principles in a just and democratic society. That is the requirement that there be mens rea or a guilty mind before one can be convicted of a criminal offence. Not only should the culpable person have to have physically committed the act, but there must have been an appropriate degree of criminal intent. That is fundamental to our system of justice.

Bill C-5 as it stands today provides for various offences in which there is a very low level of mens rea, certainly not the level of mens rea necessary or consistent with a free and democratic society. This makes many of the landowners and farmers in my riding very nervous.

There are hundreds of species at risk and it is not always easy to recognize them. Not only do farmers and landowners bear the financial burden of expropriation without compensation as the bill now allows, but they could face expensive, cumbersome criminal prosecutions. Indeed they could even be put at risk to private prosecutions. Farmers and landowners are having a very difficult time. They do not need this kind of heavy-handed legislation to address what is admittedly a serious and significant problem.

The bill makes criminals out of very inadvertent acts. We want to prohibit the possession of certain species, the destruction of certain species, the selling or trading of certain species. However, there should be no criminal consequence for individuals who were inadvertently involved.

If someone were to buy tea in a health food store and that tea contained an ingredient on the list, he or she could be liable under the bill for a criminal charge. The mens rea convention exists in order to ensure that unintended consequences of normal human activity are not made criminal. If my colleagues agree with me that plowing or buying tea or picking a common flower should not be criminal acts unless there is the appropriate criminal intent, then all of us agree that these clauses should be amended to include words such as “knowingly” or “wilfully”.

Consider the lack of mens rea required and the sentences available. Courts may impose fines up to $250,000 for an individual and $1 million for a corporation. Many of these corporations are family farms so the money always comes out of the same pocket.

We as the Parliament of Canada must seriously contemplate the wording of the legislation before imposing this type of harsh, punitive legislation on the people of Canada.

I would also like to briefly comment on the jurisdictional matters in respect to Bill C-5. I have alluded to the very apparent lack of co-operation by the federal government and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in particular with municipal and provincial authorities.

As it stands today, where a province does not have endangered species legislation or does not have adequate legislation according to the federal government, the bill provides the federal environment minister with the power to impose this law on that province. It is important to remember that whether or not provincial laws are inadequate is a unilateral determination by the environment minister.

The environment is a shared constitutional responsibility. This heavy-handed approach to relations will not protect endangered species. It will hasten the destruction of these species by continued legal wrangling.

It is for this reason my colleagues have recommended deleting the provisions that assign this unilateral power to the minister. We have added an amendment which provides that the minister may make a recommendation to apply the federal law to the province or the territory if a territorial or provincial minister has requested that the recommendation be made. These amendments remove the unilateral power to impose federal law onto provincial jurisdiction. The federal endangered species act would still apply to federal lands and to aquatic species or migratory birds.

I cannot stress enough the co-operation that is necessary with landowners, resource owners and municipal and provincial governments. Imposing federal laws on provinces that will only create legal and other battles is not in the best interests of endangered species. Unless we work together, this legislation will fail. If the government decides to work with the provinces and property owners, not only will property owners and resource users benefit, but it will be in the best interests of endangered species.

I urge all members to support these amendments so we can move ahead on this matter.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada. First, while we obviously agree with the principle of protecting endangered species, a principle which has the Bloc Quebecois' full support, we are opposed to the bill.

Bill C-5, we are told, is a response to a problem which we identified, the protection of endangered species. The problem lies in the fact that Bill C-5 is not the right response to the challenge, for two main reasons.

First, the bill itself does nothing to improve the protection of endangered species. The work done by environmental groups has made this abundantly clear. This is a bill which some people feel does not go far enough and which fails completely to protect endangered species.

Bill C-5 has also been criticized for taking a piecemeal approach and lacking an overall vision. Nor does it look ahead, as my colleague reminded the House earlier in connection with compensation for landowners.

Finally, what I find the most objectionable about this bill is the discretionary power the Minister of the Environment has grabbed.

Clause 27 allows the cabinet, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, to establish the list of wildlife species at risk and to amend it if necessary, by regulations.

One wonders what the Minister of the Environment has to do with establishing this list—particularly when one knows anything about how the Liberal government operates—which may well turn out to be more of a political list than a scientific one.

The list should first be established by a group of scientists and then approved by cabinet. But instead, clause 27 turns this into a political issue. That is the first point. This bill fails utterly to meet its basic objective, which is to protect endangered species.

The second reason we object is that not only is this bill useless, but it constitutes a direct interference into provincial jurisdiction, into Quebec's jurisdiction in particular. There is overlap—my colleague reminded us of this earlier—with legislation that already exists in Quebec and that has been in place for years.

For example, Quebec has the act respecting threatened or vulnerable species, which was passed in 1989; there is also the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife; and there is a whole series of regulations that allow the government of Quebec to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities towards wildlife species that are at risk. Given this context, we do not see the use of this federal government initiative, this intrusion into an area of responsibility that is already well served by Quebec's legislation.

I would like to delve further into the content of Bill C-5 as regards this federal meddling into provincial areas of responsibility, Quebec's area of responsibility in particular.

Clause 10, for example, sets out that the minister “may... enter into an agreement... with respect to the administration of any provision of this Act”; therefore, “he may enter into an agreement”. More specifically, in the section dealing with general prohibitions, clause 34(2) clearly states that:

The Governor in Council shall , on the recommendation of the Minister, by order, provide that sections 32 and 33... apply in lands in a province that are not federal lands—

Furthermore, section 34.(3) states that “The Minister must recommend that the order be made if the Minister is of the opinion that the laws of the province do not effectively protect the species or the residences of its individuals”.

This shows that the federal government, through the Minister of the Environment, is claiming the right to intervene as it pleases in this shared area of responsibility.

Subclauses (4) ( a ) of sections 34 and 35 state that:

(4) Before recommending that the Governor in Council make an order under subsection (2), the Minister must consult

(a) the appropriate provincial minister;

However, Bill C-5 only refers only to consultations, and if there are agreements, obviously, it would be the federal minister's perspective that would take precedence. This is completely unacceptable.

Clause 39 reads as follows:

39(1) To the extent possible, the recovery strategy must be prepared in cooperation with

(a) the appropriate provincial and territorial minister for each province and territory—

Once again, the federal government and the Minister of the Environment are grabbing the power to impose their vision concerning recovery programs.

This is also the case for the action plans addressed by clauses 47 and 48. In all cases it is stated that co-operation is desired “to the extent possible”. Bill C-5 clearly indicates a federal government view I would describe as centralizing. I would also qualify it as paternalistic. It is not only Bill C-5 that is involved. It considers the provinces to be minors upon whom supervision must be imposed if they are to meet their responsibilities. This centralizing and paternalistic vision is one we reject and condemn.

The minister's power is a discretionary one. This we have seen in the list of endangered species. The bill does not respect the division of jurisdictions, as set out in the Constitution and interpreted over the years.

We are well aware that a comprehensive approach is needed to protect endangered species. We criticized Bill C-5 earlier for its piecemeal vision of the protection of endangered species. All stakeholders should co-operate. Quebec has all the tools that are needed, and it is quite capable of getting this co-operation.

The federal government could not care less about the existing legislation. It takes upon itself the right to impose its own vision of the protection of endangered species and, doing so, it undermines all forms of co-operation between stakeholders.

As I said earlier, we cannot accept this centralist and big brother vision. But there is more. We know that Quebec has all the tools to take action. It could be in charge of this great mission which is the protection of endangered species.

The obsession with visibility that has been the trademark of the federal government in the last few years and, strangely enough, since the 1995 referendum, leads me to think that this bill is just one more means among the many others that have been developed lately to have federal visibility in areas where it does not belong.

I would draw an important parallel between Bill C-5 and the social union framework, which Quebec refused to sign, and rightly so, while the other provinces accepted this big brother vision of the federal government. Both this framework and the bill are part of a vision of nation building which negates the existence of a Quebec nation. It denies the distinctiveness of Quebecers. All of this shows how urgent it is for Quebecers to make the choice of a sovereign Quebec as quickly as possible for political, economic, social, and environmental reasons.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand and speak to Bill C-5.

It is important for us to understand that we come to the House to debate the issues and laws of the land as aggressively and positively as possible. Out of every piece of legislation there are winners and losers. Every once in a while we get a bill that is a win win situation where everyone wins. Seldom do we get a bill that is a lose lose situation where everyone loses, both the people for whom it is intended and those who would be impacted by it. Bill C-5 is a lose lose bill.

First, I will speak on behalf of my constituents of Yellowhead. I will explain how Bill C-5 would impact each and every one of them in a variety of ways.

My constituency runs from Edmonton in Alberta to the B.C. border through Jasper National Park. We have a national park in our riding. That is pertinent to species at risk legislation. Species reside within the park, but to get to the park one must go through farmland. There are farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods would be impacted in a dramatic way by this piece of legislation. They are struggling and having a tough time as it is dealing with grasshoppers and finding enough water to grow their crops let alone protecting habitat and endangered species on their property. Bill C-5 would require them to do that.

The oil and gas industry takes up a considerable amount of my riding. The industry harvests a tremendous number of trees. In some areas of the province it harvests more trees than the forest companies. Because it uses pipelines that take down trees and builds roads to its lease sites and well sites, it disturbs a considerable amount of habitat. This piece of legislation would impact its ability to continue to harvest resources in a considerable way.

Bill C-5 would also impact the forest industry. In my riding there are a tremendous number of companies that harvest and farm the forest. It is an 80 year cycle. They farm the forest for 80 years to grow a tree in my constituency. The forest industry is in the midst of changing the habitat as it does block cuts where it has trees growing at different levels and ages all through the riding. Bill C-5 would impact the forest industry in my riding in a considerable way because it talks about habitat of endangered species.

The coal industry would also be impacted because of the water used in coal plants as well as the pollution that perhaps comes out of them. There is concern about what Bill C-5 would mean to the coal industry.

The tourist area of my riding is Jasper National Park, one of the largest national parks in Canada. Bill C-5 would not have a considerable impact within the park because it is protected under the Parks Act. However snowmobiling, the use of ATVs, fishing and all tourist activities in our constituency would be impacted in a significant way.

Bill C-5 would have a much different impact on my riding than on ridings in downtown Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. The species at risk bill would not impact the livelihoods of people in those ridings. Those ridings are considerably different and their constituents look at the legislation in a different way.

If we fail to harness the support of those closest to the land, the habitat and the species we are trying to protect, Bill C-5 will fail because it would put species at risk.

One of the things we must ask ourselves regarding any piece of legislation is how much it would cost. What would be its social impacts? We asked the minister how much Bill C-5 would cost. He does not know. The estimates are $45 million a year and perhaps much more. No study has been done. We do not know what the impacts would be. We do not know how much it would cost the government or those affected by it.

The other thing we ask ourselves is who will determine which species are endangered. Will it be science or legislators? COSEWIC, which is the science, is pitted against the minister and the cabinet. Under this legislation it will not necessarily be scientists because they can be trumped by the minister and cabinet. The same is true with the national standards.

National standards have to be looked at not only from the federal perspective but also from provincial jurisdictions because provinces have species at risk legislation as well. In this case we cannot pit the federal jurisdiction against the provincial jurisdiction without some kind of problem. The government is saying that it will collaborate and listen to the provinces, but then it will trump whatever the provinces do as far as national standards. It is very similar to what we have seen perhaps with the Canada Health Act, which I am even more familiar with, and some of the disruption between the provincial and federal government jurisdictions.

Another one the is the reproductive technology bill, which we are hopeful will be in the House by May 10, as the minister has said. It also has the same provincial and federal jurisdictional problems. If an attempt is not made to overcome those problems by collaboration rather than a big stick, then we will have problems.

This is a piece of legislation that goes against every piece of law that we have in the country in the sense that it is a law where people are guilty before proven innocent. People have to prove they are innocent of the guilt. That really becomes a problem. We can take different approaches to any piece of legislation whether it is a carrot or a stick. In this case, to take the stick and say that they are guilty unless they prove themselves innocent, is counterproductive. What we need is a carrot. We need to engage those who are closest to the species and closest to the habitat. Once we do that, we then make them not a part of the problem but a part of the solution. This legislation fails to do that.

I would like to give a few examples of our neighbours to the south who have been working with endangered species legislation since 1973.

One example that comes to mind is the case of the northern spotted owl which affected most of the forest area of Washington, Oregon and northern California in the 1990s. There were over 2,000 acres of land restricted from logging and tens of thousands of loggers lost their jobs because of that legislation.

There was another piece of legislation only last year in Oregon concerning a short nosed sucker and a lost river sucker. These are two bottom feeding fish in the Klamath basin in Oregon. Thousands of farmers and landowners lost irrigation water because of them. The estimated damage to their crops and livestock was $300 million U.S. to $400 million U.S. because of these fish.

Then there is the illustration of the lynx hair, which was actually sabotage. A group of scientists took the lynx hair and planted it in a national forest in Washington state so the park could not be used. This case will go to a congressional hearing on February 28. The park had to be fenced and there was a halting of all economic, recreational or human use, including no logging, hiking or snowmobiles. This would have happened they had not been caught. Hopefully the perpetrators will be taken to task for this.

Every piece of legislation, as I said, has winners and losers. This piece of legislation has no winners, especially the endangered species. The farmers, the oil and gas people, the forest companies, the coal workers and the tourist industry are the losers.

To give an example of what some people think of the legislation, so members do not think it is just me saying this, Mr. Pope, a director on the stock growers association, said that if someone had to set out to deliberately create a law that would harm wildlife, destroy habitat and discourage private landowners from protecting wildlife on their land, it would be difficult to surpass a law like this one in its current state.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am beginning to wonder, after a year and a half in this House, if the Liberal government's motto is “If a job is worth doing it is worth doing poorly”. I came here with an interest in this job when the electors of Cypress Hills--Grasslands showed their wisdom by electing me. I came expecting that there would be serious debate in the House, that there would be a give and take of ideas, that there would be a merging and a rejection of those ideas and that decisions would be based on well-informed debate and well-informed bias. To be honest, I saw some of this happen in the Standing Committee on Environment ans Sustainable development when I was allowed to sit in on some of the sessions.

The minister, on the other hand, has destroyed this entire process. I believe that at some point he should be held accountable for disregard of the parliamentary process regarding this bill.

I have a great concern about a bill that goes through committee, where some people got what they wanted and others did not, and then have it hijacked by a minister who has his own special agenda. I am disappointed that I do not hear more government members speaking out about that as well. I know there are a great number of them who have a big concern about what has happened with the bill. I suggest that perhaps the minister's motto will be “I started out with nothing and I still have most of that left”.

I will speak today on the Group No. 2 motions and two issues of importance in those motions. First, it is that of the federal government taking upon itself the power to override provincial legislation and agreements.

The government has become a bully. We see that in several areas. We have seen it in the area of health. We are beginning to see it in the area of agriculture and its new farm plan. I believe that we will see it in the area of the environment. The government has been bullying provinces. It is beginning to bully rural municipalities. It is beginning as well to bully landowners.

Is it possible for us to cooperate? I will take a look at the history. We have heard a bit about the Department of Fisheries and Oceans today. It has moved in the last couple of years into the prairie provinces. There will to be a fair amount of money spent by DFO in the prairie provinces. The government is talking about putting in five fisheries centres with thirty biologists at each centre. Therefore Saskatchewan will have the privilege of having 60 fisheries biologists in its province which it has never had before even though the provincial environment ministry has been managing the fishery reasonably well.

How does it work with DFO coming in? We have heard the members from Selkirk--Interlake and Provencher talk about Manitoba and how there have been problems with drainage ditches. The RMs have ongoing concerns and regular confrontations with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We have heard DFO costing RMs and cities up to $200,000 extra to construct flood dikes.

In Alberta DFO began to go after the drainage ditches that were built for irrigation until the Alberta government told it to go to wherever.

We heard from the member for Souris--Moose Mountain that DFO had been billing RMs in Saskatchewan for studies that they did not even know were being done. Therefore we have an ongoing problem with DFO

Perhaps there is something more than just a grab for control. We know Alberta has done very well with one of its natural resources, namely oil. It has been able to become a powerhouse within Canada. A couple of weeks ago one of the senior bureaucrats declared that Newfoundland would not be allowed to become another Alberta.

Another resource that is at stake, and which is just as important as oil, is water. I am starting to wonder if this whole environmental issue focused around Bill C-5 and some of the DFO activity is less a concern about environmentalism than a concern about control over waters that are within provincial boundaries which are supposed to be under provincial jurisdiction.

The bullying, coercion and a lack of co-operation that we see will just lead us to one place. As far as the provinces are concerned it will be in court. We will see the federal government in court against the provincial governments, the provincial governments taking the federal government to court and at the bottom of the pile both levels of government hammering the landowner with his own tax money. That lack of co-operation is unacceptable and the bill will not work.

My second concern in the Group No. 2 amendments is in the area of criminal liability.

I want to paint a bit of a picture of farmers in my area. We have burrowing owls in my area. People go out in the spring with machinery and have a 50:50 chance of seeding their land. We have lots of gophers when the crop begins to come up. Gophers start digging their holes in the crop land. Badgers come along and they are only too happy to chase the gophers down the holes. Later the burrowing owls come to nest in the holes in our area of the world.

At harvest time we come along with the combines and cut the crop off the top, take our crops and people go home. The question that has to be asked is if this disturbs the owl's habitat. If it does, I guess the farmer can expect that the feds will show up at some point at his door and conceivably he could be charged.

The should have known principle in the bill is something that is new after hundreds of years of criminal law. What are the consequences of breaking the should have known law? In the bill the penalties are $250,000 and up to five years in jail. That is enough to destroy virtually any landowner or any farmer and put him completely out of business. If he cannot prove due diligence, he can be charged and fined.

The bill basically ignores one of the tenets of western legal history and that is that criminal penalties are only given for offences committed with a criminal mind. It is known as mens rea; that is a person knowing he or she is breaking the law. That is why one can be charged and held accountable.

It is interesting that the minister actually had a concern about this. In his presentation of October 3, 2001, he said:

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

It is interesting that when the bill came back to the House, the minister declined to give people that protection.

The burrowing owl is fairly well known. Farmers can work with that. There are some other species I would like to ask members about. Have they heard of slender mouse-ear-cress? No, I did not think so. How about the hairy prairie-clover? The burrowing owl we are all familiar with. The sand verbena might be a plant that is new to everyone. I am sure members know of the western spiderwort and the tiny cryptanthe.

The piping plover may be one we are a little more familiar. These are all species that in my riding have been declared as threatened or endangered. Interestingly enough, all of them are already covered by section 5 of the Wildlife Act. Everyone of them is already protected.

This legislation is wrong. It punishes rural Canadians in particular. It cannot succeed if the government will not work with rural people.

We all acknowledge that the government's main role is to provide security and protection for its citizens. Why does the government continue to punish rural Canada?

I have a little story with which I will finish. An agricultural salesman showed up at a farmer's farm yard one day. He saw that the farmer had a pet pig, but the pig had one wooden leg. The farmer said the pig went everywhere with him and the salesman asked “What happened to the pig?” The farmer said “Let me tell you what a hero the pig is”. He said that he was working near the edge of the road by a muddy slew and one day his tractor slipped off the road. It tipped over and pinned him underneath. He could not do anything so he told the pig to go get a board, to bring it over, balance it on a rock, slide it under the tire and to sit on the end of it. When the pig sat on the end of it, the tractor lifted up enough and he was able to get out. The pig saved his life. The salesman asked how the pig got the wooden leg.

The farmer said he would tell him another story. The pig slept in the living room. One night he smelled smoke. Sure enough, the house was on fire. The pig ran upstairs, woke him and his wife up, and they and the four kids got out before the house burned down. Again, he saved his life as well as the lives of the rest of his family. The agricultural salesman said that the pig certainly was a hero but he still wanted to know how he got his wooden leg. The farmer said “Well, with a pig like that you don't want to eat it all at once”.

That is what the government is doing to rural Canada. It is slowly killing it off, one leg at a time.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the amendments to Bill C-5, the species at risk bill.

Once again I am disappointed in the government's approach to dealing with its citizens. Bill C-5 addresses some very serious issues concerning the survival of endangered species in Canada and the habitat that these species occupy.

I am certain that no Canadian in their right mind would care to wilfully endanger any of the numerous species that are endangered. In fact, I think if we were to ask Canadians what should happen to someone who knowingly and wilfully threatens an endangered species or their habitat, they would tell us that serious fine or jail time would be appropriate. I would suggest that most Canadians would be reasonably comfortable with the government's proposed fines of up to $250,000 for an individual and up to $1 million for a corporation with the possibility of a five year sentence. The operative words here are knowingly and wilfully.

That being said, I think Canadians would be appalled to learn that the government will make it a criminal act to kill, harm or harass any one of hundreds of endangered species or interfere with their critical habitat, even if the individual or corporation did not know that they were committing an offence. Yes, that is right, the government is proposing legislation that will put Canadians in the position of possibly committing a serious criminal offence without even knowing it.

The legislation does not require intent or even reckless behaviour. Rather, it places the burden of proof on the individual to prove that he or she was practising due diligence should harm come to an endangered species.

In order for Canadian landowners to protect themselves, they will have to become experts at recognizing hundreds of endangered or at risk species.

Again, who among us can readily identify, for example, a sage grouse or a Bicknell's thrush? How many members in this place could identify a five lined skink or a spring salamander? I am having trouble even pronouncing these things let alone identifying them. Moreover, how many Canadians could even begin to identify where any of these animals lived?

I do not want anyone to get me wrong. I believe it is very important to put in place legislation that is designed to protect these animals and the hundreds of others currently at risk in Canada. However, in the way the legislation is worded, not only must average Canadians be able to recognize the species but they will also need to identify their critical habitat in the event that they disturb a place where some of these animals spend part of their life cycle. This would also include places in which they used to live and might be reintroduced. According to the proposed law, if due diligence is not taken a person could face a very serious criminal prosecution resulting in fines, or jail time as I mentioned earlier. It is wrong for the government to go down this path.

Bill C-5 ignores one of the fundamental tenets of our legal history: criminal offences must be committed with a criminal mind. Mens rea is the Latin term for this.

The Canadian Alliance supports the goal of protecting endangered species but it cannot be done in such a heavy-handed manner. If the government wants to protect endangered species, it needs to put the emphasis on going after people or corporations that knowingly and willingly put endangered species at risk.

The approach in Bill C-5 is adversarial and provides no opportunity to landowners or corporations to co-operate with the government to preserve natural habitats or endangered species. The government will simply say “gotcha” and then all one can do is hope that the minister is reasonable in exercising discretion as outlined in the bill.

With 70 million hectares of agricultural lands and 25 million hectares of privately owned forest lands in Canada, how do farmers and operators exercise due diligence over such large areas, especially when many are small operations with very limited resources and with little or no familiarity with endangered species regulations?

The minister knows this is a problem. He said it himself, and I quote:

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

The minister said that in the standing committee meetings on October 3, 2001.

The minister's words are nice but the bill would make honest people into criminals.

The Canadian Alliance amendments attempt to restore the balance by requiring that the crown at least prove some measure of intent before somebody can be convicted.

Did someone wilfully harm an endangered species? Did they do so with intent? Was it done in a reckless manner? These amendments would go some way to ensuring that innocent people do not inadvertently commit a criminal offence,

I urge the government and other opposition parties to hear this argument and to vote in favour of Canadian Alliance Group No. 2 amendments.

At minimum, the federal government must work with the provinces to provide training for landowners and users who will be required to meet the due diligence standard but do not have the knowledge or information to identify lists of species or their critical habitat.

In closing I would like my colleagues to consider how many of their constituents own recreational vacation properties. We tend to think of this type of legislation in terms of commercial use of large tracts of land. What will a member say to a constituent who is facing criminal prosecution because in clearing land for a vacation cabin he unwittingly destroys the habitat of a species at risk that he did not even know was there? Some might say that is a bit of a stretch but I say that it is a very real possibility given the uncompromising zeal of some environmental advocates.

I urge all members to support the Canadian Alliance Group. No. 2 amendments.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the members who spoke before me on Bill C-5. I find the silence of the government members interesting. Perhaps they can find little to defend about the bill before us today. Their silence is suspicious to say the least.

Before looking at Bill C-5 more specifically, I would like to try to address the issues raised by this bill or the problems it is supposed to solve with respect to protecting biodiversity.

I believe that all members of this House agree fully on the increase in the rate of disappearance and on the seriousness of the situation concerning biodiversity, and the disappearance or the threat of disappearance of certain species.

We must ask ourselves some questions. Does Bill C-5 really provide additional protection that can be enforced? Will the bill really contribute to enhancing the protection of our ecosystems and the endangered species that make up these ecosystems? These are the two basic things that Bill C-5 should do: protect ecosystems and protect endangered species.

Since this third version of the bill was introduced, what we have heard leaves us with the impression that, strange as it may seem, the Minister of the Environment did not ask himself these two simple questions before introducing his bill.

Why is the Minister of the Environment introducing Bill C-5 on biodiversity? Not because the current Minister of the Environment woke up one morning and said to himself “It will do my image and my reputation good to introduce a bill on biodiversity and the protection of species at risk”. Rather, he was trying to pick up on a job started by his predecessors, Mr. Marchi and the current Minister of Canadian Heritage who had already, on two occasions, tried to make good a promise. The first one was made by the federal government at the Rio summit in 1992. At the time, the Progressive Conservatives were in power. It will be recalled that Mr. Mulroney was in Rio de Janeiro.

We can understand that some electors are skeptical about the role of members of parliament, the role of elected people, the role of ministers and premiers when we see these men and women—a nice family picture, arm in arm, a big smile of their face—telling us “Starting today, following the Rio summit, we will take biodiversity into consideration. Do not worry, we are considering this situation to be a priority”. I would be curious to identify the number of situations or concerns that the various governments have put forward. At a given time, everything was a priority during their mandate, depending on the community they were addressing.

At the Rio summit in 1992, presidents, first ministers, statesmen and stateswomen, arm in arm, with a big smile on their face, signed the Rio convention on biodiversity.

There is a problem. Once this has been signed, once the convention has been ratified, the respective states must pass some legislation. That was not done yet, but the conservatives said “We are going to do it”. Less than a year later, they were threatened. They were completely extinct, or almost.

I think they will support this bill on species at risk, but their situation has prevented them from being able to introduce legislative measures to meet their commitment.

That was not too serious, because the Liberals had made a promise in their 1993 red book to introduce a biodiversity bill. Indeed, in 1995, a little less than two years after the election, the present Minister of Heritage introduced an endangered species bill. At that time, it was the bill which led up to Bill C-65. The main thing that made the present heritage minister back up was that the bill addressed only zones protected by the federal government.

An unbelievable number of protests and criticisms ensued, particularly from environmental groups and others who closely monitor environmental problems. The criticism of that bill was that it was restricted solely to federal lands. Critics pointed out that only four provinces at that time, Quebec being one, had endangered species legislation.

According to the environmentalists and the opposition parties, this bill, which applied only to federal lands, was an unsatisfactory and incomplete response to the great promise of Rio de Janeiro.

So the bill introduced by the present heritage minister was just take one for the federal government; it was shelved around 1995.

In 1996, the present Canadian ambassador to the WHO in Geneva—whom I can name—Sergio Marchi, then Minister of the Environment, introduced Bill C-65, the Canada Endangered Species Protection Act, which is in a way the ancestor of this bill being debated today.

The government was again criticized by the various stakeholder groups and, this time, the criticism was not merely from Quebec or the sovereignists, or the opposition parties, but also from the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and the Yukon and Northwest Territories, all of which voiced major concerns about the concept of transborder species and the powers defined by the act. Many criticisms were directed at the Minister of the Environment of the day, and the bill was again judged unsatisfactory.

What did the Liberals do? In 1996, four years after the Rio summit and three years after being elected, they let Bill C-65, which they have now reintroduced, die on the order paper.

This bill on species at risk that we are discussing today is not the current Minister of the Environment's idea, nor is it an idea or a promise from the 2000 election campaign, it is something that Canadians have been waiting for more than 10 years.

When we see our heads of government strutting about New York talking about the rights of children or the status of women throughout the world, when there are big summits with heads of state and government leaders from around the world who sign agreements, then return to their own countries, try to introduce the necessary legislation and, ten years later, are still talking about this same legislation, it is no wonder that people are skeptical about provincial and federal politicians.

It seems to me that given the outcries in 1995 and 1996 that led to the two previous bills, a modicum of good faith and imagination would have encouraged the minister at that time, or the current Minister of the Environment, to meet with his provincial counterparts and put the issues out on the table, the fact that four provinces already had bills, including Quebec, to protect threatened or endangered species and their ecosystems.

In order to take into consideration this reality and the fact that the federal government already has legislation on threatened species with the Fisheries Act and other acts of Environment Canada and others, they could have looked at the areas that the different stakeholders in this area agreed on. They could also have invited environmental groups to discuss Bill C-5, and taken into consideration the main criticisms that would have provided for real and adequate environmental protection in the first, second, and let us hope that there will not be a third attempt at the legislation—this has still not been a part of discussions.

But the main problem with Bill C-5 is the fact that it does not answer the two simple and fundamental questions that it should answer, and the fact that the decisions to determine what is a threatened species and what is not will not be made by scientists. These decisions on the designation of species will be made by the minister and by cabinet, rather than by scientists themselves.

We are convinced that the minister will not wake up one morning and say “Now, in my opinion this species is becoming an endangered species”. He will take into consideration the research and the analyses done by scientists. But what we question, along with environmental groups and elected provincial representatives, is the very broad power the Minister of the Environment and cabinet are appropriating, when it comes to designating threatened species.

I will conclude by saying that, with a minimum of goodwill, openness and transparency, we should be able to co-operate and arrive at a good solution for everyone. We could fulfill a commitment made ten years ago, during the summit in Rio de Janeiro, where everyone unanimously agreed that the biodiversity of threatened species should be monitored by effective agreements and legislation in our respective countries.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-5, an act to protect species at risk. This has been a topic of debate and discussion in Canada for many years and it is still being debated.

I would like to use Motion No. 23 in this group of amendments as an example of one of the problems with the institution of the House of Commons and its committee work.

The bill was prepared by the government, tabled in the House and then sent to committee for study. The committee was made up of members, including the member for Davenport who is the chairman of the committee, the Canadian Alliance members for Red Deer and Souris--Moose Mountain and others from the Liberal side such as the member for Halton and the parliamentary secretary, the member for Kitchener Centre.

Witnesses appeared before the committee. Members heard all angles about what was right and wrong with the bill. The committee then proceeded to a clause by clause study of the bill and amendments were brought forward from all parties to make the bill better and to reflect what members had heard from witnesses. This is not always an easy thing to do. There was debate and discussion and negotiations. Being a committee of the House, I felt it worked in a good way to bring about the right end, to bring forward a bill amended to the point where it would become somewhat more acceptable to Canadians.

Unfortunately we did not get all of the amendments we wanted. Many of them were voted down. One we were unable to bring forward was the issue of compensation which is still a huge issue to us.

With respect to Motion No. 23, the committee agreed to pass this amendment to the bill. However when the bill came back to the House for discussion, the government brought in an amendment to counter the amendment to the bill, thereby bringing it back to where it had been.

When an amendment is passed by a committee of the House, the majority of whose members are Liberals, one would think the government would support that amendment. No, it brought an amendment forward to reverse the amendment. So around and around we go.

When the government reverses an amendment passed at committee, it shows a total lack of respect for the function of the committees of the House of Commons. To me it means that government members on the committee are split on this issue. Hopefully when the bill comes forward for a vote those members and other people on the government side who support their position, will continue to support that position and will not vote in favour of the bill which has been changed from the amended form they agreed to.

The motion deals with the operation of a stewardship action plan. The committee wanted to make sure that when the plan was put forward, the minister shall act, not may act; the minister would have to do something to put this into place. The committee agreed to that but the government has put forward an amendment making this aspect at the discretion of the minister who may or may not act at all. This takes the power away from the bill and puts it into the hands of one minister who may or may not do something. That is not good enough. We feel that the word “shall” should be included. The government needs to act on these issues when they are brought forward. Things like this should not be at the total discretion of one minister of the crown.

Motion No. 35 is another government amendment to establish the legal list of species at risk. The committee debated this issue at length. Members came to an agreement but again, after the bill was brought back to the House, the government brought forward amendments to reverse what was agreed to at committee.

Committees bring in witnesses from all across Canada. In many cases, the committees will travel to different areas of the country to get input from various individuals. This is how members can get a good sense from all sides of what needs to be looked at, strengthened or changed.

Certainly there is a lot of discussion because these positions are not always the same, but it is an opportunity at that level to make some change. The motion is a reversal of the approach taken by the standing committee toward the establishment of a legal list of species at risk. Like the original bill, it would mean that cabinet must actively choose to place species identified by the expert scientific panel, COSEWIC, on the legal list. If it does nothing, then COSEWIC recommendations will have no effect.

The committee had placed a reverse onus on the government. If cabinet did not act within six months, then the recommendations would be added to the legal list automatically. Many groups felt that would be the way to go because if the government did not move on it, then it automatically would be added. By putting that reverse onus on the government, some direction or action was guaranteed. However an amendment has been put in by the government to take that out.

If recommendations come forward from the scientific community in Canada that certain endangered species should be added to the list and there was no action by the government, then they would not be added. We are suggesting if the government does not act, they should be added.

This is just another case of where what was agreed to by the committee has been changed. We must always keep in mind that the committee has a majority of government members on it. Therefore if something was agreed to at committee, one would think that the government would be in support of it, but as is quite clear here, it is not.

Motion No. 39 which the Canadian Alliance has brought forward, and to which many members have spoken, deals with the issue of a person knowingly killing, harming or harassing an endangered species. There have been many examples. How do we educate every Canadian to know what every endangered species looks like, what their environments are in which they live, and which ones are in their areas?

We have heard a lot about the burrowing owl. We are pretty confident that most people would be able to identify it on their property and to take the necessary measures to protect the habitat. There are many people on the land, through farming and ranching and the resource sector, who have implemented their own programs for protecting species at risk. I have seen some of them myself, particularly regarding the burrowing owl. However when it is an obscure, probably water-borne species, how are we going to educate every Canadian so that people know that every time they perform an activity on their land or in their resource sector they are not disturbing the habitat? It would be an almost impossible thing to do.

There has to be the aspect in the bill whereby we have to prove that the person knew he or she was going to destroy. If the person still proceeded with that activity, then certainly the full weight of the bill should be brought to bear, but if the person was an average Canadian carrying out his or her duties, livelihood, or even a recreational activity, that person should not have the weight of the bill brought down upon him or her.

One is innocent until proven guilty, but the way the bill is structured, one is guilty until proven innocent. That goes against everything in which our justice system believes. It ignores the basic part of the western legal history that criminal penalties are given only for offences committed with a criminal mind, mens rea . That is an absolutely critical part of what we need to have placed back into the legislation.

We hope we can get respect and support from the government benches on this. We know there is support. Many government members have supported what we have put forward. When the bill comes to be voted on, I hope they realize and remember that a lot of the things they fought for at committee to have amended or placed in the bill have now been reversed by the government. I hope they do not pass a bill which would endanger Canadians just for carrying out their regular lives not knowing they are at risk.

I want to finish on the issue of the bill going to committee where witnesses, experts in their field, come forward with the understanding that what they say will be listened to, that the committee will weigh the pros and cons of each issue and then it will come up with a more balanced approach to move that forward. When that happens, when it is agreed to at committee, it comes back to the House and then the government introduces amendments to reverse a lot of what was done at committee, that is wrong.

I hope the members on the government side who do not support the legislation will vote against it when the time comes to vote.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation.

This legislation, perhaps more than any other, will be encroaching on the jurisdiction of the provinces. The political history of Canada has shown that this is dangerous territory and should not be taken lightly at all. In short, when it comes to jurisdiction the bill extends itself into provincial jurisdiction. This is unacceptable and should be done only with the consent of the provinces.

When it comes to criminal intent, the bill puts the burden of proof on the accused and not on the prosecution, meaning anyone who inadvertently destroys a species at risk or its critical habitat is guilty until proven innocent. Both of these are unacceptable positions for the government to take. A few of the motions put forward by the official opposition explain why. Motion No. 39 and Motion No. 44 are necessary amendments that would require that to be found guilty of a criminal offence a person must knowingly do harm to an endangered species.

Bill C-5 would make it a criminal act to kill, harm or harass any one of hundreds of endangered species or to interfere with their critical habitat. The fines are definitely a deterrent: up to $1 million for a corporation and $250,000 for an individual. The proposed act provides for imprisonment of up to five years for an indictable offence. It is possible that a person could inadvertently commit such an offence without knowing it. The bill would not require intent or even reckless behaviour as a condition for charge. Shockingly, it places the burden of proof on the individual to prove that he or she was exercising due diligence should harm come to an endangered species.

There is a great deal of expertise and knowledge to assume on behalf of all Canadians. In this way the bill ignores one of the fundamental tenets of our legal history, that criminal penalties are only given for offences committed with a criminal intent.

In the past we have said that it is not fair to convict someone of a serious criminal offence when he or she might have done so without intent or without knowledge. In order to protect ourselves from breaking this law, we would need to become experts at recognizing various species, such as the sage grouse, the burrowing owl or aurora trout. We would not only need to recognize them but we would need to recognize their critical habitat in case we were disturb a place where some of these animals spent part of their life cycle.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am taking the opportunity this afternoon to underline the performances of Canada's men's and women's curling teams at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Canada continues to be a force to be contended with in the sport of curling. The Kevin Martin rink, from Edmonton, Alberta, narrowly missed the gold medal in men's curling with a six to five defeat to Norway. Martin was joined by lead Don Bartlett, second Carter Rycroft, third Don Walchuk and alternate Ken Trainberg on the podium.

The women's team, composed of skip Kelly Law, Julie Skinner, Georgina Wheatcroft, Diane Nelson and Cheryl Noble, won the bronze medal by a score of nine to five against the United States. This is the same team that won the 2000 Canadian and world championships.

Canadians are very proud of these athletes today and I wish to congratulate them.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to all our Olympic athletes who just competed in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All told, Canadian athletes are returning home with a record 17 medals. I would especially like to congratulate the Canadian women's hockey team and the men's hockey team, both of which won gold medals for Canada.

Our men's hockey team has waited 50 years to confirm what we already know, that we are number one at hockey. The women's team beat the Americans when it counted, in the gold medal final of the Olympic Games.

Our athletes dedicate hours upon hours to training and practice and in return they get the satisfaction of knowing they are the best. Hayley Wickenheiser, who grew up in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan in my riding, has not only proven herself as a worldclass athlete and tournament MVP but also as a role model for young Canadian athletes.

We only expected our athletes to do their best and from that we simply got the best. I congratulate all Canadian medal winning athletes. They have made us proud.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand today to acknowledge the tremendous accomplishment of a great group of Canadian athletes.

The entire country watched yesterday as the members of our men's ice hockey team won its first Olympic gold medal since Oslo in 1952. The team, as all proud Canadians know, includes Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph, Rob Blake, Eric Brewer, Adam Foote, Ed Jovanovski, Al MacInnis, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Theoren Fleury, Simon Gagné, Jarome Iginla, Paul Kariya, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Joe Nieuwendyk, Owen Nolan, Mike Peca, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Ryan Smyth and Steve Yzerman

This group of talented and dedicated athletes won the gold medal under immense international and domestic pressure. Together with their head coach Pat Quinn, all their assistants and the Great One, Wayne Gretzy, they made us all proud. Their win capped an incredible Olympics for all Canadian athletes.

I say way to go Canada. Vive le Canada.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate a remarkable young Winnipeg woman who has recently gone on to international athletic glory.

Not only is she one of the very small handful of athletes who have competed in both the summer and winter Olympics. Clara Hughes made history on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian athlete to win a medal in both the summer and winter Olympic games.

Hughes won a pair of bronze medals in the 1996 summer games in Atlanta as a road cyclist, and this past Saturday she won a bronze medal in the ladies' 5,000 metre speed skate in Salt Lake City. She is only the fourth athlete to win a medal at both the summer and winter Olympic games.

Clara Hughes is one of 37 female athletes of the 66 sent by Canada to return home with an Olympic medal around her neck. Clara's embrace of speed over distance has done her very well and I know all Canadians wish that she continue her remarkable career in both of her sports.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Canada's olympic team at the Winter Olympics that ended yesterday, in Salt Lake City.

All Canadians can be very proud of our team, which was made up of 156 exceptional men and women who trained for countless hours over several years to achieve this ultimate goal in sports: to go to the Olympic Games.

I also wish to pay tribute to the thousands of coaches, officials, event co-ordinators, managerial staff, volunteers and parents who supported our team for many years, particularly in preparation for the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

We are proud of all our athletes and I invite my distinguished colleagues to join me in congratulating the 2002 Canadian olympic team.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, there were seven Canadian athletes at the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City who have close ties to Red Deer. They are Jamie Salé, Deidra Dionne, Jeremy Wotherspoon, Steven Elm, Regan Lauscher, Grant Albrecht and Ryan Smyth. Red Deer and all of central Alberta are proud of these athletes. We respect and admire their dedication to their sport. Our nation is very lucky to have these individuals representing us at the Olympic games.

I offer special congratulations to long-time residents of Red Deer, Jamie Salé and Diedra Dionne, who won a gold and a bronze medal at the games. Everyone knows the story about Jamie and the pairs figure skating and of course most people saw Diedra flying through the air to win a bronze medal in freestyle skiing.

We cheered loudly for Ryan Smyth and his Team Canada teammates, and it paid off. Yesterday Ryan and the men's hockey team ended the 50 year drought and won the gold medal.

To these athletes and to all of team Canada, we are extremely proud of them and thank them for representing us so well on the international sporting stage.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the road from Chicoutimi to Salt Lake City was not an easy one for gold medal winner Marc Gagnon and for the very promising Marie Ève Drolet.

The results achieved by our two athletes are the outcome of years of sustained efforts and sacrifices, with the support of their parents.

Seeing Marc Gagnon on the podium during our national anthem was an incredibly intense moment and an inspiration for us all. In becoming Canada's greatest winter olympics medal winner, Marc Gagnon is a role model for generations to come.

Congratulations and thanks to the speed skating club Les Comètes de Chicoutimi for training athletes who make us proud.

Allow me to also congratulate Marc's teammates, Jonathan Guilmette, François-Louis Tremblay, Mathieu Turcotte and Éric Bédard, for winning the 5,000 metre men's relay. Finally, I would also like to congratulate Jonathan Guilmette for his silver medal in the 500 metre race.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, I wish to congratulate the Quebec and Canadian athletes on their remarkable performances at the Salt Like City Winter Olympics.

Through their determination and extraordinary talent, the Quebec and Canadian athletes provided us with moments that were heavily charged with emotion, from start to finish, right until the closing moments.

What a brilliant hockey victory. First we had the gold win by Danielle Sauvageau's women's team, and then the team of Mario Lemieux, Martin Brodeur and Simon Gagné earned the ultimate honour after a gap of 50 years.

Many names will go down in sport history: Marc Gagnon, for his record number of medals; Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, and all the others whose performances brought them such credit in these competitions among the world's best.

To the Quebec and Canadian athletes, and to all those who contributed to their success, our thanks for those memorable images, which will remain in our memories. You will all remain a source of inspiration and will act as ambassadors for the youth of Quebec.

Congratulations to you all. We are proud of you.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—Cochrane, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to congratulate our Canadian Olympic team. From figure skating to speed skating to hockey our Canadian athletes from every region of the country have shown dedication, perseverance and, most of all, excellence and class.

I am especially pleased by the accomplishments of both our women's and men's hockey teams. They have restored Canadian supremacy of our national sport: hockey.

Yesterday, from coast to coast to coast, millions of Canadians had their eyes glued to their television screens, united in their pride as citizens of this great country of Canada. Our Olympians have made a remarkable contribution to the unity of this country.

I am sure that all members of this House, and indeed all Canadians, join with me in congratulating our wonderful Olympic athletes.

Bravo to all our athletes, and hooray for Canada.

Ken MackenzieStatements By Members

February 25th, 2002 / 2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a great man and a true friend. Ken MacKenzie was not great in the way our world measures greatness but he was a great man in the hearts of thousands of people.

From his beloved summer home of Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan to the U.S. border, Ken MacKenzie was a friend to thousands along the entire west side of Saskatchewan. It was obvious that Ken was born with a unique talent to accomplish his mission in life. That mission was to bring happiness to everyone, to make people feel good about themselves and to make people believe in themselves. Ken was still carrying on his life mission even when he was confined to hospital care.

Elrose, Saskatchewan and indeed the western side of Saskatchewan will always remember the man who personified the song “When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you”. Ken taught us to “Look for the silver lining whene'er a cloud appears in the blue. Remember somewhere the sun is shining”.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians waited 50 years for yesterday's brilliant moment to arrive. Indeed, 50 years after the Edmonton Mercurys won the Olympic hockey tournament in Oslo our Canadian men's hockey team brought home again yesterday the gold medal. What a way to celebrate a golden anniversary.

With a 5-2 victory over the U.S. men's hockey team our men's team matched our Canadian women's hockey team's gold medal performance over the U.S. women's team. We can now safely say that with victorious Olympic men and women hockey champions, Canada rules hockey.

Another historical Canadian moment was also achieved in this month of February 2002, Black History Month. Jarome Iginla, a valued member of our men's hockey team, is the first black Canadian to become an Olympic gold medalist in hockey. I say way to go, Jarome.

As my nine year old daughter yelled yesterday, “Baaam”. Canada is Olympic gold through and through.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canada watched as the men's hockey team was victorious in the Olympic final, bringing home the first gold for a Canadian hockey team in 50 years.

This marvellous win is in addition to the win by our women's team a week earlier.

We can proudly say that our national sport was well represented by our Canadian athletes. The leadership and the determination of these players set a wonderful example for our Canadian youth.

Congratulations to all the athletes and to the members of the men's hockey team, who must still be savoring their victory. This gold medal brought the 19th Winter Olympic Games to a successful conclusion and we are very proud of it.

The men have had us pretty worried, but they played a top-notch game, and we congratulate them and thank them for this magnificent gold.

2002 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we all finish savoring Sunday's great hockey moment, I want to celebrate another great moment on ice: the victory Saturday night of two Quebec athletes from the riding of Mercier—Marc Gagnon and Jonathan Guilmette, who won gold and silver in the 500 metre short track speed skating event.

Still trailing the American at the beginning of the last lap, Marc Gagnon sprinted ahead at the last moment, and Jonathan Guilmette miraculously broke through and crossed the finish line second. Such artistry. And such teamwork. The two Quebecers, their friend Jean-François Monette, and their trainers, Guy Thibault and André Guilmette, had just added two medals to the collection.

“You have to have a dream and go after it,” was Marc Gagnon's comment right after his victory. We thank these brave Quebecers for letting us share their dream.