House of Commons Hansard #160 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was legal.


Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

March 20th, 2002 / 4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, Bill C-15B is part of the bill we had asked the justice minister for some time to separate. This has been done and we appreciate that because there were two very conflicting aspects in one bill. One aspect was cruelty to animals. The other dealt with the protection of our children from child pornography and luring on the Internet. We appreciated that aspect and supported that part, but we had some concerns with the cruelty to animals portion.

As my colleague has stated, we in no way condone cruelty to animals. There should be strong legislation in place to deal with anyone who abuses animals in any way. Our concern comes when we look at the agricultural community, people who raise and use animals in their businesses, such as fishermen and farmers.

We are concerned that if certain aspects of the bill are carried out to the degree we think some people will want to push them, it will put animal husbandry practices into question and it will put the people who raise the food we need in harm's way. The whole issue of protecting animals is a balancing act, as is every bill that comes to the House. We cannot go too far one way or we intrude in one area, but we have to go far enough to make sure that what we are trying to do gets done. This is no exception.

We have received in my office, as I am sure have all members in the House, countless letters of support for the bill from animal rights groups. They are doing their job. They are making sure we are aware that this legislation is in front of us, that we need to be aware that cruelty to animals is a problem and that there needs to be strong legislation to protect animals. On the other side we also are receiving letters from people who are concerned for the way of life they have created and the fact that the bill, if it is put into law the way it exists, could very well jeopardize the actions that they take.

People in the agricultural industry and the people who deal with animals are very cognizant of how to treat animals. They do it in the best way they can because it is to their advantage to do that. An animal that is treated properly is one that meets the requirements of the final process. There are all kinds of examples I could put forward about the industry which has governed itself. It has brought forward its own means of regulation to make sure that what is done and what the animals face is right.

The University of Lethbridge is in my riding. Like many universities across the country, it does research. That is another aspect where we have to make sure the animals are treated properly. We have seen a huge movement in the right direction as far as how animals that are kept for research are handled. On the other hand we have seen some people outside the research circles who really do need firm legislation and should be put out of business. That hopefully is where the legislation will lead. We hope it will not lead to the detriment of research and to our agricultural community in general.

We have brought forward suggestions from time to time on what we think needs to be done with some aspects of the bill regarding protection of animals. We hope the government will recognize that the concerns we are bringing forward are indeed legitimate and need to be addressed. If the government can in any way through changes to this legislation recognize all sides of the issue, then that is what should be done to make sure people can buy into this and buy into the fact that our animals need to be protected and treated fairly.

One of ways Bill C-15B differs from Bill C-17 that was before the last parliament is that a person would have to act willfully or recklessly in killing or harming an animal. Many organizations, businesses and individuals have a significant concern with respect to this aspect of the bill, namely that we would need to prove a person was wilful and reckless in his or her treatment. The bill could then come into effect and the law could be applied to the person.

The intent of Bill C-15B is fine. Cruelty to animals is something many of us do not understand. However we need to make sure the bill does not go too far. It must not hamper legal and rightful agricultural producers and others by wrongly accusing them of cruelty.

The idea of elevating the status of animals from property into something higher has many people concerned and rightly so. It would open up a whole different area of legal challenges. At what point would we stop? Do plants feel pain? We would be opening up a whole new area that could and would be challenged because there are people who would take it to the maximum degree.

The definition of animal under the bill would include non-human vertebrates and other animals that have the capacity to feel pain. The definition marks a significant departure. It would provide protection for an extremely wide range of living organisms which have never before been afforded this kind of legal protection. This piece of legislation would change the scope of what is currently in place.

The definition has practical difficulties. As worded it could cause enormous problems by extending the criminal law to invertebrates, cold blooded species such as fish, and an extremely wide variety of domestic and wild animals. It would affect the entire fishing industry by raising concerns about how hooks should be baited and how fish are handled after they are caught. It should be done in a humane way but it still needs to be done.

We have asked the government to delete or modify the definition but it has not. The issue could be a major concern as the bill proceeds.

The previous justice minister assured us in a speech that activities that are lawful and legitimate today would remain lawful after the bill received royal assent. The statement was intended to put at ease some of the concerns being raised at the time. She promised the House the changes would in no way negatively affect the many legitimate activities that involve animals such as hunting, farming or medical and scientific research.

We hope we can hold the new justice minister to the words of his predecessor. The words mean a lot. They have gone a long way to relieving the concerns of some people. We hope we can make sure they come true.

The previous justice minister's statement was self evident but it could be misleading. She said the provisions would not prevent legitimate activities from being carried out but that the law would proscribe only illegal activities. That is a bit of a play on words that negates what she meant to say in the first place. We are concerned the new provisions would narrow the scope of what constitutes legitimate activity.

These are just some of the issues. As Bill C-15B progresses through the House and we get an opportunity to rise and speak to it we will bring out other aspects.

We in our party support cruelty to animals legislation. However we want to make sure it addresses the issue without invading other parts of society.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and add my comments to the bill under discussion.

The issue has raised more interest in my constituency than many others. I just completed a tour of two dozen communities in my riding. It is a rural riding composed of a great many communities, most of whom are dependent on the agriculture industry. Within the communities there is tremendous concern about Bill C-15B because of the importance of the agriculture industry. In reviewing the correspondence I have received and the views of various organizations regarding the issue I find myself supportive of the concerns expressed by a number of the groups.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture whose president is fellow Manitoban Mr. Bob Friesen has communicated to me its concerns about a number of issues. Not the least of these is that the criminal code would no longer provide the same legal protection currently given to those who use animals for legitimate, lawful and justified practices. That is a serious concern. I am sure it is not held by farmers alone. However most farmers engaged in the business of livestock will have concerns about that aspect of the bill.

Concerns have come to me from other groups as well. Keystone Agricultural Producers, a Manitoba farm association, is a strong and active group. It has communicated concerns about animal cruelty provisions being moved from the general classification of property offences into a separate section of their own. It is concerned that elevating the status of animals from property could cause significant detriment to legitimate livestock dependent businesses. A great many of these operate across Canada but my riding in particular is home to a tremendous number of them.

I do not mean to single out any one group, but in my riding of Portage--Lisgar a number of Hutterite colonies are actively involved in livestock industries. More Hutterite colonies that operate agricultural enterprises dealing with livestock are in my riding than any other riding in Canada. This concern is shared by the hon. member for Provencher who has done such a tremendous job in advocating against this piece of legislation.

My colleague from the region, the hon. member for Selkirk--Interlake who is our agriculture critic, has similar concerns. We are afraid agricultural operations would be negatively affected by the legislation.

Although concerns about the bill are not limited to agricultural organizations I have had numerous communications from organizations such as the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association which is concerned about the definition of animal. The definition is so broad, subjective and ambiguous it could include non-human vertebrates and any animal that has the capacity to feel pain. Livestock operators concerned about pests on their property might be so impeded they would be unable to operate their businesses effectively for profit.

The legitimate concerns of farm organizations have not been addressed by the government's proposed amendments.

As I said, concerns about the bill are not exclusive to agricultural organizations. I will quote a letter written by Mr. Pierre Burton, a well known Canadian, on behalf of Canadians for Medical Progress Inc. He states:

However, some amended components of this section of the bill as drafted could have serious and paralyzing consequences on medical science. Essentially, they will remove animals as property, and will be interpreted as conferring person-like status on animals. In my opinion, this is an asinine, ludicrous approach towards solving the problem of animal abuse.

Many Canadians are concerned this is a wrong headed piece of legislation, and legitimately so.

Recently in Manitoba protests have been staged by so-called animal rights activists. For some time in our province we have seen protests designed to disrupt legitimate livestock operations. These groups seem willing to go to schoolyards and tell children that milk causes cancer. They dump hundreds if not thousands of gallons of animal waste on the streets to protest against what is called the Pregnant Mare Urine operation. Manitoba now has dozens of these protests.

The sensationalizing of concern to the detriment of legitimate farm operations has frightened many farmers and people who support the agricultural industry. It makes them fearful that people such as Liz White, director of the Animal Alliance of Canada, are not sincere when they say the ramifications of the legislation would have no impact on agricultural producers. Yet when we look at the past records of such organizations we cannot help but be concerned.

I will quote from a fundraising letter Ms. White put out for her organization. These organizations depend on sensationalizing their programs so they can raise funds from principally urban people who think every living creature is a Walt Disney creature that should be treated like their little chihuahua dog. There is a difference but Liz White does not seem to think so. She states:

Bill C-15B, which makes changes to the animal cruelty section of the Criminal Code, recognizes for the first time that animals are not just “property,” but rather beings in their own right who feel pain and are therefore deserving of legal protections.

I can't overstate the importance of this change. This elevation of animals in our moral and legal view is precedent setting and will have far, far reaching effects. We'll make sure of that.

That is a threat. It is a threat to farmers, fishermen and hunters in my area and across Canada. It is a threat that they will see protests about the size of their poultry cages, the way they look after their hogs, or their failure to massage their ducks' bellies frequently enough to satisfy this group. It is a threat to people who milk cows. It is a threat to people who make their living in an industry under attack by the government and by circumstances not of its own making.

Bill C-15B would continue the Liberal government's sad trend of pitting rural people against urban people in a destructive way. We can look at Bill C-68, the firearms legislation. We can look at the way the government has ignored the need for infrastructure and renewal of roads and drainage systems in western Canada since the end of the Crow rate. We can look at the species at risk legislation under which farmers would be assumed guilty and not innocent. Unlike the minister of defence who was assumed innocent on the basis of ignorance, farmers could be ignorant and assumed guilty. It is something of a contradiction.

This is the problem we have with the government. It does not seem to understand that respecting landowners and people who practise agriculture and animal husbandry is a far better approach to making legislation that protects animals than the approach it is taking. The government's approach is disrespectful and sad.

I will quote a letter I received from the Bob Friesen of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, an organization concerned about the issue. It says:

The government has been working hard to move agriculture beyond crisis management--

I take exception to that aspect of the letter. However it goes on:

--so it would be counterproductive if this proposed legislation ties up farmers' time and money in frivolous court cases.

That is exactly what it would do. That is what it is designed to do. Farmers do not need the hassle. They have enough challenges without adding Bill C-15B to the pie.

The letter from Bob Friesen goes on to state:

--we are not convinced this proposed legislation will prevent generally accepted and best methods of animal management from being brought before the courts.

That is not at all the way to deal fairly with farmers. I grew up on a farm. Our family has a century farm in Manitoba. I understand very well how our agricultural producers have treated their livestock. They treat it well because their livelihood depends on the mutualism of the relationship.

I far sooner would trust the farmers of my riding to protect their animals, their livestock and look after them well than I would ever trust the government or anyone who drew up a bill like this. It is a shame and a sham. The government should withdraw it.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Cumberland--Colchester, Anti-terrorism Legislation; the hon. member for Sherbrooke, The Environment.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today and say a few words regarding Bill C-15B, which is an act to amend the criminal code, specifically cruelty to animals and firearms.

I have spent the last 35 years of my life in agriculture, raising cattle and horses and I have had farm dogs. I now have an eight pound Maltese that pretty much rules our household, so I think I speak with a certain amount of expertise.

However, I think I bring some expertise to the debate. I find it rather ironic that the urban lobby obviously has had so much influence into the writing of the bill and has put a yoke around agriculture's neck. Without a profitable agriculture industry, people in the urban centres will get hungry in a hurry. They are dependent on agriculture producers being efficient and providing them with not only an abundant, but a cheap source of food.

When I read things in the bill such as clause 182.2(b) which says:

(1) Every one commits an offence who, wilfully or recklessly,

(b) kills an animal or, being the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately;

Livestock producers allow their animals to be killed. We are now saying that because this was done wilfully someone would decide, probably in a court, whether it was done recklessly. They would probably also decide in a court whether the animal was killed brutally or viciously, and that is all very subjective. It is not something that can be defined easily. It would be left up to people who probably any aspect of cattle husbandry would be a revelation them. It would be left up to people in the city, probably a jury of people who did not know anything about cattle or animal husbandry, to define whether I allowed my stock to be killed brutally or viciously or that I wilfully allowed them to be killed and was reckless about it, even though the animal died immediately.

I said that I have been farming for 35 years. I have not figured out a way that I could eat beef without first killing the cow. It has to die before it can be eaten. It is just common sense. It is the same thing with a chicken.

I know there are many producers in the House. I know there are many people here who produce cattle. I know we certainly have some very prominent chicken producers in this parliament as well. I cannot understand why more members of the government are not objecting to the way the bill is written. I think it is ridiculous.

I believe that this will be a millstone hung around the neck of agricultural producers and we do not need it. We already have to put up with low commodity prices, with the uncertainties of weather, too much precipitation or too little precipitation, pests and diseases in our crops, our cattle and in our livestock in general. There is the possibility of all kinds of other problems, weed infestations and so forth with which we have to put up. To have this very subjective piece of legislation placed on us is something we certainly do not need.

The past minister speaking at second reading in this place has said “what is lawful today in the course of legitimate activities would be lawful when the bill receives royal assent”. That is what the minister promised in the House. She also went on to say that these changes would in no way negatively affect the many legitimate activities that involved animals, such as hunting, farming, medical or scientific research. I take some comfort in that statement.

However, if the previous minister was sincere about that, and I assume she was, then why has the present minister not simply put that into the legislation? Although I am not a lawyer, I believe that would go a long way in alleviating some of the concerns that the agriculture industry has.

One of the things that the minister mentioned was hunting. I used to hunt too. Before I got this job, I had time to do lots of things. I was able to go big game hunting. My goal in hunting was to find an animal for which I had a proper licence, to kill it as quickly as I could, usually with a shot to the head, neck or lungs, which would knock the animal down. I would rush there and let the blood out of the animal which helped to cool the body as part of the process of butchering. I would kill the animal as quickly as I possibly could.

In the law of physics on rifles and so forth, if the bullet on the way between me and the animal should actually touch a branch or something, it will deflect a certain amount and it may miss my target by as much as foot of where I actually shot, hit the animal and knock it down. However the animal may would jump up and run off into the bush before I have the chance to get another shot at it.

Hunters under those circumstances have absolutely the best of intentions but, through no fault of their own and through extenuating circumstances, have these wounded animals run off on them. Hunters do their utmost best to track that animal down, dispatch it, put it out of its misery and take the meat home. That is the object of going hunting. I never was one of those hunters who went out strictly for the trophies. I went there because I like wild meat. I like elk, moose and deer. Those are the animals we hunted in the foothills of Alberta.

I see that as a problem. This proposed legislation will effectively drive a stake through the heart of hunters. Hunting is a very important thing. The most dangerous North American animal is not the grizzly bear, the wolf, the wolverine or any of those carnivores. It is the white-tailed deer. The reason it is the most dangerous animal in North America is more people are killed hitting white-tailed deer on the highways with their cars or dodging them and getting into oncoming traffic than by any other animal in North America.

Do members know anybody who has hit a deer? I think everybody in this place knows somebody who has hit a deer. I have hit them myself. One day my wife was going down the road and I told her that if she saw a deer about to cross the road, or if one crossed in front of her, to slow down. Where there is one deer there will be others and they follow one behind the other. She did exactly as I suggested. She slowed down, missed the first deer and watched another one run by. Then a deer came out and ran into the side of her car. Even though my wife was stopped, she got hit by a deer.

That probably is a sideline to the point I was trying to get across. My point is this legislation is not accomplishing what it is attempting to accomplish. I agree with what it is attempting to do. I agree that we should be touch on people who intentionally are cruel to animals. I know that the farmers I have as neighbours would never intentionally do that. If they fail to provide adequate feed, bedding and water, it simply takes money out of their back pockets because the animals do so poorly.

Anyone who deliberately neglects animals or is cruel to them ought to be punished very severely. However this is having a punishing effect on people who are legitimately trying to make a living and provide food for our friends in the cities.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I have all sorts of things going through my head when I rise to debate a bill such as this. As humans we have so many interactions with animals. It is just a matter of fact that we share planet earth with many different kinds of creatures. This ranges all the way from a friend of mine who is in love with his cat to other people I know who have dogs that are more precious to them than perhaps the value they have husbands, wives or children.

Not long ago a close friend of mine suffered the experience of having to put his dog down, as the phraseology goes, because he was very ill and beginning to suffer a lot. When his dog left the earth, I guess is how one would put it, he grieved as much as I had seen some other people grieve on the passing of a fellow human. There is no doubt in my mind that we sometimes have close relationships with animals.

I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan many years ago. We had domesticated animals, dogs and cats. We had the dogs and cats to kill the rats to maintain a bit of an ecological balance on our farm.

I distinctly remember the day when my dog was killed by a truck alongside the road. My dog foolishly went after the truck as if to catch it. I never did ascertain what my dog intended to do with the truck if he was successful in catching it, but he had this habit of chasing vehicles. One day he misjudged or tripped or whatever and was killed by the truck. I remember how I grieved.

I remember also as a young man on the farm observing my parents sometimes involved in butchering animals. I can assure everyone it was never an occasion for delight. It was always an occasion where we realized that life was precious and even for animals it was life.

To have animals subjected to cruelty is of course very offensive to by far the majority of us. I for one have no problem whatsoever with a bill that would enhance the penalties for those who wilfully caused cruelty to animals.

I know of one case not long ago where a woman in Edmonton had a whole house full of cats. There were 70, 80 or 100 of them in one house. She did not look after them and many of them died and just rotted there. Apparently it was a dreadful place. Obviously this was a person who was, I believe, mentally ill. One does not live in a house with decaying dead animals unless there is something seriously wrong with one's psyche.

That is not what we are talking about. We are not talking about trying to reduce the care with which we should protect animals from unnecessary and deliberate wilful cruelty. However there are many things in the bill which cause us legitimate concern.

I think again of the different practices, which some of my colleagues have already mentioned them, that are utilized regularly on the farm. When I was a youngster we used to dehorn cattle. I do not know if anyone has ever seen that. I will tell members one thing, and that is one never wants to be on the business end of a bull that has horns. That could be fatal. In fact, every year certain numbers of farmers and ranchers who die because of encounters with animals.

Taking their horns off is a matter of safety. I remember my father had a great big tool that he used to dehorn animals he purchased which had not been dehorned when they were young. That had to be at least partially painful to those animals. They seemed to indicate that, although usually they brushed their heads off and carried on with their lives. In our family my dad made a point of putting dehorning paste on young calves when they were born which prevented the horns from growing. It was much more humane. That was long before any rules or laws which said that had to be done. It was natural.

It is not to a farmer's benefit to cause animals unnecessary pain because, as we all know, whether it is a human or an animal suffering pain will always cause reduction in faculties. A dairy cow's production of milk will be reduced if she is subjected to unnecessary pain. With a beef animal the production of meat, the conversion of hay, oats and barley into good roasts and good steaks, will be reduced if the animal is suffering from pain. It is in the farmer's best interest for animals to have the least amount of pain.

A law that attacks farmers and ranchers in this stead is unnecessary because there is no farmer or rancher who would deliberately cause his or her animals pain. There is nothing in it for them.

We are dealing with those people who are what I would call sickos that get pleasure out of causing pain to animals and in some cases to other humans. They are the masochists and the sadists. Of course we need rules in society to limit their behaviour.

I think of one of my friends who had a pork factory. He built a massive structure many years ago. He told me one day that his pigs lived better than he did. He pointed out, for example, that his house did not have air conditioning. In summer when it was hot his house got as hot as the sun provided the heat. On the other hand the pigs in the barn had an automatic, thermostatically controlled air conditioning system. When the temperature reached a certain level the air conditioning kicked in and these pigs were living in the lap of luxury.

He provided for them the very best of balanced diets. He provided medicare for those animals from birth to death. He looked after them very well. They were kept clean. They were well fed. There were regular inspections. It is also true that at the end of each week a truck rolled up to the far end of the production line and took a truckload of pigs off to market. It is true that at the end of the truck trip those pigs were put to death to provide bacon, ham and all those other goods things that we enjoy come breakfast and other times.

I do not know how we can get around that. Of course it must be done humanely. There is no question about it. However it is wrong to put laws into place where the animal rights activists can harass farmers and cause them to go to court to try to defend themselves, which we have reason to believe will happen with the legislation before us.

Why should we put that barrier in front of hog and beef producers who are simply trying to do their best and who are committed to not giving their animals any unnecessary or undue pain? Why should we then put those same farmers to the task of having to go to court, hiring lawyers and cutting into their margins, which are very close at the best of times these days with the Liberals government and its farm policies? Why should we do that and cause these farmers to go to court to defend what is just normal practice?

The amendments we have put forward are meant to correct the anomalies in the legislation. Yet I have a suspicion that at the end of the day, since they say Canadian Alliance on them, Liberal members will probably vote them down. However a substantial amendment in this group put forward by the Minister of Justice will probably carry because it says Liberal on it. Because we want to improve legislation and because the amendment looks perfectly fine to me we will probably support it. I wish the government would do the same with regard to our amendments.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Madam Speaker, Bill C-15B is of considerable interest to me and others because of how it directly impacts on individuals in our respective ridings, particularly those in the agricultural areas of Canada.

When we look at a bill like this one we have to understand where some people are trying to take it. As my colleague and others have mentioned today I do not think any of us have a problem. In fact we are staunch supporters of bills that protect animals in the right and appropriate way from the kind of cruelty we have seen reported in newspapers, on television and so on. People have performed some horrific and sadistic acts against animals. Of course we want to protect them from that kind of horrible cruelty.

We all realize that in our respective ridings there are wonderful constituents who have animals as pets, be they cats, dogs or horses. They spend a great deal of time and attention caring for these animals. For individuals who do not have other close companionships animals may be the greatest enjoyment in their lives. We appreciate and acknowledge that.

There is a certain therapy in many senior citizens homes these days involving animals. I quite agree with its benefits. I have worked as an orderly in health care settings in the past and have done chaplaincy work in those settings too. As people get along in years their eyes light up when cats or dogs are brought in. They are wonderfully pleased to see them. Perhaps they go back in their minds to their childhood years when they had a cat, a dog or whatever.

This therapy add something considerable to their lives, even if only for a few hours or if they have pets on a long term, more permanent basis. None of us can deny the fact that animals bring us a great deal of enjoyment. They can be man's best friend in the sense that they help, protect and are loyal.

I will read some quotes from the In Defence of Animals campaign on its website. My express purpose in flagging them for all of us and for the viewing audience is to understand the motivation for the legislation before us today and perhaps even take it further.

According to this IDA, In Defence of Animals, website its campaign proposes nothing less than to change society's relationship with animals. That is a very grandiose desire and motivation. Many quotations have been submitted by various individuals across North America. I want to read some of them because I think they will be helpful to reinforce and understand where some people are trying to drive this issue. We see it partly reflected in the legislation before us. It is fundamental to understand the animal rights agenda. I think members will get the picture very quickly.

Here is an article from Lynn Manheim, a columnist with Letters for Animals. He says:

Ultimately there can be no real progress until society undergoes a paradigm shift, a new way of looking at the world which opens the door to new systems of interacting with it. As we have seen most strikingly with the women's movement, language plays an essential part in such a shift. Establishing legal rights for animals will be virtually impossible while they continue to be called, and thought of, as “its” and “things”.

He definitely wants change. I would like to read another article from the president of The Elephant Alliance. She says:

From its inception, the Elephant Alliance has advanced the idea that elephant captivity and servitude, like slavery, must end. We thank and commend In Defence of Animals for initiating this important and necessary campaign, for truly, they are not our property, and we are not their owners.

Here is another article from the director of Project Zero, Ed Duvin:

This campaign is a vital systemic approach to elevate the legal standing...of animals. Changing our present oppressive language is a crucial first step in altering attitudes and expanding the concept of family. By working at the roots of injustice instead of the symptoms, we hasten the day when a new ethic is achieved for all beings--human and non-human alike.

Here is another one by an individual who wrote a book called The Compassion of Animals. He says that a particular campaign:

--will prod us along in our moral evolution. Just as we moved beyond “owning” people after the Civil War, we now need to move beyond “owning” animals, who deserve a far greater understanding in our society than simply being treated as property and things.

A lawyer wrote:

--as an attorney it is all too obvious to me...the true legal protection of animals. Codifying the language and concepts of animal guardianship will help to usher in the day when our laws reflect our society's feelings that companion animals are members of our families.

Jane Goodall of the Jane Goodall Institute took it quite a distance when she wrote:

In the legal sense, animals are regarded as “things”, mere objects that can be bought, sold, discarded, or destroyed at an owner's whim. Only when animals can be regarded as “persons” in the eyes of the law will it be possible to give teeth to the often-fuzzy laws protecting animals from abuse.

Another author, Stephanie Laland, in Peaceful Kingdom: Random Acts of Kindness By Animals wrote:

I looked up the word “property” in the dictionary. It said “a thing or things owned”. To me, this makes it clear that, by definition, animals can never be considered property. A “thing” cannot love. A “thing” cannot act from compassion. A “thing” will never risk its own life to help a stranger or even a friend.

Another says:

Animals are not things, but beings who share our planet and our lives. We should acknowledge the kinship and call them by name friends and companions. We support In Defence of Animals' campaign.

The House will probably get my drift pretty quickly. It is taking it up to some different levels when animals are actually being called persons. There is something wrong about that philosophically and theologically. We are the proper stewards of animals, things on this earth and so on, but to be reviewing it in this way is quite wrong, getting it a bit skewed and way out of joint.

Here is one from the president of the Action for Animals Network who says:

The animal rights philosophy holds that animals are not property, but are individuals with needs and interests of their own. By including animals into our system of ethics, we remove the argument that animals are things, that they are ours to dominate and use as we see fit. When we see them as individuals in their own right, we strengthen the moral foundation of our society.

An another says:

It's up to us to demonstrate through action and words, that companion animals are much more than mere property. They are our friends, partners, or companions and we are their guardians, advocates and protectors.

Another reads:

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is fully in support of your campaign to secure a change in the legal status of animals. People of other genders, races, and even age groups, were once treated as property in this country. Now, it is time for “people” of other species to be accorded the same simple dignity of being recognized, not as someone else's property, but as beings in their own right.

Although there are numerous other ones I could quote, let me conclude with:

As we move into a new millennium, we are seeking a day when animals are treated as sentient beings with rights. As an organization dealing with companion animals, food-production animals, and exotic animals, we are pleased to become part of this important campaign.

We could go on at length quoting different others that have a rather elevated status of an animal, putting them at the same level, ranking and status as human beings. That is where some of these people want to drive this issue. They very clearly acknowledge that in some Internet forums.

The stated purpose of the bill to amend the criminal code appears good on the surface but actually there are some real kickers. Obviously the Canadian Alliance Party has long disagreed with the Firearms Act. We believe that the definition of animal is far too broad and that it will mean different things to different individuals, particularly farmers and others who work with animals as their means of livelihood. It will bring them under the prosecution of the law. Despite the assurances of the minister to the contrary we think it will be of great harm in that regard. Basically it is quite important to understand where people are appearing to head with this issue.

Therefore some of the amendments that my colleagues and others from various parties have proposed would very be sensible ones, I think, to rein this in, to back it off, and to provide the kinds of curbs and safeguards that we are asking for and that we think are only right for our society.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise in the House today to take part in this debate on Bill C-15B, entitled an act to amend the criminal code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and to amend the Firearms Act.

I want to begin by stating categorically that I am a great lover of animals. I have a wonderful little dog at home that is probably the joy of my little girl's life and probably thinks I am the best guy in the world too. It is not a question of us on this side of the House and in this party not loving animals or caring for them. We certainly do.

I think that perhaps in our society very often we see great pendulum swings in the mood of society, in the way we approach social issues. If there is a great public outcry about a certain subject, the pendulum swings one way. Then it swings the other way as there is a public outcry on the other side of the issue. It is quite clear in our society, particularly North American society, and with the increase in technological advances and communication we have heard of a number of recent incidents in which animals have been used cruelly and sometimes killed outright by people who have absolutely no right to ever do anything like that.

I suppose that in response to those kinds of incidents, about which we have all heard, there are definitely lobby groups in our society that have pushed the government to bring in stricter laws and stricter controls in terms of cruelty to animals. Of course the government has also lumped in a bunch of other things in the bill, just to confuse the issue.

The stated purpose of the bill, of course, is to amend the criminal code by consolidating animal cruelty offences and increasing the maximum penalties. The bill also adds administrative provisions that are intended to simplify applications for the Firearms Act. Bill C-15B reintroduces the proposed amendments to the cruelty to animals provisions of the criminal code that were introduced in Bill C-17 during the last parliament, with certain changes. We remember some of the outcry at that time about this legislation. Unfortunately, even though there are a few minor improvements to this legislation, there are many people out there in our country who are very concerned about the legislation. In particular, people who are engaged in the harvesting and husbandry of animals for their livelihoods have a great number of concerns about the bill.

I know that government legislation cannot satisfy everybody. It will not satisfy everybody. However, when sufficiently large numbers of people in our country have registered tremendous disapproval of the bill, it is important for us as legislators to take into account their concerns. There are a number of groups across the country that simply do not feel the government is listening to their concerns. They do not feel that we have to go this far to satisfy one group and to perhaps somehow eliminate cruelty to animals.

What we are saying in our opposition to a number of clauses in the bill is that we do not have to go this far. One concern with the bill is that the definition of the word “animal” is far too broad. The proposed definition of animal in Bill C-15B includes non-human vertebrates and all animals having “the capacity to feel pain”.

Let me show how we can go from the sublime to the ridiculous on something like this. I happen to be a fisherman. That is what I do with my spare time outside the House of Commons. Of course I would rather be here, but in those times when I cannot be here I go fishing, I work in my garden or I take my wife out to dinner, not particularly in that order of priority, but we do have lives outside the House, do we not? I enjoy fishing.

Fishing, of course, means that at times one has to put a worm on a hook. Unfortunately I have not been able to communicate very well with the bait I use, so I have no authoritative voice with which to say whether or not the worm I use actually feels pain. However, in the enjoyment of my sport, shared with perhaps millions of others in the country, I have come to the conclusion that it is probably okay for me to do that and to pursue fishing without the possibility of coming under some kind of cloud of suspicion that I am being cruel to the worm.

However, there just may be someone in my area or in the country who feels otherwise. It is quite possible that some day I might have worm police knocking on my door to tell me I am being cruel to the worms and that under the provisions of Bill C-15B, which would have been passed in the House by that time, they have to take me into custody.

Of course, that would never occur, would it? To go from the sublime to the ridiculous in such a way simply could not happen, could it? However, it might just happen and it might happen for anybody else engaged in any sporting activity in the country that has long been recognized as recreational or that sometimes, for the benefit of those who need the food, is something that is quite legitimate and within the law.

When we see the pendulum in our society move from one pole to the other, very often things like this get caught in the middle. I believe, and I am sure many of my hon. colleagues in the House believe, that we need to have balance in the legislation. The government is not providing balance.

Another key concern is that the criminal code would no longer provide the same level of legal protection presently afforded to those who use animals for legitimate, lawful and justified practices. Think of all the farmers across the country who are engaged in animal husbandry of some kind or another who could possibly, and I am not saying that they would, be brought before the bar of justice because under the legislation they would be accused of somehow being cruel to animals. What does that do to the agricultural community in the country, which is suffering more and more every day? It is just one more nail in the coffin of the agricultural community in many ways.

We ought to think very carefully about these kinds of considerations and consequences before we pass this kind of draconian legislation.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-15 regarding cruelty to animals. I am in a sense sorry to have to do this because we certainly support the intent of the legislation, which has as its objective to modernize the law and increase penalties for offences related to animal cruelty. Unfortunately, we believe there are some areas that need to have greater attention and that have caused undue fear among some sectors of our society, especially agriculture and animal husbandry and those kinds of things. I believe we have to listen to those people and take them into consideration. It is unfortunate that it has been so difficult to get this across and to see changes made that would adequately address these fears that people have.

Agricultural groups, farmers, industry workers and medical researchers have all consistently said that they welcome the amendments to the criminal code that would clarify and strengthen provisions relating to animal cruelty and that they do not condone intentional animal abuse or neglect in any way. It is not that these groups do not agree with protecting animals. It is more that they disagree with the way we are trying to go about it than anything else.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, in a letter to me this week, wrote about its members' concerns. First, its members state:

Moving the animal cruelty provisions out of Part XI of the Criminal Code and moving them to Part VI is inappropriate. Animals are property and do not have equal rights to humans--inclusion of the provisions as a subsection of the Sexual Offences, Public Morals and Disorderly Conduct equals animal and human rights. If this move is legally justified, the title of Part VI should be changed to “Cruelty to Animals: Private and Public Property”.

The association has the phrase “animals are property and do not have equal rights to humans” in bold.

The association in its second concern states:

If the animal cruelty provisions are moved to a new section, we request the inclusion of the words “legal justification, excuse and colour of right”. This currently applies to the animal cruelty provisions by virtue of subsection 429(2).

Third, the association states:

The definition of animal to include “any animal capable of feeling pain” is far too broad and should be dropped. Dr. Clement Gauthier stated in his testimony to the Standing Committee that scientists do not yet agree on what animals feel pain and the definition is broader than that of the Canadian Council on Animal Care. Dr. Gauthier's opinion was supported by the Criminal Lawyers' Association.

This association is just one of many organizations with concerns about this law. We share those concerns. We also share the understanding that we do need to guard against some of the horrendous acts of cruelty that do occasionally happen to animals. However, we also understand that there are differences in viewpoints from some people to others, from those who have only seen the little pets in the house to those who have grown up on the farm and have had to deal with some of the realities of life on the farm with animals.

What are some of the main concerns we want to address here? One is that in the legislation there seems to be less protection for those involved in animal husbandry. I use that word because I want to define husbandry. It is interesting that we would attach that word to the science of taking care of animals.

Knowing something of biblical things I am aware that the Bible talks about what it takes to be a good husband. A husband is one who gives his utmost for the proper care of a wife.

In scripture we find the husbandman of a vineyard. That husbandman is responsible for the very best care of that vineyard but sometimes that care includes pruning and digging around the base. Occasionally some plants must have their roots trimmed and different things. Different plants require different things for that husbandman to take care of them.

That certainly is the case when it comes to animal husbandry. Certain kinds of animals require to be hurt in order for them to be unable to cause greater damage to others in the herd or in the flock as the case may be. Those who raise turkeys or chickens must sometimes take precautions to keep them from injuring one another.

We talked about the dehorning of cattle. That is for the protection of the owner, the husbandman of the cattle, the one that is responsible for the entire herd not just for that one animal. For someone who has never seen a horn taken off of an animal it is a gory sight. The horn is taken off so that it cannot gore something, but it is a bloody sight. If people with a bend toward protecting animals were to see that they would be very upset because it is an upsetting sight.

One of our speakers talked about the paste that his father used to put on the young bull calf's horn to keep it from growing. That was a newer technology causing hopefully less pain. I can see a time when a number of operations on a cattle raising operation might reach a new level which might be less harmful or less painful to an animal. If a particular rancher could not afford it, did not know about it or had not made that change in technology, he or she could foreseeable be arrested simply because of using an older method.

We heard from the former justice minister that what is legal and lawful today would continue to be legal and lawful and she would see to that. However, as the House knows, we have a new Minister of Justice who might not necessarily agree with that stance.

I want to mention the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. We believe that it is a huge step. It is a part of an outside if not a hidden inside agenda, but at least it is an agenda of organizations on the outside to try to get the status of animals raised to equal the status of human beings. We ought to first work a little harder at protecting human beings.

There are humans that are killed legally every day in Canada. We do not seem to be worried about that. This is simply because of choices of convenience. We ought to be worried about our own survival as well.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I am privileged to speak to Bill C-15B which contains unfortunately provisions that are continuations of some of the greatest flaws in the legislative drafting practices of the current government. It behooves us to look at what some of these themes are and to think about what could be done to avoid doing them both in this law and other laws in the future.

There are three themes. First, this is an omnibus bill, but not as bad as it started off being. However it is still an omnibus bill dealing with more than one topic. Second, it strips basic legal protections from individuals who are accused of making offences under the law. This is a current theme that is also quite strong in Liberal legislative drafting practices. Third, it contains vague regulatory guarantees and requires us to take it on faith that the government would undertake the protections that it has refused to place within the law. At the very same time we are finding these guarantees withheld we are told to trust the government. The guarantees would be placed in the regulations at a later point in time subject to the government's arbitrary will.

These are three themes that are strongly present in the general legislative practices of the government. For example, Bill C-36 was an extraordinary omnibus bill that contained provisions like rules relating to the Internet and appointment of judges as well as the enactment of provisions relating to preventative search and detention, and provisions that related to the enactment of United Nations conventions and so on.

This law follows the same general pattern. It contains unrelated provisions dealing with cruelty to animals and dealing with firearms. I cannot see any reason why these two subject matters are contained in the same bill. There is no logical connection between them whatsoever.

The bill was worse before. It contained measures relating to child pornography which fortunately were split away from the bill and are now contained in Bill C-15A.

It is difficult to deal intelligently and to vote rationally on a bill that is effectively a package deal, a part of which might or might not be acceptable to an individual member. How does one vote one's conscience when something good and bad is contained in the same bill?

To some degree we have divided the good from the bad in the bill, but the bill should have been subdivided into several sub-measures.

This is a trend that has existed in Canadian legislative practice for some length of time. It has been a disastrous practice that nearly split up the country on some occasions. I am thinking of the Meech Lake accord which contained five unrelated constitutional amendments as a single package. They all had to be passed. Most Canadians were quite comfortable with certain aspects of the Meech Lake accord. Other aspects were quite contentious, particularly the distinct society clause. However they all had to be done together.

The Charlottetown accord was even worse. It was a package that effectively would have gutted the entire Constitution and cobbled it back together in a vast document that was several times as long as the entire United States constitution. It was presented as a single package deal. Had it been broken into a series of smaller items not all of them could have be passed, but many could have been. Some of them were good; a lot of them were terrible.

This practice has continued on in Bill C-15B and it should be stopped. It should not be a practice that occurs at all in Canadian legislation.

I will turn to the stripping of basic legal protections. This is another thing that occurs frequently in current Liberal legislation. I recall Bill C-36 and the way in which basic legal protections of Canadians were stripped away under the preventive detention provisions of that bill. That bill made it possible to be prosecuted for one's religious beliefs. Amazing, but true.

Bill C-5 has provisions which I am attempting to amend. I have several amendments before the House that deal with the question of mens rea, whether one must have a guilty mind prior to being found guilty of destroying an animal habitat or destroying an endangered species. That law denies the requirement that one must have a guilty mind, a mens rea, in order to be found culpable.

This law does much the same thing. I will say it is not as bad in this respect as Bill C-5, but it is still problematic. It takes the aspects of the criminal code that deal with animal cruelty and removes them from the property offences section and moves them to a special new section.

I cannot determine what the legislative reason for this is, that is to say what is the need for this, but I can determine what the result would be. The result is we would remove the various protections that are built in under the property parts of the criminal code. There are certain basic protections that are not accompanying this section of the law as it moves from one part of the criminal code to the other.

The phrase legal justification or excuse and with colour of right in subsection 429(2) of the criminal code currently provides protection to those who commit any kind of property offence. That would cease to be available as a protection.

It is a funny thing that those on the government side of the House are always happy to attack members on this side of the House as somehow being out to strip those who are accused of offences against the law of their legal protections and legal rights. The fact is, and the record will show this, it has been entirely the other way during the course of the government.

This law would strip those who are accused of offences of basic protections. Protections, which are inherent to our traditional rule of law, to the common law, and to our entire legal structure, would once again be stripped out in Bill C-15B, Bill C-5, and Bill C-36. This is a consistent, unacceptable, inexcusable and entirely avoidable pattern.

The meritorious goals found in parts of each of these three pieces of legislation could all have been achieved without stripping Canadians of these basic legal protections. They are absolutely not needed. That should be corrected in this law. Or, potentially, if the government were unwilling to protect it, then the law in my opinion, on that basis alone, should be dropped from the order paper.

I want to turn to the offer of vague regulatory guarantees that protections which are not included in the law would be included later on. We are told by the minister that this would be taken care of. There would be protections for those who are accused or charged, but they would not be included in the law, they would be included elsewhere.

The record of governments, not this government in particular but of governments in general, of protecting individuals administratively when they are not protected by law is very poor. That is the whole reason why our system of government is based upon the rule of law.

I encourage the minister and all members of the government to look at the classic academic text written by Albert Venn Dicey which deals with the question of the rule of law. It is a book called An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution published in the 1880s and republished in many editions prior to Dicey's death around the time of the first world war. He deals with the question of the rule of law at length.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I apologize to the hon. member, but only a few minutes are left for the member to follow.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the amendments to Bill C-15B.

The bill has been before the House for some time. It was before the House as part of an even broader omnibus bill but after pressure from the opposition, that bill was split. It was the right thing to do, but it is still a very broad reaching bill.

Today we are discussing the amendments that have been put forth on the legislation.

The Canadian Alliance has concerns about this legislation because of the not only possible but the probable impact on farmers, trappers and other people who work with animals as a way of making a living.

Most of us know that no one treats their animals better than farmers do. Many of my neighbours half jokingly have said to me that if their husbands or wives treated them as well as they treated the cows, the horses or the other animals, they would be delighted. The point is that farmers are good custodians of animals. Good husbandry is something to be expected of farmers. It is a rare exception when animals are treated in any way but an exemplary fashion by farmers.

For that reason and for other reasons, we have great concerns about the legislation going ahead unamended. The impact will be substantial. People who only have the best intentions and really care about animals will be impacted in a negative way.

That is why we and others have put forth amendments which will at least change this legislation to make it something which we could support. No party in the House has a more deep appreciation of animals and caring for animals than the Canadian Alliance has. There are many people in our caucus who live on farms, who have worked with animals on farms and therefore understand that animals must be treated extremely well.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It being 5.40 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should establish a fund to assist in the maintenance of local cenotaphs.

Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to rise in the House tonight to move this important and timely motion.

Three weeks ago my friend, the hon. member for Fundy--Royal, brought to the attention of the House a motion that was very similar to that which we debate here tonight. I was proud to be a participant in that debate, a debate that saw a great deal of consensus among members and parties in this historic Chamber.

It might therefore seem odd that we have chosen to raise this issue again so soon thereafter. To those who would say this was an oversight on our part, let me assure them that this arrangement was entirely by design.

All too often we are limited in the praise we may offer our veterans. All too often we are too distracted by current events to remember the rich heritage of our nation's armed forces. It is perhaps in these dangerous times when our nation's most courageous citizens have been dispatched to the hostile soil of foreign lands that we are most mindful of the selfless sacrifices offered by our veterans 60 years ago.

As between our veterans and ourselves there is still a debt of gratitude that we owe to them that can never be repaid. Those brave young souls left their family homes as the innocent sons of a grateful and fearful nation and returned as our most distinguished national heroes. That heroism is legendary. Their courage has often been celebrated and their patriotism is both respected and feared the world over. I have often told the House of Commons how proud I am of my two brothers who volunteered for the war effort, perhaps only as often as I have said how truly blessed I was that they both came home safe and sound.

Across this nation there are 6,000 cenotaphs that serve as beacons of remembrance in all our daily lives. We drive past them on our way to work. We walk by them as we go about our lives, always mindful of how different our lives would be had our veterans not answered the call of freedom a generation ago. They are silent sentinels, symbols of how our Canadian soldiers held their ground in the face of countless horrors the enemy hurled at them. They are at once both tributes to the living heroes that walked among us and memorials to those whose sacrifices did not allow them to come home at war's end.

Our nation's cenotaphs are more than great pillars of marble and granite. They are the pride of a nation on display in the hearts of all our communities. Sadly, while it can be said that the respect we have for our war heroes has never faded, the harsh elements of the Canadian climate have taken their toll on these great shrines. For each day that our cenotaphs remain in a state of disrepair, we denigrate the memory of the actions of Canada's veterans.

Just today there is a story in my local paper, the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal , reporting that the cenotaph in King's Square, which is in the centre of my city, in the heart of Saint John, has been defaced with senseless graffiti. I cannot believe that this has happened in Saint John, New Brunswick.

In the article, Glen Stewart of the provincial command of the Royal Canadian Legion and its CEO said that he wishes he could get a hold of these young people who think they are artists and put them in the same room with a group of war veterans. The article goes on to state:

“Maybe then”, said the executive director...“they would understand the significance of war memorials such as the cenotaph in King's Square in uptown Saint John”.

Once again, vandals have defaced the monument with senseless graffiti.

“I think it's disgraceful,” Mr. Stewart said Tuesday, “it shows a lack of respect for our veterans, the monument, and what it stands for”.

He said it's “an ignorant few” who dishonour the memory of veterans who fought for their freedom.

“The reason that they are here and can do things like that today is because of what the veterans, who are remembered by the memorial, did for them during the wars. They should take some time and learn the history of this country and understand that the freedom they have is bought and paid for by the blood of some of their relatives.”

Mr. Stewart said the vandals should check their own family history to see if any of their relatives fought for freedom and ask themselves how their relatives would feel about defacing a war memorial.

Mr. Stewart said it's not just about defacing a piece of public property, graffiti affects every veteran.

“Not only does it mar the veterans' memory, it disillusions many of our citizenry who understand what the memorial is all about.... It's not just another building or a wall, it is a memorial to our country and our veterans.

I have to say that I was quite shocked and very disappointed to hear that it happened in my city, which is Canada's first incorporated city by royal charter dating back to 1783. The veterans of the first world war and the second world war went out on the ships at my harbour. I cannot believe that our young people have done this. Mr. Stewart said if it happens once, it is too much. He is right.

I was personally encouraged by the position of the government three weeks ago in the House. I was pleased to hear that the new Minister of Veterans Affairs, a man I am keen to take at his word, was himself open to the idea of assisting our communities in the maintenance and upkeep of their local cenotaphs. With the minister's unwavering support, I am confident the cabinet will soon see fit to dedicate itself to the creation of the very fund we are advocating here tonight. That is the very least we can do.

While we have committed ourselves to the maintenance of the stone tributes to our military's best, we must still commit ourselves to their cause in every other area. Here, as in so many cases, public opinion has far outpaced public policy. There are few Canadians, certainly none in New Brunswick, who would not advocate a more equitable treatment of our veterans by the government. Yet the government continues to contemplate actions that demonstrate an uneven support for our veterans at a time when they are most in need of our unfaltering assistance.

Just last week the Ontario Court of Appeal rendered a very important judgment as it related to the government's administration of veterans pensions. The unanimous decision of the court made clear that the Government of Canada had a duty to these veterans and that it had failed in its duty. This decision and the trial decision it upheld is evidence enough that these veterans are owed financial compensation. Yet as we speak there are government lawyers poring over the text of the decision in the hope of finding some reversible mistake, some error of fact or law that would allow them to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

If any of these men had entrusted their pensions to a major bank or other financial institution, there would be no issue as to that institution's liability had it not paid the interest to the veterans. But because the government is the culprit, suddenly the line between right and wrong becomes blurred. It is apparently acceptable to drag this issue through the courts, one more battle for these old soldiers.

Caring for our cenotaphs is an important gesture of respect, but it is a hollow gesture if the government acts against veterans and their issues of great magnitude. What signal does it send to young Canadians when their leaders are more willing to help protect the stone monuments to heroes than the actual heroes themselves?

Tonight I rise with two thoughts in mind. On its face the motion before the House at this time is a simple one about maintaining cenotaphs. But in its heart the motion speaks to a much larger issue, the issue of giving our veterans the respect that they have earned. If our cenotaphs are a symbol of their sacrifice, let them be a symbol of our support. Let us not only create a fund to help maintain these great monuments, but let us refurbish our national commitment to our great national heroes.

I had the honour and privilege of going to Vimy to bring back the remains of the Unknown Soldier. When we looked at our Vimy monument we saw that it needed great repair. I had the opportunity in the past week to speak to representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are working at the present time. They have budgeted to restore the Vimy monument in Vimy, France. I stand here tonight and say that I am pleased to hear that is happening. I am also pleased that the present minister and the previous minister said that we must protect our Vimy monument.

Hundreds of thousands of people go to Vimy to look at that monument and pay their respects. While I was at the ceremony to bring back the remains of the Unknown Soldier, when the French soldiers marched before our Vimy monument with the casket of the remains of the Unknown Soldier, I saw the love and respect there for all the Canadians who were there.

When we went to Dieppe, France for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ending of World War II, we looked down the main street in Dieppe and saw the Canadian flag flying on top of every building. Children were coming out and asking for our Canadian pins if we had one on our lapels.

I hope and pray that some of the young people back in my riding are listening tonight. I do not know why they would put graffiti on the war memorial in the centre of my city. It has never happened before. I do not know what is happening to society. People in our legions are trying to let the children know on November 11th of the sacrifices made by our veterans. They are there and they are talking to them. I have had the privilege of speaking to high school students every year on November 11th.

We will all work together in the House. I am sure everyone on both sides of the House want to make sure that our cenotaphs are maintained, that the money will be there and that we will all work together to protect all our cenotaphs throughout our nation.

CenotaphsPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario


Carmen Provenzano LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in debate on a motion that seeks to establish a fund to assist in the maintenance of local cenotaphs. I commend the hon. member for Saint John for her commitment to the issue.

Our debate today seems like a continuation of the debate we had recently on Motion No. 384 which proposed a very similar idea. Both the hon. member for Fundy--Royal, the originator of Motion No. 384, and the hon. member for Saint John spoke most eloquently on the issue.

Hon. members will recall in the last debate that the new Minister of Veterans Affairs has taken a particular interest in the matter, so much so that he asked his officials to come up with some options and recommendations. That process is underway.

As we continue the discussion today, we have the opportunity to expand its scope and ask what Canada's commemorative role is in the 21st century. During our debate on Motion No. 384 the discussion went beyond the maintenance of cenotaphs to other thoughts on how we might best keep the commemorative flame alive and well in Canada.

The hon. member for Bas-Richelieu--Nicolet--Bécancour suggested that the motion be broadened to include the premises occupied by Canadian Legions. The hon. member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore concurred with this sentiment and added that we should consider placing a monument or cenotaph in every capital city in the country dedicated to the women who served in the armed forces and who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

As everyone can see, once we start the discussion of commemoration, it leads to a number of considerations and rightly so. It is clear that we all share the sentiment about wanting to ensure that the achievements and sacrifices of our traditional veterans and peacekeepers be kept alive in the memory of our citizenry. It is part of our proud heritage today and will be our legacy for tomorrow's generation.

I am confident that in response to the minister's request, the officials from Veterans Affairs Canada will provide us with some advice on the details once they have completed their review. I ask my colleagues to await the recommendations that they might come up with.

Hon. members may be aware that Veterans Affairs Canada has also been examining the broad scope of commemorative options. In May 2000 the department undertook a commemorative review project which was completed in June of last year. Among other things, its purpose was to identify future programs that would fulfill our nation's pledge to veterans over the years, a pledge that said we would never forget their sacrifice, past, present or future.

Consultations were extensive. They included all major veterans organizations,1,600 Royal Canadian Legion branches, 700 veteran clients, all provincial departments of education, 1,000 municipalities, 19 federal departments and agencies, educators, youth, the private sector, Veterans Affairs Canada staff and a random sample of 1,200 Canadians. It was the most comprehensive consultation on the subject of remembrance ever conducted in Canada.

Hon. members will not be surprised to learn that Canadians continue to place a high value on remembrance and wish to see the Government of Canada assume a greater leadership role. Particular emphasis was noted regarding the need to educate both our youth and new Canadians about the selfless commitments of earlier generations.

Consultations told us Canadians also believe that it is essential to honour not only those who served in wartime but also those who had served and continue to serve in peace actions throughout the world.

Some of the other findings of the review project are just as illustrative. It found: that veterans themselves are concerned that their legacy be preserved for future generations; that youth believe it is important to remember and honour those who have served in wartime and peace actions but they have limited knowledge about the subject. They want to know and understand more; and that Canada's international responsibility for its monuments, memorials and cemeteries is sacred and will continue to need attention and resources.

With the findings of this review in mind, the focus of the department's “Canada Remembers Program” covers three principal areas.

The first is the national and international memorials which includes assistance with funerals and burials of veterans, maintaining Canadian international memorials and cemeteries, conducting pilgrimages and organizing ceremonies of remembrance.

The second is community engagement which aims to stimulate and support the involvement of communities in acts of remembrance, such as the building of community and youth networks.

The last is public information and research which includes all forms of information on Canada's contribution to world peace and freedom, research and the production of learning materials for youth.

Implicit in these initiatives is the continuing lead role that Veterans Affairs Canada can play in the commemorative life of Canadians. Its mandate continues to allow for the exploration of better ways for Canada to remember her fallen. That said, the department is in no way resourced to pay for the upgrading and/or repair of all locally established war memorials. Nor should we wish to take such initiatives away from local communities that play such a vital role in keeping the memory of their local heroes alive.

As I indicated in the previous debate, the more than 6,000 cenotaphs located in cities, large and small across the country are a statement of strong community involvement and deep pride in our history. Some were erected under the auspices of provincial governments, others by municipalities, veterans organizations, concerned citizens, local philanthropists and nonprofit organizations. Our challenge is to respect this proud tradition and to sustain the spirit of our citizens and to build on the strength of our communities. However at the same time we recognize that there is a practical limit to what communities can do to make that financial contribution.

The challenge is in the details, the principle and the practice. We all look forward to the results of the minister's request for recommendations on the funding of local cenotaphs.

I thank all hon. members for their passionate and compassionate expression of care and concern for the legacy of our veterans.

CenotaphsPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Madam Speaker, the member for Saint John and the parliamentary secretary have covered everything sufficiently I believe. I do not think there is any question about the support on both sides of the House for the intent of this bill. I am particularly pleased at the speed at which the government and the new minister have responded to our request. I think that quick response is resonating across Canada at this time.

I would like to draw to the attention of the parliamentary secretary and the hon. member for Saint John that in my area we have some very unique cenotaphs, unique in the sense that people rushed into Saskatchewan in the last best west. There was a settlement, an elevator and in some cases a railway. People, particularly those who had immigrated from the British Isles, quickly joined the armed services and the Canadian army, which at that time of course was attached to the British imperial army.

Early surveyors of Saskatchewan had said that some of that land was not suitable for settlement. They were proven correct. It was suitable for ranching but not for cultivation.

In Saskatchewan, particularly southern Saskatchewan, we have cenotaphs that are really part of a larger grazing land. We are doing a disservice by not taking a look at moving them. With the help of local municipal groups and using the equipment we have today, they could be moved to settlements whereby they would become memorials to those still living in inhabited areas. To leave them to disintegrate and fade away with the sands of time does not show much respect for those who fell in wartime.

Therefore, I appreciate what the parliamentary secretary has said and I am particularly interested in the involvement process. I would like to see the schools and local municipalities involved, but above the legion itself. We should give the legion the responsibility, which it would very gladly take, of co-ordinating a particular area of the province.

For example, take the city of Weyburn. Members of the legion there could be responsible for a cenotaph in an area where there was no longer a legion branch. They could go out as ambassadors with their medals, their colours and their ties and talk to municipal groups and local school boards about preserving the cenotaph. They could tell them that there would be some support from the government. We could go to the local people and with a little encouragement the money would be there.

We certainly support this motion. I can assure the House that if it comes before the committee on veterans affairs I know everybody will lend resounding support to the minister and the government to get the job done.

With every year that goes by, it will be that much more costly. Time is on our side. If we do not replace and fix them now, they may go beyond the point where they cannot be fixed.

CenotaphsPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Madam Speaker, I too am pleased to take part in this debate and congratulate the Conservative member for putting forward this motion; on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois and in my own name, I advise her that we support her request.

After the war, people erected cenotaphs, thinking that these monuments would continuously remind us of the sacrifices people made in the name of peace and freedom. Occasionally, we are saddened to see that these monuments are being neglected because of a lack of money. The money needed is very little compared to the government's $11 billion a year in military spending.

A lot of energy and determination went into the erection of cenotaphs to ensure that these people's sacrifices would be remembered forever. And suddenly, we are faced with a situation where these monuments are being neglected, and sometimes completely abandoned. I believe that what is at stake is respect for those who went to war never to come back, and for those who came back having made huge efforts and incredible sacrifices.

Fortunately, I am happy to report that the Sorel-Tracy area, the city of Sorel-Tracy, is contributing to the maintenance of its cenotaph. Several municipalities do. In other areas, citizens groups, veterans groups are looking after it. However, I believe that beyond the municipalities' efforts, there could be an ongoing commitment from the federal government. This is why we fully support the member's motion.

While we are very much in favour of this initiative, we would like to broaden the request for government action. What is the use of having nice monuments shining under the sun and in good repair if, in each area, there is nobody to organize events around these monuments? For example, in my area of Sorel-Tracy, the Canadian Legion makes it its business to celebrate Remembrance Day, on November 11.

People attend, but if the legion is not active, if there are no men or women with a place to meet to keep the memory alive, what is the use of having these monuments? If there is no one to explain what they mean and to remind us every year—and I would even say every day—that we need to remember these people, what is the use?

So, I would argue that there is a greater need than simply assisting in the maintenance of cenotaphs. We should also support each of the small organizations, each of the legions scattered throughout Quebec and Canada through a fund to help them survive.

I know that in Sorel-Tracy, for instance, the legion has worked hard and managed to save enough money to buy a beautiful house along the Richelieu River. Although the house is all paid for, maintenance work is sometimes required, taxes have to be paid as well as the insurance, hydro and phone bills.

Every year, it is tough to make ends meet. Fundraisers have to be held. This should be a place where people meet to reminisce and remember the contribution of our veterans. Instead, every time they show up, they are asked to go beg for something or sell tickets to save the legion.

On Saturday, March 9, I attended a Chinese auction during a spaghetti dinner at the legion. It was very successful. But the following day, on Sunday, what was the topic of discussion at the legion? People were talking about other fundraisers to help finance the legion. They were thinking about another fundraising dinner where a local dish called gibelotte could be served, a mini-golf tournament, an evening of western music, things like that.

Legions have to beg for money these days, while we seem to forget about the role they play. Their main role is to educate through their action, by visiting schools for instance, remembering the contribution of our veterans and explaining to kids what all the medals really mean, not only for those who are wearing them, but also for those who are enjoying peace and freedom.

The Canadian Legion can take such initiatives with other community organizations, but it often neglects very important measures to promote awareness among those who do not know what happened.

Let us not forget that, for some 15 years, history stopped being taught, particularly in Quebec's CEGEPs and high schools. Young people do not know what sacrifices were made by people from their own region.

The legion cannot fulfill this role alone, precisely because it is forced to constantly collect funds. The government should give this some thought.

As several members of the Canadian Legion pointed out on Sunday, whether it was the president, Mr. Bouchard, Mr. William Manning, Mr. Roland or Léo Paul Bérard, a young man who is over 80 year old and who spends at least 20 hours a week helping the legion survive, Concrete and quick action is necessary. Mr. Farlette, also a legion member, added “Louis, tell the government that we no longer need studies, we need action”.

The time has come for the government to take action. I have an easy plan to propose to the government. It seems to me that if a legion branch with some one hundred members, like the one in Sorel-Tracy, received from the government the equivalent of $50 a year per member for a total of $5,000, or a flat amount unrelated to the number of members, it would be very helpful. That money would help pay the tax bill, the electricity bill, the heating bill and the telephone bill. All that would be left to do would be to organize activities, which is the true role of our legionnaires and of those who support them in our region.

I submit to the government that this is not a cry for help from a Bloc member, an Alliance member or any opposition member. It is a cry for help from all those who want these legion branches to survive in every community in Quebec and in Canada, so that the actions of our veterans are remembered as well as the role they played in giving us the peace and freedom that we enjoy.

In closing, I hope that the government is listening to these fair demands. I salute all the members of the Sorel-Tracy legion, whom I often meet when I take part in fundraising activities or in Remembrance Day ceremonies. They are probably spending the evening in the small bar they have at the legion. I say hello to all of them. They can drink a toast to me. I have to be at work for a few more hours.

I hope one day I will have good news from the government with regard to supporting our legions that are so important to us.

CenotaphsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, I join all my colleagues here in the House in supporting my hon. colleague from Saint John who, as we all know, is passionate in her support of our veterans and armed forces. We have all shown that support during our time here but there is no question our colleague from Saint John does it with much more vibrancy than most of us.

When it comes to supporting our veterans, legions and armed forces and ensuring they have proper equipment we must sometimes be reminded to pay more attention to the issue.

I acknowledge the comments of my hon. colleague from the government side that the new minister is looking into how to maintain cenotaphs and other memorials. I hope we see something come to fruition in the near future before damage is done we cannot repair.

It is crucially important that in the history of our country, even during peaceful times, we never forget the sacrifices of the men and women who gave their lives so we could live in one of the most democratic countries in the world. It is important that we do whatever we can in society and in the House to make sure Canadians are constantly reminded of the efforts that have been made in the past.

It is easy for young people in Canada, and even I was a young person at one time, to forget Canada was involved in the war. Young people who are not involved in conflicts and not from regions where there are military installations do not see soldiers on a regular basis. They do not see young people going off to war. It is easy for them to forget the sacrifices that have been made.

Legions throughout the country are feeling this. They no longer have the membership of the persons who fought and gave their lives so readily. The legions try to encourage membership to keep themselves going because they are the ambassadors for the veterans.

The legions in the communities of my riding are always being challenged to stay operational. It is not responsible to suggest legions continue to maintain the cenotaphs and do all the work. It is crucially important that we do it. Within parliament and the operations of government we often hear of expenditures that do not seem all that important in the whole scheme of things. We hear about questionable actions. When these things come up and we hear of issues such as maintaining cenotaphs for those who gave their lives it is one more slap in the face to veterans and the people of our armed forces. It is irresponsible to expect legions to maintain the cenotaphs.

There are things the government could readily do for legions. It could do something as simple as not making them pay GST. Legions act on behalf of veterans. They present a picture to their communities of what has happened in the past. Yet they are charged GST on absolutely everything.

A legion in my riding requested an exemption from a certain aspect of the GST. The government said no way. Legions represent veterans, many of whom have given their lives. Veterans want to keep their legions operational. The government has given them one more hammer over the head. It has told them no, you will pay GST on everything.

Sometimes legions must make themselves accessible to the disabled. Is there funding or support to help them with that? No, there is not. They do not qualify for anything. It is a fight even to make them wheelchair accessible. These are our veterans. There must be something we can do to give legions an opportunity to survive. There must be some way to help disabled veterans have access to their legions. Legions that need to be made accessible to the disabled should have the opportunity.

I want to take this moment to comment as well on the aboriginal veterans who fought and on the recognition that has been a long time in coming to a number of them who went to war, came back and were not given the same benefits that other veterans were given. Quite frankly, because they were first nation Canadians they did not have the same rights as the people they were coming back to live and work beside. Actually they would probably not like me to say first nation Canadians but first nations. At any rate, there are a number who are first nation Canadians and Canadians true at heart.

However, they came back and did not have the same rights. They could not vote. They could not do the same things we could. They did not get the same benefits that other veterans did. Their loss of life was equal over there; there was nothing special to say that aboriginal Canadians would not get killed when they went over to war. They gave their lives readily. Those who came back did not receive the same benefits and a good many of them are still fighting for those same benefits.

My colleague from Saint John mentioned the pensions for veterans who were not competent. The government was there to act on their behalf and then did not act responsibly, so they have had to fight for what is rightfully theirs. It is bad enough that it happened, but it is absolutely unconscionable that they have to fight to get what is rightfully theirs from Canada. It just should not be. There are certain lines that we should be able to get beyond and just make sure we right the wrong that is there.

I think it was in the year 2000 that a message was sent out through Veterans Affairs Canada in regard to doing an inventory of the cenotaphs, the different memorials in Canada. Actually we commented on the fact that one of my staff had never heard the word cenotaph before and then in a matter of a week it must have come up five or six times around the riding. There are cenotaphs in a number of different places, but in first nations communities they are few and far between. As well, there are not many, if there are any, first nations with legions, for a good number of reasons. They did not have the money to do those kinds of things. They just had a bare amount of dollars to have an existence, let alone have an area where veterans could get together and operate the same as they did outside first nations communities.

However, in one of my communities, Cross Lake, they have a cenotaph. I do not know the specifics behind the funding of it but there is a cenotaph and a very proud first nations group of veterans. One of them, Elder Sandy Beardy, who passed away just last year, spoke highly of his commitment to Canada, to fighting for Canada, but also to fighting for the rights of first nations people.

I have some 31 first nations communities throughout my riding. The Government of Canada through the Department of Veterans Affairs sends wreaths with Government of Canada written on them to be laid at the memorials on Remembrance Day. Knowing that I have no legions in my riding, but knowing that I have first nations veterans and people in those communities going out there and showing respect, I requested that in any of these first nations communities where they were having services they receive the Government of Canada wreath.

I actually thought it was a pretty simple request, but there were no dollars to do it. I will state that the former minister, Mr. Duhamel, at least sent a couple with a note that said I could get whatever more I needed out of my budget. However, from my perspective it was an absolute show of disregard that there was not enough money, not from the minister because I think he was operating under budgetary constraints, but it is certainly an issue that has to be looked at. I will be taking it up with the new minister as well, so that if there are communities that want to show their respect for the veterans and those who are no longer with us the Government of Canada should be there as a symbol, at least, in the form of a wreath.

I just have a little time left but I will try to get this next item in because it is a very big bone of contention with me, and that is that Remembrance Day, in my view, is Remembrance Day, not a holiday.

At one time as a nation we showed respect and remembrance by not having stores operate willy nilly. Only businesses that had to operate operated. Over time that has gone away and there is an even lesser regard for the veterans who have given us so much. I hope that is an issue we look at. I thank my hon. colleague from Saint John.

CenotaphsPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, I thank all my colleagues on both sides of the House for their comments and support tonight for maintaining and ensuring funding to look after our cenotaphs.

As we have all heard in the House tonight, there are rural areas that need support. In my city of Saint John, the largest city in New Brunswick, we have a lot of legions. All the legionnaires are truly great workers and they go into the schools on November 11. Veterans go into our schools to speak as well because it is so important.

Last year on November 11 we had a special ceremony in front of the cenotaph, the one on which the graffiti was put this week. The Department of Veterans Affairs brought in young people and we had a little parade of young students. We went to Saint Malachy's Memorial High School afterwards I was honoured to have been one of a number of people, some from Camp Gagetown, who spoke to the youth.

I thank all members. Let us all work together for what is best for the veterans, but tonight let us all agree that we will maintain our cenotaphs throughout this great nation.

CenotaphsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

CenotaphsAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, last November, the eastern townships as a whole were worried that waste from the United States might be buried in the region.

People were concerned that the eastern townships might become a dumping ground for the Americans should the new Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the proposed regulations of which will come into effect in 2003, apply to Quebec.

As we know, the new law contains several major changes, including sections 185 to 192, dealing with the exporting and importing of non-hazardous waste for final disposal. We know also that, under section 115 of the Quebec environment quality Act, Quebec has banned since 1988 the disposal of waste generated outside Quebec.

In view of the concerns people in the region had regarding this policy, on November 21, 2001, I put the following question to the Minister of the Environment:

Mr. Speaker, Quebec has enacted regulations banning the importation of waste material.

As for the Canadian government, starting in 2003, its Environmental Protection Act will allow waste material to be brought into regions such as the Eastern Townships.

Is the Minister of the Environment going to respect Quebec's environmental protection regulations so as to prevent areas like the Eastern Townships from turning into dumping grounds for our neighbours to the South?

The Minister of the Environment answered:

--I can assure the hon. member that the Canadian legislation will be in line with the new legislation in the province of Quebec. I can see no problem with differences between the federal and the provincial legislation.

I was not completely reassured. We know that consultations were ongoing and some were concluded, I believe, in February. The regulations that would apply have not yet been finalized.

It is never too late to ask the government what exactly it intends to do regarding the importation and exportation of waste material in Canada, specifically in Quebec.

I would like to be reassured regarding the exportation, and mostly the importation of residual waste and hazardous waste.

CenotaphsAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Kitchener Centre Ontario


Karen Redman LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be given the opportunity to address the concerns of the hon. member for Sherbrooke regarding waste imports. My only regret is that I cannot do it in French.

I should like to state right away that Environment Canada's proposed regulations regarding imports and exports of non-hazardous waste will respect provincial regulations. Once the regulations are in force every notification received by the federal authority of a proposed import to Quebec of prescribed non-hazardous waste will be shared with provincial authorities.

The province of Quebec will have the opportunity to review, consider and provide either its consent or objection to the proposed shipment. The proposed federal regulations will therefore complement existing provincial controls by elaborating the mechanism of prior informed consent that includes the full participation of provincial authorities.

The renewed CEPA, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, emphasizes pollution prevention and advocates maximizing the reuse, recovery and recycling of any waste product through industrial and human activity. CEPA also aims to strengthen Canada's ability to meet its international obligations.

Canada is party to several international agreements that relate to waste. Among these are the Canadian-U.S.A. agreement on the transboundary movement of hazardous waste and the Basel convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. Both agreements emphasize the need to ensure the environmentally sound management of wastes.

The federal policy regarding transboundary movements is to allow borders to remain open to the controlled movements of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste to ensure that such movements are managed in a manner protective of human health and the environment, and to allow the importing jurisdiction opportunity to refuse or to consent to imports on the basis of protecting their environment.

I should like to take a moment to elaborate on the third point which relates to the prior informed consent procedure I mentioned earlier. In this respect CEPA authorities clearly outline requirements for proposed imports into Canada when they occur. The steps are that a notice of proposed import must be submitted to the minister and the notifier must receive a permit from the minister before any movements may commence.

This permit must state that the authorities of the jurisdiction of the destination for the waste, that is the province or territory, have authorized the final disposal of the waste in their jurisdiction. In Canada provincial and territorial authorities license and permit waste management facilities within their borders.

Therefore a provincial response to proposed imports could take into account the permit conditions of the facility in question including the facility's ability to manage the proposed waste import in an environmentally sound manner.

I therefore wish to assure the hon. member that Environment Canada will continue to work with stakeholders to develop effective federal regulations regarding movements of non-hazardous waste and regulations which complement existing provincial controls by elaborating a mechanism of prior informed consent that includes the full participation of all provincial authorities.

CenotaphsAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, my understanding is that we do want, of course, to co-operate with the provinces, all of Canada and Quebec.

Since the government is basically allowing Quebec to ban the importation of waste, how does it reconcile that with the fact that even though we want to stop the importation of waste we do have an obligation under section 11 of NAFTA? How can we be assured that the importation of waste will not be forced upon Quebec and Canada?

CenotaphsAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is the intent of this federal regulation that it be adhered to across Canada. There is no intent to ask any province to lower that standard. If Quebec were to continue to have a standard that may be a bit more stringent than those of other provinces and territories, it would be respected by the federal government.

CenotaphsAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.35 p.m.)