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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

House of Commons

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report on plans and priorities for 2002-03 of the House of Commons administration.

Canadian Human Rights Commission

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table for the year 2001 the annual report and the employment equity report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Estimates, Part IIIRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table, on behalf of my colleagues, part III of the estimates consisting of 86 departmental expenditure plans and priorities.

These documents will be distributed to the members of the standing committees to assist in their consideration of the spending authorities sought in part II of the estimates.

Indian Claims CommissionRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2000-01 annual report of the Indian Claims Commission.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Pest Control Products ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Health

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-53, an act to protect human health and safety and the environment by regulating products used for the control of pests.

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

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present, in both official languages, under Standing Order 34(1) the report of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association delegation concerning the meeting of the economic affairs and development commission held in London, England, January 17 and 18, 2002, and the first part of the regular 2002 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg, France from January 21 to 25, 2002.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association which represented Canada at the joint meeting for the defence and security, economics and security, and political committees of the NATO parliamentary assembly held in Brussels, Belgium and France from February 17 to 20, 2002.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 21st, 2002 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Fontana Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, a report entitled “Building a Nation”. This is a precedent setting review of the regulations of the Immigration Act.

I want to thank, on my behalf, all the members of the committee, the minister, the department and all those Canadians who have made it possible to bring their views forward to this parliament.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, your committee requests the government to table a comprehensive response to this report.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Liberal Whitby—Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities entitled “Getting It Right For Canadians: The Disability Tax Credit”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, your committee requests the government to table a comprehensive response to the report.

I want to take this opportunity to commend the member for St. Paul's, who chairs the Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and those members of her committee who worked diligently on this report.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Mr. Speaker, direct flights from Canada to Yugoslavia began in the seventies. In 1992, sanctions were imposed on Yugoslavia and transatlantic flights were discontinued. Sanctions were lifted in August 2001.

I have over 300 signatures here petitioning and calling upon parliament to promote the resumption of direct transatlantic flights from Canada to Belgrade for the benefit of the Yugoslavian community of Canada.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of an application for an emergency debate from the hon. member for St. John's West.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, recently in the House we have had emergency debates on softwood lumber and agricultural problems, both of which are extremely important. The issue I raise today is certainly of that magnitude, if not beyond, in relation to the effect foreign overfishing in our fishing grounds is having on Atlantic Canada. I raise it today because of a few incidents that have happened recently.

Mr. Speaker, if you had been with us during the past week as we visited Newfoundland and witnessed firsthand the effect of foreign overfishing on that province, as well as the rest of Atlantic Canada, I would not be making this argument for a debate.

The mayors of towns that have been devastated told us that they were praying for no snow because they could not afford to clear the roads and that they were looking to see which light they could remove to save $20. These are towns that have been devastated by a lack of resources.

Recently our Canadian delegation attended the NAFO meetings. I want to quote from its report. It states:

The Canadian assessment confirms: directed fishing/excessive by-catch of moratoria species; exceeding allocations/misreporting catch; directed fishing after closure; increased frequency of mesh size violations; increase in issuance of citations of apparent infringements; non-submission or late submission of observer reports.

Canada presented three major resolutions in relation to mesh size increase, depth restrictions and, of course, overfishing. They were disregarded and completely turned aside by other countries. We have had more infringements this past year than we have had during the past seven or eight years.

Recently we heard that Fishery Products International was threatening to lay off half of its workforce, 600 or 700 people in the Burin Peninsula, because of lack of resources. That would equate to about 15,000 layoffs in Ontario.

The 30,000 people who have been affected by the fishery in Newfoundland would equate to something like 600,000 people in Ontario. If 600,000 people in the auto industry in Ontario were laid off today we would certainly be having an emergency debate.

Yesterday a boat was detained in Canada for polluting our waters. It was pumping its bilge waters into the ocean. When the boat was brought into port it was discovered that it had in its hold an estimated 60 to 80 tonnes of mature, breeding cod, codfish that are under a moratorium. A sister ship, which was on its way to Newfoundland when it heard the news, changed course and went to Iceland.

Atlantic Canada is being wiped out because other nations are raping our resources and paying no attention to either Canada or the NAFO organization to which we belong. It is an issue that has to be addressed immediately. It is not something we have months, years, days or even minutes to work on. It is something that should have been worked on long ago. The government must take action immediately and we need to direct the government as to what to do.

I know I have the support of the members of the fishing committee in this request. We ask for a positive answer to the request for an emergency debate on this issue that affects all of Atlantic Canada and the economy of the country generally.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in support of the application for emergency debate.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

That is very generous but the rules do not permit it. The rules require that the Chair hear from the person who sent the letter and I have done that. I appreciate the hon. member for Portage--Lisgar's enthusiasm and I sense that also of the hon. member for Okanagan--Shuswap who I suspect was rising for the same reason now that I see them smiling.

I have heard the submissions of the hon. member. I agree with him and I am prepared to grant the emergency debate requested. That will take place this evening at 6.30.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am wondering if I could have unanimous consent of the House to revert back to tabling of petitions for a moment.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to revert?

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to table a petition before all members in the House on an issue of significance to many Canadians.

The petitioners call upon parliament to implement legislation for clear labelling on all genetically engineered seed and foods derived from, processed with, containing or consisting of genetically engineered organisms before they are released into any and all commercial markets.

The House resumed from February 26 consideration of Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 3.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will do my best to get as much as I can into my six minutes, Sir, because this is an important issue that concerns all of us.

I had the privilege of serving in the Manitoba legislature for a time. I met a lot of great people and made some good friends there. One of those friends is Harry Enns, who has the Commonwealth's record for the longest period of service in a legislature. I believe he is now into his 31st year. I could be mistaken on the exact time, but he has been there a long time and has done a tremendous job. When I was talking to him one day he said that he feared most for people when the legislature was sitting, not when it was adjourned. He said the reason for his fear was that those in the legislature felt that they must legislate and that the laws they made did less than was hoped for and in fact sometimes did the opposite of what was hoped for.

Such is the case with this species at risk legislation. It continues a sad record on the part of the government of legislating with good intention, I believe, but despite that good intention legislating for an adverse consequence. I could cite Bill C-68 as an example whereby legislation was brought forward with the intention of reducing the incidence of violent crime and protecting society and making it safer, but the opposite will occur. In fact, the perverse outcomes of such legislation, as misguided as it is, are already becoming apparent.

The animal cruelty act before the House now is another good example of that type of thing. Legislation that essentiallyhas been designed with good intentions to protect the puppies and kittens of urban communities may have a very damaging impact on the people who engage in livestock businesses and enterprises and who actually, because of their mutual relationship and dependency upon that livestock, treat their livestock with incredibly effective kindness. The reality is that this kind of legislation will have a negative consequence for those whom it is making victims, and yet it will not have the positive outcomes that we might hope for, those of protecting animals, reducing crime or, in this case, protecting species at risk.

Harry Enns was quite right in his observations. A wise man should be honoured and respected for his views, and I respect Harry Enns' views.

I quickly want to review each of these pieces of legislation. The species at risk legislation before us is one example, but Bill C-68, the animal cruelty act and this piece of legislation have several things in common. First, they focus on penalties. They do not emphasize reward.

For example, there is no reward in Bill C-68 for gun owners who volunteer to run hunter safety programs to teach children how to manage and handle firearms properly. As well, under this legislation there are no rewards or incentives in place for people, for farmers and landowners and so on, that would appreciate the respect they deserve for the handling or management of the terrain where species that are at risk may make their homes.

Some of the best stewards of the environment I have met in my life are farmers, landowners, hunters and fishermen. They live with an understanding of the benefits they accrue from the nature around them. They appreciate that and want to sustain it for the long term for their children, their grandchildren and generations beyond.

These misguided pieces of legislation share that lack of reward or incentive. As well, not one of these pieces of legislation has been subjected to the proper forward planning. Cost benefit analysis has not been done. We do not know what the costs of this piece of legislation may be. We do not know what the full costs of the animal cruelty act will be because the evaluation of those particular aspects has not been done. How then can we weigh the so-called benefits that may accrue with the cost that the taxpayers of Canada are being asked to incur in putting the legislation into place?

We cannot do a proper evaluation because that work has not been done. I will not quote him but I know the minister has said he does not know what the actual costs will be in the future. In terms of things like compensation for damaged or lost habitat or farmlands taken out of production because a species likes that piece of land, he has not spelled out specifically in the bill what kinds of compensation will be made available for landowners who are asked to sacrifice their ability to provide for their own families. They are asked to accept that he will put it in the regulations, later on maybe, possibly, but maybe not. We do not know.

It is the same uncertainty we saw with Bill C-68. The estimated costs of putting that program into place have been exceeded time and time again. The exemptions and the lack of participation in the program will inevitably mean that law-abiding people are treated as criminals come January 1 of next year under Bill C-68.

Such is the assumption with this bill. We assume guilt with the species at risk act. We assume farmers are guilty, that they are of a guilty mind. Even before we have evaluated what the circumstances may be, we begin with the assumption of guilt.

This is the kind of thing that I have seen far too often with the government. The willingness to pit rural people against well intentioned urban beliefs is something that I find to be fraudulent thinking. Urban people care about pets, but so do rural people. We care deeply about them. We want to treat them well and fairly. When rural people are concerned about a species at risk, that is a legitimate concern. Rural people want to see legislation that works, though, and the fact of the matter is that this legislation will not work. This pitting of rural people against urban people has gone on for too long, it is counterproductive and it is particularly evident with this piece of legislation.

Most of all, the goals that are the origin of these pieces of legislation I cite today are laudable goals. We share those goals: a safer country, species at risk that are less at risk, and animals treated well and fairly. We want to see these things happen, but they will not happen with this kind of legislation. The way the legislation is structured, it is designed to penalize and make victims out of the people who are very likely the greatest source of the solution to the problem and who should not be depicted as being the problem.

In closing, let me say that the government said in its throne speech last year that farmers should get beyond crisis management. So should the government. In the last three or four weeks we have seen the defence minister, Mr. Gagliano and others create crises for the government. How does the government respond when it is attacked? It sets up committees to create the impression of openness, then shuts them down. It uses deception. It uses anger because it has anger. It shows frustration because it has frustration. Why would farmers and landowners not react the same way? They will, and because of that they will take the same necessary steps the government is taking. They will cover up, they will shovel over and the legislation will not work.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will clarify where the Canadian Alliance stands in respect to Bill C-5, the species at risk bill. The Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species, let there be no mistake on that.

Alliance members do not believe Bill C-5 would work without guaranteeing fair and reasonable compensation for property owners and resource users who suffer losses. We have farmers and ranchers in our constituencies. These individuals want to protect endangered species, but they should not be forced to do so at the expense of their own livelihood.

We have insisted along the way that criminal liability must require intent. The act in this case would make criminals out of good people who may inadvertently and unknowingly harm endangered species or their habitat. This is unnecessarily confrontational and makes endangered species a threat to property owners. We need of a co-operative approach, not the confrontation that seems to be a part of Bill C-5. We need co-operation with the provinces.

The 1996 national accord for the protection of species at risk was a step in the right direction. It needs to be developed co-operatively. Instead, Bill C-5 would give the federal government the power to impose its laws on provincial lands. Since it is left completely at the minister's discretion landowners do not know if and when the shoe would drop. Instead of working with the provinces and property owners the federal government seems to be producing uncertainty and a climate of resentment and distrust as well.

The government wants to amend along certain lines only. In effect it is reversing many of the positions taken by Liberal MPs on the environment committee. Unfortunately that is another example of some top down control of bureaucrats who wanted a particular way. It shows a contempt or a disregard for government members and members across the way in the opposition benches as well.

The government has no idea what the socioeconomic implications of the legislation are and what the costs would be over time. In the minister's information supplement of October 2001 the Minister of the Environment said:

Environment Canada is aware that compensation for restrictions on the use of land is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and innovative thinking. We will need several years of practical experience in implementing the stewardship and recovery provisions of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) before we can be precise in prescribing eligibility and thresholds for compensation.

In speaking to the standing committee on October 3, 2001, the minister explained why he could not guarantee compensation in Bill C-5. He said:

We then got deeper and deeper into this and it became more and more of the proverbial swamp, and more and more difficult to do partly because, of course, governments should not pass legislation which is open-ended in terms of funding. We have fiscal responsibilities which, as you can well imagine, are fairly strict on us. Forty-five million a year is what we've given to run the process and that's what we can expect and that's it.

Any fair minded person in hearing this today would understand that would be a red flag. Is it not essential that the costs on industry and property users, the cost on government in terms of enforcement resources, be known before the government introduces legislation with such far reaching implications?

In particular, we want to know and have a little more close approximation of what the bill would cost farmers, fishermen, loggers, ranchers and so on. We want to know what the government's compensation costs would be as well. Without that information individuals cannot plan and government does not know what costs are being passed on.

The Canadian Alliance proposes in Motion No. 15 that:

The purposes of this Act, outlined in subsection (1), shall be pursued and accomplished in a manner consistent with the goals of sustainable development.

That is very important. That is closely related to socioeconomic interest because it requires that a balance be struck between the environmental goals and the needs of the taxpayer. Without considering this important aspect of sustainable development environmental laws could quickly become the goose that lays the golden egg so to speak.

Worrying about endangered species is only something that prosperous economies can afford to do because someone must pay for it. Economic desperation will be no friend to species at risk so we must put that forward.

The species at risk working group was made up of representatives from a broad range of environmental and industry groups among them the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association and the Mining Association of Canada. When they appeared before the House standing committee in September 2000 they said the purpose of the act should be pursued to the extent possible while taking into account the social and economic interests of Canadians. That is a reasonable amendment that should be accepted by the House.

We put forward Motion No. 3 which would require socioeconomic interests to be considered in the legal listing of species. The bill would already provide that it be considered in developing recovery measures.

Another great concern is the minister's discretionary power, and that can be a scary thing. The minister can decide whether compensation would be given or not. He would have the power to decide how much compensation would be paid. The minister would decide whether provincial laws are effective or not and whether the federal government would step in to impose the law. That is the kind of wide powers the minister would have and that kind of discretion is the opposite of transparency.

The government has refused to provide any proper draft legislation about the process for compensation, who would qualify and how much one would receive. Those are pretty critical and essential points.

Where is the technical amendment which would provide a predictable process for property owners to seek compensation? The all party committee of the House said that the minister must draft regulations but the government wants to stay away from that obligation. Where is the technical amendment which would set out the criteria the minister would use to determine whether a province's laws would be effective or not? The committee put some criteria into the bill, but the government wants to take that out as well.

The process for action plans and recovery plans needs to be transparent and so must the process in other areas as well.

I find most distressing the fact that farmers and ranchers and those kind of people can be some of our best allies. Providing incentives for habitat protection by promoting good management practices is a good thing. The Canadian Alliance supports stewardship and incentives for protecting habitat. We strongly believe that farmers and ranchers are some of the best conservationists. Their stewardship initiatives must be acknowledged and encouraged.

I speak for farmers in my constituency of Saskatoon--Wanuskewin when I say that farmers understand the importance of maintaining a healthy environment. Farmers, ranchers and agricultural people are primary stakeholders and as such their rights need to be respected in the bill before us today.

There is no myth, confusion or misinformation about Canadian Alliance policy. We are committed to protecting and preserving Canada's national environment and endangered species as well as the sustainable development of our abundant natural resources for the use of current and future generations.

The Canadian Alliance maintains that for any endangered species legislation to be effective it must respect the fundamental rights of private property owners. We believe that co-operating with land owners and resource users, the environmental frontline soldiers, is critical to the success of protecting endangered species. Full co-operation means full compensation and that is only fair and just support. Full compensation provisions must be clearly spelled out in the bill and the regulations. Land owners and resource workers across this country are hurting and cannot take any more economic hardship from the federal government.

Politicians should have some say on the legal listing of species but the public needs to be able to review and comment on it. We have concerns about criminal liability and moving so quickly on people. We need to have that better defined. For these and a number of other reasons we unfortunately will not be able to support the bill.

Bill C-5 does not measure up, as we would say, and therefore the Canadian Alliance is vigorously opposed to Bill C-5 in its current form. We unfortunately cannot support it because we believe that some day we will rue the day because of the implications and the fallout from this particular bill.