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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

Battle against HomelessnessOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for co-ordinating efforts with respect to homelessness has performed absolutely brilliantly on this file.

In every corner of the country she has engaged non-governmental organizations, municipalities and Canadians generally. She has moved a long distance in resolving this issue in every corner of the country and she intends to continue to do so.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the laureates of the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts: A. A. Bronson, Charles Gagnon, Edward Poitras, David Rokeby, Barbara Steinman, Irene Whittome and Ydessa Hendeles.

I invite all hon. members to join them in Room 216-N for a reception at 3:30 p.m.

Presence in GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to ask the usual Thursday question with respect to the government's agenda.

There seems to be a terrible void with regard to meaningful legislation. Does the government have any fruitful legislation to debate within the next while? Hopefully so.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to respond in the affirmative. The government's agenda is of course a fruitful one.

This afternoon, we will continue with report stage of the species at risk legislation, Bill C-5.

Tomorrow, we will return to debate on Bill C-50 respecting the WTO. If this is concluded, we will call Bill C-47, the excise amendments.

The two weeks following this one constitute the Easter adjournment. When we return on April 8 we will resume debate on criminal code amendments, Bill C-15B, and commence consideration of the pest control legislation that the Minister of Health has introduced today.

In addition there is a very lengthy agenda of important business for Canadians. I look forward to the ample co-operation of all members of the House of Commons to move forward in an expeditious manner.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege today, because this morning I was disappointed to read in the Globe and Mail part of the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, when we were to sit in camera today to complete that report and submit it to the House of Commons.

I find that this is happening all too often, and it is totally unacceptable. I would like to quote some excerpts of the newspaper article, which deal specifically with the report that was presented to the committee. For example, it says, and I quote:

This affair has been politically and personally embarrassing to [the Minister of National Defence]. There has been widespread coverage of this story in the media, including editorial cartoons and jokes at his expense. There would not appear to have been any motivation for him to knowingly put himself through such an experience. He made a mistake, but that it was done without any intent to confuse or mislead.

I could go on.

In my opinion, this is totally unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, on March 19, 2001, you made a ruling on a similar case, saying that it was unacceptable and that the matter should be referred to a committee.

In this case, since it involves the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, it is a real joke, and totally unacceptable that such a thing should happen in this committee, or through one of its members. I am not accusing anyone—

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but he will be able to resume his question of privilege after royal assent.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Mr. Speaker, Her Excellency the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber

And being returned:

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend Her Excellency the Governor General in the Senate Chamber Her Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to certain bills:

Bill S-14, an act respecting Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day--Chapter No.2.

Bill C-37, an act to facilitate the implementation of those provisions of first nations' claim settlements in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan that relate to the creation of reserves or the addition of land to existing reserves, and to make related amendments to the Manitoba Claim Settlements Implementation Act and the Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Act--Chapter No. 3.

Bill C-41, an act to amend the Canadian Commercial Corporation Act--Chapter No. 4.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will try to pick up from where we were interrupted and continue to present my arguments concerning the preliminary report we have in hand, on which we worked in camera and which was released by The Globe and Mail . It was published today and it is fairly obvious that this newspaper received the report.

Furthermore, yesterday at 9.08 a.m., the preliminary report was sent to 37 people. It is difficult to try to establish which of these 37 sent the report to the newspaper. One thing is certain and that is that it was done by the government side.

I think that it is wrong that it decided, today, to publish a minority report. I do not think that this is the way to work in camera. The privilege will perhaps have to be withdrawn, because it is not worth the trouble. It only leads to frustration. Inviting the cameras and the newspapers to our meetings makes working this way impossible. This was irresponsible of those who did this. There should be an investigation into this.

I ask you to conduct an investigation in order to try to determine who was responsible. In addition, since it is our committee which is involved, according to the usual procedure, I would ask you to refer it to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

In the interests of credibility and so as to avoid conflict of interest, I think that you should convene a special committee to examine this situation and make recommendations in order to shed some light on this incident.

Once again, I am very disappointed that this happened, because this is no way to work together. I trust that you will make the right decision.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst, who has raised the question of privilege. I too sit on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

This morning, I was dismayed to find newspaper reports quoting excerpts from a confidential report. The article is unequivocal. The reporter states clearly that he has a draft report in his possession, whereas this document had been in the hands of committee members only a few hours. They were provided with it yesterday and it was discussed privately this morning, in camera.

We are now faced with an extremely difficult situation for you, Mr. Speaker, and for all members of this House. Normally, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is where we can all, yourself included, go to shed light on problematical occurrences here.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where the people on the committee are the ones responsible for the leak. Of course, all manner of hypotheses are possible, but regardless of whether an MP or an assistant was involved, the responsibility ultimately lies with the MP, despite the arguments we heard on this in committee this morning.

This is a very problematic situation. For several years now—and I have been a member since 1993—the number of reports that have been leaked to the media has increased dramatically. It is a major problem and it is growing. Similar cases have already been referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. However, in this case, there is almost nowhere to turn.

In light of this, the member for Acadie--Bathurst suggested that you strike a special committee or some other body. We are in a situation where we have to ask ourselves who can shed light on this, and it is very worrisome.

I could make lengthy comments on my hypotheses and on whom I think leaked the report to the media, but that is not the point of today's discussion. All we can do is look at who stood to gain from the crime to know who committed it. People can judge for themselves. All they need do is read the article in question to come to their own conclusions.

However, you are faced with a situation that is very disturbing and I do not know how you will be able to resolve it. Clearly there is a problem. The committee's credibility has been greatly affected. I find this unfortunate, because I sit on this committee. I do not like wasting my time and I do not want to be a part of a committee that will be discredited in the future.

So there is a credibility problem that concerns the committee, the House and the Speaker, who relies on this committee to investigate contentious issues.

I look to you to provide an indication as to how we can solve a problem that persists and that has gotten worse in recent years, with many reports finding their way to the media.

Many members here learned about this from the media, before having had the chance to discuss it. Some members of the committee learned about the report last night, others did so this morning after seeing it in the papers. That much is clear.

The report was most definitely leaked. If we thought that the passages that were quoted were not accurate, we would not be raising the issue today.

Mr. Speaker, I look to you to give us some direction, some solutions and ways to rectify this problem in the future.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to take too much time, but I want to give my support to the request made by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

The credibility of three major players must be preserved. I want to mention them, not necessarily in order of precedence. First, there is the committee's credibility. Committees are made up of opposition and government members who try to do credible work.

Second, there is the minister's credibility. As we know, the Minister of National Defence is in a difficult situation. While we must do our job as opposition parties, we must also preserve the defence minister's credibility, and ensure that the committee can work in a credible fashion.

Then there is the Chair's credibility. Mr. Speaker, you have issued very specific rulings, for example as regards oral question period and the issue relating to the Minister of National Defence. This House has co-operated with the Chair.

Today, the issue is a document that was released earlier than it should have been. While the committee's credibility is affected, the Minister of National Defence cannot, regardless of where we stand in the political spectrum, hope for a credible judgment from his peers if documents are released before they are completed. Similarly, Mr. Speaker, you want to make sure that the issue is dealt with in a credible manner when you issue a ruling.

Mr. Speaker, you, the Minister of National Defence, the committee and even this parliament all have a credibility problem. With all due respect, I hope that you will grant the request made by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, so that we can get to the bottom of this issue as quickly as possible, in the interest of all.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition wants to add its support to the member for Acadie--Bathurst on this issue that comes up time and again in the House. Now we have a report from the procedure and house affairs committee being quoted in the paper before it has been presented in the House.

It is far past time that something be done to stop this. It has involved many committees of the House. I know, Mr. Speaker, you take this very seriously and have expressed those concerns in the past. We in the official opposition encourage you to come up with some kind of a plan to stop this, and some kind of ramifications should this ever happen again.

This cannot constantly be going on. It is a breach of the confidentiality of the House and the essence of what the House of Commons stands for in Canada. I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to do the right thing.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, not to set a precedent, but I believe that unanimity on this matter will be reached very easily.

I fully share the frustration and concern expressed by my colleagues, in particular the member for Acadie--Bathurst. I too sit on the committee and I demand the same privilege as any other member who is on the committee. I believe that my privileges have indeed been breached, as have those of my colleagues.

I would, however, like to correct two or three small points raised in these presentations. The first is that this was a Liberal report, which is incorrect. The report was prepared by the clerk of the committee, on instruction from the committee. So the presumption that this was a Liberal report is based on an assumption of how the various political parties or committee members were going to vote. This in itself is an offence against the in camera status of the meeting, because I believe there has never been any public discussion.

Second, this is not the first time a question of privilege has been raised in this connection. It may have only been raised today in committee, but there have been precedents.

I believe it is time for two matters to be looked at very carefully. The first is what has happened in this instance, because it is important to see whether it can be determined who is responsible for this situation which affects us all. Second, is this the time to review some of the ways committees operate, particularly in camera sessions, in order to determine how to best prevent such things from happening?

In conclusion, I am fully in agreement with the basic premise of the question of privilege raised by my colleague from Acadie--Bathurst.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:25 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let me briefly say that all members of the House are put into difficult and frustrating positions when information that is intended to be confidential to members of parliament is released or appears in the public domain before it appears in the House. That is a legitimate point of concern and complaint by members of parliament.

I must say that on this particular matter I have not personally seen the media reports. I gather from what hon. members have said they would tend to indicate that identical or almost identical language has been used in the press as that which would have appeared in a draft document to which only members of the committee and committee staff would have been privy.

The concern of hon. members is indeed understandable in this matter. I want to associate myself with the comments on this subject that have been made by the deputy government whip to indicate that obviously there is a matter that needs further inquiry. Therefore, if the rules and procedures of either the committee or the House have in fact been breached here, then the appropriate remedial action should be taken.

PrivilegeThe Royal Assent

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The Speaker is in a rather difficult position. The hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst has raised this question of privilege and he has cited an article in The Globe and Mail , I believe, concerning the draft of a report by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

As Speaker, I have not seen this report. I was not on the list of those who received the draft of the report. It is therefore difficult for me at this time to compare the quotations in the Globe and Mail article with the draft of the report, and I do not wish to see it at this time.

However, the other thing which is very important is that it is the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which really has the right to examine things. If I find a question of privilege today, the matter will undoubtedly be referred to this committee. So, if all those who are members of this committee agree that the committee should examine this matter, the committee may do so without a referral from the House. It has the right to do so and, in my view, the obligation.

So, at this time, the committee is in charge of its own procedure for examining this important issue, this breach of its own privileges, which appears to have taken place.

I urge members of the committee to go back to a meeting of the committee and take the necessary steps. They can call the reporter who published this story. If the reporter will not tell them who published it, they can recommend to the House that he be jailed for contempt. They have amazing powers. However, the committee is master of its own procedure. It is not for the Speaker to tell the committee how to do its work.

I can allow the member to move a motion in this House referring the matter to the committee, but the committee has to take its own enforcement procedures, subject of course to the House approving those enforcement procedures.

I do not know what the government House leader thinks of my suggestion, but I am sure that if the committee considers the matter it will come up with a solution that will appeal to all hon. members on a very important issue.

However, there are other ways of investigating this. I am sure the committee can come up with a list of witnesses who might be able to assist it and its investigation into this matter.

For the time being, I will take under advisement the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst. I much appreciate the interventions of the other members on this issue. I hope that, until such time as I am prepared to rule on this question of privilege, which will be soon I hope, the committee will be able to take this matter under consideration and begin an investigation in order to determine what the problem is and what must be done to ensure that it does not recur, for this committee and for others.

As I have already said in my earlier rulings, this is a serious problem for the House of Commons and for all committees of the House. I hope that we will be able to find a solution to it very soon.

I am sure that the members who raised this matter today and who spoke are prepared to ensure that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs can do precisely what is necessary in this situation.

For the time being, I will take the matter under advisement.

The House resumed 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. 4.

Species At Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we broke for question period, I was addressing comments to the Group No. 4 proposed amendments, specifically to the gutting of the legislation done by the government and its impact on the aboriginal community, the Metis, the Dene, the Inuit and all other first nations in the country.

I began to quote from a statement released today by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president expressing his outrage at what has happened. Let me read from it fairly extensively. I think it summarizes very accurately the offensiveness on the part of the government to those communities. He says, and I quote:

The Report Stage changes, undertaken unilaterally by the government, do not currently reflect the constitutionally protected relationship between Inuit and the federal government. More specifically, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami feels the federal government has undermined the integrity of the Species at Risk legislation through its report stage motions.

The statement goes on about section 7.1 which was in the amendments that were passed at the committee stage and brought forward for report stage. The government has changed that quite dramatically and that is what he is addressing.

The statement goes on:

Section 7.1. in the Act was of special interest to Inuit, as it created the National Aboriginal Council On Species At Risk (NACOSAR), in which six Aboriginal leaders would form a council with three federal ministers of the Crown to provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC). The NACOSAR would have provided a direct link between Aboriginal groups and federal, provincial, and territorial ministers in charge of implementation, listing, and recovery of species at risk. Such a council would have benefited all Canadians. The Standing Committee agreed, voting unanimously in favor of the creation of NACOSAR earlier this year.

That is a very accurate portrayal of what went on leading up to report stage.

He then goes on and to say:

In Motion 20 of Report Stage, the federal government dramatically altered and weakened NACOSAR making it “discretionary” instead of “mandatory”, a “committee” instead of a “council”, and changing the composition of the committee to six Aboriginal leaders who would advise only the Minister of the Environment, not the CESCC.

These fundamental changes are unacceptable. The Report Stage NACOSAR belittles Aboriginal Nations and their leaders by removing their rightful place in an advisory body with ministers of the Crown within the Act. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has repeatedly asked for a formal response from (the) Minister of the Environment...regarding Motion 20, and has received none.

Since 1996, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami has worked with the Canadian government on the development of the Species At Risk Act. Until Report Stage, ITK felt the Bill included appropriate Aboriginal involvement at a meaningful level, in spite of disagreements concerning but not limited to compensation and federal jurisdiction.

Then it concludes:

Due to these recent events, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, along with other Aboriginal groups, have no choice but to withdraw their support from the Species at Risk Act.

That statement reflects very accurately what went on; the facts and the background to SARA. It also reflects, and what we have been told by those communities across the country, their feelings of betrayal by the government.

It is important that the House appreciate that a large number of communities such as aboriginal groups, first nations governments, the Métis, the Dene, and the Inuit came forward to the committee with presentations, some of which were extremely impressive and which impacted not only with regard to representation in the legislation by those groups, but also in a lot of other ways.

Often I have spoken about how impressed the committee was by these presentations and how they had a great impact in the ultimate amendments that were passed by the committee, which the government is now attempting to change. I cannot say enough about how effective they were and how much they did impact on the committee in its deliberations.

I can understand very well these communities feeling this betrayal and feeling outraged by it. It is another in a long series of the government offending the aboriginal community, the Inuit, Métis and the first nations. The government has done it repeatedly and now it has done it again. Quite frankly there is no reason for it. All they were really asking for was to continue to do what they did in that committee: to advise, to be consulted with, and to assist in the implementation of the legislation. These communities have a great deal to offer and are being denied significantly by the government.

Species At Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been no consultations on this, so I am appealing to the collegiality of my colleagues. Could we ask for unanimous consent to revert to presentation of petitions for about 30 seconds on behalf of my colleague from Skeena who was unable to be here this morning and who has a set of petitions of some urgency?

Species At Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its consent?

Species At Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the confusion on my part and I appreciate the House giving me a few moments here.

Today I would like to table a petition sent to me by clients of Hawkair, a small air carrier which operates out of my riding of Skeena in northern British Columbia. This petition, signed by over 500 air travellers, is a perfect opportunity for the Minister of Transport to rethink his outrageous $24 round trip tax grab.

I hope that he will pay close attention to the information that comes out of the committee hearings taking place over the next little while and reconsider the implications and effect of this tax on small airlines and travellers across Canada.

The House resumed 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. 4.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

March 21st, 2002 / 3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Laliberte Liberal Churchill River, SK

It is an honour and a privilege to speak on the proposed Group No. 4 report stage motions. I bring to the House the serious concern that has been raised by the United aboriginal leadership of Canada in relation to government Motions Nos. 6, 16 and 17.

The government motions diminish the standing committee's work to recognize the crucial role and important contribution that aboriginal peoples would make toward protecting species at risk. The standing committee acknowledged, by a unanimous all party vote, that a national aboriginal council on species at risk was a necessary component for bringing all jurisdictions of all peoples of Canada together to protect the life and species that were under threat.

The aboriginal peoples of Canada, the Inuit, the first nations and the Metis, all have stood united for inclusion in the decision making process that would reverse the losses of our species.

Since 1998 the leaderships have asked to be included at the decision making table to meet face to face with the federal and provincial ministers, the Canadian Endangered Conservation Council, a decision making body established under the federal-provincial species at risk accord, as action plans and recovery strategies for protecting species at risk are discussed, formulated and implemented.

This desire to be a partner in a co-operative manner between governments and peoples is nothing new. In matters related to the constitution and the charter of rights, and the repeated supreme court decisions, a requirement of our federal government in matters related to aboriginal rights should create models of inclusion. In fact the six representatives of the aboriginals peoples were involved in the ministers meeting in Iqaluit. They were invited by the environment minister himself to the surprise and gratitude of the aboriginal leadership. This was a huge step forward as a meeting of the minds and a clear signal that Canada would move forward in aboriginal relations, and it was a new step forward in the new millennium.

The government Motions Nos. 6, 16 and 17 were a huge disappointment to the aboriginal leadership. For the information of the House, the wording accepted by committee to create a necessary link to protect species between aboriginal peoples in Canada, to seek and consider advice and recommendations from aboriginal peoples, which the committee clarified to be the counsel in language specifically found in the federal-provincial accord, was based on the successful Iqaluit model.

The aboriginal working group successfully consulted with the government and its leadership to create the support required for this representation and inclusion. Representation from the east, south, west and north was very critical to having the inclusion of a unique biodiversity and eco-regions of Canada.

I call attention to Motion No. 25 as well. It changes the mechanisms and methods necessary to ensure intellectual property rights inherent for the successful implementation of SARA are respected and protected and are shared and used in an honourable manner.

In these new wording changes, I would propose that following two amendments to the report stage amendments, Motions Nos. 20 and 25, be accepted:

That Report Stage Motion No. 20 to amend Bill C-5 be amended by replacing all the words after “The Minister” with “shall establish a Council, to be known as the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk, consisting of six representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada selected by the Minister based upon recommendations from aboriginal organizations that the Minister considers appropriate. The role of the Council is to:

(1) advise the Minister on the administration of this Act;

(2) provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council.”

That Report Stage Motion No. 25 to amend Bill C-5 be amended by replacing paragraph 10.2(c) with the following:

“(c) methods for sharing information about species at risk, including community and aboriginal traditional knowledge, that respect, preserve and maintain knowledge and promote their wider application with the approval of the holders of such knowledge, with other governments and persons.”

I also bring to the attention of the House that aboriginal leaderships have explicitly stated that the removal of the council in the act, if not corrected and an honourable compromise is not reached on Motion No. 25, there may not be aboriginal support for SARA. Canada needs the support of the aboriginal peoples and their nations to ensure the successful implementation of this act and of preservation of the threatened and endangered species of this country.

I offer this honourable compromise.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair is ready to rule immediately on this matter. The amendments are in order.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago we received a lot of data from census Canada showing that a shrinking number of Canadians live in what is truly called rural Canada.

The vast majority of people in Canada live in a centre of 10,000 plus. As a result of that, one can take a look at many bills that come before the House, certainly Bill C-5 at the present time. Bill C-5 only involves a very small group of people who live in the rural area.

Yesterday we discussed Bill C-15B. Were the people in the ranching business consulted? Was the dairy industry or the hog industry consulted? No. These people were not consulted and yet they are the ones who will be the most affected.

This morning in the veterans affairs committee we had what I considered very good consultation. We had a gentleman who was very knowledgeable about the subject and we asked questions and so on.

The vast majority of people who this bill would affect were never consulted. Today we have a new president of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers' Association. He lives in a little area north of the No. 1 highway in Gouldtown, Saskatchewan. Was the Saskatchewan Stock Growers' Association consulted about the effects of Bill C-5? No. Yet its members own millions of acres of grazing land and they were not consulted.

If we were going to pass legislation applicable to a mass urban area like Ottawa or Toronto, there would be public consultation all over the place but when we deal with basic, rural agricultural problems, it does not matter any more because if we took all the people engaged in agriculture and spread them across Canada there would not be a voting block anyway. It really would not change the composition of members in the House. It is not a big issue except for those who happen to live there.

I was in Guelph, Ontario two weeks ago. The people there asked me to give a talk on how the agri-industry could continue to operate with such bills as C-5, C-15B and Kyoto, especially since it was not consulted on any of them?

I have seen a lot of the government's perception of consultation. Some crown corporations that are going to raise their rates put advertisements in the paper and invite the public to come. Three people may show up. The most common thing heard is that the government will simply go ahead and act anyway.

I am familiar with a provincial government issuing an environmental regulation to a group of people who for years used particular patches of land for grazing their animals.

Instead of telling them they could only use the land for grazing during a certain period of the year, the ruling came down stating that the piece of land had to be divided into three sections and that only one of those sections could be grazed every third year to preserve the nesting of certain birds. In order to make that land worthwhile, they had to put in miles of ineffective fencing.

This is very strange legislation. If a landowner or a land renter accidentally hurts or kills a particular animal, he or she must prove due diligence; that is, that he or she did everything possible beforehand to find out if that endangered species was on the land.

When the Rafferty dam was created in Saskatchewan we found that rare species of animals, animals which had never lived in the area before, moved in because of the water. Some people who graze their cattle near that dam still do not know that those animals are there. Under this legislation they would have to prove that they were guilty without due knowledge of what was happening. That is contrary to every other law we have in Canada which states that someone is innocent until proven guilty.

I know what people will say. They will say that the government would never do that. I know people will say that we would have a logical excuse. However, under this bill, the landowner has to prove that he is innocent.

I really believe that we in rural Canada from coast to coast are being totally ignored. Yesterday we talked about the cruelty to animals bill. The government never once consulted, learned about or asked about established practices that have been going on in this country since before Confederation and yet, under the proposed legislation, it will have the right to give its interpretation of such things as suffering and the right to say that a particular practice will no longer continue even though it never consulted with the people involved prior to the bill coming to the House.

The committee which studied Bill C-5 never heard from the people actually involved in land ownership. We did have good representation from industry and from some cattlemen but we never really heard from the national cattlemen's organization.

The government has never had the courage to say that the practices, such as branding, which have been going on forever in this country, will no longer be required. Instead, it waits. Let it say that a person who has an endangered species without knowing it is guilty of not protecting it. How can we protect something if we do not know it is there?

I found some endangered species on a piece of property and I reported them. The owners of thee property and the environment people were very happy about that. However if an individual visits someone who owns land and a particular endangered species is destroyed unknowingly on that piece of land, such as being ridden over by a horse, or an endangered piece of vegetation was trampled on, then they are guilty. We have to go back and change that part of the bill.