House of Commons Hansard #178 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was microbreweries.


Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should, in compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, amend its regulations to replace the use of lead fishing weights and baits by any other non toxic matter that would end the intoxication of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin by recalling the essential object of Motion No. 414, which I am introducing today.

As you can see, it is a matter of protecting migratory birds from a highly toxic substance, namely lead, which is found in sinkers and lures used in sport fishing. If any other non-toxic substance is used, it will be possible to contemplate the eradication of this phenomenon of migratory birds being poisoned by these sinkers and lures, and in particular to save from certain death thousands of loons. These are not only a source of pride, but also of great value to nature and to our economy.

There is nothing new about this concern to protect our migratory birds from lead. According to the January 2002 issue of Bulletin Science et Environnement :

Mercury and lead are two metals of particular concern as far as wildlife are concerned. They are both on the list of toxic substances because of their potentially toxic effects, particularly because lead causes organ damage and leads to death. Although lead and mercury are present in both land and water habitat, the way they are ingested puts water fowl, and piscivorous, that is fish-eating, birds and mammals, as well as their predators, at considerable risk of poisoning.

The legislation and regulations concerning migratory birds were drafted as a result of the signature of international conventions. This is how the August 16, 1916 Migratory Bird Convention came into being between the United Kingdom and United States in order to protect the migratory birds of Canada and the U.S. It must be kept in mind that Canada, being a British colony at the time, was therefore bound by this convention.

I would like to read the beginning of this convention.

Whereas many of these species are of greatvalue as a source of food or in destroying insectswhich are injurious to forests and forage plants onthe public domain, as well as to agricultural crops,in both Canada and the United States, but arenevertheless in danger of extermination throughlack of adequate protection during the nesting His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom ofGreat Britain and Ireland and of the Britishdominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India, andthe United States of America, being desirous ofsaving from indiscriminate slaughter and ofinsuring the preservation of such migratory birdsas are either useful to man or are harmless, haveresolved to adopt some uniform system ofprotection which shall effectively accomplish suchobjects—

Then there was the Migratory Birds Act, 1994, assented to on June 23, 1994, which reads as follows at section 4:

The purpose of this Act is to implement theConvention by protecting migratory birds andnests.

Specifically, subsection 12(1) of the 1994 legislation sets out that:

The Governor in Council may make anyregulations that the Governor in Council considersnecessary to carry out the purposes and provisionsof this Act and the Convention, includingregulations


(h) for prohibiting the killing, capturing,injuring, taking or disturbing of migratory birdsor the damaging, destroying, removing ordisturbing of nests;

Therefore, the government implemented the Migratory Birds Regulations. These are the regulations that have been used to fight the use of lead shot in the hunting of migratory birds.

In fact, the government banned the use of cartridges with lead shot, or pellets that are poisonous, for bird hunting, by defining which type of non-poisonous pellets could be used in sections 2 and 15(1) of the Migratory Birds Regulations. The government prohibited hunting migratory birds, in particular, with pellets that are poisonous—lead being poisonous—and permitted hunting with materials that are not poisonous.

This first ban on lead when hunting migratory birds had a very positive effect, as pointed out in the article published in the Bulletin Science et Environnement , to which I referred earlier:

While levels of mercury in the environment are increasing, the level of lead is decreasing, thanks to the gradual elimination of lead in many countries and to a national ban on lead shot used to hunt most migratory birds considered to be game fowl. The ban on lead shot, which came into effect in 1999, resulted in a reduction of about 40% of the lead spread annually in the Canadian environment by hunters.

However, a very important and serious problem remains concerning lead and migratory birds, in that lead used for fishing is the main cause of death among migratory birds, particularly the loon during nesting season.

Let us now take a look at what environmental experts are saying about lead and migratory birds swallowing the small lead weights and baits used for sport fishing.

One of the most serious problem relating to lead remains the swallowing of small lead sinkers and lures by divers—

Divers include loons and similar types of birds.

—in lakes where sport fishing is a major activity. Each year, anglers lose about 500 tons of lead sinkers and lures in Canadian waters. Even the smallest of these devices is big enough to kill any diver that swallows it. Lead poisoning accounts for 5% to 50% of registered deaths among adult divers in Canada, and it is the main cause of the deaths registered among adult loons in North America, during nesting season.

Migratory birds are a great source of wealth, as shown by the following excerpt of the summary of the May 17, 2000 regulatory impact study under the Migratory Birds Convention Act,1994:

The sustainability of migratory bird resources is critical to the cultural and economic well-being of Canadians. There is a major economic benefit for Canadians and for the government in protecting and managing migratory birds and in preserving large conservation areas to ensure their reproduction and survival. Data collected by Statistics Canada in a 1991 survey shows that Canadians spent $1.2 billion to hunt and to watch migratory waterfowl.

In conclusion, I seek the House's support for my Motion M-414 concerning the protection of migratory birds, which would amend the regulations to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, to replace the use of lead sinkers and lures by any other non toxic matter that would end the poisoning of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.

I remind the House that, on March 25, the well known Ducks Unlimited informed me of their full support for Motion M-414 in the following terms:

Ducks Unlimited hereby supports the motion you put forward in the House of Commons to have the government amend its regulation to replace the use of lead sinkers and lures by any other non toxic matter that would end the poisoning of migratory birds, including the loon.

I have always been interested in hunting and fishing. Having become aware of the considerable harm caused migratory birds, particularly the loon, by the use of lead sinkers and lures, I think it highly desirable that we move as quickly as possible and without further delay to protect migratory birds by the use of non toxic matter for fishing.

Since lead is now banned for hunting migratory birds, the same decision must be taken for lead used in sport fishing, with the same goal of better protecting migratory birds, including the loon.

The motion I am putting forward does not require any complicated action on the part of the government or of fishers, just a simple amendment to the Migratory Birds Regulations in order to replace the lead sinkers and lures used in sport fishing with similar non toxic products serving the same purpose. It is as simple as that.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Kitchener Centre Ontario


Karen Redman LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to address the House today in connection with Motion No. 414 concerning the use of lead sinkers and jigs for fishing. The motion proposes that:

the government should, in compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, amend its regulations to replace the use of lead fishing weights and baits by any other non toxic matter that would end the intoxication of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.

Let me state at the outset that I support the intent of this initiative and I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the issue of lead sinkers and jigs. It is one that warrants the attention of parliament and the Canadian public and it is one that reminds us all to pay attention to the effect of our activities as anglers on our cherished wildlife.

Lead has long been acknowledged as an environmental and health problem for humans and wildlife. Lead is listed as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The federal government, along with other levels of government, has been successful in reducing the hazard of lead in our environment by getting the lead out of gasoline, household products like paint and shot used in hunting waterfowl.

Motion No. 414 highlights the fact that the recreational use of lead continues to be a source of lead in the environment. The motion has raised the profile of the problem of lead fishing sinkers and jigs and their impact on wildlife, in particular on water birds such as the loon. Basically the problem is that water birds ingest fishing sinkers and jigs during feeding, either when they mistake them for food or grit or when they consume lost bait fish when the line is still attached. The ingestion of a single lead sinker or a lead-headed jig is sufficient to expose a loon or other bird to a lethal dose of lead. Ingestion of lead sinkers and jigs has been found to cause mortality in common loons, swans and various other water birds.

The objective of Motion No. 414 is to eliminate the use of lead sinkers and jigs in Canada. The motion proposes to accomplish this objective by introducing regulatory action. We support the environmental objectives sought by the motion and we are taking and will continue to take action. There are several steps that the government intends to undertake, including the making of a regulation or other instrument respecting prevention or control actions required to achieve the objective of Motion No. 414.

First we need to ensure that we have a clear understanding of the impact of lead fishing gear on wildlife. This first step is key before we embark on the second step, which involves working in partnership with stakeholders. It is necessary to consult and engender the support of stakeholders and other government agencies that would be partners in any attempts to reduce the input of lead fishing gear into the environment.

The government intends to actively address the harm done by lead sinkers and jigs. As is required in these types of circumstances, we are using scientific understanding as the basis for our actions. In this regard, the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada has been compiling and analyzing information regarding the effects of lead sinkers and jigs on wildlife to determine whether there are impacts at the population level, particularly on loons, which is one of the main species affected by the ingestion of lead sinkers and jigs.

This science review is presently undergoing peer review by the scientific community and should be released in the fall of this year. This should provide scientific information for discussion with all stakeholders and provide a firmer basis for any new actions which may be considered to address the lead sinker and jig problem. These considerations should include regulatory or other instruments respecting prevention or control actions in relation to lead weights and baits.

As I have said, success in achieving the results advocated in Motion No. 414 depends first on obtaining the support of those Canadians on whom the proposed legislation would have an impact. Consultations are needed to build consensus on appropriate responses to the death of birds caused by lead sinkers, ensuring that Canadians have an appreciation for the scope of the problem and an idea of the possible solutions. We will initiate public discussion on this issue once the scientific review has been released. It is important that people understand what science is telling us and agree on an appropriate course of action. This approach of consulting Canadians before action is taken has never failed this government.

It is critical to develop the support of anglers who use lead sinkers and jigs. They must be fully aware of the problem so that they would readily buy into the possible solutions. We also require the support of manufacturers, distributors and retailers who make lead sinkers and jigs available, so that should any actions require changes to fishing equipment, alternatives to lead gear would be widely available. It is also important to have alternatives that are comparable in price and performance to those made of lead. We will need to consult with anglers on the effectiveness of non-lead sinkers and jigs for fishing.

The support of the provinces and territories, which manage recreational fishing, is critical to ensure that any actions, including the potential use of non-voluntary control on fishing gear, would be enforceable. The co-operation of all players is essential to the effective implementation of any actions undertaken to achieve a smooth transition to the use of non-toxic types of fishing sinkers and jigs.

Once we have completed these consultations, then perhaps a regulation or another appropriate policy response can come into play at a time when it will be supported by the Canadian public. It is these consultations that will tell us how best to respond.

Let me be clear. Let no one assume I am suggesting that nothing be done. When lead shot used in hunting was shown to be hazardous to wildlife, particularly to waterfowl, the government implemented a phased-in approach to the regulation and ban of the use of lead shot when hunting waterfowl. This phased-in approach worked well and perhaps will serve as a solid model for the reduction of lead fishing sinkers and jigs.

I should emphasize that it is the government's position that these phased-in regulatory approaches, supported by needed consultations, have been most effective especially when coupled with both education and awareness activities. I would like to add that the government has not been sitting idly by, ignoring the problem of lead fishing sinkers and jigs. We have already been active in reducing the use of lead fishing gear.

In 1997, under the Canada Wildlife Act, the Minister of the Environment banned the possession of lead fishing sinkers or jigs weighing less than 50 grams in national wildlife areas. In the same year, under the National Parks Act, Canadian Heritage prohibited the use or possession of lead sinkers and jigs weighing less than 50 grams for use while fishing in national parks. Together, these restrictions are estimated to have reduced lead sinkers and jig deposition by up to five tonnes annually. Environment Canada has developed a communications program around the theme “fish lead-free”. The goal of this communication strategy is to raise awareness and promote the availability and use of lead-free alternatives to lead fishing gear. The Canadian Wildlife Service has developed an active website that outlines the issue and identifies suppliers of lead-free alternatives. It has also distributed close to 30,000 fish lead-free pamphlets this year as well as supporting several lead sinker exchange programs, including, for example, those at the Toronto fishing show and the Ottawa boat, cottage and sportsmen show.

A third important action we are planning is to expand the public awareness efforts around the issue of lead sinkers and jigs and the impact they are having on our wildlife. We have worked and will continue to work with government and non-government agencies that can effectively and efficiently get information to anglers. We will work to expand this partnership. Our fish lead-free campaign is available to any organization that wishes to work with us. It is a campaign that can be adapted to the unique and particular needs of each partner and one which we believe will help build a national momentum toward fishing lead-free.

I should add that over time Environment Canada has also in addition to its own programs actively supported independent collection programs for lead sinkers and jigs instituted by several organizations in Ontario, including the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan and the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority. To date, these programs have successfully netted more than 800 kilograms of lead sinkers and jigs from anglers who participated in exchanges around the Great Lakes. The success of this type of initiative is an important awareness building which will support as well as enable the government in moving ahead on reducing the use of lead sinkers and jigs.

I wish to thank the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert for having brought to the attention of the House the lead fishing sinker and jig problem and for her interest in protection of the environment, in particular migratory birds. I assure the member that the government is acting on this issue which is important to all Canadians.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the member for introducing this motion. I was particularly pleased to listen to the parliamentary secretary who indicated that we need continued scientific proof in this matter.

If I were to tell members this morning that my mother was born in Missouri that might not have any connotation for the House. It is the show me state, and that is a bit of show me in me. I am old enough to know that I have been through many of these things where I have to be shown.

I remember, as a young person going to school in Ontario, lining to take a thimbleful of an iodine mixture. We lived in the goitre belt. People said that it was mass medication and it would kill everyone. We cannot buy table salt today that is not iodized. No one died from drinking the iodine either.

It also reminds me of when I was building a little farm site and I wanted to get the water tested. It had four times as much fluoride as what the cities were trying to put into the water. Again the cry came about mass medication.

Let me tell members about the Migratory Bird Act. Let me talk about driving down a road to visit one of my schools in the western part of my riding. A whole section of yellow stubble would turn black. About 90% of all the fly away from the Canada geese came down that way.

I, and everyone else, co-operated, as the parliamentary secretary said, when it came to doing away with the lead shot in shotguns. Many hunters were American and they would take a big goose when it came down, cut it down the middle, peel back the skin and slide out the breast meat. All the lead shot remained in the bird. Other predators would come along and eat the lead shot, and were killed. Therefore everyone agreed to the removal of lead shot.

The member who introduced the motion talked about the support of Ducks Unlimited. That is rather ironic because Ducks Unlimited is a prairie organization. It is not really engaged in fishing but it was one of the supporters with regard to taking out the lead shot in the shotgun shells. Lead is really poisonous.

I can tell members what happened one time that ended up being very costly. We were unloading grain after midnight. We had an old truck providing the lights for the loader to unload. We were so tired that we forgot to put the hood down. When we went out in the morning there was my neighbour's cow, good for two things, and that was nothing twice. It was dead. It died by licking the lead around the battery. That is how poisonous lead can be.

The Canadian Alliance does not want to move on a motion that does not have any scientific proof about the lead sinker. There was nothing relating to lead poisoning of these birds. One report talks about a little history of the true agenda. This reminds me about people telling me about gophers. The other day a scientific fellow told me about gophers. He said we should not kill gophers because they chase and eat mice. No one ever heard of that before.

The experimentation the parliamentary secretary mentioned has never resulted in scientific proof of the actual destruction of large numbers of birds. That has never taken place. The government must take the lead through experimentation and show, with the co-operation of all the fishermen from across Canada, that there is scientific proof. When it does that we will be right there to support the banning of these lead sinkers.

Until now there has not been sufficient evidence to prove its demise. We will have to find another item which is as heavy. I did not know that fishermen bite this thing with their teeth. I could not do that. Then they throw it out on the line. What happens if it disconnects from the line? Lead being one of the heaviest metals, it sinks to the bottom.

I am reading from an article by a wildlife biologist who is also chairman of the fish and wildlife advisory board in Ontario. He states there is not sufficient evidence. He too, along with the parliamentary secretary and my caucus, would support the motion. We will support further evidence and findings but at the present time that would be like me supporting what the government has put forth in gopher poison which does not work. Let us have true evidence and we will support it. Until then we will wait for the testing to take place.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint Hubert for bringing this important motion forward to the House of Commons.

I listened to the parliamentary secretary indicate her support for the intent of the motion but that the government, for all intents and purposes, would not vote for the motion. It is most unfortunate that she would not allow a free vote on this. I am sure many of her backbench Liberals would support a motion of this nature.

The reality is that she talks about the government getting rid of lead and gasoline. The way the government did it was through regulation. It told the industry it had until a certain date to remove it and the industry complied.

The government is saying we must have consultations with all the stakeholders to see what they say about it. The Liberals never consulted with Canadians when they introduced the airport tax and bought the two new Challengers. Yet on a simple solution like removing lead from our lakes and rivers they have to consult with people. It is another delay tactic by the government in refusing to protect wildlife in the country. It absolutely refuses to do it.

I will provide the solution; it is very simple. It should decide that by the end of 2003 no more lead weights or sinkers are allowed in the country, period. That is it. The industry and communities will adjust to it. In the end our fish, lakes, rivers and wildlife, especially those in the bird world, will be thankful for that. Why does the government not just do it? I do not understand why there has to be delay and no support for a motion of this nature. It is a no-brainer politically and helps everyone out environmentally.

There is a chance the government will invoke closure on the species at risk bill at a later stage. The government again will fail to protect the interests of not only our environment but the other species that we share this planet with. I could stand here all day and complain about what the Liberals have done in terms of our environment but it is quite obvious they have no intention of supporting the motion with their feet. They will support it with their continuous delays and in the end nothing will happen. That is most unfortunate.

I wish that the fisheries minister who happens to be listening to the debate right now would go over to the parliamentary secretary and say that it is the fisheries minister's role in life to protect fish and fish habitats. Why does he not exercise the fisheries authority that he has and ban this toxic substance? It is not that difficult.

It is a simple motion brought forward by the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert. There is absolutely no reason that the House could not pass it in the span of a couple of hours. We can give ourselves a raise in three hours. We can give ourselves another raise by doing it in the back room. Certainly we can support a motion that is so clear and simple and would do so much to protect bird life and other species.

While I am on the topic, it is no surprise that fish like tuna and swordfish on the east coast now contain high levels of mercury. In fact, Health Canada is issuing warnings to pregnant women about the high levels of mercury in these fish. That is an indication the government is still refusing to protect those species. I have little faith in the government to actually enact this type of motion quickly, which is so dearly needed.

I thank the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint--Hubert for this very important motion. The New Democratic Party will be supporting her and we only wish that the Liberals would do the same.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion put forward by the hon. member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert. It states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should, in compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, amend its regulations to replace the use of lead fishing weights and baits by any other non toxic matter that would end the intoxication of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.

I too listened to the parliament secretary. I heard her say that the government was consulting and that it would not support the motion. The last time I checked private members' legislation was whipped. However let us say for example that private members' legislation would not be whipped, that there would actually be a free vote. I would not expect a member of the government to speak on behalf of all the members of the government on private members' business. However that seems to be what is taking place.

I will make a suggestion to the government. It should take the 500 tonnes of lead that we are putting in lead shot every year and replace the metal substance with the loonie because it is only worth 62¢. We are calling it a dollar. If we were to make it out of lead we would get rid of the 500 tonnes. We would still sell it and everybody would benefit. Then we could call it the 62 center instead of the loonie.

However the loon is a bird that is directly affected by lead poisoning and certainly bears the brunt as one of our national emblems. I think it is as significant to most Canadians as the beaver.

The Alliance member for Souris--Moose Mountain who wanted to speak on the fact that there is no scientific evidence obviously has not gone to look for it. I suggest he check the websites of the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Canadian Wildlife Service. If he were to do that he would find lots of evidence linking lead fishing weights to migratory bird loss.

Although loons in particular still nest in large numbers across Canada, recent studies have shown cause for concern about low breeding success, especially in the common loon. Loons are dying from lead poisoning by eating fish with lead sinkers. There is some suspicion they are also contacting lead poisoning after picking up discarded sinkers from lake bottoms. The lead is partially dissolved in the loons gizzard and absorbed into the blood and body tissue. Other tissue damage besides this also occurs, including nerve and kidney damage.

North American studies indicate that a significant proportion of adult loon deaths on the breeding grounds is attributed to lead poisoning from direct ingestion of sinkers. I would call that fairly conclusive evidence that lead sinkers cause lead poisoning in migratory birds.

The member for Souris--Moose Mountain started to make a point concerning lead shot. On that point there is some relative merit to replace lead shot across the nation for migratory birds and waterfowl. The government talks about consultation and discussion with advisory groups and wildlife groups but it missed a group in its consultative process. We may be causing more crippling of sea ducks with the exclusion of lead shot. When we are in deep water in the open ocean in a boat that is rocking up and down we would like to have every advantage and the lead shot carries slightly further than the substitute.

The hunting community has changed its tactics to accommodate the anti-lead shot bylaw and again both groups benefit. Wildlife benefits and the hunters have adapted to the regulations.

Environmentally safe alternatives to lead sinkers and jigs exist and are made from substances that include tin, bismuth, steel and tungsten-nickle alloy.

We talked before about the 500 tonnes of lead sinkers that are lost each year and it should be pointed out that nearly three million pounds of lead sinkers are lost in the United States annually as well.

Waterfowl or water birds can die from the ingestion of just one lead sinker. Birds affected include dabbling ducks, loons, grebes, sea ducks, cranes, herons, geese, swans, eagles, hawks, ospreys and vultures. Endangered species such as peregrine falcons and whooping cranes are also affected.

In eastern North America up to half of all common loons found dead died from eating lead sinkers or jigs. Since people are looking for some scientific data to back this up and this is a little piece of scientific data. I guess though one really has to look for this.

From 1980 to 1986, the U.S. University of Minnesota raptor centre reported lead poisoning in 138 of 650 eagles treated at the centre. That is approximately one-fifth of the total birds treated at the centre. We know that lead is extremely dangerous to migratory birds, raptors, waterfowl and to human beings as well.

Lead weights lost in water will slowly release toxins into the environment. The rate at which the lead dissolves depends on levels of nitrates, chlorine and oxygen in the water. The waterfowl can ingest lead weights and also absorb toxins through the water. Lead poisoning affects birds in a number of ways as lead is broken down in the stomach and moves into the blood stream. The end result of that is that the majority of birds who ingest lead die. Some simply become sick from lead poisoning and very few of those recover, but by far the majority of them die. Depending on the amount of lead ingested, the death may occur quickly from acute lead poisoning or the birds may become weak and die of starvation from chronic lead poisoning. The end result is the loss of the animal.

Polluted sediment from accumulated toxins can affect aquatic bottom dwellers, the crab, shrimp, oysters and clams and make them unfit for human consumption. High mercury levels in some types of fish, as it was mentioned earlier, already limit the fish consumption of those species to once a week. We could expect that if Health Canada did the real checks it needed to do on lead poisoning, the same could occur for other species.

I have the privilege to live on a farm in Nova Scotia beside a lake. I watch the loons return to that lake every year. Over a number of years I have been treated to watching them on their nests and have watched the little loons with the mothers.

Statistics in Nova Scotia on the number of birds affected by lead sinkers and jigs is mostly unavailable because the majority of the birds that die from lead toxicity are not located. Many of them are eaten by scavengers, whether they be eagles or crows. Many of them sink to the bottom of the lake and are eaten by eels. The ones that are found have been linked to lead poisoning.

In the past few years alone a few loons have been found by the Nova Scotia department of natural resources and have been directly linked to lead toxicity from jigs. They found jigs inside loons. That is basically proof that the loons died from lead poisoning.

Loons are implicated species in the Atlantic region and are likely ingesting more jigs and lead fishing weights than of which we are aware. Jigs often have a lead core with a plastic covering to resemble leeches or small fish and can easily be mistakenly eaten by loons when they are searching for food. The problem is greater in some areas than in others, but we should take a look at the bill.

A number of groups support the legislation such as Ducks Unlimited Canada. The Canadian Wildlife Service has already initiated a ban in national parks in the national wildlife areas and Parks Canada has joined that ban. The Nova Scotia department of agriculture and fisheries has issued lead advisory pamphlets. The Cape Breton Sportfishing Advisory Council has issued a lead advisory in its pamphlets. The states of New Hampshire and Maine have banned lead sinkers and jigs with diameters of less than one inch and there are a number of other states with legislation on the books.

Certainly it is a free vote. I intend to support the bill. It is a very timely and good bill, and I hope that the rest of the parliamentarians would deem it responsible to do the same thing.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok Québec


Georges Farrah LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House today in connection with the motion by the hon. member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert concerning the regulation of the use in fishing of sinkers and lures containing lead.

In this motion, it is proposed that the government should, in compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, amend its regulations to replace the use of lead fishing weights and baits by any other non toxic matter that would end the intoxication of migratory birds, including the loon, caused by the swallowing of lead.

I would like to add that, like all other members who have spoken on this matter, I too support the environmental objective of the hon. member. I believe that any decision aimed at attaining this objective must be made based on the best available knowledge and that, where information is limited, we should opt for prudence.

The government has taken the necessary precautions to limit the various routes by which lead gets into the environment, such as lead-based paints, leaded gasoline and lead shot. As for lead sinkers and lures, we are in the process of determining their effects on the environment.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to inform the members of this House on what we know about lead sinkers and lures and their effects on wildlife. I will also present other information which might be of use to people before adopting any approach, regulatory or other, aimed at limiting the production, import, sale or use of these products.

Recreational fishers use lead sinkers of various sizes and shapes to weigh down their hooks, lures or bait when engaging in their sport. Frequently waterfowl pick up lost sinkers and lures, taking them for something to eat, a seed or part of something like a snail or clam. Species that prey on fish, the loon in particular, ingest lead sinkers and lures most often by eating bait still attached to the hook and line.

Waterfowl in Great Britain, the United States and Canada have been poisoned and died as the result of ingesting lead sinkers and lures.

Sport fishing in Canada is governed for the most part by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and its provincial and territorial counterparts. In 1975, these agencies conducted a study on recreational fishing in Canada. These surveys, which were co-ordinated across the country, included estimates of the total number of sport fishers in Canada, the fishing effort in the various regions, as well as the social and economic impact of the recreational fishery in Canada. This survey is conducted every five years.

In 1981, Environment Canada also started conducting a survey described as a nature survey, together with the federal, provincial and territorial departments and ministries, to collect information on recreational activities related to wildlife and nature that interest Canadians.

Starting in 1991, Environment Canada started including questions on the recreational fishery on this survey. Together, these surveys have made it possible to collect information on the recreational fishery in Canada from 1975 to 1996. Data on the food fishery is not included in these surveys.

Overall, these surveys have revealed that approximately 5.5 million people fish in Canada, or one Canadian in five. However, these surveys also reveal that almost two thirds of the recreational fishery takes place in waters in Ontario and Quebec.

Angling pressure in Canada varies between less than one rod day to more than 47 rod days per square kilometer at the provincial and territorial level. This increases to more than 230 rod days at the regional level, in central Ontario.

This information helps us identify the geographic regions in which we must concentrate certain activities, such as communications programs, lead sinker exchange programs or possibly adopt a gradual approach if and when it is deemed necessary to adopt regulations in order to identify the issue.

Members may not know how we estimate how much lead is in the environment. We estimate that approximately 550 tons of lead sinkers and lures are left in the environment every year. For example, we know that in 1995, Canadian fishers spent $2.5 billion, an average of $533 for each fisher, on goods and services directly related to recreational fishing. We estimate that the average annual amount spent on sinkers and lures is $3.25 per fisher, or $17.9 million for all Canadian fishers.

Based on the cost of sinkers and lures, it is estimated that approximately 559 tonnes of this metal are sold annually for this purpose in Canada. The bulk of it ends up in the environment, with almost no chance that it will be recovered or recycled.

We have observed a major increase in imports of lead fishing tackle from Europe since 1994, with one of the largest exporters being the United Kingdom, where the use of lead sinkers and lures is now banned. Approximately 100 tonnes of lead sinkers and lures are imported annually. Domestic production is much lower, holding at around 40 tonnes a year. There has been only a slight increase in the quantity of non toxic tackle available.

Imports or mass production account for only 25% of the lead weights and baits which end up in the Canadian environment every year. It is believed that the remainder of the products, some 400 tonnes, used in Canada come from lures and sinkers made in the home or by small companies and sold individually to anglers, retailers and distributors. Although we have no direct information about home production of sinkers and lures in Canada, we believe that an industry of this size must exist, because the estimated volume of annual purchases is much higher than the import and domestic production figures available from major fishing tackle manufacturers would suggest.

There are some who may find these figures hard to believe at first, but the studies and surveys done of anglers in the United States and in England have confirmed the large quantity of lead lost in this way. U.S. studies have found that each angler loses approximately one sinker or lure for every six hours of fishing, while British anglers have lost or thrown out an average of two or three of them per day of fishing. If we take the average of these figures and assume that a Canadian angler loses only one a day and if we base our estimates on the average number of fishing days in Canada, approximately 61 million of these sinkers and lures are lost annually. This does not include the number of weighted jigs or hooks.

To wrap up, while Canada is reducing the many other ways of releasing lead into the environment, by eliminating if from paint, gasoline, lead shot or smelters, for example, the percentage of lead which finds its way into the environment from lead sinkers and lures will continue to increase.

Since the early nineties, the swallowing of lead sinkers and jigs has accounted for 22% of deaths among adult common loons examined in Canada. It is the primary cause of death in breeding areas. Since Canada is responsible for over 80% of the loons' world population, any decision on the measures to be taken cannot be made lightly.

Cases of ingested lead sinkers and jigs have been reported for 10 wildlife species in Canada, including common mergansers, herring gulls, waterfowl, several other types of birds, raptors and snapping turtles.

While cases of ingestion of lead sinkers and jigs were reported for wildlife species in seven Canadian provinces, the documented cases of death from this form of ingestion are largely the result of accidental discoveries by cottage owners, fishermen, boaters and others. Therefore, the total number of loons or other species that die of poisoning following the ingestion of lead cannot be estimated with any degree of certainty.

Also, we do not know for sure if the deaths caused by the ingestion of lead have a bearing on the total population. The obstacles that have to be overcome to arrive at an accurate estimation are complex and costly. It is important to know if this information is absolutely necessary to arrive at an answer. We feel that this issue deserves to be publicly debated.

For this reason, the government will publish a scientific magazine in the fall of 2002, to promote such a debate. I am anxiously waiting for this document to be released and for the public to get involved in the debate, to identify the best way to deal with the problems created by lead sinkers and jigs.

I thank the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert for having brought the issue of lead toxicity in our environment to the attention of the House of Commons.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Motion No. 414, moved by my colleague, the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert. This motion is most commendable, and I support it unconditionally. I congratulate her for having moved it.

The situation as is stands is ironic, and my colleague's motion attempts to change this state of affairs. Currently, the use of lead is prohibited in the migratory bird hunt. Yet, the use of lead in sport fishing has not been prohibited. It is of no use to protect a species halfway. If we decide to protect it, it must be fully protected, as the member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert has proposed.

It is estimated that fishers lose approximately 500 tons of lead sinkers and lures in Canadian waters every year. Some may reply that other more toxic substances are left in waters every year. However, these lost lead sinkers have a significant impact on the health of birds, because they poisons birds when they are swallowed. It is estimated that between 20 to 50% of the deaths of adult diving wildlife is caused by lead lures found in our lakes. Lead fishing sinkers are the main cause of unnatural death in loons in Quebec, as poisoning occurs extremely quickly.

Hon. members will see how important a motion this is. The hon. member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert has, moreover, had the support of Ducks Unlimited for her initiative. Its director of research wrote her on March 25 indicating that support. My colleague's motion is in line with the thinking of Ducks Unlimited, which passed a resolution in that vein in 1995. It read as follows:

—because lead shot is a substance of persistent toxicity which, when consumed, can lead to death for waterfowl and other species, and because non-toxic equivalents are available, Ducks Unlimited Canada supports the use of non-toxic shot in hunting waterfowl.

However, notwithstanding the most definite justification for Motion No. 414, the Minister of the Environment does not seem in any rush to legislate on this matter. It would seem that he would prefer a consciousness-raising campaign instead. I have always respected the Minister of the Environment but on this he is really hiding his head in the sand like an ostrich. If he is incapable of backing a well thought out motion, I seriously believe that, like a bird with lead shot in its wing, Kyoto will not fly.

Yet he has admitted himself that lead may have been the cause of death in 20% of the loons in certain regions. This is serious. Even if he is aware of the problem, he prefers to launch an awareness campaign and then, if that is not sufficient, claims he will then be prepared to support the proposal by my colleague from Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert. Time will be lost, and how many more birds will be lost as well during that time? He knows very well that, sooner or later, he will have to pass legislation to ban lead in fishing, just as he has banned it for hunting waterfowl. He has the means available to act now, and needs only to say yes to this motion. We are not asking him for the moon.

Judging by the position of the parliamentary secretary, we can see that the government has again decided to put off till tomorrow what it could do today.

I trust that all members of this House will realize the importance of the motion introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Bruno--Saint-Hubert, and will support it.

We are all aware of the problem posed by the death of migratory birds. We have the solution right at hand. Let us act, for action is urgent, and let us not slough off what we are able to do about it today.

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business



Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support Motion No. 414 presented by the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. This is a critical issue in the context of environmental protection, particularly wildlife protection.

In 1999, the House passed legislation on the use of lead projectiles for hunting, because we recognized that spreading such projectiles in the environment was causing serious harm to our wildlife. Some experts agree that, since we passed this bill in 1999, there has been a 40% reduction in the lead that may be found in the environment from sport hunting and fishing.

Today, the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert had the wisdom to present a motion that complements the work undertaken in 1999, by proposing that we now deal with the problem caused by the use of lead sinkers for sport fishing.

As the hon. member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok mentioned, each year, more than 500 tonnes of lead sinkers and jigs contaminate the environment. Depending on the regions, between 5% and 50% of the birds, waterfowl, loons—and now gulls, herons and cormorants—are harmed by swallowing lead shots used in sport fishing.

These figures are bad enough in and of themselves. But it is more troubling, more appalling than that. According to studies, a lake in Quebec or in Canada may contain up to 180,000 hunting or fishing lead devices per hectare. Now, these are essentially lead fishing weights, since the issue of lead shots was dealt with in 1999.

The hon. member opposite said that there are not enough studies, but I listened to him and he provided us with horrifying figures. Why is it that, in light of these horrifying figures on the destruction of wildlife species, including loons, waterfowl, and so on, the government cannot make a decision?

I will support the motion—

Intoxication of Migratory BirdsPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, but the hour provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. The order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper .

When the debate will resume, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot will have seven minutes left to conclude his remarks, on which I congratulate him.

The House resumed from April 18 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

12:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to the bill today and to the Group No. 4 amendments. This is the first time I have spoken to the species at risk act.

All of us support the overall goals of the act: to protect species that are genuinely at risk; to use scientific evidence and data to identify such creatures whether they be two, four, six or eight legged; and to make sure the ones truly at risk are protected. In some ways doing this is not rocket science. First, we must identify the species. Second, we must see what steps can be taken to mitigate whatever is putting the species at risk. Third, we must make sure there is enough land base and a proper stewardship plan to make looking after the creatures viable and sustainable in the long term.

It is no good to take a species at risk such as a marmot and save it by putting it in a zoo somewhere. That is not a long term, viable and sustainable project. We must protect not only the creature but the environment in which it lives. We must make sure that in the long run these creatures are viable in the wild and not behind glass somewhere in a zoo.

While we in the Canadian Alliance are committed to protecting and preserving our natural environment and endangered species, we have consistently said there are problems with the act. We have heard in committee and across the country that Bill C-5 would not do the job it sets out to do. With respect to the Group No. 4 amendments, we are concerned about some of the things that have been proposed by the government in the creation of the stewardship action plans.

It is interesting that the extensive work done in committee would be undone by the government's own amendments. The amendments would undo the work of the committee and backbench MPs who spent an enormous amount of time listening to, consulting and talking to stakeholders and experts across the country before putting forward proposals only to find the government wants to undo them.

For example, the standing committee had proposed that the stewardship action plans include a commitment to regularly examine tax treatments and subsidies and eliminate disincentives that would put species at risk. The government wants to delete that language but the standing committee put it in for good reason. It demonstrates that compensation would not just be a cash payment but could involve other things like tax treatments. It would also see if there were cash disincentives that kept landowners and others from properly protecting species identified as at risk in their locales. The government wants to delete this portion, make it less specific and take out the work the standing committee put in place. That is wrong. The government should revert to the original language.

The government wants to delete the standing committee's requirement that the stewardship action plans provide technical and scientific support to persons engaged in stewardship activities. Instead the government wants to send out pamphlets to Canadians saying it is important for scientific reasons that certain species be protected. If people asked for scientific and technical support to make it possible to protect species on their land be they burrowing owls, marmots, salamanders or frogs, the government would tell them to get on the Internet and figure it out themselves.

If we are to obligate landowners and others to help with the stewardship of resources or species at risk, and even if they want to help, we had best give them the resources and technical and scientific data to make it possible. There is no sense in telling landowners there is an animal on their property we would like them to protect but that it is up to them to figure out how. The best of intentions will not save a species unless landowners have the help to make it possible.

It is interesting that a growing number of people who want a strong species at risk legislation are saying that the types of amendments in Group No. 4 and others are either making the bill ineffective or are just not doing the job of protecting the rights of landowners. Landowners want to do the right thing but they are finding it impossible to accomplish that goal.

This is where the phrase shoot and shovel came up. People are so frustrated with the idea of having an endangered species on their property that they feel that maybe they should just shoot it, get a shovel and bury it because dealing with the government on this is impossible. It is so difficult that even if they have the best intentions of looking after a species at risk in their area, they cannot get the help, the compensation, the resources or the moral support from the government to make it possible. They are increasingly left to rely on the government to some day bring in legislation to help landowners make it possible; that is, if it happens to be the right minister at the right time with the right budgetary surplus. That is not the way to draft legislation.

I have noticed that while the Canadian Real Estate Association supports the species at risk legislation, it is absolutely worried about the future of real estate values and its clientele who are trying to either buy, sell or maintain their properties. The Canadian Real Estate Association says that it supports the purpose of the bill but that when landowners are deprived of the use of their property while protecting an endangered species, then before the bill is passed it should state for sure what kind of compensation landowners can expect.

As an example, I live up on a hillside in an area just outside Chilliwack. Some new development is going on in the area and there is a concern about a particular species of west coast salamander which is somewhat rare and may exist in the creeks of this hillside area. I say may because no one has actually ever caught one of the little suckers. It is there in theory because it is painted onto the map as the area where the west coast salamander may live. However, people who happen to have a creek running through their property are left with the conundrum of dealing with the reality that there may be a salamander somewhere, although no one can find it, but if they are there huge restrictions have been put on what can be done on that property. The landowners say that whatever they can do to protect it they will do it but that they need the scientific data and they must be shown where its habitat is. They actually have to find one so that they know they have something to protect. They want parameters to work within.

As this hillside receives lots of rain, some landowners who own 10 acre parcels will have two or three creeks coming together somewhere on their property. When the federal government says that it wants a 100 foot setback on either side of the creek, times three creeks going through the property, plus no roads, landowners will be lucky to have an area the size of a city lot to work with let alone their 10 acres. The whole thing is protected with no compensation to the landowners who are trying to do their best but who are frustrated with the legislation and with the sorts of ambiguities in Group No. 4 that make it impossible to do the job.

The problem with the amendments and the bill in general is that while we all want to protect species at risk, we want to do it based on supportable scientific data and, when possible, based on compensation for landowners who are involved in this protection process. The bill does not do it and the amendments do not do it which is why they are not to be supported.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-5 today and the Group No. 4 amendments.

The species at risk act has been much anticipated by parliament. The last time it was introduced it died on the order paper because it was an atrocious bill and utterly unworkable. The government which drafted it knew it was unworkable and yet still introduced it. Thankfully, it died.

This bill, in many cases, is no different. For reasons unfathomable to people on both sides of the House, the government has introduced a bill to protect endangered species that it knows full well is unworkable. It is a bill rife with problems. It is a bill that will be destroyed in the courts. Furthermore, it is a bill that will not protect endangered species.

What a sad thing for the House to see members from across party lines working hard to craft a bill that will work for the protection of the most vulnerable species in our country and find that the government, out of contempt for the committee and for the MPs, introduces motions that simply override and destroy the good work that committee members attempted to do.

Why did the government choose to do that? I will give some examples as we go through some of the amendments in Group No. 4.

Before I do that, let us talk a bit about the problem. The most important thing we can do to protect endangered species is to protect their habitat. Critical habitat loss is a primary driver in the extinction of endangered or threatened species, regardless of where we are in the entire world. That, above all else, is the major reason that species are disappearing from the face of this planet, and our country is no different. This bill was an attempt to correct that. Yet the bill only protects a small fraction of land within Canada, a small fraction of that critical habitat that is essential to protect endangered species.

Furthermore, the bill does not reflect the fact that species of animals do not respect borders. They do not know when they come to the border between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They do not know when they come to the border between Manitoba and Ontario. Species move and as a result we have a situation where there is little or no control in the protection of the critical habitat.

Species are disappearing at an ever increasing rate. All we need to do is look at the increasing numbers of species that are being added to the threatened, endangered and extinct lists each year, not only within our own country but around the world.

We have proposed that a few fundamental things need to happen. First, the determination of what species have become extinct or are endangered has to be done on scientific grounds. COSEWIC, a group of scientists who are objective and apolitical, is the best group to do that and there is bipartisan support for that notion.

Second, we absolutely must have a compensation mechanism when we appropriate land that is critical for habitat. The best thing would be to work with landowners and the provinces to accomplish that goal. If we did that we would find that in the vast majority of cases private landowners and the provinces would be apt to work with the feds to save the habitat.

Innovative things could be done along those lines. We could have financial compensation or even tax breaks. Tax breaks would work well for the landowners if only for the critical habitat and the loss therein.

We must also identify those potentially endangered species. COSEWIC can do that, as well as identify the critical habitat that I mentioned before. We do not see that in the legislation and we feel that is a serious problem.

One of the amendments in Group No. 4 calls for having a national aboriginal committee. This basically means having different laws for different people based on race. We have always argued that we need colour blind laws in this country. I will give an example.

Where I work as a physician in northern British Columbia some of my colleagues like to fish. In one of the areas there is a beautiful river where a large, beautiful female grizzly bear frequently brought her two cubs. It was her favourite fishing hole. Many people also fish there. One day a couple of aboriginal men came out of the bush and saw the bear and her two cubs. Although they knew she and her cubs had visited that river over a long period of time, they killed them. When the horrified fishermen who were there saw this, they asked them why they had killed the bears. The aboriginal men laughed and said that it was because they could and then they walked away. They did not use the meat nor the hides. They merely shot the female and her two cubs dead because they could.

I told that story not to impugn aboriginal people because many aboriginal people follow the laws and are superb stewards of the land. All I am saying is that the law should be applied to all people regardless of their race. One of the things these two aboriginal men said to the fishermen was that they shot the bears because they could get away with it and that nobody would prosecute them.

When the fishermen brought this killing to the attention of the fish and wildlife people in the area they were told that the aboriginals could not be touched because they were aboriginals.

I think that case would horrify law-abiding aboriginal people as it would horrify law-abiding non-aboriginal people. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people would like to see laws that protect endangered species, regardless of their circumstances, and to ensure that everybody follows the law. The bill does not do that.

We encourage the government to implement laws that are colour blind, racially blind and laws that uphold the principles of the law for the benefit of endangered species.

One good thing in the bill is the notion of a stewardship of action plans, and that means working with people, not above them. Unfortunately the government has a habit of pushing things through without proper consultation and without acting in the best interests of what it has heard.

One example of that is in the public consultation amendments in Group 4. Government members and opposition members met and decided that a five year mandatory review would be reasonable to have in the bill. The bill would then be workable because the act could be reassessed to ensure that it was working in the best interests of endangered species and the public. That was a good motion.

However, the government's motion, Motion No. 130, removes that amendment, that viable and effective suggestion on the part of members from all sides.

Why would the Prime Minister's office, or the minister in that case, choose to put a motion that runs roughshod over the hearings and the deliberations of members from all parties? It shows an utter contempt for the work of the individuals on the committee and of the witnesses they heard. I strongly encourage the government to review the situation and listen to what committee members from all parties have said in terms of the amendment.

I only have a few moments and I want to draw attention to a couple of other issues that ought to be in the bill. In the end the bill must be a workable bill and one that is largely immune from challenges within the courts. It must be a bill for which we can all be proud. It must be workable and it must protect endangered species.

Unfortunately time is not on our side. As time moves inextricably forward we know that more and more critical habitat will be destroyed and it will never come back again. As a result, more and more endangered and threatened species will become extinct. That march has not changed for many years. Not only does it continue but it continues with increasing rapidity.

It is up to the members of the House to listen to the best solutions that we have heard from members and from the public, earnest and effective solutions that have been put forth by many different groups that know these issues far better than any of us.

The committee has done good work in crafting a bill that can work. The government has intervened and run roughshod over those good solutions. While we still have a little time on the bill I encourage the government to sit down with members of the committee and implement the solutions that they have.

I first ask the government, for heaven's sake, not to run roughshod over the solutions that they have put forward, and second, if they have better ones, I ask the government to work with them to craft a bill that will work for the benefit of all of us, because in the end endangered species are a legacy not only for ourselves but for our children.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak in this debate. I was glad the previous speaker mentioned that the stewardship action plans are good because that is what I will primarily address.

One of the previous speakers from the Alliance said that we all agree with the aim of the bill, which is to protect species at risk, and I think everyone in the House does agree with that. After 7 to 10 years of working with various groups across the country to come up with this solution, I think it is high time to get it into place soon. It was a bit disconcerting when the previous speaker appeared to be speaking against it and it is disconcerting that his party might actually vote against this bill that would help start the process of protecting species at risk. There are compensation provisions in the bill, in case people are worried about that, and there are provisions for the protection of habitat.

It was also interesting that the previous speaker talked about the fact that species do not respect boundaries in the sense there is an important role for the federal government to play in things that are national. Many other members of his party are constantly pushing for more provincial autonomy, more provincial control and more of a role for the provinces, which we have actually allowed in the bill. We have allowed them the first chance to protect species right across this country. Once again, it seems a bit incongruous.

It also appeared a bit incongruous that he talked about us giving up some parliamentary control and responsibility in one of the amendments to the bill after he spent last week seemingly wanting more parliamentary control and more parliamentary input into issues. He has now given a speech in which he wants to abrogate that.

What was most disappointing to me were his comments against an aboriginal committee, one that would put its wise and traditional knowledge into the process. If it is valuable it will help make better provisions, but of course it would be advice and people would look at it. I do not think anyone could claim that aboriginal peoples do not have things to add, based on their history, their culture and knowledge from having lived for centuries in the area where these species live. I do not think anyone would claim that they could not add some information that would be helpful in the debate. To bring up one incident of aboriginal people inappropriately killing a bear is, first, not related to the bill at all and, second, we do have a tremendous problem with people poaching bears in Canada. I do not imagine that most of the people prosecuted for that are aboriginal people. Bears are constantly killed and just their paws or their gallbladders are taken. This is a serious problem in our country and is of course dealt with in other bills. I think that would be much more appropriate for comment.

We have talked about stewardship a great deal in this debate. We have heard that the government considers this a key part of the overall strategy to protect species at risk. I want to take a minute to talk about what this really means.

We can legislate and we can debate. We can consult and we can research. We can listen to the constant letters and articles in the media and we can look at laws in other countries. This is what we have done for a very long time, for nearly a decade in fact, yet during this time species in Canada have not been abandoned. Who has carried on while we have talked, debated, researched and postured? The people of Canada. They have put in hedgerows between fields so that the birds have nesting spots. They have helped protect nests of turtles and built special crossings under highways. They have left fields to lie quiet during nesting and they have proudly displayed their actions on the ranch fence, on the farm gatepost, on the fishing boat and on the logger's truck.

In Yukon we have a site on the Yukon River near Marsh Lake. It is called Swan Haven. Every year, just before this time of year normally, the ice opens up and the swans stop there on their migration north. Yukoners come to the site to appreciate them and they appreciate that the swans have to be protected in their environment; they stay a good distance back. Through school trips, the children learn about the life cycles of these swans.

We owe all Canadians great thanks for protecting species at risk through all these years while we have been working to get legislation in place, so we cannot turn around now and say that their co-operative efforts, their partnerships and their hard work mean nothing. No, we have to make sure that everything that has been done is recognized and that we have measures in place to do even more to assist them.

The habitat stewardship program has been on the ground for two years out of the five set aside, with $45 million to assist in stewardship activities. It has helped foster partnerships among first nations, landowners, resource users, nature trusts, provinces, territories, the natural resource sector, community based wildlife societies, educational institutions and conservation organizations. Through the ecogifts program we are providing a more favourable tax treatment for the contribution of ecologically sensitive lands. Over 20,000 hectares have already been donated as ecological gifts.

I am speaking today in favour of the government motions on the development of the stewardship action plans in Bill C-5 itself. The principle of the proposal to develop a stewardship action plan introduced to Bill C-5 by the standing committee is well accepted by the government. Work is already underway on the development of a Canada-wide stewardship action plan.

I also speak in favour of government motions to remove the arbitrary timelines for completion of action plans. Legislated deadlines could unnecessarily limit the number of action plans and their scope, as well as consultation in their development. Action plans must be completed in a timely manner. At the same time, action plans must be developed with the participation of landowners, resource users, aboriginal peoples and others who may be impacted. Action plans must also satisfy a range of requirements if they are to be effective. The time to fulfil these requirements will vary just as the threats faced by the species vary. The decision for timelines is best left to scientists and practitioners. To this end, the bill requires recovery strategies to include a statement of when action plans will be completed.

Now let me turn my attention to the original stewards of the land, those who have led the way for us, Canada's aboriginal peoples. They are the people of the land, with vast and rich stores of history and knowledge. They have been at the table for many discussions on the legislation. Their advice and input cannot be stressed too much. We simply could not have done this without them. We do not want that input and process to end, so we are entrenching the role and importance of traditional aboriginal knowledge.

We all share in the responsibility for protecting wildlife. Canada's aboriginal peoples have shown us how and why. We are proposing to recognize that contribution through the national aboriginal committee on species at risk. The committee is consistent with the Government of Canada's commitment to strengthen its relationship with aboriginal peoples. One reason among many that I want to have as much input as possible for aboriginal peoples is that one-quarter of my riding is made up of aboriginal people of the great first nations, the Tlingit, the Northern and Southern Tutchone, the Han, the Gwich'in and the Kaska.

Of course recently we had the experience of a great problem with a species, the Porcupine caribou herd, and its migration to the ANWAR coast. We are delighted that over the years the efforts of Canada, the Canadian embassy in Washington, our Prime Minister and the Ministers of the Environment and Foreign Affairs to protect this herd have led to success so far. With that great vote in the United States senate last week, which was 56 to 44 against drilling in ANWAR, once again a species that is important for rural people in various parts of Canada will be protected. Hopefully we can go on protecting these species.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the opportunity to speak today in the debate on the amendments to Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation, is indeed a privilege. It is a very important piece of legislation and if passed would have many repercussions for the property rights of our landowners and indeed for the species that it would try to protect.

As I have said before, we all want to protect endangered species. Unfortunately this piece of legislation would have a devastating effect on the landowners, the economy and the animals it would actually be trying to protect. Bill C-5 would have the greatest impact on those who live in rural Canada who already have a difficult time. Some are Canadian farmers or loggers who would bear the brunt of the financial responsibility for protecting our endangered species, an unfair burden on industries already neglected by the government. Urban, SUV-driving environmentalists must realize that their Starbucks and their mini malls are built on what once was natural habitat. We need legislation that will be effective on the ground. A confrontational approach to landowners in protecting at risk animals only will lead to a more rapid decline of those animals. If landowners do not buy into the process, the process and the bill will surely fail.

The Group No. 4 amendments of which we are speaking today highlight the arrogance the government has shown toward parliament and all Canadians. They show the arrogance of a government that does not listen and that goes ahead without understanding the repercussions of a piece of legislation. They show contempt for the hard work the standing committee has done, including that done by its own MPs and Liberal backbenchers.

I will deal specifically with Motions No. 6, 16, 17 and 30, which deal with aspects of the national aboriginal committee. The idea of the aboriginal committee is reasonable. In many places, especially in the north, clearly natives have a close knowledge of the land. Consultation with the aboriginal communities, as well as with the stakeholders such as property owners and resource users, will be necessary if we are to protect endangered species. For the government to change the name from council to committee reverses the standing committee's work with absolutely no justification. The government seems to have ignored the necessity for landowners to be partners in the process of protecting endangered species.

Motion No. 25 eliminates any recognition that a tax system might be used to provide incentives for property owners as well as any recognition that property owners face disincentives in protecting endangered species. This fails to recognize the financial burden that this bill potentially places on landowners. Simply removing disincentives would be far more effective in protecting endangered species than punitive measures alone.

My main concern with Bill C-5 is the lack of respect for property rights. What is needed in the legislation is fair compensation for landowners for the costs of achieving biodiversity. The majority of Canadians believes that owners of private property should be free to use it as they see fit. It is only fair and reasonable for a government to compensate landowners financially if they are restricted from using their land if it is the home of an endangered species. Expropriation of farms and forest lands cannot go uncompensated.

Protection of endangered species is big business. From the resource industry side, legislation that does not fairly compensate landowners for loss of their land will have a devastating effect on the Canadian economy. Farmers and loggers cannot afford to face another burden on their bottom line. No fair compensation will cast a chilling effect on the investment in resource based industries. Over 200,000 Canadians are directly employed in the logging, forestry, mining and oil well industries, and the mishandling of the softwood lumber dispute has already sent many to the unemployment lines.

Protecting the environment does not exclude commercial activities. Farmers, logging companies and oil companies have active voluntary participants to ensure a sustainable environment. The reality is the companies that are economically strong will be able to contribute more resources to protecting endangered species.

Without a legislated commitment for fair compensation, a chilling effect on investment and resource based industries will occur. I am sure the logging, forestry, mining and oil companies that directly employ the 200,000 Canadians will not have environmental stewardship as a top priority in an economic downturn.

Farmers and loggers cannot afford to face any further hits to their bottom line. They have already been casualties of this government's gross mishandling of the softwood lumber agreement and unwillingness to fight foreign agricultural subsidies. Government, industry and environmental organizations must work together to protect endangered species.

I would like to speak to Motion No. 127 put forward by my hon. colleague from Skeena dealing with the release of information and if it is in the best interests of the species. I support the amendment which changes the wording to public release of information. As has been pointed out, under certain circumstances it is understandable that landowners might not want the general public informed of the presence of endangered species on their property. The possible damage from trespassers or harassment would not be good for the landowner or the at risk species.

However, given the harsh criminal sanctions contained in the act, it is completely unacceptable for the minister to have information about the presence of a listed species and not share it with landowners. It is only fair that they be informed because they will be guilty of a criminal offence even if they unknowingly harm the species or its habitat.

I am also concerned with the removal of the clause requiring the review of the act every five years. If the government feels so strongly that the legislation is good today, for what reasons does it not think it will not pass a review in 10 or 15 years? Mandatory review of any legislation to determine if it is working is only good government.

The Canadian Alliance and the majority of Canadians are committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment and endangered species. We all agree that those who wilfully endanger habitat should be punished. The reality is that those people are few and far between. Most property owners and resource users are responsible citizens who wish to protect species at risk.

I cannot support a bill that puts the responsibility of protecting endangered species solely on the shoulders of landowners. The act will not work without guaranteeing fair and reasonable compensation for those who suffer loss. Farmers, ranchers and other property owners want to protect endangered species, but should not be forced to do so at the expense of their livelihoods. If endangered species become a liability, farmers and other landowners who are already facing economic crunches will be tempted to eliminate the liability.

Overall I believe that the government has once again shown its contempt for parliament by its flagrant rejection of the recommendations of the standing committee and the unnecessary confrontational approach to dealing with landowners.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a cottage in which I believe is probably in the most dangerous part of Canada in terms of wildlife and it is only an hour out of Toronto. My cottage is on the Moon River just west of the Muskoka, which those in other parts of Canada might not realize that the Muskoka area is one of the earliest settled cottage countries in Canada outside Quebec. For the most part the land in Muskoka for cottages is extremely expensive. This is where the rich people come to play.

I happen to have a cottage there not because I am rich, but at the time I bought my cottage, which was built in 1890, it was surrounded by forest. It was not in the area of Muskoka that had high status. It is only in the last 10 years that roads have been put in and development has moved around on the river opposite my property.

I tell this story because the wildlife community around my cottage is moose which is one of the largest land animals in North America and very dangerous. We hear wolves all the time. Even though the cottage settlement is along the river there is a lot of wilderness immediately behind us. We have had bears on the land. I saw a bear move by my cottage a couple of years ago. That does not sound unusual, particularly to MPs from out west.

However my cottage is also the habitat for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. I have rattlesnakes galore around my cottage. Every one of those rattlesnakes is quite capable of dealing with a politician in a very summary way. The massasauga rattler is an absolutely gorgeous snake. The particular land that I have is wilderness right down to the shore. The south section of the Moon River where I am is still undeveloped after all these years. It was logged at the turn of the century but nothing more after that.

When we bought the cottage, which as I said was built in 1890, there were very few cottages around us. It is still very wild right down to the shore. We had heard about the massasauga rattler. It did not take long before my wife saw one. My wife hates snakes. She saw this snake, curled and hissing. The massasauga rattlesnake knows that it can deal with anything that comes its way, so it does not run away and makes quite a display.

This is a creature on private property that literally can kill a person. We made our choice very early on that we would not cut the weeds along the shore of the property that we own. We wear boots when we go down to the cottage because we know that the snake will not run away and if we step on it will strike. In the 10 to 12 years we have had the cottage we have seen the snakes about a dozen times. What we do is carefully step around the snake or preferably get a long stick and bother it to persuade it to go away and not come back.

As I was describing, on the opposite side of the river where we are located a road was put in. Because Muskoka is very expensive cottage country, suddenly in the course of the last eight years all these huge $200,000 cottage homes have gone up along the opposite shore. The first thing people did was slash and mow down all the weeds. The lawns are now beautifully manicured with pansies right down to the shore. Of course, the massasauga rattler lives on a diet of frogs and insects. If the shoreline is destroyed where we live in Muskoka, we destroy the critical habitat for the massasauga rattler.

At any rate, these new cottagers soon discovered that the snakes they were seeing were not the friendly type. They complained to the local municipal authorities and a public meeting was held.

These cottagers, most of them very well heeled from Toronto, filled the room. Basically what they said to the politicians was that the snakes were dangerous and they all had to be killed. It was quite an interesting meeting. If we follow the theory and logic, that every time one moves out into the wilderness or countryside, or has a cottage or goes hunting or camping, which I suppose is the better analogy, and in Canada we are used to species that are dangerous, of these people from Toronto who own $200,000 cottages, we would not have any bears or wolves or moose because they are all dangerous.

I tell that story because the whole question of preserving habitat and preserving species is, in the end, political. The massasauga rattler is common where I live because that is its only range. It extends from Lake Muskoka to Georgian Bay in a narrow swath only about 10 miles deep, and that is it. One of the reasons it is listed as a threatened species is because it does not exist elsewhere in the country. My cottage is right in the centre. The snakes only exist where my cottage is but they are very abundant there.

The problem is, if we bring in legislation that were to decree that the protection of the massasauga rattlesnake is punishable by law and we bring in absolute sanctions, it is impossible to provide compensation because governments could not afford these cottages. These people have a lot of political clout. If we do that, if we take away the political process from these landowners who were so upset because they discovered that their beautiful property also included a dangerous snake, they would just go out and kill it.

The range is small. It is perfectly easy to go out in the countryside and exterminate the snake. I think enough people armed with .22s would be able to do the job in a couple of seasons. That is why I think that in the general theme of this legislation, which I do support, if we are going to protect species and habitat, we will have to make it political to some degree and discretionary to some degree. In the end there are always people I think who, and I hate to use my own analogy, like me will instead of wanting to civilize the wilderness to the point that nothing wild exists, will realize that what makes us Canadian and why it is so wonderful to be Canadian is the fact that every one of us, no matter where we come from in the House, are on the threshold of the wilderness. We as Canadians interact with the wilderness.

This is why earlier today we had this most interesting debate about preserving the loon. This is an essential part of the Canadian psyche. It is very important to have species at risk legislation. The bill before the House is exactly what is necessary, but it has to be discretionary and it has to respect the fact that in the end the common sense of Canadians will prevail and they will try to do the right thing. Even though my neighbours right now are busy mowing down the shoreline and destroying the habitat of the frogs in which the snakes live, I would like to think that in a few years perhaps they will realize that they are guests in the wilderness, not the owners.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, conservation of the environment is a difficult issue. Some of the issues raised by my hon. colleague across the way demonstrate the difficulties.

I think it is safe to say we are all in favour of conservation as long as the responsibility is on someone else's shoulders. I heard it said here or elsewhere that the definition of an environmentalist is someone who already has a cottage in the forest. We are all strong on environmental issues when we already have a piece of property. However as there is more and more interaction among people living in urban, rural and protected areas we must come up with a solution to address the tension.

One point is clear from the American experience of adopting legislation without a rock solid guarantee of compensation: Inadequate or no compensation would fuel the destruction of the environment. We must place the burden equally on everyone and not just on landowners like farmers, ranchers and cottage owners. We must be prepared to compensate these individuals.

If we believe our environment and endangered species are important we need to compensate landowners. Failing to do so would put the onus on a small segment of our society and encourage it to destroy endangered species. As pointed out in the example of the hon. member, if we forced landowners out, restricted their activities and did not give them compensation some of these individuals would destroy species before we could act to protect them. The issue of compensation is fundamental to preserving our environment.

This is the context in which I address Bill C-5 and the amendments. I will speak in favour of the amendment put forward by my hon. colleague from Skeena. I will also speak to the flaws in the government amendments, many of which would reverse months of painstaking work by the environment committee.

The arrogance and cynicism displayed by the minister is nothing new to us in the opposition but it is beginning to grate on upperbenchers on the Liberal side of the House. The real concern here should not be politics. It should be to make the legislation work.

During report stage debate my colleagues from the Canadian Alliance and other opposition parties proposed a number of amendments to Bill C-5. The grouping of amendments we are addressing stresses the fundamental importance of making public consultations for the act as broadly based as possible. The changes my colleagues and I are proposing are intended to ensure public consultations have a real and substantive impact on the act and on any further action by the government to protect endangered species.

The requirement for a basic level of public consultation lies in the need to make the process as transparent as possible. It also ties in to the issue of compensation for stakeholders. As we have argued, there must be a clear and open process to ensure the compliance and co-operation of stakeholders. However as with the issue of compensation, the government's amendments with respect to public consultation do not come at all close to ensuring we meet the important goals of co-operation and compliance.

Although some government amendments are a move in the right direction, even the positive ones are technical and do not go as far as they should. Many are counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve. They would reverse the work done at committee without giving any justification to parliamentarians or Canadians.

Initially Bill C-5 provided for a parliamentary review of the act after it became law within a period of five years. The committee added a provision to the effect that the bill would be reviewed at five year intervals. Government Motion No. 130 would revoke the committee amendment entirely. This displays a blatant disregard for the decisions and integrity of the committee and its members.

With respect to the legal listing of endangered species, we agree that the final list must be subject to government approval because ultimately the government and cabinet must take responsibility for the decisions. However the listing should be as scientific as possible. It must ensure transparency and accountability. To achieve these goals the committee urged that the government, as soon as possible and to the extent known, must notify all landowners affected by the listing.

However we have before us government Motion No. 126 which would remove the requirement for ministerial reports to be entered into the public registry, reports that include decisions with respect to the listing of species. The government's refusal to provide listings of species to the public absolutely defies common sense. It would reduce transparency in governance and create a far more cumbersome process for ordinary citizens to obtain information regarding endangered species. Failure to provide reasons for including or not including certain species on the list would make it impossible to ensure accountability and the co-operation of the public.

My colleagues in the Canadian Alliance have done a thorough and comprehensive job of trying to counter the senseless tactics of the government. The hon. member for Skeena introduced Motion No. 127 which would ensure that if the minister decided to restrict information relating to a species or habitat he would be required to advise the affected landowner. One would think this would be common sense but there is no such requirement at present. Despite the reasonable arguments of the opposition I have little hope any of our amendments will be accepted.

Not only has the government failed to calculate the long term cost of Bill C-5 to every taxpayer. Not only has it miserably failed to estimate or even consider the burden it may place on landowners and farmers. It has totally ignored the need of members of the public to be informed and consulted on matters their way of life depends on. This serves not only to foster mistrust of the federal government. It ultimately renders the bill less effective because it does not further a spirit of co-operation.

This is a heavy-handed, top down, government knows best approach. Co-operation with landowners and resource users is critical to the success of Bill C-5. I cannot stress that enough. Unilaterally imposing federal laws on the provinces and imposing harsh penalties and strict liabilities on property owners and farmers does not demonstrate good faith on the part of the federal government. It destroys co-operative federalism.

This legislation demonstrates that the federal government is not interested in making federalism work. The governments wants to see decisions made unilaterally from downtown Ottawa. It wants to tell people in the various regions of the country what is best for them. That is the wrong approach. It is the approach reflected in Bill C-5.

Without the amendments we have proposed Bill C-5 would have disastrous results for the government, landowners, resource owners and, most importantly, the endangered species we mean to protect.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-5 and the group of amendments before us.

I want to begin by referring to a poll that appeared in the Vancouver Sun today. It makes it clear that more than three-quarters of Canadians support mandatory protection of the habitat of endangered plants and animals as well as of the plants and animals themselves. The story included a photograph of the Vancouver Island marmot which is one of 112 species that are at risk in British Columbia. It is part of 388 species that have been identified as very much at risk.

The poll was very interesting because it reflects significantly the outpouring of concern that has taken place right across the country in urban and rural areas. Canadians understand the importance of having legislation that will have a real impact in saving endangered species. The feedback I have had in my community is that people are not going to be satisfied with a piece of legislation that glosses over the fundamental issues that are at risk in terms of species at risk.

The poll in today's Vancouver Sun very much echoes a town hall meeting which I held in my riding a while ago on this bill. We heard from a number of speakers, including Jamie Woods of Defenders of Wildlife; Jacqueline Pruner, of Western Canada Wilderness Committee; and David Cadman of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation. I held the meeting because I had had so much feedback from people who expressed their concern about how the government's attempt the second time around, not even the third time around, was still significantly weak. In that meeting it became very clear that people believed if we enacted legislation that allowed political interference in making decisions about what was deemed to be at risk and if it was not based on science then we would have a piece of legislation that was gutless.

The most significant concern from my riding is that unless the bill can adequately lay out protection of the habitat where these various species live then again it will be a gutless piece of legislation. True enough, one of the major criticisms of the bill is that it does not adequately protect habitat.

In terms of the Group No. 4 amendments, the member for Windsor--St. Clair, our environment critic, along with other members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development have worked incredibly hard to counter the intransigence of the government in thwarting the will of the Canadian public in dealing with this legislation. It has gone back and forth. The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has done a good job in trying to develop a consensus and come up with amendments to make the bill significantly stronger, to make it reflect what Canadians are telling us they want in terms of protection of habitat and consultation and the involvement of first nations communities.

We have some difficulty with the amendments before us today. This reflects a process of how the Minister of the Environment and the government have sought to weaken the committee's report and have sought to undermine the work that has been done to strengthen the bill. We find it very difficult to accept some of these amendments. Some of them are a modest improvement over what was originally proposed. Nevertheless they undermine and weaken what has been worked at for so long and so hard by the committee.

The NDP position on SARA, the species at risk act, has been consistent from day one. We believe very strongly that the identification and listing of species at risk should be done by an independent committee of scientists wherein scientific evidence and not political interpretation of data is the primary consideration.

On that point it is very interesting because the government has taken the other position. On Thursday, April 25 in question period the Minister of Canadian Heritage responded to a question from the Alliance about the rate of TB in elk herds in Canada's parks. She was being criticized for the fact that TB cases were increasing. The minister in reply to the member said:

Mr. Speaker, the reason we asked scientists to carry on this very important work is precisely because it should not be left in the hands of politicians.

We could not have said it better ourselves. That is exactly the position the NDP put forward. It is ironic that it is now coming from a Liberal cabinet minister. It really contradicts the position that has been put forward by the environment minister. This is despite all the criticism and scientific evidence that it is important there be an independent committee made up of scientists, and its objective and primary consideration be factual work rather than a political interpretation.

The NDP has also made it very clear there should be comprehensive nationwide natural habitat protection, including protection for species that range or migrate over Canada's domestic and international borders. As someone who comes from British Columbia, this is especially important. Many of our wildlife areas are very close to a geopolitical boundary.

Habitat does not know about the boundary; it does not know about the 49th parallel. A very fundamental point is that nationwide natural habitat protection that includes cross-boundary measures should be front and centre in the bill. Unfortunately it is not.

The NDP believes there should be inclusion of stakeholders in the development of species recovery plans. This is something that the committee grappled with. In the back and forth between the committee and the government and the point we are at now, these positions have been significantly undermined. This is regrettable.

In many respects the people who watch the debate see it as a test of how legislation passes through the House. They also see it as how public feedback is incorporated or not incorporated, how the wishes of the people actually become part of the legislation.

I can think of many pieces of legislation that have come through the House. Consistently, significant concerns have been expressed from all over the country in terms of the bill being much too weak.

We in the NDP have concerns about the amendments before us today. We certainly have voiced our opposition to the bill as a whole based on the current status of the amendments. It is unfortunate the government did not listen to the wisdom of the committee and seek to strengthen the bill.

Many people will be watching the debate and the vote. We should take heed of the fact that three-quarters of the Canadian population want to see national habitat protection.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-5.

Over the eight years plus that we have worked to bring forward species at risk legislation we have asked for a great deal of assistance. Many people have provided input. Many people have told us things that were invaluable in the development of the policy.

It must be very clear to everyone here that the aboriginal people of Canada have been helpful and insightful. They have provided us with information and we have listened. As a result we have parts of the proposed species at risk act that are unusual in the annals of Canadian law making and we are very proud of that. The aboriginal people of Canada should also be proud of that same fact.

During the development of the legislation and even as we speak, the aboriginal working group on species at risk has been there to advise and to guide. It has helped us to understand the issues, needs and capacities of aboriginal people and to help them in the protection of species at risk. The knowledge of Canada's first people will help us protect the species at risk and to further plan effective recoveries. In fact we are incorporating aboriginal traditional knowledge into our assessment and recovery process in a formal way and that is certainly unique.

The government supports the establishment of a national aboriginal council on species at risk that advises the minister on the administration of the species at risk act and advises the Canadian endangered species conservation council on its very important role. This council is in keeping with the kinds of discussion and advice that went into the making of the legislation. It is consistent with the ongoing commitment by the Government of Canada to make its relationship with aboriginal people stronger. Recognition, acknowledgement, a partnership entrenched in law; we are all very proud of this.

I would like to turn my attention in my remaining time to talk about stewardship, a logical transition from the aboriginal questions as they are certainly Canada's first stewards and a key example for all of us. We have emphasized from day one that stewardship is essential to effective action. In fact, while we have researched, debated, revised and begun again for the past eight and a half years, others have been working hard on the lands and the waters of Canada to protect species and their habitat. It is a good thing that they have.

Stewardship is the cornerstone of the co-operative approach. It is the approach we must have in Canada. It is the essence of our constitution and of our way of life. A nest box for a blue bird; a special fishing net; a different planting regime; a scouting troop or a seniors group; farmers; ranchers; fishers; miners; foresters; there are thousands of stories all over Canada of small and large actions that all do something for species. We cannot say these efforts mean nothing. We cannot say thanks for everything, now here is a law with a forceful approach. We need a law instead that says to keep up the good work and here is help to do more.

We have backed up the commitment to this approach with the establishment of the habitat stewardship program. Under this program $45 million over five years has been targeted for stewardship activities. Entering its third year, the program has established partnerships with first nations, landowners, resource users, nature trusts, provinces, the natural resources sector, community based wildlife societies, educational institutions and conservation organizations. On the ground things are happening and we certainly have consulted with everyone.

We have also provided more favourable tax treatment for the contribution of ecologically sensitive lands. Over 20,000 hectares have already been donated as ecological gifts.

I am speaking today in favour of the stewardship component of the strategy and also in favour of the government motions on the development of stewardship plans in Bill C-5 itself. We accept in principle the proposal to develop a stewardship action plan introduced into Bill C-5 by the standing committee. In fact work is already under way on the development of a Canada-wide stewardship action plan with our provincial and territorial colleagues. We must not however, make future resources commitments for programs in law. This is simply good government.

We want to ensure sufficient time to develop a plan in co-operation with others, including landowners, resource users and lessees. That is why government motions would remove the one year deadline and provide the minister with discretionary authority to develop, in consultation with the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, a stewardship action plan.

I also speak in favour of the government motion that would remove requirements, imposed by the standing committee, on the minister to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on draft contribution agreements and to publish them when complete. This would serve as a disincentive for voluntary actions.

Let us continue to make stewardship an easy thing to do. It is what works; it is already working. Canadians are the ones who are delivering. They must be encouraged, and these motions would assist in that encouragement.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is not my pleasure to engage in this debate today. This is the fourth time I have risen and the message has been almost the same each time. The government does not seem to be listening. I wonder if the debate is worth the time and effort we are putting into it. We need a government that, as the previous member just said, not only consults but also listens to the people who have given input and has legislation reflecting what those people have said.

The NDP member who spoke previously said we need legislation that strongly protects species. I agree with that member and that is what our amendments are trying to do. Our proposed amendments would strengthen the legislation so that the aim it purports to have would be realized, and that is to protect endangered species.

I find it unconscionable that the government would not tell landowners who have endangered species on their land that is the case and get their co-operation to preserve that species. Our amendment would attempt to do that and I cannot understand why the government would not accept it. Why remove a requirement to review legislation that was in there? In fact I would say that all legislation passed in the House should be reviewed every five years. That only makes sense.

I have had a lot of experience with the Firearms Act. If that piece of legislation were properly reviewed every five years, a lot of money could be saved and resources could be directed into areas that would truly improve public safety. The same is true of this particular bill we are debating today. If we were to review this and ensure that the resources being put toward this were effective, it would make our taxpayers' money and legislation that we pass in the House much more effective.

The government is showing contempt for parliament far beyond the touching of the Mace by ignoring opposition views and refusing to improve legislation. My hon. colleague opposite from Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Aldershot said that it is necessary that this legislation be political and discretionary. That will absolutely not work. He said that common sense would prevail and that people would realize their mistake. It is absurd to think that is actually going to work. Incentives matter. We must have proper mechanisms within the legislation that would provide incentives for people to preserve species at risk.

Politicians are too slow in reacting when problems arise. They are out of touch with reality and subject to lobby groups. Many of those lobby groups have the exact opposite effect that they intend in some of the lobbying they do. A species may be long gone before anyone knows what is happening. Having the approach of making it political and discretionary is absurd. It would be like Kyoto. We need a science based approach. When we present a position or put legislation in place, it must be politically sound.

One of the key messages I want to send to the government is that the legislation as it now stands would foster civil disobedience, just like the Firearms Act has fostered a lot of civil disobedience. A non-co-operative approach would do exactly the same thing with trying to preserve species.

We must search out ways that would effectively work given the society and culture we live in today. It is absolutely essential that incentives be there. If not, we will end up with a lot of civil disobedience with people discovering endangered species on their land, not being properly compensated and not letting anyone know about it.

It would have the exact opposite effect to that intended if the amendments we proposed we re not accepted. I feel the government is out of touch with reality and would endanger species if we do not accept these amendments.

I listened to my hon. colleague from the Yukon a short time ago and he said that there is compensation in the bill. That is a misleading statement. For government members to say that is in the bill is totally misleading. Yes, those words may be in the bill but the way it is worded in the legislation is not effective. There is no proper compensation.

The property values for people who have endangered species on their land are not properly protected in the legislation. Therefore that is a completely misleading statement, and the government should come clean on that when it tells the public that somehow there is compensation in the bill. As it is presently worded it is not adequate and will not serve the needs necessary to preserve species.

I also heard the previous member claim the government consulted with the public. Why then does the bill not reflect that? It is not in there. The amendments we are proposing reflect some of those things and some of the consultation that was done. Unless they are made, as we are proposing in these amendments, the bill will be seriously flawed.

Most of the amendments are of a technical nature but there is the fact that they pose a serious concern. Motion No. 109 from the government side would eliminate the requirement to develop regulations for compensation. This strikes at the heart of the message I am delivering today. The motion would wipe out an amendment made by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development asking that regulations be set up for compensating landowners. The environment committee said that if the government were to compensate then there would have to be regulations in regard to claims and procedures. Motion No. 109 of the government would reverse this and should be defeated.

Compensation would revert back to the minister's discretion, but even worse he would not be required to make necessary regulations. Talk about a government that is acting like a third world dictatorship. Compensation is not an extra available option. It is essential in order to support the framework for protecting endangered species. Compensation shows that the government understands the fears of landowners and the need to take their interests into account. If this motion were to pass, it would make compensation not a requirement but something that the minister would do when he feels like it. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Let me stress that property owners, resource users and others, with a direct on the ground interest in the administration of the endangered species act, should be involved in every step of the process. Voluntary agreements, recovery strategies action and management plans for the preservation of endangered species and habitat are important, and we support this objective in Bill C-5.

Incentives matter. The bill would allow the minister to enter into agreements with other governments or with environmental groups but does not specify the possibility of entering into agreements with landowners. Our amendments correct this. More money would be spent on litigation than would ever be spent on compensation to preserve the species if the bill were to go forward as it is. Just like in the Firearms Act, the money that is being spent is grossly misplaced. We must put money into preserving species and we must decide what is most cost effective. It is not cost effective to pass a bill that would lead to a lot of litigation and the actual further endangerment of species.

Our Motions Nos. 21, 22 and 26 would make this an explicit option for the minister. I ask all government members opposite to take a serious look at the overall effect that the legislation would have and support our amendments. They are there to strengthen the bill and ensure that the species that are at risk would be properly looked after.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


David Price Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, parliamentarians have dedicated many hours and days to the consideration of federal species at risk legislation. In this process members of the House have heard from Canadians from all across the country. We will continue to listen, monitor progress, watch implementation, and we will do our jobs as parliamentarians in overseeing the legislation of the land.

Our work at this stage of forming the legislation is over. We can debate, delay, and listen to the same positions over and over again. While we do that we have no law. I do not think that is what any of us want. It is time to move on and get the proposed species at risk act into place. We have a science based process that is already at work. Let us get it verified in law.

We have discussed that science based process at great length. We must remember that under the proposed act the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada would be recognized in federal legislation for the first time. COSEWIC would provide for rigorous independent and scientific advice regarding the status of species at risk. It is already doing so. It would continue to do so but this time with the full weight of the law that would recognize the importance of its role.

The assessment process would continue at an arm's length relationship from the government. This was and never would be in doubt. COSEWIC would keep its impartial scientific and expert judgment. Our approach depends on it. This law would verify it. Species and habitat would benefit from it.

Members will recall how the assessment works. First, COSEWIC would determine whether a species is eligible for assessment by asking specific questions. These include determining if the species is native to Canada. Second, a subcommittee of specialists would develop a list of species to be considered for assessment. Third, when a decision has been made to assess a species a status report is commissioned. These are very detailed reports that can take many months to prepare.

COSEWIC would use the status report to assign the species to one of seven categories: extinct; extirpated, which means the species is no longer present in the wilds in Canada; endangered; threatened, special concern; species not at risk; or data deficient.

The COSEWIC assessments are at the core of Bill C-5. Everything in the bill depends on what it says. That is why we have ensured it would be done using the best scientific advice we can find. COSEWIC would present its completed assessment to the Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. The COSEWIC assessment would also be placed in the public registry established under the legislation. Anyone can see them at any time.

The minister would use these scientific assessments as a basis for recommendations to the governor in council to add a species to the schedule attached to the law. In keeping with this process we have debated at great length the importance of accountability. When a species is added to the legal schedule things start to happen. There are automatic prohibitions, mandatory recovery planning and the authority to take emergency action to protect the habitat.

For that reason our democratic process demands that the government have the ultimate responsibility for making decisions on which species to add to the legal list should the situation arise where there would be serious economic or social implications.

The decisions made under the proposed species at risk act could affect the livelihoods of Canadians, for example, hunters and trappers. All aspects of the listing must be considered and we want to ensure the job gets done right, not just done fast.

Such decisions could affect the way in which these people make their living. With all due respect, they should not be made by scientists. They must be made by the people who can be held accountable for their implications and that is us, here in the House, the ones elected by the people of Canada, the ones accountable to the people of Canada.

Let me also address the issue of critical habitat. This is one of the most complex parts of the policy and has preoccupied us for years.

This protection must be applied in a manner that is in the best interests of the species. It must take into account Canada's constitutional structure. We must respect jurisdictions, and of course throughout all of these considerations we must ensure that the provisions for protection are workable, efficient and integrated with other Canadian law and conventions.

Not only would the bill protect the critical habitat of endangered and threatened species, it would also protect the critical habitat of extirpated species. These are species that exist elsewhere but are gone from the wild of Canada. Should an extirpated species be reintroduced in the wild in Canada, the provisions in the bill would give authority to protect its critical habitat if needed.

Part of the government's approach involves a proposal for automatic critical habitat protection in national parks, marine protected areas, migratory bird sanctuaries and national wildlife areas. Surely we must all agree that federal lands warrant such a measure.

The government has also proposed to require the competent minister to recommend protection of critical habitat anywhere else in federal jurisdiction that is not protected, within 180 days of being identified, in an approved recovery strategy or action plan. In this way we ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

These measures on critical habitat are reinforced by a further motion that requires all federal ministers to consider the possible impacts on identified critical habitat prior to issuing any licence or permit for any activity.

These measures are for every eventuality. Many of these may never arise but they are provided for in the bill. However all this has to be done in a way that makes partners of those involved, not criminals. It has to be done in a way that works on the ground and works quickly, not that grinds its way through the already overburdened court systems.

Coercion is not here. It is not our way. Stewardship and co-operation come first. That is the Canadian way. That is the way it works. Strong measures in case the co-operative approach fails are of course in the bill.

I summarize by saying that the legislation would ensure that there would be a rigorous and independent scientific process to assess species, operating at arm's length from the federal government. It would also create mechanisms and powers to do something about those assessments by mandating plans to help species recover. It is strong, it fosters co-operation and it begins the premise that Canadians will do the right thing. It is time to put it to work.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to first address a basic premise relating to this legislation, and that is a genuine concern for the proper preservation of the environment and its species and a genuine concern for a proper preservation of property rights. These concerns are not mutually exclusive. Not only should they go hand in hand, they must go hand in hand. Without proper respect for property rights, we will see a degradation of the environment.

It is a fact that a vigorous defence of property rights is essential to the health of any local, national or global ecosystem. However it is just as obvious that a vigorous defence of property rights is essential to the health of local, national and global economies.

The history of the last century is very clear on this point, painfully clear as a matter of fact. Jurisdictions which had little or no respect for the rights of private property were the jurisdictions and in fact the countries that suffered the greatest degradation to their environments and to the species that inhabited those environments. The two are absolutely and clearly linked. The federal government's cavalier approach to property rights, to the notion of private property, its total lack of understanding of basic economic and environmental issues and how the two are linked will put at greater risk the very species that we are all concerned about.

Government members who are really concerned about this bill and about the species would want to take the time to visit the constituency I represent or the constituencies represented by my colleagues. I invite them to come out to the Okanagan--Coquihalla and visit. Whether they talk to orchardists in the Okanagan area, or farmers in the Keremeos and Hope areas, or ranchers around Merritt or miners or foresters, they will see a common thread woven throughout not just the conversation but in fact the practices of those groups of people. That common thread is a genuine concern for the health and vitality of the environment of which their property is made up and the species which inhabit those environments.

History proves that it is those private property interests which will best serve to protect the environment, its health and the species that go with it. It is their land. They understand that properly caring for the land and its inhabitants, animal or human, is the secret of seeing the land itself to yield year after year, cycle after cycle and to continue to return the produce or products that humans need to exist on this planet.

However this reality, this link between a proper respect of property rights and preservation of the environment continually seems to escape the minister and the federal Liberal government. This paternalistic, centralized, all knowing approach toward either environmental or economic issues continues to prove disastrous.

I focus on the area of a proper appreciation of property rights because it is the core of the issue. If the bill moves ahead without the reasoned amendments of the Canadian Alliance, in effect what we will have is an undermining effect on the farmers, the ranchers, the orchardists, the foresters and the miners not just in my constituency but across the country. It will undermine their usual strong motivation to be good stewards of the land because it will undermine stewardship itself.

I look at what the minister is proposing, for instance, in the area of expropriation. If dealt with at all, it will be left to regulation. The very fact that compensation will not be included as mandatory upon expropriation, goes beyond words. How can that notion of disregard for the rights of private property even be entertained? That is what we will see if the bill is left uncorrected by the amendments proposed by the Canadian Alliance.

There can be no secret agreements entered into by the minister. He has indicated that there could be agreements, but they must not be entered into in secret.

Every year representatives of the Real Estate Association of Canada attend to this House. They meet with MPs and they talk about and press for the constitutionality of property rights and how those should be enshrined because they are so important.

Every year the government members of parliament and the ministers involved nod their heads, giving an appearance of assent to this most basic of freedoms and recognition of values. Then the hardworking representatives of the Real Estate Association go back to their jobs, yet nothing is done to preserve the constitutionality or enshrine the constitutionality of property rights. As a matter of fact they are not only left alone, those very rights are also eroded with approaches like we see in Bill C-5.

We have to address these very basic issues. There has to be a change in the bill where the minister recognizes that there will be consultation and that it will not be left to regulation. This must be discussed here in the House. The issue of compensation upon expropriation cannot be left at a whim; it must be stated as mandatory.

Further, the minister talks about delegation of responsibilities but the bill only contemplates delegating those responsibilities to other so-called competent federal ministers. There is a total disregard for provincial jurisdiction as reflected in the constitution.

We have to address these items. The Canadian Alliance is not opposing these things just for the sake of being in opposition. We are opposing the eroding of some very basic rights which are fundamental to the preservation of our economy and our environment. We are also offering some suggestions as to how these terrible wrongs can be righted. We will stick with those points and see this through.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-5, the species at risk act, at report stage. The bill would have grave consequences for the riding of Dauphin--Swan River. The bill ostensibly aims to prevent wild species in Canada from becoming extinct or lost from the wilds, to secure their recovery and to prevent others from becoming extinct. Unfortunately these goals are unattainable with the bill. Report stage has seen the introduction of Liberal amendments to reverse dozens of key committee amendments made to the species at risk bill. Opposition parties, backbench Liberals, environmental groups, the provinces and even landowners are critical of the minister's move.

It took three attempts for the Liberal government to finally put through legislation to protect species at risk. Two previous attempts died on the order paper. This is the first significant piece of environmental legislation introduced by the Liberal government in three terms.

With these reversals, the bill effectively does not require the government to do anything to protect species at risk or to support landowners who are integral to the process of saving endangered species. If the bill would have been allowed to pass as it was after the intensive committee process, it would have been one of the weakest endangered species laws in the industrialized world.

The bill is devoid of the elements considered critical by both the Tories and the species at risk working group, composed of major environmental and industry groups: elements such as critical habitat protection, a specific scientific listing, a compensatory regime, landowner notification and stewardship.

In the Group No. 4 amendments the government has introduced a series of amendments to reverse the consensus of the committee with respect to having an inclusive consultation process that would include aboriginal peoples. I note Motions Nos. 6, 16, 17 and 20. The committee set up an aboriginal council composed of aboriginal representatives and ministers of the crown to advise and make recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council. The government now wants to remove the ministers from participation on the council. The council was changed to a committee, its establishment was made entirely discretionary and its mandate severely limited. As the Inuit association of Canada wrote in a letter recently, this reversal effectively inhibits the voice of Inuit and aboriginal peoples in the conservation of wildlife in the country.

We support the amendments put forth by a Liberal MP that are a compromise in regard to these reversal motions of the government. The member's motions are a compromise that address the major concerns of aboriginal and Inuit organizations and preserve the essence of what was achieved in the original language unanimously agreed to by the standing committee.

The government has put forth Motion No. 76 to reverse committee consensus on timelines for the completion of parts of the act. The government is gutting the committee's consensus to have the act specify time limits for completion of action plans. Without time limits the development of crucial action plans could be delayed indefinitely. Bill C-65, which was the precursor to Bill C-5 and died on the order paper, did set out specific time limits for completion of all recovery plans, but the government apparently has no interest in maintaining that crucial component of the bill.

In Motion No. 114, the government also seeks to gut the specific reference in the bill to the minister having to consult with provinces and territories as well as aboriginal organizations with reference to proposed management plans. Wildlife preservation is a collaborative project that requires consultation with all stakeholders, especially the provinces and territories.

In Motion No. 130, the government is gutting a committee amendment to conduct a parliamentary review of the act every five years. During committee review at clause by clause, the government actually said that in certain cases it would take years to know if an action plan were successful. By the same rationale, it could take years to know if the act itself is working. We must have regular five year reviews of the act.

We support a science based approach to listing species at risk. Scientists, not politicians, should decide which species are at risk of extinction. This was also a consensus recommendation of the species at risk working group, which included environmental groups and industry groups such as the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association. Bill C-5 would leave the decision to list species at risk in the hands of cabinet, although it is a matter of scientific fact, not political choice. Social and economic implications must also be taken into account, but this should be done in the recovery plan stage, not with regard to listing. Government motions at report stage aim to further weaken the listing process. There is no timeline for cabinet to make a listing decision and respond to scientists' assessments.

The federal government must protect the species at risk in its own backyard, on federal lands or within federal jurisdiction. Bill C-5 would provide no guaranteed habitat protection on federal lands. In other words, protection would be discretionary on a case by case basis. It is wrong and ironic for the bill to have provisions allowing for federal interference on private and provincial lands without specifically containing mandatory protection of critical habitat on federal lands. Scientists have firmly established that habitat protection is central to protecting endangered species.

Bill C-5 does not provide enough clarity for addressing the concerns of affected landowners and land users. The minister's bill is devoid of a clear compensatory regime. Regulations pertaining to compensation should have been brought in and tabled simultaneously with Bill C-5.

I will conclude by saying that no one supports the bill. The Government of Canada has failed to do its homework. It has foolishly ignored the consensus of the species at risk working group and of major stakeholders. It is now further gutting an already weak bill not supported by environmental groups, industry and the provinces. A broad coalition of major environmental groups, together with the Mining Association of Canada and the Forest Products Association of Canada, agrees that at the very least a scientific listing process and habitat protection in federal jurisdiction should be in the species at risk act. Let me conclude by saying that the bill may do the opposite to the intent of the legislation and that Bill C-5 itself would be a danger to those species it is trying to protect.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Western Arctic Northwest Territories


Ethel Blondin-Andrew LiberalSecretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I know that hon. members from all parts of the House have spoken to Bill C-5 in great detail, from the perspectives of property rights as well as the whole issue of endangered species. What I would like to do is bring it down to the most common denominator. I would like to speak about the people who are involved and have the most direct contact with the stewardship of these species. They know how important it is because they have acted as stewards for generations.

Last night in Montreal, the fur institute of North America had a huge exposition, a premier event at which gathered together were all the retailers, the designers and the people who do the frontline work in this industry, people who are involved in much of the value added regarding this industry. It is a huge economic issue. I want to speak to it not just from the perspective of stewardship but also from the perspective of the economy. I want to talk very briefly about how the proposed species at risk act would ensure that there is involvement of the people closest to the species and to the land. This involvement would stem from an overall co-operative approach.

The industry, which was once in jeopardy, is now flourishing because of the efforts of the people involved. For example, in the Northwest Territories, I come from multi-generations of people who have lived with endangered species, who have worked on the land and who have worked with these species in a great deal of detail as a work of passion and as a way of life. We in the Northwest Territories have worked hard. Our fur is labelled as genuine Mackenzie Valley fur. For example, we have the best lynx fur in the world. We have 800 to 1,000 trappers in the Northwest Territories with wild fur sales between $800,000 and $1 million annually. This has great economic implications. The good news along with this is that our fur prices are good and Northwest Territories fur brings in the highest prices. Some 60% of our wild fur export is marten, followed by muskrat. Our Fort Reliance wolves have sold for as much as $750 U.S., with wolverines going for approximately $450 U.S.

In the mid-1990s, there was a devastating impact when the European Union introduced regulation 3254/91 banning the import of pelts and products of 12 fur bearing species. It had a devastating impact on people who were self-sustaining and who had dignity. It had devastating economic, social and cultural impacts on many aboriginal communities. It was the same as the whole fishing industry and now the forestry industry. The impact was great. It led to the destruction of an integral component of the mixed economies of northern aboriginal communities. There was a loss of millions of dollars in annual fur income for those communities.

There are actual figures in relation to this. There are some 80,000 trappers in Canada. There are 2,000 people involved in fur farming, 2,500 in manufacturing and processing, 2,500 in retailing and 1,000 in related services. From 1992-97, Statistics Canada said the total fur exports doubled, from $143 million in 1992 to $287 million in 1997. Raw fur exports in the same timeframe went from $74.5 million to $149.8 million, dressed furs from $11.3 million to $25 million, and fur garments from $57.2 million to $112.6 million.

The reason I am rattling off these numbers is to show that when we bring this down to the most common denominator, people learn how to live with the industry they have with respect and dignity. These people do not need a lot of guidance from the outside on how to deal with and work with these endangered species. For generations there has been balance, there has been co-operation and there has been conservation unguided by any legislation.

Arts and CultureStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour General Choi Hong Hi, father and founder of the Korean martial art of tae kwon do. For over 50 years, General Choi's lifelong dedication to this unique form of physical and mental discipline has led to the practice of tae kwon do in over 72 countries worldwide.

Since its inception, students of the art have been taught to follow the basic tenets of tae kwon do: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

Today General Choi still trains every day at the age of 82 and he continues to travel the world promoting the benefits of physical and mental training to people of all ages.

I wish to salute General Choi's lifelong work and his dedication to peace, harmony and justice and extend to him wishes for health and happiness.

AgricultureStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, as we speak farmers across the country are preparing for another crop season. December's budget mentioned an agricultural strategy, but as we have seen this is just another all talk and no action plan on the part of the Liberal government.

The United States government is not just talking about helping farmers. It is doing something to help farmers. A new U.S. farm bill is due to be passed that would provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through to the fiscal year of 2011. It also outlines the need to strengthen safety net programs for agricultural producers.

What do Canadian producers receive? They receive nothing but interim reports and lip service.

Agriculture in Canada is a national industry. Producers are expected to compete in a global market, yet the government has abandoned them when they need it most. It is time to stop talking and start doing.