House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.


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5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I cannot resist the temptation to ask the member a question. He made a little remark about the Senate near the beginning of his speech. I know he was first elected to this House as a member of the Reform Party. Subsequently of course we left that party and we joined a new party called the Canadian Alliance. We invited the Tories to come along but they said they would not.

When the hon. member was first elected, I understand he felt very strongly that the Senate should be elected to give it legitimacy. At the beginning of his speech he talked about the fact that he had met a number of senators who were very honourable and hardworking. I would concur with that. I have met some of them myself. However that does not detract from the point that they ought to stand for election and be accountable to the people they represent.

I do not want to embarrass the hon. member but I want to ask him a really tough question. Has he changed his mind on the electability of senators or does he still believe that they should be elected? It is relevant because the bill starts with S for Senate and he said it in his speech.

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5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, I need to respond to a few comments he made.

First, I did not leave the Alliance Party. I actually got the boot from the Alliance Party. That is the correct information. When I was a member of the Alliance, I had the same optics and opinion as they hold today, that legislation should not originate from the Senate.

As I indicated in debate, I have a new found respect for the Senate after spending only eight months working with it. Probably the majority of people who sit in the Senate agree that the place needs reformation, no more, nor less than this place. The House of Commons needs reformation. In fact we are falling behind the model we follow, which is Great Britain. Great Britain is reforming its senate. It has come up with new reforms in its House.

I can say with great accuracy that the PC members of the Senate all agree and support the notion that the Senate members should be elected. The fact of the matter remains that they are not elected at this point in time. Therefore we need to be realistic and realize that the Senate is part of our political system.

Unfortunately, even if the Alliance Party was in government, without members representing it in the Senate and certainly not having a majority in the Senate, what could possibly happen with legislation it passed in this House? We all know what would happen. Obviously it would go nowhere. Therefore, until the upper House is reformed, we will have to learn to work with the people who sit there at this point in time.

The irony is that I understand the Canadian Alliance members will support the bill because it is a good bill and it will do what is necessary for the financial marketplace. I applaud them for that.

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5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member and I always have. I liked him then and I like him still. He has undergone an interesting metamorphosis in the sense that I asked him a direct question and he almost acted as if he was a Liberal cabinet minister. He totally danced around it without answering it.

Someday I will have a private conversation with him and ask him whether he believes that the Senate should be elected. I firmly do. About 98% of what the member said in response to my question was good. Yes, there are hard working senators; it is our system and our constitution provides for it; the Senate has the ability to originate bills, as it did with Bill S-40, the bill we are debating today; and yes, unless we are able to work with them no legislation would be passed.

I must point out the fact that the Senate, being billed as a chamber of sober second thought, hopefully would give assent to bills which make sense and would refuse assent or amend bills which are not right and not as good as they could be. That should be the function of the Senate. Indeed, that should be the function of this place. That should be the function of our committees. That should be the function of this House when we are debating a bill at report stage or even at third reading. There should be room for amending a bad bill and thereby making it a better bill. It does not happen under our present system. I really think it should.

I would hope that when we form the government after the next election that the Senate, being made up of a number of Liberal and Conservative senators and one Canadian Alliance senator, would at that stage for the good of the country provide the same service that it does now. I find it very offensive to even contemplate the fact that the tentacles of the Prime Minister's control reach all around here with these members on the government side voting on command on bills and motions that go over to the Senate or in this case they have derived from the Senate. The Prime Minister controls the outcome of the vote in the Senate. The Senate should be independent of this place.

The Senate should be able to look at a bill such as Bill S-40 and provide a good bill. We happen to think that it could. I resent the member for Dauphin--Swan River even implying that there is something dishonourable on my part by supporting a bill because it originated from the Senate.

If I were to say that I would not vote for a bill because it came from the Senate then I would be in the same trap. That is, I would be voting either for or against a motion or a bill based on where it originated, rather than whether or not it was a good idea. That happens all too often in this House. Our amendments are routinely rejected by the Liberals because they come from the Alliance.

Canadians honestly truly suffer because of a result of that. They miss out on the collective wisdom of this place, as of the other place that the hon. member spoke of.

The other thing is, and we will have to talk about this privately, sure, we must work with people from other parties. We must, from time to time, co-operate with members of other opposition parties. I have no problem supporting a bill or a motion that comes from the Liberal side if it is a good bill or motion.

In fact, the record will show that the Canadian Alliance and before that the previous official opposition party, the Reform Party, was probably highest in the number of bills and motions that it supported from the government side. I have voted in favour of a number of bills from the Liberal side. This is because I study them. Our researchers study them and when it is all finished if it is a good bill and deserves my support, I am not so small as to say that it came from the wrong side, so I will not support it. That is beneath a serious legislator and parliamentarian.

Today we are talking about Bill S-40. It is a bill that has to do with bankruptcies. It is one of the larger bills that we have debated. It has a few paragraphs in two pages. Of course I speak facetiously since Hansard does not show sarcasm. I would have to say the member was dripping with sarcasm when he said it was a large bill because otherwise how would Hansard record that?

Bill S-40 amends the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act to clarify the application of it with respect to bankruptcies. I support the bill because it is a good one. It would help to improve Canada's productivity I hope. It would improve the ability of Canadians to raise capital and members of our investment population to trade and work in Canada.

One of the most glaring failures of the Liberal government has been the way it has driven people and money out of this country. It is a huge failure on the part of the government. Finally we have a bill which would have a force in the opposite direction. It would help to keep some of the business activity in Canada rather than sending it to the United States.

We have a great number of people who have left in the last nine years while the Liberals have been in government. I regret that. This weekend I was back home visiting my aged father who was not feeling well. I made an emergency trip to see him and spent some time in the hospital this week. Frankly, I think it is atrocious that the policies of the Liberal government have forced our medical personnel to go to the United states, literally thousands of doctors and nurses. They are practising medicine in the United States while our system suffers from lack of personnel.

I must admire the people who are still here. Some of them say they have families here so it is not that easy to move, otherwise they would. Others say they are Canadian and they are loyal to this country, and some of them add come hell or high water because they like to quote the finance minister. They are staying here but it is certainly not because it is an advantage for them to do so in terms of providing for their families, looking after their income and having a reduced tax load.

This is further reflected in the value of our dollar. We have a dollar which is incredibly low. Under the government it has sunk from around 75¢ down to around 65¢ U.S. That is outrageous. That dollar is not only a cause of our economic problems but it is also a reflection of them. The lower the dollar goes, the lower our productivity. On the other hand, when the dollar goes down it is also an indicator that we are not doing well economically in our competition with the United States and with other countries. We measure our dollar against the U.S. dollar.

I would be pleased to see many bills, such as Bill S-40, come from the government that would start taking some positive steps in making our economy stronger and healthier, so that as a result Canadians can stay here and work here.

I wish to mention investment. It is atrocious that people who are looking for an economical way of conducting their investment business must go to American brokerage places to get the best deal.

It is imperative that we be competitive in this country. We cannot help it. We must compete with the United States because money goes where it is most efficiently handled. The only time investors ask what the worst deal in town is is when they are forced to, like with the Canada pension plan which returns probably the lowest rate on investment income that there can possibly be. Yet everybody is forced into it so they have to participate in it.

There are many people who would love to invest outside of Canada, and I have to ask why? Why not invest in Canada? It is nice to talk about it, but we must provide the economic and business climate so that our own businesses, investment firms and banks can thrive. There is nothing preventing Canadians from taking their business outside the country. I for one believe that we can do much better than we have done so far. Hopefully Bill S-40 is one small step.

I would like to speak about the bankruptcy situation. There are thousands of people who have gone into bankruptcy. It is due to the policies of the Liberal government that thousands of businesses and farmers have gone bankrupt. Bill S-40 addresses the bankruptcy question and would help protect the financial institutions mentioned in it. It is important that we have a bill which would improve our economy and reduce bankruptcies. We must support the bill because it is a small step in improving the economy and the business climate of Canada and it is a bill for Canadians.

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5:25 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Speaker, in a former life, before I came to the House, I was a securities dealer for several years and was thus able to learn about this industry but most of all about its importance for the Canadian economy.

I thus followed with interest the progress of Bill S-40 from the other place to this House, in order to give it my support.

I also followed to a certain point the development of that industry, even if I am otherwise concerned.

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5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

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5:25 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I invite the members across the way to show some courtesy. Although they do not seem to be willing to, I will keep talking.

The evolution of the industry—with the specialization of various stock markets and stock exchanges in Canada, especially that of the Montreal Stock Exchange—is important for the Canadian economy.

I believe that the bill we have before us—and I am not the first one to say so since all parties seem to have recognized the bill entitled an Act to amend the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act—will improve the competitiveness of the Montreal Stock Exchange compared to foreign stock exchanges offering a similar range of products.

I wish to congratulate its president, Mr. Luc Bertrand, for his efforts in explaining to the government and opposition parties the timeliness of this bill which will modernize the legislation and, in a way, correct this flaw.

Finally, I wish to congratulate my colleagues for their cooperation, even if we do have our differences about the bill's origin, for instance. All have recognized its relevance and necessity. It goes to show that when we want to, we can easily cooperate get things done in order to help our financial institutions be competitive.

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5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

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5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


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5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

moved that Bill C-292, an act to amend the Criminal Code (selling wildlife), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to finally have the chance to debate Bill C-292. I first introduced it in the 35th parliament on April 30, 1996. It predates the government's first effort at its species at risk legislation which was introduced six months after my private member's bill but because of the proverbial luck of the draw, this is the first opportunity to debate my private member's bill.

The mode of the bill is quite simple. It is to protect animals. As a British Columbian, I was horrified several years ago to hear how bears were being slaughtered for their body parts. In 1995 almost 25% of the bears killed were poached. That means almost 1,300 bears, including 90 grizzly bears, were illegally killed. Bear parts can sell for thousands of dollars yet in most cases the provincial penalties pose very little deterrent.

Two years ago two residents in my community of Surrey, British Columbia were fined $7,000 and sentenced to 17 days in jail for selling 18 gall bladders from illegally killed bears. Considering that at that time the bear gall bladders were fetching $800 apiece on the street, there is a need for tough criminal penalties to deter organized poaching activities.

There is federal legislation which covers a small portion of what this activity entails. It is the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act or WAPPRIITA. It imposes similar types of penalties that are found in Bill C-292 but only for offences where the crown can prove that the wildlife or the wildlife part actually crossed provincial or international state boundaries.

WAPPRIITA does not cover any offence that takes place in one province. Only the provincial legislation is in place for these offences. What I am hoping to do with Bill C-292 is to fill this loophole, ensuring that all offences of this type can be prosecuted under federal legislation.

The bill aims to criminalize the most serious cases of wildlife poaching by providing law enforcement and wildlife officers with the discretion to either pursue the most serious cases of poaching through the criminal code or through existing provincial legislation. The bill would make it a criminal offence to sell wildlife or any part thereof; to kill or capture wildlife for the purpose of selling that wildlife or any part thereof; or to possess wildlife or any part thereof for the purpose of selling that wildlife or part thereof. It sounds repetitive but that is how one has to write legislation.

This proposed section would not apply to any person who has a valid licence, permit or exemption order issued by either the federal or provincial governments. Offences under this section would be listed as an enterprise crime offence. The reason for this is to allow law enforcement officers to use the proceeds of crime legislation to seize assets of individuals or organizations involved in organized poaching schemes.

The bill does not create any new offences. The provinces would still have jurisdiction to determine what activities are deemed illegal. It does not encroach on those provincial jurisdictions. The bill would only give law enforcement or wildlife officers the discretion to proceed with prosecutions through their own provincial legislation or in cases of more serious offences, through the criminal code.

It is very similar to the way serious motor vehicle offences are handled, where law enforcement officers are given the discretion to either prosecute them through provincial legislation or to prosecute them through the criminal code. The bill would give the provincial authorities an opportunity to determine when something is serious enough and they want to have steeper and stiffer penalties to try to stop it from occurring.

As the only reason members might not support the bill is they feel it would encroach on provincial jurisdictions, I reiterate and stress that it would not encroach on provincial jurisdictions. It would allow for a greater variety of charges and the possibility to make sure that the matter is treated the way it should be treated if it is a serious offence.

I repeat that the bill has been around for a long time. I introduced it into the system back in 1996. The bill the government has put forward, the species at risk legislation, was introduced approximately six months after my bill and still has yet to be passed. During the period of time from when the federal government introduced its legislation that many years ago until now, there has been absolutely no protection for wildlife that is being poached across Canada. Because my bill does not have to deal with the more complex issues such as habitat and compensation, it would at least allow some sense of protection for people who are concerned about protecting species at risk.

One other difference between Bill C-292 and the government's species at risk legislation is that Bill C-292 would apply to all wildlife, not just species at risk. Black bears are not a species at risk. Believe me there are a lot of them in people's backyards in the Vancouver area right now. The point is that people are illegally killing bears, black bears and grizzly bears, who some would argue might be species at risk. People are not killing them for their meat. They are not killing them because they are hungry, not because they have any use for them as food, but simply because certain bear parts have become a commodity.

The brochure “From Forest to Pharmacy: The Global Underground Trade in Bear Parts” outlines the number of bears and the number of wildlife that are killed for their parts. The parts are exported for use by individuals who feel there is some reason they may want gall bladders or bear paws. There is evidence that this is a serious situation and should be dealt with.

As I said earlier, the bill would protect all wildlife species that are being slaughtered, from the bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains, to grizzly bears, to black bears, all animals and not just endangered species.

The bill deserves to be supported. It quite simply outlines an area where we can try to address some of the issues with regard to the illegal slaughter of animals. I hope that all members in the House are able to support the legislation and allow it to go through to provide some protection for animals.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario


Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the provisions in Bill C-292, which is an act to amend the criminal code dealing with the sale of wildlife. If passed, the bill would create a new part in the criminal code, that is part XI.1, and would create three new offences relating to the selling of wildlife. These offences would apply despite the provisions of other federal acts of parliament. However, the bill expressly states that the section setting out offences does not alter the application of any existing aboriginal or treaty rights.

The offences proposed in Bill C-292 would address three activities: the selling of wildlife in whole or in part; the killing or capturing of wildlife for the purpose of selling that wildlife in whole or in part; and finally, possessing wildlife for the purpose of selling wildlife in whole or in part. It is worth noting at the outset that in contrast to the penalty provisions found in the Canada Wildlife Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and Bill C-5, which is a bill respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada which is currently before the House, the offences in Bill C-292 are considered to be so serious that they must be proceeded with by way of indictment.

This approach is inconsistent with the classification of offences elsewhere within the criminal code. For example, the offence of sexual assault is classified as a dual procedural offence, which means that the crown may elect to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment. It would appear to be inconsistent from a policy point of view to classify the selling of wildlife as an indictable offence when other offences considered more serious by society are classified as dual procedure offences.

Also, there would be a cost implication to the provinces and territories if straight indictable offences were created. All persons charged with any offences under the act would have the choice of a trial, including the possibility of a jury trial. The maximum penalties available in Bill C-292 range from two years to eight years depending upon whether the offence is a first or subsequent offence and also depending upon whether the wildlife involved is a threatened or endangered species. As an indictable offence, there is no limit to the amount of the fine that may be imposed.

Most members in the House would agree that the goal of discouraging the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts, particularly wildlife which is threatened or endangered, is a laudable one. The question though is whether or not this particular bill is the best way to achieve this goal. This in turn raises a larger question. Are the provisions of Bill C-292 in their essence about the prohibition of morally blameworthy behaviour which is traditionally associated with parliament's exercise of its criminal law power? Alternatively, is Bill C-292 more accurately characterized as a public welfare offence, which is traditionally associated with regulatory offences in a civil context?

It is the position of the government that from a constitutional perspective, Bill C-292 in its pith and substance is concerned with the regulation of wildlife rather than with prohibiting morally blameworthy behaviour. As such, the proposed amendments to the criminal code cannot be supported.

I would like to take this opportunity to briefly outline some of the features of the bill that are traditionally associated with the creation of offences in the regulatory context rather than with criminal code offences.

One important feature of the bill is that it does not apply equally to all Canadians. It expressly exempts from application any person who is authorized pursuant to a federal or provincial permit or licence to commit the acts which otherwise would qualify as an offence, as long as the wildlife involved is not a threatened or endangered species. Exemptions of this nature are extremely rare in the context of the criminal code.

Bill C-292 also permits the Minister of the Environment to exempt from the application of the act “any person or class of persons” in respect of a threatened or endangered species where “in the opinion of the Minister”, and I will underline the word opinion, “the exemption is necessary or in the public interest”. A provision of this nature is at risk of being declared unconstitutional on the basis that the criteria are so subjective and general that they do not provide any real limits on the behaviour to be exempted.

Another feature of the bill, which is not normally found in the criminal code, is that the Minister of the Environment is given the power to designate by regulation an animal as wildlife for the purposes of the act. Another provision would permit the Minister of the Environment to designate a species of wildlife as either an endangered species or a threatened species, provided that the minister had consulted with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Again, these provisions are more consistent with legislation aimed at the protection and regulation of wildlife than they are with provisions found in the criminal code.

As noted by constitutional law expert Professor Peter Hogg, “A criminal law ordinarily consists of a prohibition which is to be self-applied by the persons to whom it is addressed. There is not normally any intervention by an administrative agency or official prior to the application of the law”.

A final feature of the bill I would like to note is that in the criminal code context, search and seizure powers given to peace officers and public officers are very carefully crafted. This is in keeping with the principle that the state powers of intrusion on the privacy of individuals should be used with restraint. The search and seizure provisions in the bill are not entirely consistent with those elsewhere in the criminal code. I think there has to be a very clear policy reason for diverging from provisions used in respect of all criminal code offences, including the most serious offences.

Finally, I think the interests of justice are served by a consistent and co-ordinated approach to the subject areas within the legislative competence of the federal government. Some of the provisions of Bill C-292 overlap those in the current wildlife legislation and also those in Bill C-5. This is problematic to the extent that discrepancies exist between these various pieces of legislation.

In view of the constitutional competence of the provincial governments to regulate the use of wildlife on provincial lands, I would urge those jurisdictions that are experiencing problems with the sale of wildlife or wildlife parts to work with their respective governments to address this problem in a regulatory context. This approach is preferable to that in Bill C-292, which incorporates into the criminal code mechanisms that are more often seen in regulatory offences.

In conclusion, the provisions of Bill C-292 cannot be supported because they are potentially in conflict with other federal legislation and are inconsistent with other provisions of the criminal code.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, even if the member introducing this bill seems to be saying that it will not replace provincial legislation, but will only add certain provisions, we see a tendency on the part of the government to interfere excessively in provincial jurisdictions, particularly Quebec's jurisdictions. The Bloc Quebecois thinks that this bill is unacceptable.

We cannot believe it came from the Canadian Alliance, the party that keeps saying we must respect the Constitution Act, 1867, and that the jurisdictions are quite clear. Once again, someone is proposing interference. I am rather disappointed. At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we were told that we must respect the jurisdictions, so I am surprised to see that, with Bill C-292, we have another attempt to interfere with provincial jurisdiction.

Quebec has legislated in this area. Chapter C-61.1 of the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife provides the rules concerning the purchase of wildlife. I agree with my colleague from the government side on this. Quebec already has legislation on the protection of wildlife forbidding the direct sale of wildlife.

The Bloc Quebecois is against the bill. While the Quebec act does not provide for the same penalties, its provisions are quite similar. We find this in the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife. There are sections on the actions, such as sections 165, 167 and 172. We have fines of $500 up to $16,400. We also have jail terms of up to one year. In the Quebec act, we even have administrative penalties causing the suspension of licences for up to six years.

I repeat that Bill C-292 is totally unacceptable. We will never accept such a bill, which did not come from the government but from the official opposition. It reproduces what Quebec has done already.

Other provinces that have not done their homework should get down to work. Everthing concerning lands is stipulated in the Constitution Act, 1867. We have made it clear that we are against Bill C-5 introduced by the government. This is almost the same thing. The government member said so in his speech, and he was right. I do not want to go over the iinterference issue relating to both these bills. There is a good reason why the Bloc Quebecois is not supporting Bill C-5. It is for the same reason we are not supporting Bill C-292.

The deterrent effect has been mentioned. Provincial authorities and attorneys would be given a choice between filing charges under a provincial or a federal law. That hardly constitutes a deterrent. Both laws are almost the same. We are getting four quarters for a dollar. Yes, we do need to prevent these offences, but there is already a provincial act in force in Quebec. It is now up to the provinces that do not have one to legislate.

What I find unfortunate it that something as comprehensive as the criminal code is being used to do indirectly what cannot be done directly.

The criminal code is being used increasingly to amend other legislation. I find that this is a major concern. This act is one of the most important in Canada and, indirectly, in Quebec.

What is found in the criminal code is not supposed to be considered as an important tool, to use a very positive expression, for the protection of wildlife.

It is obvious that it is something important for all Quebecers. It is so important to note that our government in Quebec City has done its homework. It has set out important penalties, such as fines of up to $16,400, prison terms and even licence suspensions.

I do not know what happened with the Alliance, but I certainly hope that it is only a mistake. The Alliance members keep talking about the need to work for the regions, about the need to respect the Constitution, the federation and the powers granted by the Constitution in 1991 and 1992, and generally about the need to respect the Constitution.

I only hope that this is a mistake, and that it will not happen again, because it goes against everything that you have been saying in your speeches. I prefer what you have been saying about the protection of the real provincial and federal jurisdictions.

Animals need protection. Quebec is protecting them, under the the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in the debate today. I will begin by congratulating the hon. member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley for a laudable effort to bring to the attention of parliamentarians and Canadians the difficulties we have with regard to the selling, killing, capturing or possession of wildlife. The issue is not unique to Canada but she has confined it to that.

We have heard the view of the government and the justice department. We have heard the view from Quebec and it does not auger well for the bill's success at the end of the day. However it is laudable and important to bring the matter to the floor of the House of Commons. Perhaps as a result provinces and territories will significantly increase sentences, fines or both when there are convictions under the law.

I am not trying to sound like the hon. member for Elk Island who often talks about his travels around the country and the world. However some 20 years ago I was travelling through Australia where I read occasionally about people capturing wildlife there or bringing it in from elsewhere and transporting it to other countries. The fines for smuggling cockatoos and similar exotic birds, at least exotic in our part of the world, were effectively a slap on the wrist.

I often thought about the dangers of smuggling drugs from country to country and the stiff penalties people incurred if they were captured or convicted. I compared this to the slap on the wrist one would get for capturing and bringing in wild birds via suitcase, birds that would fetch a high resale price on the open market.

We need to pay attention to what is happening and preserve wildlife in Canada. We are losing it at a great rate. That is why the government is concerned and has brought forward legislation. It is not effective enough in our opinion but nonetheless it is important.

There was some talk about provincial wildlife laws. In her speech the hon. member indicated she did not want to replace provincial and territorial laws but rather complement them. She said it would be similar to the way parliament has placed some of the most serious motor vehicle offences in the criminal code instead of relying solely on provincial legislation.

I listened intently to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice who raised some interesting arguments about why the bill would be difficult to incorporate. He said there would exemptions and the indictments would be inconsistent. At the end of the day the justice department is of the opinion that the bill cannot be supported.

Nevertheless I fully congratulate the hon. member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley. It is a private member's bill so each member in our caucus will decide whether to support it as it is now or abide by what was said by the previous two speakers who spoke in opposition to it.

I would like to take a brief moment to thank the World Wildlife Federation. As the hon. members know, all members in the last House were linked with other animals, fish or wildlife. I had the great good fortune to be linked with the grey wolf. I do not know whether it is the grey in my beard, which appears more every day, but it is a privilege and an honour and I take it very seriously. Again, I congratulate the member.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in the debate on Bill C-292, an act to amend the criminal codes (selling wildlife), as presented by the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley.

Let me begin by congratulating her on this private member's bill. I can assure her that I will support the bill.

I should say to the Liberal member that this bill is at second reading and I am sure there will be a lot more debate in committee, if it goes to committee for debate. There is no such thing as a perfect bill when it comes to the House in the first couple of stages, so I remind members that I am sure there will be changes made to the bill before we get to vote on it at third reading.

Being the fifth speaker, let me reiterate what the bill is about.

The purpose of this enactment is to make the selling of wildlife and wildlife parts an offence under the criminal code unless carried out under and in accordance with a licence, permit or an exemption order. In other words, this is exactly what we need, for are all citizens of this country, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal. We know the problems with regard to poaching which perhaps endangers not only endangered species but also those regular species in our wildlife habitat, including fish.

I also understand that there is cause for concern in terms of an attack on the jurisdiction of provincial governments. I will just quote from the communication of the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley to her colleagues in reference to the bill. The letter states:

My legislation eliminates the need to prove international or interprovincial transportation by adding a section to the Criminal Code. My bill does not create any new offence--the provinces will still have sole jurisdiction to determine what activities are deemed illegal. However, wildlife peace officers will have the discretion to pursue the most serious case of poaching through the Criminal Code, or through their respective provincial legislation.

That shows me that the provinces will still have the final say regarding their provincial legislation and the regulation of the taking of wildlife, game or fish.

The other thing is exclusive jurisdiction over the management of wildlife fish or game still rests with the federal government from coast to coast to coast.

To ensure that the bill is about the selling of wildlife, what I to read section 447.2, which states:

Notwithstanding any Act of Parliament, but subject to this Part, no person shall

(a) sell wildlife or any part thereof;

(b) kill or capture wildlife for the purpose of selling that wildlife or any part thereof; or

(c) possess wildlife or any part thereof for the purpose of selling that wildlife or part thereof.

In other words, the emphasis is on selling game which is taken for domestic or personal use. Essentially this is the problem we encounter. There are aboriginal and non-aboriginal people out there who take wildlife and sell it or trade it for monetary gain. That is a threat to the wildlife itself. On that principle, I must applaud Bill C-292 as necessary legislation.

One of the exemptions deals with aboriginal and treaty rights. In fact, part (3) of section 447.2 states:

For greater certainty, nothing in this section shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

I will comment on the taking of game and fish by the aboriginal community. Under current treaty laws the taking of wildlife and fish by aboriginals is permitted for the purpose of sustenance. I approached the ministry a year ago to ask for a definition of sustenance but was not given one. However most people understand sustenance as putting food on the table. That is a pretty clear and simple definition.

For purposes other than putting food on the table the same rules for the taking of wildlife and fish should apply all of us, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike. I bring this up because my province of Manitoba has no hunting or fishing regulations which apply to sustenance or the taking of fish or wildlife by aboriginal people.

This has created a huge problem. At the start of the winter aboriginal people took fish from two stocked lakes in my riding. To the tune of 100,000 pounds of walleye was taken from Lake of the Prairies, most of which was mature stock. Approximately 150,000 pounds of mature breeding stock was taken from Lake Dauphin. Under the guise of sustenance the fish was taken and sold on the market. A lot of it was sold through the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation which is a federal agency.

Citizens of my riding are asking what the government will do about this. It would be no different if non-aboriginals poached 100 black bear, took their galls and put them on the international market. There is a void. We need regulation. We need laws.

As I said earlier, the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the management of resources across the country. If the province will not put in regulations the federal government needs to show leadership, take responsibility and act in the best interest of Canadians. For that reason alone Bill C-292 has a lot of merit. We need to support it.

We have reached a point in my riding where a resource management group has emerged whose members include municipal leaders, resource and fish enhancement groups and conservation groups. It is an umbrella organization concerned about abuse of the rules by both aboriginal and non-aboriginal citizens who take wildlife.

The federal government should wake up to the realities of what is happening across the country and become involved. It is long overdue.

On a personal note I applaud the hon. member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley for her bill. Debate needs to take place across the country. I am sure her bill will create a lot more of it. I will support Bill C-292.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise to speak to Bill C-292, an act to amend the Criminal Code (selling wildlife). At this time I would like to commend my colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley, who brought forward the bill.

The bill is very important to me because my past is tied to a wildlife sanctuary and to the issue of poaching. I was born in an area that has one of the best national parks in the world. At the time when I used to visit the national park, it had a variety of animals, including rhino, and thousands of people came to see them. It became a tourist attraction. When I recently visited that area, I saw the devastation done by the illegal poaching that has taken place there over a period of time. It was very sad to see that there was only one rhino left. The others had all been murdered just because of the illegal trade in rhino horns.

We all know the stories about the elephants of Africa that have been poached because of the ivory. If it were not for a concentrated legal effort, we do not know what would have happened to the elephant herds. It is good to see that they are coming back and that conservation is taking hold in that country and on that continent. Most important, the issue is that this is a conservation success story only because there was tough legislation, with enforcement.

My colleague gave the example of the illegal sale of gall bladders. This indicates a serious concern she had so she brought forward the bill. Why is this trade still going on? If we were to listen to the government, we would think that it has legislation which would address this issue. Obviously it has not. If it has, then there would be no need for my colleague to bring the bill to the forefront, to the forum of the House of Commons, where I am very happy to see that it has the support of the NDP and the support of the Conservative Party. That is because the issue is that the current act, the new species at risk bill and other acts do not really address this issue of illegal trading in and killing of wildlife.

I can say from experience that if we do not have good laws then we face a serious problem. We are the custodians of wildlife for future generations. We owe it to future generations to create laws and deter this illegal trade and killing so that future generations can see and enjoy their heritage. Unfortunately if we want to have a lax attitude to this, then we will pay a serious price.

The reasoning of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada speaks to the same attitude, the same solution, that the government has had of trying to address an issue but at the same time trying to not address an issue. That is the government's approach. The parliamentary secretary stated that the enforcement and penalties in the bill are not consistent with the penalties that society sees.

I have a little difficulty with the government's rationale. The government says that society feels certain acts should be punished but the act of selling wildlife should not. It is trying to bring that in line with other offences. I am having difficulty understanding that rationale because these are two separate issues going in different directions. Not only that, but in the bill the discretion is left to the provinces as to how they want to tackle this issue and how serious it is in their provinces.

At this time I would also like to address the issue that the Bloc brought up, which of course is always about provincial business. Their vision on this is blinded, so they do not see that the bill does not infringe on provincial rights. It actually helps provincial rights because it gives the provinces the ability to address this issue. There is nothing in the bill that goes against the provinces and, from what I understand, at the time the bill was drafted there was no protection in Quebec against the sale of wildlife. This bill will enhance that. The argument that my colleague from the Bloc presented does not hold much water.

I need to address what the government is trying to do with regard to this really very serious issue. There are enough examples around the world, in country after country, of where wildlife has been lost because the government failed to address this issue through punishment and enforcement. I seem to see the same attitude coming from this government.

The bottom line is this. The government's attitude is simple. It does not consider this a serious issue. The government believes the penalty is very serious so it is not going to address the issue and it is not going to pass the bill. Excuse me, but this is a serious issue. There are enough examples. We only have to ask conservation officers and people who deal with wildlife. They need tools to address this issue, but what do we have here? When I was growing up in Africa, I saw the same attitude from the government there. The African government did not think this was a serious issue. Society did not view it as important. It was just wildlife. Suddenly this government has awakened to the fact that it is a serious issue and that it needs to be addressed. We as custodians have lost our heritage over there and the trade has become quite dangerous.

I simply do not understand the government's attitude. My colleague has explained the purpose of her bill and its intentions. It does not infringe on provincial rights. It provides us with more enforcement to ensure that we leave a legacy behind. I hope that since this is a votable bill there will be enough members on that side of the House and on the Bloc side who will vote for it because it is a bill that looks to the future.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to enter into the debate on this important topic and a pleasure to have been able to second my colleague's bill. My colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley has worked long and hard on this issue. As she indicated in her speech, she began back in 1996 with this topic. Her issue predates the government's bringing in of Bill C-5, the species at risk legislation, which obviously gives us some reasons to rebut some of the things that the member for Northumberland mentioned as to how parts of the bill may not be congruent with Bill C-5. That is because this bill came forward first. My colleague saw an important issue, one worthy of consideration.

What the representative of the government has told us tonight is basically that if members of the Liberal governing party are to stay with what he said, then the government is going to vote to allow poachers to continue to take threatened and endangered species and to buy, possess and trade in those body parts, and it is going to vote against saving wildlife.

Time and time again we have seen the government members in this place stand up and vote as they are told on private members' bills. In fact the member said that his is the government position on a private member's bill. The member from the New Democratic Party mentioned that he supports the bill but individuals from his party will determine whether they are going to support the bill or not. They will have a free vote. What a novel idea. We are obviously in agreement on that issue of having a free vote. Obviously there is support from our colleagues in the Conservative Party as well. The Bloc will also have to defend its position of voting to allow poaching to continue and against saving animals.

I do not see how that is a justifiable position on this topic. The government has told us tonight about all the reasons why it cannot do something, why it cannot support the bill, instead of actually moving forward and doing something positive, instead of voting to protect wildlife, endangered species and threatened species, and to stop poachers in their place.

It is by their actions that government members will be held accountable. They will have to defend that position when they stand in their places and they vote against saving wildlife at the same time that they are bringing in a bill called the species at risk bill. They are arguing on one side to protect endangered species, and we support that notion, but then they are going to vote against saving wildlife by voting against this bill.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage will not allow wardens in our national parks to be armed with sidearms. How does that relate to the bill? It relates to the bill in this way: that in our national parks and other parts of the country this is a well organized trade, a criminal activity, in which poachers are taking animals out of our national parks illegally. If those who are there to enforce the law are unable to have the appropriate tools to defend themselves and to seek out those who would break the law in this illegal trade of body parts of animals, how can it be stopped?

It is just unbelievable. RCMP officers patrol the national parks and are limited in their ability to go into the back country. Of course they have the ability to stay close to the paved roads, but not a lot of poachers are hanging around in the parking lots in the national parks, or at the rest stops, or at the signboards at the entrances to the parks. They are in the back country. The wardens know where these things are happening and many times they are helpless to be able to stop those kinds of illegal activities because they are not properly equipped.

I want to rebut another claim made by the government in debate. My colleague from Calgary East touched on it and I want to highlight it again because the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley clearly indicated it in her speech. It is contained in the substance of the bill that the provinces still have the ability to seek some re-conviction or make this an indictable offence. That is completely inaccurate. My colleague from Dauphin--Swan River mentioned it as well.

Let us be clear about what is in the legislation. It is a piece of legislation that would help to protect threatened and endangered species. It does move forward in a positive way to protect wildlife. It is incumbent upon the government, as the ruling party in the country, to come up with solutions to problems and to demonstrate through its actions that it is able to address issues in the country.

I mentioned yesterday in debate on Bill C-5, the endangered species bill, that the government promised in 1993 that it would move on this topic. Here it is 2002, almost 10 years later, and there is not a piece of legislation in place to protect species at risk or endangered species. That is unbelievable.

My colleague started six years ago on this topic, even longer ago than that, and has brought this to the House. We know how hard it is for a member to bring a private member's bill through the system, to get it to the point of not only getting her name drawn and getting it debated in the House, but also getting it votable. It is quite a task and I congratulate my colleague for her forbearance in going through that long and winding road to get this piece of legislation here.

It may be swept away by the backhand of the government in one fell swoop because it did not quite live up to its standards, or it was not quite good enough, or it was not the idea of a Liberal, or it was not drafted by Liberal people. I heard a colleague say that the government is so negative. I would agree in many ways. The Liberals are simply listing over and over again why they cannot support a good piece of legislation that has an effective means to stop poaching. That is basically what the member said. He gave us all the reasons they cannot support the bill.

Let me clearly state that Alliance members are supportive of Bill C-292. We know that we have support from some of the NDP and Conservative members, and no support at all from the government in any way on this issue. That is sad because what the government is saying to Canadians, and all the lobby groups that have been trying to get the government to move on this topic for 10 years, is that it has an opportunity to protect threatened and endangered species here but it will not do it. The government will vote to allow poachers to continue and it will vote against protecting endangered species and threatened wildlife.

Why? I do not know. The government has not articulated that clearly. It has given out a list of negative excuses as to why it cannot do it and it is a shame that we must end on that note today with the negativity of the government not moving forward to support a positive idea and bill that would protect wildlife.

It is a good bill that should be passed. We implore our colleagues on the government side to change their minds and the private members to stand in their place and support this excellent piece of legislation.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to get up this evening to speak. I compliment the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley for her interest in this area. It is an area of concern for many Canadians, especially those who are interested in wildlife, who are perhaps very vulnerable, as well as those who are interested in the environment.

We have heard of situations offshore and international situations. People who return to the country do not realize the risks that they take by bringing in pieces of material that under our laws are illegal, such as ivory, conch shells, and alligators. This law deals with domestic problems in selling wildlife, et cetera.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The time 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.

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

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I had asked a question in question period with regard to agriculture specifically of the heritage minister with regard to the tuberculosis problem that is endemic in the elk herd in Riding Mountain National Park. It is also in the Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta but I will deal strictly with the subject of the question which dealt with Riding Mountain National Park.

Local cattle herds were being infected with TB which was being spread by the elk outside of the park boundaries. The livestock industry in Manitoba is very large. The economic activity is significant to the farmers and ranchers in that area. A beef animal slaughtered in the United States that came from this area was found to have TB. That has resulted in many cattle herds around the Riding Mountain National Park being tested for tuberculosis, including a bison herd.

The problem is if too many cases of tuberculosis were to arise in domestic animals other countries could say that we were not a TB free country and, as a result, could take trade action by restricting exports into their countries from Manitoba. This of course would have a negative impact.

The agricultural policy framework of the government says that we are to reassure our customers around the world, including the United States, that our products are healthy. They are quality products that are raised according to standards and safety is number one. Clearly if the heritage minister were not able to manage the wildlife in national parks it would result in large problems for agriculture.

We see the contradiction between the agriculture minister and the heritage minister. They are both working at odds with each other. The minister said that science would be used and it would be taken care of. The problem with that reply is that it does not deal with what needs to be done.

Ryan Brook, a graduate from the University of Manitoba, is studying this along with provincial conservation officers and to date they have captured 40 elk, most of them females. That is an insignificant number compared with the approximate 5,000 that are living inside the park. They put collars on those 40 head to see if they leave the park and where they go. The problem with this is that it is insufficient scientific analysis.

The president of the Riding Mountain landowner association has written to the minister expressing its concerns with this. President Walter Kilwinik has said that the measures being taken by the minister and Heritage Canada are insufficient and that a culling of 5,000 elk must take place so that fewer diseased animals leave the park and cause problems with agriculture.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario


Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, Parks Canada recognizes that the presence of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife and cattle in and around Riding Mountain National Park is a very serious issue. Parks Canada has and will continue to take a responsible approach in responding to tuberculosis and the threats that it poses to the ecological integrity and the socioeconomic well-being of the Riding Mountain area. I would also like to explain the agency's position and actions in some detail.

Bovine tuberculosis is a non-native disease in wildlife in Canada. It was introduced into the Riding Mountain area by infected cattle in the early 1900s. There has been a history of controlling the disease in cattle in this area. By 1975 it was considered eradicated from cattle. In 1991 bovine tuberculosis was again located in cattle. In 1992 it was found for the first time in wild elk.

Since 1992 three cattle herds in the area have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis leading to their destruction. Ten wild elk have tested positive over the same period as has one white-tailed deer.

Parks Canada has been active since the disease was located in wildlife in 1992. Park staff have worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and provincial wildlife officials to set up an in-park laboratory to test wildlife for the disease. Collectively they have tested more than 2,000 elk, moose and deer carcasses for the diseases.

Bear in mind that of those tested only 10 have been confirmed positive for bovine tuberculosis. Although the overall rate of tuberculosis in wildlife is still low, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed tuberculosis in the wild elk population for the Riding Mountain ecosystem.

Parks Canada is well aware of the potential impact the incidence of tuberculosis can have on the Manitoba cattle industry. Incidences of tuberculosis also have potentially negative implications for the integrity of ungulate elk populations in the Riding Mountain area. Although elk are not at immediate risk to the presence of tuberculosis, we recognize that tuberculosis impacts on their future.

In response to these potential impacts, Parks Canada has taken a number of steps to manage the problem. In 2001-02 in response to concerns by Parks Canada, local producers and municipalities, a five year wildlife health action plan was developed by the interagency wildlife technical committee composed of representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Manitoba agriculture and food, Manitoba conservation, and Parks Canada. The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association has recently become a member of the technical committee.

Key elements of the plan include communications; surveillance and monitoring; management action; and research. The actions are documented in the 2001-02 bovine tuberculosis management program implementation plan.

The interagency wildlife technical committee is responsible for communicating testing protocols, test results, and strategies and activities to local and provincial stakeholder groups, including the Riding Mountain liaison committee and the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association.

Parks Canada continues to be closely involved in developing strategies to deal with this disease. Parks Canada has initiated scientific projects dealing with the tuberculosis in the area, including a four year elk movement study conducted in co-operation with the University of Manitoba. Riding Mountain National Park of Canada is also actively participating in hay barrier fencing on local cattle producers' farms and is providing the Manitoba department of conservation with scientific information to aid in the reduction of the elk population outside the park through increased hunting opportunities.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, clearly there was no mention that the herd inside the park has to be culled. The habitat inside the park has been poorly managed. Haying is no longer allowed. There are too many elk inside the park for the habitat that is there. This simply indicates poor management of our national park on the part of the heritage minister.

A cull inside the park is needed, not for hunting purposes but the meat could be used by people in Manitoba or shipped to other parts of the country. The meat could be used for human consumption.

The bottom line is the herd has to be reduced in number because it is spreading tuberculosis outside the park. Cattle herds that become infected are totally destroyed. There is no contagion coming from cattle herds into the elk. It is the other way around. The elk are spreading TB to the cattle.

The minister seems to have already made the decision with Mr. Brook that in fact it is going the other way. I heard that again tonight and that is not acceptable.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Madam Speaker, in response to the hon. member, Parks Canada will continue to be active in the surveillance and monitoring, including maintaining the disease testing facility in the park and monitoring population levels of elk.

Parks Canada has been and will continue to be closely involved in responding to tuberculosis and the threat it poses to the ecological integrity and socioeconomic well-being of the Riding Mountain ecosystem.

This is a complex problem with no simple solutions and is a shared responsibility of those affected. It is not a simple matter of eliminating elk and deer from the ecosystem. The focus is on separating cattle and wildlife, reducing elk populations to lower densities so that the disease will not spread and continue testing and research. The focus is also on working in partnership with the cattle producers, local residents, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the province of Manitoba.

We are confident there is a strong program and partnership in place to deal with this very difficult issue raised by the hon. member.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

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

(The House adjourned at 6.42 p.m.)