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House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was compensation.

Topics

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister surely knows that Quebec has had its own species at risk legislation since 1991, which is even one year before the earth summit was held.

Given the fact that, in 1996, Quebec and the provinces signed the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada, in which co-operation was deemed to be a fundamental principle by the federal government, and given the fact the Quebec has had its own legislation for more than ten years and has ratified the accord that I just mentioned, can the minister assure us that Bill C-5 will not apply to Quebec as he has already promised?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is not correct. As I just said in my answer to the member's first question, this legislation will apply to Canada as a whole, that is to all the provinces and territories. As the member indicated, in cases where a province already has species at risk legislation, the federal government will play second fiddle to the province. If the provinces need scientific or financial assistance, we will be able to provide that. We will work with the provinces and territories to ensure that all species at risk across Canada benefit from the best protection possible.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister claims that the people who advised him were the ones on the ground and who knew what type of legislation we should have.

Would that not be even more so for the people on the environment committee who spent 12 to 15 months of regular work on trying to redraft the bill because it was so weak. Do they not get any credit for their expertise? All political parties, including your own, Mr. Minister, sitting on the committee made substantial amendments.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Just to differentiate between committee work maybe and the House, members should make sure that all interventions are made through the Chair and not directly across the floor.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for that. It is a proper admonition for my part.

The reality is that the committee did spend a lot of time. They were experts and knowledgeable people and also representative of the country in terms of what type of legislation we need. Do they not get any credit? Do we shovel these government amendments through or do we allow the committee work to stand as being a much more accurate representation of where the country is at?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member came in perhaps a trifle late. As you explained, the debate is on the issue of time allocation.

Certainly, if I am permitted to depart from that strict issue, I would give the greatest credit to the committee members, including the hon. member who just spoke. They did an immense amount of work, not just on the current bill, Bill C-5, but also on the preceding bills, Bill C-33 and Bill C-65 in previous parliaments.

However, and I hope he understands this, the fact that I point out that the critical people who will be protecting endangered species are those who are out on the land, namely farmers, ranchers, trappers, fishermen and people who work in the woods, I hope does not suggest to him that somehow we are denigrating the work of the committee. No, these are the people who are particularly important.

With due respect to the hon. member, he comes from an urban riding. He spends a lot of time in the House. He is not always out there on the land. Perhaps he should give a little credit too, to those people on whom the bill will depend for its success and whose co-operation is so important in getting this bill.

I hope that does not denigrate the committee.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the points we are trying to make here is that he is not consulting with the right people.

Last week the government introduced an amendment to the legislation that would make protection of critical habitat on federal lands mandatory after 180 days. The amendment has serious implications for all people in rural communities and who work in the natural resources sector.

The mandatory protection would be given to the critical habit identified in a recovery strategy or an action plan. However a recovery strategy is not based on consultation with stakeholders and does not take into account the socioeconomic interests of Canadians, whereas an action plan does.

Will the government ensure that the communities are not destroyed by strong-handed government actions to protect critical habitat, and will the government change the amendment so that protection of critical habitat on federal lands is mandatory only after consultations have taken place in developing an action plan for species?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have no intention at this point, which I believe is understandable to all members of the House after these many years and many hours, of having further amendments. That was ended last Friday when we had House agreement on the amendments that are currently before us.

However I can assure him that we have absolutely no intention of adopting the irrational proposal that he has suggested. We are not here to destroy rural communities. We are here to make sure that rural people, who are just as keen on protecting endangered wildlife as anyone else in Canada and who have already, in many instances, worked assiduously to protect endangered species, are given the advantage of the legislation to assist them in that work.

I can assure him that when he talks about strong-handed and destroying, those words should be out of the lexicon. We are not in that situation. We are here in a facilitative mode trying to make sure we assist people in the countryside whose instincts and wishes are to protect endangered species.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

“Mr. Speaker, on October 2, 1996, when the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada was signed, the Quebec Minister of the Environment said in Charlottetown, and I quote:

We cannot remain indifferent to the fact that this agreement opens the door to overlap between the future federal legislation and the act that has been in force since 1989.

He was referring of course to Bill C-5. He also indicated the following:

We risk creating more red tape instead of dedicating ourselves to what really matters to us: the fate of endangered species.

Does the minister not recognize that he is going against the Quebec model, a model which has existed for 11 or 12 years, which has proven itself and which works well? The minister is trying to derail the way endangered species are managed in Quebec. Does he not recognize that he is only creating a cumbersome administration that is totally unacceptable for the provinces?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that, as the hon. member explained, the province of Quebec implemented legislation with which I fully agree.

However, the federal bill will complement provincial and territorial legislative measures. It will not compete with them. We respect the other governments' jurisdictions, but we also expect them to protect species at risk and their habitat.

Under Bill C-5, the Government of Canada will have the power to act alone, if necessary, on the whole Canadian territory.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, if we look out on the street we will see vehicles designed for different purposes: boats, aircraft. This bill is designed for confrontation, not co-operation. Those words are important. The key players, the cabinet, cannot even agree among themselves.

Bill C-5 would give the federal government the power to impose its laws on provincial lands. Will the minister guarantee to the House, to his department and to other departments that co-operation will be the key between the provinces and the property owners rather than creating an atmosphere that is built into the bill of distrust and uncertainty that would deter Canadians from ensuring species at risk receive the protection that is needed?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can certainly give the hon. member the assurance that co-operation is the hallmark of what we are attempting to do. We do intend to work with rural people and rural communities.

I can assure him that the suspicion, fear and the concerns that he is talking about have, unfortunately, been engendered by his party. It is a great mistake that it has done that. If he chose to read the legislation he would see that it is based upon a co-operative approach with other agencies including, as I mentioned on two or three occasions in response to a question from the Bloc, with provincial governments.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister again. My friend from the Bloc has raised this in a peripheral way. I want to go at it directly.

Does the Department of the Environment have a legal opinion or a confirmation that Bill C-5 will meet the international commitments that we have made with regard to protecting endangered species, protecting the environment and specifically enhancing biodiversity? There are a number of opinions out there that the bill does not in fact do that.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, the views and legal opinions conveyed to me on the bill with respect to our international obligations are that it fully meets our international commitments. It provides the authority to prohibit the destruction of critical habitat of listed endangered or threatened species anywhere in Canada.

Along with other legislation, the Canada Wildlife Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Fisheries Act and the National Parks Act as well as, as the hon. member from the Bloc has stressed, the provincial and territorial legislation, we believe we have the tools to protect endangered species and fully meet our international obligations.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about co-operation, consultation, the frontline soldiers and how much he wants to listen to them. Yet the government uses closure, which is what we are debating right now. It includes things like due diligence in the legislation where people would be guilty even if they did not know it was an endangered habitat or an endangered species.

Why would the minister not have considered mens rea where people would have to show intent that they wanted to destroy habitat or that they wanted to destroy an endangered species. We would agree then that the book should be thrown at people who did that. However the minister has chosen not to do that and instead has chosen to use due diligence where the government will again go after farmers, ranchers and the guy on the ground, the little people.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reason for that is that a piece of legislation such as this cannot be considered in isolation from other provincial, territorial and federal legislation, the vast majority of which is inconsistent with this one. In other words, to establish different standards here would destabilize the approach taken.

We believe that this approach is appropriate. There is of course the defence of due diligence available. We think this is the one that people are familiar with from other legislation and therefore the one that should proceed in this.

We have many new features in this legislation. However this is not one of them. The reason for that is of course we want to ensure that people continue to work with what they are comfortable.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, just a moment ago the minister gave credit to the committee for the work done, and rightly so, because the committee opened the eyes of the minister and the government in relation to many changes to be made and contemplated in the act. He said the real people who will ensure this is a success are the people on the ground. It is unfortunate that all these people, according to the correspondence we received, unanimously are not in agreement with the act either. Therefore, what is the rush?

As we get closer to a piece of legislation that satisfies everyone, what is the rush? Why can we not take our time and do it right? We are not trying to drag it, we are looking for that balance that was contemplated when the former government signed the biological diversity act back in 1992. If we take our time on this one, we can also have a good piece of legislation, but not if it is rushed.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I point out to the hon. member it has taken eight or nine years. It is not a question of rushing it through. I gave the number of hours spent on it in committee and in the House, which was 246 hours. I believe the number for days was 93 days. Of course we have also been faced with filibuster, which was admitted and bragged about in the Hill Times by the assistants to the then leader of the opposition.

How much time does the member want to spend on going over the same things again and again? We believe the legislation should be based on the support of people out there. If the hon. member has only received negative comments from those people, why does he not look at the Hill Times where an ad has been taken out by among others the Forest Products Association of Canada and the Mining Association of Canada telling us to proceed with this very bill?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the minister has referred to fear. I do not want to get into where all this fear comes from, but the folks in Saskatchewan who I have talked to are very fearful that if their habitat is adversely affected by this legislation they will not receive fair compensation for that.

In a legal sense this matter could be dealt with very simple language in the legislation, not in regulations or assurances from the government. Someone who is adversely affected should receive fair market value as compensation. That is a clearly defined term.

Why could the minister not alleviate a lot of the fears in the legislation, make that minor amendment and assure landowners they will receive fair market compensation for adversely affected land?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reason for having the words fair and reasonable in the legislation rather than fair market value as suggested by the hon. member is that the legislation is not based on expropriation, the standard language he is using with respect to fair market value.

In other words, it would be possible to have stewardship programs. If in some instances there were some use of the land being infringed, it would not be fair market value because not all the land would be taken over. One may take over a particular part of it, ask that a width of hedgerow be increased for the loggerhead shrike, or ask that a certain crop not be planted in a certain area and that a different one be planted instead. It is not a question of expropriation of land for road purposes which the hon. member seems to have in mind.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister told us earlier that his bill was complementary to the legislation already existing in Quebec. I would like to believe him.

But in reality this is not the case. I spoke to him about the Loi sur les espèces menacées passed in 1989. I will also speak to him about the Loi sur la conservation de la faune, which we passed in Quebec.

In Quebec, we have wildlife enforcement officers who cover the land under Quebec's jurisdiction. What the minister wants to create are federal officers who would not only be on federal lands but could also operate on Quebec's territory.

With this system, which means we have a government that is not co-operating with respect to the protection of endangered species, as it did in 1986, but rather a policing body, how does it intend to introduce this new officer in Quebec's jurisdiction?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the third or fourth time, the hon. member has spoken about the system in the Province of Quebec, and I respect him. I say hats off to the authorities in the Province of Quebec, who have created a good system, but not all provinces have the same system. Not all provinces have systems as effective as that of the Province of Quebec.

This federal legislation will be for all Canada's provinces and territories. We will take action only if the province in which the species at risk is located does not. If a province needs the assistance of the federal government, we will be ready to provide it. It is not a question of trying to oppose a province, or beat it to the draw. It is more a matter of providing support.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, most Canadians, urban or rural, want to save species at risk. However most Canadians including those in downtown Toronto understand that using heavy handed tactics will not get the co-operation of the people on the ground, the so-called frontline soldiers the minister talks about.

Let us look at some examples: The government is invoking closure today; it is not addressing the due diligence issue; it would say guilty until proven innocent by not putting in mens rea; and it would impose $250,000 fines. This is not how to get co-operation from the frontline soldiers.

How does the minister think the bill has any hope of working on the ground?

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Alliance should get off the idea that time allocation is being used today without any background or because we simply dreamed it up.

Let us look at what the Alliance has done. On April 17 the Leader of the Opposition made a two and a half hour speech to table a defence committee report. He took up the entire time allocated to government orders which was Bill C-5. On April 18 the Canadian Alliance member for Yellowhead used the same trick to drag out the tabling of a committee report until the government called a vote to bring the House to government orders. As these people appear to have forgotten what they did in April and many other months I will cite a quote from the Hill Times in which the assistant to the Alliance Party's then leader said:

We gathered as much information...and we basically culled them together in one document so that [the hon. member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast] can fill the two hours and then try to ad lib as much as possible in between the various different things that we've written for him.

That is what Alliance members are saying about their own filibuster. Now they are blaming us for putting in time allocation.

Species at Risk ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

This concludes the 30 minute question time.

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