Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day that we are standing to speak to the last group of motions. The government has chosen to use closure to shut down consultation with the grassroots people and frontline soldiers the minister talks about: the farmers, ranchers, people in the forest industry and all those who pay taxes to allow the country to exist. On this dark day I will speak briefly to the motions in Group No. 5.
It is interesting that the government has totally withdrawn clause 109 which may have someday put compensation into the regulations. I defy any rural member across the floor here to go home and say “Guess what, guys? Now you will not get any compensation for sure”. I dare them to stand on the election platform and justify that one. I wonder how they would handle it.
We see what the Liberal government is really about. It brought its rural caucus onside by saying it would change the word may to will. It has now cancelled the whole thing. That is pretty shocking. It is shocking to find out about it in the House in the 11th hour. Under the current bill there would not be compensation or fair market value. It does not even contain the term fair and reasonable which is what the committee finally agreed on. Real estate people and lawyers who were consulted said it had to be fair market value because fair and reasonable could mean anything. Now the bill contains nothing, not even fair and reasonable. That is pretty shocking.
We talked earlier about the issue of mens rea. This means if farmers who plow the fields, ranchers who put cattle into the pastures or miners who exercise property rights do not do environmental impact studies to find out if an endangered species or habitat is present they would be guilty before even entering a courtroom. What kind of justice system is that?
Why would the government not want to consider the socio-economic issues? The possibility of losing 10,000 jobs, 20,000 jobs or whatever should be a factor in considering whether to save habitat or species like the wart toad, liverwort or whatever. It seems only reasonable that the government consider these things.
The process of consultation and co-operation is a farce. It is a lie. It is nowhere in the legislation. Landowners need to be involved in the consultation process, yet they would not be. Bill C-5 would be exactly what the American legislation is. Americans experts who have been looking at this type of legislation for close to 30 years have said the Endangered Species Act in the United States has yet to save a single species although it has been in effect 27 years. They have predicted SARA would be equally ineffective in Canada.
The money would be used for litigation. It would be a great time for lawyers but not for landowners and those who care about species. Bill C-5 would endanger the species it is trying to save. We hope it will endanger the party across the way in the next election when the Canadian people find out what it really means.
I have spoken to a number of environmental groups which say if we do not compensate people on the ground they will not co-operate. That should be common sense. However the government does not realize that. The withdrawal of motion 109 further emphasizes how bad the legislation would be.
Co-operation is what it takes. I will tell the House a story about a time a long time ago when I worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service. I had some money and my job was to go out and protect habitat. We would go to farmers and say they had marsh land we wanted to protect. The farmers might say they had planned to drain it or do something else with it. However when we offered compensation for the land there was not one person who did not sign the agreement. That is what co-operation is all about. That is how to protect habitat.
Farmers and ranchers across the country are already preserving habitat and species. Bill C-5 would do nothing but antagonize them and make them stop doing what has been normal practice for them up to this point.
What does the government not understand about getting the co-operation of landowners? How does it hope to work with the provinces when it is putting in a safety net proposal that says federal legislation would rule? If the federal government deemed that provincial governments were not doing an adequate job it would come down on them with overriding legislation. That would mean court action and more court action. It would mean lawyers and more lawyers. It would put more money in the pockets of lawyers and less in the hands of the front line workers the minister talks about.
I could go on about all the amendments put forward and the hard work of the committee to try to make the legislation better. For the first time since I have been in the House we had co-operation among all members on the environment committee. We really cared.
Today we voted for some motions put forward by an hon. member regarding aboriginal issues. We co-operated because we knew the members would co-operate on some of our big concerns. We worked hard on it. What did the government do? It came in and reversed all the things we fixed in the legislation. It did not listen to members from all parties. Five parties worked together to make the legislation better. The government then had the nerve to come in at report stage with all these amendments and reverse everything we did. It makes one wonder why we bother to get involved in committees or do any work. We worked hard on the legislation for 9 or 10 months to try to make it work.
It is a sad day. The government has used closure. Under the bill there would be no compensation. It would make landowners and users guilty until proven innocent. We are slapping the provinces in the face. Bill C-5 would do nothing to save species at risk. We should be disgusted with this piece of legislation and what we have seen today. The government should pay a big price for using closure to pass Bill C-5 and ram it down people's throats.