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House of Commons Hansard #204 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary's answer is exactly what I expected. We have before us the most corrupt government in the history of Canada's parliament, since 1867, but it has a strong majority. It put the lid on its mess very tightly, and now it is sitting on it, to prevent it from going public.

That is what the government is doing right now. It is afraid of authorizing a public inquiry because there are members of this government who will get caught red-handed.

An inquiry is what we have been calling for from the beginning. To recap quickly, for folding up little posters with the Canadian flag for the Salon du grand air de Chicoutimi, the bill was $318,000, with a $38,000 commission; for the Salon du grand air à Rimouski—all that had to be done was to cross the river with the bags—, the bill was $318,000; for the same thing at the Salon du grand air de Montréal, the cost was $739,000.

This continued in Sherbrooke, Chicoutimi and Trois-Rivières. All told, $2 million was spent. They took their share of this, and some money was donated to the Liberal Party of Canada. That is the scandal, that is the shame.

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that when the auditor general did her review with regard to the Groupaction files she found and reported that two senior public servants had not followed the Financial Administration Act and the matter has been referred to the RCMP. Nowhere in that report does it refer to government wrongdoing or the government. I want to put that on the record.

I would also like to indicate that within the sponsorship program in the periods that we are talking of in the last year, of the 564 applications that were received from Quebec, 60% were approved. It had 60% of the applications and 50% of the money from that program. The reason is that Quebecers want the presence of Canada back in Quebec.

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the Canada-Ontario Great Lakes agreement was signed in 1994, Canada and Ontario were to share responsibility on the Canadian side to restore, protect and sustain the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, namely the Great Lakes Basin.

Working together the governments were first, to continue jointly to restore degraded areas as identified by the International Joint Commission. One must say that according to a 1999 progress report by Environment Canada, only 60% of the actions necessary to restore the areas of concern has been implemented.

Second, the governments were also to prevent and control pollution with an emphasis on the virtual elimination of persistent toxic substances and a significant reduction of other pollutants. The same 1999 Environment Canada progress report stated that considerable progress had been made in reducing toxins within the Great Lakes but the report did not quantify in percentage terms the achievements made.

Finally the governments were to conserve and protect human and ecosystem health, including people, wildlife, land, air and water. The same 1999 progress report stated:

Considerable advances have been made toward achieving targets related to the conservation of habitat, the protection of ecologically valuable lands, and the management of land and water.

However the specifics of the progress are vague and the report calls for the development of new policies and science.

In July 2000, the 1994 Canada-Ontario agreement lapsed. It is worth noting that a recent report by a non-government organization located in southwestern Ontario called Great Lakes United commented that “decisions are made without takinginto account the cumulative and long term impact” of industrial and agricultural activities on the Great Lakes Basin.

In view of the fact that the Canada-Ontario agreement is meant to tackle these problems, a new agreement is needed. After lengthy negotiations, the 2001 Canada-Ontario agreement was signed in March of this year, yet the details have not been made public.

Considering the importance of this freshwater ecosystem, can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment or her representative inform the public and the House as to: first the objectives and details of the new agreement; second, the allocation of funds from both the provincial and federal governments; third, whether we can expect the new agreement to continue to build upon the objectives of the 1994 agreement; and finally the duration of the new agreement?

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:50 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of the Environment and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, it gives me great pleasure to respond to the question from the distinguished member for Davenport.

I am pleased to report that today the Minister of the Environment along with the Ontario minister of environment and energy made an official announcement about the finalized Canada-Ontario agreement respecting the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The agreement was signed in March 2002.

During the period of negotiation on the agreement and through to its official announcement today, ongoing work on the Great Lakes has continued apace. The public has been aware that an agreement was to be announced shortly. In fact a draft of the COA was made available to the public for comment in the fall of 2001. The draft agreement has been available on Environment Canada's website since that time.

The delay in announcing the final COA was due to scheduling difficulties between the two governments but I can assure everyone that the implementation of this agreement is under way. The governments of Canada and Ontario share a common interest in rehabilitating, protecting and conserving the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

The 2002 Canada-Ontario agreement is a successful model of federal-provincial co-operation which recognizes the shared jurisdiction surrounding many of the issues faced within the Great Lakes basin. It establishes common goals and results. It co-ordinates actions to eliminate overlap and duplication and optimizes the use of resources for maximum results.

Previous Canada-Ontario agreements have enabled us to achieve significant progress toward our shared vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes basin for present and future generations. We have reduced the levels of many pollutants, improved water quality and restored species and their habitats.

The 2002 agreement will enable us to continue to make progress on priority issues. The agreement recognizes the need to continue to tackle the most pressing issue, the cleanup of the 16 remaining Canadian areas of concern, while also addressing broader issues such as binational management on a lake by lake basis and the reduction of harmful pollutants.

Signatories to the agreement are the federal ministers of agriculture and agri-food, the environment, fisheries and oceans, health, heritage, natural resources, public works and government services and transport and the provincial ministers of agriculture, food and rural affairs, the environment and natural resources.

At the outset of negotiating the Canada-Ontario agreement, the Government of Canada demonstrated its continuing commitment and leadership by announcing an additional $40 million specifically for the cleanup of areas of concern. At the conclusion of negotiations, Ontario announced $50 million for work on areas of concern and other Great Lakes management issues. While these resources are allowing us to accelerate actions, the governments of Canada and Ontario recognize that it is going to take considerable time, effort and resources to achieve the goal of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.

Both governments have made a commitment to undertake ongoing public consultations and report back regularly on both the state of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and the government progress on commitments under the COA. The efforts of the Government of Canada and Ontario alone cannot achieve the vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes basin. The engagement and efforts of all levels of government, the private sector, community groups and individuals are required.

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his immediate response and for being so efficient in making things happen on the same day that this matter would be raised in the House. If I understood him correctly, the federal contribution for cleanups will be $40 million and the Ontario contribution will be $15 million, for a total of $55 million.

Perhaps it would be appropriate at this stage for me to ask the parliamentary secretary whether he could indicate the duration of this agreement. Over what period of time is the allocation of funds to be distributed? Is it a one year agreement, a two year agreement or longer? Has there been any interruption in the implementation of this plan?

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not have the answers to those specific questions. I am sure the member will have an opportunity to speak to the minister directly or we can discuss it when we are finished here. I can tell him a little more about the agreements.

For the past 30 years Canada-Ontario agreements have guided Canada and Ontario in efforts to improve the environmental quality of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The 2002 agreement spells out exactly what the two governments plan to accomplish over the next five years.

Specifically, the government addresses the most pressing problems in the Great Lakes, including the cleanup of the remaining areas of concern; the implementation of a series of binational lake-wide management plans to address problems unique to each of the Great Lakes; the virtual elimination and significant reduction of harmful pollutants within the basin; and improvement in monitoring and information management.

I believe the 2002 agreement is the most comprehensive agreement to date. I am proud that Canada and Ontario have renewed their commitment to restore and protect the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, the Great Lakes basin.

Canadian FlagAdjournment Debate

6:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

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.

(The House adjourned at 6.58 p.m.)