Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to speak to Bill C-7, an act to amend the Department of Canadian Heritage Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act and to make related amendments to other Acts.
In other words, it means that from now on Canadian parks will come under the Department of the Environment. Our parks have been neglected and abandoned for too long. Human and financial resources are insufficient. The Government of Canada has now decided to bring national parks back into the Department of the Environment.
I will say right away that we support the bill in principle, but that we have some concerns. Usually when a piece of legislation like this one brings about such an important change, one would expect improvements. One would expect the Canadian government to take advantage of this opportunity and give more resources, directly and indirectly, to national parks. However, it did not.
I have visited many national parks across Canada and have noticed that they were always short of resources, be it at the reception desk or the information booth. Often when one is looking for more information than what is available in the parks, one is given literature which is three or four years old and has not been updated for a while. This is the way visitors to our national parks are welcomed. I would have hoped that these flaws would have been corrected, but they have not.
As I said two weeks ago, it looks like only names are being changed under the present government. Two weeks ago I made a speech saying that the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec would now come under a different department and I did not see that as an improvement. Again today we see that moving Parks Canada to the Department of the Environment adds nothing more.
We must still keep one thing in mind. I hope that the minister who will eventually deal with the management of the national parks will not be tempted, as was the former heritage minister, Ms. Sheila Copps, to make petty politics. We were at the point, with the former prime minister, Mr. Jean Chrétien, where parks were named not for people who had made history, but instead for people who had dealings with the Liberal Party of Canada. Liberals even wanted to change the name of an important mountain, which raised considerable uproar in English Canada. This shows once again how much the federal Liberal government respects traditions in the history of our national parks.
I am still concerned that the minister responsible for the Department of the Environment is also tempted to use the national parks in Canada as an instrument of propaganda. I hope that the Minister of the Environment will want to show that he is responsible, and not do what he did earlier in oral question period, when he raised both arms in the air to try to get some applause. I can tell you that he could have gestured all he wanted in the House of Commons, there would not be many members of the Bloc Québécois who would applaud him.
I hope that the Minister of the Environment will take the time to see what is involved in the national parks, namely wildlife, trees, in fact, all ecological issues.
A major survey published recently in La Presse showed clearly that the environment had become the public's main choice. When we see today that the responsibility for national parks in Canada is being transferred to the Department of the Environment, we want a change in the way management is perceived and, mostly, respect for wildlife, birds and everything that we find in the parks.
Nowadays, the future is of great concern to the young people of Quebec and Canada, who are also concerned about the environment. Often, we hear people go on at great length about globalization in terms of millions and billions of dollars. But when we listen to our young people, we learn that they are concerned about having safe drinking water for years to come, about being able to breathe fresh air and particularly to eat good fruit and vegetables grown in the ground. These are important issues, and our young people are showing great interest in them. Just think of the number of young people registering at events relating to the environment. They are there to support these events promoting a stable and sustainable environment.
I hope that, when the current Minister of the Environment has been handed over the responsibility for the management and maintenance of Canada's national parks, he will pay attention and be very sensitive to these important issues for the 21st century. The idea is to stop playing petty politics and, instead, develop a policy for the environment and sustainable development.
Five years ago, there was not much talk about sustainable development, but now everyone talks about it, and not necessarily only on Sunday night. Everyone talks about it anytime, anywhere, on a regular basis, when we meet with young people.
This is why I caution the Minister of the Environment that he must be sensitive to the expectations of our young people, because they will remember when there is an election.
I said at the beginning that I wished significant changes had been made to Bill C-7 concerning the management of Canada's national parks. All we are hearing about today is changing responsibility, department and minister.
I hope that the federal Liberals in this House will finally grasp the important issues relating to the environment, namely the Kyoto protocol, and having a policy that is fair to Quebec, and not profitable for the great petrochemical polluters in western Canada.
As we know, there are many national parks in western Canada, and these parks are often affected by this dust and pollution from the big oil companies. I hope that the Minister of the Environment will be sensitive to the maintenance of these national parks.
We support the bill in principle, but have great reservations about who will be entrusted with the responsibility of administering Canada's national parks and ensuring they are the big winners, in the coming years, in terms of both conservation and sustainable development.