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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was columbia.

Topics

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8 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Liberal Avalon, NL

When did you?

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8 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

I did not.

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8 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Liberal Avalon, NL

That is right, you did not. You admit it.

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8 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

I just did admit that I did not.

The reality is that the Prime Minister said that if British Columbians had a problem there was a minister. He was just elected in June and he told British Columbians not to worry because western alienation was a thing of the past. He said that the government has high profile ministers, like the Minister for Western Economic Diversification and the Minister of Industry, and ministers galore from British Columbia. However the Minister of Natural Resources sits here tonight and says that nobody called him.

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8 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Liberal Avalon, NL

I did not say nobody. I said you did not.

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8 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

I would suggest that rather than trying to point fingers at me and my colleagues from Cariboo—Prince George and Prince George—Peace River, he should be asking his colleague, the Minister of Industry, why he has not come up with a plan to address this.

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8:05 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Chair, I was delighted to hear both members from the opposition say that a dramatic temperature fall is the only way of actually eliminating this. They also both acknowledged that there has not been one for a number of years and not likely to be one. The same is true in my riding. We have not had 40° below for an extensive period in White Horse for some time. That is not the only area it is affecting.

In Yukon we have the spruce bark beetle, Dendroctonus rufipennis, if anyone wants to know the name. As the House knows, the Canadian Forest Service, just like this one, has been working on many of these forest pests for years.

The scientists have almost unanimously come out and said that we need to take steps toward climate change, which is causing these problems with the various species. For the member's constituency, which is very close to my area in the north where climate change is having more of an effect, will he help encourage his party to come on side on a number of the initiatives that we are taking, the $3 billion worth of initiatives, including signing Kyoto, to reduce the impacts of climate change?

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8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Chair, with all due respect, my colleague from Yukon might just lean a little bit ahead and enlighten the Minister of Natural Resources about this problem. I have a lot of respect for my colleague from Yukon. Despite our partisan political differences, we work cooperatively on a number of issues for our constituents and I look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with him in trying to educate his government about the need for assistance in addressing some of these key northern issues that we do face and, he is quite right, that we face in both our ridings.

As to his question about climate change, if he is waiting for me to convince my colleagues to come on board with Kyoto, he will have to wait a long time because we do not support Kyoto. However we have said that we can do much better than Kyoto and that we can address the very real problems with greenhouse gas emissions, with those gases that contribute to smog in our cities and a lot of the problems that we see with the environmental change that we are experiencing without buying into the Kyoto plan.

The Liberals have been attacking us tonight saying that we have no plan or, more important, typical of the federal government, directing its attack at a provincial government. It is not enough that the Liberals want to wage war against Newfoundland. Now they want to wage war against the B.C. provincial government too. I guess they never learned the lesson that history has taught us, which is that we do not win wars when warring on two fronts. They are going to fight with both coasts.

The reality is that there is a plan to address this. The provincial government, unlike what the Minister of Natural Resources has been saying, which is that he has been working diligently with the provincial government, and yet the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

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8:05 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Liberal Avalon, NL

Have you seen it?

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8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Chair, could you just get control of the Minister of Natural Resources because I am concerned that maybe he does not have as strong a heart as he thinks he does. I do not want to see him keel over here tonight because he is so worked up about this.

My colleague from Cariboo—Prince George, my colleague from Kamloops, and myself, who represent most of the northern half of British Columbia, have written letters to the ministers and indeed to that minister himself. We have risen on statements in the House and we have asked questions in question period. For the minister to suggest in one breath that somehow he is unaware of the problem and then in another breath say that he has been working diligently and has been beavering away with the provincial government trying to work out a solution, and yet turn around in the next breath and suggest there is no plan, it is very discouraging for British Columbia but it is also typical of the Liberal government.

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8:10 p.m.

Richmond B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan LiberalMinister of State (Multiculturalism)

Madam Chair, I am pleased to speak to the issue of the federal government's action plan with regard to the mountain pine beetle epidemic in western Canada. I believe this currently is one of the biggest challenges to the strength of the B.C. economy. It is for that reason that I was pleased to meet the Premier of British Columbia last week and to meet with the B.C. ministry of forests a few weeks before that.

It is sad for me to hear in the debate tonight that all the opposition is doing is trying to play politics on a very important issue that affects our province of British Columbia.

It is amazing. This issue has been dear to my heart, even before I was re-elected to the House of Commons. As a private citizen I was so concerned about this issue that I took the initiative to contact our colleagues in the government in B.C and to call the minister himself and meet with him. Before I became a member of Parliament I met many times with the minister to talk about this issue.

It is amazing that the opposition members, even though they know it is such an important issue and have been long time members of the House, have not initiated a call to the minister to deal with it. What is wrong with members of Parliament representing those ridings raising the issue with the minister in charge?

Instead they play politics. They just call the political minister in B.C. and say that they have done their job and that they have asked questions in the House. Instead of seriously asking for a meeting to debate the issue and perhaps come up with some proposals to the minister, they did not. They try to confuse the issue about this plan.

The government under the leadership of the Liberal Party has been on top of this issue since 2002. It has been in consultations with the provincial government and they have come up with a plan. We are working on it with a $40 million project to help alleviate the problem. They want to mix that up. If they are talking about this plan that we initiated back in 2002 or in the 1999 period, of course there is a plan.

However when we talk about a new plan, I met the premier last week. He has a plan for mitigation. He asked that we all work together to support the provincial government in finding new solutions. Maybe forest fires can come back again. There is a plan for that but there is not a plan to fight the pine beetle. Everybody knows that the way to fight the pine beetle is either to deforest them or we wait for the cold weather.

If the opposition member has a plan we would like to see it. He claims that the provincial government has come up with a plan and that we have ignored it. The allegation all night long has been that the provincial government has a plan that asks for our support and yet we have denied it the opportunity. That is not true.

They are playing politics. Ever since 2002 we have had a $40 million initiative to try to help with this issue. It was announced in October 2002 and a major program was designed to directly assist the efforts of private woodlot operators to work on beetle control and on post-beetle rehabilitation of their forest lands.

As I indicated, I am interested in drawing the attention of the House to the support of British Columbia's private land owners in this very important area.

In addition, the mountain pine beetle initiative provides assistance for beetle control and forest rehabilitation on first nations reserve forest lands, and in the federal parks along the western side of the Rocky Mountains and for major federal forest land holdings in central and southeastern British Columbia.

A second major focus of the initiative is to deliver the research required to ensure an effective response to this beetle epidemic. These research needs were identified through a series of regional forums with hundreds of B.C. land managers.

All the mountain pine beetle initiative programs are fully operational and a wide range of B.C. landowners and researchers have become involved and many of them in the ridings represented by the hon. member and his colleagues in and around the city of Prince George in B.C.'s central interior.

The Canadian Forest Service has located staff in Prince George and Kamloops to assist private forest landowners to develop proposals to identify forest beetle infestations, to take management steps to control the beetle and to subsequently reforest these lands.

The Canadian Forest Service has also stationed a research group with three scientists and technical support at the University of Northern British Columbia to work with university and provincial government researchers in providing a cohesive and targeted flow of information in meeting the challenges of this beetle epidemic.

In addition, UNBC and provincial government researchers in Prince George have been awarded almost $1 million in mountain pine beetle initiative funds.

These are responsible and laudable actions on behalf of the landowners.

This issue is of utmost importance to us in British Columbia. We will continue to work with the provincial government, the affected landowners and our minister to find long term solutions to this very unfortunate situation. But I think that just playing politics is not going to do the job.

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8:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Chair, if this were not such a serious matter I would be rolling on the floor laughing after listening to the member from Richmond, who I believe is a secretary of state. He said we have been talking about fighting the beetle, about having a war against the pine beetle to kill it. We have already admitted that there are only two ways to kill it. We either freeze it to death or burn it. That is the end of the story. There is research going on now to try to find other ways.

We have not even been talking about that tonight. We have been talking about mitigating the damage that the beetle has caused. In my question a couple of weeks ago, I said that the federal Liberals have been asked by the province to join the province in a 10 year major plan to mitigate the damage caused by the pine beetles.

Another question we talked about was mitigating the damage caused by the pine beetles. My colleague from Prince George—Peace River talked about it and I talked about it: mitigating the damage caused by the pine beetle.

The Liberals say there is not a plan. Now the members say they know about a major plan to mitigate the damage from the pine beetle. A major plan: that is what we have been talking about.

It is called a timber supply mitigation plan. The plan is a 10 year plan. They have asked this government. Members know it. The Minister of Natural Resources knows it. The Minister of Industry knows about this, the very plan the member just talked about, a 10 year plan: harvesting, economic activity and looking at new ways to expand the emerging forest industry into different areas. It is a 10 year plan.

This government is going to be awfully embarrassed because everything we say tonight is in Hansard . We have talked about the 10 year plan. My colleague from Prince George—Peace River talked about it. I have talked about it. The Liberals, up to this stage, have denied it. The date is going to be a matter of record. I would ask them to be very careful of what they say about not knowing about the plan of the Province of B.C. that has been presented to the federal government, because it does have it.

The hon. member just talked about knowing about a plan to mitigate the damage. That is the plan. It is a 10 year plan. It is some $800 million that the provincial government has asked the federal government to join in on. That is the plan.

They know they have it. That is what we are talking about tonight but the Liberals have not responded, the same way as they did not respond two years ago when the Minister of Forests from B.C. came to Ottawa with a five year plan, which was based on the assessments at that time, to help us out. I think it was $600 million over five years. That was the plan.

The federal government since then and to date has not responded to the province on the previous one. Now the estimates are far greater about the damage; the province has a 10 year plan. The Minister of Forests from B.C. was here two months ago. This minister knows it and perhaps the secretary of state knows it. The Minister of Industry certainly knows it and the Minister of Natural Resources certainly knows it and the Prime Minister of the country certainly knows that the plan was presented to the government two months ago.

They know it. It is not public, but they have it.

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8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Madam Chair, here we are again playing politics. If they are talking about the forest fire mitigation plan, yes, the premier was here last week and we met. There was a presentation to us to support the prevention of forest fires, to mitigate against the chance of having another big forest fire in B.C. The government is considering it, but this is a plan that the premier just brought to our attention last week or two weeks ago. It is not something that they are talking about.

When they talk about a plan for the pine beetle, we have been working very closely with the provincial government and the government is very happy with the efforts that we have come in with. The government is very happy with the $40 million that we put into the industry.

When those members talk about us making an enemy of the provincial government again, that is the wrong thing to be saying, I would say, at the very least, because we have never had such a good relationship with the provincial government before. We constantly meet with the premier. The Minister of Industry has a very close relationship with the premier. They met often to deal with a lot of the issues. Also, the federal government has never paid so much attention to B.C. issues, ever.

Let us talk about my riding. We were just provided with another $450 million for the RAV line. That is getting us ready for the winter Olympics in 2010, providing transportation from my beautiful riding of Richmond to downtown Vancouver and also providing a rapid transit system for the airport, which is so important for the economic development of B.C. Do members know why? Because we are the gateway to Asia-Pacific.

I hope the opposition will spend more time giving us more constructive proposals instead of just playing politics.

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8:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Chair, we have comments from the hon. member talking about people playing politics with this issue. It is not playing politics to show that very clearly funding is insufficient. It is not playing politics when we show that the devastation is increasing, not decreasing. The federal government has put very little into an industry that is worth $16 billion every year. We got $40 million, which is a pittance compared to the size of the crisis.

The federal government has put in very little. The provincial government, as the hon. member may know, has actually cut its reforestation budget from $82 million a year down to $3 million for this year. We are talking about actually having fewer resources for forestry as the crisis continues to grow, fewer resources than we had two or three years ago.

I would like to ask the hon. member how he can possibly reconcile cutbacks in funding through the provincial government for reforestation and the federal government putting in a pittance of $40 million for an industry that is worth $16 billion a year. How can he possibly reconcile that small amount of support given the size and the scope of this crisis?

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8:25 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Madam Chair, I appreciate the hon. member from the NDP having raised this issue. I am not talking about them playing politics. The hon. member shows genuine concern as we do, but we have to recognize that if we are talking about provincial cutbacks, it is a provincial matter. It is not an issue to be raised in this House.

At the same time, we have been consulting. When we provided that $40 million to the provincial government to deal with the pine beetle issue, we had good consultations not only with the provincial government but with the stakeholders of the land. They are very happy that the provincial government has come across.

The reason I am accusing the opposition members of playing politics is that they keep talking about a plan to stop the pine beetle issue, that the provincial government has come up with a plan for us but that we have refused to fund the plan. I would ask the hon. member that if he agrees there is a plan and if they are not playing politics, I would like him to enlighten me as to which plan they are talking about. We would be very glad to work constructively, if there was a plan drafted by the provincial government a year ago or two years ago. I would be very glad to help the provincial government, to advocate the government on behalf of the B.C. people.

Members keep on talking about a plan. The only plan I have seen so far is the forest fire mitigation proposal by the provincial government that was given to us a couple of weeks ago, but that was not to deal with the pine beetle. It is a reforestation effort to make sure that we have a carbon sink in B.C., in Canada, which is so important to the climate change issue.

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8:25 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson, BC

Madam Chair, there is great pessimism in British Columbia, a province that has always been optimistic and forward looking in Confederation.

In the last few years British Columbians have braved the softwood lumber debacle, devastating forest fires, the mad cow crisis, drought, depletion of the salmon stocks, and hits to the tourism industry because of the SARS crisis. Yet there is another crisis, one that has received little public attention outside of British Columbia and that threatens greater economic devastation than all those I just mentioned. It is the mountain pine beetle infestation crisis.

These tiny insects, no bigger than a grain of rice, are a weapon of mass destruction with 500 to 1,000 invading a single tree. Within a year the needles of the tree turn an orangey red and the tree dies, but not before playing host to the eggs left behind by these plundering insects.

This epidemic, and there is no other word to describe it, is the single greatest insect infestation in Canada's history. Let me give the House some idea of the magnitude of this crisis and the impact it is having and will have far into the future.

At this moment the mountain pine beetle invasion has destroyed, or is affecting and threatens to destroy, a total of 173.5 million cubic feet of timber over an area of nine million hectares. That is a land mass area equal to about three-quarters of the total land mass of Sweden. The timber infested or already destroyed has a market value of $18 billion.

It is not just the great stands of timber that have been devastated or that are threatened. We have to remember that in north central British Columbia more than 90,000 people are employed as a result of the forest industry; 90,000 individuals and the families that go with them.

Consider that and we begin to understand why there is such pessimism in British Columbia. In a province that has always prided itself on looking forward, there are thousands of people looking forward and despairing at what they see.

Some people might ask, what is the problem with a few worm holes in a few trees? The answer is a lot of our traditional export markets will not buy wood that has been infested by the mountain pine beetle. That is because the beetles carry a fungus from tree to tree. That fungus leaves a blue stain throughout the tree because it is carried by water moving through the sapwood. The beetle might die, but the fungus survives and migrates through the tree.

The Japanese refuse to buy this stained wood and the Japanese account for 10% of our total shipments. That would be $1.8 billion in lost sales right there, and that is the highest grade and the highest value of our total export shipments.

The other danger is the increased chance of forest fires. The lodgepole pine, which is B.C.'s single most predominant species, is being killed off by the pine beetle. Those dead trees become kindling in the forests for future devastating fires such as we saw in British Columbia and in my riding only two years ago. We have already seen first hand what scorched earth looks like and we do not want to see any more of that in B.C. and we pray it will not be seen anywhere else in Canada.

What is at risk should be noted as well. There is the disruption of a stable supply of adequate and affordable timber. That disruption will lead to higher prices for finished wood and that means higher prices for new homes and home renovations.

The viability of the forest industry is threatened as well because without stable supply, maintaining market share is compromised.

That takes us back to individuals and their families. Jobs are threatened and revenue in our communities and the provincial government will be substantially reduced. If 90,000 jobs are at risk, consider the enormous impact that will have in terms of income tax revenues federally and provincially.

If whole tracts of pine disappear, the environmental impact will be equally enormous. There is, of course, the increased threat of forest fires, but we have to consider the impact of terrain stability or increased chance of flooding and landslides.

Wildlife habitat will be threatened. Scientists say that water temperatures in our lakes, streams and rivers could change.

Other commercial resources under threat are wilderness tourism, hunting, fishing, commercial fishing and outdoor recreation, all of which bring revenue to British Columbia and create employment.

Our province has embraced the concept of a sustainable resource but that concept is under threat because of the mountain pine beetle. If there is no resource to harvest, there is no money to invest in sustaining the resource for the future. If we cannot earn a profit from a tree, where do we get the incentive or the money to replace that tree for future harvesters?

What is frustrating and angering British Columbians is the indifference of the Liberal government to this crisis, a crisis most believe was caused in the first place by the federal government.

Years ago the fir bark beetle began its invasion that started out from the Chilcotin military reserve at Riske Creek. Pine beetles are now spilling out of that same reserve into surrounding forests. The cause was the stressing of the trees by previous military activity on those reserve lands. The federal government refused to consider the removal of infected trees which might have slowed down or even halted the spread.

Parks Canada is to blame as well. It is known that the mountain pine beetle can be found in the national parks, but Parks Canada sees this as a natural species creating a natural disturbance. That is what Parks Canada spokesperson Pamela Wright told the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. She said:

Where a natural species is part of the natural disturbance regime occurring in a park, controlling that species would not necessarily be desirable. The natural disturbance regime is part of the process that drives the evolution and functioning of the park.

In other words, Parks Canada and the Liberal government will not clean up its own yard even if the mess creates a disaster for everyone in the neighbourhood.

For years now, my colleagues from all over British Columbia have been trying to convince the government that a natural disaster is occurring in British Columbia and the consequences will be enormously negative. All we have heard is platitudes such as pray for a cold snap, and we have yet to witness any action.

Ministers have gone so far as to say no requests have been made by the Government of British Columbia, and it was repeated again this evening. Would the Liberals have done anything if British Columbia had asked that the mountain pine beetles in the national parks be contained within park boundaries? No, because the Liberal government believes the pine beetle is a natural species doing what comes naturally, threatening to destroy a billion dollar industry.

Is it natural that 90,000 jobs are threatened? Is it natural that the families of 90,000 workers face a bleak and uncertain future? Is it the natural policy of the minority Liberals to let British Columbia slide into economic oblivion?

The time for platitudes and Liberal indifference is past. We are in the middle of a natural disaster in British Columbia that is greater than any ice storm, as disastrous as that was for Ontario. This is as great a natural disaster as the flooding in Quebec. This is as great a natural disaster as the flooding in Manitoba.

Why is it when British Columbia faces a disaster of unimaginable proportions the Liberals shake their heads, wring their hands, and offer platitudes and words of concern, but absolutely no action? Why can Liberals not acknowledge the contributions of British Columbians ever since Confederation in economic terms and respond to this crisis with cash and action?

The mountain pine beetle story is a story of federal incompetence and indifference. The Liberal government did not deal with the beetle infestation on federal park lands and as a result, billions of dollars of forest land outside those parks is under threat.

The time for Liberal hand wringing is past. The time for Liberal indifference to the crisis and excuses for inactivity is past. The time for Liberals ignoring a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions is past.

If the forestry industry in British Columbia is to be saved, it is time for the Liberal government to begin governing for all of Canada and to throw itself at this crisis with as much vigour as it throws at problems where it can harvest votes.

It is time the Liberal government demonstrated to British Colombians that it has the interest of all Canadians at heart and not just those who reward its arrogance and incompetence with votes at election time.

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8:35 p.m.

Avalon Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

R. John Efford LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on the first part of her speech. It was a good speech and her comments expressed the seriousness of the situation in British Columbia.

I have met with the minister on many occasions on this issue as well as with other officials in British Columbia. I have also met with the forestry association. I am very concerned. We want to work together. It is wrong for the member to say that I have not met with the minister.

I asked her colleagues if they had read the report and I will ask the hon. member the same question. I have met with the minister. I understand the seriousness of the situation. We are looking at a long term plan. The federal government has invested $40 million. Has the hon. member read the report? If so, can she tell me what is in it?

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8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry that my colleague only liked the first half. The first half was very factual. The second half was factual as well, but it was also emotional. The reason that it was emotional is that perhaps this particular member across the way has not had to deal with families who are so negatively affected by the forestry industry.

This has been an unmitigated disaster. These pine beetles are killable. There has to be a way in science to get rid of them. And please, never ever say to me again: pray for cold weather. I am so sick of hearing that. If that is the solution to this, then find a scientific way to make those trees think that it is below 40° Celsius. It has to happen. This has to stop immediately.

In terms of what reports I have and have not seen, I have probably read everything there is out there regarding this. When I do not read about it, unlike some people I actually form committees that run throughout my riding, committees of people who are actually directly affected by what is going on in the forest industry, and I take my advice from those people.

As to this report, it has been said I do not know how many times tonight, so there is no sense in my repeating the same old thing: it was presented to the government two months ago--

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8:35 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Liberal Avalon, NL

Have you read it?

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8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson, BC

Your hon. colleague over here just admitted that it was there. Your job is to read it, Mr. Minister. You are the member who is looking after natural resources. If you would like me to do your job, change seats.

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8:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member will have to address her remarks to the Chair. As a former chair occupant, she knows that.

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8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson, BC

I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. Let me say with all due respect that you taught me better than that. Occasionally emotion runs rampant and I forget and get involved with the member who is shouting back and forth at me.

Those are the best answers I can give on the question.

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8:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated much of the presentation by the hon. member from Kamloops. She mentioned, and I agree with her wholeheartedly, that she is sick and tired of people talking about praying for cold weather as if there is nothing we can do about this crisis that is devastating communities throughout British Columbia.

As the hon. member knows, our party is a very strong supporter of Kyoto. Climate change has a impact on what we have seen with the pine beetle infestation. My question to the hon. member is, why does her party not wholeheartedly support Kyoto and dealing with climate change so that issues like the pine beetle infestation can be dealt with effectively over time?

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8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson, BC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from my new colleague. As for Kyoto, if the member has had the opportunity to read the information that has been put forward, I believe he would find that Kyoto does not answer the questions he is asking. It does not address the issues that need to be addressed in the country. My party and I believe that we can do a better job than Kyoto.

We have a system under Kyoto where what will be done is what I call a shell game. Carbon credits will be traded, which will allow one country to continue to pollute the water or do whatever it wishes as long as it buys a carbon credit from another country.

I am sure if the member took at look at this whole situation and read everything there is to read, or if he were here for part of the discussions, he would also agree with me that we as a country can do better than that. We are very intelligent. We have all kinds of resources at our fingertips. We have people with experience. We have people who work in different industries who understand. We have unions that can give us better answers than Kyoto gives us.

Once you have had an opportunity to have a look at it, I would love to sit down with you. Mr. Speaker, I would love to sit down with you and the member can join us and we would have a really serious discussion about what Kyoto does and does not do.

When the member understands the parts about the carbon credits, I am pretty sure that he and I will be on the same page on this.

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8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Kamloops whose riding I know is dramatically affected by the mountain pine beetle. It is spreading. That is the direction of it. It is heading down through the Kamloops area into the Kootenay area,. It is just going to continue to worsen.

I am sure my colleague from Kamloops knows, as I do, that the 10 year pine beetle mitigation plan that was conceived and created by the provincial government has been presented to the federal government. I am sure she knows and I know she knows that it has been presented to the federal government. Those members are denying it tonight. There was a little slip-up earlier with the member for Richmond; it slipped out that the government knew about the plan, but quickly, realizing what he had said, he started talking about the forest fire mitigation plan.

Of course he knows that is not what we are talking about. We are not talking about forest fire mitigation. We are talking about the pine beetle. There was a little slip-up there. I am sure my colleague from Kamloops knows that the hon. Minister of Natural Resources knows about this 10 year plan too.

Does my colleague think that the reason why the government members are not admitting they have the plan is that they do not have their communications done yet? It is typical of this government that when they do announce they are going to participate they want to make sure that they are going to get their communications ducks all in a row before they make the announcement. Does she think that could be the reason? The Liberals never like to do anything unless there is a political plum in it for them. Would my colleague agree with that assessment?