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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

10 a.m.

Bourassa Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that Bill C-30, as amended, be concurred in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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10 a.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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10 a.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, May 3, 2004, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 10 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

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10 a.m.

The Speaker

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave now?

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10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10:05 a.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege today to speak at third reading of the bill that amends the Canada National Parks Act to withdraw lands from Riding Mountain National Park of Canada and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada for the purpose of Indian reserves.

The changes relating to the withdrawal of lands are for the purpose of alleviating serious problems of housing shortage on the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation. In the case of the Riding Mountain National Park, they will correct an error in the wording of the legal description of the ceded lands, in compliance with a specific land claim.

I want to reiterate that Bill C-28 will not create a precedent for other national parks. These are unique circumstances we must collectively consider.

When Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was created in 1970, it completely surrounded the seven-hectare parcel of land occupied by the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation since 1889. At the time, Esowista was changing from a seasonal fishing camp to a permanent residential community.

The Government of Canada recognized that a larger site would eventually be required to meet the needs of the Esowista community, and it committed to finding a long-term solution.

The removal of the 86.4 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will help address the acute overcrowding problem in the Esowista reserve, improve infrastructures to remedy sewage disposal and water quality concerns, and support the development of a model community that will exist in harmony with the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

This land represents less than 1% of the park’s total land base. Withdrawing this land from the territory now occupied by the park will only slightly impact the ecological integrity of the park and will allow us to meet the needs of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

In 1929, when Riding Mountain National Park was created, it took in most of Indian Reserve No. 61A. The Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation was relocated to another site outside the national park. In 1994, an agreement for the settlement of the specific land claim was signed between the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin and Canada and Reserve No. 61A was restored. In 2000, most of the lands in question were removed from the Riding Mountain site when the Canada National Parks Act was enacted.

However, because of a mistake made during the preparation of the official instrument removing the lands in question, a five-hectare tract of land was omitted and remained within the park's boundaries. Therefore, the Canada National Parks Act will be amended to restore Reserve No. 61A of the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation in its entirety, and to correct the mistake made at the time.

What about environmental considerations? Removing 86.4 hectares from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will not unduly detract from the objectives of ecological integrity for the park because the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has promised to cooperate with Parks Canada to ensure long-term protection for the natural and cultural resources of the lands in the park surrounding the Esowista reserve.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have committed to use the land in a way that would respect the ecological integrity of the park. Also, several measures will be taken to help promote the sustainable development of the park.

The management of the lands to be withdrawn from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will be based on the guidelines for model communities developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Parks Canada will review the master plan for the site and then submit it for approval to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Also, each individual project will be subject to an assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

To ensure proper protection to the lands adjacent to the park, a $2.5 million mitigation fund will be provided to Parks Canada by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

I should also point out that the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will not require additional funding for the Esowista expansion. It is expected that 160 housing units will be needed, 35 of them in the short term.

Concerning the five hectares to be withdrawn from Riding Mountain Park, this is a requirement from the 1994 specific land claim agreement. I can reassure Canadians that this amendment to the Canada National Parks Act has no environmental impact.

Consultations on these initiatives indicate wide public support. Several stakeholders have expressed their support for the withdrawal of land from Pacific Rim Park. Among these are the first nations involved, first nations provincial groups, local, regional and provincial levels of government, as well as non-government environmental organizations, for example, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

All parties concerned view Esowista as a unique situation, and they support the need to make sure that members of the community stay together, and to provide lands for residential and similar purposes. I thank them for their support.

One of the priorities in Parks Canada's recent ministerial plans has been to strengthen relations with native communities. Our accomplishments in Pacific Rim Park clearly demonstrate our commitment to them.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has taken significant strides in recent years to promote aboriginal initiatives, forging relationships and making significant efforts toward the meaningful involvement of aboriginal people in the cooperative management of the national park reserve. The results have been remarkable.

By way of illustration I would like to highlight a few of these accomplishments.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve worked with the Ucluelet First Nation to develop the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail inside the national park. Opened in 2003, this interpretive trail provides extensive on site interpretation of regional first nations' culture, history and language.

On June 23, 2004, the Ucluelet First Nation will again honour the opening of the trail by erecting the first totem pole to be carved and raised in traditional territory of this first nation in 104 years, a source of great pride for this first nation community.

This “welcoming” pole will greet Canadians and international visitors to the trail and to Ucluelet First Nation and Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory. It will symbolize the long history and continuing presence of first nations peoples in the region and in the national park in particular.

On the West Coast Trail unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Parks Canada funds an initiative called Quu'as West Coast Trail Society. A not-for-profit group, this society is a training and mentoring program for three first nations along the famous West Coast Trail, one of the world's great recreational hiking routes.

By engaging in the cooperative management of the west coast trail with Parks Canada, young first nations members are exposed to the full gamut of park management issues and training related to public safety, resource conservation, monitoring and public interpretation.

As a result of this program, first nations graduates have gone on to secure full-time employment with Parks Canada, other agencies and industry.

Strong community relations are the basis for a wide range of formal and informal agreements that can advance our common interests.

I am pleased that this transfer of park lands for the purpose of an Indian reserve will help meet the needs of treaty negotiations and will create a better working climate with native communities.

I would like to warmly salute the Government of British Columbia for its support of this initiative regarding the expansion of Esowista. This collaboration is key to the withdrawal of lands from Pacific Rim and their transfer to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for the needs of Indian reserves.

I urge all members of the House to join me in supporting Bill C-28.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, Esowista is in Pacific Rim National Park, which is in my riding. We certainly support the initiative. However the big disappointment is the fact that when the memorandum of understanding, which was worked out between the Tla-o-qui-aht Band and parks officials with a lot of hard work, was signed back in June, nobody bothered to inform the local MP, myself, or our party about this agreement being reached until on the eve of our last break when there was no time for our party to discuss this issue. I know the local band was really upset about this because now we are trying to get this bill through quickly on the eve of an election.

I want to ask the parliamentary secretary why his government does not see fit to involve the local MP, especially once an agreement is signed. Does he think this is a good way to establish a collaboration of doing what is right for Canadians and advancing good work that has been done by Parks Canada?

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As for consulting, I know that several attempts were made to meet with the opposition critic. The director of the Parks Canada Agency had also offered to meet him to discuss the project and give him some information. There might have been some shortcomings in that regard and we apologize for that.

However, this bill is in no way partisan. All this is done in order to solve a longstanding problem. Of course, it took a while for the whole consultation process with the communities to help us solve the problem. It was more a humanitarian and logic gesture that had to be made by the government in this regard.

As for the surrounding communities, everybody agreed. There is no land taken away from those people. Nobody lost anything. We are giving part of the park back to an Indian community who is suffering from a major demographic problem, in order to help that community expand a little.

I was listening to my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot yesterday when he was talking about the housing problem in the aboriginal communities. This is a good example. This bill will help them go forward with the construction of new housing units. It will also allow an aboriginal community to enjoy a better quality of life.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, things seem to change very rapidly in the House and this being a Friday it is expected that things get juggled around. However I was a little disappointed with Bill C-30, which was listed first and dealt with the budget, because I wanted to address the concerns of some people in Saskatchewan who were hurt by an audit that took place on amateur sports and which was not addressed in the budget. I brought this matter to the House two years ago and nothing has been done since then.

Even though this will probably be my last day in the House and last activity, I will not be done with that infraction against the province of Saskatchewan. I will have to take that up in public life.

When I first looked at Bill C-28 I could see nothing wrong with it. I could see that the bill, as it was presented to me, was to take some land from a park and add it to a reserve, mainly on the west side of Vancouver Island, to provide for additional housing and the growth of that particular community. That in itself I do not think any Canadian would deny.

The bill also deals with the Riding Mountain National Park in the province of Manitoba. There was an error there but I think that can be corrected. I do not think we will find any opposition to that.

When I look at the map of this area I see a number of little pieces of land which are listed as being Indian reserve land, IR, but nobody lives on them. They are not a place to live, even though they are on reserve, but what the bill would do for these 10 reserves is to provide that these people have additional land, as my hon. colleague mentioned, for the building of houses and so on.

What bothers me about this is that we have not heard anyone in the House talk about it. However I have not had this assignment long enough to know if indeed there has been any other action or opposition to the bill. I have never had the opportunity, and maybe that is my fault, to know if any environmental groups are opposed to it. I have not had the opportunity to know if all the other politically elected people, including in the province of British Columbia and the local municipal people, are totally in agreement with it.

One of the problems we have with the bill is that we are being asked to support the bill on the eve of an election and yet I, for instance, do not have all the information that I would like to have. I understand that access to the ocean and the beach will remain public but that point is one of the points that is under the memorandum of understanding and a memorandum of understanding is not a legal document. It can be cancelled at the snap of a finger. That causes me concern because, not only does that national park belong to the first nations who live there, but it belongs to everybody. Therefore, a memorandum of understanding, in my opinion, is not sufficient.

I do know that the Canadian Parks, the Wilderness Society and other groups have supported this but the Province of British Columbia has interest in the lands and I do not know for sure if it has totally given us the green light to go ahead with it. It concerns me a great deal when a piece of property within the province of British Columbia does not have the total okay of the provincial government. I think we should stop for a moment.

For instance, I know a family who lives just miles away from the Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan. If there were to be a change or alteration, that would affect them a great deal.

Therefore, the first people who would be affected and consulted would be the RMs of Mankota and Glen McPherson, and then it would go on to affect the provincial government. I cannot find if it has the total consent of the province of British Columbia. That concerns me.

Second, there are also concerns with the land use agreement. To bring the land use agreement up at the eleventh hour, which we are in now, bothers me a great deal. We have only heard from the groups supporting the agreement. We have not heard from any groups who are opposed.

If there are no groups who are opposed, that would be great. However, I have been around this place long enough to know that there is always someone opposed and always someone from which the committee and the House should hear. from. We have not done that and that makes me walk very gingerly on this bill. We have not heard from those who are in opposition. I have not and I understand that others have not.

I hope, hidden in this beautiful piece of legislation about a beautiful part of Canada, with a great idea for expansion for native housing, that I do not pick up the paper five years from now or even two years from now and see that the bill had a bit of a cynical trick to it. I have concerns that this bill is coming before the House at the eleventh hour.

On its own, I can assure the House that I would have no reason to object to this, nor would my party. However, the procedure is questionable and I worry about that.

This could be one of my last speeches in the House and I would not want to dare say that I suspect there is something wrong on the other side. Do not clap yet, because I will come back, even as a ghost, to haunt the House if this changes. I will be like MacArthur. I will be back because the bill is too important.

The bill will go through the Senate. Knowing what the Senate did with Bill C-250, I do not trust it either.

In a report of the Auditor General it states, “To promote accountability for implementation measures, we support the annual reporting of treaties and land claims consistent with the recommendations of chapter 9”.

The bill does not do that and therein lies my concerns. Does the bill have to pass right now? Is it really necessary for the next election? I cannot see any reason. I do not know any reason why I should not support it, but we have some very deep concerns.

On comes the bill with very little discussion. I have not been assigned to this long enough to even know if it has been discussed in committee, let alone having the opportunity to invite people so we could have this discussion in committee. We have not had that.

In conclusion, I hope, as I have said, that I do not have to come back here, even as a member to appear before the committee. I hope the government does not deceive me, or the House or my party, on any of the things I have mentioned, including taking away access to the beaches. If that portion of a beautiful national park is destroyed, all on the basis of a memorandum of understanding, that is not good enough for me, and I do not believe it is good enough for the people of British Columbia or the people of Canada.

Is it possible to hold the bill for a short time until it goes through the legal process?

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I simply want to reassure my colleague that, indeed, the government of British Columbia has been consulted, since it even signed the agreement. It is a major partner.

I also told you earlier that we have already met all the major groups that we would have probably invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Parks Canada has discussed with them, as well as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, federal and provincial governments, regional and district administrations, as well as all provincial groups of first nations members. They were all involved in this negotiation or consultation process.

We must always keep in mind that this is a national park and that the reserve is in the national park. Thus, this is only a transfer of lands from the national park to the Indian reserve that is also in this national park.

We are not taking anything from outside the park. We are not getting anything from anybody. We are simply allowing an aboriginal community to get back some quality of life and to improve its living conditions.

I simply want to reassure the member that, indeed, all these people have been met. They unanimously endorsed this project. The government of British Columbia also endorsed it.

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10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for responding to what I had to say. The fact is environmental groups such as Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, et cetera appeared before the committee. I do not know what their purpose was in doing that.

According to the information I have, the province of British Columbia holds some interests in the lands proposed for the expansion. Senior members have agreed to deal with this issue as the project moves forward. My understanding is the British Columbia government signed a memorandum of understanding. I do not think that signature is a rubber stamp that says everything is all well.

I want to make my last plea to the member opposite. Why do we not let this take its proper course and see an invitation go out to anyone who could be opposed to the bill so we can hear from them? Then when the bill is passed, we can say that we have covered all the bases. However, we cannot do that right now because of time. Therein is the problem. It is the eleventh hour rush.

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10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, because auspicious occasions come and go here sometimes without acknowledgement, I would like to go on the record to compliment my colleague and thank him. He has been a mentor. He has been an encourager and good guide to a lot of us who came here in 2000 and those who came earlier. We really appreciate that.

As this may well be the last chance that he has, I think it would be only fair to point out that, as opposed to some who go off quietly into that good night, this gentlemen is working right until he hits the end of his career here. He is working with enthusiasm and spirit, as he always has, on issues affecting not only his constituents, but affecting people nationally. In particular, I have been impressed with his sincere concern for veterans and for widows of veterans. The work he has done on that issue is just exemplary. The people of southeastern Saskatchewan have been served tremendously well by this gentleman.

Is his concern for the national parks based on the fact that he and Mrs. Bailey will be spending an inordinately large amount of time in them over the next few months and years?