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House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Message from the Senate

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing the House that the Senate has passed certain bills.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 6:56 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck,

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act--Chapter No. 18; Bill C-20, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts--Chapter 19; Bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act--Chapter 20; Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences--Chapter 21; Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004--Chapter 22; and Bill C-9, an act to amend the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs (The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa)--Chapter 23.

I also have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 13, 2004

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of May, 2004 at 9:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act--Chapter 24.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-34, an act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Liberalfor the Minister of the Environment

moved that the bill be concurred in and read the second time.

(Motion agreed to)

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

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

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

David Pratt Liberalfor the Minister of the Environment

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

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Beauharnois—Salaberry Québec

Liberal

Serge Marcil LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address today a silent catastrophe that has been occurring along the Atlantic coast every winter. Bird watchers and people who enjoy walking along our beaches can tell you about this silent catastrophe. I am talking about the fact that 300,000 seabirds and maybe even more die every winter because some ships discharge their oily waste into the ocean.

No, they are not allowed to do so. Yes, there are laws against this. Because it is both easier and quicker to dump this waste illegally rather than dispose of it legally, the ships are willing to take the risk of getting caught and paying a fine which is not high enough. They know that the law is not enforced as stringently as it could be.

What exactly are they dumping in the ocean? Every ship produces oily waste. The waste accumulates in the bilges or the engine rooms and then is discharged into the ocean. Were you to take a sample of that water, you would notice that it always has oil on the surface. The ships should separate the oil from the water using special separators. It can be done through a special process that takes a little time. However, if time is short and the ship is travelling fast, the crew might decide it was easier to just discharge the waste into the ocean. It is done at night, of course, in dense fog and bad weather.

We would provide the necessary incentive for doing the right thing.

People who frequent our beaches will tell you—and we have videos showing this very thing—that huge numbers of birds are washed up on shore, already dead or struggling to survive.

As an example: a litre of oil may seem a very small amount, especially if dispersed over a large ocean surface. Obviously, a litre in the Atlantic is very little, microscopic even. But a tiny drop the size of a quarter is enough to kill a bird, just as a pinhole in the suit of a diver would kill him. Petroleum products destroy the bird's natural defences.

The cold winter waters of the Atlantic penetrate at the spot affected by the oil, and so the bird is no longer able to maintain its temperature, and dies of the cold. This is not something that happens just over one winter; the same thing happens year after year.

On Sunday mornings, volunteers walk the beaches of Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and they frequently pick up as many as 15 birds.

People living along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes are also familiar with this problem. Some birds hang on for days, because, rather than dying from the cold, they starve to death because they are unable to move around.

The waters off Atlantic Canada, where the problem is more serious, are an important crossroads for seabirds. They teem with life that supports tens of millions of birds. Other species stop in this area as well during migration.

These include murres, puffins, dovekies and various species of gulls: herring gulls, great black-backed gulls, as well as black guillemots, common eiders, Atlantic puffins, Northern gannets, oldsquaws, common loons, red-throated loons, double-crested cormorants and black-legged kittiwakes.

People generally do not have an opportunity to come in contact with such a proliferation of species, particularly city-dwellers.

There are also South Atlantic albatrosses. I would invite everyone to visit Canada's east coast, be it the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Magdalen Islands, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. They will be able to see for themselves what absolutely extraordinary things abound in nature.

Also affected are the phalaropes, several species of gull, eiders and eastern harlequin ducks, all categorized as of special concern in the endangered species classification.

Our scientists now know that 80% of dead birds found on Newfoundland beaches alone died from chronic oil pollution.

So much damage is done to so many wild species. What a tragedy that could have been avoided.

The bill before us will deal with this problem by increasing fines under the Migratory Birds Convention Act to as much as $1 million for people ignoring our environmental laws and discharging oil waste at sea.

It will hold these seamen and these operators, as well as their directors, responsible for their acts and will help to harmonize our approach with that of the United States, where fines have always been higher.

This act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 will also provide clarity for law enforcers as well as ship owners and operators in waters under Canadian jurisdiction, including the 200 mile exclusive economic zone.

We can say, at this time, that none of the species that I talked about today is endangered. This is good news. However, with such a high mortality rate, how long do you think that we will be able to prevent their names from being added to the list of species at risk?

Our own scientists say that it is clear that death from fuelling at sea can seriously reduce the abundance and growth of populations of sea bird species that have a long lifespan, particularly when mortality rates are sustained, adults are affected or species having small populations are suffering the consequences of fuelling at sea.

Do we want to be the ones responsible for some of these species being put on the endangered list? I think no one in this House wants that when we could have acted, and done something very simple that would have quite an impact.

The bill before us will send a very clear message. It will tell those in the shipping industry who do not care about the species with which they share the ocean that their actions are repugnant to us and that we are going to go after them with the full force of the law.

There are some in the shipping industry who find it deplorable that the Government of Canada makes laws to punish people for polluting, treating them like criminals in the sense that they could be held personally liable in a court of law.

Let me point out that it is people who pollute, not ships. Marine pollution should not be treated like a parking violation. It only makes sense that Canada demand that sailors and vessels' operators abide by the exemplary practices of their own industry and by the laws of our country.

It will tell people in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia and other coastal provinces that we too care about the marine wildlife that makes us unique and enriches us. Also, it will tell Canadians that our environmental laws are consistent with their vision of preserving and protecting.

Such are the messages we can send by adopting the bill before us, a measure that will make a difference as early as the winter of 2005, when we are in a better position to detect offenders, charge those we catch, and deter others by imposing hefty fines that will eliminate oil dumping as a cost of being in business. Those are the messages we want to send.

Not all shipping lines, ship owners and ships break the law. Most ports have equipment to pump out oil waste. Most responsible shipping lines use this equipment. Those that do not may be considered sea vagrants. They dump their waste at night or when they have left our country. Obviously, when this happens in the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, or the seaway, it is easier to deal with them, because they are still in Canadian territorial waters. We can force them to comply because we can board the vessels.

It is very often when they leave the St. Lawrence seaway and our coastal waters, in our 200 mile economic zone, that these tramps dump their oil waste at sea. The whole environment is affected.

In parliamentary committee, we were asked why we are introducing this bill now and why we did not do it earlier. As concerns the 1994 and 1999 legislation, you know that when Parliament passes legislation, it takes a while before it is implemented. The delay can be lengthy. Later on, when we assess these new statutes, we often find out there are shortcomings that make it impossible for us to deal with the issues in the way it was envisioned when the bill was passed.

Whether it is the Environment Act 1997 or other legislation, obviously, while members of Parliament are considering a bill, the public service is drafting it based on cases and facts. They bring it to us and we study it in the House and in parliamentary committee. We pass it in the House, with some amendments. It is sent to the Senate, which does the same thing. The senators consult people, rework the bill, pass it and send it back here to the House for a final reading before it is passed. Some people think that once it is passed, the bill becomes an infallible law.

In the present situation, there have been some rather important cases, particularly the Tecam Sea and the Olga . These two cases led us to discover the loopholes in our law. We realized that, even with the evidence we had for prosecuting them, we were not certain that we would be able to finish the job and punish them by fines or seizure of the vessels, and so forth. We had to let the charges drop.

In the past year, people have had to work on drafting a new bill that would arm us with tougher measures for those who break our laws, so that we could really intervene and set an example.

The bill before us is intended to amend the 1994 and 1999 statutes. Based on our experience in enforcing these two laws, we have drafted a bill that makes it possible for us to intervene with some real muscle, to ensure that we are able to punish these seafaring vagabonds, these people who take advantage of bad weather, storms and fog to flout our laws and dump their oily waste in our waters.

There have been many consultations. Some people say that we should have heard from witnesses in a parliamentary committee. Obviously, the basic work was done in consultation with the provinces and environmental groups, at the request of certain groups.

I shall simply give the example of the Shipping Federation of Canada, established by an act of Parliament in 1903, which represents ships involved in Canada's overseas trade, their owners and operators and their agents. The federation, representing 90% of the traffic in and out of Canada's eastern ports, from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes, encourages and promotes an environmentally responsible transportation system and supports initiatives to sanction operators that do not respect environmental standards.

In other words, when things are done the right way, any economic environment may be involved. People want standards that are clear and well defined for everyone. People who want to do things right do so in a positive environment. There are offenders, of course, because there always be people who will want to circumvent the laws.

However, our laws must be rigorous enough to allow us to intervene and sanction the guilty.

Also, like the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Canadian Nature Federation is doing its part by supporting the bill. These organizations applaud the efforts of the Government of Canada, which wants to protect nature and our species by passing this bill.

In closing, I would like to invite all parliamentarians to support this bill. They have already done so at first reading, as well as at the committee stage. Of course, one may question at times the rapidity of the process. However, I believe this is an emergency. We had already passed the legislation twice, in 1994 and 1999, and we really had to intervene. We know also that implementing this legislation will take time. Consequently, I invite all the members of Parliament to support this bill.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech with great interest. As he says, the bill is good on the whole. The member for Davenport, who devoted a major part of his political career to the environmental issue, must be very happy with the bill's contents. I certainly hope so.

However, the member was wondering why we are suddenly tabling this bill at this time. Let me ask him a question. Is it not the forthcoming election that spurred the government into acting so quickly? A few months ago, a $120,000 fine was imposed on Canada Steamship Lines because that company discharged its ballast water offshore near Newfoundland. So, in a way, the Prime Minister was caught in the act because one of the companies of which he was still the president did something reprehensible.

Is that why the government brought to a halt the hearing of witnesses at the committee? Some people wanted to come forward, the Shipping Federation of Canada for example, the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council, Ducks Unlimited Canada and other groups. We could have consulted in order to prepare better legislation. Let me give you one example: clause 9 does not provide for a minimum fine. It sets a maximum fine. Surely, it would have been appropriate to send a message to users and stakeholders in the shipping industry that there will be a high minimum fine and that the decision will not be left to judges.

Are we not being presented with a bill which is well-intentioned and good overall but which, for lack of sufficient consultation, will not be as tough as we wanted because it was submitted at the last minute, just before the election writ is dropped?

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank my hon. colleague. Of course, the election is on everybody's mind. I do not believe that a bill such as this one would get us more votes. It does not have anything to do with the election. It is not a commitment that was part of the agenda of the Liberal Party of Canada. In fact, its only purpose is to strengthen two pieces of legislation lacking the muscle to permit the government to properly prosecute the offenders in the shipping industry.

What the hon. member has said about the Canada Steamship Lines shows that the legislation applies to everybody. Nobody is above the law. Therefore, that company was punished and paid the fine.

However, other companies, many of them from abroad, commit offences, and we do not always have the tools required to prosecute them.

So, I agree, several groups have approved this bill. In fact, we have received a lot of letters at the Department of the Environment urging the government to act more quickly and pass this bill as soon as possible. We are correcting a situation and legislation that does not give us the tools we need. I think it is never too late to do the right thing. In this case, the time has come to ensure that everyone abides by the law.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is one big problem and I think the member across realizes it. When the officials were asked whether they consulted with people and industry, basically their answer was no. They did not consult because they knew this was the right thing to do.

We of course support this bill, but our job is to do due diligence. Our job is to consult with people about the issue and to ensure we have not missed anything. To ram this thing through in the last week is unconscionable. Those birds have been dying for tens of years on those coasts. There are reports of 500,000 in some years. This has been national news for 30 years. All of a sudden the Liberals have realized this and want to ram it through without consulting to ensure they get it right. I cannot accept that.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can understand my hon. colleague's reaction, but to say that this has been going on for 30 years and that all of a sudden we are taking action is wrong. It is wrong to make such a statement in this House.

Legislation was put in place in 1994, and again in 1999. That was just five years ago. Recently, we passed legislation respecting species at risk, in force as of April 1, 2004.

So, to say that it took the government a long time to react, that this has been going on for years and that, all of the sudden, the government realized it and figured it had to legislate is wrong. I am sorry but legislation already existed. We had already identified the problem. We had passed legislation in this House in 1994 and again in 1999, just five years ago.

In spite of this legislation, it now turns out that we had to drop our lawsuits and the cases we had built, because there are holes in these laws. Therefore, we are correcting and amending them to strengthen our response in this respect.

We could take my hon. colleague's argument and ask, “Why do it right away? You could have waited. Hundreds of thousands of birds have died already”. Are we going to wait another year and let another 300,000 birds die? That is the question we have to ask ourselves.

Once we realize there is a problem, and have proof of its existence, and see that species at risk are dying off and that the legislation passed previously did not have enough teeth, it seems to me that we have a duty, as a responsible government, to act. We must not wait, come back in six or seven months and let more birds die in the meantime.

This bill is appropriate. For the past 12 months, officials have been working on finding a way to tighten enforcement. That is how we have come to this point, and today is the day. I am proud to see that my hon. colleague supports this bill.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me tell members that about two and a half years ago we recognized that the legislation simply was not working. We put forward legislation and in our platform we talked about these oil spills and what should be done.

All of a sudden, it is amazing that the government has realized that this in fact is an issue, particularly on our west coast and in the Atlantic provinces. For the Liberals to say that they just could not get this forward any sooner is really a pretty strange thing for the parliamentary secretary to say.

Let us talk about the truth of what will happen here. The bill was brought forward last week. It went to committee and of course we had no time for witnesses, we had no time for expert opinion, and we had no time to get into the issue, but obviously we support it.

It is a great piece of legislation. It needed a few amendments. It needed the consultation to be sure we had not missed anything, but this is our legislation. This is what we would have done, I hope, very quickly upon forming government.

However, the Liberals brought it forward last week thinking they would have the opposition opposing the bill and then they could blame us for defeating the bill, because after all, the opposition would not give it consent. We called the government on it. We have given consent for the bill, but what have the Liberals done?

Let me tell the House and the audience watching that they brought the bill forward through report stage and we agreed to it. The bill then went through third reading, which we agreed to. But the Liberal senators have left town; they have gone. They are not here. They are not sitting until the 25th of May.

If the Prime Minister had to make a decision between having corn flakes and corn flakes in the morning, I doubt he could make it. He would probably have to set up a committee to find out whether or not he should have corn flakes. That is about the same with the bill. Maybe he will not call an election. However, if he does call an election, the bill will never see the light of day.

The government has lost its trump card. It cannot go to Newfoundland and Labrador or British Columbia and say that the rotten opposition defeated it. It will have to say the rotten Liberals defeated it because of poor planning and because they did not bring this forward 10 and a half years ago when they should have. They are really to blame.

The bill is all about politics. The Liberals have no intention of bringing it about. We can ask, is it because of CSL or because of who knows what? However, they will not make it law because the Senate is not here. Who shut down the Senate last night? The Liberals did. Who is to blame for this not becoming law? The Liberals are to blame.

They better believe that in those constituencies where this matters, where those hundreds of thousands of dead birds are, we know who will wear this one.

This great speech we just heard about how the Liberals care about these birds and the extinction of birds and so on is a phony argument. They had no intention of making this law happen or they would have at least informed their senators. It is all about politics. More birds will die because these guys could not get their act together and do something about it.

What should have happened? What is more interesting is what should have happened. How should a competent government have handled an issue like this? A competent government would have set it up years ago.

In question period two and a half years ago I asked the minister, why do we not make fines the same as in the U.S? We heard the parliamentary secretary say that it was a good idea. Why was it not a good idea two and a half years ago? Obviously, if fines are so low and we are dumping bilge oil, we will dump it into the ocean because it is cheaper--and we will probably not get caught--than it is to take it somewhere to be recycled.

The reason bilge oil is not dumped in U.S. waters is that the minimum fine is a million bucks. The minimum fine in Canada is a few thousand dollars, so obviously the shipowners will take their chances. I understand that it costs close to $30,000 to re-treat that oil.

What happens when a ship is caught? We could list the names of ships that have been caught and given fines of $20,000 or $30,000. The biggest fine was $120,000 for the Olga . What happened to the Olga ? The crew members were arrested but they were sent home and did not pay their fine. Their ship was let go because the fine was $130,000 and the handlers declared bankruptcy. The fine was never paid and it never will be paid. What kind of a deterrent is that?

We have had one aircraft patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. That really will catch an awful lot of ships on a big ocean like that.

The government is not serious about going after this issue. It it had been, it would have made the fines the same as in the U.S., which is $1 million. If it had done that, the CSLs of this world would not have be dumping their oil out there and getting caught occasionally.

We have another ship where justice cannot decide what to do. Transport Canada says that it should be involved but Environment Canada says that it should be involved. They are so busy fighting the turf wars within the government that the damn ship sails away and no fine is paid. It is incompetence.

After that happens over and over again, one would think that maybe we need to toughen the legislation, which is what we are attempting to do today, but it is too late. The Senate is gone. It is interesting to listen to government members stand , all righteous, and say that they will fix the problem.

What kind of questions should be asked? The member across said that he has been getting letters. I have been getting letters, too. I have been getting faxes and emails. I hear from those who are saying that we have to do everything possible to get this through. However I hear others who are saying they want a chance to be heard as well.

I have heard from one lawyer who says that this bill now contravenes international conventions that were signed by the Canadian government. The letter goes on to say “ it is our firmly held view that the Canadian Shipping Act, which incorporates into Canadian law”, and it goes on to describe this, “that now this bill will break that law”. That is why we have hearings. We would have called experts and found out that it contravened international agreements that we have signed. Maybe in the Liberals' way of thinking, they do not have hearings because why would they listen to professional facts.

What should have happened? We should have asked questions. We should have done our due diligence. We should have had time to do this. We should have done it 10½ years ago when a lot of us came here. Shortly after that, we should have fixed this. It has been an obvious problem.

One of the questions I would have asked if I had the opportunity would have been: How does it affect the cruise ship industry, which is a huge industry in British Columbia and on the Atlantic? They also put stuff into the ocean. They recycle it. What are the restrictions? How does it affect them? We should ask them, I would think.

We should ask people in the shipping industry how it affects them? They have sent a lot of material about how it affects them and their concerns.

How does it affect the recreational fishermen? How does it affect the whale watching industry? We need to ask those questions.

We need to protect the birds but we need to ask questions of people who use those oceans. We need to ask about the city of Victoria dumping raw sewage into the ocean. We need to ask whether under this bill they could be charged and fined $1 million for hurting birds.

We need to analyze that sewage. We need to know if it contains toxins that will affect birds. Does it have hormones that will affect birds? Should the cities of Victoria or Halifax, the places that dump raw sewage, not have a chance to say that they need money for infrastructure because the House will pass a bill that will affect every one of their taxpaying citizens? The bill says that.

When I was visiting Governor Locke in Washington State we talked about the Sumas project. Governor Locke said that if I wanted to talk about the air in the Fraser Valley he would take me to the Seattle harbour and show me the sewage and tell me where the sewage came from. He said that It came from Victoria. He said that I should not talk to him about the air if I did not want him to talk about the sewage.

How can we have a modern country releasing raw sewage into the ocean? This sewage contains toxins, hormones and all kinds of things. A duck eating a condom, which is what I saw in the Seattle harbour, is probably not very healthy.

The legislation gave us no time to ask those questions. It is the government's incompetence that this legislation was not brought forward two and a half years ago when I started asking questions about it. I wrote to the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Justice. I wrote and spoke to the Minister of the Environment. It is not that they did not know. They knew but they did not do anything until this very last moment. Am I ticked? Believe it, I am.

We do not know what is missing from the bill. We need to know if RADARSAT will be funded. We need to catch these guys and hold their ships if we are going to fine them $1 million, because they will take off.

What about the shipowners? The bill states that we will arrest the owners of the ships. That should be a great front page: the Prime Minister of Canada and his sons arrested and taken to court because they polluted. The bill states that we will arrest the directors and owners of the ships. Is that what it means? Will we really do that? Will we take a Bahamian registered ship and have the owners appear in court? We need to know.

We talked about the nose and tail briefly. The nose and tail are major areas for migrating birds. We do not protect them in the bill and we should be talking about that. I would like to see the ornithological reports on what birds are there, which ones are dying and what the populations are. Those are all questions we need to know because we have to base our decisions on science. The government is very prone to not basing things on science. Kyoto was all about not basing it on science but basing it on scare tactics.

I would like to know what birds are being killed on the east coast, the west coast and in the Arctic. I would like to know how we would go about seizing these crews on the ships. Many of these people, like on Canada Steamship Lines for instance, get paid $2 a day. If they get paid $2 a day they are now supposed to have whistleblower protection. I sure would like to know how the government intends to provide whistleblower protection for a $2 a day foreign sailor who squeals on his captain and is not a Canadian citizen.

We do not have whistleblower legislation in Canada for our own civil servants. How in blazes are we going to guarantee a foreign sailor's protection from his employer for giving information on the sorts of things that go on at sea?

On page 9 of the bill it states that we will use force. I would like to know what that means. Are we going to pull a Captain Canada and fire shots over their bows? Are we going to have armed guards? It is a great threat but I would like to know what it means.

I, like the member of the Bloc, would like to know why we do not have minimum fines? We have a maximum fine of $1 million. Does that mean some judge will decide that because it is a certain company there will be a $1,000 fine? I do not know what that means.

The bill states that we will compensate people for their loss due to an oil spill. How do we do that for the fisherman who claims that he did not catch any lobsters because some ship dumped its oil in the ocean? How do we determine how much should be paid? Is there money in the budget to cover that? The bill certainly does not say there will be. How do we do the science to determine the loss? It is like a farmer saying that if it had rained he would have had a better crop. Are we going to compensate that farmer?

That statement on page 17 of the bill seems to be very vague.

I would like to know about the Attorney General. The Attorney General has eight days to lay a charge against a dumping ship. Is that long enough or is it too long? If a ship heads back to its home port will we be able to stop it? I do not know the answer to that but I would have liked experts to tell me. However, because the government rammed the bill through at the last minute, we have had no opportunity to ask those questions.

Coming from Red Deer, I would like to know about oil exploration in the Arctic and about the tailings that are put on the ice. That will affect them too.

The bill does not just concern oiled birds off the coast of Newfoundland. It also concerns the industries that make up a great deal of western Canada, eastern Canada, Atlantic Canada and northern Canada. The bill is very far-reaching, and so it should be. It should protect sea birds and it should protect our environment.

As senior environment critic, I would be hypocritical if I did not stand and say that I want a strong bill. I want it as strong as it can be to protect the environment but I want to consult with the people the legislation will affect. I want to have answers to this page of questions. I am sure others have pages of questions as well.

I know the shipping industry has questions. I know a constitutional lawyer has questions. He wants to know why we are breaking two international conventions that we signed. Do we know that the bill would contravene those international conventions? We did not have time to find out any of that information because the government basically sprung this legislation on us.

What offends me the most is that I did meet with the environment minister. It is a funny story. I had great difficulty getting a meeting with the environment minister but one day I was on a plane about to fly to Calgary and the environment minister gets on the plane and sits next to me. We had our meeting. However, guess what? Calgary was fogged in, which I pre-arranged, and we had to fly to Vancouver. The environment minister and I ended up sitting on the plane for another three hours. When we flew back to Calgary in the middle of the night, the environment minister was still sitting beside me. I ended up having a 10 hour meeting with the minister.

One of the questions I asked the minister during that meeting had to do with what legislation we could expect to come through. I asked him if he had anything on the table that I should prepare for. He said that he did not but asked if I had any suggestions. I suggested this legislation but I wish he would have acted on it a lot sooner than he did.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a comment. The member for Red Deer understands the situation perfectly well, but he is a bit of a demagogue in some respects because we are in a pre-election period.

What we have to realize—especially for the benefit of those who are watching to us—is that this is not new legislation. Two other acts already exist: the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

Most of the concerns raised have been addressed and appear in these two acts. Bill C-34 proposes some amendments to these two acts. Public consultations were held for the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and for the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as well.

Today, with Bill C-34, we are amending these two acts. We are not creating new legislation.

The member wondered why we do not impose a minimal fine and what duck hunters had to do with it and so forth. I can understand his line of questioning. The answer is that these elements are already included in the existing legislation of 1994 and 1999. These matters are already covered in these acts.

With respect to imposing a minimal fine, I will give an example. Say the hon. member for Red Deer and I, the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, go fishing together and our boat's motor accidentally hits a sandbar and loses oil. Are we going to be fined $1 million because we had an accident?

It is the same for the family man, a crab fisher, who has a small fishing business and goes fishing with his son or daughter. It should be up to the judge applying the legislation to weigh the repercussions of the accident.

If the boat belongs to a company, the company is in a position to pay and a $1 million fine is a more severe punishment.

That is why in the legislation we cannot introduce a minimum for fines. This is a bill to amend two acts that include environmental measures related to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, which addresses hunters and an entire range of stakeholders in the field of nature.

I understand. Our colleague from Red Deer might be frustrated because consultations were not as open and extensive as in the case of a piece of legislation with broad impact. However, consultations were held in 1994 on the 1994 Migratory Birds Convention Act and also in 1999 on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

What we are doing today with Bill C-34 is making amendments to give more teeth to the law. We thought we had the necessary tools under the existing laws. We thought we would be able to pursue people without restriction and punish them. However, when we were tried to make a case, we found that loopholes in the legislation prevented us from getting a conviction

Yes, we are rectifying this situation by amending the legislation. This is not a new act. The bill does not make substantive changes to the 1994 Migratory Birds Convention Act or the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It amends the two acts I just mentioned.

As far as the Americans are concerned, I understand certain things. The United States is what it is, and Canada is what it is. We have our own sovereignty, our own Canadian values. We see things differently, and we always try to—

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I regret to interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary. It being 11:00 a.m., the House will now proceed to statements by members, but there will be a question and comment period after the oral question period.

The hon. Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, on a point of order.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2004 / 10:55 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among all the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, if today's debate on M-300 concludes, all necessary questions to dispose of the main motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred pursuant to Standing Order 98(4).

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have unanimous consent to move the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The EnvironmentStatements by Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, a century of ongoing clearcut logging in British Columbia's old growth forests has driven the spotted owl to the verge of extinction. About 33 adult pairs are left.

An effective scientific recovery strategy has been prepared to reach the goal of 125 adult pairs; however, this effort has only received 3% of the funds requested from the British Columbia government.

Researcher Andrew Miller of the British Columbia spotted owl recovery team recommends a temporary logging moratorium in certain areas to protect the habitat for owls, and the provision of funds needed to help the remaining owls.

To prevent extinction of the spotted owl, the federal government can enforce the emergency clause of the Species at Risk Act, as it was originally intended to do in the first place. I urge the Minister of the Environment to take federal action.

RacismStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the last few months have seen a deeply disturbing increase in violent anti-Semitic attacks in Canada. From the firebombing of a Jewish school in Montreal to the defacement of tombstones in Toronto, this is a blow to our country's tradition of religious tolerance.

It is in this context that we must view this month's scheduled visit and speaking tour of Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudais. Al-Sudais refers to Jews as “the scum of the earth” and he exhorts his followers against the Christian “worshippers of the cross” and the “idol-worshipping Hindus”. He has publicly called for the destruction of the Jewish people, who he says are “an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption”.

This type of hatred is completely unacceptable to Canadians, including Canadian Muslims, the vast majority of whom certainly reject this bigotry.

When al-Sudais arrives, he should be informed that his brand of violent racist and religious incitement is not welcome in Canada, and he should be sent packing.

Foire gourmande de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du nord-est ontarienStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Gilbert Barrette Liberal Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I had the honour of announcing, on behalf of the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, a contribution of $71,516 for the Foire gourmande de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du nord-est ontarien.

This initiative, which will cover a two-year period, helps promote not only local products available to the public, but also partnerships among producers, consumers, distributors and wholesalers on both sides of Lake Témiscamingue.

Thanks to the exceptional work of organizers and participants, this trade fair provides an opportunity to create economic alliances, in addition to being a major tourist attraction for the region.

We thank the whole team and we invite people to visit the fair during the third weekend of August 2004.

Member for ThornhillStatements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to do what I have not done often enough over the last 25 years, and that is to say thank you.

I wish to thank my husband Wilf, my best friend and my lover; my children, David and Leigh, Mark and Claire, Zane and Meredith; my grandchildren Findlay Lillian, Talia Jane, Benjamin Russell, Max Louis, Angus John, and Jacob Isaac, all Caplan; my sister Carol Lou and family who have always been there for me and loved me even when I was not there for them.

I wish to thank the voters of ward 13 in North York, the provincial riding of Oriole, and the federal riding of Thornhill for giving me the honour and the privilege to represent them and their interests since 1978 to 2004.

I wish to thank my wonderful staff who did their best to make me look good, often with great difficulty, as I made it hard for them.

I wish to thank former Premier David Peterson who allowed me to serve in his cabinet and gave me the opportunity to be the first Jewish woman in Canadian history to serve in a cabinet. I was his chair of cabinet, chair of management board, minister of government services and minister of health.

I wish to thank Prime Minister Chrétien for the opportunity to serve in his cabinet as minister of immigration and minister of national revenue.

I wish to thank old friends who have been waiting for 25 years for my return and to new friends, whose friendship will endure, and colleagues who I will never forget;

To Bill Graham for the thank you, and finally, to Prime Minister--

Member for ThornhillStatements by Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Hull--Aylmer.