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House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parks.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague, who is a good friend and a good representative for his constituency, is absolutely right. We have had difficulty apologizing for some of the inequities of the past, particularly when dealing with situations of land expropriation.

I come from a farm in rural Alberta. Any time there are expropriations it is always very difficult. We have had these discussions at the provincial level as well as land zoning issues when I was on municipal council. As I said at the conclusion of my remarks, we in the House should always be very careful when it comes to making decisions that concern other people's private property.

I will point out that technically the letter of the law was followed by the provincial government that expropriated the land. My understanding of how it worked is that the province expropriated the land on behalf of the federal government in order to turn it over to create a national park. We have beautiful national parks today. I do not believe that anyone would dispute that. They are certainly a treasure to behold. From time to time we do encounter issues with them concerning disputes with adjacent landowners and other barriers during their creation. However, we must say that on a net basis the benefits certainly outweigh some of those costs.

As I said, the law was followed at the time, however it was wrong-headed. I certainly have a lot of empathy for the landowners who had a magnificent way of life and basically were evicted from their properties, albeit by the letter of the law.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Child Care.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Gatineau.

Today, as the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, I am pleased to participate in this debate on the motion moved by the Bloc Québécois. I will reread it:

That this House issue an official apology to the people whose properties were expropriated to create Forillon Park for the unconscionable manner in which they were treated, and that the Speaker of the House send the representatives of the people whose properties were expropriated and of their descendants an official copy of the Journals of the House of Commons indicating the adoption of this motion.

One of our popular singers wrote a song about Sainte-Scholastique and Forillon Park. As you know, it is a metaphor. When he wrote the song, Paul Piché was describing two major events, two abusive, large-scale expropriations carried out by the federal government on Quebec soil.

Naturally, an expropriation is never easy; it is difficult for the families who have to go through it. I will try, in the ten minutes at my disposal, to tell you about the two expropriations—Forillon and Mirabel, which was known as Sainte-Scholastique at the time. Municipalities were amalgamated by force, by decree.

In the case of Sainte-Scholastique, the neighbouring municipalities of Saint-Hermas, Saint-Benoît, Saint-Augustin, Saint-Janvier, Saint-Canut and Sainte-Monique were affected.

In 1969, the federal government decided to build an airport. Many citizens who lived in these municipalities had to leave their homes when their villages were merged into a single legal entity, a city known today as Mirabel. I will talk later about all the stress and the major debates caused by expropriation that citizens have to endure.

Forillon Park covers an area of 244 km2 located entirely within the City of Gaspé, and which includes the Forillon peninsula, located between Gaspé Bay and Honguedo Strait. It was a decision made by the federal government in 1963. This led to the Governments of Quebec and Canada, in 1970, to issue decrees that resulted in the introduction of the Expropriation Act on July 22, 1970, to the consternation of the landowners and the 225 families living there. In addition to the families who lived within the boundary of the proposed park, there were also families who lived elsewhere, but who owned land and woodlots on which they continued the work of their ancestors. The government wanted to create a national park. In the case of Mirabel, they built an international airport, but that is another matter.

In 1973, the Government of Canada even decided, again by order in council, that inhabitants would no longer have to move when a new national park was created. That applied to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. It began in 1963, but the expropriation order came into force in 1969-70.

Starting in 1973, the Government of Canada decided that inhabitants would no longer have to move when a new national park was created. My Conservative colleague gave some good examples earlier. Today, all of the members in this House should be well aware of the Bloc Québécois motion. We should apologize for this expropriation, which led to an amendment of regulations so that it would never happen again.

We have been talking about this expropriation since 10 a.m. and I find it hard to understand why the Conservatives still do not know how they are going to vote on the Bloc motion.

The motion asks the House to offer an official apology. Why? Because, as responsible members, we should apologize to the 225 families and their descendants for blatantly abusive expropriation. The fact that regulations were amended proves that it was an abuse. Now when national parks are created, people do not have to move.

The Bloc's motion is in response to these people, who have been asking for an apology for many years. They made other requests, which the Conservative government made an effort to respond to, it is true; announcements were made. But the fact remains that a grave injustice was committed and the House should apologize. I believe that the Bloc motion makes sense today.

And that brings me back to the subject of Mirabel. The Forillon expropriation began in 1963; Mirabel began in 1970. In 1969, the Liberal Party of Canada announced that an international airport would be built in Mirabel. In Forillon, 244 km2 were affected; in Mirabel it was 97,000 acres. And the outcome was that Mirabel airport is the biggest white elephant ever constructed by the federal government on Canadian soil.

Only 6,000 acres were used for the actual airport. Six thousand acres surrounded by fences. It is true that the Conservative government agreed to give back 80,000 acres in 1985. They kept 11,000 because they were not sure of the future of Mirabel international airport at that time.

The decision was made by the Liberal government. All domestic and international flights were to be transferred to Mirabel in 1995. That same year, the decision was made to keep Dorval open. That is what the Liberals decided. In 2002, it was decided that international flights to Mirabel would go back to Dorval. In November 2004, all domestic flights and international passenger flights to Mirabel were closed. There was a motion. I will read the text because at the time, the government refused to provide an apology with respect to Mirabel.

The then federal Minister of Transport, Jean Lapierre, a Liberal minister—he is on television from time to time—, refused to apologize to those whose properties were expropriated in Mirabel. At the time, Prime Minister Paul Martin acknowledged that these people had suffered; there was an acknowledgement. Today, the Liberals tend to have a slightly different opinion about Forillon. Is the prospect of an election beating some sense into them? We will see. The fact remains that the issue of expropriations is a harsh reality.

As far as Mirabel is concerned, in 2005, we supported a motion put forward by the Conservative Party at the time. I was a member of Parliament and we were aware of the situation. We were talking about initiating the process to return the 11,000 acres of land that remained. Just before the 2006 election, the Prime Minister went to Mirabel to make a grandiose election promise. The Conservatives are celebrating five years in power and there are still 8,000 of the 11,000 acres left to transfer back. It is not over yet.

The Conservatives, who are in power today, are reluctant to apologize. In the case of Forillon, that is what the people are asking for, an apology, but the Conservatives are in government. In the case of Mirabel, it was the Prime Minister who made an election promise and went to Mirabel to say that all the land would be returned. There are roughly 8,000 acres left to return and 97 files that are still open, but there is a willingness to work on them.

The purpose of the motion put forward by the Bloc is to acknowledge this injustice. It is our primary role as politicians to do so. We are here to pass legislation, but when bad legislation has been passed by our predecessors, regardless of the political party, we have to be able to acknowledge it and know when to apologize for the decisions made by our predecessors. That is the beauty of the Bloc Québécois motion. We are calling on this House to issue an official apology to the people whose properties were expropriated to create Forillon Park. I hope that all the political parties understand that we owe it to the 225 families and to all those who use these lands, who have suffered a serious injustice and deserve our apology.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what the hon. member thinks about the position taken by the Conservatives, who do not have the courage to recognize that the people of Forillon lived through hell. They must be familiar with the word “hell” since it describes their strategy, their view of the world, their way of managing everything, and all of their policies. The people of Forillon were made to go through hell. There have been three or four Conservative speakers in this debate today and we still do not know what their position is on this important issue of respect. Perhaps, further to the wise words of my colleague, the word “humanity” will elicit more of a reaction from them.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Gatineau for his question.

Throughout its remarks today, the government talked about the good things it has done. At the request of the families, it has offered passes for three generations. The families had actually asked for passes for five generations, but they were granted passes for only three. The Conservative Party's problem is that it never finishes anything it starts. The same is true of the Mirabel airport situation. It is good that the government has begun and is continuing to give back the land. The government must give back what it unfairly expropriated. I think that this goes without saying. However, above and beyond that, when the government realizes that it has made a mistake, it must apologize. As politicians, we must not be afraid to apologize. That is the problem with the Conservatives. They never make any mistakes and they refuse to acknowledge that other politicians, perhaps other Conservatives before them, may have made mistakes. For all those watching, once again, I believe that what is great about the action that will be taken today is the government's acknowledgement of the mistakes that were made in the past. Today, the Conservatives acknowledged in their remarks that serious mistakes were made in the past. They should therefore be polite enough to apologize to the people who were wronged.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Gatineau said they went through hell. I think that is an apt description, since the houses there were systematically burned and the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse went to open an exhibit to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the massacre that occurred in what is now Forillon Park. He stated that the celebration represented reconciliation with the families of Forillon. At the same time, he claims he cannot apologize because a government does not make that kind of decision overnight. I think the member for Lévis—Bellechasse should realize that after 40 years, it is time to do something for those families. What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

My colleague is quite right. The member for Lévis—Bellechasse, like any good Conservative, has the annoying tendency of always trying to score political points. In this case, he is celebrating the 40th anniversary. He is calling it a reconciliation and using it as opportunity to score political points. The Conservatives are making a huge mistake by always trying to score political points. We are asking all parties in the House of Commons to join together to adopt this motion here today. We would like it to be unanimous and hope that we will not even have to vote on it. If all parties give their consent, this motion could be unanimously adopted and we would be very pleased.

So I ask the House: do I have the unanimous consent of the House to adopt this motion here today?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Bloc Québécois is making a very simple request: that the federal government issue a formal apology to the people expropriated from Forillon Park.

My colleague, the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, just mentioned Sainte-Scholastique. Let us remember Kouchibouguac in New Brunswick and the saga the Vautour family had to endure. Here, in the Outaouais region, the National Capital Commission expropriated the people of Lac Philippe to create Gatineau Park. It is important to note that it was francophones who were living in that area. They were all expropriated. The people who were living in the Meech Lake area were all anglophones who were more well off and who were well connected with the Liberal government that was in power at the time. They were not affected. It is not that they deserved to be expropriated, but the people from the Lac Philippe area are still suffering as a result of this incident.

There are other stories, like the story of Hull, for example. Why were federal buildings put up in Hull, just across the bridge, where the people of Hull lived? Why were they not built on the outskirts of the city to let those people stay in their homes and their community? No, they were cavalierly expropriated. They had to leave and go live somewhere else, like Baron or Pointe-Gatineau. They were expropriated and paid peanuts for their houses. Some of them still live in trailers today because they were not given enough money to build houses like they had in Hull.

At that time, Hull's social fabric was destroyed just so that the federal buildings would not be too far from Ottawa, from the capital, from Parliament. Once again, Liberals, Liberals, Liberals; Trudeau, Trudeau, Trudeau. That is what the federal government did to those people then. They really suffered.

Are the Conservatives like a bunch of Trudeaus? Will they take on the mantle of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and follow in the Liberals' footsteps by not apologizing? That is what we are hearing today. The Conservatives' silence is deafening. They did not rise to say that they were going to apologize to the people of Forillon because the government put them through hell.

The government did the same thing to the Métis. After Louis Riel was hanged, the Métis became corner people or road allowance people. They were not even recognized as human beings. In places in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the way to evict them was to burn down their peat moss houses, because they did not pay municipal taxes. That was another form of expropriation by the federal government. It is time for us to come back down to earth and show some humanity.

Consider the deportation of the Acadians. Of course, that was under British rule, before Canada. Consider what happened to them. They were separated and sent to New England, the Falklands and Europe. On some ships, far out at sea, children were thrown overboard so that the Acadians would have no descendants.

Canada has a very dark history when it comes to expropriation. We took people's property; we uprooted them from land that belonged to them. Forillon is another example of this.

I will not go into detail about the hell the people of Forillon went through and are still going through today. They are still alive and they are watching us today. They are hoping to see something other than a bunch of little Trudeaus who continue to perpetuate the insult against them. I see the serious look on your face, Mr. Speaker, and I am convinced that you are going to talk to the people in your caucus so that they stand up and acknowledge the horror and hell that we made the people of Forillon go through.

There are testimonies. We expropriated these people and burned their houses down right in front of them. When they wanted to go back to their community later to visit one of the three cemeteries in Forillon Park and pray at the graves of their loved ones, we made them pay because they were entering a Canadian national park. Nice!

Is that what Canada is about? Will the caring federalists who so love their big country stand up one day? Will they stand up one day and say that they did something wrong, admit their mistake and present the people of Forillon with tangible, official apologies from the House of Commons? Elderly people had to dig around in their wallets to find change so they could go and pray at their child's or spouse's grave inside Forillon Park. It is one example, but I hope that it raises their awareness and that they will not ask how much it is going to cost the Canadian treasury. If the government members are human beings, they will show it. This is a golden opportunity.

“The government sent a subpoena to my father telling him that his house now belonged to the Queen. He never would have believed that they would come to take him out of there. Well, the RCMP forcibly turned him out of his home”, remembers Charles Bouchard, the son of one of the expropriated residents. His father, Édouard, or Eddy, who is deceased, was the last person expropriated to leave his house on the Anse-Au-Griffon trail, one of the areas ceded to the federal government. “He did not want to leave, but he had to resign himself to it. To force him out, the Liberal Government of Canada cut off his telephone and other services.”

Charles Bouchard remembers receiving $1,400 for his 50-acre parcel of land. And his father was given the meagre amount of $20,000 for the house, other buildings, land and two sugar bushes he owned. That gives us an idea of what transpired, and it did not take place in 1622, but in the 1970s. Few members of this House had not yet been born in 1970. About one hundred of those expropriated rebelled against the paltry compensation from Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberal government, and they went to court. They managed to get a little bit more.

Jérémie Dunn has provided another account of the events. The program Enquête will be featuring a story about this tonight at 8 p.m. on Radio-Canada. My colleagues should watch it as they will learn a few things. The Radio-Canada program Tout le monde en parlait recently discussed the 225 Gaspé families that were expropriated. The program showed the houses before the expropriation and as they were burning. The houses were burnt down.

We understand the situation. It would be very easy to offer a sincere apology. In fact, we are sincere. We must promote all forms of respect, and our sense of humanity must inspire us when dealing with these people who suffered and continue to suffer—and who have suffered enough—because of the horrible act perpetrated by the Liberal Government of Canada against the people expropriated to create Forillon Park.

Mr. Speaker, I am counting on you to convince your people to rectify the situation.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the motion by the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine is asking for the government to issue an apology. It was a Liberal government back in those days that initiated this action. The Bloc motion is asking for the House of Commons to issue an apology instead of the government.

I asked this question earlier this morning and did not get an answer, so perhaps that member could answer my question. Why does the motion call on the House of Commons to issue an apology rather than the government? I am sure there is a good reason for it.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the answer to my NDP colleague's question is simple: governments represent the Canadian federal state.

Governments need to answer for decisions that were made, no matter what colour tie the party in power was wearing when the decisions were made.

That is why today we are asking all 308 representatives in the House of Commons to stand and apologize for what the government at the time did in the name of the Canadian state. The government was responsible for the decisions of the Canadian state concerning the Forillon expropriations.

That is why we are asking the members of the House to act humanely and make sure their hearts are in the right place.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Gatineau. We saw how passionate he was in talking about the expropriations. Quebec has seen a number of expropriations and the member spoke about some of them, but Forillon was one of the largest and most insulting for Quebec. Forty years have come and gone with no formal apology, excluding the one from the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, who announced that a monument would be erected in Forillon Park.

I would like to ask my colleague about the Conservative government's position. Those whose land was expropriated were recently told that a small monument would be erected, and that they should be happy and shut their mouths. They need more; they need a significant apology. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for his question.

This is a heartfelt appeal. We must acknowledge the horrible act that took place and apologize to the people who have suffered.

These people saw all kinds of things happen: their homes, land, lives, communities and even their cemetery were taken away. There was no respect. All that for whose benefit? For Jean Chrétien, who was a minister under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and who desperately wanted a park in Gaspésie, in Quebec. He was prepared to do anything to get his name in the history books. His name is in the books, but now we want it erased.

The House of Commons could do that by offering a clear, official apology to the people of Forillon Park. These people were living in their village, their region, their community, their bit of land, and they were simply uprooted, removed, torn away, kicked out of their region. For whose benefit? For a minister who desperately wanted a national park in Quebec, a federal park to boast about how beautiful and powerful Canada is.

We destroyed these people and put them through hell. The Canadian government needs to go through purgatory, and the way to do so is to issue an official apology. I know that people understand that language.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the Bloc opposition day motion. The Bloc's rationale for wording the motion the way it did, demanding that Parliament express the apology, is well placed given that expecting the government to do it is likely never to happen. We saw that today in the few opportunities government members took to speak to the motion.

They have given 20 minute speeches, and in questions and comments have been asked repeatedly whether they are voting for the motion, and they cannot answer that question. That would indicate to me that they are probably not supportive of the motion. Were they in favour of it, I expect they would be eager to let us all know at this point.

The fact that the three opposition parties are supporting the motion guarantees that the motion will pass and at the end of the day, the Bloc will get what it wanted in terms of getting it through. The apology will be made, regardless of the reluctance on the part of the Conservative government.

Conservative members have indicated that they have been quite forthcoming with apologies since they have come to power and cited several examples. It is a mystery to me why they would be reluctant to vote for this apology, when they have been fairly forthcoming in other situations.

In terms of the Liberal members, I know the member for Honoré-Mercier spoke this morning. I believe he was the second speaker. He made it clear right up front that he was apologizing on behalf of the Liberal Party for its 27 years of neglect on this file. But he did not indicate, at least I did not hear it, whether that apology came from his leader or whether it was his personal opinion that an apology would be in order.

He also did not indicate, nor has anybody in the House so far that I have heard, what the Liberal government actually did during those 27 years to solve this problem. I would have expected that the government, which is always eager to take a whack at the Liberals, would have come prepared and, rather than giving us vivid descriptions of the flora and fauna of the park, would have provided details.

If the Liberals had done nothing for 27 years, the government would have been keen to point that out. I waited to hear that and did not hear that being expressed by government members.

Their positioning so far is very curious, but the new member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette will be making his first major presentation in the House today and will be taking questions. I am sure that the member for Winnipeg North, myself and others, will be very eager to ask him whether he has the answer to the secret that we have been waiting for all day as to whether the government is going to support this motion and make it unanimous. That is, in fact, the right thing to do.

As I had indicated, the Bloc opposition day motion calls for an apology to the former residents of Forillon National Park whose property was expropriated in 1969. A little later I will get into an explanation of many other expropriations, including in my home province of Manitoba, that occurred during that period of time. It certainly was a time when there was a lot of activity in the establishment of new parks, both federal and provincial, as was the case in Manitoba.

In 1969, the Quebec Union Nationale government led by Jean-Jacques Bertrand and the Pearson federal government agreed to create a new national park in the Gaspé region. I believe that was the first national park in Quebec, as one of the Bloc members mentioned. Between 1969 and 1972, over 1,000 residents, about 225 families, living in the area had their properties expropriated to make way for the park.

A similar activity happened in Manitoba with Hecla Island. In reading of the histories of the two, they are very similar and the time frame is reasonably similar as well. According to the histories, it was a sign of the times. People were moving in to the cities. The high school in Hecla was closed down. I think the schools were closing down because there were not enough school-aged children.

It is an island, and it has to be kept open. The causeway had not been built at that time, so it required winter roads and attention. The population dropped and there were fewer and fewer school-aged children.

The people on Hecla Island were promoting the idea of economic development through the establishment of a provincial park. I believe that happened in this situation as well. One of the speakers earlier on today pointed out that there was an expectation that the Quebec and federal governments sold the people on the idea that if they turned the area into a provincial park, there would be jobs.

Like what happened on Hecla Island, the jobs did not materialize. People were stuck selling their property. In the case of Hecla Island, they were not all expropriated because a fairly large number of them voluntarily sold. When they sold, it was sold at low levels and people had to move to places like Winnipeg where property values were triple.

The landowners were at a very big disadvantage and they started having second thoughts. Those who waited to be expropriated, who were fewer in number, ended up getting more for their properties. That led to a lot of acrimony between these groups.

What subsequently happened was a later Conservative government attempted to resettle the people. That ended up in a big mess as well. In fact, police and fraud charges were brought against several people for forgery and so on. I will get to that issue later.

The 220 families were living in the area and had their properties expropriated to make way for the park. Once again, this has to be pointed out. A member, who I get along with very well, has committee hearings right now, but he gave the impression that people were not compensated.

My information is that the residents were compensated for their properties. However, when they had to move, they had to start over. They had to buy properties. They could not replace their property at the price they received. They were at a disadvantage from day one. They were living under this assumption that somehow there would be all these jobs, which never materialized.

The former residents have been calling for this formal apology for 40 years now. We have asked the question many times about where the Liberals were on this. Once again, I would have expected it to be wall-to-wall Conservative speakers today, dumping on the Liberals for their lack of action for 27 years and being eager to be onside. It really is a mystery to me as to why they are holding back.

Parks Canada has created an interactive exhibit in one of the expropriated homes, detailing the experiences of some families that were forced to leave. Commemorative plaques have been placed around the park where the communities once were. All of this is very well and good. It has taken a lot of years for Parks Canada to do it. It is something it did not have to do, but it was the right thing to do.

The government has announced that in 2011 it will issue special entry passes for families up to third generation. Our critic indicated that this should be expanded to five generations. It does not just include this park. I believe it includes all the parks in the system. Those passes are to be given to people up to third generation whose principle residence was expropriated for the national parks or national historic sites.

The member for Gatineau indicated that people who wanted to go back to visit their ancestors in the graveyard would have to line up and pay to get into the park. I believe there are three graveyards in this park. It is hard to comprehend.

Eligibility for lifetime passes would be based on existing historic records, if any still exist. A committee would determine whether someone could get a pass.

These committees are part of the reason the Conservatives got into trouble in Manitoba with the resettlement of Hecla. They had a committee, but some of the people on the committee ended up getting them into trouble, as I had indicated before.

Despite expected difficulties in getting these passes, many former residents see this as a promising first step.

A petition from 750 former residents and their descendants was presented to Minister Prentice in 2010. I join my colleague from Thunder Bay—Superior North in complimenting Minister Prentice who did a very good job in the many difficult spots he found himself in with that government.

The 750 former residents were asking for free park access for five generations instead of the three the government was promising. There are three cemeteries in the park. Most of the generations of 225 family ancestors are buried there and most buildings in the park were burned down or bulldozed in the creation of the park. However, the ones that remained were preserved.

We see this as a relatively non-controversial motion. We feel the apology should have a very limited financial implication because court cases have already ruled the expropriations were within the law.

There are expropriations all over. Governments have to expropriate. Duff Roblin, when he was premier in Manitoba, had a floodway built, and he has almost approached sainthood for having done so. It saved the province of Manitoba billions of dollars. Just recently the floodway was expanded, costing quite a bit more money. However, it is expected to save a lot of grief in a few months from now when the flood waters are at historical highs. To build that floodway, he had to expropriate.

Let us not delude ourselves. Governments of any stripe involved in construction projects, like a floodway to save billions of dollars in damage, have to expropriate, but that is a different situation than a national park.

As with Hecla, the fact is the government basically killed the park when it got rid of the people. There needs to be activity in the park with people living there. Then the Conservatives went full circle and decided, in 1998, they were would try to bring people back and repopulate it.

How nice is that? We go to all the trouble of expropriating and forcing people out of the park, then 15 years later decide to try and bring them all back to restore the mess that was created in the first place.

We have seen all kinds of inconsistencies with governments over the years, for example, the nursing shortage. The Conservative government fired 1,000 nurses in Manitoba at a time when the population was aging and we needed the nurses.

The member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel talked about the Mirabel airport. The best brains in the country developed the concept for a new airport in Mirabel and expropriated all the land and what happened? It turned into a big boondoggle. At least the Conservative government did the right thing back then and gave the land back to the original people who wanted it.

The government did the right thing then, so we want it to do the right thing in this case. It is not that difficult to join with the rest of the members of the House. The motion will pass anyway, so why not make it unanimous? Why not do the right thing and admit that governments can make mistakes. No one is above admitting a mistake and correcting the problems that come about as a result.

In the four minutes I have left I want to deal with some of the issues coming out of the Manitoba situation. Other members have talked about how this parallels situations in their provinces. It was not a federal park in the case of Manitoba, although I believe the government tried at one point to make it a federal park. It was a provincial park. Many articles have been written on this because it was a long-standing saga and it mirrors the situation with Forillon Park. It is the same story but a different environment.

Interestingly enough, this happened during the same time period. We are not talking 20 or 30 years separation. We are talking about the same time that the park in Quebec was being set up. There was the park in New Brunswick as well that had a more violent end to it. All three of these situations happened at the same time.

The settlement on the Hecla Islands was founded by Icelanders in 1876. There is just too much information for me to try to get it in my remaining two minutes so I will try to cut it short.

The island had a population of 500 people who were served by two schools and two stores. A few people eked out a living on farms plagued by poor soil conditions. Most islanders were commercial fishermen and captains who took to the lake to earn an adequate livelihood.

The island's fortune began a downward spiral in the following decade, which resulted in many fleeing their communities to places such as Gimli and Winnipeg to seek better opportunities. In 1966 the last remaining school closed, giving islanders another reason to abandon their homes. The islanders could no longer support themselves as an isolated community. They were served by an ice road in the winter and a tiny ferry when there was open water. The causeway was not completed until 1972.

I want to make this clear for the member for Selkirk—Interlake who put some misinformation on the record this morning. When the NDP became the government in 1969, it inherited the Walter Weir Conservative government's two-year old plan. The Conservatives had already been planning to turn Hecla into a provincial park for two years. The process was well under way.

When Premier Schreyer looked at the plan devised by the bureaucrats, he did not like what he saw. The bureaucrats wanted all the people gone. The premier, however, envisioned a park with some of the original inhabitants and he proposed to expropriate the land for needed infrastructure and any private homes. To have no one living there was a flight from common sense he believed.

Evidently there was a plan to leaseback, but very few people took advantage of the province's proposal because the island was economically depressed, according to a federal-provincial rural agreement. Of the 99 properties expropriated, 56 of them were voluntarily given up, 18 were eventually voluntary ceded after negotiations, 17 cases were decided by the courts and 3 properties were not considered for expropriation.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the NDP for supporting our motion today. I believe that he has the sensitivity to understand what happened to the people of Forillon who were expropriated. I would like to come back to a point that he raised, which is that the people were compensated for their expropriation.

Being compensated is all well and good, but these people were compensated according to the conditions imposed by the federal government. In addition, we are talking about farms that had been passed down from generation to generation and were part of the family heritage in these rural areas. The government threw 225 families into a state of major social turmoil. That is what we must consider. It is not just a simple matter of property being expropriated and compensation being given in return. Does this not give members further reason to vote in favour of our motion today?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct. Whatever compensation was given, whether in this case or in the Manitoba case, we are talking about land that, at least in Manitoba, was in an economically depressed area and the schools had closed down so the landowners were given almost nothing. When the government expropriated the land, it brought in real estate appraisers who said that the land was not worth anything. Families were given $5,000. Where could a family relocate and buy a house for $5,000 in the town of Gimli or the city of Winnipeg? It just could not happen.

In Manitoba's case, 99 properties were expropriated and, of those, 56 were voluntarily given up, which means that 56 landowners thought the compensation was fair when they signed on. Seventeen cases were decided by the courts.

The landowners believed the government's story that somehow things would get better and they would have all these jobs. It was sort of a false promise, as it turned out, but the people actually believed that they would have a brighter future and that they would get all these jobs but the jobs did not materialize. They did not materialize in the Quebec situation and they did not materialize in the Manitoba situation. By the way, the jobs still have not materialized because this saga in Manitoba continues after all these years.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am a very privileged Canadian who has been to Forillon National Park. I spent a week there camping with my family in the mid-1990s. We enjoyed our time there so much so that we postponed our tour of Prince Edward Island to stay a little longer and enjoy the wonderful environment.

Some years before I was there, the federal government had made a considerable investment in Forillon Park because of the Canada Games that took place in Quebec. The government put in swimming pools. There is a hiking trail that goes out to the lighthouse. There is a museum that has the story of the cod fishing that took place around the Gaspé years ago. There are a number of walkways that go down through the park to some beautiful waterfalls. So jobs have been provided.

Has my colleague been there?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member totally misses the whole point of the Bloc motion. I would suggest that she read the Bloc motion. The motion is asking for Parliament to apologize to the residents of the park whose property was expropriated. She is talking about visiting the park 30 years after the fact. We are waiting for some direction from the government.

Who is in charge over there? There has to be somebody over there who is in charge of that crew who can say that yes, we are in favour of the motion or we are not in favour of the motion. How complicated is this? We have had speaker after speaker stand and talk about flora and fauna and talk about what is in the park but never once deal with the issue at hand, which is an apology for what was done by the government 40 years ago.

Could the member not read the motion and understand what it is all about?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been following the debate very closely and as a result of that I actually want to follow up on the last comment made by my friend and colleague, the member for Elmwood—Transcona.

The fascinating thing, both about the motion and about the debate that has been happening here in the House all day, is that we really do not have a sense of what the government members will be doing on this motion. As the member for Elmwood—Transcona has expressed, they have gone all over the place in the debate. They have expressed their support for parks. They have said how lovely Canada's national parks are, which is all really wonderful, except we have motion before us that actually puts the question to the House about whether we support an apology for the expropriation and to the people who have been expropriated and their families.

The other thing I have not been able to figure out in the debate is why the motion before us requests an apology from Parliament. We may well be in a position where the Liberals would support an apology. In fact, the member for Honoré-Mercier, earlier on in the debate, expressed an apology on behalf of the Liberal Party, which is appropriate since it was the Trudeau government that began expropriations. As it is a Bloc motion, obviously Bloc members will be supporting it and we in the NDP will be supporting it.

However, would that apology be enough? It may pass in the House with the support of those three parties , but will it be enough if the government actually votes against the motion?

I wonder if the member could explain why this motion asks for an apology from Parliament as opposed to an apology from the government specifically, so that the members opposite would have to take a firm position and be accountable for that position.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, it was a very wise decision on the part of the Bloc members when they crafted their motion to make certain that it was a resolution from Parliament, as opposed to a demand on the government to issue an apology. They probably knew what would happen here today, which is that government members would stand and basically talk about flora and fauna and all kinds of other positives about the park but not say at all whether they agree with the apology.

This was a beautiful opportunity, which the Conservatives never seem to miss when it comes to taking a whack at the Liberals, to spend the whole day taking all their speaking spots and levelling the guns at the Liberals for their 27 years of neglect on the issue, but they did not do that. They want to talk about flora and fauna but not what they will do in terms of the vote on this particular motion.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, the Conservative member was talking about investments and the creation of employment in Forillon Park. The federal government had indeed promised that 3,000 jobs would be created, including 700 permanent positions, and that the park would attract over 600,000 visitors and tourists. In 2005, it was noted that jobs had been created for only 35 people per year, or the equivalent of 70 jobs including part-time positions, and that the park attracted approximately 146,000 visitors per year. This is a far cry from the number of jobs and visitors promised.

I would like to hear more about what the hon. member has to say regarding the comparison between Manitoba and Forillon Park.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, this was a perfect opportunity for the Conservatives to toot their horn and indicate all the bad things that the Liberals failed to do over the last 27 years but they failed to do that. I can only come to the conclusion that they think that somehow this issue will go away.

After all these years, these people are still determined to get justice from this Parliament. If this issue was going to go away, they would have forgotten about it. If they were happy with the jobs that were provided and with the situation that developed, we would not be debating this issue right now.

I suggest that the Conservatives bring themselves to current reality and join us and support the motion.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the motion by the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine concerning Forillon National Park. Right off the bat I will apologize for my Manitoba high school French and hope my friends across the way will indulge me.

This is almost my first speech in the House, as I have said a few words before, but I would like to thank all hon. members for the wonderful and warm reception that I have received, members opposite as well. I do not think that will last very long but, for the time being, it has been truly wonderful. I also thank members opposite for their help, as well my friends on my side.

I know we all think Canada is a wonderful country, but in my case it has a special poignancy for me. Both my parents, Joe and Ida Sopuck, were born in eastern Europe and came to Canada as immigrants in the 1920s, arriving at Pier 21.. For those who have not been there, it is a very moving experience to visit it. I and all my colleagues in the House can appreciate what a wonderful land of opportunity Canada is. Not only is it a land of opportunity, it is a wonderful land with beautiful landscapes.

I have not been to Forillon National Park, but I understand it was created in the 1970s to protect and showcase examples of one of Canada's most unique and wonderful regions.

However, I have experience with local people and their relationships with national parks. My constituency has within its boundaries Riding Mountain National Park. Therefore, I will be pleased to answer members' questions when they want to learn more about Manitoba.

I happen to live right next to a national park. My wife and I have 480 acres of land about five kilometres away from the park. I live in the middle of a farming and resource community and my neighbours make a good living off the land right next to a national park.

I appreciate the hon. member's concerns for families who were required to leave their lands when the Forillon National Park was created in 1970. We had a similar experience near Riding Mountain National Park. We had generations of people who had come from faraway lands and first nations communities who made good livings in the area and they, too, were forced out of the area.

The riding that I represent, Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, is a very large riding consisting of 52,000 square kilometres. It has a number of provincial parks, as well as a national park. I would like to thank the constituents of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for electing me and placing their trust in me.

I know that my constituents who live around Riding Mountain National Park and the constituents who live around Forillon National Park would have a lot in common. Leaving aside the bitterness about national parks, they have a rural way of life based on natural resource harvesting and a deep concern for the land and the landscape.

The people in my constituency have a deep and abiding stewardship ethic. My entire constituency is covered with what are called conservation districts where people look after the land and make a living from it at the same time. There are various conservation organizations that work very hard to keep our landscape in great shape.

Agriculture is the backbone of my constituency. What has developed over time is something that I like to refer to as the culture of agriculture. Not only do people in my constituency care for the land but they strongly care for family and community. We have logging, commercial fishing, trapping, tourism and a budding oil industry.

The point I am making in terms of Forillon National Park and Riding Mountain National Park, is that I agree that the people of Forillon National Park have an issue with the park, as do my constituents, and I deeply sympathize with them.

Riding Mountain National Park started out in the late 1800s as a dominion forest reserve and became a national park in the 1930s. Here is where the story gets interesting. In the 1970s, under the Liberal government of the day, I will continue the great tradition, one by one the resource uses in the park were phased out. First, the logging was phased out. Then the grazing was phased out. Then the haying was phased out. Not a bit of compensation was ever paid to the people who were eliminated from that park. Whole farms were destroyed. Family farm operations were destroyed because of that.

I have a very deep sympathy for what happened in Quebec with the creation of this national park. I do agree with my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona, when he said that we cannot create parks in this way any more. I can assure members that one of my jobs as an MP will be to look out for the interests of my constituents who live around Riding Mountain National Park. I do intend to speak with the Minister of the Environment and the parliamentary secretary on a regular basis about this particular issue.

In conclusion, I would like to thank members for this opportunity. However, let us never forget that rural Canada is the backbone of this country. One of the things that I am very gratified to see happen in the last few years is how our natural resources industries are carrying the entire country. We as a country have an opportunity to have thriving natural resources industries: agriculture, forestry, mining, fishing and so on. We have the opportunity to have beautiful parks and wild places conserved. I think we can do both.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the supply proceedings.

The question is on the motion.

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

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

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