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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

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in relation to the study of Bill C-511, Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act. The committee recommends an extension of 30 days to consider the bill.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a) a motion to concur in the report is deemed moved, the question deemed put and a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Wednesday, February 16, 2011, immediately before the time provided for the consideration of private members' business.

Hazardous Products ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-618, An Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act and the Textile Labelling Act (animal fur or skin).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to table a private member's bill, An Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act and the Textile Labelling Act (animal fur or skin), and want to thank the member for Vancouver East for seconding the bill.

The bill would prohibit the sale and import of products made in whole or in part of dog or cat fur. It would also require all animal skins to be labelled and full disclosure of fur fibres on labels.

Many Canadians are very concerned about the use of cat and dog fur and strongly support a ban on its use in imports. Should the bill pass, Canada would join Australia, Switzerland, the United States and the European Union in banning products that contain dog and cat skins and fur.

As well, animal pelts and hides do not currently require to be noted on labels. Under the Textile Labelling Act, products can simply be labelled fur “fibre”, no matter what quantity is involved without an explicit listing of all the type of fur fibre in the product.

I have been proud to work with Lesley Fox, executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, on this project. We believe the bill will give consumers who wish to avoid fur products clear and confident choices.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Wheat Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-619, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act (notice of opting out and licence for activities).

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to introduce a bill today entitled an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act , and delighted to have the bill seconded by my colleague, the hon. member for Westlock—St. Paul.

The bill proposes to bring marketing choice to western grain farmers, giving them the opportunity to opt out of participation in activities, such as transporting, exporting and selling, that are now the exclusive domain of the Canadian Wheat Board.

In the interests of western farmers, I commend this bill to the consideration of all hon. members.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Fairness for Victims of Violent Offenders ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-620, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (parole review and victim impact statement).

Mr. Speaker, over the years I have had many calls from constituents regarding their concern with the imbalance between victims' rights and those who are convicted of very serious and heinous crimes. However, all of that was eclipsed last summer when I sat for hours in a parole board hearing. A multiple murderer was there. The victim was there. Her sister and her two children had been killed years ago. The murderer had never taken responsibility for his act.

In consequence, my concern has grown into a great personal conviction, and I produce the bill today regarding the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that would give more freedom to victims, more access to information, as well as more discretion to the Parole Board. I would ask all of the members here to support the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Broadcasting ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-621, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (loudness of television advertisements).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to introduce a bill to amend the Broadcasting Act.

Canadians are sick and tired of having to reach for the remote control every time a commercial comes on TV at a higher volume than the normal programs they are watching. It is a common complaint to be watching a show at a comfortable volume and then the program breaks for a commercial and one is suddenly jolted out of one's seat by the loudness. While it may seem a small irritant, it is a daily stress that could and should be relieved from the shoulders of Canadians.

This bill will help to stabilize the volume of TV commercials down to the same average level of other programs by requiring the CRTC to make regulations under the Broadcasting Act to limit the loudness of advertisements broadcast on television. The regulations would follow the best practices of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the standards agency for North American broadcasters, and would establish a target dialogue level for all programming.

My bill, when passed, will provide everyone a noise pollution-free and comfortable environment for enjoying a TV program at home.

I would like to thank the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for seconding my bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-622, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and respecting the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations (emissions labelling for newly manufactured vehicles).

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Scarborough—Guildwood for seconding my bill.

This enactment amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to require that no company shall transport a prescribed newly manufactured vehicle within Canada, and no person shall import into Canada a newly manufactured vehicle of a prescribed class, unless it has a clearly visible label displayed on it that informs the consumer of how much CO2 is emitted from that vehicle in grams per kilometre in both highway and city driving.

It would also require the Governor in Council to amend the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations to include the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as part of the purpose of those regulations.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I missed presenting reports from committee and I would ask that the chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage be able to present a report to committee.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it agreed we revert to presenting reports from committee?

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 6th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, congratulating Denis Villeneuve and his team for receiving an Academy Award nomination for the film Incendies.

I also congratulate Adrien Morot, from Montreal, for his nomination for the best makeup artist for his work on the movie, Barney's Version.

AfghanistanPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by dozens of Canadians that calls for an end to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008, this Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion and, furthermore, refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion so far, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors pensions right here in Canada. In fact, polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

International TradePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of many people in the riding of Guelph, I am presenting a petition urging the federal government to immediately cease negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU until nationwide public consultations have been held.

The EU is seeking to have the Government of Canada implement changes to a number of important policy areas, including municipal and provincial procurement, copyright, telecommunications, cultural rules, postal services, management of our municipal services and banking, as well as financial regulations. They all stand to be affected by signing on to the comprehensive economic trade agreement with Europe.

In order to ensure that our industries, services and regulations operate in Canada's best interests, the signatories of this petition implore the federal government to undertake public consultation so that Canadians have a say before signing this potentially damaging agreement.

Foreign AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of Mr. Saeed Malekpour, who has been detained in a prison in Iran for two years, subjected to torture, forced to make false confessions and deprived of legal counsel. He is a permanent resident of Canada.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to intervene on Mr. Malekpour's behalf and appeal to the government of Iran.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

moves:

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.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured, and also very humbled, to rise today to speak about the people who were expropriated from Forillon. They were treated without justice, respect or dignity.

I would also like to point out that today marks a rather unusual anniversary. Another injustice occurred on February 10, 1956. On that date, Wilbert Coffin was hanged. Today, the members of his family are holding a very special ceremony in the Gaspé region.

Injustices have occurred, both in the case of Wilbert Coffin and in the case of the people expropriated from Forillon. Again this week, another case of injustice involving employment insurance was brought to the attention of my office. Recently, as we know, changes were introduced to reduce the number of hours of work required for employment insurance eligibility from 910 to 840 hours. That is 70 fewer hours, but this can still mean the difference for two particular young people. One is six hours short of being eligible. He has 834 hours of work to his credit instead of 840 hours, and according to the rules, is not eligible for employment insurance. This was the first time that he had ever applied for employment insurance. The situation was the same for the other young person who was short 20 hours of work. I can think of many unfair situations happening in the Gaspé region, the Magdalen Islands, elsewhere in Quebec and in the world.

Thus, fundamentally, when we talk about an injustice like the one the people expropriated from Forillon were victims of, we are talking about all injustices. When we fight one case of injustice, when we fight for respect and human dignity, we are fighting for all human beings who have faced similar situations in the past, are facing them now, or will in the future.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I would like to mention the co-operation and involvement of two individuals. The first is Lionel Bernier, who wrote a book in the early 2000s about the fight for Forillon. He served on a commemorative committee in 2010, which somewhat eased the pain of those who were expropriated. Another individual, Marie Rochefort, is still fighting today on behalf of a group of expropriated persons. These people, their committee and supporters are keen to meet with anyone interested in the plight of those expropriated from Forillon.

The story of Forillon is the story of the creation of a national park. I will give a bit of background information. The park was created in the late 1960s or early 1970s by Jean Chrétien, who at the time was the minister responsible for parks. At that time, a number of people—225 families to be exact—lived on the land that was slated to become Forillon Park. These families had cleared the land and built their homes there. Another 1,200 or so people had title to land in what was to become Forillon Park. There is the basic context.

This was not a park carved out of an uninhabited area. It was already home to a community. People were led to believe that the creation of a park would bring tremendous wealth to the Gaspé. There was talk at the time of 3,000 jobs, of many jobs down the road for a lot of people. There was also talk of major economic spinoffs. Sadly, however, the realization dawned in 2005 that Forillon Park had created the equivalent of 70 full-time jobs. A total of 70 people work at Forillon National Park which lies at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula.

So this is what happened. People had been living on their land for years. They thought they would continue to live their lives on this magnificent peninsula. Suddenly, they were swept away by a tsunami similar to the high tides we have seen strike elsewhere. The tsunami was supposed to bring with it development, growth and benefits, but the sad truth became apparent with the passage of time. These people were caught in the middle of a chain of events.

I represent the riding of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, but back then, there were other elected provincial and federal officials representing the same region. They were complicit in these events and in the sad story of these people.

When these people originally settled on this land, they were thinking about growth, the future and their families. Suddenly, the bulldozers arrived and their lands were expropriated to make way for a park, with the promise of tremendous growth in the Gaspé region. Moreover, they were paid very little for their land and properties.

Caught in the middle of these events, some people accepted their fate because they could see a glimmer of hope. They were told that they would have to leave their land, move into town or go somewhere else. But at the end of the day, they found themselves in a situation where they were offered very little for their land compared to going market rates.

Just think of it. When Forillon National Park was created, the 225 families who lived on this land were forced to find somewhere else to live. Those with very strong ties to this region wanted to stay in the Gaspé region, in the town of Gaspé in particular. However, property and home prices had risen because of the anticipated increase in development. These people had to find other pieces of property to purchase, and that with very little money. They had to spend substantial sums of money to purchase another piece of property and a home. Many of them had to go into debt.

Many could not accept this ridiculous state of affairs. They fought back. To use once again the analogy of a tsunami, they were engulfed by a giant wave. Those who were unable to accept the creation of Forillon National Park, with its promise of wealth and development, were forcibly expropriated.

How is a person supposed to react to a government official in a nice suit? We have talked a lot about white-collar crime these days, but other kinds of crime are committed as well. Back then, these people were caught in a no-win situation. Roughly 1,000 people in five municipalities were affected. We are talking about 214 residential properties, 355 buildings, 1,400 woodlots and 8 factories.

And what of the famous promises I alluded to earlier? I can give the House some idea of the exact numbers involved. The park was supposed to generate tens of millions of dollars in investments and create 3,000 jobs, including 700 permanent jobs. The creation of the park was also going to lead to an exponential increase in the number of visitors each year.

In 2005, the town council of Gaspé reported that the park employed 35 persons all year and 100 more during the summer, or the equivalent of 70 full-time jobs per year. At the time, 3,000 jobs were promised, but in reality, only 70 jobs were created.

I will not sing you a song about the fate of these people. There is, however, a song by Paul Piché, and another lesser known one, La chanson de Forillon, or Song of Forillon, with lyrics by Maurice Joncas, a Gaspesien, and music by Pierre Michaud. There are almost enough people here to sing it as a choir, but that is not what we are here for. I will read the lyrics to you:For generations, they lived on this land
To live or die was the law of the people of Forillon.
Fishing boats in summer, axes and stoves in winter,
Sharing happy times, that was more or less their world.
But others came to survey, to measure and trample on the land.
From Ottawa they sent bulldozers to clear it all away.
Québec agreed and told the people to leave it all behind.
Now bid goodbye to your land, your home, your family, your friends, your Gaspésie.
Leave your homes for Montreal, Gaspé, Québec or someplace else.
Even with your broken hearts, everything will work out fine.
Go and die in the big city; it's not so hard to do.
A tree uprooted always dies.
Our land, our Gaspésie, will be transformed one day,
Of that we can be sure.
Strangers will come to Forillon and not remember
The ones who cleared this land a hundred years ago.
For generations, we lived on this land,
To live and die, that was the law of the people of Forillon.
Fishing boats in summer, axes and stoves in winter,
We no longer share those happy times.
Now everyone pays at the gate.

Those lyrics accurately reflect the spirit of the day. The last line says it all, “Now everyone pays at the gate”. There used to be a village, a church, a community and a cemetery. The descendants of those who lived in Forillon National Park had to pay an entrance fee just to be able to visit their family's roots and pay their respects. That is the sad reality. When we think about what happened to these people, we get the clear sense they were not shown an ounce of respect.

That is the battle we are fighting today, the battle for recognition of what happened. Another battle needs to be fought in Quebec City, but that will take place in another theatre, the National Assembly. Quebec was complicit in this situation, but we have work to do here in Ottawa.

That work has been done in certain circumstances, particularly the cases of Mirabel and the Indian residential schools. Now it is the turn of those who were expropriated to create Forillon National Park. Now, 40 years after the fact and many painful memories later, the people are asking for something. They have been given access passes for the three generations of descendants living in the area. This gives them free access to the park and means they do not have to pay at the gate to visit the park to pay their respects to their families or reconnect with their roots. But they want five generations to receive these access passes, not just three. That is one part of the issue.

In addition, these passes should not be limited to just the 225 families who owned homes or property located in the park. I mentioned woodlots and other properties. We are talking about roughly 1,500 people. Although it would not cost a lot to give them all passes, that small gesture certainly would mean a lot, and therefore not be so small, after all.

So I obviously urge parliamentarians of every stripe to stand united in the House of Commons on this motion. In fact, it is merely a first step. For Parliament to make a formal apology is one thing, but we also want the government to formally apologize to each and every person to whom this kind of thing has happened, is happening or will happen.

I met with these people, and I visited Dolbel-Roberts House in Forillon National Park. The museum tells some of their history. People have shared their stories on video, on tape and now on DVD. With heavy hearts, they describe what they went through and the tremendous pain of it all. And for that pain, we owe them our consideration today.

I want to commend my leader and my political party, the Bloc Québécois, for taking the time to look into this issue and allowing it to be our focus for an entire day. As I said before, by devoting a day to one particular injustice, we are actually tackling all injustices. And there are plenty to chose from. There is no shortage of injustice, we might say. This is an initiative the Bloc Québécois is proud of, but it is also taking a non-partisan approach. I hope it will be taken in that spirit. I am the first to speak, and others will follow, including members from the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party. I hope we will unanimously support this motion.

This motion is not intended to fix everything. Keep in mind the situation I described. Today, all these people who have come here would, on one hand, prefer not to remember what happened, to forget completely, because nothing in the world could possibly right the wrong done to them. But on the other hand, they have a little voice inside telling them this would nevertheless be helpful, just as it could be helpful to those who are and will be watching us today. They may appreciate the fact that we are telling them what happened, making them aware of the injustice that occurred, of the disrespectful and undignified manner in which some people were treated. It helps to hear what happened. In any case, it helps me to talk about it.

As a native of the Gaspé region, I know very well that we have endured all kinds of situations throughout our history, which continues to unfold. Given what we know about the creation of Forillon National Park, about those who were expropriated, about the sad anniversary of Wilbert Coffin's hanging and about all the other injustices, the very least we can do today is to recognize what happened. When you make a mistake this big, the least you can do is to consider apologizing.

The former member of Parliament for my riding made some mistakes, and I apologize for that to all those who were expropriated in connection with Forillon National Park. Had I been the member at the time, there is no doubt the situation would have been much different.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for informing the House of a matter that had its genesis some 40 years ago and affects up to, I believe he said 225 families, but with other properties about 1,000 persons.

This comes up from time to time with events from the past for which there has been an injustice or the issue had not been dealt with in a manner wherein if we were in the same position we would have felt there was a better solution.

My question for the member is to inquire whether this issue has been raised at any time before with the current government or with other levels of government and has there been any uptake in terms of consideration of the well-founded point that has been raised today by the hon. member?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2011 / 10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for that question. It gives me an opportunity to say that there has indeed been some correspondence, particularly from representatives of the commemorative committee, such as Lionel Bernier, whom I mentioned earlier. I myself have written a letter to the current Prime Minister, requesting the same things we are asking for today on behalf of the people concerned. I met with the former acting minister for Parks Canada, who is now in another position—House Leader, of course. I hope to have a chance to meet with the new minister one day to move this issue forward.

We have a wonderful opportunity here. We had a great opportunity last year, with the commemorative events, but we have an even better one today. The government has a chance to respond positively to these requests.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for his motion today and I certainly indicate that the NDP caucus is strongly supportive of it.

The motion calls on the House of Commons to issue the apology. Why does the motion not indicate that the government should issue the apology?

I would also like to know what the Liberal government did regarding this situation, because it was in power for 27 years from the time the park was established. Were the Liberals asked to do anything over those 27 years?

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for his question. As I mentioned earlier, this happened on Jean Chrétien's watch; he was the minister responsible for parks at the time. Unfortunately, no government has taken any tangible action.

We need to discuss what happens here, but we must not forget that there are also people responsible in Quebec City, people who need to acknowledge their mistakes, even though they were made by the government or governments of the day. The Union Nationale was the party in power when all this took place, by the way. In Ottawa, it was Trudeau's Liberal government, which included Jean Chrétien. Then, in Quebec City, it was the Union Nationale government.

Unfortunately, no one has made a formal apology or taken any meaningful action so far. I am very aware that the current Liberal Party leader has had a chance to meet with these people and spoke publicly on the issue. Today is a perfect opportunity for him to take an even stronger stand, not only as a show of support, but in a genuine attempt to help heal the wounds of those who were expropriated from Forillon National Park.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament, one of the aspects of my work I most appreciate —and that is our role, of course—is defending citizens who are victims of injustice, especially in a case like this one, Forillon Park, where people are waging a battle like that of David against Goliath. It is easy to understand that when you uproot a tree, it is painful and difficult, but uprooting a people is something truly agonizing. It is an attack on the people's identity, on its life and on everything around it.

We feel that this has enormous repercussions, on several generations in fact, as we can see in this case. It is certainly incumbent upon us to extend our apologies to all of the Quebec men and women who were affected.

The member spoke to us of the Forillon Park battle, and this immediately brought to mind images of the military, even though I understand of course that this is not what we are talking about. But I would like him to tell us a little about how people resisted this decision. There was surely some resistance.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, they resisted with a lot of dignity. I think it is important to talk about this again, to go back to this story.

In the face of this tidal wave, they decided that this was unacceptable and that they were going to have to fight. They fought before the courts. They finally managed to win their case, but after several years. The errors were recognized. Those people were given money and told that they had not been paid sufficiently at the time and that there was now a willingness to give them three or even five times what they had been offered back then.

All of a sudden, some people who had accepted those offers realized that this was not right and that they should also fight. In fact, they wondered why they should accept peanuts and recognized that there had been a mistake regarding this expropriation. These people fought and they also triumphed.

So there was a type of battle. It is unfortunate that summarizing all of that struggle in a few seconds is extremely difficult. When people encounter this lack of respect and have to fight against an enormous machine, the slightest bit of support—and today's support is highly important—surely helps to salve the wounds.

Opposition Motion—Forillon ParkBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Beauport—Limoilou Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate.

Canada's national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites were created for Canadians by the federal government in order to allow them to discover the diversity and natural and cultural riches of our great country.

The Parks Canada Agency has been given the mandate to manage these exceptional sites on behalf of Canadians. Thus, the agency is the steward of a network of protected natural and historic areas that is among the most beautiful and most vast in the entire world.

Parks Canada manages this array of 42 national parks, 4 national marine conservation areas and 167 national historic sites so as to allow everyone to have memorable experiences there, while ensuring that the parks' resources are protected for future generations.

Parks Canada has from its inception continued to evolve. Today, the agency is reaching more and more people, allowing them to have more and more memorable experiences and becoming more relevant in the eyes of Canadians, while continuing to protect our heritage, celebrate our history and encourage the population to explore, wonder and dream about the future.

As the parks are protected and managed on behalf of Canadians, Parks Canada recognizes that the public must be actively engaged in dialogue when the time comes to define the future of these unique sites.

This approach is part of a profound change within Parks Canada and has led to concrete action that is facilitating the reconciliation process with regard to Forillon, and also having an impact throughout the country. By sharing leadership with people from the community, we are obtaining mutually beneficial and more satisfactory outcomes for everyone.

In the case of Forillon National Park, in 2006, when the public consultation on the management plan took place, Parks Canada heard the heartfelt cry of people who wanted their park to listen to them, recognize the past and carve out a place for them in its history. Since 2007, Parks Canada personnel have expended considerable effort to ensure that this page in Forillon National Park's history will be told with respect and to get closer to the expropriated families.

It was in that spirit also that in early 2007, Parks Canada set up an advisory committee to create a setting conducive to communication between area residents and the park's management. One of the top priorities was to tell the story of the expropriation, which is a key chapter in the park's history. To do this, Parks Canada got together with people from the area and some of the expropriated residents, with whom it worked closely in order to determine the best way of telling their story, as a gesture of reconciliation.

Another tangible act by Parks Canada was the organization in 2009 of a reunion day, which was a first step in that reconciliation. Parks Canada made a formal commitment at that time to tell the people of the Gaspé and all Canadians about the events that preceded the creation of Forillon National Park. For many of the 300 people in attendance, that was the first opportunity they had to come back to the place where they had grown up and had lived.

Parks Canada repeated the gesture in 2010 by inviting all of the expropriated people and their families, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the creation of Forillon National Park, to come and rediscover their park and take part in reunion activities.

On that occasion, my colleague, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, on behalf of the hon. Jim Prentice, who was then the Minister of the Environment and the minister responsible for Parks Canada, inaugurated the exhibit “Gaspesians from Land's End” at Dolbel-Roberts House, located in Forillon National Park. This exhibit is one step in the reconciliation work undertaken by Forillon National Park in order to reconnect with the expropriated owners, their descendants and the former residents who lived on the land when the park was created.

It reflects Parks Canada's desire to underscore the contribution these families and these communities made to the history of the region and the country. This exhibit stands as a permanent record of the life of the families that were expropriated when Forillon National Park was created. A group of expropriated owners took part in all of the steps in the preparation of the exhibit, from the concept to the final product. To respond to their wish to share their story, some moving accounts were recorded and are presented in the hall that is dedicated to them. The exhibit and the work that went into it proved to be a positive exercise, and the group repeatedly expressed its satisfaction with the co-operation of the Parks Canada team.

Everyone feels that the exhibit is dynamic and that the expropriated families are given a large role in it, having enriched its content by adding family photographs, objects and archives. There was a call sent out to the public on community radio, and over 400 photographs were lent and integrated into this exhibit. In the exhibit hall dedicated to the expropriated families, cultural activities and reunions may be held all season long. Various events are planned, such as meetings to share genealogical information, musical evenings and family reunions.

This exhibit is more than a cultural product; it is a social contract entered into by Parks Canada and the Forillon expropriated owners committee. The commitment, openness and sincerity of all parties have constituted a real cornerstone, a solid basis for this project that promises continuity.

The Government of Canada invested close to a million dollars in this exhibit. In addition, this new exhibit will enhance the experience of the many visitors to Forillon National Park and improve the tourism offering of the park and the whole region.

This gesture of reconciliation allows more than 225 families to revisit the area where some of them grew up and where an important part of their history has been brought back to life.

Since 2006, Parks Canada has done much to reach out to the people from the area and work closely with them, particularly the expropriated owners. The actions mentioned previously constitute a solid foundation upon which Parks Canada intends to continue building. Moreover, Parks Canada wants to maintain an ongoing dialogue with all of those who have a strong connection with Forillon National Park. In closing, Parks Canada is very proud of everything that has been achieved up until now and intends to continue its efforts in that regard.

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of the work that has been done in Forillon National Park, and this is a beautiful chapter in the Gaspé region's history that we must continue to tell.