House of Commons Hansard #317 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-71.


Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, we saw different iterations of the firearms registry come before our Conservative government, and one of the mandates we had was to get rid of the registry. We did so with the exception of two copies, as we are told by the Information Commissioner. It was preserved for a person named Bill Clennett, who had made an ATIP request because he wanted to preserve that part of the data.

It seems more than strange in reference to my colleagues' comments about it not being a registry, not a backdoor registry, not a front door registry, etc.

I beg to differ, and I will quote from Bill C-71 itself. Many folks are watching this debate, especially law-abiding firearms owners who are concerned about this bill and how far it goes, and I am going to let them decide.

This is what I call the front door registry, the one that is not supposed to exist. The minister has said the government is not going to re-establish the registry. I even looked at the talking points of the Liberal Party. I looked at my phone, and the Liberals say on Twitter, “No new gun registry”.

The bill states:

The Commissioner of Firearms shall—for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of the Firearms Registration Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Quebec, 2016—provide the Quebec Minister with a copy of all records that were in the Canadian Firearms Registry on April 3, 2015 and that relate to firearms registered, as at that day, as non-restricted firearms, if the Quebec Minister provides the Commissioner with a written request to that effect before the end of the 120th day after the day on which the Commissioner sends written notice under subsection (2).

That is not legislation from two years ago. This is from Bill C-71, the legislation we are debating on the floor of the House right now. It seems more than strange that the minister can stand and say what we are saying is false, that we are calling what they are proposing a new firearms registry.

I will read it again, for those who did not hear:

for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of the Firearms Registration Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Quebec, 2016—provide the Quebec Minister with a copy of all records that were in the Canadian Firearms Registry

—that is giving the hard drive to the Quebec minister if they ask for it—

on April 3, 2015 and that relate to firearms registered, as at that day, as non-restricted firearms

I am a person who owns handguns, so I am a restricted firearms owner. We are already on a registry in the database for that purpose alone. Prohibited firearms owners are there as well, but the government says it is not creating a new non-restricted firearms registry.

I said it twice, but the Liberal members here do not seem too interested in the facts of their own bill, which are that the minister is going to pass a copy of the registry that was supposed to have been destroyed with the previous government to the Province of Quebec to re-establish a firearms registry.

I do not know how much clearer we can be. What are they going to do when they have a former firearms registry that is now three years old? They are going to update that firearms registry data.

Let us say the Quebec minister makes a request for this firearms registry of the data that was supposed to have been destroyed, and brings it into the province. This is speculation, of course, but we need not look too far to see what is going to happen. The Quebec government takes its copy and then chooses to update it. Here we go again. We have a firearms registry that is going to happen in Quebec as a result of this legislation.

The troubling part of this is that the Information Commissioner preserved a copy because of the request by one individual named Bill Clennett. That is the only reason this copy has been preserved. I am told there are two copies of this. The only reason it sits in a vault to this day is to honour a request by that individual. For no other purpose does it exist.

Therefore, for the minister now to offer a copy of that to the Quebec government goes against a Supreme Court ruling saying that the jurisdiction lies within this place and in the federal government.

It also strikes me as strange that a previous government's mandate was to destroy the registry. It made attempts to do that. Because of a request, it has been preserved. It is clear this registry's data as they sit, the two copies that exist in this vault, need to be destroyed once this requirement is met. To me, this is an obvious case of establishing a firearms registry through the front door. When I come back, I will also speak about the registry as it sits, as they try to get it through the back door.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When the House next gets back to the question, the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies will have four minutes remaining for his remarks, and of course the usual period for questions and comments.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Québec debout

Monique Pauzé Québec debout Repentigny, QC

moved that Bill C-392, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act and other Acts (application of provincial law), be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House today. Being able to introduce a bill and debate it is a significant moment for a legislator. Bill C-392 will give me a sense of accomplishment, and members will soon see why.

This bill will ensure that no one will be above our laws. It will help ensure better protection for our environment and farmlands, and it will allow for much more harmonious land use and development. Bill C-392 amends eight federal acts to impose constraints on the ministers responsible for enforcing these acts. This bill deals with legislation regulating pipelines, harbours, docks, airports, telecommunications infrastructure, and all property that enjoys federal immunity, including land managed by the National Capital Commission.

Once this bill is passed, the federal government will no longer be able to authorize an activity or infrastructure project that would violate provincial laws or municipal bylaws on environmental protection and land development. In theory, Quebec belongs to Quebeckers. For the most part, the protection of our territory and environment is governed by Quebec law.

Moreover, Quebec is a pioneer in this area. It has had environmental legislation on the books for almost half a century. It may not be perfect, but it is the best in North America. The same applies to land development. There is a series of laws and regulations to ensure that it is as harmonious as possible at both the provincial and municipal levels.

To ensure Quebeckers’ needs are taken into account, there is a series of consultation mechanisms, for example the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, and municipal referendums. In short, we have adopted a series of laws and mechanisms to protect our environment, ensure harmonious land development and guarantee that projects have social licence. The same is true of every province.

However, when it comes to projects under federal jurisdiction, none of this applies. For all intents and purposes, the federal government is above provincial law. Quebec laws and municipal by-laws continue to apply, but only insofar as they do not affect activities under federal jurisdiction.

Consider a hypothetical pipeline project. We might demand that the pipe be painted green, blue, black or yellow. That does not cost much or bother anyone. However, we could not impose major constraints or demand costly detours, much less refuse to give our consent for the project. Only the federal government can make these decisions, despite our laws and regardless of the will of my people.

Since I was elected about two years ago, there have been too many federal projects that have caused discontent because we have no say in their implementation. It is as if we were no longer at home at home.

Here are some examples: consider the Act Respecting the Preservation of Agricultural Land and Agricultural Activities, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. We tend to forget, because Quebec has a huge territory, but our farmland is extremely valuable. Only 2% of Quebec’s total land mass is made up of good farmland. When it is contaminated and paved over, it is lost forever. It is lost to posterity.

For 40 years now, developers in Quebec have been prevented from destroying our farmland. They must appear before the Commission de protection du territoire agricole and obtain authorization before building anything in a green zone.

However, in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the act did not apply to the construction of aerodromes on protected farmland. Since aeronautics is under federal jurisdiction, these contractors are above provincial law. As a result, since the last election, an airport was built in an agricultural area in Saint-Cuthbert, in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé. There is another one in Neuville, an aerodrome built smack dab in the middle of a cornfield in the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. In both cases, the construction violated provincial law, the Union des producteurs agricoles protested, the municipalities protested, and the Quebec government and the National Assembly protested. No one wanted them, but the federal government gave the go-ahead anyway.

The same thing happened in Mascouche, in my esteemed colleague’s riding of Montcalm. In the case of Mascouche, the bill breaches three laws; not one or two laws, but three laws. It breaches agricultural zoning provisions, municipal zoning provisions and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, because it is in a protected wooded area. My colleague from Montcalm spoke many times in the House on the issue, but that did not matter to the government. It blindly authorized the construction, and the whole thing is now before the courts.

Let us look at other examples. In the case of land development, municipalities are on the front lines. Developing a territory home to thousands of people and sharing it harmoniously in order to avoid conflict is a delicate affair. That is what city planning and zoning regulations are for. Land use planning can only be done at the local level by people who live in the territory in question. After all, it is their territory, their home. Of course, the federal government does not care. It grants businesses under its jurisdiction the same immunity it enjoys from our laws.

I am convinced that every member in the House could tell stories about problems with cell towers being built wherever telecommunications companies please. These companies are above provincial law, above the will of the people, and they certainly are not afraid to take advantage of it. Some cities have tried to pass by-laws to try to straighten things out, but the courts have struck them down one after the other. That is what happened in Terrebonne, Châteauguay and Gatineau. Montreal withdrew its own by-law because, during public consultations, the companies even threatened to sue the city. Industry Canada sent a brief to tell the city to back down.

I could mention the Port of Quebec. IMTT set up shop there, polluting the Limoilou and Saint-Roch neighbourhoods, in the ridings of Beauport—Limoilou and Québec. Residents began mobilizing because of the red dust that settled on their balconies, window sills and outdoor play areas. Among other things, the dust contained nickel, iron, copper and zinc. Did the federal government listen to them? Not at all, because Ottawa is far removed from the real world. At the end of the day, the Quebec government intervened, but it was met with arrogance from the federal government and the businesses it protects under the mantle of its power.

When inspectors from the Quebec ministry for sustainable development, the environment, and the fight against climate change wanted to visit the facilities, the port authorities told them that they had no business there, because the port is under federal jurisdiction. When the Quebec government served a statement of offence under its Environment Quality Act, the company sent it packing. The worst part is that the Quebec Superior Court ruled in favour of the company. The company can flout our laws and poison our urban neighbourhoods as much as it wants. It is above the law.

I have not even mentioned the energy east pipeline, that would have crossed 800 waterways in Quebec without our being able to do a thing about it. These 800 waterways are a source of drinking water for five million Quebeckers. TransCanada consistently refused to apply for a Quebec certificate of authorization, submit to BAPE hearings or comply with Quebec law. If the project had not been abandoned by the company, we would have seen monster protests, and I guarantee that I would have been among the protestors. There would also have been an endless legal battle between the Government of Quebec and the federal government, which systematically sides with companies against Canadians. The government should not be imposing projects on Canadians without their consent.

That is what is happening now in British Columbia, a taste of what will happen if the government tries to revive the energy east pipeline project. We need to settle this now, before it leads to a social and political crisis, which is precisely what will happen if the energy east pipeline project is revived.

I could talk about the federal government’s properties. Cities develop plans, rule on the maximum height of buildings and make an effort to preserve green areas so that the city can breathe. That is what land development is all about.

However, Ottawa can barge in and build anything anywhere, with no regard for local residents or the bylaws adopted by local elected officials. For example, the City of Gatineau has often ended up at daggers drawn with the National Capital Commission. Recently, someone was telling me about the fact that the government constantly nibbles away at Ottawa's Greenbelt whenever it builds new federal offices. That is how things go with projects under federal jurisdiction. There is no shortage of problems, from disregard for locals and legal uncertainty to court battles and unenforceable municipal bylaws.

This bill will fix all of that by introducing legal certainty into areas under perpetual litigation. Since there will be an act of Parliament to explain why proponents' projects were turned down, they will no longer be able to challenge the applicability of our laws. True, the bill will take discretionary powers away from the government, but only to give them back to the people. Furthermore, this would fulfill one of the Liberals' campaign promises that they seem to have forgotten once they got a taste of power. I would just like to remind them that they said the following:

While governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.

Indeed, before the election, the Liberals promised that they would not issue permits for projects that were not approved by the province or municipality. That is precisely what the bill will force them to do. Given that projects will have to concurrently comply with federal laws, provincial laws, and municipal by-laws, the highest standard will apply. It is important to have fairly high standards for the environment.

We live in a democracy. Our laws, our regulations, and our consultation mechanisms reflect a certain social consensus. In principle, Quebec agrees with this bill. The Government of Quebec believes that its environmental and land use planning laws must apply at all times. The National Assembly has stated this unanimously several times.

Municipalities are very unhappy that Ottawa constantly circumvents them. The Union des producteurs agricoles wants Ottawa to comply with the law that protects Quebec land. Environmental groups want the highest standards to apply.

While the government insists on exercising its authority on all matters, we want to return control of the land to those who live there. That way we could to a greater extent be masters in our own house, as Jean Lesage used to say. That is Bill C-392 in a nutshell, and that is why I am very proud to introduce it today.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not thank legislative counsel of the House, especially Nathalie Caron and Isabelle D'Souza, because preparing an omnibus bill that amends several laws and has almost constitutional impacts on a very tight deadline was quite the challenge and they rose to the occasion brilliantly. Hats off to them.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member from Repentigny on her private member’s bill. I fully support the bill’s objective.

As my colleague mentioned, it is unacceptable that the government is ignoring the will of British Columbians in the matter of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

With Bill C-69, there will be no credible assessment process for projects such as pipelines at the federal level. We must protect the provinces’ right to conduct more appropriate assessments, such as those conducted by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement.

What does my colleague think about this shortcoming in Bill C-69?

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Québec debout

Monique Pauzé Québec debout Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.

Yes, I tried to propose the same type of amendments that would have ensured compliance with provincial laws and municipal by-laws. Unfortunately, the entire Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development voted them down.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, like Manitoba, I really do care about the province of Quebec. I care about the different regions of our country. My ancestors, both on my mother's and father's side, originated from the province of Quebec. I was an MLA for many years, almost two decades, in Manitoba. As much as I love my province, I understand that at times there needs to be a national interest in the potential for development of different projects. There also is is a need for a national government to demonstrate leadership. The former question is a good example of why it is necessary.

My question for my friend and colleague across the way is this. I can appreciate, as I am sure she knows, that she comes from a party that would ultimately like to see more separation of Quebec from Canada. To what degree might that be the primary motivation, as opposed to having legislation that is in the best interest of all Canadians, in the national interest?

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Québec debout

Monique Pauzé Québec debout Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question, as it is an opportunity for me to tell her that the bill covers the country from coast to coast. Moreover, my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands supports it. We did a press briefing together.

Also, what is the national interest? In my opinion, the national interest is making sure that people have drinking water. Our bodies are apparently made up of 60% water. In my opinion, drinking water is an essential service, and that is what we need to protect. The national interest is protecting public health.

In Limoilou, people are breathing in dust containing nickel, copper, iron, zinc and God knows what else. In my opinion, that is not in the national interest. If Canada’s national interest means pipelines and oil and if that is more important than anything else, we are obviously not living in the same nation.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

We still have time for a brief question and answer. The hon. member from Trois-Rivières has the floor.

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5:45 p.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief. First, I would like to thank my colleague from Repentigny for her initiative, which reminds me that the aerodrome in Neuville was a contentious issue under the previous government and that my colleague Élaine Michaud did an extraordinary job at the time.

As the hon. member said herself, her bill is something of an omnibus bill, because it affects eight laws. Although I support the bill, I wonder whether the amendments she proposes are the same in all eight cases. For example, are we talking about incorporation by reference? By what legislative process does she intend to tackle the problem?

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Québec debout

Monique Pauzé Québec debout Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes, the bill affects eight laws, but the same amendment applies to all of them. There are already laws in Canada that take provincial laws into account, such as the Canada National Parks Act. Bill C-392 takes elements from the Canada National Parks Act and applies them to all projects.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario


Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about Bill C-392.

Bill C-392 touches upon several subjects, including intergovernmental relations, federalism, and the paramountcy principle, matters that have been debated in both houses of Parliament in relation to a wide range of subjects. In essence, this bill seeks to allow provincial governments to impose restrictions on environmental protection activities and land use for projects which the federal government undertakes across the country.

I applaud the member for Repentigny's initiative to give more prominent consideration to the environment and land use when projects and activities that fall under federal jurisdiction are being considered.

The government also believes that the environment is worth protecting. Canadians should know that their governments, at all levels, are working together to achieve economic and environmental objectives and are acting in the interests of their safety and security.

Every day millions of Canadians can go about their lives in an orderly and predictable way. They get into their cars that start and stop as they should; drive on roads where people follow the rules; buy groceries that are free from contaminants; land in airplanes at airports that are safe; drink water that is clean; and sleep well at night, knowing that our police, fire departments, paramedics, and military personnel are on guard for our security.

Our society depends on laws and rules to function, and each level of government is responsible for those things that fall into its jurisdiction. Education, building codes and highways, for example, are primarily provincial responsibilities. Matters such as defence, aeronautics, and radio communications, for example, extend beyond provincial borders and impact the country as a whole. In these areas, it falls to the federal government to implement a nationally consistent approach that serves Canada and its people.

As we all know, the division of powers in Canada has been defined in the Constitution Act, but we also know that this division is not black and white. There are many areas and many issues where interests will cross jurisdictional lines, where two or even three levels of government have a stake in an issue, like the environment, like health, like safety, like employment.

The Government of Canada works with the provinces on matters such as education, health, and employment. Likewise, the provinces work with the Government of Canada on matters that fall under federal jurisdiction.

This division of power is essential to maintaining order and predictability in our society. It ensures that we avoid the scenario of too many leaders in one situation or a leadership void when no one else wants to take responsibility in another. In Canada, all jurisdictions must work together on certain issues to promote and protect the interests of all Canadians. Even when we agree to work together, we must still respect jurisdictional boundaries.

Recent Supreme Court decisions on the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity have stated that provincial and municipal legislation cannot impair core matters of federal jurisdiction over aeronautics or radio communication infrastructure.

While these decisions quite clearly establish federal authority on matters such as aerodromes and cell phone towers, the government does not hide behind interjurisdictional immunity to run roughshod over communities.

In fact, to ensure that local concerns are taken into consideration for activities and projects that fall under federal jurisdiction, the government puts processes in place for consultation and the consideration of environmental laws and land use.

I would like to illustrate this point with a few examples.

First, in January 2017, following a regulatory consultation process, Transport Canada implemented a new regulation called Canadian aviation regulation 307–aerodromes–consultations. The regulation was specifically established to require proponents of certain aerodrome projects to consult with affected stakeholders before starting work so local concerns could be identified and mitigated.

As another example, under the Canada Marine Act, Canada port authorities are charged with the management of federal real property and marine assets as well as navigable waters within the ports. In addition to abiding by all federal legislation and regulations, the Canada Marine Act provides for the incorporation of provincial legislation by reference to address specific issues when the need arises. As a result, British Columbia's liquefied natural gas regulation is being applied to the federal lands being managed by the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

My third and final example is the Canada Infrastructure Bank funding program. The Canada Infrastructure Bank acts as a minority partner in delivering federal support to infrastructure projects, alongside co-investment by private sector and institutional investors and sponsoring governments. Projects supported by the bank must respect all applicable laws in the relevant jurisdiction, including any applicable environmental or labour laws. Project sponsors are required to provide assurance to the bank and other investors that all applicable laws in a province have been respected.

The reason these specific examples were chosen is because these initiatives, all of which require consultation and consideration of local issues related to land use and the environment, are taken from the very acts that the private member's bill seeks to amend. There are countless other examples in the same acts and elsewhere that demonstrate the government's commitment to hearing the concerns of Canadians.

Because the government is not above listening and improving, it is constantly looking for ways to demonstrate this commitment.

Recently, it introduced Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Bill C-69 exceeds the amendments proposed in Bill C-392 and would explicitly reflect the consideration of environmental, social, safety, health, socio-economic issues, including gender-based impacts, economics, and impacts on indigenous peoples.

Bill C-69 will also provide the public an opportunity to express their views during review processes.

As we all know, there are many issues that transcend municipal and provincial boundaries, and many others where the federal government may be unaware of local concerns. For this reason, taking a co-operative approach achieves the best possible outcome for all Canadians. With a country as large and diverse as Canada, we must all act in good faith and work together to achieve the best possible results for our economy and the environment and for our citizens.

Co-operation is a fine balance. There have been, and will continue to be, times when differences arise despite our best efforts to work together. Even the strongest relationships will experience disagreements.

Bill C-392 would represent a major shift in federal-provincial dynamics in Canada and would undermine the co-operative relationship that we have worked so hard to establish.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to rise to talk about the bill introduced by my colleague, the member for Repentigny.

I would first like to congratulate my colleague who, as she mentioned herself in her speech, has done a lot of work and research on this. She worked with the legislative counsel of the House to draft a bill that, based on the information she has given us, complies with all constitutional rules and is in order. I doubt that it will really meet all of the court's expectations, but at least some work has been done.

Like me, my colleague very much likes Quebec and defending issues that matter to Quebec. When I was mayor I was involved in a number of jurisdictional disputes. Indeed, mayors are shocked when other levels of government decide for us what we must do or not do in our community. That being said, when I was the mayor of Thetford Mines, we had to manage a creek with a number of other municipalities and if each one of them had decided to manage the creek differently without guidelines, unfortunately, I would not have been able to guarantee the quality of the water at the end of the creek.

That is why I find it commendable that the hon. member wants to return decision-making communities to streamline their decisions, but sometimes streamlining can go too far and gloss over the general interest. That is when mistakes are made. Those decisions might have to be framed better because there are files that have to be managed by other levels of government.

Bill C-392 amends a number of acts, including the Aeronautics Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act, and also other acts, which I will have the chance to talk about later. The summary reads as follows:

This enactment amends certain acts to subordinate the exercise of certain powers to the applicable provincial laws concerning land use and development and environmental protection.

We need to understand that the very nature of the Québec Debout party involves seeking to opt out of all federal legislation. Basically, all that its members want is for Quebec to leave Canada. Without discounting my colleague's excellent work, we should not be surprised that they introduced a bill, as excellent as it may be, whose objective is to allow Quebec to opt out of federal laws. That is their political agenda. They want to leave Canada and they are taking small steps in that direction in the hopes that, one day, one more small step will mean that they no longer need Canada.

That is what is happening here. Unfortunately for them, we saw through their game and we are going to oppose Bill C-392 as it now stands, even though it was well done and my colleague worked very hard. She is a woman of conviction, which is a great thing in Parliament. We can believe different things and express our views.

I could make some recommendations to my Québec Debout colleagues, but I will refrain from doing so because I do not necessarily think that those recommendations would be appreciated.

The Conservative Party of Canada does not like to cause federal-provincial squabbles. We are not here for that. The main reason we are here is to stand up for the interests of Quebeckers and the Quebec nation within Canada. That is what we are working for. The Conservative Party of Canada welcomed the results of yesterday's byelection in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, where 52% of people voted for a party that will defend Quebec's interests within the Canadian federation.

This bill obviously aims to invert the hierarchical relationship in federal areas of jurisdiction. It could give the provinces a strong power to interfere at the federal level, by simply amending provincial legislation. This would also have an impact on key economic projects. This would have an impact on the economy. If this bill were applied to the legislation of a single province, it would be enough to delay or even kill a project in the national interest, even if this project does not fall under provincial jurisdiction. I believe that the existing rules and regulations already give enough authority—

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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6 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am sorry, but I am trying to listen to the member's speech, which seems quite interesting. I find this very difficult when other members are yelling. I remind members that the Standing Orders allow just one person to speak at a time. The others may whisper among themselves, but we will let the member for Mégantic—L'Érable continue his speech.

The member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert on a point of order.

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6:05 p.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say that the member obviously very much appreciates the interaction. He is enjoying it.

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6:05 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

That is not really a point of order, but I thank the member.

The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

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6:05 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, I love the back and forth, especially when I see the kind of results we had yesterday in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, where there was tons of back and forth among former supporters of another party who are coming over to ours. I love that kind of back and forth.

I want to get back to the bill, which is way too big. It amends no less than eight important federal laws already in place. We are talking about aerospace, fishing harbours, the national capital, the National Energy Board, radiocommunication, federal government properties, the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and the Canada Marine Act. Basically, the Liberals want to do it all, but I think they have bitten off more than they can chew. Perhaps that is part of the problem with this bill. We saw it coming a mile away.

This bill could create investment uncertainty in Canada's various provinces. It could hurt Quebec's interests. We need to remember that, as well. We have to be careful. If we do not know who is leading when it comes time to talk about a project that affects several provinces at once, I am not sure whether investors will choose to invest in Quebec without that kind of certainty, which can always help.

Despite everything I just said, it is not Québec Debout that represents the most serious threat to the country's unity. Its best ally, I have to say, is the one it has been fighting forever, the centralist Liberal government. We should think about that. This government is incapable of having discussions with the provinces. Its lack of action on several files means that it will soon have a conflict with 50% of the provinces and 79% of Canadians. Just think of Trans Mountain in British Columbia and Alberta, and the carbon tax in Ontario and Saskatchewan. Today, we can add the cannabis issue. There will soon be a fight over home cultivation with Quebec and Manitoba. We have a Prime Minister who insists on continually interfering in provincial jurisdictions. That is the main threat. I think we should work on that. Things are so much worse than what the member for Repentigny is suggesting.

Voters in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord sent a clear message to the Prime Minister and Quebec's sovereignist parties. They are fed up with interference and bickering. Voters clearly stated that they want to be represented by a party that defends their interests, the best interests of Quebec, within the current federal framework. They said that they are tired of treading water, that it is time for a federal party that recognizes the Quebec nation to defend their interests and work on their behalf instead of for the cause. That is the message from the voters in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and that is what Richard Martel is going to do for them very soon, when he takes his seat in the House.

I would like to close with a quote from a very great man who loves Quebec very much and is not afraid to show it. The Conservative Party's general council was held in Saint-Hyacinthe in May, and it showed how much the party and its Quebec caucus care about the nation of Quebec. The quote I want to end with is, “The Conservatives welcome both nationalists who are fed up with squabbles and federalists who can no longer stand to see [the Prime Minister] living in his Care Bear world. And believe me, there will be many more Michel Gauthiers and Yves Lévesques.” Those words were spoken by the leader of the Conservative Party and leader of the official opposition in May in Saint-Hyacinthe. This is just the beginning.

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6:05 p.m.


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to outline my position and the position of the NDP on the bill put forward by my colleague from Repentigny.

I think her bill has many interesting elements with regard to respecting the jurisdictions of Quebec and the other provinces, municipal officials, and certain acts and regulations Quebec or other provinces have passed to protect ecosystems, public health, or local residents. Legal and constitutional matters are being raised. There is also the matter of respecting the Quebec nation, as well as respecting the concept known as social licence. Today, no government of any kind can just barge in like in the old days and try to impose its projects in spite of misgivings or fierce opposition from local, regional, or indigenous communities.

I found it hilarious, but at the same time kind of tragic, to hear the Liberal member say earlier that this bill would undermine her party's efforts to promote co-operative federalism.

That takes some nerve. I do not know whether Kinder Morgan, health transfers, or marijuana mean anything to them in terms of co-operative federalism. That is the type of approach they promised to take during the election, but since they took office, the Liberals have been all about unilateralism, federal imperialism, bulldozing, and charging ahead. I think that is absolutely shameful.

In fact, I would like to point something out to the member for Winnipeg North, the parliamentary secretary. He asked a question earlier and I remembered it. I would simply like to tell him that Quebec is not a region. It is a nation. It was not the National Assembly that said that. That was recognized here in the House of Commons and by the Parliament of Canada. I think the member should do his homework and find out exactly what motions have already been adopted here.

The bill introduced by the member for Repentigny has to do with Quebec, of course, but it also has to do with all of the provinces. It seeks to establish a balanced approach that respects the different jurisdictions of the provinces, the federal government, the municipalities, and first nations.

I would like to remind members of the NPD's approach. A few years ago, we had a leader named Jack Layton. He believed that the recognition of the Quebec nation should have implications and consequences, and he took that very seriously. That resulted in a very interesting document entitled the Sherbrooke declaration, drawn up by Pierre Ducasse. The Sherbrooke declaration, which was historically adopted by the NDP, recognizes the Quebec nation and asymmetrical federalism. For years, we have been accused of being a centralist party, but all of the Canada-wide programs that the NDP has proposed have had a Quebec clause that would allow the province to opt out with financial compensation if it was not interested in the program or if it already had an equivalent program. That is what I mean by asymmetrical federalism.

In terms of co-operative federalism, the bill is a step in the right direction. That is why the NDP will proudly support this bill so that it may be studied in committee. We have questions about the mechanics of the bill and how the courts will interpret the fact that we are restoring balance between various jurisdictions and, if possible, those with the best environmental assessments and the strongest social licence. However, I think that this is worth studying. We agree in principle. Second reading is a vote on the principle. We want to refer the bill to committee to be studied. We have some questions, but we think that the spirit of the bill is consistent with our vision. It is also a step in the right direction toward better understanding, to better protect our communities and the people who want to protect their lakes, rivers, farmland, and simply their peace and quiet. They can protect their creek from one end to the other as well. I am sure that if we can sit down and talk about this we will come to an agreement at some point.

The member for Repentigny introduced a bill that will amend eight federal acts, forcing Ottawa to respect applicable provincial laws and municipal regulations governing land use and development.

That is very important because land development is key here and the government has to do a better job of respecting that. This bill will affect wharves, ports, airports, telecommunications infrastructure, federal properties, interprovincial pipelines, and more.

This bill does not explicitly state how it changes the status quo, and that is what we have questions about. The bill simply says that the exercise of the powers in question must comply with provincial laws.

I believe my colleague from Repentigny mentioned an example to do with the Canada National Parks Act, which already takes certain provincial jurisdictions and regulations into consideration. In many cases, the exercise of powers under federal law is already subordinate to provincial laws, including those that govern land development and environmental protection. We do not see this as an inapplicable precedent or something unprecedented. This is the natural extension of a principle we agree with. Remains to be seen how it will apply in real life.

The bill's purpose is to give the governments of Quebec and the other provinces more power over land development within their borders. The bill would require the federal government to recognize agricultural zoning regulations, for example, and to respect more exacting environmental assessments, such as those carried out by the BAPE, Quebec's environmental assessment agency. We can talk more about that.

As the Green Party leader said, the Liberal government's Bill C-69 does not inspire confidence in the seriousness of the government's new environmental assessment processes. In some ways, this bill is full of holes. We do not even know if it will be enforced or if the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will abide by these recommendations. After all, her discretionary power is absolute.

In accordance with the division of powers under the Constitution, the laws affected by this bill are a matter of federal jurisdiction. According to the Library of Parliament analysis that we requested, it is impossible to determine the legislation's exact scope from its current wording. It is possible that the courts will interpret the provisions of Bill C-392 as an incorporation by reference of provincial laws, meaning that it incorporates, for the purposes of the eight laws amended, the rules set out by the provinces. If it turns out that the courts consider that the provisions of Bill C-392 incorporate by reference the provincial laws related to the eight laws amended, these provincial laws, for the purposes of these eight laws, will be considered to be federal laws. This is a common legislative technique that has a great deal of precedent. However, the real effects remain unknown for the time being. It will be important to examine these points and questions when the bill is studied in committee.

We also consulted David Robitaille, tenured professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. He thinks this bill is interesting and could result in a better division of the responsibilities and decision-making powers between the federal government and provincial governments, or the Government of Quebec in this particular instance.

There are a number of examples in which this could have made a difference if the bill introduced by the member for Repentigny had already been applied. For example, there is the private developer operating near Shawinigan that had the right to operate a small airport on private land or to fly a float plane on a lake, even though it was prohibited by a municipal zoning bylaw or provincial law, such as the Act Respecting the Preservation of Agricultural Land and Agricultural Activities. This is the kind of situation we must stop from happening.

I think it is important to be open, show common sense, and send this bill to committee, so that we can respect Quebec laws, provincial laws, and municipalities.

The current Liberal government violated the rights of indigenous peoples and of British Columbia. It barged in and bought a 65-year-old pipeline for $4.5 billion. It completely disregarded all of the orders from the Government of British Columbia. As a Quebecker, I would be particularly concerned that it might manage to revive a pipeline project like energy east, which had massive opposition throughout Quebec, in Montreal, in the metropolitan area, in towns, and in the regions. Energy east would have crossed 800 rivers in Quebec, including the St. Lawrence. The government needs to understand that it must sit down with Quebec, the provinces, and municipalities to talk things over, like a respectful partner.

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6:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I always welcome the opportunity to comment on private members' bills. As members opposite will know, I am somewhat opinionated on issues that I believe are of national importance. It is not often that I agree with so many comments of my friend from across the way in the Conservative Party. Maybe we can find some commonality among parties inside the chamber, with the possible exception of some Quebec members of Parliament associated with the Bloc. That is why when I posed the question earlier, I made reference to my own heritage.

I am very much a proud Canadian. I think that we live in the best country in the world. I really believe in Canada's diversity and the rich heritage that can be witnessed in all provinces across our country. I am very proud, for example, of the St. Boniface area, with its very large francophone community that is quite possibly the largest in western Canada, as well as St-Pierre-Jolys where my grandparents came from, prior to coming from la belle province of Quebec. I understand the importance of the many different regions and the beauty from within that diversity.

Having said all that, I am very much a nationalist. I believe that we need strong national leadership on a wide number of fronts. It is in all the regions' best interests to have a government that is prepared to demonstrate leadership issues on those important files. That is ultimately, I would suggest, in the nation's best interest. We have witnessed that very recently.

If this bill were to become law, think of the impact it would have on what has been an incredible issue that has been debated and discussed in this chamber for a number of years. It has been fairly well debated even in the last number of days and weeks. That is in regard to the extension of the pipeline, the Trans Mountain expansion, which was deemed to be in Canada's national interest. As a result, we have the national government playing a fairly proactive role in ensuring that the extension takes place. It is sound policy.

My friend across the way talked about the importance of communities and working with communities, provinces, and municipalities. This government takes that very seriously. A good example of that is the Trans Mountain expansion. We have worked closely with not only provinces and municipalities, but as well with indigenous peoples to resolve a very important debate.

When I talked about the Trans Mountain expansion as one of the areas that is in the national interest, I made reference to my home province of Manitoba. I said that Manitoba has been a have-not province in terms of equalization. It is a beautiful province and I am very proud of it. However, in terms of equalization, we have received literally hundreds of millions, going into billions, of dollars on an annual basis.

That is important to note when we take a look at Alberta and the wealth that it has generated, with its contributions to equalization, and the positive impact that it has had on provinces like Quebec, Manitoba, and many others that have received significant amounts of funds through the development of the beautiful resources that we have. In particular, this one here happens to be oil. It has provided for things such as better quality health care, better quality education, and even investments in many environmentally friendly energy or high-tech companies.

I would argue that this legislation, if it were to pass, would prevent the national government from being able to take the actions necessary once it was deemed that this was in the nation's best interests.

In good part, for that reason I cannot support this legislation. I differ from members opposite. There are many federal areas of responsibility. We could talk about airports, parks, and other lands owned and run by the national government and I believe the national government needs to play that leading role. Quite often, leading means working with the different stakeholders.

This is not to take anything away from provincial jurisdiction or municipal responsibilities they carry out. I am very much aware of that. However, I believe Canadians in every region of our country will recognize there is a responsibility of strong leadership coming from Ottawa to protect those ideas and developments in the national interest. An example is transportation corridors, and we can factor into those transportation corridors our airline industries. Check with the municipalities or the City of Montreal on just how economically important, not to mention socially important, the Montreal airport is to the city and the province. This is also the case with other airports throughout our country, even our more rural airports, in terms of the lands and their operations and what sort of impact this legislation could have on them. The federal government has a responsibility to the population as a whole for such issues.

When I look at the national government and the types of things we have seen developed over the years, I see that it does have a role to play in the environment. We have seen very progressive policies, legislation, and commitments through national budgets in the last couple of years. For example, members made reference to Bill C-69.

We have a government that recognizes it has a role to play. Shortly after the Prime Minister was elected, he went to Paris and invited other stakeholders. I do not know if it is the case, but the Premier of Quebec might have been there. However, I believe other stakeholders such as provinces were represented in Paris. Often we find there is a high sense of co-operation between the different levels of government on those important issues, upon their return. Working with Ottawa and provinces, they can come up with good, sound environmental policies. We can learn from provincial jurisdictions. Some provinces are more progressive than others in different areas of development. The federal government has a role to encourage best practices where it can, and to ultimately have that holistic approach in the overall promotion and development of standards across Canada. As well, where necessary, it needs to be more directly involved, as with Trans Mountain.

When we look at the legislation coming before us, what the member is proposing is that Ottawa ultimately transfer its responsibilities to the provinces. Often my concern with members, whether from the Bloc or the separatist element, is that even though part of their motivation on the surface might be to introduce positive legislation, another part of the motivation is to not necessarily do what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole, but for one region of the country.

Ultimately, what is in Canada's best interest is in the best interest of our provinces, both collectively and individually.

We must continue to work with provinces, municipalities, indigenous groups, and others to ensure that we continue to build that consensus so that Canada remains a country of diversity and a country that understands and appreciates the true value of being a federalist state, and so that we ultimately develop our resources.

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6:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the item is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

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6:35 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies has four minutes coming to him from when he last rose in debate on this matter.

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6:35 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will carry on with where I was before. We talked about part 1 in my reference to what the Liberals are bringing into the front door registry, by giving a copy of the Quebec registry data to Quebec. This is the backdoor registry, as we have referred to many times. I am sitting with my colleagues here, who are largely from Alberta, who know Bill C-71 well. One of the things we picked up on right away when we saw the first draft of this bill was that it would establish that backdoor registry in what is called a registrar, and that the issue of a reference number will be necessary for the transfer of firearms either from a store or from individual to individual.

It would help people who are watching tonight to hear the actual language within the bill. They have heard a lot of promises from the Liberals that they are not going to re-establish a long-gun registry. This lays out in clear language that this is exactly what is going to happen.

A registrar is the head of a registry. That is why the person is called a registrar. Regarding the reference number, the bill states:

The Registrar shall issue a reference number if he or she is satisfied that the transferee holds and is still eligible to hold a licence authorizing them to acquire and possess a non-restricted firearm.

That alone establishes that this is a registry. I will go into the details too of what is going to be required. One of the things that disturbs us as Canadians was the cost of the former registry. That is one of the big reasons we were opposed to it. It was somewhat of a $2-billion fiasco. That amount of money could have been invested in policing the border and dealing with gangs and guns. They could have put the money where it would really make a difference as opposed to building a bureaucracy.

The registrar would be required to issue a number for the transaction to occur. All that exchange of information would happen. Instead of the information being on government servers somewhere, the government would mandate the business owners to record it and keep the information. The bill states:

(a) the business must record and, for the prescribed period, keep the prescribed information that relates to the business’ possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms;

Again, it is a record of non-restricted firearms interactions and transactions. The bill then states:

(b) the business must record and — for a period of 20 years from the day on which the business transfers a non-restricted firearm, or for a longer period that may be prescribed — keep the following information in respect of the transfer:

We are talking here about 20 years or more. This is what would be part of the registry that the Liberals are denying is there. It continues:

(i) the reference number issued by the Registrar,

(ii) the day on which the reference number was issued,

(iii) the transferee’s licence number,

That number pinpoints every one of us. If I am going to be that licensee, my name is on my licence and it is attached to the number, so it picks out and says who the person is. It continues:

(iv) the firearm’s make, model and type and, if any, its serial number; and

(c) the business must, unless otherwise directed by a chief firearms officer,

This is the concerning part:

transmit any records containing the information referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) to a prescribed official if it is determined that the business will cease to be a business.

Part of the concern is where the government tends to go. It tends to creep out. It does not tend to pull in and be more efficient. My concern is that businesses are going to be required to provide this information to the chief firearms officer at his or her request. In this day of real-time information, where we have regular monitoring of our Google accounts 24-7, etc., it is going to be easier to update that information on a real-time basis. That is what most firearms owners, especially non-restricted firearms owners, are concerned about. This is supposed to be only something that is solicited, based on the needs of a particular request of an RCMP officer or whatever. This makes that jump to where it becomes a transmission where the RCMP are monitoring firearms sales on a real-time basis, all the time.

I was in New Brunswick for a few days last week. One thing that was most alarming to the people there was that it is one thing for the Liberals to say they are not going to establish a registry and then do it. Something that rural Canadians are concerned about is not just the registry, but ultimately it is the broken promise that the Liberals were not going to establish a registry.

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6:35 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am becoming more and more convinced that this is really good legislation based on some of the arguments I am continuing to hear from the members of the opposition. We can tell that everything they continue to bring up, whether it is with respect to a registry or the terminology that is being used, they are just red herrings, one after another that they are trying to throw out there in hopes that something is eventually going to stick.

The reality of the situation is that nobody believes that this is a registry. Members do not have to take my word for it. The member for Red Deer—Lacombe said that at committee. He said that nobody believes that this is a registry. The Conservatives brought forward an amendment at committee to specifically say to those who would be implementing the law that in no way will this be considered a registry. However, that is not good enough. The Conservatives continue to go on with their talking points, which clearly have been drafted and given to them in the lobby, about how this is a registry, because just maybe it will stick.

The truth of the matter is that it is not sticking. If the member believes that this is a registry, would he kindly explain why the member for Red Deer—Lacombe, who is a member of the same party, does not feel the same way?

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6:35 p.m.


Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again the Liberals are highlighting how they will take a quote and spin it and twist it to make it into their factual argument. It is absolute baloney. The fact that they would take somebody who is an advocate in the firearms community and twist his statement to somehow be supportive of their legislation is absolutely disgraceful.

In this chamber we have seen members across the way deny the fact that this is a registry. They have called what we are saying a falsehood when it is absolutely the truth. I have read to this House the verbatim words of the language of this bill which say it is exactly that. It gives a copy of the registry to Quebec. It could not be any more blatant that it is a front door registry.

I do not know what the member needs in order to know the truth. The member across the way who is trying to say that we do not know what we are talking about should read all of the language in the bill that re-establishes the registry on multiple fronts. I think he should try to do that tonight in his spare time.