Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was religious.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Department of Canadian Heritage Act November 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the comments of the hon. member. It is very interesting that within my riding, which borders the extreme western end of Lake Ontario, it was only a number of years ago that the salmon were reintroduced to the watersheds in my area. It is an amazing sight even to this day.

The member has alluded to the fact that families have something else that they can relate to from the standpoint of being ecologically impacted. Very clearly, the initiative the member has proposed certainly warrants our interest and involvement.

We have a harbour at the very end of Hamilton that is one of the largest Great Lakes ports. Over the years it became in essence a cesspool of accumulation. Through the intervention of the federal government, with its strategic investment of funds, and with the cooperative efforts of the municipality and the provincial bodies, we have gone a long way toward restoring the integrity of Hamilton harbour. In fact, for over 50 years there were beach areas to which the public had limited access. Now not only are members of the public able to use the beaches for their own purposes, but nature has returned.

Department of Canadian Heritage Act November 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, when we get into discussions about various legislation, we always find the opportunity to have dialogue on a number of issues that are concurrent to particular legislation. One of the wonderful things about Parliament is that we get the opportunity to not only bring forward ideas and issues that are consistent for our own ridings, but things in which we have a common interest.

Tonight, certainly, that has been apparent through the discussions. We have been able to convey issues that are important not only to our children and grandchildren but also to us.

Bill C-7, which is before us for consideration at third reading, can be perceived as an administrative shift; in other words, the appropriate realignment of the duties and responsibilities of these areas, whether it relates to historic sites or the designation of our parks. It is very appropriate that they be so delineated so they can get the resources they deserve.

The parliamentary secretary addressed the legislative components and, from an administrative standpoint, where it was best suited. I want to now delve into an issue that has been alluded to by a number of others, which is the ecological integrity and the realignment of our national parks as it relates to the realignment under Parks Canada.

It gives me great pleasure to address the third reading of Bill C-7, which is the act to amend the Department of Canadian Heritage Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act and to make related amendments to other acts. The bill would give legislative effect to the government reorganization that was announced on December 12, 2003, as it affects Parks Canada, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of the Environment.

The bill would update existing legislation to reflect two orders in council that came into effect in December 2003 and also in July 2004, which transferred the control and supervision of the Parks Canada Agency from the Minister of Canadian Heritage to the Minister of the Environment. The bill also clarifies that Parks Canada is responsible for historic places in Canada and for the design and implementation of programs that relate to built heritage.

As we are aware, the battlefields, as they are known here in Canada, continue to be under Heritage Canada because of the commission that was established back in 1908 for that purpose.

Permit me to take members back a few years to introduce them to what I mean by ecological integrity in our national parks. In March 2000 the independent panel on ecological integrity of Canada's national parks tabled its report. The panel's report was quite comprehensive and contained more than 120 recommendations for action. As it was intended to be, the report was very frank in pointing out not only the deficiencies but the challenges that face our national parks.

One of the previous members referred to the fact that when we talk about identification, whether it is the Canadian flag, the maple leaf or the beaver, the recognition of our national parks ranks with those as being something that is truly Canadian.

The panel's report confirmed that most of Canada's national parks had been progressively losing precisely those important natural components that we as a government and all of us as members of Parliament were dedicated to protect.

Accordingly, the panel called for a fundamental reaffirmation of the legislative framework that protects the parks, together with policies to conserve these places and the appropriation of funds necessary to support these efforts.

Parks Canada committed itself to implementing the report and its recommendations insofar as it was legislatively and fiscally possible. It is now being done in full dialogue with all affected parties, and helped tremendously by the funding announced in budget 2003. I would anticipate further funding will be committed in budget 2005.

Parks Canada's first priority for national parks is to maintain or restore ecological integrity. This is prescribed by the government legislation, that is the Canada National Parks Act, proclaimed in 2001. Subsection 8(2) reads:

Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks.

Why is ecological integrity so important? It is important because the loss of natural features, natural features that are so identified within our national parks and processes, deprive Canadians of the opportunity to use and enjoy these places for the purposes for which they were intended. Loss of ecological integrity contradicts the very purposes for which our parks were set aside and constitute an irreversible loss of heritage to both current and future generations.

Achieving the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity also means putting science first. This includes traditional ecological knowledge.

Our national parks and our national historic sites are very important symbols of Canada. Canadians, through personal visits and other learning mechanisms, can use these places to enhance their pride in, and knowledge of, Canada and of Canadians.

Parks Canada is committed to an expanded public education and outreach program to convey accurate, interesting and up to date information to Canadians and those who are not Canadians, and perhaps those who would like to be Canadians.

The provision of information via the Internet is a priority for Parks Canada. This type of interactive outreach continues to intensify and is aimed at our urban areas. The objective is, in effect, to bring our national parks and their values to people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit them or may visit them only infrequently.

Our marketing programs emphasize the primary conservation purposes of our national parks. Accordingly, visitors are encouraged to understand and respect these purposes and to plan their activities and visits to align with them.

Parks Canada, rightfully so, is committed to improving ecological integrity in a number of ways: first, improving our science, particularly research and monitoring the health of our parks; second, through communication, specifically enhanced interpretation and education activities; third, reducing impacts on facilities; and fourth, implementing up to date environmental management practices and technologies.

I would stress that one cannot sustain economic benefits without enhancing both the natural environment of the parks and visitors' enjoyment of them. I would equally stress that any changes must and will be implemented in full consultation with partners, including the provinces and territories, national and regional tourism, non-governmental bodies and, of course, aboriginal people. If indeed town sites and municipal authorities are so involved, they also will be involved in our dialogue.

A priority area of the panel's report concerned the impact of stressors that have their origin in places external to the park's boundaries. To deal with such factors, the panel called for renewed an expanded partnerships. The proposed transfer of lands is one such partnership. In this respect the panel was coming up from a place with which we are all familiar: the notion that what we do in our own backyard can have significant effects in our neighbour's backyard.

I will digress for a moment and talk about my experiences and understandings. I had the pleasure of serving as an elected individual in a municipal setting for close to 22 years. In that capacity I served as chairman of one of the 38 conservation authorities in the province of Ontario. These were set up in the late 1950s to recognize the major impact of hurricane Hazel which came through and devastated many town sites and certainly our water course system. The legislation that was brought in at the time identified the need for the creation of watersheds. It identified that there were no political or municipal boundaries because a water course begins at its source and ultimately finds itself to its mouth. As a result, it impacts everyone in its course.

We found that dealing with our deliberations in a watershed manner gave us the opportunity to consider all the impacts that would have on our neighbours either internally or externally. This is an approach that we will take with the intervention and involvement of Parks Canada in the program where not only what is within our parks is considered, but also the impacts that are felt from the outside.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of these issues because our national parks have many concerns that are shared in common by partners, such as the provinces, the territories, aboriginal peoples, private landowners and various other interests. There are so many it is hard to name them.

In particular, I have never known nature to recognize or respect a human boundary. One day a grizzly bear may be in a national park and the next day it is in another jurisdiction. Those who are residents in Jasper or in Banff know of the migration or the impact of the flora and fauna on their lives and as a result adjust accordingly. Rivers, likewise, flow through jurisdictions. Acid rain from many kilometres away becomes a park problem when it impacts national park resources. The list goes on and on.

Fundamentally, renewed and extended cooperation among neighbours who share common concerns is the only option toward maintaining ecological integrity. It is in this spirit that the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Parks Canada intend to work together to ensure that the ecological integrity of the Pacific Rim continues to be the first priority.

The bottom line is that we must improve the ways we work together if we are to safeguard the future of our national parks. The nature of the programs we devise to do so will be established in cooperation and consultation with interested partners. Throughout this process the prerogatives of constitutionally defined jurisdictions, as well as the rights of private property owners, will be respected.

I have just sketched for the House a very broad overview of where Parks Canada is coming from and where it hopes to go. In summary, first, the panel report on ecological integrity was an important milestone for the future of the national parks of Canada. Parks Canada has taken it seriously and is moving forward in implementing the directions it recommended. Its implementation in a purposeful yet sensitive way is bringing benefits to us all. Its neglect would have meant untold costs to all Canadians forever.

The provinces, territories and aboriginal peoples are and will continue to be significant partners in achieving protection of our national parks. Viewed narrowly, in terms of jurisdiction alone, Canada's national parks and other federally protected areas fall under the stewardship of the federal government, but they really belong to all of us. They are the legacy of each and every Canadian. Let us enable future historians to say that on our watch we protected this precious legacy and even left it in better condition than we found it.

I urge all members to support the passage of Bill C-17.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act November 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to rise today to address Bill C-243, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act which proposes the establishment of what is referred to as the office of victims ombudsman of Canada.

I was indeed honoured to second them motion by the hon. member for Nickel Belt. I know the member has given a great deal of thought to the bill, and I recognize his efforts to address an issue that is of concern to members of the House.

The government could not be more serious about addressing the concerns and needs of victims, improving the services available to them and enhancing the crucial role victims play throughout each stage of Canada's criminal justice system. In recognition of these responsibilities and the more general responsibility for improving public safety in all Canadian communities, all aspects of the criminal justice and corrections systems are under constant and rigorous review by the government.

Whereas many aspects of the criminal justice deal in objective determinations of fact, dry debates concerning the interpretation of statutes or logical considerations related to policing and corrections, the situation of victims is a unique element which touches the heart in a very profound way. Whether one has been a victim of a serious crime, is acquainted or related to a victim or is merely exposed to their stories by way of the media, their stories are often deeply poignant.

At some point, I am certain that most members of this hon. House have communicated with constituents on this issue, be they victims of crime or third parties who seek to further the cause of victims, and have personal experience regarding how heart-rendering the plight of victims can indeed be.

However, I am pleased to state that there has been in the last 15 years or so a growing awareness of victims' issues. A lot of it is by the onus of the victims themselves and their collective efforts. A good deal of progress in this area has been made at the federal level as well as the provincial and territorial levels as a result of cross jurisdictional cooperation.

In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to commend those outside of government who tirelessly dedicate themselves to advancing the interests of the victims. They have proved themselves to be invaluable partners in developing the initiatives that have been introduced thus far and in the important work that continues on this issue, which I would like to address before turning to the merits of the bill before us today.

A major step forward was taken in 1989, when amendments were made to the Criminal Code to allow for victim impact statements, for victim fine surcharges and to improve restitution in compensation measures. Three years later, in 1992, another important milestone was the recognition of the role of victims, when Parliament enacted the Corrections and Conditional Release Act or CCRA. This act replaced the Penitentiary Act and the Parole Act and became the primary legal framework governing the federal corrections system, guiding the operations of the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board. The enactment of the CCRA marked the introduction of legislatively mandated victim participation in the corrections and conditional release processes.

Since the CCRA came into force in 1992, a number of initiatives have been adopted to respond to the calls of victims and their advocates for case specific and general information. For example, the National Parole Board has appointed community liaison officers and the Correctional Service of Canada has appointed victim liaison coordinators at their respective regional offices, community parole offices and correctional institutions. These officials provide victims with excellent services, such as information about offenders of interest and about the correctional system in general.

Moreover, to address recommendations as set out by the report of the all party Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, entitled “Victims Rights: A Voice, Not a Veto”, Bill C-79, which was brought into force on December 1, 1999, amended the Criminal Code: to ensure that victims are informed about the opportunities to prepare and read a victim impact statement if they should choose to do so; to require police and judges to consider the safety of the victims in all bail decisions; to expand protections for young victims and witnesses testifying at trial; and to require all offenders to automatically pay a victim surcharge, that is an additional monetary penalty, intended to increase revenue for provinces and territories to expand and improve victim services.

When the Corrections and Conditional Release Act was enacted on November 1, 1992, it contained a stipulation that a comprehensive review of the act be undertaken after five years. To address this obligation, the solicitor general of the time released the consultation paper entitled--

Middle East November 16th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share the optimism expressed in the wake of Yasser Arafat's demise that a moderate Palestinian leadership will negotiate a reasonable accommodation of this century old conflict. However, statements in Arabic by Palestinian officials may reveal an agenda of working toward the state of Israel's disappearance.

Last week the Palestinian ambassador to Iran on Al-Alam TV spoke to an Arafat legacy, and the English translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute stated, “And now he is gone...what will surely be the end of this Zionist entity? I will say to you that this entity will disappear one of these's a matter of time”.

The Palestinian ambassador then referred to international restraints and further stated, “Our phased plan is to establish an independent sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. As for deciding the conflict, that's a matter for history”.

Our eyes must continue to focus on the Middle East.

Health Sciences October 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, recently I was honoured to participate in the official opening of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Health in its new home, the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery at McMaster University, an education institution that I was employed at for over 25 years.

The new institute for innovative research and gene therapeutics, under the stewardship of Dr. Jack Gauldie, is situated within one of the most advanced institutions of learning in Canada, indeed in the discipline of health sciences research worldwide.

The new centre will house one of the finest virology and immunology groups in Canada and will surely play a central role in positioning McMaster to take its place at the forefront of discovery.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid I cannot actually answer her question with regard to why those particular properties are left under the purview and are not transferred over. We will ensure that information is provided to her in a timely manner.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not in a position to deal with this particular issue and concern. This purview comes under Parks Canada and along with it comes the finances and abilities out of the other areas. There will be no new money going into it, it will be a realignment of money within.

Whether it is municipal, provincial or territorial, all of our holdings are challenged due to the substantial costs involved. Parks Canada is undergoing a review of priorities for funding, determining where it could best put its efforts and best commit the dollars that are available through the estimates and their allocations.

There will always be challenges, whether it is Parks Canada or the public works ministry, or whatever the case may be. However, I am sure that within the means available, we will do what we can in order to enhance the recognized challenges that the member has identified. If there are things specific to his riding, we encourage him to share them with us and we will ensure they are looked at.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, perhaps at first blush, when we take a look at the legislation, a number of us would question the realignment of the responsibilities. Logically, it would fall under the purview of Heritage Canada. However, we should look at the properties in question.

It is interesting. Over the last two years I have been involved in an insignificant way, but I have been aware of the process involved in the consultation with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other provincial, territorial and municipal partners. Realigning Parks Canada makes all kinds of sense from the standpoint of having the appropriate expertise in place.

As I have mentioned, we are not only talking about fiscal buildings. We are talking about the lands, mountain ranges, passes, sections of railways or whatever the case might be. It covers the total gamut. What I consider historical property, as alluded to earlier, is something that really might not mean anything to some of my other colleagues in the House.

Every possibility that is important for the communities, provinces or territories has been considered. Parks Canada has a great deal of expertise from the standpoint of the skill sets situated within that department, whether it is the curators of heritage properties or the ability to recognize the most important environment components of the properties in question, to ensure that the environmental integrity of the properties and the surrounding lands are preserved. It just makes logical sense that it comes under the purview of Parks Canada.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure today to speak at second reading to Bill C-7, an act to amend the Department of Canadian Heritage Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

The bill would give legislative effect to the government reorganization that was announced on December 12, 2003 as it affects Parks Canada, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of the Environment.

I would like to take the opportunity today to speak to the House about an important new initiative at Parks Canada; that is the creation of the historic parks initiative. This initiative is based on the recognition by the Government of Canada of the fact that historic places capture the meaning and values of Canada, as well as the drive, sacrifices, ideas and hard work of those who have shaped our country over these many generations. That is an understanding shared by all governments in Canada and by Canadians at large. This appreciation of the importance of historic places does not just apply to place with national designation, but to a large number of places in every community in every corner of Canada.

Heritage buildings make cities more interesting places to live in and can revitalize downtown cores. Historic places can also draw in tourism dollars to our rural communities, our small towns and hamlets and our urban centres alike.

Restoration and redevelopment of historic buildings help the environment by capitalizing on the energy invested in the original structures. It also provides well needed jobs and an opportunity to spur the economic vitality of the communities.

Most significant, historic sites and buildings provide places of learning for our children and our grandchildren and places of understanding for all of us. It is very difficult to determine where we are going to go when we do not know from where we have come. That is part of the rationale for making every attempt to preserve and where possible restore historic properties.

Despite this positive sentiment toward historic places, the reality is that year after year, decade after decade, more and more historic places are being lost for whatever reason. Recognizing the need to resolve and to ensure that Canadians can enjoy a rich heritage both now and in the future, the government three years ago announced plans to work toward a historic places initiative, initially with a $24 million infusion by the government to kickstart the process. That has been in the works since first announced in May 2002.

The keystone of the initiative is federal, provincial, territorial and municipal cooperation coupled with equally valuable collaboration with members of Parliament. Yes, we as members of Parliament are part of the process. Aboriginal peoples, heritage experts and a comprehensive number of institutions, organizations, communities and individuals will all be part of the process.

Consensus has emerged on where Canada and Canadians need to be when the historic places initiative is fully implemented. Parks Canada will play both a leadership and partnership role to make that consensus move from concept to reality. Strategies will focus on helping Canadians to build a culture of conservation.

Among our common goals is the need to provide all Canadians with the practical information and tools they need to protect historic sites. The initiative for this historic places is the most significant conservation effort related to historic sites in our nation's history. Thanks to the excellent teamwork of all the provinces and territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Heritage Canada Foundation, we have begun this year, through consultative efforts, to see its first tangible results with the launch of the on-line Canadian register of historic places.

I remember this very well. In May 2002 the then minister of Canadian heritage attended the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to launch this initiative. At that time she indicated that it was very important to do this not only for continuity in communities, but also from the standpoint of the potential for economic renewal. She started the consultation process. She made a presentation to the working group at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. She and her staff visited the meetings over the next year to consult with their economic development committee to work toward the development of the initiatives.

A number of times her staff visited community group and well established, well recognized community conservation business groups, whether it was work with the housing or commercial sectors, to develop the initiative. The first stage, the creation of the Canadian register historic places, is a culmination of lot of work and agreement by many people and organizations.

The Canadian register of historic places will for the first time in one place provide a register for all Canadians to inspect and determine those buildings and sites that are recognized as historic by any level of government. Whether it is from a federal perspective, or a provincial, territorial or a community perspective, they will be recognized and identified in a single location.

It is anticipated the register will contain approximately 20,000 historic places when it is fully launched. The register will be an important Internet-based source for planners, policy-makers, community organizations, teachers, students and families who wonder how they can learn about and help preserve the past.

In addition, Parks Canada has already adopted the Canadian standards and guidelines for the conservation of historic places in its practices in the area of conservation. It is also encouraging all other jurisdictions to adopt them so that there will be a common benchmark for conservation practices in Canada. There is a real movement toward a very short period of time as those standards will become the norm in every one of our communities, provinces and territories.

In the year ahead Parks Canada will also implement the commercial heritage properties incentive fund, a new program which was announced late last year to encourage the rehabilitation of historic sites. In other words, this would be an opportunity for the commercial sector to work hand in hand with the communities to preserve buildings that are important to the integrity of their communities.

The fund is a four-year $30 million plan to ideally tip the balance in favour of heritage conservation over demolition. Taxable Canadian corporations will be eligible for reimbursement of a portion of the cost of restoring historic properties for commercial use.

I know in my riding, involving part of the old city of Hamilton and a number of suburban and rural communities which date back well over 200 years, there are clearly identifiable historic properties. The old part of the city of Hamilton, which is an established old city, has buildings that are worthy of consideration for their restoration. In fact some developers are looking for the opportunity to work hand in hand and take opportunities for this. I know the city council of Hamilton is looking at ways to work with these developers to preserve these magnificent buildings that, for whatever reason, have been left to decay over the years. I would think, in anticipation of our program, they will tend to be oversubscribed and the demands will be filled quickly.

To qualify, buildings must be on the new Canadian register and the projects must follow the new standards and guidelines. Therefore, there is an onus upon the communities to get out ahead, to follow the standards to ensure that their properties are registered and to adopt within their cities the new standards and guidelines for the preservation and reconstruction of these heritage buildings. A new Parks Canada certification process, involving expert evaluation, will evaluate all submissions.

At the end of four years, Parks Canada will review results with the intention of determining the value of recommending permanent incentives for the government. Parks Canada will also strengthen the dialogue already begun with aboriginal peoples to meet practical needs so aboriginal people may be fully engaged in the historic places initiative.

I have lived in the same area for about 40 years. For me, standards have developed to which I have become accustomed. One thing about this wonderful country is the diversity. What is historical for me, may not be something that is historical for someone else. The importance is upon the abilities for each of the communities, provinces and territories to identify those that are important to their needs.

While many of Canada's other historic places are buildings, for aboriginal peoples, those places are far more likely to be ceremonial places, sacred burial grounds or images that are inscribed on stones. Parks Canada will draw upon the wisdom of the elders and others to find appropriate ways to ensure full aboriginal inclusion in the historic places initiative.

I would respectfully encourage all my colleagues from all sides of the House to join me in the passing of Bill C-7.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the willingness of a number of world countries to agree to actively participate in Kyoto is very essential. Unless there is a willingness of partners to come together, it will not happen.

Along with the member and all of us in the House, we are very pleased that Russia has chosen to participate. Whatever the reason is, it will be an aggressive participant in the program.

Because there is an ever-increasing number of participants in the program, one thing we have to do is step back and reflate in order to determine in what priority the elements of the Kyoto accord should be played out. I think it is virtually impossible to do them all at once. There are things that we can do internally in Canada with water. Whether it is offshore or in creeks or in streams, pollution particulate matter migrates and knows nothing at all about boundaries, whether it is intercontinental boundaries. I know in my area a lot of the pollution does not migrate out of the immediate Ontario area. It migrates up out of the Tennessee valley and the industrialized areas of Ohio into our area, and affects us that way.

We need to step back over a brief period of time and determine where the interests and concerns are of all the participants in Kyoto, then work ahead. We have a wonderful opportunity, with a buy in by Russia, to be part of Kyoto to bring some other major players into it.

I am encouraged that when we talk about this a year from now, we will be a long way on to the implementation.