Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Skeena (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Citizenship and Immigration February 21st, 2002

Madam Speaker, I bring to the attention of the House the plight of a family in my riding, a situation that was first brought to light here by my predecessor before the last federal election and that has touched our leader and other caucus members.

The Vivier family came to Prince Rupert from South Africa because of the cloudy climate there, as three of the family members suffer from an illness called porphyria which is non-communicable but causes the sufferer to have a severe allergic reaction to sunlight.

There have been letters written to the minister and petitions tabled in the House on their behalf. On Wednesday, February 20 the city of Prince Rupert held a town rally to show its support for the family who truly fits the humanitarian and compassionate immigration clause.

I have written to the minister about the issue at the beginning of the month and have yet to receive a reply. I would urge the minister once again to please take notice of the issue and reply to my concerns as soon as possible.

Species at Risk Act February 21st, 2002

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to my amendment to Bill C-5 in the Group No. 2 debate on the species at risk act. Specifically I will address Motions Nos. 97 and 94 which deal with jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces. I will address concerns I have with the government's record on consultation as it too is an issue discussed in Group No. 2 and make reference to the problems both this bill and Bill C-10, the marine conservation areas act, have in common.

I believe jurisdictional issues in many ways are the easy issues to resolve in our country. All that is required is for the federal government to understand more clearly its role as an example setter and not a dictator. What is federal should stay federal and what is provincial should stay provincial. When an agreement is struck, particularly on finances, it should be upheld.

Creating legislation with jurisdictional concerns is nothing new for the government. I should like to compare this situation to a piece of legislation which is now in the other place, about to be reviewed by its committee. The other piece of legislation is known as Bill C-10, the Canada marine conservation areas act. The House dealt with that bill a few months ago and it too had some major problems with jurisdiction between what is rightfully federal and what is provincial.

My biggest concern with that bill surrounded its ability to create marine conservation areas in waters wherever the federal government wanted regardless of the economic potential hidden within that area. The bill tried to alleviate the concerns of fishermen by telling them that their livelihoods would be safeguarded. However reality was clear enough to them, that a marine park meant restrictions on gear types, catch sizes and even the creation of what are called no take zones.

Although in Bill C-10 the minister went to supposed great lengths to ensure that affected Canadians would be consulted, the bill lacked enough explanation and framework to allay those fears. Now that bill is in the other place and I sincerely hope it sees the huge jurisdictional problems it created with the provinces and works to fix this bill.

I cannot help but see the same thing happening with Bill C-5. Too often we see the federal government creep into areas where it has absolutely no constitutional right to be. With endangered species it is certainly the federal government's right to legislate against destruction on federal land, but to dictate measures to be taken on provincial land is completely out of its jurisdictional control.

I really do not understand why the federal government would even consider such drastic intrusions into provincial territory when eight out of ten provinces have endangered species type legislation already in place and the other two provinces are working on legislation.

As if that is not deterrent enough, what about the fact that the federal government signed with the provinces the 1996 national accord for the protection of species at risk in Canada. This accord included a commitment to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.

In short, they agreed to work co-operatively to help save species at risk and now through sections like clause 61 of this bill the federal government is taking its own word back and stomping on the spirit of co-operation reached in that accord. Allow me to explain in detail using my suggested amendments to the bill. Motion No. 97 states:

That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 32 to 40 on page 34 and lines 1 to 15 on page 35 with the following:

“(3) The Minister may make a recommendation if a provincial or territorial minister has requested that the recommendation be made”.

My amendment would seek to delete much of the current subclauses 61(3) and 61(3.1) that give the minister the power to subject provinces and territories which he deems not to have effective protection of habitat of species at risk to the contents of this act. I have suggested that instead the minister should only have the power to recommend that provinces follow the federal act instead of forcing them to do so.

Furthermore, should the House reject this motion I would ask that instead of allowing the current bill to stand with clause 61 intact and failing my attempt to fix it, it be deleted altogether and replaced with the following details included in Motion No. 94:

That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 40 on page 34 and lines 1 to 40 on page 35 with the following:

“61. No person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of an aquatic species or of a listed endangered species or a listed threatened species that is a species of migratory birds, protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, that is in a province or territory and is not on federal land”.

At first glance it may seem that I am advocating allowing the federal government to intrude on provincial jurisdiction. However it is the exact opposite. This change in the bill would ensure that only those species already deemed under federal jurisdiction such as migratory birds, regardless of where they make their home and what province they travel through, are subject to the act. This amendment also seeks to limit the federal government's role on provincial lands to one which is directly the management of those specific species and not any other species found on provincial lands.

By supporting this amendment the House would be agreeing that the federal government has no business forcing provinces to adhere to federal acts, most particular when, as I said earlier, eight out of ten provinces have legislation which protects to one extent or another species at risk.

We have seen with health care and other federal programs like Bill C-68 that the ever popular cookie cutter or one size fits all style of governance so fondly used by the federal Liberal government is not conducive to the very different needs of our provinces. The same goes for endangered species legislation. Therefore by eliminating clause 61 and replacing it with the content of Motion No. 94 the House would be agreeing to respect the jurisdictional realities of the country.

The bill is flawed in many other areas. Motion No. 39 in Group No. 2 amends clause 32. It has been presented by my Canadian Alliance colleague. It argues for the need to prove criminal intent to cause harm to either the critical habitat or the species at risk before prosecuting for offences under the act.

As it stands right now the act makes criminals out of unsuspecting landowners and land users. Bill C-5 makes it a criminal act to kill, harm or harass any one of the hundreds of endangered species or to interfere with their critical habitat. Fines are steep, up to $1 million for corporations and $250,000 for an individual. The act provides for imprisonment of up to five years for an indictable offence.

Someone could commit such a crime without knowing it. The bill does not require intent or even reckless behaviour. Rather it places the burden of proof on the individual to prove that he or she was exercising due diligence should harm come to an endangered species. In this way the bill ignores one of the fundamental tenets of western legal history, that criminal penalties are only given for offences committed with a criminal mind or in the Latin term mens rea.

Is it fair to convict people of a serious criminal offence when they might have had no idea they were even in danger of committing one? It would seem to me that in order to protect themselves from breaking this law they would have to become experts at recognizing the sage grouse, the barn owl, the Aurora trout or many other species. They not only have to recognize them. They need to recognize their critical habitat too just in case they disturb it while they are out taking a stroll in their back 40.

What about snowmobilers? When we think of endangered species and such we often think about the implication for farmers or landowners in the spring, summer and fall seasons and forget about implications in the winter months. Like many other members of parliament I have concerned snowmobilers in my riding of Skeena. They are concerned and rightly so that the bill could adversely affect their growing recreational industry.

Canada and more particularly northern B.C. have trails and areas for snowmobilers taking them through both private and public lands. They are very concerned that the legislation could seriously limit the number of areas available for their use and could harm that industry.

I just came back from a 500 mile snowmobile trip throughout my riding and down into Wells, B.C., in Cariboo--Chilcotin east of mine. Not only is snowmobiling a growing recreational activity but these cross-country trips add much to the economies of the small towns along the way.

All of this to say that both the Canadian Alliance and I believe in effective and responsible endangered species legislation. Bill C-5 is neither effective nor responsible.

I mentioned earlier this week the need for compensation to be built into the bill and today I state my concerns over jurisdictional intrusions. I have talked about my concern that the legislation places the burden of proof on the accused as opposed to the need for the crown to prove criminal intent before prosecuting for offences under the act. Just now I have talked a bit about the bill's potential effect on tourism and the snowmobile industry in my riding and essentially all over Canada.

The bill has serious flaws. The government should go back to the drawing table and this time spend less time trying to please lobby groups and more time creating a fair, effective and responsible species at risk act. It would find that the Canadian Alliance would support that kind of legislation because we are in favour of protecting Canada's endangered species, but we will not support bad legislation and Bill C-5 is bad legislation.

The crux of my argument is that we have no problem with endangered species legislation nor with the marine conservation act. We support the concepts of these proposed acts, which would improve situations in Canada, especially for endangered species.

Our concern is with the fairness of the legislation, the possibility of this type of legislation which tends to come down with a very heavy hand on presumably innocent people. They may have no idea they have committed an act against an endangered species. To put them in the position of being criminals when they may not even know they have created a problem just is not acceptable.

Species at Risk Act February 21st, 2002


Motion No. 97

That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 32 to 40 on page 34 and lines 1 to 15 on page 35 with the following:

“(3) The Minister may make a recommendation if a provincial or territorial minister has requested that the recommendation be made.”.

Species at Risk Act February 21st, 2002


Motion No.94

That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 40 on page 34 and lines 1 to 40 on page 35 with the following:

“61. No person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of an aquatic species or of a listed endangered species or a listed threatened species that is a species of migratory birds protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, that is in a province or territory and is not on federal land.”.

Species at Risk Act February 18th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure today to speak to Bill C-5, the species at risk act. I have moved 19 amendments to the bill at report stage. Several deal with the intent to cause harm to a species as opposed to inadvertent harm. Others attempt to ensure adequate consultation with stakeholders and landowners. One suggests that sustainable development and protection for endangered species is an attainable goal for the legislation.

Three of my amendments deal specifically with the need for mandatory compensation to landowners or resource users in the event that complying with the legislation causes loss of property value, use or enjoyment or even financial costs. I am referring to Motion Nos. 28, 105 and 106.

I know there are other amendments made by other members of parliament that deal with the need for compensation for financial losses incurred as a result of the legislation. I will speak to them as well as to my own.

Many Canadians want endangered species legislation. I for one want to see workable legislation that will help struggling species at risk rejuvenate in numbers. I want to see action plans put forward to bring back species already endangered or even extinct within Canada. However I want this all done in a manner that takes into account Canada's current economic realities and in a manner that respects landowners and resource users.

I believe we can move forward with sustainable development and respect species at risk at the same time. To do so we need to ensure mandatory compensation is included in the bill, or the opposite could very easily happen.

What I see in the bill is an attempt at balance, but I believe a few more changes may make the balance I seek achievable, a balance between industry and environment or between sustainable development and species protection. It is only achievable if mandatory compensation is the philosophy entrenched in Bill C-5.

That is why I propose to amend this bill by including the changes outlined in Motion No. 28 which reads:

That Bill C-5, in Clause 11, be amended by adding after line 29 on page 11 the following:

“(4) The agreement shall provide for fair and reasonable financial or material support, unless there is an agreement otherwise”.

Clause 11 of the bill deals with stewardship agreements which are reached with other governments in Canada or organizations and even persons to provide for conservation of the species at risk.

Subclause (2) goes on to outline the ways in which the agreement may provide for conservation including monitoring the status of the species, developing and implementing awareness programs, recovery programs to ensure protection of not only the species but its habitat, and to undertake research projects in support of the recovery of the species.

Subclause (3) reiterates the need for the stewardship agreements to involve only activities that benefit species at risk.

My amendment would create a new subclause (4) and would require that any agreement reached included fair and reasonable financial or material support, which I believe is not only acceptable but required if the government expects a landowner to go to some of the extents outlined to protect the species and its habitat.

The financial costs of creating and implementing recovery strategies, action plans and managing and monitoring these plans effectively, let alone establishing research projects, is more than what can be expected from anyone regardless of his or her financial or social status.

If the intent of the bill is to save the species at risk in Canada, I would urge members to support Motion No. 28. Without financial help and material support for those Canadians saddled with such an awesome responsibility, I fear that not only will landowners not come forward with news of such species living on their lands but that without Motion No. 28 reaching stewardship agreements with those landowners might be next to impossible in a great many cases.

We must ask ourselves what good legislation without compensation and support will do for species at risk it is supposed to protect and enhance. In other words, we end up with the shoot, shovel and shut up mentality which is not acceptable to any of us.

Further to this motion I should like to point out the merits of Motion Nos. 105 and 106. Motion 105 seeks to amend clause 64 and reads as follows:

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing lines 14 and 15 on page 36 with the following:

“with the regulations, provide fair market value compensation to any person for losses”.

It is hard to grasp what exactly I am trying to get at with only a section of the clause being read, but allow me to explain the intent.

Clause 64 deals with the possibility of providing some compensation at the discretion of the minister. The original bill suggested that the minister could provide compensation if he so desired. The committee amended this section to include the need for fair and reasonable compensation. I would like to clarify what I believe is fair and reasonable compensation by specifying that compensation should be based on the fair market value of any losses incurred as a result of complying with the legislation.

This is just an example, but if I were a landowner with several acres of bush that I bought with the intent to log for profit at some point, the value of the property was increased because of the type of timber upon it. As such, the purchase price reflected the market value of the property which took into account the income potential of the land.

Say an extremely rare bird, maybe the sage grouse of the B.C. population, is found on this land of mine and as such several acres are now deemed as its critical habitat. In this bill I would not allowed to touch that land. I could forget about cutting the grass or trimming the trees for better growth, not even raking the leaves, let alone cut down the forest for profit.

Because the federal government legislates that I must protect this now extirpated species and its habitat and maybe even assist in recovery plans, I lose potential income. My property value is decreased as a result and my ability to sell my property for at least what I bought it for is now impossible. If I refuse and cut down the trees anyway, I face hefty and even bankrupting fines, a jail term and a criminal record. All this when all I wanted to do was own some land, make a living and pay my taxes.

This is a prime example of how the legislation, as it is currently written, will affect landowners everywhere in Canada. This situation will not be unique and is certainly not fair to the landowner. My amendment seeks to identify and rectify the situation by ensuring landowners are compensated for fair market value losses incurred as a result of the loss of use of their property.

If Motion No. 105 were supported by the House, this change would go a long way to ensuring that the livelihoods of landowners are not threatened by the cost of protecting a Canadian common resource. That cost should be borne by all Canadians and as such the federal government should bear that cost and compensate the affected landowner in a way that reflects the fair market value of the loss.

Motion No. 106 is similar in that it amends the same section of clause 64, but instead of compensation based on fair market value, it would provide for fair and reasonable compensation to any person for loss of use or enjoyment of property as a result of the legislation.

The loss of use of property can be interpreted to mean that for farmers this bill could force them to keep certain lands fallow for a growing season or longer. They could be forced to wait longer to plant crops because of noise concerns on newborn birds nearby or might be forced to limit or restrict the kinds of pesticides or fertilizers on their lands because they are near a prime feeding ground. These qualify as compensation for loss of use of property and I believe it is necessary to ensure property owners comply with the act and better still, come forward voluntarily with discoveries of endangered species on their lands.

As for the loss of enjoyment of property, this could mean ranches with acres of horse trails and pastures are no longer accessible. This would be a loss of enjoyment of property and I would deem deserves legitimate compensation.

These are all examples that will likely happen more frequently than the minister is willing to admit. To protect the species themselves from further harm and to ensure their habitats are truly left untouched, compensation must not only be at the discretion and interest of the minister, but must be made an integral part of the bill. Without mandatory compensation, the very species which the minister is charged with protecting will suffer unduly. This is simple. It is fair and just. It will encourage not only compliance, but foster positive stewardship relationships between landowners and environmental conservationists.

Compensation can be the win-win that we are looking for in the bill. I urge all members to support Motions Nos. 28, 105 and 106. They would strengthen the bill and provide the needed stability for landowners and eliminate the current fears associated with finding an endangered species on privately owned or leased property.

Species at Risk Act February 18th, 2002


Motion No. 105

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing lines 14 and 15 on page 36 with the following:

“with the regulations, provide fair market value compensation to any person for losses”

Motion No. 106

That Bill C-5, in Clause 64, be amended by replacing line 15 on page 36 with the following:

“able compensation to any person for loss of use or enjoyment of property”

Species at Risk Act February 18th, 2002


Motion No. 28

That Bill C-5, in Clause 11, be amended by adding after line 29 on page 11 the following:

“(4) The agreement shall provide for fair and reasonable financial or material support, unless there is an agreement otherwise.”

Winter Sports February 6th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, for five days last week I accompanied Clayton Prince, executive director of the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation, and 18 other snowmobilers on a cross-country trip from Kitimat in northwestern British Columbia to Wells in central British Columbia, a distance of almost 500 miles.

The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation is promoting the linkage of communities throughout British Columbia and across Canada by winter trail. I recognize that snowmobiling is a legitimate sport and a real revenue generator for winter tourism, especially in smaller communities in rural parts of the country and I fully support that effort.

At the completion of the trip I had the pleasure of attending the Northern British Columbia Winter Games in Smithers. I congratulate the Smithers community leaders and volunteers who made the games such a success. I also congratulate the hundreds of participants, coaches and parents from across northern British Columbia. They are all winners.

Softwood Lumber December 7th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a topic that seems to just keep going and going. I have stood in this place and made three speeches on this subject and at least as many statements. I have written multiple letters to both the Prime Minister and the Minister for International Trade dating as far back as August, with no reply to date. Now I find myself once more urging the Minister for International Trade to take some action and get the softwood lumber dispute resolved.

Many in Canada are getting into the swing of the Christmas season, but for those in the forest industry in British Columbia and across the country there will be no Christmas because of this government's lax behaviour when it comes to preserving jobs in the resource industries. It is time for the minister to stop hoping for a resolution and to start working for one.

Marine Conservation Areas December 5th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say a special thanks for the time, talent and effort of a number of British Columbians who are fighting for changes to Bill C-10, the Marine Conservation Areas Act.

I publicly thank the mayor of Kitimat, Rick Wozney; business owner Reg Stowell; mayor of Telkwa, Sharon Hartwell; mayor of Smithers, Brian Northup, and councillor Cress Farrow; mayor of Prince Rupert, Don Scott, and councillor Paddy Greene; mayor of Port Clements, Joan-Ann Allen; chairman of the regional district of Kitimat-Stikine, Joanne Monaghan; chairman of the regional district of Skeena-Queen Charlottes, Ed Wampler; Phil Eidsvik of the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition; Michelle James of the B.C. Seafood Alliance; chairman of the North Coast Oil and Gas Task Force, David McGuigan; and finally, the B.C. government MLA for North Coast, Bill Belsey. I thank them all for their efforts.