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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was water.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Davenport (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act May 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, for the sake of brevity I will limit myself to saying only that the interventions by the member for Churchill River first, and subsequently by the member for Lac-Saint-Louis which was a particularly learned intervention, are ones with which I find myself in agreement and therefore, in order to facilitate a debate and to move the issue ahead, I would just make a proposition by way of proposing an subamendment. I move:

That the amendment be amended by adding after the words “the needs of most First Nations” the following:

“in particular, the need to enter into full consultation with First Nation leaders and communities on the benefits and impacts of this new fiscal relationship”.

Iraq May 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is impossible to remain silent let alone indifferent to the pictures of Iraqi prisoners. It is hard to find words to express adequately the horror and agony caused to human beings by other human beings.

These pictures do not reflect on the American people. We know that. But they do reflect on the U.S. administration. Yet, no political action has been taken to turn into deed the indignation expressed by the U.S. President. As each day goes by, without resignation or dismissal, the impression grows that words are not being matched by action.

We can be grateful to the International Red Cross for having gone public with its report. We can be grateful for the existence of an international convention that makes the Red Cross the agent in defence of humanitarian treatment.

The pictures of Iraqi prisoners are devastating. We all have a responsibility to discharge if we are to rebuild peace with the Arab world. That is why we as parliamentarians have to speak up.

The Income Tax Act May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my thanks to the hon. parliamentary secretary for his comprehensive reply. Unfortunately, he has not answered my question, namely, when will Canada ratify the biosafety convention?

He also indicated that consultations with industry are ongoing. These consultations started after the signing of the biosafety convention in 2001 and have gone on for three years. One begins to wonder how long the consultations will last.

Finally, I do not agree with the statement just made that the non-ratification does not affect our effectiveness in round table discussions on the matter. Therefore, I must ask again, could the parliamentary secretary at least indicate when the biosafety convention will be ratified?

The Income Tax Act May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on March 26 I asked the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, when would Canada ratify the biosafety protocol, given that we signed it, but not ratified it, in the year 2001?

In his reply the minister indicated that 45 countries had ratified the agreement. Actually, at the time, 89 nations had ratified the agreement and today, as we speak, the current number stands at 96.

Furthermore, the minister did not indicate when Canada would ratify. As his predecessor had, he mentioned an action plan leading to ratification after stakeholder consultations. This would be good news were it not for the fact that consultations have been dragging on for years.

Consultations surrounding Canada's involvement with the protocol have been discussed as late as February in international meetings. By now, Canada should be on the verge of ratification.

Let me add at this point the following observation. First, 96 countries, including Mexico, Japan and the European Union have already ratified the biosafety protocol. They have adopted the precautionary principle dealing with the risks posed by importing genetically engineered organisms.

Canada currently exports approximately 22 million metric tonnes of grain annually, 80% of which may have trace levels of genetically modified organisms. Our exports will be greatly affected by the standards set by countries which have ratified the biosafety protocol.

Second, on March 31 of this year Mr. Stemshorn, the assistant deputy minister of the Environmental Protection Service at Environment Canada, informed the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that Canada will be subject to the regulations imposed by importing countries.

By not ratifying the protocol we have very little influence in the decision making process on import regulations. In addition, further delays would damage Canada's access to foreign markets because genetically modified grain continues to be sold unlabelled.

As the purity of genetic stock of grain is affected, Canadian farmers will have an increasing uphill battle maintaining access and penetrating international markets.

For all these reasons, delaying ratification of the biosafety protocol is not in Canada's best interests. The next round of international meetings will take place next spring. Canada needs to participate fully in these discussions. Therefore, it stands to reason that the Government of Canada should take into full account Canada's long term interests in growing global markets, and also ensure Canada's voice is in the international fora.

This evening, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell us when Canada will ratify the biosafety protocol?

The Environment May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, researchers at Harvard University and the American Public Health Association report that smog and carbon dioxide are affecting respiratory health.

In less than 20 years the rate of childhood asthma in Canada has risen from 2.5% to 11.2%. In the case of adults, 14% of Canadians are diagnosed with asthma.

The high concentration of carbon dioxide can affect asthma in several ways. Research shows that cities are under a dome of carbon dioxide created by the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal and natural gas. Carbon dioxide does not disperse. It reaches high concentration and alters the climate of cities underneath, thus affecting human health.

Christine Rogers, of the Harvard School of Public Health, refers to asthmatic children as being hit “with a powerful one-two punch: exposure to the worst air quality problems and allergen exposure arising from global warming”. Kyoto opponents may want to reflect on these findings.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for the sensitivity that he brings to this issue and his understanding as a champion in his career of consumers' rights.

I am sure that he is personally, at least, favourably inclined to the consumer's right to know as to whether or not a product contains genetically modified material. Therefore, his tendency will be in favour of a mandatory system, rather than a voluntary one.

The reasons given for not adopting the mandatory approach are far from being convincing, in view of the fact that there are a number of countries, including France, that do have mandatory labelling and let the consumer decide on this particular matter.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this exchange tonight has to do with genetically modified wheat.

On February 4 I asked the Minister of International Trade what he would do to prevent the loss of access for grain producers to premium foreign markets in view of the importance of non-genetically modified wheat given by prospective buyers abroad.

Unfortunately, the minister's response dealt only with the scientific aspect of the question, deferring the decision to Health Canada and its approval process. However, the decision to allow genetically modified wheat to be produced in Canada is made by the government as a whole and has widespread economic, ecological and political implications.

The question is, why should Canada take precautions with genetically modified grain? I submit that, increasingly, farmers in western Canada are urged by potential customers abroad to produce genetically modified free wheat. I am told that some 87% of all customers request a non-genetically modified guarantee. We are talking of an industry that is worth some $45 million which exports grain to 70 countries, including Japan, China, Mexico, the U.K., Italy, Indonesia and even the United States.

The Canadian Wheat Board is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world and has repeatedly called on the federal government, first, to include a cost benefit analysis throughout the wheat value chain, placing particular emphasis on farmer income. Second, prior to unconfined release of genetically modified wheat and barley in Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board urges the government to examine market acceptance and tolerance levels of genetically modified products so as to ensure benefit to Canadian farmers.

Finally, because there are no genetically modified varieties of wheat and barley approved or registered for commercial production in Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board, in order to ensure the interests of farmers and customers, also calls for an effective segregation process that labels traditional varieties from genetically modified varieties should genetically modified products be released into the marketplace. Thus, accordingly to both the international market and the Canadian wheat producers alike, the introduction of genetically modified wheat poses substantial concern, ecologically and economically.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade please tell us why the government seems to be proceeding with letting genetically modified wheat into Canada and why it is indifferent to the requests made so far by farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board?

Fisheries May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries. It regards the species at risk legislation.

Given that endangered species need to be officially listed in order to develop a proper action plan, why has the minister requested the suspension of the scientific panel's recommendations and thus delayed the necessary and urgent action to protect endangered species such as the Atlantic cod?

Canada National Parks Act April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your intervention and I accept it.

The panel also wanted to share with a broader audience the fundamental substance of their findings and the thrust of their recommendations.The panel's report has two volumes:

Volume I: A Call to Action is an umbrella document that describes the serious threats that beset our national parks, presents an overview of values that may be lost if the threats are not resolved—

Volume II: Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks identifies specific issues and problems and makes equally specific recommendations to the Minister and to Parks Canada on how these issues could be addressed.

This is the text of the letter written by Mr. Jacques Gérin, the president of the panel.

I would like to refer to the substance of the report, first by referring to the panel and its composition because it gives a very broad picture of Canadians across the nation who were involved in this particular panel. The panel was composed of: Louis Bélanger; Stephanie Cairns; Jacques Gérin, the chair; Louise Hermanutz; Michael Hough; Henry Lickers, a well known ecologist; Thomas Nudds; Juri Peepre; Paul Wilkinson; Stephen Woodley; and Pamela Wright, the vice-chair.

The report puts forward challenges, first of all, and then highlights. I would like put on record the challenges that were discovered and outlined in the first volume. The challenges break down into a number of thoughts that are summarized, beginning with this task:

To empower the spirit of ecological integrity within Canada's national parks.

To create a spirit of learning and teaching for everyone in the Parks Canada family, to understand and acknowledge your responsibility for ecological integrity.

To examine the manner in which you work and to look for new ways of keeping your responsibility to ecological integrity.

To forge new tools to protect ecological integrity by knowing the land, questing for knowledge, and maintaining the spirit of ecological integrity.

To integrate Aboriginal peoples into the family of Parks Canada as trusted and knowledgeable friends within the spirit of ecological integrity.

To inspire in your neighbours an understanding of your responsibility to ecological integrity within national parks.

To build a spirit of ecological integrity which will unite the isolated places of the land into a mosaic that protects ecological integrity.

To bring into being a way of teaching about the land that strengthens the spirit of ecological integrity.

To welcome responsible activities that generate a greater spirit of ecological integrity while discouraging uses that create disharmony.

The next point is a beautiful one because it is almost poetic:

To walk softly upon the land in all actions and deeds.

To generate the needed equity to strengthen the spirit of ecological integrity, without which your responsibility to the land cannot be fulfilled.

To conclude this series of tasks,--and members must have noticed that the words “ecological integrity” are repeated regularly--it reads:

We, the Panel on Ecological Integrity, are willing to work with you to meet these challenges.

This is the essence of volume one of this report.

Volume two, which carries the same title “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, with the subtitle of “Setting a New Direction for Canada's National Parks”, has quite a number of highlights and recommendations. The panel recommended that:

Parks Canada transform itself, by confirming ecological integrity as the priority for Canada's national parks and as the explicit responsibility of every staff member through new training, staffing, decision-making and accountability structures.

I believe that everybody in this chamber would be fully supportive of this particular recommendation. Next:

Parks Canada revise and streamline its planning system to focus on ecological integrity as the core of strategic and operational plans.

The Minister direct Parks Canada to take immediate action to convert existing wilderness zones in national parks into legally designated wildernesses, as provided by the National Parks Act.

This is a very important key recommendation which we as parliamentarians ought to take very seriously. Next:

Parks Canada significantly enhance capacity in natural and social sciences, planning and interpretation, to effectively manage for, and educate society about, ecological integrity in national parks. Develop partnerships with universities, industries, Aboriginal peoples, and other learning-based agencies.

Parks Canada undertake active management where there are reasonable grounds that maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity will be compromised without it. Key actions are required in the areas of site restoration, fire restoration, species management and harvest.

Parks Canada initiate a process of healing with Aboriginal peoples. Adopt clear policies to encourage and support the development of genuine partnerships with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Today's Bill C-28 does exactly that. We welcome that development. Next:

Parks Canada develop partnerships that encourage the conservation of parks as part of larger regional ecosystems. Seek provincial and territorial co-operation to establish a comprehensive protected areas network. Work with other jurisdictions, industry and the public to find solutions on maintaining ecological integrity. Support these solutions with a fund dedicated to conservation efforts in the greater park ecosystems. Advocate for park values and interests in the greater ecosystems.

Parks Canada develop an interpretation strategy that presents clear and consistent messages about ecological integrity.

This next recommendation is very important:

Parks Canada cease product marketing to increase overall use of parks and concentrate instead on social policy marketing and demarketing when appropriate.

I am sure this is a very controversial recommendation, which is still being examined and discussed. Next:

Parks Canada develop a policy and implement a program for assessing allowable and appropriate activities in national parks, with ecological integrity as the determining factor.

This is also a very important and difficult recommendation to implement. Next:

Parks Canada reduce the human footprint on national parks so that parks become models and showcases of environmental design and management.

This is another very ambitious recommendation which will require very thoughtful implementation and will not be an easy one to put into practice. Nevertheless, it is a very important one.

The final recommendation states:

Following the taking of first steps to improve the broader management framework for ecological integrity within Parks Canada, allocate substantial new and additional resources to implement the Panel's recommendations on improving science and planning capacity, active management, monitoring, partnerships with Aboriginal peoples, stewardship initiatives in greater park ecosystems, and interpretation. Fund the establishment and operation of new parks from new resources. Enable management decisions in support of ecological integrity to be separated from revenue implications.

Here, there are quite a number of recommendations to implement.

As members can see, this report is far reaching. It looks at the long term. It places an enormous emphasis on ecological integrity because this term runs through the entire content of those reports. As I mentioned to Parks Canada, it probably makes the Parks Canada system unique in the world in that it is a fantastic approach. It commands a lot of attention and respect. Also, the chair of this panel, Jacques Gérin, was a deputy minister of the environment in the eighties and a very loyal and devoted public servant.

There is a passage in the first volume which is interesting. It offers an example of what is happening because of growth of population and other factors. It is devoted to the species loss in Point Pelee National Park, which as we know is at the very tip of Ontario along the shore of Lake Ontario. This is what it says:

An example of the major issues facing Canada’s national parks can be seen in the changes in biodiversity in Point Pelee National Park. Located in Ontario, Point Pelee is among Canada’s smallest national parks.

It is virtually an island. It is a minute piece of real estate the size of a postage stamp.

It goes on to say:

Since 1900, approximately 20 species of reptiles and amphibians have been lost from the park area. There are numerous reasons for this dramatic decline in species but in many cases the disappearances are not fully understood. Factors in species loss include:area and isolation-- the park is too small to support viable populations of some species. Point Pelee is isolated by intensive agriculture, roads and housing that surround the park. It is the only island of Carolinian forest protected within a national park.

--pollutants--DDT was used extensively in the 1960s to control mosquitoes, and higher residual levels may account for the loss of some species. Groundwater and sewage system monitoring programs indicate that excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds have been transported by groundwater to pollute the park's marshlands. Excessive nutrients in some areas may be a direct result of past cottage development, high visitation and the associated high density of sewage facilities depositing nutrients into the groundwater via outdated sceptic systems.

--over-use--with past visitations rates of over 750,000 visitors a year [which is three quarters of a million visitors] and the current visitation rates of over 400,000, human use continues to have a significant impact on this small park. Efforts in recent years to reduce trail development and consolidate facilities in services have improved the situation--and resulted in a deliberate reduction in the number of visitors--but impacts continue due to the still high volume of people in the park.

Therefore, it is the pressure by visitors that is being addressed as one of the reasons for species loss. It goes on to say:

Among the species loss from Point Pelee is the once-common bullfrog. Only a few years ago, visitors to the park could walk on the marsh boardwalk and hear a chorus of droning bullfrogs. Today that chorus is silent.

Perhaps we cannot address the global problems directly, but we can certainly take care of those stresses that we have created ourselves and that directly affect our protected areas. Until we have put our own house in order, we will have little credibility in advocating for global change.

I thought members might find it interesting to hear these quotations from volume I, “A Call to Action”, by the panel which I mentioned in this intervention.

It is an important document and it seems to me appropriate that it would be good timing to put this information on the record and bring it to the attention of hon. members. Because of the high quality of our parks in the country and because the ecological protection, significance and integrity of these parks, future generations of Canadians may want to pay attention to them to preserve their unique characters, be they in highly or nearby highly inhabited parts of the country or in remote parts of the country.

We have a network that is of unique beauty. It seems to me that the debate on Bill C-28 makes room for an intervention of this kind in order to bring these considerations to the attention of the House.

Canada National Parks Act April 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first, the debate on Bill C-28 is a very good opportunity to examine the policy of Parks Canada and put on the record a letter which accompanied a report published almost four years ago, the report of Jacques Gérin, president of the Panel on Ecological Integrityof Canada's National Parks.

I would like to read this letter that accompanied the two-volume report:

In November 1998, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Sheila Copps, struck the Panel on Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks. Its mandate was to report to the minister through a comprehensive analysis of Parks Canada's approach to ecosystemic management and restoration of ecological integrity. Last November, the panel sent to you background papers concerning our future report, and a number of you acknowledged receipt.

I am pleased to present to you a copy of our report, entitled “Unimpaired for Future Generations?”, on the protection of the ecological integrity of national parks in Canada, a report Ms. Copps made public recently.

The panel wanted to share...