Mr. Speaker, in 1867, when some twenty Fathers of Confederation laid the very foundations of Canadian society, they were not in the least bit concerned about endangered animals and other environmental issues. That is why today, with regard to endangered species as well as to the environment, we see federal interference in an area under provincial jurisdiction.
With regard to environment, as shown by agreements between provinces and the federal government, we have come to the conclusion that when a problem affects more than one province or a neighbouring country, the United States for example, it comes under federal jurisdiction. When the environmental problem is within a province, it comes under the province's jurisdiction. This is well understood and it works well. We must acknowledge that sometimes it goes beyond the jurisdictions of more than two countries and affects every country on this planet, since we breathe the same air and drink the same water.
With respect to endangered species, it must be pointed out that four provinces, including Quebec, have already passed strong laws, even better than Bill C-33, which is a reincarnation of Bill C-65 that died on the Order Paper and was sponsored Sergio Marchi, who was then the minister responsible.
Since 1989, more than eleven years ago, Quebec has had its own legislation to protect endangered animals. Now in the year 2000 the federal government wants to play an active role and, once again to encroach upon areas under provincial jurisdiction, again by using its spending authority.
From the point of view of the ordinary citizen, we cannot be against Bill C-33 since there are more than 70,000 animal species in Canada. On these, 340 are at risk. We must give them every chance to survive. We need only think of the peregrine falcon. It is estimated that 12 species disappeared in the last few years.
Of course, if I taught ecology in grade eight, all of my pupils would tell me that something has to be done. And it is true. Well, Quebec did take action and was followed by three other provinces, including Alberta. We have our own act, we are enforcing it and things are working well.
Until recently, the federal government did not care much about the protection of species facing extinction on its own land, that is in federal parks. But suddenly, it has come forward and wants to interfere in an area under provincial jurisdiction. Quebec will never accept, as it has already been had with overlaps and with direct theft by the federal government.
Members should remember that during the war, the federal government took over the power to resort to direct taxation, supposedly for only a few years. The war ended in 1945, which is more than 55 years ago, but we pay more and more taxes directly to Ottawa.
With Bill C-33, the federal government is still trying to encroach indirectly on provincial jurisdiction. Worse still, the bill purports to protect habitats. I agree that the habitats must be protected. The government of Quebec currently protects the habitats of animals, primarily those threatened with extinction. If this bill were passed, what about cutting rights, for example, of spruce trees which are natural resources and therefore under provincial jurisdiction? Well, Quebecers would have to obtain Ottawa's approval to cut down a mature forest.
We know federal bureaucracy. It does not happen in a week. It can take two years to get an answer. We write to ministers and sometimes it can take six months to get an answer, an acknowledgement. Getting approval for cutting rights will take two, three or four years.
No, Bill C-33 must not be passed as it stands. Worse yet, clause 34 of the bill provides that the minister may establish jurisdiction over a province by order in council, if, after summary discussion, he does not feel that things are being done the way he likes, that the province is dragging its heels.
He would quite simply treat a province rather like a large or small municipality depending on the province. Worse yet, we have before us another fine example of structural duplication. It usually creates a lot of discontent and costs a lot of money.
I point this out all the time to my dairy producers, who have a cow and a quota. As we know, quotas today are mixed, that is a combination of unprocessed and fluid milk. While the fluid milk is under Quebec's jurisdiction, milk used in processing to make butter or something else comes under the jurisdiction of the department of agriculture in Ottawa. So there you are, with two ministers of agriculture trying to lead the same cow.