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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Louis-Hébert (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2000, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Marine Conservation Areas Act September 28th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, with the introduction of Bill C-8, the Canadian government is following up on the work done in parliament in relation to Bill C-48 on the creation of marine conservation areas, which was introduced last session. Thus we are picking up where we left off, that is at the report stage.

The purpose of federal Bill C-8, which is entitled an act respecting marine conservation areas and was introduced by Heritage Canada, is to provide a legal framework for the creation of 28 marine conservation areas representative of each of Canada's ecosystems. The 29th marine conservation area is the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, but it is not covered by this legislation because it has its own.

We will be voting against this bill, not as a political rant, as my colleague from the Canadian Alliance put it, but because we have major reasons, reasons relating to the jurisdictions of Quebec and others, the multiplication of organisms in one area.

The Bloc Quebecois is certainly in favour of measures to protect the environment, and I believe that no one can teach us anything in that regard as we are focusing particular efforts on working to protect the environment, particularly in marine conservation areas.

Hon. members will recall that our party supported the bill proposing legislation to create the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, as well as being involved in initiatives to protect the environment, the seabed in particular. The Government of Quebec is also open to efforts to that same end and has, moreover, shown itself capable of partnership with the federal government as evidenced by phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan.

So why are we opposed to this bill? The answer is very simple. First, instead of focusing on working together, as it did in the case of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, the federal government wants to introduce marine conservation areas with no regard for Quebec's jurisdiction over its territory and environment.

In addition, Heritage Canada is planning to introduce a new structure, marine conservation areas, which will duplicate the marine protection zones of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the protected marine areas of Environment Canada.

Bill C-8 ignores the integrity of Quebec's territory, because one of the preconditions for a marine conservation area is that the federal government own the territory where it is to be established.

Subsection 92(5) of the Constitution Act, 1867, makes it very clear that the management and sale of public lands is an exclusively provincial jurisdiction. When is the government going to abide by the constitution it has signed?

In Quebec, the Loi québécoise sur les terres du domaine public applies to all public lands belonging to Quebec, including beds of waterways and lakes and those parts of the bed of the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence which belong to Quebec by sovereign right.

This legislation also provides that Quebec cannot create or transfer its lands to the federal government. The only thing it can do is to authorize, by order, the federal government to use them only in connection with matters under federal jurisdiction. Usually, the federal government reads the constitution more than we do, but I think it is reading it too quickly and misinterpreting it.

Co-operative mechanisms already exist to protect ecosystems in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park and in the St. Lawrence River under the St. Lawrence action plan, phase III, which was signed by all federal and Quebec departments concerned, and which provides for major investments in connection with the St. Lawrence River.

We are interested in protecting the environment. We are interested in a partnership but we will not give up what is ours.

Why then have the so far productive partnership ventures I just mentioned been ignored by Heritage Canada? Why is it now claiming exclusive ownership of the seabed? Will the federal government respect the territorial claims of Quebec or ignore them as usual?

There are precedents. I have mentioned two of them briefly and I will go back to them again in more detail.

The Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is a fine example of consultation and organization with the community respecting who we are and protecting all our rights.

In 1997 the federal and Quebec governments passed legislation to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. This legislation led to the creation of Canada's first marine conservation area. One of the main features of this legislation is the fact that the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park is the first marine park to be created by two levels of government without any land changing hands. Both governments will continue to fulfil their respective responsibilities. The park is made up entirely of marine areas and covers 1,138 square kilometres.

In order to promote local involvement, the acts passed by Quebec and by Canada confirm the creation of a co-ordinating committee whose membership is to be determined by the federal and provincial ministers. The committee's mandate is to recommend to the ministers responsible measures to achieve the master plan's objectives. The plan is to be reviewed with the people of the community who are aware of the activities taking place in the marine park. This gives great pleasure to the people of the north shore and the south shore alike. My colleague is from the north shore. I am from the south shore and everyone is happy.

This was a first, a fine example of success, and I do not understand why the 28 other marine parks did not use the same model. Is it because this is a Quebec model? Are people so sceptical? Are they so unreasonable that they will not transpose a success from one place to another part of Canada?

Another interesting example is phase III of the St. Lawrence action plan, which was announced in June 1998 and which also allows for extensive work to be done in the St. Lawrence River. That initiative is also an unquestionable success.

Those are two successful initiatives that should be used as models. Unfortunately the government is proposing an act that creates overlap within the federal administration because we will have Heritage Canada's marine conservation areas, Fisheries and Oceans' marine protected areas and Environment Canada's marine and wildlife reserves. This will generate confusion. It will not ensure a single management structure but rather a lot of discussions, opinions and ambiguity, thus adversely affecting the effectiveness of the decision making process.

I will refrain from talking about the phony and failed consultation process—the participation rate was 5%—about the concerns and the agitation in fisheries, or about the interference in sectors such as transportation in marine conservation areas, public safety and research.

In conclusion, the future is rooted in the past. We have a success story, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, and we have a failure in that Heritage Canada is incapable of protecting ecosystems in existing national parks, according to the 1996 report of the auditor general.

In light of this, we wonder if Parks Canada will be able to protect the ecological integrity of our national parks and we wonder why we should not follow the example of the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.

Petitions September 25th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition calling upon parliament to quickly pass legislation making it mandatory to label all foods that are totally or partially genetically modified.

This petition is in addition to the considerable number of petitions tabled in this House with the hope of a favourable response to our request. This one is signed by 437 people.

École Des Hautes Études Commerciales September 22nd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I wish to mention the performance of MBA students from the École des Hautes Études commerciales who won first prize at the televised contest The Economist Business Challenge , on September 9 and 10, in Montreal, with representatives from 15 U.S. and Canadian universities.

I particularly congratulate Martine Valcin, the team member who won the most valuable player trophy.

The team from the Hautes Études commerciales, which was made up of Carlos-Eduardo Luna-Crudo, Dominique Sauvé, Martine Valcin and François Blouin, faced participants representing 15 universities, including Wharton, Harvard, Northwestern, New York (Stern), Queen's and Toronto.

These students had to correctly answer questions on all the news published in The Economist over the past six months, on themes as varied as the international economy, finance, mergers and takeovers, market strategies and new business trends across the world.

These awards reflect the calibre of the students—

Petitions June 14th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I also wish to table three petitions containing 1,459 signatures calling on the government to make labelling of transgenic goods mandatory.

In my riding, a total of 16,000 signatures have been collected on this issue.

Petitions June 14th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table four petitions, one of which calls on the government to take action to bring gasoline prices down to a reasonable level for the consumer.

Genetically Modified Organisms June 14th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, summer is approaching and the public is concerned about what is going to happen, as far as GMOs are concerned, over the summer when MPs are in their ridings and no longer able to question the government in the House.

Can the Prime Minister guarantee there will be no new GMOs approved by the Canada Food Inspection Agency as long as the Standing Committee on Agriculture has not finished hearing witnesses and made its recommendations to the government?

Species At Risk Act June 13th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment. We always learn something new with this hon. member. I am grateful to him for introducing this legislation, which I hope will be applied in the best possible way in Quebec.

Species At Risk Act June 13th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague's comments, since she has referred to the legislation Quebec has enacted, that is the act respecting threatened or vulnerable species, the fisheries act and the act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife.

I also agree with my colleague that not all environmental issues are transborder issues. They are issues that are constrained by the limits we impose through other laws and policies. We need a great deal of harmonization and co-operation to get things done.

We should be wise enough to examine what is being done, and what is being done well. Quebec is not the only place where things are done well. Other provinces too have worked very hard to protect wetland habitats. What is being done right should be our starting point, and then we should develop our bill, instead of taking the top down approach.

Species At Risk Act June 13th, 2000

Madam Speaker, it is both interesting and important for me to be able to speak this afternoon on second reading of Bill C-33, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.

I wish to begin by saying that I oppose this bill in its present form and that, moreover, I support the amendment by the Conservative member for Fundy—Royal for a six month hoist, if not a permanent one.

Obviously, this will be very repetitious because we often keep coming back to the same points when we are addressing the same bill. One learns early on in politics, however, that the best way to get a point of view across properly is to say the same thing often, even the simplest of things.

I would like to start with an overview of the situation. At the present time, there are 70,000 known species in Canada and a good number of them apparently are found solely in Canada. So, we have 70,000 species and of that number 340 that are endangered. Obviously there are degrees to this. Some are already gone, some are vanishing, some are more endangered than others. Some can be saved with human intervention.

I imagine that the purpose of Bill C-33 was to allow human intervention, although this bill does not include the necessary resources to satisfy that need.

Would there be some additional protection that might be applicable? Is this bill really going to contribute to improving the protection of our ecosystems and the endangered species that constitute them? Let us have a look at the salient points of the bill.

The preamble is interesting, because it appropriately refers to the importance of protecting Canada's natural heritage and also reminds us of Canada's international commitments, for instance, under the convention on biodiversity, at the Rio summit, in 1992. The government had already examined the issue and was prepared to take some action.

This preamble also says that responsibility for the conservation of wildlife is shared among the various levels of government and that co-operation between them is essential.

In clauses 1 to 6, the purposes of the bill are further specified, as well as the definitions—definitions are always quite important in a bill—that determine what land is involved.

The previous bill, Bill C-65, dealt only with federal land.

In other words, the land was limited to what was part of the federal land, while the present bill goes further and deals with Canada's land in general, whether federal or provincial.

I would also like to remind the House of some other clauses in the bill. For example, in clauses 8 to 13, it says the heritage minister, the fisheries and oceans minister and any competent minister must be consulted before the establishment of committees or the signing of agreements with other levels of government. There is already a lot of people around the table, but the bill does affect several sectors of government operations.

At clauses 14 to 31, the bill provides for the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC, which will have an official status and, from all appearances, will operate independently.

In other clauses, for example clauses 37 to 73, the bill talks of action plans, of recovery of endangered and threatened species and management plans for species of special concern. These interventions will be carried out in co-operation with the provinces, territories and the management boards, supervised, I imagine by COSEWIC.

I am passing quickly over all the enforcement aspects of the bill, over the infractions and penalties to reach clauses 126, 127 and 128, which provide that the minister will prepare a report, which he will table in the House, on the administration of the act over the previous year. Every five years, an assessment will be tabled as well to enable us to see whether the action plans formulated have had effect or done nothing.

When we look at this, we can see that the bill provides food for thought. Some aspects of it are interesting. Some aspects should be examined, but some of them should go further. However, what we find embarrassing is that this legislation will immediately take precedence over existing provincial legislation, even when the habitats are completely under provincial jurisdiction.

We must remember that endangered species are found solely on provincial territory. The government has ignored this and caps everything off with federal legislation that will take precedence over everything.

Other things made me smile. Clause 2 provides that the minister “may”—not must—“enter into an agreement”. Clause 39 provides that the competent minister must, “to the extent possible”, develop programs. A little further, in clauses 47 and 48, we find again the expression “to the extent possible”.

I do not know which jurist put the words “to the extent possible” in the bill, but that expression leads me to believe that there will be black holes, or grey areas, in that legislation.

The bill does not respect the division of powers, as established under the constitution and interpreted over the years. It squarely interferes with the jurisdictions of the provinces and it excludes the latter from any real and direct input in the process. Existing laws are thus ignored.

We support the protection of endangered species, of species at risk. We support it so much that we have already done something about it in Quebec. What bothers us is the fact that this government is proposing a bill that does not go as far as what we already have. To go backwards has never done any good to anyone.

Indeed, even though the minister supports in theory the notion of shared responsibility between the federal government and the provinces concerning the protection of species, he ignores the division of powers and the provinces' responsibilities regarding habitat management and the protection of species. He ignores existing laws and gives himself very broad powers with regard to the protection of species.

In so doing, the federal government goes against true environmental harmonization between the various levels of government. This bill is too weak and it interferes with our jurisdictions. It must be reviewed. I do not know when, but the later the better, because an incredible amount of work needs to be done.

Many associations, such as the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association and the mining associations, which cover large areas, huge forests, as well as wetlands, know the pressure that such a bill can bring if guidelines are not clearly established. In the bill before us, they are not.

We all know that after the act come regulations, but we also understand the concerns of these large companies, because they occupy huge areas in all provinces of Canada, including Quebec.

I have mentioned some of the weaknesses of this bill. I wanted to avoid mentioning all the environmentalists who have doubts in this regard.

In Quebec, we have often acted reasonably. In the case of migratory birds—and this is a good example, because migratory birds come under federal jurisdiction—Quebec, in co-operation with private organizations and the federal government has, for decades now, done an exemplary job of managing these wetlands and migratory birds.

We are therefore able to co-operate, but we really want to call the shots in an area we are already handling fairly well. Nothing is perfect, I admit, but, as I say, we are handling it “fairly well”.

In conclusion, I wish to thank the member for Jonquière and congratulate her on the great job she has done for the environment.

Jean Lesage Airport June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, the members of the Conseil régional de concertation de développement de la région de Québec criticized the federal government for leaving them out of the Jean Lesage airport question.

What is keeping the minister of public works from bringing together the regional stakeholders to implement an action plan that will truly ensure real development for the Jean Lesage airport, in keeping with the priorities of the region?