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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was concerned.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Independent MP for Nanaimo—Alberni (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply October 3rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Indeed, the coast guard and the fisheries department in general are responsible for monitoring both our fish enforcement and certainly the coast guard services have been greatly stressed and underbudgeted for many years.

There was the tragedy with the recent sinking of the Cap Rouge II and the loss of five lives. It would be hard to describe what it was like for coast guard divers to be there but not permitted to enter this vessel because of labour code regulations. Why would the letter of the law prevent someone from trying to save a life?

It is apparent that risk is inherent in search and rescue operations. We have officers and trained divers. They trained the military divers that according to regulations they were waiting for.

It is time that our officers be free to use common sense in emergency circumstances to save lives, rather than being bound by the letter of a regulation while lives are endangered.

I wish to mention the coast guard infrastructure. The MCTS centres that we visited with the fisheries committee were understaffed, stressed, had stacks of documents of requests for the repair of equipment, with transmitters that were down in Prince Rupert and navigational aids that were not operational. This puts tremendous stress on the officers trying to do their job. There are thousands of miles of coastline that are not even monitored. We depend on voluntary communication for vessels coming into the northern part of our coast. Given the threats of today's world, the government has an obligation to do better to protect our coastline and our navigation.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply October 3rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to respond on behalf of the citizens of Nanaimo--Alberni to the recent Speech from the Throne. I thank my colleague the hon. member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre for sharing his time with me.

In parliamentary tradition the Speech from the Throne is supposed to serve as a landmark statement, a defining event which is purported to map out a government strategy and inspire the nation. I am afraid I will be expressing my disappointment in the way this tradition has been abused, altered and even corrupted.

When something is turned from its created purpose to such an extent that it is no longer able to fulfill what it once promised, it is corrupted and those who trusted in it are bound to be disappointed. It is a little like clouds and wind without rain during a drought or like a wet blanket on a cold night or perhaps like marriage vows that were cast aside.

The member from Regina--Lumsden just asked about the Speech from the Throne if we could really trust the government to fulfill the promises portrayed in the speech. Is it any wonder that recycled throne speech rhetoric is met with cynicism when hardly 25% of yesteryear's promises since 1993 have been realized and other promises like removing the GST have been conveniently forgotten, gone with the wind.

The Prime Minister in his remarks to the House about the throne speech stated, and I quote from Hansard :

Trade and investment have been keys to the prosperity we enjoy. We are working very hard to prepare for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations. We are also working to resolve issues such as softwood lumber.

The government had five years to prepare for the end of the softwood lumber agreement, but when March 31, 2001 arrived the government's response was to wait and see what the Americans would do. What the Americans do? They imposed a 30% combined countervail and anti-dumping duty. Now, after 18 months of wind and rhetoric we still have a tariff wall of 27.2% that is killing our forest industry.

While B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and his forest minister go alone to the United States, the federal government response is to litigate through WTO and NAFTA, processes which will take years of appeals and delays while the government waits to see. While our industry is being brutalized, wait and see is just not good enough. It would have been helpful to hear in the Speech from the Throne that cabinet would step forward with the $400 million needed to finance the loans that would keep the mills open while this dispute continues.

While the Prime Minister considers the next round of multilateral trade talks, let me discuss realties for workers on Vancouver Island and in coastal British Columbia. On Friday, which is tomorrow, the Somass mill will close for four weeks. That will take out 200 workers. Because of the Somass closure, three other feeder mills will close: Coulson Forest Products, Franklin Forest Products and Naagard Sawmills Ltd. will close. That is another 300 jobs. This is a community of 18,000 that is being dismantled by the greed of the U.S. lumber barons.

With congressional elections pending in November, we are not likely to see action from Washington before then. While U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick tells our premier he is willing to work with us, Canadians are left to wonder why the federal government has nothing better to offer than wait and see.

It is little comfort to my neighbours who work at the Nanoose Mill of Doman Industries. It is already closed. That is 65 workers laid off. The Chemainus Mill just laid off 45 more. On the coast 14 mills have reduced shifts or indefinite closures. That is 15,000 workers in B.C. as estimated in the Vancouver Sun on October 1.

People in my riding would like to know how the government can provide over $1 billion of Canadian taxpayer dollars through the EDC for Montreal based Bombardier to build a high speed train in the U.S. for U.S. infrastructure but turn down a $400 million package that would have kept our mills open while this dispute goes on.

It gets worse. The MacDonald mill in Fort Langley just announced last week that it will close and move south of the border to Sumas, Washington. That is 56 Canadian jobs. The tariff was costing the company $800,000 a month. That is $10 million a year. Interfor executive Duncan Davies stated that by shifting the plant to the U.S. Interfor could eliminate crippling duties and take advantage of other efficiencies.

Kyoto proponents should take note. Sumas, Washington, a tiny U.S. border town that will now receive the new mill and the Canadian jobs, is the same town where two gas powered electrical generating stations are under construction. Meanwhile, residents of the Fraser Valley are concerned that tons of particulate pollutants will blow into the smog smitten, high population Canadian side of the border.

It is clear that the Americans do not want our lumber. They want our resources, our logs and our jobs, and they are getting them. The export of B.C. timber, that is raw logs, has increased from 269,000 cubic metres to 2.9 million cubic metres since 1997 according to the minister of forests. That is a ten-fold increase. This is while the federal government folds its hands and says “wait and see”.

It is outrageous that we are allowing American mills to process our logs at bargain rates while the American tariff wall closes our mills. B.C. forest minister De Jong recently said he is considering a tariff on log exports. He certainly has my support. A tariff on log exports would help at least to level the playing field while the dispute continues.

While the anticipated aid package from the federal government will provide extended EI coverage and money for retraining or relocating, British Columbians would like to know why Ottawa has no money for loans or even help with legal fees that are crippling our industry and forcing our mills to close.

In the throne speech we heard that the government would continue to work with its allies to ensure the safety and security of Canadians. Frankly, the government should be embarrassed about its failure to protect our security. In my riding I have many retired military personnel who, along with our active military personnel and our veterans, are likely among the Canadians most disappointed by this throne speech. In the face of greater world conflict, there is no commitment to rebuild our military infrastructure under the government.

We had 90,000 forces when the government took over, now they have been reduced to 53,000. There is no heavy lift capability. There is no capacity to move our troops and equipment without help from the Americans. This was true in Afghanistan but it was also true for domestic crisis like the 1997 flood in Manitoba.

We need an increase of at least $2 billion in annual funding for the military. We have $100 million for the Prime Minister's new passenger jets, while the military has aging Sea King helicopters and rejected, used and design-flawed British submarines, but what a bargain.

We need a new Hovercraft for marine search and rescue off Vancouver International Airport. With miles of mud flats not accessible by land or water, only a Hovercraft fills that niche, but there is no budget for infrastructure replacement. The coast guard is told to look for a used one. Where does one find a yard sale for Hovercraft?

Further on security, our marine communication and traffic services is chronically underfunded and understaffed, has no money for routine training and has delayed ab initio training. Our fine dedicated officers at MCTS already have been through amalgamation, reorganization, downsizing and cross-training, yet they still experience budget shortfalls. They monitor all our vessel traffic along our coasts. The fisheries committee documented these desperate conditions and wrote the minister. Our coasts are subject to vessels, tankers and terrorist threats, but where is the funding for coast guard monitoring of our high traffic and increasingly vulnerable coastlines?

The government promised in 1994 to end foreign overfishing. Despite a strong recommendation from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans about abuses of the NAFO states overfishing groundfish on the Canadian continental shelf, there as been no action and no significant intervention. At the recent NAFO meetings in Spain, member states gave themselves new quotas that ignore the science and continue the abuse of Canadian groundfish stocks.

In 1996 the government promised to revitalize our fisheries, but fisheries failures, mismanagement and conflicts continue on both coasts.

On health care, the throne speech asked Canadians to wait for Mr. Romanow. After pillaging transfer payments to the provinces, the government says to wait, but Canadians are concerned about long waiting lists. Further, evidence that medical interventions cause 100,000 deaths per year has led to calls for a new agency at $10 million per year to protect Canadians from medical mistakes.

With prescription drug failures being the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and 15% of acute care hospital beds occupied by prescription drug failures, maybe drugs and surgery are not the only legitimate interventions. It would have been nice to hear the throne speech commit to providing research dollars to check out promising alternatives that offer better outcomes with lower risks.

If feeding cheap byproducts to cattle in Britain allowed mad cow disease to infect cattle, why does the CFIA allow pig and horse to be fed to Canadian cattle? Every species has its own viruses. Cattle are herbivores. If cost effective measures like chiropractic can save $2 billion annually, why does Health Canada not research the facts and recommend cost effective measures to the provinces?

Canadians want to know that their government has their interests at heart. Canadians want to know that every effort is being made to ensure their future and security is being addressed. The throne speech whistles that all is well, but Canadians look around and see great cause for concern. There was a sea captain in charge of a state of the art ship who refused to take note of the signs that all was not well. He was so confident that he refused to change course. The disaster of the Titanic is not the one that Canadians want for their country.

It is time for the government to demonstrate that it is listening to Canadians from coast to coast and working for the interests of all Canadians.

Canadian Flag June 12th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to join my colleagues and others who have entered the debate tonight on Motion No. 216 brought forward by my colleague from Lakeland. I will repeat it in case someone has tuned in late on this debate. It states:

That a legislative committee of this House be instructed to prepare and bring in a bill, in accordance with Standing Order 68(4)(b), which would make it a criminal offence to wilfully desecrate the Canadian flag.

That is the subject of our discussion this afternoon and we are very pleased to enter into this debate because it is an opportunity to talk about the country that we live in, this country that has been recognized around the world. I know that the Prime Minister is very proud to say that Canada is the best country in the world and has been voted that year after year. Unfortunately this year I think we slid just a bit, however, it has been voted number one for many years and just this year was voted number two. That is quite an honour considering all of the nations around this great world, which is becoming smaller for us because of our ability to travel.

Many people have had the opportunity to visit many parts of the world. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of international travelling and I can always say that I am glad and proud to come back to my country. Having travelled and having seen some of the most beautiful and interesting sights and places around the world, in Europe, the Middle East and even in Russia, I am always very proud and pleased to come back to this country and recognize how much we have to be thankful for here. We have so much in this country that people in other nations find desirable. Immigrants from around the world want to come here. In spite of the fact that it does create problems for us, and our new immigration policies try to deal with that, it does reflect the value that other people around the world place on this country and what a desirable place it is to live.

I have lived in several parts of the country. I was born in Winnipeg, in central Canada, grew up there and then lived for 19 years in Ontario. I remember that as a young boy I was impressed with the beauty of the prairies. I saw those prairie thunderstorms roll across, the beauty of the wind blowing across the prairie fields and the sun set and rise so far away. When I moved to Ontario I was so impressed with the beauty of its rolling hills and the fact that I could not see for 27 miles, or 127 on the prairies, and that around every corner and bend was a new vista. We have so much beauty in this country. Then in about 1990 my wife and I moved out to British Columbia and I had a whole new experience of beauty. Of course we were drawn there because of mountains, oceans, trees and the beauty of the area.

Wherever we go we find these Canadian institutions. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to travel more in this country since I have been a member of parliament. I have travelled in the eastern provinces and in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. In Charlottetown, on Prince Edward Island, I was impressed to see how many homes had the Canadian flag flying. Frankly, I am quite determined to see more Canadian flags flying in my own neighbourhood on Vancouver Island. Through my office we are making an effort to make some available to our community.

The flag is a symbol of our identity. It is a symbol of our nation. It is recognized around the world and it is something that we ought to be proud of. We have so many privileges as Canadians, such as the freedom to stand in the House and debate. Although we may get a little hot around here and sometimes a little steamed up, we do have the freedom to enter into debate. We have so many other freedoms, such as the freedom of speech. As my hon. colleague mentioned, there are limits on freedom of speech that are recognized by the House and by our society. There are limits on the freedoms we have in this country. There are limits on statements that incite hatred or disrespect. Disrespect for the flag is frankly an insult to all of us.

The Canadian flag means something to me. Morning after morning, in the years when I was a member of a rotary club, we would stand and face the flag and sing “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee”. Frankly, I remember many times feeling pierced a little, because I felt that as Canadians we were not standing on guard for the principle that the country was founded on.

That is precisely why we are here as members of parliament: to protect the freedoms our forefathers fought for. We are here to protect the vision for this great country from coast to coast which the Fathers of Confederation laid a foundation for and which we have inherited.

I will tell hon. members a story about something that happened recently. I relate to people. There are people who have a vision for the country. Many people have prayed for the future of Canada and believe it has a future and a destiny among nations. I was with a group of such people on the west coast on Canada Day, 1995. There was a gathering of people in Whistler to pray for the nation. I am sure hon. members would agree there are a number of issues on which we need the wisdom of the Almighty.

During the course of the gathering an aboriginal woman shared an interesting experience with us. She had been praying by a river in British Columbia. As she was praying she saw in her mind a vision of a great flag flying over the river. The leaf dropped off the flag, floated down and landed in the river. As it hit the river the waters were cleansed. As the waters of the Skeena River flowed down into the Thompson and from the Thompson into the Fraser, people ran to the waters and were cleansed. As the waters flowed down the Fraser to the coast people ran to the waters and were cleansed, and as the waters washed up on the shore the land began to be cleansed.

It was a very interesting vision because in the good book the Book of Revelation says the leaves from the tree of life would be for the healing of the nations. There are people who believe Canada may have a role in the healing of the nations. We like to think our country has a role as a peacemaker among the nations. We like to think we have an impact on our fellow nations during conflicts. We have a lot of discussions in the House about how we might accomplish that.

We ought to remember that the leaf a powerful symbol. As far as I know Canada is the only nation with a leaf on its flag.

I would join with my hon. colleagues in calling on all members of the House to support the motion. It is right that we should respect this symbol. It is a symbol of our national identity and our pride in our heritage. We ought to treat it as such.

Health Care System June 11th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, quality care is certainly an interesting concept but how do we make sure that we are getting quality? For the dollars we spend we have to look at outcomes. Are we actually delivering the product that we are purporting to deliver when we undertake a procedure?

The hon. member for St. Paul's who is also a physician mentioned that politicians lack the courage to address the issue of many outdated procedures that are not actually delivering value. She made a very good point. Where do we get the idea that if a physician orders every test in the book that it is good medicine? Frankly many tests are performed that actually are not needed.

I asked a surgeon that very question recently. I know it is not how he was trained. The hon. member opposite was trained in clinical and differential diagnosis so she could determine which tests were more likely to be necessary rather than just testing everything. The physician was not too happy with the question but his response was that there are two drivers.

One driver is patient expectation. Somehow patients expect that if they take every test in the book and it takes three weeks, six weeks or 10 weeks to do it, that this is good medicine. One of the problems is the patient has no idea what these tests cost. Worse yet, the physician has no idea whether they cost $300 or $3,000 or $30,000. That is a major concern.

The other driver is that nobody has been sued for taking too many tests. That is a major driver in our system as well. When we are talking about quality care we have to make sure that we are actually getting value for what we are doing rather than just doing procedures for the sake of doing them.

Health Care System June 11th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, I know the hon. member has a passion for health care and for seeing people well and for finding answers for sustainable health care.

As stated in our policy, “ensuring timely, quality and sustainable health care is available to every Canadian regardless of financial means” is part of our policy. We are looking for answers so that Canadians can receive value. Value is something we mentioned. We want to talk about Canadian values tonight. It is value in health care delivery that we are actually interested in pursuing.

On the issue of sustainable funding, we would add another principle to the Canada Health Act and that is sustained funding. We would ensure that the federal government cannot unilaterally withdraw funding from the provinces and leave them hanging out to dry in the delivery of the services.

We believe that sustainable and predictable funding so that health care budgeting is possible is really important. In the management of health care it is finding value, and that is effectiveness and cost effectiveness. That is something we need to pursue. It is something we are interested in pursuing, giving Canadians a choice in services they receive and making sure that they get value.

That is something in which the federal government can play a positive role. Nearly $1 billion in health care research funding is available to us. The federal government, rather than telling the provinces what they should and should not deliver, should be providing a leadership role in making sure that if there is another way of doing business, another way of delivering effective care to Canadians that it will put research dollars into checking it out. It must make sure that Canadians are getting cost effectiveness and value for their health care dollars.

Health Care System June 11th, 2002

Mr. Chairman, this is an interesting evening as we enter this health care debate. Members from all sides of the House have been expressing their views on this important issue.

What can we do to satisfy the health needs of Canadians? It is an important issue to many of the constituents in all of our ridings. Many Canadians have expressed to all of us individually as members of parliament their concerns about the state of our health care system and where it is going.

I was interested in the health minister's comments tonight as we started off debate. She indicated that Canadians are concerned about timely access to quality care. Tonight she started off by saying she wanted to address values. What should be covered? How should we pay? How should we provide the services? What values do Canadians want to see in their health care system and what values are needed?

My colleague from Yellowhead mentioned that in our consultations with Canadians we learned quickly that Canadians are concerned about timely, quality, accessible care and they want care available to all Canadians. My colleague from Kelowna spoke tonight. He mentioned that seniors are particularly concerned about the setting of their preference, in addition to timely, quality, and accessible care.

We are now over $102 billion in health care spending. Why are we doing so poorly in outcomes? Why do we have such long waiting lists, shortages of personnel and why are outcomes so poor when we are spending so much?

I heard the minister say earlier that Canadians are tired of seeing their valued health care system sliding away while politicians argue and blame each other over funding, jurisdiction and their visions. Could it be that we are spending a lot of money for a high cost system that delivers what has become a low value product? I am one who believes we are spending enough money on health care. We could do a lot better if we perhaps spent it in a different way. A lot of Canadians would share that perspective.

This subject has been studied and studied. In British Columbia the Justice Emmett Hall study was done in 1979. In 1997, just prior to the last election, there was a National Forum on Health which spent about $12 million. We have had provincial studies: the Fyke commission in Saskatchewan and the Clair commission in Quebec. We have had the Kirby Senate reports that are ongoing on health care and the Mazankowski report recently tabled in Alberta. Now we are waiting for the Romanow study to be completed in the next few months. That is another $15 million of taxpayers' money going into a study. What will we do to fix this situation?

My colleague from Yellowhead indicated earlier tonight that researchers from the Library of Parliament studying this said that the federal Liberals have spent $242 million studying the health care system. We do like to study health care.

One I did not hear mention tonight is hot of the press and sure to add fuel to the fire of discussion. It is the Canadian Medical Association document “Prescription for Sustainability” that was just released on June 6. Its prescription is on behalf of more than 53,000 physicians. I am sure there will be valuable and interesting suggestions and no doubt will add to the debate in the days to come.

I want to address a few major concerns. One of them is the cost of drugs and the effect of drugs. Health Canada has received in the vicinity of 7,400 domestic reports of suspected adverse reaction to health products in 2001. These were reported for the most part by health professionals either directly to Health Canada or indirectly through another source. It is unknown how many cases go unreported. According to the government's own data doctors report less than 10% of all reactions.

About 51% of Canadians have taken more than one prescription or non-prescription medication on the same day. Yet 61% of the same people do not always check with their doctor or pharmacist about possible interaction, according to a Pollara study. The need for mandatory reporting of drug reactions is something that needs to be addressed. The high number of casualties from iatrogenic causes, that is doctor caused, or inappropriate use of medications, is a terrific cost driver and a mortality driver and a serious concern for Canadians.

Another issue is independent drug approval for children. Children are routinely given lower doses of drugs than are approved for adults and yet they are at a greater risk than adults for developing a severe reaction. Drug research is not currently performed on children, and without a more reliable regulatory body the safety of adult drug use in children is unknown.

Emphasis needs to be placed on the differences in the pathogenesis of adverse reactions between children and adults. A recent study indicated that physicians are notoriously bad at mathematics when it comes to deciding what a dose should be for a child. This was responsible for overdose situations for children in a large number of cases. Nurses are a bit better with a pencil. This is a serious concern and something that needs to be addressed.

In addition, we have problems with drugs being imported, ordered by mail or on the Internet and mailed into Canada. I am speaking of drugs that are not available in Canada such as Prepulsid that Vanessa Young died from. Drugs coming across the border are a serious issue and we have no means of controlling it.

The increased cost of drugs is a huge problem for seniors as well as their safety. My colleague mentioned that about 30% of seniors are addicted to prescription drugs and with questionable clinical outcomes. The amount that we are currently spending on drugs is about $15.5 billion of that $102 billion.

Another serious issue involves aboriginal communities. In the Regina Leader Post on May 13, Dr. Henry Haddad, president of the Canadian Medical Association said, “Aboriginal health is a national tragedy and a national shame”. That is in spite of $2.3 billion in federal spending for aboriginal health.

Diabetes is three to five times more prevalent in aboriginal communities as it is in the general population, according to Health Canada. It is increasing at a rapid rate among aboriginal people. Before 1945 diabetes was almost unknown in aboriginal communities. If it goes unchecked at the current rate it is expected that 27% of all aboriginal people in Canada will have diabetes. Even aboriginal children are now being diagnosed with type II diabetes which was generally associated with older people.

What is happening to our aboriginal people? In coastal aboriginal communities in my area there is a saying, a philosophy, which is called Hish Tukish T's Awalk . It literally means “everything is one”. We are part of nature and nature is a part of us.

I want to address this issue on a different angle. Health is not something that is here one day and gone the next. Health is built over time by the choices we make, including lifestyle choices: what we eat, what we drink, the quality of air and the quality of water that we drink. All of these are part of building healthy bodies.

Exercise is also an important part. Exercise is promoted in cancer therapy for breast cancer and there are higher survival rates for those who actually pursue physical exercise such as the dragon boats that are popular with breast cancer survivors and even those undergoing treatment. Building healthy bodies ought to be a focus for Health Canada, and indeed it is a focus for many Canadians.

Many Canadians find that if they look after their physical, mental and spiritual well-being they will not get sick. They find that they do not get sick as often and if they do they recover more quickly. Building healthy bodies ought to be as much a concern for the health department as it is for Canadians. That has been my vocation for quite a while. I have spent some 25 years as a health care provider trying to build healthy bodies.

We need to address effectiveness and cost effectiveness. The system needs to become more patient focused rather than system focused. A lot can be said about manpower shortage as mentioned earlier tonight. Nurse practitioners could play a large role by helping out doctors with the care they have trouble providing. According to some studies perhaps 80% of what a physician does could be done by nurse practitioners.

Low back pain is a major factor in our society and also a major cost driver. A study was done by Dr. Pranlal Manga, a health care economist at the University of Ottawa, on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of chiropractic treatment of low back pain.

Hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved provincially and on the national scale up to $2 billion by simply sending the patients preferentially to a treatment that works better than drugs or surgery. Why is it that there are financial disincentives when people choose another form of health care?

Simple nutritional supplements can make a big difference in a person's outcome. Why is it a substance like chromium picolinate which is very helpful and necessary in the management of blood sugar and necessary for the glucose tolerance factor is on a restricted list with Health Canada? These questions and others are ones that Canadians ask me. Why is Health Canada not more interested in promoting health than in continuing to fund a system that focuses so much on illness?

With these questions I add to the others that have been raised tonight and with my colleagues submit them for consideration as part of the dialogue. We are looking for answers. I believe there are more cost effective ways to deliver health care to Canadians and that is what we are looking for.

Species at Risk Act June 10th, 2002

Of course I refer to the national energy policy of the 1980s. I hear some hon. members saying they remember.

The national energy policy, which, I will add, was supported by the Prime Minister, was disastrous. It failed to consider the possibility for capital flight or a drop in the world petroleum price index. It failed to anticipate American responses to the nationalization of the petroleum industry or a unilaterally imposed federal restriction of oil exports. It also failed to consider the profoundly negative impact the NEP had on federalism in Canada, nor did it foresee the consequent feelings of alienation and resentment that still abound and are harboured by some and linger in the west as a result of such poor policy.

No piece of legislation is perfect. Therefore, the power to periodically review legislation is a significant responsibility. Reviews and evaluations are not just a good idea: They should be a fundamental principle of governing. However, Motion No. 130 from the government will remove the standing committee amendment calling for mandatory reviews.

Apparently, despite the lessons learned, the government is not practising any degree of due diligence. The government feels that reviewing legislation for Bill C-5 is unnecessary. Perhaps it feels that the democratic spirit of reviews are nuisance clauses and are consequently easily dismissed, or perhaps it feels that Bill C-5 possesses perfect design and requires no mandatory review. Such is surely not the case.

During earlier debates of Bill C-5 we identified several gaps in the proposed legislation which may indeed have some profound and unanticipated impacts on Canadians. Two that immediately come to memory are criminal liability without intent and lack of compensation for financial losses. I will go into detail only briefly since we have already had these discussions at length.

First, the act will not work without guaranteeing fair and reasonable compensation for property owners and resource users who suffer losses. Farmers, ranchers and other property owners want to protect endangered species, but should not be forced to do it at the expense of their livelihoods.

Second, criminal liability must require intent. The act will make criminals out of people who may inadvertently or unknowingly harm endangered species or their habitat. This is unnecessarily confrontational and makes endangered species a threat to property owners.

These are very serious and in fact, I would say, negligent omissions. It therefore becomes all the more necessary to ensure that periodic reviews of Bill C-5 are drafted into the legislation. I am hopeful that common sense will prevail and the government will accept the amendments that will make Bill C-5 workable. The power to review must be present, the necessity to consult should be evident, and the importance of adequate compensation is paramount to successful legislation.

Species at Risk Act June 10th, 2002

As well, I should mention that while I respect the spirit and the tenor of the government's objectives with regard to protecting species at risk, I cannot support the methods it proposes to achieve its goals, as demonstrated today, in fact, when it is even closing down debate on this important subject.

As for the Group No. 4 amendments to Bill C-5, Motion No. 127 specifically, which is supported by my party, demands that the government liaise with Canadians to gather feedback before invoking such sweeping legislation. Policy conceived by one party or catering to one set of interests is counterproductive and risks alienating Canadians. This risks failure by denying the necessary flexibility to deal with unanticipated economic and social changes. The government should know better. It should understand that consultation with all parties is an important part of the policy process. On this, Bill C-5 has failed. That is why this amendment is so fundamentally necessary.

In 1996 the federal government released its findings on modern comptrollership, a report entitled “Strengthening Our Policy Capacity”. The task force charged with the report identified six mandatory prerequisites for policy engineering. The theme that was repeated throughout these recommendations was collaboration, not just among bureaucrats and across departments but, most important, with the citizens and non-governmental organizations most affected. The silos of government and administrative effectiveness may be continually thwarted by narrow organizational and policy self-interest. Catering solely to one opinion or failing to consult with all parties is almost certain to cause more harm than good.

Within the Group No. 4 amendments to Bill C-5 we have identified several areas where legislation does not respect the principles of horizontality, collaboration, transparency and accountability.

Issues concerning public consultation and discussion are important, as I touched on a moment ago. The government, according to its own treasury board guidelines, pledged to pursue an open and transparent approach to service that incorporates a multitude of policy partners across a spectrum of interests. At least that is what was written in treasury board's “Results for Canadians”. However, given the opportunity to apply these concepts in Bill C-5, the government has failed to heed its own advice. There is a fundamental importance, even an obligation, to make consultations as wide as possible, thereby ensuring that consultations have a legitimate impact on the administration of the species at risk legislation.

Sound policy, effective consultation and responsible governance need to have built in mechanisms for review. Initially the bill called for parliamentary review of Bill C-5 after a period of five years. The standing committee contributed to this theme by stating that subsequent reviews would occur at five year intervals. It should be noted that mandatory reviews of legislation are not as rigid as sunset clauses, but they are, nevertheless, identifiable junctures and opportunities to examine how well the bill is functioning. They allow for a review of the questions that must be asked and are an important part of the policy process.

Periodic reviews ask implicit and vital questions. What was the intent of the legislation? What were its goals and objectives? Furthermore, a review demands to know if the implementation strategy of the legislation is achieving its mandated goals. Finally, is it achieving these goals within the allocated budgetary resources? Periodic reviews of legislation ensure that legislation remains evergreen and robust. Unanticipated events and unforeseen changes in the future can profoundly affect legislation and render it impotent or, worse, damaging.

I want to illustrate the consequences that can occur when there are no tools for reviewing legislation that is ill-conceived. I am sure that many of my colleagues in the House recall that failure to anticipate events played a key role in inflicting massive damage to the oil and gas sector in western Canada.

Species at Risk Act June 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I believe that Nanaimo--Alberni has the distinction of being the only riding with two UNESCO biospheres. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. We have Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which includes Tofino and the beautiful Pacific Rim National Park, and the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve, recently proclaimed, right where I live, from the summit of Mount Arrowsmith right down to the 300 foot depths of the Strait of Georgia.

Respect for the environment and wildlife is very much a part of the social consciousness of my constituents. Not only are ecotourism, sustaining a healthy environment and protection of species at risk important to our local economy, they are a few of the kaleidoscope of factors that make Vancouver Island such a desirable place to live and to vacation.

It is a reality that the human presence in paradise does affect the environment profoundly. I am aware of and also concerned about the impact man has on our neighbours, large and small, the flora and fauna, the organisms we share this planet with.

My background is in the biological sciences. My personal pursuit of knowledge at the undergraduate level led me to a major in zoology and a minor in chemistry. I continued my education by studying these fabulous human bodies that we have each been given. The more we know about life, the more amazing the trip through life can be. If we have eyes to seek it, there is an amazing array of activity around us. We should check it out: under a rock, under a log, in the tide pool and along the riparian zone that straddles our streams. We can break the surface of our coastal waters and enter a whole new universe of activity.

That is what this subject, species at risk, is all about, but what about Bill C-5? Will it deliver what we hope to achieve? What about the Group No. 4 amendments? What are we hoping to achieve here?

Residents in my riding and indeed the majority of Canadians share my concern and believe in protecting and enhancing the health of our ecosystems. However, what is quite startling is that the proposed legislation was developed in virtual isolation. There was no consultation initiated by government with the various vested interests and stakeholders.

Species at Risk Act June 10th, 2002

I note that some hon. members agree.