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Conservative MP for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa (Manitoba)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Public Services and Procurement December 14th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, we will give the Minister of Public Services another chance.
Yesterday we discovered that over 1,600 students working at Parks Canada were the most recent victims of the Liberals' Phoenix pay fiasco. Reports indicate that there are still thousands of employees without pay heading into the Christmas season. The Liberals' continued contempt for public services, especially Parks Canada student employees, is unacceptable.
Will the Liberal government finally take action to ensure that our public servants are paid in time for Christmas?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 12th, 2016
With regard to the Firearms Reference Table (FRT): (a) what information is contained in the FRT; (b) how many entries are there in the FRT; (c) what is the threshold for changing information in the FRT, including (i) the information required to necessitate a change, (ii) the process for drafting changes, (iii) the stakeholder engagement process, (iv) the approval process, (v) the approval authority; (d) who has access to the FRT, including (i) federal government entities, (ii) provincial government entities, (iii) foreign government entities, (iv) Canadian businesses, (v) foreign businesses, (vi) Canadian institutions, (vii) foreign institutions, (viii) Canadian individuals, (ix) foreign individuals; (e) does the government consider the FRT a quasi-statutory instrument due to the potential impact on the property rights of Canadians; (f) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, what is the legislative basis for the FRT; (g) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, were there any outside legal opinions sought regarding the FRT as a quasi-statutory instrument due to the potential impact on the property rights of Canadians; (h) has the government conducted an analysis as to the application of the Statutory Instruments Act to the FRT; and (i) if the answer to (h) is affirmative, what was the conclusion of the assessment?
Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I actually have the honour of representing the most beautiful riding in Canada.
I appreciated my colleague's comments on the effect of this budget on citizens. I should point out that the riding I have the honour of representing has a median income of $23,000 a year and the average income is $30,000 a year. It is one of the more low-income ridings in the country. My constituents do very well because they are tough, smart, and entrepreneurial, and they can get by on modest incomes.
Study after study has shown that the carbon tax would especially hit low-income people and rural people the hardest. In fact, I have heard people in Ontario talk about, “Energy poverty, where poor people have to choose between their hydro bills and their food bills”.
Could my colleague talk about the effect of this pernicious budget on low-income and rural Canadians?
Business of Supply December 1st, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the truly appalling comments made by the Prime Minister on the death of the brutal dictator Fidel Castro. These comments must be rejected by the House of Commons today to at least save face with the international community and to avoid continued mockery of our country.
To quote from an article in the most recent issue of Maclean's magazine it said, regarding our illustrious Prime Minister, he turned “from cool to laughing stock”.
In this day and age of serious international diplomacy, how can we expect Canada to be taken seriously, given the Prime Minister's shallow and callous statements about the brutal dictator Fidel Castro?
Instead of paying homage to Castro, we should be supporting the people of Cuba, defending human rights and the rule of law, and assisting them however we can.
I want to point out that although the statement was ostensibly made on behalf of all Canadians, to quote the statement directly, the Prime Minister's words lauding the despotic dictator Fidel Castro certainly did not reflect my views, or the views of millions of others. The Prime Minister could have consulted anyone and realized that his fondness for Castro was certainly ill-advised. This lack of judgment is deeply concerning to many Canadians and, now, thanks to the notoriety of his statement, much of the world.
However, as they say, “the apple does not fall far from the tree”. It is well-known that the Prime Minister's father, who he referenced in his statement, revered Castro, and even considered himself a close friend of the Cuban dictator; but that does not sufficiently whitewash Castro's brutal history of control.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau had a fondness for dictators which belied his reputation, unearned in my view, as a supporter of democracy. He was certainly not.
In a March 2011 National Post article, entitled “The Disastrous Legacy of Pierre Trudeau”, David Frum writes:
Pierre Trudeau opted not to serve in World War II, although of age and in good health. He travelled to Josef Stalin's Soviet Union to participate in regime-sponsored propaganda activities. He wrote in praise of Mao's murderous regime in China. Trudeau lavishly admired Fidel Castro, Julius Nyere, and other Third World dictators. The Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik scathingly recalled Trudeau's 1971 prime ministerial visit: Trudeau visited the Siberian city of Norilsk and lamented that Canada had never succeeded in building so large a city so far north—unaware, or unconcerned, that Norilsk had been built by slave labor.
In that same article, Frum describes Pierre Trudeau's support for the brutal military crackdown in Poland that crushed the Solidarity movement.
It's telling I think that Trudeau came to the edge of endorsing the communist coup against Solidarity in Poland in December 1981. Hours after the coup, Pierre Trudeau said: “If martial law is a way to avoid civil war and Soviet intervention, then I cannot say it is all bad.” He added “Hopefully the military regime will be able to keep Solidarity from excessive demands.”
Can members imagine that? Solidarity was asking for freedom and the former prime minister saw that as something that was not right.
The violent suppression of true freedom fighters was something that Pierre Trudeau shared with Fidel Castro.
I am of Czech extraction and I was part of the Czech community in Winnipeg, in 1968. My grey hair and grey beard proves that I have been around a fair bit. I remember, in 1968, Czechoslovak refugees coming to Winnipeg and what that meant to us. I was a fairly young person then and I did not quite appreciate the significance of that event.
We had the kind and gentle Alexander Dubcek trying to peacefully wrest Czechoslovakia from the iron grip of the Soviet Union, and that was brutally suppressed.
In Czechoslovakia, my father's birthplace, they were so fortunate to have Václav Havel and the velvet revolution, again, peacefully tearing Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic and Slovakia, away from the iron grip of the Soviet Union.
What did Castro say in 1968, in a speech in Havana, regarding the Soviet Union invasion of Czechoslovakia?
He said, “I wish to quickly make the first important statement that we considered Czechoslovakia to be heading toward a counter-revolutionary situation, toward capitalism and into the arms of imperialism. This is the operative concept in our first position toward the specific fact of the action taken by a group of socialist countries. That is, we consider that it was unavoidable to prevent this from happening—at any cost, in one way or another.... As long as the Soviet Union was capable of permitting the breeze of freedom that blew in Czechoslovakia, the world had the impression that finally the large nations, the captains of the blocs, were playing in a more tolerant manner than with the automatism of military interventions. But the panorama brutally and unexpectedly changed. The brunt of Soviet violence was brought to bear against the Czechoslovak attempt to practise freedom.”
Fidel Castro had a long history of supporting dictatorships, and our Prime Minister lauds him as one of his family's best friends.
What of our current Prime Minister's views on repressive regimes? In 2013, the current prime minister participated in a question and answer session. The Liberal leader was asked which nation he admired most. He responded, “There's a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime”. Of course now with inflation and dealing with Chinese billionaires, that dime has turned to a $1-million gift to the family foundation.
Lenin and Stalin had a word for the western apologists of communism. They called them the useful idiots. The phrase “useful idiot”, supposedly Lenin's, refers to westerners duped into saying good things about bad regimes. Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin used the term “polyezniy idiot” or “useful idiot” to describe sympathizers in the west who blindly supported communist leaders. Well, if the shoe fits, wear it.
Fidel Castro, destroyed or affected, through mass execution, mass incarcerations, mass larceny, and exile, virtually every family on the island of Cuba. Simply put, he was a brutal dictator who, over the course of 60 years, callously affected the lives of thousands of innocent people. His treatment of the gay community was particularly egregious.
Castro was not able to execute or jail all Cubans of course. One-fifth of all Cubans left the country during Castro's time in power, including entrepreneurs and intellectuals, many of whom risked their lives as my colleague so eloquently described. Those of course are likely the ones we saw parading in the streets of Little Havana in Miami once they heard of Castro's death.
One has to wonder how our Prime Minister could be so out of touch not to realize the reasons those Cubans who escaped the iron grip of Castro were celebrating in the streets. Instead, he was dreaming up ways to conceal and whitewash Castro's despicable history.
The statement from the Prime Minister completely disregarded that Fidel Castro was a brutal dictator with an atrocious record of human rights abuses and in 2008, he supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine. None of this is secret, yet the Prime Minister thought he would get away with glossing over 60 years of murderous reign by stating that Castro was a “controversial figure”. It is shocking, disturbing, and embarrassing for Canada. Instead of offering support to the Cuban people, an olive branch of assistance, he chose to recognize the fact that Castro was the “longest serving President”, although I do not recall there being an election during that time, and that he was “a legendary revolutionary and orator”. I quoted from some of his famous oratory. The more I talk about it, the more I cannot believe that anybody, never mind our Prime Minister, had the lack of judgment to release such a statement.
Aside from the Prime Minister's comments' making us look foolish on the world stage, I am concerned about the larger ramifications for our foreign and trade policy. Global relations are delicate, and international trade partnerships are interconnected with multiple issues. The president-elect Trump has made it clear he wants to tackle international trade issues. We can all recognize he and his administration are going to be tough customers to deal with. We do not need to make it any harder on ourselves heading into negotiations. There are responses from many American senators, Marco Rubio being one of them. He is of Cuban descent and he took to Twitter to question whether our Prime Minister's statement was real or a parody; and said that if it was real it was shameful and embarrassing.
Why would we care what a Florida senator thinks? He is one of the group of 25 influential senators fighting for the United States to take action against Canada as part of the softwood lumber negotiations. I have a feeling that statements from the Prime Minister that anger Senator Rubio and thousands of his constituents will not build goodwill toward a fair softwood lumber deal.
In closing, the statement from the Prime Minister was inexcusable. It was inappropriate, and embarrassed Canada on the world stage. Not only did it not do anything to give hope to the people of Cuba, it attempted to gloss over 50 dreadful years of communist dictatorship. I would urge the House to adopt this motion before us today and help bring some dignity back to Canada. Further, I hope that, moving forward, the Prime Minister can think more about ensuring Canada's best interests, and less about honouring his family's past affairs with dictators when making statements on our behalf.
Holodomor November 24th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, where Ukrainian heritage runs deep, I rise today to remember the Holodomor, where millions of Ukrainians died from starvation during 1932 and 1933 under the brutal rule of Joseph Stalin.
Stalin and the Soviet Union were committed to curtailing Ukraine's autonomy by launching an onslaught of intimidation, arrests, imprisonment, and the execution of thousands of Ukrainian intellectuals and political and church leaders. Farmers and townspeople were deliberately starved. Crops and seeds were stolen. They were left in isolated confinement with no food to endure a harsh winter. It is estimated that between four and six million Ukrainians perished as a direct result.
The year of 2016 marks the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada. We are proud to have been the first western country to recognize Ukraine's independence in 1991, when the country ended a long period of totalitarian oppression.
On Saturday, November 26, let us all commemorate the solemn anniversary of the Holodomor, and ensure “never again”.
Rouge National Urban Park Act November 24th, 2016
Madam Speaker, the hon. member is an active farmer, and he has shown me some of the pictures of his farm. The farm is beautiful, as are the wetlands on his farm. There is a gentleman who actually cares about the environment, and actually does something about it rather than just talking about it.
Right now, hundreds and thousands of farmers across Canada are participating in co-operative conservation programs. I am on the fisheries committee, and we are doing a review of the Fisheries Act. Ron Bonnett, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, to use a specific example, talked about how he accessed the program to move his cattle away from a stream, fence them away from the water, and install a solar-powered water pump so the cattle would not have to drink from the stream but could drink off-site. He saw an immediate improvement in water quality. He saw more fish.
Across Canada, and in my area for example, the Nature Conservancy has placed conservation easements, voluntarily, on many thousands of acres of farmland, land that will be protected in perpetuity. Farmers have instituted winter wheat, which provides nesting cover for birds. They apply zero tillage, which minimizes soil loss and erosion into waterways. In the cattle ranching community, rest rotational grazing is one of the best practices to preserve biodiversity and allow a more efficient cattle operation.
I could go on and on, in terms of what the farming and ranching community have done for Canada's environment. It is largely unsung. I wish more people could see it, and because of Rouge National Urban Park, we are going to have a major demonstration farm close to a major city. People will now really see the environmental stewardship, ethics, and programs that our farmers undertake.
Rouge National Urban Park Act November 24th, 2016
Madam Speaker, after a 35-year career in environmental conservation, I will accept nothing from the member opposite when he challenges my environmental commitment or my environment credentials.
What this is about is the land itself and the ability of the land to deliver ecological goods and services. Rouge National Urban Park is extremely important. Again, in case the member did not hear, the former CEO of Parks Canada, after he left the agency, and who did not have to say it, said that using the concept of ecological integrity in Rouge National Urban Park is inappropriate, and as well, the current regulations that govern Rouge National Urban Park are the strongest and best in the world.
Perhaps the member opposite should listen and learn some science.
Rouge National Urban Park Act November 24th, 2016
Madam Speaker, that is more babble from the NDP from somebody who knows nothing about how the environment works.
I will again quote Mr. Alan Latourelle, the former CEO of Parks Canada, who penned this letter after he left Parks Canada and was not bound by the government rules of his occupation anymore. He wrote, “In fact, based on the Agency's review, the Rouge National Urban Park Act is the strongest legislation governing IUCN urban parks in the world.”
To suggest that on this side we do not care about the environment is a slander and it is not true. All of us on this side of the House give of ourselves. We actually do things about the environment, we work for Ducks Unlimited, we donate our lands for conservation. The members on the other side just talk. We actually do things, and by doing things we care about the environment and we actually fix the earth. Our approach is by far the best approach.
Rouge National Urban Park Act November 24th, 2016
Madam Speaker, as someone who has donated 320 acres of his own land to conservation in perpetuity, I will take no lessons from the member opposite in terms of who cares about the environment.
The old act was very clear. It talked about the conservation of ecological, cultural, and agricultural amenities in the national park. Again, it is all about ecological processes. Ecological integrity is a term that almost cannot be defined. What the park should be working toward is a sound hydrological cycle, diversity of bird species, a high population of mammal species, a high diversity of native plant species, and a thriving and functioning agriculture.
Throwing around meaningless terms that activists love to use flies in the face of people who have scientific training in ecology and those who have spent a lot of time in nature, like many of the ranchers and farmers on our side who truly understand how nature works. The way we had that park set up would make nature work for all of us.
Rouge National Urban Park Act November 24th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I enjoyed hearing the previous speaker. It is always great to hear people, who have never taken any courses in the science of ecology, talking about the science of ecology. It showed.
I am very proud to rise in this House today to speak on Bill C-18, an act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act, and the Canada National Parks Act.
Canadians recognize that it was the previous Conservative government that created Rouge National Urban Park by passing Bill C-40 on May 15, 2015. I was proud to be part of that government.
In the 2011 Speech from the Throne, our previous government also committed $143.7 million over 10 years to the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park. We understood the importance of this park and did not play politics with it.
However, the Ontario Liberal government thought it could play politics with the creation of this park. After Liberal provincial infrastructure minister Chiarelli secretly demanded a $100 billion payment for the land transfer, which was rejected on principle by our Conservative government, Liberal provincial minister Duguid wrote a letter as political cover, stating that the Ontario government would not transfer lands until the Rouge National Urban Park Act was amended to ensure that the first priority of park management was ecological integrity.
If we go back to what our act said, in that section, we see it said:
The Minister must, in the management of the Park, take into consideration the protection of its natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes and the maintenance of its native wildlife and of the health of those ecosystems.
That pretty much covers it all. Clearly, this ecological integrity ploy by the Ontario government was nothing but a ploy.
We now see, of course, that the federal Liberals are thanking their provincial cousins for their political assistance and are moving forward with the ecological integrity designation. It is important to note that the former CEO of Parks Canada, Alan Latourelle, disagreed very strongly with the ecological integrity designation, as it was an unrealistic approach to an urban park, which it is.
Mr. Latourelle was the CEO when Rouge National Urban Park was created. He says:
....all lands to be included in the Rouge National Urban Park Act will legally preclude all of the inappropriate uses—
He is referring to Ontario parks.
—mentioned above and will ensure that the vision of linking Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine becomes a reality....
Any organization that implies that the Rouge National Urban Park Act does not meet current provincial legislation is misleading the public. There is simply no act that has been passed by the Ontario legislature that places ecological integrity as the first priority on Rouge lands owned by Ontario.
He went on to note:
In developing its management and legislative approach for Rouge National Urban Park, Parks Canada was guided by the IUCN’s Urban Protected Areas: Profiles and best practice guidelines. It is important to underline the fact that Rouge National Urban Park very clearly meets or exceeds all 30 of the IUCN’s urban protected area guidelines. In fact, based on the Agency’s review, the Rouge National Urban Park Act is the strongest legislation governing IUCN urban parks in the world.
It is clear that the way our government had set the park up was world class.
I will be supporting the legislation in principle, but it will need to be amended at committee for that support to continue. Let me explain why.
It is my strong belief that our national parks are about people. They are for people. They are about allowing people to have access to and explore nature. As well, national parks protect certain ecosystems and the biological, chemical, hydrological, and physical processes that are required by healthy ecosystems.
At the time of the park's creation, our government determined that the integrated approach was the most appropriate for the Rouge Park. There were three very clear interconnected priorities when it comes to protection: nature, culture, and agriculture.
This model is what Canadians and the Rouge Park Alliance, the former provincially appointed managing authority of Rouge Park, had asked for. This would allow the Rouge's natural, cultural, and agricultural resources to receive the highest level of protection now and far into the future.
Ecological integrity as the first priority of park management could be an opening to the interference with or even the removal of farmers from the park, which would be a real travesty.
The purpose of the Rouge Park, at least when we created it, is not to force farmers off the land, but these amendments could have that effect. Furthermore, the term “ecological integrity” implies a “leave it alone” approach to park management.
The leave it alone approach to managing lands is usually advocated by people who do not spend any time in nature. Farmers, ranchers, trappers or hunters know there is no such thing as leaving nature alone.
I will again go back to the previous act, which states, “The Minister must...take into consideration the protection of its natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes and the maintenance of its native wildlife and of the health of those ecosystems.”
It is important to also recognize the need to manage nature to achieve desired outcomes and to protect cultural landscapes. This is in direct opposition to the leave it alone approach advocated by many activists, most of whom have spent no time in nature at all.
Cultural landscapes in the Rouge National Urban Park refer to the agricultural operations that are currently operating within the park. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a static environment. Nature is changing all the time. There are droughts, floods, fires, invading species, plant successions, and so on. There are times when humans must “step in and actively manage nature”.
Back home in western Manitoba, we have been enduring years of high rainfall and floods. The ecosystem has changed dramatically, as have the wildlife species. Therefore, we are building drains and trying to manage water. Again, there are times when human beings must step in to manage nature.
A few years ago I purchased whose title intrigued me, and I have referred to it a number of times. It is called The God Species and is authored by environmental Mark Lynas. It is about how the planet can survive the age of humans.
Lynas states that human beings have become such a planetary force that we must step in when things are going wrong, and we have an obligation to step in to manage lands to deliver ecosystem health.
[Working] at a planetary level is essential if creation is not to be irreparably damaged or even destroyed by humans unwittingly deploying our new-found powers in disastrous ways. At this late stage, false humility is a more urgent danger than hubris....we must help it regain the stability it needs to function as a self-regulating, highly dynamic and complex system.
He goes on to note:
Most importantly, environmentalists need to remind themselves that humans are not all bad. We evolved within this living biosphere, and we have as much right to be here as any other species...The Age of Humans does not have to be an era of hardship and misery for other species; we can nurture and protect as well as dominate and conquer. But in any case, the first responsability of a conquering army is always to govern.
As a person who owns a farm and spends a lot of time in nature, what Lynas is talking about is stewardship. Stewardship is a very good, benign, and positive word when it comes to what human beings do with the environment.
The idea of pristine nature is largely a myth. William Denevan, from the University of Wisconsin, wrote a paper called, “The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492”. In it he noted this with respect to the Latin American forest:
Large expanses of Latin American forests are humanized forests in which the kinds, numbers, and distributions of useful species are managed by human populations.
Aboriginal people lit prairie fires on a regular basis to keep the woody species down and ensure lots of grass for the bison herds that they depended on. One of the management strategies for wetlands is to draw wetlands down periodically and allow the soil to dry out and improve the health of wetlands.
On my farm, because I liked having wildlife around, I have created openings in the forests, and I am able to improve wildlife populations.
The recreational fisheries community, working with fishery biologists, create new fish spawning areas. The Miramichi Salmon Association, through our recreational fisheries conservation program, creates cold water refugia for Atlantic salmon so they can survive warm water temperatures. Therefore, active management of landscapes and the environment is more common than not.
Europe, for example, is one completely managed landscape, designed to deliver certain ecosystem services to people, from agriculture to forestry to wildlife. Therefore, rural Europe is one big managed garden.
Again, only in North America can we have this peculiar conceit about pristine landscapes. We are the only place in the world that talks this way. The rest of the world has to actively manage landscapes to deliver certain ecological outcomes. However, we are actually getting pretty good at this now, although it has taken many years. Our knowledge is growing all the time and we are making better decisions all the time.
Getting back to Rouge National Urban Park, it is a highly impacted park. It is surrounded by development. The term “ecological integrity” very much implies a leave it alone and hope things work out approach. We will have invasive species in there. We will perhaps have the hydrological cycle disrupted because of the way the highway patterns are. A whole bunch of things are going to happen in there. Will the government do anything about it? The traditional Parks Canada approach is to leave it alone.
Interestingly enough, there are many instances where human beings have touched the earth very lightly and created conditions that are better ecologically than otherwise would have been. Let us take Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan, for example. I have had the honour of visiting it a few times.
Grasslands National Park was created by ranchers. If it were not for the ranchers grazing, and the way they grazed, that national park would not have the attributes it has now, and it would not have had the attributes that would have made it a desirable place to create one of Canada's most unique and important national parks, which creates unique, rare, and important plant and animal communities. It is all because of what the ranchers did.
Parks Canada's initial view when the park was being created was that the ranchers had to go. However, it quickly realized that it was grazing that kept the park's ecosystem intact. I check recently and cattle ranching has continued to be part of the management of Grasslands National Park.
As I said earlier, I have the honour of owning a farm, 480 acres, with 320 acres under a permanent conservation easement with the nature conservancy. Therefore, I have my own mini-Rouge Park with a bit of agriculture in it, forest, wetlands, and wildlife. From personal experience, there are ways to touch the land very lightly and deliver the things people want.
My riding also happens to encompass Riding Mountain National Park. I live very close to that park. In fact, it is one of the reasons I moved there.
Although Riding Mountain National Park is a rural park, it has some characteristics similar to Rouge National Urban Park. It is about 1,000 square kilometres, or maybe bigger, but it is a large park surrounded by a sea of agriculture. The park is very important, and it is one of the few aspen parks. It protects the very rare rough fescue prairie. The bird diversity is extremely rich in summer. There is a high populations of elk, moose, deer, plus wolves and black bears. It is an absolutely wonderful place.
It started off as a Dominion forest reserve in the late 1800s as a source of wood for the settlers, and then it became a park. Forestry was allowed up until I think the 1960s and early 1970s, and then was eliminated, just like that. The people who cut wood on a sustainable basis were told to leave. As a result of that, the forest kept getting older and older. Keep in mind, there is no fire suppression in Riding Mountain National Park. Therefore, is this a natural ecosystem?
In the name of ecological integrity, grazing was eliminated in the park. There were a number of ranchers who were allowed to graze their cattle in the park, but I think it was in the mid-1970s that they were all summarily told to leave, at great cost to individual farmers, and with no compensation whatsoever.
In the 1970s, the Liberal government kicked the farmers out of the Riding Mountain National Park, with no compensation. There was some great cost to wildlife as well. What haying and grazing did in that park was maintain the grasslands. Elk especially are a grassland species, so elk populations suffered because of this.
Adapting ecological integrity in the Rouge could see many Rouge farmers evicted from working farms that have been in production since as early as 1799.
If the Liberals say that they support both farming and ecological integrity, as it is legally defined by the Canada National Parks Act, they are at best naive, or misinformed or, at worst, misleading the farming community. These farmers, who have been responsible stewards of the economy for generations, must be allowed to remain in the park.
Interestingly, wildlife is always an attribute in national parks. People like seeing deer, for example, apart from the fact that they run in front of our cars. The point is that high deer populations are, by and large, well liked. People very much enjoy seeing Canada geese and waterfowl flying around.
What the farming in Rouge Park does, especially if the farmers are growing corn, soybeans and grains, is provide very important food for wildlife species. Some might say it is just artificial. It is not, because farming is part of the ecosystem of that park.
What Rouge Park has the potential to be a very diverse and wonderful place where ecological services and cultural amenities are conserved and protected.
During the committee hearings on Bill C-40 in the previous Parliament, we heard from Mr. Larry Noonan from the Altona Forest Community Stewardship Committee. He said:
Some people have asked why the term ecological integrity is not in the act. The Canada National Parks Act states that “ecological integrity” includes “supporting processes”. As a further clarification of part of this definition, Parks Canada defines “ecosystem processes” as “the engines that make ecosystems work; e.g. fire, flooding...
It is very important. Ecological integrity talks about letting it all happen, fires and floods.
It is clear, as Mr. Noonan continued that “Ecological integrity cannot be applied to an urban national park”. He was very clear, and he has the moral authority to stand by these words. Furthermore, he stated:
We cannot allow fires and flooding in the Toronto, Markham, and Pickering urban environment. The Rouge national urban park act cannot have this term included, or there would have to be a list of exceptions to the definition which could serve to lessen its impact in the Canada National Parks Act.
Only two of the 11 committee witnesses supported or espoused ecological integrity during the previous Parliament. Eighty-one per cent of the witnesses present did not ask for ecological integrity to be included, yet the Liberals chose to use it in the legislation before us.
The true definition of “ecological integrity” would imply letting forest fires burn, floods to run their course and wildlife to survive without human intervention. A number of species of wildlife are problematic, such as racoons and skunks that carry rabies. Will this park be a reservoir for those species? Perhaps it is now.
The Rouge sits alongside residential neighbourhoods, has highways, power lines, a pipeline across various parts of it, working farmland, a former landfill dump site and an old auto wreckers yard. For these reasons, any attempt at calling our actions “ecological integrity” would be in words only.
Ecological integrity, as the primary guiding principle for the park, is an unrealistic measure for an urban park that was established to introduce Canadians to nature, local culture and agricultural, the first of its kind in Canada.
In real terms, if the government were to apply the concept of ecological integrity to the Rouge National Urban Park the consequences on local communities and municipalities could be dire. The creation of Rouge National Urban Park was a great accomplishment for which I am very proud of our former Conservative government. I would urge the Liberals to reconsider their adamant and unwarranted support for the inclusion of ecological integrity as the first priority of park management.