TABLE OF CONTENTS
Monday, May 2, 1994
Bill C-217. Motion for Second reading 3733
Bill C-22. Consideration resumed of motion for secondreading; the amendment; and
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 3742
Division on amendment to amendment deferred 3749
Bill C-16. Consideration resumed of motion for secondreading 3750
Mr. Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) 3759
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 3760
Mr. White (North Vancouver) 3760
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 3761
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 3763
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3763
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 3763
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3763
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 3763
Mr. Martin (LaSalle-Émard) 3763
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3764
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3764
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3764
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3764
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3766
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3766
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3767
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3767
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3768
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 3768
Mr. Harper (Simcoe Centre) 3770
Mr. Harper (Simcoe Centre) 3770
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 3771
Bill C-16. Consideration resumed of motion for secondreading 3772
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred toa committee.) 3776
Bill C-23. Motion for second reading 3776
Mr. Axworthy (Winnipeg South Centre) 3776
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred toa committee.) 3791
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Monday, May 2, 1994
The House met at 11 a.m.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mr. John Nunziata (York South-Weston)
moved that Bill
C-217, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act, the
Contraventions Act and the Criminal Code in consequence
thereof, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is with profound regret that I lead off
the debate on changes to the Young Offenders Act today. Press
reports indicate that a 16-year old man, Marwan Harb, was
murdered yesterday in Hull, just blocks away from the
The person allegedly responsible for that death apparently is a
young offender and according to press reports the victim,
Marwan Harb, is the second cousin of one of our colleagues, the
member for Ottawa Centre.
We do not need this latest incident to remind us of the
necessity for changes to the Young Offenders Act, which is in
desperate need for reform. Just a few weeks ago there was
another senseless killing, again committed by a young offender.
Nicholas Battersby met his death as a result of a drive-by
shooting in Ottawa. These murders, these incidents, are
happening right across the country.
My colleague from Kent who has been instrumental in calling
for changes to the Young Offenders Act will be speaking about a
particularly vicious murder in his community.
In the province of Alberta a woman trying to protect her
children was stabbed to death, again by a young offender.
A six-year-old in British Columbia was raped and murdered
by a young offender who had a number of convictions for
molesting young children. The public did not know because the
Young Offenders Act has a total ban on the publication of
The beat goes on and on. While these incidents are taking
place, while these murders, rapes, robberies and assaults are
taking place, we in Parliament are sitting on our hands. We did
not need these incidents to tell us that the Young Offenders Act
is in desperate need of reform.
We have been back for six months and there still is not any
concrete action. This is the first bill before Parliament to
address the Young Offenders Act, which is just one small
component of the criminal justice system, one small component
of a system that simply does not work, a system that is
unbalanced, a system that cares more about suspects and
criminals, a system that is more concerned about those who
perpetrate crimes than those who are victims of crime in the
One thing was made perfectly clear by my constituents in the
riding of York South-Weston, and I am sure by all Canadians,
and that is that the criminal justice system is in desperate need of
Canadians want leadership. They want changes not only to the
Young Offenders Act but to other pieces of federal legislation,
including the Criminal Code, the parole laws, the bail laws, the
prostitution laws. We cannot simply sit back and say what a
wonderful country we live in, look at how safe our country is.
Let us look to the United States as an example of what it is really
like to be bad as far as criminal activity is concerned.
This debate is timely. At the conclusion of the debate this
morning I will be seeking the unanimous consent of the House to
have this matter referred to the justice committee so that the
justice committee can begin work. I will be listening very
carefully to the person or persons in the House who will deny
unanimous consent to send this matter to committee, and that
person or those MPs who deny unanimous consent will have to
explain their reasons why they want to continue to sit on their
I have to say as well that I am not at all happy with the
government's agenda with regard to changes to the Young
Offenders Act. The government's agenda is on a slow boat to
China when we ought to have changes here in the House
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, I have great respect and
confidence in the Minister of Justice with regard to his genuine
commitment to changes to the criminal justice system in
Canada, but unfortunately his agenda calls for simply the
introduction of a bill in June and he is not expecting passage of
until later this year or sometime next year. That is just not good
I would submit that it would be totally and completely and
absolutely irresponsible for members of all sides of this House
to rise for the summer holidays, to go back to our homes,
families and cottages without passing changes to the Young
Offenders Act. That would be an abdication of our responsibility
as legislators. It would be an abdication of the mandate and the
trust given to us by the people of Canada six short months ago.
I would urge the minister, I would urge the government, I
would urge all members in the House to expedite changes. We do
not need another year or two of study. I was a member of the
justice committee for eight years. When I was first elected to the
House in September 1984 the Young Offenders Act was only a
few months old and it was clear then that the Young Offenders
Act would not work. I have been calling for changes for the last
Here we are 10 years later and just a few weeks ago the 10th
anniversary of the Young Offenders Act was celebrated. The
Young Offenders Act replaced the old juvenile delinquents act.
Back then the bleeding hearts claimed that the juvenile
delinquents act was not working and they needed a more
We have now a piece of federal legislation that is totally
unbalanced. It is a piece of legislation that shoves aside the
public interest and shoves aside security for the public. Instead
it protects and invites young people to break the law, to embark
upon a lifetime of criminality.
The bill which I have before Parliament today addresses three
of the fundamental changes necessary to the Young Offenders
Act. I will speak about those changes in a few moments.
First, I want to talk about the existing law, the Young
Offenders Act, section 3, which contains eight statements of
policy indicating the philosophy behind the Young Offenders
Act. I want to summarize the philosophy and explain why in my
view that while the intention was there, the 10 years of practice
that we have had have clearly established that the principles
have gone haywire.
The first principle is that young persons are said not to be as
accountable for their acts as are adults but even so they must
bear responsibility for their contraventions-motherhood and
Second, society must be afforded protection from illegal
behaviour although it does have a responsibility to take
measures to prevent criminal conduct by youth. That was the
second principle, but experience has shown that the protection
of society does not even appear to register in the consideration
of those involved in the system, particularly judges who have to
bear some of the responsibility for some of the outrageous
sentences that are handed down today.
The third statement recognizes the need for supervision,
discipline and control of young offenders, but also that they
have special needs and require guidance and assistance. We will
not find any dispute about the need for special guidance and
assistance for young people. We all recognize that there is a need
for a system that will deal with young offenders. We do not want
to treat 12 and 13 year olds, genuine children, like adults. We do
not want to throw them in the slammer, send them down to
Kingston to serve a life sentence or to serve lengthy prison
terms. There has to be a balanced system. We all recognize that.
However, when we look at the experience today we recognize
that the system is doing a disservice to the public and to young
people because it is telling young people today that they have to
carry knives. One cannot help but wonder that if there were a
different psychology out there with our young people today the
young person who was murdered in Hull yesterday would be
alive today. Why was it necessary for the person who committed
the murder to be carrying a knife? It is not uncommon for young
people today to carry knives and loaded guns to school every
morning. That is the atmosphere that our young people are faced
with today. They carry guns and knives and other deadly
weapons not simply to do harm to other people but for
Mr. Speaker, when you and I were in high school, public
school and university if there was a score to settle you used your
fists. You would go out back and have a fist fight, a little wrestle
and you would settle your scores. Today scores are settled with
deadly force. Scores are settled with knives and bullets and
guns. People are killed and maimed right across the country as a
result of this unfortunate and tragic situation that our young
people are faced with today.
The philosophy also says, the fourth consideration, that the
taking of measures other than judicial proceedings should be
considered where not inconsistent with the protection of society.
The fifth statement recognizes the legal and constitutional
rights of youth. Therein lies one of the major problems with the
Young Offenders Act. On the one hand it says we should treat
young offenders as children. On the other hand it says we should
afford them all the rights and privileges afforded other criminals
under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That is fine and dandy, but then young people recognize that
they have the right to a lawyer; let's go get legal aid. They have
the right to all the protection that adults have, such as the right to
remain silent and all the other rights. Young people recognize
that those rights exist and they are using them as protection from
The sixth principle is that a young person has the right-and
this is a real kicker-to the least possible interference with
freedom as is consistent with public safety. It is built right into
the Young Offenders Act. It says we cannot interfere with their
Seventh, young offenders have the right to be informed of
their rights and freedoms in any situation where those rights and
freedoms may be infringed.
Finally, parents are said to have a responsibility for the care
and supervision of their children, and children are to be removed
from parents only in compelling circumstances.
That is the philosophy behind the Young Offenders Act. Some
of it is apple pie and motherhood, but the rest of it unfortunately
has led to a system that is a contributing factor to the decay of
the moral fibre and the integrity of our youth.
I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I am not calling for
sending young children to jail and throwing away the keys, or
whipping them and hanging them. What I am calling for is a
more balanced approach. The significant majority of young
people are law-abiding citizens. They do not need a law to tell
them the difference between right and wrong. We are dealing
with the exceptions, the small percentage of young hoods, young
incorrigibles in our society, who are using the law in order to
further their criminality.
We need a balanced system. Somehow the principles outlined
in the Young Offenders Act have not been translated into action
and the pendulum has swung in favour of the rights and
protection of the youth. Public security has become a secondary
consideration at best and all too often has been neglected
My bill addresses three specific areas. First, I would change
the age limits provided in the Young Offenders Act. Today a
young offender, a child, these people who are in need of
protection and caring guidance, is defined as a young person
between the ages of 12 and 17. We have the situation of a
17-year-old, one day shy of his or her 18th birthday, old enough
to drive, old enough to enter into contracts in some jurisdictions,
yet treated as a child and defined as a child.
Statistics show that half of the youth court case load involves
16 and 17 year olds. My bill would treat 16 and 17 year olds as
adults. They would be charged and prosecuted in adult court,
and in my submission that would act as a very serious deterrent
to other 16 and 17 year olds from breaking the law.
As well my bill would lower the age limit to the age of 10.
Some people are suggesting that there should not be any lower
end to the definition of a young offender. We all know of the case
in Great Britain, for example, where two 10-year-olds were
convicted of murder. In Canada children under the age of 12 are
used by adults to commit criminal offences. Second, some of
them are committing in their own right serious offences. By
lowering the age limit it allows the police to bring these
children into the system so they can be dealt with and treated
My bill would define children as those young people between
the ages of 12 and 15. Sixteen and seventeen year olds know the
difference between right and wrong, understand the nature and
consequences of their acts and therefore, in my view, ought to be
prosecuted in adult court. As members know, age is always a
mitigating circumstance at sentencing in adult court.
The second aspect of my bill-it is something that the
minister has already indicated he supports-is the increase in
the maximum penalty for first degree murder from five to ten
years. I applaud the minister for confirming his position in that
regard not too long ago. Just a few years ago the maximum
penalty was three years for first degree murder.
We had the situation in Scarborough, for example, where a
young offender committed a triple murder, first degree murder,
and served three years. He then was released. Now the sentence
has been bumped up to five years but in my respectful
submission it ought to be ten years for first degree murder.
The third aspect of my bill would allow for the publication of
the details and the identity of a young offender after the second
serious conviction. Right now there is a blanket prohibition on
the publication of details.
The case in British Columbia-there are dozens of other
similar cases-underlined the need for the public, the
neighbours, the school system to know of some of the serious
offences. The young person had been convicted of molesting
young children. If the public knew, if the police knew, if
neighbours knew, they could have taken the necessary
precautions. He murdered and raped a six-year old child.
My bill would allow the young offender two chances. Once
they have committed two serious offences, then the public
would be entitled to know the details and the identity of the
young offender. I submit that would serve as a deterrent for
Let me end where I began. The system is in desperate need of
repair. We have to move with dispatch. For those people who
suggest this concern is a knee-jerk reaction to the murder in
Hull or the murder here in Ottawa or the dozens of other murders
and rapes and violent assaults, let me tell members that they are
sadly mistaken. Their heads are in the sand and it is time that
they woke up and smelled the coffee.
This is not something that happened overnight. It is a concern.
The problem has been here for the last 10 years. I would urge my
colleagues to expedite changing passages in the Young
I would ask that at the conclusion of this debate at 12 noon
today we have the unanimous consent of the House to refer the
bill and its subject matter to the justice committee so that we can
begin immediate deliberations with regard to this component of
the criminal justice system.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm):Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to the bill
introduced by the hon. member for York South-Weston, a trial
balloon being launched by the Liberal government on the issue
of young offenders.
Since the opening of the 35th Parliament, the Department of
Justice has been discussing amendments to the Young Offenders
Act. For reasons known to the department, it seems this was one
of its priorities.
Furthermore, in the famous red book people have been talking
about since October 25, the Liberal party proposed to reform the
Young Offenders Act, to offer real rehabilitation while cracking
down on young criminals.
Since I assume no one is against real rehabilitation, today the
Liberal government is testing the temper and sensibilities of
voters on the issue of cracking down on young criminals.
Considering the bill the hon. member has introduced, I
understand why he sits on the extreme right of the Prime
Unfortunately, this shift to the right on the young offenders
issue is based on a skewed equation of violence and young
people. To the average citizen, youth is equated with violence
and adolescence is synonymous with delinquency. However,
nothing could be further from the truth.
In Quebec, since 1979, all crimes committed by young people
have decreased substantially, by nearly 8 per cent across Quebec
and by 34 per cent in the Montreal area. Was the government, or
should I say, was the hon. member aware of these figures before
he introduced the kind of bill we have before us today?
We cannot go on being alarmist to this degree, because it
gives a false picture of reality and we end up with bills like this
one which I consider to be very alarming indeed.
It is all well and good to ask for zero tolerance, but should this
necessarily mean lowering the age limit of offenders covered by
the youth courts, should this mean more severe sentencing and
releasing the names of repeat young offenders? This
interpretation of zero tolerance is tantamount to telling all
young offenders: get in there and stay there. That is the easy way
That is a fifties petit bourgeois attitude. The emphasis should
not be on the sentencing aspect as much as on assistance,
guidance and reintegration of the young offender.
Obviously, I am against the simplistic bill before the House
today. If this proposal would help the government save money, a
government that is flat broke, perhaps we could discuss it and
consider the benefits from that angle. However, by increasing
sentences and lowering the age at which one is considered to be
young offender, we are merely filling up our prisons faster and
adding to the number of unproductive young people who will be
a burden on society for the rest of their lives.
Current public pressure for a stricter Young Offenders Act is
understandable, especially in western Canada. Sensational cases
reported in the media add to the skewed perception of the
problem. However, reaching directly with amendments like
these reflects some confusion about, and represents a major
departure from, the objectives pursued by the Young Offenders
Act passed in 1984, in other words, deterrence, rehabilitation
and the protection of society.
In Quebec, we understand the main principles behind the
protection of youth and society. When dealing with young
offenders, we rely on rehabilitation and reintegration. As much
as possible, we avoid criminalizing cases involving young
The Quebec Department of Health and Social Services and the
Youth Protection Branch take care of young offenders and assist
them. The results have been astonishing. In Quebec, we invest in
rehabilitation because we believe in it. Statistics are extremely
revealing in that respect. According to a very sound study
conducted in Quebec between 1968 and 1983, it takes society
less than five years to recoup the money it invests to rehabilitate
young murderers and turn them into productive young adults
who work, pay taxes and spend money, all of which keep the
In western Canada, they are understandably intolerant
because they do not invest in their youth as we do. It is not one of
their concerns. They do not seem to have the resources; they do
not take care of young offenders who are left to fend for
themselves. They just lock them up in a different part of the
prison than the adults.
Our assessment of this bill illustrates how distinct a society
Quebec is. You know, it is not only our language and culture
which make us different from the rest of Canada, but also our
beliefs, concerns and philosophy. We just do not see things the
same way and the bill before us this morning is a case in point.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the goal aimed at by
the amendments proposed in this bill could be achieved through
a stricter enforcement of the present Young Offenders Act. It
appears that, in his bill, the Liberal member is seeking to make
young offenders accountable and responsible for their illegal
actions so that they can be tried in a regular court.
In our justice system, teenagers charged with indictable
offences are seldom tried in adult court, even though the April
1992 amendments make it easier.
Being doubly concerned with the rehabilitation of the young
offender and the protection of society, lawyers and judges are
not surprisingly very reluctant, one to ask for a trial in adult
court, and the other to order it.
In Quebec, according to the information I have, transfer to an
adult court is requested in no more than 5 per cent of all cases.
This reluctance is easily explained: If a young offender is
found guilty in adult court he will receive a very stiff sentence,
offering very little opportunity for rehabilitation. Moreover, he
will be eligible for parole only after five or ten years, depending
on whether the crime was first or second degree murder.
Why force the hand of the courts if, for legal and social
reasons, they do not do it? Even though they can try some young
offenders as adults, accountable and responsible for their
actions, they rarely choose to do it. If the hon. member wishes to
help society, he should instead introduce a bill to make the
public more aware that a program offering help in a responsible
manner affords better protection than a punitive measure, which
is effective only as long as it is in force.
More than that, he should support a complete transfer of
jurisdiction to the provinces, with the necessary budget. This
way each province could deal with its young offenders as it
The deterrent effect sought by imposing longer sentences is
not supported by the information available. In fact, the reverse
in true according to Crime and Delinquency which, in its
January issue, published the results of a study carried out in
several American States proving that.
Like his government, the hon. member misses the target
completely with this bill. If the Criminal Code needed
amendments, it would be to force rehabilitation and reentry into
the community for young offenders, but this is outside the
jurisdiction of this House.
Society should be more tolerant and its objective should not
be to make all young persons conform with what their
environment, their family, their school and society itself expect
of them, but to make them able to become independent, with the
minimum of limitations, and to make their reentry a success.
Mr. Rex Crawford (Kent): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to
rise today to speak in complete, full and total support of Bill
C-217, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act, the
Contraventions Act and the Criminal Code in consequence
thereof. It was placed before the House by my colleague, the
hon. member for York South-Weston. I congratulate him for
the bill and for his distinguished efforts at drawing much
needed attention to the issue of young offenders.
When I was first elected to the House of Commons one of my
goals was to strengthen the Young Offenders Act. Recent events
in my riding only give me greater resolve and strength to push
for tougher sentences.
As many in the House may be aware the city of Chatham,
Ontario, population 43,000, is still reeling from the brutal
murder last week of seven-year old Daniel Miller. He was in the
wrong place at the wrong time. A local teenage gang member
has been charged with first degree murder in the beating death.
My heart goes out to the Miller family. They lost a son before
the prime of his life, before he had a future. The slaying has
sparked angry demonstrations and a series of petitions calling
for action to prevent more violence.
A railroad bridge near where the boy's body was found was
covered with graffiti by a group called Criminally Minded
Corporations or CMC. A young concerned citizen painted the
bridge on the weekend to erase the gutter language. The CMC is
the best organized of six youth gangs in Chatham and boasts
over 100 members. Many gang members wear army boots with
symbolically coloured shoelaces.
In addition, this totally random act of murder is seemingly
just one more example of the crumbling decline of our society,
morals and family values. The day after, a 17-year-old was
charged with assault causing bodily harm to a security guard
who was watching over the abandoned yard where the murder
Where does it end? Local parents and other citizens are
calling for vigilante justice. They do not trust our current system
of justice, that it lets off criminals with a slap on the wrist while
the victims are left in limbo for the rest of their lives.
One resident, Jason Gale, who moved to Chatham recently
with his two young daughters, mother and grandmother said
this: ``They are terrorizing people. I think if the people of
Chatham started fighting back, if a few of these gang members
got beaten up pretty bad or had something happen to them, I
think a lot of it would stop''. Is that where our society is today?
I appeal for calm and level heads to prevail in my riding. We
must improve the justice system so that criminals are punished
for their crimes. Bill C-217 is an important step in the right
Several years ago the former Conservative government
introduced some tougher sentences. For instance the maximum
sentence for murder was increased to five years from three. I
said at that time when the bill was introduced, and I will repeat it
today, that the current Young Offenders Act is too soft. It is a
I have presented over 25,000 names on petitions collected by
Roy Asselstine Jr. and his parents calling for a reinforcement of
the act. I am told by lawyers and police that if some young
people are involved with the Young Offenders Act it is a badge
of honour. It is a measure of distinction. That is what they are
saying on the streets. No ivory tower mentality of Parliament
Hill is going to change that reality. It is a reality not just in
Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver but also in many smaller cities
such as Chatham.
Bill C-217 will augment the debate. As my friend from York
South-Weston pointed out, his bill is endorsed by the Canadian
Police Association and Victims of Violence and is co-sponsored
by 17 members of Parliament.
The purpose of the bill is threefold. First, the young offender
would now be between the ages of 10 and 15. As a result 16 and
17 year olds would be held responsible for their criminal acts
and prosecuted in adult court. Second, the maximum penalty for
first and second degree murder would be increased to 10 years
from the current 5 years. Third, after a second conviction the
young offender's name could be published.
These are reasonable improvements to the current Young
Offenders Act which is not an effective deterrent and does not
allow correctional officials a sufficient opportunity to
rehabilitate young people. Bill C-217 goes a long way toward
balancing the needs of the public as well as our youth.
Yes, we must work to prevent crime, to give hope to young
people that their futures can be meaningful, that their lives can
make a difference in this world of ours. Rehabilitation must be a
vital component of any new law.
I am pleased to offer my backing to the bill. I urge hon.
members to send it to the justice committee where it can receive
more in-depth study.
In closing I have an article from the Chatham paper. The
headline reads: ``Family of teen beaten up by gang moves out of
Maple City''. These are the Asselstines whose son was beaten up
by the gang CMC and hospitalized. On his release from hospital
he and his parents went around the Chatham area getting
signatures on a petition. They have been harassed ever since and
have moved with no forwarding address. This is not what we
want in our society today.
It is on their behalf and that of young Daniel Miller that I
stand in the House in support of Bill C-217.
Mr. Paul E. Forseth (New Westminster-Burnaby):Mr. Speaker, I rise today to basically support the bill as
amendments to the Young Offenders Act are so very long
The issue certainly was up front during the election. There
was always someone who was sure to bring it up at a local town
hall meeting during the campaign.
Consequently, in view of such wide concern about problems
with the act from right across Canada, it was with dismay we
found listening from this side of the House that the government
did not even give a mention of the Young Offenders Act in the
throne speech. After subsequently pressing the government on
that sorely misplaced priority, we have now had a number of
promises from the justice minister that the government is
moving on a series of amendments.
However, the timing of the long awaited government bill at
last count is that it is to be introduced sometime in June. Based
on the shifting sands of time of this government, one wonders if
there will ever be a government bill amending the Young
Offenders Act tabled before the House adjourns for the summer.
I am sure therefore it is with a backdrop of frustration that the
member has introduced his own private member's bill. I have
heard that the substantive part of it does not have the support of
the government. From our observation, this is most
The Young Offenders Act has a title. This bill seeks to make
the act live up to its name. The YOA should deal with young
offenders, not youthful adults. I would certainly like to see more
comprehensive adjustments to the act, however as far as this bill
goes, we on this side are prepared to support it.
Specifically the bill is threefold. It lowers the age limits that
define who is a young person for the operation of the act. It also
allows the publication of the name of a young offender who has
been convicted of an indictable offence on two previous
occasions. This is a weak effort of improvement but certainly is
a move in the right direction.
The bill also increases the maximum penalty for first and
second degree murder to 10 years. This last point has been
hinted at by the justice minister. However the bill at least leaves
the other measures alone whereas the justice minister plans to
give on one hand yet take away with the other by limiting the
transfer provisions of the act.
My sympathies go out to the member that he is part of a group
which is so out of touch with Canadians that he has to bring
forward his own bill. Although the bill has timid half measures it
still does not get the support of the cabinet.
I have been around at the operational level with young
offenders since the days of working with the juvenile delin-
quents act. I recall all too well the federal-provincial
conferences and negotiations for 10 years leading up to the
passage of the YOA in the dying days of a previous Liberal
Canadians were assured in bold terms how the YOA struck the
right balance. I also recall strong voices at the time, even in the
House, of how the YOA sent the wrong message to the
community and especially to young offenders.
We have now lived with the Young Offenders Act for about 10
years. It has been amended three times in response to
community concern. It is the single piece of criminal legislation
that is most vilified by the public. We have had 10 years of
implementation. One would think over that period some
semblance of accommodation would have resulted. However the
opposite is true.
The verdict is in from the empirical evidence of operation in
the field. The Young Offenders Act is fundamentally flawed
because it arises from false assumptions of human nature and as
we know best, top down attitude that the community really does
not know what is good for it.
Reformers on this side have been calling for some time for a
fundamental review because the community demands it. The
murder rate has doubled since the death penalty was last used in
1962. Violent crime in general has increased even more. The
basic point is that crime rates in general are too high.
We know who the offenders are. We need to protect the
community and give more recognition to victims. We have
considerable resources available for offenders. We should do
more to provide opportunities for making self-reformation
available for offenders. However the Young Offenders Act is
way off track in respect of victims of youth crime.
In my riding the biggest outcry for the Young Offenders Act
reform comes from high school students. They are all too well
aware of what the street sentiment is about what happens to one
of their own when they seriously offend against another student.
Many students, especially females in high schools, are afraid.
There is an atmosphere out there that nothing happens to young
offenders. There are no real consequences. Law-abiding
students have no confidence in the justice system.
Youth are in a period of learning where they resist limits.
They kick against authority and watch how the community
responds. The Young Offenders Act does the young no favours
by sending the wrong message about violating the rights of
others. The Young Offenders Act sends the wrong message to
We check the newspaper today. Again we see that 16-year old
Marwan Harb of Dompierre Street was pronounced dead at the
hospital after being stabbed in the back. A 15-year old boy who
was arrested two hours after the stabbing will be charged with
A group of teens was walking through a park. Following an
argument one of the boys punched Harb's girlfriend in the face.
When Harb tried to defend her a fight broke out and he was
stabbed in the back. It was a fight between a bunch of kids. It was
not like a gang war. It was not racial. The victim and the accused
knew each other through school. Upon being noticed the kids ran
away, leaving Harb lying on the ground. Incidents like this that
are repeated across Canada demonstrate that we need to address
We have an atmosphere where youths carry weapons. There is
little community consensus that we are accountable to an
atmosphere of law and order and, if violated, offenders will be
held to account. In some aspects we see youths behaving as if all
law and order has broken down and they are living with the
attitude of anarchy, every person for themselves; protect
yourself because for no one else will.
The inter-relationship between law, its application and social
order is complex. Yet in its simplest form,Canadians from
across the country have indicated that the Young Offenders Act
does not strike the right balance of deterrence to the individual,
deterrence to others, victims' rights and opportunities to reform.
I recently drafted my own private member's bill that was
rejected by the system as Bill C-217 was already in the hopper,
working its way through. My bill was seen as being too similar.
Unfortunately the bill is not votable but I commend the member
for sending a message to his colleagues. I hope they wake up and
get going with fundamental changes.
Reform Party members will have a lot to say in the future
about a constructive alternative to the Young Offenders Act. We
have been listening to the community. Our platform comes from
the bottom up. The Reform Party national task force on law and
order specified substantive changes to the Young Offenders Act
and we will be bringing those forward.
Now is the time to support the voice of reason and practical
reality. The Young Offenders Act needs changing. The bill
although too modest in substance certainly goes in the right
direction. Voices of this tone must be supported. The bill must
not only be supported by like-minded individuals but must be
supported in the name of young people right across the country.
The misguided premise of the Young Offenders Act will
eventually be fixed. Perhaps it will take a Reform Party
government to do it.
In the meantime Her Majesty's loyal constructive alternative
from this side of the House will support any voice of reason and
balance to deal with the measures the community wants. Let us
change the Young Offenders Act now and send a more realistic
message to offenders and potential offenders that someone's
rights end where someone else's nose begins. Offending needs
to be denounced.
We need a young offender law that is realistic in our culture,
that balances the needs and the rights of the offender and the
offended. The community must have confidence again in the
justice system. That is why I support the inherent message of the
Mr. Leonard Hopkins (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke):
Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on the bill this morning. I
congratulate the hon. member for York South-Weston on
bringing the issue forward. It is one that has been very much on
the minds of all members of Parliament and certainly on the
minds of the general public. There are some very succinct parts
of the young offenders legislation that should be given a very
serious look and review.
This issue is like any other major issue that arises and
becomes a public concern. There are serious events that occur
that bring the issue forward in the media. People feel that
nothing is working. Something is working. Something is not.
The something that is not working should be reviewed and
All legislation has to be changed from time to time to meet the
trends and the changes that take place in society. However there
is one thing I disagree with. As a former educator I hear some
people saying that young offenders do not understand the
implications of what they are doing. I can say, having taught
many teenagers in my earlier days before coming to this
institution, they understand what they are doing. No one needs
to throw that argument out. It will not work.
The other sad part of this argument is the fact that some
people automatically think that these people come from poor
homes, no training and so on in the home. There are areas where
this occurs. There are other cases where people are looked after
in the home and they still go astray because peer pressure is very
strong on them to join gangs and go in the wrong direction.
I spoke many times in the last Parliament on young offenders
because we had a serious case in my constituency in the village
of Barry's Bay. I think one of the major problems is that the plea
bargaining that goes on in the courts is simply not justifiable and
cannot be supported. I am glad to know that the justice
committee at the direction of the government is making a
serious review of this legislation and will probably be into it
before June or, if not, during the month of June. I congratulate it
The plea bargaining that goes on in our courts today has to be
changed if we are going to change the Young Offenders Act and
other legislation dealing with the criminal element. There is no
way that we can allow lawyers to go on bargaining away the laws
of the country. The laws of the country are put in the records of
Parliament, put in legislation to be carried out. That is the intent
of the legislators who pass them.
I am absolutely opposed to handing it over to a group of
lawyers and the court and the crown and saying: ``You drop this,
I will take that''. In the end you have a situation similar to one
that was brought to my attention recently by the hon. member
for Victoria-Haliburton. A person goes into a store with a
sawed-off shotgun, holds up the store, gets away, is finally
caught and brought into court. When he is sentenced he gets four
months and he will probably be out in two and a half months.
They used to get 10, 12 and 15 years for armed robbery.
That is not justice in the eyes of the public and the punishment
certainly does not fit the crime. These are things that have to be
We cannot have people committing crimes in this country and
walking away laughing at the law. That is indeed what is going
on. We cannot have people going down the streets and shooting a
top-notch graduate student on a sidewalk in Ottawa, Toronto or
anywhere else, destroying good lives.
The system has to be seriously reviewed, not just reviewed
and looked at and talked about and so on. I wish the justice
committee well as it does this later. I thank the hon. member for
York South-Weston for bringing the issue before the House and
giving us a chance to discuss it. I know he is very serious about
having the bill adopted for further study and brought before the
The bottom line here, and I do not like using that term because
it is usually used in an unsophisticated manner, or the real
essence of law is that legislators pass laws hopefully to be
obeyed, hopefully to be administered, hopefully not to allow a
loophole where the law can be bargained away for those who
want to get the case over with and win cases for people who
should not be on the streets. When someone does get out on the
street early and commits another crime, up goes another big
sympathy wave saying: ``Oh, this person shouldn't be out on the
He should not have been out on the street. The law has to be
administered. Some of it is already on the books so that when a
person is in prison he or she should not be out of incarceration
until they have had medical treatment and are deemed by
medical authorities to be capable of running their own lives,
leading a decent life out on the streets and byways.
If there is anything that we are going to have to improve along
with this legislation, it is to make sure that the treatment,
medical care and the advising are in place to bring these young
people back into a productive way of life.
There are some who have come under the Young Offenders
Act who are now very productive in society. We have to
recognize that side, too. It is not a one-sided picture. We can
only try to perfect it if we try to correct the things that are not
working in it today.
I want to review briefly the things that I have touched on.
There is the medical treatment of these people, ensuring that the
plea bargaining system is changed so that it is going to back up
the law that we put on the books, the publishing of names of
young offenders as indicated in the hon. member's private
members' bill this morning and the fact that these young people
do know what they are doing.
Let us go at this in a very constructive way and correct what is
working to complement that which is working today.
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East): Mr. Speaker, I stand today
to support Bill C-217. I support it in principle as has been
explained by another member of my party. There are some
aspects on which we would like to see some fine tuning.
Any move in this direction is a move that will work in favour
of our most valuable asset in Canada, our young people. Our
young people are the ones who are the most disadvantaged by
the current Young Offenders Act.
I agree with the member for York South-Weston totally that
the bill should have been votable. It really shows something
wrong with the system when we can have a votable bill on
whether hockey should be Canada's national sport but for
something like this that works directly against the young people,
the greatest asset of Canada, we are not going to vote on it. I find
that really outstanding.
Young people come to me quite frequently. They say: ``As a
high school student my biggest problem is that I recognize that I
am under a cloud''. I suspect that for many members and their
constituents, when they see young people on a bus or gathered
somewhere they assume the worst because there are some bad
We must make changes to the Young Offenders Act not only
for property values or violence but primarily to support
Canada's greatest asset, our young people. Many of those young
people are involved in things like science fairs. They are very
exciting events to attend. I commend them to all members and to
Many of them belong to school clubs and organizations. They
belong to sports teams. Many are involved in cadets, scouts or
guides. Many belong to churches, young people's groups or
counsel at summer camp as counsellors. They are involved in
marching bands, 4-H clubs, forestry camps, computer clubs,
sports clubs and camps. Those who are actively involved are the
people who are the most disadvantaged by this law.
We as adults have to get our priorities straight. Let us protect
our greatest asset. Many of our young people are involved in
summer work. Often we think of summer work as kind of a make
work kind of a thing. As members know, without the inclusion in
the work force of our young people, many of the things that get
cleaned up in the summertime would not get cleaned up. They
help with tourist and recreation facilities. They act as
information for business.
I say that parents have to be involved in education of the
young people. They have to be involved in guidance of the
young people. They have to be involved-
Mr. Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I
apologize to the hon. member for interrupting his speech but the
rules require that the debate end in about a minute's time.
I understand that a good number of members would like to
take part in this debate. The Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Justice has stood. He would like to speak. I am sure
the hon. member would like to conclude his remarks so I would
seek the unanimous consent of the House to extend the debate on
this most important subject matter for an additional hour until
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: There does not appear to be unanimous
consent. I believe the hon. member had a second point of order.
Mr. Nunziata: Mr. Speaker, can you indicate who denied
unanimous consent? I did not hear anything from this end.
The Deputy Speaker: The member, if he had been sitting
here, certainly would have heard something.
Mr. Nunziata: It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, considering the
comparative importance of the next bill we are supposed to
debate to the people of Canada. However those who denied
unanimous consent will have to account to their constituents and
to the people of Canada why they think that an hour's debate on
the Young Offenders Act is too much.
In view of the importance of the legislation, I would seek the
unanimous consent of the House to adopt the bill at second
reading, in principle, and to refer the bill to the justice
committee for further consideration.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: Once again I must advise members that
there is no unanimous consent on this side.
Mr. Nunziata: I rise on a further point of order, Mr. Speaker.
The separatists will have to explain to the rest of Canada why
they do not want to debate or even discuss the bill.
I will try once again. Rather than adopting the bill at second
reading I would ask that the subject matter of the Young
Offenders Act, not the bill before Parliament, be referred to the
committee so that all members will have an opportunity to
discuss the subject matter at committee.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to refer the
subject matter of the bill to committee?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: Again there is no unanimous consent.
The time provided for the consideration of Private Members'
Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 96(1),
this item is dropped from the Order Paper.
The House resumed from April 29 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-22, an act respecting certain agreements concerning
the redevelopment and operation of terminals 1 and 2 at Lester
B. Pearson International Airport, be read the second time and
referred to a committee; of the amendment; and of the
amendment to the amendment.
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Quebec): Mr. Speaker, this
government is blatantly guilty of applying a double standard.
This very same government, which not so long ago attacked the
least fortunate in our society, is now getting ready to protect and
compensate persons with no redeeming value whatsoever, other
than the fact that they helped fill the coffers of the two major
federal political parties.
This is the same government that, less than one month ago,
announced restrictions to unemployment insurance entitlement,
thereby propelling more workers into the ranks of social
Unlike the unemployed, lobbyists and heads of corporations
with close ties to political parties need not be concerned about
incurring losses. There is certainly no question of them losing
their benefits, remuneration or compensation. Their interests
are well protected since they are directly tied to party finances.
The dealings surrounding the privatization of terminals 1 and
2 at Pearson airport are a striking example of how Canadian
governments unfortunately resort all too often to playing
politics. Many of those who have already spoken in this debate
have recounted in detail the saga of this deal. Therefore I will
not go over the same ground again.
My purpose in speaking today is to emphasize the odious
nature of this affair and the offensive attitude of the two
governments who have been successively involved in it.
Take for instance the way the privatization bids were
solicited. A 90-day bidding period is highly unusual for such a
major contract. Did anyone in the federal administration
protest? Certainly not! It was better kept in the family.
With the result that we know: Paxport and Claridge
Corporation were the only bidders. The Nixon report had a great
deal to say on the subject. While the quote may be a tad long, it is
well worth reading and rereading:
The RFP [request for proposals] having as it did only a single stage and
requiring proponents to engage in project definition as well as proposal
submission and, all within a 90 day time frame, created, in my view, an
enormous advantage to a proponent that had previously submitted a proposal
for privatizing and developing T1 and T2. Other management and construction
firms not having been involved in the manoeuvering preceding the RFP had no
chance to come up to speed and submit a bid in the short time permitted.
The winner, as we know, was Paxport, in spite of the fact it
was grappling with financial difficulties. Which leads to the
next question that has to be raised again: How could the
government let a contract of that magnitude to a company
without checking its financial statements? Can anyone imagine
even for a moment that an unemployed citizen would be granted
a subsidy, a loan or a contract, to start up a small business
without having to prove profitability?
The answer is obvious. Never, ever, could such a thing
happen. Principles like the need to manage public funds soundly
would be argued. Always the same double standard! If you are
rich and close to those in power, the usual conditions just do not
apply to you, or barely.
Another unknown in this matter is the role played by lobbyists
in obtaining these contracts. We know that the Lobbyists
Registration Act was passed by the Conservative government in
1988 and came into effect in September 1989. It is interesting to
stop and look briefly at the basic principles underlying this
legislation. There were three principles.
First, accessibility, meaning that the public has the right to
express its opinion and have unrestricted access to government;
second, transparency, that is to say that activities involving
governments should be clear and open; and third, simplicity,
which means the administration of the registration system must
be simple. To that end, lobbyists must register with the registrar
in one of the categories established by law. In theory, nothing
could be simpler.
Assuming I am a lobbyist, I register with the registrar and
thereafter, anybody refering to the register will know that I am
working as a lobbyist. Depending on the category I am
registered under, information concerning my activities will be
more or less elaborate. Many problems with the application of
the law have been identified, but the gist of it remains valid.
Let us move on to the role of lobbyists involved in the Pearson
Airport case and the treatment provided for in the act. We will
focus on three major players, namely Donald Matthews, Hugh
Riopelle and Patrick MacAdam. Mr. Matthews is president of
the Matthews group, which has a 40 per cent controlling interest
in Paxport. As you know, Mr. Matthews presided over Brian
Mulroney's leadership campaign in 1983. In addition, as a
former president of the Conservative Party, he ran fund-raising
campaigns for that party.
Mr. Riopelle was chief of staff to former Tory Prime Minister
Joe Clark and was later to be appointed to lead the transition
team of ex-Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Mr. Riopelle was
hired as lobbyist by Paxport's president at the time, Ray
The third lobbyist is Mr. MacAdam, a friend of Mr. Mulroney
and of the Conservative Party. These three men have one thing in
common: they never registered as lobbyists.
Should the law not apply equally to everybody? It does not
seem to apply to Tory lobbyists. What about Liberal lobbyists?
It is an open question. We think it would be appropriate to look
more closely at the lobbying firms involved in the Pearson
Airport deal. Here are some of them. Working on behalf of
Paxport is the Government Business Consulting Group Inc.,
whose CEO is J.A. Fred Doucet. Surprise, surprise! Mr. Doucet
was Mr. Mulroney's chief of staff and senior adviser on Kim
Campbell's campaign. It is a small world.
John Legate is president of J.S.L. Consulting Services
Limited. Coincidentally, he was hired as lobbyist by Paxport's
president when he had access to the Tory Cabinet through the
minister then responsible for Toronto, Michael Wilson. As you
recall, the airport is located in that city.
Last but not least, Atlantic Research Canada Inc. whose
president at the beginning of the privatization affair was Ray
Hession, who was also president of Paxport. Mr. Hession was
Deputy Minister at Supply and Services under the Liberal
government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Once the contract was
awarded to Paxport, he resigned as president to be replaced by
Don Matthews' son.
At Claridge Properties, Earnscliffe Strategy Group Inc., one
of the lobbyists, is represented by William J. Fox, a former
political attaché and personal friend of Brian Mulroney.
At Near Consultants and Associates Limited, we find Harry
Near, who is also involved in the Earnscliffe Group. Mr. Near
has long been active in the Conservative Party.
There is no need to continue this litany of names and
companies, the conclusion is clear and obvious: they were all
related to one another and to the two federal parties which have
succeeded each other in office.
Other questions arise. Who exactly do these people and these
companies represent? Who are the directors of the various
companies involved? We must clear that up. These people have
had great influence with political decision-makers, so much so
that the former government violated an important parliamentary
principle according to which a government at the end of its term
makes no decision that could endanger the decision-making
power of a future government.
They were so influential that on April 13, 1994, the Liberal
government tabled Bill C-22 which is being debated today. This
legislation would allow the government to pay corporations,
especially the T1 T2 Limited Partnership, large amounts for
cancelling the contract. Their influence is such that this
government is asking us to ratify another transaction from
which corporations tied to the two traditional parties will
benefit. Their influence is such that this government is asking us
to forget all the transactions between the corporations and the
Department of Transport were in flagrant violation of the
government policies in effect. Their influence is such that the
government is asking us to forget these policies intended to
encourage marketing the airports and their contribution to
economic development and to make them aware of local
concerns and interests.
We want to know whose economy was to be developed. We
want to know what local concerns and interests were served by
these agreements. We want to know who benefited: the
taxpayers, local communities or corporations.
These questions indicate how openly the government
conducts its affairs and how easily the public can access
information on this. Remember that these principles are affected
by the law and that lobbyists must respect them.
The picture we have just painted shows us a group of
influential people, well connected with ties to the political
parties, who can bend government decisions to their financial
We have many questions and very few answers. We all know
that you must first have your questions answered before you can
make a decision.
The taxpayers of Canada and Quebec need light to be shed on
this issue, an intense, bright light. That is why the Bloc
Quebecois demands setting up a royal commission of inquiry on
Mr. Michel Daviault (Ahuntsic): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased
to participate in the debate on Bill C-22.
I wanted to go over the sequence of key events surrounding
the drafting of the privatization contract, but since there are so
many details, manoeuvres and shady dealings in this
transaction, and since some colleagues have already looked at
these events, I will instead put the emphasis on a few aspects of
this project which involve the alleged transparency of this
government in this whole issue.
This government paints a glowing picture of the consulting
process to get Canadians' opinion, but in fact all these so-called
consultation exercises are nothing but a mirage, because when
this pretence of transparency puts the government on the
defensive, it quickly states that it was elected to make decisions
and that it is doing just that. However, by acting like a bunch of
know-it-alls, as Liberal Premier Daniel Johnson said, this
government will lead us directly to social chaos. Canadians will
not be fooled.
What distinguishes this government from the previous
Conservative government? Nothing, except maybe the colour of
its program. It is a centralizing government, a government
which does not hesitate to maintain duplication and
overlappings; a government which continues to violate areas of
provincial jurisdictions by unilaterally occupying the whole
field. Where is the transparency? Can you not see a pattern
between the recent squabbles between Ottawa and Quebec City
regarding manpower training, the youth corps program, federal
subsidies for education, social programs reform, drug patents,
the telephone industry and cable TV? All these issues
demonstrate the centralizing actions of Ottawa. Where is the
As regards Bill C-22, again I will refer to what Greg Weston,
a journalist with the Ottawa Citizen, wrote in his column on
March 9. Mr. Weston wrote:
The Grits have managed the remarkable feat of turning a highly suspicious
and secretive Tory deal into a highly suspicious and secretive Liberal
cancellation process-a secret inquiry, followed by the current secret
compensation negotiations, which may ultimately lead to a huge government
cheque with a secret invoice.
This sums it up quite well. It seems obvious to me that section
10(1) opens the door to arbitrary measures and that the power
given to the minister to decide on the payment of a
compensation is a discretionary power which this government
should not use if it really wants to govern with a degree of
transparency and credibility. Indeed, this Liberal government is
not immune to patronage, as you can see when you take a quick
look at those closely or remotely involved in this scandal. This
is why we ask that a commission of public inquiry be set up.
The circumstances around the hasty signing of the contract for
the redevelopment of Pearson Airport are very disturbing, but
what is even more disturbing is the attitude of this government,
which was also in a hurry to designate a former Liberal minister,
Mr. Bob Nixon, to conduct a private investigation.
In the awarding of this contract, what was the role of Senator
Leo Kolber, former member of the board of directors of Claridge
Properties Inc., a group that has close links with the Liberal
Party of Canada, and of Herb Metcalfe, a Liberal lobbyist with
the Capital Hill group, who represented Claridge Properties and
was a former organizer for the present Prime Minister? What
was the role of Ramsey Withers, a Liberal lobbyist whose ties
with the present Prime Minister are known and who was Deputy
Minister of Transport during the bidding process on Terminal 3
at Pearson Airport?
What was the role of Ray Hession, former Deputy Minister of
Industry and senior official with Supply and Services, the
department awarding the contracts? Mr. Hession was president
of Paxport Inc. and hired a battery of lobbyists, including Bill
Neville, closely linked to Mr. Mulroney, Mr. Clark and Mrs.
Campbell; Mr. Hugh Riopelle, former PR man and
representative for Air Canada, who had access to Mr. Don
Mazankowski, a leading figure in the Mulroney cabinet; Mr.
John Legate, a friend of Michael Wilson, and so forth. What a
Was an agreement reached by the present Prime Minister and
Mr. Charles Bronfman, owner of Claridge Properties and
principal partner in the Pearson Development Corporation, at
that notorious $1,000 a plate dinner among friends during the
election campaign? Only investigators without links to current
and past governments would be able to force the people involved
come clean, not a timid in-house inquiry, held privately, without
any judicial powers.
Mr. Nixon himself observed that the role of lobbyists in this
deal went beyond permissible norms. A time frame of 90 days
for bidding proposals is unusually short. I may recall that this
was a very long term contract-57 years-and a very complex
one, which was to prevent several groups from submitting a
valid proposal. Of course, Claridge and Paxport, already
involved in the management of the airport, were able to submit
tenders which, by the way, were the only ones accepted. A single
corporation was to control all three terminals, despite the fact
that the government of the time claimed that one of the criteria
in the privatization of terminals 1 and 2 was competition. We
can see now that a monopoly was in the cards.
As you can see, Mr. Speaker, the list of irregularities is very
long, and this is why we are requesting a public inquiry, an
inquiry that the Liberals stubbornly refuse. The present Liberal
government, claiming openness, wants to cancel the deal. But it
keeps a discretionary power, in section 10, to compensate, «if
the Minister considers it appropriate», certain friends of the
party or contributors who may have been implicated in this
scandal. As the leader of the opposition was saying, ``this
particular case is overrun by lobbyists. It is full of people
wheeling and dealing in the corridors of power with the two big
At the present time, Mr. Bob Wright, a good friend of our
Prime Minister, is negotiating strenuously and in private too, in
order to determine the amount of compensation to be given to
In fact, we are shown only the tip of the iceberg and we are
asked, a bit too lightly, to forget the rest in order to save money.
The Liberal member for York South-Weston was saying in
this House, on Tuesday, that compensations to the Pearson
Development Corporation could reach almost $200 million.
Mr. Bronfman and the conglomerate he heads, friends of the
Liberal Party, have already submitted claims for $30 to $35
million for non-refundable expenses. That's on top of tax
deductions they will be able to claim from Revenue Canada,
thus hitting the taxpayer once again.
The hon. member for Thunder Bay was saying in this House:
To be exclusive in looking at compensation for out-of-pocket expenses for
Pearson Development Corporation alone is not the right thing to do. We should
take in the whole gamut of all those who spent considerable time and expense in
And this, in spite of the fact that these people knew exactly
what they were doing since the present Prime Minister had
announced that he would cancel the contract.
The facts revealed by a royal commission would allow the
government to pass laws to prevent such blatant patronage to
happen again. I am asking you: What would be cheaper, holding
a public inquiry, not a review and private negotiations, or paying
financial compensation to individuals who finance Canadian
We could talk about political party financing now, but we will
do that later. The member for Thunder Bay-Nipigon claims
that a royal commission would be too expensive and a waste of
time to learn something we already know. Our colleagues
opposite may know more about this contract than we do.
As Mr. Nixon himself said in his report:
Failure to make public the full identity of the participants in this agreement and
other salient terms of the contract inevitably raises public suspicion. Where the
Government of Canada proposes to privatize a public asset, in my opinion,
transparency should be the order of the day.
And Mr. Nixon added:
My review has left me with but one conclusion. To leave in place an inadequate
contract, arrived at with such a flawed process and under the shadow of possible
political manipulation, is unacceptable.
After such a statement, it cannot be justified to compensate
people or companies who tried to take advantage of such flaws.
Can we put a price on government's transparency and
credibility? Is it a waste of time to try to maintain such
With this in mind, we call for a public inquiry and for the
government to get right to the bottom of these sad events.
We vigorously denounce this attempt and this bill.
Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue): Mr. Speaker, I would be
sorry indeed if I did not take this opportunity to speak on this bill
which shows the true face of the members opposite. As you may
recall, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister
promised to cancel this deal and to make the political process
more transparent. Most likely he was swept up in the media
frenzy in the dying days of the campaign and got a little carried
His friends, those same friends who shell out $1,000 a plate
for the opportunity to gain his ear, were quick to remind him:
``Careful, we incurred expenses in connection with this deal''.
Today, we have a more complete picture and these individuals
will receive compensation. This bill is to be passed here in
Parliament, and rather quickly. Fortunately, some of us are
keeping our eyes open and are criticizing the government's
actions loud and clear.
The aim of the bill is twofold. First, it would cancel the deal
which is full of irregularities. This is a positive development.
Second, however, it would provide compensation, again by way
of a closed process, to certain parties. This is far less positive.
From the very moment it came to power, this government
made transparency one of its major objectives. It has also made
a number of decisions, such as cancelling the helicopter contract
and the Pearson airport deal and launching the infrastructure
program. Three decisions, and then almost nothing, with the
exception of a budget, and a bad budget at that. Since then, it has
simply gone about its day to day business. The government
seemed to have scored well on these three issues, but now, there
is some question about its performance on the airport deal. It is
highly doubtful that the government should be given a passing
grade in this case.
It bothers me to hear so much talk about transparency. It has
become such a major issue that I would not be surprised to see
Liberal members walking around with bottles of Mr. Clean. Yet,
when time comes to practice what they preach, all is forgotten.
All of a sudden, members stop talking. There is no real desire to
shed light on this issue, to examine the root of the problem and
to avoid a recurrence in the future. No, now that they are in
power, they must not let the public in on their plans for the
This is terrible. If we look at the whole privatization process
and at the companies involved, that is Paxport and Claridge, and
if we look at who is behind these companies-and I will not
bother to give you a complete rundown since my colleagues
have already done that-the whole spectacle is rather sordid
indeed. All these people with very close ties to the federal
government used their influence, going as far as having people
shifted around, to make sure they achieved their ends.
Many of these people are still alive and not too far removed
from the system, still today. How can this government be trusted
when many of the people involved are their friends and are still
around, and when they refuse to institute an inquiry which
would publicly condemn these people who can be linked to their
That is not a possible course of action; it would be far too
dangerous. Mr. Nixon, in the very short time he was given to
investigate the matter, attempted to shed some light on this,
enough anyway to tell us that this contract should indeed be
cancelled. This was obvious just from reading a few good
articles published in the dying days of the election campaign and
around the main events. We knew then that something was
wrong with the announcement of a contract to privatize the
During the election campaign, it had been held out that only
friends of the Convervative government were involved and the
previous government was to be condemned, on this score. Now,
we find out -but it had been discovered earlier- that plenty of
Liberals are also involved. As the financial stakes rise, the
political convictions of these people shrink. They will team up
with anybody, whatever the cost.
The bill before us today contains a most interesting provision.
It will allow those who are to be compensated to be targeted very
specifically, ensuring that only friends get compensated. That is
even better. What a great political tool.
This is the sort of attitude that deeply disheartens the public.
It generated tremendous cynicism for politicians, for the
administration of public funds. Here we have the perfect
occasion to shed light on a major matter where certain people
have used their influence, where lobbying has been too intensive
and too influential in particular. Yet, we have to wait. What for?
There are a number of quotes from the famous red book that I
would like to bring up, because this government had told us it
was going to control the activities of lobbyists when it would
come to power. Apparently some things take much longer than
others, but I will quote this:
We will develop a Code of Conduct for Public Officials to guide Cabinet
ministers, members of Parliament, senators, political staff, and public servants in
their dealings with lobbyists.
It goes on to say:
We will appoint an independent Ethics Counsellor to advise both public
officials and lobbyists in the application of the Code of Conduct. The Ethics
Counsellor will be appointed after consultation with the leaders of all parties in
the House of Commons.
At that time, they were probably far from thinking that the
Leader of the Official Opposition would be a member of the
Bloc Quebecois. They may find this a bit unsettling. But they
had good intentions. Now that they are in office, it is a different
matter. They were in opposition for a long time. They had
enough time to get ready. A party in opposition since 1984
would have had the time to put a lot of things on the table. People
would appreciate it. Instead, they are trying to scare lobbyists
into being very nice to the current government. The coffers must
be filling up quickly. We should avoid this legislation at all costs
or take the time to ensure it will have as little effect as possible.
What is most appalling in the bill before us is clause 9 and
especially clause 10. Clause 9 states that there will be no
compensation for the parties involved. In short, the main
purpose of Clauses 1 through 8 is to ensure that the government
will not be sued. Clause 9 bars any compensation-perhaps the
government hopes that people will get discouraged after reading
it. Clause 10 provides for ``the approval of the governor in
council'' so the minister may allow some compensation but not
for lobbyists' fees. It is the least that can be done as these fees
are already tax deductible. If they had to be compensated in
some other way besides, it need have cost the government
nothing. These people see paying lobbyists as an investment, so
they have to pay the price somewhere.
We are not at all reassured by knowing that the Cabinet will
have the power to do that in secrecy. To pay how much
compensation? Who knows? Who will know? Will we know one
day? That remains to be seen. For the sake of openness, this
should be elucidated. In addition, if compensation is to be paid,
people should have access to this information much more easily.
At least some parliamentarians should be able to deal with it.
But no, openness will come later.
Before concluding-my colleague wants me to go quickly-I
would not want to overlook one of the real sources of the present
problem, namely the financing of political parties. I exclude our
party because we are subject to much stricter constraints. But
when you are financed by people who have very big corporate
interests, when you agree to be financed by these corporations
and it is even one of your biggest sources of funding, you are
subject to that pressure. People who back political parties have
Personally, I much prefer to have a base of party members
making small donations and exercising that power instead of
business people who make large donations and try to get very
close to the government with those gifts. I think that is a
constraint from which the government should free itself. If it is
serious when it talks about openness, it has a model right at
hand. Quebec already has legislation which, although it may not
be totally perfect, is much better than what we have here and it
could be used as a basis. But no, they refuse to look at it. Why?
Because now that they are in power, they want to benefit from it.
They have nine lean years to make up for now. They want to
make a little hay. Perhaps later they will think of doing
something to please the public, but nothing substantial. In
conclusion, if there is one thing I would want to give Canadians
before leaving the federal system, it is a law on political party
financing that would make elected representatives much closer
to the people in a much more open system-a real reform, this
Mr. Pierre de Savoye (Portneuf): Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22,
the subject of today's debate, is a rather particular piece of
legislation. This bill deals with agreements arising out of the
request for proposals for the terminal redevelopment project at
Lester B. Pearson Airport, and the negotiations concerning that
The bill states that these agreements have not come into force
and have no legal effect. Moreover, it provides that no action or
other proceeding may be instituted against Her Majesty in
relation to these agreements.
This is an extremely serious piece of legislation. The previous
government concluded a contract with some corporations, and
this government is trying to renege on that deal by pretending
that it never took place.
Why is that? Later on I will show how the process was flawed
in a number of ways and that indeed the government should not
go ahead with this contract.
The bill also authorizes the minister, with the approval of the
governor in council, to enter into agreements to provide for the
payment of amounts in connection with the coming into force of
that act. This second part seems to be a convenient provision to
ensure that parties which may have been prejudiced can be
adequately compensated following the cancellation of the
However, while it may seem appropriate to do so, the wording
of the provision makes you wonder, and so do some connections
which can be made between various events. I will attempt to
show that, because of these events which may leave public
opinion with a bitter taste, it is important to look more
thoroughly at what went on before the agreements were
negotiated and concluded, as well as to what is going on now.
To put the legislation in its proper context, clause 3 provides
that the agreements which have been concluded:
- are hereby declared not to have come into force and to have no legal effect.
Moreover, clause 4 says:
4. For greater certainty, all undertakings, obligations, liabilities, estates,
rights, titles and interests arising out of the agreements are hereby declared not to
have come into existence.
As for clause 9, it provides that:
9. No one is entitled to any compensation from Her Majesty in connection with
the coming into force of this Act.
So far so good. However, everything is spoiled by clause 10
10.(1) If the Minister considers it appropriate to do so, -if he considers it
appropriate- -Minister may, with the approval of the Governor in Council,
enter into agreements on behalf of Her Majesty to provide for the payment of
such amounts as the Minister considers appropriate in connection with the
coming into force of this Act, subject to the terms and conditions that the
Minister considers appropriate.
I certainly do not question the good judgment of the minister
or the governor in council. However, I would like to refer to a
few excerpts from Mr. Robert Nixon's report, who was
appointed last October 28 by the current Prime Minister to look
into this transaction. Mr. Nixon's report was submitted a month
later, on November 29. What does this report tell us? To quote
Prior to the conclusion of the legal agreement the Leader of the Opposition
(now the Prime Minister) indicated clearly that parties proceeding to conclude
this transaction did so at their own risk and that a new government would not
hesitate to pass legislation to block the privatization of Terminals 1 and 2 if the
transaction was not in the public interest.
Mr. Nixon's report goes on to say: ``On October, 7, 1993, the
chief negotiator for the Government of Canada received his
written direction indicating that it was the explicit instruction of
the Prime Minister that the transaction be concluded on that very
same day. On October 7, 1993, therefore, the legal agreement to
privatize and redevelop terminals 1 and 2 was made''.
It was a very substantial agreement. In fact, when we talk
about terminals 1 and 2, we are talking about a major air
transportation hub in this country. To quote the Nixon report:
According to a 1987 Transport Canada study, Pearson has a $4 billion direct
economic impact on the economy of the province of Ontario and was directly and
indirectly responsible for over 56,000 Ontario jobs. It is by any estimation more
than the sum of its parts or the total of its assets and liabilities.
This is a contract which has an enormous impact on a region's
economy, by letting private interests manage an air terminal of
that size, while for many years, airports near nonheal have been
under-used. In Central Canada we have created a powerful
magnet for air traffic that can draw traffic away from the
country's other major airports, especially those near Montreal.
And how many years would this contract be in effect? I am
still quoting Mr. Nixon: ``Terminal 3 will be privately leased
and operated for''-I was going to say at least 25 years, but no,
Mr. Speaker-`` a further 57 years''. Not only our own
generation and the next, but our children's children would have
suffered as a result of this agreement. There would be fewer
objections if the usual procedures had been followed. Again, I
quote from Mr. Nixon's report: ``The RFP having as it did only a
single stage''- specifications with a single stage are not only
unusual, Mr. Speaker, but also extremely disturbing-``and
requiring proponents to engage in project definition as well as
proposal submission and, all within a 90 day time frame''.
I used to be in business, and I received government calls for
tenders, and believe me, it is quite a job to read all the
specifications. There are pages and pages of the stuff, and you
have to read them carefully. And then, preparing a bid is also a
complex undertaking. The primary concern is, of course, to
make a bid that will not bankrupt the company. The price should
be right, but you still have to make a profit, because if you do not
make a profit, you cannot deliver. So the first thing is to make a
bid at the right price and be able to make a profit.
Second, you have to make sure that your bid will be
competitive with those of the other parties who are bidding, so
the price has to be fine tuned to give you a good chance to get
your bid accepted and win the contract.
You see, Mr. Speaker, when you know that there are only 90
days for something that complex, you can assume that there will
not be much competition and, consequently, the price is
probably not the best the public could have had. I quote Mr.
Nixon again: ``In summary, it is my opinion that the process to
privatize and redevelop Terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson fell far
short of maximizing the public interest''.
All that happened under the Conservative government.
Having the Liberal government cancel the deal is a good thing.
However, the clause I was mentioning a moment ago, which will
allow the minister to consider compensation when appropriate,
is more troublesome, particularly knowing that major actors in
this Pearson deal have connections with the Liberal Party.
We could mention Claridge Properties, a company belonging
to Mr. Bronfman; we could mention Mr. Colbert, from Claridge,
who gave a dinner for Mr. Bronfman and the Prime Minister at a
$1000 a plate. I am not questioning the honesty of members and
ministers of the Liberal Party, what I am saying is that there is an
appearance of conflict and the only way to shed light on this
affair and dispel any doubt in the eyes of the people of Canada
and Quebec, is to have the public inquiry that the Bloc
Quebecois and I are requesting.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier): Mr. Speaker, this whole
deal smacks of political manoeuvring and, as the Leader of the
Official Opposition said, only a royal commission will get to the
bottom of it once and for all.
People in Canada, and especially in Metropolitan Toronto,
have the right to know the truth and to be assured that there will
be no undue compensation for these contracts which seemed to
favour the friends-friends in the broader sense of the word-of
the parties which succeeded each other at the helm of the
Mr. Speaker, if the Official Opposition, the Bloc Quebecois,
is asking for a royal commission, it is not to delay the work
which is to take place at both airports because-let me tell
you- Metropolitan Montreal knows only too well the
devastating effects of uncertainty about airport development.
Allow me to highlight the devastating effects of the
development of what became the two Montreal airports. I will
stress how important it will be for Transport Canada and then for
the Toronto Airport Authority to take over and redevelop
Toronto airport because, otherwise, any future expansion at
other airports, including Montreal, will be seriously limited.
But, let me remind the House that when it comes to airports,
long term forecasting is very dicey. In the mid-sixties, the
federal government decided to build a second airport in
Montreal, Mirabel airport.
In 1967, it was projected that, by 1985, passenger traffic
would be 14 million. In reality, things turned out quite
In 1985, passenger traffic in both Dorval and Mirabel was
only 7 million, half of what was originally expected.
We know how important an adequate airport infrastructure is
for the development of a region. Why? Because it is the entrance
point for investors and the departure point of human and
material resources going abroad. It is a considerable economic
My colleague mentioned the 1987 Transport Canada study on
Pearson airport which states that the direct economic impact of
the airport on the province is in the order of $4 billion-that was
in 1987-and that Pearson accounts directly or indirectly for
56,000 jobs. On the other hand, when adding both direct and
indirect jobs and induced ones, the total number in Montreal is
48,500. Economic development involving airports stems from
the carriage not only of cargo but also of passengers.
I would like to point out that Toronto had a narrow escape
when the federal government decided Toronto also should have
two airports at a respectable distance from one another. The
second one was to be located in Pickering, but the people of
Pickering protested and managed to convince the authorities not
to develop this second location, but to develop a second terminal
at Pearson instead-a third one was added later on, as we
know-on a site easier to integrate.
Toronto had a narrow escape, but Montreal was not so lucky.
In spite of all our protestations-and as we know, farming was
precluded for many years on some of the best arable land in the
region-two separate airports were built in Montreal, airports
that together, did not achieve together the results that had been
projected for just one previously. The federal government paid
no attention to the wishes of the people or the airlines. It must be
noted however that had rapid, direct service been provided
between the two airports, things might have turned out
differently. In 1975, a high-speed link had been announced; it
was to cost $400 million, but the project never got off the
For any number of reasons, the airport in Toronto flourished
and today, it is on the way to becoming a hub airport, ``hub''
being, as I understand, shoptalk for a traffic exchange point, a
place that both companies and passengers are interested in.
Because Montreal's two airports are poorly connected, from
1969 to 1983, the gap between Montreal and Toronto increased
from 27 per cent to 116 per cent in terms of passenger carriage.
That is very substantial. The adverse effects of inefficiency in
Montreal impacted not only the development of the airport, but
also economic development. Worse yet, the federal government
delayed handing over to the municipalities, the community, in
Montreal the management of their airport. It is imperative that
in Toronto, the municipalities, the community, rapidly assume
the management of the airports.
Just think that provided sufficient investments were made by
the federal government both in Toronto and in Montreal, we
could have two hubs: one in Toronto, with its own potential, and
one in Montreal, as a point of entry for the Eastern part of the
I therefore conclude that we are calling for a royal
commission of inquiry not because we want to slow things
down-because we are all aware of the effects of uncertainty on
economic development-but because we believe it is absolutely
imperative that the manoeuvring surrounding the development
of both terminals, as well as that of the third one, be dissolved,
reversed and the only way this can be done, in our view, is not by
striking a deal behind closed doors, but through a royal
commission of inquiry.
The Deputy Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the amendment to
the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the
amendment to the amendment?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the amendment
to the amendment will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.
And the bells having rung:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 45(5)(a), I
have been requested by the chief opposition whip to defer the
division until a later time.
Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 45(5)(a), the
division on the question now before the House stands deferred
until 3 p.m. tomorrow, at which time the bells to call in the
members will be sounded for not more than 15 minutes.
Mr. Gagliano: Mr. Speaker, I think you will find unanimous
consent, since tomorrow is an opposition day, that for however
long the bells sound at 3 p.m. tomorrow, this time be added to
the debate on the opposition motion, so that opposition parties
are not penalized.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the House give unanimous
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed from April 25 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-16, an act to approve, give effect to and declare valid
an agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada
and the Dene of Colville Lake, Déline, Fort Good Hope and Fort
Norman and the Metis of Fort Good Hope, Fort Norman and
Norman Wells, as represented by the Sahtu Tribal Council, and
to make related amendments to another act, be read the second
time and referred to a committee.
The Deputy Speaker: When the debate last ended, the hon.
member for Cariboo-Chilcotin had six minutes remaining for
debate. I do not think the hon. member is here. Accordingly the
Chair will recognize the hon. member for Skeena on debate.
Mr. Mike Scott (Skeena): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak
in opposition to Bill C-16, otherwise known as the Sahtu Dene
and Metis comprehensive land claim agreement. Before I begin
debating the terms of the agreement, I want to make an
observation about the big media establishment in the country
that I think badly needs to be said.
The debate on Bill C-16 began on Monday last week, April
25, with members on this side of the House speaking openly and
honestly about their concerns with the agreement. This marks a
precedent, the first time the old style tradition of the old line
political parties not debating such issues publicly being broken.
This is because Reformers believe that we must not be afraid
to talk honestly about native self-government and land claims.
We cannot expect to achieve workable solutions to the
challenges we face as a nation unless we engage in such debate.
Following the debate on Monday, I eagerly scanned the
newspapers and watched television news broadcasts to see how
the media treated this issue. Do you know what I discovered, Mr.
Speaker? The press totally ignored the issue. I could not find any
coverage on Bill C-16 anywhere.
Admittedly many bills pass through the House that are not
very interesting or newsworthy, but this is surely not the case
with Bill C-16 which will convey benefits of an enormous piece
of land 50 times the size of Prince Edward Island, almost
one-third the size of British Columbia, to less than 1,800
aboriginals for all time.
One would think that with all the remaining land claims yet
outstanding the press would be somewhat interested in what is
going on here. I know the people in my riding are and I am sure
the people in British Columbia and all of Canada are. How is that
an MP's expense account or the theatrics of question period can
remain front page news for days and yet when we see an issue of
such profound importance to all Canadians, aboriginal and
non-aboriginal alike, being debated the media is asleep at the
I have concluded that it is either indifference born out of
laziness or a tacit agreement not to provide serious coverage on
issues which challenge the Liberal left agenda that has been
wholeheartedly adopted and supported by a bunch of the big
media in the country.
Having said that, I would like to discuss the elements of the
bill which I cannot support. As has already been pointed by
many of my Reform colleagues, the Sahtu Dene and Metis
agreement constitutes a massive conveyance of land and
benefits to a group of less than 1,800 people, half of them
There is not likely to be much protest coming from
non-aboriginals in the land claim area because there are so few
of them. Yet the land in question is important to all Canadians. It
has the potential to generate an enormous amount of wealth,
jobs and tax revenue in the future. That potential will be
seriously affected by this agreement.
One cannot help but be struck with the magnitude of the land
transfer. Over 42 square kilometres for every adult will be
conveyed fee simple. The vast majority of Canadians meanwhile
own only their own property, the property that their house is on,
and spend most of their working lives paying off mortgages so
that hopefully they can own their land fee simple in their
According to Statistics Canada's 1991 census, 21.5 million
adults live in Canada today. If each one of these adult Canadians
were to be granted 42 square kilometres of land by the
government one would require a land mass of approximately one
billion square kilometres to meet that conveyance.
Given that the actual total land mass of Canada is just over
nine million square kilometres one would need therefore an area
more than 100 times the size of Canada's total land mass to meet
In a world which continues to experience significant
population growth and where population density in many
countries is measured in hundreds of human beings per each
square kilometre it is impossible to reconcile this massive land
I ask aboriginal people to consider this very carefully.
Canada's population continues to grow. We continue to accept
immigrants and refugees from all over the world to come and
make their home here. While we may disagree with the current
immigration levels, all Canadians and all members of the House
embrace this. Immigration provides benefits not only for the
newcomers to Canada but to the people already living here,
much like the European migration to North America brought
benefits to this land and to its original aboriginal inhabitants
many years ago.
Admittedly colonization created much hardship and injustice
for native Indians of the day as well and we recognize that as an
inescapable part of our history. When I consider the land aspect
of this agreement, I must conclude that at best it is 18th century
thinking at a time when we are approaching the end of the 20th
In addition to the outright transfer of over 40,000 square
kilometres of land fee simple, the federal government will pay
out approximately $130 million over the next 15 years to the
Sahtu Tribal Council. This equates to more than $130,000 for
each adult covered under the agreement.
Again, to put this into perspective, if every adult Canadian
was given the same amount of money, the government would
need more than $3 trillion in the bank to write out the cheques.
Three trillion dollars is more than four times Canada's total debt
of $700 billion which includes federal, provincial and municipal
Furthermore, even after such a massive transfer of land and
cash nothing in the agreement affects the ability of the Sahtu
Dene and Metis to receive existing and future benefits under
aboriginal programs. In discussions with my constituents on the
land claims question, I hear a diverse range of opinions on how
to resolve the issue.
The one consistent theme running through all of this is
finality. People want assurance that the resolution of the land
claims will entail a systematic reduction and phasing out of
taxpayer funded aboriginal programs delivered by the
government. This agreement does not achieve this.
I would now like to talk about the beneficiaries of the $130
million to be paid out to the Sahtu Tribal Council. Only some
$3,500 will be given to individuals as one-time grants. Virtually
all the benefits conferred on the Sahtu Dene and Metis under this
agreement will be controlled by Indian leaders rather than
distributed to individuals.
All governments, including this one, are notoriously bad
managers of wealth and resources. I do not believe a majority of
Canadians have any doubts about that whatsoever. If I were a
rank and file Sahtu Dene or Metis, I would far prefer that I
received a direct personal benefit rather than having money and
land given over to the control of a tribal council.
I receive entreaties on an ongoing basis from native people
living on reserves within my riding telling me of the injustices
they receive at the hands of their leaders. They tell me of
nepotism where band jobs and other perks go to relatives and
friends of native leaders while others are shut out.
This is typically the way government functions. Look at the
federal government's behaviour, if members need any
convincing. It is for these reasons that I believe in the value and
dignity of the individual over the collective regardless of what
collective we are talking about. I am a strong advocate for
settlements government to individual rather than government to
Incidentally I believe the reason a majority of natives voted
against the Charlottetown accord is that the rank and file
individuals living in aboriginal communities recognize that
self-government was not necessarily in their interest but rather
the narrow interests of the Indian leaders. They know that power
consolidated into the hands of a few people is rarely a good
thing. It has not been good for Canada in the case of our federal
governments or the provincial governments. At a time when our
national institutions are struggling to become more populous, to
break down the barriers of arrogant, political elitism, natives in
Canada are not interested in going in the other direction.
Therefore before I can support any legislation for
self-government or land claim resolutions, I want to see the
affected aboriginal people have an opportunity to decide by
referendum whether they want self-government, and in the
resolution of land claims, whether they want money and land
turned over to themselves as individuals or to the band leaders.
My deepest concern over the bill is the precedent being set for
future land claim negotiations. The Sahtu Dene and Metis
agreement along with the Nunavut and other agreements entered
into recently up north are no doubt being carefully studied by
aboriginals in the rest of Canada, particularly in British
There are now 38 land claims registered in B.C. with more to
follow. The first B.C. land claim to be accepted by the federal
government for negotiation is the Nisga'a claim which is within
my riding of Skeena. Negotiations have been under way for
some time behind closed doors and therefore in a forum where
my constituents have no information as to what is on the table in
terms of land and resources. When my constituents express their
deep concern about being shut out of the process, they are patted
condescendingly on the head and told by government officials
not to worry, that their best interests are being looked out for.
These are largely the same government officials who patted us
on the head and told us that the Charlottetown accord was good
for us and we should vote for it.
We can therefore understand why people in my riding are very
doubtful that their interests are being protected. The Sahtu Dene
and Metis agreement will only serve to heighten their concerns.
If the people of Canada had not been given an opportunity to
vote on the Charlottetown accord in a referendum we would
have had it imposed on us even though a majority of Canadians
and almost 70 per cent of British Columbians found it
It is imperative that the people in Skeena receive an
opportunity to vote on a proposed land claims settlement within
the riding to ensure that the settlement agreement is not imposed
from the top down. In saying that, let me reassure Indian people
who may be listening that Canadians are very fair minded and I
am sure that any just and equitable settlement proposed will be
I would like to read from a letter I have recently sent to the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development which
encapsulates the concerns of my constituents with respect to
As we are both aware, negotiations between the Nisga'a people of North West
British Columbia, the Federal Government and the Province of B.C. are ongoing
and have been for some time in an attempt to resolve the outstanding Nisga'a land
The land claimed by the Nisga'a falls within my constituency of Skeena and
consequently is of great concern to all people living in the riding. I have received
numerous phone calls, letters, and personal entreaties from constituents who are
fearful of what a land claim resolution might mean for them.
Given that the foundation of our economy in Skeena rests squarely on
resource industries, fishing, forestry, and mining, and understanding that these
resources are inextricably linked to the land base, this same land which is being
claimed by natives, it is easy to see why people are concerned.
These ongoing land claim negotiations are taking place behind closed doors,
out of the public eye, and this heightens concern, worry, and uncertainty.
I wrote to you earlier this spring on behalf of Andy Burton, Mayor of Stewart,
asking that you allow a representative of this community to be appointed to the
negotiating team. This request was denied.
My purpose in writing today is to request detailed, specific information
which may help to re-assure my constituents.
1. What is the timetable for settlement of the Nisga'a land claim?
2. When do you expect to have an agreement in principle signed?
3. Will every Nisga'a have the right, as an individual to vote to accept or reject the
4. Will members of the Nisga'a band have the option of receiving benefits conferred
under the agreement on a personal basis, that is, directly from the Government rather
than to the Band Council on his/her behalf?
5. Will non-Natives in the Land Claim area have the right, as individuals, to vote to
accept or reject the agreement?
6. Has your department assessed potential socio-economic impacts of a land claim
settlement on surrounding non-Native communities? If so, could you provide these
to me and if not will you commit to do so before signing any agreement?
7. Have you considered the potential cumulative effect that over 40 land claims
could have on the B.C. economy?
8. Considering that the Nisga'a land claim is the First claim in B.C. to be
negotiated and will set the floor and not the ceiling for benefits and land
conveyance, will you commit to a detailed study of the above mentioned
potential cumulative effect?
9. Have you considered the tax base generated by the resource industries in the
claim area which provides direct benefits to all Canadians, and how this base
may be affected by land claim settlements?
10. Do you intend to provide fair compensation to non-Nisga'a people who
are economically injured or displaced as the result of land claim settlements? If
so, can you provide details of your policy on compensation? I am not just
referring to fishermen, forestry workers or miners, but also the thousands of
retail, commercial, and service jobs that exist because of these industries.
11. Will regulations in place to protect and enhance renewable resources apply
to resources conveyed to the Nisga'a people?
Will the Nisga'a people be entitled to ship unprocessed round logs for export?
If so, what percentage of their timber is subject to this practice?
Mr. Minister, these are serious questions which my constituents need and
deserve answers to and I trust that you will respond in a forthright and detailed
manner to each one.
What I am getting at with this letter is the fact that the land
claim issue is not just about aboriginal people. It is about all of
us and how we will continue to function as a society both
economically and politically. At the end of the day we all want
and need essentially the same things regardless of our linguistic,
cultural or ethnic backgrounds. We want an opportunity to live
and work in a free country and within an economy that provides
decent food, shelter, clothing and education for our children and
allows us to enjoy the benefits of modern technology to enhance
The Sahtu Dene and Metis land claim agreement is not an
agreement which considers the long term interests of all
Canadians, including the aboriginal peoples involved. It serves
to heighten the deep concern my constituents have with the
process of land claim resolutions.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Okanagan Centre): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciate the opportunity to participate in a debate that is
historic and I believe precedent setting.
First, it is my belief the Liberals will pass Bill C-16 using
their majority regardless of what it might mean to future
generations of Canadians.
Second, my colleagues and I want to register our opposition.
We believe that Bill C-16 will not create a better Canada for the
Sahtu Dene and Metis or for other Canadians. It does not provide
for future harmonious relationships among Canadians. My
purpose this afternoon is to show why I believe this agreement
will not achieve what it was designed to achieve.
The agreement will have difficulty meeting its first objective.
The first objective states ``to provide for the certainty of rights
to ownership and use of land and resources''. It is clear that the
intent of this objective is to provide certainty regarding the right
of ownership to Sahtu Dene and Metis, called participants in the
text of the agreement. Let us examine these rights.
It is for a very small group comprising 153 Metis, 829 Dene
and 773 children for a total of 1,755 persons, slightly less than
2,000. More persons can be added to the Sahtu community in the
future if the individuals are residents of the settlement area,
have aboriginal ancestry and are accepted by a Sahtu community
at any time in the future.
Acceptance is not defined in the agreement except that it
requires a sponsor who is a participant and following that is
approved by a process to be determined by the participants in the
Sahtu community concerned.
What are some of the implications here? The agreement,
based on the above, relates to a known group of people today.
There is no clear definition of who will be affected in the future,
except we know it could be any person who is sponsored by a
process as yet unknown, determined by the community and
solely by the community involved, so that those kinds of people
will participate in the future from the benefits of this agreement.
Thus it is possible that the beneficiaries of this agreement may
be quite different from those with whom the agreement was
reached in the first place.
The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
suggests that new participants will be few and therefore do not
be concerned. Perhaps, but consider growing wealth and
growing power as a result of the exploration and development of
natural resources, gems, the need for water and the access to it.
In such a case is it not reasonable to expect that more and more
people would want to become participants? The pressure would
be on to become participants in a Sahtu community.
Let us examine some of the details of the land ownership that
is being talked about. There are three kinds of ownership.
There is the ownership of the settlement area which covers
280,000 square kilometres which is the equivalent of 108,200
square miles or 108,200 sections of land. That is 54 sections per
participant if you use 2,000 as the number for easy figuring.
That represents slightly less than one-third of the province of
B.C. as my hon. colleague has just mentioned. It contains Great
Bear Lake, Horton Lake, Colville Lake and a major section of
the Mackenzie River valley.
The second kind of land ownership is the outright fee simple
title to 41,437 square kilometres which is equivalent to 16,000
square miles or about eight sections of land per participant. To
put that into acres, it is 5,120 acres.
Then there is the third kind of land ownership and that is
municipal land. There are two kinds of municipal land: land
which is within municipal boundaries and that which is outside
What is significant about all of this? The land outside
municipal boundaries must be held by one or more Sahtu
organizations. I really want to underline the phrase ``shall not be
conveyed to a person'', but the other part is that land inside a
municipal boundary may be conveyed to a person. What are the
implications of this?
Sahtu land may not be mortgaged or given as security. Sahtu
lands when conveyed to a person are no longer Sahtu lands.
What is the observation then? Since municipal Sahtu lands may
be conveyed to individuals and upon so doing cease to be Sahtu
lands, they can now be mortgaged and given as security.
It does not require a great leap of logic to recognize that over
time what are described as Sahtu lands within municipal
boundaries may indeed be owned by persons who are not Sahtu.
Preposterous, you say. All we need to do is look at what is
happening and what has happened in other parts of Canada.
At this moment certain financial institutions in Canada have
agreed with a certain Indian band to issue mortgages on
residential development on reservation lands. If it has happened
once, chances are it can happen again. Indeed chances are that it
will happen again. That is particularly true if huge profits appear
A further example consists of the problems surrounding
certificates of ownership. These are certificates of ownership of
Indian reservation land by natives on those reserves having such
In years past it is my understanding that has not been the
Indian way. No individual shall own reservation land, yet it
happened. They said: ``But it is not selfish in the way the land is
transferred''. It is my observation that it is clearly known these
transfers are fraught with delays, inaccuracies and transfers
from one person to another. In some cases they have even been
proven to be fraudulent. Will it happen here? I do not know and
neither does this government. However the provision to allow it
to happen is there. Therefore the stated objective to provide
certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of land
resources is anything but providing certainty of ownership by
Sahtu Dene and Metis.
Let us look a little closer at the municipal boundaries. Section
23.2.1 delineates the boundaries of municipal lands. The
agreement provides that these boundaries may be changed. The
provisions are particularly relevant. They state in part:
Where there is any change to the extent or location of Sahtu municipal lands
pursuant to this agreement, schedules XV and XVI shall be amended to reflect
this change and such changes-
I quote and directly underline:
-shall not be considered to be an amendment to the agreement.
Schedules XV and XVI describe the Sahtu municipal lands,
schedule XV the surveyed lands and schedule XVI the
unsurveyed municipal lands.
This list of municipal lands includes Déline, Fort Norman,
Norman Wells, Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope. These names
are significant to anyone associated with oil and gas and natural
It is my contention that not nearly adequate attention has been
given to the possible future development in this region of
Canada, particularly in reference to the implications of the
provisions found in this agreement on such future developments
in the region.
I believe that while the agreement clarifies some matters, it
This agreement also is entrenched in the Constitution. The
agreement states very clearly: ``This treaty, which when given
effect by Parliament in settlement legislation''-and that would
be Bill C-16-``will be recognized as a land claims agreement
under the Constitution Act, 1982''.
That means once this agreement has been given effect it can
only be amended by resorting to the appropriate part of the
amending formula set out in the Constitution Act, 1982. There
are six different ways of amending the Constitution. It brings
into question which amending formula would apply. According
to one constitutional expert:
When the amending formula was designed, no thought was given to devising
a formula for amending a constitutionalized land claim agreement between an
Indian band and the federal Government of Canada. Section 43 of the amending
formula comes closest in that it deals with a constitutional change that affects
only one province. In those circumstances an amendment is brought about by
resolutions of the Parliament of Canada and the legislature of the particular
province involved. But this provision does not really fit either because the Sahtu
Dene and Metis collectively is simply not a province. Nor do the territories
qualify as provinces for the purposes of the amending formula.
The result of all this may well be that resort might have to be made to section
41 which is described as the general amending formula. If a given amendment
does not come within the more specific parts of the amending formula-
I suggest that is probably the case here.
-then section 41 is the only amending formula that would be available in
this case. The congruity of that would be that section 41 not only requires a
resolution of Parliament but also a resolution of at least seven provincial
legislatures. This is inappropriate in the circumstances because the provinces
are of course not involved or directly affected by this land claim agreement.
Nonetheless, proper constitutional amendment permits no shortcuts or
Some may observe that the agreement is not the Constitution.
It only provides for constitutional protection. If constitutional
protection is to mean anything at all then it requires that
amendments to this agreement be governed by the appropriate
provisions of the Constitution.
Even if we could find ways around the kinds of things we have
talked about until now, there remains the question of whether
there is judicial support for such claims in the first place.
Chief Justice Allan McEachern in the Gitksan case rejected
such claims and went on to say that a summary of Canadian case
law was conclusively against the plaintiff's claims for
sovereignty of ownership. Is it right for the government to
proceed, indeed to accelerate land claim settlements of this kind
when the latest word from the courts is that there is no legal
basis for such claims?
With an area as large as 50 times the size of Prince Edward
Island, which is a province, surely it is almost as if a new
province was being created. The Constitution provides that the
establishment of new provinces requires the approval of all
existing provinces as well as Parliament. This requirement is
being bypassed by Bill C-16.
To establish a region that is to be governed under a new set of
laws and to convey to a defined group of Canadians known as
Sahtu Dene and Metis outright fee simple ownership of 41,000
square kilometres of land is to de facto establish a geographic
and political region of Canada that in many respects is like
establishing a new province. In my opinion any and all
provisions of the Constitution Act, 1982, that apply to the
creation of new provinces should apply in this case also.
Some may argue that I am opposed to any settlement or
agreement with the Sahtu Dene and Metis regarding land. That
would be folly in the extreme and a deliberate misinterpretation
of my remarks. It is necessary for all Canadians to be fair
minded. That includes recognizing grievances put forward by
people such as the Sahtu Dene and Metis and to provide for their
I support that. My contention is that Bill C-16 does not meet
its own objectives to clarify and provide for the certainty of land
ownership, needlessly complicates administration, costs too
much and makes any future amendments a matter of
There is a final question. Will this agreement provide for
greater Canadian unity and help clarify how Canadians want to
government themselves? To answer that question requires
answers to three prior questions. First, will giving land and
money provide for the harmonious relationships between
members of the Sahtu Dene and Metis communities? The answer
Second, will the settlement of land claims bring about
recognition, understanding and acceptance of the respective
values, social morals, religious beliefs and decision making
either among participants or between participants and other
Canadians? Again the answer is no.
Third, will creating another bureaucracy of boards, either
above or below or within the bureaucracy that currently exists
for the administration of the Department of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development make governing this land more
effective? Again the answer is no.
Since in my opinion the answers to these questions are all
negative, how can we justify completing the agreement by
passing Bill C-16? I submit what this Parliament should be
doing is building a stronger, more united and more globally
competitive Canada. I submit to the House and to all Canadians
that passage of Bill C-16 will drive wedges between Canadians
by creating political power fiefdoms that are economically
inefficient, perhaps even unsound and administrative
Passage of the bill creates an environment of competing
powers that will feed selfish interests to the exclusion of the
interests of others. It will create competition where
co-operation should exist. Just think of our interprovincial trade
barriers that exist in Canada today. Finally, it will make Canada
increasingly non-competitive in the global marketplace.
In conclusion, we need to settle and redress grievances of
native Canadians. We must agree that the agreement that is the
subject of Bill C-16 will not do those things.
I ask all members of the House to defeat Bill C-16 and find an
agreement that will redress and solve the grievances that exist
between us and the Sahtu Dene and Metis people.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased today to address the House in relation to
Bill C-16. This agreement was signed on September 6, 1993 and
tabled in the House on March 10, 1994.
I know the Sahtu Dene and Metis overwhelmingly supported
the bill in a ratification vote. It appears that they are more than
satisfied with this settlement. However I believe we would be
negligent, as parties in the past have been, if we did not address
some of the problems contained within Bill C-16.
Certainly my colleagues and I in the Reform Party are willing
to obtain concepts of aboriginal self-determination, but only in
situations in which aboriginals will clearly come to a position of
self-sufficiency within the Canadian society. Unfortunately Bill
C-16 does not address this situation.
Bill C-16 in fact calls for more bureaucracy, huge settlement
moneys, continued DIAND programs and extensive future
negotiations on self-government. The bureaucracy which will
be spawned by Bill C-16 is in a word overwhelming.
There will be seven new boards, panels and councils
established to manage the resources of 2,200 people. These new
entities will have representatives from the Sahtu Dene, the
Metis and the government itself.
One wonders why aboriginal representatives could not be
incorporated into existing DIAND boards which manage the
resources in the settlement area. The agreement, Bill C-16,
appears to propagate bureaucracy in so far as it overlaps existing
regulatory boards and threatens to turn a very small population
into a community of regulatory bureaucrats.
The potential for bureaucratic havoc in this new regime
appears to be very serious, and this is something we want to
address. We must take the resource management arrangements
in this settlement as something that will set a benchmark for
future and existing management agreements in other areas.
As all members can appreciate the resources governed by
these boards will traverse a wide area. Accordingly matters
concerning wildlife or water would affect a number of distinct
settlement areas all sharing in these resources and all having
their own regulatory regime, a formula for bureaucratic havoc.
Moreover, the various regions may have different attitudes as
to how to deal with a particular problem. Certainly that they
have exclusive rights over the resources in their area, claims of
mismanagement arising from governments or neighbouring
bands may be difficult to establish and address.
In short, there is a huge potential for an interbureaucratic
tangle among the various boards in the various settlement areas.
The government's position with respect to the decisions of these
boards is very unclear and may contribute to the bureaucratic
bog already created under the agreement.
The new boards, the territorial government and the federal
government will all have input into the process of resource
management. The new bureaucracy in Bill C-16 will be
responsible to, and I quote the minister, ``as the context
requires''. This could be a minister of the Government of
Canada or a minister of the Government of the Northwest
Aboriginal boards, ministries of the Northwest Territories and
ministries of the Government of Canada will all grapple with
and decide on such issues as transport, the environment and
natural resources. Moreover, bureaucracies within settlement
areas and bureaucracies within various levels of government
will all vie for the ability to regulate in their respective fields.
The net effect of this bureaucratic web is increased cost,
increased confusion and increased time to enact any necessary
measures. Further, we must consider the potential harmful
effects of all this regulation and consultation, the effect it may
have on future economic development in the country.
Under Bill C-16 companies that may wish to develop
subservice resources would have to consult with this
bureaucracy, would have to consult with the Sahtu tribal council
on such matters as environmental impact and Sahtu employment
opportunities. I would suggest that this new extensive
bureaucratic structure that is bound to be set up, is destined to be
set up under Bill C-16, and the processes established in this
agreement may discourage many firms from investing in that
In all we create an enormous bureaucracy with a small
economic base to support it. This bureaucracy and the control
that goes with it are far from this government's notion of
self-government. Despite the large settlement area, despite
compensation to the tune of $130 million, despite regulatory
authority, and despite royalties derived from gas and oil
production the Liberals are committed still to the establishment
of self-government for the Sahtu as stated in appendix B of this
An inability to define the term inherent self-government
seems to in no way deter the government from undertaking
negotiations to implement it.
This voluminous, complicated, expensive agreement is
simply the introduction to a more voluminous, more complex,
more expensive round of negotiations on self-government. I
believe it is our duty to question what type of structure this new
level of government will take, what will be its duties and
Is self-government even appropriate for a population of
2,200, of whom some 982 are adults? Does the federal
government recognize the time and cost involved in separate
self-government negotiations with every native band in Canada
as it is committed to? Will the government continue to deny the
reality of the situation as it has in not believing that a definition
of self-government is necessary before negotiations start to take
The government has no definition of aboriginal
self-government and yet is prepared to embark on this journey
without a map. The government will not be able to sweep this
one under the rug. Provisions in this agreement and future
self-government negotiations will hit Canadians where they
will feel it the most: in their pocketbooks.
Since 1990 the budget of the Department of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development has increased approximately $400
million a year, the largest increase of any of the ministerial
budgets. In 1994-95 DIAND will spend some $5 billion, of
which 68 per cent or $3.38 billion are grants and contributions to
band and tribal councils, a process which the Auditor General
himself criticized in 1991 as faulty since the department could
not ascertain whether the funds were used for the purposes
intended or managed with due regard to the economy, to
efficiency and to effectiveness.
Despite this agreement, despite Bill C-16, it is clear that the
Sahtu Dene and the Metis will continue to have access to every
DIAND program that is currently offered. This is in addition to
the settlement terms of this agreement.
This agreement and the parameters for negotiations on
self-government do not address the spiralling inefficient
expenditures of DIAND. The government does not address the
issue of financial self-sufficiency for the Sahtu. As it now
appears future self-government negotiations will do very little
to assist aboriginals out from under their continuing dependency
By not addressing the issue of self-sufficiency it seems to me
that self-government will simply represent a different
instrument for the dispersal of government funds to aboriginals.
I would suggest the taxpayer can no longer afford DIAND's
huge and inefficient expenditures and I would suggest that
aboriginals as well no longer wish to live in the dependency of a
Bill C-16 does not deal clearly with this issue. The bottom
line is that this agreement creates more bureaucracy and thereby
more expenditures for DIAND. Furthermore, since this
settlement does not concern itself with aboriginal
self-sufficiency and since the beneficiaries of this agreement
are entitled to all benefits continuing derived from DIAND's
programs, agreements such as this will simply push this country
further into debt.
I believe it is time to settle all land claims as quickly and as
fairly as possible. However, with consideration as to the current
financial state of Canada I believe that these claims, every
claim, must be settled with an eye to removing aboriginal
dependency on government funding. I would apply the same
criteria to any negotiations surrounding self-government.
Otherwise DIAND simply will become a larger sinkhole for
We do not need agreements such as this one guaranteeing
government funding well into the future. We need a strategy that
will break the cycle of dependency. That is what the Canadian
people want. That is what the aboriginal people want. I look
forward to the day when aboriginals stand as economic equals
with all other Canadians. Unfortunately agreements which
create more bureaucracy and more expenditures will only
exacerbate the dependency that these aboriginals have on the
This settlement is just one such agreement and I therefore
must opposite it.
Mr. Jack Iyerak Anawak (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):
[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Inuktitut.]
It is obvious listening to the hon. member that he really does
not support any aboriginal self-determination and does not
really understand the nature of what the Sahtu Dene and Metis
are trying to do through this agreement.
For the last couple of hundred years the aboriginal people in
those land claims have been at the receiving end of the
generosity of a different group of people who did not have the
understanding that they were dealing with a totally different
culture when they were dealing with aboriginal people in the
It is obvious from his remarks that this hon. member does not
understand nor does he want to understand what the aboriginal
It is all very fine to say: ``Well, it would be very nice for the
aboriginal people in that area to have economic
self-sufficiency''. It is years of being under a system like the
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development that
has created that so-called dependency which we would not
necessarily have to be dealing with today if so-called well
meaning bureaucrats had decided that these people were much
better off making their own decisions and the bureaucrats
implementing those decisions for those aboriginal people.
I would like to ask the hon. member this question. Has he ever
met with the Sahtu Dene and Metis and has he discussed at
length the concerns of the Sahtu Dene and Metis? Has he
discussed at length the concept of self-government with the
Sahtu Dene and Metis? What is his understanding of the inherent
right of self-government as we understand it? If he is that much
in support of economic self-sufficiency, does he agree that the
aboriginal people's inherent right of self government should be
recognized? If so, how would he see that recognition through the
House of Commons?
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the hon. member
opposite, unfortunately what I have just heard is the standard
answer when someone dares to criticize aboriginal programs.
That standard answer is: ``You simply don't understand the
I live in an area of British Columbia where there are many
aboriginal people. I have talked extensively with many of them
and I have listened to their concerns. The one concern they have
is they want to break this dependency on the federal
government. They want to be able to provide for their own
This is a good direction to go but Bill C-16, as I stated earlier,
does not break the dependency. It only provides an obligation
for continued dependency on the federal government.
I believe that any agreement the federal government enters
into with aboriginal people respecting settlements or land
claims must lead to an ending of continued federal government
funding. The aboriginal people must be permitted to enter into
an economic base for themselves that will create
The member opposite asked about my definition of inherent
right to self-government. My understanding is inherent right to
self-government means that it always existed and is answerable
to no other authority. I consider every inhabitant of the country a
Canadian. We have a federal government, provincial
governments and municipal governments. My vision of
self-government for the aboriginal people is that they get to a
position where they are Canadians within the existing federal,
provincial and municipal laws.
I do not support new governments being established within
my country that would operate outside the established laws to
which every other Canadian is obligated.
The Deputy Speaker: There are still about two or three
minutes left in questions or comments.
Mr. Anawak: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member does not
understand. I did not ask a standard question. That may be what
he thinks if he gets a question from somebody who is not of that
culture. I asked those questions from the intimate knowledge of
what I am talking about. That is why I asked the questions, not
because I read it in some magazine or some newspaper. I asked
them from the point of view that I know what I am talking about.
That is precisely why I asked those questions.
As far as self-government is concerned I do not think the hon.
member has an understanding of the aboriginal people who want
to have the opportunity to exercise that inherent right of
I would also ask the member how many aboriginal people and
from what particular area in British Columbia area are saying to
him that they have great concerns and, if so, would he be
prepared to say that this particular group opposes those things
that we are attempting to do as a government? I find it very hard
to believe that a large group of aboriginal people would be
saying that whatever we are trying to do is contrary to the wishes
of the aboriginal people in Canada.
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, I said in my earlier statement that
the response that we do not understand the aboriginal people or
their concerns is a standard response when someone dares to
criticize any form of agreement or any form of structure that is
proposed within the aboriginal and federal government
Perhaps the hon. member is right. Perhaps I do not understand
or possess the intimate knowledge of the aboriginal people that
he may have. That is probably quite natural, seeing that I am not
an aboriginal person. What I do understand is this. The
government and even the aboriginal people themselves have no
clear definition of what the outcome of aboriginal
self-government would be.
We have asked that question in British Columbia. It has been
asked in almost every province. It has been asked in the House. I
asked it of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development and he had no answer to that question. That is the
gist of what this is all about today. This agreement will provide
for an immediate settlement of sorts but still opens the door for
further extensive, complex negotiations of aboriginal
self-government. There is no clear map. There is no clear
direction. There is no clear agenda for where these negotiations
will go or what they will end up with.
That is like starting a journey in a totally unknown territory
and hoping you get to where you are going.
Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot): Mr. Speaker, I see that two
o'clock will arrive before I will have finished so I will continue
until you shut me down.
I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to
participate in the debate on Bill C-16. As do many of my
colleagues, I have a particular interest in the proposed
legislation. During my career I have had opportunity to work
directly with native people as a labour foreman on a
hydroelectric project in the territories, as an ombudsman for the
Alberta region of the department of Indian affairs under Harold
Cardinal and as a business consultant.
I have seen the problems of these people firsthand and
therefore I speak from experience if not empathy for the plight
of these people.
The Dogrib Indians of the territories I found to be some of the
hardest working and capable individuals I have ever worked
with. They were more than willing to work under adverse
conditions of weather and isolation when the jobs were
available. However the opportunity to work is not always there
and when this occurs these willing and capable people are
I was appointed ombudsman by Harold Cardinal who was
regional director general for the department of Indian affairs in
Alberta. Mr. Cardinal was a prominent aboriginal leader in
Canada and president of the Alberta Indian Association for a
number of years.
In this position I dealt with many of the concerns and
complaints of the Indian people. As a consultant I have received
many complaints from band members across western Canada
accusing their band council leaders of corruption and expending
funds improperly. Seldom if ever did the department of Indian
affairs look into these complaints.
Therefore, like many Canadians I want to see Canada's
aboriginal peoples given the opportunity to become
economically and politically independent. I want to see their
dependency on the taxpayer ended. If an agreement provides
these ingredients it should be supported. If not it should not be
This agreement fails to meet these requirements and therefore
I cannot give Bill C-16 my support. The Sahtu land settlement
area covers 280,000 square kilometres with a population of
approximately 1,700 people. I am prepared to support this part
of the agreement, although extremely generous, because it is
clear that these people must have a land base from which they
can draw resources in order to become economically
independent and self-reliant.
When we compare this to the land base of P.E.I. and Nova
Scotia which have much larger populations, it is evident that the
land base requirement for self-reliance is adequately provided
for in the Sahtu nation in this agreement. In addition, this
agreement provides not only for subsurface resource rights but
for royalties on resources presently developed within the
Mackenzie River valley.
These aspects of the agreement are essential for future
economic self-reliance of the Sahtu nation. I submit that a
strong, economically self-reliant Sahtu nation will be a benefit
to all Canadians. This agreement also provides for a transfer of
funds from the Canadian taxpayer amounting to-
The Speaker: I note that the hon. member still has
approximately 15 minutes to speak. The hon. member will be
given the floor as soon as we resume debate.
It being 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 35 the House will
now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport):
Mr. Speaker, the latest
figures from Environment Canada on the ozone layer are
disturbing. Measurements of the atmosphere above Toronto
shows the ozone layer was 7 per cent to 9 per cent thinner in
April than it should be. Approximately the same situation was
reported for Montreal and Vancouver. The ozone layer filters
ultraviolet rays from the sun, as we know. These rays can cause
skin cancer, cataracts and possibly immune system damage.
The layer has been eroded by chlorine from
chlorofluorocarbons used in air conditioners, refrigerators and
some electronic and plastic industries. With 3 per cent less
ozone that normal forecasted for this coming summer, it is
important that Canadians, particularly children and young ones,
protect their skin and eyes from harmful ultraviolet sun rays.
The message therefore is clear: Protect your health by
protecting yourself from the sun.
* * *
Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est):
inclement weather, over 30,000 men and women gathered in
Montreal and in Quebec City on International Workers Day, also
known as May Day, to express their disappointment over the
federal government's lack of genuine job creation policies and
to denounce the erosion in social protection and equity.
The distress call was sounded clearly yesterday. The federal
government should focus its efforts on restoring hope by
implementing a real job creation policy, instead of imposing
social program reforms which could very likely mortgage the
future of many Quebecers and Canadians.
The members of the Bloc Quebecois join with workers in
Quebec and in Canada in expressing the hope that the federal
government will finally hear this distress call.
* * *
Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca):
Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the people of
South Africa in holding the first free elections in the history of
their country, thereby eliminating 350 years of oppression.
Best wishes must also go to Nelson Mandela and the ANC as
they are poised to take over the reins of power and guide their
country through a minefield of troubles.
I implore our country to help to achieve a prosperous society
for all. For South Africa can be the economic giant that drives
the whole southern half of the content. To let it fall would
commit this region to decades of civil strife and destitution.
I hope the leaders of the new South Africa and perhaps we in
our country can learn from the gross mistakes of other countries
on that continent.
Special status for one group over another and affirmative
action are discriminatory and only create divisions in the
society. But equal status for all and preferential status for none
is a bond-
The Speaker: The hon. member for Mississauga East.
Ms. Albina Guarnieri (Mississauga East):
Canadians are proud of the international recognition the CBC
has so deservedly received of late.
I am delighted to pay tribute today to the English CBC TV
network, which has just won the prestigious ``Rose d'argent'' at
the Montreux festival in Switzerland.
The CBC has won the Rose d'argent for its fine production of
``Kurt Browning-You Must Remember This''.
It was also announced at a press conference last week that
Radio-Canada had won the most prestigious prize at the Banff
Television Festival. This prize, which was awarded for the first
time to a Canadian broadcaster, honours the overall
achievements and especially the quality of serial dramas on the
French television network of our public broadcaster.
* * *
Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain):
Mr. Speaker, on
June 16-19, 1994 Hamilton will play host to the International
Children's Games, the first time in its 25 year history that these
games have been held outside Europe.
The participation age 11 to 15 is ideal for the children to learn
the values of competition and fair play and to appreciate the
cultures of other countries. The theme of the games
``Tomorrow's Dreams'' symbolizes the aspirations of all young
athletes to develop into tomorrow's future leaders.
Hamilton is understandably proud and excited to be hosting
this special event, and we look forward to making these the best
International Children's Games ever. To date we have 38
confirmed cities from around the world with a total of 750
children participating, 150 from Canada alone.
All those who have been working to prepare these games are
to be congratulated. Hamilton looks forward to giving the youth
of the world an opportunity to participate in a multi-sport event
in a spirit of friendship and competition.
* * *
Mr. Alfonso Gagliano (Saint-Léonard):
finally the truth is out: a Quebec government led by the Parti
Quebecois will not protect cultural minorities in an independent
Quebec. The party's vice-president, Bernard Landry, confirmed
on the weekend that his party rejects the idea of
multiculturalism and wants minorities to integrate into
Quebec's melting pot.
In a speech before the council of citizens of Haitian descent,
the PQ's vice-president also stressed that Quebec's public and
common culture is that of Quebecers. It is obvious that the Parti
Quebecois has no desire to honour its commitment to the various
minorities in Quebec society.
Now we just have to find out whether or not the Bloc
Quebecois agrees with Mr. Landry's comments. If the BQ agrees
with him, it should say so; if not, it should denounce him!
* * *
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Quebec):
Mr. Speaker, the first
free elections in South Africa were held last week, allowing
millions of blacks to vote for the first time in their lives. After so
many years of apartheid and repression, this striking victory of
democracy shows the courage and determination of those who
fought for equality for all South Africans.
By clearly rejecting the political parties calling for violence
and vengeance, South African voters turned the page on a dark
chapter in their history to embrace a democratic and peaceful
future. This rejection of violence brings hope to all Africans.
On behalf of all members of this House, I congratulate the
newly elected representatives of South Africa on their victory
and their determination.
* * *
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver):
Mr. Speaker, I often
receive letters from constituents who are frustrated by certain
aspects of the UI system because they do not understand the
limits of their coverage.
Most complaints are about restrictions on training or the
taking of temporary jobs that beneficiaries felt would have
improved their chances of finding more permanent work.
Anyone who insures a home or a car receives a written policy
which lists entitlements, deductions and restrictions. A lot of
misunderstandings and frustration could be avoided for workers
if a similar document was available which listed entitlements
and deductions for the UI system.
I urge the minister to produce a printed insurance policy for
UI which could be posted in places of work or supplied to
workers when they begin paying UI premiums. This could lead
in time to a range of UI policies being available at different
premium levels which would better meet workers' needs and
would introduce some flexibility into the UI system.
* * *
Mr. Harold Culbert (Carleton-Charlotte):
Mr. Speaker, it
is with great pride that I rise in the House today to extend
congratulations to a distinguished and worthy citizen from
Carleton-Charlotte constituency, Mrs. Margaret McCain, who
was recently appointed Lieutenant-Governor of my home
province, New Brunswick.
After many years of dedicated service to several provincial
and Canadian organizations, Mrs. McCain of Florenceville,
New Brunswick, the mother of four grown children, will become
the first woman Lieutenant-Governor of the beautiful picture
I know you will want to join with me on behalf of all members
of the House to extend our heartfelt congratulations and best
wishes for a successful tenure to Margaret McCain, New
Brunswick's new Lieutenant Governor, and to offer our thanks
to His Excellency Gilbert Finn for a job well done.
* * *
Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont):
Mr. Speaker, last week the
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced measures that will
return over 500 frozen licences to groundfish fishermen who
have demonstrated a long-term attachment to the industry. Over
200 of these restored licences belonged to fishermen in the
province of Prince Edward Island.
This whole sorry mess was the result of an arbitrary decision
by the previous ``no-Tory-us'' government. Sad to say it is only
one of such messes in the fishery that we have inherited.
I want to commend the minister, not only for correcting this
injustice but also for the establishment of a consultative process
which in this case involved 11 different fishing organizations.
Even though it is a very difficult period in the Atlantic fishery,
this type of co-operation between the minister and the
stakeholders in the industry will go a long way toward
alleviating pain and anguish while the industry is being
This new spirit of co-operation and negotiation bodes well
both for redefining the concept of professional fishermen and
for establishing the framework of the fishery of the future.
In conjunction with the sentiments expressed by the P.E.I.
Fisherman's Association, I once again commend the minister
for his work in resolving this situation.
Mr. Guy H. Arseneault (Restigouche-Chaleur):
Speaker, I wish to point out to the House that we are celebrating
National Forest Week this week.
Forests are our greatest natural resource and contribute more
than anything else to our balance of trade. From coast to coast,
the forest industry provides some 800,000 jobs, directly and
Our forest industries provide the economic foundation of
some 350 Canadian cities and towns. The people who live in
these forest dependent communities know the value of forests,
the vital role they play in their lives and the critical need to
ensure that our forests remain healthy and flourish into the
future so that future generations will enjoy the same benefits in
terms of employment, recreation, and a healthy environment.
Canada is an exception among forested countries because
over 90 per cent of our forests are majority-owned by the
people. The forests belong to us. It is up to us to take care of
* * *
Mr. François Langlois (Bellechasse):
Mr. Speaker, last
Wednesday, the Prime Minister mocked the Bloc Quebecois's
proposal to go ahead with building a high speed train between
Quebec City and Windsor. According to the Prime Minister, it
would be hard for a high speed train to have to stop at the border
of a sovereign Quebec.
Perhaps the Prime Minister has never taken the Amtrak train
between New York and Montreal. If he had, he would have
realized that the train does not stop at the Canada-U.S. border.
For the Prime Minister's information, planes do not stop at the
borders of sovereign countries either. In fact, the Bloc
Quebecois does not see why it would not be the same for a
high-speed train between Quebec and Ontario.
If some people wanted to build walls around a sovereign
Quebec, it would certainly not be Quebecers themselves.
Quebecers seem to be more aware than the Prime Minister that
the future development of nations depends on openness to the
world. Let us stop this demagogy and discuss rationally the real
issues for Quebec and Canada.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast):
Mr. Speaker, picture
a virus that attacks a baby's brain, destroying any ability to
crawl, to walk, to speak. Imagine a virus that can kill a child
before its second birthday, the body completely overrun by
infection. There is no vaccine, no cure for this virus and babies
can get it in the most tragic way: from their mothers.
White heterosexual females are the fastest growing
demographic group to fall victim to AIDS. Many do not know
that they have the disease. In fact they even believe this could
not possibly happen to them.
Reported pediatric cases of AIDS have been rising steadily
since the early 1980s. The latest statistics show that 93 children
have been diagnosed with AIDS in Canada. Sixty-three of them
have already died.
In Quebec one out of 80 pregnant women has AIDS. Experts
agree that the only way to curtail the rise in pediatric AIDS is to
prevent transmission of the disease to women.
I urge the government to support aggressive public education
campaigns, including women focused efforts. AIDS in children
is a problem that will not easily disappear.
* * *
Mr. Mark Assad (Gatineau-La Lièvre):
Mr. Speaker, the
world's worst tragedy is currently taking place in Rwanda. In a
country of about five million people, 100,000 are reported dead
so far, while 250,000 have taken refuge in Tanzania or Burundi.
A call for action is necessary and urgent. The UN forces were
reduced from 2,000 to less than 300. The bishop of South Africa,
Edmund Tutu, made a plea for help, asking for the return of UN
forces to Rwanda, to implement a ceasefire and help a
population subjected to unprecedented violence.
* * *
Mr. John Nunziata (York South-Weston):
yesterday 16-year old Marwan Harb was brutally murdered in
Hull, just across the river. Mr. Harb was the second cousin of our
colleague from Ottawa Centre.
The Harb murder is the latest in a series of violent crimes
committed by young offenders. The Young Offenders Act is
crying out for change. It is in desperate need of reform.
Earlier today we had the opportunity to discuss the Young
Offenders Act in Parliament. Regrettably the Bloc Quebecois
denied unanimous consent to have the subject matter of the bill
referred to committee.
I would encourage and urge the Bloc Quebecois and all
members and the government to immediately address that very
serious issue. I would urge the government to immediately
introduce a bill amending the Young Offenders Act and to assure
Canadians that a bill is passed-
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
I am ready to deliver my decision on two
questions of privilege which were brought up on Thursday. The
reason I am giving my decision now before the start of Question
Period is that it could impact on Question Period itself.
I will add whatever time it takes for me to read my decision to
the end of Question Period today.
As I said, I am now ready to render my decision concerning
the question of privilege raised by the hon. Minister of Foreign
Affairs on Thursday, April 28 following Question Period. I will
also respond to the point of order raised by the hon. member for
Roberval at the same time.
The minister has indicated that his privileges were breached
when, in the preamble to certain questions, statements were
made that he was unwilling to answer some questions that had
been addressed to him. Such comments could give a poor
impression of his work as a minister and a member.
We must always bear in mind the basic principles that govern
Question Period. These principles have been eloquently
summarized in the past by Speakers Jerome and Bosley, and the
highlights of their statements can be found in citations 409 and
410 of the 6th edition of Beauchesne.
One of these principles is that the Opposition is free to ask
questions of any minister but only if these questions fall within
the administrative responsibility of the government. However,
according to citation 410, paragraph 16, in the 6th edition of
Ministers may be questioned only in relation to current portfolios.
I would like to remind this House of the remarks of Speaker
Lamoureux on this subject on October 16, 1968, which were
reported at page 133 of the House of Commons Journals
-a minister may be asked questions relating to a department for which he has
ministerial responsibility or acting ministerial responsibility, but a minister
cannot be asked, nor can he answer questions in another capacity, such as being
responsible for a province, or part of a province or, again, as spokesman for a
racial or religious group.
These remarks, which were referred to by Speaker Bosley in
his statement of February 24, 1986, today apply more than ever
and should be followed as strictly as possible by the members
when addressing questions to a minister. As the members will
recall, during Question Period on Thursday I had to redirect
certain questions to the ministers who were responsible for
This is also why I found the question of the hon. member for
Portneuf unacceptable. Furthermore, on rereading the Debates,
I must acknowledge that the questions and comments by the hon.
member for Roberval to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
those by the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie to the
Minister of Finance were not only incorrect, but totally
unacceptable acording to our rules.
The Speaker accordingly recognizes the merits of the
arguments raised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I must,
however, state that what is involved here is not prima facie a
question of privilege, but rather a point of order.
Finally, to answer the question raised by the hon. member for
Roberval, as to whether ministers may be questioned on a public
statement unrelated to their departmental responsibilities, I
reiterate the principle that a minister may be questioned during
Oral Question Period on matters directly related to areas
affecting his department. The member is incorrect in claiming
that a minister of the government may be questioned on any
comment he may have made. The precedents and the
parliamentary practice are very clear on this point: a member
may not question a minister concerning a public statement that
is not directly related to his department.
In closing, I would like to add that since the beginning of this
Parliament the exchanges during question period have been
interesting and lively and in the overwhelming majority of cases
marked by the respect that we owe to ourselves and to this
House. I am certain that we can continue along this path.
I thank the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs and the hon.
member for Roberval for the clarity and conciseness of their
interventions and I hope that these comments will be of use to
them and may also serve as a guide to all members as well.
It is now 20 minutes past the hour. This Question Period will
last until 3.05 p.m.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval):
Mr. Speaker, the Prime
Minister appointed the Minister of Finance as the minister
responsible for Quebec's regional economic development.
However, because of his personal economic interests, which we
do not criticize him for but which exist, the finance minister's
room to manoeuvre is significantly reduced on several issues of
importance to Quebec's economic future.
Does the Prime Minister admit that his finance minister's
room to manoeuvre is extremely reduced on several economic
issues of major importance to Quebec since he cannot, as he
himself acknowledged, deal with the high speed train, the
Magdalen Islands ferry, the multifunctional smart ship or, in
large part, the conversion of defence industry to civilian uses?
Does the Prime Minister admit that Quebec is thus poorly
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Absolutely
not, Mr. Speaker. We have ministers responsible for every
portfolio and if there are cases where the Minister of Finance
cannot get involved for the reasons we all know, well, the Prime
Minister comes from Quebec and he can intervene. However, the
Minister of Transport or other ministers consider the issues and
report back when it is time to do so. Everyone knows how
competent the Minister of Finance is and, considering the
responsibilities we have given him, he could not do any better.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, if the Prime
Minister has seen fit to appoint ministers responsible for
Western Economic Diversification, the Atlantic provinces'
development and Quebec's development, I imagine he had good
reasons to do so.
Are we to understand from what the Prime Minister just said
that every time the minister he entrusted with Quebec's
economic issues cannot get involved, the Prime Minister will
take over his portfolio and intervene as the minister responsible
for Quebec should?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
this may occur in one or two areas, especially in transportation
matters, for the reasons we all know, but these issues are well
known by all the ministers and by the Prime Minister.
In this as in most cases, the Minister of Transport is kept
abreast of developments so Quebec's interests are never
minimized at any time because the Minister of Finance, who
must also deal with the rest of the regional development
portfolio, happens to be the minister responsible. On the
contrary, I think the hon. member should rise and say, ``We are
very lucky that the Minister of Finance comes from Quebec''.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, will the
Prime Minister admit that the Minister of Finance is in a very
bad position, under these circumstances, to intervene on behalf
of the MIL Davie shipyard in Lauzon for the Magdalen Islands
ferry, while his colleague in Transport, who is directly involved
in the decision, and the minister responsible for development in
the Atlantic provinces have all the freedom required to intervene
on behalf of a shipyard in their region, in their province?
Is Quebec not at a disadvantage since, unfortunately in this
issue, the official spokesman has his hands tied, unlike his
Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister
responsible for the Federal Office of Regional
Development-Quebec): Mr. Speaker, it is necessary to really
understand the objectives and purpose of the Federal Office of
Regional Development for Quebec.
As I announced three weeks ago and as the Minister of Human
Resources Development announced regarding the Western
Diversification Fund in the west, we in the Federal Office really
intend to emphasize small and medium-sized business.
In Quebec, we who are really the heirs of the Quiet Revolution
and the entrepreneurial revolution know very well that Quebec's
economic future is in our hands, in our small and medium-sized
businesses, and as the federal government, we intend to
encourage this dynamism; Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that
there is no conflict of interest between the Minister of Finance,
the minister responsible for the Federal Office and Quebec
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie): Mr.
Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Finance who
is also responsible for regional development.
The future of the largest private employer in the Quebec City
region is in serious jeopardy. It is riding, basically, on two
decisions to be made by the federal government: one concerning
the project to build a ferry for the Magdalen Islands and the
other concerning the project to develop a multipurpose ship
called a smart ship.
Does the minister responsible for regional development in
Quebec recognize that the future of the MIL Davie shipyards
basically depends on the decision the federal government will
make in these two matters and does he recognize at the same
time that he cannot intervene directly to protect the interests of
MIL Davie in these two very important matters?
Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry): Mr. Speaker, as
the hon. member knows very well I believe, we have just
received a draft of a comprehensive business plan for MIL
Davie. Our officials are presently reviewing this plan and, when
a decision is made with the stockholder who has the greatest
share of responsibility for MIL Davie, we may have an
opportunity to give it some advice on the company. We are
perfectly aware of the major role of this company in the Quebec
Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie): My question
is for the Prime Minister. Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister
not agree that the very fact the Minister of Finance is incapable
of answering this question in the House clearly shows the
difficulty he has carrying out his functions as minister
responsible for regional development in Quebec, given he is
incapable of intervening in favour of MIL Davie in cabinet,
while his colleagues from Transport and Public works will be
able to defend without any restrictions the interests of shipyards
in the Maritimes?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, it
is very clear to me that in the case of the prairies the file is the
responsibility of the Minister of Transport. We are following
and I am following personally this file.
I believe the interests of everyone concerned are very well
protected. The mandate that has been given to the Minister of
Finance does not mean he is responsible for the Minister of
Transport. We have a very good Minister of Transport who is
looking into this need and what is required for transportation.
He has to look at all the alternatives and the costs and the
decision will be made in due course.
In the case of the chantiers maritimes, we have ministers
responsible. The office that is under the responsibility of the
Minister of Finance has nothing to do with MIL-Davie or
transportation or defence. It has to do with small and medium
sized businesses. The minister is doing an excellent job helping
* * *
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre):
Mr. Speaker, my question is
for the Prime Minister.
Last night many Canadians stayed awake to do their income
An hon. member: The hockey game.
Mr. Silye: No, it was not to watch the hockey game.
Canadians were sorting through their T1s, T1CTBs, their T778s,
their T4s and T5s. Frankly, today there are lot of teed-off
Canadians out there.
Every year Canadians spend countless millions of dollars on
accountants and lawyers to have their income tax returns
prepared. The 2,091 page Income Tax Act is an unmitigated
mess of rules and regulations and is screaming for reform, as are
When will the Prime Minister instruct his ministers and
mandarins to simplify the income tax system to reflect equity,
efficiency and effectiveness and thereby reduce the tax burden
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, it
is very evident that the hon. member of Parliament read the red
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre): Mr. Speaker, tomorrow's
supply motion will be on this very subject. I hope the Prime
Minister takes the time to listen to some of the comments by
members of this House.
Currently tax freedom day is July 7. That is how long
Canadians have to work to pay their share of the costs of this
government's red book plan.
I ask the Prime Minister, when can Canadians expect to pay
less in taxes in a current year than they did the year before?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
Canadians will be in that position the minute all Canadians who
want to work find jobs. That is the best way to reduce the tax
burden. However when 11.6 per cent of the people are
unemployed such as the situation we faced when we were
elected, we asked how we could rectify that.
The easy answer is to have programs that will create jobs.
However, I note every time we want to have a program to create
jobs the Reform Party is opposed to it.
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre): Mr. Speaker, the income tax
system is so complicated that the revenue department is the
largest employer in the public service with over 35,000
employees at a cost of $1.8 billion. That is a workforce larger
than the town of Shawinigan.
I ask the Prime Minister, has the government calculated how
many billions of dollars it could save in government
administration costs and how much individual taxpayers could
save in tax preparation charges by introducing a fair and
integrated system of taxation?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
that is why we have committees of the House of Commons
looking into that. The Minister of Finance is looking into it all
the time also.
I noted in the debate on the budget and when there was a
rumour something might be changed that very often the Reform
members were opposed to it. Sometimes people are afraid of too
We are trying to change the GST and replace it with a fair
system of taxation. I am very confident the committee will come
out with a report next month so that the Minister of Finance will
be in a position to study the recommendations of the House of
Commons. This is a very complex system that people want to get
rid of. I know the Reform Party wants to keep the very complex
system of GST. One of the statements made by the leader of that
party was that they love the GST. We hate it and we will kill it.
* * *
Mr. Philippe Paré (Louis-Hébert):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The civil
war continues in Rwanda, where an estimated 200,000 people
have been killed. Negotiations for a ceasefire have reached adeadlock.
Friday, the UN Secretary-General urged the security council
to consider the use of force to put an end to the massacre of
thousands of innocent people, even if this would mean bringing
in more-UN peacekeepers.
According to a news bulletin this morning, the Minister of
National Defence is hesitant to support this proposal by the UN
Secretary-General. Could the Minister for Foreign Affairs
indicate whether Canada intends to support this proposal?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, it is clear that the slaughter which continues in Rwanda
cannot be tolerated by countries that have had development aid
programs in Rwanda.
Canada is among those countries who are trying, within the
United Nations or the Organization for African Unity, to find
ways to make these factions who are killing each other today see
I can inform the hon. member that preliminary talks which
took place at the United Nations have not been successful, and
that is why we feel that perhaps another forum, the OAU for
instance, might be in a better position to start a conciliation
process and persuade the parties to stop killing each other. Any
proposals to that effect will certainly be supported by Canada.
Mr. Philippe Paré (Louis-Hébert): Mr. Speaker,
considering the increasing number of Rwandan refugees who
are fleeing the civil war and 30 years of close ties between
Quebec and Rwanda, does the minister intend to increase the
humanitarian aid he announced previously?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, as the hon. member is aware, the Canadian
International Development Agency has donated $1 million for
emergency aid, and we have also donated $2 million to the
International Red Cross to help save lives and help the wounded
in that country. It is not much, considering the extent of the
slaughter. Canada, in co-operation with other countries, is
trying to determine what kind of humanitarian aid should be sent
Obviously, as long as the fighting and the carnage continues,
it is extremely difficult to bring in humanitarian aid and ensure
it reaches those who need it. Nevertheless, Canada and other
countries will continue to look for ways to go and help these
people who have been left to fend for themselves.
* * *
Ms. Val Meredith (Surrey-White Rock-South Langley):
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.
The minister is on record as stating that he fundamentally
disagrees with the proposition that there is a crisis in confidence
in the Canadian system of justice. He has also stated he thinks
the justice system works well and that it is fundamentally sound.
Today it is reported that the minister has been selective in the
use of his statistics to back up these claims.
Does the minister truly believe that a 61 per cent increase in
violent crimes over the past 10 years does not constitute a crisis
in Canada's criminal justice system?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, let me say first that I do not
think any useful purpose is served by a protracted debate about
the numbers. The fact is any amount of crime in Canada is too
much. The justice system could always be improved and we are
working hard to achieve that.
On the subject of the numbers and the statistics, let me point
out to the hon. member that the statistics reported today in one
of the newspapers on this very subject involve numbers going
back to 1962. While that is interesting what is perhaps of more
relevance to today's purpose are the more recent statistics.
Since 1977, in the last 16 years during which numbers have
been kept, homicides are up only 4 per cent. Those are the
statistical facts from the same source referred to in the
newspaper this morning.
Reference is made to violent crime. However in many of those
statistics if you look behind the initial number, violence often
includes such things as schoolyard shoving and slapping by
young offenders, behaviours which were not charged in the days
before the statute but now are and form part of the statistics.
I say to the hon. member that any amount of crime is too
much. I insist that we keep this issue in perspective and I repeat
that the justice system on the whole is in very good shape.
Ms. Val Meredith (Surrey-White Rock-South Langley):
Mr. Speaker, it is also reported that since the death penalty was
last used in 1962, and granted it is a figure used in 1962, the
murder rate in Canada has more than doubled.
Is the minister going to attempt to convince Canadians there is
no crisis in the justice system by using selective statistics? Or is
the government prepared to introduce the necessary legislation
to ensure the protection of society?
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I have dealt with the point
about the statistics. The more recent numbers over the last 16
years are far more reliable and meaningful. Let us put aside the
question of numbers and get to the root of this issue.
I know the hon. member and I are of the same mind on one
issue. That is that we have to improve the justice system in order
to diminish crimes of serious violence. We have to do that by
making the laws more effective and by attacking the underlying
causes of crime.
I know as we introduce measures in the weeks ahead on those
subjects in this House that we can count upon the hon. member
and her party to support us in that cause.
* * *
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.
Opposition is mounting to the adjustment strategy for Atlantic
fishermen. According to a report in today's newspaper, a
spokesperson for Newfoundland fishery workers has rejected
the minister's proposal which would have each fishery worker
sign an individual contract committing him or her to undergoing
training or doing community work in exchange for benefits.
Will the minister concede that his proposal for individual
contracts is being roundly criticized and has raised some
legitimate concerns and consequently, is he prepared to
negotiate collective agreements with the unions, as is being
recommended to him by the spokesperson for the fishery
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, first let me point out that the
comments or quotes used by the hon. member are not exactly
what the head of the fishermen's union has said. He said they had
some questions about the nature of it.
I would like to point out to the hon. member there are already
a number of programs that we offer in which there is an
agreement about participation by the person who takes a benefit
from human resources. For example on the question of training,
one is expected to have certain obligations on their side.
We are trying to apply a principle of mutual responsibility in
this area. This subject was extensively discussed with members
of the fishermen's union beginning last February. They had
plenty of opportunity to conduct and to exchange points of view
on this matter. In fact, during the course of those discussions
there was no objection raised.
Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier): Mr. Speaker, this
morning's newspaper quotes the spokesperson as saying:
``We don't sign individual agreements; we sign collective
Surely the minister has read these comments.
Will the minister not agree that, after going over the heads of
the provinces, it would, at the very least, be in his best interests
to secure the co-operation of the unions representing fishery
workers and will he undertake, therefore, to meet with the
unions before proceeding to sign any individual contracts?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources
Development and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification): Mr. Speaker, let me first point out to the hon.
member that this agreement we arrived at in the Atlantic
fisheries did not go over the heads of the provinces. It was
extensively discussed with each province involved and they
were in agreement with the program. That is a fact.
Second, we discussed all these matters with the unions. Every
union was involved in extensive consultations. When the
minister of fisheries and I announced the program we said if
there were any problems or concerns with the evolution of the
agreement we would be glad to sit down with them and work
those problems out.
Once again, the hon. member is trying to misstate exactly
what went on. The fact is that this program is based on very
extensive and broad consultations with all the parties involved
and the parties are very satisfied with the agreement.
* * *
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Prime Minister.
The latest media report suggests that President Clinton has
now publicly taken the side of the American farmers in the
durum wheat dispute. Given that the United States' own
international trade commission has scoffed at the unsupported
allegations of unfair Canadian trade practices, will the Prime
Minister personally contact President Clinton? Will he ask him
to rise above domestic politics and take a leadership role in the
interest of free trade?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): I did that a
week ago with President Clinton, so the question is a bit late.
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River): Mr. Speaker, I have a
Can the Prime Minister outline for the House what steps he is
going to personally take to assure that this trade war does not
spread and threaten to become a full fledged trade war
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
we have done what is possible to be done.
The Minister of Agriculture has strongly made the point since
January to his U.S. counterpart. The Minister for International
Trade did that with his counterpart as well. I mentioned the
matter two or three times to President Clinton. We hope that
reason will prevail. We are selling wheat there because wheat
produced by Canadian farmers in many instances is better.
Senator Bradley for example argued last week that it was not a
good move for them to try to stop our durum wheat. He
recognized that durum wheat produced in Canada is much better
for making pasta. I was pleased to see an American senator use
the argument I made a month ago.
* * *
Mr. Michel Daviault (Ahuntsic):
Mr. Speaker, my question
is for the Minister of Industry.
The city of Montreal is planning a project named Futuropolis,
which would be located in the technopark. The first phase of this
project could require investments of up to $225 million within
the next three years and attract some 200 companies involved
with information highway technologies. The SODIM, the
agency responsible for industrial development in Montreal, is
committed to investing $200,000 in a feasibility study, provided
the federal and Quebec do the same.
Does the Minister of Industry, responsible for the information
highway, intend to give a favourable answer to the city of
Montreal regarding the financing of a feasibility study on the
Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry): Mr. Speaker, I
would be glad to receive and study a proposal from the city of
Montreal. Up to now, our commitment to finance the
information highway has been limited to supporting the
CANARIE project establishing networks across Canada to form
the basis of the electronic highway.
Moreover, as the member knows, we are in the process of
drafting regulations regarding the electronic highway.
Mr. Michel Daviault (Ahuntsic): Mr. Speaker, the minister
seems somewhat caught off guard by this project; he should
make inquiries on Futuropolis, a project which could certainly
allow Montreal and Quebec companies to take advantage of
potential spin-offs and could even become a major element of
the information highway development.
* * *
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Don Valley North):
Martin Luther King, one of the most prominent figures of the
century, once said: ``I have a dream''. Today that dream is
directed to South Africa and they are free again.
My question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Can the
minister indicate to this House what, if any, programs he is
prepared to implement to help South Africa on its path to
democratic and economic reform in the years to come?
Hon. André Ouellet (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr.
Speaker, I think that all members of this House will rejoice at the
outcome of the very peaceful, well run election in South Africa.
Clearly we are very happy at having been associated with
those who organized this election. Canada contributed to the
preparations for the campaign. Number two at Elections
Canada, Mr. Gould, was sent there and was part of the team
which organized the elections. Certainly he has done a
magnificent job along with the others who were responsible for
I would like to say that any new Canadian initiatives will first
have to be discussed with the new government. Certainly the
Secretary of State for Africa upon returning Canada will
convene a meeting of representatives of NGOs, associations,
groups and individuals who would like to discuss what kind of
aid Canada should be giving in the future to South Africa.
Following these consultations, certainly we will be in a
position to make statements in this House in this regard.
* * *
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Okanagan Centre):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Justice and concerns the
extradition of Michael Lawrence Drake.
In March 1992, Drake was charged with molesting a two and a
half-year old girl in Washington. While awaiting trial, Drake
jumped bail and fled to Canada. In June 1992, an American court
found Drake guilty of sexual assault in absentia. Last week,
Drake was released on bail by Canadian officials pending an
extradition hearing before the B.C. Supreme Court.
Why did Canadian officials release Drake into the community
when he has already been convicted of sexual abuse of a child
and when he has already proven his willingness to jump bail in
the United States?
The Speaker: These questions that are posed many times are
so specific that I do not know that all ministers or any ministers
can have a complete grasp of specific cases. Perhaps there would
be another venue where the member could get that information.
However, I will permit the Minister of Justice to address himself
to this case generally, if he has the information.
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, the issue is now one of
extradition as the hon. member has said.
As such, it will first go to the court with respect to the issue of
a warrant of committal and then eventually it will come to me, if
that is the process followed. It is open to the person in question
to apply to the Minister of Justice eventually no matter what the
outcome of the court proceeding. If the person is committed then
the minister can intervene under the statute.
I do not propose to comment on the substance or the merits of
the extradition procedure. The member's question goes to the
issue of detention and the person being in the community during
the pending of the proceeding. I will be happy to make inquiries
about what happened with respect to that matter and respond
factually to the member when I get that information.
Mr. Werner Schmidt (Okanagan Centre): Mr. Speaker, I
really appreciate the forthrightness of the answer of the
minister. It is indeed the matter of detaining an individual who
was convicted this way and puts into jeopardy the young
children in our communities.
I really urge the minister to answer this question. When will
we stop hiding behind the law and put the protection of children
Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney
General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, that is indeed a much more
Let me say that in all cases where people are accused of
serious crime, including sexual interference with children, it is a
question for the court in accordance with the bail provisions in
the code whether such persons are released pending trial, and
indeed following trial, pending sentence or an appeal from
All I can say to the hon. member is that I am confident that
crown attorneys across the country exercise their judgment
responsibly and that courts in each case consider the safety of
the community in determining whether bail should be granted
either in the event of trial or afterward.
* * *
Mr. Richard Bélisle (La Prairie):
Mr. Speaker, in its red
book, the Liberal Party stated nice principles regarding the need
to monitor the activities of lobbyists, in the best interest of the
federal administration. Yet, six months after the election, the
Liberals have become silent on this issue. Somehow, they seem
to have distanced themselves from the policies which they were
advocating before the election.
How can the Prime Minister explain his hesitation to table a
bill on lobbyists, considering that his stated intentions during
the election campaign seemed very clear on that issue?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
we have made a commitment and we intend to fulfill it. Right
now, I am trying to find the right person for the job. I would like
to know that person very well, so that he can participate in the
drafting of the bill.
As I said, once we find that person, I will consult with the
leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Reform Party
before making the appointment, because it is only appropriate to
inform them of that choice. I hope that we can proceed before
the summer recess, which means very soon.
Mr. Richard Bélisle (La Prairie): Mr. Speaker, almost four
months after the throne speech, the government has still not
appointed an ethics counsellor, as promised by the Prime
Minister during the election campaign.
When will the Prime Minister appoint the counsellor who of
be responsible for this ethical issue and for the enforcing of the
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker,
as far as I know, our mandate is for five years. We have fulfilled
many commitments made in the red book. I hope the hon.
member will take a look at page 111; he will be surprised.
Indeed, we have fulfilled our promises regarding the helicopter
contract, the infrastructure program, job creation for young
people, as well as other initiatives. We are not done yet with that
particular commitment. Obviously, we cannot do everything
within a four month session. However, things are going very
well. That problem will be solved to everyone's satisfaction-I
hope-before Parliament recesses for the summer, in exactly
* * *
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt):
Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.
The minister has been asked several times by Canadian apple
growers to immediately stop the dumping of U.S. apples into
Canada. As usual the government talks a good game but also as
usual nothing concrete comes of it. The best the government has
come up with is for the growers to start anti-dumping action
through the Canadian International Trade Tribunal which will
take at least five months before damage is halted. These growers
are being hurt by this dumping today.
Will the minister take action now to stop this destruction of
the apple industry in Canada?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr.
Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
I have met with representatives of the apple growers on two
occasions, not just the apple growers in British Columbia but
elsewhere in the country. The member failed to point out that the
reason we face this problem is because the Canadian apple
growers lost a case earlier. The result of this is that they must
now show actual damage before we can again take up the case
and come to what we hope will be a successful conclusion.
It is important for the member and the House to recognize that
to rush in before we have adequate facts to prove our case,
having lost the first case, would be extremely unwise. Therefore
we are working with the apple growers to develop the best
possible case so that the next time we go forward we will not in
fact lose as we have before.
Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt): Mr.
Speaker, the Minister of National Revenue will recall that at a
recent Chamber of Commerce meeting in Penticton he
expressed concerns for the apple producers of Canada. He will
also recall that he stated that once proof of damage was supplied
to his department, immediate action would take place. I remind
the minister that that information was supplied early in April by
the fruit growers.
Can the minister please tell this House today when Canadians
will see his government take action?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr.
Speaker, once again the hon. member is certainly correct in his
premise. I and all members of this government are very
concerned about the plight of Canadian fruit growers,
particularly apple growers, faced with the American
competition that is flooding across the border. He is also correct
in stating that we will proceed as soon as we believe we have a
case that can be won.
I ask the hon. member as I asked him on a previous occasion,
in Kelowna, whether he wishes us to take the risk of a second
loss or whether he would like to make sure that we have our case
in hand and a case that can be won before we go to an
international trade tribunal.
* * *
Mr. Bernie Collins (Souris-Moose Mountain):
Speaker, certain members opposite have stated that the Minister
of National Revenue is retroactively disallowing the overseas
employment tax credit to certain Canadians.
On page 3564 of Hansard the member for Calgary West
stated: ``This is a shameful way for the Minister of National
Revenue to accomplish his goal of closing so-called tax
What assurances can the minister offer us that he is not
making retroactive tax grabs?
Hon. David Anderson (Minister of National Revenue): Mr.
Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Souris-Moose Mountain
for his question which allows me to state unequivocally that
there have been absolutely no legislative changes, retroactive or
otherwise, to the overseas employment tax credit.
The statement he quoted by another member is in fact
incorrect. This credit was introduced to make Canadian
companies more competitive when bidding on foreign contacts.
The object is to ensure that Canadian companies bidding on
foreign contracts have every incentive to hire Canadians and
provide jobs to this country. It was never intended to give
anyone a tax holiday because they happen to work for a foreign
parented corporation with a branch in this country.
What is happening is that there is a disallowance of ineligible
tax credit claims and a normal reassessment in accordance with
* * *
Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg):
Mr. Speaker, lands
used by the armed forces, that is the bases, the training sites and
the ranges, are likely to be contaminated by specific substances
relating to military uses, which is affecting the quality of our
My question is for the Minister of Defence. Can the minister
tell us whether his department has a specific policy dealing with
military land decontamination?
Hon. David Michael Collenette (Minister of National
Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I am
very glad that the hon. member has raised this question because
he states the problem accurately.
As the Department of National Defence extricates itself from
certain facilities across the country where there have been target
practices there is considerable environmental damage. In the
case of Ipperwash we are discussing the cleanup procedure with
the natives who have claim in the area and we will be spending a
lot of money trying to bring that particular site back to its
We also have a problem in Calgary. We moved the Lord
Strathconas to Edmonton. One of the reasons was to get off the
native lands there but there will be some cleanup that will have
to be done.
We did make an announcement a couple of weeks ago in the
expansion of the supply depot in Montreal for a $26 million state
of the art cleanup of the soil contaminated in Montreal because
this government is totally committed to proper care of our
Mr. Jean-Marc Jacob (Charlesbourg): Mr. Speaker, I wish
to thank the minister for his answer. I would like the minister to
inform us about the number and the type of interventions that are
being made necessary by the cleanup of military lands on
Canadian territory. And I would also like the minister to table, if
possible, the policy on environmental protection for military
Hon. David Michael Collenette (Minister of National
Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I will
certainly make available to the hon. member all kinds of
information on how the department follows this cleanup to
ensure that we leave the land environmentally safe.
In effect I think we have demonstrated by the previous answer
that we have an ongoing program of trying to ensure that any
lands the department has used over the years that have been
contaminated are returned to their original state.
Mr. Ed Harper (Simcoe Centre):
Mr. Speaker, my question
is for the Prime Minister. The figures released last week by
Elections Canada proved once again big spenders cannot buy
Now that the Charlottetown accord outcome has been
reinforced by these results will the government save tax dollars
and drop its appeal of the gag law?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
am replying as government House leader.
This issue is an important one and because it is important I
think it deserves to be tested in the courts.
I understand the hon. member's concerns. I will review this
matter with the Minister of Justice but I continue to believe
there is an important issue to be dealt with.
Mr. Ed Harper (Simcoe Centre): Mr. Speaker, this has
already been tested in one court but the important question is has
the government estimated the cost to taxpayers involved in this
appeal and if so will it table these figures?
Hon. Herb Gray (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada): Mr. Speaker, I
will ask the Minister of Justice to look into that.
I ask the hon. member and other members of this House to
consider the cost to the Canadian economy and to the Canadian
population generally if it is possible for wealthy groups to
influence the election unduly and not be under the same kinds of
constraints as political parties. This is an issue that deserves to
I do not know why the hon. member does not want to have that
done if he is concerned about democracy in this country.
* * *
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York-Simcoe):
during the budget speech the Minister of Finance said the
government is committed to sustainable development. The
minister went on to say that the government is establishing a
task force to identify barriers and disincentives to sound
I would like to ask the Minister of the Environment what the
status of this task force is.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Mr.
Speaker, our government is committed to sustainable
development. Both the Minister of the Environment and the
Finance have committed themselves to set up this task force on
sustainable development as soon as possible.
As a first step they have directed both their ministries to make
it a priority. As a second step a meeting will be convened of all
the interested stakeholders to discuss terms of reference,
following which this task force will be set up.
* * *
Colleagues, I wish to draw your attention to the
presence in our gallery of Juan Manuel Eguiagaray Ucelay,
Minister of Industry and Energy of Spain.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval):
Mr. Speaker, earlier, you
handed down a ruling which I accept and respect and which we
will abide by in the future, but I would appreciate some
The Speaker: Order, please. I reread all the exchanges which
took place, and my decision was reached after spending an entire
weekend considering the issue.
If the hon. member would like further information, first of all,
I would ask him to read my ruling, and if he has any questions he
would like to ask me in my chambers or perhaps would like to
ask the Clerk, he is welcome to do so, but the point has been
made and the Chair's decision stands.
Is this the only point the hon. member wishes to make?
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval): Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention
to question your ruling. Not at all. I simply said first of all that
we respected this ruling, but it will lead to your making another
decision, and that is what I wanted to say, if you are prepared to
entertain the following question.
You said in your ruling, which we accept, that a minister could
answer only on a subject related to his jurisdiction. You added
that the minister should not answer questions which do not
relate to his jurisdiction.
I would appreciate it if you would analyse the implications of
the following. If your ruling is respected from now on by
everyone in this House, does that mean that when we question a
minister within his field of competence while referring to a
statement made by one of his colleagues, does that mean that the
colleague who is quoted will not have the right to answer the
In other words, for practical purposes, if I cannot ask a
minister about a statement he made concerning the Department
of Finance and he does not have the right to reply, does this mean
that if I put my question to the Minister of Finance on a
statement made by his colleague, the minister who is quoted
would not have the right to rise in the House and the Minister of
Finance would have to answer my question? That is what I
would like to know, because there are implications for the ruling
you just made, because usually, if we quote a minister's
colleague, often the colleague will rise to justify what he said.
Now you said in your ruling that he does not have the right to do
The Speaker: Order! Hon. members can put questions to the
Speaker at any time, but these are hypothetical questions. If
there is anything arising from what we discuss here in
Parliament, and if a member, any member, has any questions
about what happened in the House, I would be glad to provide
some answers. However, if they are hypothetical questions, I
think the Chair should consider whether an answer is necessary.
I would like to leave this for the time being. Any other
Mr. Maurice Godin (Châteauguay):
Mr. Speaker, I have the
honour to table a petition which has been certified correct
according to our Standing Orders. It is signed by over 1,130
people in support of the request of the Garda family, of
Châteauguay, for political refugee status.
These two people belong to the Hungarian minority in
Rumania where, as such, they would be threatened and
People in the Châteauguay riding do not want another Maraloï
case. They want the minister to really meet the needs, within a
reasonable timeframe, of all refugees, especially political
refugees, who seek to be integrated into our North American
* * *
(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.)
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Secretary of State
(Parliamentary Affairs)): Mr. Speaker, I ask that all the
questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Shall all the questions be allowed to
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill
C-16, an act to approve, give effect to and declare valid an
agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada
and the Dene of Coville Lake, Déline, Fort Good Hope and Fort
Norman and the Metis of Fort Good Hope, Fort Norman and
Norman Wells, as represented by the Sahtu Tribal Council, and
to make related ammendments to another Act, be read the
second time and referred to a committee.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Crowfoot had the
floor before Question Period. I believe he has 15 minutes left in
Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot): Mr. Speaker, continuing with
my speech on Bill C-16, I submit that a strong, economically
self-reliant Sahtu nation will be a benefit to all Canadians.
This agreement also provides for a transfer of funds from the
Canadian taxpayer amounting to $130 million over the next 15
years. This amounts to over $8 million a year. These funds are
apparently designated for areas such as education, training and
I am sure that Canadians would support this transfer of tax
dollars for these purposes as well as the allocation of the land
involved. However, I do not believe that the Canadian people
will support these articles of the agreement unless there is a
clear indication that the financial dependency on the taxpayer
will end some time in the future.
This agreement provides no such assurance. In fact, it is clear
from the agreement that the Sahtu's right to receive benefits
from existing or future aboriginal programs will continue,
therefore continuing the dependency which this government
contends will be extinguished by this agreement. This defeats
the purpose of the agreement itself.
In this connection I would like to comment on an article in the
Globe and Mail. According to a March 29, 1994 report the
federal government has spent more than $50 million on
self-government negotiations with native groups over the past
seven years, yet it has produced only one agreement. About 400
native communities have entered self-government talks but
most have abandoned the process because it is long,
bureaucratic, limited and legalistic.
According to the Globe and Mail, this was the finding of a
federal audit. The audit apparently described a host of
weaknesses in the federal policy for negotiating
self-government deals at the community level and concluded
that the process is long, cumbersome and expensive.
Federal payments to native groups for the negotiations
jumped by 500 per cent since the process began in the 1986-87
fiscal year. The department of Indian affairs has given $30
million to aboriginal groups for the talks and has spent a further
$20 million on internal operating costs.
The department has spent $50 million creating a cottage
industry around these negotiations, where lawyers and political
leaders are the only ones who benefit while the deplorable living
conditions of the individual aboriginal person has not changed
as a result of the expenditure of these funds.
I suggest the weaknesses evident in the Sahtu agreement are a
reflection of the flawed negotiation process identified by the
federal audit. The interests of the Canadian taxpayer are not
protected in the agreement.
Within the agreement the means exist by which the Sahtu
nation can continue to demand that the federal government tax
the wealth of Canadians for their use, in spite of the enormous
land mass assigned to these people, the significant resource
royalties agreed to and the multimillion dollar cash settlement
This is neither fair to the Sahtu nation nor the Canadian
taxpayer. It is unfair to the taxpayer because there is no end to
the financial support demanded and unfair to the Sahtu people
because it does not end their dependency on the Canadian
taxpayer and therefore is not a formula for self-reliance.
A final area of concern to many Canadians is that this
agreement creates entitlements and rights based on race and
ethnic origin and will be as racist a document as is the Indian
Act. The agreement will create special status for the Sahtu
nation based on race and destroys the principle of equality of
citizenship in that all Canadians ought to stand equal before the
This does not bode well for the future unity of our country. I
believe the intolerable conditions faced by aboriginal people is
due to the fact that for many years they did not have equal rights
in Canada. They were discriminated against at all levels of
society. Their language, religion and culture were suppressed.
Job opportunities were non-existent for the majority of
In order to correct the situation we must ensure they stand
equal before the law. If we grant them special status, harmony
and unity will not be the result.
While the rest of the world, including South Africa, is
bringing the barriers down between races and ethnic groups, we
are in the process of erecting them through agreements such as
this. We saw it in the Meech Lake accord, the Charlottetown
accord and we are seeing it again in this agreement. People are
being granted special rights and privileges based on race and
These rights and privileges are being paid for by the Canadian
taxpayer. The formula cannot succeed in a multicultural society
such as Canada. We must ensure that all Canadians stand equal
before the law regardless of race, language, culture or religion.
This may be the greatest failing of the Sahtu agreement. It
grants special rights based on race and ethnic origin and in doing
so destroys the principle of equality of citizenship in Canada.
The Deputy Speaker: Members should know that we have
now passed the five hour point in the debate, so we now go to 10
minutes speeches and no questions or comments, starting with
the member who is about to be recognized. The hon. member for
Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River): Mr. Speaker, I live in one
of those large northern ridings where there are many reserves
and Metis settlements.
I am very concerned about the precedent the government is
setting with this overly generous settlement. I support the
concept of self-sufficiency and self-reliance inherent in the
successful land claim settlement process. In no way do I argue
with the principle.
However I encourage the government to dismantle the
department of Indian affairs and let the people involved conduct
their own affairs. This approach develops responsibility and
places decision-making in the hands of those most directly
Let us deal with the magnitude of the settlement. Seventeen
hundred and fifty-five people will be receiving a financial
package of $130 million, including interest. The land being
handed over is equivalent to eight square miles per person.
I will put this into perspective. When my forefathers came to
Canada in 1869, over 100 years ago, they received 210 acres of
farmland in the Muskoka Lakes area for a family of nine people.
By comparison each person, not each family, receives a
settlement of 5,120 acres. With this kind of generosity I do not
think there is any doubt how these 1,755 people will be voting in
My own farm operation in northwestern Alberta, one that my
wife and I have built up over 30 years, involves 1,280 acres, two
sections of farmland. Compare this to eight sections per person
in the settlement. I know a lot of farmers who would not mind
finding out that their land was being claimed as a settlement and
getting a payout under this generous rate.
Let us not forget that the original treaty agreement called for
each person to receive just 120 acres, about 5,000 acres less than
is now being proposed.
In addition to the more than generous settlement of land and
money, the people involved will still enjoy their aboriginal
status and still have access to all present and future aboriginal
programs, as well as access to resource development.
My colleagues have spoken about the very great potential for
resource development in the area. The agreement allows the
Sahtu to have shared resource revenue resulting from
development, something which most Canadians do not enjoy.
In conclusion, it is clear that the government is setting a very
bad precedent, one it will be pressured into meeting in future
claims. We all know a lot of land claim settlements need to be
resolved in the future. I think this one is a very bad precedent
indeed. It comes at a time when our country is staggering under a
burdensome debt. We cannot afford this kind of settlement.
I suggest we send the bill back to the drawing board. The
government can do better. It must do better.
Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan-Shuswap): Mr. Speaker, I
rise today to oppose the rubber stamping of this massive,
open-ended and precedent setting agreement with the people of
the Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories called the
Sahtu Dene and Metis comprehensive land claim agreement.
First let me state that I am strongly in favour of prompt
settlement of native land claims, as well as encouragement
toward self-government on a tribe by tribe basis.
Why then would I oppose Bill C-16? It is for the following
reasons. First, because the agreement is a blank cheque, a
giveaway, of non-renewable natural resources plus resource
royalties which belong to all the people of Canada.
Second, instead of simply protecting aboriginal rights and
providing a municipal type ownership of major settlement areas,
this is a massive transfer of land in fee simple ownership to a
very tiny percentage of our national population.
Third, it is a complex, open-ended agreement with a number
of provisions no sensible person should sign regarding his own
personal affairs, let alone the affairs of the nation.
Regarding resources, the sparsely settled basin of the
Mackenzie River today largely remains a unexplored and
underdeveloped treasure trove. Although an oil glutted Canada
turned down the Mackenzie Valley pipeline in 1977 and passed a
10-year moratorium, future developments and future needs of a
resource starved nation may yet see us looking toward this
region as a major transportation corridor, with the addition to
tugs, freight barges and native fishing boats plying a river whose
volume of fresh water is surpassed in Canada only by the St.
The Mackenzie basin's largely unknown mineral resources
nevertheless have inspired the mining rushes of Yellowknife,
the Great Bear Lake and the Canol project for oil and gas.
Government policies today are seriously injuring a once
mighty mining industry, but a wiser future government might
once again see thousands of jobs in resource development in the
Mackenzie basin whose already known riches include
Yellowknife's gold and possibly diamonds, Uranium City and
Echo Bay's uranium, the tungsten of Flat River and Faro's lead
and zinc, in addition to the petroleum of Norman Wells and the
Athabasca tar sands.
As a miner and prospector, I challenge the Minister of Indian
Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Natural
Resources to tell the people of Canada how many millions of
dollars in non-renewable resource wealth this agreement gives
away forever by ceding mineral rights to 1,800 square
kilometres of a mineral rich Mackenzie basin to the 982 adults
and 773 children of the Sahtu Dene and Metis.
In addition to 15 annual cash payments of between $3.8
million and $9.6 million in 1990 dollars; in addition to a
percentage of oil and gas royalties received by the government
within the settlement area and including the Norman Wells oil
field operated by Esso; these two ministers are prepared to hand
the 982 adults and 733 children a blank cheque for mineral
I would be intrigued to learn when in aboriginal history oil
and gas and other mineral exploration development became an
My second objection to Bill C-16 is that the agreement takes
away from common ownership by all the people of Canada, an
area larger than the combined land mass of Vancouver Island
plus the Fraser Valley plus the Okanagan Valley where I live and
hand this entire area over in fee simple ownership once again to
982 adults and 733 children.
As I stated, I am strongly in favour of settling native land
claims promptly and encouraging our aboriginal people to move
toward self-government on a tribe by tribe basis. I would have
no objection to an agreement recognizing special rights of the
Sahtu Dene and Metis to such renewable resources as hunting
and fishing as carried on in native communities prior to colonial
I might even see myself agreeing as part of self-government
for these people a municipal type ownership being vested in the
appropriate bands regarding their major settlement areas of Fort
Good Hope, Colville Lake, Deline, Fort Norman and Norman
However according to a brief prepared by Melvin Smith,
Q.C.: ``No court in Canada of which I am aware, has decided that
an aboriginal interest in land goes so far as to entitle aboriginal
people to fee simple or full ownership''.
My colleagues and I in the Reform Party on behalf of all the
people of Canada are opposed to settling native land claims by
handing over the fee simple ownership of massive chunks of
land. We believe it would be far more appropriate for this House,
as guardians of the rights of all Canadians, including
generations yet unborn, to give native people special rights to
hunting and fishing and to guarantee native people special
representation on all governmental bodies having jurisdiction
over water use and land use in land claim areas. It is more than
excessive. We believe it is foolhardy and contravenes the right
to equality of treatment for all citizens of this enormous country
to hand over so much land in fee simple ownership.
Moving on to my third point, I see this agreement as having
many serious flaws. For example there is a map accompanying
this agreement which gives the impression that a certain specific
piece of land has been decided upon. This is simply not true.
Appendix C to the agreement goes into some detail to describe
the process for land selection which allows the Sahtu Tribal
Council and the government to pursue the process of land
identification and selection. In other words, this bill is asking
Parliament to endorse giving away a huge tract of land which has
not yet been specifically defined.
Pages 119 and 120 of the agreement are similarly
open-ended. Section 26.4 merely appoints a working group to
consider and make recommendations regarding a list of heritage
places and sites. Also page 120 is blank, except for this note:
``Sahtu Dene and Metis sacred sites. To be completed by
Can signing this open-ended agreement be considered proper
guardianship? Can signing this agreement be considered careful
stewardship of a land which belongs today to our grandchildren?
I say no.
Another aspect of this agreement which I find troubling is the
multiplication of quasi-governmental boards. For example it
will create renewable resource councils for each community. It
will also create boards for renewable resources, for land use
planning, for surface rights, for reviewing environmental im-
pact as well as land and water boards. Of course, there is an
I an told this government plans to introduce later in 1994 the
Mackenzie River resource management act. This will spawn
even more boards and panels to co-ordinate all those other
boards and councils and panels and to regulate land and water
uses that cross the settlement areas.
In view of the fact there are only 982 adults in the Sahtu Dene
and Metis, one might be forgiven for wondering who will be left
to carry on the traditional native pursuits of hunting, fishing and
trapping when they are going to have so many councils and
boards and panels to sit on?
The Deputy Speaker: The member's time with the
10-minute limit has expired. I wonder if he wishes to seek
unanimous consent to go on a bit longer.
Is there unanimous consent to let the member complete his
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Stinson Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the answer is that
probably a significant part of the cash payment going to these
natives supposedly for their good will be used to hire white
lawyers and social workers and negotiators and other greedy
hangers-on of the so-called Indian industry to deal with this
agreement's miles of red tape.
Finally, in regard to future self-government for these people,
this agreement provides a framework of sorts in appendix B. But
it also says that in case of disputes this agreement takes
precedence over future self-government agreements.
Also, according to the Indian affairs minister, it takes
precedence over other federal, territorial and municipal laws as
stated in Hansard on April 25. I believe it is wrong to set a
precedent whereby any native land claim agreement should be
allowed to trample all existing federal, territorial or provincial
laws and municipal laws in the land claim area.
In conclusion, I wish to extend my personal best wishes to the
Sahtu Dene and Metis people in their efforts to obtain a prompt,
just settlement of their land claims. I can see that many people
have spent many hours and much effort on this agreement, but I
strongly object to some of its basic principles.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary North): Mr. Speaker, in
participating in this debate today as this House examines the
wisdom of supporting Bill C-16, the Sahtu land claim
agreement, I have been fortunate in having the benefit of hearing
the many thoughtful, sincere and well-informed arguments
made by members from all parties. I would like to acknowledge
their contribution to this debate and thank them for it. Their
perspectives have been a great help to Canadians in weighing
this initiative, the Sahtu land claim agreement.
It is always difficult to express any reservations about such an
initiative. As we have seen already in this debate to do so brings
down swift charges of lack of compassion, fairness and
I doubt if any representative of the people of Canada cares to
be depicted in such harsh terms. However, someone surely has
the duty and obligation to weigh agreements such as this in a
thoughtful and reasoned way, especially since the well-being of
the people directly affected, the people represented by the Sahtu
Tribal Council, is an issue. In addition the interests of all
Canadians, the 27 million people whose welfare is entrusted to
the 295 representatives chosen to sit in this Chamber must also
be weighed and considered.
It is plain to see that many of Canada's native peoples live in
social and economic conditions that are appalling in a country
with the third highest standard of living in the entire world.
There has been a little verbal sparring about whether these
individuals would now be enjoying a pastoral existence of
self-sufficiency if they had been left as the sole inhabitants of
this vast land that we know and love as Canada.
The present reality is that Canada is home to more than 27
million people from many other lands due to a policy of
immigration that has been maintained by Canadian governments
from the very first one to this present one. The process of
immigration will not be reversed. Our duty therefore is to make
decisions on behalf of all Canadians that are good and right and
just and in light of current and foreseeable future realities.
For decades Canada's decision makers have attempted to
ensure that the needs and aspirations of Canadians of native
origin are met and looked after by the creation of a huge
bureaucracy costing in excess of $10 billion each year. That is
over $10,000 per capita for Canada's 997,000 aboriginals.
Unfortunately very little of this money actually reaches the
individuals for whom it was intended. Instead, it is used to fuel
an ever growing bureaucracy.
It is painfully evident this multiplication of tax funded
bureaucrats, advisors, consultants, lawyers, studies, programs,
grants and politicians has done little to assist the plight of the
vast majority of native peoples. Instead, a deplorable state of
dependency, surrender of initiative and erosion of pride and
values has resulted.
Does the agreement before us resolutely and energetically
redress this ineffective approach of the past? No, not at all.
Instead, it leaves in place the approaches that have allowed the
present state of affairs and then incredibly adds to them with yet
more boards and councils.
Will self-esteem and initiative be restored to the Sahtu people
through receiving a windfall of thousands of dollars to each
individual? There is no provision, no process put in place that
would permit this newly acquired purchasing power to be used
to hold the Sahtu's own leaders and advisors accountable to
them. I strongly recommend that this element of democratic
accountability be considered an essential dynamic in the coming
Further, the agreement is silent on any obligation for the
Sahtu to be subject to the federal laws of Canada, including the
charter. This requirement surely ought to have been made
explicit in the section dealing with the provision for negotiation
of self-government agreements.
The biggest concern raised by this agreement is the precedent
it sets. It is not difficult to show expansive generosity with land
that few Canadians will ever need or use when the number of
people compensated is minuscule, less than 2,000.
What happens when the same process affects a land base that
is directly vital to the personal and economic interests of not
only a significant number of Canadians but to municipal and
provincial governments as well? How will the Government of
Canada then be able to offer the same level of land and cash to
significantly larger numbers of native people? If it cannot, will
it be able to justify to those claimants a different level of
compensation and settlement? Have these fundamental issues of
fairness and equity been thought through?
Since everything awarded to one group must be paid for from
the resources and work of the rest, this is a question which also
will affect the interests of all of us as the claims process
proceeds with other native groups across the country. This is
especially so because, as others have also pointed out, the
settlement awarded here does not extinguish or even diminish
the huge cost of existing programs extended to native peoples.
I would like to say that the federal government ought to be
praised for many aspects of this proposal. It recognizes the need
to move expeditiously to resolve such claims. A resolution of
this nature is long overdue in fairness to native Canadians and
for certainty to all. The cost of such settlements increases
dramatically when there is delay in reaching agreement.
We would also applaud the fact that the people affected were
directly consulted and their approval obtained prior to
proceeding with this agreement. There is also a healthy element
of self-determination in the proposed arrangement when it
comes to resources and land use. I believe Canadians would
support that especially if it could lead to self-sufficiency and
placed the Sahtu on the same level of contribution to the
country's well-being as other Canadians.
I also believe that so long as all Canadians are subject to the
same federal laws and charter, an accommodation of community
customs and values at the local judicial level will benefit the
administration of justice in the region.
In short, there is much that is positive in this agreement.
However I believe this government needs to accept the many
expressions of concern about the specifics of the agreement and
consider them in the constructive spirit in which such criticisms
The deficiencies in the agreement ought to be rectified and
addressed before the bill is passed in this House.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a
* * *
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (for the Minister of the
moved that Bill C-23, an act to implement a
convention for the protection of migratory birds in Canada and
the United States, be read the second time and referred to a
Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment): Mr.
Speaker, as part of its plan to modernize Canada's wildlife
legislation, the federal government has brought forward this day
amendments to the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
In 1916 Canada and the United States signed the migratory
birds convention to protect species of migratory birds common
to both countries. Bird populations were declining rapidly at the
turn of the century and in 1917, Parliament implemented the
convention by passing the Migratory Birds Convention Act
which regulated the hunting and use of migratory birds and
prohibited their trafficking and commercialization.
The legislation also provided for the establishment of
migratory bird sanctuaries. Today there are a total of 101
migratory bird sanctuaries in Canada covering roughly 11.3
million hectares of land.
There have been only minor amendments to the act since
1917. It has become suddenly outdated. It no longer provides
our migratory birds with the protection they need.
Seventy-seven years in the continental management of
migratory birds have taught us some important lessons. It is
time to put these
lessons to work and to modernize the legislation through early
action on the bill.
The government's amendments to the act will update the
definitions in the act. It will make them appropriate for
migratory bird protection as we enter the 21st century. The act's
prohibitions will be clarified.
The provisions of the act are being modernized, particularly
with regard to administration and enforcement, because the old
act no longer provides effective means or penalties to deter law
breakers. This is especially true with regard to poaching and
with regard to illegal commercial uses of migratory birds.
As is pointed out in the global convention on biological
diversity which Canada signed, a strong and effective legislative
program is an important part of any strategy to conserve and
protect our natural resources.
Poaching is a serious crime. By killing protected migratory
birds, poachers destroy a wildlife heritage common to all
Canadians and to all inhabitants of countries which share,
benefit from and depend on these birds. Amendments to the
legislation call for increasing possible fines to a maximum of
$25,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months,
or both. Provision is also made for additional fines in an amount
equal to the monetary benefits accrued as a result of the
commission of the offence. Furthermore, under the proposed
amendments, the courts would be able to make sentencing
orders directed at the lawbreaker. The courts would be given
increased authority to deal with lawbreakers. Provision is also
made by issuing tickets.
Moreover, amendments provide for harsher treatment for
illegal commercial transactions such as the sale of products, the
sale of companion birds and the illegal organized hunting of
large numbers of birds. Fines for illegal commercial
transactions would correspond to the nature of the offence and
could include the seizure of weapons, vehicles, boats, aircraft
and even companies used by the guilty parties in the commission
of the offence.
Updating the Migratory Birds Convention Act will help
ensure that populations of birds are maintained at sustainable
levels. Amendments to the act were developed only after
extensive consultations with affected interested parties,
including the provinces and territories, the aboriginal groups,
conservation groups and other non-government organizations,
hunters and ordinary citizens. The proposed changes have been
requested by all provinces and territories and by many interested
The federal government carries out its responsibilities for
migratory birds through a strong partnership with the provinces
and territories. Provincial and territorial wildlife agencies assist
in migratory bird enforcement. Various types of protected areas
form one network for havens for migrating wildlife, whether
they sanctuaries be federal, provincial or territorial in
These amendments will strengthen that partnership even
further. For example, with the agreement of the provinces and
territories, designation of conservation officers for the purposes
of enforcing the Migratory Birds Convention Act will be made
easier. Any seizures of illegally obtained wildlife could be sold
with the proceeds going to the provinces, the territories or the
federal government as appropriate.
The amendments will help us become better and more
effective stewards of our migratory bird sanctuaries as part of an
overall concept of flexible landscape and ecosystem
management. For example, at certain times of the year, such as
the breeding season, quite strict protection measures might be
called for, perhaps to prevent beach goers from walking on
plovers' eggs. At other times of the year uses may be more
flexible. Good law, good enforcement and good management
can help us sustain our ecosystems.
Set in the broader perspective of both the Migratory Birds
Convention Act and the convention it implements, this is one of
the safeguards concerning one aspect in a series of global or
hemisphere-wide partnerships to protect birds and other
wildlife as well as their habitats.
These partnerships take the form of land conservation
programs like the Canadian Wildlife Service Latin American
Program in which Canada and its Latin American neighbours
join together to preserve the southern habitats of our common
visitors. They also include the Biodiversity Convention, a
global instrument as I indicated earlier.
This spinoff from the UNCED recognizes the value of wildlife
and its habitat for the world. And this value stems from the fact
that fauna and flora are part of a natural heritage without
compare, represent a major socioeconomic resource and play a
growing role as a general health status indicator for increasingly
stressed ecosystems. Gulls and cormorants are valuable for
instance to show the level of environmental disruption in the
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region.
We must not forget the important contribution to our economy
made by activities related to fish, fauna and flora. As a matter of
fact, Statistics Canada indicated that Canadians and American
tourists have spent, in 1991 alone, $1.4 billion on recreation
activities involving water birds. Not only has spending in that
area helped maintain over 30,000 jobs, but it has generated close
to $1 billion in personal income and $743 million in federal and
provincial tax revenues.
I would like to stress that only very minor changes were made
to the Migratory Birds Convention Act. We must therefore
proceed as quickly as possible with these amendments.
The provisions of the act are being modernized particularly
with regard to administration and enforcement because the old
act no longer provides the effective means of penalties to deter
law breakers. This is especially true with regard to poaching
and illegal commercial uses of migratory birds. As pointed out
in the global convention on biological diversity which Canada
has signed, a strong and effective legislative program is a key
part of any strategy to conserve and protect natural resources.
Therefore the government's amendments to the act will
update definitions in the act. It will make them appropriate for
migratory bird protection as we enter the 21st century. The act's
prohibition will be clarified.
I urge all members of the House, regardless of political party,
to support the bill very strongly. It represents a big step forward
in our common goal toward sustainable development.
I hope that all the hon. members of this House will strongly
support this bill.
Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Terrebonne): Mr. Speaker, as
assistant critic for the environment and sustainable
development, it is a pleasure for me to speak on Bill C-23.
This bill seeks to modernize and update a law dating back to
1917. To understand it better, I think that we have to go back a
little into our history and look at the situation at the turn of the
century. In the early 1900s, there was considerable exploitation
of migratory birds and trade in them. As a result, their numbers
dropped drastically. The need to intervene to end this illicit
trade and to protect the species was increasingly urgent.
In 1916, Canada and the United States signed the Migratory
Birds Convention. The next year, in 1917, Parliament passed the
Migratory Birds Convention Act. The provisions of this Act
seek to regulate the hunting of migratory birds and to prevent
traffic and trade in them.
Through permits, this law controls the use made of migratory
birds. Several aspects of the 1917 law are obsolete today. For
example, the penalties provided in the Act are no longer what
society is entitled to expect. Fines from $10 to $300 are
provided for infractions. Bill C-23 as presented today increases
these penalties very significantly.
Amounts of up to $5,000 and even $25,000 provided in clause
13(1) will deter poachers, we hope. The evolution of our society
and the example of penalties alone show the importance of
updating and modernizing this law, of strengthening the
enforcement rules and clarifying the procedures.
For us in the Bloc Quebecois, several aspects of this law are of
great interest. As I said in the introduction to my speech, it was
very necessary to update the legislation. In particular, we hope
to add that not only birds, their eggs and nests are protected but
also their embryos and tissue cultures.
We think that this provision is essential; given the evolution
of biotechnology and the amazing possibilities that exist or will
exist in this regard, this provision is most desirable. Clearly,
however, such a scientific achievement was unimaginable in
1917 and the law could not include such a clause.
According to various environmental groups, millions of wild
birds are illegally captured, poisoned or driven from their nests
throughout the world. Therefore it is appropriate for us to
legislate in this way in view of this phenomenon.
We learned in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix last January and in
La Presse that 1,000 of 9,600 bird species were in danger of
extinction; that is, more than 10 per cent of our birds could
disappear very soon. We agree that the situation is urgent.
An article in the March 24 issue of La Presse contained some
comments on the seriousness of the situation. The author
showed that 70 per cent of existing species in the world are in
decline. According to one study he quotes, the illegal trade in
wild birds is a growing threat to the species, especially in
World Watch, an American magazine, gives some of the
reasons why the number of birds is decreasing in Canada and
throughout the world, and I quote: ``Most bird species are in
decline because the natural balance is upset by the global
expansion of mankind''.
Of course, the problems caused by deforestation due to
farmland expansion or urban spread, industrial and domestic
pollution are but a few of the factors contributing to the
declining number of birds in Canada and throughout the world.
In North America alone, deforestation may have caused the
alarming reduction in bird population in 250 species breeding on
As I said earlier, we must speak up on the illegal trade in birds.
According to a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature, this
lucrative trade is growing by leaps and bounds. In the last 20
years, 2,600 species have been identified among those traded.
This commercial activity is flourishing in Southeast Asia. To the
five million birds traded each year must be added an estimated
three million in China.
We are in a position to realize that this kind of trade affects
much more than our two countries. We are legislating on a
bilateral Canada-U.S. solution but we must also see the problem
as a whole.
Serious allegations have led us to consider this problem from
an international standpoint. Some airlines will not transport
wild birds. That is fine. However, the article from the WWF
goes on to say: ``Singapore proclaimed itself the hub of this
trade for the whole region''. Because of loopholes in the
legislation, wild birds illegally exported from Indonesia,
Thailand or Malaysia become legal goods when they go through
You might say we are a long way from our bill on migratory
birds in Canada and in the United States, but we are not.
Environmental problems such as acid rain, the ozone layer,
dangerous goods and many others know no boundaries. And the
impact here of these various problems require us to take a stand.
Clearly, Bill C-23 is a positive measure in this context. We
cannot oppose a good initiative. However, the international
scope of the problem probably requires a worldwide approach as
It is because problems related to the ozone layer have such an
international dimension that the Montreal Protocol was signed
with several countries. The issue of importing and exporting
dangerous goods could not be solved with a national piece of
legislation. Again, several sovereign states had to agree on
regulations concerning the exchange and transportation of such
goods. Canada could be the leader in this field and set, through
an international convention, standards which would provide
some protection to this species.
I will conclude by reaffirming my support to Bill C-23, but I
also want to remind you of some proposed legal principles for
environmental protection and sustainable development, which
are approved by Canada.
Article two of these principles provides that: ``States shall
conserve and use the environment and natural resources for the
benefit of present and future generations''. Article three says:
``States shall maintain ecosystems and ecological processes
essential for the functioning of the biosphere, shall preserve
biological diversity, and shall observe the principle of optimum
sustainable yield in the use of living natural resources and
In article 8, we see that the States shall co-operate in good
faith with other States in implementing the preceding rights and
These are only 3 of the 22 principles for environmental
protection, as found in the Brundtland report entitled Our
I would urge the Canadian government to look forward when
it deals with environmental protection and sustainable
development, but to keep in mind all the agreements already
signed. In this case, we have no other choice but to protect the
migratory birds. However, we should be careful in doing so not
to impinge on other jurisdictions. Too often, our legislation
grants too much discretionary power to the minister, who can
choose to enforce only parts of the law. We do not think this is
the case with this bill. That is why my party and I want the bill to
be referred to a committee who will seek to improve it.
Together, let us protect the endangered species.
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East): I am very pleased today to
stand and say that the Reform Party is in support of Bill C-23 at
second reading. It is an act to protect migratory birds. Of course,
we think of birds and wildlife together.
I have the good fortune of coming from a very wonderful
constituency. Of course all members in the House say that, but
my constituency is so wonderful that it happens to contain three
of Canada's national parks. My riding has Kootenay National
Park, Yoho National Park and Glacier National Park, which
gives you an idea of the grandeur of the area I represent.
In addition, we also have an area called the Columbia River
wetlands. The Columbia River wetlands are 180 kilometres
long. They are comprised of a 26,000 hectare flood plain. I
would like to read a short section from a brochure by B.C.
Wildlife with respect to the Columbia River's hydrological
The habitats within the Columbia River flood plain provide food, shelter and
cover for an exceptionally large number of birds and mammals. Waterfowl
comprising the most abundant and observable species group utilize the
wetlands for breeding and brood rearing, for refuge during the flightless
periods of the moult, and for feeding and resting during spring and fall
migrations. Single counts have revealed more than 15,000 ducks in the autumn,
more than 1,000 whistling swans in the spring.
I should say that I also have the good fortune of living just
south of this area. I have seen these whistling swans in the lake
in front of my home. They are absolutely beautiful birds.
The rare trumpeter swan also appears in migration. Breeding Canada geese
number some 1,200 pairs. Other birds sharing the wetlands are loons, gulls,
terns, rails, bitterns, hawks, bald eagles, ospreys and 100 or so species of
songbirds. Colonies of great blue herons comprising some 300 pairs constitute
the second largest concentration in western Canada.
Up to 90 per cent of the elk, 70 per cent of the white tail deer and 15 per cent of the
moose in the upper Columbia basin depend on these wetlands for their survival.
This gives us an idea of how magnificent and pristine this area
is. Therefore I have a personal vested interest in Bill C-23.
At the conclusion of what I just read I mentioned the fact that
there are also big game. We actually have about 25 per cent of
the hunting in British Columbia for big game within my
Kootenay East constituency.
I should mention it is not just an environmental issue although
that is important enough, but it is also an economic issue. We
have guide outfitters, taxidermists, sports shops, camera stores,
saddle and outdoor equipment makers. In addition there are
campgrounds, restaurants, motels, gas stations, automobile
dealers, tire shops, grocery stores. All benefit from these
wildlife resources, particularly during the fall hunting season
when business would otherwise be slow.
We happen to be on one of the three western flyways.
Depending on what happens with respect to the amount of water
on the prairies, we may have up to tens of thousands of birds
migrating overhead in the fall and again in the spring. It is
indeed an absolutely magnificent area.
The major reason I stand in support of Bill C-23 is because it
is the foundation and cornerstone of being able to co-ordinate
the regulators and the regulation.
Members should know that the British Columbia conservation
data centre which is a section of the wildlife branch of the
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks in British Columbia
has an exhaustive list of birds that are actually protected within
our area. There are the western grebe, the bald eagle, peregrine
falcon, sharp tailed grouse and long billed curlew. I could go and
on with the number of birds that we are very, very proud of in our
I can report there is a tremendous level of co-operation
between the regulators and the industrial users in my
constituency. All of the forest companies are working in
co-operation with the B.C. fish and wildlife branch. They are
involved in doing cut blocks in co-ordination with that branch.
In some cases they are taking as little as 30 per cent of the
standing timber to come up with a particular kind of
configuration for certain birds or animals. In other instances
they are doing other things.
Often when thinking of the word environmentalist, speaking
for myself I think of placards, protests, arrests, or civil
disobedience. If we really want to see environmentalists
anywhere in Canada, we should turn up at the rod and gun
organizations in our constituencies. These are people who are
going out of their way, putting their own blood, sweat, tears and
money into preserving and improving the environment. In
preparing for this presentation I took time to speak to four such
One was the Kimberley Wildlife and Wilderness Club. It
pointed out that with respect to migratory birds the biggest
single item that has worked against them has been the inclusion
of hydro power. I must admit I had always been a great fan of
hydro power up until the time I started to look at this. The impact
hydro power has had on migratory birds has been singularly
I mentioned blood, sweat and tears. The Golden and District
Rod and Gun Club notes it has a gander lander. A gander lander
is simply a manmade place where the geese can land, so it is
called a gander lander. Over the past 15 years the Golden Rod
and Gun Club has been involved in constructing between 100
and 105 gander landers. Five or six times during the winter
months members go out and spend the whole day upkeeping and
In addition I spoke to members of the Elkford Rod and Gun
Club. One of their concerns was with respect to snags. These are
tall dead trees which are required for nesting for certain kinds of
birds. I am happy to report that although a lot of them have been
destroyed in logging operations for the protection of the people
who are actually doing the logging, the B.C. forest service has
just implemented a snag program. It is going out to the bush and
identifying these snags and is taking steps to leave them
standing so that they can be nesting places for birds. This is done
in such a way that it is a safe process under workers
Members of the Sparwood and District Fish and Wildlife
Association had two issues of concern. One issue of concern
which I am sure all Canadians share is that whatever we are
doing with Bill C-23 or any other bill, because this has the
potential of overlapping on native issues, we take some time and
see how those things relate.
The final thing they pointed out, which may come as a
surprise to some people, is that they are actually having a
population explosion of grizzly bears. There is an area down in
the far southeast corner of my constituency, in the bottom corner
of British Columbia, that is a remote area with a certain amount
of logging and basically there are very few humans in that
particular concentration. As a result the grizzlies have actually
reached a point at which they may become a problem.
These rod and gun club members are law-abiding citizens.
They are committed to the wildlife, they are committed to the
environment. Something that I do not understand, because I am
not a hunter, is that they are also committed to hunting. Last
time I looked hunters used guns.
These people as law-abiding citizens believe in safe storage.
These people as law-abiding citizens follow all of the rules for
responsible use. These people expect me and other people in this
House to stand up against the imposition of certain city values
that seem to be pushing them into a corner.
Unfortunately the imposition of city values may come from
the fact that many birds arrive in the city dead, packaged and in
freezers and there is no recognition of what went into that dead
bird arriving in the freezer, much less the enjoyment that these
people have in a responsible way of enjoying hunting during the
We support Bill C-23 because it supports the migratory bird
protection and finally we support it because it reflects the values
of responsible, active, participating environmentalists,
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport): Mr. Speaker, at the
outset let me congratulate the parliamentary secretary, the
member for Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis, for his opening
remarks and for having set the tone for this debate and also for
having ensured that there will be a thorough examination at the
committee level so as to provide for consultation with interested
Also I would like to congratulate the member for Terrebonne
and the member for Kootenay East for having put forward such
interesting observations that will certainly add to the quality of
the examination and also because they give life to what
otherwise would seem a rather stultified and bureaucratic piece
of legislation. It is not stultified. It is not a dull and uninteresting
piece of legislation.
On the contrary, I would argue that this is a very important
piece of legislation being introduced by this new government
today in the House mainly for three reasons. One, it is important
because the movement of migratory birds has enormous
significance for our farmers, for the role that birds play in the
ecological balance and in maintaining a control of insects in the
open agricultural environment. That role of course is well
known but it is never underlined and highlighted enough.
Second, to the urban dwellers the arrival and departure of
migratory birds and their staying in Canada during the good
season is a source of enormous pleasure. That pleasure is not
limited to bird watchers. It is a well known shared interest that
Canadians have for the presence of this magnificent species.
Third, the fact that our literature and our heritage are based on
the presence of migratory birds is witnessed alone by the fact
that we have found it over the decades desirable to produce
banknotes and coins reproducing some of the better known
migratory birds in Canada.
For all these reasons it is quite safe to assume that deep down
in the subconscious of the Canadian psyche there is a
tremendous attachment to wildlife and therefore the migration
of birds means more than just what that poor term conveys. It is
an attitude toward nature. It is an attitude toward wildlife and
essential pleasure is derived from it which cannot be easily
described with plain words as I am attempting to do today.
For these three reasons I would say we are debating here in
this House a piece of legislation that is significant for us and can
have very significant repercussions for future generations of
Canadians as other speakers have already highlighted, in
particular the members for Terrebonne and Kootenay East.
This bill will allow for the creation of sanctuaries. It will
ensure the management of areas important for the protection of
migratory birds. It is important to note that at the present time
we have in Canada some 101 bird sanctuaries protecting roughly
11 million hectares which are covered for that purpose.
If we look at the new act it is intended to broaden the
definition of migratory birds. This is important because it will
include sperm, embryos and tissue cultures. This is intended as a
protective measure against development in biotechnology
which may take place in future years. It is a very good clause
that is proactive and of particular value.
Under this bill regulatory authorities will be established. One
can only say that on the whole this bill is most laudable and very
The contentious parts, however, that could be discussed and
raised today relate, as is usually the case with these kind of bills,
to fines and enforcement. Very briefly, I would like to draw
attention to the fines which under the present legislation, before
this bill comes into force, are a mere $10 to a maximum of $300.
They are only levied upon summary conviction. Evidently there
is here a vacuum that must be filled and we must say that this
legislation is long overdue.
In the proposed bill the maximum fine will be $5,000 for
summary conviction offences and up to $25,000 for indictable
The question is are these fines really sufficient? I am sure
there are a variety of views on this in reply to this question. In
other words, is $5,000 adequate to deter someone from harming,
killing or possessing and illegally trading protected species?
From the comments made by the member for Terrebonne I
would be inclined to conclude that this fine is not enough, that
the legislators should give the judge sufficiently broad range of
fines and let the judge decide how strong the fine should be.
However, the penalty should be as strong as it can conceivably
be because it will also serve a purpose not just this year and next
year but probably 10 or 20 years from now when this legislation
is likely to be amended, but we do not know for sure. Therefore
the question of fines is one that raises a number of interesting
The same can be said about enforcement. Enforcement
officers will be appointed under this legislation. Their powers
will be more consistent with other federal and provincial
conservation legislation. Subsection 13 addresses this particular
aspect of enforcement.
The question is whether a person who commits or continues to
commit an offence for more than one day should be penalized or
whether a limitation of one day is one that ought not to be
deleted so that there is no reduction in the offence that is
contemplated by the judge.
I would be inclined to think the enforcement section needs a
good examination by the committee to make it stronger. It is true
that the amendments will become strong deterrents to those who
would traffic in wildlife. There is no doubt that they read very
well. We have to make sure that there is enough strength in the
Canadian Wildlife Service and in the provincial affiliated
departments to carry out what is in the legislation.
Therefore I must bring to members' attention a statement
made recently by the Animal Alliance of Canada in which a
recommendation is made to stop the continued erosion of the
numbers of wildlife enforcement officers, that the current
vacancies of five enforcement people be filled and the
remainder of 29 person-years be completed to bring the
enforcement officers to a level that was promised in 1991, which
is just above 30.
One must wonder whether in a country as large as Canada with
such a large federal jurisdiction it is realistic to expect an
enforcement of this important legislation with only 30
enforcement officers or thereabouts. Evidently the answer is no
and evidently we will have to address this very important
Resources must be allocated to enforcement. These 30 or so
positions must be increased, otherwise Canada is running the
risk of not being able to meet its obligations under this
legislation, under the Cites legislation as well as the Wild
Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and
Interprovincial Trade Act. That is quite a lengthy title for that
There are a number of questions that ought to be put on record
on second reading. I would simply reduce them to the following.
Is there sufficient power provided by this bill so that the
present minister and future ministers can undertake all the
necessary action to ensure the protection of migratory birds?
Is the scope of this convention broad enough now that Canada
has entered into NAFTA? Should initiatives not be launched at
the political level as well as at the technical level to broaden the
scope of the Migratory Convention Act so as to include Mexico
and both Central and South America since as well we all know
the movement of birds does not respect boundaries?
This convention is binding only on North America. If the
scope of the convention is not broadened, a number of species
could be in danger in the years ahead.
Many of our Canadian species do straddle two continents. We
have to understand that all wildlife is really world wildlife, not
just limited to Canada. Our ability to enjoy the presence of
migratory birds in Canada depends also on the ability of
protecting the species in those regions of the world where they
spend their winter.
Therefore, the Canadian songbirds as we know and appreciate
them depend on the rainforests of Central and South America.
This is a political message that we have to carry to the
international fora to ensure that this convention is broadened to
its largest possible scope. Otherwise Canada will have a very
limited chance to improve the survival of the species in the
We are debating today not just what would be the reality of the
nineties but most likely the reality of the first half of the next
century since this kind of bill does not reach the floor of the
House of Commons that frequently.
In conclusion I would say that the changes proposed to the act
are essential. They are very desirable. They are timely. We must
work together to ensure there is a co-ordinated effort to achieve
the protection of migratory birds.
We must ensure that the fines are a very strong deterrent. We
must do our best to find ways to ensure the enforcement of the
proposed act is carried out in every area of the federal
jurisdiction at least. I suppose there could be excellent
co-operation between provincial and federal services. We must
ensure that the powers to create new sanctuaries are
implemented and that the existing sanctuaries continue to be
Finally, as I just mentioned and before I sit down, I would
really make a plea to the Minister of the Environment to
consider taking an initiative personally to ensure the scope of
the convention is enlarged to include all the Americas and to
provide the necessary protection in decades ahead.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 38, I wish
to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the
time of adjournment are as follows: The hon. member for
Mercier, social programs; the hon. member for Chicoutimi,
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York-Simcoe): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to speak in support of the bill to amend the Migratory
Birds Conventions Act. I commend my colleagues on both sides
of the House for their sensitivity and support of the bill. In
particular I support my colleague from Davenport who has
examined the bill carefully and has put forward some very
Along with the Canada Wildlife Act, this act urgently needs
updating to come into line with current environmental
legislation in both Canada and the United States. Many
provisions of the act as it now stands are ineffective or are
simply not in harmony with related federal, provincial or
Today I would like to focus on how the bill will affect one
particular group that is following the updating process very
closely, and that is Canada's First Nations. In fact the bill now
before the House is only one of three initiatives in this area
having particular importance for First Nations. The other two
are the effort to amend the Canada-U.S. migratory birds
convention of 1916 and the implementation of an interim policy
on enforcement, especially the provisions on water fowl
harvesting by aboriginal people.
The 1916 convention is a binational agreement governing the
conservation of migratory birds in Canada and the United
States. In our country the Migratory Birds Convention Act is the
enabling legislation for the implementation of that agreement.
Regulations under the act control the hunting of migratory
game birds during certain periods of the year. They also
establish closed seasons to protect breeding, nesting, brooding
and moulting birds at other times of the year.
These and other provisions complement measures taken by
the United States, the provinces and territories, wildlife groups,
the private sector and individuals to conserve this valuable
In many cases the different authorities and sectors have
worked in close co-operation toward that common goal. One
outstanding example of such a partnership is the North
American water fowl management plan.
In some areas of Canada, especially the north, migratory birds
have traditionally been an important food source for aboriginal
peoples. First Nations continue to rely heavily on this source at
different times of the year. In certain cases activities that are
protected by aboriginal rights are not covered by the provisions
of the Migratory Birds Conventions Act. For example, the
hunting by natives of migratory birds during the closed season
from March 10 to August 31 or the collection of eggs. Of course
aboriginal people also hunt birds during open seasons. Hunting
migratory birds does more than provide food to First Nations.
Traditional hunting activities have a great significance in
aboriginal culture. Preserving that culture means preserving
Canada's wildlife resources.
In its present form the migratory birds convention fails to
provide for closed season harvest and egg collection by
aboriginal people. That omission can be rectified only by
amending the convention itself, a step that requires negotiation
between the United States and Canada. As I mentioned we are
seeking to initiate the necessary negotiations. They should take
place later this year.
First Nations take a significant proportion of the migratory
birds hunted in Canada. The latest estimates suggest that
aboriginal people harvest between 250,000 and 750,000 ducks
and roughly 350,000 geese each year. For ducks that represents
13 per cent of the Canadian harvest and 6 per cent of the total
North American harvest. For geese the figure represents 32 per
cent of the Canadian harvest and 12 per cent of the total North
American harvest. Geese constitute a major food source for
some aboriginal communities, notably along the Ontario and
Quebec coasts of James Bay.
Given the magnitude of the annual harvest and our desire to
safeguard the subsistence harvesting needs of First Nations we
must work in co-operation with aboriginal communities. We
need new partnerships to achieve the shared goals of
conservation and management of ducks and geese.
An amended convention will promote such partnerships,
particularly in the form of co-management agreements,
self-government agreements and the wildlife management
provisions of comprehensive claims agreements.
Already co-management with aboriginal people is being
implemented for the conservation of caribou, polar bear and
other species. The approach is generating the needed data on
harvest which can serve as a basis for agreement on harvest
objectives. We wish to build on this success in our future efforts
to amend the convention.
Earlier at workshops organized through Canada
representatives from government, aboriginal communities,
wildlife groups and others discussed options for closed season
harvesting. These consultations provided valuable guidance for
the coming negotiations with the United States on amending the
migratory birds convention to allow for hunting and egg
collection by natives.
Of course the amendments to the convention and to Canada's
legislation and regulations must respect aboriginal and treaty
rights to hunt migratory birds. To ensure that they do, thorough
consultation is a must. That is how we will achieve the best
possible provisions for addressing aboriginal concerns.
Consultations are now under way on such changes to the
convention with the full participation of aboriginal
organizations, the provinces and territories, and environmental
and conservation groups. It will not happen overnight, but
discussions to this date have been encouraging. What is more,
Canada and the United States are now working on convergent
tracks as we prepare for formal negotiations.
Among the changes now under consideration by hon.
members to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, one provision
concerns the procedure for amending the convention itself. The
bill before the House will allow the schedule to the act setting
out the convention to be amended by order. The change will
ensure that Canada can promptly fulfil its obligations to the
United States, the convention and all those affected by an
amended convention, in particular aboriginal peoples.
Until such time as the convention is amended an interim
enforcement policy governs our application of the Migratory
Birds Convention Act and the Canada Wildlife Act in the areas
of closed season hunting and egg collection by aboriginal
people. This policy gives top priority to conservation. It will
remain in effect until after passage of the bills modernizing the
two acts and until the convention itself is amended.
The interim enforcement policy also stresses consultation and
co-operation, two very important elements in any effort to build
partnership for conservation with the First Nations.
There are pressing reasons for proceeding with the present
amendments to the Migratory Birds Convention Act. It requires
time to lay the groundwork for amending the migratory birds
convention so that it takes into account the needs of aboriginal
While we continue to do that, however, we must safeguard the
resources themselves. We must ensure that they are used
sustainably. To do this Canada must act at once to update its
wildlife and migratory bird legislation, strengthening
enforcement and modernizing administration.
Any delay could jeopardize Canada's ability to ensure
sustainable population levels for migratory birds and other
wildlife. Let us consider the need to deal with the illegal
commercial sales of murres and other migratory birds. That is
only one reason we cannot afford to postpone these
For the benefit of Canadian wildlife Canada must proceed
with the updating of the Migratory Birds Convention Act and its
companion, the Canada Wildlife Act. At the same time we must
continue extensive consultations with aboriginal people to meet
their needs and concerns. The proposed amendments to both acts
will in no way prejudice the outcome of these broader
Canada's wildlife needs protection and it needs it now. That is
why the government has introduced the bill now before the
House to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and that is
why the bill deserves swift passage.
Mr. Bernie Collins (Souris-Moose Mountain): Mr.
Speaker, to help hon. members in considering the bill now
before the House allow me to offer some background on
migratory birds and Canada's efforts to protect and conserve
The Migratory Birds Convention Act provides protection for
over 400 species of migratory birds in Canada. Among them are
water fowl, sea birds, shore birds and song birds. In all it is a
remarkably wide variety.
Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service works to
ensure that all species of migratory birds will continue to
survive and benefit future generations of Canadians.
Safeguarding migratory birds requires many different measures
because the birds themselves have such varied habitats and ways
In every case, however, there are the same basic components
to the strategy pursued by the wildlife service. It monitors bird
populations. It informs Canadians about the status of birds and
their habitats. It co-ordinates multi-party efforts to preserve
habitats. It establishes and enforces regulations to curtail the
abuse of birds.
In some cases research is needed to understand how human
activity affects the chances for birds to survive. Sometimes
special plans have to be made for the recovery of endangered
bird species. The wildlife service deals with these needs as
In every case a broad ecosystem approach is essential
involving many stakeholders. That approach is central to the
work performed by the Canadian Wildlife Service.
The issues demanding attention are highly diverse. For
example, tree harvesting may affect migratory song birds.
Pesticide runoff from farms may harm water fowl. Commercial
fishing nets may trap and drown sea birds. Spills of oil and other
harmful substances may jeopardize entire sea bird colonies.
One crucial step that must be taken is to identify critical
habitat for migratory birds not only in Canada but throughout
their flyways. In this instance many of Canada's migratory birds
winter in Latin America and the habitats must be protected. With
this in mind the Canadian Wildlife Service has established a
Latin American program to further Canada's interest in
migratory birds wintering south of the U.S.-Mexico border. The
program seeks to identify the needs of migratory birds so that
they can be included in conservation planning.
To this end it relies heavily on co-operation with other
countries and international organizations. That co-operation
must be seen in the memorandum of understanding between the
Canadian Wildlife Service and the American and Mexican
wildlife agencies to conserve migratory birds and their habitats
The service has also helped established international
initiatives. One of these is these is the international waterfowl
census of the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research
Bureau. Another such initiative is the Western Hemisphere
Shorebird Reserve Network. The network's objective is to
identify and protect critical areas for the migration of
shorebirds. Under this initiative the Wildlife Service has worked
with countries throughout South America to develop an atlas of
coastal shore bird habitats.
Here in Canada two hemispheric shorebird reserves have so
far been identified, both of them in the upper Bay of Fundy.
These have been twinned with three wetland sites in Suriname
designated as hemispheric shorebird reserves in 1989. Work is
proceeding to identify other important sites in Canada and to
secure their designation and protection under the network.
Game bird species present a special challenge. They are an
important recreational resource, translating into significant
economic activity. At the same time we must see that this
resource does not depreciate. In other words, we must ensure
that it is used in a sustainable manner.
Canada manages migratory game bird species through an
annual regulatory process for monitoring and controlling
hunting. Associated with this process are population surveys. A
hallmark of the process is consultation, in particular with the
provinces and territories and with the American government
The Canadian Wildlife Services follows a two pronged
approach in managing game bird species. One component of that
approach is regulation and compliance; the other is habitat
enhancement. Both efforts draw heavily on national and
international input. Within Canada there is a notable
contribution from the provinces and territories and increasingly
from co-operative wildlife management boards involving
Internationally Canada works with the flyway councils set up
to manage the birds according to their natural migratory
pathways. We also work with the North American Waterfowl
Management Plan Committee.
To support the consultations of developing game bird
regulations, status reports are prepared. These publicly
available documents give information on game bird populations
and explain proposed changes to the regulations. The status
reports are distributed to many Canadian and American
organizations with an interest in migratory game bird
conservation and with reports these organizations are in a
position to influence the development of regulations.
The Wildlife Service also publishes an annual newsletter
entitled ``Bird Trends''. This deals with the population status of
Canadian birds. A top priority of the Wildlife Service is
promoting public awareness about migratory bird issues. This is
the first step toward fostering the volunteer networks on which
the service relies for data collection.
Together with the Canadian Nature Federation the service
sponsors Birdquest, a public information and education project
on migratory birds. Birdquest encourages a basic understanding
of the ecology of a bird, populations, and it does this by teaching
participants about bird identification, bird study and bird
Those who successfully pass through Birdquest qualify to join
one of the service's volunteer based programs. These play a key
part in supporting migratory bird conservation initiatives and
they help the service identify problems and implement
More important, the Birdquest program encourages
Canadians to become actively involved in initiatives that
contribute to migratory bird conservation. One of the most
notable initiatives to protect migratory birds is the North
American waterfowl management plan. This unique
undertaking offers a forum for international agreement on a
broad range of waterfowl management issues. It also provides
the focus for action to enhance waterfowl habitat.
Under this co-operative agreement a series of joint ventures
are targeting species inhabited areas of special concern.
In Canada the aims are to secure important waterfowl habitats
throughout the country, to address the serious decline in western
waterfowl populations, to initiate the collection of long-term
survey data for eastern duck populations and to delineate and
monitor the distinct breeding populations of Arctic nesting
The north American waterfowl management plan brings
together Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is a formal
representation from Canadian provinces and territories as well
as American states. Among its key contributors are the federal
government, departments in Canada and the United States alike.
It also involves many non-government organizations.
We can find broad co-operation in most of the activities of the
Canadian Wildlife Service. With the United States the service
works to conserve migrant songbirds through a program called
Partners in Flight. With the aboriginal people, the service joins
in co-operative wildlife management boards. With Canada's
leading environmental non-governmental organizations, the
service has a long history of joint projects.
Above all, with the provinces and territories, the service
works to ensure the enforcement of the Migratory Bird
Convention Act and to preserve ecosystems as habitats for
wildlife and to tackle the problems of endangered species.
These are efforts that directly benefit all Canadians. Through
the amendments to the Migratory Bird Convention Act it will be
possible to reinforce these efforts and for that reason I support
the passage of this bill. I urge all hon. members to do the same.
Mr. Harold Culbert (Carleton-Charlotte): Mr. Speaker,
as a strong advocate of wildlife conservation I am pleased to
speak in support of this bill to amend the Canada Wildlife Act.
Wildlife has a special place in our country. It is part of a
heritage we all value. In the north many Canadians still earn
their living by wildlife harvesting. Throughout the country
wildlife related activity is a cherished form of recreation for an
overwhelming majority of people.
Our challenge is to see that this heritage is passed on to future
generations of Canadians. At the moment I am regrettably
unsure that we will succeed.
Wildlife populations in Canada today are under considerable
stress. More and more species are being designated as
endangered and some populations are experiencing declines.
But the outlook is not entirely bleak because while the dangers
are greater than ever before, so is the support for wildlife
conservation and so is our understanding of what it takes to
protect and conserve our living natural resources.
Back in the 1970s when the Canada Wildlife Act was passed
we thought mostly in terms of protecting individual species that
were at risk and our efforts were limited by a failure to recognize
the wider social and economic benefits of wildlife.
That recognition is now becoming more common. We know
that wildlife activities make a significant contribution to
Canada's economy. In hard dollar and cent terms we need to
maintain our wildlife to maintain our prosperity, our
communities and our traditional lifestyles. That is why close to
90 per cent of Canadians want better protection for our wildlife.
We also have come to recognize that working with individual
species is not necessarily the best way to conserve wildlife.
Certainly this is justified in the case where a particular species
faces special threats. We have realized that each species is part
of a web of life on which it depends and which it helps sustain.
Tear apart that web and many species may no longer be able to
survive. Patiently mend the web and you may help save not one
but dozens of species.
In other words, we have understood that the most effective
way of ensuring the health of wildlife is by ensuring the health
of the ecosystems in which they live. No creature can long exist
outside its accustomed habitat. Our task, first and foremost, is
to protect key ecosystems, to conserve essential habitat. This is
how we can ensure that future generations of Canadians will
enjoy the benefits of a rich wildlife heritage.
In 1973 our predecessors in this Chamber were far-sighted
enough to know the value of habitat protection to wildlife
conservation and they incorporated that approach into the
Canada Wildlife Act. The act allows the Minister of the
Environment to acquire lands for the purpose of research,
conservation and interpretation. Under the act, 45 national
wildlife areas have been established in the intervening years,
covering 287,000 hectares of territory.
The areas are managed by the federal government in
co-operation with provincial and territorial authorities as well
as non-government organizations. They complement an
extensive system of national and provincial parks and other
protected areas which encompass much prime wildlife habitat.
Internationally as well we have seen a growing appreciation
of the need for an ecosystem approach to wildlife conservation.
That is what underlines the North American waterfowl
management plan, the Ramsar convention on the conservation
of wetlands of international importance and, most important,
the historic global convention on biological diversity adopted at
the Earth Summit in 1992.
Among other things, the 1992 global convention calls for each
signatory nation to establish a system of protected areas as a way
of conserving biodiversity. To meet our commitments under the
convention Canada must now redouble its efforts on this front.
We made a promising start in November of 1992 at the first
joint meeting of Canada's federal, provincial and territorial
ministers responsible for wildlife, parks and environment. The
tri-council meeting called for development of Canadian
biodiversity strategy. It also gave fresh impetus to the effort to
complete Canada's network of protected areas, including areas
representative of Canada's marine natural areas.
That effort has been defined in different ways. At times the
call was to set aside 12 per cent of our country's territory as
protected areas. But more important than achieving a particular
figure is protecting representative samples of the Canadian
ecosystems. Inevitably that means protecting key habitat on
which our wildlife depends.
The bill now before the House will improve our ability to do
that. It broadens the definition of land in the existing Canada
Wildlife Act to include both land and marine areas alike, out to
the 200 nautical mile limit. This wider definition will put the
administration of the act in line with the ecosystem approach.
Under the amended act it will be possible to establish new
national wildlife areas protecting habitats where wildlife
reproduce, as well as associated offshore areas in which they
The more extensive our network of national wildlife areas the
better will be our protection for wildlife. Already this network
covers a diverse array of landscapes and ecosystems throughout
Canada and they support such varied activities as hiking,
photography, bird watching, grazing or haying, and hunting, all
in a manner compatible with the wildlife conservation
objectives of a given area.
Allow me to describe a few of the national wildlife areas in
existence or shortly to be established. In New Brunswick this
year we will see the designation of Portobello as the province's
fifth national wildlife area. This designation will protect over
2,000 acres of wetlands where waterfowl breed and stop on their
annual migration as well as the Old Growth Forest where moose,
whitetailed deer and black bear still roam.
In Quebec, Cap-Tourmente is an area that combines
archaeological and wildlife significance. This site of the north
side of the St. Lawrence River was established primarily to
protect the habitat of the world's only greater snow goose
population but it also contains remains of prehistoric as well as
more recent times. Here Samuel de Champlain built a dwelling
and a stable in the early years of European colonization.
In Ontario the Long Point national wildlife area forms a core
of an international biosphere reserve. This fragile sand based
ecosystem on the shore of Lake Erie contains unique habitats,
including a significant portion of the remaining Carolinian
forest and critical wetlands.
In Saskatchewan Last Mountain Lake is North America's
oldest waterfowl refuge. Parliament first set aside land here in
1887 and this year it will be formally designated as a national
Yukon will get its first national wildlife area in 1994 with the
designation of Nisutlin River Delta under the Teslin Tlingit land
claims agreement. The area will protect approximately 5,200
hectares of inland river delta used by waterfowl as breeding
grounds and a stopping point for their migrations.
In particular, it will shelter the tundra swan, a species listed as
vulnerable with only 15,000 individuals in existence throughout
Nisutlin is especially significant for the part being played by
the first nations in its creation. In the Northwest Territories
Polar Bear Pass has been the national wildlife area since 1986. It
has also been recognized as a wetlands of international
importance under the Ramsar convention and a significant
biological site under the international biosphere program. This
Arctic oasis supports some of the largest concentration of birds
and mammals in the far north.
In the eastern Arctic huge numbers of sea birds nest at Coburg
Island or at Nirjutiqavvik and it provides feeding habitat for the
beluga, the narwhal, the walrus, the polar bear and three species
of seals. A national wildlife area will be created there in 1994
under the terms of the Nunavut final agreement. The area will
protect 3,450 hectares of land area and 14,350 hectares of water
area for a total of 17,800 hectares.
The Inuit of the community of Grise Fiord will have a direct
say in the management of the land use decisions affecting this
Far to the south of the island at the mouth of British
Columbia's Fraser River, Alasken national wildlife area has
been in existence since 1976. This is an important staging area
for migratory birds, including the lesser snow geese from
Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic.
This is only a small selection from the list of Canada's
national wildlife areas but it shows the variety and richness of
these sites. It also shows the flexibility of a concept of wildlife
area under Canada's Wildlife Act.
In Ontario's Long Point, for example, virtually all human
activity must be closely monitored to avoid ecological damage.
In constant, buildings standing at Alasken from before the site
was designated now are used as offices of the Canadian Wildlife
Service's Pacific and Yukon regions.
Other wildlife areas are open for many types of recreational
activities, including closely regulated hunting, fishing and
In other areas local native people continue to exercise their
traditional wildlife harvesting rights. That flexibility is one of
the keys to the success of the national wildlife areas.
In many cases the sites that we seek to designate are of great
importance to particular communities and groups. Our
challenge is to gain their support and co-operation, to find ways
of working together for common goals, including the goal of
This is truly sustainable development at work. Perhaps the
greatest value of our national wildlife areas is that they give us a
model for sustainable development, one that we should apply
more widely. This House has an opportunity of doing exactly
that by amending the Canada Wildlife Act. I am confident that
hon. members will appreciate the importance of this bill and will
give it swift passage.
Mr. Ian McClelland (Edmonton Southwest): Mr. Speaker, I
listened with considerable interest to the presentation of the
I am wondering if the member opposite is aware that the
penalties under the migratory birds act are in many respects
much more severe than any penalties envisioned under the
Young Offenders Act. For those watching this debate on
television who may still be awake, I wonder if the member
would comment on that.
Mr. Culbert: Mr. Speaker, first of all I will comment on the
portion of the migratory birds act that you spoke of. Quite
obviously those penalties you may consider overly severe. I
consider them reasonable and severe in order to protect our
migratory game birds.
As you know from the-
The Deputy Speaker: I appreciate that the hon. member is
new, but would he please address his remarks to the floor. We do
not refer to other members as ``you''. We say ``the member'',
rather than ``you''.
Mr. Culbert: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. Certain the comments
that have come forth in the question are appreciated. We are well
aware in this House in recent weeks of the concerns that have
been expressed on the Young Offenders Act.
Members on both sides of the House have heard the replies
with regard to those questions from the Minister of Justice. I am
not going to try to second guess him. I will wait for the hon.
minister to bring forth his proposals on the Young Offenders Act
and how he intends to make those amendments.
As far as the migratory birds act, I am in support of it. We may
have to strengthen those penalties in future years in the
protection of our wildlife.
Mr. John Finlay (Oxford): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to
rise in support of Bill C-23, an amendment to the Migratory
Birds Convention Act.
I note that this act was written in 1917. I do not think millions
of passenger pigeons were flying between the United States and
Canada across Lake Ontario in 1917 but there had been millions
of them before the turn of the century.
After 75 years it is high time that we revised this act and
amended it where necessary. Rachel Carson in her book Silent
Spring alerted all of us to the dangers of pesticides and
herbicides among bird populations. We have to keep that in
mind. The situation has certainly not improved since that time
and more needs to be done.
I know we are working hard on whistling swans. I would still
like to see some bluebirds in the spring. There is even a dearth of
warblers. Canada has a particular responsibility in this regard.
Hundreds of species fly north to nest in our northern wilderness
each year and fly south again in the fall to take colour and song
to our southern neighbours so that we particularly must be
cognizant of our role in maintaining biodiversity with respect to
I would like to bring forward the results of an important
survey made by the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1991. It
surveyed 103,398 Canadians and it provides information on the
socioeconomic benefits of biological resources in Canada. This
was the third such survey since 1981 done by the Canadian
Wildlife Service and some of the important findings are as
In 1991, 18.9 million Canadians, 90.2 per cent of the
population, took part in one or more wildlife related activities,
devoting a total of 1.3 billion hours and $5.6 billion to these
The majority of Canadians, 86.2 per cent, stated that it is
important to maintain abundant wildlife and 83.3 per cent stated
that it is important to protect endangered or declining wildlife
On the economic side an estimated 1.8 million Americans
visited Canada for fish and wildlife in 1991 and spent $842
million on these trips which provides us with a significant
balance of payments in this area since that is five times the
amount Canadians spend in the U.S. on such trips.
A second report is being prepared which will examine in more
detail the impacts resulting from wildlife related activities on
the Canadian economy in the form of income and jobs.
I quote from the Minister of the Environment: ``The
conclusions I draw from this survey are that Canadians remain
strongly committed to the protection and conservation of
abundant and diverse wildlife and that spending on wildlife
related activities makes an important contribution to the
Canadian economy. Those are among the reasons why the
federal government is dedicated to working with the provinces,
territories, environmental groups and the private sector on
initiatives such as wetlands conservation and the protection of
Canada's biological diversity''.
Birds such as the golden plover and the Arctic tern travel
thousands of kilometres twice each year from Canada's northern
reaches to South America. Birds do not know anything about
municipal, provincial or national boundaries. It therefore
behooves us to do the best job we can in amending the Migratory
Birds Convention Act to assure the world that biodiversity will
continue and that our feathered friends will be here for many
years to come.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): Mr.
Speaker, I wish to take about five or ten minutes to speak on this
I am in support of the bill and congratulate the minister and
the parliamentary secretary for their work in this regard as well
as all officials of the environment department.
I want to take this occasion to raise an issue of local concern,
one that affects very much the citizens of
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell with regard to wildlife,
particularly migratory birds. Perhaps when I introduce this
subject some members might think that it is trivial issue. I want
to assure members that it is not. It is indeed a very important
issue for the agricultural community of
As you know, Canada geese spend the winter in the United
States and come back in the spring to nest in Ungava, in northern
Until some years ago the migration route of these birds was
somewhere around Kingston, Ontario, and the birds would land,
approximately 120,000 of them, on Wolfe Island and from there
move north flying approximately in a north-northeast direction.
For reasons that officials of the Wildlife Service of Environment
Canada do not understand fully to this day, the birds have
changed their migration route and are gradually flying farther
and farther east. They now fly between Ottawa and Montreal.
That is approximately the route.
They first stop in my riding and then in the Papineauville area.
In fact, there is a Canada geese festival celebrating these
beautiful birds on their way north.
They are a magnificent sight and like all my constituents I like
to see them fly above. However, there is a community in my area
which, for obvious reasons, finds that less enjoyable, and that is
the farm community.
As I said, the birds stop in our area and their number can reach
75,000 to 80,000 at once. If the area was forested, they would do
little damage. Even in a corn field they would not do much harm.
But in a field of alfalfa or tender grass, very rich in protein
because they grow on rich soil, they can play havoc. The losses
suffered by farmers in my area are enormous.
I have here a report prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture
which puts the losses at $240 per acre, and we are talking about
hundreds and hundreds of acres destroyed every year. On several
occasions, I asked the federal government to help these farmers.
Unfortunately, I never obtained anything with the previous
I believe there are three solutions or three elements of
solution to the problem we have in my riding. First, I think the
agriculture departments of the Ontario provincial government
and the federal government should implement a policy for
compensating specific site owners, a program similar to the crop
insurance they have in Quebec. In other words, if one specific
producer loses part of his crop, he should be eligible. The
Ontario plan does not allow for the analysis of such local losses.
To be eligible, losses have to be regional and of course birds do
not land on a complete region; they visit one site, destroy 300 or
400 acres at a time, but not the fields around that area.
Therefore, that plan should be modified.
Second, there is a problem with the approach used to control
birds when they decide to land on one specific field.
Until about three years ago farmers in
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell were given permits by
Environment Canada to shoot down one bird. The farmer would
receive a permit to kill one bird. After killing the bird he would
turn it upside down, pursuant to instructions given by
Environment Canada, and spread out the wings. They are very
huge birds. With the bird turned upside down it can be viewed
from the sky by other birds and of course they would never go
near that farm for the rest of the season. That was working
Three years ago Environment Canada took the position that
the birds were gradually dwindling in numbers and we could no
longer afford to do that.
That might be true, but I have a problem with that. If it is true
the bird belongs to an endangered species, how come hunting
those birds is permitted in the fall? If all that is true, why not
prohibit fall hunting? In the past, I never succeeded in getting
my point across to officials in charge of those issues.
It seems to me that if there must be control, it should be in the
fall, when after all, it is a luxury to hunt them, not a necessity as
it is in the spring when farmers should be allowed to shoot them.
After all, perhaps only 25 farmers would be allowed to kill one
bird each to avoid such serious losses.
Anyway, this was turned down. Instead, farmers were given,
at great cost to taxpayers, guns and blank cartridges to scare
them off. But, needless to say, these animals are extremely
intelligent, over and above everything else, and once you shoot
at them three or four times without hurting them, they are no
longer afraid of your gun. So much so, Mr. Speaker, that farmers
bought automatic propane guns that shoot once every half hour,
or something like that.
Farmers in the area were explaining to me that for the first day
the birds would leave when the shots were heard. On the second
day they would leave about five minutes before the shots were
heard. On the third day they would just tip their head up, listen to
the shot and tip it back down again and continue eating. That is
how effective that particular Environment Canada fiasco was for
my electors. All of this was a tremendous expense for the
Finally last year I thought we had the solution where
Environment Canada offered to the electors of my area to
establish a series of wildlife refuge areas.
Three areas had been designated as bird sanctuaries, one
along the South Nation River, the other one near the Ottawa
River, and the third one not far from Cob Lake, in my riding.
Everything was planned, but unfortunately, the government
withdrew its offer to supply funds. My constituents did not
appreciate that at all. It happened under the former government,
of course, not ours.
Still, material losses are nonetheless great, and that is what I
want to bring to the attention of the House. As I said, to hon.
members who deal with issues concerning the whole country,
this may seem to be just a local and rather unimportant issue, but
I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that when you lose-and I have the
estimate here-when you lose $240 per acre and when you lose
suddenly 200 crop acres, it is not very funny.
Several constituents of mine, several farmers in
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell suffered losses because of that.
There are two things I hope for. First, I hope that the federal
government will convince the Ontario government to amend the
crop insurance program so that these farmers can be
On the other hand, I hope that a solution will be found, either
proposing sanctuary measures or restoring the program
allowing each farmer to eliminate one bird every season, all the
more so since, as I was saying, only about twenty farmers are
I am not raising this point to tell you that I am not one of those
who want to keep protecting that species, quite the contrary.
However, I must stress that when people realize that no one
wants to hear them, it sometimes happen that they take the law in
their own hands. But there is no winner under such
circumstances, because people will cause damage and will no
longer respect these birds. What I want to do is make sure that
that species will be protected. After all, they are a Canadian
symbol and, what is more, they are very unique birds. I have
been briefed about Canada geese.
For those of us who are English speaking, they are known as
the Canada goose, a symbol of our nation until we put the loon
on the dollar. Before that I guess the Canada goose would have
probably been the most famous bird we had. It still is a beautiful
I want to raise these concerns because they affect greatly the
electors of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. At this time of year I
am deluged with phone calls from farmers who see their crops
being lost because of the damage being done. It is the role of the
government that makes these laws, laws that I support, to ensure
that they are made in such a way so as to not sacrifice the
agricultural community. Both can co-exist quite well if we put
our minds to making sure that that co-existence does not mean
that one community is sacrificed for the other.
It does not have to be that way. All we need to do is work
co-operatively. I am confident that with people like the Minister
of the Environment, the parliamentary secretary who is a very
able person in the area, that we will succeed where we have
failed before in preserving the crops of the farmers of
And who knows, by establishing sanctuaries such as these, as
we could, and as the department had suggested a year ago,
perhaps we could increase the number of people who would go
and see these beautiful creatures in their habitat. And the
appreciation for these great birds would increase if we all
worked together. That is, in any case, what I wish for, and I hope
the department will examine that issue, which is very important
for those I have the honour to represent in this House.
That being said I want to go on record supporting the initiative
that is before us today and to again ask the government to think
of the electors of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and the
problem they have in this area of wildlife management.
Mr. Yves Rocheleau (Trois-Rivières): Mr. Speaker, I would
like to congratulate and thank our colleague from
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for his speech. One can see how
sensitive and knowledgeable he is about the subject.
I have a technical question to ask him. He mentioned a
measure suggested which would allow farmers who suffer
damages to kill one animal per season. I fail to see how this
could possibly change or improve the situation, and I fail to see
what impact this could have.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, that is an easy question to answer.
When the program was in place, it had a very positive impact
since birds which flew over the area and saw one of their own,
dead and turned on its back to afford them a better view, would
get scared. It is as simple as that.
That approach was so efficient that, according to
departmental experts, birds would not go within about one
kilometre of the site where they saw a dead bird.
When you study these birds, and I had the opportunity to do so
since these birds are a problem in my riding, you understand
how intelligent they are. In fact, they are so bright that, at the
risk of repeating myself, they would only need a couple of days
to tell the difference between a real rifle and one that is used
only to make noise without hurting them.
However, it is interesting to observe such a phenomenon and
to see that these birds will do everything possible to avoid an
area where they feel threatened.
I would like to say that this problem is different every year.
Apparently, it has something to do with the heat of the earth. For
example, birds base the speed at which they head for the north on
the degree of thawing. If the earth does not thaw fast enough,
they will stay in my riding for maybe three weeks. Can you
imagine the damage they can make during that time. Sometimes,
like last year, they only stay for about five or six days, because
the earth warms up more rapidly. Maybe the frost was not so
bad, or things were warming up more rapidly, or something like
After a short stay in our area, they resumed their journey to
the north. Needless to say that, with the very cold weather we
had this winter, I suspect these birds will stay a little longer in
my riding this year, unfortunately for our farmers, but
fortunately for bird watchers.
That is probably why they will stay with us for a few more
days, even though they have been in this area now for two or
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I think you would find consent to
suspend the sitting until such time as the House is ready to deal
with the adjournment debate.
The Deputy Speaker: The deputy whip may not be aware but
I believe the House is ready to deal with the matters on the late
Mr. Boudria: I was not aware the members were already
present in the House. That being said, I amend that to move that
we proceed immediately to the adjournment debate and that Mr.
Speaker see it as the time of adjournment.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38
deemed to have been moved.
Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi):
Mr. Speaker, on April 25
last, I put a question to the Minister of Industry asking him to
explain the absence of representatives of the cultural
community on the committee in charge of defining the
government's strategy for the information highway.
I also conveyed to him my concern over the fact that the
provinces were not involved in the process. Today I would like
further clarification to be provided with respect to these two
I represent the riding of Chicoutimi. The Saguenay region was
the first in Quebec to welcome a multimedia centre, an
investment of $80 million which will result in 250 jobs. I feel
concerned by the electronic highway.
In the Throne Speech and again in the budget speech, the
government announced it had the intention of putting forward a
Canadian strategy for developing the information highway.
As we all know, the government has appointed an electronic
highway advisory board. This board has 29 members, including
one from my riding in the person of Mr. Charles Sirois, and I am
very pleased with that.
Among these 29 members are representatives from the cable
broadcasting, broadcasting and telecommunications industries,
but none from the cultural industry. But there are living
strengths, creative forces and expertise only waiting for an
invitation to share their vision.
The cultural community is structured. It has its own structures
and experienced representatives. Why are they excluded from
this process? In the name of what? The artisans of the cultural
industry cannot be ignored when dealing with this issue.
Besides the establishment of an infrastructure per se, there is
the content of the information travelling on this electronic
highway. One of the objectives of the board is to strengthen the
French and English cultural identities; yet the board has no
representatives from the cultural community. There is a glaring
contradiction in there. How can this operation be credible when
the committee does not include any representatives of the
cultural community, despite the extra dimension and the
extremely important expertise they could bring? This is not a
whim but a matter of representation. Culture will not be affected
only indirectly; it is at the heart of the electronic highway.
Although the committee includes 29 members, the Minister of
Industry did not appoint any representative of the cultural
community. Industry, however, is well represented. They
apparently preferred to leave out players who could have made a
necessary, useful contribution.
Under its mandate, the council is being asked to deal with
copyright and intellectual property issues and to come up with
results. Is this not an admission that workers in cultural
industries make a considerable contribution? Why are these
players absent from the process defined by the government,
The Ostry report recommended creating a ministerial
committee and provincial participation as well. The government
ignored that. Instead, the electronic highway will be developed
behind closed doors, with only one player and in the federal
arena. Excluding the provinces and the cultural community is a
bad start in designing the electronic highway.
Mr. Fred Mifflin (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
National Defence and Veterans Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the concerns raised
by the hon. member for Chicoutimi regarding the government's
strategy on the electronic highway.
The government has already stated clearly that it has three
main objectives in that regard: to promote job creation; to give
every Canadian access to that highway; and to reinforce
Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity.
I wish to assure the hon. member that the government was and
continues to be very aware of the information highway's cultural
The advisory council will contribute to the dialogue on this
subject. I believe we should all be appreciative that so many
prominent men and women have accepted to donate their time
and effort in this vital cause. By its very mandate the council
will reach out to Canadians. In so doing it will help to identify
key policy issues as well as to involve a wide range of
The hon. member for Chicoutimi said that the cultural
community was not represented on the advisory council.
In selecting the advisory council members, the government
tried to appoint the most qualified people, those who can best
put their knowledge and experience to the service of all
In that perspective, I believe that the government should be
congratulated for appointing such remarkable Canadians to the
advisory council on the electronic highway.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 38(5) the
motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been
The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.
pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 5.38 p.m.)