June 2, 1972

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


Fourth report of Standing Committee on Labour, Manpower and Immigration-Mr. Portelance.


HEALTH, WELFARE AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS


Third report of Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs-Mr. Forget. [Editor's Note: For text of above reports, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS

STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT

LIB

John (Jack) Davis (Minister of the Environment)

Liberal

Hon. lack Davis (Minister oi the Environment):

Mr. Speaker, next week the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment is convening in Stockholm. I would like, briefly, to outline the position which Canada will be taking at this important gathering.

Canadians have already had a large input. We are responsible in large measure for the resolution within the draft Declaration on the Human Environment which states, in effect, that no nation should pollute the environment of its neighbour or contaminate the world's oceans or the atmosphere.

Our proposal met some resistance at the outset. But most U.N. member countries now agree that this principle is fundamental to the development of a body of international law which can deal with pollution on a global scale.

We have a big stake in international arrangements of this kind. As a nation with a vast territory, with the largest continental shelf and one of the longest coastlines in the world, we have much to gain from the enunciation

of a universal good neighbour policy-a global environmental ethic-by the United Nations.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

What about governmental pollution.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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LIB

John (Jack) Davis (Minister of the Environment)

Liberal

Mr. Davis:

There are those who argue that international standards are undesirable. We do not agree. We say that nature's laws, themselves, are universal. They are allembracing. Man breaks them at his peril. He breaks them and succeeding generations are the poorer for his lack of foresight, his lack of sensitivity, his lack of discipline on the biological front.

Biology, as a science, is still in its infancy. But we already know enough about nature to lay down certain tests. These tests involve life itself. We must not kill fish, destroy vegetation or wipe out wildlife. The preservation of a healthy environment for wild living things, in other words, is a prior condition to a high quality of life for us all. These simple biological tests, these simple standards, should not be confined to any one country. They are valid everywhere. They should be applied the world over, not in Canada, or in Canada and the United States, alone.

There will be frequent reference at the Stockholm conference, I expect, to economic growth and the impact which it is likely to have on all living things. I believe we can have both economic growth and a clean environment too. But having both calls for economic statesmanship of the highest order. We have to look ahead-a long way ahead. We have to operate our forest industries and our fisheries on a sustained yield basis. We will have to plan our cities better, arrange for industry to recycle its wastes, use the right kinds of energy, and so on.

There are many facets to the question of environmental control. We will be touching on at least 30 of them at Stockholm. Here are a few commitments which we are prepared to make now: Construct three out of ten of the world's base line stations for determining the quality of the atmosphere; improve the quality of our rivers discharging into the sea; sponsor a world-wide conference on the conservation of the living resources of the sea in Vancouver in February of next year; oppose ocean dumping of pollutants; propose that big tankers be confined to routes which avoid ecologically sensitive areas not only along our own coasts but the world over; and step up our research in the field of marine science.

[DOT] a lio)

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I had hoped that one of the steps the minister would announce as being taken within Canada would be the reduction of pollution by the government of Canada.

There is no question that this conference is important. I agree with the minister it is important that we try to achieve international standards and an international

June 2, 1972

Canadian Position on Environment approach to preserving a healthy and proper environment for living creatures.

The international aspects of this problem are very clear. For example, Canada is faced with the problem of pollution of the Great Lakes and the Pacific, while to people living in Europe the need for cleaning up the Rhine River is obvious. This presumably explains the interest NATO has been taking in recent times in problems of the environment. It is obvious that the concern is world-wide. It is not only confined to our relations with our neighbours, to our polluting our neighbours or our neighbours polluting us. It is obviously a world-wide problem.

The minister did not say anything about what he hopes will come out of the conference by way of an ongoing institution, if anything. Will this conference be the end of the matter so far as a global effort is concerned, or does the government of Canada have some other expectation? Is Canada going to push for a continuing institutional arrangement? The minister did not mention this.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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LIB

Joseph-Phillippe Guay

Liberal

Mr. Guay (St. Boniface):

You tell us.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

With all due respect to the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Guay), I have not yet got myself into the position where I can speak for the government, although I expect to be able to do so very shortly.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Are you planning on crossing the floor?

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

Mr. Speaker, I promise you I will not touch on any other sensitive areas. The minister did not say anything about the make-up of the Canadian delegation. I have heard reports about this. I will be disappointed if the Canadian delegation does not contain some representatives of the various parties in the House. I think it is of considerable importance that the Canadian delegation include some all-party representation.

The minister expressed hope that we can achieve both economic growth and preservation of our environment. I accept that. I believe we must have both if we are going to make any meaningful attack on poverty in our country and in the rest of the world. It does not really take us very far simply to say this because, as the years go by, we will have to ask ourselves increasingly how much growth there should be and what balance we want to have.

The minister mentioned some problems that are difficult enough themselves but are relatively simple, such as the management of forests on the basis of continuing yield and so on. These are goals which we have not yet achieved. They are important but relatively they are child's play compared with some of the world-wide problems relating to economic growth and preservation of the environment that we will have to face more and more in the future.

There have been suggestions that the conference in Stockholm may be disrupted, either by some of those in

attendance or by others visiting Stockholm at the time. I express the hope that this will not take place and that the conference will proceed in a very constructive way.

In addition to expressing the hope, as the minister has, and that we can make progress in achieving international standards, it is important we recognize what we can do on our own by way of setting standards. In this respect I think we might make a much more determined effort than the government has made to achieve, determine and announce national standards with regard to air and water in our own country. When we do that our words will carry a little more conviction when we talk about international standards.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Frank Howard (Skeena):

Mr. Speaker, having read the minister's statement at about the same time as he was making it here, I came to the immediate conclusion that the hon. gentleman, representing the government of Canada, is really engaged in the practice of establishing double standards in relation to the environment. He talks in glowing terms about hopes for the future, but when one weighs these words against the abysmal record of his own department in its activities here in Canada, they sound pretty hollow.

I am sure we all hope that valuable results will flow from the Stockholm conference next week. I do not decry it in any way. But I point out that concern about the environment is not the monopoly of any one group in this House, and some provision should be made for representatives from all parties in this chamber to attend, if not as participants, then as observers at that conference.

Regrettably, in Canada-this is why the minister's words ring hollow-we approach this subject on the basis of how much pollution the environment can stand instead of determining to control and restrict pollution to as great an extent as possible. The government establishes standards, to the extent it has established them, and then says: let us pollute as much as we possibly can up to that limit.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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LIB

John (Jack) Davis (Minister of the Environment)

Liberal

Mr. Davis:

That is not our approach.

Topic:   ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON POSITION TO BE TAKEN BY CANADA AT UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN ENVIRONMENT
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June 2, 1972