February 27, 1985

PC

David Edward Crombie (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crombie:

Perhaps we should speak in some other language because what I was saying was that I had already spoken-this is a process; it is not a one-shot effort-with the Minister of Transport the other day. On two previous occasions I spoke with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The Minister of Transport will be in British Columbia to speak with Indian communities on the matter, and then we will have another discussion.

Topic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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NDP

James Ross Fulton

New Democratic Party

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister is seized of the urgency of this matter. Within the next 24 to 28 hours the Minister of Transport will come under extreme pressure from CN to sign the Order in Council to proceed with the Ashcroft subdivision. The reason, as outlined to us by CN witnesses, in particular the Vice-President of CN, was that they have legal obligations under the Crow legislation, the Western Grain Transportation Act.

We need to get down to the nitty-gritties here. The interventions and the speeches by both Ministers have been excellent. They have made some of the best comments I have heard in relation to aboriginal matters for many years in the House. As a Minister of the Crown, is he telling us that he will now go to CN and say what the committee recommended, that they

Fisheries and Forestry

cannot go ahead with the Ashcroft subdivision because they may have to redesign globally what is left of the twin-tracking? They may have to put some track where the B.C. highway is. They may have to go on to CP lines in some areas. They may have to triple-track in some areas. They may have to do other things. This project is a mess.

We have to tell CN that it has been bulldozing through a project which is crushing native rights and which is having a dramatic impact upon environment, wildlife, heritage sites and the hydrology of the river systems and so on. We have to grasp the moment. One of the Ministers has to go to CN and say, "The gig's up, boys; you are not getting the Order in Council". If this matter has to be fought in the Supreme Court of Canada between the Crown of Canada and the Crown corporation of CN, it will have to be done. The project has to be changed. They cannot ram through those native communities. I think that is what Chief Lewis is here to hear and what Canadians from coast to coast are waiting to hear. We could go on for days gobbledegooking in here, but we do not seem to get to the nub of the issue.

The Minister of Transport is seized with a legal obligation. Within the last 24 hours he would not tell me whether or not he would sign that Order in Council today or tomorrow. That is why I have risen today. I think the Minister will support a fair, independent process to resolve the geopraphical and land issues, as well as the fisheries issues and so on.

However, is the Minister telling the House now that he is arranging a meeting with CN and with his colleague, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who I think will say the same thing to CN-"The gig is up, boys; you are not getting the Order in Council"? Is that what the Minister is telling us?

Topic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

David Edward Crombie (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crombie:

I hoped that was clear. I indicated to the Hon. Member, as I am sure he is aware, that the authority for the Order in Council rests with the Minister of Transport. It does not rest with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans nor with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. It is a matter which he has to take into consideration, given all his obligations.

I have made representations. The Minister of Fisheries makes representations. The Minister of Transport will be meeting on Friday with the affected communities. I think it would be improper and not very productive for me to speculate on what we ought to do following those meetings. I think it is appropriate that we wait until after the Minister of Transport has had those meetings. I will be meeting with the Minister of Transport after that.

Topic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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?

Hon. Chas. L. Caccia@Davenport

Mr. Speaker, the interventions so far have been of such a nature that it will be easy for the House to reconstruct the atmosphere and the nature of the meetings in committee. A considerable sentiment of unanimity emerged from all parties. It is reflected here this afternoon on a broader scale, including the two excellent interventions of the Ministers who spoke in the House. It is this kind of convergence of views which leads me to believe that we have a unique issue here which should be addressed in

February 27, 1985

Fisheries and Forestry

a unique manner. In a way it could be a turning point in bringing together aboriginal considerations, environmental considerations and transport considerations by way of a consensus that does not often happen in this Chamber.

I was very impressed by the high quality of the reasons given by witnesses who appeared before us in committee. I should like to refer to the first meeting and the submission of the Alliance of Tribal Councils at page 4. I should like to put it on record because it is central and quintessential to what we are debating here. It reads:

The time to study the river is before the work is done, not after. A one year period is needed to analyse the changes in the river and to monitor the movements of the fish over a season. The various locations used by Indian fishermen in response to these changes can also be documented. At the same time, the construction plans of the CNR can be analysed in relation to this information and changes agreed to by the railway and the bands to prevent unnecessary damage.

I submit that this is the absolute quintessence of reasonability. It continues in the next paragraph:

Over 50 per cent of all B.C. salmon stocks originate in the Fraser and Thompson River systems. These stocks have declined drastically over the years as development has occurred along the river valleys. We must know what the additional effects of double tracking will be before the project continues any further. The salmon are an important food source and cultural factor to the Indian people. We also have legal fishing rights along the rivers that were established when the reserves were defined by the Royal Commission in the 1880s. We must have the time to ensure this renewable resource and our rights to it are not lost.

I should also like to put forward the statement of concern expressed by the Alliance of Tribal Councils on page 2 of its document. Again it is a very well reasoned piece. It outlines the reasons for supporting the idea of a moratorium on twin tracking as follows:

1. Past grievances associated with the first track must be settled to the satisfaction of all Bands before the second track proceeds.

2. The twin tracking project will destroy fish habitat... and will result in a net decrease in the potential productivity of the Fraser and Thompson river fish runs.

3. Economic necessity for the second track must be justified.

4. Alternatives such as joint track usage must be considered before twin tracking proceeds.

This is a very important point, the joint CN-CP tracking alternative, which was not exhaustively studied and explained in the committee hearings. It continues:

5. All environmental studies must be made available to the Alliance well before construction so as to provide opportunity for review followed by submission of our recommendations to be incorporated into the final design.

Its sixth reason deals with the construction scheduled to begin this year. It indicates that it will result in:

(a) interference with the Indian property right interest in the salmon fishery due to:

(i) destruction of spawning grounds and rearing habitat

(ii) destruction of traditional Indian fishing sites.

(b) destruction of significant heritage sites including burial grounds.

According to the Alliance of Tribal Councils, the environmental assessment review process was not satisfactory. The first reason indicated to us in committee was that the terms of reference were narrow. Second, the amount of time allotted for a proper assessment was too short. The Alliance was not able

to complete, we were told, its questioning of CN and the Department of Fisheries because enough time was not allotted. Its third reason was the unavailability of project design documents. Also we were told that the panel was to ensure the provision of existing and any additional information to interested parties to allow their participation in the review. However in reality, its submission indicated, that critical information was withheld from the panel and the public by CN Rail. The documentation, which I will be glad to table, states that CN has considerable information on miles 59 to 68, Ashcroft subdivision, which it intends to twin-track starting in 1985, and deliberately withheld this information from the Hon. Member for Cochrane-Superior (Mr. Penner).

We all know that these are very complex processes and that they have a momentum of their own. They are extremely difficult to modify or improve unless a deliberate effort is made. We came to the decision of putting forward this motion for concurrence after exhaustive discussions in which members of each Party went through an excruciating analysis of the pros and cons. We arrived at the decision under the most excellent chairmanship of the Hon. Member for Cariboo-Chil-cotin (Mr. Greenaway), the chairman of that committee. We did arrive at a unanimous decision. Why did we do that? As the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Crombie) just said, I suppose we feel that this is not the way to proceed if we are really serious about our relationship with the native people and our respect for their tradition and economy.

Somehow there has to be a turning point. This is the opportunity for providing this turning point and to demonstrate with facts what we say with words. Personally, I was not convinced by the submission made by CN that they had exhaustively studied all alternatives and that they would not be able to find a solution by way of joint track usage, namely by making better use with improved technology of the CP tracks on one side and CN tracks on the other side of the river. This joint track usage, rather than undertaking a twin-tracking program, is a very important potential alternative. It is not a time for pie in the sky civility.

There is also the whole question of the scheduling of trains which needs to be examined in order to determine whether the potential of better scheduling and timing would provide the desired results. I am basing this consideration on a speech made in Calgary on April 25 or 26. The speaker was Roger Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ipsco steel plant in Regina. The statement he made really struck me. I quote from his speech:

Railway building... is a mature technology and consequently a mature supply network has been put in place. In fact, the supply network is presently beset with over-capacity.

In committee, we were not convinced by the submission made by CN that this level of over-capacity had been reached. This was one of the basic reasons bringing us today to the House to make a very strong plea to the Government to provide the moratorium being requested so that an exhaustive

February 27, 1985

analysis of all the elements can take place, possibly leading to a solution that will not affect the habitat of the native people, will not disturb their tradition and economy, and will translate into action the concepts and beliefs to which we adhere in so many speeches.

Topic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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NDP

David Orlikow

New Democratic Party

Mr. Orlikow:

Mr. Speaker, 1 would like to make a couple of comments and ask the Hon. Member a question. It is interesting and encouraging that we have what seems to be unanimous agreement on the necessity to take action. I cannot understand why we get this unanimous agreement to take action to stop the CN from proceeding quickly at the eleventh house, when a great deal has already been done which cannot be undone.

What concerns me is that when the plans were being made for the double-tracking, Hon. Members on this side were being told every day that we were doing a disservice to the country by holding up the Bill to get rid of the Crow rate. Today we are hearing concerns from the native people about the disastrous effects this project will have on the Fish in the rivers and the serious effect it will have on the lives of the native people.

A Member who just spoke was the Minister of the Environment for some time. I would ask him where the Ministers were when the project was being considered. Where were the senior officials in the Department of Fisheries, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Transport? Why were they not raising these questions? Why were Members of Parliament and the Government not being told about the concerns? Why were they not asked to think about these problems and to assess the consequences of what they were doing? Why were they not protecting the people affected by the department which they ran?

It seems that they were working hand in glove with the railways to get this project going and not worrying about the very serious and adverse consequences on the native people, fishermen and others in British Columbia. It is great to hear the Hon. Member agree now that we have to do something. Where were they when it would have been much easier to do things without the tremendous pressure which we now have to try and rectify the situation before it is too late?

Topic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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LIB

Charles L. Caccia

Liberal

Mr. Caccia:

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Hon. Member for his question. I knew that it was coming. I entered this debate fully conscious that he was waiting for the opportunity to ask that question. It has become a normal practice of NDP Members. I recognize that there is a political motive. It is part of the atmosphere in which we live.

I can only say to him that it troubled me very much, once I became aware of the issue and its implications, that this had taken place and ought to have been the object of a very thorough examination. I only became familiar with the Ashcroft section along the Fraser Valley during a visit to my office by tribal council representatives a month and a half ago. With the benefit of hindsight, you could, of course, do a lot of things better. Having said that, I submit that double-tracking across most of the nation is something that can be done without causing serious environmental damage. I suspect that in some

Fisheries and Forestry

parts of the provinces there will be very little environmental damage.

With hindsight, I would say that perhaps it would have been good administrative practice immediately after the passing of the legislation to have set into motion a commission that would have analysed and identified earlier the delicate, fragile points that the railway would have required for double-tracking or for alternative technologies. That would have been the object of a cumulative or collective set of earth studies which then would have looked at the totality of the fragile points in order to arrive at an environmentally-conscious, economic and native rights-respectful way of resolving that issue. That is the conclusion at which one can arrive with the benefit of hindsight.

Topic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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THE ROYAL ASSENT


A message was delivered by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, as follows: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the Chamber of the honourable the Senate. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker with the House went up to the Senate Chamber. And being returned.


PC

Martial Asselin (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend His Honour, the Deputy to Her Excellency the Governor General, in the Senate Chamber, His Honour was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the Royal Assent to the following Bills:

Bill C-l 1, an Act to provide borrowing authority-Chapter No. 5.

Bill C-22, an Act to establish the International Centre for Ocean Development and to amend the Financial Administration Act in relation thereto-Chapter No. 6.

Bill C-29, an Act to amend the Western Grain Stabilization Act-Chapter No. 7.

Topic:   THE ROYAL ASSENT
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

PC

Martial Asselin (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Was the Hon. Member for Winnipeg-Birds Hill (Mr. Blaikie) rising on a question?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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NDP

William Alexander (Bill) Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Blaikie:

No, Mr. Speaker, I was rising for debate.

February 27, 1985

Fisheries and Forestry

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

Martial Asselin (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

There were five minutes remaining for questions and comments. There being no further questions, I now recognize the Hon. Member for Fraser Valley East (Mr. Belsher) on debate.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

Ross Belsher

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ross Belsher (Fraser Valley East):

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak on the motion of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry. In that this is my maiden speech, I want to say at the outset that I am most pleased and proud to represent the people of the Fraser Valley East constituency in the House. 1 would like to extend to them my sincere appreciation for their expression of faith and confidence in my candidacy. It is a great honour to be their Member of Parliament. I want to assure them that I will spare neither time, talent nor effort in representing them. I give to my constituents my solemn pledge that I will discharge my responsibilities with integrity, honesty and thoughtfulness. It is my intention to be an effective and demanding spokesman in defending their interests. At the same time, I want to assure Members on both sides of the House that I intend to accord to them the courtesy and dignity which befits a Member of Parliament and which the people of Canada rightfully expect.

Fraser Valley East was represented by the Reverend Alex Patterson for over 20 of the last 30 years, and we in the Valley are indebted to him. I am sure all Members of this House will join me in wishing him and his wife a rich and fulfilling retirement.

The riding of Fraser Valley East is large. It is situated between the Fraser River and the international boundary in what is known as the central and upper Fraser Valley. Included in its northern portion is the picturesque mountain region of the Fraser Canyon. The grandeur of the coast and Cascade Mountains, the spectacular canyon and the boiling waters of Hell's Gate, the beauties of the Harrison resort area, and the rich flood plains of the central Fraser Valley, make the riding one of breath-taking splendour. It is indeed a pleasant place in which to live.

Some 110,000 people make their homes in Fraser Valley East. While the largest group-some 50 per cent-are of British descent, we are enriched by the remaining 50 per cent which provide diverse ethnocultural communities. I am proud to represent all of the people. The spirit of fairness and equality, of consultation and consensus, as expressed by this Government, is appreciated by the people in my riding. It is clearly evident that this Government has listened and is listening to the people. We are in a time when the aspiration of the people and the commitment of Government are in harmony. This is the unity which the nation has needed, and that is why there is hope and optimism today.

In this regard, I want to make it known that this Government is not merely saying that it will listen; indeed it is doing so. In the few months since coming to power, the evidence of consultation, consensus-building, and finding solutions through co-operation has clearly been seen.

I want to commend the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Wise) for visiting my riding in November and consulting with the agricultural industry in the Fraser Valley. The visit of the Solicitor General (Mr. MacKay) to my riding in January to hold consultations and hear the concerns of the local officials was much appreciated. The local elected representatives of the people greatly appreciated that consultation.

The geography of Fraser Valley East almost compels a north-south mindset. It seems that California is more accessible than Alberta. Our union with the provinces of Central and Atlantic Canada, which was confirmed 100 years ago by the completion of Canada's first transcontinental railway, has endured the tensions of a century and has engendered in the people a genuine pride in being Canadian.

The transportation links with the other regions of Canada have always been the symbols of unity for the people of my riding. Highway 401 and the mainlines of the CNR and the CPR through the Fraser Canyon traverse my riding for over 150 kilometres. In addition, the Abbotsford Airport serves as an alternative to the Vancouver International Airport.

The people in my riding very clearly understand that transportation systems are the tangible evidence of a united country. Without them the various regions of Canada would soon experience isolation and would be compelled to develop trade patterns in a north-south direction for the sake of economic survival. In this regard, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Transport (Mr. Mazankowski) for the steps he has initiated in bringing back VIA Rail services.

Several bands of natives of the Stalo Nation reside in Fraser Valley East.

The motion which we are debating today came about in an unusual way and quite hastily. Indeed, the motion which was initiated in committee by the Hon. Member for Comox-Powell River (Mr. Skelly), and subsequently amended by the Hon. Member for Davenport (Mr. Caccia), was adopted by the committee after hearing only one group of witnesses representing native bands in the Fraser-Thompson Canyons of British Columbia, who presented their collective and individual concerns about the CN twin-tracking program to the committee on February 7. Although the motion was unanimously adopted, there was mention by some members that other groups, such as Canadian National Railways, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada, should be offered the opportunity to present evidence for the committee's consideration in formulating its position and reporting to the House on the matter in question.

The members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry were obviously moved by the presentations of the native representatives, and in particular by the impending start of CN rail work on a twin-tracking project on the CN Rail Ashcroft subdivision between miles 60 and 69, or thereabouts. This railway work is to start on or about March 1 and will involve placing rock into the wetted perimeter of the riverbank to build up a subgrade on which the second track will be built. Undoubtedly, this early project start date was a principal factor in the committee's consideration in adopting the motion

February 27, 1985

and in the decision to report the matter to the House at the earliest possible date, which was February 12. That was the same day that Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and CN Rail officials appeared to give their testimony to the committee.

To the extent that the motion is now being debated in the House, it serves as evidence that the Government is concerned about the possible environmental, Fishery, social and economic impacts related to the CN twin-tracking work in British Columbia. But the Government has been cognizant of these potential impacts for some time and has set in place various processes to ensure that environmental and other impacts from CN twin-tracking projects would be either eliminated or minimized to the maximum extent possible.

In this regard, I refer to the federal-provincial task force, the technical working group, the steering committee and the federal Government's Environmental Assessment Review Panel, which are all involved with the CN Rail mainline capacity expansion program in British Columbia. Furthermore, and most recently, a joint CN Rail-Indian committee was established to deal with specific native concerns about fishing spots along the Thompson and Fraser riverbanks, access trails to those fishing spots and the heritage sites which might be destroyed or affected by CN construction work.

The point which I am making is that the concerns raised by the native groups were not just recently brought to the attention of the Government by way of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry report and the motion to the House that no processes and mechanisms are in place to deal with the over-all and specific environmental and socio-economic impacts from CN twin-tracking projects. Groups have been in place as far back as 1980, when the CN rail twin-tracking project was introduced.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has the federal responsibility to ensure that the salmon resource is not affected detrimentally by any works, and furthermore, that the salmon habitat and growth of the fishery resource can be enhanced. Testimony received from fisheries officials on February 12 clearly indicated that the expert and scientific expertise that has been and is being brought to bear on CN's project is extensive and that no approvals will be given to CN's project if the risk to the salmon resource is unacceptable.

Many professional fishery and environmental people have been involved. Numerous studies and research activities have been completed and study programs are in place. A lot of dialogue, consultations and deliberations have taken place, many changes have been made to CN designs and much more can be expected along these lines of consultation in the future.

The motion before the House may give an impression that CN twin-tracking work has gone ahead and was being implemented in an irresponsible way as regards environmental and fishery protection and safeguards or that there was a lack of response to the concerns raised by native groups. I hope that

Fisheries and Forestry

my remarks thus far will provide a clarification of the real situation that exists.

I would now like to address the elements of the motion as reported by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry. In doing so, I will be referring to pertinent testimony, in my opinion, which was presented by the witnesses that appeared before the committee on February 12. My purpose, Mr. Speaker, is to cause Hon. Members to recognize the need to reflect further on the motion, on its wording and on what may be implied if indeed CN Rail and others involved were to abide by the several elements contained in the motion.

The first element of the motion calls for a one-year postponement of CN twin-tracking while the social and environmental impacts on the 36 Indian bands most directly impacted by this project are assessed. The first point I wish to make concerning this element of the motion is that it appears to be somewhat vague in terms of application and that it makes no implied or explicit reference to the fact that social and environmental impacts, not only on the native groups but on all persons and interests, have been and will continue to be evaluated by responsible agencies. These evaluations would be done either by the federal Environmental Assessment Review Panel, by the federal-provincial environmental and fishery agencies forming the technical working group, or by the joint CN-Indian committee recently established. These committees, Mr. Speaker, will also concern themselves with all of the CN twin-tracking projects planned in the Thompson-Fraser Canyons over the balance of this century and beyond.

The ambiguity of the element contained in the motion relates to whether the one-year postponement is intended to relate to the specific Ashcroft subdivision work which is scheduled to begin March 1, or to any and all remaining CN Rail twin-tracking projects in the future. The ambiguity arises because the Ashcroft project is along a segment of main line on which only two and not 36 Indian bands have reserves adjacent to the CN right-of-way. These bands are the Oregon Jack Creek Band, whose reserve is located at the northernmost end of the CN Ashcroft project, and the Cook Ferry Band at the southernmost end of the Ashcroft project.

Furthermore, as came out in the evidence presented by Fisheries and Oceans officials, as well as by CN officials, a one-year postponement if intended to apply to the Ashcroft project is effectively a postponement of two years to the winter of 1987. This is due to the fact that CN must commence its Ashcroft project work March 1 when water levels are at seasonal lows and, importantly, due to timing restrictions designed to respect the migratory cycle of pink salmon; that is, there is no salmon activity or life expected in the river encroachment sites this winter to May, 1985. CN will not be permitted by Department of Fisheries officials to do any of the encroachment work next year in the winter of 1986. If the one-year postponement refers to all CN projects, then necessary expansion work already started last year and currently under way to completion at Blue River, for example, will be halted.

February 27, 1985

Fisheries and Forestry

In effect, Mr. Speaker, the one-year postponement of CN twin-tracking is, in reality, a two-year postponement. This delay would affect CN Rail's capacity expansion needs and thereby present risks to the company and the nation that an adequate, efficient and safe rail transportation capability might not be available for shippers and the transport of growing volumes of bulk and other traffic in support of Canada's export business. Furthermore, foreign buyers of Canada's bulk resources, such as coal, grain, potash, sulphur and so on, may take this one or two-year postponement as a signal and reactivate their earlier concerns about Canada's determination and will to demonstrate that our reliability as a supplier of export commodities will be ensured by the railway capacity expansion program and supported by the Government.

Another element of the motion requires that an economic justification for the CN Rail twin-tracking program be made available to the Alliance of Tribal Councils. Hon. Members may recall, and if not, I would like to make them aware, that in the late 1970s the Japanese, the South Koreans and other Pacific Rim countries had been expressing concern that the Canadian railways could not be looked upon as reliable and efficient carriers of various bulk commodities which these offshore countries required and which Canada and its resource industries were most willing to produce and supply. Simply put, these Pacific Rim concerns were justified in that CN and CP railway capacity was being stressed and expansion programs were needed.

The Coal Association of Canada and many other Canadian industries formed a task force on the crisis of western Canadian railway transportation. It was clear at the time that unless the railways undertook a major expansion or a sufficient expansion of their railway capacity, Canada would lose a lot of export business to other competing supplier countries because foreign clients were not interested in buying from Canada if we, collectively, could not assure reliable delivery of coal, sulphur and grains, to name a few important export commodities. Lack of capacity would also affect the operating efficiency of the over-all distribution system, including the ports and railway components. This would be reflected in higher transport costs and Canadian commodity prices.

The question of economic justification of twin-tracking on a project-by-project basis is also a very complex matter which involves not just construction costs but railway system operating and maintenance needs and other factors. The CN testimony indicated that the economics of any particular twin-tracking project is but one consideration in the over-all decision to first choose the location of the particular expansion work and then to decide the best option to build the new capacity, be it encroachment into a river or by tunnelling.

These decision elements, as pointed out by CN in its testimony, have not been unilateral decisions by the corporation. Preliminary conclusions on project location are fully analysed and thence the preliminary construction approach is extensively reviewed and adjusted by the various technical experts in the Government's environmental, fishery and other agencies

through the aforementioned committee. That is, although the economics of any one project are important, the environmental impacts and the fishery impacts are equally important factors considered in finalizing a twin-tracking project location and design.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, one can accept the motion before the House as a means for bringing forward a valid concern of the members of the Fisheries and Forestry Standing Committee. However, as the motion was drafted and adopted by the Committee after hearing only one interest group as witnesses, the motion does not reflect, in my view, the equally valid and considerable testimony to the Committee from witnesses appearing after the motion was reported to the House. While it may be that there could have been some breakdown or some inadequacy in specific consultations between the native peoples and CN and other agencies, I suggest that measures are now being taken to remedy the situation. We have reasonable assurances from the Environment Canada witness that the environmental assessment and review report, expected in March, has identified the consultation level question as an issue and will address this and the related recommendations in its report. I can say to the House that our Minister of Transport (Mr. Mazankowski) will ensure that CN will make the greatest efforts possible to resolve the issue of inadequate consultation with native groups in the conduct of its twintracking program.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, earlier this afternoon we heard that the Minister of Transport will be meeting, along with other Ministers, with the native people, bringing to a successful conclusion their concern, yet addressing the issues which they are bringing to our minds.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Are there questions or comments on the Hon. Member's maiden speech?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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NDP

William Alexander (Bill) Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Blaikie:

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say, with respect to the fact that it was the Hon. Member's maiden speech, that it is unfortunate that on the occasion of his maiden speech he had to resort to the bureaucratic argument which someone had passed along to him. It was a very narrow argument and one which the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Fraser) himself rejected. The Minister was critical of the way things had been handled in the past, yet the Hon. Member gets up and defends the way things were handled in the past. A very odd argument to begin with.

With respect to the two-year issue, if it amounts to a two-year postponement, then so be it. I cannot understand an argument which says that if we are worried that something is bad, let us not postpone it for one year because it might take two years. I mean, if the thing is bad it ought to be postponed indefinitely. That is what we want to find out. If we have to take the time to find out, let us take the time. That is what this motion would provide.

There are three dimensions to this issue that I would like the Hon. Member to comment on. There is the environmental

February 27, 1985

dimension, and the question of the rights of native people on their reserve. In this case it is two reserves and the clarification of just how many reserves are involved in that one subdivision was very useful; I was glad the Hon. Member brought that up. Nevertheless, we are talking about the rights of those two reserves. Thirdly, there is the question of Parliament and its committees.

We have heard a lot of talk about parliamentary reform. Here we now have an opportunity, and I say this as one who has been concerned about parliamentary reform for a number of years now. We have a unanimous recommendation of a committee of the House of Commons. We have had a lot of talk about an increase in the power of committees in this House and about Parliament having more real power over Crown corporations and what really goes on in the life of this country. Here we have an opportunity to make a difference. We can do that by allowing the motion moved by the Hon. Member for Skeena (Mr. Fulton) to go foward and come to a vote so that this Parliament can say to the CNR, a Crown corporation responsible to the people of Canada through us, that it ought not to go ahead with this project as now conceived.

The days of Sitting Bull have passed. The kinds of things we have said we abhorred that went on in the nineteenth century and other times are things of the past, not things that we are going to repeat over and over and over again on the grounds of the narrow kind of economic arguments advanced by the Hon. Member for Fraser Valley East (Mr. Belsher) on behalf of some nameless bureaucrat somewhere.

Are we going to take this moment? Are we going to seize this opportunity to be a Parliament and respect the unanimous decision of a committee? Or are we going to blow it? That is what is at stake here this afternoon. Have we any self-respect left as Members of Parliament, as the House of Commons? Do we have any respect for the unanimous decision and recommendation of a standing committee of this House of Commons of Canada, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry, which determined that the CNR ought to be instructed not to go ahead with what it now has in mind? If we have any respect for ourselves and for Parliament and for all the rhetoric we have heard so often about parliamentary reform, particularly from Members who are now on the Government side of the House, we will allow this motion to come to a voice vote. We ought unanimously to say yea, let the House of Commons and its committees speak and let Crown corporations and others in the country be accountable.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

Ross Belsher

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Belsher:

Mr. Speaker, while I agree with part of the Hon. Member's comments, I must disagree with others because of some of the actions we are taking. The Hon. Member has heard this afternoon that the Minister of Transport and other Ministers are meeting with the native people who are questioning whether this project should take place. The CNR cannot go ahead until the Minister of Transport signs the Order in Council permitting them to do so.

Fisheries and Forestry

The Hon. Member refers to bringing this motion to a vote this afternoon. If no one stands up to speak on it, then it will be brought to a vote. Nonetheless, I believe all the facts should be brought out into the open. You cannot say you are going to consult if you turn around and do not consult.

This Government which took over on September 4 is trying to say to the people of Canada that we are consulting. People say we are taking too long to take action on things. Well, we will make mistakes and there is no doubt about that. But we will make them with the best of intentions, with all of the facts we can get before us. We are not saying that CN has consulted extensively or done enough. That is why the committee is involved with the native people. Do you want the committee to work or do you not?

We know there is a two-year time lag because of the spawning habits of pink salmon. This is very important and affects more than just my riding or the riding we are discussing. The natives are concerned about this industry as well, and it is for this reason that we will continue to make sure we get all the facts out and on the table.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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NDP

William Alexander (Bill) Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Blaikie:

Mr. Speaker, does the Hon. Member not realize that is why we have committees of the House of Commons? It is so they can hear evidence and all the facts and all sides of the story. That is what the committee did in hearing from the CN, the fishermen and native people. So the facts have been placed before a committee of the House of Commons. It is not as if we are talking about something reported in the newspaper. This is evidence given on the record of a standing committee of the House of Commons, which led to the unanimous recommendation we now have before us. So I reject the claim by the Hon. Member that we do not have the facts or evidence before us-unless he wants to impugn the judgment of the committee, because that is what he is doing by bringing up the points he has.

Does the Hon. Member also not think, Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about potentially irreversible damage to a river and the salmon habitat, and we are also talking about potentially irreversible damage to the burial sites of native people, that two years is but a blink of an eye in the long historical process involved? If it takes two years to do something like that properly, that is just fine with me and I think it is fine with others. Two years is not a long time when you are talking about irreversible damage. That is something we ought to keep in mind.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
Sub-subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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February 27, 1985