That this House condemns the Government for its negligent and irresponsible approach to the protection and management of the environment, for its cuts of wildlife, meteorological and parks services, for abandoning Canada's past initiatives on the national and international levels to combat acid rain and to restore the water quality of the Great Lakes, and for thereby jeopardizing the health, economic well-being and the heritage of the present and future generations of Canadians.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the motion speaks for itself. We on this side of the House regret the performance of the Government on environmental matters and it has forced us to put forward today this motion of non-confidence.
As you may recall, Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) boasted about the long list of achievements on the part of his Government. He did not have the environment in mind, I am sure, otherwise he would not have indulged in self-congratulatory sentiments, as he did. We live, on the one hand, in a country where its citizens want the environment to be given priority, and this we have learned from public opinion polls. On the other hand, we have a Tory Government which pays lip service to the concerns about the environment which have been expressed by Canadians and delivers what, Mr. Speaker? What has this Government really delivered with respect to the environment in the past six months? That is the question.
Has this Government given the environment the high profile which Canadians expect? The answer, regretfully, is no. Has this Government created jobs in the environment? The answer, regretfully, is no. Actually, it has created unemployment through the cuts announced to the wildlife service and the National Research Council, through the interpretation centres, as well as other initiatives. Has the Government, through the Minister of the Environment (Mrs. Blais-Grenier), met with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in order to discuss the quality of the water of the Niagara River and the Great Lakes? The answer, regretfully, is no. Has this Government strengthened the environmental protection measures which were developed since the inception of Environment
Canada in 1972 by successive Liberal Governments? And I would, of course, recognize with due respect a fine Minister for the environment, the present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (Mr. Fraser). The Government has not strengthened the environmental protection measures which it inherited from the Liberal Government.
Has the Government strengthened the support Canada gives to finding a solution to global environmental issues? Here again, regretfully, the answer is no. Sadly enough, this Government has reduced Canada's contribution this year to the United Nations environmental program.
Has the Government celebrated Parks Canada's centennial by way of new park acquisitions or by way of a bold new program for its second centennial? The answer, regretfully, is no, certainly not. It has reduced Parks Canada's budget by $13 million.
Has the Government strengthened our future in renewable resources of energy so as to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels? Here again, regretfully, the answer is no, certainly not. It has disbanded the fine scientists and technicians working in this field at the National Research Council and increased the number of unemployed scientists and technicians in this country by wiping out the entire soft energy research unit in the NRC.
Has this Government accepted the plea by native people and fishermen along the Fraser River Valley who asked for a postponement of one year in the construction of double tracks proposed by Canadian National? The answer here, regretfully again, is no, certainly not. It has rejected their plea because this Government has not got the guts to act as it preaches.
Has this Government told the United States administration that we do have in Canada a program in place between 1980 and 1990 to reduce our sulphur dioxide emissions which contribute to acid rain by 25 per cent, and that parallel to that we have a unanimous commitment by federal and provincial environment Ministers to cut it by 50 per cent by 1994 by way of a plan for modernizing our non-ferrous industries? Certainly not, Mr. Speaker. This Government has neglected the unanimous federal, provincial and public support for these measures and actually thrown away our bargaining position, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) did last December, perhaps with a pathetic intention of currying favour with the Reagan administration.
Has this Government reached out, Mr. Speaker, to environmental groups and administrations? Has it sought their views before making these cuts, given them its long-term vision and generated a climate of confidence? Well, the answer here
March 5, 1985
again is no, certainly not. I am told there are many letters written last fall that are still to be answered. The morale among the non-governmental organizations and interested people is low. Their confidence in this Government is seriously damaged.
Well, Mr. Speaker, because of time limitations 1 have to stop here in this analysis, but we should ask ourselves at this point why is it that this Government is treating the environment in such a way despite last summer's promises? Is it because it does not understand the crucial importance of the relationship between the environment and the economy? Is it because it does not understand the crucial relationship between the environment and health? Is it because it understands the environment in isolation, like a luxury item? Is it because it sees the environment as a commodity which can be traded, sold, exploited at will? Is it because it is incapable of conceiving the environment as a common good which belongs to us all, be it water, air, soil, fish, all of which have to be managed carefully because we want to preserve it for future generations of Canadians? Is it because it is incapable of seeing and considering the environment as the foundation of our health and the foundation of our economy?
[DOT] (i1 IS)
There is evidently a conceptual deficiency on the part of the Government that makes me conclude that the future of the environment in the next few years looks very bleak indeed. Add to this the unfortunate fact that the Prime Minister has chosen as a Minister a person who gives the impression of considering the environment a bore, a nuisance one has to live with, rather than the exciting, meaningful and fascinating world that it is. It is a wonder consisting of the interaction of air, water, soil, flora and fauna, the coming together of living forces each with a role and a meaning from the amoeba to the sea lion, composing that wonderful and dynamic totality we commonly call nature.
We still have, thank God, a terrific Department called Environment Canada to which my colleagues and I would like to pay tribute today. It consists of fine and dedicated civil servants, men and women committed to the well-being of our economy and our health through a sound management of the environment. The only problem with Environment Canada today is the poor judgment of the Prime Minister when he appointed the present Minister, and his insensitivity to the necessity of correcting his mistake. Every day that goes by without bringing in a new Minister, the Prime Minister demonstrates his lack of commitment to the promises he made during the election to environmental groups and Canadians at large. What a sham!
The Prime Minister bears the main responsibility for the fact that the state of the environment has deteriorated in the past six months. He has chosen the wrong person as Minister. He has downgraded Canada's role at home and abroad in combating acid rain, an issue which is so close to the hearts of Canadians. He has given away Canada's bargaining position with the U.S. administration. He also bears the responsibility
for sending out the wrong signals by allowing cuts in the industrial and regional development fund where the dollars are to be found for the modernization of our non-ferrous smelters.
The Minister of the Environment has allowed cuts in the environment programs of the Canadian Wildlife Service and the interpretation centres, without consulting the provinces, despite the promises made in the Speech from the Throne, and without consulting interested organizations. The Minister has failed in the important role of building bridges with non-governmental groups and environmentally interested individuals. They are reporting that they feel abandoned by the Government. The Minister has not yet addressed the crucial and complex issue of water, particularly in the Great Lakes. She has yet to meet with the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.
So far the Minister of the Environment has not made a speech of substance for the public record, except for replies in the House and one ceremonial speech last week. There has been no intellectual, political contribution on her part to the environmental issues of our times. There has been not one ounce of contribution to issues such as South Moresby and Meares Islands, which are sensitive issues for millions of Canadians today who want these areas preserved for future generations. There has not been one ounce of contribution, intellectually or otherwise, to water quality and quantity and what water means to future generations of Canadians.
There has not been one ounce of contribution on the issue of herbicides and pesticides as they are used in agriculture and forestry today, and the search for alternatives. There has not been one ounce of contribution on the long-term but important issue of the greenhouse effect on our climate. There has not been one ounce of contribution on the issue of nuclear winter, which is the ultimate environmental issue. There has been no contribution on issues between the environment and health and the environment and our economy, which is based on natural resources and therefore must rely on a properly managed environment. There has not been one ounce of contribution to the Canada Parks centennial and the future of parks extensions, with respect to the future of the North and the great potential there for parks before the land is locked up.
There has not been one ounce of contribution with respect to whether Lancaster Sound should be used for tanker routes. There has not been any contribution on Canada's role in UNEA and our global role in the environment to sustain the fine reputation that we as a Government, as a nation and as Canadians have earned over the last decade.
Last week in the House, the Minister of the Environment gave no visible support for her colleagues, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Crombie), who were visibly distressed in their efforts to postpone the CN double tracking in the Fraser River Valley for one year, as recommended unanimously by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry.
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In conclusion, in this litany of misery our country is without a Minister of the Environment. At best, it has a phantom or a Minister that never was.
The Prime Minister has not backed up his words with action. While he has been great on public relations, he has done nothing of substance so far with respect to the environment. He has shown poor judgment by appointing the present Minister of the Environment. He has given away the store in our bilateral relations with the United States on acid rain that are coming up this month in Quebec. Not only has he disappointed them, he has angered Canadians from coast to coast. Therefore, we have moved our motion of non-confidence because the record of the Tory Government over the past six months is simply a sham.
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic: ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION- THE ENVIRONMENT