June 1, 1993

?

Some hon. members:

Nay.

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Subtopic:   TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

In my opinion, the nays have it. I declare the motion defeated on division.

Motion No. 1 negatived.

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NDP

Lyle Dean MacWilliam

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lyle Dean MacWilliam (Okanagan-Shuswap) moved:

Motion No. 6.

That Bill C-62 be amended in Clause 7 by adding immediately after line 13 at page 4 the following:

"(b) to enhance the expression and communication of Canada's cultural identity."

Motion No. 7.

That Bill C-62 be amended in Clause 7 by striking out lines 27 to 30 at page 4 and substituting the following therefor:

"(f) to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to do so primarily in the public interest and secondarily in the interest of competitors providing telecommunications services and in a manner consistent with the objective set out in paragraph (&);".

Motion No. 8.

That Bill C-62 be amended in Clause 7 by striking out lines 27 to 30 at page 4 and substituting the following therefor:

"(f) to encourage regular consultation between provincial and federal governments to promote regional industrial development that will build on the strengths and potential of each province in the field of telecommunications".

Motion No. 10.

That Bill C-62 be amended in Clause 7 by striking out line 39 at page 4 and substituting the following therefor:

"privacy of individuals; and

(j) to encourage innovation in the provision of telecommunications services, including the provision of telecommunications services such as video, multi-media and interactive television."

Motion No. 11.

That Bill C-62 be amended in Clause 7 by adding immediately after line 39 at page 4 the following:

"(2) The objectives set out in paragraphs (1) (a), (c), (d), (e), (J), (g) and (h) may not be implemented in a manner inconsistent with or that derogates from the objectives set out in paragraph (l)(fc)."

He said: Mr. Speaker, these motions have been grouped together because they deal with clause 7, a very substantive clause in this entire bill. The objectives of the Canadian telecommunications policy are basically set out within the framework of clause 7. A number of motions come under the provisions of clause 7 which is understandably why they have been grouped accordingly.

It was this clause that seemed to hang up the legislative committee for some time. There was a great deal of discussion, argument and debate as to the philosophical direction or thrust the government wished to take in this particular piece of legislation, to which I took objection. I believe my colleague from Mount Royal also objected in great measure to the particular focus or thrust of the government's proposals in many areas.

June 1, 1993

It was in this particular clause that the government brought in its commitment to not only safeguard and develop our telecommunications system, but also its commitment to this nation's cultural integrity. This was one of the areas that caused a great deal of confusion and a great deal of debate. Later we found that the government's amendment in fact reversed its initial decision. It no longer wanted culture on the table as part of the telecommunications policy.

There was a great deal of intervention at this point. A lot of arts and culture groups throughout Canada took real issue with the government's reversal of its initial position to include culture as part of the over-all objective or thrust of our telecommunications policy. As a matter of fact, the government's decision to reverse itself on this was unfortunate because it overlooked the very nature of the convergence of this industry and the fact that if we go way back to the comments made by Marshall McLuhan, the medium is in fact the message.

The government has erred in deciding to withdraw the provision for culture from this particular section. It has erred as well in terms of some of the priorities it has established with respect to the initial objectives.

My Motion No. 6 would insert in clause 7 at line 13 on page 4 of the bill a commitment "to enhance the expression and communication of Canada's cultural identity". This is a variation of the theme which the government chose to delete from the bill.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema made objections to deleting the phrase with respect to Canadian culture. I just want to read part of its submission to the committee. It said: "Accepting the recommendation to delete references to sovereignty, politics and culture would ignore the long-term implications of technological convergence. It would be bowing to a deregulation fever which may be premature.

Many issues relating to the transport of information through telecommunications pipelines vis-a-vis fibre optic tape cable, coaxial cable, et cetera, remain unanswered, such as access by programming services and compensation for rights contained in material distributed.

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Moreover, we submit that those advocating the deletion of social and cultural clauses in this bill have a narrow view of the potential volume of information and business opportunities available. In short they are not looking past their bottom line at the expense of the greater public interest".

Although there were many arguments proposed as to why the government has decided to delete culture, really it comes down to the bottom line that the Quebec caucus within this government has decided it wishes to remove that phrase. That is because as we well know, Quebec has long sought to have complete sovereignty over its cultural initiatives. It would not like to see the issue of culture as part of the national framework of our telecommunications policy. That is a mistake.

Speaking on behalf of western Canadians, we feel that culture is very much part and parcel and in fact the very fabric of the make-up of our telecommunications structure. Therefore, it should be part of this legislation.

Motion No. 8 also deals with clause 7. This amendment would include a specific provision for consultation between federal and provincial governments. This would ensure that the national telecommunications policy we are trying to outline in this legislation would in fact promote regional industrial development in the telecommunications industry.

Without this particular amendment, there is simply no explicit provision in the objectives to ensure consultation between the federal and provincial governments. There is no framework for a formal procedure to ensure that a process of consultation takes place.

As a matter of fact the Government of New Brunswick in its submissions suggested that clause 7 be amended to include consultations between the federal and provincial governments. This was in order to guarantee the national telecommunications policy promotes industrial development that will build on the strengths and potentials of each province. Also, it suggested the requirements that the regulator be accessible and responsive to users and providers of telecommunications services in the provinces.

This amendment attempts at least to formulate some degree of structure in terms of a consultation process.

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Motion No. 10 would provide for ensuring that innovative technologies are actively pursued.

In the over-all objectives of any large piece of legislation such as the telecommunications act there should be a commitment to ensuring, as the government has taken great pains to ensure, that greater levels of competition and efficiency are structured within the industry.

The government has failed to ensure that we make every provision possible to develop the kinds of innovative technologies not just in certain pockets of Canada but to attempt to regionalize our technological development and our research and development capabilities throughout Canada.

We had quite a debate during the discussions as to whether or not the commitment should be in Canada, or expressed as being throughout Canada. My argument was that we have seen the centralization of industry in research and development take place in this country. Central Canada, Ontario and Quebec, certainly gets the lion's share in terms of industrial development and research and development.

In an industry as large and ubiquitous as the telecommunications industry in Canada, we should be taking specific measures to ensure a more equitable development of the industry. This is in terms of the innovative and high technology sectors of the industry that are coming into play now in the midst of our technological revolution. We should see that these are developed not in Canada, but throughout Canada, to ensure that it can be utilized as a kind of regional industrial development tool.

I was rather surprised in discussing this section that the government wanted to take such pains to ensure the increased reliance on market forces and the increased competitive nature of the industry and not wanting at the same time to ensure the protection of Canadian jobs in the industry. There was no commitment on the government's part to ensure that we use our telecommunications policy as a kind of social policy initiative with respect to the development of Canadian jobs.

One of the problems we are running into can be seen with the decision we discussed today of BC Tel laying off some 820 workers. Those workers are being displaced because of competition in the industry from a company whose market share is 20 per cent American owned. We

can see the slow invasion of the Canadian industry by American market forces.

It is unfortunate that the government did not see fit to expressly include a commitment to protect Canadian jobs in this particular section of our telecommunications policy.

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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this motion.

The hon. member for Okanagan-Shuswap again raises the point he raised during Question Period earlier. He talks about the lay-offs which took place at BC Tel. He makes mention of the fact that there is competition to BC Tbl. He sees this as resulting in the Americanization of Canada's telephone system.

All of us regret any instance where a Canadian corporation lays off any of its employees, but it is strange the credulity of people who are listening to the hon. gentleman today for him to suggest that the fact there is competition from Unitel against BC Tel is somehow proof of the Americanization of Canada's system when as he well knows Unitel has a percentage of Canadian ownership which is considerably higher than that of BC Tel.

How does allowing competition to BC Tel from Unitel in British Columbia result in the Americanization of Canada's telephone system? Just the opposite. In the case of BC Tel we are dealing with a company whose ownership is grandfathered at the present time and needs to be grandfathered because of the fact that it has a high percentage of American ownership. I wanted first of all just to set the record straight on that particular point.

The second point the hon. member makes is indeed an important one. That is the government decided during the debate in committee to amend the legislation to remove reference to culture. Why was that done? That is the first question that anybody in this House has a right to ask. Second, what is the effect of doing so? Does this decision by the government to move such an amendment result in some way in a diminution of the government's ability to support Canadian culture? Does it mean that somehow our inability to refer to the objective section of the bill as referring to culture means that the government cannot act to protect Canadian culture?

June 1, 1993

Nothing could be more untrue than to suggest anything of the sort. The Senate committee recommended removing these references largely on the basis of two concerns that were raised by witnesses that there were in their view-

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NDP

Lyle Dean MacWilliam

New Democratic Party

Mr. MacWilliam:

Quebec.

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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

The hon. member says Quebec. He feels it is illegitimate because people in Quebec should raise this concern. I disagree. I think we have an obligation in this House to listen to people in all parts of Canada and to give them equal respect no matter which part of Canada they come from.

These witnesses expressed the concern that these provisions were in their view inconsistent with the over-all intent of the bill to regulate the carriage rather than the content of telecommunications and that some provinces may have viewed the reference to culture as potentially eroding their responsibilities.

The government has no intention of using its authority to regulate telecommunications carriers to erode the provincial role in culture. It is absurd to suggest anything of the sort.

Whatever the merits of the concerns raised about these references, in this regard the government has serious doubts about both concerns. We have agreed to remove them because they are not essential to the bill whatsoever.

The specific reference to culture is not essential because the bill clearly recognizes in other ways the increasingly important role of telecommunications as a carrier of cultural products and services. The policy objectives state that telecommunications "perform an essential role in the maintenance of Canada's identity and sovereignty" and that the telecommunications system should serve to "enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada".

Surely our culture is fundamental to our identity and just as surely cultural products and services are an important part of the social and economic fabric of Canada. Telecommunications serve to link this country together through a whole range of activities from personal conversations to data and information transfers, to business transactions and increasingly to the enjoyment

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of cultural products and services. On this the policy statement is quite clear.

In addition some have expressed concern that there may be a legislative gap between Bill C-62 which governs telecommunications and the 1991 Broadcasting Act which governs broadcasting. The concerns are simply ill-informed.

The two pieces of legislation were largely developed in tandem. It is clear from the legal definitions in them that broadcasting is an integral part of telecommunications which has been removed from the scope of Bill C-62 because it is the subject of separate legislation. Moreover recognizing the trend for convergence in broadcasting telecommunications technologies and services, both pieces of legislation were designed to be technologically neutral, precisely to avoid any concern about a legislative gap. It simply does not exist.

Under the twin umbrella of these two pieces of legislation the CRTC is given broad authority within the limits imposed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to regulate telecommunications and broadcasting in the public interest, and the flexibility and scope required to take into account the increasingly interrelated nature of these activities and indeed of content and carriage in an era of convergence. It is clear that such a concern as has been expressed by my hon. friend simply is not legitimate. There was no intention to undermine the ability of the federal government to legislate in the field of culture or to operate in any way in the field of culture. Indeed none of the evidence that was introduced before the committee, none of it, indicated in any way that such an amendment would impede the ability of the federal government to do its job or would transfer to the provinces powers which they do not have today. Far from it.

What it does do though is ensure that members of Parliament are sensitive to the concerns that have been expressed in various regions of Canada. It ensures most of all that nobody can raise a bogus point that somehow the telecommunications system and telecommunications legislation is being used to take away from the provinces areas which legitimately belong to them. It is not simply something which is legitimate.

Pursuant to Standing Order 26(1) I move:

June 1, 1993

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That the House continue to sit beyond the normal hour of

adjournment for the purpose of continuing consideration of Bill

C-62, an act respecting telecommunications.

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The House has heard the terms of the motion moved by the hon. minister. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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?

Some hon. members:

Agreed.

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?

Some hon. members:

No.

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

According to the provisions of Standing Order 26(2) if 15 members rise in their places to object, the motion is defeated. Shall the motion carry?

And more than 15 members have risen:

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Since more than 15 members have risen, the motion is deemed to have been withdrawn.

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NDP

Raymond John Skelly

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Skelly (North Island -Powell River):

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons I attended today was to listen to the Minister of Communications speak in the House. I find it stimulating and invigorating.

I am really amazed by his ability to illustrate oxymorons, probably the best examples of contradictions in terms that have been heard anywhere. One of them, of course, is Progressive Conservative and the other is Conservative credulity. Maybe we will have something more entertaining from him later on in the day as he rises again in this fruitless endeavour.

The Minister of Communications on these amendments simply fails to recognize the efforts of my colleague from Okanagan-Shuswap in trying to protect Canadian employment. The motions before us are concerns yet the minister instantly dismisses them as fortunes of war. BC Telephone company laid off 820 employees because of the policies of the Conservative government. This is irrelevant to the Minister of Communications and I am sure to the entire Conservative government.

The issues in the amendments of my colleague have been put forward again and dismissed out of hand. I love the minister's presentation to this House. He says not to worry about building these kinds of protections into the legislation through these amendments. "Trust me. Your cheque is in the mail. We will take care of you."

We have been taken care of by this particular government for the last nine years. If there is anything left of Canada when it is finished at the end of this term there will be a lot of very surprised Canadians.

The amendments before us today put forward by my colleague from Okanagan-Shuswap are designed to protect Canadian employment in this legislation and in this industry. He also points out that there is a very real opportunity to protect and enhance Canadian culture, something the Conservative government has simply sold down the river with everything else in this country.

The issue before us today has been very interestingly described by the Minister of Communications as not being Americanization of yet another Canadian industry, driving in an enormous wedge. We know we have been condemned by the degree of foreign ownership. Previous Liberal governments allowed it to expand to enormous proportions.

Most British Columbians regret that GT&E controls the BC Telephone Corporation.

When the NDP government was there from 1972-75 it tried to deal with that anomaly to enhance and improve the positions of Canadians and British Columbians with BC Tel. Unfortunately the Liberal government under Pierre Trudeau completely thwarted that effort but in the thwarting of it he did not sell it down the river the way the Conservatives have done.

We are faced with a foreign-owned corporation in British Columbia whose American ownership levels are really offensive to British Columbians. We would like to see that changed.

The previous Liberal government under Pierre Elliott Trudeau blocked the NDP government in BC from strengthening the Canadian position in that company. Now we find the Minister of Communications says this is a fait accompli anyway so let in Unitel and allow it to sell 25 per cent of its action to AT&T.

We have a situation now where the Conservatives say that we have the Americans in here, the whole thing is lost, let us get a war going between the giants of the United States-GT&E and American Telephone and Telegraph. Let them fight for jurisdiction and control of

Canada and then we Canadians will benefit from some kind of fall down there.

That is absolutely nonsense. If these people were Canadians and they had one iota of concern for Canada they would begin to turn this thing around and stop the cancerous growth of foreign ownership in this country.

I find the minister's presentation to this House absolutely offensive that we could afford even further sellouts to the Americans. It is absolutely wrong and they are going to get crucified on this issue.

I congratulate my colleague for the amendments he has put forward and the critical issues he has addressed in these amendments. One is the protection of Canadian employment, which the minister and the Conservative government just dismiss as an irrelevant issue, turn over as a casualty to market forces, privatization, deregulation and the trade agreements. "Oh well, we can have jobless recovery because we will have a recovery. We can get rid of Canadian jobs." He said that in the House. It is absolutely disgusting.

The unfortunate thing is that we are looking at a situation where this attitude of the Conservative government is to sell this country to the United States through the Canada-U.S. trade agreement and the North American free trade agreement, the whole strategy behind privatization and deregulation is simply to create an environment where there can be an economic union with the United States, where Canada becomes a Puerto Rico, where American companies are the dominant forces in transportation, communication, manufacturing and delivery of services.

It is unfortunate that we do not have a clear statement from the other opposition party in this House that it would reverse it and not follow the trends of the previous Liberal government of continuing the expansion of foreign control of Canada, but that it would get rid of those trade agreements, not implement them in spite of what has happened in this House with the Conservative government, that it would reverse the role

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of privatization and deregulation which has seriously harmed Canada.

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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting section and probably the key to where the telecommunications architecture will take us in the years to come. ,

This section is called: "The Canadian Telecommunications Policy: The Objective Section". It is of interest to note they affirm: "That telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada's identity and sovereignty. The Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunication system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions".

What is interesting about this, along with the other nine aspects of this particular bill, (a) to (i), is it sends the message for this whole structure.

The minister and the Crown forgot to address the whole question of convergence on technology and the whole question of telephony in its broadest aspects. The minister made it very clear when he stood up in this House a moment ago, even though in committee on many occasions he felt that there was a phoney issue being floated and he said so in committee.

Anyone who wants to know about it can read the proceedings and find out about the whole question of encroachment on any one of our provincial jurisdictions. The minister explained that he believes culture is subsumed by sovereignty and identity and therefore keeping culture in the bill is redundant.

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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

I enjoy listening to the hon. member and she will have seven minutes left in the debate when it comes back into the Chamber.

It being five o'clock, pursuant to Standing Order 30(6), the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Private Members' Business

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PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

THE ENVIRONMENT

NDP

Lynn Hunter

New Democratic Party

Ms. Lynn Hunter (Saanich-Gulf Islands) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should ensure that ship and freighter anchorages within the Gulf Islands, or within three miles of environmentally sensitive coastal sites, be required to undergo environmental impact assessments and to seek approval of affected neighbours and communities prior to receiving permission.

She said: Mr. Speaker, there are three themes I would like to address in speaking in support of my motion. I would like to go through them one at a time.

The need for community consultation and the responsible management of local environments is the primary focus of my comments today. The second theme, which I will return to later, is the environmental assessment process. My final theme concerns the ship and freighter anchorages within the Gulf Islands.

TVw>

years ago I proposed that the Gulf Islands be considered as a designate for biosphere reserve status. While not well understood this UN program offers the planning and co-operative management approach which will involve public and private interests in determining working solutions to the problems before us.

Throughout my term as the member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands I have been seeking solutions to environment and development concerns in the Gulf Islands. This motion is yet another manifestation of my concern for these beautiful islands.

A bit of history might be helpful. Under the previous New Democratic provincial government led by my colleague from Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca the Islands Trust was established. This creation came out of the recognition by that provincial government of the unique qualities of the Gulf Islands, these magnificent jewels that lie between the metropolis of Vancouver and the fast-growing, larger island of Vancouver Island.

The mandate of the Islands Thist is to preserve and protect those islands. Twenty years after the creation of the Islands Trust the pressure on the islands has increased a hundredfold. However it is not just the islands, lands, that are under pressure but the water thoroughfares which surround them.

The first focus of my attention is the need for community consultation. I want to give a few examples of how this can go awry. I heard from a constituent just today that a situation that has been developing on North Pender Island for over a month has now come to a rather unhappy conclusion.

I see the Minister of Communications. He should pay attention to this particular point. This is a situation in which Cantel went over the heads of the local authority, of the Islands Trust, and obtained a building permit to build a communications tower on North Pender Island.

The capital regional district gave that building permit in error. It admits it was in error. There was an outcry from the residents of North Pender Island. There was no environmental assessment and no consultation with the Islands Trust. It completely overrode the Islands Trust on this issue.

I have heard from one of my constituents that a licence has been granted to Rogers Cantel to make that tower operational. This is an outrage and it completely goes against our belief and faith in the system. The mandate of Islands Trust is to preserve and protect. The capital regional district issued the building permit in error. It admitted to that.

Despite protestations from many island residents and my intervention, the Minister of Communications has granted a temporary licence. This is a very David and Goliath kind of story. Sadly in this instance Goliath is going to win.

We know how well connected Rogers Cantel is. The people on North Pender Island do not have those kinds of connections. The tower is created on a hill and is part of a watershed. Water is a very scarce and valuable resource on the islands. The road up to the tower was built without due consideration of the environmental impact. There was no environmental assessment of this project.

It is this lack of consultation that I am concerned about. The structures are not there. The Islands Trust does not have the resources to be able to withstand this kind of pressure. I know today that we are talking about the anchorages surrounding the Gulf Islands but this example shows the kind of vulnerability that exists on the Gulf Islands.

The growth and the pressure on these islands have increased a hundredfold since the Islands Trust was first created by the former New Democratic government led by the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. We cannot allow this kind of violation of those structures to continue if people are going to have faith in the system.

I have spoken a number of times in this House about the kind of public cynicism people have about their political systems. It is this type of activity that feeds that cynicism. If we are going to try to represent our constituents we have to be able to demonstrate to them that the system works. In this instance it is not working. Those residents are feeling a very real and justified sense of violation.

Let me turn to the environmental assessment process itself. This process has been thoroughly examined in this Parliament. We have examined Bill C-13. It is supposed to give the government the tools with which to assess any project that falls within federal jurisdiction or has a federal component to it like the tower on North Pender Island or considerations with regard to fisheries and oceans of any tanker or freighter anchorage within those Gulf Islands.

However Bill C-13 has yet to be proclaimed. We are all a little puzzled as to why that is when it was received with such heated debate when it was originally passed. What is the government waiting for? We have asked the Minister of the Environment on a number of occasions why he has not yet proclaimed Bill C-13, the environmental assessment act.

We are now in a no man's land, a grey area in which we have to fall back on the old guidelines of the environmental assessment review process. Those guidelines have been examined by many who care about the Gulf Islands and they are adequate for protecting them. They

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do not necessarily trigger as quickly as Bill C-13 but they are adequate to protect the islands.

We have to strengthen and reinforce the environmental assessment review process. Right now it is under a cloud because it does not seem that the Minister of the Environment is supportive of it.

We have seen many examples of such lack of support for that process. We have seen it in the very sad state of affairs with regard to the fixed link in Prince Edward Island. We have seen it with regard to the Rafferty-Ala-meda Dam. In a number of instances it has been given very short shrift by the authorities. The environmental assessment process must be strengthened.

I would like to turn to the focus of the motion, and that is the anchorages of ships within the Gulf Islands waters. For those not fortunate enough ever to have been to the Gulf Islands let me just describe them. They are a string of islands lying between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. They are things of beauty. The people on these islands have very strong community feelings. They are also working communities where people make their living in a sustainable way. When people live on an island they have a very clear knowledge of the finite nature of resources.

For instance, there is water. On the main island a few years ago a well could reach water at 60 or 70 feet but they are now drilling as far down as 300 feet. That is a lesson in the finite nature of the water resource. Islanders have a very emotional attachment to the communities in which they live and they know the kind of fragility that their communities suffer from.

It is not a bad thing. People have to become environmentally aware if they are going to live on an island. The world is the island. We are all on an island. I have seen a T-shirt that says: "If you throw it out, it stays here", with regard to garbage. Islanders know that. They do not have landfill sites so they have to recycle, reuse, and reduce which we in bigger cities do not necessarily attend to quite so well.

The ship and freighter anchorages within the Gulf Islands region are a cause for increasing concern among island residents and I think among all of us. Bill C-121 is now before the legislative committee. I know my colleague from Victoria will be addressing some aspects of this motion as it relates to Bill C-121, which is an

June 1, 1993

Private Members' Business

amendment to the Canada Shipping Act and in particular with regard to tanker traffic. People who live on the islands and on the coast know how quickly an oil spill can spread, what degree of devastation it can cause and what impact it has on marine and land life on and around those islands.

I talked to the Vancouver port authorities today and there has been an increasing number of ship arrivals over the years. Vancouver and Victoria are growing. The government members want to remind us that we are a trading nation. One just has to live in a port to know how true that is.

In the last year there were over 3,000 ship arrivals in the port of Vancouver. As the islands lie between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland those ships must go through those Gulf Islands. There is often a back-up in the port of Vancouver. Obviously all those boats cannot tie up at the same time. They have to wait for their place of moorage in the port of Vancouver.

Oftentimes what happens is that those ships have to lie at anchor either in English Bay just off Vancouver or in the protected bays throughout the Gulf Islands. Many times I have seen the row boats come off the freighters and go into the communities to buy their groceries and go to the pubs on the Gulf Islands. They are welcome visitors by many island businesses but there has to be an environmental assessment of the impact of them.

We have seen in our coastal communities the horrors that flow from the bilges of some of these tankers. Under cover of darkness they open the bilges and what we have is another spill. It may not all be oil but there are certainly oily components to it.

This comes back to consultation with the communities. We have to know that the responsible management of our environment is in good hands. That is only done when the community involved is consulted and respected in its decision. The chamber of commerce from Ganges, the chamber of commerce from Mayne Island or the Pender Island folks talk about the benefits to their communities of having those freighters moored off their islands. We also have to talk about the fragility of those waters.

Jacques Cousteau remarked over 20 years ago on the very special qualities of the Gulf Islands. In fact he was one of the first to suggest that a marine park should be

established within those waters. They are internationally acclaimed as special waters. We cannot just allow ships from all over the world to drop anchor with no environmental assessment. This is where the federal government has a responsibility. If we do not do it as a federal authority who is to do it?

We have the Islands Trust that is overburdened already with the difficulties I described earlier in my remarks. It is like putting out fires. It is oppressed by the work load and by the difficulties of the growth pressures that confront it. We at the federal level, the most senior government, have the responsibility to give it the resources and to give the Canadian Coast Guard the resources to monitor.

It is all very well to have legislation in place, but unless we have the resources to back up the legislation enforcement is a farce. We must give the communities some reason to have faith in the system.

On Pender Island, the Rogers Cantel tower has certainly bruised confidence in the system. A David and Goliath scenario is being played out. I hope my cynicism that Goliath will win is wrong. I hope David will succeed, the residents of Pender Island being David in this instance.

Ship and freighter anchorages in the Gulf Islands are something we have to take responsibility for. I hope other speakers will recognize the fragility of the Gulf Islands and our desire to preserve them for future generations.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   IMPACT ASSESSMENTS
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PC

Lee Richardson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lee Richardson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for raising this issue in such a responsible manner. She made some veiy good points and expressed the concerns of many constituents on the west coast. It was somewhat fortuitous that the hon. member was able to join us this morning in the discussion on the bill she mentioned in her address, Bill C-121, which is an amendment to the Canada Shipping Act. There are a number of clauses in that bill we will be reviewing tomorrow in committee that will assist in the very points she raises today.

I was appreciative of her comments with regard to our Coast Guard in Canada. From a personal point of view perhaps in this case a little cynicism is a good thing if it keeps people on their toes. I think she will agree with me

June 1, 1993

the Coast Guard is doing a great job out there and deserves our support.

This morning specifically at the legislative review committee of Bill C-21, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, we did discuss-and it just happened to come up as a matter of discussion-some of the current legislation that is in place. In fact the Canada Shipping Act controls the entrance of ships into our waters.

We do not allow just any leaky tub from around the world to come sailing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There are designated reportings of this. The Coast Guard is advised 24 hours in advance of ships coming into our harbours. We have a very good idea of what vessels are entering Canadian waters. In fact many of them are not allowed to enter Canadian waters unless they are fit.

I want to speak at this point about anchorage itself, because it was the main thrust of the hon. member's motion today, and to give a little background on the act of anchoring and what it means. I also want to examine the reasons for anchoring a ship and the purpose for designating an anchorage that may have escaped some of those watching or listening today.

We cannot escape the fact that anchoring is an everyday activity. It is an integral part of navigation. In simple terms, navigation can be explained as the practice or the art of moving from one place to another safely. In a nautical or marine sense this is the familiar practice of taking out one's sailboat for a day's sail in a local harbour and safely returning at the end of the day. An example that is more germane to the motion before the House is that it is also the practice of sailing a 200-metre ship loaded with perhaps 30,000 tonnes of goods halfway round the world in a safe and efficient manner.

As I just said anchoring is a part of navigation. Anchoring has a role in the efficiency and safety of proceeding from one place to another, although presumably when at anchor the ship is stopped and waiting to continue moving to its final destination.

Anchoring is most commonly seen as a method to hold the ship in position while it awaits a berth in a harbour to load or unload cargo. It is considered economically efficient and environmentally sensible because the consumption of fuel is reduced dramatically while at anchor.

Private Members' Business

It is also efficient in that the ship can generally be anchored close to the area where the loading or unloading will ultimately take place.

Anchoring is more significant when looked at from a safety point of view. A ship cannot be kept stationary without an anchor except those that are equipped with sophisticated engine controls and substantial power to overcome the effect of drifting due to wind and tide. Throwing out an anchor-and I use that as a figure of speech since a large ship's anchor and chain weighs several tonnes-simply keeps the ship from moving. A ship that is not moving or drifting is not in danger of grounding, colliding with another ship or subject to the stresses of the open sea. It really is a very safe way to wait before continuing on a trip.

Members may also be interested to note that a vessel at anchor must continue to be crewed as if it were under way. A navigation watch is maintained by certified navigation officers to ensure the ship's position is maintained, to watch other ship traffic in the area and to do whatever work is necessary to ensure the ship's safety.

In cases where the weather begins to deteriorate the practice of good seamanship dictates that engines are put on standby and are ready to move the ship should the anchors fail to hold. All these activities are consistent with safe navigation.

Some members might suggest that a ship could hold off in the open ocean, far off from more sensitive coastlines, until it can steam directly to port and not have to anchor. The recent tragedy off Nova Scotia illustrates the danger of exposing even the largest of ships to the rigours of the open ocean. The safety of crews, the rigours that the open sea inflicts upon them and the protection of the environment require that the practice of good seamanship be followed and ships reduce their exposure to the risks of the high seas and exposed coasts.

Ships anchored with proper care accorded by good seamanship are less likely to be involved in a collision or grounding than a ship in motion. In rare cases where a ship at anchor is dragged around by high winds or currents, the results can be much less severe than when a ship is moving under power and collides with another ship or runs aground.

Private Members' Business

Anchoring is also an emergency procedure to prevent a ship that has lost power from drifting into such danger or on to a reef or a shoreline. In fact ships are equipped with at least two anchors for use in such emergencies. It is interesting to note that in most cases where a ship has lost power anchoring is a simple and successful manoeuvre that holds the ship in place until the engines can be restarted.

This background demonstrates that anchoring is considered to be active navigation as part of the process of getting from one place to another safely. The matter of restricting navigation and therefore anchoring is currently considered in the context of existing common law.

Members may not be aware that existing common law defines the public right of navigation as a paramount right, that is to say a right that supersedes other common law rights and includes all rights necessary for the right of passage such as the right to pass, to anchor or moor and to remain at one place for a reasonable time for loading and unloading.

The significance of this right is that a ship may anchor at any place and at any time so long as the anchoring is in accordance with the good practices of seamanship. I say this in the context of what the hon. member and I heard this morning in the legislative committee, that the legislation involving the Canada Shipping Act accords the Coast Guard the opportunity to restrict the anchorage of vessels under certain conditions or when a particular boat or ship is in less than the best of condition.

The second issue I should like to address is that of the identification of an anchorage. There are no regulations perse to establish an anchorage. Anchorages are normally designated by harbour authorities in consultation with the Coast Guard and marine pilots and then printed on charts and publications to advise mariners. These anchorages are normally identified for large ships and marked on charts or noted in reference books so that other ships can know that ships may be in anchor at those locations and to efficiently distribute ships sharing a harbour where more than one anchorage is designated.

Designated anchorages are only found within harbour limits. On the west coast alone there are approximately 20 harbours that are equipped to receive large ships. Not all of these harbours have the designated anchorage

noted on a marine chart, but ships visiting these ports can anchor at or near them.

In 1990 the west coast recorded some 287,000 movements of ships. These are movements of commercial ships and not just fishing boats or pleasure boats. In the extreme, essentially every movement would require an environmental assessment since cargo changes with each loading or unloading as do the risk factors of weather and traffic.

The government supports a more efficient approach to address the concerns raised in this motion. This approach includes a regime which focuses on preventing accidents before they happen and to ensure if they do, that an effective response is mounted that is appropriate to the environmental sensitivity of the area. Again I thank the hon. member for her motion.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   IMPACT ASSESSMENTS
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Mrs. Marlene Catterall (Ottawa West):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this motion. It goes back to many of the principles we raised in the House on May 13 with the opposition motion that read:

That this House regrets that, despite the many grand announcements in international forums and despite the passage of two and one-half years since the launch of the green plan, the government has failed to integrate fully environmentally sustainable development as a goal of public policy.

Today there was a press conference and a one-year report on the earth summit which took place in Rio de Janiero just a year ago. Canada took great credit for its leadership role with respect to bringing sustainable development and some of the measures needed to ensure a sustainable future to the attention of the world. It took credit for some success in specific conventions that were negotiated to achieve that purpose. Yet when environmental organizations gave Canada its report card on the first year since Rio, I am afraid the mark was an F in nearly every category.

Fundamentally what the motion addresses, without going into the specifics of the Gulf Islands or the other issues that the member has raised, is the need to integrate concern for preservation of our resources, our environment and our planet into all government decision making. We are far from doing that.

Perhaps unrecognized as one of the most important promises in the green plan was that there would be an environmental assessment of every policy going before cabinet for approval and then when a policy, program or

June 1, 1993

bill was tabled in this House there would also be tabled an environmental statement.

The importance of that was to allow the public to review decisions being taken by the government and Parliament in the light of their environmental impact. Regrettably this has happened by exception rather than by rule.

The most important policy document of any government is of course its budget. Two and one-half years after this green plan promise we still have not had a budget that has been accompanied by an environmental statement. In fact most bills coming into this House have not come with an environmental statement notwithstanding the promise of the green plan.

What is important about this green plan promise is more than the information it brings to Parliament and therefore to the public. What is important is that it forces policy makers, both from the first moment of conception of policy deep within the bureaucracy to the moment when it appears in this House, to consider the environmental implications of their decisions.

The member for Saanich-Gulf Islands is raising precisely this issue here. On important issues that affect important environmental resources Canada holds the stewardship not only for our own use, enjoyment and future but for the world. Decisions on those resources are being made certainly without adequate attention to the environmental implications of those decisions.

Both the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands and the member who responded for the government referred to the Shipping Act that is now before a legislative committee on which I am also participating. This is a good example of the second element that the motion before us today addresses, which is the need for community involvement.

As a witness before the legislative committee said this morning, people will safeguard those things they love. Whether it is the people of the Gulf Islands or the people in my riding who value their proximity to the Ottawa River and its quality, the people living in a certain environment understand best how it works. They understand how changes to that environment will affect it. That is why it is so important that they be involved in the process of decision making about those resources.

Private Members' Business

The Minister of the Environment has said repeatedly in this House that this was the essential change that took place at the earth summit in Rio, not just the specific conventions, not just agenda 21 which laid out a road map for the next millennium, but the fact that the process of decision making had to change, had to become inclusive, had to become more transparent, had to become more accountable.

What we have seen with the Shipping Act before us is that in fact the industry was consulted and there were substantial face to face discussions hammering out best solutions between industry and government officials. Virtually excluded from that process were environmental organizations that have been involved for many years now with how to prevent oil spills and how to most effectively respond to major oil spills. It is only in the process of the legislative committee that we have seen that in fact this has been a closed process, not an open process. It is exactly the kind of thing that this motion purports to address; the need for the involvement of local people who know the situation, who will live with the results of the decision and who are there as the front line guardians of our environmental resources.

I want to talk particularly about some local issues that affect my riding where this certainly applies. This happens to be our nation's capital. The National Capital Commission, an instrument of the federal government, plays a very important role in this region. It is a far step from the Gulf Islands to a major urban environment but the environmental issues are equally important. To a major extent what we do in our cities has a greater and more damaging impact upon our environment than what we do outside cities.

The National Capital Commission in this region controls or owns one-third of the property on both sides of the river on the Quebec side and on the Ontario side. Therefore it has a substantial ability to influence the decision making of local governments.

In a sense in this region we have the opposite problem to that which the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands was describing. We have the problem of the National Capital Commission taking a hands-off approach and, in my view, not taking enough responsibility to use and implement its obligations under federal environmental assessment legislation to ensure that it is co-operating with local government certainly, but nonetheless that it is

June 1, 1993

Private Members' Business

bringing its federal mandate with respect to making this an environmentally sustainable urban region into the discussions.

I will give just two examples in the short time I have left. The first example is that we are now in the midst of a major bridges study in this region with major involvement from the federal government through the National Capital Commission. Notwithstanding the fact that we are now getting close to the 21st century and hopefully have learned some things from the mistakes of the past, we are in the middle of deciding where to build bridges to accommodate more cars, to consume more fossil fuels, to do more damage to creeks, wetlands, conservation areas and neighbourhoods which have been clearly established by the Supreme Court as part of what we need to consider in an environmental assessment.

What communities are looking for is not only local leadership but national leadership to look at more sustainable urban communities, more emphasis on public transit over more cars, more roads and more gas consumption, preserving in an urban environment those natural environmental features that are so important, even more important where the environment is under the major stress of urbanization. I give this as just one example. There are many dimensions to bringing environmental concerns into all our decision making.

In any case, I am pleased to speak on the motion. I think we need to constantly remind ourselves, those who are in government and those who hope soon to be in government, that our obligation to future generations is something that has to be part of all of the decisions we make in this place.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   IMPACT ASSESSMENTS
Permalink
NDP

John F. Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. John Brewin (Victoria):

Mr. Speaker, the motion that we have before us, moved by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands, reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should ensure that ship and freighter anchorages within the Gulf Islands, or within three miles of environmentally sensitive coastal sites, be required to undergo environmental impact assessments and to seek approval of affected neighbours and communities prior to receiving permission.

I am very pleased to rise in support of my colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands. I am speaking in favour of

this motion and I hope all members of the House will agree that the motion not only is an excellent one but should be adopted unanimously by the House.

Let me say first of all that the motion itself deals with a particularly important issue to the Gulf Islanders. I have had many opportunities to visit Pender Island and the other Gulf Islands. I know that the people in the Gulf Islands who are so ably represented by the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands fully support this resolution and would ask the House to adopt it.

I am also pleased to support the motion moved by my colleague because of the work she has done as a spokesperson for our area and for all Canadians on issues of the environment in her first term as a member of Parliament.

The member has given courageous and decisive leadership on environmental issues since she first came here in December 1988. She attended the Rio conference, the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, last year. She has been a leading member on the environment committee of this House. She has spoken out on a whole range of issues on the environment, most recently on issues concerning the ozone layer.

I pay tribute to the leadership she has given and the tenacity with which she has followed these issues. She is a great credit to her party and to her constituency.

This motion is one of a number of measures which are now before the House to deal with the issues of tanker traffic in our area and across Canada. The greater Victoria area is particularly sensitive to issues of tanker traffic and other ship and freighter traffic through the region.

We have seen disastrous oil spills on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Daily we see tankers going back and forth on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We have been saying in this House over the last four years that it is essential that this Parliament and the government deal with the issues that occur as a result of the heavy traffic through our region.

I have the honour to chair the legislative committee looking into Bill C-121. That is a very progressive piece of legislation brought forward by this government in

June 1, 1993

response to the review panel chaired by David Brander-Smith of Vancouver.

That review panel was struck by the government following the oil spill disasters of 1988-89. The panel came forward with 107 recommendations. I am pleased to see that in many areas the government is proceeding under the leadership of the Canadian Coast Guard to implement those recommendations.

One part of the implementation process is the bill that is before the House, Bill C-121. This bill adopts a number of the recommendations proposed by Mr. Bran-der-Smith and the panel. Very specifically it sets up a regime to deal with an oil spill once it has happened and to try to reduce the incidence of oil spills.

There are some who falsely say that we should not tiy to deal with the problem of an oil spill, that once it has happened nothing can be done. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We do agree that prevention is 80 per cent of the issue. It is very important that the government proceed apace in dealing with the recommendations to head off oil spills before they happen. We should also be aware that no matter what measures are taken, oil spills can occur. As the Brander-Smith report indicated we need to take substantially improved steps to deal with those oil spills that regretfully will occur.

The bill before the House takes a major step forward in that direction. First of all, with some minor exceptions for very small vessels, it requires every major ship entering Canadian waters to have an agreement in place approved by the Canadian Coast Guard under which it would have available a response capacity should a spill occur. It would have to file a plan to deal with any spill that occurs. As well, all unloading facilities have to have a response plan in place.

The bill also provides that the shippers and users must get together to encourage the development of a response capacity in Canada up to 10,000 tonnes, that is, virtually all the spills that might occur as a result of traffic within our waters. The interesting part of this provision is that it was worked out in consultation with the users, the shippers, environmental groups and Coast Guard Canada.

Private Members' Business

The program will be entirely financed by the private sector. The users will have to pay the cost of bringing our response in Canada up to the necessary level.

Furthermore, the bill will increase the maximum fine of $250,000 to $1 million. It will insert a provision that wherever an oil spill occurs the polluter must pay the costs of cleaning up the spill. It fixes that liability clearly and precisely where it should be, on the principle of polluter pay.

The bill also identifies the Canadian Coast Guard as the effective national authority to deal with oil spills and the prevention of spills. The Coast Guard is given full authority to deal with vessels entering Canadian waters to ensure that the crews are trained, available and ready to deal with any measure that may come.

As well the bill gives judges a much broader range in sentencing, including the opportunity to order remedial action.

Finally the bill establishes advisory councils. The committee will be dealing with various proposals for the make-up of those councils. Let me say it is a major and very important advance that advisory councils be established at the national, regional and local levels so that there is public and user input into the policies of the Canadian Coast Guard and to the implementation of those policies.

The people in our area know the impact of oil spills. We applaud the volunteers who in the past have turned out in the thousands to deal with these spills. But we say to the Government of Canada that the pace must be accelerated in developing measures to prevent oil spills and to ensure the quick and immediate response should a spill occur.

I am very pleased with the motion the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands has introduced today. It provides very specifically that ship and freighter anchorages within the Gulf Islands regions must be subject to environmental impact assessments before those anchorages can be established and that there should be special attention given to environmentally sensitive coastal sites within the area.

It is part of a package that will give us in this country a capacity to do better than we have done in the past. In some areas it ensures that Canada is a leader in this field. This is an important motion. The legislation already before the House is important and I am very glad to stand in my place to support it.

Adjournment Debate

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   IMPACT ASSESSMENTS
Permalink

June 1, 1993