Mr. Thomas S. Barnett (Comox-Alberni):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Rocky Mountain (Mr. Clark), with his usual eloquence, was discussing amendments 3 and 4, and since we are going to be voting on them together, I presume he was in order in doing so. It is not my intention to defend the minister from any of the attacks made upon his desire for extreme secrecy. I am sure the minister is capable of presenting his own case on that score. Nor is it my intention to try to go around and around again on some of the matters which went around and around for some time in the committee.
May I say at once that in my view the committee that dealt with this bill devoted itself with a great deal of diligence to trying to examine and to sort out a good many
April 4, 1974
complex issues that are inherent in this particular bill. I think it is fair to say that at the outset, when the bill was introduced in the other place, the minister, and probably his departmental officials, hoped the bill would be treated somewhat as a kind of housekeeping measure, to tidy up the situation and to put the final seal of parliamentary approval on the establishment of certain new national parks. Despite some of his criticisms about what happened at Ship Harbour, I think the hon. member for Rocky Mountain would not be averse to agreeing, at least to some extent, that the minister has devoted himself with some diligence to widening the national parks system in Canada. While there are many matters on which I may be in disagreement with the minister at this and other times, I am certainly quite prepared to give him some marks for his effort in this regard.
As I see it, there are essentially three important aspects to this bill, two of which are referred to in the two report stage amendments we are discussing in respect of Clauses 10 and 11 of the bill, and a third, which is not up for discussion at this time, covering provisions in Clause 2 of the bill for the governor in council to take steps leading to the addition of lands to existing parks. If you have noted the reprint of the bill you will have observed that there are certain additions to the original draft of the bill, incorporated in Clause 2, which apparently are not under debate or question at this time because no report stage amendments have been submitted to them. In point of fact the hon. member for Rocky Mountain (Mr. Clark) made some reference to these additions in Clause 2, in part at least. If I may say as an aside, they do represent what I consider to be an interesting development inasmuch as there is some automatic provision in that proposal for consideration by the standing committee and for action forthwith by the House on the report by the committee.
The hon. member for Rocky Mountain spent most of his time talking about this question of public hearings, and I think quite rightly said his party put certain proposals forward in respect of public hearings which have not emerged in the bill as reported from the committee. He was quite right when he said that. The additions to Clause 10, with which the report stage amendment proposes to deal, are in terms which I proposed originally on Clause 2 as accepted by the committee. I fully admit that at the point in time when this particular matter was under consideration, it was with the tacit agreement of members of the NDP who were on the committee that this addition be made to Clause 10 and part of it to Clause 11.
One of the important constitutional issues involved in Clause 10, and I think this fact should not be lost on this House in light of the remarks by the hon. member for Rocky Mountain, is the question of transfer of jurisdiction of lands within the provinces to the Crown in the right of Canada. Under the terms of the national parks trust, unless some future parliament undoes what parliament does at a given time, those lands remain forever in the status which parliament has assigned to them as national parks for the enjoyment of future generations of Canadians in unimpaired condition.
I do not quarrel too much with the argument put forward by the hon. member for Rocky Mountain, and also
National Parks Act
put forward very eloquently in the committee by his colleague the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands (Miss MacDonald), about the desirability of public hearings into the question of the establishment of parks. I hope his eloquent remarks today, and during some of the discussions that took place before the committee, will not fall on deaf ears so far as the governments of the provinces are concerned. As I said, if I recall correctly the lengthy discussions we had in trying to sort this thing out, at the point in time an approach is made by the federal government to a province for certain lands to be put into national parks, and at the point of time when a provincial government is prepared seriously to consider that proposal, or if indeed the provincial government were to decide to take some initiative to offer certain land to national parks, it would be very desirable that the government of the province initiate and hold the kind of hearings to which the hon. member for Rocky Mountain referred. It is very unfortunate that the government of Nova Scotia did not see fit to take that kind of action in respect of the Ship Harbour proposal at an earlier stage than the point in time at which it apparently decided to abandon it.
In the matter of the establishment of new parks in the provinces, that is the point in time, and I agree strongly with the hon. member for Rocky Mountain, that public hearings should be held into the advisability of there being created within that provinces, and from the lands of that province, a national park which would be surrendered to the people of Canada forever for that specific purpose. There is no way in which we in this House or this parliament can impose a provision of that kind upon the governments of the provinces. I do not have any regret that the hon. member for Rocky Mountain and his colleagues in the committee stressed this question of the need for public hearings so vigorously. But when one attempts to sort out all the complex issues involved, and I say this in spite of the fact that I was a party to this becoming part of the bill reported back to the House, then I must say I am now prepared to support the minister's report stage amendment.
I am not regretful in any way that we are having this report stage debate on this subject, and I am not regretful in any way that the minister was pushed to the point where he has to lay this kind of issue on the table, because hopefully the minister, in negotiating with the provinces, will pass on to them some of the views which are apparent among members of the House of Commons from all provinces regarding this matter of public hearings. My reaction might have been different under other circumstances, but I am glad the minister is not in his report stage amendment seeking to delete sub-clause (3). He is, as a result of the initiative of members of the Conservative party at the committee, leaving in that provision which requires the minister-and it says "shall"-to hold hearings on the question of how the park is to be used once it is officially established. I consider that to be a major improvement to the legislation as it was introduced. I think that in the context of the committee debates it should be apparent that the credit for initiating that particular idea during the committee proceedings rests with the hon. member for Rocky Mountain and his colleagues.
April 4, 1974
National Parks Act
The situation with reference to clause 11, which deals with the parks in the Territories, is of course quite different constitutionally to that which applies to the provinces because there the land is held in the right of the federal Crown. Normally, for administrative purposes, this land is under the authority of the Territorial Lands Act which act, in addition to the National Parks Act, I think is one which gives the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Chretien) responsibility. So, in the case of the Northwest Territories, the minister simply is saying that, as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, he wishes to take that land from his jurisdiction under the Territorial Lands Act and propose that it be put under the National Parks Act. I think the minister can be cited for a lack of adequate public hearings on the question of advisability of establishing those parks. This is a matter of debate. However, all that clause 11 does is propose that three specific parks be added to the schedule of the National Parks Act.
So far as I know, the only public hearings that were held on the question in the sense the term is being used by the hon. member for Rocky Mountain were the public hearings held by the committee. That was one reason I strongly supported the idea of the committee going to Whitehorse, so we could at least learn the views of the people of the Yukon Territory. We had before the committee in Ottawa spokesmen interested in the various aspects of the proposed parks in the Northwest Territories. That process has taken place. There is information contained in the records of the committee which satisfies me that the councils of the two Territories had in fact approved the idea of these parks and that there is agreement on all questions except that of the rights of the aboriginal inhabitants of the area. Although there are other aspects of the territories in the north which will come up under one of the other report stage amendments, which I shall not go into at this point, it seems to me that this idea of having further committee hearings, which the deletion of the proposed section would call for, would be really rather redundant at this point in respect of the three specific parks proposed for the two territories.
So far as I am concerned this is not something which should really concern us too much. The minister at this point in effect is saying that we do not need committee hearings to examine these three particular parks in the territories. I really wish that the clauses of the bill which have to do with additions to existing parks had referred to the establishment of new parks. This relates to something the hon. member for Rocky Mountain said. This is beyond the scope of the bill but if that proposal had been included, along with the proposed committee amendments to clause 2 of the bill, then we would have had the other side of the coin. If there were a proposal to establish, either in the territories or in the provinces, a new national park, the standing committee of this House could examine the merit of the proposal, hopefully concurrent with public hearings held under arrangements made by the provinces or in the case of the territories hopefully through some arrangements made by the standing committee with the territorial councils. I think the status of the territories is a matter being discussed not very far
away from this chamber this afternoon by the committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
I might have something to say about this later on when we come to one of the other report stage amendments, but so far as I am concerned the really important improvements that it was possible for the committee to make will be retained if the report stage amendments as introduced today are accepted by the House. I hope that, without too lengthy discussion by other members of the House, it may be possible for us to achieve the purpose that has been referred to by the hon. member for Rocky Mountain so eloquently; that is, a desire to have these particular parks which are to be finally established by this bill come into being for the benefit and use of the people of Canada.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: NATIONAL PARKS ACT