Personal Data

New Democratic Party
Kootenay West--Revelstoke (British Columbia)
Birth Date
May 9, 1939
executive secretary, financial secretary, woodworker

Parliamentary Career

February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Kootenay West (British Columbia)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  Kootenay West--Revelstoke (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 162)

May 28, 1993

Mr. Kristiansen:

Even if it were a written policy it would not matter very much. Whether or not we are going to export and have large scale diversions of water it will not really matter if it is in or out of an international agreement or not. Even if we wrote it into our Constitution, sooner or later a diversion will happen. The pressures will be so great that no government of whatever stripe will be able to resist them.

We must take whatever steps are humanly possible now to exclude it from the North American free trade agreement. Even though we have passed it through the


House of Commons we are not necessarily finished with it yet. To exclude it as a good to be considered, we will need all the leverage we can get to demand as high a price as possible.

People will say, and I say rhetorically, there is no price big enough. When we get the kind of pressures that we know we are going to be faced with, because of that expanding U.S. population and our relatively small population, we had better make sure it is going to be virtually impossible for them to do. The federal government, the provincial governments and perhaps other international partners must have the required agreements if we are going to exact the maximum possible price.

The only kind of price that should be considered is probably major geographical concessions in return for that water. Otherwise we are not going to have a country left. Later on we would have to get part of the property, whether it is in the state of Washington or the state of Oregon, in exchange for that kind of water to make sure we are still in a position to benefit from the water we have.

That is how serious it is going to be down the road. It is the kind of issue that nations go to war over. If you want to talk to people who feel it is that kind of issue, come out to the west where we have had to face problems even from something as relatively innocuous as the Columbia River Treaty. It was supposed to have all kinds of safeguards in it and supposedly was limited to simply storage for the purpose of the generation of electric power.

We know what the stakes are and anybody who travels in the American southwest knows what the stakes are. I really do not have much patience with the kind of picky little defences I hear; that it is a government policy or it is not in clause x of this or clause y of that or somewhere else.

As I said, these are the kinds of issues that nations live, die and go to war for. The United States can bring pressures upon Canada, even being the best of friends, if we do not yield for a price somewhere down the road.

I find it patently ridiculous to have anybody on that side lecture us about being realistic in the face of what any school kid ought to know if he or she can count. That is what I meant about the hon. member's argument being

May 28, 1993


so narrow it was like a river running on its edge. That puts it exactly into perspective.

In the moments available to me I would like to comment on some of the issues raised by my good colleague, the member for Kootenay East or what used to be Kootenay East-Revelstoke prior to the last redistribution.

Last year and again this year in Kootenay East an issue arose that revealed exactly how Canada loses some of its sovereignty when it sells control of its fresh water resources to the U.S. or any foreign nation for that matter.

The Koocanusa reservoir was created when the Libby dam in Montana was built to harness the flow of the south flowing Kootenay River, a branch of the Columbia River in southeastern B.C., as part of the massive Columbia River treaty system.

I am quite familiar with that waterway. It runs right by my home. Until recently the reservoir has been managed relatively well ensuring power benefits and a solid fish and tourism base on both sides of the border.

Last year however the U.S. took water from the reservoir earlier than normal. The B.C. government had to scramble within the narrow range of the treaty to adjust other reservoirs in order to protect the Koocanusa for the . crucial summer season.

Some of those other reservoirs that were partially sacrificed were within my own constituency. We are already facing pressures on those reservoirs again this year even though the shortage on a short-term basis is not quite as drastic in the U.S. southwest as it was last year.

This year water levels are even lower and the Americans are determined to take what is theirs legally not just for power and flood control but also for fish and environmental enhancement. The B.C. government remains restricted under the treaty and the result is that the Koocanusa reservoir is now a dust bowl. The local tourism based economy will be destroyed this summer.

This is a serious issue and shows on a very micro scale the tremendous damage that can result if we allow any large scale diversions of water whether they are supposedly for electrical generation or whatever purpose.

Certainly it was meant for fresh water consumption in the American southwest.

My colleague, the member for Kootenay East, is en route right now to Eureka, Montana to participate in a number of these meetings that have been set up in part to widen the scope of the purposes of that treaty. What is happening?

Water diversion may have originally been for electrical generation but it is now for much more and understandably so. It is legitimately so from the point of view of our American neighbours across the way who are concerned about their quality of life and that of their children in the future.

We are not their enemies. We have to live together. Sooner or later we are going to have to make accommodations for humanitarian purposes and because the negotiating pressures will be so great. We will have to find a price and conditions acceptable to both our good neighbour and Canada, living just a few miles apart.

I appeal to the government once more. Regardless of its exact, fine, narrow range arguments about whether something is in this treaty, this clause or not, realize that Canada is here we hope for a long time. Canadians are here we hope for a long time.

We need every bit of ironclad protection as is humanly possible to ensure that whatever government, Liberal, Tory, NDP or Reform 50 years down the road will be forced to get virtually unanimous agreement in order to exact the highest possible price and the strongest possible conditions on the future exports that we know will happen whether we think it is a good idea or not.

That is a reality and I ask the government to face up to it. It has tried to face up to some others but this is perhaps the biggest reality and the toughest crunch that Canadians are ever going to have to face. We need all the weapons we can get. I appeal to them to look ahead and begin now to address those needs.

Subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S. O. 81-WATER
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May 28, 1993

Mr. Lyle Kristiansen (Kootenay West-Revelstoke):

Mr. Speaker, it has been a rather charming afternoon in its own way. The subject has been water but there has been no little amount of heat generated in the process. If anybody who comes from the home of the Columbia River Treaty is concerned there is always a certain amount of energy generation that seems to follow water flows and this debate has been no exception.

First of all I would like to read into the record the exact wording because there appears to have been some misunderstanding of the opposition motion put forward today by my colleague, the member for Prince George- Bulkley Valley. The motion reads:

That this House condemns the government for its failure to protect Canadian interests regarding the interbasin transfer of water as exemplified by the Kemano project, the North Thompson River, and both the Columbia River Treaty and the North American free trade agreement.

After having done that and thinking back to the comments of my colleague across the way, the member for Calgary Southwest, it struck me that the argument she presented was so narrow it was like a river running on its edge. Not her motivation, we know that is very broad, but the argument itself narrowed in on just one subject at a time within it and seemed to fail to recognize that all of these are grouped together not under the

May 28, 1993


subject of trade but under the subject of water diversions and transfers of water from one basin to another. That is what all these various subject areas have in common.

I would like specifically to relate to the question of trade. Before I get into any details I want to recogniize the contributions that a number of my colleagues have made in this debate, not only in this House today but across the country in the last number of months and in some cases the last number of years.

Particularly on the Kemano and the Nechako River and the issues relating to that basin, the member for Skeena, who is not with us at the moment, and the member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley have been dealing extensively with this.

One of my colleagues, the member for Kootenay East, is not here today. I know that he would want to be. The reason he is not present and able to participate is that he is en route to Eureka, Montana to participate in a multinational meeting that has regard to some of the very issues of diversion, water conservation and general environmental preservation that are some of the spinoffs of the kind of water diversions that we have had already and that we are afraid of meeting in the future.

I also want to specifically mention my colleague, the member for Okanagan-Shuswap, who has contributed already to this particular debate. Along with his colleague for Kamloops he has been engaged to a very great degree in the debate over the proposed diversion of the North Thompson River.

To this point in the debate there have been numerous diversions and picky arguments about the fallaciousness or otherwise, of various statements about the exact words on page x of the free trade agreement, page y of the North American free trade agreement or page z of GATT-I made sure I got the Canadian pronunciation- as to whether water is specified or is not specified and in what way.

I would like to try to avoid some of those picky arguments, as important as some of them are. The government says it is very proud that it has declared a policy. I am glad it has and I congratulate the government for it. It is saying it has no intention as a matter of

policy of approving the large scale export of Canadian water. Fine.

One would have to be pretty dumb not to realize, if one had ever travelled to the American southwest or ever tasted fresh water from the Pacific northwest of Canada, that sooner or later in the not too distant future there are going to be pressures brought to play that are going to make any announced policy of a government appear as nothing more than a puff in the wind no matter what government is elected.

Quite frankly I do not care, coming from the West Kootenays, whether it is a Tory government, a Liberal government federally or provincially, a Socred government, an NDP government, a Reform government or whatever. The fact is that the tremendous resources of water we have available, especially in the southeast corner of British Columbia, comprise almost 2 per cent of the world's supply of fresh water.

If one goes to the American southwest, no matter what hotel one walks into, the sign in any bathroom say "shut the tap off, our water is in danger". Any highway, any little rural road one walks down the signs read: "preserve our water, there is a shortage". They are almost in a state of panic. Anybody who thinks an announced government policy, regardless of the stripe of that government, is going to protect this resource in the face of that kind of pressure is smoking the kind of stuff that a couple of our leadership candidates have made famous recently, not to mention one of my colleagues in the far comer of my own caucus.

They are just floating on cloud nine. Southern California has a population bigger than Canada's. Compare that to British Columbia and particularly southeast British Columbia. My own riding has the smallest population of any electoral district in the province of B.C.

In the last redistribution we only saved that riding and the riding of Kootenay East because both Mr. Brisco, my predecessor from the Conservative Party, and I jointly fought against the redistribution report. More than anything else, we were afraid that if the original report had been adopted we would have had only one member speaking for all the water in the whole southeastern comer of the province.

We needed as many allies as we could get. We successfully fought that redistribution so we could maximize the number of representatives we would have who

May 28, 1993

could protect that resource which we knew would be under attack.

There is a tremendous lack of water in the U.S. southwest. The signs are everywhere in hotel rooms and on the roads.

In that comer of British Columbia we have the biggest storehouse of fresh water in the world with the smallest population. It is simply a matter of leverage. Whether the pressure comes 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or 50 years down the road, the biggest market for Canada is the United States.

The Prime Minister and the minister of trade are very fond of saying we are a trading nation and they are right. Thirty per cent of our economy is based on trade as opposed to maybe 10 per cent to 13 per cent in the United States. Regardless of the agreements we are subject to trade pressure from our American neighbours who are usually our good American neighbours, but they have needs to fulfil also.

We are subject to their needs on a wide variety of fronts. Some day they will be desperate and they are getting close to being desperate in the American southwest. The target may be steel, lumber or electric power generation. Regardless of what price they will pay, where it is going to go or what the commodity is the threat will be that we give them what they need, for a price, or they will cut us off.

In the face of the kind of pressures we are going to get over the next 15, 50 or 75 years, no announced government policy is going to matter a damn. That is why it is such a waste of time to hear the kind of defence that we have a policy.

Subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S. O. 81-WATER
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May 28, 1993

Mr. Kristiansen:

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley for the question. Indeed there are a number of meetings, seminars and conferences being planned throughout West Kootenay and East Kootenay in the coming weeks and months. I am also glad to hear that there are meetings going on in his area.

These meetings are being set up not only on the volition of a number of New Democrats who have been concerned politically for some time, but also by the provincial power agencies and others concerned with the


administration of the treaty. This is being done to ensure that whatever decisions we do make and whatever lobbies we do mount are done with the greatest amount of knowledge as to exactly what those agreements are and exactly what limitations we are forced to work within.

I would like to pay tribute to some of my predecessors of two parties in my own area, particularly the squire of the Kootenays, Mr. Bert Herridge, who was the member from 1945 to 1968. During the negotiations of the Columbia River Treaty Mr. Herridge did so much to fight what he thought were the bad provisions of that treaty and on balance the treaty as a whole.

Another tribute goes to a predecessor from 1968 to 1974, the member for Kootenay West, Mr. Randolph Harding, who was also a provincial member. I think he destroyed three or four of his own cars travelling around to the communities that were to be flooded. He added his voice to this and did so much, together with a later member, Mr. Brisco, my alter ego with whom I bounced ideas back and forth on numerous occasions.

All of us, in our own time and in our own way, have done what we could to keep our people informed and to try to get the reality as opposed to the myth of the agreement established in people's minds so that we are bargaining with facts and not simply with emotions. It has probably been deduced not just from my tone but from that of my colleagues and some members on the other side that the emotions run as deep and as strong as do the waters and the generating capacity of the area from which I come.

Subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S. O. 81-WATER
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May 26, 1993

Mr. Lyle Kristiansen (Kootenay West-Revelstoke):

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present a further nine petitions signed by some 300 Canadians primarily from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, but also from Nova Scotia, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Edmonton, the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Parts II and III of the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act have remained unproclaimed since 1986. The employees of the House of Commons, the Senate, the Library of Parliament and staff of members and senators have no health and safety protection under the law and have no legislated role in a common agenda for joint staff-management occupational health and safety items and employees have no legislated labour standards.

The petitioners therefore humbly pray and call upon Parliament to press the government to finally proclaim parts II and III of the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act.

I might just add that the answers given by the government in debate a week ago were absolutely full of crap. It is about time government members got off their butts and did something to implement the law we all passed seven years ago.

May 26, 1993

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May 25, 1993

Mr. Lyle Kristiansen (Kootenay West-Revelstoke):

Mr. Speaker, I wish the subject before us aroused more positive feelings in me, other members in the House, particularly those on the opposition side, and the majority of people in Canada.

The amendments before us, namely Motions Nos. 2,4, 5 and 6, are apparently not going to be supported by the government side. I do not imagine that comes as much of a surprise to anyone. I think this demonstrates very clearly to all of us and all Canadians that this government's agenda and the agenda of most ordinary Canadians are on diametrically opposite courses.

I would like to begin in the few minutes I have this evening by reading briefly from a letter to my constituents that I sent almost two years ago but it still seems particularly appropriate.

It said: "Summer time and the living is easy. That is what the song says and if it was not for the actions of our

federal government it could be and should be too, especially in Canada where we have more wealth, resources and fresh water per person than anywhere else on earth.

"If only we would use it and protect it ourselves instead of letting others manage it and misuse it for themselves in the name of some abstract global market doctrine that says it is wrong for a people, a nation or a community to act together in order to advance and defend their own jobs and their own interests."

The Tory Party, the Reform Party and other people right across Canada say that idea is wrong and horror of horrors it is protectionist. If a government cannot or will not act to protect its own people, their jobs and businesses, then what the devil is a government for?

Of course we have to compete in the global marketplace. Of course we have to make compromises but we do not throw away all the advantages we have. We bargain from our strength, not our weaknesses and before we start we draw our bottom line.

The Prime Minister says there is more to Canada than a few national programs, national services and national corporations. That is true but if he and his friends continue to break up or deregulate and weaken all the national services, programs and agencies that keep this country together like VTA Rail our national transport system, the CBC, medicare, Canada Post, Air Canada and Petro-Canada that could act to guarantee environmental standards and energy self-sufficiency at fair prices, what will we have left?

This government has attempted to incorporate that agenda for all time by incorporating and protecting those moves, first through the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and now by extending that to a North American free trade agreement. That is what makes this debate so important and what makes it so absolutely irresponsible for this government to attempt at this time to ram it through the House of Commons.

May 25, 1993

Government Orders

More and more Canadians will ask themselves if all we get for our taxes is a flag, an anthem and an expensive government that we do not like. Is it really worth it? You tell me. We are fast on the road to becoming exactly that.

The United States, the republic to the south, is beginning to realize there is something of value in some of the institutions here north of the border. It is beginning what is going to be a very hard fought, drawn out campaign to establish some decent social services and social safety nets in that country that are good for all their people and not just some of their people. We have been and are in the process of dismantling almost every important national program that has made this country worth while and distinctive to most Canadians.

What is my bottom line and what is the bottom line of the NDP? It is Canada and it is Canadians. I hate to have to ask but I must ask the government members-and I know as individuals they believe they are good Canadians-what their bottom line is. For the life of me when I see what they have been doing for the last number of years I cannot believe their bottom line is the same as ours: Canada, Canadians and their long-term welfare.

The government signed a trade agreement that meant we had to become more competitive to survive and then followed an economic policy of deregulation, high interest rates and an artificially high dollar that seemed designed to make us less competitive and that is what happened. It is hard to believe its bottom line coincides with mine or that of my constituents.

Ross Perot, the independent candidate in the last U.S. presidential election, gave a very clear warning when he said that if the North American free trade agreement was consummated there would be a giant sucking sound as jobs were sucked south of the border from the United States into Mexico. We have already seen the truth of that in the last few years as close to half a million Canadian jobs have been sucked south into the United States.

A headline in today's Financial Post reads: "Canadian companies head to U.S." It says: "It has been a great month if you are an American looking for work at a Canadian company. Several big Canadian firms have

announced plans to expand in the U.S. Many senior executives expect more Canadian companies to move south because of lower taxes, cheaper labour and free trade." In the last few weeks it points out Jannock Ltd., Norbord Industries Inc., Metall Mining Corporation, Counsel Corporation and Interprovincial Pipe Line Systems Incorporated. The list goes on and on and it gives details.

Because they have this particular mind-set these companies say free trade was just one of about 15 factors in their decision to move south. Among the other important factors were reduced wage costs, cheaper hydro, lower taxes and better access to bigger markets. Those things are exactly what we said would be the result before the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into place.

Companies would be free to move to where labour costs and wages were lower and there were inadequate social services and as a result lower taxes because they did not have to provide them. There is a downward levelling that is taking place continuously on our side of the border where we used to enjoy some good social safety nets and good social programs. If that is not what is taking place then I do not know where we are at all.

That is exactly what we said would happen and we take no joy in having predicted it. Anyone who was not blind or deaf could have figured it out. I do not believe the government is deaf or blind so why has it led us down that path? Why is it continuing to lead us down that path in spite of the facts that are there for all of us to see?

Only the people of Canada can answer that question. The only answer I can think of is not a pretty one. That government has to go. That mind-set has to go. This agreement has to go. It is a bad agreement. It is bad for Canadians. It is bad for Canada.

Adopting these amendments will make it a little more liveable and a little more fair. If the government is not prepared to do that then it should give up. Call an election quickly and let us get this damn thing over with.

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