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Statement on Bill C-47
Statement on Bill C-27
Navigable Waterways Act
Protection of Northern Rivers
MP Dennis Bevington, House of Commons, Aboriginal Affairs
Aboriginal Affairs Committee meeting
Bevington statement proposed takeover Nexxen
Bevington question Shell Company
Bevington question drill
Bevington question melting ice
Bevington statement Economy
Franklin Petroleum
Parks Canada
The Environment
Aboriginal Affairs
Canada Post Corporation Act
Northern Development
Statement Bill C-38 (Budget Implementation)
Member’s Statement Climate Change in Canada's Arctic
Oral Question Aboriginal Justice Strategy
Statement C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code
Oral Question National Defence
Conservative Air Canada Back to Work Bill
Biomass Energy
PEARL
Fire Statement
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Mackenzie Basin Master agreement
 

Statement on Bill C-47

November 26, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this particular bill. It is a bill that is very important to the people of the north. As a northern representative, I look forward to dealing with our northern regulatory issues in good fashion, in a fashion that can promote development but can also protect our environment.

Northerners have lived through all of that. There is no question that in the Northwest Territories we understand the nature of the mining industry. As I mentioned to the minister earlier, it is an up-and-down industry. Mines are created. There is huge capital investment in the mines. Afterwards there is an ongoing process with operations and maintenance of those facilities. That creates an up-and-down nature in the gross domestic product of our very small territory. Our territory has 45,000 people in it. Adding in a very large capital investment causes the GDP to rise. We are accustomed to that. We have lived through these boom-and-bust cycles with the mining industry over and over again.

It is very important that we understand the mining industry. It is very important that we know what mine plans do to our economy. It is very important to understand how much mining will benefit the north and where that line can be drawn. When the minister talks about 8,000 jobs in the mining industry going to northerners, he is not really being accurate. It is pretty hard to fill the existing mining jobs in the Northwest Territories with northerners. We run about 50%, and we are topped up. We are topped up in the mines that we have already.

We do have some room to add on mining jobs in the Northwest Territories. However, when we talk about 8,000 jobs, we are talking about increasing our population by a very large extent if we want to fill those with northerners. When the population of the Northwest Territories is increased, enormous pressure is put on the government because the cost of living and the cost of providing facilities in the north is so high.

We view mining very carefully. It is important for our economy. We live with the results of mining. When it comes to the environment, throughout the Northwest Territories we live with the results of mining. We live with the results of bad decisions, decisions improperly made or made too quickly. Those decisions have led us to projects such as the Giant Mine, the worst environmental nightmare in Canada. The only solution for the 270,000 tonnes of arsenic underground is to perpetually freeze it in place so that future generations can deal with it.

The government is on the hook for billions of dollars for the Giant Mine over the foreseeable future. What we see there is what happens when environmental assessment does not work right. What we see with other projects is the same thing. We can look at the Pine Point Mine and the result of that. There is no money left for reclamation. The site was left abandoned. The investment in the community was abandoned.

These are things that we live with in the Northwest Territories. We understand mining very well. We understand its relationship to the environment. Probably more so, the Yukon has the same understanding. Nunavut is just moving into an understanding of mining and how it will work out in its vast territory. I am glad to see that the Nunavut land claims agreement is moving forward, considering that it has been in preparation for almost two decades. We can perhaps understand the frustration of those people who live in Nunavut, in getting their legislation in place and in understanding how that is going to work.

That is one of the reasons why I would love to see the bill split. Nunavut could move forward very quickly. There would be minor amendments, which we understand people are interested in making. That would open an opportunity for Nunavut's people to have a better hold on their regulatory process, a process that, as I pointed out earlier in my question to the minister, is focused on land use planning.

Land use planning is the key element. It is certainly very important. However, we have seen little progress in the Northwest Territories on approving land use plans, which have been worked on for a dozen years. Whether in the Sahtu, Gwich’in or Inuvialuit areas, land use plans need to be developed. In the unsettled claim area of the Deh Cho in the Northwest Territories, an interim land use plan was proposed to deal with the issues. That has not found success with the federal government.

We want to see the bill move forward as quickly as possible. It is a start in the right direction for Nunavut. However, let us hope that when it is put in place the land use plans come very quickly. These land use plans are not written in stone. They are amendable over a certain period of time so that people can adjust them accordingly, so that they work for people in a good fashion. That is exactly what should happen with them. Let us go ahead with Nunavut and get that through.

With regard to the Northwest Territories and the surface rights board, it is a much more difficult issue in some ways. Unlike Nunavut and the Yukon, we have unsettled areas where there has not been an agreement to have a surface rights board. That is not in place yet. That has not been negotiated between the traditional landowners, the first nations of the Deh Cho or the Akaitcho, which is quite a large area of the Northwest Territories. Therefore, what we would be doing with the act is putting in place legislation that has not gone through the process that it has for the Tlicho, the Sahtu and the Gwich’in, where this was negotiated and agreed to by both parties. What we have is a situation where it is going to be put in place, regardless.

Within the bill there is a clause that says the minister must review the act upon the creation of any new land agreement with any party in the Northwest Territories. However, is that review sufficient for the people of the Northwest Territories, for the Deh Cho and Akaitcho people, who are still negotiating their land claims? Is it sufficient that this would simply be subject to a review? Without qualifications to a review, without understanding what a review could accomplish for those two groups, that question needs to be further outlined in committee. It needs to be answered for a very important part of the Northwest Territories. There are things that have to be done there.

In the briefing, it was indicated that the municipalities have not been engaged on this issue. There was a feeling from the department that they did not have a role here. That is not correct because we have existing mines that are located within municipal boundaries, so there are some surface rights that extend into municipal areas.

Therefore, access is important to municipalities. As landowners they have to be part of it. They do have a role here. Consultation has not taken place with them, so we will have to do that at committee as well, in order to understand how municipalities feel about and understand the legislation, which could affect their role.

There are private landowners as well, although not many in the Northwest Territories, that may have some interest in the legislation. Hopefully, we can accomplish this in a fulsome committee examination. We could do the work of government for them at committee. I think that is fair enough.

The minister says this is all about economic development, that the government in effect is passing environmental legislation all about economic development. Is there not something wrong with that statement? Should we not be passing environmental legislation to protect the environment, to ensure for future generations that projects are conducted in a good fashion that yields a good result, and that when companies leave their disturbances are taken care of? That is just what needs to be done.

Good development also ties in with the needs of the people of the region. In the three territories, we have a problem, because we are not provinces. We cannot go to developers and tell them that we want a road in an area as well, that we will work with them to create the infrastructure because it will benefit our people later on. No, under the NWT Act, any new road has to be approved by the federal government; it is a federal government responsibility.

How do we see it playing out in the Northwest Territories? With the diamond mines, which are a great economic development opportunity for the Northwest Territories and for Canada, we have seen very little public infrastructure developed.

Now that fuel prices have gone through the roof, companies are saying that they cannot make a go of it in the future with these prices. However, if we had done it in an orderly, planned fashion, we would have put in hydro-electric power in the Slave province area where the three diamond mines exist right now. That did not happen. The federal government was in charge of that environmental assessment. It chose not to even examine hydro-electric power at the time in 1998, and now today the economy of those mines is suffering. The economy of the Northwest Territories has missed an opportunity to develop more infrastructure and more resources.

Therefore, resource development is a very important tool for human development as well. We miss the connection when we do not have a good say over development. When we do not take a long and careful look at how development would work, we miss the opportunity that could actually enhance and build our territories, which could also perhaps someday become provinces.

These are not areas that are simply set aside for resource development. That attitude should not prevail. The attitude should be one in which the north is for northern people and that they should be served first by development, so that development works to enhance the lives of every single northerner. That is what we look at when we talk about development.

We can look at the past and see that there was one great example of a properly developed resource, although the company did not do a very good job after it finished. That was the Pine Point Mine. The company developed a hydro-electric system and a road and railway, and all of those legacy items remain today as part of the infrastructure and economy of the Northwest Territories.

We want to see that kind of development continue, but we do not want to see big holes in the ground filled with water that have an environmental impact. We have some real goals with environmental assessment, and they are not predicated on slamming things through the system but on careful planning. That is how we make success for the north. We do not make success simply by throwing the doors open, getting through the process as quickly as possible, getting the shovels in the ground as quickly as possible without planning carefully what we are doing.

I do not see that attitude from the government at all. I do not see that planning attitude implicit in what it is doing, and the federal government still holds all the cards when it comes to northern development.

We need to take the part of the legislation dealing with the proposed NWT Surface Rights Board and give it close examination in committee. That is where we want to go. We will find out there what people really think and how to make this work for us. That is our goal.

We had hoped that the bill could be split so that the territories could be dealt with as separate entities. We are not all the same. I do not agree with the minister's attitude that the three territories should be dealt with as one unit; we are not one unit. Nunavut has one common government and one land claim. It has a system it has designed for itself. The Yukon has a completely different system of party politics, which has been established over many years. In the Northwest Territories, we are different. We have six major claims areas that are going to have self-government and a large say in the resources and the development of those particular regions. We do not want that changed.

If the members were to talk to people in the Northwest Territories, they would see that they are not talking about giving up their unique identity. They are not talking about getting in line with the other two territories and marching to the same drum as good little soldiers for the federal government's plans. No, we have our own way of dealing with ourselves, just as Alberta has its own way and puts up with the representation it has. We have our own way. I have been elected three times by the people of the Northwest Territories on a strong environmental platform. I did not get elected simply on resource development; I got elected because people knew I would stand here and speak up for the values that we hold in the Northwest Territories. That is what I am going to do every day I am here. I do not care what Albertans say, I do not care what Ontarians say: I am here for the people of the Northwest Territories.

We look forward to the bill coming to committee, but it needs a fulsome discussion there. If the Conservative government thinks this is simply a slam dunk, it can forget about it.

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Statement on Bill C-47

Statement on Bill C-27

November 20, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, I thank everyone here who is supporting my speech. I speak to a very difficult bill that the government has brought forward, Bill C-27, ostensibly called a “transparency act”, but really it is another colonial act. That is what the bill is about. We have a bill that speaks to a very small segment of society that considers first nations to have extreme problems with accountability. It demands a system of accountability that is really unacceptable, that would not meet the needs of first nations and that would impose a burden that would, in some cases, put first nations at a disadvantage with other Canadians.

The bill would force first nations who are still under the Indian Act to publicly post their financial statements of any moneys provided to chiefs and band councillors regardless of where it is earned, including reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses, its auditors' reports on financial statements and its auditors' reports on moneys paid to chiefs and council, and to make these available on a website for a period of 10 years. All this information is already accessible to band members through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs by request. This information is available to those who want it and they make use of that service, from what we were told, upwards of 150 to 200 times a year. I do not know if that is every year or in particular years, but out of the 600 or so bands, that is the volume of requests put forward.

Once we took the bill to committee, even those who supported it said that there needed to be amendments. There were a few major supporters within the first nations who took the position of the government and said they wanted it. They made that choice. However, by and large, the majority of first nations people understood and recognized that this was not the way to do business and that this was not government to government. When the minister was in front of us I asked him whether he considers the relationship between the federal government and the band councils in Canada to be government to government. He agreed with me. He said that it is. Hence, the hypocrisy of the bill, which would treat first nations people as wards of the state.

In the Northwest Territories, another government that is set up by a bill of this Parliament, the NWT Act, the NWT government gets to choose how it discloses information. That applies to Nunavut as well as to the Yukon. We have a situation here where the government agrees it is a government to government relationship, yet it will not treat the first nations in the same fashion that it treats others. We have equality in this country. We have equality as a guiding principle of this country and the Conservatives seem to take that and ignore it.

There is a hypocrisy issue here as well because quite clearly the current government has been one of the most secretive governments in the history of Canada. International agencies that monitor access to information have taken us from fourth place in the world to 52nd place in our ability to access information from the government. In terms of the information that is given, when the Conservative government came to power, the average redaction of information was 15%. Fifteen per cent of the items that the government released to the public was redacted. It is now 47%. Why? Has the nature of government changed so much? Has secrecy become so important?

If it is so important for the Conservatives, why would they insist that first nation governments would have to show everything to everyone in this country on a website for every nitpicker in the country to look at. Everyone with a grudge against first nations could go there and go through their dirty laundry to look for something. That is what the government wants to do to first nations. That is what it is doing with the bill. What a shame.

The government could have, through incentives to first nations, enabled them to develop their own information systems. Many have. Many of the first nations that came in front of us said, “Look, here is the work that we have done. Here is how we disclose our information. We are proud of it. We did this ourselves”.

What does the government do? It slaps it on everyone. How is that government to government? Shame on the government. Shame on it for not treating first nations in a respectful fashion. That is the problem we had in Canada for 100 years. I thought we were trying to get over this problem of treating First Nations with little respect. After signing treaties with them, after taking over their land, when are we going to treat them with respect?

Let us talk about the Conservative government for a while, because the bill is going to pass and we are going to end up in a situation where the first nations are going to have wait three years to get this fixed. Right now, the government has done very bad things with respect to accountability and transparency.

One of the first acts by the government was to create the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, saying this would make the government more accountable. Since that day, the government has denied information, delayed the release of information and demeaned the PBO. Most recently, the PBO has had to threaten court action to get the information he needs to provide parliamentarians with the facts we need to properly review Conservative budgets and other financial statements. This is a public government, open to every citizen of the country, unlike first nations, which are governments for specific groups of people in this country. We have a responsibility as a public government to release information to all and sundry.

When it comes to the environment, the Conservative government has shut down investigation into climate change, taken out the Experimental Lakes Area, closed Arctic research centres and has muzzled scientists from speaking in public. What is going on? What is it about science that Conservatives feel the rest of the Canadians should not know? What is it about science that the government wants to hide from us?

That is a question that perhaps we will get in the next election. That is when the Canadian public will actually decide what information they want. There is the F-35 auditor's report and the handling of the Auditor General's report. In his first report as Auditor General, Michael Ferguson said the Department of National Defence gambled on the F-35 fighter jet without running a fair competition, while lacking cost certainty or any guarantee the plane could replace the current fleet of CF-18s by the end of the decade. He went on to talk about business conducted in an uncoordinated fashion by federal departments.

What did the government do? First it said his information was all wrong, after refusing to release the information he requested. Then it tried to shut committee meetings in this boondoggle. The final attempt by the Conservative government to hide the truth has been to delay the release of the public accounts committee report looking into the debacle. These are hardly the actions of a government that supports accountability and transparency.

I could go on for quite a long time about the inadequacy of the government when it comes to accountability and transparency. The Canadian public would probably enjoy hearing about all the issues we have with that. I could talk about robocalls, the impact of the health care transfer cuts to the provinces, the cost of the ideological prison agenda or election financing schemes, but I would be here all day and I only have 30 seconds.

For the Conservatives to say that the single biggest issue for first nations people, many of whom live in third world poverty, is the need for accountability beyond what they do already is real hypocrisy.

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Statement on Bill C-27

Question on the Navigable Waterways Act

October 26, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives will not have to rewrite history on this question because it is about navigation.

On Monday, the premier of the Northwest Territories stated that his government was not consulted before the Minister of Transport removed the protections from most of the waterways in the north. If the minister had been consulted, he would have been told that removing the protection from Hay River would also have meant removing protection from the largest port facility in Canada's north.

Since the minister could not be bothered to consult with other Canadian governments, just who did he consult with before acting in such a ham-fisted manner?

Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, the navigable waterways act is about navigation. It has always been about navigation. Let me share with the member what other people have had to say. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities said:

The changes announced today will allow local governments to spend less time processing paperwork for small, low-risk public works projects by removing redundancies, red tape and project delays that result in higher costs for property tax payers.

The Construction Association commented on this. If had time, I could read them. The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities had a fantastic quote. The former premier of B.C., Gordon Campbell, is really thrilled about—

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Navigable Waterways Act

Question in the House of Commons on the Protection of Northern Rivers

October 24, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have excluded from protection many northern rivers which northerners rely on for navigation, such as the Nahanni River, the Liard River, most of the Yukon River, the Bear River and even the Slave River, which drains 80% of the water leaving Alberta and has been used for barging for more than 100 years. It is now excluded from protection. This could be opened up for a major power dam.

Is it the government's intent to remove any controls and development on the Slave and these other rivers?

Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Navigable Waters Protection Act has always been about navigation, not environment. This has been the case since 1882. There is not a word about the environment in the actual act. My colleague is referring to another act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which was amended last spring.

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Protection of Northern Rivers

MP Dennis Bevington, House of Commons, Aboriginal Affairs

October 17, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, on September 12, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development issued offshore exploration leases to more than 9,000 square kilometres of the Beaufort Sea to Franklin Petroleum, a U.K. company, for $7.5 million in promised work.

Franklin has no experience in the Arctic. According to its most recent corporate filing, it had $220 in the bank and a corporate value of minus $32,000. It is unlikely this company will actually do any work. Instead, it now has exclusive control over a vast area of the Beaufort Sea.

Now that Franklin has these leases, section 85 of the Natural Resources Development Act allows it to transfer the leases to anyone by only notifying the minister of the transfer. No approval is required.

Internationally, it is common that transfer of leases require ministerial approval. This is how things are done in the North Sea. Norway requires approval of the minister before licences can be transferred. Its law states:

Transfer of a licence or participating interest in a licence for petroleum activities may not take place without the approval of the Ministry.

Franklin Petroleum could just sit on these leases and do no work without any penalty. No jobs will be created while companies able to do this work will be excluded for many years. How does this help the economy or work in the national interest of Canada?

The oil patch is scratching its head as to why the minister did this when he could have decided to not issue any leases as per the Canada Petroleum Resources Act which states:

The Minister is not required to issue an interest as a result of a call for bid.

The Canadian Business magazine, on October 10, questioned this decision, stating:

How could a little-known British firm with two employees and no producing assets end up owning the largest oil lease ever issued in the Canadian Arctic?

Long-time oil patch analyst, Paul Ziff, said:

We're talking about one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in Canada.... This type of award flies in the face of public concern.

Nigel Bankes, professor and chair of Natural Resources Law, University of Calgary, said:

...I don’t think that we have seen a give-away on this scale since the giveaways that occurred before the first major discovery of oil and gas resources in the Arctic in Prudhoe Bay (Alaska) in 1969. Following that discovery federal policy makers resolved to be more demanding of international oil companies. This most recent decision looks like a step back in time.

Professor Bankes has put forward three recommendations that the minister should have followed, if he were doing his job.

First, carry out a strategic environmental assessment before making the significant decision to open up a new area to exploratory drilling.

Second, develop and implement a scheme for the pre-qualification of bidders in an effort to ensure that those who are bidding on these blocks have the assets, the experience and the safety record to engage in this type of activity.

Third, tighten up the bidding system, either to change the standard practice to a cash bidding system, or to require that a minimum work bid must at least cover the cost of the estimated exploratory well that must be drilled during the first period of the licence.

Having a strategic environmental assessment actually follows the current cabinet directive on these types of development and is the process used in developing the off shore oil and gas off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Unfortunately, the minister did not do his job and failed to protect the national interests of Canada by not doing due diligence on these leases. This is a disgrace.

Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the work the hon. member and I do together on the standing committee.

To respond to the question of the hon. member for the Western Arctic on this matter, he should know that the Government of Canada continues to deliver on initiatives under the northern strategy, including the issuance of exploration licences in the north, which encourage investment in northern communities.

The process to acquire the rights to explore for oil and gas on Crown lands in the north is called the rights issuance process. It is the result of an open and transparent process set out in the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act.

The process has four phases, which include: community engagement; call for nominations; call for bids; and the issuance of exploration licences. It is a public process through and through.

Rights issuances in Canada's offshore areas are market driven and awarded based on competitive calls for bids. Industry identifies parcels of interest which may be included in a subsequent call for bids. We have one bidding criterion, which is the highest bidder wins. The minimum bid is set at $1 million and before a licence is awarded, a financial deposit is required, which represents 25% of the bid. Companies are required to come up with this financial deposit within 15 days of being announced as the highest bidder before any licence is issued.

Let me be clear. Lands are not sold in the process. Rights issuance does not provide permission to conduct exploratory activities. In fact, a licence is awarded for a specific period of time that affords the holder the exclusive right to apply for authorizations to undertake work. When companies get to the stage of seeking permission to conduct exploratory activities, they require authorization from the National Energy Board. Only after a rigorous review process and environmental assessments does the National Energy Board authorize exploration. By law, the company needs to demonstrate that it has the financial capacity to afford potential liabilities in the event of a major incident.

What is more, this exploration of Canada's offshore regions generates economic opportunities for communities and direct and indirect benefits to northern and Canadian economies.

We are getting things done in the north. Whether it is setting high standards for regulatory frameworks, increasing opportunities or making food more readily available, our government takes its responsibility to the north and to all northerners seriously. We are committed to working with our partners to ensure any future development takes place in a manner that protects the northern environment and is respectful of community interests.

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, my colleague neglects to say that there is a cabinet directive to provide a strategic environmental assessment before any leases are handed out. As well, the process that he describes sounds great if it is being handled in a correct fashion by a company that can handle it. However, what we see now is a company that cannot financially handle this kind of investment in the Arctic and will undoubtedly pick other partners for it. If the company or the other partners are successful in finding a significant discovery in that area, the companies then have the right to that resource. That resource remains with them.

What we have is a situation where we do not have a clear future outlined in the handing out of this lease for such a low sum of money. I might add that a letter of credit is all that is required for the deposit that goes on these leases.

Mr. Greg Rickford:

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring a strong and prosperous north to help shape the future of our nation. This includes meeting our responsibilities for ensuring sustainable and balanced development in the north. This includes oil and gas exploration in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the northern offshore areas through the rights issuance process. This process is open and transparent and abides by the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. Winning bidders must provide financial security for their bid. What is more, drilling can only take place after a rigorous review and environmental assessment.

Protecting the north and the interests of northerners is a priority for our government. The rights issuance process is carefully managed to ensure that the northern environment is safeguarded.

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF MP Dennis Bevington, House of Commons

Aboriginal Affairs Committee meeting

October 15, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington: Thanks, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Minister, for appearing in front of us on this particular bill. I am a little confused by some of the things you've said here. I'd like to understand what you consider the relationship between the federal government and first nations. Is it nation to nation? Is it government to government? Is that the relationship you see?

Hon John Duncan: Yes, I think we very much have a government-to-government relationship. That is very apparent, even in multiple documents we've jointly signed.

Mr. Dennis Bevington: Okay. Some of your argument for taking this particular tack with first nations is based on provincial and territorial governments having adopted similar practices. The vast majority have legislation that requires their municipal governments to do so as well. Did the federal government insist on the provinces providing financial disclosure practices, or was that something they came to themselves under their understanding of what they need for their government to run properly?

Hon John Duncan: If you're referencing municipal governments....

Mr. Dennis Bevington: No. I'm referencing provincial and territorial governments. Municipal governments are creatures of those two bodies.

Hon John Duncan: That's correct. No, we had no role to play in the---

Mr. Dennis Bevington: You had no role to play in that.

Hon John Duncan: ---transparency and accountability of the provinces and territories.

Mr. Dennis Bevington: But you didn't make a choice for those governments, did you? And you're making a choice for these governments, first nations governments, about how they should portray themselves in the public eye, open to every single Canadian. Now you say that what we're asking of chiefs and councillors is no different from what we ask of ourselves as parliamentarians. Chiefs and councillors are not parliamentarians. They're not elected by the public of Canada. They are elected by first nations people. They have a different relationship than what a parliamentarian has with the public of Canada. Don't you agree?

Hon John Duncan: Sure.

Mr. Dennis Bevington: Well then....

Hon John Duncan: I'm not sure what you're suggesting, though.

Mr. Dennis Bevington: I'm going to the basic principle.

Hon John Duncan: Are you suggesting that they don't report publicly?

Mr. Dennis Bevington: The basic principle of this bill, I think, is what turns off most first nations. They expect that they will make the rules for their conduct, just as other governments make the rules for their conduct. What you've done is taken a very paternalistic approach to this, in that you've said that these are the rules by which you will govern yourself. That's the problem that I think the AFN referenced as well in their opposition to this legislation. They want to be treated as governments. As governments, they would expect that they make their rules for disclosure, not the federal government. The federal government has some financial accounting requirements that are from a relationship between the aboriginal government and the federal government. For those to be made public should be the responsibility of both parties, not an individual party, as you have put forward with this legislation.

Hon John Duncan: Dennis, we have 34 self-governing first nations across the country. Under their agreements, they have their reporting mechanisms. For the other 582 first nations, the Indian Act is silent on transparency and accountability. We are bringing the 21st century to first nations governments, whose citizens and members are currently asking the department for information that should be coming from the first nations governments themselves, in some cases. This is inappropriate. We have an obligation, as the senior level of government, to ensure that those Canadian citizens have the same rights as other Canadian citizens.

The Chair: You have about 20 seconds. We could certainly use that for our next witness.

Mr. Dennis Bevington: I would say quite clearly that if moving into the 21st century means we're going to make more decisions for first nations, I think it is the wrong attitude. I think we have to treat first nations as governments, just as we treat the provinces and territories as governments, and the relationship should be encouraged in that direction.

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Aboriginal Affairs Committee meeting

Bevington statement proposed takeover Nexen

October 2, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this, and I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.

We are speaking to a motion that says that, in the opinion of the House, the government should not make a decision on the proposed takeover of Nexen by CNOOC without conducting thorough public consultations, and these accessible public hearings should be on the issue of foreign ownership in the Canadian energy sector with a reference to state-owned enterprises.

So far in the debate what I have learned from the government side is that in terms of policy and direction on this, the Conservatives are simply not there. They do not have the capacity to make a decision that is in the public interest because they do have the policies that allow them to analyze public interest.

In this world today, state-owned enterprises are the norm in the energy sector across the world, whether it is Mexico, Norway, Brazil, Venezuela—in fact in most of the OPEC countries—and 75% of all oil resources are under the control of states worldwide. This is the reality of the oil and gas industry today. Only 7% of all oil and gas reserves are in countries that have a free rein on investment in oil and gas. Quite clearly, Canada is an exception, especially among energy exporting countries.

I think of all the major energy exporting countries, and Canada is the only one that allows a free rein on investment. We have a situation in which Canada is not lined up with the rest of the world. We must explain why our competitive system, as we have heard the Conservatives describe it, is going to work going forward for our children and grandchildren. In terms of reserves, 13 top oil companies are state-owned. This game is afoot around the world and where is Canada? It is stuck in the mud.

What is the feeling in Canada about energy? The general agreement, whether it is the premiers or the industry itself, is that we need a national energy strategy. Right across the country, there is a great deal of concern that we do not have one. This situation has been facing the Conservatives for the last six years, their time in government, and they have stonewalled on it. They have done nothing.

It would be easier to support ownership of any kind if there were a Canadian agreement on the maximizing of benefits from our non-renewable and finite energy sources. These are non-renewable. These are finite. When we take them out of the country, we have less in the country, not more. So the bank account is being depleted as we speak, with our resources. What is the net benefit to Canadians from that?

In the absence of a national energy strategy, how well does the laissez-faire approach work? How well is it working in the oil sands we are talking about today? One can safely say that it has been characterized by a chaotic and uncertain approach that jumps from one idea to the next. There is no control, no understanding of the environmental impacts of the oil sands. In fact, the industry itself has turned its back on the major agencies that were set up to study it and said they will not work.

Take upgrading bitumen, which is a big component in the oil sands, a big part of the money and the benefits that can be made by Canadians. In 2007, the industry was prepared to upgrade all the oil in Canada. It was prepared to invest $100 billion in upgrading. How much is it ready to do today? Nothing. There is no upgrading capacity that is moving forward today in Canada, so we have lost that. Why did industry change so rapidly? What is it about our system that allows that kind of chaotic behaviour? (1340)

There is a lack of effective research. If we look at the numbers, they show that research in the oil sands is far smaller than it is in most other aspects of the international energy scene. Why is that, when we know that the issues around the development of the oil sands are complex and become more complex the deeper we go in the ground? At a breakfast held here in Ottawa before the summer break, a professor from the University of Calgary explained very clearly what is going to happen as companies dig deeper into the oil sands and how much more difficult that is going to become.

What about the direction for markets? We are proposing a pipeline to the United States to upgrade the bitumen in old refineries down there that were designed for Venezuelan heavy oil. In fact right now BP had one of its licenses turned down to operate one of those upgraders in the United States because it did not meet environmental standards. That is one idea that we have had.

The other idea is to market it in China, in the far east, through the gateway pipeline, though it opposed by almost every person along that route. The idea is to export raw bitumen to China at the same time we are exporting liquefied natural gas to China. We are going to combine them there in an upgrader. How does that work for Canada?

We have an industry with real problems, public relations problems in the extreme with the sale of a product that we cannot manage. Moreover, we cannot maximize the return on investments. We are squandering our resources on quick and dirty action in those oil sands. That is what is happening.

How can we as Canadians make a decision today about the value of transferring the ownership of one Canadian company to a state-owned enterprise in China when we do not have a plan that we can point to for the people who are taking over the industry, saying that this is what we want them to accomplish if they come into the country, that this is how we want them to develop our country? It is not there.

What about our neighbours, the United States? What do they think about this? There is bipartisan horror at the idea of turning over 1.3 million acres of Gulf of Mexico oil leases to the Chinese. Why is that? It is because the U.S. understands the nature of offshore oil. They understand that the goal in their country is to develop the resources so that they are energy independent. They know that very well. That is why they are standing up. They are standing up for the interests of the United States.

Two weeks ago I brought up the matter of the leases in the Arctic. We just gave up a lease in the Arctic of over 900,000 square hectares to a company with almost no assets, a company that we knew was going to turn around and sell it to someone else, maybe the Russians, the Koreans, or the Chinese, who have icebreakers and deep sea drilling capacity.

Does our minister even have the power to say no to a transfer? No, he does not under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that governs northern petroleum development. He does not have the ability to say no to a transfer.

Right across this country, we are failing our children and our grandchildren with our laissez-faire approach to an industry and energy source that countries right around the world are standing up for themselves and taking advantage of us for. That is what is happening right around the world.

Where is Canada? It is without a strategy, without a direction, flailing in the wind. That is a terrible thing to have to say in this Parliament.

Here we have a chance to change it. If the Conservatives get onside and start holding public hearings on these issues that are so important to us, that can make the difference. Stand up for Canada. Make a difference.

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Bevington question Shell Company

September 21, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives sold off 9,000 square kilometres of the Beaufort Sea for pennies to a shell company and yesterday the government could not even begin to say why they did it. The CEO of the company says that either the Russians or the Koreans might be interested in this lease. The minister had the power under the law to reject the deal, but he did not.

Why did the Conservatives sell off Canadian resources like this?

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Bevington question drill

September 21, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, remember that we are talking about a company with $220 in the bank and a corporate value of minus $32,000 at its last filing. That is the guy who got the lease, someone who wants to get the backing of the Koreans or Russians to get rich. Industry observer Paul Ziff rightly points out this would never happen in the North Sea. At least the U.K. has some concern about who takes its resources.

Why did the Conservatives sell off this lease to a fly-by-night company in one of the most environmentally-sensitive areas of the country, one of the places where drilling and exploration is most controversial right now?

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Bevington question melting ice

September 21, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, this week melting Arctic sea ice set a new record. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that in mid-September Arctic ice covered 3.4 million square kilometres, beating the record set in 2007 when it measured 4.2 million square kilometres.

Scientists are now predicting that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer by 2020, previously they had predicted 2050 as the ice-free date.

However, the melting Arctic Ocean is only part of the picture. This summer 97% of the Greenland ice cap was melting. The people of the north are seeing changing weather patterns with high temperatures and unusually strong storms, including the largest storm over the Arctic Ocean this summer.

Three large chunks of ice broke off ice shelves in the Arctic this summer. The largest was a piece the size of Bermuda off the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island.

When will the government recognize the crisis that is rapidly overtaking the Arctic? When will we see action that means something on climate change? What is holding the government back?

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Bevington statement Economy

September 20, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, one of the keys to success is always being able to work and co-operate with others.

This November, the premiers of the provinces and territories are meeting in Halifax at the national economic summit, organized by the Council of the Federation. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister will be a no-show.

From a northern perspective, a major concern is the proposed European free trade agreement that would affect government programs aimed at helping to economically develop the north, for example, the NWT's business incentive policy. The business incentive policy gives preference to registered northern businesses in the Northwest Territories for the government's purchase of products and services. This policy applies to all contracts entered into directly by the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Under the policy, the Government of the Northwest Territories supports the creation and growth of competitive businesses as a foundation in the Northwest Territories' economy and will, when purchasing goods, services or construction, provide an incentive to NWT-based businesses that recognizes the higher costs of operating business and manufacturing products in our territory. This encourages Northwest Territories-based businesses to create employment and develop necessary experience and business skills and complies with any intergovernmental agreements to which the GNWT must adhere.

It is the last bit that concerns northerners. They wonder if the European free trade deal would mean the end of BIP.

The Prime Minister could allay these concerns by meeting with the northern leaders and the provincial premiers and ensuring that this vital policy is protected.

Another issue that could be discussed is how to properly encourage economic development in the north.

The key phrase for northern economic development is stewardship. Northerners know that economic development in the north means, for the most part, natural resource development. We know the government's approach is to exploit the north's natural resources as fast as possible and damn the consequences, much as the Liberals before them.

A better approach is to sustainably develop resources, to shepherd resources to ensure the longest life of the development to ensure the maximum level of job creation. That is the way northerners look at development. We look at how we can benefit from those developments and how we can build our society.

Proper resource development ensures that the environment is protected. Northerners have learned the hard way that setting standards and maintaining them is the only way to protect ourselves against development. If we do not have that, then the public ends up cleaning up the mess. One only has to look at Giant Yellowknife mines right now where, once the environmental assessment is finished, the federal government will be on the hook for about a half a billion dollars to clean up the mess that is left there.

Another area that the Prime Minister could discuss with northern leaders is how to improve public infrastructure, which would not only aid economic development in the north but improve the life of northerners by reducing costs and, in many regards, would be the best way to strengthen Arctic sovereignty.

The Prime Minister is great at making promises to northerners, but we are still waiting for him to live up to them. For example, take the long-promised harbour at Iqaluit. It is not there yet. We can also consider the airport in Iqaluit, which needs a $400 million upgrade. These are infrastructure improvements that are absolutely essential to the functioning of Nunavut.

Improving housing is another type of infrastructure that really needs improvement. The cost of constructing new, healthy homes based on southern Canadian standards has gone through the roof. In addition to the high costs of construction, living in the homes is just as expensive. In addition to the high cost of energy, utility costs are astronomical. The provision of water and sewer service in remote northern communities is invariably by truck: haul it in, haul it out.

The Prime Minister could discuss with northern leaders ways of reducing the high cost of living in the north. Rather than importing a southern lifestyle, we should be developing a sustainable northern lifestyle.

In practical terms, regarding the northern cost of living, sustainability can apply to supply systems, attitudes, materials, local economics and consumption practices. Societal tools for influencing sustainability include full market pricing, based on a complete understanding of all costs such as education, advertisement, incentives, regulations and policy.

One has to view the whole situation in the north to understand what has gone wrong with this attempt to recreate a southern lifestyle north of 60. One example is the cost of heating a home or a business in the north. For most communities in northern Canada, which are beyond the range of a natural gas pipeline or a major electrical grid, in terms of heating costs the last decade has been pure hell.

Over that time, the majority of Canadians enjoyed natural gas prices, which really were no different than they were at the start of the decade. Meanwhile, northern homes and businesses supplied by imported fuel oil have seen their prices go up 300% or 400%. Considering that the number of days requiring heat in homes in the north are double that of southern Canada, the magnitude of the problem becomes apparent. The system is not working for us.

At the same time, these communities generate electricity from the same fuel oil used for heating. The cost to run the coolers and freezers at grocery stores is over 10 times what it would be in Toronto or Ottawa. The increased cost of energy adds to the high cost of food for sale in the stores. Food and energy are linked together in Canada's north just as they are across the world, but in our case to a greater degree of unsustainability.

Transportation of people, goods and energy is another area where cost surge from high energy prices have been an Achilles Heel to the southern lifestyle imported to the north. In the north, distances are great and roads are poor or non-existent. Air travel is based on low volume, small planes and high prices. It can cost more to fly from Edmonton to Yellowknife than from the Alberta capital to Europe. The already costly petroleum needed to heat homes, generate electricity and power automobiles goes up even more when the high cost of northern transport is added in. These high transport costs are reflected in the high cost of food in the north, which is imported from the south.

Yes, there are many things that the Prime Minister could meet on and talk in public with our leaders from the territories and provinces. Many of the problems that northern provinces have are the same as in the northern territories. We need discussion. We need support to come up with better solutions that promote sustainability rather than subsidized lifestyles that are at great risk at all times.

There has been a call right across the country for a national energy strategy, from provinces, industry and people on the street. They are all saying that we should get together on this, act like other countries in a sane and rational fashion and form the vision of what we have for a Canadian energy system.

Why is the Prime Minister not willing to meet with the premiers who have themselves indicated that they want to do this and have pushed it forward on their agenda? Why is the Prime Minister not able to engage with the premiers on this issue? Why is he content to leave it alone?

This is not the way to govern this federation. We need the Prime Minister to actively engage with the other leaders in the country. We encourage him to do this through this motion today. We plead with him. It is better for the country that he do that.

I hope the Prime Minister is listening today to this debate, that he recognizes the importance of the debate that we are having and why this party is putting this motion forward at this time.

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Bevington question Franklin Petroleum

September 20, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development handed 900,000 hectares of oil and gas rights in the Beaufort Sea to Franklin Petroleum. Owned by a husband and wife in England, last year Franklin had $220 in the bank and a corporate value of minus $32,000. It is unlikely that this company will do any work. These rights, with a massive oil and gas potential, can now be transferred to anyone by only sending a letter to the minister.

Why did the minister fail to protect this valuable resource by exercising his authority under the law and-

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House of Commons Debates - Parks Canada

June 21, 2012

House of Commons Crest

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I give my best wishes to indigenous people and all Canadians on National Aboriginal Day.

Northerners know the economic benefits national parks bring through increased tourism. With the expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve and the creation of the East Arm National Park, northerners have shown their commitment to these heritage sites. However, with the Conservatives reckless cuts to Parks Canada, northerners are concerned that this vital form of sustainable economic development will be delayed or severely crippled.

Why is the minister cutting back on the government's promise to fully fund these northern parks? Is it the government's opinion that parks do not create jobs?

Ms. Michelle Rempel (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to note that, since 2006, this government has protected more parkland than any other government in recent history. We are committed to protecting Canada's parks. We are also proud of the fine work that Parks Canada staff do to promote Canada and promote our great natural heritage. However, a concept that the opposition does not understand is being wise stewards of taxpayer dollars. In fact, one could say that its ability to manage the economy is like a dine and dash: order the most expensive thing on a menu and then stick someone else with the bill. We have decided to ensure that we are wise stewards of taxpayer dollars, while managing the economy.

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House of Commons Debates - The Environment

June 11, 2012

House of Commons Crest

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak tonight on an issue I raised earlier this year with the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

In the Northwest Territories, the biomass energy strategy of conversion of large buildings to this form of energy for heating has been an unqualified success. The program has been carried out for the last two to three years. We are seeing much reduced costs in heating these large buildings. We are seeing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of a considerable amount through the use of biomass energy, mostly from waste products from sawmills in Alberta and British Columbia.

This is a very big opportunity for northern Canada to reduce its cost of living. These opportunities provide energy that is clean and that has very good environmental characteristics in terms of handling and carrying. The wood pellets that are being employed are half the cost of the most common heating feature in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, which is home heating oil. In fact, 175 communities across northern Canada rely almost entirely on this product, which is very expensive.

Therefore, my question for the minister was, as the Department of Public Works and other government agencies have many large buildings throughout northern Canada, did the government have a program or had it considered a program that would convert these buildings in northern Canada to this new-found heating source?

If this were accomplished, we would see that the market for the product would grow very quickly in the three territories. The federal government could be a shining example of how to buy into a successful program. We would see the volumes go up. This is not a small affair. The use of fuel oil in the three territories are in excess of half a billion dollars in costs for heating throughout those three territories, whether in homes, commercial buildings or in industrial facilities.

The federal government's role in this as a promoter of clean energy would be very useful to the north. The conversion of its buildings' heating to wood pellets or this renewable form of energy would provide an extra market for entrepreneurs to develop supply chains to supply this product throughout the north and many smaller users, such as residences and small businesses, would benefit from this transfer.

It is a very simple, straightforward question. Will the government consider this program? Will it work toward the directions that are turning out to be successful in the north and work with northerners to make a better life for ourselves?

Ms. Michelle Rempel (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, it is actually a great topic. Biomass and biofuel energy are ways to produce green energy and certainly something I acknowledge.

I have seen many different and interesting technologies cross my desk, not only this year but in my previous life at the University of Calgary. It is something that is uniquely Canadian in that we have a thriving sector working in R and D. In fact, our government is supporting this area. I can think off the top of my head of Sustainable Development Technology Canada and several other agencies that are working to promote both the development and receptor capacity for these new technologies.

As far as the adoption of technology goes, our government has invested heavily in this area through the eco-energy renewable power program. The government invested up to $1.48 billion over 14 years to support renewable power sources, such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro energy. Also, the eco-energy innovation initiative will invest $281 million over five years to support the development and demonstration of clean energy technologies. This will help give Canada's entrepreneurs and manufacturers a leading edge in energy innovation. This program currently supports 104 projects across Canada, representing 4,458 megawatts of capacity.

I know that our government is investing in both the research and adoption of a variety of clean energy sources. In Canada we are blessed by having over 75% of our electricity produced by renewable or non-carbon-emitting sources. This is certainly something that our government has supported and has invested in, and it will continue to do so.

Mr. Dennis Bevington:

Mr. Speaker, in reality there is no need for technological development. There is no need to actually even come up with the capital. Private enterprise has taken hold in this market throughout the north, but without the federal government actually putting its buildings up for conversion, even the private enterprise cannot enter into that market. With the federal government not having a program that says it wants to convert, this will not happen. If it simply puts out tenders to provide heating for its buildings over a period of years, we will see that the competitive prices that it achieves from those tenders will spur the industry.

It is not really a very difficult conversion for the government to make; it simply has to have the will to do it. I encourage the government to go ahead with that.

Ms. Michelle Rempel:

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague opposite for his question and for his interest in ensuring that we have clean, renewable sources of energy in the north. I want to reiterate that our government has invested heavily in the adoption of such technologies, and certainly this is something that we will continue to support through our budgetary measures in the future.

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House of Commons Debates - Aboriginal Affairs

June 7, 2012

House of Commons Crest

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cannot seem to answer questions here and they will not in committee.

Yesterday, when I asked the minister if he would be cutting funding for the Northwest Territories protected area strategy. a vital program that allows northerners to determine what areas should have enhanced environmental protection, he refused to answer.

My question is for the chair of the aboriginal affairs committee. Instead of stopping questions for the minister in a fit of partisanship, will he be scheduling another meeting so that the minister can answer these reasonable questions?

Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member was not able to be prepared and organized enough to answer questions on a motion written by his critic for aboriginal affairs on Supplementary Estimates (A).

Furthermore, the minister said that he would be happy to come back to the committee to answer questions on other matters, as he has always been.

We did not write the motion for supplementary estimates (A). The NDP did. Why did the NDP members not ask questions on supplementary estimates (A)?

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House of Commons Debates - Canada Post Corporation Act

June 4th, 2012

House of Commons Crest

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-321, a bill that my colleague from Brandon—Souris has put forward on a number of occasions in this House of Commons. I am glad to see that it is moving toward completion for him. He has been an excellent proponent for this particular service and also a very good chair of the transportation committee, on which I served for three years. I am pleased to do this for him.

Since 1939, Canada Post has set a reduced postal rate for library materials. However, this is under a corporate policy. It is not under legislation.

Over 2,000 libraries regularly use the library book rate. The library book rate is not a government program and it is not currently financed by the Conservative government. Therefore, I think my colleague will find support on his side of the House for the bill because it will not cost the penurious government any money.

The ability of Canada's libraries to transfer materials across the country at a low rate allows Canadians in rural and remote locations to have access to the same materials as those who live in large urban centres. For me, growing up in the Northwest Territories when libraries were the dominant form of knowledge and information, this service was absolutely required.

Through this program, the Ulukhaktok Community Library on Victoria Island in the High Arctic has the same access to library materials as the Toronto Public Library, through the national libraries.

The rate contributes to the public policy goals of literacy, lifelong learning and vibrant rural and remote communities. Of course, the new information age has assisted greatly in communities across northern Canada. Improvements to other forms of delivery for those information services are still required and those still should be pushed forward.

Access to knowledge is an essential part of democracy. However, in this latest Conservative budget, we see that the Conservatives are opposed to knowledge. They are opposed to the dissemination of knowledge. They are opposed to the collection of knowledge on the part of the public. We see this over and over again in the budget implementation bill.

I want to speak specifically to libraries because the Conservatives are also gutting the National Library Service, the very repository of knowledge and information and the very people who not only collect the knowledge but also create ways to disseminate the knowledge across the country to those thousands of libraries that exist in Canada.

Library and Archives Canada is subject to $9.6 million in cuts over the next three years. Twenty per cent of the staff are being cut. This is a shameful situation in a country where the use of knowledge is so important to the development of our economy and to the development of our citizens in a good and equitable fashion across the whole country.

The inter-library loan program is being cut. The very program that the bill would help support across the country is being cut by the Conservative government and through the cuts to the national libraries.

We have a good-intentioned bill that is being superseded by these massive cuts that are taking place at our national libraries.

Also, within that, the national archival development program is being cut. Across the country, the development of archives, which can hold the information, hold the history of this country, is being cut. The country's history is rich right across the whole country. We need this kind of archival development program in my territory, especially because much of the history is oral and is not easily available. We need to have ways that we can preserve this over time.

We heard that libraries are being closed at many government departments. The libraries at Agriculture Canada, Environment Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Industry Canada, the National Capital Commission, National Defence, Public Works, the Public Service Commission and Transport Canada are gone. The formation is gone. The availability of information and the people who understand the information and can provide it to others are gone.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has already announced the closure of its library. That information is gone and those people who can provide that information to others right across the country are gone. Canadians expect to have access to a vast wealth of materials managed by Library and Archives Canada. What is going on with this picture?

Canadian Library Association president Karen Adams said, in part:

“Our national library and archives has a broad mandate to acquire, preserve and make available the documentary heritage of Canada. It is also responsible for the management of the archival records of government. Even before the [latest round of] cuts, Library and Archives Canada was challenged to fulfill its mandate;...”

So what would we have? We have a situation where knowledge would be lost to Canadians; where the ability to deal with knowledge would be lost by Canadians; where the ability to understand what our country is all about, by Canadians through their public government, would disappear. Knowledge would be paid for. Knowledge would be hard to collect. Knowledge would be part of a system that, for Canadians, is so different from what we have expected over the years.

This is a difficult situation. It is one that I hope my colleague who has put this bill forward will understand and will plead with his government to do something different from what it is doing today with information services in this country. It is utterly vital to the future of our country to have information that is well documented, well understood and that is presented to people. Librarians have those responsibilities. What we see here would be the denigration of our library system right across this country. What is going on this country today? What is the purpose of denying Canadians access to knowledge?

Can the government ask those fundamental questions? Did it ask those fundamental questions or would it, in an idealistic orgy of cutting, just simply cut out this particular piece of our Canadian heritage and our Canadian future? What is going on?

An hon. member: It's going backwards.

Mr. Dennis Bevington: We are going backwards.

I support what my colleague across the House is doing with his private member's bill, but I do not support what the government would do for information services in this country.

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Northern Development

May 16th, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development misled this House when he said a vote against the budget bill is a vote against increasing the borrowing limits of the three territories.

The minister needs to do his homework, because in no way would the bill set borrowing limits. What the Trojan Horse budget bill would do is change the three northern constitutions to increase federal control.

Is the minister completely out of touch with what his government is trying to do, or was he trying to mislead the House?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, our government is taking steps to improve the economy in the north and in the Northwest Territories by cutting red tape for mineral exploration project approvals. We want northerners to benefit from economic development opportunities that major resource projects can offer.

Despite the efforts of the NDP and Liberal members, who vote against progress and development in the north, our government is working hard with northerners to ensure they have full, vital, dynamic and strong economic futures.

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, on the one hand the government is cutting regulations on the environment and on the other it is increasing regulations on the territorial governments.

Last year, testimony before the aboriginal affairs committee from a senior official with the Government of the Northwest Territories made it clear they do not want federal control over borrowing. Instead of listening to the people in the north, the government wants to increase control by changing the northern constitutions without publicly consulting northerners.

Why will the government not respect the political rights of northerners by allowing their legislatures to control their financial affairs, just like the provinces?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency is supporting a host of economic development organizations throughout the north to be more efficient and reflective of the real needs of northerners over the long term. Canadian taxpayers' dollars will benefit youth by implementing sound business models in the north that will make a better use of technology and whatnot.

The territorial governments asked for increased borrowing limits; that member voted against that idea. The territorial governments asked for a highway between Inuvik and Tuk; that member voted against it. The territorial governments asked for devolution; that member voted against it.

“Editor’s note: the House of Commons has not had a vote on increasing the territorial borrowing limit nor has it voted on devolution”

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Statement Bill C-38 (Budget Implementation)

May 3rd, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, there are many things about Bill C-38 that I could speak about, such as the total rewriting of Canada's environmental protection law, repealing the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, raising the age of retirement to 67, the elimination of the National Council of Welfare, the elimination of employment equity for federal contractors, weakening the Auditor General, having cabinet-approved pipelines rather than the arm's length National Energy Board and the gutting of the regional employment insurance appeal process. However, as the only member of the opposition from the three northern territories, I will speak about how the bill would change the three acts that could be considered the constitutions of the three territories without having consulted the people of the north.

Clauses 214, 215 and 216 of Bill C-38 would amend the Northwest Territories Act, the Yukon Act and the Nunavut Act. They would amend these acts to give the federal cabinet the ability to make more regulations governing the fiscal capacity of the three territories. Instead of moving toward the Conservatives' promise of improving and devolving northern governance, which is the fourth pillar of the Prime Minister's much-promoted northern strategy, these amendments would actually increase the amount of control Ottawa would exercise over the three territories. There is no provision to ensure that the three territorial governments would have any input or that there would be any measure of consultation or approval over the nature of these regulations or any changes made to them by future federal cabinets. This is hardly responsible government for the territories.

All of us who use the Westminster system of democracy know the key to responsible government is having control over fiscal matters. These amendments completely make a mockery of any statements from the Conservatives that they believe in consulting with and building a better north.

In the past Parliament, I tried to lessen the intrusiveness of the federal government over the people of the north. Over and over, I spoke to northern leaders and my constituents and then presented a bill that would give more certainty and control in the Northwest Territories over their fiscal capacity. It was to be achieved through actual legislation.

Speaking to my bill at committee, Mr. Chris Forbes, the assistant deputy minister, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance, described how the borrowing limit provisions were a holdover from when the only institution the territories could borrow from was the Government of Canada. Since 1983, the territories have been able to borrow on the open market. Colonial at the start and colonial it continues under the Conservatives.

My bill was well supported across the Northwest Territories.

If the Conservatives had consulted with the people in the north, they would have heard that what northerners wanted was this federal control over borrowing removed. So far we have not been any consultations on these amendments, unless they have been done in secret. They exclude Canadians because they do not care what Canadians have to say about many of these aspects.

The Prime Minister has made a point of stressing the growth of governance in the territories. If that is what he wants, then the Conservatives should have done the right thing in amending these three acts, and that is to take the federal government and the federal Department of Finance completely out of the process.

Where are the members for Yukon and Nunavut on these changes? Do they support increased control over the territories by Ottawa? Is it okay with them that the legislative assemblies of the territories lose autonomy with these changes? Why the silence?

The people of the north have proven they can govern themselves. They have proven they are capable managers of money. Moody's Investment Services has given the Northwest Territories an Aa1 rating. This rating is second highest and places the NWT in line for credit risk with most of the provinces.

Moody's rating takes into account recent developments related to the Deh Cho Bridge project.

The credit opinion notes that Moody's:

“…had already included the Deh Cho Bridge liability in our calculations of the NWT's net direct and indirect debt, reflecting the government's debt-like obligation to make periodic availability payments. As such, formal assumption of the related debt is not expected to alter the NWT's credit profile in a material way.”

According to Moody's, the rating reflects:

“….prudent fiscal policies that have, over the past several years, limited debt accumulation. A well-developed fiscal framework (including a Fiscal Responsibility Policy which guides the NWT's fiscal policies and use of debt) should help to ensure that the debt burden remains low and affordable.”

The NWT's fiscal responsibility policy mandates how the NWT may borrow. The policy guides the GNWT fiscal policy and use of debt and includes guidelines respecting the types of activities for which debt can be issued, as well as limits on total debt and debt servicing costs to ensure affordability. A borrowing plan is required to detail options and preferred choices for funding the short-term and long-term borrowing requirements of the government at minimum cost.

Our territory is responsible. It is acting in a manner which many other provinces should emulate.

However, these amendments do not treat the territories as responsible. Instead, they treat them in a paternalistic, uncaring fashion, without any concern what northerners think about changing their constitutions.

The people of the north have the same political rights as Canadians who live in the provinces. History has given us a designation as territories rather than provinces, but regardless what we are called, changes to our laws in Parliament should make northerners more equal to other Canadians instead of less.

All three territories are anticipated to be the great growth area of our great country. Northerners say “Respect us, treat us as equals, don't make us come cap in hand to Ottawa to be treated in a manner that other Canadians take for granted”.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all Canadians a right to a legislative assembly. It guarantees all Canadians that rights are held equally and that Canadians are treated equally by laws. These amendments do not move our legislative assemblies closer to equality with the provincial legislatures. These amendments actually move the northern legislatures further from equality.

Through a long and arduous process and negotiations on this issue over three years, my government was never told that the Minister of Finance would create these new powers for the federal cabinet.

Is the Conservative government so insensitive that it thinks it can now operate by decree?

A process that started as government-to-government negotiations has ended up as laws from master to vassal. Shame on this process that is blind to the desire of all northerners for equality, for respect and for their own political rights in our great country.

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Statement Bill C-38 (Budget Implementation)

Member’s Statement Climate Change in Canada's Arctic

April 27, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, this week I was one of 3,000 at the International Polar Year conference in Montreal. I joined many elected representatives from other northern countries.

Northern Canadians attended the conference in great numbers. Northerners are concerned about how their environment is being impacted by climate change and want to hear the latest scientific findings. Loss of sea ice, melting permafrost and southern species replacing northern ones are just some of the negative impacts climate change has wrought on the north already.

The government chooses to deny the reality of climate change. Canadian environmental policy is being drafted to suit the needs of foreign-backed resource exploitation. Canada's position on climate change places it completely out of step with the rest of the world, for which it is being criticized right now. Recently Norway's former prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, said Canada has been moving backward on this issue and that Canada's position on climate change is anti-scientific and naive.

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs says the north is fundamental to our identity. It is too bad that the government's denial of climate change is destroying that fundamental identity.

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available as Acrobat PDF Member’s Statement Climate Change in Canada's Arctic

Oral Question Aboriginal Justice Strategy

April 27, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, funding for the aboriginal justice strategy reached its sunset date on March 31. The Minister of Justice has not said a word yet about new funding for this program. Crime prevention, youth gang strategies and restorative justice programs are at risk in over 600 communities across the country. Organizations are already laying off staff.

Why the silence from the minister on this important program?

Mr. Robert Goguen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to enhancing the safety and security of aboriginal communities.

Our budget has proposed funding of $11.9 million over one year for the family violence prevention program, which would allow the department of aboriginal affairs to continue to offer current programming at a total budget of $30.4 million. This investment would contribute to the safety and security of ongoing reserve residents, particularly women and children.

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the aboriginal justice strategy was an investment in crime prevention that was working. The Department of Justice's own study showed in communities with these programs, repeat crime was reduced by half. I do not know of any other investment that could show such a return. The minister himself praised this program at committee last month and told MPs to wait for the budget and see what would happen. We have waited, and there is nothing.

When will the minister support real crime prevention that we desperately need in our communities?

Mr. Robert Goguen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I guess the member opposite just cannot take yes for an answer.

I would like to remind the House about how the opposition members have been voting lately on justice issues. They voted against mandatory minimum penalties for child sexual offences. They voted against tougher penalties for child kidnapping. They voted against eliminating house arrest for sexual assault. Most recent, they have been unsuccessful in delaying a bill to crack down on human traffickers.

What can we talk about justice from that party?

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available as Acrobat PDF Oral Question Aboriginal Justice Strategy

Statement C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons),

April 27, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand for even the shortest time to offer my congratulations to the member for Kildonan—St. Paul in moving the bill forward.

I followed the progress of the bill through three parliaments, and it is a great thing when a private member's bill moves toward completion. I think we all revel in it, especially when the bill is such that it attracts support from the entire House. Standing as Canadians together, we support these endeavours by individual members of Parliament.

Before I came to Parliament, there was a bill that caught my attention. It came from a Conservative MP as well. It was to remove the substance from cigarettes that kept them lit when they were not smoked. That took 20 years to get through the House of Commons. Lives were saved when that bill went through and that substances was taken out of the cigarettes so they did not fall out of someone's fingers and set something on fire or create second-hand smoke in the ashtray.

The value that private members can bring to the House is so important and it sometimes puts attention on small, definitive but extremely important issues that can change our society. To that endeavour, as MPs we should all salute this initiative.

Having said that, I will speak to the bill before my time runs out. The bill, as far as it goes, would work to deal with this issue. In some ways society has to have a greater recognition of the nature of human trafficking.

The latest example of human trafficking in Canada was on April 3. The head of the Domotor crime group, which the RCMP claims is Canada's largest human trafficking ring, was using males in the construction industry in Hamilton as slaves, a large city with labour unions, with inspectors, a city administration with better business bureaus and all those things and our society could not recognize what was happening. Could it recognize that perhaps this was going on?

We have picked off the head of this organization, but we have not changed society. It is important that we understand the people who are working for us, that we understand what is going on in our society around us and that we understand what our communities are representing. To me, that spoke volumes about the nature of our society and how we would have to move from exploitation, as we have tried at all times to do, and understand laws that would remove the opportunities for exploitation and identify for Canadians the nature of exploitation.

Certainly, if the example of this person in Hamilton does not get attention in the construction industry right across the country, there is something wrong.

It is a time for reflection. When the bill passes, when we move forward in this regard, we need to recognize that society is still the answer to most of these issues.

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available as Acrobat PDF Statement C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code

Oral Question National Defence

March 27, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's promised Arctic naval base at Nanisivik has been downgraded to a fuel cache and an unheated shed.

In 2006, the Prime Minister promised to build a deepwater port at Iqaluit that could be used by the military. This would be vital infrastructure that could help the people of the Arctic reduce their costs and build a prosperous territory. Instead of photo ops and empty rhetoric, the government should have focused on getting the job done for northerners.

When is the government going to realize that the best way to protect the Arctic is by helping the people who call it home?

Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, Canada's north is central to our government's vision for Canada and the future. We continue to develop the Nanisivik station to serve as a docking and refuelling station for the Royal Canadian Navy and other government vessels operating in the north. Through our northern strategy, our government continues to increase Canada's presence and sovereignty in the Arctic.

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Statement on Conservative Air Canada Back to Work Bill

March 13, 2012

House of Commons March 13, 2012

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I am once again not pleased even to have a second opportunity to debate this particular motion, because the motion has once again shown an authoritarian side on the part of the government towards the labour component in this country.

The government has come up with basically two arguments to justify its work stoppage action at this time.

First it talked about the economy and the detrimental effects potential work stoppage would have on it. The Minister of Labour herself referred to a figure of $22.4 million per week lost to the Canadian economy if the strike went ahead. This is the figure that the government has presented us with to understand the nature of the effect on the economy.

That $22.4 million per week amounts to less than nine one-hundredths of a per cent of the economy of this country. It is really not a very large figure when we consider the economy of our country at $1.3 trillion per year.

The labour minister has indicated that this loss to the economy is greater than the loss of the values that we have established in this country for collective bargaining and has made that determination based upon those numbers.

I find that to be very misleading with regard its impact on the economy and the need to move ahead with this thing, this bill, this closure, this stoppage of work action by both the company and the union involved with Air Canada.

In some ways our aviation industry has been hamstrung by the government over the past number of years. The New Democratic Party, and I myself as transport critic in the last Parliament, have stood in Parliament and talked about the impact that the government is making with its excessive airport rents, which in one year amount to about $257 million to the aviation industry. The air travellers security charge amounts to a $394 million charge against our Canadian companies. Fuel taxes are $40 million. A total of $748 million is levied against the industry.

The industry has to compete worldwide and it has to compete with American domestic carriers with airports located near our borders. The industry is under pressure, so of course it is trying to cut back on its labour component.

Let us look at the labour component in this as well. According to Transport Canada, air carrier cost breakdowns are as follows: labour is 17% of the costs of aviation transport in Canada; fuel is 32%; airport fees are 10% ; capital costs are 9.6%; purchase services are 5.6%; and other is 24%.

What we can see is that in reality, the problems with our aviation industry come back to the costs that it has to bear from the current government and previous governments, which have set up our airports as cash cows. Where does it come back to? It comes back to labour. It comes back to the labour component as a way to reduce its costs. It cannot do it with fuel, as fuel is internationally regulated. Other costs are also not subject to change, so where does the industry look for savings? It looks for it in labour, and our unions stand up.

What we have is a situation in which unions are standing up for their employees, government is sitting back collecting huge sums of money off the aviation industry, and the industry is in the middle. That is not a good situation.

What has the federal government done about that? Its response over and over again is, “We do not care. We are not worried about the aviation industry”.

However, when it comes to the unions standing up for their workers, that is a different matter. When it comes to the money that the government collects from the aviation industry, it will just keep on doing exactly that.

When we look at the situation that we are facing today, we are looking at a government that is becoming increasingly authoritarian in its behaviour. It now considers applying back to work legislation to be just part of the routine. It considers it just part of the routine to reduce the debate that takes place in the House of Commons.

Quite quickly over the last year it has moved more and more toward an authoritarian type of behaviour. It is happy with it. Where it will lead us in the future remains to be seen, but it will not lead us in a direction that is going to be acceptable to Canadians, and we will see that over time.

The type of action that has been taken today is anathema to everyone who believes in Canadian values, in collective bargaining, in the rights of workers and the right of democratic discourse in the House of Commons. The bill takes a shot at a lot of us, and yes, we are standing up. We on this side will continue to stand up against those types of actions.

The minister has not proven her case. One statistic about how this is impacting the economy is all she provides to us in her speech. That is the analysis that she expects us to buy and live with for this type of legislation.

The other interesting subject that was brought up was the impact of the work stoppage at Air Canada on northern and isolated communities. Air Canada is hardly a major influence in the aviation industry in northern Canada. There are a couple of flights to Yellowknife and a couple of flights to Whitehorse. Both of those locations are well serviced by experienced northern airlines that provide regular service to southern destinations and also provide service through the whole of the north of Canada. These are good airlines. They are working hard to provide the service that Air Canada does not provide there and will not provide there. The situation there is that if the strike goes ahead, if the work stoppage were to go ahead, there would be no impact on northern communities; northern communities do not see Air Canada as an essential service, and for the government to even make that suggestion is completely wrong.

We are going to go through this exercise here today and tonight and we will end up with more back to work legislation enforced by the government. This is a situation that is intolerable, but is a situation we will have to endure for a while yet. Sooner or later the Canadian population will wake up to what is going on here, and when they do, the government will suffer the consequences.

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available as Acrobat PDF Conservative Air Canada Back to Work Bill

Biomass Energy

March 9, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories biomass energy strategy has been an unqualified success. In the Northwest Territories, buildings owned by the territorial government and many large commercial buildings have been converted from heating with fuel oil to this source of renewable energy made from waste forest product.

The federal government owns many facilities across Canada's north. My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Has the government considered a program that would convert these buildings to renewable energy?

Comments : Hon. Joe Oliver (Minister of Natural Resources, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, this government has invested over $10 billion in energy alternatives, energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of conventional sources of energy. We will continue to move forward and honour our commitments under Copenhagen.

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available as Acrobat PDF Biomass Energy

Fire Statement

February 29, 2012

Ottawa - While the Arctic is a vast part of Canada's Geography, and our population is small, we are all impacted by tragedy when it strikes. Families in Iqaluit, the capital city of our neighboring territory Nunavut, are without a home after this weekend's fire.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this disaster, the fire fighters and emergency workers who responded. Let's come together as Northerner's do in troubling times, and support and help one another.

Please donate what you can to the Canadian Red Cross, who is helping bring relief to the families who lost their homes and family members. Residents of Iqaluit have mobilized adonation centre and have already collected a substantial amount of clothing and some food.

Other items are in short supply such as the things babies need, bedding, basic household items and non-perishable food. First Air is offering to ship these items to Iqaluit if they are securely packed and dropped off at their cargo office in Yellowknife near the airport.

Thank you, Merci, Marci, Mahsi, Quyanainni!

Dennis Bevington Former MP Northwest Territories

PDF download
available as Acrobat PDF Fire Statement

PEARL

February 28, 2012

Mr. Speaker, we found out today that the government will be shutting down the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, PEARL, on Ellesmere Island. After significant investment into this world-renowned atmospheric research station in the high Arctic, the Conservatives are slashing funding. Instead, they plan to open another one five years from now and in the wrong location. This is another example of the Conservatives' approach to science.

Why does the government make decisions based on the whims of a Prime Minister, instead of listening to great Canadian scientists and their globally important research? When will the Conservatives get their heads out of the sand when it comes to the global climate crisis?

Comments : Hon. Peter Kent (Minister of the Environment, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada recognizes the importance of university atmospheric research in the Arctic and has provided partial funding, along with a number of other bodies, since 2009 for the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory.

However, the university research application to those other bodies for renewed funding, with support from Environment Canada, was not successful at the recent national centres of excellence competition. That said, Environment Canada will continue to monitor ozone and the atmosphere at Eureka.

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available as Acrobat PDF PEARL

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-19, an act to eliminate the long gun registry in Canada. Under Canadian federal law, the registry will cease to exist potentially after this week, that is, after the Senate has had its chance to deal with it, but it is pretty clear now that the Senate will deal with it in a very prompt fashion.

I represent a riding where firearms are very important, where firearms for many people represent a necessity for subsistence living, where firearms represent a cultural way of life, where firearms are used extensively and 99.9% of the time for the correct purposes, when hunting, trapping and carrying on an outdoor lifestyle.

When the gun registry was introduced years ago, there was very strong opposition to it, but there was strong opposition as well to the licensing provisions, to the educational provisions and to the safe storage provisions. There was a general feeling that gun owners, people who use their guns for legitimate purposes, were being hard done by. I agreed with that.

I agreed with the Fort McPherson elder who told me he did not want to become a criminal because he was continuing to do what he had done before. I agreed with that. We should not make criminals in Canada out of respectable citizens. We should do everything we can to avoid giving criminal records to Canadians for issues that are not that important, for issues that may be bureaucratic. For example, people may simply be unable to register a gun, unable to store it properly, all the different issues that surround the use of any kind of implement.

I was always in favour of getting the criminal charges out of the long gun registry. However, even in 2000 I said there is a value to any registry, whether we register dogs or cars or some other possession. Whatever we register has a value to the person registering it. That person has security in that his or her possession is filed in an appropriate fashion with an authority that can direct attention to that particular instrument, whether it be a car, a dog or a gun, whether it has been mislaid, has been stolen, or has been used by someone else in an inappropriate fashion. A registry is a useful tool for those people who want security with their possessions.

Over the last four months since my constituents have heard the argument about the data, the gun owners are starting to wake up to the fact that there is a reason they want their guns registered. There is a reason that a law-abiding citizen would like to know that his gun is identified in a legal registry, so that if it is stolen, if it is misplaced, if it is mishandled by someone else, that gun will not be put under his name, and that gun will be recognized for what it is. If that gun is sold to someone else, the legal gun owner has a way of tracking that record. People are coming to me with that issue.

I asked the government in June what it would do with the data. When the Conservatives proposed to take long guns out of the criminal registry, which is exactly what the government is doing, I asked what the government would do with the data it has collected which people have invested in giving to the government? That is what people do when they register their implements. They invest their time, their effort and their thoughts in putting it into a registry. What will the government provide for those people who want a registry?

Perhaps it will fall into the hands of the provinces, territories, municipalities, whatever government agency decides to provide a registry for guns. That makes sense. We have a great example of that. Quebec has said it wants to provide a registry and under the law there would be no criminality with a registry. There cannot be. The Criminal Code is driven by the federal government, this Parliament, not the Quebec legislature.

When the Quebec government establishes a registry in which its citizens can partake, it will have the opportunity to do what it wants with it. That is the way of this land. That is the way the law works. That is the way we take care of things in this land. Cars are registered with the provinces. Dogs are registered with municipalities. We have a process of registration at the provincial and territorial level. Since 2000 I have been an advocate of a provincial registry because there are more purposes to a registry than establishing criminality. There are many more purposes to a registry than that.

Safe storage is still covered under the existing Criminal Code. It will still be a criminal offence if people do not store their guns safely.

However, I am having trouble establishing what is considered ownership within the existing Criminal Code once the registry is removed. How do we determine what ownership is when we have removed the legal registry of guns? How do we determine which gun belongs to which person, and which person did not store the gun properly and should have a criminal record? If someone says that it is not his or her gun, will we say that because the gun is in that person's home, then that person must own the gun? Is that the way it is going to be? Did the Conservative government do any work on this legislation?

When the Conservatives started talking about the data, it was ministers of the government who said the information could not be shared because it would be against the Privacy Act. Does it go against the Privacy Act? Is that what the Privacy Commissioner said? The Privacy Commissioner said no and all of a sudden the government changed its tune and said now that it is ineffective, inefficient, does not work, is not correct and was not made up right. That is the direction the government took.

The government does not do legislation very well when it does not have the answers to start with. It is terrible in creating legislation. The government is not fit to legislate and that is the case with this bill. It has not looked at the issues. There is no document that shows how the Criminal Code will interact with other elements when the registry is removed. I ask government members to show me a document or any information that has been shared with members of Parliament on that issue.

I supported the bill introduced by the member for Portage—Lisgar. It was a blunt instrument but it was what my constituents wanted and it was not in the shape that this bill is in. This bill is a mess. The government has not done a good job with it. It is reacting. It is not doing it correctly. It has left out many important elements, which we have pointed out by way of many amendments and the government has chosen not to listen. This is a government that does not listen. It does not want to do things right. It does not want to do its homework. It is a government that acts emotionally and without regard for the due process of legislation. The government is not getting any more approbation from me on its legislation.

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available as Acrobat PDF Ending the Long-gun Registry Act

Mackenzie Basin Master agreement

February 1st, 2012

Member’s Statement

Mr. Dennis Bevington ( NDP):

Mr. Speaker, in 1996, the federal government, the western provinces, Yukon and the Northwest Territories signed the Mackenzie River Basin Master Agreement. Out of this master agreement a number of bilateral agreements were to be completed, governing the quantity and quality of water moving along the Mackenzie River Basin. Fifteen years later, there are still no agreements.

In Alberta and the Northwest Territories, the lack of a bilateral agreement has meant that the rapid expansion of the oil sands is taking place without proper controls protecting these waters. This lack of control is of great concern to all northerners, particularly aboriginal people, many of whom live along the Mackenzie River.

Alberta and the federal government want to approve more capacity building by quickly approving the gateway pipeline. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Natural Resources want to simplify the environmental process to allow new developments clear sailing through these waters. However, they should assure the people of the north that basic agreements will be in place before the expansion of the oil sands.

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available as Acrobat PDF Mackenzie Basin Master agreement