|Farmers Will become the
"Species at Risk" if Liberals don't Amend Act
February 8, 2001
By Garry Breitkreuz, Member of Parliament
"If Bill C-5 is passed as is, many landowners will use the 'shoot, shovel and shut up' tactic."
Ottawa: Garry Breitkreuz, Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville, is concerned that the government is doing the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do with Bill C-5, the new Species At Risk legislation. "The whole purpose of C-5 is to protect threatened or endangered species; but without fair compensation and the full cooperation of landowners, that goal cannot be achieved. Because this new legislation takes such an adversarial approach to dealing with landowners, species which should be protected by this legislation will actually be more at risk," stated Breitkreuz.
Section 64 of Bill C-5 leaves the decision of fair compensation for landowners up to the Governor in Council (which is in effect the Environment Minister and government bureaucrats). "This is unacceptable," declared Breitkreuz. "This should be up to Parliament to decide after consultation with land owners. Instead, if this bill is passed we will be handing over more power to the minister's office. Farmers and landowners should be very worried. By not specifying 'fair market value' in the Act, the minister and his minions will decide the level of compensation if a farmer is forced to take his land out of production. This dictatorial approach could see many landowners do what often happens in the United States, 'shoot, shovel and shut up.' How is that going to protect our endangered species?" questioned Breitkreuz.
The penalties in this new act are also very severe. Fines could be up to $1 million for corporations and $250,000 for individuals, and jail terms of up to five years. "This type of punishment will not garner the support of landowners. I have already talked with individuals who say, 'If the government is going to take this approach, I will make sure they don't find any endangered species on my land.' This should set off alarm bells for the government. Government should have properly consulted with those most affected by this legislation because incentives are much more effective than punishment," said Breitkreuz.
Breitkreuz is also concerned about the government's ability to determine what species need to be protected. "Politics not science will rule. This legislation must be amended so decisions are made on a scientific basis, by a committee of wildlife experts after an extensive public consultation process," demanded Breitkreuz.
"The Liberals haven't learned a thing from the mistakes made by our neighbors to the south. At least land owners there have their property rights protected in the U.S. Constitution -- not so in Canada," commented Breitkreuz. "Property rights are not protected by the Charter and that's why it's so important that we base compensation of the principle of 'fair market value' -- a principle the courts understand. Unless the government takes a fairer and more cooperative approach, C-5 will do the opposite of its stated intentions and farmers will become the main Species at Risk."
For more information please contact:
Additional recommended reading:
More on Garry Breitkreuz:
37th Parliament, 1st Session
February 23, 2001
Excerpt with two statements by Member of Parliament Garry Breitkreuz.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton - Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday about 3,000 farmers joined a rally in Winchester, Ontario, to get the Liberals finally to pay attention to the ongoing farm income crisis. They have been forced to take drastic action because the Liberal government refuses to pay attention.
The agriculture minister's delaying tactics and refusal to take any real action will force thousands more producers off the land. This hurts all Canadians. How many bankruptcies, how many suicides, how terrible does the disaster have to become before the agriculture minister wakes up and gets emergency funds into the hands of farmers?
Response: Mr. Larry McCormick (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, certainly a lot of farmers gathered together yesterday. We on this side of the House have been meeting with producers from across the country. We feel for them because the grains and oilseed sector has been heavily attacked by the subsidies from the European Union and the United States. We did sign a very historic agreement with the provinces this past year. In fact we are already committed to providing up to $5.5 billion to help these people. It is not enough. Our minister has been looking for every resource possible, and we will deliver.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton - Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this is the problem; all talk and no action. The agriculture minister's AIDA program has failed to help the majority of farm families. Over two years ago he announced his meagre attempts to help.