Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 2 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Thursday, October 24, 2002
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, to which was referred Bill C-
5, respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada, met this day at 9:35 a.m. to give consideration to the
Senator Tommy Banks (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: I welcome Minister David Anderson and the Assistant Deputy Minister, Ms. Brown, to our
I hope you received the message that Senator Watt must leave for a meeting that has been set up for a long time
about this question. First, we will deal with the question of non-derogation in Bill C-5. If that is convenient to you, I
will put the question to you as I understand it.
Many senators are concerned about non-derogation, and I think you know what I mean when I say the new non-
derogation clause as opposed to the old one. In that respect, it is my recollection that, in the last session, this committee
dealt with the non-derogation clause as it applied to two bills, the first of which was the Marine Conservation Act, the
second of which was the then and present Bill C-5. On the basis of an undertaking from the minister of Justice that he
would carefully examine the non-derogation clause in the context of these bills and the reservations that senators had
expressed about the difference between the old and the new non-derogation clauses, we undertook that we would
suspend reservations about the new non-derogation clause in respect of those two bills and proceed with them.
However, the concerned senators have not received a specific undertaking, and I would welcome any light that you can
shed on that subject in respect of Bill C-5 today.
Hon. David Anderson, Minister of the Environment: You have asked me to speak directly to the non-derogation
clause, which I will certainly do. Following that, I will turn to the text of my presentation. The non-derogation clause is
particularly important clause, particularly for First Nations peoples.
Over the years, a number of federal statutes, such as the Canada Wildlife Act and the Firearms Act, have included
non-derogation clauses at the request of First Nations and Aboriginal organizations. These have been placed in the
legislation simply to confirm that the statute in question, whatever it may be, is subject to section 35 of the
Constitution Act. That is what it is meant to do, namely, to ensure there is no question of derogation from right that
exists for constitutional reasons. It is not a clause that is intended to add any new rights, other than the confirmation of
the constitutional position of section 35. That is an important point to make, namely, that we are confirming existing
rights and ensuring that there is no derogation from the rights. It is not a question of moving into new areas.
I am sure all senators here have participated in the debate, which took place in the Senate this spring and before this
committee this spring, on the Marine Conservation Areas Act to which the chairman has just referred. At that time, the
Minister of Justice did say that there would be a complete review of the use of the non-derogation clause. The review
that he talked about was triggered in part by the committee's thoughtful discussion around this issue, for which I
would like to thank you on behalf of both the Minister of Justice and the cabinet as a whole. The Minister of Justice is
aware of your concerns, and Minister Cauchon is well aware of this issue. I had a conversation with him on it most
In your case, you passed the Marine Conservation Areas Act with the non-derogation clause retained. In Bill C- 5,
the clause is the same as the one that you passed in the Marine Conservation Areas Act.
In keeping with the minister's commitment to this committee and to all honourable senators, the Department of
Justice informs me they are well on the way to completing the review of the wording used in non-derogation clauses in
legislation generally — not just the two acts I have mentioned but everywhere it occurs.
The conclusion of this review, I do not have. If I did have it, I would be only a messenger for my colleague, the
Minister of Justice. We hope that review will result in a consistent policy, as senators made clear was necessary. That
consistent policy would be regarding the application of non-derogation clauses to all existing legislation and future
legislation. That, of course, would include the bill before you today.
If the review of the Department of Justice led to any change, this bill, among many others, might be affected by that
change. However, this is not to be the point of the spear — that is to say, the bill that establishes the change for other
pieces of legislation — because the review is not yet complete. This act simply follows along with the process that you
adopted on the Marine Conservation Areas Act.
The Chairman: Do I understand from what you have said that, when the Minister of Justice determines whatever
will happen with respect to any punitive change in the non-derogation clause, the change may be instituted in a bill of
amendment of several bills? Furthermore, if any change were to take place, this is the means by which it would be
Mr. Anderson: I cannot commit my colleague. However, if my colleague adopted the sensible proposition you put
before us, it would not surprise me. That is a straightforward way of handling it, namely, where you study it in depth
and apply it to all legislation so that everyone knows it is the same. In that way, Aboriginal organizations will not find
themselves to be disadvantaged in one piece of legislation compared to another and people enforcing the law of the
land will have a clear understanding of a standard process.
Your suggestion is something that we could recommend to the Minister of Justice with confidence.
The Chairman: I invite comment on respect of this matter or questions of the minister.
Thank you, minister, for dealing with that matter first.
Mr. Anderson: I thank Senator Watt for waiting for my presentation. I was delayed by a meeting of our caucus on
another issue of importance of which senators are aware, namely, the issue of the ratification of Kyoto. I will be happy
to discuss any other aspect with Senator Watt or any other senator if they are unable to stay for the full presentation.
Senator Watt: I also appreciate the clear explanation you provided. Last spring, when we dealt with this legislation,
this is how we concluded the matter, namely, that we would deal with the question of non-derogation clause in the
There are about four of or five pieces of legislation that we must revisit, depending on the type of agreement we
work out with the Minister of Justice at ten o'clock this morning. I will be going to that meeting to deal with that
because we have not received any specific response from the minister at this point. We will have a meeting amongst
ourselves and we will see where we go from there.
Mr. Anderson: All I can report is that the Minister of Justice is seized of the issue. He has heard about it recently
from a colleague, namely, myself, and he assures me that this is proceeding rapidly and with considerable success.
As I come before you, I should like to note the importance of Bill C-5 in the overall approach of government over
the past few years. You are well aware of its history. However, I should like to pay tribute to two senators who have
been on your committee and who have contributed to this committee and to the work of the entire Parliament of
Canada. One is Senator Taylor, who has shown exceptional talent and diligence. I have always appreciated his
comments and suggestions. He is truly a lateral thinker, in the words of Mr. de Bono, not a person who just follows
traditional thought. He has been extremely helpful to me in many areas, particularly in shaking me out of set positions
and encouraging me to think in a wider sense.
I am very pleased that he, in fact, has taken such an active role. As he prepares to retire in the next few week, I trust
that you will convey to him the appreciation that I have as Minister of the Environment for the work he has done in
this area. It has been dramatic.
I should like to mention the work of Senator Spivak, first as chair and then as deputy chair. She has worked hand-
in-hand with our colleague from Alberta. I must say that while she is affiliated with a political party different from my
own I have found her to be an extremely helpful colleague. I think I can use that word in the best parliamentary sense
of it. While her criticisms are excellent and pointed, they are nevertheless very constructive.
I am delighted to see Senator Spivak back after a summer that was difficult for her. I appreciate the fact that she is
once again playing the active role she has in the past years.
Honourable senators, the bill before you today has objectives that are shared by all Canadians, to ensure that no
future species become extinct in Canada by reason of human activity as well as to help species that are currently at risk
Species at risk, indeed, all species in the animal world and plant world, have no voice. Therefore, it falls upon
humanity to save them from threats that are caused by us. That is, in essence, what this bill is about.
In terms of numbers, we have some 70,000 known species in Canada and perhaps just as many that are not yet
known in name. We are the second largest country in the world, and we have the globe's longest coastline. We are the
northern-most range for many species. The challenges are complex. The constitutional and practical responsibilities
that fall from that are complex as well.
That is the backdrop, honourable senators. However, there are a few elements that I should like to touch upon that I
believe are key and that constitute the foundation for our legislation.
The first element is consultation and cooperation.
Bill C-5 fulfils the commitment of the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Since we formed the
government in the subsequent year, four Ministers of the Environment and thousands of individuals and organizations
have engaged in a nine-year process that has built an increasingly informed piece of public policy.
On this bill alone, we have had more than 150 consultations with provincial and territorial governments, First
Nations and Aboriginal organizations, fishermen, farmers, ranchers, workers of resource companies, forestry and
mining industry representatives, environmentalists, scientists, academics, trappers and landowners. Throughout these
thousands of hours of consultation and tens of thousands of pages of material, we have listened, we have studied, and
the government has learned. I believe we have acted, and acted effectively, on what we have learned.
We took advice from the environmental organization and members of Parliament who argued for broader
application than proposed by earlier legislative initiatives. We took advice from rural Canadians who wanted their
rights and their commitment to protecting the environment recognized. We took important advice from aboriginal
peoples. We took advice from those who make their livelihood from the land and those who make their avocation
acting in the interests of wildlife.
At the end of what I believe to be a virtually unprecedented consultation, we have come up with a bill that is
premised on cooperation, not coercion, a partnership approach and not a command and control approach. I would
I have said time after time that the only way to have a successful piece of legislation is to have people, particularly
rural Canadians — those who live in small communities or on the farms, in the woods of Canada or on the coastline
and fish — understand that this is not a piece of legislation designed against them but, instead, a piece of legislation
designed to enhance the efforts that they make now to protect endangered species.
Over the past nine years, it is clear that Canadians want to become part of the solution. Yes, there are tough federal
prohibitions and there are sanctions should the cooperative approach fail. However, these enforcement measures are a
fail-safe mechanism. I trust and devoutly hope they will be rarely used. In fact, the cooperative approach is already at
work and succeeding in many communities, and it is working for a variety of projects across Canada.
We could look at the experience of the United States to see the benefit of the cooperative approach. The American
legislation, which is more than a quarter century old — and I remember when it was established and the excitement it
engendered at the time — is not based on the cooperative approach. It is based, essentially, on federal fiat. The result is
an extensive backlog of court cases and, as a result of that, missed opportunities for partnership and missed
opportunities for stewardship.
Last summer, I remember seeing pictures of United States sheriffs attempting to prevent farmers from destroying
barricades that were holding water back from an irrigation system. There were 5,000 people included in an act of civil
disobedience. We do not want that. The American route gives us many examples of why we want to do better.
The second set of elements at the core of this legislation is stewardship and science.
Stewardship takes many forms. It is planting native grasses on Canada's prairies to encourage the butterflies and
birds to remain and prosper. It is building a passway under a busy highway for turtles and frogs to safely travel from
one part of their habitat to another. It is protecting precious mosses on trees — patrolling beaches to protect bird nests
— helping landowners determine the best times for activities that will protect nesting animals and birds but will not
affect their livelihood.
As senators know, the legislation is part of an overall strategy, including a national habitat stewardship program in
a federal-provincial-territorial accord for the protection of species at risk. Under the habitat stewardship program, any
organization, any business or any community, any individual or provincial or territorial government is eligible to
receive funding. Other departments of the federal government, such as National Defence, have asked whether they are
eligible for funding. They are.
We have pledged $45 million for the program over five years. In this year alone, the Government of Canada has
invested $10 million in 160 local projects that are protecting 208 species. That is happening at the present time. There is
the right whale, the leatherback turtle, the rare North American ginseng plant, among many others.
The proof of Canadian commitment to stewardship, cooperation and partnership is evidenced by the fact that for
every $1 put in by the federal government, project partners have committed almost $2.
It has been six years since we reached an accord with the provinces and territories on the protection of species at
risk. Through the accord, governments are committed to coordination and complementary action. A number of
provinces have passed or enhanced their own species at risk legislation. By bringing forward the proposed Species at
Risk Act, the federal government is fulfilling its longstanding obligation under the accord.
The legislation's pillars of consultation, cooperation and stewardship are buttressed by science. The bill guarantees a
rigorous and independent scientific process to assess species, a process that operates at arm's length from the
government. Scientists, and scientists only, will determine what species are at risk in Canada. The level of scientific
advice built into the process is unprecedented, to our knowledge anyway. We are fortunate that the Committee on the
Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has a track record of a quarter-century of proven expertise. The bill before
you gives the committee, for the first time, legislative recognition as the scientific authority in this assessment and
The specialists who give of their time and expertise to COSEWIC represent Canada's major universities and
scientific institutions and include a number of experts from outside Canada as well. In other words, this committee
attracts the very best talent in species research. We are very fortunate.
Through careful assessment, these top scientists can assign a species to one of several categories: extinct; extirpated,
which means the species is no longer in the wild in Canada; endangered; threatened; of special concern; not at risk
because of data deficiencies; or not at risk. These assessments are at the core of the proposed legislation. The
assessments will be posted in the public registry proposed under the bill and they will be on the Internet — and, woe
betides any politician who tries to ignore them.
That leads us to the next building blocks of Bill C-5 — political accountability and transparency. Under the bill,
scientists advise and elected officials decide. I should add, senators, that I talk about officials but, of course, the Senate,
an appointed body, has a critical role as well. The Minister of the Environment must respond to any scientific
assessment made by the committee within 90 days, and the government must decide to act or not to act on the scientific
assessment within nine months. If the government does not make a decision one way or another, the scientific
recommendations automatically become law. I raise that important point, but rarely do we activate the failsafe mode.
The usual procedure in legislation is such that, if no action is taken, then nothing happens. In this case, if no action is
taken, something does happen. You will want to note that point because it is rare in our legislation.
The decision to list a species under the proposed legislation could have profound economic, social and legal
consequences for many Canadians. To be serious, we are talking about farmers and ranchers and rural Canadians.
This legislation gives those Canadians the right to have their case heard by me and my successors.
The legislation also holds the feet of the cabinet and of the Minister of the Environment to the fire. Any decision will
be open to thorough public and parliamentary scrutiny. This is also an important point. Legislators must make the
final decision — we know that. We cannot pass on our decisions to experts here, there and everywhere. I sometimes
think that we are too prone to doing that. Legislators must make the final decisions. However, we must act to protect
the future of any plant, animal or insect, unless there is a good reason, which there may be, to do otherwise.
As proof of the seriousness with which we are approaching this issue, Bill C-5 will provide protection for every one
of the 233 species that have been identified by those distinguished scientists as being at risk. Not one of those species
has been left off the list thus far. We envisage the case where it could be possible that one would be left off for other
important reasons but, of the 233 listed by COSEWIC, not one has been omitted from the list.
This is a solid partnership, and those who say that the decision as to what will be endangered is political rather than
scientific, are simply wrong. It will be perfectly clear if those who are responsible, because of their elected or their
bureaucratic status, do not follow science advice. That does not mean that this is a non-scientific place. Rather, it
means that democracy is being respected and responsibility is being appropriately placed.
There is a solid partnership. The scientists with the expertise will determine the threats and the status, and the
legislators with the democratic responsibility to take action on those threats and status will do just that. Those elements
— consultation, cooperation, stewardship, science, political accountability and transparency — are the core of the
proposed legislation to date.
Bill C-5 contains some additional and very important features. One precedent-setting part of the bill is the
integration of Aboriginal traditional knowledge into the process. I am very proud of this. Aboriginal peoples
profoundly recognize the juxtaposition among the ecosystem, the habitat, living species and themselves. They
understand interdependence and the need for integration.
During four years prior to the tabling of this bill, discussions were held with all the national Aboriginal
organizations and most of the regional aboriginal organizations and First Nations across the country. Emerging from
the discussions was the Aboriginal Working Group on Species at Risk.
We have been fortunate to receive advice from the Working Group and we have responded fully to that very cogent
advice. The importance placed on this act by Canada's First Peoples cannot be underestimated. Their contribution
must continue. We are partners in this effort — everyone of us.
The proposed act will establish the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk following consultation with
First Nations people. Under the bill, Aboriginal and traditional knowledge would have to be considered in all decision
making. The bill explicitly requires COSEWIC, the scientific committee, to consider Aboriginal wisdom in its
deliberations by establishing a subcommittee specializing in Aboriginal and traditional knowledge. These are
important advances, honourable senators, when we consider the primary role played by Aboriginal people in
protecting nature and in sustaining wildlife in our nation.
Let me return to the details of the legislation. Of course, everyone favours protecting species at risk. The problem
comes when decisions are made that affect the use of land and water, and that affect landowners, resource users,
fishermen or recreational tourism operators. Many of those Canadians — indeed, the overwhelming majority — have a
profound attachment to the environment and nature. They do not deserve the stick; they deserve the carrot. That is
why you find financial incentives for stewardship, such as the Habitat Stewardship Program. It is through those actions
that we are protecting habitat, that is, by encouraging landowners and others to take voluntary conservation measures.
If and only if the voluntary stewardship approach fails to protect critical habitats will protection, through legal order,
be considered. Elected officials will make that decision in full knowledge of the social and economic impacts. If
Canadians suffer a real-life loss as a result of this legislation, we have provisions for compensation, and few issues
during the legislation's evolution have been the subject of such searing scrutiny as the issue of compensation.
I would like to highlight to you the way in which these very legitimate concerns are addressed in a manner proposed
by landowners themselves. The government is committed to building a compensation regime based on fair and
The proposed Species at Risk Act allows for compensation to be provided for any extraordinary losses caused by
actions taken by the government to prohibit destruction of critical habitat.
We are already at work on general compensation regulations that would come into force shortly after proclamation
of the act. The development of these regulations is mandatory.
This is a new area of the law that we are entering and we fully intend to have some viable experience before we
finalize our intentions. We need to determine the eligibility and the threshold for compensation on a case-by-case basis.
We need to revisit the issue of compensation regulations on a regular basis. I have listened to hundreds of people on
this issue, and I do not want to write into the law a compensation mechanism that may not meet the real-life losses or
needs of Canadians, especially farmers, trappers and ranchers. The next several years will give us the pragmatic
knowledge that we require on the issue. We will obtain the information that we need on the implementation of the act,
and we will be able to identify critical habitat. We will use our listening processes, and we will increase our stewardship
It is very possible that compensation will never have to be used if all the tools do the job effectively and fairly. It is
quite possible that it will not affect the land or the ability of ranchers, trappers or farmers to earn an income from the
land. That is an objective, but we have recognized we may fall short of that and, therefore, the compensation will
Honourable senators, this legislation is built on science. It is built on days in the field observing the effects of habitat
changes on numbers of young whooping cranes. It is built on hours of discussions with farmers who want to maintain
diversity on the land while still making a living. It is built on listening carefully to Aboriginal peoples. It is built on
years of experience with assessment of species.
What has become ever more clear during the decade of developing this legislation is that Parliament cannot do this
alone. Certainly, there is a constitutional obligation for a coordinated and cohesive approach, but this is not about
something that is academic or for the courts; it is about real life for real species out there where real people live on the
land. We need the provinces, the territories, the resource users and the industries, and we need the communities, the
farmers, the ranchers, the trappers and the fishermen. I would again stress that we need everyone. This legislation will
only be successful if the people who work the land recognize that it will help them do something they are good at doing
themselves, which is protecting endangered species and diversity on their land. If they regard this as a threat to their
way of life, this legislation will have failed, to my mind, in very large measure. These are people to whom you will want
to listen — the farmers, the ranchers, the trappers, the fishermen and others — the people who actually work where
these endangered species may be.
I would quote Senator Banks, the sponsor of this bill in the Senate. He said that we need to sing in unison; and that
we need to play our individual and collective roles so that the result is harmony. That is good advice to me, senator,
and I will bear that in mind. I also think it is good advice to keep in mind when you listen to witnesses before this
In a way, we are breaking new ground. We are using new approaches to issues that have challenged us for many
years. We are presenting legislation that takes into account the desire of all Canadians to play their part in protecting
Sitting at the table today are many senators who have shown great conviction and action about environmental
stewardship for Canada, for which I have saluted you in the past and I salute you again. The bill before you embraces a
goal that all Canadians share. The challenges and responsibilities of protecting species at risk are huge. We need to
built trust, cooperation, confidence and mutual stewardship in meeting these obligations. We have much to learn
together, and we have much to do together.
I hope that you will find in your deliberations that the bill is a linchpin in the protection and recovery of endangered
species. I trust that you will be able to support it, and I hope that, in five years time, when the new legislation is
reviewed by the House of Commons and by the Senate, Canadians will see that at this time we acted together with
I look forward, senators, to your deliberations with great interest.
The Chairman: Thank you, Minister. I do not recall having said what you just attributed to me. However, if I did, I
am glad I did; if I did not, I wish I had.
Senator Spivak: I must say, Mr. Minister, you are a most persuasive advocate. Thank you for your kind remarks.
I want to ask you about clauses 32, 33 and 34. Clause 34 states that the protection that the federal government
affords on its lands with respect to damaging or destroying residences does not apply on provincial lands unless an
order is made by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the minister.
In the House of Commons, the Environment Committee wanted to make that mandatory, not discretionary. The
minister was of the opinion that provincial laws were not effectively protecting the species or residences, so the bill uses
the word, ``may.''
Would you comment on why you think that the Governor in Council should have discretion to offer this basic
provision? I will explain to you why I ask this question. You mentioned landowners, farmers, et cetera. In my mind,
that is not where the real threat to habitat comes from. It comes from the forestry companies, the mining companies
and very often from provincial governments. Would you comment on why you decided, in the end, that a discretionary
power is the best option?
Mr. Anderson: Thank you, senator, for two good questions.
We have, of course, the traditional Canadian split jurisdiction here. Fish and wildlife branches are exclusively
provincial or territorial. We do have the Canadian Wildlife Service, which was formed back in the late 1940s, with
some 50-odd scientists, but it does not have the same regulatory role as the provincial jurisdiction. Although the
territories may be slightly different, all species, other than migratory species for which there are special provisions, are
governed by provincial legislation, provincial authorities, provincial fish and wildlife departments, or departments of
the environment. They, clearly, play a major role. We are saying that, when it comes to endangered species, when they
become that rare, it becomes a criminal law matter, and that is protection is so important.
We are deferential to the provincial legislation. We expect provinces to be involved and interested in honouring the
accord they have signed with the federal government on endangered species. We defer to provincial responsibilities and
sensibilities. That being said, we are not saying that we have no power if they refuse to act. We are saying that we will
proceed, but it is discretionary, so there will be political debate on this point. It is essentially to ensure that this is
harmonious legislation rather than coercive. I was a provincial politician, and I am sensitive to the area of provincial
jurisdiction. I feel it is important for us to try not to create situations that appear threatening or unfavourable to our
I appreciate your support, which I heard you previously mention, of the importance of farmers, ranchers, trappers
and others on the land, but I think we must also recognize that many forestry companies are acting responsibility.
There has been a shift in attitude. That applies to mining companies as well. I do not want to point out good guys and
bad guys. I think, under certain circumstances, all of us, even those of us at this table, will discover that we are
occasionally bad guys, although we hope we are mostly good guys. I do not think we can categorize industries.
We may work with certain forestry companies. I think particularly — and I flag this as an issue for you — of issues
related to the mountain caribou. Protecting the mountain caribou in British Columbia may cause forestry companies
to make quite important changes in practise. I think of the northern Prairie provinces and the boreal forest where the
companies are trying to mimic forest fire impact. Interestingly, even within those areas, seismic lines are cutting more
trees than the forestry companies that have the license to cut trees for wood purposes. You will have a number of
interesting things to follow-up, but this will unfold as it comes forward. Personally, I think we will find people in
forestry taking a positive attitude.
Senator Spivak: I must say, Minister Anderson, that I do not think there are good guys and bad guys. Rather, there
is good legislation and bad legislation. I agree with you about the manner in which one can deal with any company that
is also interested in environmental matters, but not to go on about that.
My second question concerns critical habitat. Let me give you an example, which I talked about in my remarks
before the Senate. In Manitoba, as you know, clear-cutting in provincial parks is permitted. In May of this year,
COSEWIC listed the woodland caribou as threatened in Nopiming Provincial Park. While the government took many
measures, the most important measure was that they did not prohibit clear-cutting, which will eventually destroy the
caribou habitat. This situation, once the bill is passed, provides such that the provincial government will continue to
allow the destruction of the critical habitat of these woodland caribou — a threatened species. What are the criteria
that you will use to determine that a province is not doing its job and therefore the federal government may step in?
The bill does not set those criteria out. Is it the case that the province must have laws or must the province be
effectively applying those laws? In this case, it is a contrary kind of permission. I do not know if it is the law. However,
this is a clear-cut and practical situation that the government will face as soon as the bill is passed.
Mr. Anderson: Thank you for that example. I mentioned the woodland caribou but I was only aware of the situation
in British Columbia. I will ask Ms. Brown to respond more fully on that, but I will say that it is not the legislation the
province has but the application of the legislation that we will be checking. Sometimes, even with goodwill, people are
able to overcome the absence of legislation — they are able to achieve goals without legislation. I always remember
that the Soviet Union had the world's best constitution for protecting human rights but it did not really succeed. It is
not what is written that counts but how things happen on the ground. It will be a federal decision. Obviously, before we
move in, we will be in consultation, discussion and argument with the appropriate provincial authorities; however, it
will be a federal decision of the minister and the cabinet to move ahead.
Ms. Karen Brown, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Conservation Service, Environment Canada: The
approach that the bill lays out describes the process for us to set up recovery teams after the assessment is completed.
The recovery team process is extraordinarily important and will identify recovery strategies — those things that are
viable and those things that can be done by a biological point of view — and then we will provide for action plans to be
set out. It is in that process of developing action plans that critical habitat for species would be determined. It is a
difficult, scientific and biological issue.
The bill requires the process to be done in a broad, multi-stakeholder approach. In that way, all of the people
engaged and involved in that work would be at the table. We would try to find as many tools as possible to protect that
species and habitat. The bill provides that we can use all the tools in our toolbox. We might be acquiring land or we
may be asking the provinces to change laws or they may want to change the laws within their own provincial park
system. It is a whole mosaic because the habitat of that woodland caribou will extend well beyond the provincial
border, and in fact it often extends across provinces and borders.
There will be many different approaches to protect critical habitat. Our challenge will be the degree to which we
consider those to be effective. We will develop those criteria, as we progress through the process, with our provincial
colleagues. The process will be quite transparent. Because there are different laws in each province, it will be a bilateral
discussion as well as multilateral discussion.
Senator Spivak: Is it correct that, among the tools that the federal government has, there is the option to ask a
province to change its laws? How could that be enforced? Is that within this proposed legislation — the shared
provisions of the environment? Is it the disallowance? We were in Quebec during the boreal forest study. While there,
we met with trappers who spoke with us in their native language and described how forestry companies in the north of
Quebec had completely clear-cut around their cabins and destroyed their hunting area — just like that. This is not a
unique problem, but how will this play out, given the difficulties and the tension between the provinces and the federal
Mr. Anderson: The approach will be to ask the provinces how they would change their legislation. I should say that,
because of the federal legislation and because of the accord that we pressed with the provinces, a good number of
provinces have introduced legislation on their own or they have beefed up their existing legislation. Bill C-5, I would
think even before it is passed, has a positive effect on the legislation of the provinces.
However, if there is a clear gap in the legislation, that would invite the safety net approach. The federal government
would then say that it was moving in to handle what the province was not handling. The province may respond that it
will handle the situation by amending the legislation. The federal government would then retreat, if that would be
appropriate. That will have a positive effect in the future. Certainly, no federal government could instruct a provincial
government to amend its legislation. Our legislation is based on the fact that where there is such a hole, or where
legislation is not enforced, the federal government moves in. You cannot tell a province how to proceed, in deference to
it. My biggest fear is the cutbacks on provincial environments in fish and game. What really worries me is that we are
reaching situations in provinces with the best of legislation and so the follow-through will be difficult.
The Chairman: Concerning the event that you have been talking about in answer to Senator Spivak's question, there
is a hammer that can be brought down in the end if the province does not react to the suggestion that they alter
Mr. Anderson: That is correct. In essence, the hammer is quite harsh. It is a criminal law sanction by the federal
government. We have full jurisdiction over the criminal law in these cases. We believe that allowing the species to
disappear, either through lack of action or deliberate action, is thoroughly inappropriate and distasteful and the type
of thing that the criminal law should prohibit and deal with.
When I say ``criminal law sanction'' it sounds like a pretty heavy-duty hammer, but that is the constitutional basis of
this legislation. It does not mean that people are necessarily branded as criminals. Many aspects under the criminal law
are dealt with in the courts on a day-to-day basis without creating a criminal record. The proposed legislation is based
on that federal criminal law power. I do not want people to be frightened that this is equivalent to the crime of
manslaughter or something of that nature, but that is the constitutional basis of the legislation.
The Chairman: For the record, we were joined some time ago by Senator Kenny and Senator Gustafson.
Senator Milne: Following on with that same thought, Mr. Minister, it is difficult to throw provincial governments in
jail. What will be done in the case of provincial governments? I come from Ontario, where there is probably very good
legislation. However, a gap exists between the legislation and the enforcement of the legislation.
Mr. Anderson: Senator, you are right. It is pointless to go through a long court process. On the basis of this
proposed legislation, you simply act in their place. You say, ``This is a safety net approach. If you fail to act, then we
It is true that there can be difficulties if they become obstructionist or continue to reject their responsibility. In a
situation like that we hope that we will have the minimum level of cooperation required for the federal government to
Ms. Brown: There are different ways the province may want to try to address this issue. It may be through an
amendment or a general approach across the province.
If, at the end of the day, after working through the various other tools such as stewardship agreements and effective
provincial laws, the habitat is not protected and it is deemed critical for the survival of species, then a criminal law
prohibition is used. The prohibition would be against the destruction of that habitat, and it would be very specific. It
would almost require the quadrants, the section, or the concession number. It has to be that specific.
The federal government would be able to put in place a prohibition against the destruction of that habitat.
Senator Milne: That is fine if the provincial government says that they will do this and they have laws on their books
to be able to do it. They may simply not act on those laws. How will the federal government judge whether the
provincial government is actually doing it? Will there be inspectors on the scene? This could become difficult and
intrusive into provincial matters.
Mr. Anderson: You are correct. It would be intrusive and could lead to confrontational situations. That said, the
buck has to stop somewhere. We have a safety net approach based on what provincial governments do, not just the
legislation on the books. If we find it is not working or that the process is not taking place, our responsibility is to move
in. That is related to the question Senator Spivak asked about why it is discretionary. This is fraught with a number of
major concerns. It would be improper to make this an automatic confrontation. If you create those automatic
situations, then people know exactly what you are forced to do. They have room to maneuver, and you are somewhat
of a sitting duck when it comes to the battle that will follow in due course.
Senator Milne: My next question relates to compensation. You say you will first study the effects of this legislation
for several years before you introduce a compensatory regime. What will happen to farmers or ranchers who are
prohibited from using part of their lands in the meantime and need the money they would otherwise earn from those
Mr. Anderson: We will certainly be studying the requests that come to us for compensation, and how this will work
out. We do not know. We have spent an immense number of hours discussing this with ranching, farming and trapping
groups and others. It is new, and of great concern to the provinces in terms of their resource management.
We have decided to say that we will put out regulations or instructions that will show them how to apply the law and
that we will judge on a discretionary basis at first. When we see patterns emerging, and when we see where there are
clear opportunities for firmer regulation, we will then proceed.
The difficulty is trying to envisage a system without basing it on experience. We will undoubtedly advantage some
people unjustly and leave some deserving people out. That is the nature of the inability to foresee the future. We hope
to gain some experience. Let us take the example of a rancher who, next year, is asked to change his practices because
of an endangered species that happens to be on the land. The rancher may be cooperative, but could tell us that we are
asking him to drop the number of cattle by 10 per cent. We could then work out the numbers. It may be worth $5,000
or $10,000 to the rancher.
We would look at his claim and decide if it is an unexpected situation — something we would not normally ask him
to do. He is not out there trying to wring money out of us by saying that, if we do not give him money he will destroy
land. It may be a genuine case of an individual who wants to help. I hope I will be the Minister of the Environment on
that first case. My inclination would be to say, ``You have done your best. You are not trying to enrich yourself out of
this legislation. However, I have some doubt about 20 per cent of your claim. Would a payment of 90 per cent of your
claim be adequate to settle the situation?''
We hope to get some early examples of that type of situation, because we want people to know that we will respond
positively. This is a public good. The ranchers would be doing something for all of us. Many of them are now doing
I do not want to get into too much detail, but I have been on ranches where they talk about seven generations just as
Aboriginal leaders talk about seven generations. They talk about their grandfathers homesteading the ranch. They
look to their children and to their grandchildren. These people are not out there to try to destroy wildlife or resources.
They are there to make it interesting because they enjoy the land.
We will have a very positive response from many of the user groups.
I am not sure whether I can help in the case of trappers in Quebec, because that involves a different issue of
entitlement. I think the legal term is, ``profit à prendre,'' and they are substituting the rights of the forestry company for
the trapper's right. I think that is improper, but it may be done. We can, however, help the rancher.
Senator Milne: What about a farmer in Ontario who has a pond in the back five acres of his property, and who is
actually attempting to increase his income because he has exceptional demands? He has a son going to university. He
wants to drain and plow that pond but it is the habitat of some rare species of orchid. Are you going to treat that in
exactly the same way? He is trying to increase his income.
Mr. Anderson: Senator, you correctly raise the very uncertainties on which we want experience. Is it appropriate that
we do that? What do people think is fair? I am sure your ingenuity on this could go on and on, and that is why I feel it
is important to get such cases, to wrestle with them and find out what my colleagues think, as well as what is considered
fair by the public.
Where we invoke that critical habitat prohibition, compensation is possible, and where a person comes to us with a
legitimate case of loss due to that habitat prohibition that we put in, we are friendly. We want to make sure they see the
government as a partner, not as an opponent. That takes me back to my American example, where 5,000 people were
there and the sheriff was asked why he did not do anything about it and he said: ``Well, a third of them are armed and a
third of them have guns in their trucks. Thanks very much. I cannot do anything.''
That is the situation you get into when you get these confrontations between farmers and laws, as in that case, that
have been written in a prohibitory and inflexible way. We do not want that American system where it is run through
the courts. We want to run it through discussion, cooperation and ultimately, if necessary, compensation.
The Chairman: With respect to Senator Milne's last question, putting aside the question of the amount of
compensation or the extent of the compensation, in the circumstances you described you said that compensation would
be possible, which means also that it might not occur. Can you foresee circumstances in which a shortfall, a loss, from
either existing operations or potential operations from existing resources, a farmer's land that might be improved as to
its yield, might not be compensated, if there is a demonstrable loss?
Mr. Anderson: Yes, Mr. Chairman, that is a good point. Of course, the money we have is not unlimited. Because of
the importance we attach to compensation, I can give you my views, and because it is discretionary at least in the short
run until such time as someone else takes over, I can tell you exactly what I think will happen. We would shift funds
from other sources to make sure we met that shortfall if it is humanly possible to do that. I would obviously be
pleading on my knees to other ministers for top-up of our compensation money. I regard it as so critical that we do not
go into this type of legislation and say it is arbitrary. We want to ensure that they understand they have a responsible
ear that will listen to them. We cannot guarantee that we will always accept. This is not an open-ended fund for
everyone who wants to apply. We can, at least in this initial period, when we are getting this experience, indicate the
importance to them of the partnership approach, which involves compensation in the case of us making an order for
critical habitat prohibition.
Senator Baker: I want to congratulate the minister for the extraordinary job he is doing in his present and past
Mr. Minister, if someone is charged under this act, why is there is a specific clause in the bill that allows them to
argue due diligence as a defence? I have never seen the words put in this manner — due diligence. This is clause 100,
Due diligence is a defence in a prosecution for an offence.
I wonder, minister, whether you or someone else can tell me why that was put in the act and where the wording came
from. I can think of only one other act where there is wording, but not this wording. There is a kind of convoluted
wording in the Fisheries Act, where, if an individual does not have a licence to do something, if that person can show
the court that he or she exercised due diligence in obtaining or trying to obtain that licence while committing the
offence, then it is a defence under the Fisheries Act. It spells it out. The mens rea is no longer a question. Why the exact
wording, and why was it put in the bill?
Mr. Anderson: Thank you for the reference to the work I did as the Minister of Fisheries. I greatly appreciated the
work you did as chairman of the House of Commons Fisheries Committee.
With respect to strict liability, we are trying to have consistency with other legislation. You have put your finger on
a piece of legislation where it is most important to have consistency with the Fisheries Act. We do not want to make it
more difficult to prosecute under one act than another. We want to have a similarity of approach for consistency
purposes and fairness reasons.
There is the defence of due diligence, and almost all federal environmental as well as provincial wildlife legislation is
similar. True, the language is not identical. This language has been massaged time after time after nine years, and I will
have to turn to Ms. Brown to find out whether she recollects exactly how this got changed. However, our objective was
to have consistency and our objective was to have due diligence there. It is much more difficult to prove mens rea, the
guilty mind. It is appropriate in certain criminal circumstances, but we do not think in this one.
Ms. Brown: I am not sure how the language is exactly different. The Fisheries Act provides for strict liability
offences and mens rea offences, whereas in Bill C-5 we are dealing only with strict liability offences. This has been a
matter of some concern and debate for the last several years.
The defence of due diligence is always available. It is a matter of court, it is a matter of common law, and it is not
atypical for us to actually include words to that extent in the bill. It really does not change how the court operates at
all. The due diligence defence in this case, the wording is simply mirroring what the courts would expect.
Senator Baker: I will turn to another legal question. In clause 4 of the bill, it seems to me as if the Government of
Canada is now unilaterally extending its legislative power to include the extent of the continental shelf to the soil and
subsoil of the continental shelf that extends out to include the shelf and its slope. There is an area of Canada outside of
the territorial sea, outside of the EEZ, as it says in clause 4, outside the exclusive economic zone, which is a 200-mile
limit in Canada. There is an area outside of that around Canada, east, north and west, that is equal in size to the three
Prairie provinces put together. It is a massive land mass.
I am wondering, minister, if the authority that you are seeking under this bill is sustainable under international law,
and if you say it is, I should like to know under what law and under what section of the Law of the Sea it would be
assuming this new role?
Mr. Anderson: Senator Baker, you have asked for a clear legal opinion. I will pass that to our legal advisor who is
qualified to comment.
Mr. David Near, Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Environment Canada: I have been working on this file since its
conception in 1993.
I do not profess to be an expert on the Law of the Sea, but this particular issue was canvassed with counsel from the
International Law Section and the Department of Fisheries, who would be closely involved with this. They have
assured us that the specific reference to the continental shelf in proposed section 4 is within the jurisdiction of the
There is a provision with respect to the EEZ, the exclusive economic zone. The Interpretation Act says that, unless a
contrary intention is shown, Canada can assert jurisdiction with respect to managing natural resources. Clearly, this
would fall within that category.
The reverse is the situation with respect to the continental shelf, where we have to say in the legislation that we are
asserting such jurisdiction over those aspects of the continental shelf. That is the purpose of clause 4.
Senator Baker: Mr. Near, the last time I checked, we had not ratified the Law of the Sea.
Mr. Near: The federal statute is not ratified, but it implements parts of the Oceans Act, which was passed two or
three years ago.
Senator Baker: We have signed the Law of the Sea; we have not ratified it. We do not legally have jurisdiction over
the soil or subsoil beyond 200 miles.
The way this is worded, you are actually protecting resources that are under the soil. Notice the way clause 4 is
worded. Perhaps in our future deliberations, we could call upon someone from the international section of the
Department of Fisheries, or perhaps representatives of the United Nations, so that we may investigate this further. It
would seem to me as if this is a clear case where, under this legislation, Canada is extending jurisdiction outside the
200-mile zone, which I agree with totally. That is great, but I am wondering what grounds that would be based on.
There is only one section under the Law of the Sea that deals with that — and I notice the Parliamentary Research
Branch gave us interesting information concerning that — and that is article 76. Are you acquainted with that article of
the Law of the Sea that deals with soil and subsoil outside 200 miles?
Mr. Near: As I indicated earlier, I do not profess to be an expert on the Law of the Sea. I can reassure you that the
department has looked closely at clause 4 and the rest of the legislation and think that it is all within our jurisdiction.
Senator Baker: I must congratulate you. You have done a marvellous job and so has the ministry. This the first time
I have seen anything in writing that legally extends our jurisdiction to a new land mass that is equal in size to the three
Prairie provinces, namely, the land mass outside the 200-mile zone, spelled out explicitly in clause 4 as being outside the
exclusive economic zone.
If this is recognized internationally as international law under the Law of the Sea, then we could stop all fishing on
the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, on the Flemish Cap, up between the border of Greenland and Canada — that is,
all foreign fishing and dragging on the bottom of the ocean floor. That, in effect, disturbs the soil and subsoil of the
I would congratulate the minister and his staff and Mr. Near for the excellent job they have done in accomplishing
something that we should have accomplished 20 years ago.
Mr. Anderson: You can only imagine how congratulations of the type expressed by Senator Baker fill my heart with
The Chairman: We will want to revisit this question that you have raised at some length.
I hope that we have the same success as we did when Canada arbitrarily declared a 200-mile limit.
Senator Baker: I was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister when we did that in 1977.
The Chairman: You got away with it then.
Senator Christensen: I have four quick questions and more for clarification in respect of the area from which I come
and which I represent here. Questions have been raised to me on a continuous basis as to how this will apply.
I wish to talk about the regional application regarding endangered species. I am thinking about grizzly bears, lynx,
woodland caribou and so on. When these endangered species are identified, are they identified on a regional basis?
These populations are healthy in the northern part of Canada but there are other places where they are endangered
and, perhaps, becoming extinct. How is the application made when an endangered species is identified.
Mr. Anderson: The particular section is ``Protection of Wildlife Species.'' It is in the definition section, specifically at
the top of page 7.
You raise an excellent point. We have experienced mounting irritation at American organizations who, because a
species may be endangered in the United States, assume that, when the animal goes from Montana into British
Columbia or into Alberta, it maintains that status of ``endangered,'' even though, within the Canadian jurisdiction, it is
a species in abundance.
We want to ensure that this geographic area is appropriate and it is not just a question of using political boundaries
as opposed to the appropriate bioregional boundaries of watersheds or whatever.
We will be making a particular point of ensuring that, because a species is, for example, endangered in Montana, the
designation is not for the whole species anywhere in Canada. As I mentioned earlier, this an important issue with
respect to species for which we are the northern boundary. It is also an important issue for northern species, which
come into southern parts of Canada and are in less abundance until you get into areas where they do not exist.
You must choose the appropriate boundaries for the area in which you declare it to be endangered. It may be, given
weather conditions, that a certain species may be there once every 10 years and not be there nine years out of 10. It may
be, with the changes in weather that we are experiencing, that we get dramatic shifts in populations. That must be
accounted for in what we do with our legislation.
The concern that you have that a species which is abundant in the Yukon should not then have regulations applied
to it which would be appropriate in southern British Columbia is a real one and one we will be taking care of in our
definitions and in our approach.
Senator Christensen: You have touched on my other questions, one of which was with respect to global warming.
New species are appearing in the North on a regular basis as they migrate from the South and would, perhaps, be listed
as ``endangered'' in the North because there are few of them.
The other question that you touched on is international. Here, I am thinking of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in
Alaska, which is a major concern to our First Nations in the Old Crow area, for our porcupine caribou herd. The
calving ground is situated in that particular refuge. What accommodations do we have with the United States to
protect that herd? It is wintering in Canada and it is calving in Alaska.
Mr. Anderson: This matter has occupied a great deal of my time when I have been in the United States, ensuring that
the concerns of not only the Gwich'in people and the Old Crow as a community, but the Yukon generally, are well
understood in Washington. I have been greatly aided by the Gwich'in people, who are effective lobbyists, in
Washington, D.C. I think we persuaded the Americans of the importance of the Porcupine River caribou herd. They,
however, can come back and say that the calving ground in the so-called 10-02 lands would not affect the herd overall.
The dilemma is that you do not have hard scientific information on how a pregnant caribou will react in one area or
another of the overall area, the 10-02 lands. We do not know and probably will not have conclusive scientific
information. Those who want drilling in the Arctic refuge are pressing their case. So far, they have failed to win
support. We will be following the November elections to see if there is any change in the dynamics in what is essentially
a stalemate in the U.S. on this issue. It is not that we are winning; it is essentially a stalemate, which means that we have
not lost. It is important to continue.
The issue has become highly symbolic in the United States. On the one hand, the President of the United States has
been describing the drilling as somehow a rescue for many of the ills that affect the American energy policy. The other
side points out that it may be nine years before there is serious production from that field, even if oil is found, and
therefore it can do nothing to deal with the short-term concerns. At the same time, the environmental issues are being
We keep pressing the issue. There is no time when I am discussing this with my American counterparts that we do
not raise the Porcupine River caribou herd. I have even presented my American counterpart with a photograph of
myself on the Porcupine River so that she understands where this place is. We keep fighting it, but we have not won
Senator Christensen: This applies on federal lands. In the North, however, it is all federal lands. As of April 1, 2003,
in the Yukon particularly, there will be management and control on those lands, but they are still federal lands. The
territorial government does have wildlife management legislation in place that more or less mirrors this legislation.
Mr. Anderson: That is an excellent point. We are treating the lands within the territories as though they are
provincial lands within a province. Having said that, there are in the territories management boards, which complicate
or complement or enhance, which means that we must have a slightly different approach when dealing with such
boards so that we can respect their role and also respect any treaty rights or land claims there may be.
We have had a reasonably positive relationship with the territorial governments with this legislation.
Senator Gustafson: Minister, I have been impressed with the way you handled your department, as a farmer and as
someone who is close to the land. However, I have a few concerns.
The Senate Agriculture Committee visited some European countries and talked about some of the things that are
happening there, as well as in the U.S. Canada is becoming a very urban-centred country, yet we are one of the
countries in the world that has so much land. We are missing some things. For instance, in Europe, the environment,
rural development and agriculture are very closely tied. I am sure you know more about this than I do. Yet, it seems
that, for different reasons, here in Canada we are not responding. Some of the reasons are political, because that is
where the people are. The government must respond to that. For example, we do not see things like urban sprawl as a
great threat in Canada because we have so much land.
When I first came to Ottawa, Tommy Douglas called me over and said: ``Saskatchewan has a great future. We have
40 per cent of the land — good farmland.'' Yet we are falling short on some things that could be done. For instance, in
southern Saskatchewan, in the prairie region, there are clumps of poplar trees. We are still bulldozing them out. I
watched three moose in the southern part of Saskatchewan, right on my own farm as I was combining. We have not
seen moose in the country at all. Now there are 66 moose in the municipal area, which is great. I have seen the moose
move from one clump of trees to another. They cannot see very well, but they can hear. They are watching me
combine. Nonetheless, I have neighbours that are bulldozing out these clumps of trees. In defence of farmers who are
doing this, I will say that they are doing it to squeeze every nickel they can out of the land in order to survive. You
talked quite a bit about federal-provincial relations that would have to be overcome in that regard. An example of
something that could be done very simply is to enact a law against bulldozing out these trees.
On the international scene, if you look at what the Americans are doing and you go to the southern central states,
you will learn that urban sprawl is so great that they are moving out of the urban centres and buying five, ten or fifteen
acres of land and putting horses on it. They are losing out on their land. Around Vancouver, B.C., Toronto and
Montreal, the same thing is happening. These are quite simple things, but I do not see any legislation or any movement
to deal with them.
Mr. Anderson: You are correct that we have not done a great deal. Certainly, you should be enlisted to help to
ensure that more is done. You are correct that in Europe there is more concern with the type of synergies that come
between environment and agriculture. I went to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's annual meetings two or
three times. I was the first environment minister to be present. I was intrigued by the interest of the agriculture
community in having environmental policies that are complementary to agriculture policies.
Senator Gustafson: We live by the soil.
Mr. Anderson: Yes. Certainly, it is true, as I mentioned earlier, that animals will change their habits. Moose will
move. We did not have moose in British Columbia south of the Yellowhead highway in my grandfather's day. We now
have them 60 kilometres from Vancouver. There is a big population of coyotes in Vancouver; we never had them
before. The white-tailed deer are moving to all sorts of places. We do have that kind of movement that we do not know
a lot about.
One element that is very important is education, to ensure that people do understand the values and the impacts.
You touched on that when you referred to your neighbours.
We have had some interesting breakthroughs, namely, a new agricultural policy framework from Lyle Vanclief. For
the first time, we are not simply talking about production-volume support but about farm plans requiring environment
and biodiversity values to be incorporated. The Canadian farming and ranching community is beginning to understand
that this may be another revenue stream, just as they see sinks under Kyoto as a possible revenue stream. They are
looking for that kind of thing. Perhaps we will wind up one day with something that approaches the European
situation in terms of supporting values as opposed to supporting production. I do not know that, but I do think that
there is a lot of opportunity for myself to work a lot closer with Lyle Vanclief. He is very positive. Regarding some of
those directions in which you are saying that we should go, we are making the first rather hesitant steps. Watch closely.
Senator Kenny: Why is it important to protect 70,000 species?
Mr. Anderson: You are a man of considerable intellectual interest, as everyone knows. I will give you a book on
biodiversity by a man named Wilson. He is a professor of considerable renown. Basically, it is because we do not know
the loss if we lose most of these species.
You can start by looking at the recent developments in pharmaceuticals, which have come from natural products.
They have discovered that something has happened somewhere, particularly in tropical zones. They have discovered
that there is some medicinal property, let us say. They no longer necessarily use the plant in Costa Rica or in Panama,
but they synthesize it, and it comes into our pharmaceutical stream. There is a tremendous opportunity on the
knowledge side that will be lost if we lose these species.
We here have been talking about single endangered species. It is a bit of silo problem. Of course, were we people
with much higher intellect than me, we would be talking in a much more holistic way about ecosystems. It is the
ecosystem aspect that we do not fully understand at all in our country or worldwide. We do not know the impact.
Basically, this approach is to ensure that we do not lose options by allowing careless extinction to take place.
There are societies, and ours is one, where a particular species has been lost and the niche is filled by another species.
Things happen. Sometimes it is not filled at all; sometimes species that are less valuable are more valuable. Senator
Baker is familiar with some of the replacements taking place in the North Atlantic as cod declined. We are not too sure.
That is probably the most important reason. In an area of substantial ignorance, we are precluding future
opportunities by careless distinction of species.
The issue you raise is important in how we go about it. Most of our money and effort goes into very few species. I do
not know how many dollars we put out for every bird that visits Canada. It is a very large amount. There still must be
value judgments because no matter how much we spend we are limited in what we do.
In very few words, you have raised a very important issue. I have answered, in many words, rather clumsily on this.
Basically, we do not know enough to say we can afford to lose species.
Senator Kenny: It is helpful because it leads to other questions that are all connected. It is so complicated. Why
should one have confidence in scientists coming up with solutions that will be right? The bill says that it will be science-
based. Everyone should feel good because it will be science-based. It is so much a question of timing, perspective and
scope. Why are you confident that making an effort to protect a particular species will make us a better place or not? Is
the world worse off because we do not have dinosaurs?
Mr. Anderson: Again, natural extinctions take place, and the dinosaurs were one of them. We are not talking of
70,000 species; we are talking of 233. We have a limited objective. We are attempting to protect biodiversity. I think we
can have enough confidence in scientists who devote their lives in the study of this that they are not always wrong.
Frequently, they may not be exactly right, but at least they are approaching the truth. The same argument might be
made for health. Why do we trust doctors? Basically, we have nothing else to trust but prayer. We trust them because
that is the best we have. I think the scientists we have are good, but I agree with you that a great deal more effort
should be put on the science side. That may be where you are leading me. I believe that the federal government — that
is, all of us who were involved in the process — must look closely at what we put into research and science generally if
we are to get the type of answers that you are suggesting we need.
Senator Kenny: I would simply observe that there is a logic and a discussion that is worth having about this bill.
Having the minister go through and make the case for it from square one and then getting into the questions of values
and cost benefits and those sorts of things would be worth doing at some point. Today is not the day, but perhaps
The Chairman: Thank you, senator. The minister has kindly said that he would be happy to come back to appear
before us to answer other questions. I suspect that that will happen.
I thank you for the generosity of your time today. I hope you will be the Minister of Environment for a long time. I
have never heard a minister respond so specifically and so adroitly and with such alacrity and such detail as you are
able to do. You have our admiration for that. We will be inviting you again, sir.