Office of
Monte Solberg, M.P.

Medicine Hat


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                March 19, 2001


Solberg Praises Brooks Chamber of Commerce in Parliament

Urges Common-Sense Approach to Endangered Species Legislation


OTTAWA Medicine Hat MP Monte Solberg used his speech in Parliament on Friday on Endangered Species legislation to pay tribute to a number of local organizations and their participants. 


Solberg highlighted the efforts of the Brooks & District Chamber of Commerce, the local Ducks Unlimited,  and a number of individuals within our community who have long applied common sense principles in protecting endangered species.  This common sense approach is what should be acknowledged and praised by our government, says Solberg, instead of pursuing a know-it-all attitude largely controlled by city dwellers.


Solbergs speech was part of the ongoing debate on Bill C-5, the Liberal Governments latest attempt to pass Endangered Species Legislation.  This bill has local farmers and ranchers deeply concerned over its potential to interfere with their livelihood, while ignoring the common sense efforts already being taken without benefit of any legislation.     


Attached is the speech delivered Friday, March 16th:


Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to rise today to address the legislation. I wish to begin by acknowledging the efforts of some people in my riding who have really done a lot to draw attention to the problems with this piece of legislation. They represent the Brooks and District Chamber of Commerce and brought forward a resolution dealing with concerns over the government's endangered species legislation to their Alberta chamber and ultimately to the Canadian chamber.

I would like to mention some of them by name: John Nesbitt, Mara Nesbitt, Don Bruce, John Petrie, Clint Hendrickson and Terry Magnussen. They have all served on the board of the Brooks and District Chamber of Commerce and have really worked hard to try to improve the bill. At one point I believe they even had a meeting with the minister and urged him to consider some of the things that were just mentioned by my friend from Wild Rose and by others who have spoken today.

One of the things that concerns me most is the government's know-it-all attitude. For 100 years, people in Alberta have settled the land and have gone out of their way to protect the environment. I just cannot emphasize that enough. My friends have referred to that, but I want to say it again.

When one drives through our part of southern Alberta, one see a lot of farms and ranches. Invariably on those farms and ranches one can see where farmers have put up shelter belts, where animals now have habitat, and one can see, especially in my part of the world, a lot of irrigation. That irrigation ends up creating all kinds of habitat on the corners of fields. We see sloughs which would not otherwise exist that are full of cattails and full of pheasant and the animals that feed on pheasant, such as coyotes and all kinds of foxes. There are a lot of foxes coming back into the area.


People want to preserve that. They like the wildlife just as much as the people do in the big cities and in those parts of the world that will not be as heavily affected by the legislation as the people in the rural areas will be. It is critical the people understand that.

We have a number of Ducks Unlimited projects in the area where I live. Every year at the Brooks Ducks Unlimited dinner, $70,000 is raised by auctioning prints and all kinds of different donated items. It has created an unbelievable string of sloughs, or marshes which is the term people here use, that go for miles through our part of the world. As a result, deer and antelope have access to water. There are all kinds of ducks, geese, muskrat and beaver that are able to enjoy that as habitat. That is something people voluntarily do.

We have a program called Operation Burrowing Owl. We preserve pieces of land voluntarily so that burrowing owls have a place to establish a habitat.

My point is that for many years people in Alberta, and certainly in my area, have gone out of their way to protect habitat. What bothers me is that, although there have been consultations this time, the minister was not listening. The fact that these groups went out of their way to protect this habitat is simply not reflected in the legislation.

The other element that is critical to people is the issue of compensation. According to one report that was requested by the minister, there was a suggestion that the government should pay a compensation of up to 50% of the losses for people who would have their land set aside for habitat. Fifty per cent is absolute theft.

What happens when it is the law makers who break the law? There is a natural law that should guide this country which says that if we take something from somebody then we pay them full compensation, not half. We are in a situation where the government is effectively saying that it is going to take people's livelihood.

I want to remind people that, while we are having a debate in this place, farmers are going through one of the roughest periods in their history. It is a terrible time, where they are struggling to make it.

The government is adding insult to injury by saying to the farmers, as they struggle with some of the lowest commodity prices in history, that it will be putting in place legislation that would limit the compensation they get to half of what they actually deserve, according to fair market value. That is ridiculous. It leads to the sort of consequences my friend mentioned a minute ago, where farmers will say that if it comes down to their survival or the survival of these animals, then these animals will have to go. We then get this perverse situation where we get completely the opposite results of what was intended.

I will wrap up by acknowledging the work of people in my riding who have done so much. There are many cattlemen in the riding who have gone to great lengths to point out some of the flaws. Tom Livingstone who is a cattleman has pointed out some of the problems. I would urge the government at this point to consider some of the things that have been raised and not push this forward over the objections of the people who actually have to live with it.


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