Second reading of Bill C-72, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks ActPublished on 22 June 2015 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joan Fraser (retired)
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
I would like to thank Senator Patterson for the informative speech on this bill. He has had the very great privilege of visiting this territory. I have not. Face it, most of us have not and never will, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t support preserving it. On the contrary, we all know how fragile the Arctic is and how much it is in need of preservation.
I venture to guess that tourism is not yet massive industry at Qausuittuq, but with climate change it’s likely to increase. The need to ensure that it is properly done is even greater in the High Arctic than in the rest of the country because of the enormous fragility of the terrain.
This is a huge territory. The bill says it is approximately 11,008 square kilometres. That’s a lot of land and it’s very harsh land. Senator Patterson talked about the Arctic desert. Temperatures average -32 degrees in January and only 5 degrees in July. The miracle is that in this harsh terrain, people have lived for coming on 5,000 years, have made their mark and have survived.
I would love one day to visit the cairn Senator Patterson referred to that was erected by people searching for Sir John Franklin and his crew. I suspect I won’t, but I’m glad to know it’s there and it’s protected.
I think it’s important for all of us to support the creation of national parks like this, but I also think it’s important for the Environment Committee to have a chance to look at this bill and find out if there is any little thing about it that might need a bit of adjustment.
The bill seems straightforward to me, and the important thing is that, as Senator Patterson has said, it was agreed upon by the local people.
I hope it will bring them much pleasure, much profit, much comfort, but in the meantime I do think we should refer this bill to committee as soon as possible, and I would therefore support doing so now.