FOPO Committee Meeting
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STANDING COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES AND OCEANS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES PÊCHES ET DES OCÉANS
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, March 2, 2000
The Chair (Mr. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.)): We'll call the meeting to order.
Basically, the purpose of today's meeting is to deal with some of the items the steering committee has dealt with and is proposing to committee.
We held a steering committee meeting on February 21 while we were on the road, so we'll deal first with the meeting from February 21 and then with the meeting we had on February 29. That will be before the committee for discussion.
Does everyone have this in front of them?
First are the minutes of the steering committee held in Vancouver on February 21, 2000. It was agreed that the committee seek an order of reference to travel from March 29 to April 7, 2000, to continue their comprehensive study on aquaculture, the review of the Oceans Act, and their study on aboriginal fishing strategies for the Maritimes, Maine, Newfoundland, P.E.I., and Labrador. It was further agreed to invite the minister to appear on the Marshall decision, and to invite the aquaculture commissioner to appear.
Basically, we need a motion to adopt that, right?
The Clerk of the Committee: You can do both.
The Chair: Okay, that's the report of that meeting.
The second steering committee meeting was on February 29, 2000, in the Wellington Building. Members present are listed there. It was agreed that the researcher would prepare an overview on the discussions held in Washington State and British Columbia during the committee's travel to British Columbia and the west coast. We need to discuss that a little bit.
It was agreed that two aboriginal groups from the west coast be invited to appear on the aboriginal fishing strategy. It was agreed that the minister be invited to appear on April 11 to discuss the ongoing negotiations on the Marshall decision. It was agreed that the minister be invited to appear on April 12, 2000, on the main estimates for the fiscal year 2000-2001.
It was agreed that Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. Thériault appear before the end of March to discuss the ongoing negotiations in regard to the Marshall decision. It was agreed that the committee hold hearings and visit in the following areas: St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick; Maine, at places to be determined; Baddeck, Nova Scotia; Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland; Makkovik, Labrador; Cartwright, Labrador; Charlottetown, P.E.I.; and Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia.
Those are the minutes of the steering committee report. They are moved by John.
The Clerk: Do you want to amend this part, though?
The Chair: We can move it first, seconded by Lou.
On the discussion...
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Can I ask you a question?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Chairman, this has nothing to do with this February 21 or 29 meeting, but if you recall, we had a discussion when we were in Vancouver and I suggested to you that we have a hearing also in Ontario for inland fishers. As you know, the Ontario fishery is about a $2 billion business. You said we were going to discuss it and to remind you. So I'm just taking advantage of this to remind you, if it's possible, to do studies of the inland fisheries in Ontario too.
The Chair: Let's discuss that after we deal with the motions that are before us.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Thank you.
The Chair: On the steering committee meeting of February 29, there's a dispute on the first item there, that the researcher prepare an overview on the discussion held in Washington State and British Columbia.
On the first one there, Yvon, it was agreed that the researcher prepare an overview on the discussions held in Washington State and British Columbia during the committee's travel to British Columbia and the west coast.
Basically, what we were talking about at the steering committee, just for those who weren't there, is that we should immediately prepare just a letter to the minister informing him—not making recommendations, but informing him—of some of the things we learned while we were in Washington State that relate to the aboriginal fishing strategy: the difficulties they're having in terms of the multiple plans, and so on.
At some time we will have to prepare a report on our total tour, with recommendations. But on that point, I'm not sure if we're talking about Washington State and B.C. both, or just Washington State. Alan's of the opinion it was Washington State.
Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Ref.): I don't think you can separate the two. The discussion, certainly when I was at the meeting, was that it would be just a two- or three-page summary statement, with an attempt to provide some early indications to the minister of the probable direction we're heading, because things are looming for this season on both coasts. Certainly for the west coast, they're putting all these agreements in place again.
The Chair: Okay. Is there any other discussion from people who were there? Yvan.
Mr. Yvan Bernier (Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, BQ): I'd like to say something about the point just raised by John. I wonder whether it is the right time to make such a trip. It's the beginning of the fishing season and the Aboriginal situation has not yet been settled. I'm afraid that the committee proceedings would be seriously disturbed, Mr. Chairman. I don't want to call into question the relevance of the trip but there are various factors we should take into account and I think that we have to be careful because the fishing plans have not yet been set and the Aboriginal situation has not yet been settled.
The third point we should emphasize this morning is that the sealing season is supposed to begin on March 20. I'd be a bit concerned if we had to be away from Ottawa at that time. While we are discussing the relevance of this trip, our researcher Alan could be preparing a summary of the discussions in Washington and British Columbia and we would be able to work with him. That would mean we would be available here in Ottawa if any problems were to occur. Perhaps we should study more closely the testimony we have already heard. In this way we would be better prepared for our trip to the East Coast. We could also determine whether it is really necessary to make a trip there. Once again, I'm not questioning the need for this trip but in view of what we heard on a number of occasions in the West about technology and pharmacology imported directly from Norway, we should perhaps hasten our trip to Norway. That's another important issue that comes to mind.
The Chair: Yvan, before John comes in, what we're dealing with at the moment are the minutes of the two steering committees. We will be dealing specifically with travel by way of another motion.
I raised the Washington State and British Columbia point because there's a little difference of opinion between Alan and me on what was really agreed to at the steering committee. So I guess we'll leave British Columbia in. But it isn't a letter to make recommendations; it's just an overview to outline the points.
Are you on that point, John?
Mr. John Duncan: Yes. I think for clarification, it wasn't to include the aquaculture. It was just the AFS stuff, right?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. John Duncan: It doesn't specify that; it just says discussions in here. I think we could amend the minutes to say “an overview on the AFS discussions held in Washington and British Columbia”.
The Chair: Is that agreeable to everyone? That's basically what it was. Agreed? Okay, all those in favour of the—
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I don't understand all the steps we are supposed to be going through this morning. I thought it was our intention to adopt the provisions on the first page in their English and French versions. We've just begun a discussion on all the elements included here. You seem to be saying that the main point of our discussion is the documents to be drafted by Alan. There are many items in the minutes, including our timetable and the places we are supposed to visit. In my opinion, this discussion is not yet over.
The Chair: Yvan, what we're dealing with in this motion is basically the minutes. If you look in your package, there is another motion on the travel itself. This is just really a report to the full committee from the steering committee.
The motion is on what we discussed and what we agreed to at steering committee. I think you voted against that, but that's what we agreed to at steering committee. We will have to vote further in order to travel. This vote is just on the report of the steering committee before the full committee.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Mr. Chair, why don't you put the question? This has been going on for a long time now.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: May I add something?
The Chair: Go ahead, Yvan.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I recognize that these are points we discussed but I do not remember agreeing to ask Alan to merely draft an overview. I was afraid we would reveal the substance of certain discussions we had in Washington. However, the other day John Cummins told us that these facts were already known. In that case we should perhaps include everything in our report. I would like to see Alan draft a more substantial document than a simple overview of our discussions. We should be writing three reports or three chapters of a report following the testimony we heard on aquaculture, the Native fisheries strategy and the Oceans Act.
If we do not immediately put down on paper the things we heard, we may not clearly recollect them later on. That is why I would like us to continue our discussions on these matters. Alan could perhaps write the three headings of the chapters and we could take part in the drafting while the testimony is still fresh in our recollection. I think that this exercise would also help us to better orient our work for the next trip.
All these elements are linked. The first subject on the agenda of the steering committee meeting, namely our planned hearings, also relates to this. Once we have drafted with Alan our chapter on aquaculture, we may perhaps have a new perspective and wish to visit other places in the East. That is why I would like us to continue our discussion on this proposal. I am not ready to vote on this motion. If you were to put it to a vote, I would like to have a recorded division. I am uncomfortable with this motion presented to us this morning. It strikes me as incomplete.
Everyone says that aquaculture is an important industry.
The Chair: I'll take John and then one other. Then we'll go to a vote.
I am sure, Yvan, Alan is already doing work on our west coast trip. That's ongoing. Next week we'll be out of here and he might be able to get something done because we won't be in his hair.
Mr. John Duncan: I'll concur with that. This is an attempt just to get an early... Oh, he's not listening anyway.
I think we're on the right wavelength there, but I just wanted to question one item, and that was the last visit mentioned on the page, Cape Sable Island. What is the intent of going to Cape Sable Island? I wasn't here for that part of the—
The Chair: There are two fin fisheries there.
Mr. John Duncan: Oh, okay.
The Chair: One was halibut and I just forget what the second one was, but there were two distinctly different fisheries. The halibut one hasn't been that successful, and the second one was... I don't think it was salmon. I'm not sure.
Mr. John Duncan: Is that the same as the Sable Island? Are Cape Sable Island and Sable Island the same thing?
The Chair: No, they are two different islands.
Mr. John Duncan: Okay.
The Chair: Sable Island has wild horses.
Mr. John Duncan: Yes.
The Chair: The motion is before you.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I would like a recorded vote.
The Chair: A recorded vote... Okay.
Mr. Bill Matthews (Burin—St. George's, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I have just one question.
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Bill Matthews: On the sites, it's not the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland.
The Chair: Yes...
Mr. Bill Matthews: It's the Connaigre Peninsula.
The Chair: Okay. We can correct that.
Mr. Bill Matthews: Those from out of the province won't know where they are anyway, but I just wanted to, just for the motion—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Chair: That's why we have to go: we want to know where we are.
Mr. Bill Matthews: Wherever I tell you that you are, you'll think you are.
The Chair: That's what was said, but in the official places we're going, Bill, it will be proper when we get to the next motion.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 10; nays 1)
The Chair: I need a mover and a seconder on this second item: that the committee seek an order of reference to travel from March 29 to April 7, 2000—this is following up on the steering committee, really—to continue their comprehensive study in aquaculture, the review of the Oceans Act, and their study on aboriginal fishing strategy through the Maritimes, Maine, Newfoundland, P.E.I., and Labrador, and that the chair table this request as the committee's third report.
Mr. Lou Sekora (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Lib.): I so move.
Mr. Bill Matthews: I second the motion.
The Chair: It's open for discussion.
Mr. Bernier, and then Mr. Duncan.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: If John wants to begin, as the official opposition...
Mr. John Duncan: I just want to know if this motion means that P.E.I. is no longer in the Maritimes.
An hon. member: Wayne got us elevated beyond that.
The Chair: Of course it is. We're in three places: we're in the Maritimes, we're in Atlantic Canada, and we're in Canada.
Mr. John Duncan: You just like to be mentioned as many times as possible.
The Chair: Absolutely. We want to be on the map. Sometimes in Ottawa they forget we are.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, you understand that I had a problem...
Mr. Lawrence D. O'Brien (Labrador, Lib.): Wayne, I notice that you got squeezed in there in a pretty good spot, between Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Chair: Mr. Bernier has the floor.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, you understand that I had a problem agreeing with the minutes which were discussed previously, as well as with the speed with which they were adopted. You also understand that I have a hard time agreeing with the present motion, which calls for the third page of the document which was given me to become the committee's third report. I'm not used to seeing such short reports which are printed on very little paper for the same page. It seems this new practice has been going on for only a month.
Mr. Chairman, on the page which is supposed to be the report there is mention of a date and a subject matter. Mr. Chairman, I will explain why I have a problem with the date and the subject matter, as well as the places we are supposed to visit.
Let me begin by talking about the places, Mr. Chairman, since nobody wanted to fully address the issue a few moments ago. We still haven't decided what the research assistant will write about. We still haven't compiled what was said at our meetings and the testimony we heard in the east. Therefore, it is too early to spend over $171,000 and change, or, as a certain female member said in the House of Commons, a "pittance". It would be premature to do so. I've listened to our discussions and I am not questioning the merit of what was said. I know some of the members on the steering committee and must admit, to my complete shock, that in many cases, they showed good judgment. However, Mr. Chairman, this is where the compliments stop. We nevertheless must do our work in an efficient and effective way so as to advance the cause of aquaculture in Canada. As long as the research assistant has not put together his notes and as long as we don't sit through the information and the problems which were brought to our attention, I feel—and I repeat—that it would be premature to decide on which places to visit.
Mr. Chairman, by visiting the places which were suggested the other day, will we be able to study the problem of wastewater due to large-scale breeding in a given area? This issue was raised several times, Mr. Chairman, but I don't know whether we will be in a position to study the problem in the places which were suggested for a visit. Will we be able to look at wastewater generated by a large school of fish or a large-scale fish farm with open net traps in those places? Is the medication administered in the west the same as that used in the east? I think it would be very useful to get this type of information in advance.
I would like to raise a second point regarding massive breeding, Mr. Chairman. We were also told about certain problems faced by wild species when they are subjected to night lights in order to give fish the illusion that the day is longer. Under these conditions, these fish eat more often and over a longer period of time. Will we be able to see this kind of thing in the places which were suggested for a visit?
In short, Mr. Chairman...
The Chair: You have about one minute left, and then I'm going to cut you off.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I don't understand why you are worried about how long I am speaking this morning. Let me remind you that we are on the verge of passing a budget of $171,489. This is not a "pittance". I think I am justified in speaking for a little while, all the more because when the first minutes were first sent back to be adopted, they were still so vague that the Burin peninsula was not defined. Mr. Chairman, I feel it is important to take the time to do things right.
I am happy to see my friends from Newfoundland and Labrador listening to me attentively. This is what I like about this committee, Mr. Chairman. The people around the table are treated with respect and they're always given enough time to express their views.
What is particularly interesting and is unanimously hailed as the strength of this committee, is the fact that whenever we have something to say, we say it first before the committee and then to the media. As far as I am concerned, I have never hidden anything. I have always told you what my thinking was. I also admire the members across who, even though they may not always share my opinion, tell me what they think openly. That is what helps the committee do a good job. That is what will help this committee travel, if we come to an understanding on the validity of our review and on the locations we should be visiting. I will say again that we have not always put down on paper what we have heard. I think these omissions jeopardize the choice of locations we could possibly visit.
In regard to fisheries and oceans...
The Chair: Mr. Bernier, I think you've clarified your position very well.
Are there any other comments?
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I have not finished expressing my thoughts. I am telling you again that, in accordance with Standing Order 116, I have to continue saying what I think.
The Chair: Mr. Bernier, I gave you a minute's notice. It was on the agreed timeframe that we had originally established as a committee, and I am going to have to cut you off here on that discussion.
Is there any other discussion?
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, the time frame that you are alluding to applies to hearing witnesses. In this case, we are proceeding with the adoption of a report. I would remind you that the Standing Orders of the House of Commons are very clear: time allocation provisions do not apply when we are dealing with the adoption of a committee report. Standing Order 116 is very clear on this subject, Mr. Chairman.
It is up to you, Mr. Chairman, to determine whether, as a member of Parliament and as the faithful servant of fishermen in Quebec and in the Gaspé Peninsula, I am sticking to the issue we are debating, in this case the adoption of a report on a review of aquaculture, the Oceans Act and the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I had only started dealing with aquaculture. I think I was quite gracious in presenting the three main points I intended to speak about this morning. I wanted to deal with the date, the purpose of our visit and the selected locations.
I am now speaking about the selected locations. You understand that, just on the issue of aquaculture, I still have to deal with three other issues. I would not understand that a chairman as enlightened as you are, would want to put an end to this discussion immediately. Since I see you smiling, Mr. Chairman, I intend to go on speaking. I understand I have unanimous consent to go on and I will therefore tell you why we ought to speak about...
The Chair: You say you have unanimous consent, but I'm told that by the rules of the House you can continue. Go ahead.
Mr. Lou Sekora: Mr. Chair, on a point of order, I give him my ten minutes.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Chair: Mr. Bernier, go ahead.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I missed the...
Mr. Chairman, could the interpreters repeat what Mr. Lou Sekora just said? You are telling me that Lou Sekora is giving me his 10 minutes. I duly note that, Mr. Chairman, but I would remind the honourable colleague across that I will need more than 10 minutes this morning, since Standing Order 116 allows me to tell you about the reasons I have for differing our travel plans.
Mr. Chairman and members on the government side, I see the government has just tabled its budget and is boasting that it will no longer have a deficit and that it may even decrease personal income tax. I could speak of budgetary issues at length. But, since we are speaking of the budget, let us deal with this planned expenditure of $171,489.
The Chair: Mr. Bernier, I'm not cutting you off. I know you have the right to speak, but you only have the right to speak on the topic. The topic is the locations we're going to and the issues we're discussing. The amount of money is not on the table. You keep bringing that in. I'm going to rule you out of order and cut you off if you get into the amount of money, because that's not the motion we're discussing. Stick to the topic, and we'll see how it goes.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, you will understand my amazement: you are telling me that I cannot discuss the amounts when we know very well that it is mentioned in our report. I take note of it, Mr. Chairman.
Before being interrupted by the uproar, I was saying that, when we talk about the choice of locations, it is important to take all the time we need to make a list of all those things we have heard, with the committee research assistant. Of course, we are not going to ask Alan to write a 300-page report. I myself brought back from the West a full briefcase. It represents a pile of papers of about 20 inches high. It might take some time, I admit, but I am willing to be gracious about it and to accept that the various meetings that we held be divided and that a summary be made, so to speak.
The Chair: Mr. Bernier, we already voted on that motion.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I am not done, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: This motion, if you read it, specifically deals with future travel. We already dealt with that. I'm telling you that the floor is yours as long as you're on the motion. If you're not on the motion, I'm cutting you off.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I take note of what you just said, but I want to remind you that I am still dealing with the adoption of the report that you want to table in the House, given that we are discussing the possibility of allowing the committee to travel in order to carry out a comprehensive study on aquaculture. I am telling you, Mr. Chairman, why aquaculture is important. It is so important that one must take time to prepare for it.
I told you that I was preparing my paper on the validity of the report that we are about to table this morning, as brief as it may be. I was explaining that aquaculture is so important that there is a need to discuss the date and the reason for that trip. It is important, Mr. Chairman, to discuss the subjects as well as the validity of that trip in relation to other subjects that we could choose. Moreover, Mr. Chairman, we have to have a discussion on the choice of locations. I was still dealing with that issue and I have already been interrupted twice.
Now, I will carry on. Mr. Chairman, if some are concerned about the choice of locations, I can come back to it in relation to the choice of dates. I am very open minded. I said that I wanted to deal with the three topics, in particular aquaculture. Therefore, I will be dealing with the choice of dates.
Mr. Chairman, the choice of dates—I touched upon it a few minutes ago—for our trip bothers me and it should concern quite a few members around the table, for various reasons. Between March 29 and April 7th, the chosen dates for our trip, Mr. Chairman, there is a critical date, even if it may seem rather funny for some. I refer to the 1st of April. The 1st of April not only is April Fool's day—in Quebec, it is a day when children like to play tricks on people—but it is also the opening day for most of the annual fisheries management plans at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
How could we explain to our fellow citizens, given that most of us are from Maritime communities, that we are going to be away from Ottawa, the place where decisions on the annual management plans are taken? Mr. Chairman, I recognize that people around the table are worried, but very few asked how come we specifically had to select that date.
Given the fact that most of the management plans have to start on that date, I think that it is our duty to stay here. Mr. Chairman, I would even be ready to cancel, if need be, my Easter holidays or even my summer holidays to make that trip. I do want to act in good faith, but I find it difficult to leave the place where most of the decisions on the fishery management plans will be taken, on the 1st of April.
I will like to raise a second point, Mr. Chairman, concerning the fishery management plans. Any issue prior to the development of a fishery plan must, first of all, take into account the groundfish fishery plan.
I will only talk for now about the fishery plans inside the Gulf of St. Lawrence. You are aware that there are zones outside the gulf. Particularly the 2J3KL zones surrounding the Island of Newfoundland. We will also talk about what is happening on Georges Bank in the 5Z zone, and we can talk also about the contiguous zones to those of the United States.
Since I am talking about the groundfish fishery plans, I want to say that there is an issue that has often been left out of discussions by the committee as well as the decision-makers here, in Ottawa.
Mr. Chairman, I know that some people are less interested in listening, but if they want to carry on their discussion, I wish they would do so outside the room. As far as I'm concerned, I have never made an uproar and I have never stopped people from saying what they had to say.
As I was saying, Mr. Chairman, concerning any issue prior to the beginning of a fishing plan—the 1st of April in most cases—, we will also have to ask ourselves the following questions. Who will go fishing? How will they go fishing? When I'm asking who will go fishing, of course I'm talking about the fishermen, but I wonder also about the type of fishing gear that they will be using. We still haven't decided if we should favour fixed gear. And when we talk about fixed gear, would we favour gillnet or longline? And there is always the never-ending debate about mobile gear.
Mr. Chairman, it is one of the points to remember when we are discussing a date for our try . We know that April 1st is right in the middle of the trip we have planned.
The second issue, Mr. Chairman, is the presence and cohabitation of Native people. We are talking about the beginning of a fishery plan on April 1st. I think it would be very irresponsible on our part not to be where decisions are made when they are made. After the Marshall decision, we saw the reaction of Native people along our wharfs. Many of you saw what happened. Some even went there. You know very well that things aren't easy, Mr. Chairman.
Given these considerations, I have great difficulty understanding why we should hurry this morning to approve a report which will take us away from Ottawa, the place where most of these decisions must be taken, on April 1st.
Mr. Chairman, I already mentioned to the previous Fisheries and Oceans minister, Mr. David Anderson, that—
The Chair: That's April Fool's Day, Yvan. It must have come early.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Precisely. There are maybe too many people who think that April Fool's day is a day to make fun of. In Quebec, it is something that young kids still do, but here around this table, we are all responsible adults. Mr. Chairman, like me, you have now a bit more salt than pepper in your hair and you know that we are compelled by our maturity to be responsible and to be here in Ottawa during the week of April 1st.
Mr. Chairman, if I were to learn tomorrow morning that all the decisions would be taken in the State of Maine, I would go there willingly. But, I was always reminded here that it is in Ottawa, at 200 Kent Street, that decisions are made and that it is within the confines of the House of Commons that the Minister reveals their content. Therefore, it is only in the House of Commons that I can use my privilege allowing me to ask questions to the honourable minister. I do not believe that my honourable colleagues want to deny themselves this great privilege of asking questions to a minister who, moreover, will make decisions which can mess up overnight the life of our coastal and Maritime communities.
Mr. Chairman, you will have understood, since I only touched upon these two topics which I will somewhat explore later on, that the start of the groundfish fishery plans on April 1st, a date right in the middle of the scheduled time we have chosen for our trip, is a factor that we would be wise to take into consideration and suggest that we postpone our trip.
When we have seen, after April the 1st, what has happened, Mr. Chairman, it will be my pleasure to resume the discussion of that topic with you. I am pretty sure that at that time we will agree on a more convenient date that may enable us to make a more rewarding trip.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I might link up the issue about the dates I just mentioned and the topic I referred to before, that is to say aquaculture. Mr. Chairman, there is one thing we have not yet thought of and it is the fact that the average temperature of the waters on the west coast where we were last week, was around 9 C, an ideal temperature for Atlantic salmon breeding. Mr. Chairman, 9 C for the Atlantic salmon, it is a bit like 72 F for the individual that I am; I have no breathing, sleeping or feeding problems. Mr. Chairman, you may understand that with the years I have put on some weight. It is what happens to the Atlantic salmon when it breeds in a river or the mouth of a river at 9 C.
Mr. Chairman, we want to visit the aquaculture sites in Eastern Canada, in the Atlantic region. Mr. Chairman, you are coming from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and you are very familiar with the Atlantic at the end of March, do you sincerely believe that the water is presently at 9 C? I do not think so. What would we see at such a time in those aquaculture sites? We would only see the facilities.
Mr. Chairman, when my wife asks me, when we travel, whether Calgary, Vancouver or Edmonton are nice places, I answer that all hotel bedrooms on this planet are alike.
Mr. Chairman, if we had not had good climate conditions when we visited the facilities in West Canada, it would have been like looking at empty traps. Mr. Chairman, I repeat that we have already seen such facilities. If we were to look at pictures it would cost us far less than the $171,489. For that reason alone, I believe it would be wise to rethink the dates for our trip.
Mr. Chairman, between March the 29th and April the 7th, it might be more appropriate for us to go and have a look at the seal hunting situation. Those dates coincide with the beginning of that hunt. Would it be the right time to step on the ice and hunt ourselves, a challenge I would like to rise up to in your presence? I know that our brilliant colleague from Labrador, who on top of that is the parliamentary secretary, would be interested in picking up such a challenge. Personally, I would be ready to go there anytime.
Mr. Chairman, there is another aspect that we have not mentioned, that is that there will be other visitors on the ice, including environmentalists. Will we have to face those environmentalists at that time? Will we have to attract attention or to speak in favour of sealers and say that their activity is legal and wholesome in Canada at that time of the year, rather than visit aquaculture sites, rather than discuss—
The Chair: Mr. Bernier, I notice a number of members have left. I would imagine it's to consider your thoughts that you've tabled before the committee. Would you agree that we adjourn the committee to a future date?
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, why adjourn when I am not finished? I have difficulty in understanding why we should adjourn the committee meeting when I do not think that I am finished with stating the reasons why I want—
The Chair: The floor is yours until regular adjournment at 11 o'clock, Mr. Bernier, but stay on the topic.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, am I to understand that if we adjourn now, at the next duly called sitting we will go back to today's agenda, and I will then make my speech as a member of Parliament and as the faithful servant of Canadian and Quebec fishermen? So, if this is what you're saying, Mr. Chairman, I might be prepared to agree to your request, in the hope that, at that time, the flu epidemic which affected the other side will be over.
Mr. Chairman, I would first ask you to check if there is quorum. If we don't have a quorum, I might have to agree to your request, that is to agree to adjourn our meeting for lack of a quorum. However, I would assume that, when the committee meets again, we will resume our agenda and you will automatically give me the floor. So if this is what you are asking for, I am ready to accept. But first, I will ask you to check if there is quorum.
The Chair: Yes, I believe that through a previous procedure motion for the committee it was indicated that we didn't need quorum if we were not hearing witnesses. We only need quorum for motions. I don't see any motions coming forward, so I'm not going to adjourn the meeting. I would adjourn the meeting without the condition that we start where we left off. Otherwise, I'll let the meeting go to its duration at eleven o'clock, and the floor will be yours. Or we can adjourn and we will see what the agenda says at the next meeting.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I will have to call on our brilliant interpreters because I would not want, due to unfortunate circumstances to have problems with my earpiece and misunderstanding what is being said.
We are presently dealing with a motion to have a report concurred in. I believe that to proceed with the adoption of a report, we must have a quorum. In this case, I seem to remember that, according to the rules of the Standing Committee on Fisheries, nine members in good standing of the committee must be present. This is the first question I put to you, if we are still dealing with the adoption of a report.
Secondly, are you suggesting to me that we adjourn our proceedings now implying that when we resume our sitting we do not debate the adoption of that motion. Mr. Chairman, I might agree that, at our next meeting, we do not discuss it, but that we hear instead witnesses from out West. I believe that two First Nations have requested to appear. I have always had a lot of respect for our witnesses.
But when we return to our agenda, during a meeting duly called, and that we discuss the adoption of our third report which deals with our travel plans, I would want you to give me back the floor so that the knowledge that I so readily share with you this morning might be shared once again with our audience—and I am talking about our viewers and the members of this committee.
The Chair: We will see what the next agenda says, but if you were to ask me if I see quorum now, Mr. Bernier, I might be able to adjourn the meeting.
Mr. Yvan Bernier: I would ask you to check to see if there is quorum and then to make your decision.
The Chair: I see no quorum.
The meeting is adjourned to the call of the chair.