The House resumed from June 11 consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill .
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to once again be here to talk about the Senate amendments to Bill .
I would be remiss if I did not talk about what we have witnessed over the last three and a half years, this week and last night, with the egregious affront to our democracy. It is pertinent to this discussion, because what we have seen with Bill , Bill , Bill and Bill is the government's attempt to subvert democracy to pass legislation that is really payback for the assistance the Liberals received in the 2015 election.
Last night, we had the debate, or the lack of debate, on Bill . There were hundreds of amendments from the Senate, and the government forced closure on that debate without any debate whatsoever. Even the Green Party, in its entirety, stood in solidarity with the official opposition to vote against the government on this. That says something.
Bill is the government's attempt, in its members' words, to right the wrongs of the former Conservative government in amending the Fisheries Act in 2012. The Liberals said that the Conservatives gutted the Fisheries Act. The bill would replace the wording for HADD, the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. However, we studied this. We consulted on this, and not one example was given. When pressured yesterday, throughout the last week and throughout the last year, not the minister nor anyone from the government was able to provide one example of where the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act by the previous Conservative government led to the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. As a matter of fact, despite the government's assertions that changes to the Fisheries Act are necessary to restore the lost protections for fish and fish habitat, the government's response to Order Paper Question No. 626 showed that the government had no record of harm or proof of harm to fish or fish habitat resulting from the 2012 changes.
On November 2, 2016, the then appeared before the fisheries committee and stated that “Indigenous people have expressed serious concerns with the amendments made to the [Fisheries Act]” and that his department was “holding face-to-face meetings with various indigenous groups and providing funding so that they can attend these meetings and share their views on the matter”. However, according to the government's response to Order Paper Question No. 943, DFO did not undertake any face-to-face consultation sessions in relation to the review of the changes to the Fisheries Act in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The Liberals have stood before Canadians in the House and have been disingenuous. They continue to use the same eco-warrior talking points we see from Tides, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, which is essentially an attack on our natural resource sector, whether that be forestry, fisheries, oil and gas, mining or agriculture. That is what Bill , Bill , Bill and Bill are attempting to do. They want to shut down anything to do with natural resources.
In the Senate right now, Bill is being debated. It deals with the tanker moratorium on the west coast, yet we have double and triple the number of tankers on the east coast, but it does not matter. We do not see groups like Greenpeace, Tides and the WWF protesting those ships and oil tankers from foreign nations that have far more egregious human rights issues than what we have here in our country.
Dirty oil is flowing through our eastern seaport, but there has not been one mention of that by the government. Instead, it wants to shut down anything to do with western Canada's economic opportunities, and that is egregious and shameful, and that is why we are here today.
The Senate amendments with respect to Bill were decent amendments. They folded into Bill , the cetaceans in captivity bill, and Bill , the shark finning bill.
For those who are not aware of the shark finning bill, it would ban the importation of shark fins, with the exception that they must be attached to the carcass. Shark fin is a delicacy in some Asian cultures and is used in soup and medicinal products. We asked officials at committee if shark fin in any form could be imported into our country, and they replied that it could be imported in soup. That was their testimony. When pressed further on this, they said, “soup is soup”.
The whole intent of Bill is to stop the importation of shark fins so that shark fin soup may be stopped or that at least the fins would be imported into the country with the entire carcass used. That is a fairly reasonable thing to ask.
The other Senate amendments to Bill that are important are with respect to the inshore fishery. We heard time and again that the inshore fishery is important to Atlantic fishermen. Adjacency and the inshore fishery are the same thing, but the language is different on either coast. It is important to our coastal communities and fishermen who depend on fishing for their livelihood.
Another important Senate amendment is with respect to third-party habitat banking. I went into great detail about what third party habitat banking means in terms of fish habitat. That was a reasonable amendment put forward by a Conservative, and all senators agreed with it.
Interestingly enough, before the Senate finished studying the bill, the minister directed our fisheries committee to study third-party habitat banking. Prior to the fisheries committee getting a chance to study it, the Liberals scrapped any of the third party habitat banking amendments brought forth by the Conservative Party and agreed to by independent senators. It was an exercise in futility.
Senator Wells, who appeared before committee just the other day, said that by all accounts, it appeared that the only people who were interested in protecting fish and fish habitat were those around the table, and the only people who were against protecting fish and fish habitat with respect to third party habitat banking were the officials. That is odd.
I want to talk again about why we are here. I spoke at length about the influence of third party groups at the highest levels of our offices. I will remind the House that the former chief adviser to the , Gerald Butts, was the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. The Prime Minister's new director of policy is a former top executive at Tides Canada.
Why is this important? It is important because these are the very organizations whose mandate is to shut down Canada's resources every step of the way and to tarnish Canada's natural resource sector on the world stage.
It says right on their own websites that they were going to use celebrities, their media and their influence to tarnish Canada's oil and gas and forestry to attack and landlock our resources. They have now permeated every office in this government.
In 2015, 114 third parties poured $6 million into influencing the election outcome, and many of those parties were funded by the U.S.-based Tides foundation. The World Wildlife Fund is deciding fisheries policy on the east coast.
As the shadow minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I went to meetings with the former fisheries minister, and there were no fisheries stakeholders there. The table was surrounded by environmental groups. We are placing a higher priority on these environmental groups than we are on the stakeholders who make their living and depend on our natural resources for their economic well-being.
Late last night, I took another phone call about another mill closure in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. I know that colleagues understand our economic plight in western Canada. We have seen a lot of emotion over the last weeks and months about the plight of the west. The reality is that we are losing our jobs, and we do not have other opportunities. It is not that we are against the environment, unlike what a parliamentary secretary said yesterday, in response to Bill , which is that the Conservatives blame the Liberals for putting such a high priority on the environment. That is not true. We blame the Liberals for putting such a high priority on environmental groups, not on the stakeholders, indigenous peoples and our local communities that depend on our natural resources for well-paying jobs to provide for their families.
There are hundreds of workers in my riding and adjacent ridings, and thousands of workers across the province of British Columbia, who are waking up today to more work curtailment and job closures. That is shameful.
When the House hears our emotion and concern when we raise the issues, it is not that we are against the environment, as much as the would like people to believe that. It is that these policies the government has put forth have shaken the confidence of industry. They have a real impact. They may not impact those members of Parliament from downtown Toronto or in major urban centres, but they impact rural Canadians, and that is the truth.
I am going to close by reminding the House that this House does not belong to any of us who are in here. We are merely vehicles to be the voices of the electors. There are 338 members of Parliament in this House. Last night, we saw one courageous Liberal who stood against what her government was doing. We have been placed here to be the voices of those who elected us.
Despite saying in 2015 that they would let debate reign, the Liberals have time and again forced closure and time allocation on pieces of legislation. In doing so, they have silenced the voices of the electors who have put us here.
I would like to move the following motion, seconded by the member for :
That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, be now read a second time and concurred in.”
The amendment is in order.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Pontiac.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite's passion. I also appreciate the economic struggles that a number of industries in his region are going through. However, I can say without a doubt that one of the reasons I got into politics was the atrocious law reform the Harper government engaged in, particularly with respect to the Fisheries Act and fish habitat.
Scientists all across this country were well aware of this. They did not just believe politicians that something was awry with Harper's amendments to the Fisheries Act. They believed the science, because diminishing habitat for fisheries and fish in Canada is the wrong thing to do.
Canadians across this country are so glad that this government is sticking to its guns and restoring those protections, because they trust scientists more than they trust politicians, who ultimately do not really know what is most important for fish habitat. It is the scientists we have to trust, and that is exactly what our government is doing.
Why does the member opposite not trust the scientists across Canada?
Mr. Speaker, who is being divisive now?
At committee, we had scientists, academics, environmental groups and industry. People from all over our country came before committee, even groups that one would think would not be friendly to Conservatives, as apparently we waged a war on scientists, but we had the very same scientists before our committee. When they were asked, time and again, to provide examples that the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act resulted in any harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish or fish habitat, none were given.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about the thousands of jobs that might be affected by the act's coming into place. I live in a coastal community, and I have not heard from a single constituent who does not want to see the act brought back to fix the gutting of the act done by the Conservatives with respect to fisheries protections. We are talking about thousands of jobs in my riding that are directly related to the health of the fish habitat.
In one part of the member's speech, he talked about third party habitat banking. He said the only opposition was from bureaucrats around the table, who are against it. He did not talk about indigenous communities, which have made it very clear that they have not been adequately consulted.
The member sits with me on the committee. He knows that indigenous peoples were not invited to the Senate committee to speak about their concerns. We know that indigenous communities have made it very clear that third party habitat banking can often be manipulated. It is a trading scheme.
Why does the member feel he can support this with no regard for indigenous communities and hearing their voices?
Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague is sorely mistaken. Perhaps I would ask that the volume be turned up on that side so he can hear me a bit more clearly.
When I talked about jobs being lost, I referenced thousands of jobs being lost across our province right now because of the forestry policies and the lack of securing a softwood lumber agreement. The member knows full well that we can turn on the TV or look at the newspaper every day, and there is another mill closure. There is work curtailment going on throughout our province. Our forestry sector has been under attack from the very beginning of the current government.
With respect to third party habitat banking and the testimony, we heard that there were indigenous representatives on the Senate side who supported this wholeheartedly. As a matter of fact, there were indigenous groups that rode in and provided feedback to the Senate. That is why the Conservative senator was able to garner support from the independent senators across the way so that this amendment would be included and not gutted, as we usually see in Liberal-led committees.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for for his speech on this topic, the Senate amendments to Bill . We have sat together on the fisheries committee for years now. We have seen a government that has totally ignored the restoration of fish stocks across the country. Time and again, recommendations from our committee have called on the current government to take action. It failed to do so.
I also want to speak briefly on comments I got from a fisheries officer, who said that the changes we made in 2012 made it much easier for fisheries officers to do their job. Rather than having to gather incredible amounts of evidence, convince Crown prosecutors and then take cases to court, which would take years to prosecute, with the changes made in 2012 fisheries officers are able to immediately demand restoration where damage has been done. There has been no indication that habitat has been lost or damaged in any of the evidence ever produced by the government or in testimony at committee.
I would like the member to comment further on why the government fails to do anything to restore fish stocks, whether Atlantic salmon or salmon on the west coast, and why it continues to push this ill-conceived bill through the House.
Mr. Speaker, our colleague from is former president of the Canadian Wildlife Association. Our colleague from is a former Parks employee and I believe has a degree in zoology. Our former colleague on the fisheries committee, the member for , is a marine biologist. I would put our bench up against the Liberals' bench any time. I am proud to serve with these colleagues.
When we met with DFO front-line officers on the ground, they told us that, previous to the 2012 changes, it was onerous for them to regulate and enforce. As a matter of fact, because it was too challenging, they received directives not to bother doing it, which made it hard. The changes in 2012 made it very clear. It was black and white: this is right and this is wrong. It set in motion a clear course and a schedule for proponents so they knew where they overstepped their boundaries, when they were in the right and when they were in the wrong.
As a matter of fact, a witness stated that the 2012 changes “have in practice broadened the circumstances in which the section 35 prohibitions apply and increased the circumstances in which an authorization and offsets are required.”
It gave the tools that our front-line officers needed to enforce the rules. It made it clear when proponents were offside and when they were following the rules. It did not make it easier, and it did not gut the Fisheries Act.
I will offer this. Time and again, including today, we have asked for evidence that the 2012 changes resulted in any harmful alteration, disruption or destruction, and none could be provided.
Mr. Speaker, I am able to answer a question from my hon. colleague from .
Yes, Bill , in the spring of 2012, gutted the Fisheries Act. Yes, it was an appalling decision to take away protections for habitat. On the ground, the effect was that habitat officers for DFO were laid off. I got calls all the time. My hon. colleague knows I tell the truth on these things. People would call me to say they called DFO about a beach where a clam licence was allowed that was being over-harvested, and DFO would tell them that officials could not get there and there was nothing they could do. There were times when habitat was being destroyed and people working on stream restoration who lost funding would call DFO to say that habitat was being lost for cutthroat trout and for getting salmon back, and the answer would be that DFO could not help, because there was no law and DFO did not have any manpower.
We need Bill to be passed. I lament that it was a bit weakened when my amendment that was accepted at committee was removed, but this bill needs to pass. Every single fisheries organization, the economic backbone of my community, wants this legislation passed before we leave this place.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comment from my hon. colleague, but I will again offer this. At committee, when officials, academics, environmentalists and scientists were pressed, there was not one piece of evidence that the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act by the former Conservative government led to any harmful alteration, disruption or destruction.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill , which would amend the Fisheries Act. I will be splitting my time with my good colleague and friend from .
It has been a positive week for our oceans. Monday, Bill was passed, which would end cetaceans in captivity. There was also an announcement to ban single-use plastics, although we are waiting for the details. It has been a progressive week.
Now we have Bill , an opportunity to fix the gutting of the Fisheries Act under the Conservatives. I am glad this place has an opportunity to do even more work to ensure that aquatic environments are safeguarded, which should be our priority as parliamentarians.
The bill would restore protections for all fish across Canada, protections that were previously removed by the Conservatives six years ago. This could have been changed sooner. We wish it had been done sooner, but we are glad it is being done now and we welcome changes to this bill.
Fish stocks are in decline in many parts of the country, as we know, especially on the west coast. It is due, in large part, to the negative impacts of human activity on fish habitat and the health of water bodies overall. Bill would put back into place legal protections needed to conserve fish habitat and the aquatic environment in a manner consistent with the minister's mandate to restore lost protections and introduce modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act.
With respect to the specifics, Bill would first and foremost compel the minister to consider any effects that decisions under the Fisheries Act might have on the rights of indigenous peoples of Canada and authorize agreements to be made with indigenous governing bodies. It is so important that the work we do embeds these protections and the rights of indigenous communities.
Pacific salmon are a primary food source for culture and the economy of indigenous peoples and people in coastal communities. The government has taken steps to help incorporate the rights and traditions of indigenous peoples to support their economic and cultural sustainability. I am very proud of the determined and continued stewardship of the indigenous communities in our country, especially on the west coast and in my riding. We really need their input and local knowledge to do this work; it is absolutely essential.
I want to share with the House a couple of comments.
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president, Dr. Judith Sayers, said that while Bill C-68 may not be everything Nuu-chah-nulth would like to see, it was a fulfillment of the Liberal promise to undo the damage the previous government did to the act. She said that habitat restoration was critical for their fisheries to remain sustainable so they may continue to exercise our rights and that the inclusion of indigenous wisdom was a start to recognizing their laws and knowledge systems. She did highlight, though, the need for co-management and the need to work toward that.
Eric Angel, the fisheries program manager for Uu-a-thluk, which is a Nuu-Chah-Nulth fisheries program, said:
The changes to the Fisheries Act under Bill C-68 are the most important amendments to federal fisheries legislation in a hundred years. Nuu-chah-nulth are very concerned that these proposed changes become law. The restoration of habitat protection that was stripped out of the Fisheries Act under the Harper government is absolutely critical. We are facing a crisis on the west coast with the destruction of salmon habitat and we desperately need this legislation to be able to force government to do a better job of looking after fish habitat. The proposed act also contains some small but important steps towards recognizing the laws and traditional knowledge systems of First Nations.
It is important to move forward with this. We know water is sacred. We, as parliamentarians, are coming to better understand that. We have a commitment to improve the ecology, especially the habitats that surround indigenous communities in coastal communities, as well as their important rights, ensuring their local knowledge and leadership in their traditional territories are respected. They have taken the lead on water issues. In my riding and many indigenous communities, the bill would directly and positively affect them.
Bill would also modernize measures to protect fish and fish habitat in ecologically significant areas and establish standards and codes of practice, a public registry and create fish habitat banks initially by different projects. This bill would also allow the minister to establish advisory panels and to set fees, including for the provision of regulatory processes, and allow the minister to make regulations for the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity.
We are happy to see clauses that build greater oversight over what companies do to fish habitats. It would allow the minister to stop companies from putting down anti-salmon breeding mats and protect the stock of coastal salmon.
The New Democrats are pleased to see that after so many years of trying, the bill would prohibit the import and exportation of shark fins. We have been working incredibly hard to ensure this practice is a thing of the past.
I want to thank my colleague and friend, the hon. member for , for his tireless efforts to make this happen, both in Bill and through Bill . I also want to thank the members of the fisheries and oceans committee, who have taken the time to look at the issue closely.
The fact remains that shark populations, both in Canada and abroad, are at significant risk. My office has heard from many ordinary citizens, as well as conservation experts, who feel strongly about the effort to protect shark populations from needless slaughter. We have spent enough time over several parliaments looking at the issue and this is a critical juncture for us to act.
Along the same vein, this bill would further enshrine the ban on the capture and captivity of cetaceans, which I mentioned earlier. I am so grateful to the House for its support of Bill on Monday. It shows that the House is an active participant in changing the dialogue on marine conservation, and also on animal rights. I am pleased this bill gives us an opportunity to reaffirm that participation.
Bill would strengthen the enforcement powers and establish an alternative measures agreements regime, which includes $284 million over five years to enforce the protection of habitat wherever fish are present. This bill would allow the minister to stop or limit fishing for a period of 45 days to address the threat to the proper management and control of fisheries so the conservation and protection of fish is maintained.
Bill C-68 goes beyond just restoring the protection and habitat that were removed in the changes to the Fisheries Act in 2012. It goes as far as to include all fish in the definition of “fisheries”, and would include the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks in the Fisheries Act.
All that said, the latest suite of amendments proposed by the Senate presents some setback to the work that the House has been doing. The biggest thing that comes to mind are the changes that touch heavily on third-party habitat banking.
The creation of habitat banks has been poorly executed in the past, where first nations, municipalities and conservation organizations saw damage accumulated in their territory or watershed and the habitat bank in a neighbouring first nations territory or watershed. Therefore, it was disappointing to see these amendments, calling for the proposal of third-party banking. There was no consultation with indigenous groups, which mostly oppose it.
While I am happy to see the Liberal government is listening to some of these concerns and has proposed to remove these amendments, I am disappointed in the Liberal government for not taking the opportunity to really make a difference in protecting water flows, both upstream and downstream.
Back in the spring of 2018, when Bill was before the fisheries and oceans committee, the hon. member for proposed several amendments to strengthen the bill. These amendments included proposals that explicitly recognized that the quantity, timing and quality of water flows were vital to ensuring the free passage and the protection of fish and fish habitat. These important amendments were passed by a majority vote during the clause-by-clause review.
The Senate has not taken the issue of water flows seriously. It proposed that the addition of upstream protection was unimportant and that companies that obstructed the flow of water should do the bare minimum required to conserve populations. This was something the industry wanted. We worked with conservation groups to find a solution to water-flow issues, but the Senate only listened to the lobbyists, who cannot be bothered to be proactive partners in conservation.
What is more, the Liberals are on board with this amendment, despite the expert advice of the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, which pointed to the absence of legal protections for environmental flows, resulting in a situation where fisheries resources, fish habitat and the supporting freshwater ecosystems may not be consistently protected across Canada.
I am sure I could speak for a lot longer on this, but this is a great step. I have to commend the government for working together with us to repair so much of the damage left by the previous government. However, if we are to walk the path to restoration, it will take many more steps.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his leadership on this. It is just a joy to work with him on behalf of British Columbians.
The very first department the Treasury Board reviewed when we formed government was DFO. It restored $1.4 billion into the base budget, which tells us the magnitude of the horrific cuts the Stephen Harper government made. It had threatened to close the DFO lab at the waterfront in West Vancouver, which is widely considered as the best lab for access to fresh water and salt water in North America. It had constantly diminished the DFO office in Squamish, and it closed DFO offices in Pender Harbour, which has caused a subsequent lack of enforcement and monitoring of overfishing, which continues to be a source of strong disappointment on the path of the community.
The outrageous cuts made by the Stephen Harper government are still forefront in our minds. Our Liberal government has worked tirelessly to put back some of those lost protections. Does my hon. colleague have any confidence that the would take us back to those dark days?
Mr. Speaker, we are going to miss my good friend from . She has been a true fighter for coastal British Columbia and for our fish. I have enjoyed working with her.
However, with respect to her comments, there is a lot of fear from coastal people that a government led by the Conservative Party of Canada would take us back and would remove protections for fish. This is very important legislation.
When the member talked about restoring cuts, more fisheries officers are being hired in our riding. I want to commend the government for that. Is it enough? No. The government has announced money when it comes to coastal restoration funds and the B.C. salmon funds. However that money is moving way too slowly out the door. Our fish are in a crisis.
I urge the government to get that money out the door as soon as possible. Groups in my riding have been denied, repeatedly, on applications, whether it be the West Coast Aquatic marine society or the Coastal Restoration Society, formerly known as Clayoquot CleanUp. They are trying to clean up debris for fisheries habitat protections and also cleaning up marine debris, which we know affects our fish.
I urge the government to get that money out the door, the $142 million. It partnered with the Province of British Columbia. I want to hear more about the southern resident killer whale money and where it will go, because the government has not broken that down. The government has been too slow to roll out the oceans protection plan. It has not met one of its scheduled targets on funding to date.
Mr. Speaker, I will forgive the member for falling off topic here. What we are debating today are the Senate amendments to Bill , and he did not touch on those, not that I can pick out, at any point during his intervention. Therefore, I would like to bring him back to that. I forgive the member for it, because he has only been part-time on this committee over the past three and a half, four years.
Why would the Liberal government reject sensible amendments from a Senate committee that would actually see a net gain in fish habitat and fish habitat values, from the third party habitat banking? The Liberal government seems to refuse to do anything that would increase or improve fish habitat. That is the amendments that the government is kicking aside.
The member for seems to have ignored all of that in his intervention. Why?
Mr. Speaker, it is always nice to rise when we hear the Conservatives try to put down the NDP members who have been fighting for salmon.
All people have to do is look at the record of how many times the New Democrats have risen on Pacific salmon and compare it to the record of the Conservatives. I have risen more than all 97 members of the Conservative caucus on Pacific salmon alone. When the Conservatives talk about who shows up part-time, I wonder who that is. They like to show up at the very end of the session.
On the amendments, I have already outlined my concerns around third party banking, which could be completely manipulated and indigenous communities have not been heard. How can the member raise this issue and want to go ahead, just ramming it through, without hearing from indigenous communities? It is unacceptable. It is just another reflection of how the Conservatives see the priorities of free and prior informed consent of indigenous communities.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill , an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence. Today, we are debating the Senate amendments to the bill, as was just mentioned. I initially spoke to this bill at report stage almost exactly one year ago today. I will be covering some of the same ground as I did then, but today I want to spend a little more time speaking in general terms about fisheries conservation.
Although I grew up in the Okanagan Valley far from the coast, my family has a deep history in coastal fisheries. My mother's family, the Munns, once controlled the cod fishery of Labrador. My great-uncle William Azariah Munn was what one might call a cod liver oil baron. He was also an amateur fisheries biologist and historian. W.A. Munn not only researched the Viking sagas but was the first to suggest that Vineland was located on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland, which was subsequently vindicated by the findings at L'Anse aux Meadows. He wrote the first detailed account of the annual migration of codfish in the Newfoundland waters in 1922. I found that out when I was reading the assessment report on northern cod when it was declared endangered. It was cited in the report.
I will mention in passing that I am wearing my Memorial University tie this morning to honour that part of my heritage and history. I thank Bill Kavanagh for that.
Although I grew up in the interior, like most kids of that era, I grew up fishing, in my case, catching small rainbow trout in a small creek near our house. I knew the importance of cool waters and deep pools in a stream shaded from the summer sun, good fish habitat in my part of the country.
The Fisheries Act has long been the strongest piece of legislation that protected habitat, terrestrial or aquatic, in Canada. I used to be a biologist in my past life. I spent a lot of time working on ecosystem health, endangered species recovery and time and again my colleagues would point out that the only legislation, federal or provincial, that effectively protected habitat outside parks was the federal Fisheries Act. This habitat protection was at the core of earlier versions of the Fisheries Act. Conservatives took out that protection in 2012 with Bill , one of their omnibus budget bills.
The action resulted in a public outcry. Four former fisheries ministers, including one of my constituents, Tom Siddon, wrote an open letter to the government urging it to keep habitat protections in the act. I saw Tom last weekend at an event in my riding and I am happy to say that he is still standing up for the environment.
This act still is deficient in a few ways regarding habitat. For instance, while it talks about water in the rivers and lakes as fish habitat, it does not discuss the amount of that water, the flow. That is clearly a problem as water is obviously the most important ingredient in fish habitat. Those deep, cool pools I fished in are becoming shallower and warmer. Bill would empower the to make management orders prohibiting or limiting fishing to address a threat to the conservation and protection of fish. I am fully in favour of that power, but I wonder how often it would be used despite the fact that it would likely be recommended on a regular basis by scientists.
Fish are consistently treated differently from terrestrial species in conservation actions. As an example, of all the fish species assessed as threatened or endangered in recent years by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, less than half have been placed on the Species at Risk Act schedules. A bird or mammal in trouble is generally added to those schedules as a matter of course, but fish are out of luck. This attitude must change.
I am happy to see the Senate amendment that includes shark-finning laws proposed by my colleague from over the years and Senator Mike MacDonald in the other place. I am very happy to see those private members' bills rolled into this new act in the Senate amendments.
I am also happy to see there is a provision in this act that would give the DFO more resources for enforcement. I hope that some of these resources can be used to rebuild the DFO staff that used to be found throughout the interior of B.C. to promote fish habitat restoration, rebuild fish stocks and watch what is happening on the ground. There are no DFO staff left at all in my riding in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions, despite the fact that there are numerous aquatic stewardship societies across the riding that used to have a great relationship with the DFO. Volunteer groups that are devoted to aquatic habitats in the Arrow Lakes, the Slocan Valley, Christina Lake, the Kettle River watershed, Osoyoos Lake and Vaseux Lake could all benefit through a renewal of those staffing levels.
I would like to close with a good-news story that shows what can happen when Canadians take fish conservation into their own hands, identify problems and solutions and then work hard to make good things happen. That is the story of restoring salmon populations in the Okanagan. This story involves many players from both the United States and Canada but it is mainly a story of the Syilx people, the indigenous peoples of the Okanagan, who came together to bring salmon back to the valley.
Salmon, n’titxw, is one of the four food chiefs of the Syilx and central to their culture and trade traditions. In fact, that is true for many other first nations in the B.C. interior and Yukon, indigenous communities hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the ocean that rely on salmon, that have always relied on salmon and whose cultures are inextricably tied to salmon.
When I was a kid in the Okanagan, very few salmon came up the river from the Pacific. The Okanagan is part of the Columbia system, and those fish had to climb over 11 dams to get to the Okanagan River and back to their spawning grounds. Most of the Columbia salmon runs died out after huge dams like Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph were built and blocked its free flow. The Okanagan flows into the Columbia below Grand Coulee, so a handful of sockeye came back to the Okanagan every year.
However, after years of work by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and other groups, we often see runs of over 100,000 fish, occasionally 400,000 or more. The Okanagan River is once again red with sockeye in the autumn. In most years there is a successful sports fishery for sockeye in Osoyoos Lake.
The ONA has spearheaded significant restoration projects on the Okanagan River, restoring natural flows to small parts of the river and creating ideal spawning beds in others. They organize cultural ceremonies and salmon feasts that bring the broader communities together to celebrate the cycle of the salmon.
The ONA has grown to be one of the largest inland fisheries organizations in Canada with 45 full-time staff. Compare that to zero for the DFO in my area. It has its own state-of-the-art hatchery and fish virology lab.
To make a difference, to change our country and our communities for the better, we must have a vision for a better future. The Syilx vision includes healthy lakes and rivers filled with salmon, salmon that enrich the entire ecosystem and enrich the lives of everyone in the region. I share that vision. The vision includes restoring salmon not just to the entire Okanagan system, but to the upper Columbia River as well, reviving the salmon culture in the Kootenays.
That small creek I used to fish in as a kid now has more than rainbow trout. Every year a few chinook salmon, the big guys, make it into that creek after their epic trip up from the Pacific. That is beyond my wildest dreams.
If we take care of our lakes, our rivers and even the smallest creeks, we can keep this country healthy and beautiful. As the Syilx Okanagan song says, “We are beautiful because our land is beautiful.”
The bill before us could have been bolder and more effective, but it is a chance to take a small step towards that end, towards that vision.
Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the member's remarks.
There has been a lot of discussion by a number of people from the west coast not so much on the Senate amendments but on the Fisheries Act itself and where it is going. I am from the east coast and I agree with the member that more always can be done.
What was not mentioned in a lot of the comments that have been made trying to get over the damage done by the previous government in terms of fisheries habitat and so on, is the fact that saving fisheries habitat at my end of the country is different from that at the member's end of the country. We have small brooks, small streams, even smaller fish.
I wonder if the member could talk about how important habitat restoration is beyond economic issues. There is the recreational fishery. Families enjoy going fishing. We need a healthy fish habitat in order to have that. I wonder if he might comment on that area, that it goes beyond just the economics of fishermen that one would think would be related to the Fisheries Act but to the community itself and the individuals that live in them.
Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with the member for .
An example from my riding is that the Okanagan River was channelized in the 1950s to make the water get out of town faster in the spring flood. That has resulted in a huge loss of habitat quality and in habitat, period. A lot of that has been the loss of the trees and shrubs along the river.
Groups have been working hard in the Okanagan Valley in the last 10 or 20 years to restore some of that. It is remarkable how that change feels when you are walking along parts of the river. There are trails along the dikes that control the river now and there are cool areas where this habitat has been restored, where the fish habitat has been restored. It is a very popular recreation area. As I mentioned, restoring the salmon has brought back those recreational fisheries as well. People cannot believe they are in the Okanagan Valley in the middle of the desert and they are actually fishing for wild sockeye salmon. It is a huge boon to the economy and to the well-being of the people who live there.
Mr. Speaker, I am very saddened to hear the rhetoric around fisheries that I have heard in this debate. Nothing has happened that is catastrophic in the world of fisheries as a result of the changes that were made to the Fisheries Act in 2012. Nobody anywhere in this country can point to a single incident of anything directly related to the changes in that bill. Everybody wanted those changes. Counties wanted them and even fisheries officers wanted those changes so that they could more effectively enforce the law.
I remember issues where farmers whose fields were flooded actually drained their fields and were charged because the old language in the act interpreted a flooded field as a fisheries habitat, even though it was only flooded for a couple of days. People faced ridiculous charges for things like that. There is nothing actually done for fish by changing the legislation in a way that actually prevents restoration and habitat projects from going ahead.
What we actually need are amendments that will do things like habitat banking which, for some reason, the government does not want to do anything about by increasing spawning channels. Rather than stopping all activity, we should enhance things, do offsets and increase the productivity of the natural environment. That is not done by changing legislation that gets in the way of all of these things.
The continually stumbling and bumbling of the left-hand side arguments that somehow we need legislation that pretends humans do not exist in the world is what is actually causing the environmental degradation that we have right now. We need enhancement. We need the ability to intervene and to work hard on behalf of fisheries. These changes are not doing it.
Mr. Speaker, I was not at the committee so I do not know the details, but the first thing I would say is that if no incidents are reported about bad things happening to fish habitats, I think the big problem there is that there are no fisheries biologists out there looking for them. The member's colleague talked about forestry and all the difficulties it was going through. There are hardly any forest service employees in British Columbia that now go and check on habitat situations in the forest landscape.
I have people from my riding complaining to me every day about habitat issues on the forest landscape that relate to water quality and incidents around creeks. There is just no one up there looking at this, so I am not surprised there are no reports of any negative incidents. If there were more staff, we would know about those incidents.
I will just leave it at that. I know we are running out of time.
moved for leave to introduce Bill .
He said: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from for seconding my bill.
My bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code by providing for changes that evidence that an offence was directed at a person or property that was vulnerable because of the remoteness from emergency or medical or police services be a factor when considering sentencing. Rural Canadians are particularly vulnerable right now. Statistics Canada, police reports, all the information points to the fact that rural Canadians are specifically being targeted by criminals.
If my bill is passed it would ensure that criminals will face longer times in jail for purposely targeting rural areas, contrary to Bill , which would just speed up the revolving door, which is a hot button issue in my riding and for all rural Canadians, many of whom are tired of being repeat victims.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
moved for leave to introduce Bill .
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill, which is inspired by a bill that was tabled in the last Parliament by my then colleague Laurin Liu, who was the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
Breaking a mortgage contract before it comes to term triggers significant penalties. For example, if a couple signs up for a five-year mortgage to buy a $300,000 house and then gets a divorce after three years, the penalty they would be charged for the forced sale of the house could be as high as $9,000. These fees are widely panned, and they are the number one source of complaints to Canada's Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.
This bill will limit the penalty for breaking a mortgage early to six months' worth of interest. If anyone thinks this bill sounds a little extreme, I would point out that these fees have been banned in the United States. We believe that this is a necessary measure for protecting mortgage holders who unfortunately need to break their mortgage early, rather than letting the big banking firms pocket these fees. The bill would put an end to this exploitation.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 2442, 2445, 2446 and 2452.
Question No. 2442--Mr. Luc Berthold
With regard to the canola crisis and the request from the Premier of Saskatchewan to increase the loan limit on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advance Payments Program from $400,000 to $1 million: (a) why has the government not yet increased the loan limit; (b) will the government be increasing the loan limit to $1 million; (c) if the answer to (b) is affirmative, when; and (d) if the answer to (b) is negative, why not?Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, including the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, in response to (a), on May 1, 2019, the government announced that it intends to amend the agricultural marketing programs regulations to temporarily increase loan limits under the advance payments program for 2019.
In response to (b), the regulatory amendment would change the 2019 loan limits to allow for advances of up to $1 million on all commodities. The first $100,000 of the advances will remain interest-free on all commodities, except canola. Canola advances will be eligible for up to $500,000 interest-free.
In response to (c), as of May 29, canola advances are eligible for up to $400,000 in interest-free loans. Producers will be able to apply for the new amounts as early as June 10, and new advances above $400,000 will be issued as of June 26. Question No. 2445--Mr. John Brassard
With regard to the government’s advertising and promotional campaign related to the Climate Action Incentive: (a) what are the various components of the campaign (postcards, partnership with H&R Block, etc.); (b) what are the total expenditures related to the campaign; and (c) what are the details of all expenditures related to the campaign, including (i) vendor, (ii) amount; (iii) date and duration of contract, (iv) description of goods or services provided, (v) to which campaign components is the expenditure related?Hon. Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, Environment and Climate Change Canada does not have any expenditures related to Q-2445.
With regard to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the agency does not have any expenditures related to Q-2445.
With regard to Parks Canada, Parks Canada does not have any expenditures related to Q-2445.Question No. 2446--Mrs. Sylvie Boucher
With regard to the Canada Infrastructure Bank: (a) what is the complete list of infrastructure projects financed by the bank to date; and (b) for each project in (a), what are the details, including (i) amount of federal financing, (ii) location of project, (iii) scheduled completion date of project, (iv) project description?Mr. Marco Mendicino (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to infrastructure projects, the Canada Infrastructure Bank invested $1.283 billion in the Réseau express métropolitain, REM, project, a 67-kilometre light rail, high-frequency network with 26 stations located in greater Montreal in the province of Québec: https://rem.info/en/reseau-express-metropolitain.
In response to (a), the infrastructure project is Réseau express métropolitain, REM.
In response to (b)(i), the amount of federal financing is $1.283 billion, in the form of a 15-year senior secured loan at a rate starting at 1% and escalating to 3% over the term of the loan. The $1.283-billion investment completes the project’s $6.3-billion financing.
In response to (b)(ii), the project location is greater Montreal.
In response to (b)(iii), with regard to the scheduled completion date of the project, the REM is the largest public transit project undertaken in Québec in the last 50 years. The first trains are expected to start running in 2021 from the South Shore to Bonaventure-Central Station.
In response to (b)(iv), with regard to project description, the REM is a new, integrated 67-kilometre public transit network intended to link downtown Montréal; the South Shore; the West Island, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue; the North Shore, Laval and Deux-Montagnes; and the airport through the operation of an entirely automated and electric light rail transit, LRT, system. Question No. 2452--Mr. Dave MacKenzie
With regard to the federal carbon tax and the Climate Action Rebate, broken down by province where the federal carbon tax is in effect: (a) what is the total amount of revenue projected to be collected from the carbon tax in each of the next five fiscal years, starting with 2019-20; and (b) what is the total amount expected to be disbursed to individuals through the Climate Action Rebate in each of the next five fiscal years, starting with 2019-20?Mr. Joël Lightbound (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has a plan that protects the environment while growing the economy. On October 23, 2018, the Government of Canada announced that there would be a price on carbon pollution across Canada in 2019. On the same day, the Department of Finance published a document named “Backgrounder: Ensuring Transparency”, which outlines amounts of projected fuel charge proceeds and climate action incentive payments, from 2019-20 to 2023-24. The document can be found on the Department of Finance website: https://www.fin.gc.ca/n18/data/18-097_2-eng.asp.
Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 2439 to 2441, 2443, 2444, 2447 to 2451 and 2453 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 2439--Mr. Scott Reid
With regard to the Visitor Welcome Centre complex on Parliament Hill: (a) in what year were the plans for both the current Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex first included in the Long Term Vision and Plan or, if the year pre-dates the Long Term Vision and Plan, in previous long term plans for the Parliamentary Precinct, including the identity of the applicable Parliamentary Precinct plan; (b) what body or bodies (i.e. Parliamentary Precinct Branch, elements of the Parliamentary Partners, Parliamentary Precinct Oversight Advisory Committee, architectural consultants, other bodies, etc.) first recommended the footprint and current plan for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex; (c) did the Parliamentary Precinct Oversight Advisory Committee provide the Parliamentary Precinct Branch, the Minister of Public Works, or any other organization, with recommendations or observations with respect to the Visitor Welcome Centre complex, including dates, recipients, and details of those recommendations or observations; (d) what is the approval milestone record for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex plan, including the dates on which, and the mechanisms through which, approvals were granted and funding was appropriated; (e) when are reports respecting deficiencies in construction, engineering, design and architecture of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex provided to the Parliamentary Precinct Branch, and when and to what extent is the information contained in those reports provided to other partner organizations; (f) when Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex is completed, how many public entrances and exits will exist, where will they be located, and what will be each one’s capacity, relative to the others; (g) with respect to Phase 1 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex, when Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex is completed, will the function of Phase 1 as the main visitor entrance and screening point remain the same, or will its functions be relocated, expanded, or replicated elsewhere in the complex; (h) with respect to the services presently located in Phase 1 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex, including visitor security screening, the Parliamentary Boutique, and other visitor services, when Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex is completed, (i) what will be the disposition of those services, (ii) will they be replicated in multiple locations, (iii) will they be expanded, (iv) will they be relocated, (v) where will they be expanded, relocated, or replicated, as applicable; (i) what is the currently projected completion date and cost estimate for Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex; (j) what funds, and for what purposes, have already been expended on Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex; (k) with respect to contracts that have been engaged for Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex, (i) how many contracts have been engaged or signed, (ii) what is the value of each contract, (iii) what parties are subject to each contract, (iv) what is the purpose and function of each contract, (v) when was each contract engaged or signed, (vi) what is the termination date or milestone of each contract, (vii) what are the penalties for premature termination or alteration of each contract; (l) what are the formal mechanisms or instruments through which the Parliamentary Precinct Branch receives authoritative direction, recommendations, advice, approvals, or other feedback from (i) the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, (ii) the Treasury Board Secretariat, (iii) the Cabinet, (iv) the House of Commons, (v) the Senate of Canada, (vi) the Library of Parliament, (vii) the Parliamentary Protective Service, (viii) any other body; and (m) with respect to the formal mechanisms or instruments referred to in (l), what are the details of each communication received by the Parliamentary Precinct Branch respecting Phase 2 of the Visitor Welcome Centre complex from each source listed in (l) since 2001, including for each instance the (i) date, (ii) source, (iii) recipient(s), (iv) subject matter, (v) description, (vi) mechanism or instrument used to convey it?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2440--Mr. John Nater
With regard to “March madness” expenditures where the government makes purchases before the end of the fiscal year so that departmental funds do not go “unspent”, broken down by department agency or other government entity: (a) what were the total expenditures during February and March of 2019 on (i) materials and supplies (standard object 07), (ii) acquisition of machinery and equipment, including parts and consumable tools (standard object 09); and (b) what are the details of each such expenditure, including (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) date of expenditure, (iv) description of goods or services provided, including quantity (v) delivery date, (vi) file number?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2441--Mr. John Nater
With regard to government expenditures on membership fees, broken down by department, agency and Crown corporation, since April 1, 2018: (a) how much has been spent; and (b) what are the details of each expenditure, including (i) name of organization or vendor, (ii) date of purchase, (iii) amount spent?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2443--Mr. Chris Warkentin
With regard to “repayable” loans and contributions given out by the government since January 1, 2016: what are the details of all such loans and contributions, including (i) date of loan or contribution, (ii) recipient’s details, including name and location, (iii) amount provided, (iv) amount “repaid” to date, (v) description or project or purpose of loan or contribution, (vi) program under which loan or contribution was administered?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2444--Mr. John Brassard
With regard to management consulting contracts signed by the government since June 1, 2018, broken down by department, agency, and Crown corporation: (a) what was the total amount spent; (b) for each contract, what was the (i) vendor name, (ii) amount, (iii) date, (iv) file number; (c) each time a management consultant was brought in, what was the desired outcome or goals; (d) how does the government measure whether or not the goals in (c) were met; (e) does the government have any recourse if the goals in (c) were not met; (f) for which contracts were the goals met; and (g) for which contracts were the goals not met?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2447--Mr. Martin Shields
With regard to government procurement and contracts for the provision of research or speech writing services to ministers, since June 1, 2017: (a) what are the details of contracts, including (i) the start and end dates, (ii) contracting parties, (iii) file number, (iv) nature or description of the work, (v) value of contract; and (b) in the case of a contract for speech writing, what is the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) audience or event at which the speech was, or was intended to be delivered, (iv) number of speeches to be written, (v) cost charged per speech?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2448--Mr. Martin Shields
With regard to expenditures on consultants, since January 1, 2018: what are the details of all such contracts, including (i) amount, (ii) vendor, (iii) date and duration of contract, (iv) type of consultant, (v) reason or purpose consultant was utilized?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2449--Mr. David Anderson
With regard to individuals who have illegally or “irregularly” crossed the Canadian border, since January 1, 2016: (a) how many such individuals have been subject to deportation or a removal order; and (b) of the individuals in (a) how many (i) remain in Canada, (ii) have been deported or removed from Canada?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2450--Mr. David Anderson
With regard to all contracts awarded by the government since January 1, 2018, broken down by department or agency: (a) how many contracts have been awarded to a foreign firm, individual, business, or other entity with a mailing address outside of Canada; (b) for each contract in (a), what is the (i) name of vendor, (ii) country of mailing address, (iii) date of contract, (iv) summary or description of goods or services provided, (v) file or tracking number; and (c) for each contract in (a), was the contract awarded competitively or sole sourced?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2451--Mr. Bob Saroya
With regard to the $327 million announced by the government in November 2017 to combat gun and gang violence: (a) what specific initiatives or organizations have received funding from the $327 million, as of April 29, 2019; (b) what is the total of all funding referenced in (a); and (c) broken down by initiative and organization, what are the details of all funding received as of June 1, 2018, including the (i) name, (ii) project description, (iii) amount, (iv) date of the announcement, (v) duration of the project or program funded by the announcement?
(Return tabled)Question No. 2453--Mr. Steven Blaney
With regard to cabotage or coasting trade licenses granted by the Minister of Public Safety or the Minister of Transport: (a) how many cabotage or coasting trade licenses were granted to foreign vessels in (i) 2016, (ii) 2017, (iii) 2018; and (b) what is the breakdown of the licenses granted in (a) by (i) country of registration, (ii) tonnage of vessel?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill , and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak today to the message from the Senate regarding Bill , an act to amend the Fisheries Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Once enacted, this bill will repeal the changes that the former Conservative government implemented when it gutted the Fisheries Act in 2012, and restore lost protections.
I would like to thank the Senate for its work on this bill, as well as the , who is continuing the great work of the , who first introduced this bill when he was at Fisheries. Of course, we hope for his quick recovery.
I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Since I was elected, I heard this message loud and clear. As a new MP, the challenge to find sustainable solutions was daunting. After much consultation, I zeroed in on what I felt should be the starting point, the Fisheries Act, which, as I had been told by the people I work with, had been gutted over the years so that fish and fish habitat no longer had the strong protections that were once there.
For two and a half years, I worked with groups such as the Alouette River Management Society, the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society, the Katzie and Kwantlen first nations, streamkeepers, the cities of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, as well as people like Julie Porter, Ken Stewart, Jack Emberly, Greta, Cheryl, Lina, Sophie, Ross, Doug, and the list goes on.
These are not political or partisan people; they are folks who care deeply about their community. They all helped me to better understand the importance of these changes, and I thank them very much. Together, over the course of two years, we identified and discussed key pieces of legislation in the Fisheries Act that could be improved. I submitted my report to the , with recommendations on how we can further strengthen the Fisheries Act and restore some of the lost protections, and here we are today.
I would like to speak to the specific changes we are seeking through the motion. We will be accepting a majority of the amendments made by the Senate, including many that were moved by the government through Senator Harder, and we will be respectfully rejecting just three amendments.
The first amendment we are rejecting is an amendment that was made to the definition of fish habitat by Senator Poirier. In her amendment, the senator reduced the scope for the application of fish and fish habitat provisions by deleting “water frequented by fish” from the definition of fish habitat. By narrowing the scope of fish habitat, this amendment goes against the very objective of this bill to provide increased protections.
We are also amending an amendment by Senator Christmas so that the language used in relation to section 35 and aboriginal treaty rights is consistent with the rest of the bill. On this amendment, the minister has received support from Senator Christmas.
The other amendments we will be rejecting were made by Senator Wells, regarding habitat banking and collecting fees in lieu of offsets. These amendments were initially proposed by the Canadian Wildlife Federation, which has since written a letter to support the removal of the amendments, as significant consultations are required and it would be premature at this time to include the amendments.
This motion takes full consideration of the amendments made by the Senate, and I hope all members can join us in passing the bill.
Bill has many important components that Canadians across the country support. I would like to speak about the fish stocks provisions proposed in Bill , which are aimed at strengthening Canada's fisheries management framework and rebuilding depleted stocks.
The fish stocks provisions would introduce legally binding commitments to implement measures to, first, manage our major fish stocks at or above levels necessary to promote their sustainability and, second, to develop and implement a rebuilding plan for a major fish stock if it becomes depleted. Maintaining stocks at healthy levels and rebuilding depleted stocks are essential to the long-term economic viability of our fishing communities and the health of our oceans.
That is why, in the fall economic statement, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $107.4 million over five years, starting this fiscal year, as well as $17.6 million per year ongoing to support the implementation of the fish stocks provisions.
This new funding will help accelerate the implementation of the fish stocks provisions for the major fish stocks in Canada. As many members are aware, a number of important fish stocks in Canadian waters have shown significant declines over the past couple of decades and some more recently. This new investment will enable the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to implement these strong legislative tools for all key stocks.
As robust science is the bedrock of our fishery management system, the largest share of the investment will go to science activities. We will make targeted investments to increase the number of at-sea science surveys, so we can better and more frequently assess the state of our fish stocks across a broad range of major fish stocks and marine areas.
As well, we will hire additional fisheries scientists to carry out these new survey activities, analyze the data from these at-sea surveys and prepare science advice for our fisheries managers through our world-class peer review process. As a result, we will be more effective at detecting changes in the health of fish stocks and provide more robust science advice to manage these stocks to achieve sustainability goals. We will also be able to develop a better understanding of the threats facing our depleted fish stocks, which will allow us to take a targeted approach in our rebuilding efforts.
This funding will enable external groups, including indigenous groups, academics, industry and non-government organizations, to participate in fisheries data collection and the scientific assessment of Canada's major fish stocks. Additional support will be provided to establish and enhance existing partnerships and help develop scientific and technical capacity within these external groups.
With this funding we will also make investments to increase the capacity in fisheries management to develop precautionary approach management measures and rebuilding plans to meet the fish stocks provisions in collaboration with indigenous groups and stakeholders. It will also enhance our capacity to carry out socio-economic analyses to better understand the potential impacts of proposed management measures and the costs and benefits of different management options that are aimed at rebuilding fish stocks.
Over the next five years, the government has committed to making the majority of the 181 major fish stocks subject to the fish stocks provisions. Canadians have told us that sustainable fisheries are a priority, and we agree. This investment is essential in order to prescribe the major stocks as quickly as possible to the protections offered by the fish stock provisions.
We are also developing a regulation to set out the required contents of rebuilding plans so that all the plans are comprehensive and consistent. Under the proposed regulation, a rebuilding plan must be developed and implemented within two years of the stock becoming depleted.
Our government believes it is our collective responsibility to exercise our stewardship of Canada's fisheries and their habitat in a practical, reasonable and sustainable manner. The proposed fish stocks provisions and other measures in the amended Fisheries Act restore protections for fish and fish habitat, and introduce modern safeguards while facilitating sustainable economic growth, job creation and resource development.
With these stronger legislative tools to help keep our fish stocks healthy, and the funding to support their implementation, Canada's seafood sector, which employs over 76,000 people and contributed a landed value of $3.4 billion in 2017, will have a brighter future.
It is no doubt that this bill will implement changes that Canadians have long been waiting for. These amendments will restore lost protections and ensure that our fisheries are sustainable for future generations. The Senate made a number of amendments, and while we cannot support all of them, I believe we have put forth a reasonable motion that I hope all members can support.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the hon. member.
I would like to ask the member how he feels about the recommendations that have come from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, known as FOPO within these walls. There have been continuous recommendations from that committee on how we could have already started to rebuild Canada's fish stocks. We did studies early on in this parliamentary session on the northern Atlantic cod, on the Atlantic salmon. There were many recommendations, unanimous recommendations that were agreed to by every member on that committee, no matter which political party members came from.
However, the Liberal Party, his minister and the department have absolutely refused to take steps on any of those measures to restore the endangered or declining fish stocks.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to speak to what I know and what I have seen from working with my constituents, who, as members of a watershed community, really enlightened me on fish and fish habitat.
When I look across our region, waterways that once were connected and are no longer connected and fish are struggling to reach the ocean or to come back. These are the problems we face. The erosion of fish habitat has led to where we are today.
If we want to fix the challenges to which the member has referred, we have to look at a broader range of efforts. This includes taking care of fish habitat.
Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member, because I was not here when he gave his speech. I therefore do not know whether he spoke about what I am going to say, but I imagine that he did not.
The National Energy Board, or NEB, ordered Kinder Morgan to stop installing plastic anti-salmon spawning mats in eight B.C. rivers, but the mats are unfortunately still there.
Does the member think that the minister should intervene and order Kinder Morgan to stop installing these mats?
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
One of the challenges we faced was that the Fisheries Act was gutted in 2012. Looking back, from 2004 to 2016, 80% of fisheries officers were gone. We went from 73,000 hours down to 14, 885 hours. The one thing that I kept hearing when we were faced with challenges, and perhaps some of the challenges you were referring to, was that—
Order, please. I ask the hon. colleague to direct his comments to the Chair.
The hon. member.
Mr. Speaker, with respect to one of the challenges to which my colleague referred, again, this is what I heard on the ground from the people in my riding. If there is no way to effectively enforce any of the policies in place, then we cannot go forward. In effect, it is so important to move forward with the amendments and the Fisheries Act because it will put more boots on the ground, more DFO on the ground. My community has been telling me for the last three and a half years that this could solve the problem.
Mr. Speaker, when I questioned him earlier, the member talked about our needing to undertake new measures to restore our fish stocks. New measures are proposed in these amendments from the Senate through this third party habitat banking that could immediately be put to use to restore fish stocks, which is badly needed across the country from coast to coast to coast.
Why is his government refusing to adopt these amendments from the Senate that could be the new tools that we need?
Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that we have accepted some of the recommendations from the Senate. From everything we have heard, the fish banking is not ready. There is too much work to be done, and to be included in this would be premature. We need to ensure that this Fisheries Act moves forward.
Mr. Speaker, we all want to see healthy fish stocks, prosperous fisheries and a thriving economy, and I believe all those are possible at the same time. We can achieve that by using Canadian technology, Canadian ingenuity and Canadian investment. We can do all that and rebuild our declining fish stocks.
We have national conservation organizations, like Ducks Unlimited, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, local fishing game clubs and stream keeper organizations ready to create and improve fish habitat. Using Canadian technology, Canadian ingenuity and Canadian investment in proactive ways that would actually see fish habitat increased and improved in advance of projects would ensure prosperous fisheries and a thriving economy. This could all be made possible under the third-party habitat banking amendments being put forward by the Senate.
Before the Senate had even voted on sending these amendments to Bill back to this House of Parliament, the basically gave a directive to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, FOPO, to do a study on third party habitat banking. Imagine that. I say it was a directive, because although the parliamentary committees are supposed to be free to set their own agenda, that committee has a majority of Liberal members who would dare not deny a request from their own minister.
Therefore, on June 10, as a directive from the , we began a study of third party habitat banking. Also on June 10, we finished a study on third party habitat banking. We started and finished in one day, in two hours. It was an abomination of a study, with no mention of a report back to the minister and no report to the House of Commons. It was of almost of no use at all other than perhaps being able to say “we consulted”, part of the fake consultation I have seen with the government time and again over the past three and a half years.
However, I say almost nothing out of that study, except what we heard from witnesses that day. They spoke about third party habitat banking, saying that it would be a good thing to incorporate, that the difficult details around third party habitat banking could be worked out through the regulations and orders in council. The regulations need not be fully ironed out in order for Bill to be amended and passed. We also heard testimony from multiple witnesses that third party habitat banking could create net gains to habitat. Imagine, conservation organizations and local angling clubs being able to work proactively to create an enhanced fish habitat.
It should be the dream and goal of any fisheries minister to increase and improve fisheries habitat. However, as we have seen so many times over the past three and a half years, Liberal fisheries ministers fail to do what is right and instead give deals to their buddies and relatives, getting caught up in scandal. They fail to deliver and fund restoring fish stocks.
We also heard in testimony during that short “but we can say we consulted” meeting on June 10, that during the Senate study of Bill , the only witnesses who spoke against third party habitat banking were the minister and DFO staff, undoubtedly under the direction of the .
Why would every other witness support third party habitat banking and the minister's department oppose it? Why would a minister not want to see net gains to fish habitat? Why would a minister ignore and cast aside testimony, ideas and proposals that would be good for fish, fisheries and the economy?
I can only surmise that it is because the , like his Liberal predecessors, are out of touch with Canadian fisheries and the Canadian way.
I also want to point out the fake and disingenuous consultations by the former fisheries minister from undertaken during his tenure. I do wish to send best wishes to the former fisheries minister regarding his health.
While he was minister, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, FOPO, undertook a study on changes to the Fisheries Act. While that study was on the book, three different news releases went out on the consultation process, three conflicting news releases under that minister's watch.
The first one, on October 16, 2016, stated that all briefs received during the consultations would be provided to the committee for its study. The next one, on November 16, 2016, again stated the feedback heard would be shared with the committee for its study. However, that feedback never reached the committee in time.
After multiple requests from indigenous groups and committee members to extend the timeline of the study, the Liberal members refused to extend that time so we could incorporate the briefs solicited and paid for with taxpayer dollars.
In the end, over $2 million was spent for indigenous groups to provide briefs to the committee for study. Over $1.2 million of those briefs for consultation and input for the review were not received before the Liberals closed off the study. Those taxpayer dollars were not received by the committee in time for the study. Imagine what $1.2 million could have done for fish habitat in the hands of conservation groups and organizations.
I can imagine that because my background is in conservation. My first interest in this was with fish and game clubs, putting boots on and getting in the streams creating spawning habitat. What our clubs could have done with $1.2 million, which the Liberal government wasted because it could not get that information to the committee on time.
Now here we are up against time. The government has called time allocation on debate on these Senate amendments after minimum time back in the House. It has taken the government three and a half years to get the bill this far and it is still not right.
Dozens of amendments came from the Senate on Bill , most of them tossed aside by the Liberal government, amendments that really could make a difference in the streams, creating more fish habitat, creating more fish, creating more opportunities for fishermen and creating a strong and vibrant economy.
It is really disappointing to have debate cut short. Ten minutes for me to speak to this is really less than half the time I would have liked in a full speaking time of 20 minutes.
I have talked about how the FOPO study was denied extensions. We have talked about briefs being received after the report deadline. We have heard testimony many times that there was no proof of any harm to fish habitat from the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act.
One of the first things I did in this parliamentary session was to put in an Order Paper question asking for any proof of harm or loss of habitat as a result of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act. More than three years later, not one piece of evidence has been provided. Therefore, the and the current government are being deceitful, if I can use that word, to the Canadian public and this Parliament. I have lost respect for them because of that.
I thank the House for the time to be able to discuss these amendments, and I will welcome questions.
Mr. Speaker, I do not necessarily agree with the member, but I appreciate his thoughts on the legislation. In terms of his closing comments, in reflecting on the legislation, the member has had ample opportunity in different ways to have a significant contribution both inside the House and outside the House in committees and in the Senate. He will find not only that the legislation is supported by many different stakeholders, but even within the chamber it is supported by New Democrats, from what I understand, by Green Party members, from what I understand, and by others who are supporting the legislation and wanting to see it go forward.
Can the member opposite, in a very clear way, indicate why, if it were up to the Conservative Party, the legislation would never pass? If we provided the member what he wanted, unlimited debates on time where any grouping of a number of MPs would be able to prevent the government from being able to pass the legislation, does he believe that would be a good thing? If so, why did Stephen Harper never believe that to be the case?
Mr. Speaker, as I stated, my background is in conservation. I see what conservation organizations can do with a few dollars provided and the many hours of volunteer time that they put in at the streams to create fish habitat and to improve hatcheries to make sure we have fish in the streams. A lot of the time, it is not for their own benefit. They do not get to fish for those fish. They do not get to catch anything or reap any harvest from it. They simply are doing it because it is the right thing to do.
That is what these amendments from the Senate were aimed to do. It was to increase the ability of non-profit organizations, including fish and game clubs and conservation organizations, to get into the streams and do some work proactively and create and improve fish habitat. Here we have a government that is scrapping these amendments from the Senate and blocking the possibility for that to happen.
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to know there is a fellow zoologist in the House with me. I call myself an environmental biologist by trade.
I wonder if the hon. member would reflect back on some of the dark days that my colleague from and others have mentioned. We had a fisheries department and a Fisheries Act that were very much guided by science and evidence. Two hundred DFO scientists were fired. Let us remember the Experimental Lakes Area. You remember, Mr. Speaker; you come from lake country. The Experimental Lakes Area, the finest outdoor laboratory in the world, was shuttered by the Conservatives. The Freshwater Institute was depopulated of scientists.
I wonder if the hon. member would just offer us a few comments on his party's view of the importance of science as it has guided this legislation through our chamber.
Mr. Speaker, not being part of the previous government, I will not comment on that. However, I will comment on the government that I have been in opposition to since I arrived here in this House.
What I have seen is a government that claims to be doing everything for the science and the fisheries, and yet it continues to ignore that science. When we take a look at what is happening on the west coast with our west coast salmon fisheries, we see it is shutting down the recreational fisheries, blocking or destroying the jobs of hundreds of west coast fishermen, fish guides and angling tackle shops with no regard to what the science really says.
We know there are bigger issues out there, but the government refuses to look at the science and where it could make the biggest difference in increasing the number of chinook stocks on the west coast. Rather, it is punishing the fishermen who make the smallest impact.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the Senate amendments to Bill , an act to amend the Fisheries Act, a terribly flawed piece of legislation that erodes the rights of Canadians.
I wish to acknowledge and thank, on behalf of all Canadians, the research team of the Ontario Landowners Association for the work done by the group on Bill , particularly Elizabeth Marshall and Tom Black. The report they prepared but were not able to present to the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has been highly informative. Canadians will understand, after my remarks are finished, that when we are working with bad legislation, all the tinkering in the world will not fix the wrong assumptions that are at the heart of this bill.
The Liberal Party is attempting to violate the Constitution by artificially extending its jurisdiction in contradiction to its constitutional limits. It is also trying to do indirectly what it cannot do directly, which has been struck down in the Canadian courts. The federal government does not have the constitutional jurisdiction to expand environmental protection through the Fisheries Act, as this is in violation of provincial jurisdiction, as well as in violation of private rights established under common law, the Constitution Act, 1867, and the letters patent/Crown grant.
Though many laws regulate water and water use, the Fisheries Act remains the only legislation that directly addresses the protection and conservation of fish and fish habitat. Enacted in 1868, the act is one of Canada's oldest pieces of legislation. In 2012, the Fisheries Act was significantly amended.
I am now going to turn to the Senate testimony. We had the OPG, Ontario Power Generation, look at its generation portfolio on hydro power. It determined that it would take an up to 80% increase in instantaneous passage of flow as a principle for meeting the objectives of the new definition of “fish habitat”, and that it would no longer be peaking and holding back water or meeting grid demands, outside of the greenhouse gas emissions impact, which would bear out. That was very important.
The amendments of the Senate involved a move from protecting fish generally to focusing on only prohibiting serious harm to fish that were part of a commercial or aboriginal fishery. That is what the 2012 amendments did. These amendments were common sense in application and were done after listening and acting on the concerns of stakeholders.
The 2012 Conservative amendments respected the Canadian Constitution. It was my pleasure to recommend to the committee reviewing the Conservative amendments a witness to provide practical observations as to why the Fisheries Act needed to be amended.
Jack Maclaren is a multi-generational orchard farmer from my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. Jack had the unfortunate experience of having a ditch, hand dug by his grandfather and great-grandfather to collect and direct water to their orchard, declared a navigable waterway after he started to clear a blocked culvert that was flooding the road to his farmhouse.
Needless to say, Jack and many other farmers just like him welcomed the Conservative common sense amendments passed by our government in 2012. The Liberal Party, under the guise of protection of so-called “fish habitat” in unlikely places like Jack's ditch, is actually looking to use the Fisheries Act as environmental legislation, when the federal government has already protections established under the Canada Shipping Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
What really caught my attention on Bill was the addition in committee of a new concept in Canadian law, the concept of water flow or, as it is referred to in other documents, environmental flow. It was added in proposed subsection 2(2) to amend the act.
Water flow is a hot topic in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. The spring of 2019 now has the dubious distinction of being the worst in recent memory for flooding along the Ottawa River. My constituents are skeptical when the and the member from Ottawa blame every significant weather event on climate change.
They do not believe the when he claims a new tax on Canadians, the Liberal carbon tax, will stop the Ottawa River from flooding. The residents of the Ottawa Valley have a suspicion that recent flooding has been caused by either government policy or human error, or some combination of both. They want answers.
The question now being asked is whether the federal government caused the flooding. Were the dam operators instructed to hold back water when they should have been releasing water to meet the federal government's new definitions of fish habitat? These are questions my constituents feel can only be answered by an independent inquiry, an external review.
Expert testimony before the standing committee, which I referred to before, certainly seemed to confirm that the Government of Canada was planning to make flooding on the Ottawa River an annual occurrence, judging by the question asked by a senator to a representative of Ontario Power Generation, which operates the dams on the river. The expert said:
When OPG, Ontario Power Generation, looked at our generation portfolio on hydro power, we determined that we would take an 80 per cent instantaneous passage of flow as a principle for meeting the objectives of the new definition of “fish habitat.” We would no longer be peaking and holding back water or meeting grid demands, outside of the greenhouse gas emissions impact which would bear out.... Everyone can remember the spring of 2017 in Ontario and the Ottawa Valley. We had a once in a generation flood event. We had the capacity to hold water on the watershed with our water management plans. We have detailed some impacts. One of the outcomes was that the city of Montreal would have been under a metre more of water if we had not had the ability to store water on the watershed because of flooding in the Great Lakes.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the comment that Montreal would have been under an additional metre of water had Bill , as it was voted on and passed in the House of Commons by the Liberal Party, been enacted.
The next thing that jumped out while listening to the expert testimony given to that Senate committee on the decision by the Liberal Party to bring forward legislation like Bill was the limitations that would be placed on one of the cleanest, most renewable and most reliable sources of electricity. It produces almost no greenhouse gases. Canadian hydroelectricity is the envy of the world. Why would Canadians want to throw away that advantage?
A representative from Quebec, who is the president of WaterPower Canada, an organization that represents more than 60% of all electricity produced in Canada, stated:
If Bill C-68 is passed in its current form, its impact on our industry’s ability to operate its current stations and build new ones will be catastrophic.
This led me to do some research on who was lobbying for proposed subsection 2(2) in Bill , and I then discovered that the controversial clause added during committee was proposed by the Green Party. It was then supported by the Liberal majority to be included in the legislation.
Why was the Liberal Party on the House of Commons committee voting in favour of an amendment put forward by the Green Party that would be so disastrous for Canada? Is the Liberal Party really so afraid of losing votes to the Green Party that it would shift that far left?
I was then introduced to the name of a lobbyist who was on the payroll of the controversial Tides foundation. These foundations are recognized as threats to Canadian democracy. The Tides foundation is a foreign-funded organization that has been identified, among other activities, as funding a campaign to block Canadian pipelines.
Canadians lost $20 billion last year by being held a captive seller to American big oil interests. Tides Canada's American parent foundation, the Tides foundation, from which it receives funding, has been funding dam busting in the western United States, so it is no surprise that the U.S. foundation would fund similar activities in Canada.
Registered as a lobbyist for Tides Canada, Tony Maas could count on some powerful friends in the Liberal Party, starting with the now disgraced former principal secretary to the , Gerald Butts. Tony Maas worked for Gerald Butts when Butts was at the World Wildlife Fund. With the puppet master on his side, Maas figured he could get anything he wanted.
Maas had moved from the World Wildlife Fund to run a project funded by Tides Canada on water. In that capacity, the decision was made to use the Liberal campaign promise to make amendments to the Fisheries Act to move forward with a radical agenda on water by introducing a totally new concept in Canadian law on water flow. This was done by avoiding fisheries departmental scrutiny when Bill was first introduced to the House of Commons and waiting until committee, after second reading, to inject proposed subsection 2(2) into the bill. By doing this, checks and balances that normally occur in a department before legislation is introduced could be avoided.
The concept of water flows, or environmental flows, comes from the 2007 globalist document the Brisbane declaration. Like many globalist documents, the words written do not match with reality. While it is next to impossible to build any new hydroelectric power dams, as identified by the president of WaterPower Canada, the declaration envisages the eventual removal of existing dams in favour of flood plain restoration and the return of free-flowing rivers.
Pursuant to order made Thursday, June 13, 2019, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill now before the House.
The question is on the amendment.
Shall I dispense?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
[Chair read text of amendment to the House]
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota):
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): In my opinion the nays have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Pursuant to orders made on Tuesday, May 28, the division stands deferred until Monday, June 17, 2019 at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
The House proceeded to the consideration of amendments made by the Senate to Bill .
That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act, the House:
agrees with amendments 1, 4(a) and 5(b) made by the Senate;
proposes that amendment 2 be amended by replacing the text of the amendment with the following:
“(c.1) the Service considers alternatives to custody in a penitentiary, including the alternatives referred to in sections 29 and 81;
(c.2) the Service ensures the effective delivery of programs to offenders, including correctional, educational, vocational training and volunteer programs, with a view to improving access to alternatives to custody in a penitentiary and to promoting rehabilitation;”;
proposes that amendment 3 be amended by replacing the text of the amendment with the following:
“(2.01) In order to ensure that the plan can be developed in a manner that takes any mental health needs of the offender into consideration, the institutional head shall, as soon as practicable after the day on which the offender is received but not later than the 30th day after that day, refer the offender’s case to the portion of the Service that administers health care for the purpose of conducting a mental health assessment of the offender.”;
proposes that amendment 4(b)(i) be replaced by the following amendment:
1. Clause 10, page 7: replace lines 25 to 28 with the following:
“(2) The Service shall ensure that the measures include
(a) a referral of the inmate’s case, within 24 hours after the inmate’s transfer into the structured intervention unit, to the portion of the Service that administers health care for the purpose of conducting a mental health assessment of the inmate; and
(b) a visit to the inmate at least once every day by a registered health care professional employed or engaged by the Service.”;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 4(b)(ii) because it may not support the professional autonomy and clinical independence of healthcare professionals and does not take into account the inmate’s willingness to be transferred to a hospital or the hospital’s capacity to treat the inmate;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 5(a) because it would result in a significant addition to the workload of provincial superior courts, and because further assessments and consultations with the provinces would be required to determine the probable legislative, operational and financial implications at federal and provincial levels, including amendments to the Judges Act and provincial legislation and the appointment of additional judges;
proposes that amendment 6 be amended to read as follows:
(a) replace line 7 with the following:
“48 (1) Subject to subsection (2), a staff member of the same sex as the inmate may”;
(b) add the following after line 15:
“(2) A body scan search of the inmate shall be conducted instead of the strip search if
(a) the body scan search is authorized under section 48.1; and
(b) a prescribed body scanner in proper working order is in the area where the strip search would be conducted.”;”;
proposes that amendment 7(a) be amended by replacing the text of the French version of the amendment with the following:
“c) l’identité et la culture autochtones du délinquant, notamment son passé familial et son historique d’adoption.”;
proposes that amendment 7(b) be amended to read as follows:
“(b) replace lines 32 and 33 with the following:
“ing the assessment of the risk posed by an Indigenous offender unless those factors could decrease the level of risk.”;”;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 8 because extending the concept of healing lodges designed specifically for Indigenous corrections to other unspecified groups is a major policy change that should only be contemplated following considerable study and consultation, and because it would impede the ability of the Correctional Service of Canada, which is responsible for the care and custody of inmates pursuant to section 5 of the Act, to be part of decisions to transfer inmates to healing lodges;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 9 because extending of the concept of community release designed specifically for Indigenous corrections to other unspecified groups is a major policy change that should only be contemplated following considerable study and consultation;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 10 because allowing offenders’ sentences to be shortened due to the conduct of correctional staff, particularly given the existence of other remedies, is a major policy change that should only be contemplated following considerable study and consultation, including with provincial partners, victims’ representatives, stakeholder groups and other actors in the criminal justice system;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 11 because five years is an appropriate amount of time to allow for robust and meaningful assessment of the new provisions following full implementation.
Mr. Speaker, Bill has two main objectives.
First, it will allow federal inmates to be separated from the general prison population when necessary for security reasons. Second, it will ensure that these inmates have access to the interventions, programs and mental health care they need to safely return to the general prison population and make progress toward successful rehabilitation and reintegration.
The bill would achieve these objectives by replacing the current system of administrative segregation with structured intervention units. In SIUs, inmates will be entitled to twice as much time out of their cells, four hours daily instead of two, and two hours of meaningful human contact every day. We have allocated $448 million over six years to ensure that the correctional service has the resources to provide programs and interventions to inmates in SIUs and to implement this new safety system effectively. That funding includes $150 million for mental health care, both in SIUs and throughout the federal corrections system.
Bill was introduced last October. It was studied by the public safety committee in November and reported back to the House in December with a number of amendments. There were further amendments at report stage in February, including one from the member for , that added a system of binding external review. In recent months, hon. senators have been studying the bill and have now sent it back to us with proposed amendments of their own.
A high level of interest in Bill is indicative of the importance of the federal corrections system and of the laws and policies that govern it. Effective and humane corrections are essential to public safety. They are a statement of who we are as a country. In the words of Dostoyevsky, the degree of civilization in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.
I extend my sincere thanks to all the intervenors who have provided testimony and written briefs over the course of the last nine months and to the parliamentarians in both chambers who have examined this legislation and made thoughtful and constructive suggestions.
Since the Senate social affairs committee completed clause-by-clause consideration of this bill a couple of weeks ago, the government has been carefully studying the committee's recommendations, all of which seek to achieve laudable objectives. We are proposing to accept several of the Senate's amendments as is or with small technical modifications.
First off, with minor adjustments, we agree with amendments that would require a mental health assessment of all inmates within 30 days of admission into federal custody and within 24 hours of being transferred to an SIU. This fits with the focus on early diagnosis and treatment that would be facilitated by the major investments we are making in mental health care. We agree with the proposal to rearrange section 29 of the act, which deals with inmate transfers, to emphasize the possibility of transfers to external hospitals.
I thank the hon. senators for their efforts and contributions.
The hon. will have time remaining in her debate when the matter is next before the House.