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Results: 106 - 120 of 703
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-05-31 13:00 [p.28363]
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows, there is a crisis with our salmon in British Columbia. In Port Alberni, where I live, we had the fortune of having the member for Burnaby North—Seymour come to our riding when he was the parliamentary secretary for Fisheries and Oceans. On August 10, 2017, the Alberni Valley News quoted the member, who said:
For so long, communities have had a lot of good projects like the group here (West Coast Aquatic) that they’ve wanted to get done but we haven’t had the financial ability to move forward on it because the federal government has been somewhat absent.
At the time, he was touting the coastal restoration fund the government had committed $75 million for. West Coast Aquatic received nothing. Since then, we have been waiting for support for restoration for our salmon, especially when it comes to our sockeye, which is very important to the Somass River. The government has deferred, saying that the application process was oversubscribed, even though we have learned that the money has not been rolling out.
The government has now announced its new B.C. salmon restoration and innovation fund. What happens? West Coast Aquatic applies for funding and is denied. It still has not received any money. We are almost four years in. Salmon is the most important piece of the economy. I am hoping that this member and the government can answer, because people at home are waiting and wondering what is going on.
View John Aldag Profile
Lib. (BC)
View John Aldag Profile
2019-05-31 13:01 [p.28363]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his advocacy on environmental issues in our beautiful province of British Columbia.
Our government has made significant investments in environmental protections. Although we want to see the money rolling out as fast as possible, sometimes new programs need to be designed. Those are being worked on. We will be seeing money to continue to support and restore the fishery on the west coast.
The west coast fishery is an important part of our identity as British Columbians. We need to continue working to make sure that it is there for the long term so that it can be used by indigenous people living in our province, by British Columbians and other Canadians and by those who travel internationally to enjoy our fisheries. We need to make sure that the investments are there to sustain that fishery for the long term.
That is what our government is working on, doing so in ways that previous governments have not.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-13 13:44 [p.27673]
Mr. Speaker, the fisheries minister claims that the new consultation process under the bill would be improved and satisfactory. However, I would like him to answer to the protests that have been taking place in front of his offices and outside the meetings that he has been holding over the past few weeks.
I believe he was in Nova Scotia over the past week and there was a large protest outside of the meeting he was holding there because consultation had not taken place. Fishermen were extremely upset about what was taking place and about the decisions that were being made under the fisheries minister. Again, this happened in front of his office in B.C. over the past couple of weeks.
Fishermen's views are out of line with the direction the fisheries minister is claiming to take regarding adequate consultation. That consultation is not there, and I would like him to answer to that. Why does he think it is?
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
2019-05-13 13:45 [p.27674]
Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to distinguish the two issues. Certainly, the issues in British Columbia have nothing to do with marine protected areas. They have to do with conservation for the purpose of saving Fraser chinook salmon.
Extensive consultations went on over many months with all relevant stakeholders and first nations communities with respect to Fraser chinook salmon and the fisheries regulations. However, that needs to be seen in a broader context. This government has brought forward a new Fisheries Act to restore the lost protections that were taken out under the previous government. We just committed $142 million for salmon habitat restoration, alongside our partner, the Government of British Columbia. We are actively working with stakeholders on a whole range of other issues, including the use of hatcheries and the idea of marked fisheries.
However, we also have to ensure that in the short term, enough of these salmon are getting back to the spawning grounds so they will be able not only to stabilize but to recover. I have said very clearly in the press that I will not be the minister who makes the easy political decision and knowingly allows these stocks to become extinct.
That was the basis on which the decision in British Columbia was made. It was the right decision from an environmental perspective, and it was the right decision from a biodiversity perspective.
On the Atlantic coast, there is an issue regarding the proposed east coast marine protected area. It relates to some of the concerns the lobster harvesters have. We have been very clear that lobster harvesting would not be impacted.
I went to have this conversation with the lobster harvesters last week myself. We engaged in the conversation, and I intend to continue that conversation. I have indicated to them that I will come back to further that conversation. We will take the time necessary to ensure that all perspectives are considered, and ideally all concerns can be addressed.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-05-13 13:48 [p.27674]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, who spoke on this topic for over an hour on Friday. It was fish Friday. Fish was even served in the lobby, and he spoke eloquently for over an hour on Bill C-55 and Bill S-203, which is on ending the captivity of whales.
I was back in the riding talking about species at risk, in particularly the issue we have with the southern mountain caribou. Members might wonder why I am bringing up this issue. It is because my colleague across the way wants to talk about consultation and how it has been thorough.
He would probably stand up and say that the consultation on the southern mountain caribou issue in the province of British Columbia was been thorough as well. I can tell members that what has been very thorough and robust is the attendance at these town halls done by the Province of British Columbia, and the reason attendance has been robust is that there has been no consultation. Here is an issue that is going to have detrimental impacts on our province in terms of industry and our way of life.
I also want to say at the very beginning that nobody wants to see a species such as the southern mountain caribou become extinct, or our chinook or our Atlantic salmon or our northern cod. One of the challenges we have with the current government is that its members stand up and say that they have consulted Canadians thoroughly, from coast to coast to coast, but indeed they have not. Why would the minister be getting protests outside his door by angry fishermen, angry groups, and have to be spirited away under the protection of security?
When we stand up on this side to talk about consultation, even the NDP members are in agreement with us that consultation is not there.
I will bring members back to earlier today, and for those in the gallery and for Canadians just tuning in to the debate, it has been 71 times that we have voted on time allocation. This is closure of debate. It has happened 71 times to this point under the current government.
I will bring members back to day 15 of the member for Papineau's campaign to be our Prime Minister. It was day 15 in the 2015 election when he stood up and said that under his government, we would be the most open and transparent government in the history of our country. Well, we have seen where that has gone.
He also said that he would run small deficits and then all of a sudden balance the budget in 2019. Well, where are we now? We have huge debt.
One of the other things he said was that under his government, they would not resort to parliamentary tricks and tactics such as omnibus bills, invoking closure or using time allocation. He would let the debate reign, because after all it was not about us as parliamentarians, but about the people who voted us in and got us here.
With that, I have to bring members back to today. I will remind those in the House who are checking their iPads and checking their messages and not really paying attention to the debate that this is not about them and it is not about the Prime Minister; this is about the electors who voted for 338 members of Parliament here to be their voice. When the government invokes time allocation and closure on debate, it is saying that the voices of those who elected members of the opposition and many others do not really matter.
We have seen that time and time again, and it is usually when Liberals do not like what they are hearing. It is usually when valid points are being brought up. We now see it again. We are sitting at 71 time allocation motions. I said 59 earlier, but my great colleague from Courtenay—Alberni reminded us that it is 71 times. I do not think that is letting the debate reign.
I also want to talk about consultation.
Liberals stand and talk about consultation. Throughout the southern mountain caribou exercise, a slide was brought out and then taken down very quickly. The slide said “consultation versus engagement”. That prompted me to think about this a little more. Liberals in government—and perhaps we on this side too, as elected officials—throw the terms “engagement” and “consultation” around as though they are interchangeable. The reality is that they are not. They are vastly different. Depending on the underlying motivation and the process, they come at different solutions.
In consultation, I would tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have a great idea and ask you what you think about it. You may say that the hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George has a great idea, but there are some ways it could be tweaked to make it better. I would respond by saying that these are great ideas and I would think about them. However, with engagement, I would go to you, Mr. Speaker, and say that we have a problem and I would really like your help to try to figure it out. You and I would go back and forth in a transactional kind of dialogue, and I would take your thoughts, ideas and concepts, say that I think we have come up with a solution, and tell you what it was and away we would go.
I am probably going to elicit some boos from that side of the House, because in terms of what I just said about consultation versus engagement, it is engagement that Canadians truly want, especially those in fishing and coastal communities and first nations that depend on the fisheries for their sustenance. When we levy a policy such as what is found in Bill C-55, we are not consulting Canadians on what we should be doing but engaging Canadians from the grassroots on the issue. However, the problem with that is that at times, they cannot tell us what they want to protect.
Mr. Speaker, you just gave me a three-minute warning, but I think I have 11 minutes. It is three minutes until question period. That is going to ruin the video. Let the record show that I am splitting my time with question period, with 338 members of Parliament, unlike our colleagues across the way, who would not allow that.
Whether it is Bill C-55, the Fisheries Act, the northern cod study, the Atlantic salmon study or the aquatic invasive species study—which we will never get to, because our friends on the fisheries committee continue to delay it—Canadians are looking for engagement on policy that is going to impact them.
I have tried to change my vocabulary, my use of “consultation”, since that southern mountain caribou fiasco we dealt with in the province of British Columbia, and I now use “engagement”.
It is not an engagement. It is really just a check in a box to say that my colleagues across the way have talked about it. I wonder if it is because they do not believe Canadians are smart enough to come up with an idea. After all, we live in coastal areas and depend on the water, so maybe we are not smart enough to come up with a solution to the problem. Maybe they are worried the problem is that Canadians are too smart and will figure it out.
I have listened to a number of fishers, fishing organizations and first nations. They are concerned about the lack of consultation on Bill C-55. Our hon. colleague across the way is saying that the amendment that came back from the Senate is redundant and is way too much. After all, it would listen to Canadians, who time and again said that they were not consulted enough. They said that they were not being engaged enough.
We should always strive to be better. Bill C-55 is core legislation under the Liberal government. Now the Liberals say that time has dithered away, and I think my hon. colleague mentioned that there were only 25 sitting days left, and that is why there is an urgency to push it through. However, there are serious concerns with Bill C-55, which is why that amendment came forward. What they are essentially saying, which is no different than time allocation, is that because it is a Conservative amendment, it does not really matter. That is wrong.
With that, I will cede the floor and pick it up after question period.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-05-13 15:23 [p.27691]
Madam Speaker, I will provide a refresher on this important debate for our colleagues and Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are tuning in, as I had to share my time with question period.
Prior to going into my debate, I shared with Canadians and those in this House that this is the 71st time closure and time allocation have been levied by a government led by a Prime Minister who, when he was campaigning, on day 15, the then member for Papineau said that under his government he would let the debate reign and would not resort to such parliamentary tricks as time allocation. However, that is where we are today. We have time allocation and closure forced on this important debate.
I also said that as parliamentarians and leaders in our country, when we are talking about consultation, perhaps what Canadians are looking for on an important piece of legislation such as Bill C-55 is engagement. I talked about the use of “consultation” and “engagement“ as if they were interchangeable. They are not. Consultation would be me telling someone I have an idea and asking what that person thought. That person would tell me whether that idea was good or bad. I would thank that person and be on my way. There would be no onus on me to come back to that person or for that person to take my suggestion. Engagement would be me saying that there is a problem, asking to sit down with a someone to fix the problem and asking that person what ideas he or she has.
When we are talking about bills such as Bill C-55, the feedback we heard from fishers, first nations, scientists and even environmental groups on Bill C-55 and the marine protected area process was that there was no consultation. They were not asked what they thought about the idea. There was no engagement. It is the lack of engagement we have seen time and again from the current government, so much so that there are protests at the minister's office. Therefore, when the Liberals talk about how this is good for Canadians and that they have consulted broadly, they really have not.
I will offer this. Bill C-55 is more about a vehicle that would afford the current government the ability to reach its international Aichi targets, which state that 5% of marine coastal areas would be protected by 2017 and 10% of marine coastal areas would be protected by 2020. As a matter of fact, the biodiversity goals and targets for Canada for 2020 state:
17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
I will now go to a comment from a gentleman from Simon Fraser University. He said:
Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science.
He also stated that some of the studies cited found that they are not broadly successful. He continued:
Just enforcing MPAs would be hugely expensive. Again, if you're looking at it from a fisheries management point of view, it's far more cost effective to do other things that don't cost that much.
I bring this up because Bill C-55 evokes a lot of questions, one being that under proposed subsection 35(2), certain activities, such as fisheries and fishing, may be prohibited, yet activities by foreign entities and other companies and countries will not be.
The groups that came before us at committee said that they all want to be part of the process. They asked that the minister and the department meet with those stakeholder communities and engage to develop a plan in concert with those communities that would be impacted.
The Senate amendments were fairly thorough. They did not tie the government or any future government to doing anything but thorough engagement with communities that could be impacted by the interim marine protected areas.
I will offer again that Bill C-55 is about creating an order in council that the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans could immediately designate an area an interim marine protected area for up to five years while the study was going on.
Using the precautionary principle was also mentioned. In the absence of science, that cannot be used as an excuse for not designating that area.
Our biggest concern was addressed by the Senate amendments, which are very thorough. I also looked at the government's response to the Senate amendments. I would have to say that those were fairly watered down.
I will go back to my comment about consultation versus engagement. When the government or parliamentarians consider policy that is so impactful on communities, first nations, coastal communities and industry, we should be engaging, not consulting, and bringing them to the table to develop thorough solutions.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, in response to my colleague's question, climate is what people expect and weather is what they get. That is the simple definition.
What is a marine protected area? Obviously it is an area that is considered important and in need of some kind of protection. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. Marine protected areas are actually quite difficult to do. They are three-dimensional columns of water, where a lot of things are going on inside that column of water. By comparison, terrestrial conservation areas are much easier to deal with.
I would like to comment on what my friend from Cypress Hills—Grasslands said a minute ago. He talked about stewardship. When it comes to environmental conservation, local people on the ground, conducting stewardship activities and using the knowledge they have learned over generations, is by far the better way than the top-down environmental regulation that the government prefers.
What are some of the problems with marine protected areas? For example, what are they actually going to accomplish? My colleague across the way talked about an area off Victoria, Race Rocks. It was designated some 20 years ago as an important area, yet it is still in place now and the discussions are ongoing. For 20 years, the area had been de facto protected.
The other issue with marine protected areas is this. What are the terms and conditions of setting aside one of these areas? Let us just say the benthic invertebrates, like the glass sponge reefs off Haida Gwaii, are going to be protected. I think that is a worthy goal, given that some types of fishing activities can affect the benthic environment. Would ships passing over top of this area have any effect on the primary reason for the MPA?
For the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Transport and regional economic development ministers, it is going to be critical for them to look at the terms and conditions of an MPA. Most people think it is an area that is set aside where there is no activity at all. The point is that, if an MPA has an important benthic environment, for example, that happens to be on a shipping lane, bottom crawling can be restricted to protect the benthic environment while shipping is still allowed. Again, it is a balancing act that I think needs to be done.
This is not a partisan issue at all, but the terms and conditions are very important. Again, in terms of marine protected areas, as was mentioned by the shadow minister for fisheries, many of the fish species are migratory, and they go in and out of these marine protected areas. When one looks at the two great fishery tragedies off the east coast in the last little while—the Atlantic cod and the Atlantic salmon—right now, it is hard to see what a marine protected area would have done for these highly mobile species.
There are places where aquatic protected areas actually make sense, but they have to be very well delineated and with the proper terms and conditions. I will use an example that I am familiar with from back home, and that is lake trout spawning reefs. Lake trout spawn in the fall, and they are very vulnerable to overfishing at that time, because they concentrate on specific reefs. It makes a lot of sense—and the Manitoba government has done this in many areas—to put these lake trout spawning reefs off-limits to fishing, even catch-and-release fishing, during the sensitive time when the lake trout are using these reefs.
Again, the devil is in the details, and it is far too easy to call an area “protected” when that protection does not really do a lot.
I sat on the fisheries committee when Bill C-55 was being discussed. A lot of the reaction from communities was quite negative. A lot dealt with consultation, and a lot dealt with the effect on the local economy. Leonard LeBlanc, managing director of Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board said:
The process DFO used to approach harvester associations and consult on the areas of interest for designation was unorganized and totally not transparent....[T]his consultation process on the area of interest for MPA designation in the Cape Breton Trough perpetuated the lack of trust between industry and DFO. The lack of inclusion and answers during the consultation phase, the lack of real scientific evidence for reasoning behind the area of interest, and the lack of guarantees that traditional fisheries could continue all led to further distrust of DFO's consultation....
Mr. Ian MacPherson, executive director of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, said:
[We] have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals.... The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island.
Christina Burridge, executive director of the BC Seafood Alliance, said:
On the west coast, we're not seeing a lot of evidence-based decision-making. It's beginning to look like political decision-making.
She continued:
Closing large areas to fishing off the west coast does little for biodiversity, little for conservation, little for the men and women up and down the coast who work in our sector and who...deserve access to local, sustainable...food.
My colleague, the shadow minister for fisheries, quoted Mr. Sean Cox, a professor of fisheries from Simon Fraser University, who said:
Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science.
Therefore, the Liberals' rationale for the MPAs, which is that they have done enough consultation and there is a scientific basis to them, is clearly shown to be bogus.
As I said in one of my questions earlier, I have a very strange environmental philosophy, which is this. Every environmental policy and environmental decision that government makes and every single dollar that is spent on the environment or fisheries by a government should generate a clear and measurable environmental result. So far, the track record of the current government is poor.
I also want to talk about some of my time on the fisheries committee dealing with the Atlantic salmon. As I mentioned earlier, I have the report here. The fisheries committee is different from a lot of other committees in that we operate on a very collegial basis and try very hard to have unanimous reports, which I think is still the case. We on the fisheries committee are treated to some excellent science witnesses, and there is robust debate about the data and evidence that is presented, yet it is always respectful. We produced a report in January 2017 entitled “Wild Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Canada”. Under the current government's watch, the populations of Atlantic salmon have plummeted for a whole bunch of reasons: the very high seal populations; the very high predation rates; the predation rates by striped bass on Atlantic salmon smolts; the overfishing by Greenland of our multi-sea-winter fish; and the issue of the smallmouth bass in Miramichi Lake, to look at one specific water body there.
We produced a report with 17 recommendations. They were very specific recommendations. In one, in particular, we recommended a target the government should have of restoring the Atlantic salmon populations to 1975 levels, with measurable results reported on a regular basis. We talked about engaging with Greenland. We talked about increasing the seal harvest to help the salmon out. There were other recommendations as well. These have all been ignored.
The letter the minister sent in response to this report was a disgrace. The words “restore” and “rehabilitate” did not occur in that letter at all. It was a fluff piece that talked about consultation and so on, in spite of the fact that our Atlantic salmon report had very specific, broadly based and widely supported recommendations. As I said in some of my earlier comments, the current government prefers show over substance.
On the west coast, things are not much better. I have an article here from the CBC, dated December 2018, just a few months ago. It states that more than a dozen B.C. chinook salmon populations are in decline and only one population in the southern group is doing well. The article reports that there is one population that is down to 200 fish. All of this is on the current government's watch. It is doing nothing to deal with some of the crises occurring with our fish stocks right now.
I will go back to my point about generating real and measurable environmental results. When we were in government, we had the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program. Over the life of the program, while we were in government, some 800 projects were funded. Indeed, in one year, for example, the first year, 380 partners undertook 94 habitat restoration projects; 1,700 volunteers donated their time; 2.4 million square metres of habitat were restored; and 200 linear kilometres of recreational fisheries habit were enhanced. These were real and measurable environmental results.
In fact, it was unanimous at the fisheries committee that the Liberal government continue funding the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, which delivered real and measurable environmental results. Guess what. It killed the program and the hopes and dreams of many small communities that depend on fisheries.
One of the projects that I am very proud of, which was funded by the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, was in a nearby constituency to mine, the constituency of the member for Brandon—Souris, Pelican Lake. Why am I mentioning this? The reason is that this was a project funded by the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program. In this particular lake, people used to winter kill. This community is partly based on tourism. Sport fishing is very important. With a very small grant from the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, aerators were installed on Pelican Lake, and now the fish population has been conserved in that particular lake. People do not winter kill anymore and the economy is booming because of it. Again, it is a real and measurable fisheries result from a program, something that the government simply does not do. It does not deliver results, and it does not measure results.
In terms of the effect on local communities, the government talks a good line on conserving marine mammals, but recently it implemented new whale-watching regulations. I happened to be in Churchill last summer. If any members have had the pleasure of going to Churchill, and I know some of them have, it is an unbelievable experience. I was there in July, and at that particular time of year, thousands of beluga whales crowd into the estuary. The new whale-watching regulations have minimum distances and the animals cannot be approached. It is clearly ridiculous for Churchill, because the minute people launch their boats from the shore, the whales come up to them and they are now technically doing something illegal.
DFO's concern should be the sustainability of populations. The population estimate of beluga whales on the west coast of Hudson Bay is around 55,000, and it is slowly increasing. That trend continues. This is a population of beluga whales that is thriving, yet for no conservation reason at all, DFO is imposing these whale-watching regulations on a tourism-dependent community, on an activity that generates millions of dollars per year. Again, the government's unthinking approach to fisheries and environmental policy is hurting communities.
In his comments earlier, the minister spoke about the Fisheries Act. I was on the fisheries committee when the Fisheries Act was changed in 2012. The Fisheries Act was written in 1898 and was in desperate need of modernization. The definition of what was designated as fish habitat kept expanding, so that puddles in farmers' fields, drainage ditches and so on were now considered fish habitat.
In 2009, for example, the Auditor General did an audit of the original Fisheries Act, after the act had been in place since 1898. The Auditor General found this:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada cannot demonstrate that fish habitat is being adequately protected as the Fisheries Act requires. In the 23 years since the Habitat Policy was adopted [in 1986], many parts of the Policy have been implemented only partially by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or not at all. The Department does not measure habitat loss or gain. It has limited information on the state of fish habitat across Canada—that is, on fish stocks, the amount and quality of fish habitat, contaminants in fish, and overall water quality. Fisheries and Oceans Canada still cannot determine the extent to which it is progressing toward the Policy’s long-term objective of a net gain in fish habitat.
The Fisheries Act was so broad that it was ineffective, so our changes made a lot of sense.
For example, in the Prairies, there was an issue in the early 2000s when DFO went hog-wild trying to enforce this unwieldy and unnecessary act. It sent around what we called the “fish cops”, which really riled up rural communities and delivered no significant environmental results.
I was very impressed by the testimony of a Mr. Ron Bonnett, who was president at the time of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He said:
The experience that many farmers had with the Fisheries Act, unfortunately, was not a positive one. It was characterized by lengthy bureaucratic applications for permitting and authorizations, and a focus on enforcement and compliance measures taken by officials.... Many farmers were then relieved when the changes that were made just a few years ago [by the Conservative government] drastically improved the timeliness and cost of conducting regular maintenance and improvement activities to their farms as well as lifting the threat of being deemed out of compliance.
Mr. Bonnett went on to point out:
There are also many accounts of inconsistency in enforcement, monitoring, and compliance across Canada with different empowered organizations, which led to a confusion and indiscriminate approaches to enforcement and implementation. Even at the individual level, there were different interpretations of the act based on one's familiarity with agriculture.
He continued:
It is CFA's position that a complete revert to reinstate all provisions of the Fisheries Act as they were would be unproductive, would re-establish the same problems for farmers, and would provide little improvement in outcome for the protection and improvement of fish habitat. Human-made water bodies such as drainage ditches simply should not be treated as fish habitat.
He also noted, “The current streamlined approach is working far better for all and efforts should continue this approach.”
Then he made this incredible statement, which backs up what I was saying earlier:
Overall, any changes to the current Fisheries Act [2012] should be considered as to how they will support outcomes-based conservation rather than a process-oriented approach.
I note that on his own farm, Mr. Bonnett is legendary for his conservation work in keeping cattle out of streams and working very well with the conservation community to enhance and protect all kinds of habitats.
In terms of the Senate amendments, I do support them. It is very important that we get this right. The Senate amendments are very clear that what an MPA is needs to be clearly specified and flexibility allowed. If an area is just closed off to everybody without any thought as to what the goals and objectives are, it would hurt coastal and rural communities.
Obviously, this legislation will pass, as the government has a majority. As I said early in my speech, it is very important that the needs of local communities be taken into account. For example, off the coast of Newfoundland there is a significant food fishery for cod. It is a very important activity there, one that I would like to participate in one of these years. What if the issue in that area is the protection of the benthic environment? Obviously, a food fishery for cod should not affect the benthic environment. Therefore, commercial fishing technologies that have the potential to harm the benthic environment could be dealt with, while at the same time ensuring local community benefits.
Also, I will go back to the notion of stewardship, which my friend from Cypress Hills—Grasslands talked about. I have the honour of representing a large rural community with agriculture, trapping, hunting, fishing, forestry and some oil and gas development. The environment in my particular constituency is one of extremely high quality, and that is because of the conservation efforts by people who are on the ground, who have years and years of experience and know what they are talking about. They will deliver environmental conservation on time and under budget in a way that benefits the environment for all of us.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2019-05-13 16:32 [p.27700]
Madam Speaker, most still allow extractive fishing activity, and one allows oil and gas exploration currently. We know that the government recently announced that it will now prohibit oil and gas activities, mining, dumping and bottom trawling in MPAs. However, it stopped short of creating no-take areas, which has long been the recommendation of conservation groups.
I wonder if my hon. colleague has any comments on that, given that, if we think of a national park, we certainly do not allow extractive hunting to occur in national parks. Why would we allow extractive fishing to take place in marine protected areas? Does he have any thoughts on that?
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, I live right next to a national park, and the interaction between the national park and the local community sometimes has been very rocky. Having said that, most of us moved there because of the national park.
I happen to be an avid angler, and one thing I am very proud of in the angling community is how the catch-and-release ethos has taken root. Based on studies, the hooking mortality of fish is about 5%. When it comes to “extracting”, recreational fishing is a hugely lucrative activity in this country, supporting many small communities. It is an activity of about $8 billion a year. I see no reason why a “gentle form” of fishing, where the recreational fisherman catches the fish and then gently and properly releases the fish, cannot go on in almost any marine protected area, given the importance of the recreational fishery to many local communities. It is one of the least intrusive extraction activities one could ever think of, and I strongly support it.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2019-05-13 16:37 [p.27701]
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. We share a great passion for the outdoors and all the treasures it holds.
As the member knows, Newfoundland and Labrador has over 18,000 kilometres of coastline and with that, many coastal communities, of which about 200 are in my riding. He made comments about the food fishery in our province, but trust me, the MPAs that we are speaking about today will not impact the food fishery or any legitimate and sustainable fishery.
However, the question I have for the hon. member is on something I have seen in my riding many times, not only in the last four years that I have been privileged to be here but many years before, which is how climate change is really having an impact on our coastal communities and fisheries. We are seeing water temperatures change and water levels rise, which is having a huge impact.
I would love to have my hon. colleague's comments on how climate change is also having an impact on our fisheries and how, perhaps through MPAs, we can have an impact there as well.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate my colleague from Long Range Mountains. We often have quiet chats about the things we care about. We actually think more alike than differ on most things. However, I am very pleased to hear as well that the government is not going to affect the food fishery in Newfoundland. Hopefully that will apply across the country.
As I said, MPAs need to be clearly thought out. Therefore, if a benthic community needs to be protected, of course, those things do not move too much, so that makes sense. A specific spawning area that is critical and rare makes sense. Again, the terms and conditions of how they are set up is important. I know that her communities will participate in the development of any MPA.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-05-13 16:39 [p.27701]
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure and a privilege to rise in the chamber and share a few thoughts on what are really important issues, and this is one of them.
I have had the opportunity to listen to the debates as we have been attempting to get the bill through the House of Commons for a good number of months now. In fact, it has been close to two years. Many of the objectives proposed in the legislation will have a positive impact on our oceans and surrounding areas and, in fact, on our entire planet. As such, I look forward to the bill receiving royal assent at some point in the not too distant future.
As I have listened to some of the debate today, I have found it interesting that members from different coastal regions have different interests and so forth.
Manitoba is not a land-locked province. The town of Churchill is in Manitoba. The previous speaker talked about Churchill Bay. I think of beluga whales. I think of Arctic char, which is a fabulous world-class fish. Beluga whales and Arctic char make up parts of that coastal region. I think of individuals from the coastline, such as the member for Long Range Mountains, who is such a strong and powerful advocate and represents over 200 fishing communities.
When we think of our oceans, we have to think about our heritage, our culture and the economy. We need to take into consideration many other things when we have legislation of this nature.
The House benefits when members of Parliament come to the table, whether it is by standing in the chamber or, more important, when they have the opportunity to have informal discussions. The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa made reference to having had discussions with the member for Long Range Mountains. This provides a better sense and appreciation of not only how vast our country is, but how we can share our thoughts and ideas on what solutions might allow us to enhance our environment, to look at ways we can make the system much better.
It is important to recognize that Canadians, no matter where they live in our country, are all connected to our oceans in one way or another. Close to 75% of the planet is covered by ocean.
Canada has a responsibility, and I do not say that lightly. We have the Arctic Ocean in the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west coast and the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast. If we add up all of Canada's coastline following those three ocean bodies, we would find that Canada has the longest shoreline than any other country in the world.
With respect to protected waters, no country in the world has the potential to play a strong leadership role than Canada. We might be a country of close to 37 million people, but we have a great deal of clout when we look at the overall population of the world. There are certain areas in which we can demonstrate just how much clout we have, how much leadership we can bring to the table. This legislation is a part of the puzzle that would assist Canada going forward in demonstrating some of that leadership.
I believe that in 2010, it was determined we should set some goals for 2020, as a world. We asked if we could protect 10% of our areas of responsibility, and Canada has the most. Could we hit the 10% mark with respect to marine protected areas? We are only a year away from 2020.
In the last federal election, the Liberal Party made a commitment to achieve 5% by 2017. The Liberals achieved that goal. My understanding is that we even went beyond it. Today we are almost at the 9% mark. We might even be at the 9% mark as of today. If not, we are really close to it. This government will hit the 10% mark sometime in 2020.
If we were to look at what we have been able to accomplish on that front in the last three years, we would see there are significant gains. Between 2010 to 2015, when Stephen Harper was the prime minister, the Conservatives barely achieved 1%. Before the writ is dropped in 2019, the Liberals will have brought the number up from 1% to 9% within four years.
We are providing the assurance that we are not stopping there. We are going to take the number to 10%. Collectively, we can all be fairly proud of that.
I talked about the importance of Canada's demonstrating leadership at the world table, especially given we have the longest coastline in the world.
I am encouraged by many of the comments I have heard recently with respect to the legislation. I am really encouraged by the degree to which the Prime Minister, cabinet and caucus have come together to recognize the importance of our oceans to our country and planet.
This is important to all our constituents. To understand it, a person does not have to be living in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is a beautiful area I must say, or British Columbia or Manitoba, which all have coastlines. A person can be in landlocked Alberta or Saskatchewan and still appreciate the importance of our oceans and recognize that what happens in the oceans impacts all of us.
I enjoy documentaries and watch them whenever I get the opportunity. One of the most fascinating documentaries I have seen is called The Blue Planet. It gives viewers an excellent sense of the many things that take place in our oceans and the impact they have on our environment. If not for shows and documentaries such as that one or sitting down with colleagues and other individuals with that first-hand experience, I would not have the same understanding or appreciation of things such as currents, which flow deep into the oceans, and the importance of them to the world's fish stocks.
Some members of Parliament have said that fish, whales or whatever animal do not know boundaries. It is a fair comment. That is why we not only need to see countries like Canada doing what we can, but we need to meet with other jurisdictions because we have a vested interest. One can take the macro look at it and say it is all about protecting our planet, or we can take a micro look at it and bring it home to areas such as my colleague's in the Long Range Mountains and those 200 communities that are very dependent on the industry within that 200 miles of Canada and maybe even beyond that.
Canada is recognized for some of the best, if not the best, lobster in the world. I myself have had a few pieces of lobster. If we look at Atlantic salmon or Atlantic cod, we see these are very important industries that have a focus in Atlantic Canada. I am aware of it, in good part because of the advocacy done within our government caucus. The Atlantic caucus is a very healthy and vocal group of individuals. We know that the fishing industry as a whole is of the utmost importance because it assists in driving the economy, but more than just the economy, it is a part of our culture and heritage, as I pointed out at the beginning.
If we were to talk to many fishermen, we would find that it is a generational thing. The families have been doing this for generations. It is almost as if it is a part of their DNA. That industry has been very important to indigenous people. It goes far beyond the economics, even though the economics are really important.
The same principles I just finished talking about in Atlantic Canada can also be applied to the Pacific Ocean. We hear about the endangerment of killer whales along the B.C. coastline and concerns related to Pacific salmon. These are all genuine concerns and one of the reasons why the Government of Canada has taken a holistic approach to dealing with the protection of our oceans. It is not just legislation that we are bringing forward.
We have many members of cabinet and in our government caucus who work together to ensure that within the budget documents the money is flowing for causes that will have a positive outcome for our oceans. We have invested, literally, additional hundreds of millions dollars consistently through the last couple of budgets. That is why I was somewhat saddened when one member of the House stood and spoke for 14 or 15 hours on the budget—in essence, denying other members the opportunity to share their thoughts on the budget.
The opposition was very restrictive on that important budget. However, I suspect that if that debate had been allowed to occur, we would have heard members from Atlantic Canada, B.C., Manitoba and other regions talk about some of the financial programs and activities that this government is doing and putting into place to ensure that our fisheries not only survive today but, hopefully, grow into the future, and to look at ways to ensure that our industries continue to prosper. That has been important as a whole for this government from day one.
We talked about Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. One of the ways we protect that thought and advance it forward in that area is to address our fishing industry. This is the type of rationale I would argue. It is why the government is not going to just settle for a piece of legislation but also take that more holistic approach and factor in the importance of a budget that complements legislation and vice versa. I am glad to be a part of a government that looks at it from that perspective.
I believe that, by having marine protected areas and establishing that up front in a timely fashion, we will better protect our fishing stocks and better ensure that we continue with the best lobsters in the world for generations to come. We do that by demonstrating leadership on the file. If members have listened, in particular to the parliamentary secretary for this legislation where he talks about that 1% versus 10%, they should really take note. For far too long, while I and my friend from Charlottetown, who has done an outstanding job, sat in the opposition in the third party, we wanted a government that would listen and take actions that would make a difference. After listening to Stephen Harper, from 2010 to 2015, move it from 0% to 1%, it is really quite gratifying to see how we have been able to take the issues that Canadians have brought forward to us as individual members of Parliament. We have taken the issues through our infrastructure, through our party and through government, and by working with Canadians, we have now achieved 9% in terms of the marine protected areas here in our shorelines.
That is a significant achievement. I emphasize that we are not going to stop there. We are not settling on that. We are committed to getting to that 10% by 2020.
However, it is more than just having those marine protected areas, and that is why I took the time to explain the issue of the importance of the national budget. Those individuals who are prepared to look at the national budget will find that not only are we bringing forward legislation and regulation but we are also supporting it by bringing in the financial resources that will make the difference, so that we will have a healthier industry and appreciate the heritage and the culture in that whole area.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2019-05-13 17:09 [p.27704]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased and honoured to rise today and speak to Bill C-55, a very important bill and one of particular significance to me, coming from Vancouver, British Columbia, where the coastline, the oceans and the marine species are so absolutely critical to our economy, culture, people, indigenous nations and, frankly, to our way of life. This bill really speaks to the need to look at our marine areas in a different way, and to start to treasure them and protect them for future generations.
I am pleased to say that our party will support Bill C-55, albeit with some reservations, which I will outline in my remarks.
I want to start by saying that I am disappointed that the government has once again used time allocation. In other words, the government has cut off and limited debate on this bill. This is the 71st time in this Parliament that the Liberals have used time allocation, which is one of the most undemocratic tools that a government can use. It cuts off debate and hinders parliamentarians who, after all, have been sent here to express our positions on behalf of our constituents. It shows a disrespect for Parliament and all Canadians, who elect us to come here to represent them and to ensure that their voices are heard and reflected in the debates in this House.
I sat in the last Parliament when the Conservatives used closure 100 times, and I am starting to see very little difference between Liberals and Conservatives in terms of their fundamental disrespect for the democratic traditions of this chamber.
Interestingly, I heard the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader refer to the budget and describe how one of the Conservatives, by speaking for 15 hours, denied other members the right to speak, yet he does so himself, having risen in this House to introduce a motion to cut off debate. That denies all sorts of members in this House the right to speak. Canadians should be aware of that fundamental disrespect of their rights and democracy.
In British Columbia, as in other areas of the country in the north and on the Atlantic coast, on our coasts, watersheds and oceans, the sea life, the pre-eminent species that reside on the coasts—the orcas and dolphins and of course the iconic salmon, as well as the sea lions and eagles and all other species—are of absolutely profound importance to our entire ecosystem, and when we say “ecosystem”, we are not just talking about ecology. It is part of our economy as well.
I know the Liberals are fond of saying that we have to balance the environment and the economy. Actually, I think we need to go farther than that: We need to recognize that the environment provides the fundamental capital that makes all economic activity possible. When we do not place protection of the environment and our ecosystem first and foremost, we actually threaten our economy. That is what the government has done, repeatedly, through its policies over the last four years.
We use our oceans and our marine areas for recreation. We use enjoy nature there, and they are fundamentally part of the cultural and historic fabric of our indigenous nations. As I have said, they are part of our fundamental economy.
In Vancouver and in British Columbia, tourism and fishing and these kinds of economic activities depend on having a pristine and well-protected environmental system in our marine areas. It is absolutely critical. That is why we need sustainable policies. We need to balance economic activities to make sure that generations forever can enjoy, in a sustainable way, all the bounty of our marine areas.
I do not need to point out that these marine areas are precious and delicate and require extreme care and balance. In fact, we are simply stewards for all future generations of these areas.
There is an irony in the Liberal government patting itself on the back for protecting marine areas at the same time that it has bought the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline, which will carry raw bitumen and triple the number of tankers through the Burrard Inlet, right into the marine areas that the government is trying to protect. This will threaten the southern orca population, and if there is ever any kind of spill, it will create an ecological disaster of unimaginable proportion, because bitumen sinks and there is no way to clean it up. As for the Liberals pretending to care about our marine environment, it is impossible to square that idea with their approval of a pipeline that presents probably the most disastrous threat to our marine environment on the west coast that we have seen in some time.
I want to pause for a moment and mention a recent situation that is of great concern to my constituency and the tens of thousands of Filipinos who live in my riding: the hazardous waste that originated in Canada that has been sent over these marine areas to developing nations, in this case to the Philippines.
In 2013 and 2014, a private Canadian company shipped 103 containers to the Philippines. They were labelled as plastics for recycling, even though they also contained waste, such as soiled diapers. These containers have been rotting in a port in the Philippines for years. The Filipino government has been asking Canada to take back this trash, which has been rotting at the port in Manila. Environmentally concerned people in the Philippines were failed by two governments, the Conservatives and now the Liberals, at least until recently, and the Filipino-Canadian population in my riding desperately wants Canada to take back its garbage, quit using developing countries as a dumping ground for our trash over the marine areas and compensate the Government of the Philippines for all its costs in having to deal with this environmental offence over the last number of years.
I will turn to Bill C-55.
This bill would provide some new legal tools to speed up the creation of marine protected areas, MPAs, but it falls short of Canada's environmental and international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity. The bill fails to set a minimum protection standard and targets for zoning for marine protected areas, and while the government recently announced new standards for marine protected areas, we are concerned that omitting them from Bill C-55, from the legislation itself, and instead relegating them to regulations opens them up to easy reversal under a future government. This process would give the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities are permissible in an MPA. The government's new standards would not be enshrined in law and would therefore be easier to undo under a future minister.
As we have heard, Canada has pledged to the international community to protect 5% of Canada's marine areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020 with the aim to halt the destruction of habitats and ecosystems and to protect against the erosion that has gone on for decades under successive Conservative and Liberal governments. In fact, Liberal and Conservative governments have both failed to take meaningful action since signing the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. That is 25 years of a commitment that has really been ignored by successive Liberal and Conservative governments.
I think Canadians would be somewhat shocked to know that most marine protected areas today still allow extractive fishing activity, and one even allows for oil and gas exploration. Thankfully, the government recently announced that it would prohibit oil and gas activities, mining, dumping and bottom trawling in MPAs, and that is a good thing. However, it stopped short of creating so-called no-take areas, which have long been the recommendation of conservation groups.
I would also point out that Canada has yet to adopt the IUCN international marine protection standard, and 15 university scientists from St. John's to Victoria have written to the former minister of fisheries and oceans and the current Minister of Environment and Climate Change to ask for stiffer conservation measures in Canada's 12 marine conservation areas, as well as those being proposed in the future. Imagine if we allowed hunters into international parks to hunt. I think that would be absolutely shocking to most Canadians, and totally unacceptable. Why then would we allow it in marine protected areas? The very name implies a marine area that we are protecting. Would we not say that in this one area, there is to be no activity that would extract any marine species or life in that area?
Ninety per cent of Canada's marine areas are open to extractive fishing, so we are not talking about creating a huge burden on Canada's fishing industry. However, if we are going to protect an area for future generations, then we should protect it, and that means not allowing any kind of economic activity other than enjoyment and tourism and people coming to visit those areas and leaving a soft footprint when they are there.
The NDP moved a number of amendments to this legislation that we felt would have made the legislation stronger. We had five objectives. We wanted to enshrine minimum protection standards in the act. Unfortunately, that was rejected by the Liberal government. We wanted to maintain ecological integrity as the primary objective of an MPA. We wanted to enshrine co-governance with indigenous peoples as the governing principle of this act and establish the authority of indigenous guardians, who have such a long, millennial, actually, relationship with these areas under their stewardship. We wanted to require the establishment of significant no-take zones, as I just mentioned. Finally, we wanted to facilitate the implementation of networks of MPAs, which, of course, would facilitate the movement of species from one MPA to another.
Unfortunately, the Liberals were not interested in our amendments. They did pass some Green amendments and one from an independent member that touched on themes similar to ours. Unfortunately, those amendments were diluted versions of our own. We would certainly have been happier if we had received a robust adoption of the principles I just highlighted.
I want to point out some quotes from some environmental and marine experts in this country that show how important this legislation is. I want to quote from West Coast Environmental Law. Its representative said:
The law is currently very inconsistent. As you've heard and will probably continue to hear, people are astonished to learn that oil and gas exploration, undersea mining, and damaging fishing activities are all possible in the tiny fraction of the sea that we [currently] call marine protected areas. That's why an unprecedented 70,000 Canadians, members of the public, spoke out about one of the proposed new MPAs, Laurentian Channel, and said that we need to keep harmful activities out of these areas.
That is simply common sense. Again, I will give the government credit for announcing last week that its policy would be to prohibit those activities other than establishing no-take areas. That is a very important development. Again, I am curious as to why the government did not see fit to enshrine those standards in the legislation itself, where they would have been far more entrenched and more difficult for any future government to unwind.
We did see, in the previous government, that the Conservatives did massive damage to our navigable waters act and to ecological principles, not only on water but on land and in air as well.
I want to comment for a moment on how important it is that we are going to prohibit bottom trawling. I quote:
The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that bottom trawling has significant damaging impacts to sea floor ecosystems, and that no-take fishing areas are a key component of effective MPAs. Research shows that MPAs that permit varying levels of fishing and other activities are less effective at achieving biodiversity than fully protected areas.
International best practices suggest MPA core no-take zones should encompass 75% of a given MPA. Canada is nowhere close to reaching that high bar....
Right now, the minister has the discretion to determine what activities are allowed in an MPA and how restrictive each zone in an MPA can be. So far, Canada's fisheries minister has implemented a no-take zone in only five MPAs [to date], and those areas are tiny when compared to the overall MPAs. Canada should follow international examples and make no-take zones the rule rather than the exception...[in] MPAs.
That was from our very excellent former fisheries critic, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who has spent a lifetime in watershed development, river health and marine ecosystems.
I want to also take a moment to contrast this bill with the Canada National Parks Act. The Canada National Parks Act sets a high bar for maintaining ecological integrity in all national parks. However, marine protected areas lack the clear minimum protection standards that terrestrial parks benefit from.
The federal government recently announced that a national advisory panel would be established to provide the Ministry of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard with advice on minimum standards for future Oceans Act MPAs. This would still leave protection standards to the subjective judgment of the minister. Since fisheries ministers in the past have permitted seabed mining, oil and gas exploration and other industrial activities in MPAs, we do not have confidence in that discretion. Of course, that is based on empirical experience, not theoretical concerns. Therefore, the solution is to enshrine minimum protection standards in the legislation. The NDP would continue to urge the current government and future governments to take that very important step.
Our oceans are a critical part of our country. They are critical to our economy, our culture and our social relations. They are enjoyed by millions of Canadians from coast to coast. Therefore, in the same way we want to ensure that we continue to expand our protection for natural terrestrial parks, we need to do the same in marine areas. To do that, there can be no half measures. We should not be quibbling. We should be having world-class, cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, complete protection of marine biodiversity in all marine protected areas. Frankly, given that it is still such a small percentage of the vast oceans that many members in this House have already commented on, with Canada, I believe, having the largest coastline in the world, I think the case can strongly be made that in those few small areas we are protecting, we should protect them completely.
The New Democrats will be voting in support of this legislation, because it makes the designation of marine protected areas easier and faster, which is a good thing. We support the government's policy announcement last week that it will strengthen and tighten the kinds of damaging industrial and commercial activities that frankly gut the purpose of marine protected areas. However, we will be pushing the government in every positive way we can to make sure that this legislation responds in a more positive way to the concerns that have been raised, because it is not quite there yet.
I want to conclude my remarks by talking about the indigenous nations in Canada. In the New Democrats' view, reconciliation should be part of all legislation. Additional designations are welcome tools, but it does not make sense, in our view, to exclude the explicit recognition of indigenous rights in the Oceans Act. Given the implications of MPAs on indigenous constitutional rights, we believe this omission is irresponsible, and frankly, inconsistent with the current government's stated objective of pursuing reconciliation. The federal government's commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to working in a true nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples is something we need to make a reality. Every time the government introduces legislation that does not make an explicit and strong reference to those indigenous rights, we see it as a missed opportunity and evidence that the government's commitment to reconciliation is more one of words than of action.
I will conclude with this. British Columbians are very proud of our west coast. New Democrats are very proud to be strong defenders of those coasts and all the species that live within them. That is why we are going to continue to fight hard against irresponsible pipeline decisions that threaten our coast. We are going to fight for strong environmental protections for all marine areas, for the expansion of those areas and for 100% protection of those marine protected areas so that all species, from the orca to the salmon to the human, who enjoy those areas can continue to enjoy them for millennia to come.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 10:33 [p.27621]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to these proposed amendments from the Senate and the government amendment to those amendments.
I believe all Canadians, myself included, want to see protection for the special areas and species we have in our marine systems, special features like sea mountains, hydrothermal vents, deep-sea gorges and the creatures and species that live in those places. They hold incredible examples of sea life, some of which I have seen as life-size replications at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia. Some of those species and replicas are so bizarre and unbelievable looking. They look like they are creatures out of a horror movie, but they live in some of the deep-sea gorges off our maritime coasts.
Those are certainly aspects that we need to consider protecting, but there are other aspects of the bill that have been equally or more concerning, and that is our coastal communities. Our country has been built on our fisheries. The cod fisheries off Newfoundland certainly helped establish that great area of the country and then it became a part of this greater country in 1949. Fisheries on our west coast helped build the province of British Columbia into the strong province it is today. The fisheries continue to be a strong part of the economies there.
Over the past number of months, since the current government came into power, we continually have heard concerns from local communities, not just the fishermen in those communities but the businesses, the people, the schools and the churches, which all rely on the livelihoods of the people who make their living off the sea. We have seen protests in front of the minister's constituency office in the past week by people who are concerned about fisheries closures on the west coast. We saw protests on the east coast when the minister visited there. Lobster fishermen are concerned they will be shut out of areas due to marine protection. We have heard concerns from coast to coast to coast.
However, we did not see that kind of protest and concern in the north, and there was a reason for that. The marine protected areas there were proposed by the local communities, the local indigenous peoples and the local Inuit. They recognized the special features of the areas and the special cultural activities that took place in those areas.
We had an incredible opportunity as members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to do a study on the implementation process for marine protected areas in Canada. I put forward a motion in 2016 that the committee study the process to ensure it was efficient and equitable and that it considered all the processes in place, and possibly being put in place, to establish marine protected areas. I put forward that motion long before the government introduced Bill C-55. That particular study had to be set aside while we did the committee work on the study of Bill C-55. We integrated a lot of the testimony we heard both on the study put forward at committee and the committee study of Bill C-55.
In those processes, we saw the absolute importance of consultation in the process. That is the main thrust of the amendments put forward by the Senate, which are being watered down by the government amendment. The Senate looked at the bill and said there needed to be accountability, openness and transparency, which the government seems to lack. It has a record over the past three and a half years of a lack of accountability and transparency, which is very evident and clear to the Canadian public.
Bill C-55 was put forward with great intentions. It was meant to help the government achieve targets, targets that were set by the previous Conservative government, to achieve a 10% protection of our marine protected areas by 2020. We are getting very close to that, but it is because of the great work and the unequivocal consultation process that have taken place. Yes, sometimes it took five to seven years, or maybe 10 years, to establish a marine protected area, but the ones that have been put in place have been accepted by the local communities for reasons that they saw were important.
In fact, with the ones I talked about in the north, what the local communities up there saw as most important was to try to keep the outside world out of their cultural practices, the way they need to harvest beluga whales to maintain their way of life. It was interesting talking to one of the chiefs up there. He does some travel to represent his community, and he is an incredibly amazing fellow. He talked about how, when he comes to the southern parts of Canada for consultation meetings or meetings with the government, he has to move away from his traditional diet of muktuk, whale, and seal. He said that he could eat three hamburgers for dinner and still feel hungry, and it is not until he gets back home and has a feed of muktuk that he actually feels full and satisfied again. That part of life is so important up there.
That is why the creation of MPAs was put forward in the Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk areas of the Arctic coast. The communities saw the values, and the government agreed with those values. The government went through a strong consultation process of including those communities in deciding what the criteria should be, what areas should be protected and what the results for the local community would be as far as activities are concerned, such as what harvest would be allowed in those areas. Those are examples of what was taking place under the previous rules and the previous government: strong consultation, strong input and strong collaboration with the local communities.
I want to go back to the mention of the protests we have heard about. As the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, we travelled to all coasts of this great country. We started on the east coast, in the Maritimes, and travelled to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We talked to the people on the ground. They were all concerned for their communities, not because of closures but because of how the closures might be done. They wanted input. They know the local features and the local values of what is important.
After we finished touring the Maritimes, we toured the west coast and the north. We talked to fishermen on the west coast, and again, they wanted input. There was talk of closures of areas off the Pacific coast. There was one area that was referred to locally as “the kitchen”, because that was where the local fishermen went to catch the greatest portion of their total allowable catch for halibut. The halibut were there in such high numbers that the fishermen could go out safely in good weather, catch their quotas and come back. That area has been fished continuously for decades. It is highly productive and highly sustainable, and yet they feared it was being considered as a marine protected area. This would have meant that, rather than going out for just a short time in a highly productive area, they would have had to travel further distances to unknown territories, where the catch was uncertain, and possibly spend more days out there through more inclement weather, putting their crews, boats, livelihoods and lives at risk, all because they had not been consulted.
That is the continuous testimony that we heard, time and time again, both in the study that I put forward at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and in the committee's study on Bill C-55.
Again, all Canadians want to see the special areas protected, but they want to have some input on what those special areas are and how they are protected. They also want to know what is being protected. That was part of what was in the Senate amendment, that the areas and the habitat and species that were in those proposed areas be identified before the closures are put in place.
Going back to the way Bill C-55 is worded with regard to areas of interest, certainly the parliamentary secretary talked about MPAs, which would still have the full consultation process in place, but areas of interest would not. The full consultation process happens only after those areas of interest are established.
Areas of interest also include closures and restrictions, whether it is shipping restrictions, fishing restrictions, boating restrictions, bottom use, and oil and gas exploration and development. All of those restrictions can be in place almost instantly with an area of interest designation.
For the parliamentary secretary to say that there are no shortcuts being taken with Bill C-55 is absolutely preposterous.
The weeks, months and sometimes years required to make sure that the multiple, complex and intricately connected pieces of MPA puzzles are put together properly are so important. It is not something that can be rushed, just so we can meet an international goal, to be in the spotlight on the international stage. Canada has led the way in this in many ways. As I have said, we have almost reached the 10% target. We reached the 5% by 2017 quite comfortably by identifying other protective measures that come into place that actually protect the features of an area.
Rockfish closures off the coast of B.C. were put in place long ago, because those areas were recognized as special spawning and rearing habitat for the core values of those populations. By allowing those rockfish closure areas to be established and reducing the amount of harvest in those key productive areas, the spill-off from those areas goes into many other areas of the ocean around the area, allowing other fisheries to continue outside of those local areas. Those are the types of things that really work.
What we have seen from the government is empty consultation, time and time again. Last year, we saw examples of how it had consulted for weeks and months, I believe, on the snow crab closures off the Atlantic coast. It established a process working with the crab fishermen to determine when the openings would take place, all in the aspect of protecting the right whale from the entanglements that were taking place. Nobody wants to see any of those deaths occurring from fishing ropes or from equipment that is in the water. Those measures were strongly valued and respected, because consultation took place.
At the same time, lobster fishermen had not been consulted. They had closures slapped on them with no notice. Basically, they were ready to go out on the water and set their traps, and they were told no, there are closures. They were frustrated by the lack of consultation by the government, by the fisheries minister and by his staff.
As recently as last year, we saw fisheries closures on the west coast to protect the southern resident killer whales. That is something we all value. We see the world value in protecting that population of southern resident killer whales.
There was strong consultation supposedly taking place with the fishing communities on the south coast of B.C., on Vancouver Island, and input supposedly being received by the department staff on where the proposed closures should be, on what time frame those closures should be and on the type of gear restrictions. All of that process seemed to be working, but then, when the fishing season was upon us, lo and behold, the fisheries minister announced totally different closures, totally different boundaries, focusing fishing pressure in a small area. Rather than spreading out the fishermen and their access over a slightly larger area, which had been proposed by the fishermen, all of a sudden everyone was constrained in a very tight area, and all the fish were coming past that very tight area.
In fact, I had the opportunity to be out there and experience this. The person I went out with said that we were lucky to be there after a long weekend. When we were there, there were about 25 or 30 boats all hemmed up against an invisible line in the ocean, drawn by the fisheries minister to protect the area north of it. There were the boats, side by side, all crammed into one small area, rather than being dispersed throughout a much broader area. However, on that day, there were only 25 to 30 boats. Apparently, on the long weekend prior to that, there were 200 boats in that same area. I cannot imagine the impact that this type of concentrated pressure would have. I have seen this in my work with fish and wildlife management. I have seen fishing and hunting pressure, shortened seasons, condensed pressure into shorter and shorter time periods. Instead of dispersing it over wider areas, it has been concentrated into a very short time frame, making the harvest that much higher. The concentration in that short period of time is so intense that it is just not workable.
We do not want to see that with marine protected areas, just to meet a target number for areas that need to be covered to meet international and not necessarily Canadian standards. Again, as I mentioned, the government seems to be in a big rush to get the spotlight on the world stage by meeting these targets by a set deadline, rather than doing it through a consultative and considered way with local communities that have a desire to meet those standards. The cases of conservation that I have talked about, the compression of seasons and the compression of areas, the intense pressure, are simply not good for fisheries or wildlife management or for the protection of our areas.
I want to get back to why the Senate brought this amendment back to the House. I credit the Senate for taking the time to study this, to see the potential risks that were there and to actually try to hold the government to accountability standards, which the parliamentary secretary seems to claim is redundant. Well, redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. Redundancy can actually be a good thing. We see it in safety mechanisms all over the world. Redundancy means accountability and safety: safety for our communities that rely on our fisheries and access to the oceans, safety for shipping lanes that may need to go through or near an area, safety for the future economy of the country.
I cannot let the government go sliding through with this amendment it wants to put forward and really water down the Senate amendment.
There were a series of recommendations out of the parliamentary study that I put forward at the fisheries committee.
Recommendation 1 states:
That, when identifying new areas of interest for marine protected areas, the Government of Canada evaluate net economic and social values and responsibilities, including cost of patrol and enforcement in Canada, particularly for remote marine areas.
While some of this is in the bill, very much of it is left to regulations that will come out of the bill. We had big concerns with how some of these marine protected areas are going to be patrolled. That was another part of the consultation process we heard in the communities. The communities felt that often the fishermen or local guardians might be best suited to do the patrols and enforcement of those areas. Local lobster and crab fishermen might be best able to identify that a boat does not belong out there and question why it is there. They could be the reporting mechanism for that and could move it forward to the proper authorities for investigation and possibly enforcement.
Recommendation 2 of the report states:
That areas of interest and marine protected areas not be considered in isolation from sustainable fishery management practices.
That really gets back to the rockfish closure areas that I was referring to on the west coast. Those rockfish closures are considered a protective measure to increase the actual square kilometres of areas that are considered protected under the targets of 5% and 10%.
Recommendation 3 states:
That the Government of Canada acknowledge any negative impacts on people who directly depend on the resources of a marine protected area and the Minister use his or her discretionary powers to consider providing offsetting measures in consultation with the fishing industry where loss or harm is proven.
Again, the strong consultation piece is what is measured here. The consultation piece is what is missing in Bill C-55 and what the Senate is trying to put back in through its Senate amendment. Because of that, I am going to be suggesting that we oppose the government's amendment and approve the Senate amendment, because the Senate amendment will place much more accountability on the government.
Recommendation 4 from the standing committee's report states that the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard should table an annual report to Parliament that includes a list of Oceans Act marine protected areas designated during that year and information on whether or not each established marine protected area is meeting its conservation objectives.
That has been one area where we have consistently seen the minister's department fail time and time again. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development has issued a couple of reports over the past year and a half, very damning reports, against the fisheries minister's department. One came out last fall, I believe it was, showing there is a very low level of accountability within the department.
In fact, one of the things in a previous report from the commissioner, dating back over a year ago, was that when the department was audited on whether it had established integrated fisheries management plans for 155 major fish stocks in Canada, which it had committed to do in 1995, it was found that in 2005, 10 years later, the department had only recommitted to developing those integrated fisheries management plans.
The report that came out in, I believe, 2016, which was 10 years after the second commitment and 20 years after the first commitment, identified that the department had still not updated a large number of the integrated fisheries management plans. This was simply to develop integrated fisheries management plans for 155 fish stocks in Canada.
The department's response to the audit showing that it had failed time and time again was to develop a plan to develop those plans. It is absolutely unbelievable. The department failed to develop a plan after committing twice to do so, but it has committed to developing a plan to develop those plans. That is the type of unbelievable accountability that has happened under this fisheries minister and under this government time and time again.
Madam Speaker, I see we are getting close to question period. Do I have a couple of minutes left?
View Serge Cormier Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Serge Cormier Profile
2019-05-07 14:16 [p.27474]
Mr. Speaker, crews have weighed anchor and set their traps. I am very proud to announce to the House that lobster and snow crab fishing season has officially begun in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and in my riding of Acadie—Bathurst.
Do members know that Canada exports over three billion dollars' worth of snow crab and lobster each year? Do they know that over 73,000 Canadians make their living working in the fishing industry?
As the son of a fisher, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all those who work in the fishing industry an excellent season.
I would like to thank the fishers, plant workers, producers and aquaculturists for their ongoing efforts to ensure the prosperity of this important industry. Thanks to their respect for the environment and their commitment to sustainable, responsible fishing, we will be able to pass on a healthy fishing industry to the next generation.
I would also like to thank the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Under his leadership, our government found a balanced solution that reduced the size of the restricted fishing zone while maintaining the utmost protections for the North Atlantic right whale.
I wish everyone a successful season.
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