Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Welcome back as chair of the committee. It's my first opportunity to be here since this committee reconvened. I'm looking forward to your navigating us through the troubled waters—hopefully not as troubled as the ones at Big Bar.
I've heard what my colleagues across the way have said, but I think March 14 is already very forgiving. If it were me drafting the motion, I would have insisted that it be within the next two weeks.
This is not a situation that is dynamic. This is a situation that is very static, and there's an urgency to find out what's going to happen. If the slide is not removed by the time the freshet comes in, there is no way that any work that needs to be done will be completed with any manner of safety. If that freshet comes and the work is not done, and if this committee is not confident that plan A, plan B or plan C—if we actually even knew what plan B and plan C were—is going to solve the situation, then the salmon migrations for a second year in a row will be in complete jeopardy upstream of the Big Bar slide, which represent over 70%, maybe even over 80%, of the various populations in the Fraser.
We already know that the issues facing, particularly, chinook salmon in the Fraser are delicate. I don't see why we would be arguing to extend the time frame for the minister of the Crown to explain to the committee and to Canadians.... I don't know why we would want to delay that. It seems to me that we would want to get this, and the minister would want to communicate with Parliament, respect Parliament, respect this committee and communicate to Canadians directly through elected officials at this committee in a timely manner.
I don't believe that throwing something like this into a big, broad, all-encompassing motion that we already have in front of the committee is the way to deal with issues. This is, I think, the most pressing issue. There are a number of pressing issues before the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, but I think this is the most pressing one the minister actually has. It's the most pressing issue, I believe, that this committee has. It's the most pressing issue for killer whale populations and for southern resident killer whales. It's the most pressing issue for people who depend on chinook salmon fisheries on the west coast. To say, “Oh, let's just kick the ball down the road for another couple of weeks just to make sure the minister has time in her schedule to appear before the committee,” seems to be, in my opinion, not taking this issue seriously at all.