Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you for that question. I was anticipating getting asked that question today.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
The closure of Comox, I've said it over and over, won't diminish the safety services of the Coast Guard. I think this is something that's been part of a project to modernize and consolidate our MCTS centres since 2007. This is the final stage in that process.
You know, it's never easy. Certainly I think by moving forward we'll give some certainty to the employees who have been struggling. They were notified a little over two years ago, I think, around two years ago, that the centre would be closing. We're at the final stage of this project that has been going on since 2007.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you. I think my mandate letter is pretty clear, to restore lost protections. I'm sure once we decide on the process of how that review will be conducted, I'm quite confident that through that review process this is something that will be mentioned over and over again. I'm committed, and I've been mandated by the Prime Minister to bring back those lost protections. We'll do that in the best way possible.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I haven't seen that letter yet, but when I do see it, I will be having a close look at it. I'm not going to commit to anything until I see what the letter actually asks.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
We both know that this process falls under Environment and Climate Change. I am sure Minister McKenna, just like me in my mandate to review the Fisheries Act, is working.... Our officials are working together to figure out the best way forward to conduct that review and get it done. I am hoping that some road map for that will be unveiled by the summer.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I know my officials are currently finalizing a small craft harbour project list for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Thanks to the additional $148.6 million in new funding received under our budget this year, for the next two years, we will be able to make a lot more people happy and do more of the much-needed projects this coming year. Funding priority is given to safety-related projects at the core fishing harbours, to address things like rust-out and improving the operations and conditions of the harbour. Projects at core fishing harbours are selected based on the following criteria: safety or risk management, functional need, harbour activity and—here we go—long-term plans, economic benefit, and the state of preparedness of the project.
These projects are carried out across the country, with the majority in the Atlantic provinces, where there are more of them. I think about 70% of the harbours are located out there.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I have been asked a few times in the House about the St. Catharines piers, for example. We know that there is an issue out there. The Coast Guard will deal with wrecks and derelict or abandoned vessels where there is a pollution risk coming from it. Transport Canada will deal with it if it is posing a hazard to safe navigation. The system we have here in Canada is based on the “pollutor pay” principle. To be able to deal with it, we work in collaboration with our federal and local partners to hold these negligent vessel owners accountable to the full extent of the law. Having said that, I think our officials are sitting down and looking at how we can improve on that process or things that may be missing. These are things that we are discussing at an officials level right now between the Coast Guard and Transport Canada.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Well, yes, I think it is both exciting and terrifying. Again, that's something I've discussed with all stakeholders who deal with the water and our oceans, whether it be fisheries, environmental groups, oil and gas, and all the provinces and territories reps I've met with.
One thing that I was very happy to hear is that all across the board everyone is supportive of us reaching our targets, and they are committed to working with us to help us achieve those targets. To me, that was very exciting, because usually when you get all these different groups sitting around the table they disagree on certain things. It was nice to see that here's something where there is some common ground from all sides. It was nice compared to some of the other discussions I've had with them on other issues.
Together with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, we're developing a plan on how to achieve this. I've said all along that these are very ambitious targets. We're hoping to be able to launch within the next three to four weeks how that's going to unfold, if not sooner.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Absolutely. I've met with the sealing industry, the seal harvesters from Newfoundland and Quebec and the Magdalen Islands. I've committed to them that we as a government do support a sustainable, humane, and well-regulated seal harvest. You used the word “hunt”. When my staff says that, I always say no, it's not a hunt. It's a harvest.
This is an industry that's taken quite a hit over last number of decades, thanks to market blockages to the EU. We were able to negotiate an indigenous exemption, so that through our market certification program we'll be able to import those products into the EU. In my meetings, I've talked with other stakeholders in southern Canada and have said that we want to do what we can to try to maximize on that exemption.
I met with the folks from Quebec two to three weeks ago. They said that one of the things they've come to realize is that the sealing industry is not a huge industry, and that they're kind of going at each other, trying to take the other guy down and get their market. They've told me that they realize they're small enough that they need to work together to try to expand the industry and market access in different parts of the world. That's something that I've committed to work with them on.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I think that before any decision is made on any species, the science would have to be done to make that determination. If the science says that there is an issue that we need to deal with then we'll look at the best way to deal with that issue. Without the science to show and tell us exactly what the problem is and what the facts are, it would be premature for me to declare myself one way or the other. But it's based on science. We've committed to reinvest in science. Hopefully we can work, not just with DFO officials, but also with the Pacific Salmon Foundation, with whom I've had discussions to look at ways we can partner on science so that we can have a broader base to draw from in order to make more sound decisions.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
In my travels, I've heard that from just about everybody. As I said, I've been very impressed with the expertise, enthusiasm, and contributions that everyone is bringing to the table on this.
I think right now we're advancing five areas of interest for designation, including Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound, and glass sponge reefs in the Pacific. There is also one up in the Beaufort Sea, and another in Paulatuk, I believe, both of which will hopefully be established this year.
We're also looking at St. Anns Bank, the Laurentian Channel, and the American Bank, all in Atlantic Canada, which are expected to follow the following year.
We're early on in the pre-consultation stages with the different jurisdictions to look at where we go next. Again, I've committed to everybody that it's not going to be done behind closed doors or without consultation. It's going to be done in an open and transparent manner, in consultation with stakeholders.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
What we've done is to not only reopen the search and rescue. If you look at the English Bay incident, we had departmental officials sitting down with other stakeholders in the area, They knew we needed to find a way to enhance the services there.
We'd look at having it as a training centre. We've heard from first nations groups up and down the coast that they want to be involved. They're there asking for training and telling us they have the ability to be our first responders.
So we're not just reopening this. It's like enhancing it three times, so it's a great—
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
As I said in my opening comments, our recent budget announcement of $197 million over five years starting this coming year is the single biggest investment in ocean science in a generation, and I think that shows we are committed to ensure that we have the resources we need to be able to do adequate science and to be able to make evidence-based, science-based decisions. As I said, I don't want to just bring it back to how it was. The Prime Minister always said better is always possible. I'm looking at ways to try to partner up. Everyone else does science, so why do we have to reinvent the wheel? Someone else is doing it; maybe we can find ways where we can partner up. We can have a partner, give them $20,000 towards a science project, and they can turn it into $100,000 worth of science, so we get more bang for our buck, and again, a broader base of science in order to make decisions from.
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