Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ...
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View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-14 10:03 [p.29109]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to once again be here to talk about the Senate amendments to Bill C-68.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about what we have witnessed over the last three and a half years, this week and last night, with the egregious affront to our democracy. It is pertinent to this discussion, because what we have seen with Bill C-68, Bill C-69, Bill C-48 and Bill C-88 is the government's attempt to subvert democracy to pass legislation that is really payback for the assistance the Liberals received in the 2015 election.
Last night, we had the debate, or the lack of debate, on Bill C-69. There were hundreds of amendments from the Senate, and the government forced closure on that debate without any debate whatsoever. Even the Green Party, in its entirety, stood in solidarity with the official opposition to vote against the government on this. That says something.
Bill C-68 is the government's attempt, in its members' words, to right the wrongs of the former Conservative government in amending the Fisheries Act in 2012. The Liberals said that the Conservatives gutted the Fisheries Act. The bill would replace the wording for HADD, the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. However, we studied this. We consulted on this, and not one example was given. When pressured yesterday, throughout the last week and throughout the last year, not the minister nor anyone from the government was able to provide one example of where the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act by the previous Conservative government led to the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. As a matter of fact, despite the government's assertions that changes to the Fisheries Act are necessary to restore the lost protections for fish and fish habitat, the government's response to Order Paper Question No. 626 showed that the government had no record of harm or proof of harm to fish or fish habitat resulting from the 2012 changes.
On November 2, 2016, the then Minister of Fisheries and Oceans appeared before the fisheries committee and stated that “Indigenous people have expressed serious concerns with the amendments made to the [Fisheries Act]” and that his department was “holding face-to-face meetings with various indigenous groups and providing funding so that they can attend these meetings and share their views on the matter”. However, according to the government's response to Order Paper Question No. 943, DFO did not undertake any face-to-face consultation sessions in relation to the review of the changes to the Fisheries Act in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The Liberals have stood before Canadians in the House and have been disingenuous. They continue to use the same eco-warrior talking points we see from Tides, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, which is essentially an attack on our natural resource sector, whether that be forestry, fisheries, oil and gas, mining or agriculture. That is what Bill C-68, Bill C-88, Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 are attempting to do. They want to shut down anything to do with natural resources.
In the Senate right now, Bill C-48 is being debated. It deals with the tanker moratorium on the west coast, yet we have double and triple the number of tankers on the east coast, but it does not matter. We do not see groups like Greenpeace, Tides and the WWF protesting those ships and oil tankers from foreign nations that have far more egregious human rights issues than what we have here in our country.
Dirty oil is flowing through our eastern seaport, but there has not been one mention of that by the government. Instead, it wants to shut down anything to do with western Canada's economic opportunities, and that is egregious and shameful, and that is why we are here today.
The Senate amendments with respect to Bill C-68 were decent amendments. They folded into Bill S-203, the cetaceans in captivity bill, and Bill S-238, the shark finning bill.
For those who are not aware of the shark finning bill, it would ban the importation of shark fins, with the exception that they must be attached to the carcass. Shark fin is a delicacy in some Asian cultures and is used in soup and medicinal products. We asked officials at committee if shark fin in any form could be imported into our country, and they replied that it could be imported in soup. That was their testimony. When pressed further on this, they said, “soup is soup”.
The whole intent of Bill S-238 is to stop the importation of shark fins so that shark fin soup may be stopped or that at least the fins would be imported into the country with the entire carcass used. That is a fairly reasonable thing to ask.
The other Senate amendments to Bill C-68 that are important are with respect to the inshore fishery. We heard time and again that the inshore fishery is important to Atlantic fishermen. Adjacency and the inshore fishery are the same thing, but the language is different on either coast. It is important to our coastal communities and fishermen who depend on fishing for their livelihood.
Another important Senate amendment is with respect to third-party habitat banking. I went into great detail about what third party habitat banking means in terms of fish habitat. That was a reasonable amendment put forward by a Conservative, and all senators agreed with it.
Interestingly enough, before the Senate finished studying the bill, the minister directed our fisheries committee to study third-party habitat banking. Prior to the fisheries committee getting a chance to study it, the Liberals scrapped any of the third party habitat banking amendments brought forth by the Conservative Party and agreed to by independent senators. It was an exercise in futility.
Senator Wells, who appeared before committee just the other day, said that by all accounts, it appeared that the only people who were interested in protecting fish and fish habitat were those around the table, and the only people who were against protecting fish and fish habitat with respect to third party habitat banking were the officials. That is odd.
I want to talk again about why we are here. I spoke at length about the influence of third party groups at the highest levels of our offices. I will remind the House that the former chief adviser to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts, was the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. The Prime Minister's new director of policy is a former top executive at Tides Canada.
Why is this important? It is important because these are the very organizations whose mandate is to shut down Canada's resources every step of the way and to tarnish Canada's natural resource sector on the world stage.
It says right on their own websites that they were going to use celebrities, their media and their influence to tarnish Canada's oil and gas and forestry to attack and landlock our resources. They have now permeated every office in this government.
In 2015, 114 third parties poured $6 million into influencing the election outcome, and many of those parties were funded by the U.S.-based Tides foundation. The World Wildlife Fund is deciding fisheries policy on the east coast.
As the shadow minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I went to meetings with the former fisheries minister, and there were no fisheries stakeholders there. The table was surrounded by environmental groups. We are placing a higher priority on these environmental groups than we are on the stakeholders who make their living and depend on our natural resources for their economic well-being.
Late last night, I took another phone call about another mill closure in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. I know that colleagues understand our economic plight in western Canada. We have seen a lot of emotion over the last weeks and months about the plight of the west. The reality is that we are losing our jobs, and we do not have other opportunities. It is not that we are against the environment, unlike what a parliamentary secretary said yesterday, in response to Bill C-88, which is that the Conservatives blame the Liberals for putting such a high priority on the environment. That is not true. We blame the Liberals for putting such a high priority on environmental groups, not on the stakeholders, indigenous peoples and our local communities that depend on our natural resources for well-paying jobs to provide for their families.
There are hundreds of workers in my riding and adjacent ridings, and thousands of workers across the province of British Columbia, who are waking up today to more work curtailment and job closures. That is shameful.
When the House hears our emotion and concern when we raise the issues, it is not that we are against the environment, as much as the Minister of Environment would like people to believe that. It is that these policies the government has put forth have shaken the confidence of industry. They have a real impact. They may not impact those members of Parliament from downtown Toronto or in major urban centres, but they impact rural Canadians, and that is the truth.
I am going to close by reminding the House that this House does not belong to any of us who are in here. We are merely vehicles to be the voices of the electors. There are 338 members of Parliament in this House. Last night, we saw one courageous Liberal who stood against what her government was doing. We have been placed here to be the voices of those who elected us.
Despite saying in 2015 that they would let debate reign, the Liberals have time and again forced closure and time allocation on pieces of legislation. In doing so, they have silenced the voices of the electors who have put us here.
I would like to move the following motion, seconded by the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap:
That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, be now read a second time and concurred in.”
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-14 10:30 [p.29112]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-68, which would amend the Fisheries Act. I will be splitting my time with my good colleague and friend from South Okanagan—West Kootenay.
It has been a positive week for our oceans. Monday, Bill S-203 was passed, which would end cetaceans in captivity. There was also an announcement to ban single-use plastics, although we are waiting for the details. It has been a progressive week.
Now we have Bill C-68, an opportunity to fix the gutting of the Fisheries Act under the Conservatives. I am glad this place has an opportunity to do even more work to ensure that aquatic environments are safeguarded, which should be our priority as parliamentarians.
The bill would restore protections for all fish across Canada, protections that were previously removed by the Conservatives six years ago. This could have been changed sooner. We wish it had been done sooner, but we are glad it is being done now and we welcome changes to this bill.
Fish stocks are in decline in many parts of the country, as we know, especially on the west coast. It is due, in large part, to the negative impacts of human activity on fish habitat and the health of water bodies overall. Bill C-68 would put back into place legal protections needed to conserve fish habitat and the aquatic environment in a manner consistent with the minister's mandate to restore lost protections and introduce modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act.
With respect to the specifics, Bill C-68 would first and foremost compel the minister to consider any effects that decisions under the Fisheries Act might have on the rights of indigenous peoples of Canada and authorize agreements to be made with indigenous governing bodies. It is so important that the work we do embeds these protections and the rights of indigenous communities.
Pacific salmon are a primary food source for culture and the economy of indigenous peoples and people in coastal communities. The government has taken steps to help incorporate the rights and traditions of indigenous peoples to support their economic and cultural sustainability. I am very proud of the determined and continued stewardship of the indigenous communities in our country, especially on the west coast and in my riding. We really need their input and local knowledge to do this work; it is absolutely essential.
I want to share with the House a couple of comments.
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president, Dr. Judith Sayers, said that while Bill C-68 may not be everything Nuu-chah-nulth would like to see, it was a fulfillment of the Liberal promise to undo the damage the previous government did to the act. She said that habitat restoration was critical for their fisheries to remain sustainable so they may continue to exercise our rights and that the inclusion of indigenous wisdom was a start to recognizing their laws and knowledge systems. She did highlight, though, the need for co-management and the need to work toward that.
Eric Angel, the fisheries program manager for Uu-a-thluk, which is a Nuu-Chah-Nulth fisheries program, said:
The changes to the Fisheries Act under Bill C-68 are the most important amendments to federal fisheries legislation in a hundred years. Nuu-chah-nulth are very concerned that these proposed changes become law. The restoration of habitat protection that was stripped out of the Fisheries Act under the Harper government is absolutely critical. We are facing a crisis on the west coast with the destruction of salmon habitat and we desperately need this legislation to be able to force government to do a better job of looking after fish habitat. The proposed act also contains some small but important steps towards recognizing the laws and traditional knowledge systems of First Nations.
It is important to move forward with this. We know water is sacred. We, as parliamentarians, are coming to better understand that. We have a commitment to improve the ecology, especially the habitats that surround indigenous communities in coastal communities, as well as their important rights, ensuring their local knowledge and leadership in their traditional territories are respected. They have taken the lead on water issues. In my riding and many indigenous communities, the bill would directly and positively affect them.
Bill C-68 would also modernize measures to protect fish and fish habitat in ecologically significant areas and establish standards and codes of practice, a public registry and create fish habitat banks initially by different projects. This bill would also allow the minister to establish advisory panels and to set fees, including for the provision of regulatory processes, and allow the minister to make regulations for the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity.
We are happy to see clauses that build greater oversight over what companies do to fish habitats. It would allow the minister to stop companies from putting down anti-salmon breeding mats and protect the stock of coastal salmon.
The New Democrats are pleased to see that after so many years of trying, the bill would prohibit the import and exportation of shark fins. We have been working incredibly hard to ensure this practice is a thing of the past.
I want to thank my colleague and friend, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, for his tireless efforts to make this happen, both in Bill C-68 and through Bill S-238. I also want to thank the members of the fisheries and oceans committee, who have taken the time to look at the issue closely.
The fact remains that shark populations, both in Canada and abroad, are at significant risk. My office has heard from many ordinary citizens, as well as conservation experts, who feel strongly about the effort to protect shark populations from needless slaughter. We have spent enough time over several parliaments looking at the issue and this is a critical juncture for us to act.
Along the same vein, this bill would further enshrine the ban on the capture and captivity of cetaceans, which I mentioned earlier. I am so grateful to the House for its support of Bill S-203 on Monday. It shows that the House is an active participant in changing the dialogue on marine conservation, and also on animal rights. I am pleased this bill gives us an opportunity to reaffirm that participation.
Bill C-68 would strengthen the enforcement powers and establish an alternative measures agreements regime, which includes $284 million over five years to enforce the protection of habitat wherever fish are present. This bill would allow the minister to stop or limit fishing for a period of 45 days to address the threat to the proper management and control of fisheries so the conservation and protection of fish is maintained.
Bill C-68 goes beyond just restoring the protection and habitat that were removed in the changes to the Fisheries Act in 2012. It goes as far as to include all fish in the definition of “fisheries”, and would include the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks in the Fisheries Act.
All that said, the latest suite of amendments proposed by the Senate presents some setback to the work that the House has been doing. The biggest thing that comes to mind are the changes that touch heavily on third-party habitat banking.
The creation of habitat banks has been poorly executed in the past, where first nations, municipalities and conservation organizations saw damage accumulated in their territory or watershed and the habitat bank in a neighbouring first nations territory or watershed. Therefore, it was disappointing to see these amendments, calling for the proposal of third-party banking. There was no consultation with indigenous groups, which mostly oppose it.
While I am happy to see the Liberal government is listening to some of these concerns and has proposed to remove these amendments, I am disappointed in the Liberal government for not taking the opportunity to really make a difference in protecting water flows, both upstream and downstream.
Back in the spring of 2018, when Bill C-68 was before the fisheries and oceans committee, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam proposed several amendments to strengthen the bill. These amendments included proposals that explicitly recognized that the quantity, timing and quality of water flows were vital to ensuring the free passage and the protection of fish and fish habitat. These important amendments were passed by a majority vote during the clause-by-clause review.
The Senate has not taken the issue of water flows seriously. It proposed that the addition of upstream protection was unimportant and that companies that obstructed the flow of water should do the bare minimum required to conserve populations. This was something the industry wanted. We worked with conservation groups to find a solution to water-flow issues, but the Senate only listened to the lobbyists, who cannot be bothered to be proactive partners in conservation.
What is more, the Liberals are on board with this amendment, despite the expert advice of the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, which pointed to the absence of legal protections for environmental flows, resulting in a situation where fisheries resources, fish habitat and the supporting freshwater ecosystems may not be consistently protected across Canada.
I am sure I could speak for a lot longer on this, but this is a great step. I have to commend the government for working together with us to repair so much of the damage left by the previous government. However, if we are to walk the path to restoration, it will take many more steps.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
2019-06-11 15:36 [p.28928]
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, the House:
agrees with amendments 1(b), 1(c), 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15 made by the Senate;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 1(a) because it is contrary to the objective of the Act that its habitat provisions apply to all fish habitats throughout Canada;
proposes that amendment 3 be amended by deleting “guaranteed,” and, in the English version, by replacing the word “in” with the word “by”;
proposes that amendment 9 be amended by deleting section 35.11;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 11 because the amendment seeks to legislate in respect of third party, or market-based, fish habitat banking, which is beyond the policy intent of the Bill that is to provide only for proponent-led fish habitat banking.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is with great privilege that I rise today to speak to Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act, which will restore lost protections to fish and fish habitat and incorporate modern safeguards into the law.
Before I highlight how Bill C-68 brings forward important improvements to the Fisheries Act, I would like to thank my predecessor, the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, the member for Beauséjour. It is due to his leadership that we are here today debating this bill which, once passed, will fulfill a promise we made to Canadians in 2015 and will ensure that our fisheries are sustainable for future generations. We all wish the minister, our friend, a very speedy and full recovery.
On this note, I would also like to extend my thanks to Senator Christmas, who is the sponsor of the bill in the other place, for his work on moving Bill C-68 forward, for his commitment to the protection of fish and ensuring that the voices of indigenous peoples are well represented. I note that he made a number of amendments that will strengthen the indigenous components of the bill that we will be accepting.
I also want to thank the other place as a whole, in particular the committee, for its study of this bill.
Today, I will begin with an overview of the bill itself, and then I will speak to the amendments proposed by the Senate.
In summary, we will be respectfully rejecting the amendments in relation to the definition of fish habitat, as well as rejecting the three amendments related to third party habitat banking.
On a minor amendment, I have already sought the agreement of Senator Christmas to make a technical change to one of his amendments so that the language reflects what is already in the bill with respect to indigenous rights.
Canadians elected a Liberal government because they knew that the Liberal Party had a plan for growing the economy and for protecting our environment. Today, we are debating an important part of that plan. Bill C-68 will restore lost protections to fish and fish habitat and ensure that the government has the tools to manage our fisheries so that they are sustainable and healthy for future generations.
The previous government gutted the Fisheries Act, made cuts to science and reduced the number of fisheries officers. These are not the types of actions Canadians want and that, in part, is why those members are sitting on the opposite side of this chamber. The Conservatives have no plan for the environment and no plan to protect our fish and fish habitat. On the other hand, this government does have a plan and that plan is working.
Bill C-68 amends the Fisheries Act to fulfill our government's commitment to better protect Canada's freshwater and marine fisheries, helping to ensure their long-term economic and environmental sustainability. The amendments we are making will modernize the act. These amendments include a new purpose clause and considerations when making decisions under the act that will provide a framework for the proper management and control of fisheries and for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.
Factors to consider when making decisions with regard to potential harm to fish include the application of a precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach, community knowledge, indigenous knowledge, and social, economic and cultural considerations.
As well, key to the proposed changes to the act are the new requirements for stock rebuilding, which will introduce legally binding commitments to implement measures to manage Canada's major fish stocks above levels necessary to promote their sustainability.
Maintaining healthy stock levels and rebuilding those that have been depleted is critical to coastal communities and to their economic viability. That is why our government in the fall economic statement announced an investment of $107 million over five years and $17.6 million per year ongoing to support the implementation of these stock rebuilding provisions. There are a number of important fish stocks that have shown declines in recent years, which is why we have committed these funds to accelerate our actions to ensure sustainability. Over the next five years, this government is committed to making major fish stocks subject to the provisions on rebuilding.
Furthermore, key to the government's commitments are the measures for the protection of fish and fish habitat with respect to works, undertakings or activities that may result in the death of fish or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, or HADD. First, we have expanded the scope to apply to all fish and fish habitat. Second, we have removed reference to serious harm, which, as many in the chamber know, was put forward by the previous Conservative government when it gutted the act in 2012. This new Fisheries Act will restore the application to HADD and would prohibit causing the death of fish by means other than fishing.
The new habitat provisions will also address major projects so that the proponents know which projects require permits. In response to industry concerns, we have also established codes of practice to guide best practices that minimize the impact on fish and fish habitat for smaller and routine projects. This will be especially critical for farmers and those in the agricultural industry who often undertake minor, routine works that relate to water.
Finally, the proposed Fisheries Act would enable ministerial regulations for the purposes of conservation and protection of marine biodiversity as well as the addition of other vital new tools, such as fisheries management orders, to quickly address threats to the proper management and control of the fisheries and the conservation and protection of fish.
Also, upon royal assent, the amended Fisheries Act will include a number of greatly needed updates, such as empowering the minister to establish advisory panels, set fees under the act and enter into agreements with indigenous governing bodies. Most importantly, the proposed legislation introduces a non-derogation clause as well as protections for indigenous knowledge when such information is provided to the government.
Bill C-68 also, very importantly, preserves the independence of our inshore fish harvesters by enshrining into law policies that support fleet separation. The legislation recognizes that when making decisions under the act, the minister can take into account social, economic and cultural factors, and the preservation and promotion of an independent inshore commercial fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
These amendments are critical if we want to ensure that our stocks are sustainable for future generations and for the communities from coast to coast to coast who depend on our fisheries and on the health of our oceans.
Under the former Conservative government, there was no plan to rebuild our depleted stocks, just like the Conservatives had no plan to protect our oceans. It is under this government that we have now successfully protected over 8% of our marine and coastal areas, up from less than 1% under the former Conservative government. We now have a clear path to achieving our 10% target by 2020.
Canadians know that this government has a plan that will protect our oceans all the while ensuring that our communities continue to benefit and that our economy continues to grow.
This bill is a testament to meaningful engagement and consultations, and we heard from many Canadians, from coast to coast to coast. Consultations were extensive and public, on key issues for industry, non-governmental organizations, provinces and territories, and indigenous peoples across Canada.
During the fall of 2016, the department participated in more than 90 meetings with indigenous groups, communities and organizations, and resource management boards established under land claims agreements.
In the spring of 2017, there was a second phase of public engagement. During this second phase, Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided approximately $900,000 to 89 indigenous groups to support their participation and engagement. The department also held over 70 meetings with indigenous peoples and nine more meetings with resource management boards, who, in turn, provided more than 170 written submissions.
The government has listened and has been responsive to many of the concerns that have been raised during parliamentary review. Both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and the other place have provided robust and very constructive recommendations, as well as amendments that have been supported by the government. With regard to some concerns raised by industry, particularly regarding the adoption of the amendment deeming water flow fish habitat, the government was responsive to concerns raised that the new definition's application could be unnecessarily broad and that the core intent was already captured in the bill. Consequently, the government agreed to the removal of the deeming water flow fish habitat provision from proposed subsection 2(2).
Industry also expressed concern about the provisions for the permitting of major projects under the proposed act. The government recognizes that regulatory certainty is important to industry and to Canadians and that designated project regulations may capture portions of projects that are not related to fish and fish habitat. Not all works, undertakings or activities that form part of a designated project require permits under the Fisheries Act, as many have no impact on fish and fish habitat. This is why we have introduced amendments from the government on designated projects, which gives the minister the ability to identify and make the final determination on which works, undertakings or activities will require a permit.
The intent of these amendments is to bring clarity to project proponents on which projects require a permit, and to avoid duplication with the federal impact assessment process. Providing greater certainty and cutting red tape while ensuring that fish and fish habitat are protected is very much the intent of this legislation.
This government, through Senator Harder, also proposed important amendments that were adopted by the other place that relate to two Senate public bills: Bill S-203 and Bill S-238. Bill S-203 is commonly referred to as the ending captivity of whales and dolphins act. Bill S-238 is commonly referred to as the ban on shark fin importation and exportation act. These two bills respond to increasing public concern about the well-being of cetaceans held in captivity in Canada solely for public display, as well as concerns about the impact and the nature of the practice of shark finning. I am pleased to say that the government shares these concerns and is demonstrating leadership on these issues.
This government believes that the practice of keeping whales in captivity solely for the purpose of public display should be phased out.
I believe that the amendments proposed to Bill S-203, and the coordinating amendments in Bill C-68, will help us effectively phase out and restrict the captivity of whales.
Bill S-238 proposes to amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit the practice of shark finning and to amend WAPPRIITA to prohibit the import and export or the attempt to import or export into and from Canada of shark fins or parts of shark fins that are not attached to a shark carcass.
The intent of the proposed amendments to Bill C-68 related to shark finning is consistent with the legislative policy objectives of Bill S-238 to address the practice of shark finning, which is the practice of removing fins from sharks and discarding the carcasses at sea. There is no doubt that shark finning and the illegal trade in shark fins have had a devastating impact on global shark populations. In fact, over 63 million sharks are killed every year, many for the global shark fin trade.
Canada has demonstrated international leadership on the conservation and management of sharks and was one of the first countries to develop a national plan of action in that regard. Canada continues to work with its partners, including regional fishery management organizations, to adopt effective management measures to regulate the capture of sharks in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Without these amendments in Bill C-68, Bill S-238 is likely not going to pass due to the short time remaining in this sitting. This amendment will ensure that shark finning and the export and import of shark fins will be banned in Canada.
I would now like to turn to the proposed changes from the other place to Bill C-68.
The first amendment that we will be respectfully rejecting was made by Senator Poirier in relation to the definition of “fish habitat”. Senator Poirier's amendment would change the definition of “fish habitat” from “water frequented by fish and any other areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly to carry out their life processes, including spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas” to “any area on which fish depend directly or indirectly to carry out their life processes, including spawning grounds and nurseries, rearing, food supply and migration areas”.
The original text of “water frequented by fish”, in addition to “areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly on”, increases the scope for the application of the fish habitat protection provisions. By removing “water frequented by fish”, this amendment goes against the objective of the bill to provide greater protection to fish and fish habitat across Canada. Therefore, we will not be supporting this change.
With regard to another proposed amendment, as part of the changes initially proposed, the government introduced provisions that would allow for proponent-led habitat banks. The department has been encouraging proponent-led habitat banking since 2013. Bill C-68 would enshrine this policy approach into law and provide new incentives to use habitat banking credits to offset impacts on fish and fish habitat caused by human activity. This represents an important evolution in the implementation of measures to help improve the conservation of fish and fish habitat.
Some stakeholders and senators have argued that we should go further, by expanding habitat banking to third parties and to allow cash payments in lieu of offsetting. Expanding habitat banking to third parties would allow any organization to earn credits through restoration or conservation projects. These credits could then be sold to project proponents that do not wish to create their own offsets prior to project development.
Payments in lieu of offsetting would allow project proponents to pay a fee up front instead of investing in offsetting projects prior to development. The intention is that revenues from these payments would be dedicated to aquatic habitat restoration. Third party habitat banking has its merits and is currently practised in some countries, including the biodiversity banking and offsets scheme in Australia and the wetlands mitigation banks in the United States.
However, there are important considerations and actions that we need to undertake prior to establishing third party habitat banking and fees in lieu of offsetting regimes here in Canada. First, it is the government's view that in order to offset the residual impact from a project, conservation projects created to acquire habitat banking credits need to benefit the specific fish populations and areas that would be affected by that project.
Second, this government believes that where aquatic species at risk are present, opportunities to undertake conservation projects involving the creation, restoration or enhancement of the habitat of aquatic species at risk should be given priority.
Third, in the freshwater and inland areas of Canada, provinces own the land and are responsible for resource management. In some cases, indigenous communities or governments may be responsible for resource management. Since habitat banks could certainly implicate these lands, the creation of a habitat bank requires that implicated stakeholders be consulted regarding the area in which the bank would be created. Consultation with other federal departments, provinces, territories, indigenous groups and landowners would be necessary to establish agreements to authorize these transactions. Due to these considerations, the proposed amendments to Bill C-68 to expand habitat banking would require regulatory initiatives that would, if not properly designed, present risks to the conservation community, indigenous groups and other land or rights holders.
In summary, although third party habitat banking and fees in lieu of offsetting are schemes that have significant potential for application in Canada, those in comparative jurisdictions are based on complex and lengthy legislative and regulatory framework development. The current proposed model is inadequate in this regard and would likely result in unintended consequences in its current form. Further, any such provisions certainly would require significant consultations with provinces, territories and others.
Due to the legal complexity and public policy considerations that the government would need to address prior to establishing and implementing such regimes in Canada, we will not be adopting the habitat banking amendments proposed by the other place. However, going forward, the department will commit to evaluating the performance of proponent-led habitat banks and to assess offsetting policies adopted elsewhere, including third party habitat banking and payment in lieu of offsetting.
Additionally, in light of the discussions on third party habitat banking as they relate to Bill C-68, I have asked the House fisheries committee to study this issue. This government has always been of the view that polluters should pay. It simply should not be free to harm our environment. I believe there is significant merit in further examining third party habitat banking.
I would also note that the Canadian Wildlife Federation, which proposed these amendments through Senator Wells and which does great work advocating for the protection of wildlife habitat, has indicated its support for the removal of the these amendments at this time. It understands that more work needs to be done before we can move forward fully in this area. In addition, we are making a technical amendment to an amendment made by Senator Christmas to ensure that the language used with respect to section 35 rights, as well as aboriginal treaty rights, is consistent with language used in the rest of the bill. I have spoken to Senator Christmas about this amendment and he has agreed to this change.
Bill C-68 is restoring lost protections that Canadians elected this government to do. Changes in this bill will help rebuild fish stocks and in turn support the communities that depend on them.
When the Conservatives were in government, they did the opposite. They watered down fish and fish habitat protection when they gutted the Fisheries Act in 2012, and they made deep cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by slashing the operating budget by $100 million. They also made staff cuts to critical areas, such as the Pacific region habitat management program, which helped support the management of our wild salmon.
I am proud to be part of a government that is taking the right approach when it comes to protecting our environment and our fish stocks. That is why last fall, in partnership with the Government of British Columbia, I announced $142 million to create the B.C. salmon restoration and innovation fund to support the B.C. fish and seafood sector, and to ensure the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon and other B.C. fish stocks. This government has also invested in science, small craft harbours across the country and whale research. As many Canadians know, it was this government that invested $1.5 billion in the oceans protection plan that has supported research, opened new rescue boat stations, increased Coast Guard capacity and restored coastal habitats. Canadians can count on this government to make the right investments in our environment while growing our economy and creating good middle-class jobs.
This bill has also been before both chambers for over a year now. The Conservatives will say that their move backward in 2012 to reduce protections may not have had a negative impact on the environment; they will argue that their changes were somehow merited.
Canadians know not to wait until stocks collapse before taking action. Canadians know that the Conservatives do not support science or a precautionary approach. That is why, under their watch, they muzzled scientists and made dramatic cuts. Canadians know that Bill C-68 will help protect our fish and fish habitat and is an important piece as we move forward with a plan that will protect our biodiversity, oceans, and ensure our fisheries are sustainable for future generations.
It is truly time to get on with passing Bill C-68. In response to the message from the other place, we are accepting many amendments, while rejecting just three amendments and amending one. Again, the Canadian Wildlife Federation that originally proposed the habitat banking amendments, through Senator Wells, has indicated its support for the removal of that amendment. I would also note that Senator Wells was one of just three senators who voted against the bill, effectively against the very amendments he put in at third reading. Further, as I had indicated, Senator Christmas supports the minor technical amendment that we are proposing.
I certainly hope that all members in this chamber can join with me in ensuring quick passage of this bill, so that our fish and their habitat can be assured of the protection they so desperately need.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-11 16:09 [p.28934]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House and speak to the Senate amendments to Bill C-68.
I listened intently as the minister did whatever he could, every step of the way, to disparage the previous government while trying to prop himself and his department up along the way. This comes from a minister who took credit for a Coast Guard vessel just last week on social media. He said that the Liberal government did this, but it was our former Conservative government that did it. It is very disingenuous for a minister to use his time to continue to slander and disparage the previous government.
I have said time and again, very publicly in this House and at committee, that consecutive governments, including Liberal governments, should take blame for where our fisheries stocks are. When questioned as to why our fisheries stocks are at critical levels, there are bureaucrats who have been in their positions for 20-plus years who have consistently told every government that they promise to do better. It is quite shameful that this minister would stand up here and trumpet that the Liberals are moving the ball. I will provide proof in my speech that they are not.
Today we are here to talk about the Senate amendments to Bill C-68, which is essentially a flawed piece of legislation. We saw that it was flawed when it was first introduced. Unfortunately, again the government put time allocation on the bill. I believe at that time it was the 40th time the Liberal government had done that, the same government that is led by the member for Papineau, who, during the 2015 campaign, said that his government would let the debate reign and would not resort to parliamentary tricks, such as invoking time allocation.
Here we are today, and I think it is now over 70 times that time allocation has been used. We have not seen time allocation on this bill up to this point, but the day is still early.
I will return to the Senate amendments. Early last week, the Senate sent back 15 amendments to Bill C-68 on about four different topics. As mentioned earlier, they cover inshore fisheries and habitat banking. Bill S-203, which is the bill that would end keeping whales in captivity, was rolled into Bill C-68, as well as Bill S-238, which is the shark finning bill put forward by a Conservative senator. I will get back to this shortly.
It was interesting when the department was before our committee recently regarding Bill S-238. The officials mentioned that while we would be banning shark fins unless the fin is attached to the shark carcass itself, the importation of shark fin soup was still going to be permitted. The department has committed to getting back to us and double-checking that, but the comment we received from the official when he was asked and pressed on it was that “soup is soup.”
Here we are now, talking about the Senate amendments to Bill C-68. Bill C-68 was introduced early last year and, as mentioned, is a piece of flawed legislation. During the 2015 campaign, the Liberals promised to restore the definition of “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction” of fish habitat. From this point, I will refer to that as “HADD”. I mention that for the Canadians watching from coast to coast to coast, as well as for those in the gallery, which is full once again today.
As the Liberals put it, they wanted to restore the lost protections implemented by our previous Conservative government. As a matter of fact, I will use the term that our minister just used, that the Conservatives “gutted the Fisheries Act”. That is what he was saying, and that is shameful. That is the same eco-warrior language, shamefully, that the government used in 2015 to tarnish any of the great work that our previous Conservative government did. As well, cabinet ministers and members of the current government have used this language to disparage some of our natural resource companies, such as mining and oil and gas, and, again, our former Conservative government.
The fisheries committee did an extensive study on the so-called “lost protections” in the changes that were made in 2012 to the Fisheries Act under our previous Conservative government. Not one group and not one witness could provide any evidence that there were lost protections that resulted from the changes in 2012—not an academic, not an environmental group, not a scientist. I will get into that more throughout my speech.
Not surprisingly, the government has capitalized politically with these environmental groups and the public at large with this proposed legislation. The Liberals have positioned themselves as the defenders of the environment, and restoring the imaginary lost protections has garnered positive support through various media outlets. This is the same government that continues to approve the dumping of millions of litres of raw sewage into our waterways, yet here they are defending their actions, standing up and disparaging those who are opposing what they are saying. They continue to this day to approve the dumping of millions of litres of raw sewage into our waterways. Canadians should be paying attention.
We oppose Bill C-68 because of the HADD provisions, but there are some positive aspects of the bill. It potentially has some good points. We have always said that Bill C-68 is a bill that we will repeal and replace, and that we will bring stakeholders around the table and build a piece of legislation that truly represents the intent of Bill C-68.
On the 15 reasoned, responsible amendments that the Senate sent back, the Senate did its job. It attempted to fix an omnibus piece of legislation that should have probably been split into two or three different bills, and there is another broken promise.
I believe it was in the Liberal 2015 campaign, and probably it was the same day when the member for Papineau said that he was not going to resort to such parliamentary tricks as omnibus bills. Well, here we are, and Bill C-68 is one of those. He has not let the debate reign. Time allocation has been seen time and time again.
The amendments focused on changes to the Fisheries Act, such as the owner-operator fleet separation, which, as my hon. colleague across the way mentioned, the fisheries committee has heard about time and again. The bill also talks about habitat protection and habitat banking, and it rolls in Bill S-203 on cetaceans in captivity and Bill S-238 on shark finning.
Bill C-68 introduced habitat banking as a means by which companies could restore waterways affected by development. As an example, when I was in aviation, we built one of Canada's largest runways. To be good neighbours, we noticed during our environmental assessment that there was a potential area for waterfowl or the western spadefoot toad.
Therefore, we had a toad rodeo. We looked to find how many toads were in that certain area that was designated or that could be environmentally sensitive. We also looked for the water fowl that could be present in those wetlands. To be good neighbours, we worked with Ducks Unlimited Canada, the conservation group. We are not the experts in this. We needed somebody to tell us what would be more appropriate, and we wanted to make sure that if there was going to be displacement, it would be within our region. We worked with Ducks Unlimited and other local groups. We found an area that was suitable, and we committed and purchased that area. That is an example of what habitat banking is.
There are concerns with moving down the way in terms of habitat banking, as well as, let us say, carbon credits. It is very similar to carbon credits.
As I was running for election in 2015, I was interested to find that we have offshore companies, European companies, that were buying up huge swaths of agricultural land in my riding. They were literally showing up to a farm and offering suitcases full of money. Many of our farmers are long-time generational farmers and do not have that next generation coming in. Who can blame them, if they have this opportunity present itself? The companies told a good story. Very quickly after purchasing the land, they mowed under all that agriculture potential. They were buying it for carbon credits to be applied in other countries. We cannot create more land; we are not able to do that. We put a stop to that.
Therefore, the habitat banking provisions that the Senate tried to fix with its amendments dealt with third party offset payments and they would keep the restored habitat closed. Habitat banking is a market-oriented approach to environmental conservation. As a matter of fact, we are starting to see this more and more. When I was in aviation, “carbon credits” was the buzzword. It was carbon credits this and carbon credits that. Every passenger who was flying on an airline had an opportunity to buy carbon offsets as part of his or her ticket. A habitat bank is now the next generation of a very similar type of market-oriented approach to environmental conservation. A habitat bank is defined in the bill as “an area of a fish habitat that has been created, restored or enhanced by the carrying on of one or more conservation projects within a service area and in respect of which area the Minister has certified any habitat credit”.
A habitat credit, before being amended at committee, was defined in the bill as “a unit of measure that is agreed to between any proponent and the Minister under section 42.02 that quantifies the benefits of a conservation project.” In plainer language, the old version of the bill stipulated that the proponents, and only the proponents, can offset the adverse effects on fish or fish habitat as a result of conservation work being done by the proponent. That leaves out important third party conservation groups and indigenous groups.
I do not know of too many mining or forestry companies that are experts in conservation projects. If a mining operation leads to deleterious effects on fish habitat, for example, that mining company may offset the impacts of those effects through a conservation project, like moving affected fish to another pond. Other examples include the construction of a salmon ladder, preservation of a wetland, as I described with our airport, or any other measure that creates, restores or enhances a fish habitat. Ensuring that proponents offset their impacts on fish habitat is necessary for environmental conservation. We all agree with that.
There is not a single compelling reason to restrict habitat banking solely to proponents. When we say that only a proponent can create a habitat bank, we are excluding first nations groups and conservation specialist groups like Ducks Unlimited or wetlands advocates. We are also excluding municipalities, among other prospective participants. These stakeholders all want to be on the front lines of habitat restoration and enhancement, and they should be. Not all proponents have the expertise, resources or knowledge to build a physical offset.
We all know that the balance of power in the Senate rests on the independent side, which we know is the government side. Under the amendment passed by our senators, proponents would now be able to purchase the credit rather than designing and building their own physical offset. The offset must still be created, but now it could be created by a group with a specific conservation expertise. In these cases, the proponents would essentially be funding the construction of an approved physical offset. The proponents would say, “We understand that our project has displaced fish, wildlife or aquatic species, and we will work to make amends. However, we are not the experts on this, so let us partner with an approved group to get this done.”
It is a win-win for industry and the environment. Companies do not have to divert their attention from the core aspects of their business and creating the jobs that come with it; all they have to do is buy the credit for the habitat bank established by a third party group. With a new market for the credits, there is an incentive for third parties to get into the habitat banking game, thus leading to additional biological protections.
The second amendment the Senate sent back on this issue relates to the offset payments. This amendment would allow the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to collect and offset payment in lieu of establishing and offsetting a habitat bank. The purpose of introducing this tool, as argued by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and others, was to provide the flexibility in areas where an appropriate offset project is not available or cost-effective. That makes sense.
As an alternative to purchasing credits, proponents could pay into a habitat protection fund, for example the environmental damages fund, to offset any impacts their project may have. Under this amendment, funds would need to be spent as close as practicable to where the work, undertaking or activity is located, or at least within the same province where such work occurred. If the displacement or impact is taking place in a region such as Cariboo—Prince George, I would like to see that habitat banking take place right in my riding. I would have to say that it has to be done there. We do not want to see these other companies coming in and doing something similar to what we mentioned earlier with the carbon credit program. If that displacement is taking place in an area such as Cariboo—Prince George, then an appropriate project should be found in the same region. I would suspect there are a lot of conservation projects that could benefit from this type of program.
Adding these parameters to the system was imperative to ensure equal treatment among all provinces, territories and, hopefully, if administered accurately by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, among watersheds as well.
This amendment does not mandate how the government should collect or spend the money. It simply establishes a structure by which private sector funds, determined and accepted at the discretion of the minister—again, it is all about this minister having all the power—can be used to support restoration projects in Canada. It makes sense to me.
The third amendment on habitat banking shares the spirit of the second, but it is entirely distinct among the three, and here is how. Bill C-68, in both its current and former iterations, specifies that certified habitat credits must be used within a service area. A service area is defined in Bill C-68 as “the geographical area that encompasses a fish habitat bank and one or more conservation projects and within which area a proponent carries on a work, undertaking or activity.”
The broadness of that definition was concerning. As currently written, a service area could technically be considered the whole country. For discussion purposes, let us say that SNC-Lavalin, working on a project in Quebec, is deemed to have done some damage to fish or fish habitat or is looking to buy some habitat banking credits, but it also does work in Vancouver, Toronto or other areas. It could apply those habitat banking credits to those areas, not necessarily the area in which it is making the displacement.
That is incorrect, and the third amendment sought to fix that. The intent of this amendment is to ensure that the benefits of an offsetting habitat bank remain local in comparison to the work, undertaking or activity. “Local” would be either as close as practicable to the area, or within the same province. The general idea is that the closer to the affected area it is, the better. A mining project in St. John's should not be offset by a habitat bank in northern Ontario or Vancouver Island, or vice versa.
This amendment maintains that it needs ministerial flexibility while protecting the local fish populations and providing certainty to industry about where credits can be used. Habitat banking benefits should remain as local as possible, as a guiding principle. If that is not practical, then the benefits should at least remain in the province where the work was carried out.
Late last night, the government set forth and gave notice of its amendments to the Senate amendments. Unfortunately, late last night the government responded by removing the new habitat banking provisions. The government said that it “respectfully disagrees with amendment 11 because the amendment seeks to legislate in respect of third-party, or market-based, fish habitat banking, which is beyond the policy intent of the Bill that is to provide only for proponent-led fish habitat banking.”
Is the government kidding? What a bunch of hogwash. The government put the habitat banking provisions into the bill. To say that the amendments to the habitat banking are beyond the policy intent is absolutely absurd, unless, of course, this bill is nothing more than just a cover and a piece and is not really intended to actually do anything but is just another thing for Liberals to stand up and say, “We did it”, getting all the support from the third party groups that supported them in 2015. I will say more on that later.
Let us go back and look at the absurdities of the bill from the beginning. On restoring lost protections, the minister stood and said that the former Conservative government gutted the Fisheries Act. Bill C-68 started with the Liberal campaign promise in 2015 to restore lost protections. After forming the government, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to investigate the so-called lost protections.
After an extensive study, an 86-page report to Parliament was issued. To my colleagues who are in the House, and the packed gallery, how many lost protections were found? There were none. Zero. Not one witness came before the committee and said that the 2012 amendments to the Fisheries Act by the former Conservative government resulted in lost protections. As a matter of fact, what we heard was that they gave some assurances or some consistency to the application process. We also had some proponents who said that it actually made things tougher, but at least they knew the steps in the process they had to go through.
It is shocking that these guys, time and time again, stand in the House and use the same old talking points. Canadians are not going to be fooled. I think I just saw a poll that ranked the Prime Minister and the Liberal government at 15% in terms of environmental protection. Our hon. colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands scored the highest, and I think our leader was next. Way down the list was the member for Papineau, our Prime Minister.
After that extensive study and an 86-page report, not one lost protection was found. The dissenting report we issued said the following:
Contrary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard's correspondence to the committee dated June 29, 2016 whereby the minister directed the committee to undertake a study investigating the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act and any resulting lost protections,
I thought committees were supposed to be at arm's-length and masters of their own destination. How many times has a minister or parliamentary secretary stood in the House and said, “Madam Speaker, committees are on their own to do whatever they want”? Probably they even had their hands on their hearts. It is crazy. It just adds to the hypocrisy of those across the way.
The report continues:
[W]itnesses who appeared before the committee were unable to provide any scientific or legal proof of harm resulting from asserted lost protections under the Act as a result of the 2012 changes. This fact was noted on page 33 of the committee report, which states, “The preceding paragraphs in this section indicate the differing testimony heard with no scientific or legal evidence provided to show whether the 2012 changes broadened or reduced the circumstances under which section 35 applies.”
In some cases, witnesses like the Mining Association of Canada expressed that the 2012 changes to the Act actually increased habitat protections. They said, “...the 2012 changes have in practice broadened the circumstances in which the section 35 prohibitions apply and increased the circumstances in which an authorization and offsets are required.”
The CFA also added that, “ is the CFA's position that a complete revert to reinstate all provisions of the Fisheries Act as they were would be unproductive [and] reestablish the same problems for farmers, and...provide little improvement [in conservation].”
I have just gone through the Senate amendments as they apply to habitat banking. I could go on at length about inshore fisheries, and I will do that later in my speech.
I will talk about Bill S-203, which is ending whales in captivity, which was rolled into this bill, and some of the concerns Conservatives have. Previously, when a southern resident killer whale was in jeopardy and in need of rescuing, there had to be an order in council from the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and the province do not have the mechanisms in place to respond quickly to that request. When every minute counts when trying to save the life of a resident killer whale or a cetacean, we need to have a tool in our tool box to act quickly. In that regard, Bill S-203 was flawed at that point. That was a serious concern the Conservatives had. The Senate amendments took that away, and that power now rests with the minister in this House, which I think is the right way of moving forward.
While there are still concerns about Bill S-203, we believe that the amendments from the Senate give us some assurances that some of the main concerns we had were addressed. However, in Bill S-203, there were some differences in the translation from French to English. In legal terms, one could argue that the intent may not be the same. That was brought up at committee, and the legal team and officials could not answer questions as to whether those discrepancies in the translation from French to English could have serious consequences down the road.
Bill S-238 is the shark finning bill. As I mentioned, a Conservative senator put forward Bill S-238. It is similar to the bill my hon. colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam put forward earlier in this session, which was voted down, but I am glad to see that Bill S-238 has been rolled into Bill C-68. Again, there are concerns as to how Bill S-238 could be prescribed down the road, but I believe in my hon. colleague's intent and in the spirit of the bill.
As was mentioned earlier, when the officials were before committee during the study of BillS-238 talking about the practice of shark finning and the importation of shark fins, shark fin soup is apparently still allowed to be imported. Shark fin soup can come in, because “soup is soup”, which is a quote from one of the officials. They committed to get back to the committee as to whether that was true. I have yet to hear if they got back to the committee.
My hon. colleague talked about the intent of Bill C-68. It is important for Conservatives to state our concerns about the bill once again. They were mentioned previously, and I have expressed some of them. Bill C-68, from a policy perspective, is a piece of legislation that makes Canadians feel good.
It is interesting that after the Senate amendments beefed the bill up, the minister and the Liberal government watered it back down, just as senators were trying to beef things up and do their job. The Senate does great work. It sent the bill back to us with some good amendments, yet the minister and the government are scrapping a good portion of them.
As I said, Bill C-68 was payback for all the third party groups that supported our Liberal colleagues across the way. Well, they supported anyone but the Conservatives. This leads me to my next point, which is relevant, because it goes to the crux of Bill C-68.
Bill C-68 can be grouped with Bill C-69, the Liberals no pipeline bill, and Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act. Recently, six premiers from across the country wrote the Prime Minister to say that the bills represent one of the largest threats to national unity we have seen, that the threat to our national economy is real and that the damage these bills would do to our economy, jobs and investments is profound.
Why do I bring this up? As I mentioned, Bill C-68 is payback for all the support the Liberals got in the 2015 election. What support am I referring to? In 2015, 114 third parties poured $6 million into influencing the election outcome. Many of those parties were funded by the U.S.-based Tides Foundation. The new director of policy was a top executive there. The Prime Minister's former chief adviser, Gerald Butts, was previously the president of the World Wildlife Fund, another Tides-sponsored organization.
Another Tides-sponsored organization is Leadnow. As noted in an article, it is a “non-profit society that was created in 2010 with the goal of bringing to Canada a model of on-line, political campaigning and movement organizing that began in the U.S. behind President Barack Obama.”
The article states:
During Canada’s 2015 federal election, Leadnow ran a strategic voting initiative called Vote Together. Leadnow claims to have defeated 25 Conservative incumbents.
Leadnow targeted me, but it did not win. However, it was successful in 25 Conservative-held ridings.
The article continues:
From Leadnow's 2010 Business Plan, it is clear that as far back as 2010, Leadnow has been focused on defeating the Conservative government. Leadnow's “Investor Package” states that Leadnow intended to "offer tangible support to parties that adopt their policies, and use tools like strategic voting to ‘swing elections’ to reflect Canada's progressive majority.”
Why am I bringing this up? What is the relevance? This goes back to 2008, when a group of radical American anti-fossil-fuel NGOs created a tar sands campaign. It was geared, as quoted in a column in the Financial Post, to landlocking “the Canadian oil sands by delaying or blocking the expansion or development of key pipelines” by “educating and organizing First Nations to challenge construction of pipelines across their traditional territories” and bringing “multiple actions in Canadian federal and provincial courts.” These NGOs wanted to raise the negatives, including by recruiting celebrity spokespeople, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, to “lend their brand to opponents of tar sands and generat[e] a high negative media profile for tar sands oil.”
The column states:
[T]he Rockefeller Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation... along with environmentalist charities, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the U.S.-based Tides Foundation
Why did the they do that? It was to do whatever they could to target our natural resources.
I say this because fish is a natural resource, and Bill C-68 is another bill, along with Bill C-69, the no pipelines bill, and Bill C-48, the tanker moratorium, that targets our resource sector.
I will bring members back to the earliest days of this sitting where the Prime Minister stood and said that Canada would become known more for our resourcefulness than our resources.
Make no bones about it; these groups have infiltrated our government at the highest levels. Gerald Butts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, was a chief adviser to the Prime Minister. He brought with him former campaigners. Marlo Raynolds, chief of staff to the environment minister, was a past executive director for the Tides-backed Pembina Institute. Zoë Caron, chief of staff to the Minister of Natural Resources, was a former WWF Canada official. Sarah Goodman, on the Prime Minister's staff, was a former vice-president of Tides and now holds potentially one of the most powerful positions as director of policy in the PMO. It is concerning at every step of the way.
I will bring members back to question period when the Minister of Democratic Institutions said that one side of the House likes to cheat and the others are doing everything to protect our democracy. We have seen time and again, going back to 2015, where we have all of these groups that were funded to take on our former prime minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to defeat them and they propped up this Prime Minister, then the member for Papineau, and he made all of these promises. What do we see? We see now that he is following through on those promises to the environmental groups, the NGOs.
I have had fisheries groups and first nations say to me that when they want to get in to see the minister, they have to go through environmental groups. I do not think there is a government that has had more lawsuits against it from first nations than any other than the current government. On marine protected areas, the government is doing what it calls consultation. I will get into the consultation on Bill C-68. The Liberals like to say it is consultation. They will stand in the House and they are disingenuous to Canadians who are listening in. We have the proof. I talked a little about how the foreign funding has influenced our highest offices of the government, and that is what we are seeing in our pieces of legislation. Bill C-68 is no different.
As part of the economic action plan in 2012, and in support of a responsible resource development plan, our former Conservative government put forward changes to the Fisheries Act. They were geared at strengthening the act and removing unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. They were geared at making that process manageable so that proponents knew the steps that had to be taken. It was not letting them off the hook. We heard testimony from the Mining Association of Canada that it actually increased areas to which its members could be found negligible and fined. Our changes supported a shift from managing impacts to all fish habitats to focusing the act's regulatory regime and managing threats to the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's commercial, recreational and indigenous fisheries.
Now, instead of listening to experts, the people who actually use our waterways and fish our rivers, lakes and oceans, the government turned a deaf ear to practicality and pushed forward, through the use of time allocation, legislation that will affect lives and do little to enhance the deterioration of fisheries in Canada. I said that in a previous speech. At that time, I believe it was 23 out of 25 of our core fisheries that were at very serious levels. Why was that? The fisheries management plans were not done. We do not manage fisheries to grow more fish. We manage fisheries to extinction.
I would put our team up against that team any time. Our member of Parliament for North Okanagan—Shuswap, our member of Parliament for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and our member of Parliament for Red Deer—Lacombe all had previous careers in this. We hunt. We fish. We live off the land. We are farmers. We are conservationists at heart. Bill C-68 actually made things harder with some of the changes that we did.
One of the Liberal members who was on the committee at the time, who himself is a farmer, said that if he had a flood on his property, the changes that the former Conservative government had done would actually make it easier for him to respond. If a community or a municipality had a road that was washed out, it actually allowed workers to go in, without skirting any of the rules or regulations, work within the prescribed timelines and schedule to actually get the work done and respond quickly.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-11 16:56 [p.28939]
Madam Speaker, I have to get back to where I was. I was on a roll too.
Instead of listening to experts, the Liberals thought they knew best. Bill C-68 proposed to restore the lost protections by returning to the previous definition of harmful alteration disruption and destruction of fish habitat, or HADD, as I mentioned in my earlier comments.
The act would also require the minister to take into account indigenous knowledge and expertise when provided, and all decisions would have to take into account the possible impacts on indigenous rights. The bill would allow for the establishment of an advisory panel and for members to be remunerated, and provides no guidance on or limitation to its use.
Bill C-68, under the part with respect to the prevention of the escape of fish, would prohibit the fishing of cetaceans with the intent to take them into captivity. This was captured under Bill S-203.
The Liberals believe that the bill will restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards. They think it will provide certainty for industry. They say it will provide strong and meaningful protection of fish and fish habitat. However, we know they are wrong.
When we introduced changes to the act in 2012, we did so because the former Fisheries Act was not working. The legislation was way past its best before date, a line, by the way, which the former fisheries minister used when he was describing the changes to it. The legislation was past its best before date and no one was happy with the way things were working. We acknowledged that so we made some changes.
Our common sense approach improved fisheries conservation, prioritized fish productivity, protected significant fisheries and reduced the regulatory burden on industry and communities. Again, it did not lessen any of the regulations. They were still there. They were still in place. I will go back to the Mining Association of Canada's comment that it actually increased some of the areas where under section 35 they could be found in contravention.
In 2012, the Conservative government undertook a rigorous review of and revisions to the Fisheries Act. This review was commenced for a number of reasons, and primarily that the broad scope of the definition of “fish habitat” included entire watersheds and extended the reach of the federal government into watersheds and land use planning, in which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not have expertise.
As a matter of fact, I believe a witness said that by the definition under the former Fisheries Act, a puddle in one's backyard could be deemed a fish habitat. Even a septic pipe that burst and led to a large pool of water in one's backyard could be deemed a fish habitat.
There was a lack of discretion for what was important fish habitat as it relates to fish productivity and what was less important. The House will not get any argument on this side that all fish are important. We must do whatever we can to ensure that we are growing fish for today and for the future.
We do incredible work on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans by putting our partisan stripes aside. All members of that committee are able to work together to try to find common ground.
I know that might be foreign to some people in this House. I know that some members who are not on that committee from the government side are laughing and heckling at me right now. However, I can say with all honesty that our colleagues from all sides of the House are committed to finding whatever solution we can, whether it is the northern cod study, the Atlantic salmon study, the aquatic invasive study that we just completed, or our steelhead study that we have done.
We did a study on abandoned and derelict vessels that was proposed by one of our NDP colleagues. In the last sitting, it was proposed by a Conservative colleague for us to review and revise, to look at how Canada deals with its derelict vessels. In the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, that authority was not happening. Many times, communities, and in some instances individual Canadians, were left to try to deal with rusting and derelict vessels that were left in their waterways.
We do great work, and we all are focused on one thing: the protection of our coastal communities. It is not just our coastal communities, but those families who depend on our fisheries for their livelihoods and for sustenance. We are committed to trying to find a way, working through our committee, to having a full understanding of how certain pieces of legislation come through and how the government continues with its mandate.
All members, if they were polled, would say it is absolutely shameful when we have bureaucrats and officials come before us and they promise to be better. At one of my very first meetings, I walked into the committee like a bull in a china shop. It had a bit of a reputation as one of those committees that spun its wheels and never got anything done. That is what I heard, but little did I know. I met my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and learned of the great work he had done previously and the history that he has. I met some of my Liberal colleagues and heard from them first-hand about what goes on in their communities, and some of the concerns coming from the Rock or the east coast and from Vancouver.
I take offence on this, and some of my colleagues from the Rock know where I am going with this one. When the surf clam issue took place, the seven MPs from the Rock for the most part were silent. I am looking at my friend across the way and I know he was not. However, for the most part, the members from the Rock were silent during the whole surf clam issue. The issue was that the former fisheries minister awarded a lucrative surf clam quota to a sitting Liberal MP's brother, a former Liberal colleague. As well, we found out down the way, it was a company that was being led by the former minister's wife's first cousin. We managed to get a stop to that.
I bring that up to point out that we do great work in these committees. They are supposed to be at arm's length and masters of their own destiny in terms of the work that they do. However, on Bill C-68 on the Fisheries Act, we saw a letter that came from the minister, not asking but ordering the committee to immediately undertake a study on the changes to the Fisheries Act.
Going back to my speech, as I mentioned, there was a lack of discretion in terms of important fish habitat as it relates to fish productivity and what is less important. I got off track, but I want to reiterate that all fish are important. The inconsistencies led to difficulties in assessing an appropriate level of regulatory effort that was proportional to actual importance.
I met with front-line officers, who said that previously the act was harder to enforce. It was challenging. They needed to have some consistency. The Conservative changes made it, not easier for the proponent to get away with what they were doing, but it did make it easier because it was black and white as to what was wrong and what was right. It made it easier for the front-line officers to enforce the Fisheries Act.
Further, the lack of knowledge regarding fish populations allowed for all water bodies to be considered as fish habitat until proven otherwise, and as I mentioned, even puddles. One of the witnesses said that technically, under the former definition, a puddle could have been considered a fish habitat.
Before we introduced changes, all fish and consequently all fish habitat, regardless of economic or social value, received protection under the Fisheries Act. This created a system that was impossible to manage and impediments for most minor work. Farmers looking to improve their land or deal with flooding or other issues, or municipalities looking to install a drain, had to go through a bureaucratic process that made doing one's taxes look easy.
To top it off, there were the inconsistencies between departments. Depending on which DFO office someone went to, it could make someone want to give up on the whole process entirely.
With the restoration of “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat”, HADD provisions, the government is putting it back in place. It means that Canadians will once again need to deal with a set of unenforceable guidelines that will hinder the development and truly do nothing to increase fish stocks or protect valuable habitat.
We heard numerous members, over the course of our previous discussions on Bill C-68, as well as this one, talk about the restoration of lost protections. Again, they used terms such as “gutted”. To me, that is fairly offensive. I think all members of Parliament in this House sign up to do the best that we can, given the portfolios and the files we have. Some of the language that we get from across the way is quite offensive.
It is interesting. Liberals are always the ones who stand up and say that Conservatives are the most divisive bunch. They are fearmongering and they are pitting Canadians against Canadians. Do not even get me started on Liberals using reconciliation on things such as the surf clam project. Liberals stood in the House and said that it was all under the guise of reconciliation, when we knew it pitted first nation against first nation and non-first nation against first nation.
I will go back to this issue as well. The government was trying to deal with the southern mountain caribou issue that we have in British Columbia, and some of the consultations, or lack of consultation, that the Liberals have done. They basically mandated the provincial government to immediately do something, or the Liberal government was going to do a section 80, I believe it is, under the Species at Risk Act. That essentially sent fear throughout our whole province. I urge Canadians, if they get a chance, to Google the southern mountain caribou issue in the province of British Columbia. If Canadians want to see a bungled PR mess, that is it right there. The Liberals have now walked back on it.
However, this all goes back to what we were saying, that the Liberals were not listening to local stakeholders who are on the ground. Liberals believe that they know best and so this is what they are going to do. Again, I will go back to this. If we looked at the letters and requests to the minister to take action, they all came from groups that receive money from foreign-funded groups.
There is no one here who would want to see a species die off. I stood and very clearly stated my message during this whole process that the promise and trust have been broken. At one point, our federal representatives did not want to chime in, although they were the ones who were directing it. They wanted the provincial government to be front and centre, taking all the heat at all the town hall meetings.
Trust has been broken by the Liberal government time and time again. It uses terms like “reconciliation”. Just last week, a member of a first nation called me and said that “reconciliation” is not a buzzword. Unfortunately, the government and the Prime Minister have used it time and time again, and it is shameful. They do things like the surf clam and the southern mountain caribou, and do it under guise of reconciliation. If they want to do something under the guise of reconciliation, how about ending all of the boil water advisories or the suicide epidemic in first nations communities from coast to coast to coast?
Last week, the missing and murdered indigenous women's commission came out with some recommendations. The government knew that this report was coming, but did it budget anything to act on any of the findings? There was nothing.
When we talk about Bill C-68, we are talking about trust. Time and again, the government has broken the trust of Canadians. It promised to have only small deficits and that it would balance the budget by 2019. We are in 2019. Liberals always like to blame those who came before them. It is quite shameful. They have been in government now for four years. It is about time that they take some leadership and ownership of the problems they have created themselves.
We have heard a number of members opposite talk about the restoration of lost protections. We know from the recounting of testimony from witness after witness that there were no lost protections from the previous government's changes.
The former minister of fisheries and oceans said, “Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine coastal areas that are both ecologically significant and linked to the economic prosperity of Canadians.” I could not agree more on this. Canada has the longest coastline in the world. What I do not agree with is the assertion that protections were lost.
The Liberal changes to the Fisheries Act would lengthen the regulatory process, provide unclear and weaker rules to establish and manage ecologically significant areas, and simply put, return us to a destabilization that will prove to be cumbersome and unmanageable. The former minister noted that he wanted to re-establish public confidence, and yet the amendments he proposed to the bill would do nothing. The bill we got back from the Senate had some good amendments that strengthened the bill to a certain extent, and yet the Liberals gutted them again.
Bill C-68 would make it harder for proponents wishing to develop property and will weaken transparency through the creation of more bureaucratic red tape. Farmers looking to improve their land, and municipalities looking to install drains, are going to be faced with a lengthy bureaucratic process that is going to make it harder to respond to critical incidents. There have been flooding incidents in our communities. In 2017, there were massive wildfires, as everyone knows, and it would make it harder and harder for farmers to recover from natural disasters.
The minister hoped his bill would help to protect middle-class jobs in coastal communities. He actually said that. However, just after introducing the bill, the surf clam process took place. I have spent a lot of time in Grand Bank and several coastal communities meeting with fishing organizations and indigenous communities from all across our country, and they are fed up. They are fed up with the government's virtue-signalling and while doing whatever it can to make it harder for them to prosper.
A chief of a first nation called me last week. He told me, “I just want the government to get out of the way so that I can lead my community to prosperity. I want the government to get out of the way. When I need their help, I want them to be able to act and act quickly, but I need them to get out of the way, because if there are poverty or social issues in my community, that is on me.” He said, “I am a forward-leaning leader within my community and I want to lead my community to prosperity.”
Unfortunately, the government's pandering to third party groups is making it harder. He said, “I for one, and our community for one, are tired of being the poster child for some of these third party groups.” Some of them I named earlier in this speech.
That brings me back to Edgar, a good friend I met during the surf clam project. I remember his words. He said that the minister's decision to arbitrarily take that surf clam quota away shook his life, shook his foundation, shook his community, the Grand Bank community. It is a community that has had a fishing history for over 400 years. I remember the mayor telling me that the scars of the industry run right straight through the middle of this community.
That is an example of how the government has lost the trust of Canadians. I bring this up because Bill C-68 is another example, and Canadians are weary. They are distrustful that in the eleventh hour of the final session for this government, it is bringing this measure forward, just as we saw with other pieces of legislation.
We are sitting to midnight now. Why are we sitting to midnight? The government House leader says we are sitting to midnight now. Canadians expect us to work. I do not have a problem sitting to midnight, but why are we sitting to midnight? It is because of the Liberals' failure to make progress with legislation. There has been no real priority.
Let us speak about priorities. Two weeks ago we heard from the government's independent leader in the Senate as to why softwood was not negotiated in the new NAFTA, but was there a priority? Today a Liberal member from the Lower Mainland in Vancouver stood up and touted his government's great record on job creation and low unemployment numbers in our province, all while layoff notices and job losses are mounting. That is shameful.
Just last night Canfor, the largest employer in my province and Canada's largest forestry producer, announced sweeping job curtailments throughout the province of British Columbia. Hundreds if not thousands of Canadians are out of work, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard is clapping. That is shameful. I urge the parliamentary secretary to come to my riding. A tone-deaf, muted response was all I got last week to my comments about softwood not being a priority.
There was another response from the Liberals last week in response to my comments about softwood not being a priority. It was that Canadians should be reassured because the job numbers are up and the Liberals stand with the forestry workers. When are they standing with them? Are they standing with them when they are looking for work? Are they standing with them when they are worried about how they are going to make ends meet because they lost their livelihoods? Are they standing with them when they have to go to the bank because the bank is foreclosing on their house?
That is shameful. That goes to—
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 Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-03-26 16:04 [p.18101]
Mr. Speaker, I want to say on the record parenthetically that I find the use of time allocation, as happening almost on a daily basis these days, to be quite shocking. I know that when in opposition, the Liberal Party promised not to use time allocation. It seems things were so bad under the previous government that being less bad is good enough for the Liberals. I do not think that is good enough really. However, I cannot resist the opportunity to ask the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard a question about his quite excellent legislation.
I am glad Bill C-68 is before us. We need it desperately. However, is he open to an amendment on a particular section that I was pleased and surprised to see, which is the barring of taking cetaceans into captivity? Would the minister be open perhaps to adding language so the bill that is now stuck in the Senate, Bill S-203, could have key elements incorporated into Bill C-68, in other words not just capturing but keeping or importing?
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
2018-03-26 16:05 [p.18101]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her support of the legislation. As I have said many times, we would be open to working with her and with all members of the House with respect to specific suggestions that would improve the legislation.
I agree with the member that the inclusion of the provisions around taking of cetaceans for captivity was inspired by the work done by the Senate, by Bill S-203, and former senator Wilfred Moore from the province of Nova Scotia. My colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands, having studied law at Dalhousie University as did Senator Moore, would understand the importance of getting the right balance in legislation that keeps up with what we think is the widely held sentiment of Canadians.
With respect to the member's specific suggestion of those amendments, I would be happy to work with her to see how the intent of Bill S-203 and the substantive elements of that bill could be incorporated into amendments in the Fisheries Act. I look forward to having that conversation with her and with any other colleague.
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
2018-02-13 10:09 [p.17096]
moved that Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to speak in the House of Commons on this important legislation. You, Mr. Speaker, are a former minister of fisheries and oceans yourself and will understand the significance of the Fisheries Act in communities like the ones you and I represent, so it is a privilege for me to have this opportunity to stand in the House.
Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine coastal areas that are both ecologically significant and linked to the economic prosperity of Canadians. Our government knows that we have a responsibility to steward these resources for future generations while maintaining economic opportunities for many people and communities who depend on them.
In my mandate letter, the Prime Minister asked me to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act. In 2012, the government got rid of a number of fish habitat protection measures without engaging indigenous peoples, fishers, scientists, conservation groups, coastal communities, or the general public in any meaningful way and without their support. What made that decision even more unacceptable was the fact that the changes were buried in a 430-page omnibus bill in the hope they would slip by unnoticed. Canadians definitely noticed.
Indigenous and environmental groups were especially concerned with changes made to the act and rightly perceived those amendments as weakening what should be of shared concern for Canadians: the protection of fish and fish habitat. Industry partners were thrust into uncertainty with regard to their responsibilities under the act.
Our government has worked and consulted with a broad range of Canadians, and we encouraged everyone to be part of this important conversation. Provinces, environmental groups, fishers associations, indigenous groups, and thousands of Canadians helped shape the amendments currently before the House of Commons.
The proposed amendments to Bill C-68 are part of the government's broader strategy to review environmental and regulatory processes and cover several key themes, including partnership with indigenous peoples; supporting planning and integrated management; enhancing regulation and enforcement; improving partnerships and collaboration, including with industry; and monitoring and reporting back to Canadians.
The Fisheries Act is one of Canada's oldest pieces of legislation. It was enacted shortly after Confederation. It has been amended very little since that time, which is why it needs to be updated and modernized. To that effect, Bill C-68 adds new provisions dealing with the objectives and considerations that must be examined in the decision-making process under the act. The proposed objectives seek to create a proper management and control framework for fisheries and the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, particularly through pollution prevention.
The new considerations under these amendments are designed to clearly guide the responsibility of a minister of fisheries and oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions under the act. Bill C-68 proposes amendments that would restore protections for fish and fish habitat to ensure that these protections apply to all fish. We are reintroducing the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, as well as the prohibition against the death of fish by means other than fishing.
We are also introducing measures that would allow for the better management of projects that may be harmful to fish or fish habitat through a new permitting scheme for big projects and codes of practice for smaller ones, so that industry partners, as well as everyday Canadians, can be certain about their responsibilities but not unreasonably burdened when undertaking small, local projects.
In the past, uncertainty in the act has caused some uncertainty among project proponents with respect to their obligations and responsibilities. The proposed amendments create regulatory authorities that will make it possible to establish a list of designated projects, including the commitments and activities that will still require a licence.
Our goal is to streamline these processes, and we will be engaging with provinces and territories as well as indigenous peoples and stakeholders to decide which kinds of projects should be on the designated project list.
We are also formalizing the creation of a proponent-led habitat banking regime. Habitat banking is an international best practice for offsetting project impacts where a freshwater or marine area is created, restored, or enhanced by working to improve fish habitat in advance of a project's impact.
Habitat loss and degradation as well as changes to fish passage and flow are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine fish habitats in Canada today. It is imperative that Canada restore degraded fish habitats. That is why amendments to the Fisheries Act propose requiring the consideration of restoration as part of project decision-making.
These amendments provide clearer, stronger, and easier rules to establish and manage ecologically significant areas and provide stand-alone regulations to protect sensitive or important fish habitats. Given the important ecological characteristics of sensitive areas, certain types of work and activities may be prohibited and others may be identified as being subject to a special information gathering under a new authorization regime.
During the review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act, we heard over and over again about the need to improve access to information on government activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat. Indigenous communities, industry associations, environmental groups, universities, and my colleagues on the House of Commons standing committee all talked about the importance of transparency in the decision-making process under the act.
In order to re-establish public confidence, we are proposing amendments to establish a public registry, which would be available online. By enabling greater transparency, the registry would allow Canadians to hold the government to account in its federal decision-making with regard to fish and their habitat.
Fisheries resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous peoples. The respect for the rights of indigenous peoples as well as taking into account their unique interests and aspirations in fisheries-related economic opportunities and the protection of fish and fish habitat are important means of renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples.
For instance, the Fisheries Act is being amended to require the minister to consider any potential adverse effects resulting from decisions the minister might make in accordance with the rights of Canada's indigenous peoples, as set out in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
In addition, our government recognizes the importance of the traditional knowledge of Canada's indigenous peoples in sound decision-making regarding fish and fish habitat.
Indigenous peoples across Canada, and other Canadians from coast to coast to coast, can rest assured that the government will act to protect the confidential traditional knowledge that indigenous people would share with the government under the provisions of this legislation.
Many indigenous communities are in close proximity to areas where projects that may affect fish and fish habitat are proposed, and many communities see new roles for themselves in how these decisions are made.
We have proposed long-overdue amendments that would provide for the making of agreements with indigenous governing bodies to further the purposes of the act, as we have done in the past with provinces and territories.
There are currently no legislative or regulatory requirements in place with respect to the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks.
The commissioner of environment and sustainable development, as well as our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, have recommended that any revisions to the Fisheries Act should include direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and fish stocks.
Environmental groups have also called on the government to adopt measures aimed at the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks within the Fisheries Act. This is why we are proposing amendments that would require decisions affecting a stock in the critical zone to consider whether there are measures in place aimed at rebuilding that stock, and, when a minister is of the opinion that habitat degradation is a cause of the decline of the stock, whether measures are in place to restore such habitat.
This positive obligation on governments and greater transparency, we believe are essential to strengthening the Fisheries Act.
We also heard Canadians' views on other important issues related to the Fisheries Act. Although the number of aquariums that keep cetaceans in captivity for public display has fallen overall, this is still a sensitive issue that Canadians are deeply concerned about.
Our government recognizes that it is now wrong to capture these magnificent creatures for public display. Consequently, we are proposing amendments to the Fisheries Act that would prohibit the capture of a cetacean when the intent is to bring it into captivity, except in circumstances where the cetacean is injured, in distress, or in need of rehabilitation.
The Senate has, for a long time, done good work in respect to this important issue. I want to salute former Senator Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia and others in the Senate who have continued to press this important issue in the minds of Canadians.
Some 72,000 Canadians make their living from fishing and fishing-related activities. Most of them, including self-employed inshore harvesters, are part of Canada's growing middle class. In many places across Atlantic Canada and Quebec, the fishery is the economic, social, and cultural heart of communities. As the fisheries minister, one of my duties is to ensure that these important traditions endure. However, threats remain to this way of life. Fish harvesters, particularly in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, have told us time and again that they need greater protection for their economic security, and they need help to ensure their economic independence.
It was clear to me that these important policies, like the owner-operator and fleet separation policies, were being circumvented by controlling agreements, which threaten the independence of the inshore and midshore fleets by removing the control of licences from individual harvesters to larger corporate interests. The amendments we are proposing would entrench existing inshore policies into law, with all the legal enforcement power required to protect small coastal communities and independent inshore harvesters.
I stand firm in supporting the economic and cultural fabric of these coastal communities. Our government has recognized that a licensing regime that supports independent inshore harvesters is critical to the economic livelihood of these communities and the families and Canadians who depend on them.
As I said, we looked at ways to strengthen the independence of the inshore sector and enforce the act more robustly. That is why we are proposing amendments that enshrine a specific power in the Fisheries Act, rather than a policy, in order to develop regulations that support the independence of inshore commercial licence holders. The amendments proposed today would entrench into law the power to make regulations on owner-operator and fleet separation policies in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
In so doing, this act helps to protect middle-class jobs in our coastal communities by ensuring that present and future fisheries and oceans ministers may consider the preservation and promotion of the independence of licence-holders in commercial inshore fisheries in the decision-making process.
I want to thank a number of organizations that have played a key role in these amendments with respect to owner-operator and fleet separation. The FFAW, the Maritime Fishermen's Union, le Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels de homard du sud de la Gaspésie, the Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, and the Canadian Independent Fish Harvester's Federation have been instrumental in this important work.
Fishing can be a dangerous occupation, involving many risks not only for fish harvesters, but for the marine environment as well.
With the unprecedented death of 12 North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from June to September last year, we know that Canadians expect prompt and urgent action by their government. This is why we are proposing amendments to the Fisheries Act that provide a new fisheries management order power to establish quick and targeted fisheries management measures. These measures will be used for 45-day increments where there is a recognizable threat to the conservation and protection of our marine ecosystems. The proposed fisheries management order power is meant to address emerging issues when a fishery is already under way and when time-sensitive and targeted measures are also paramount.
In my mandate letter, I was asked by the Prime Minister to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by the end of 2017, and to 10% by 2020, which is the target we are now on track to achieve. I am pleased to report to the House that we have not only achieved our 2017 target, but we will continue to work diligently to ensure that we surpass the 10% commitment through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
To help us fulfill these international commitments and obligations, we are proposing amendments to the Fisheries Act that provide ministerial authority to make regulations to establish long-term spatial restrictions to fishing activities under the act specifically for the purpose of conserving and protecting marine biodiversity.
We are also proposing amendments that will strengthen the act. During the many public engagement sessions that were held, Canadians made it clear that they wanted to see more fishery officers, conservation officers, and patrols, as well as more offenders being caught and punished.
To incorporate modern protection mechanisms into the act, some amendments are being proposed to clarify, strengthen, and modernize enforcement powers under the act, for example by empowering fishery officers to intercept any vessel or vehicle and require it to be moved to a place where an inspection can be carried out.
The proposed amendments also seek to increase the authority of the courts with respect to seizure and forfeiture under the act, and allow the use of alternative measure agreements to address certain contraventions.
As I mentioned earlier, the Fisheries Act is one of the oldest and most important environmental laws in Canada. It was passed in 1868, just one year after Confederation, and did not change much until the late 1970s, when habitat protection provisions were first added by one of my predecessors, who, coincidentally, was my father, Roméo LeBlanc.
Then, as now, the act remains a model among Canada's environmental laws. That is why we have ensured the amendments we have introduced to the Fisheries Act include updated and modern tools that are the hallmarks found in other environmental legislation. We are proposing modern provisions such as the power to create advisory panels, fee-setting authorities, and provisions respecting the collection of information.
I consider myself privileged to stand in this House, as my father did in 1977, to introduce amendments to the Fisheries Act that served his generation. I hope that this new modernized act will live up to my father's legacy and do for our generation what he and the previous Parliament did for theirs.
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