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View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:01 [p.27636]
Madam Speaker, Liberal fisheries ministers continue to fail Pacific salmon and the Canadians who rely on them. Evidence of this failure is another layer of fishing restrictions that will put hundreds of British Columbians out of work. Instead of working against fishermen and coastal communities, the government should work with them to restore Pacific salmon stocks.
B.C. fishers and conservationists know how to put more salmon back in our streams and oceans, so when will the fisheries minister start working with the fishermen instead of just shutting them out of their fisheries?
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:14 [p.27638]
Madam Speaker, I as well have a petition today from residents across Canada who call on the Parliament of Canada and the government to move quickly on the proposed legislation to ban trafficking of human organs around the world. The act would prohibit Canadians from travelling abroad to acquire human organs removed without consent or as a result of financial transaction and to render inadmissible to Canada any and all permanent residents or foreign nationals who have participated in this abhorrent trade in human organs.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:15 [p.27638]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise again. It is always awkward when we have our speeches interrupted by question period, but it is an honour to continue with my debate on the Senate amendments to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
This bill went through the House. It went through the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which I sit on, and was studied at great length. There were a number of amendments put forward on this bill when it came through the House and the standing committee. Unfortunately, the majority of the amendments that would have provided openness, transparency, accountability and some assurance for the local communities that could be affected were rejected.
That is why I believe it went to the Senate. They have taken a look at it and have seen that it needs to have an increased level of accountability. It is simply not there.
In our opinion, the bill was not correctly drafted. That is just a continuation of what we have seen in draft legislation from the government. It seems to happen again and again. We get a bill before the House, it makes it through first and second reading here and goes to committee, and then a flood of amendments comes in.
Just recently, I remember the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo speaking about some of the indigenous-related bills that have been before the House, drafted by a government that is high on virtue and low on substance. It actually table-dropped a dozen or more amendments on top of an already long list of amendments that were actually submitted late, after the deadline. It was amendment after amendment coming from the very government that actually drafted the legislation in the first place.
It seems to be a continuation of ineptness on the government's part in seeing what needs to be in place in a piece of legislation. We have seen that multiple times. I actually had the opportunity to sub in at the environment committee when it was studying Bill C-69. That bill was rushed through this House and rushed through the process. I could not believe the rushed process when the committee was studying that bill, especially at the clause-by-clause stage.
I actually happened to sub in the day the committee was doing the clause-by-clause study of that bill and considering all of the amendments that were put forward on that bill. I believe that over 600 draft amendments were proposed. What is even more unbelievable is that over 300 of them came from the government side. There were 300-plus amendments from a government that originally drafted the bill. To me, that is unconscionable. How can it possibly be?
It is an example of how the government was very inept in getting any legislation moving in the early stages of its tenure, and now it is pushing and pushing to move things through at a faster pace as it comes closer to the end of its tenure. I certainly hope the end of that tenure happens in October. We are certainly working hard to restore the trust and faith that people in Canada and people around the world have in Canada. It was lost by the current government.
The government is simply trying to rush legislation through, but it is trying to do this through a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency and absolute power that is being bestowed on the ministers or the councils that operate under their purview. We see that in this bill.
The government does not want to be held accountable for the reasons that it may have within its secret place for establishing areas of interest or marine protected areas. It does not want to be held accountable for any part. If feels that it knows best.
It seems to be the drive of the current government to have the government manage everything. Pay it the taxes, and it will manage everything better. We know that it is not the right way to go. We know that the people on the ground, the people in the communities, know how to manage our fish and wildlife species, resources and access to those resources far better than a government centred here in Ottawa does.
The consultation process is a huge part of what is missing in Bill C-55. I will go back to my experience travelling across this great country, from the east Atlantic coast to our west Pacific coast to our North Atlantic coast, with the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
We met with fishermen, with communities and with business owners in those communities. They wanted to provide input on where a marine protected area, MPA, may be instituted, how it may be instituted and what type of restrictions may be in place. Fishermen brought us maps with the proposed protected areas sketched out. They showed us areas where they would fish and set out their trap lines, fishing lines and long lines in a certain pattern so that they had room to work together as they fished and would not cross over each other's lines or get entanglements. They could fish in a progressive and orderly manner. However, what was happening with some of the proposed marine protected areas was that they had not been consulted on the no-take zones within those areas. They were being squeezed tighter and tighter. They were anticipating conflict on the seas, which is certainly not what we want to see, nor do we want to see people put at risk because they have to travel further or spend more time on the water to catch their harvest. However, it is that consultation that is missing in the bill, which is what the Senate was trying to put in there.
I will talk a little about my understanding of conservation versus preservation and conservatism versus socialism, which really came to light for me after I came to the House and participated in a number of debates here.
I come from a conservation background, where we use natural resources in a sustainable way. We take something out of those resources that gives value so that we have something tangible to put back in. Sometimes that can be as simple as a volunteer angler or hunter willing to put his hours back into habitat restoration, whether that be stream restoration for trout, salmon and species that might spawn in those streams or forest restoration for elk and deer. That is how they put something back, and they feel the need to put something back, because they have taken something from it. To me, that is true conservation, and I put that up against the preservation side any day.
The preservation side wants to lock everything up. There is no take. There is no consumption. There is no value received by anyone from locking it up. There may be some views or a little travel through that area, but basically, it is no touch and no take. Nothing is taken from it. What do we have to do to maintain that? We have to take from somewhere else. We need revenue to patrol, enforce and manage the piece that is preserved. To me, when we have to take from somewhere over here to support something over there, it is too much toward socialism, and I certainly hope we are not going to have to go that way.
There are other pieces in the bill that are really troubling. I want to quote from part of it:
The Governor in Council and the Minister shall not use lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity that may be carried out in certain areas of the sea as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.1(2).
For a government that claims to be investing billions in science, this paragraph jumped out at me when I first reviewed Bill C-55. That the Governor in Council and the minister shall not use the lack of scientific certainty in doing anything presents to me that they can use any reason they see fit, whether science supports it or not, to make a decision, which is simply unconscionable. I cannot support that type of power and authority being given to ministers of the Crown or their councils. The greatest part of that concern comes from foreign influence in those decisions. We see this continuously.
I mentioned earlier in my speech the consultations that took place on the closure of chinook fishing off the west coast of Vancouver Island. At the time, fishing organizations and local conservationists felt that they were having a reasonably good consultation process with the department about what closures there should be. They were working co-operatively. They were working with the department and the government on what they saw as viable solutions. They put forward their proposals, which they felt would be accepted. What they found out afterward was that there was a strong backdoor lobbying effort by environmental NGOs that wanted to see all fishing completely shut down. That pressure was behind the scenes, behind closed doors. No one knows what it was, because it was all done through ministerial confidence.
Foreign influence could affect the decisions that could be made through that clause saying that the minister does not need scientific evidence. All he needs is pressure from a foreign NGO. That is where I see huge risks in this bill. We had hoped to see more accountability in the reasoning, location and jurisdictional decisions the minister makes on establishing these MPAs.
Earlier today we heard the parliamentary secretary basically denounce the proposed amendments from the Senate, saying that they were redundant and not necessary. I would like to come to that. If they are redundant, they would be easy to step over to go to the next phase. If they showed that one phase of the consultation or assessment process covered off the concerns, when they got to the next phase, which might bring up those concerns again, they could point out, in the individual instances and cases, how those concerns were addressed. I really have a hard time agreeing with the parliamentary secretary's statements about the redundancy and the lack of the need for accountability. Everyone needs accountability from their government. I think that is why people send us here to Ottawa, to this great place. We are held accountable by our constituents back home.
I want to get back to an early draft of the legislation. The process in Bill C-55 is an attempt to speed up the government's ability to reach targets that were set by our government as targets, not hard-set goals but targets. We were working toward achieving those targets through a process of consultation and input from the local communities.
I talked about the marine protected areas that had been established in the north. I will have to apologize to the Inuit people for not being able to speak their language the way they do. There is the Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam marine closed area in the Arctic Ocean. There is the Tarium Niryutait closure also in the Arctic. Those marine closed areas were put in place because the communities wanted them. They saw what was there. They saw the value. However, they only protect against certain things. They protect against cruise ships coming in. They still allow the local harvest to take place for salmon, beluga whales and whatever the local Inuit had traditionally harvested out of those areas. It was a very co-operative process.
We travelled there and met with the chiefs and the band members. They were very proud of what they had achieved, a total opposite to what we have seen take place over the last three and a half years under the federal Liberal government. We saw a spirit of co-operation in the north, a recognition of those indigenous and Inuit values for the establishment of those MPAs. They were very specific about what they were protecting because they had consulted with the local people. The government understood what needed to be protected, what needed to be preserved, how big the area needed to be and what the risks were.
Another big part of what has taken place here is that for some of this, the moving forward with areas of interest and proposals for marine protected areas, there has not been a full identification of risks. There has not even been a basic identification of those risks. One of the things that came forward in the Senate amendments was that there would be an identification of the risks, the features and the species that might be involved in the marine protected areas.
Over the past couple of years, the fisheries minister has been questioned about MPAs, their enforcement, implementation and so on. One of the things that came out of the study we did, which was basically a unanimous report, was:
That, when identifying new areas of interest for marine protected areas, the Government of Canada evaluate net economic and social values and responsibilities, including cost of patrol and enforcement in Canada, particularly for remote marine areas.
The minister's response to this recommendation merely acknowledged that enforcement was an expense.
Last September, the minister's own national advisory panel, established to give advice on establishing marine protected areas, also recommended “That the government identify long-term, permanent, and stable funding for marine protected areas”. The minister's response to the advisory panel failed to even mention funding or resources for marine protected areas. It is unbelievable. It was mentioned in the committee report and in his own advisory panel's report and the minister did not even acknowledge it in his response.
DFO's 2019-20 departmental plan states that the department will provide enforcement in MPAs through the National Fisheries Intelligence Service, NFIS. However, the purpose of the NFIS, according to DFO, is large-scale fisheries offences, not habitat protection for pollution offences. The minister, through his department, is handing off patrol and enforcement of MPAs to the National Fisheries Intelligence Service that has no mandate to protect habitat or pollution.
There was no mention of MPA enforcement activities in the federal budgets or supplementary estimates since the fisheries committee and the minister's advisory panel told the government that enforcement activities needed to be funded. The minister knew there needed to be funding around enforcement. He was told that by the committee and by his own appointed panel, yet we saw nothing in the budget for enforcement of MPAs.
In the discussion earlier, I mentioned that local communities felt, in many cases, that they might be the best to patrol and enforce because they were on the water. They are out there anyway, performing their activities, at no real additional cost to the government. Therefore, they could spot the bad guys, the infractions, point out who was doing what at no expense. However, we have seen no program platform put forward, no ideas on how to enforce and increase the patrol of these upcoming MPAs.
It is another area where the government is simply putting out ideas and has no plan on how to follow through and complete those ideas. Without a funding plan for enforcement, the creation of marine protected areas is little more than government announcements and lines on a map. Out on the ocean, on the high seas, it may mean very little.
What is the government's funding plan for enforcement activities in marine protected areas?
I believe there were 24 recommendations from the standing committee's study on marine protected areas. The majority of those were around the consultation process that was needed, the consultation process with fishermen, with indigenous people, the Inuit and with people right across the country, on how it would affect them. I also do not want to forget the consultation that needs to take place with the shipping industry. All of those pieces need to be put together into a very intricate puzzle.
Recommendation 15 states:
That the creation of a marine protected area be founded on clear objectives, the best available science or, in urgent situations, the application of the precautionary principle, all informed by traditional knowledge contributed by the local indigenous communities and fishers that have traditionally operated in the area.
All of these pieces need to be put together. It is simply again the consultation process that needs to take place through the best available science. The recommendation is very clear, except for in an urgent situation, but still through the knowledge of the locals.
The bill has been through the House, the Senate, and amendments were proposed in the House and at committee. Unfortunately, a lot of those amendments were ignored by the government. We now have amendments from the Senate. Obviously, it saw problems with the bill. In that, we can see the bill is flawed. It needs to be improved. How the government intends to do it, I am not sure. The Liberals will probably try to push it through.
Rather than a page and a half of detailed points that the Senate made in its amendment that needed to be corrected, the government's response was to take a butcher's knife to it, send it back to the Senate, with three small bullet points saying that it needed to get this done so it could say that had achieved something, because the Liberals have achieved very little in their three and a half years.
I will conclude by thanking members for being here on a Friday to listen. It is has been an important process. I want to thank the Senate for its study and its committee that put the work into the study.
As I mentioned, even before the government introduced Bill C-55, in fact, months before, I moved the motion that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans take a look into how marine protected areas were established, the process and procedure for establishing those to ensure the science and consultation was done. The committee did some great work on that. Unfortunately, I do not believe the government has actually followed through on the process.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:43 [p.27641]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's disagreement with what I am saying, but I certainly disagree with what the Liberals are trying to say. They have seemingly been taken over by organizations that want to shut down any development whatsoever.
As I have mentioned many times through my intervention, consultation is key on closures. However, we have heard comments from the premier of the Northwest Territories that the government, without consultation, shut down the entire northern shelf for any development, negatively impacting an entire territory and the economic benefit it could have had through that.
We have seen the benefit when oil and gas was found off the coast of Newfoundland and how it was developed safely. There has not been a blowout. Nor has there been a problem. The wealth that came into the province of Newfoundland over the past decades was mostly driven by the safe development of oil and gas off those coasts. However, the government is hell-bent on shutting down any type of resource development anywhere in the country.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:46 [p.27642]
Madam Speaker, I hope the member will accept that I will not be able to respond to him in his native language, French. I would hate to butcher it in an attempt, so I will respond in English.
The targets that were set are targets. They are not a hardline deadline that one has to meet or one would get a failing grade and get kicked out of class. That is certainly not the case. Those targets could have been met without a bill like Bill C-55. All Bill C-55 does is allow a lazy government to move forward without accountability and transparency to meet a foreign body's influence on what we should do as Canadians. To me, that is terribly wrong. We have the greatest country in the world. As Canadians, we know how to protect it, how to conserve it and how to preserve what needs to be preserved. We should not have to push through a bill that would take away the transparency and accountability of any body in order to meet international targets.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:48 [p.27642]
Madam Speaker, there was a lengthy list of amendments. I do not have them all in front of me here, but I believe there were probably 25 or 30 amendments put forward at the standing committee during the study of the bill. There were 23 or 24 recommendations from the study motion that I put forward at committee, all geared toward consultation with the local communities, the local people and indigenous nations right across the country. That was the one message we heard time and time again, not to rush this. The process that was in place, where sometimes it would take five to seven years to establish an MPA, was supported by the communities out there. That is what the recommendations were about. The amendments that were not accepted would have helped to address some of that consultation process, but unfortunately the government pushed it through without those amendments being accepted.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:50 [p.27642]
Madam Speaker, as the member for Calgary Shepard probably knows, his province and his constituents probably have much greater interest in this bill than they would suspect. Parts of this bill would allow the minister to set up marine protected areas or areas of interest that could ban shipping over the entire area, the shipping of products from all over Canada, and in particular the product of the petroleum resource industry in Alberta, in Calgary.
Constituents right across the country benefit from the shipment of those resources. That is the crux of this bill. It is about the unbelievable power that is given to the minister to absolutely and arbitrarily draw a line on a map and say, “That is it, no ships going though there, anywhere.” Those are the kinds of things that my colleague's constituents in Calgary Shepard and my constituents in North Okanagan—Shuswap are extremely concerned about, that the government is giving unfettered power to its ministers to shut down industry.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 13:54 [p.27651]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts, ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.
The proposed bill amends the Criminal Code to create offences respecting cetaceans in captivity. It also amends the Fisheries Act to prohibit the taking of cetaceans into captivity and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act to require a permit for the import of a cetacean into Canada and the export of a cetacean from Canada.
The bill seems to be falling under the same umbrella, the same mode of operation of the government. It is being rushed through the House.
I was not able to attend the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans the day the bill was debated clause by clause, where amendments might be considered and brought back to the House. It is my understanding that even the Liberal government drafted and put forward four amendments to the bill. The Liberals could see the bill was flawed. They drafted corrections to a bill that had been out there for a lengthy period of time. However, when it came time to debate those amendments, the Liberals drew them back. It was speculated that they did that because of pressure from outside groups behind closed doors, under cabinet confidence, something the public cannot have access to, to withdraw those amendments.
That is a concerning factor for me. As the deputy shadow minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, we seem to see a trend recurring over and over again. The government promises consultation and claims to consult with locals and the people who are affected by changes to laws or regulations, the businesses, the aquariums, the fishermen. After the Liberals have done all that supposed consultation, they go behind closed doors where they appear to be lobbied by foreign interest groups, special interest groups. That lobbying seems to have more effect than the open and transparent consultation process that should take place with an open and transparent government, which, unfortunately, seems to be lacking right now.
Bill S-203 has been rushed through the House of Commons, without study. In the short time members of Parliament have had the bill, many issues have been flagged. These issues range from constitutional concerns to practical considerations that have been simply overlooked. This happens when legislation is rushed through and not carefully considered. Had the members been given more time to review and study the bill, many of these problems could have been solved with simple amendments. These amendments would benefit cetaceans, Canadians and stakeholders alike.
Another major issue was flagged recently in Bill S-203, which could impact hundreds of thousands of Canadians and their vacation plans over time. As it currently reads, Bill S-203 could negatively impact Canadian travel and tourist industry. More specifically, Bill S-203 could negatively impact travel agencies and Canadian vacationers who travel abroad and visit captive cetaceans in other countries. It has been argued that this is not the case, but the legal advice cannot irrefutably dissolve this. They cannot say for certain that this is not the case. It will take a court decision to say whether it is the case.
I have a letter from Marineland that raises the concerns in great detail and I will quote from that letter:
There was considerable discussion at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans with respect to the prohibition on using cetaceans in performances for entertainment purposes and the broadness of the legislation. The section reads:
“(4) Every one commits an offence who promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive cetaceans are used for performance for entertainment purposes unless such performance is authorized pursuant to a licence issued by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of a province or by such other person or authority in the province as may be specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.”
A plain reading of the legislation offers no ambiguity. 'Every one' means every human being in Canada commits an offence when they do any of the following “promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in.”
Travel agents in Canada promote and receive money for selling such excursions to constituents of yours who then 'take part in' and many end up 'promoting' the experience on their own social media in Canada.
The exemption that is proposed in the section will not apply to the shows that today travel agents in your communities are actively promoting and receiving money from, nor will it apply to your constituents who take part in these shows and may promote it by encouraging others on social media to participate in similar shows in the future.
Department of Justice lawyers were not able to refute Marineland of Canada's contention that travel agents who 'promote' and 'receive money from' selling tickets to such shows occurring outside of Canada will not be criminally charged for doing so.
While Marineland of Canada is not concerned about this clause of the legislation impacting our facility, as we simply will not offer such a show for entertainment purposes, we believe this clause highlights the perils of using Private Members' legislation originating in the Senate to amend the Criminal Code of Canada.
We've reviewed travel agency offerings throughout Canada and have found that there are travel agents in every single Canadian province that promote and sell tickets to, and therefore receive money from, captive swim with the dolphin experiences and captive cetacean shows that will be covered by S-203.
The Department of Justice lawyer suggesting it is unlikely these people, or Canadians who urge their friends on Facebook to swim with the dolphins on their next trip, will not be prosecuted does not go far enough in addressing what is clearly a flaw in S-203.
Every single Canadian has a positive obligation to comply with all relevant sections of the Criminal Code at all times, and simply stating that while an act might be illegal, because the person breaking the law is unlikely to be prosecuted, is not OK.
If members pass S-203 with the current wording contained in the 'entertainment prohibition', you will be criminalizing the actions of vacationers from your riding who head south and participate in these lawful activities and the travel agents in your riding and Province who sell these excursions.
Is it truly the intention to leave Canadians in a position where posting about their lawful experience in another country can become a criminal offence if they encourage others to swim with dolphins when they go on vacation?
Is it truly the intention to criminally charge travel agents in your riding for selling vacations to Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas and including an excursion that involves swimming with dolphins or a captive cetacean show?
As it is currently written, that is what the legislation would do and what members would be endorsing if they voted in favour of it. It will certainly be of interest—
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-07 16:04 [p.27490]
Mr. Speaker, getting back to some of the conversation over the last couple of minutes regarding B.C. and greenhouse gas emissions, B.C. is in a unique situation because of its ability to generate hydroelectric power. There have been incredible investments made by BC Hydro to improve the production of hydroelectric power through the hydro generating stations there. Revelstoke Dam is one example. Improvements were made in the flow systems and the turbines in multiple situations there. That is where we can find reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It is not going to come from a carbon tax. Everyone in B.C. still needs to drive to get to work, although there are a few in certain areas who have access to public transit.
I would like to ask the member for Barrie—Innisfil if he feels it would make much more sense to get fuel to our markets and keep our prices low so that we can be competitive and also drive those incentives for lower emissions through hydro generation and so on.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-07 16:51 [p.27496]
Mr. Speaker, I was really glad to hear the parliamentary secretary bring up the gift to Loblaws to upgrade its refrigerators. This company makes billions in profit, yet the Liberal government is giving it a handout to upgrade its refrigerators. Meanwhile, people at home in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap have approached me to ask how the government could be so arrogant and ridiculous to provide this company with millions of dollars to upgrade its fridges, when they are struggling to get by with the new taxes that have been put on by the government.
In the latest budget book, entitled “Investing in the Middle Class to Grow Canada's Economy”, a couple of pages describe what I believe is the carbon tax. The Liberals have hidden the tax under “fuel charge proceeds”, and they start out at about $2.1 billion this year. However, on the expenditures page, there is a matching line noting $2.1 billion going out. With respect to projections down the road, the number reaches about $5.6 billion coming in, in these fuel charges, and there are $5.6 billion going out.
How can the government possibly imagine that it can manage $5.6 billion, give out more to the public than it is taking in and still balance the books? The budget is simply not as advertised.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-02 13:46 [p.27291]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages.
There are over 70 indigenous languages spoken in Canada. Over a quarter of a million first nations, Métis and Inuit speak their indigenous languages well enough to carry on a conversation. The most spoken languages are Cree, with almost 100,000 people speaking it; Inuktitut, with almost 40,000; Ojibwa, with almost 30,000; Ojibwa-Cree, with almost 16,000; and Dene, with 13,000. While these numbers are significant, there are languages that have been lost or are at risk of being lost unless something significant is done to retain the cultures and understanding of the languages of the indigenous peoples.
I am happy to say that in my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap, something significant is being done to preserve the indigenous languages of the Secwepemc and Splatsin Okanagan nations. One example of this language restoration and preservation is the Shihiya School, which is operated by the Splatsin band near the border of the Shuswap and Okanagan territories. It offers preschool to grade 6. It basically follows the provincial curriculum, but it is also integrating the Splatsin language and culture into its programs.
Another example, one I have more experience with because I have had the opportunity to visit it, is the Chief Atahm School, which is an indigenous immersion school at the western end of the Shuswap Lake area. This school was established through the vision of parents and leaders of the Adams Lake Indian Band, the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band and the Neskonlith Indian Band, which are all part of the Shuswap territory.
I have had the privilege of touring the Chief Atahm School, and have seen some of the work that has been taken up by the parents and elders of the area. The work being done is inspiring and amazing, and it is largely being done on a voluntary basis. The school has highly skilled educators working collaboratively with parents, former students, elders and technicians to put together the curriculum. The entire teaching process, page by page, image by image, illustration by illustration and story by story is being put together from scratch.
The people involved have learned how to do this, and from what I saw, they are doing an incredibly good job of it. There are elders who show up almost daily to help out. These are elders who are in their nineties, and are the few remaining people who can speak and understand the language fluently. They are working on computers side by side with technicians and illustrators. These elders could never have imagined the technology being used now to retain the language they learned, which was passed on generation after generation through stories, dance, drumming and through some incredible means. Now they are able to tell those stories and pass them on digitally, which is something they would have never imagined, as well as in written and illustrated form in booklets. These are truly amazing pieces.
The school also takes the students out to the fields and streams, which is an immense part of learning and understanding the language and the culture. When I was there, I asked if the languages were similar to Roman or French languages. They are not. The languages are based on experiences, places and geographical areas. They are often based on different times of the year. One word or sound in one language may not mean exactly the same thing in the language of a neighbouring band. It may be similar, but slightly different.
We learned that with the renaming of the Tsútswecw Provincial Park, formerly the Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, on Shuswap Lake. Apparently, in one language “Shuswap” means a place of many waters but another neighbouring area thought it referred to a place of many fish. There are such subtle differences being discovered by the recording, digitization and restoration of this language into modern forms and it is really interesting to see how that is done.
When the school takes the students out to the fields and streams it is also teaching them to harvest off the land. The students are harvesting fish, plants and wildlife. In fact, a deer is brought onto the school grounds and the students are taught how to process all of the meat and the goods off the deer. A smokehouse was also built. The students learn what the language really means when they talk about preserving their food for their future and how that is preserving their culture.
The Chief Atahm School has indigenous and non-indigenous instructors. It has brought people in from the communities outside of the bands themselves to educate the students. As I said, I was very fortunate to be able to visit the school. I was first there last year. I went back again in March of this year.
The school is doing so well and is so well supported by the community that it will be undergoing a large structural expansion. It is going to expand its inner space and teaching area so that, hopefully, it can include higher grades and all of the age levels potentially right up to university level and beyond. It will all be done through an immersion process. Many of us have heard about French immersion, but this is indigenous immersion into the Shuswap language, which is truly an incredible component. I looked at the books the school has. The students are taught the sounds by the instructors, but the words are written with our English phonetic alphabet. Some of the pronunciations were a real challenge for me. It was interesting to learn how to place one's tongue and how one's voice rolls through one's throat. All of this is part of those subtle differences of all those different languages.
I look forward to Bill C-91 making some difference on the ground for students and people in general so they can retain languages like the Shuswap language elsewhere in the country. We are at risk of losing those languages, which will be even more challenging as those members age.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-02 13:56 [p.27292]
Mr. Speaker, it really is interesting to see what takes place in this indigenous immersion school. The language is much more than written words on a page or spoken words in a story. The instructors actually take the students out into the field to experience the culture and the processes the languages describe.
We will be going into question period shortly. We have a few minutes left for questions and answers, so rather than make it awkward and stretch this over question period and into another day, I will wrap it up here, and I will take questions and comments until question period starts.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-02 13:58 [p.27293]
Mr. Speaker, the involvement of the community in the development of the curriculum and the illustrations of the books showed how important it was to include communities. This school was driven by the parents of the students. They wanted their children to learn their cultural languages. Involving those communities that way is incredible.
The bill begins to address that part of it, but there is a lot missing. The bill was brought in two years after it was promised. Then, at the last minute, over two dozen revisions were table dropped. It obviously was not well prepared, which is typical of the government, and there was a lack of consultation.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-04-30 11:07 [p.27157]
Mr. Speaker, just a few minutes ago, the finance minister mentioned the commitment to the budget bill containing only issues that are pertinent to the budget. Other members today have said that there are issues in the bill that should be in separate bills.
We have seen this in the past with the issues around the SNC-Lavalin case. There were instruments in the 2017 budget that caused all the problems the Liberal government is facing, but they were hidden in that massive omnibus budget bill that did not get time for proper debate in the House. Some of the issues were identified, but they were not debated in the House.
Here we are again with the government calling time allocation on another omnibus budget bill. The minister says that the government committed to it containing no issues but budget issues. Can the minister assure the House that there are no other issues in the bill that are not simply budget issues, because other members here this morning have said that there are?
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-04-09 10:45 [p.26849]
Madam Speaker, here we go again with the government shutting down debate, just as it has done for the last number of days when we have tried to ask for an emergency debate on the canola issue in the Prairies.
This is an emergency situation for these farmers. They are trying to decide what they can plant or should plant and what their livelihoods or potential future could be. However, the government continues to throw out these delay tactics, moving to Orders of the Day so that we cannot introduce these requests. Today the government refused to allow an emergency debate when it was asked for, when we finally had the opportunity to ask.
Again and again the government throws up roadblocks to any reasonable debate and discussion in this House.
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