An Act to amend the Fisheries Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

Sponsor

Robert Thibault  Liberal

Status

Not active, as of June 11, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Ontario Fishery Regulations, 1989
Delegated Legislation
Orders of the Day

February 21st, 2007 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the report tabled by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

First, let me thank the committee for its diligence on behalf of Canadians in overseeing the regulations that govern this country. I have served on that committee. I know that although the work can be tedious at times, it is very important.

Earlier this month the standing joint committee tabled a report that included a resolution to disallow subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations under the Fisheries Act. The subsection in question states that:

No holder of a commercial fishing licence shall violate any of the terms or conditions of the licence.

The committee's view is that the Fisheries Act does not provide the authority to set out in a regulation the requirement to comply with licence conditions. The government is of the view that it does.

This has been a long standing issue between the government and the standing joint committee. Governments, long before ours, have always maintained that subsection 36(2) falls within the regulation making authority under section 43 of the Fisheries Act, that it is legally sound and that it is supported by court decisions.

Section 43 of the Fisheries Act is broad enough to include the requirement to comply with licence conditions. Among other things, section 43 provides the authority to make regulations: “for the proper management and control of the sea-coast and inland fisheries”.

It also provides authority to make regulations:

(b) respecting the conservation and protection of fish;

(f) respecting the issue, suspension and cancellation of licences and leases;

(g) respecting the terms and conditions under which a licence and lease may be issued;

The Ontario fishery regulations provide clear guidance as to the conditions that could be attached to a commercial fishing licence in that province. Similar regulations exist for other fisheries. These conditions include the species, size and quantity of fish that may be taken, where and when fishing can occur, and the type of gear that may be used.

Fishing licences, their attached conditions and the requirement to comply with them, are fundamental to the proper management and control of the fishery. They are crucial to protecting and conserving our fishery resources.

In fact, in a fairly recent development, one of which the committee may not have been aware, Ontario is using licence conditions to address a significant threat to its $2.3 billion recreational fishery. The province has placed certain restrictions on the movement of bait fish to control the spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia. VHS has been implicated in killing a large number of sport fish in the province.

Clearly, compliance with these conditions as required by subsection 36(2) is critical for the sake of Ontario's sport fishing industry.

Let me add that individuals who participate in the commercial fishery know they must comply with licence conditions or face consequences. The government has always argued that in addition to the authority to suspend or cancel licences, Parliament did make it an offence to contravene the Fisheries Act or regulations under it in section 78 of the act.

The courts have agreed with the government's position. They have ruled that regulations made under the Fisheries Act that require compliance with licence conditions fall within the scope of the act's regulation-making authority, and they found that contravening this requirement is an offence under section 78 of the act.

So, from a legal perspective, in my opinion, subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations is on firm footing.

However, I would be the first to say that we are not asking for the status quo. We believe that in most cases the potential for jail time is not an appropriate penalty for such contraventions. Fortunately, the courts have imposed fines in cases involving contravention of subsection 36(2) rather than imprisonment, but I do agree that greater clarity could be provided for the requirement to comply with licence conditions.

We are doing something about that. It comes to us in Bill C-45, which the minister tabled in December. The bill resolves the standing joint committee's regulatory concern with subsection 36(2) and does much more.

Revoking subsection 36(2) is not the right course of action, given that a bill has been tabled that addresses the committee's concern. That is why the minister filed the motion before us today to oppose the committee's resolution for disallowance.

Disallowing subsection 36(2) would create a serious legal gap in Ontario's ability to enforce licence conditions on some 500 commercial fishing licences and about 1,400 commercial bait fish licences.

Furthermore, the standing joint committee has indicated that if its resolution to disallow is supported, the committee would expect similar provisions in other fisheries regulations to be revoked. This would create an enforcement vacuum that would threaten these natural resources in virtually all of Canada's fisheries. During this vacuum, all that would be left to punish lack of compliance with license conditions would be suspension or cancellation of licenses, and the courts have made that process very difficult indeed.

Disallowing this regulation would then compel our government to draw up a quick fix bill to plug this regulatory gap and then get it passed through both Houses. This is something that has not worked on no less than three occasions in the past, Bill C-33 in 2003; Bill C-43 in 2004, which died on the order paper; as did Bill C-52 in 2005.

In fact, I did not support Bill C-52 as a solution when I sat on the other side of the House because I believed then, as I do now, that we have much more to offer Canada's fishers.

As tempting as it may be to try to pass a simpler minor amendment to deal with the committee's issue, we owe Canadians that and much more. We owe them a renewed Fisheries Act, one that would resolve this regulatory issue and provide for more collaborative, accountable and transparent fisheries management, which is exactly what Bill C-45 does. It resolves the standing joint committee's concern with subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations by clarifying that compliance with fishing license conditions is a requirement of the act.

As I mentioned, the new Fisheries Act does much more. It puts forth a new licensing framework and an administrative sanctioning regime for most breaches of license conditions instead of relying on the courts. It introduces an arm's-length fisheries tribunal to handle violations of the act or its regulations.

The standing joint committee has also expressed concern that because license conditions are administrative decisions, non-compliance with them should not carry potential jail time for violators. Bill C-45 address this concern.

In the sanctions regime, as mandated in the new act, penalties for contravening the requirement to comply with license conditions would no longer include the possibility of jail time. The bill also responds to issues the committee has raised in the past with variation orders, and I will not get into that at this time.

The new Fisheries Act also includes measures for shared stewardship of our fisheries. It allows those with a stake in the fishery to have a say and take a hand in how the resource is managed.

Bill C-45 would also put in place a clearer and more accountable framework for stable access to the fishery and allocation of fish shares.

The new act also clearly spells out the considerations that the minister must take into account when making licensing and allocation decisions, and those which he or she may choose to consider. In other words, all the cards are now on the table.

Protecting fish habitat and preventing pollution are inextricably linked to sound stewardship of our fishery resources. Bill C-45 would compel everyone who administers the act to consider principles of sustainable development, and take an ecosystems-based and precautionary approach to conserving and protecting fish and habitat.

Speaking of principles, passage of Bill C-45 would, for the first time, set out management principles for fisheries and fish habitat right in the act.

In short, Bill C-45 would remedy the standing joint committee's immediate concern with subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations and it does so much more on behalf of Canadians who depend on the fishery.

We have an opportunity here to make a lasting difference in better managing our fisheries and oceans by providing Canadians with a modern and more effective Fisheries Act, an act that would help deliver the ultimate sustainable value to the public from Canada's fish and ocean resources for generations to come.

I believe that concentrating the House's efforts on passing Bill C-45 is the right approach. I oppose disallowance of subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations and will be voting to return the report to the committee so it can ensure that its concerns are addressed in Bill C-45. I encourage all members to do likewise.

I again thank the committee for its thorough scrutiny of this country's regulations. I think its work in respect to subsection 36(2) of the Ontario fishery regulations highlights the importance of passing Bill C-45 through Parliament as quickly as possible. I hope members of the House will agree that the time for change in the fishery has come.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

October 23rd, 2003 / 3 p.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, insofar as the last part of the question, in fact such a motion would not change a law in any case. Let me first of all start by saying that this afternoon we will continue with debate on the opposition day non-confidence motion.

Tomorrow we shall consider Bill C-50, respecting veterans benefits, followed by the Senate amendments to Bill C-6, concerning first nations. Then, if we have time, we will consider Bill S-13, an act to amend the Statistics Act.

On Monday, we will consider bills left over from this week, as well as Bill C-32, the Criminal Code amendments, Bill C-13, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, and Bill C-45, the corporate governance bill.

Tuesday shall be the last allotted day in this budget cycle.

On Wednesday and on subsequent days, we shall return to any unfinished business, adding to the list any bills that may be reported from committee. We will also start debate on Bill C-19, the First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act, and Bill C-43, an act to amend the Fisheries Act.

This is the part of the session when it would be normal for bills that have been in committee for some time to be reported back to the House. I am hopeful that committees, such as the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and the Standing Committee on Transport, will soon complete their legislative work, so that the House may dispose of them in an orderly fashion.

Fisheries
Adjournment Proceedings

October 6th, 2003 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Laval East
Québec

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the hon. parliamentary secretary, I will be pleased to respond to the remarks of the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

I welcome this opportunity to respond to the concerns of my hon. colleague concerning the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. These regulations are an important part of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's initiative in response to the Marshall decisions.

The fishing licences issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations give the aboriginal people access to fisheries for food, social and ceremonial purposes as well as access to commercial fisheries.

While believing that the regulations are valid, the Government of Canada clearly expressed the desire to respond to the concerns of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

I can only commend once again the committee members on their dedication to this issue as well as their continued efforts to make their concerns heard. The Government of Canada reviewed at length the views expressed by the committee. Instead of bypassing the parliamentary process—far from it—as the hon. member suggested, in June, the minister introduced in this very place Bill C-43 to amend the Fisheries Act.

Bill C-43 clarifies which legislative authority will be responsible for the regulations governing fisheries in Canada. The honourable member referred to pilot sales and to the judgment handed down this summer by the Provincial Court of British Columbia in the Queen v. Kapp.

The Attorney General of Canada appealed that decision. And even though it was the decision of a lower court, the department decided to continue negotiating in order to conclude pilot sales agreements for the current year in British Columbia. It also terminated existing agreements, in accordance with provisions in those agreements.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is working with British Columbia's first nations to arrive at agreements that will be in the interest of those aboriginal communities who want to reap the economic advantages of fishing, and that will bring more certainty and stability to all aboriginal and non aboriginal participants.

Furthermore, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to cooperate with all stakeholders in this fishing industry. Preservation of the resource and proper management of fisheries remain a priority of the department.

As the minister said to the member in June, the majority of Canadians and all the members on this side of the House want aboriginal peoples, the first inhabitants of this country, to have fair economic opportunities, and that is what we are going to provide.

Amendments and Corrections Act, 2003
Government Orders

September 26th, 2003 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-41, an act to amend certain acts. Let me state from the outset that this piece of legislation is not as straightforward as some would have us believe. The bill is very technical and one that requires tough scrutiny and examination prior to its passage.

The bill proposes a series of minor technical amendments to various federal acts, including the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act.

Bill C-41 is not in itself a so-called statute law amendment act. To be such it would have to meet certain criteria established by the justice department's legislative section. For example, the proposed amendment should not be controversial or require the expenditure of public funds, which is not the case with Bill C-41. Rather, this is an omnibus bill that will update and maintain certain laws. The last parliamentary initiative of this sort dates back to June 2002 when Parliament passed Bill C-43.

According to the government, Bill C-41 permits minor corrections which do not warrant separate bills to be made to a number of existing federal laws. In some cases the amendments aim to make the English and French versions of an act more consistent with one another. In others they clarify the definition of certain terms to make an act's provisions easier to interpret.

The technical amendments are to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act, the Customs Act, the Financial Administration Act, and the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act.

Despite what the Liberals say, Bill C-41 also contains major amendments to two other federal acts. The bill amends the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act so that they may continue to pay into their pension plan up to a maximum of five years should they become disabled and have to leave office before completing the five years of service required to be entitled to a pension plan.

Moreover, Bill C-41 establishes a formula for the segment of a pension if, following the death of the lieutenant governor, there are two surviving spouses. Corresponding amendments to the Supplementary Retirement Benefits Act and the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act will complement the government's proposed amendments in this area.

Bill C-41 also amends the Salaries Act to establish a disability allowance for lieutenant governors who become disabled after 65 years of age. This will provide them with the same coverage that they had before turning 65. According to the government, this amendment is based on provisions applicable to parliamentarians over the age of 65.

These amendments seem to be part of the ongoing review of the benefits and obligations scheme for lieutenant governors. Last year Bill C-43 also amended the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act to lower from 65 to 60 the age at which provincial representatives of the Queen became eligible for a deferred pension. It is interesting to note that instead of using a single bill to do so, the government has decided to modernize this plan under the guise of technical amendments.

Bill C-41 makes two amendments to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act. First, the person responsible for managing the round table, who in passing is appointed by the governor in council to hold office during pleasure, will now hold the title of president instead of executive director. Second, this person from now on will hold office for a term not exceeding five years, rather than the three years currently provided under subsection 10(1) of the act.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada supports the bill in principle at this time; however, we feel that Bill C-41 requires further study and examination, which requires our full attention.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

June 12th, 2003 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, two parliamentary committees have recommended that the racist regulations be scrapped and the B.C. court will soon rule on the matter.

By tabling Bill C-43, the government is undercutting Parliament, the courts and the livelihood of non-Indian fishermen. Why is the fisheries minister entrenching an Indian only, race based fishery scheme?

Fisheries Act
Routine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-43, an act to amend the Fisheries Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Health
Private Members' Business

May 12th, 2003 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, is it not ironic that all of a sudden the Canadian Alliance is interested in women's health? Is it not curious and interesting that all of a sudden it is concerned about upholding the Canada Health Act?

If we look back over the record in public debates that have taken place, the Alliance is the party that has consistently ignored issues and spoken out against equality, poverty concerns, charter rights and the status of women, in Canada, as well as globally. It has the worst record of any political party in Canada, and certainly in this House, of supporting women's rights, and now it is claiming that this is about supporting women's health.

I hope that a majority of members stand up in the House, particularly the women, and say that they see clearly what this is about. It is a thinly veiled attempt to use the hook, to use the smokescreen, of a health issue to drag us back into a debate that will undermine a woman's right to control her own body and health. That is what this motion is about and that is where it is leading us.

I am proud to say that the New Democratic Party is very clear on this issue. At our convention in September 2000 we updated our policies concerning reproductive rights and technologies. The NDP fully supports women's rights to control their own bodies and opposes the recriminalization of abortion. New Democrats are committed to protecting the interests of women in the development of new reproductive genetic technologies. We support a comprehensive reproductive health policy which would include a commitment to a woman's right to self-determination in every sense, including her right to decide whether or not to bear children.

We believe that a comprehensive reproductive health policy must include assurances that Canadians have equitable access to safe, effective, and publicly funded reproductive health services for women and their families. We believe that there should be a focus on family planning with adequate funding for educational programs and research into safe and effective contraception so that fewer women are faced with the painful decision arising from an unwanted pregnancy. We believe strongly that the establishment of non-profit women's community health clinics which provide a wide range of counselling and medical services, including abortion and accessibility to the full range of reproductive health services throughout Canada, must be implemented.

I was looking over some material for this debate today and one thing that struck me was how marginalized and alone the Canadian Alliance was on this issue. For example, a poll from November 2002 published in the National Post stated:

Support for a woman's right to an abortion has reached an all-time high in Canada, according to a National Post/Global National poll that found almost four of five Canadians, or 78%, believe women should have a completely free choice in the matter.

That was the Canadian public speaking and it certainly did not support the position that taken by the Alliance.

In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's abortion law, section 251, ruling that it was unconstitutional. The justices found that the law violated Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it infringed on a woman's right to life, liberty and security of person. That decision came 20 years after Dr. Morgentaler first performed an abortion in Canada.

I know Dr. Morgentaler is vilified by members across the way, but he has been a person who has shown his commitment to women's health and women's rights consistently, experiencing personal abuse and imprisonment. He has sacrificed much to bring this forward and I think he is a real hero to a lot of women.

It was in November 1989 that the government introduced Bill C-43, a Criminal Code amendment, which would have prohibited an abortion unless a physician found the pregnancy a threat to the woman's physical, mental or psychological health. Fortunately, it was defeated by the Senate. It actually passed in the House by a narrow vote, but was defeated in the Senate. Abortion is now treated like any other medical procedure governed by provincial and medical regulations, as it should be.

There are issues about services being accessible and available to women. In fact, there was a recent 75 page report from the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, CARAL, which documented some of the issues and concerns regarding accessible services for women. It stated:

Despite being legal and covered under the Canada Health Act, abortion has been marginalized in Canada because of persistent attempts by anti-choice groups to politicize the procedure. Women have become victims of the bureaucratic “do-nothing” approach of medical associations and governments when they are discriminated against by “gate keepers” at hospitals who deny them medical services, anti-choice doctors who refuse to refer and politicians who place restrictions on access.

The member for Yorkton—Melville said earlier that his was a simple motion. It was about doing no harm and preserving the integrity of the Canada Health Act. I fundamentally disagree with what his motion is about in terms of where it would lead us. While there are issues clearly relating to the services that are needed for women, it is a very far stretch to have it come from this party in terms of its credibility in defending women's rights and women's health in this country.

I hope that all members will vote against this motion and focus instead on protecting women's health and women's rights. We should be focusing on issues to ensure that this medical procedure is available to all women in Canada should they need it and that they have the proper support and counselling. We should be focusing on issues of equality and dealing with poverty. That is what we should be doing. Approval of this motion will take us in a direction that is supported by the Campaign Life Coalition. It is clearly saying that the motion is the first parliamentary pro-life vote in 12 years. This is how it sees it. I say we should reject that.

We should see this motion for what it is in terms of where it is leading us. I am proud of the fact that our party and the member for Winnipeg North Centre, who is our women's equality critic, have done a lot of work in committee in terms of reproductive technologies in trying to protect women's rights and women's health. That is where the work has been done by our member and other members who are truly, genuinely interested in women's health and the protection of women's rights. That is where we should focus our attention, not on this Canadian Alliance motion that will drag us back into the dark ages and will create the kind of debate that is now long gone in this country.

As we see from the polls, Canadians have spoken out and said that they support a woman's right to choose. That is something that all members should support in the House.