Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act

An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Inky Mark  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of April 10, 2006
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage for all Canadians.

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.

Votes

  • Nov. 8, 2006 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

The House resumed from November 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

November 3rd, 2006 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members who have taken the time and interest to speak on behalf of Bill C-222.

What exactly is Bill C-222? As has been mentioned today, it is about the recognition and the protection of Canada's history and our culture, which is made up of hunting, fishing and trapping. More important, it is not about the past or present, it is actually about the future because it is the future we need to think about.

Two concerns were raised, in both the first hour and the second hour of debate, that concerned me. One concern was about the infringement on aboriginal rights. I would just like to say that this would have absolutely no infringement on aboriginal rights because their right to hunt and fish has been written into our Constitution. If anything, the right to hunt and fish by a non-aboriginal community will augment and strengthen the aboriginals' right to hunt and fish.

There is no motive to infringe upon provincial rights, even though we know that the management of wildlife resources is a provincial jurisdiction. We can correct that simply by amending the preamble to ensure it is very clear that these are provincial rights.

I will repeat again, as the member from Churchill stated in the first hour, we will delete all three clauses from the bill so that we have a one clause bill which basically says that all citizens in Canada have a right to hunt, fish and trap in accordance with the law, which means all laws, municipal, provincial and federal.

Unfortunately, there is no protection for these activities as they exist today. The only protection for hunting, fishing and trapping is accorded to the aboriginal community. For instance, if down the road this House passes a cruelty to animal act which says that hunting and fishing is cruel to animals, what would happen? That would be the end of hunting, fishing and trapping.

We understand how important it has been in the past, why we need to continue exercising these heritage activities in the future and how it affects our economy. It is worth at least $10 billion a year. I do not know of anyone in this House who does not know people who take part in hunting, fishing or trapping. Most of us do it on a personal level, as do our families and friends. That is the intent of the bill and I applaud members of this House for recognizing that.

I will close by saying that no bill that comes to this House is perfect on its first try. I know because I have been here almost 10 years. I have babysat many bills through this House. We have a committee structure and we move a bill on to committee. The committee does its work and then the bill comes back to this House.

This bill is long overdue. I thank all members and urge them to support this bill in the best interests of our future children and grandchildren.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

November 3rd, 2006 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The sponsor of Bill C-222, hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, will have five minutes for his rebuttal.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

November 3rd, 2006 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to participate in the second reading debate of the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette's Bill C-222, the heritage, hunting, trapping and fishing protection act.

The bill hopes to recognize that recreational hunting and fishing have played a significant role in shaping Canada's social, cultural and economic heritage and that recreational hunters, trappers and anglers have made important contributions to the understanding of conservation, restoration and management of fish and wildlife resources.

As a member of Parliament who represents a large rural constituency in northern Manitoba, I can assure my hon. colleagues of the importance of hunting, trapping and fishing within our country. These activities are deeply ingrained in our history, heritage and culture. They represent a common economic activity and a pastime during all seasons of the year, and are an economic contributor in my riding.

However, due to the importance with which we as legislators must regard legislation, it is important that we understand whether it is suitable legislation. Referring to hunting and fishing in the context of heritage, it is important that we understand the intent of the bill and the intent and usefulness of the bill are unclear.

The mandate of Canadian Heritage states that it is responsible for national policies and programs that promote Canadian content, foster cultural participation, active citizenship and participation in Canada's civic life, and strengthen connections among Canadians. In the context of Canadian heritage and the department's responsibility to set policies and programs in this area, we have to look at the current jurisdictional issues and structures on fishing and hunting.

I would contend that mainly the conflicts would arise with provinces, but there would also be potential conflicts with aboriginal and treaty rights with first nations, Métis and Inuit throughout Canada. For instance, in my home province of Manitoba there is existing legislation in the area of conservation, hunting and fishing. These include legislation such as the conservation agreements act, the endangered species act, the polar bear protection act and the wildlife act. Given this fact, we must be careful not to intrude on the province's jurisdiction. I know as well that provinces across the country have legislation similar to Manitoba's legislation.

In addition, the proponent of the bill is well-informed in aboriginal and treaty rights which are entrenched in section 35 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1982. Where there has been jurisdictional debate on section 35 for the Métis nation, it was clearly stated in the Supreme Court of Canada's Powley decision in September 2003, a unanimous decision, that the Métis right to hunt is protected by section 35 of the Constitution.

There is uncertainty on the implications of the bill and what it would create for aboriginal peoples. Does the bill potentially challenge treaty and aboriginal rights? In regard to Canadian Heritage's responsibility for policy and programs on this matter, what would it mean? These are merely some of the questions I am sure members and Canadians would ask.

Despite the general spirit and intent of the bill to embrace this important part of our collective heritage, the uncertainties of jurisdictional conflicts draw concern for me. To this end, I understand that since the initial tabling of Bill C-222, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette realized some of the potential infringements that this bill may have done and he has addressed the matter. In fact, he made a recommendation to the committee that clauses 1, 2 and 3 be replaced with one single clause stating, “That a person has a right to hunt, fish and trap in accordance with the law”.

I join many of my colleagues when I applaud the spirit of the bill, but I would argue that this issue is dealt with through our provincial laws and through section 35 of the Constitution, and as a federal heritage matter, it is not clear in its intent and implication. Therefore, I cannot support this bill.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

November 3rd, 2006 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House today to support the goals of my Manitoba colleague in Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage.

I was the first MP to jointly second the bill in April of this year. The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, our neighbour to the east of my constituency of Yorkton—Melville, is to be commended for his efforts to preserve the practices of hunting, fishing and trapping, practices so central to our history and tradition that they form an integral part of the fabric of our culture.

There is a growing list of 358 municipalities from every province in Canada that support this groundbreaking piece of legislation. I am eager to engage the efforts of the 77 MPs and senators who comprise the newly formed outdoors caucus, representing all four political parties in this House and all 10 provinces and two territories, and to discuss how we can best accomplish the goals described in Bill C-222.

We should promote our hunting, fishing and trapping heritage activities, because the men and women who use the outdoors are most interested in preserving the environment. Many groups are seeking to shut down these three traditional heritage activities. Acknowledging and using the considerable resources of the federal government to promote our traditional heritage activities would go a long way to protecting them.

There is no question that hunting, fishing and trapping are heritage activities. Where would Canada be without them? All of the exploration and settlement of Canada took place mainly because of these three heritage activities, but where do we find recognition of this fact in the old government's websites? Nowhere.

Hunting, fishing and trapping do not appear in the 221 items listed in the site map of the Canadian heritage department's website. Hunting, fishing and trapping are not a part of Canada Tourism's website. Hunting and trapping are also missing from the Canadian Tourism Commission's website and just 12 fishing lodges are listed. The section on wildlife does not even mention hunting or trapping.

Nor is there any mention made in any of these three websites with respect to gun shows, shooting competitions, skeet shoots, historic re-enactments, gun clubs, fish and game organizations, wildlife federations or trappers associations, all essential elements of preserving the heritage activities of hunting, fishing and trapping. These three activities are essential to wildlife management and habitat conservation and rehabilitation.

This certainly indicates a lack of recognition by the old federal government, which Bill C-222 proposes to address. This lack of recognition begs the question: how can we protect these heritage activities if we fail to acknowledge that they even exist? In failing to acknowledge these heritage activities, the old government also failed to acknowledge the huge contribution that hunting, fishing and trapping make to Canada's economy and jobs.

Sustenance hunting is an important part of the lives and survival of thousands of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, but sport hunting is where the real money is at. In August of this year, the Library of Parliament completed a report entitled “The Benefits of Firearms Ownership--Hunting and Wildlife Management”. In this paper, Library of Parliament economist Tony Jackson wrote:

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force on the Importance of Nature to Canadians...is made up of agencies responsible for the environment and tourism.

In 1996, 10.3 million Canadians aged 15 and over took part in outdoor activities, with 4.2 million fishing and 1.2 million hunting. According to the survey, men and women enjoy the Canadian outdoors equally; however, 85% of recreational hunters are men, as are 66% of recreational fishers.

Respondents were asked to report their detailed expenditures for mainly nature-related activities over a 12-month period. In just under half of the reported trips, the participants undertook more than one activity. The survey estimated that over $7.2 billion was spent on outdoor activities in natural areas in 1996, including $1.3 billion on wildlife viewing as both a primary and secondary activity. Canadians spent $1.9 billion on fishing and $823.8 million on recreational hunting.

One of the first tasks of the new outdoors caucus that I co-chair with the hon. member for Yukon will be to ask the environment minister to renew this survey.

In addition to this direct economic impact, in the last 15 years hunters have devoted 14 million volunteer hours or 1,600 years of personal work to habitat conservation. Hunter licence fees brought in almost $600 million to government treasuries, coupled with approximately $600 million spent on equipment, travel, lodging, guides, tourism and other expenditures.

Despite the fees and paperwork created by the useless gun registry each year, approximately 70,000 foreign visitors, mainly Americans, come into Canada with their guns to hunt and sport shoot each year.

The Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association reports that anglers spend a total of $6.7 billion annually to support their outdoor passion. For example, in the year 2000, recreational fishermen spent $970 million on boat equipment alone. According to the most recent industry reports, in Canada eight million people of all ages fish. Let me repeat that: eight million people.

In 2000 Canadian anglers devoted over one million volunteer days to cleaning up waterways and fish habitat. In 1999 Canadians spent $1.3 billion on overnight trips for hunting and angling. That is almost three times the revenue obtained from all the performing arts in Canada, including government grants and private donations.

The Fur Institute of Canada states:

The Fur Trade in Canada contributes approximately $800 million to the Canadian GDP... The Fur Trade in Canada is comprised of approximately 60,000 trappers (includes 25,000 Aboriginal)...The first international marketing for Canada's premier [fur] resource began in 1670 with the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company.

That is what I call a heritage activity.

Hunting, fishing and trapping are indeed important parts of our heritage. They deserve recognition and protection in keeping with their place in history and to the extent possible, given the respective constitutional jurisdictions of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. That is why I commend my colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for his years of work in this important heritage preservation and conservation initiative. I had a motion that I was going to put forward to the committee on the subject of the bill so that the report could be issued by the committee, but I cannot get the consent of the mover and some political parties so there is no sense trying to move forward on that.

In summary, we need to recognize our heritage activities. The traditional aspect is important to the development of this country. I would urge all members to support this and carry it forward. One of the key things that we have to remember is that these are the people who are most concerned about preserving and enhancing our environment and making sure that we use our outdoors respectfully.

I am thankful to have been allowed to address this issue. I hope all members will take to heart the remarks that I have made.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

November 3rd, 2006 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-222, an act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage which was brought forward by the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette. He has put forward this bill for reasons aimed at ensuring Canadians are able to continue to hunt, fish and trap on federal and public land and waters.

Inland fishing is a shared federal-provincial jurisdiction. Fishing in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon is exclusively under federal jurisdiction. Hunting and trapping are exclusively under provincial-territorial jurisdictions.

The bill is essentially flawed in that it speaks to rights held under provincial jurisdictions. I recognize that this is a private member's bill and would not necessarily hold any party to its passage. It is somewhat meaningless in this regard because it speaks to rights that are held under provincial jurisdictions, which my party wants to protect. We certainly want to protect provincial jurisdiction over these rights in my jurisdiction.

In the case of my riding, most of the hunting, fishing and trapping rights are held under comprehensive land claims in areas where land claims have been settled with the various land claims bodies and are represented in some cases by councils, along with the territorial government. They determine the disposition of wildlife in those areas.

Hunting, trapping and fishing in the Northwest Territories is significant in every respect. As a sustenance part of our economy, it is very important. All the small communities throughout my riding rely heavily on the ability of their members to hunt for food to keep their cost of living in line, to preserve their culture, and to really respect the way the land should be protected through use. That is an important point.

Hunting, trapping and fishing are very important to people in my riding. They are not something with which we trifle. They are not something we use as political tools between one group or the other. They are essential for the conduct of ordinary life.

Bill C-222 would create a right for non-aboriginal people to fish, hunt and trap, and place restrictions on legislation designed to manage fish and animal populations. Right now only aboriginal people in some areas have the unfettered right to hunt, fish and trap, and those rights came through constitutional protection. These rights came from their history and their heritage over thousands of years.

They are a recognition of the essential part of their life which has gone on for many generations and has produced a consistent result on the land, a result that, in many measures, was in harmony. To say that man can ever remain in perfect harmony with his environment is something that we all have to consider every day.

Right now, our relationship with the environment is changing quickly. We see this all over the country. Even the aboriginal people who run the hunting and fishing councils in the Northwest Territories recognize the extreme problems that our environment is facing in terms of how the changes in climate are affecting our wildlife.

Interestingly enough, in the last six months, the Tuktoyaktuk game council passed a motion to restrict the harvesting of caribou on its land. This is a major step. This community, which so heavily relies on harvesting caribou, has said to its people, “Look, we have to take steps here. Our herds are in precipitous decline. We can't continue to hunt at this point in time in the fashion we have in the past”.

The aboriginal people are taking hold of the issues that surround them in their traditional rights and in the way that they deal with the land and the environment. I think that speaks well to their governance. Their governance comes through constitutional rights and through recognition of their inherent rights and from that, through their comprehensive claims their ability to govern themselves.

These things are ongoing as we speak. This is part of how the harvesting of wildlife is evolving in my jurisdiction.

Our territorial government is also concerned about the complete caribou herd across the north. The decline that we see in one area is mirrored in almost every other area. The caribou are a great indicator species of change because the energetics of their food cycle and their breeding cycle are so linked to vegetation, climate, and their ability to survive in very inhospitable terrain.

I think quite clearly that the intent of the bill to preserve hunting and trapping rights for other Canadians needs very careful examination right now.

I would be the last one to in any way impinge on people's ability to hunt, fish and trap but, at the same time, there are so many issues surrounding our environment, the animals on our land, and our ability to preserve those species for the future. Putting more legal words in the way our governments work across the country is very difficult at this time.

I sense the member's emotional response to this bill and as a person who lives in rural areas, I certainly recognize that.

In some rural areas, of course, climate change has increased the availability of animal populations and hunting in some areas could probably increase. We could hand out more permits and we could do more hunting. This would be a successful effort in many areas.

Once again, it comes down to regulation and to understanding of the animal populations of the area, not going back to any particular right or privilege that one group or the other may have on the land. That is my point on this bill. I wish the hon. member well with his intentions. I will leave it at that.

The House resumed from September 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

October 24th, 2006 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a group of petitions from the good people of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

The first petition calls upon the House of Commons to enact Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage, to ensure the rights of present and future Canadians to enjoy these activities are protected in law.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

September 20th, 2006 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I also rise today to speak to C-222. I want to thank the members for their comments earlier on this evening.

I believe I understand the intent of the bill. Like many others who have spoken, I also have some concerns. I want to thank the member for Fundy Royal for the clarification on many points and for his speech.

I would like to take some time to honour those who live off the land by way of hunting, fishing and trapping. These are an integral part of the lives of people in northern Saskatchewan and definitely a part of our identity back home.

I have many cherished memories of growing up in Pelican Narrows. Hunting, fishing and trapping were always an important part of my family's life as well as our community's life. I was taught many skills that allowed myself and many others to learn how to live off the land.

I had an opportunity to take part in student exchange trips to northern Quebec and Ungava Bay and to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Massett in particular. I was able to participate in the traditional pursuits of the Inuit and the Haida people. I have got to know, quite well, how important these pursuits are and how strong the aboriginal peoples' connection is to the land.

I agree that the economic benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping are very real. Many people are employed in hunting, fishing and trapping directly or indirectly, whether they are supplying goods and services that are important to these pursuits. These traditional activities are part of the economic subsistence for many northern people and communities.

Tourism also brings wealth and opportunity. As members have said, many people travel into the beautiful and pristine country in the north to participate in hunting, fishing and other activities, which greatly contribute to the fabric of our country.

However, I have concerns with the text of the bill and how the bill could potentially impinge upon hard won aboriginal rights and treaties in unintended ways. It perhaps does not address many concerns and challenges to hunters, fishers and trappers as well.

Trapping, fishing, and hunting is central to the aboriginal people and their way of life. It is part of their culture and their identity. It is an inherent right and their traditional way of life. Treaties have enshrined this, holding land use as a foundational part of those sacred agreements.

This is why, as other members have mentioned, section 35 is enshrined in the Constitution, to acknowledge our rights and affirm them. However, protecting these rights and having governments acknowledge these rights have been a hard ongoing battle. Many Supreme Court decisions, such as Sparrow and Powley, which celebrated its third anniversary coincidentally yesterday, need to be more fully appreciated and understood by the members of the House. Those court decisions define these rights and suggest a framework for the government to utilize in implementing these rights.

Negotiations have been ongoing as well with new treaties and land use agreements being concluded recently and many still ongoing.

Declaring hunting, fishing and trapping as a right, without due consideration to aboriginal rights, could have an adverse effect on these sensitive negotiations and sorting out land use issues.

I also would like to remind my colleagues of the trilogy of cases that affirmed the duty to consult with aboriginal people when developing policies or legislation that affect their inherent rights: Haida Nation, Taku River and Mikisew Cree specifically.

Aboriginal people must be consulted in order to understand their concerns and to avoid impinging on their rights. There is a legal obligation of the government to consult and accommodate, within reasonable parameters, the concerns raised by aboriginal people when issues are raised for discussion, such as what we are talking about today. In fact, I ask the government to review these decisions and employ its very useful recommendations in all the decisions it undertakes when it discusses aboriginal issues.

Discussing these concerns reminds me of when I attended the Churchill River gathering in the reserve community of Stanley Mission this summer. Stanley Mission is a great community, steeped in history, with a proud tradition of protecting its first nation's identity, culture and language.

The gathering honoured and celebrated a traditional way of life that has remained strong and proud for countless centuries. The main message of this gathering was for all levels of government to understand that first nation Métis people wanted to become an integral part of the socio-economic fabric of our country and that the inherent rights of aboriginal people must be respected and more clearly understood.

However, many concerns about the proud livelihood still exist and must be addressed. For instance, many trappers, hunters and fishers have concerns about setting up programs to help them create new markets, concerns with policies such as, in a Saskatchewan context, what they call the let it burn policy. Most of all, there are concerns about a lack of consultation with people affected by industry and resource development.

I want to summarize the concerns I have with respect to Bill C-222.

First, we must understand that there is a legal obligation to consult with aboriginal people prior to introducing legislation that may affect their rights as they are recognized today through various court decisions, through the charter and through the Constitution.

Second, we must also look at preventing a future conflict of laws scenario. Some of them were mentioned by the member for Fundy Royal. It is unclear to me how the provinces in the natural resources transfer agreement may be impacted, which one would supercede the other. Thanks to the member previous, we begin to get an understanding of that.

As well, we need to look at self-government agreements that have been negotiated and the co-management that occurs over resources and land areas throughout the country. For example, the member previous talked about the Freshwater Fish Marketing Act and the right to fish and how that will impact.

The third concern I have is with regard to conservation efforts. What do we say to people if they say they have a right to hunt, when we are talking about issues of conservation of a certain species, whether it is fishing or fur-bearing animals?

I applaud the spirit of the bill and the way it commemorates a great profession and a great activity throughout this great country. However, I ask the member to consider these concerns and to work to ensure that the real pressing issues, which we have talked about this evening, are met. I look forward to the discussion that the bill may have in committee in the future.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

September 20th, 2006 / 6:45 p.m.
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Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it has been extremely interesting to listen to debate this evening on this private member's bill, an act respecting fishing, trapping and hunting heritage in Canada. I have listened with great interest to comments from members from all sides of the House. I want to state from the outset that we on this side fully support the legitimate rights of outdoors people who hunt, fish and trap, individuals who, as part of their Canadian heritage, partake in these very legitimate activities.

I want to clarify a few things and explain in a little more detail the role of the federal Parliament in our country. We have, as we know, two jurisdictions in Canada. There are actually three if we include municipal, but there are the provincial and federal levels. The Conservative Party of Canada has been very keen on respecting those different areas of jurisdiction between the federal and provincial levels.

I need to point out that the Parliament of Canada, as an institution, does not have the power to enact legislation in relation to hunting and trapping directly. These are matters that fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, and federal legislation may deal with them only incidentally.

It was very interesting to hear the comments from all sides of the House. There are a lot of issues out there. Even in my own riding of Fundy Royal in New Brunswick, I hear from hunters, fishers and people who are interested in pursuing their sport, interested in passing on a heritage and legacy to their children. Many of the individuals I talk to, for example, enjoy hunting and will talk about how they used to hunt with their fathers and grandfathers, and would like to pass that on to their sons and daughters.

In today's society and the world that we live in that is becoming increasingly difficult. We heard some examples of that tonight. Bill C-222 touches on this issue, but I need to remind us as legislators that we also must respect the federal and provincial levels in our country.

I want to take as an example the Species at Risk Act. The objective of that act is in no way to manage the hunting and fishing of the species in which it relates. On the contrary, the purpose of that act is to provide the greatest possible protection for species that are threatened with extinction and it, therefore, prohibits killing, harassing, capturing or harming members of certain species of animals for example. That act, however, deals with hunting and trapping activities only incidentally and endeavours to respect the fact that, as we all know, people have to go to their provincial departments in order to obtain hunting licences. That is because it is only within the provincial jurisdiction.

Obviously, the federal government has the full authority that it needs to manage activities that take place on federal land. For example, the management of activities that take place in a national park, including hunting and trapping activities, is a matter of federal jurisdiction, but this bill before us would not apply solely to land under federal jurisdiction.

I am aware of course that hunting and trapping are activities that are an inherent part of many Canadians' lives. They are a part of our Canadian culture and Canada's national heritage. This is a point that I commend the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for making. His bill has brought forward debate on this issue and it has actually been encouraging to hear members state their support for the legitimate rights of Canadians that take part in these activities.

However, we know that of course the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette is also acting with the best of intentions. Again I commend him on that, because this is a well-intentioned bill and it is one whose objective we certainly support.

However, the House is not always the ideal forum for discussion of issues relating to provincial jurisdiction. As I stated, hunting and trapping do fall under the jurisdiction of the individual provinces and territories.

On questions relating to fishing, the situation is much more complex than it is on hunting and trapping. To begin, I would like to point out that in the bill the first whereas in the preamble states, “Whereas legislation governing inland fisheries is within the jurisdiction of the federal government...”. While that statement is not entirely incorrect, it is also not entirely accurate. I will explain what I mean.

The federal Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction over matters that relate to fishing in tidal waters. Freshwater fishing is a matter in relation to which jurisdiction is shared by the federal government and the provinces. In non-tidal waters, the federal jurisdiction over conservation and protection of fish authorizes the federal government to impose measures such as setting of fishing seasons, opening and closing of fishing seasons, setting total allowable quotas, size limits of fish that may be caught, gear requirements, et cetera. Most of these measures are most efficiently implemented when imposed by licence conditions.

The provincial jurisdiction authorizes the provinces, as owners of the land where the fisheries take place, to decide who might fish, what fishing privileges are conferred and what fees must be paid. Put simply, the federal government has jurisdiction to set the fishing rules in inland waters, by analogy setting the size of the pie, while provinces have the right to decide who gets to fish and for how much fish, by analogy who gets a piece of the pie and how large that pie will be.

That is the legal theory on the respective jurisdiction of the federal government and of the provinces with respect to inland fisheries, but aside from the theory, I am afraid that from a practical point of view the bill would have implications that may not have been envisaged.

As I said earlier, certain fish conservation and protection measures have been imposed and implemented by way of licence conditions. This is entirely appropriate given that fish conservation and protection measures must be adapted to the specific fishery for which the licence is issued. In other words, the trout fishery in region A, for example, will call for conservation and protection measures that are different from those imposed on the walleye fishery in region B.

Another example is that the species of fish that may be caught, limits on the size of the fish that may be taken and kept, and the fishing gear that may be used may all be included as licence conditions. Those matters may fall under the federal jurisdiction, so in addition to obtaining a licence from the province, a freshwater fisher should therefore, in theory, obtain a second federal fishing licence which will include conditions that must be placed on the licence to provide for fish conservation and protection.

To avoid this situation, there are administrative agreements between the federal government and the provinces under which the federal aspect of freshwater fisheries management has been delegated to the provinces. What that means in practice is that freshwater fishing is essentially managed by the provinces.

The bill would plainly have an impact on the management of freshwater fisheries and on the existing administrative agreements that govern that subject. Obviously we know that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been involved in fisheries management for a very long time. We have a new minister responsible for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who I feel is doing a great job and Parliament has granted the minister broad discretionary authority to manage the fisheries.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for the effort he put into preparing this bill. I want to thank him for the interest he has shown in fishing, hunting and trapping, which are all important to Canada and to Canadians. No one on this side of the House would argue that this is an important part of our heritage. In light of what I have said here tonight, though, it is impossible for the government to support the bill as introduced by the member.

As a member of Parliament for a rural riding, I support the rights of people to fish, hunt and trap as they have done for many years. However, we also have to respect that these rights fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

September 20th, 2006 / 6:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-222 introduced by the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette in Manitoba, under private members' business. I am pleased, first, because I am the new Bloc Québécois natural resources critic and, second, as you surely know, I plunged into this bill quite enthusiastically.

I would like to remind the House of the essence of Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage. What I essentially got from this bill is that the act of hunting, trapping or fishing is a heritage act for the people of Canada and Quebec. This right should not be subject to any legislative restriction that could prevent its being exercised.

From the outset, I want to remind hon. members that the Bloc Québécois recognizes that the activities of hunting, trapping and fishing have a significant economic impact in Quebec and Canada and that these activities are part of the lifestyle in a number of communities. I want to point out that over 800,000 Quebeckers are fishing enthusiasts and over 400,000 are also hunting enthusiasts, just to show that these activities are deeply rooted in Quebec.

I want to inform the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette that this is probably why, in Quebec, the right to hunt, trap and fish is already regulated by the government.

Over 20 years ago, Quebec's National Assembly passed a resolution with a view to concluding agreements with those first nations who so desired, in order to allow them to exercise their right to hunt, fish and take part in wildlife management. More than 20 agreements of this kind have been signed between the aboriginal communities and the Government of Quebec over the past 7 years.

I would also like to point out to the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette that hunting and trapping are clearly under provincial jurisdiction, and that fishing, which is under federal jurisdiction, falls under the powers delegated to the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec by the federal government. I would also remind him that successive governments in Quebec, dating back to Maurice Duplessis, have been granted the power to manage fishing.

If we take a closer look at what is set out in Bill C-222, we have reason to be concerned. I would like to quote clause 2:

2. (1) It is declared that there exists and shall continue to exist in Canada the right to fish...

(2) No law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to deprive a person of the right declared in subsection (1).

Constitutionally speaking, it makes sense to question the validity of Bill C-222. Certainly, we, the Bloc Québécois, are convinced that this bill in its current form aims to limit Quebec's powers to regulate its hunting, fishing and trapping activities.

We also wonder about the implications of such a bill on other legislation. I even wonder if this bill will allow the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette to do indirectly what he has not yet been able to do directly. We are referring to firearms regulations, among others. If we limit governments' power to regulate hunting, fishing and trapping activities, does it not create a loophole that will lead to limits concerning firearms regulations?

Something else that comes to mind is the Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals). Did the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette not oppose that bill, suggesting that it restricted rights regarding trapping activities? Will Bill C-222 not also limit the scope of that act?

We must ask the question. This bill also presents other problems. Its objective, according to the website of the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, is to allow all Canadians to engage in hunting and fishing activities, while protected from any legislation that may prohibit them in the future.

This bill poses many problems for us because we believe that Quebec hunting, fishing and trapping regulations have done a good job of protecting Quebec's fish and wildlife heritage in many ways.

Take yellow perch, for example, a freshwater sport and commercial fish.

A significant drop in the yellow perch population in domestic Quebec waters, such as lac Saint-Pierre and lac Saint-François, led to Quebec regulations that provided better management of this fishery resource by buying back commercial fishing licences, for example.

In terms of hunting, there has been a significant decline in moose herds. Quebec government consultations with hunting associations and clubs resulted in solutions that would protect the herds while permitting moose hunting to continue. In certain areas, hunting associations have decided to hold a lottery to decide which hunters would be allowed to hunt female moose. Other areas of Quebec have decided to place a two-year moratorium on this hunt, thus giving the moose population a chance to grow. Yet other areas have chosen to hunt female moose in alternate years.

These two examples demonstrate the importance of regulating hunting and fishing in order to preserve and protect Quebec's wildlife heritage.

Given that hunting, fishing and trapping are already regulated by the Government of Quebec; that agreements have already been entered into with many native communities with respect to their hunting, fishing and trapping rights; that the constitutionality of this bill is at the very least doubtful; and given that, in our opinion, this bill has significant and troublesome implications for other legislation, the Bloc Québécois will oppose this bill.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

September 20th, 2006 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in the debate on Bill C-222. As the proponent has clearly indicated, it is a bill to recognize that recreational hunting and fishing have played an important role in Canada's social, cultural and economic heritage and indeed are very much intertwined in the history of our country. Those activities are a mainstay of tourism in ridings like my own in northern Ontario, whether it is recreational hunting, trapping, fishing or angling, as some know it. I commend the member for bringing the bill forward. It gives us a chance to consider what it is to have a right to hunt and fish.

I certainly do not disagree that everyone who is willing to obey the laws of the province or jurisdiction relevant to where they are hunting or fishing, has a right to legally participate in fishing and hunting and other outdoor recreational pursuits.

When I first saw the bill I wondered whether it was actually necessary, because it is within the right of citizens now, and of course tourists and visitors from other countries if they get the right permit, to hunt and fish. I was not really sure what additional guarantees a bill like this might actually provide. However, I will, at the end of my presentation and future vote on the bill, agree to send it to committee, because I think it is worthy of further investigation and further study. It certainly has my support in that vein, but I will ask the question later on as well to my colleagues when it goes to committee, what new authorities does a citizen have as a result of a bill such as this?

My colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, the proponent of the bill, has said that he thought it might--and maybe I misunderstood him, but he will get the chance to clarify. He is aware that it does not change the Constitution. It does not provide a constitutional right to hunt and fish. It would be in law. He thought that maybe this would somehow guarantee something for hunters and sports fishers in the future. He is correct, but he also said that a future government could change this or any other law, so it is no permanent guarantee. That relates to my concern about what new authority does an individual citizen have with the bill.

All that being said, I certainly support the intent. I am a member--I hope a paid-up member; I am not sure yet--of the all-party outdoor caucus. I certainly appreciate the chairman's efforts to bring us all together, those of us who wish to express our non-partisan support for the outdoor pursuits that relate to hunting, fishing and trapping. Trapping, by the way, is still very, very important to my area of northern Ontario. A week does not go by that I do not bump into constituents who, in the off season if they are seasonal workers, in the winter season, are not involved in trapping.

I would like to raise a few points that will no doubt come up in committee if the House agrees that the bill should go to committee. Where does the federal jurisdiction in all of this overlap, if it indeed does, with the provincial jurisdiction? For example, in Ontario, the province for my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, it is governed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1997 and no doubt other related acts.

Our party does support the right of citizens to hunt and fish. All of this, of course, and nobody would disagree. I suspect we must always do this out of respect for the environment and private property. For example, on Manitoulin Island, which is a large tourist draw during deer hunting season, private property is where people do their hunting. Hunters there are accustomed to getting permission from property owners. Property owners' rights are important as well. Also, where we are dealing with first nations and their territories, of course, we must respect that as well.

I want to be careful that we do not intrude on provincial jurisdiction. We may sometimes, at the federal level, covet responsibilities that long ago were handed over to the provinces. An example is education. We would all love to have something to say about national standards in education.

I do not know if we will ever have authority over that concern without some kind of an agreement with the provinces. This might lead us to have to come to terms with some kind of intraprovincial and interprovincial concern vis-à-vis the federal government.

The bill suggests that the federal government has jurisdiction over inland fisheries. In my riding, which borders Lake Superior and Lake Huron, there are large fisheries. There are countries in the world that do not have fishing waters as big as the inland waters of Lake Huron, Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. Clearly, it is the province of Ontario that has jurisdiction, shared of course with the U.S. states that border on the U.S. side.

All that said, this is worthy of further study. I am only guessing, but I would be very surprised if the House did not agree that it should go to committee.

When I travel through my large riding, which is 110,000 square kilometres by the way, and the meetings that I have had with the local angler and hunters clubs, with local tourist operators, those who run the local ATV clubs or the snowmobile clubs, these are folks who in the main in one season or another are also involved in hunting and fishing.

The degree of respect that these people bring to the environment through their clubs and organizations and as individual hunters and fishers, whether they are aboriginal hunters and fishers or whether they are non-aboriginal hunters and fishers, would be a revelation to our urban cousins to realize that they hunt and fish responsibly. Yes, there is the occasional abuser, but that is unfortunately a fact of life. It does not matter what sphere is examined.

The vast majority of those who participate in sport angling, hunting and trapping are extremely responsible. I think it is important by making a declaration either through this bill or some other mechanism, whatever the conclusion of the committee of parliament is, the fact that we express that we value not only the tourism industry in the communities that depend on these sports, but that we value the attitude that these clubs and organizations and individuals bring to the outdoors, bring to all the volunteers that work to restock fish in the lakes. This is voluntary work. There may be a little bit of provincial money in a hatchery investment or in planting fish stocks, but there is a lot of volunteer work that goes on in replanting fish in our lakes.

When it comes to hunting, how many cases have we seen where species that have disappeared from a region are brought back in, whether it is turkeys or elk, and I know there is a debate in some areas about elk, but I use it as an example. I think that through some mechanism, either this one or another, it would be appropriate to recognize the importance of hunting and fishing to our past, to our present and to our future.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Private Members' Business

September 20th, 2006 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

moved that Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a great honour to rise this evening to speak to Bill C-222. There is no question that this is a heritage bill. Bill C-222 is an act to recognize and protect Canada's hunting, trapping and fishing heritage. I will be brief so that we can hear from as many members of the House as possible.

Canada prides itself on Canadian heritage. We are proud of our culture, our history and our roots. From a historical perspective, hunting and fishing have always been part of aboriginal life in Canada, going back to before the arrival of the European settlers. This right is protected in the Constitution of Canada. In no way does Bill C-222 affect their charter rights.

The first settlers relied on hunting, fishing and trapping for their survival. For over 300 years since their arrival Canadians have enjoyed the practice of hunting, fishing and trapping and continue to do so to this very day. Millions of Canadians fish and hunt. Most of us either are involved in those activities ourselves or we know someone who is involved, our neighbours, our families, our friends. That is why those activities should continue to be heritage activities.

Today hunting, fishing and trapping contribute over $5 billion to our economy annually. There is no doubt that hunting, fishing and trapping are part of Canada's heritage and history.

The intent of Bill C-222 is to make a statement about hunting, fishing and trapping, to acknowledge their history and to protect their future as legitimate activities. That is the bill's main purpose, to acknowledge their history from cultural, historic and heritage perspectives, and also to protect their future as legitimate activities.

There are three clauses in the bill. It is a very short bill. I know that clause 3 intrudes into provincial jurisdiction. That is why I would recommend that we remove that particular clause from Bill C-222.

British Columbia, Ontario and a number of other provinces have legislation in place for the protection of hunting, fishing and trapping. The House of Commons needs to follow the same road that some provinces have already done so.

I would recommend to the committee that clauses 1, 2 and 3 be replaced by one clause: That a person has a right to hunt, fish and trap in accordance with the law. I say again, that it is to be in accordance with the law. This right is conditional; it is not absolute. That is the key difference. That same clause is actually found in the B.C. legislation.

The easiest way to succeed is to keep this bill very simple and to make Bill C-222 a one-line bill. Bill C-222 has very broad support across the country. Literally millions of Canadians would like to see the bill succeed. This bill is supported in principle by the all-party outdoor caucus, which is made up of members from all sides of this House.

I look forward to hearing from other members of the House.

Heritage Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

April 10th, 2006 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to reintroduce this bill. In the last Parliament it was Bill C-391. It is an act to recognize and protect Canada's hunting, fishing and trapping heritage.

Canadians know that hunting, fishing and trapping have long been part of Canada's history, both for the aboriginal community as well as the pioneers, and today it also plays a big economical role in the country.

Therefore I ask the House to support the bill because it is in all of our interests, both economically and on the heritage side.

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