Debates of Oct. 23rd, 1997
House of Commons Hansard #19 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.
- House Of Commons
- Interparliamentary Delegations
- Customs Tariff
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act
- Access To Information Act
- Supplementary Estimates (A)
- Questions On The Order Paper
- Réal Caouette
- Rights Of Victims
- Small Business Week
- Impaired Driving
- Small Business Week
- Marine Pilots
- Official Opposition
- Breast Cancer
- Small Business
- The Environment
- Quebec-France Agreement On Child Support
- France-Quebec Agreement On Collection Of Support Payments
- Correctional Service
- Quebec-France Agreement On Support Payments
- National Parole Board
- Airport Security
- Nuclear Safety
- Search And Rescue
- The Environment
- Aboriginal Affairs
- Business Of The House
- Points Of Order
- The Late Fred McCain
- The Late Rodrigue Bourdages
- Canada Health Act
October 23rd, 1997 / 10:20 a.m.
Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons to present a petition signed by 36 residents of my constituency who reside in Quesnel, British Columbia. My constituents request Parliament's support of a motion that was introduced by the member of Parliament for Yorkton—Melville which states:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should authorize a proclamation to be issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada amending section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to (a) recognize the fundamental right of individuals to pursue family life free from undue interference by the state and (b) recognize the fundamental right and responsibility of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, and urge the legislative assemblies of the other provinces to do likewise.
Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present from constituents in my riding and from others in the region several petitions.
The first one relates to the issue of nuclear weapons. Whereas there are over 30,000 nuclear weapons on earth, the petitioners call on Parliament to support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention that will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have another petition that relates to the sale of Candu reactors to China.
The petitioners call on Parliament to immediately withdraw from all arrangements concerning financial and technical assistance to China for nuclear reactor technology, and to ensure that the Government of Canada does not finance or subsidize the sale of Candu reactors to China or any other country.
Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have a further petition that calls on Parliament to lift the GST off books and reading materials in Canada.
Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have a final petition regarding the national highway system. It calls on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial governments to make a national highway system upgrading possible beginning in 1997.
Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition today from my constituency of Mississauga South.
The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that police officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at risk on a daily basis, and that the benefits that police officers and firefighters receive for their families when they lose their lives in the line of duty are often insufficient to meet the needs of their families, and that all the public mourn the loss of police officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty.
The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund for the benefit of families of public safety officers, including police officers, firefighters, et cetera, who lose their lives in the service of Canadians.
Questions On The Order Paper
Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I suggest that all questions be allowed to stand.
Questions On The Order Paper
The Deputy Speaker
Is that agreed?
Questions On The Order Paper
Some hon. members
Jean Charest Sherbrooke, QC
That this House recognize the urgent need for action to address the serious problems in Canadian fisheries on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and calls upon the government to establish a comprehensive national fisheries policy that demonstrates real commitment to resource conservation, leadership on the issue of resource sharing with foreign interests, and sensitivity to the individuals, families and communities whose futures are linked to the health and sustainability of the Canadian fishing industry.
I am honoured today to have the privilege of moving the very first motion of the Progressive Conservative caucus in this House on an opposition day on an issue that requires urgent attention, given recent events.
I would also remind the Chair that only a few days ago we pressed the Chair for an emergency debate, given the last set of events. We were unsuccessful in obtaining that debate, but we are using the very first opportunity available to us to put this matter before the House.
The crisis in the fishery on the east coast and on the west coast did not happen overnight. It is important, as we begin this debate, if we are going to have any intelligent discussion about its future, to recognize that the issues are complex. The issues we are dealing with today have developed over many years.
If the answers were easy, frankly, we would have solved a number of problems. In all honesty, we all have to recognize that the problems are not easy to solve. Governments, both provincial and federal, have grappled with these issues, with success in some cases. However we must recognize today, having done our best in some circumstances, nonetheless we are faced with a real crisis on both coasts.
The fishing industry affects the communities, the men, the women and a lot of rural areas across this country.
Not one region of the country is unaffected by this issue, by this crisis in the fisheries, whether they be in the Atlantic provinces, on the coast, in Gaspé, or in Ontario or some other place where they are directly or indirectly connected to the industry. I scarcely need to point out that the entire Canadian population is affected.
I would like to refer to the crisis in the salmon industry in British Columbia. That industry employs thousands of hard working men and women. The salmon industry accounts for about 30% of the total wholesale value of the west coast fishing industry.
Last year in B.C. was the lowest year in 36 years of commercial fleet revenues, totalling less than half the average of the 1990s. That in itself tells a story.
Poor resource management tops the list of reasons for the decline. Other factors that have brought the west coast salmon fishing industry to its knees include habitat destruction, changes in the ocean's climate—a complex issue which also affects the east coast—poaching, overfishing, new technology and overcapacity in the industry.
The issue of overcapacity is not new. For a number of years various commissions of inquiry have studied the issue. Task forces, one after another, have all commented on the very important problem of overcapitalization within the commercial salmon fleet and have recommended that the number of vessels be significantly reduced.
Among those within the B.C. industry, there is widespread recognition of the necessity to reduce the fleet. Less obvious is the question of the best way to make it happen. What is apparent is that the approach taken by the Liberal government to date has not worked.
In the spring of last year the federal government unveiled its Pacific salmon revitalization plan and presented it as a panacea for the problems in the B.C. fishing industry. It was called the Mifflin plan. It called for a speedy reduction of about 50% of the capacity of the commercial salmon fleet. Single-gear ships and area licensing would be implemented, as well as license stacking.
The people who knew the industry at the time, it needs to be said, told the government that this plan would not work, that the plan was flawed. The people who support their families through their hard work and earn their living through this industry in rural communities along the coast of British Columbia were the ones who spoke up. They told the government that this plan was a mistake. They told the government that the management strategy had to be longer term, that the pace of fleet reduction must be within the industry's capacity to absorb, and most of all it must be within the capacity of individual communities and families to absorb these very important changes.
I regret to say that the government did not listen. What we got was the typical Ottawa knows best and “We are on the eve of an election campaign and we have to move”. The Liberal government chose to move ahead with its plan.
Guess what happened. People were right. Strong opposition to the Mifflin plan expressed valid fears that it would wipe out smaller fishers and home fleets in the coastal communities, concentrating the industry and fishing in larger boats in urban areas. In too many cases that is exactly what has happened as people have been thrown out of work and communities have been crippled by the implementation of this plan.
Not only that, but from the point of view of resource sustainability that must be the cornerstone of anything we undertake. In fact this is the very essence of the motion we have put before the House today. From the perspective of how we will maintain and manage this resource, this plan is a dismal failure. While it sought reduction to the actual number of boats there was no component to address total fishing effort.
What has it meant? It has meant that fewer boats are taking the same amount of salmon out of the water. The result is that we now have zero salmon stock conservation benefits. That is the net effect of the Mifflin plan.
The Liberal government has demonstrated a fondness about talking or doing some consultation in this area. A good example of it is that most of the consultation including some announced recently has not come before the implementation of the plan but after the implementation of the plan. Quite a consultation it will be.
Having inflicted this mess on the men and women of British Columbia and the salmon fishery over the course of the 1996 fishing season, the government now apparently scratches its head, shrugs and decides that maybe it is time that it actually talk to the people concerned and affected by the changes. Together with the provincial government they have formed a three member panel to study the effects of the Mifflin plan, study the damages they have inflicted on the people of British Columbia, to find out just how badly thought out it was.
I am sorry to report, without having the benefit of consultation, that what we know from the implementation of the plan is that some of the damage now incurred in these communities may very well be irrevocable. Many have already been forced out of the industry and those who remain have borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars to stack licences. Now that they have borrowed the money and have not been able to generate the revenue to pay off the loan they are stuck. They are stuck in the plan. They cannot walk away from it. They cannot walk away from their commitments. They cannot walk away from their licences. They are struck within the whole framework.
Let me refer to the Liberal record on managing the Pacific fishery documented in the 1996 report for the B.C. Job Protection Commission. The imposition of an ill-conceived Mifflin plan on top of what was already a poor salmon season last year resulted in the loss of 7,800 direct jobs. If we apply the multiplier it means almost 20,000 jobs have been lost. That is the net result.
The impact of job losses, it needs to be stated, was felt the most in isolated communities, predominantly native communities with few alternatives of employment for the people in those communities. They are the ones in British Columbia who are now suffering the most from the plan.
One such community is Masset, British Columbia, home of about 1,500 people on the Queen Charlotte Island. It is just one rural place where as a direct result of the government's fisheries mismanagement the local fish processing plant closed down and left people without work.
I quote from a letter from someone who lives in that community, a women who said:
—Fisheries and Oceans Canada seems to be slowly and systematically reallocating the catch away from the traditional commercial fishing sector, upon which our small community relies. I would add that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has seen fit to send a letter to the Sports Fishing Institute of B.C. indicating that the recreational fishermen can expect an allocation of chinook salmon in 1997. There has been no indication of any allocation to the traditional commercial sector.
That is the sector most affected. Would this be what the government considers leadership in managing our fisheries? If the Liberals think that responsible public policies means taking shots at the little guy and if success is choking off the viability of rural communities along the coast of British Columbia, I am sorry to report today that the Liberal government would have succeeded.
For the longest period the east coast has been dramatically affected by this issue. There are very grave problems in the policies of the government with regard to the east coast fishery. We have had a lot of pronouncements, posturing, endless study and so-called initiatives, but it all speaks to the broader issue of the management of the fishery on the east coast.
One of the reasons we chose to raise the issue as a caucus in the House of Commons today is that the auditor general spoke on it so vividly in the report produced only a few days ago. In particular he spoke about the management of the TAGS program.
The auditor general is a servant of the House. He does not report to any particular department in government. He does not report to cabinet. He reports to us, Mr. Speaker: to you, to me and to members of the House. The auditor general is at arm's length from the government.
He offered a very vivid report in which he said there was no management plan for the fishery. In the context of TAGS he pointed to it as being the major flaw which explains the dismal failure of the TAGS program.
Throughout most of the Atlantic region cod stocks are at historic low levels. Debate continues about the contributing factors. There are many, as I said earlier in my remarks. It would be nice if we could say in this debate what is precisely wrong. I would like to be able to say that, or that one government decision was wrong over 30 years. If we were able to do that I would feel better. Why? Then we could fix the problem overnight. We could actually do what we are all here to do and help the people involved.
Whether it is the inshore fishers, offshore fleets, cold water temperature, size of quota, size of mesh, age of fish harvested, availability of food, the seal population, accessibility or reliable scientific debate, all these things affect the decisions we make. We are all prepared to acknowledge that the collapse of major stocks in the Atlantic ground fishery is a complex problem.
As with any complicated question it may be understandable that the solutions are not necessarily easy. The point of the debate today is to look to the future and the men and women who are in the industry now. What is inexcusable and unforgivable is that there is not a plan for the future. There is not an exercise of leadership on the government side that offers hope with regard to what must be done for the future.
The crisis in fishery management has been devastating for the communities and the families on the east coast. Literally hundreds of fishing communities have been seriously affected. By 1995 the groundfish fishery accounted for only 8% of the total catch, the value of landings on the Atlantic coast.
What answer was cooked up? It was the TAGS program. That was the government's answer announced with a great deal of fanfare in 1994. A lot of key code words were in there.
I will quote some that were part of the plan. It was to “provide an integrated approach to capacity reduction”. It was to “call for partnerships with all stakeholders”. It included “career planning and employment counselling” and “sustainable development in Canada's long term economic development”. These words were associated with the $1.9 billion allocation of funds, with a view to retiring licences. TAGS would have removed approximately 23% of the groundfish licences in place at that time.
This is much less than half the original target and will still leave 10,000 groundfish licences in place. The TAGS component of the program directed at retiring licences has failed even though $1.9 billion has been put toward this effort.
What did the auditor general have to say about the government's success in achieving its objectives? In his recent report he drew the following conclusion:
Groundfish harvesting capacity was not significantly reduced through TAGS measures. Active labour adjustment measures were halted, and whether they actually contributed to reducing the number of persons dependent on the industry is not known. Excess fishing capacity remains, and poses a major risk to the sustainability of the fishing industry.
That is a real indictment of the government. It was not by someone in the Chamber, not by someone with any partisan axe to grind, not by someone involved in the industry, but by an officer of the House of Commons who reports independently to us and has at his disposal the tools to evaluate these programs. He has indicted the government on TAGS for its failure to the men and women of Atlantic Canada.
We have a program that will run out of money six months before it is scheduled to without any sense or any indication. Every time I travel to the Atlantic, whether it is with my colleague from Burin—St. George, St. John's West or St. John's East, the people in the community always raise the same issue. How is it that the government came forward with the TAGS program, said it would be a five year program and now is telling us that will be over in four years?
Their lives have been disrupted. They have had to reorganize their families. They try to plan for the future. They planned for the next five years on the reasonable expectation that the government would meet its commitment. Now they are told “Do you know what, Harry? Do you know what, Bill? Do you know what, Selma? The program will end in four years and not five. We are sorry. You may have wanted to continue on to school but it is over. We are the Government of Canada in Ottawa. We know best”. Tough luck is the message they are getting from the government. It is a cruel message to people who are in a position where they are vulnerable, weak and in transition.
The Auditor General of Canada seems to see that and understand that but for some reason the government does not seem to hear the message. That is not new. Maybe we should not be surprised.
My colleague from the riding of Saint John, New Brunswick, fought very hard for good reason in the House of Commons when the employment insurance legislation was brought in. The legislation had hidden behind it a reduction of $33 million in benefits to the fishers in Atlantic Canada through a regulation.
The member for Saint John, who is with me today in the House of Commons—I remember it well—had me sign a petition so there could be debate on the regulation, not change it but debate it. She went to the Liberal caucus. There were 31 members of the Liberal caucus from Atlantic Canada out of 32. She asked them not to change the regulation but to sign a petition so we could debate it in the House of Commons and Canadians could hear what we had to say. Not one member would sign the petition. This was over and above everything else.
Finally, if we are to be successful in dealing with the issue we have to press the government, the House and all political parties to look to the future and move to a plan based on maintaining resource conservation, which has to be the cornerstone. Canada is a resource based economy whether it is the fishing industry, the forestry industry, the mining industry, the agriculture industry, the energy industry, hydrocarbons or hydroelectric energy.
Those who understand our economy would know that maintaining these resources on a sustainable basis is key to our future economic success and the success of our children. The same is true for the fishing industry.
The government needs to answer the cry of Canadians who want to know what exactly it intends to do so that they can move ahead and allow the industry to survive in the future.
I followed with great interest the debate of the government on the Pacific salmon treaty signed in 1985. Certainly from my own experience I freely offer some advice to the government today. I do not know whether it will be followed. I refer to an issue I dealt with in the 1990s when I was minister of the environment.
With my colleague at the time, the minister of fisheries, we fought hard in the international community to get an international convention on overfishing at the summit in Rio de Janiero on the environment and the economy. We were successful. We did it in only six months. But we were successful for a reason. We pressed every cabinet member to raise the issue with other governments at the time.
I see that my time is running out. There will be further opportunity to add some comments in the question and comment period. I look forward to that. I look forward to the next few minutes and in the day of debate today to offering some ideas from our caucus on how the issue must move forward and how we can help Canadians on the east and west coasts to regain propriety of their communities, their pride, the opportunity to work and the opportunity to make their contributions to Canada.
Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC
Mr. Speaker, this motion certainly is a very straightforward motion. I have not conversed with my colleague the fisheries critic so I am not sure where we are coming from but from my perspective, I think it is a good motion. That is not the point.
The point is that this leader has a tremendous amount of gall. This leader was in government. He just finished saying he was in government as the environment minister working with John Crosbie who at the time was the fisheries minister. What was going on was that the fisheries science was being completely swept aside. Just take a look at the political interest from a Conservative perspective on that day in 1990. The problem has been created by successive Liberal and Conservative governments. It has never been more true that Liberal, Tory, same old story when it comes to fisheries issues.
I find it absolutely amazing that this leader would stand up and make this kind of speech when it was he, his department and his party that actually were the major contributors to the problem in the first place.
Where the Reform Party is coming from on this issue is we respect the perspective of the people of the Atlantic and the people of the Pacific. The people in the area should have had the input. The people in the area who know what is going on should have had the input but they did not have an opportunity. It was centralized. It was drawn into Ottawa. The bureaucracy made the decision and it was at the time when the Progressive Conservative Party was in power that the issue absolutely peaked.
I ask this leader, how in the world he can stand up in this House condemning the Liberals as they should be condemned when in fact it was his policies that in the first place created this mess.
Jean Charest Sherbrooke, QC
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kootenay—Columbia for announcing that the Reform Party will support our motion. I sincerely appreciate that.
I have to regret that he gets up and makes my point about one of the problems we have in this place. He started by saying he did not know how they would vote on it. He lives in British Columbia. This is a motion that is tabled today and he does not know how his party will pronounce. He is from British Columbia and he does not know what his critic's position is on this.
One would think that being from British Columbia where this is one of the main issues discussed over the last few months the member for Kootenay—Columbia would have a position. I am disappointed he does not. I imagine his constituents will be equally disappointed that he did not take the time to make out his position.
What we got instead, I do not want to comment on it. We have heard it a thousand times. It is the grandstanding. Notice the style, pointing the finger and saying it is the Tories' fault or the Liberals' fault. I can only imagine that the people who are affected by all these decisions today cannot be feeling very good. I do not understand what that does for them. For any unemployed British Columbian today, the member has offered zero in terms of any kind of hope for the future.
Instead, I would like to speak of what I would like to see the government do, contrary maybe to their approach. Who knows, maybe the Reformers during the day will give us come concrete ideas of what the future should be about.
First, in the case of the Pacific salmon fishery, what I think is important is that the government and the Prime Minister give very real instructions, strict instructions to his ministers to raise this issue at every opportunity with their American counterparts.
When I was Minister of the Environment, every time we met with a minister of another government we systematically, no matter what the issue was, no matter what the responsibility of the minister may have been, whether it was trade or transport, would raise the issue with our counterpart of the other country. Why? Because we wanted to drive home the point that this was a very important issue for Canada. By forcing that issue and by raising it at every opportunity we were successful in doing exactly that.
I would like the government today to make a commitment to do that and to have every minister of the crown opposite raise the issue with every American counterpart. No matter what the circumstance or the issue of the day is they should take that opportunity to raise the issue. That would be the first thing to do. In other words keep the issue on the table.
Second is the matter of the treaty. This is a treaty which our government signed in 1985. No treaties are perfect. The member was alluding to what had been done. In 1985 the government of the day was able to secure this treaty. In the years that followed there was a management plan. It has only been in the last four years that there has not been a management plan. That is even more important.
The principle of equity that is found within the treaty is extremely important. We need to secure that principle, to press it. We need to keep it front and centre in everything we do to ensure that as we move forward with our American counterparts that the principle of equity will be front and centre with respect to any agreements we make in the future.
The third thing we need and which is sorely lacking is an industrial adjustment strategy. I regret that the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia did not speak about that because it actually affects the people of British Columbia. What about the men and women who do not care about Liberal, Tory, same old story, and the huff and puff of the House of Commons? They have kids in school. They have bills to pay. They would like some help. This government should have an adjustment strategy which would allow them to make the transition into new jobs and give them some training. Some money should be put toward that end.
René Canuel Matapédia—Matane, QC
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the words of the hon. member for Sherbrooke. It is true that he is not all that bothered because things did not go any better for the fishers of Gaspé when his party was in power. The fishers tell us now it was a fiasco. It started in their time but it seems that the hon. member is repenting a bit, and that is all for the better. He wants to help the government, but he ought to have helped his own at that time.
I, however, agree with him on two points. When he says decisions are made in Ottawa, that is true. In my former riding we had the Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, whose opinion is respected throughout the world. Its highly competent researchers have carried out studies in the Gaspé, the St. Lawrence, the Atlantic Ocean. The federal public servants have now come up with another study, and of course the study by the federal public servants takes precedence over the one by our own public servants, who are independent.
I would ask my colleague from Sherbrooke what he himself would do, if he were the government, for these little fishers in Gaspé who will go on unemployment this winter, if they have enough “stamps”. Yet these fishers are hard-working and want to work but, because of their profession—nearly all the cod quotas have been cut—they end up with nothing, or next to nothing. What would he do?
Jean Charest Sherbrooke, QC
Mr. Speaker, I travelled extensively in the Gaspé area. Actually, I worked very closely with someone he knows well and a very respected person in the Gaspé, namely Dr. Charles-Eugène Marin, a former member for Gaspé. I can see the hon. member nodding his head in agreement. I think that Dr. Marin has made extraordinary efforts for fishers in the Gaspé.
I think that one of the changes made and imposed by the federal government that have affected them the most and hurt them the most—and I am sure my hon. colleague will agree with me on that—is the unemployment insurance reform, including the fact that their benefits were cut by $33 million. That is what I was talking about earlier.
My colleague, the hon. member for Saint John, New Brunswick, circulated a petition asking that a debate be held in this place on this issue. I think that approximately 40 signatures were needed. She was unable to get a single member of the Liberal Party of Canada from the Atlantic region to sign. This explains in part this government's arrogance and contempt for these men and women.
Seasonal workers depend not only on fisheries but also on forestry. Let us not forget the Eastern Plan, which was important to our region as it created jobs. Forestry is also important in the Gaspé region.
The federal government may cut left and right but try as it might, it cannot cut seasons. They can certainly not make winter disappear and privatize seasons in Canada. And unless they can cut one season, we will continue to live in a seasonal economy where these needs must be recognized. Our party, which, I hope, will form the next government, is committed to ensuring through the employment insurance legislation that these realities are recognized so that these people can earn an honest living.
I will finish with a little word of poetry. There is no position coming from the Reform Party. I will quote for Reformers the official position of their party in regard to the fishery. This is a direct quote from their leader in response to a question about TAGS. He repeatedly said that displaced fishermen and their families in the TAGS program were receiving “the last big social megaproject engineering thing to come out of Ottawa”. I quote the Leader of the Opposition's plan for the future of the resource, “All you can do is say it is over”. There is the plan of the Reform Party for the fishery of Canada.
Wayne Easter Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the leader of the fifth party has recognized this serious crisis did not happen overnight.
We on this side of the House welcome this debate which will allow us to put on the record the many ways we are moving as a government to address this crisis. The member for Sherbrooke criticized that there is not a plan for the future. Nothing could be further from the truth. We will show today where we are at in moving forward with a plan for the future to protect the resources and to protect the communities and the fisheries. As members opposite try to do in question period, I will put a few things in perspective.
As has been indicated this issue did not happen overnight. Where was the member for Sherbrooke in 1984 when the collapse of the groundfish stocks really took place? Where was he when the former fisheries ministers in the Mulroney government basically ignored the scientific reports of the day? The individual who just spoke, the leader of the fifth party, is none other than the same individual who served as the Minister of the Environment in the Mulroney government while foreign fleets were allowed to destroy the northern cod and the Grand Banks stocks.
We took on that issue when we formed the government in the last term. We challenged the issue and got some agreement. We are doing what we can with what is left. It is hard to conserve a stock that has been left in the kind of condition that the previous government left it in, but as a government we are showing every day that we are willing to take up that challenge.
The mover of the motion, the leader of the fifth party, is the very same individual who outlined under the so-called Charest platform a plan that would make the Department of Fisheries and Oceans disappear. Under the Charest platform the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would disappear and would be lumped into a department of sustainable development with several other departments. The voice for the fisheries at the cabinet table would disappear along with it. That is the kind of background the individual comes from.
The current minister has been speaking out at cabinet, standing up for fisheries issues across the country and around the world. The minister has made it very clear that the objective of the Government of Canada is the conservation and protection of Canada's fisheries resource and the achievement of a sustainable fishery and fishing industry, building a future for our resources and our people.
We know the outlook for the next two years will prove to be very challenging but we are moving forward. This will involve several role changes for stakeholders for the delivery and funding of programs. Contrary to what the leader of the fifth party states, we have identified several priorities to advance industry and program renewal. One such area is fisheries management itself.
We are moving forward on the implementation for the renewal of the fishing industry, the necessary reform of the government in Canada's fisheries management programs and achieving fundamental changes in relationships with fisheries and other client groups.
We are rapidly moving ahead with the establishment of integrated fisheries management plans for all the major and most sensitive fisheries and eventually extending this approach to all fishers.
We are developing with stakeholders in individual fisheries additional co-operative management arrangements which will form the basis for future partnering agreements. We are establishing other institutional mechanisms which will establish arm's length licence sanction tribunals for the decriminalization of many fisher violations and allow greater responsibility in allocation and management of decision making.
Another priority is Atlantic reform. On the domestic front industry restructuring has been initiated to build a fishery that is ecologically sustainable and commercially viable. The long term strategy for change is based on establishing a balance between resource supply and industry capacity, including a smaller more self-reliant industry, a core of professional full time fishers, controlled access to the resource and a co-operative management approach between government and industry for management of the fisheries resource.
We are also moving forward in Pacific reform, another area that the leader of the fifth party mentioned. Like the Atlantic, Pacific stock conservation is a growing public concern. Allocation conflict prevails and the economic viability of the salmon fishery has been jeopardized by cyclical declines in abundance, by low market prices and high fishing costs.
Following much consultation and independent review, recommendations have been produced on intersectoral salmon allocations involving the commercial, recreational and aboriginal sectors. Decisions on these recommendations will be required and are likely to be contentious.
Reforms designed to reduce capacity and participation and promote economic and ecological sustainability have been implemented. However, we recognize that these changes have been and will continue to be controversial. Staying the course on industry reform will be a continuing challenge but the minister and this government are certainly up to that challenge, as we have already shown.
The recently signed Canada-B.C. fisheries agreement on federal and provincial roles and responsibilities in the management of the west coast salmon fishery has major implications on the way the government of Canada will carry out its salmon conservation and fisheries management mandate in the future.
The challenge will be to find ways to cultivate constructive provincial involvement in departmental programs and processes through such institutional mechanisms as the new council of ministers, the Pacific fisheries resource conservation council, which will be in place for 1998, the Pacific stock assessment review committee and the proposed licensing and allocations board.
Arctic fisheries are also a priority of this government. These fisheries play an integral role in the lives of northern Canadians. Harvesting of fish and marine mammals provides a considerable portion of the food requirements and one of the few sources of income and employment in northern communities.
Pressure on Arctic fishery resources is increasing because of rapid human population growth and because protein, self-sufficiency and fishery development especially off Baffin Island are priorities of aboriginal groups and the territorial government. The focus of fishery management will continue to be on conservation for sustainable utilization through close co-operation with the legislative co-management boards.
Jointly, the government of Canada and the boards will establish fishery co-operative management plans and will fulfill their responsibilities under these plans. The negotiation and expected settlement of additional land claims would produce the formation of other co-operative management boards with fisheries management responsibilities.
There is a growing global concern about the health of oceans and the sustainability of the world's fishery stocks. Governments around the world are being increasingly challenged to demonstrate that their fisheries, as well as those managed through international arrangements, are environmentally sustainable. Working in partnership with the fishing industries we will move forward in those areas of creating international agreements to benefit Canada and the fisheries resource around the world. We are showing leadership in dealing with difficult choices.
I would like to propose an amendment. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting the word “establish” and by substituting therefor the words “continue the implementation of”.