House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

Ways And Means
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I wish to table two notices of ways of means motions. The first amends the Excise Tax Act in respect of split runs. The second amends the Budget Implementation Act of 1997 and 1998. I am also tabling explanatory notes for each. I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of each motion.

Income Tax
Routine Proceedings

October 27th, 1998 / 10:05 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, with your permission while I am on my feet I would also like to table, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), copies of legislative proposals and explanatory notes relating to income tax.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 12 petitions.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 40th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of some standing committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 40th report later this day.

Employment Insurance Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-449, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (parental benefits).

Mr. Speaker, the 1996 national longitudinal survey on children and youth found that 25% of Canadian children entered adult life with significant emotional, behavioural, academic or social problems.

Therefore investing in early childhood development is an imperative, not an option. This bill responds in part to this need by providing more flexibility, options and choices to parents, by amending the Employment Insurance Act to provide one full year of maternity or parental leave benefits under that act.

I am pleased to introduce this bill and I look forward to earning the support of my colleagues in the House.

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

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 40th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr.Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans presented on Monday, March 23, be concurred in.

I must admit I have been waiting an entire year and a half in this House in order to debate the east coast report and to move concurrence on what I consider to be an outstanding and fabulous report.

The first thing that has to be remembered is that this report does not come from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. We tabled it in the House but the report is actually a reflection of all the witnesses and all the people by the thousands who came to all the meetings in November 1997 in Newfoundland, Quebec, the New Brunswick region, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. This is an outstanding report that five political parties in this House can agree to.

Prior to the election and the campaign in June 1997 the reporters, the pundits and even ourselves were calling it possibly a pizza parliament. If a pizza parliament can put together what I consider an excellent report, then so be it.

What was the government's response in September 1998 to this east coast report? Absolutely scandalous. The government completely whitewashed the report and ignored the recommendations of nine of its own members. Absolutely scandalous.

I will go on to specific details within the report. When the east coast report came through, committee members got together and said they cannot be in Ottawa making recommendations or conclusions on what to do with the thousands of lives of the people on the east coast. They decided to go to these communities and talk to the people and write down what they were told, put it in a report and table it. For the first time in a long time the standing committee actually agreed unanimously to put this report together.

This report is a triumph of east coast fishermen, plant workers and their families over the adversities and policies of the current DFO and the past DFO.

We have had 16 ministers in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the last 11 years. Everybody knows they use this department as a revolving door to move forward on to other grounds.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

A spawning ground.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

It is a spawning ground for future references or future movements by ministers. That is one of the key problems.

Another problem with DFO is it is very stagnant. It has well over 800 people at 200 Kent Street and not one of them is catching any fish or setting any fish in the Hull River or the Rideau Canal.

One of the serious recommendations we made in this report is that DFO seriously downsize and move to the coastlines to where the resource is so it can have a better handle on what goes on on all three coasts of Canada and our inland waters.

The east coast report seriously condemns the government and the bureaucracy within DFO. It is one of the changes that has to happen.

Nobody on the east coast except for those who are involved in the ITQ and the big corporates which were funded by this and previous governments agree with the government. Ninety-five per cent of all people in the fishing industry on the east coast vehemently disagree with the current policies and practices of DFO.

Why are they continuously ignored? They are continuously ignored because they do not have a voice in Ottawa. They did not have a voice until this report came out. What is the government's response? A complete whitewash of this report.

It is absolutely scandalous that parties as diverse as the Reform Party, the Bloc Quebecois, the Progressive Conservatives, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party can agree to this report only to have it turned around and voted against by their own members because of the pressure tactics of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

It is an absolute whitewash. It is an absolute scandal that we can spend all this money touring those provinces on the east coast only to have the report completely ignored by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and by the bureaucrats in Ottawa.

As we know, this government has spent over $4 billion since 1988 readjusting the people on the east coast out of the fishery.

Has there been any great improvement over the years? Absolutely not. The lives of thousands and thousands of people have been totally disrupted.

What is the attitude of the centrally based Canadian government? Move. Just get up and move.

One of the reasons I decided to run as a member of parliament followed what the Prime Minister of the day said in a late November or early December town hall meeting on the CBC. A woman very passionately and eloquently told him that she had her education, that she was trying to look after her children and that she was finding it difficult to get a job. She asked the Prime Minister what he and his government could do to help her.

The Prime Minister's answer at that time was “In life some people are lucky, some are not. You may have to move.”

It is quite obvious that that attitude permeates the entire Liberal government. All that is heard by the people who have worked for centuries in the resource is “you have to move”. That is an attitude that is absolutely despised on the east coast of Canada and in northern Quebec.

This report exemplifies the courage, the stamina and the wisdom of people on the east coast. The fact of the matter is that these people know the resource better than any of us. They have worked it for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Speaking of the tragedies of the policies of DFO, at the beginning of this year the town of Canso, Nova Scotia, which is a wonderful small coastal community, after over 400 years of self-sufficiency, will have to claim civic bankruptcy. It is the first time it has ever had to do that.

All of the young people are leaving and all of the businesses are slowly shutting down for one specific reason: the town had no access to fish. What they did get was minuscule.

The Friday before last I took a tour of Canso and the town of Mulgrave, Nova Scotia. Mulgrave has the only shrimp peeling and processing plant in all of Nova Scotia. Earlier this year the government of the day, in its wisdom, gave 28,000 additional metric tonnes to Newfoundland and Labrador. Not one tiny little shrimp went to the town of Mulgrave. These people begged, they pleaded, they argued, they did every single thing that could be done to convince DFO that all they wanted to have was 2,000 metric tonnes of that 28,000 metric tonne allocation. They got nothing.

Even the provincial Liberals with their current minister of fisheries, Mr. Colwell, and Mr. MacLellan, the premier of Nova Scotia, did absolutely nothing to help these people. That means that the premier of Nova Scotia has absolutely no clout with his current friends in the Liberal government.

The result of this will be that at the end of this year the town of Mulgrave will lose its shrimp peeling plant. It will move to Newfoundland where it can have access to the shrimp.

The owner of ACS Trading is a business person. He loves the town of Mulgrave. He pays very good wages to the people when they can get work, but the fact is that they have no access to the shrimp.

As a business person he will have to move his plant to Newfoundland where they have excess access to shrimp. Parts of Newfoundland are asking for Nova Scotian boats to go up there and help them catch all the quota they have. It is like a Klondike with the shrimp up there. Mulgrave got absolutely nothing.

The same applies to the town of Canso with respect to turbot. When I visited Canso there were 11 boats in the harbour, all of them from P.E.I. Every one of those boats had lobster licences, they had crab licences and as a bonus to them all they had tuna licences.

In this report we talk about adjacency. Adjacency means that those people who live closest to the resource should have first access to the resource, working in conjunction with the other provinces in the area. The problem is that Canso only has two tuna licences, while P.E.I. has hundreds.

These boats were catching tuna within a rock's throw of the dock in Canso. The people in Canso watched all their tuna being caught by other provinces. The people of Canso have no access to it, except for two little licences. It is absolutely incredible that this government can pit one province against another. The result is that these people have to go on EI.

Now, with the changes to EI, they cannot even do that. They go right to social assistance. These people have all the pride, all the love and all the hard-working skills to maintain themselves in a productive society. What is this government's response? It turns around and hits them and hits them and hits them with bad regulations that will do absolutely nothing for their future and their families.

What is the ultimate answer from this government? Move. In a town where their great, great grandfathers and grandmothers are buried, where all their ancestors lived, where they grew up, where they love to live, the response from this government is to move.

Move to where? Toronto? Next fall 2,000 people at the Boeing plant, the McDonell Douglas plant, are going to lose their jobs. How are these people who fished all their lives going to compete for jobs with highly skilled people from the Boeing plant? What is going to happen then? It is absolutely criminal.

I wish for once that members of the centrally based Canadian government would get out of their chairs, out of their offices and en masse go to the town of Canso to have a look at what is going on.

There have been 50 different requests in a year and a half from the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, from myself and from our party for the current Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to go to Canso to speak to these people. What is his answer? No.

These people even came up to Ottawa to speak to him. What was his answer? “I can't speak to these people”. He is the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. His job is to speak to people from the fisheries and oceans world and he refuses to meet with them. But he has absolutely no problem meeting with his friends, Mr. Bob Wright of the Oak Bay Marine Group, on the west coast. He receives one phone call and he is there. Thousands of people on the east coast of Canada deserve and need this man's attention and his department's attention to the failures of the practices and policies of DFO, and the answer is no because it does not fit into the general plan.

In conclusion what I am going to be saying is exactly what has happened to these people and why it is happening. The fact is, this government, in its slippery backhanded way, has privatized the fishery. Through the ITQ system the five big corporations on the east coast control over 70% of the fishery resources on the east coast. Right now they have 50% and through individual transfer quotas they have an additional 23%.

There was a gentleman from the great town of Sambro, near Halifax. He was 48 years old and had a grade five education. I watched him baiting his lines and putting them into a bait box. He looked at me with all the experience of the world, with a really weathered face and said “You can have it this way in the fishing industry. You can have one man make $210,000 a year, or you can have seven of them make $30,000 a year. Make your choice”.

My choice was very simple. People who can earn $30,000 a year are extremely proud people. They are proud of who they are. The recent Swissair disaster in Nova Scotia proved exactly how proud these people are. That fisherman was one of those people who late at night risked his life to see if there was any possible way to recover bodies or survivors from that ill-fated flight. That is the type of people these fishers, plant workers and families are. This government wants to shut down their communities.

At least Joey Smallwood when he was premier of Newfoundland asked them to leave. This government does not have the courtesy to meet with these people. These people, to put it in ocean terms, are the salt of the earth. It is an absolute disgrace. Every single Liberal member should be absolutely ashamed that these people can be treated that way.

I ask the Liberals to go to the east coast to meet with these people. I ask them to read the east coast report and ignore what the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his useless bureaucrats have done. I ask them to read it for themselves. If they do not believe us, they should go there themselves, have a look and talk to these people. Then they will understand once and for all that these people want to work. They do not want the damn TAGS program. They do not want the useless EI programs. They do not want social welfare. They just want to work. These people have been working the resource for hundreds of years. All they want to do is work.

I am giving this government one more chance to vote for concurrence in the east coast report. There were nine Liberal members who voted for concurrence in the report at committee. They agreed to it. It is a unanimous report. When we have the vote today we are going to see those people sit like little sheep and vote against it because they have been whipped into cowardice and do not have the balls to stand by what they read.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Perhaps the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore will retract the statement and then proceed. He has three minutes and 56 seconds.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, out of respect for the Chair and this House, I retract that last statement.

They do not have the courage to stand by what they wrote in the report. Their own minister will not even go down to meet with these people. The fact is that my beautiful province of Nova Scotia, the other three provinces of Atlantic Canada and Quebec have been devastated by the policies of this government.

Another thing this government has done with its so-called TAGS adjustment program is to off-load the responsibility for the care of these people onto the backs of the provinces.

On September 1 over 9,000 people in Atlantic Canada had to apply for social assistance. Before that they were either on the TAGS adjustment program or they were working, gainfully employed, but because of these policies they were destroyed by this government.

These people are now the responsibility of the provinces. What will the provinces do? They will download that responsibility to the municipalities. The municipalities will not be able to bear the burden. We have the result of the town of Canso. The people throw up their hands and say “We cannot handle it any more. We have to claim civic bankruptcy in the new year”. That is an absolute disgrace.

In 1995 we were in Catalina, Newfoundland, and there were 320 kids in the school. We were there in 1997 and it was down to 125. The town of La Scie, Newfoundland, does not have a volunteer fire department any more because all the guys left. There is no work for them any more.

I do not know how these Liberal people can sleep at night. Obviously they live in Ontario and Quebec. They do not live in the areas that I represent. Even the Liberal member for Labrador had tears in his eyes when we were talking to people in his area. These people are devastated and all he wants to do is help them.

I give him, the member for Malpeque, the member for Miramichi and all of the other members who are from that region the opportunity to stand up once and for all for their people in Atlantic Canada and vote for concurrence in the east coast report.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too have travelled with the hon. member who just spoke and I have three questions I would like to ask him as he has again moved for concurrence in the report that was unanimous in having members rise in this House to stand up for their constituents.

As the member knows, the former chairman of the fisheries committee was removed by the Government of Canada. He has stated that publicly on the record. He stated that before the media, along with other members of the committee. I would like his comments on that. Does he believe that the chairman was removed from the committee for speaking the truth and that other members of the committee were dealt with by the government in the same way and forced to vote against their report?

I would also ask the member if one of the major components of the report is that not only the minister but the current structure of DFO in every community is not working.

I ask the hon. member for his comments on whether he believes the current structure of DFO can work or his comments on what he feels needs to be done.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Reform Party member from Vancouver Island for his question. He was with us on that tour. We also had the opportunity to tour his province to discuss the concerns of the west coast.

Although I did not mention it in my speech, when I came to House of Commons I honestly believed that a committee could be independent of government. I believed that a committee could listen to witnesses, write down their concerns in booklet form, in a pamphlet or in a report and present it to the House of Commons so that all Canadians could see it.

What was the response? It was typical. The government removed one of its most outspoken backbenchers, the member for Gander—Grand Falls. He had fought for over 24 years for the rights of fisher people in his riding. The response of the government was that he had to go. The DFO could not handle the truth so the chairman of the committee was silenced.

That chairman was able to bring five political parties together. We left our politics at the door and dealt with the problems on the east coast. I congratulate the member for being able to do that and I scorn the government for removing him from the committee.

Regarding the structure at DFO it absolutely has to change. It has to get out of Ottawa and to where the resource is. It has to start working with the people who work the resource. We should do that right away.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to my colleague. My question is based on what he was saying about the shrimp fishery.

Essentially we are dealing with Liberal provincial administrations in the four Atlantic provinces. All this shrimp is being transferred to P.E.I. or to Labrador and Newfoundland for processing. What does the government have against the premier of Nova Scotia?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, to clarify the shrimp issue, it was not transferred anywhere. It was just given to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The ironic thing is that every time I rise to ask a question of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans he is not here. He happens to be the premier of Newfoundland at the same time so I have to ask the stand-in for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

There is no question that the Premier of Newfoundland has an awful lot of clout and an incestuous relationship with the people in DFO. Because of that the rest of the provinces and Quebec are falling behind. Our provincial premiers in the three provinces of Atlantic Canada and in Quebec have been unable to crack the dent within DFO and get it to listen.

If the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans does not want to meet with fisher people and their families, why would he want to meet with provincial premiers from those provinces?