House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was extradition.

Topics

The Senate
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, in a speech given in Alberta in October 1990 the Prime Minister said: “The Liberal government in two years will make the Senate elected. As Prime Minister I can make that happen”.

The words are very clear. In two years the Senate will be elected.

I ask the Prime Minister what is the meaning of these words spoken.

The Senate
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister tried very hard to carry out what he said in 1990 through asking for the support of the Canadian people and the Reform Party on the Charlottetown accord.

The Reform Party opposed the Charlottetown accord. This was a major factor in it's not being adopted. Reformers have to bear the blame for the fact that the Charlottetown accord was defeated and that we do not have an elected Senate right now. Let the record show it is the fault of the Reform Party. It speaks one way and acts another.

Solicitor General Of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General.

Yesterday, my colleague from Mercier appealed to the dignity of the Solicitor General to put an end to the circus atmosphere into which this House has been plunged for the past week because of him. I am offering the minister another chance.

Will the Solicitor General do the honourable thing and step down, so we can get on with real issues when we come back in another week?

Solicitor General Of Canada
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if there is a circus atmosphere in this House, the hon. member and his colleagues in the opposition are the ones responsible for it.

They are the ones who need to ask forgiveness for sullying the atmosphere of this House. That is another reason why the Solicitor General does not need to resign.

Apec Summit
Oral Question Period

October 9th, 1998 / 11:55 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, last night the Prime Minister hopped on the old Challenger and jetted out to my riding for a $300 a plate Liberal fundraiser.

There he revealed what he and his party really feel about the APEC pepper spray incident. He made a joke about having pepper steak instead of rubber chicken whenever he is in western Canada.

The only thing more sickening than the Prime Minister's dirty little jokes is the fact 1,000 Liberal Party faithfuls clapped and laughed.

What kind of people make jokes about blinding Canadian kids with pepper spray? What is the government's excuse for the second time the Prime Minister has made callous and insensitive jokes about blinding Canadian kids with pepper spray?

Apec Summit
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, can the hon. member explain why there are dozens of editorial page cartoons on this very subject? Does he want to censor them as well?

Canada Post
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gilles Bernier Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post has announced that on December 1 it will slash the earnings of its retail franchise owners from 17% to 5%.

This will force many of the franchisees out of business and the remainder will have to drastically reduce service to their customers.

The reason the franchise system has worked at Canada Post is the stores are not owned by the corporation but by small business people who understand and meet the needs of their customers.

Why is the minister so intent on reducing customer service and driving the franchises out of business?

Canada Post
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I announced in the House that the implementation of the new commissions for the franchises has been postponed until December 1 so Canada Post can explain how it works because there will be some decrease in commissions.

For the first time Canada Post has insured from $6,000 to $25,000 commissions that anybody will get if they do not reach the amount they are supposed to reach.

I think Canada Post is taking care of its franchises. It wants their business because through that system it is better serving Canadians.

The Arctic
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the parliamentary secretary for environment.

I would like to know what the government is doing about pollutants in the Arctic where we have young mothers worried about breast feeding due to unknown substances in their environment.

The Arctic
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Burlington
Ontario

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, Canada's eastern Arctic is seriously affected by these pollutants. Domestically and internationally Canada is leading the way to limit or eliminate toxic air pollutants that enter the Canadian environment.

Following the June signing of regional agreements with 33 other countries on 12 toxic air pollutants the recent Arctic council ministerial meeting in Iqaluit adopted a program of action which focuses on persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.

Solicitor General Of Canada
Oral Question Period

Noon

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, before we break for Thanksgiving, one final question to the solicitor general.

He said he had confidential information about the business arrangement between Karlheinz Schreiber and Elmer MacKay, a business relationship that even Elmer MacKay's son did not know about.

Obviously the member for Palliser did not make this up. How did the solicitor general know? Exactly who told him?

Solicitor General Of Canada
Oral Question Period

Noon

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the relationship in question has been a matter of the public record for many years.

Cree-Naskapi Commission
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages and in Cree and Naskapi, the 1998 report of the Cree-Naskapi commission.

I want to thank the Cree-Naskapi commission for its important work. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations of the commission.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

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

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented to the House on Thursday, April 2, be concurred in.

It is an interim report on the west coast of Canada concerning fisheries management issues which was tabled in the House on April 2, 1998. The government's response was tabled in the House on September 16.

The government, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is letting down the west coast big time. Earlier this week I spoke about how the issue of foreign fishing on the east coast has totally compromised the ability of fisheries managers to properly look after Canadian interests and the environment.

On the west coast the introduction of the aboriginal fisheries strategy pilot sales program in 1992 has compromised the ability of DFO to manage the fisheries resource in order to optimize social and economic benefits of the resource and to balance necessary conservation measures.

I will talk more on this subject later.

The first five recommendations of the interim report deal with transition programs for displaced fishermen, salmon licences and gear buyback. Since the tabling of this document in April we have seen a $400 million promise announced on June 19 by the minister with regard to those types of programs. None of this money has shown up to date. The minister claims that $20 million has been expended. But if so, where?

The salmon fishing community had a terrible season. Many people are in desperate straits and still they wait. Successful programs such as the North Island fisheries initiative are waiting for funding. Human Resources Development Canada program managers are concerned because anticipated funds from the $400 million program have not arrived and still they wait.

The minister has already announced the details of the east coast buyback program while no announcement has been made on the west coast. Still they wait.

The fisheries committee travelled to 11 coastal communities in British Columbia. The committee held hearings and tabled a set of practical recommendations. The minister accepted two. He maintains staffing at British Columbia light stations that had not already been destaffed three days before the Port Moody-Coquitlam byelection, knowing the committee recommendation was the people's choice and knowing the byelection race was close. The other they bought into was the implementation of a voluntary salmon licence holiday for 1998.

In virtually every other aspect of the report the bureaucratic response to the report essentially maintains the status quo or pays lip service to the recommendations.

New fishery opportunities are stonewalled by DFO. The west coast is loosing new fisheries jobs because of the lack of biological and advocacy staff at DFO and a prevailing attitude that it is much easier to say no than to say yes.

DFO is costing British Columbia thousands of jobs by choking the acquaculture industry in red tape and inertia. Although it is the lead agency, DFO has allowed competing jurisdictions and bureaucracies in the Department of the Environment and the Canada Food Inspection Agency with its policies to inhibit existing growers and it has stymied significant new investment through red tape and lack of advocacy.

The creation of a big budget acquaculture commission in Ottawa is not the answer. What is needed is a clear progressive mandate and a budget for more biologists to vet project proposals.

The committee heard from private investors who either had already or were prepared to invest their money in labour intensive aquaculture only to see their hopes and dreams dashed on the bureaucratic rocks.

I read into the record a portion of a letter I received from one of the people who appeared before the committee as an aquaculture proponent:

In my view you could raise up Jesus Christ himself and put Him in charge of making abalone farming a reality in Canada, and He wouldn't get any further than us mortals. The civil service runs this country to a much greater extent than they should; even the courts have more to say about the direction things will head than our elected representatives in the capital. Don't waste any time on this issue, John. It's a non-starter.

That is how great the cynicism has gone. This is from someone who has spent years trying to deal with the bureaucracy and invested a lot of time and a lot of money. The jury is still out on whether DFO is serious about some of the other recommendations such as the crushingly expensive and excessive at sea observer requirement for the groundfish trawl industry on the west coast.

There has been no movement at all on the beam trawl monitoring program which is also crushing that industry. In the hake fishery the department failed the community of Ucluelet which invested $7 million to upgrade its water system. This tiny community of 1,800 people was able to attract private investment for onshore hake processing only to be excluded from meaningful consultation when DFO changed the rules to reduce the portion of the catch which would be directed to the community at great cost and with lost jobs. The government makes no apologies, pays lip service and carries on as before. The callousness is insidious.

The same can be said regarding recommendation 12 of the report. It deals with maintenance of drainage ditches in agricultural lands in the Fraser Valley and other B.C. jurisdictions. Once again the department initiated major changes in 1997 without consultation. That added red tape and bureaucracy. It ignored successful protocols that had been developed over decades between farmers, municipalities, the provincial government and DFO. It added immensely to costs and derailed normal ditch maintenance. It imposed burdens on private lands, the equivalent of expropriation without compensation, and it totally frustrated municipal and provincial jurisdictions. The government's response ignored our recommendation to revert to pre-1997 protocol and to develop a dispute resolution mechanism.

While DFO is expending huge resources on this counterproductive program, it can find no new resources to fill the shortfall in field supervision of major projects affecting fish habitat in a major way. I will give the example of the Vancouver Island highway project.

What does this all mean? I will go back to the aboriginal fisheries strategy, the AFS. DFO, the minister and the government continue to defend AFS pilot sales program despite continued and growing opposition. It is no surprise that the latest initiative opposed to the AFS comes from band members themselves. Natives from Campbell River, Port Alberni and Alert Bay gathered in Victoria a few weeks ago to protest what they called damaging pilot sales under this program.

Commercial fishermen both native and non-native are against this program. They want the minister to stop reallocating their livelihood. They claim that illegal sales of salmon resulting from unmanageable pilot sales are completely out of control. But the minister does not want to hear this.

For the benefit of viewers I should explain that there are two aboriginal fisheries. There is a fishery for food, ceremonial and social purposes which no one objects to. This is based on aboriginal rights. It is constitutionally protected and no one has a problem with it. It is basically designed in most cases as a food fishery. The department has set up a racially segregated, separate commercial fishery based on racial lines under the AFS pilot sales program. That is where we have the problem.

I will talk about a case in point. At the start of the season DFO indicated that it would allow a catch of 300 sockeye salmon in the Sto:lo area on the Fraser River. These are fish to be used by the Sto:lo people for food, social and ceremonial purposes. What actually occurred, according to DFO statistics, is that the actual Sto:lo harvest up to September 18 of this year equalled 324,000 fish.

With a Sto:lo population of 6,000, this equals 341 pounds of salmon for every man, woman and child. This is far in excess of legitimate requirements for food, social and ceremonial purposes and is an encouragement, an enticement, for illegal sales, in particular when we think that half of the Sto:lo population does not live anywhere near the Sto:lo communities.

DFO also states that it is concerned about any illegal activity, meaning the selling of fish not being used for food or ceremonial purposes. However it proposes to merely consult about this activity and so far consultation means “do nothing”.

DFO also states that it cannot assume that food levels have been achieved as a result of the action of some individuals. This means that in spite of allowing more than 300,000 food fish to be caught, DFO is not confident that there are enough of these fish being used for food. In other words, DFO is assuming that most of these fish are going to be sold illegally by a few people.

The lack of control by DFO over the AFS pilot sales program is appalling. The all-Canadian commercial sector, which consists of native and non-native fishermen, has since implementation of the AFS pilot sales program in 1992 seen its share of the catch shrink. It has gone from what averaged more than 90% of the Fraser sockeye harvest to as low as 50%. More boats are on the river and DFO conservation goals have become impossible to manage effectively.

This racially segregated fishery is beginning to be exposed for what it is. What did native commercial fisher Gerald Roberts from the Campbell River Band say in Victoria last month? “We cannot survive with pilot sales programs continuing to destroy our lives. This aspect of the AFS is wrong, divisive and destructive. Minister Anderson must take a serious look at the industrial solution”. I could not have said it better myself.

He went on to say: “Not only do the pilot sales programs threaten the management of the salmon resource, they are also crippling the businesses and families who cannot access available harvest”. That says it all.

The minister must end the illegal and divisive aboriginal-only commercial fishery on the west coast to bring order out of chaos. If the minister wants to encourage aboriginal fishing, DFO can increase the 30% current aboriginal participation rate in the all-Canadian commercial fishing industry by providing grants and loans to aboriginal people to buy existing commercial fishing boats and licences.

The committee opposes allowing the minister to have discretionary powers such as those proposed in the new fisheries act which died before passage in the last parliament, which, by the way, would enable the minister to do what he wanted on this aboriginal file.

The minister should not be given wide discretionary power on grants to the fisheries. The principle of public right of access to the fishery must be maintained.

I have finished on that subject. I am now going to talk about the Canadian coast guard on the west coast.

The minister is presiding over a disaster.

There are four major coast guard radio stations on the west coast to monitor and control large traffic, to respond to distress calls and to provide weather information.

Comox station is currently two staff members short of the minimum required, Tofino is four or five short, Prince Rupert is four short and Vancouver is ten short. It is a disgrace. There does not appear to be any commitment to replace workers as they leave. Since there is a high attrition level, the situation will only get worse until something is done to remedy it.

British Columbia has the largest coastline of Canada, the most shipping and it is operational year-round. While the federal government has designated the workers at the communication stations as essential workers, DFO has been unwilling to maintain staffing at essential levels.

Budgetary shortfalls are compromising the safety of marine traffic. Operational minimum standards are not being met. When serious conditions have been brought to the attention of DFO, some band-aid money is found for temporary solutions. However, there are no long term, systemic changes being implemented and they are required for marine safety.

In a letter to the minister written just two weeks ago the chairman of the Campbell River Local Marine Advisory Council advised that the reduction or elimination of the 24-hour weather service which is being proposed “could pose a serious safety hazard to all mariners on the B.C. coast”. This advisory council has worked for the past three years to assist the coast guard. The chairman says “To my knowledge, none of these suggestions has been acted upon”.

This very board was encouraged and set up by the coast guard in order to make it more responsive to community needs. Three years later the proof is in the pudding and cynicism grows. DFO pays lip service to the public.

The only thing that will change the current situation is political leadership. That is what we need.

The amalgamation of the coast guard with DFO has been, on the west coast, a major hardship to the coast guard. Coast guard interests have been submerged by DFO interests. The west coast is much worse off now. The Reform solution is to put the coast guard and the Department of National Defence together. This concept is gaining much currency.

I was pleased to be a member of the standing committee that produced this report. I believe that the committee filled a very important role among fishermen since DFO is extremely poor at dispute resolution.

Low level disagreements get elevated to a political level almost immediately because no simple protocol exists. This leads to simmering and unresolved disputes. DFO must implement systemic change in its organization. It must have an organization capable of delegating authority so that it does not become a political exercise.

It is extremely disappointing that the government is not paying more credence to the committee report. DFO needs all the help it can get.

Fisheries are forever, while ministers and even bureaucrats are temporary. The department needs a minister who has vision and is not captive of the bureaucracy. The current minister may have some vision, but he is completely captured by his bureaucracy on most of the major issues and it is getting very late in the day to break this mould.

We will not achieve the changes we need until we move most of the entrenched senior bureaucracy out of Ottawa, end the command and control management style and create accountability for results within the bureaucracy.