House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was harbour.

Topics

Office of the Ombudsman of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces
Routine Proceedings

June 5th, 2006 / 3 p.m.

South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale
B.C.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2005-2006 annual report for the Office of the Ombudsman of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, which focuses on equity.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

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

National Literacy Policy Act
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-316, An Act to establish a national literacy policy.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a bill entitled, “An Act to establish a national literacy policy”.

In essence, the bill calls on the government to improve literacy in our country by effectively promoting higher literacy standards for all Canadians. Creating a national literacy standard will help raise awareness and academic achievement for each and every Canadian.

With the production of the bill, I hope to promote higher education for those who once thought it unachievable by improving the opportunities for those who find literacy a barrier in their everyday life.

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

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans presented on Wednesday, May 31, 2006, be concurred in.

It is indeed a pleasure to stand in the House today and it is a privilege to be here. I want to thank again the people of Cardigan, who so often gave me their support. With that support comes responsibility, and today I hope to fulfill some of that responsibility.

The problem is that in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans last week we had a presentation by the Small Craft Harbours Branch, which gave us an overview of the funding requirements, harbour authorities and a number of other issues. The program began in 1997, but the harbour authority concept was approved in 1987.

The 1990 decision and the subsequent 1995 report were adopted. That was on core fishing harbours. It was a decision that was putting the funding in the appropriate place. Seven hundred and forty-eight harbours are core fishing harbours in Canada, 165 are non-core fishing harbours and 182 are recreational, some of which are to be divested. One hundred and eight harbours are at the legal stage of divestiture and of course there will be no more costs.

When it comes to the important part, it is the budget of $86.6 million: $8.6 million of this is in salaries; harbour maintenance, which is so important for anyone involved in the fishing industry across this nation, is 82% of that, or $71 million is being allocated to that; and harbour operations and public administration gets $5.5 million. The thing that bothered me when this report was brought to committee was the state of the current budget and that the $86.6 million will be reduced by $20 million next year.

For the situation we have in this country today, with the financial situation, with the surpluses we have, the dollars that are available, it is time to make sure that we put our ports in proper order. That is what I want to see today: that the House support the motion I moved. It is a very important safety issue. It is important to note that the fishers must have a place to tie up their boats. They must have a place to do their work on shore. Also, before a lot of work is done on small craft harbours, it is very important that we do in depth a study of what needs to be done. What we need to know is what the problems are, what needs to be done and where the dollars need to be spent.

That is why last Thursday in committee I moved that we not cut it by $20 million but that in fact we increase the budget by a measly $15 million, which is a very small amount and is only covering the cost of doing business.

In my riding in particular, which I know better than any other riding, when I was elected in 1988 the wharves were in a very poor condition--

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

An hon. member

That was the Mulroney government.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

No, in fact, Mr. Speaker, it was during part of the Mulroney government. I had the honour of sitting here for five years in the opposition watching the Mulroney government not put the dollars into small craft harbours. What really got to our fishermen in the Cardigan riding, whom I got to know very well, was the barricades. They had never heard of all these barricades that went up. Barricades were put up because the wharves were not safe for fishermen to walk on or drive on. That is totally unacceptable.

Along with the wharves not being in shape, the dredging was not done. People who do not understand the fishery might not understand how important dredging is. If the dredging is not done properly, the propeller will hit the fan. If there is a stone in the fan, it will destroy the propeller. That is $2,000 to $3,000 gone down the drain for the fisherman. It can bend the shaft. It can break the housing. It can cause a lot of damage. That is what we do not want to see.

That is a small indication of what it was like from 1988 to 1993, when we took over the government. What I want to see is that this government does not let this type of thing take place.

We all can recall quite clearly, I think, the devastating effect that the Mulroney government had on Canada. I can remember numerous times receiving calls from fishermen. Their problem was that they needed to have the harbour dredged when they were going out to fish. These people were trying to make a living and the harbour was not dredged. We would have to try to persuade the minister at least to get it dredged enough that it could be brought up to a workable standard.

I want to make sure that the government does not turn its back on this primary industry and that it provides sufficient funding to continue the maintenance of the harbours. There has been a lot of work done in the last number of years. Great strides have been taken by the fishing community, along with the government, whereby the management of these small craft harbours has been taken over by harbour authorities made up of fishers and individual people in the community who are not involved in the fishery.

As an aside, a few weeks ago I was very pleased to be in Surrey. It is not a small craft harbour, a DOT harbour, but a lot of work went into it. I was involved with the group of fishermen and people involved in the community. We received a $22.5 million package in order to put this into the private hands of the harbour authority. This is what is called progress.

These harbours are so important for the community. In my area alone in the Cardigan riding we have 21 harbour authorities managing 22 core harbours. This means that not only do the fishermen take time from fishing to manage the harbours, but they also put their hard-earned dollars into repairing these harbours. If the government were to cut $20 million from the budget, it would be impossible for fishermen to continue to pick up the additional costs to manage the harbours.

In 1995 in the Maritimes there were 557 harbours, all managed by small craft harbours. Since that time, the management of 285 core harbours has been taken over by 244 harbour authorities that service the maritime fleet. This is a responsible industry and it should be commended for working with the federal government to manage the harbours.

We must remember that harbour management is an additional responsibility and we all know the hardships that have been experienced in different sectors of the fisheries over the past several years. This is why we want to make sure that the government does not cut $20 million in funding. In fact, it should increase it by a minimum of $15 million and also do the in depth study that I mentioned in harbours right across this country. In fact, what we have to realize is that the $15 million is just the cost of doing business, of catching up with inflation. It is not an increase at all. It is so important that these dollars are put in.

Let me point out that the reduction from 557 harbours to 285 in the Maritimes shows that the fishermen in the past have rationalized and that the funding is only spent on core harbours to ensure that the industry is being serviced in a responsible manner. Cutting $20 million from the small craft harbours budget would put the industry on the same course that the Mulroney government put it on from 1984 to 1993. That course was straight to the rocks. We just have to be sure that we convince the government not to let this happen.

I would like to see the motion make sure that the government does not shipwreck the fishing industry and put more undue hardship on fishermen. The viability of the fishery depends on the infrastructure that is required for people to carry out their daily activities on shore as well as on the water. I do not know if everyone here realizes it, but it is not all that easy. It is hard work. It is hard work to go out on the sea, but those who do also provide a lot of work for people on the shores and in the plants. All the spinoffs connected to the fishery are so important to the economy of the region I represent. That is why I want to make sure that the House understands how vitally important it is that we do not let the likes of this happen.

I was pleased to see my motion passed by the committee. I hope the House sees fit to support my motion so that next year's budget will not be cut, as I mentioned, by $20 million, but in fact will be increased by at least $15 million. In fact, more dollars would only make a better job of the harbours.

The last major project in my riding was announced last August, when I was able to secure $3.9 million for a major harbour improvement project at Launching Pond. The harbour was devastated by a major storm surge that happened in December of 2004 before there was any frost or ice to protect the shoreline and harbour in the province from the destruction.

As a matter of fact, the severe storm of 2004 seriously damaged many harbours, particularly those in the eastern end of the province, which I have the privilege of representing. The storm was also associated with a tidal surge. The battered harbours and breakwaters eroded and destroyed the shore protection and deposited tonnes of sand in the harbours, channels and basins.

One of the problems is, of course, that mother nature can be both very helpful and very devastating. This major storm in 2004 was very destructive. It caused a lot of damage. There was no frost in the ground. If the ground and everything is frozen around the harbour it makes a big difference, but in this situation it was not, and the storm created a lot of harm. There was a lot of work done previous to this, but there is much more work that needs to be done from this day on.

At the Naufrage Harbour the storm removed part of the deck of the wharf, lifted pilings and damaged the tie-back system. The repair project had to re-secure the pilings, decking and tie-back system as well as replace the back wall and re-ballasting structure.

Dredging was already scheduled for the Naufrage Harbour. As we know, a lot of environmental planning has to go into it. It can be a great problem. A lot of that was done, but along came the storm. More evaluating had to be done and more dollars had to be spent. In fact, approximately 30,000 cubic metres of material were removed from the harbour basin.

Both North Lake and Launching Pond required basin dredging. The work at North Lake involved the removal of approximately 15,000 cubic metres of silt and sand from the inner basin while Launching Pond saw 7,000 cubic metres of material removed. Launching Pond also suffered considerable shoreline erosion during the December storm.

Armourstone, which is a very important part of wharf repair, was placed to stabilize the area as it sheltered structures on the south side of the harbour from weather related damage. At Sturgeon, damage was done to the wharf decking, fenders and stringers as well as the wharf approach. Repairs have been undertaken along the placement and additional armourstone was added along the wharf approach.

The storm also dislodged a section of armourstone on the Grahams Pond wharf, but there had been a fair bit of work done on the Grahams Pond wharf with a lot of armourstone, which I will get to later. It certainly helped the situation. That is why if one spends dollars in the appropriate manner, if one does the right study, finds out what the problem is and where the dollars need to be spent and provides the dollars, one can in fact save money for the treasury and fishermen.

The entrance breakwater at Beach Point shows the effect of the severe storm conditions and repair and replacement of the armourstone on the north side of the structure. This project will protect against future storm damage by providing additional protection to the harbour basin.

These are just a few of the problems that will come about if the dollars are not allotted in the appropriate manner in order to secure the harbours.

Before time runs out, I want to mention a very important harbour, North Lake Harbour. It is called the tuna capital of the world. Media from all over the world have come to this harbour. If we did not have small craft harbours and the funding in order to keep this harbour in place, the more than 90 lobster boats would not be able to fish in and out every day and the more than 100 tuna boats would not be able to go in and out every day. I am sure that my colleagues in the House of Commons realize how important it is to make sure that the government fully understands that this must be cared for.

The government did one thing that pleased me very much, and when someone does something right, I will give my congratulations. The government included my private member's bill, Bill C-216, in the budget. It had to do with a $500 capital gains tax exemption for fishermen right across the board, and it was important that this be done.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Gerald Keddy

How would you know? What do you know about it? You voted against it the first time.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear my colleague from South Shore--St. Margaret's shouting. He had a little problem with my bill. Back in November 2003 he introduced a bill, but he did not know the problems. He introduced an intergenerational bill which covered 10% or less of the transactions that take place in small craft harbours.

On February 25, 2005 I introduced a capital gains tax exemption bill that covered all the fisheries. One month later my hon. colleague from South Shore--St. Margaret's introduced another private member's bill. I am not saying he copied my bill, but it was the same as mine and that is okay. All I want is to make sure that the fishermen get what they should.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Gerald Keddy

You should have done it when you were in government then.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is shouting from across the way. The most unfortunate problem is, when my hon. colleague from South Shore--St. Margaret's, if he had anything to do with the platform that the Conservative Party ran on, one would think the party would have included his second bill. It did not. That party included his first bill in its campaign material. That is exactly where the government intended to go. The only little flaw in the ointment was that I was elected and I introduced my private member's bill that covers all the fisheries.

My hon. colleague is taking great joy in this, but the government had a decision to make: either vote against 90% of the fishermen, or adopt my bill. I must thank the government because it adopted my bill. I appreciate it, even though it was forced to do it.

My bill is a good thing for fisheries. It controls the price of fleets. It takes no money from the government. Less money comes from the community to the government. It keeps the dollars in the communities right across Canada. If my hon. colleague from South Shore--St. Margaret's would canvass his colleagues and make sure that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Fisheries and the member himself supported this motion, then he would be doing something for the fishery.

Many other things are involved in the fishery in Prince Edward Island. One of those things is the blue mussel. Everybody here loves to eat blue mussels. They are a wonderful delicacy. One has to go out to sea to get them and there needs to be a wharf to come back to. There is the Atlantic Mussel Growers Corporation and my friend John Sullivan and a number of other people are involved. They provide a lot of work for a lot of people. If we do not have wharves, we do not have the mussel and we do not have work for people. The Fortune brothers run Atlantic Aqua Farms. My good friends the Dockendorffs run a major operation out of Morell and they provide a lot of work for a lot of people in that area.

We must support the fishing industry. We must support the small craft harbour budget. I ask my colleagues to support this motion.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, it was with great interest that I listened to my hon. colleague across the way. I very much appreciate his interest in the fishery and in small craft harbours that the motion was originally made on. Somehow he got off the subject and into capital gains.

Very quickly and for the record, in case someone actually is listening to the debate and realizes that it is more important than simply a press release for the hon. member, I first introduced the private member's bill in 2003. There was an election in 2004. The Liberal government had the opportunity at that time to bring in a capital gains deduction for fishermen, but chose not to do it.

Two parties, the Progressive Conservative Party and the Alliance Party, were combined in 2004. There was an assembly in Montreal where we established the policies we would run on in the next campaign. I took the matter of the private member's bill to that group. There were over 2,000 individuals at the assembly from coast to coast to coast. The bill was supported entirely as it was written for intergenerational transfer. We did not know if we would be able to support the $500,000 capital gains being available to everyone at that time because we had not seen the books.

We included it in our policy. I actually sat at the table to make sure that it was included in the policy in the last campaign in 2005-06. It was brought in by the budget of the government. The former government had opportunity after opportunity to bring this to fruition for the fishermen of this country and refused and failed to do it.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be inconsiderate to my friend from South Shore—St. Margaret's, but the fact of the matter is he had an opportunity. I explained what happened up to the election.

I wonder why he had to have a look at the books. They were wonderful books to look at. No government has ever inherited the financial situation that the current government has inherited. I would wonder why the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's did not reintroduce his bill and have first reading here in the House of Commons. Would it be because everything that the Conservative government does is funnelled, evaluated and someone looks to see what drops out and see if the government will accept it or not? Is that what goes on? Did the Prime Minister ask the member not to submit his bill? Was there some thought that the government would not have the capital gains tax right across the board?

I have learned over my few years in the House that if a member is going to represent his constituents, he had better represent his people and not listen to what the big bucks say here in Ottawa. What the big bucks say to members in Ottawa might not help the harbours of Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia.

I stand for my constituents, not because someone tells me that it cannot be done. What my hon. colleague should have done was brought his bill before the House. He could have had something to stand on. The bill would have had first reading. He did not do that.

If the hon. member wishes to redeem himself, he can support my motion and convince his colleagues to do so. In the end the member will have to come up with a few ideas of his own.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, to put a stop to this cockfighting and to return to the subject at hand—small craft harbours—I would like to point out that I personally had the opportunity to work on this file in recent years with the member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

This is a vital issue. Thus, I would like to get back to the heart of the matter and have the member tell us that the work is required today because of the neglect of recent years. In fact, the figures, which do not lie, indicate that in 2003 the cost of renewing or repairing small craft harbours throughout Canada was in the order of $400 million. In 2006, three years later, the cost is now $500 million. This demonstrates the inaction of the previous government, inaction which must be remedied now.

We will see the true colours of this new government but I do not believe the battle will be easily won. I hope the hon. member will not forget that today's problem was a problem in the past as well, and that today's disastrous situation is due, in part, to the fact that we have completely abandoned these communities and their small craft harbours.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's words of wisdom.

The truth is that taking care of harbours is like taking care of our homes, barns, cars, whatever. We have to continually spend dollars. What I can tell my hon. colleague is that when I read here in Ottawa that $20 million was going to be taken out of an $86 million program, that is trouble. That is why I put this motion on the floor. Usually, and I think always, if we hear talk about cuts, there are going to be cuts. I saw what happened here from 1988 to 1993. I saw the finances and what the situation was. What I do not want to see happen is what happened then. What I want to have happen is that the House support the motion.

I agree with my hon. colleague that we need the $20 million and the $15 million increase at a minimum, and at his insistence, with our discussing the issue, the study is very important. Not only do we need the money to do it, we have to know what we are doing when we are doing it. The fact is that in my district when the armourstone was put in place and the proper dollars were spent, it withstood the 2004 storm because the proper work was done. If we do not do the work properly, it will not withstand the storm.

Fisheries and Oceans
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to congratulate the member for Cardigan for his achievement in getting a report through the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to increase the funding for small craft harbours.