House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please.

As a courtesy to the hon. member and to all other members, would those who are having private conversations please have them in their respective lobbies so the Chair can hear the member who is speaking right now?

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, these may be fascinating conversations and I might eventually want to join in, but right now I would like the hon. members to be able to hear me and, and some members having louder voices than others, this can be disruptive.

Anyway, these people, these honest citizens, namely the crab fishers and their representatives, say and write that they have not been consulted. Should we believe them? I think so. They have not only said so; they have put it in writing. It is a very important issue, one that was raised as one of the main criticisms in our discussions with department officials about Bill C-45. If the consultations have not been carried out by the department, I pledge—hopefully the members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans will be in agreement—that we will carry out these consultations. It is extremely important that the people in the fishing community, who are directly or indirectly affected by fisheries management, have the right and opportunity to express their opinions on every aspect of this bill.

It is true that the bill is coming to us 137 or 138 years after the existing law was enacted, because it has never been amended in all those years. Also, we have to say that, sadly, the fishing industry is grappling with a host of problems. I can only speak of Quebec, but in Quebec the fishing industry is in crisis, be it in the shrimp,crab, lobster or groundfish sectors, or the cod sector, of course. Another crisis nowadays is the one pitting those who would abolishing seal hunting against the seal hunters.

There is certainly no shortage of crises. When I say that there are crises galore, I am speaking only of Quebec. If I were to talk about the Atlantic provinces, there would be more crises and the problem would only grow bigger. A little further, if I turned to the Great Lakes, I would be talking about another crisis: invasive species. I could also talk about western Canada, where the issue of salmon fisheries in the Fraser River was under consideration for several months. That is yet another crisis.

The bill has arrived in Parliament but it is incomplete from several standpoints. The legislation in question does need to be brought up to date; it was enacted 138 years ago and it needs more teeth. Any offence committed in the fisheries ends up in criminal court. That is the reality: you go to court no matter how minor the offence. This can result in delays and problems. Thus, we can see the creation of an administrative tribunal as a positive step.

Yet, we must be vigilant and have a critical eye and, for this reason, the consultation period is extremely important. I think it is quite proper for people to have the time to review the bill in question in order to express an informed opinion. This would allow parliamentarians to conduct a debate, as we are doing today, and to work in the interests of those involved in the industry once the bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Some people believe that the fisheries are not a big deal and that the issue only comes up on Fridays. I mention Fridays because there used to be a tradition that you ate fish only on that day.

In Canada, this is a $4 billion industry that generates a great deal of revenue in each community. I would like to speak about the Quebec fisheries and everything happening east of Quebec City. But I will speak primarily about the region I am most familiar with, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine

Let us try to figure out the significance of “the fisheries”. The population of the Magdalen Islands is 14,000. In my opinion, we have to respect these people. Of these 14,000 people, 6 out of 10 depend on the fishing industry. It is that clear cut.

In the Gaspé, a little more than 3 people in 10 have fishery related employment. In Quebec, the landed value of the fishery is $150 million. This may not seem like much compared to other figures, but when you consider the overall figures, you realize that thousands of people depend on them.

I am talking just about the landed value of the fish. For regions like ours, it is extremely important. That is why we must look at the fishery from this angle.

In my opinion, it would be proper and respectful toward this population, the fishers, the industries, the people who work in the plants in question and the communities to take the necessary time to look at how changes are made. It is true that there are a number of changes in the bill.

One of the changes that absolutely needs to be made involves the discretionary power of the minister. I have nothing against the person in that position. That is not what I am saying.

Nonetheless, giving the minister full discretionary power over managing the fisheries does not allow us, in my opinion, to go further. Unfortunately, over the past year some questionable decisions, to say the least, have been made. We have spoken out against these decisions.

They say there is a crisis in the shrimp fishery. There are too many shrimp on the market: we are being “invaded” and “attacked” by farmed shrimp. However, the current minister announced an increase in the fished shrimp quota in the gulf areas. But who is benefiting? The fishers in Newfoundland and Labrador are benefiting.

I have nothing against Newfoundland and Labrador. I have no problem with this. However, as far as management is concerned, I do not get the impression that increasing quotas to benefit a certain group is responsible resource management when shrimp ... when the shrimp industry is in crisis. It is not the shrimp that are in crisis. On the contrary, Nordic shrimp are delicious.

Magdalen Island lobster fishers also experienced this adversarial situation with Prince Edward Island lobster fishers.

There again, an arbitrary decision was made by the ministers, supposedly based on a report from a mediator. This mediator was rejected by one of the parties, the Magdalen Islands.

So much for efficiency and effectiveness. That is what the people of the Magdalen Islands said. Anyone who thinks I am wrong about what the people of the Magdalen Islands said should take the time to go and see the islanders.

I repeat: the fishers from the Magdalen Islands said that consultations were held and a mediator was appointed without their consent. I believe what the fishers from the Magdalen Islands say. Anyone who claims otherwise is calling the fishers liars. That is a fact.

Parliamentarians must act responsibly. The Bloc Québécois is committed to doing so, and I am as well. We did so recently when the revocation of legislation concerning the Great Lakes fisheries was being reviewed. In my opinion, the Bloc Québécois acted responsibly on this issue.

Strangely, during the process, it was noticed that the Conservatives, who had introduced the section in question, had voted against that section by mistake. Mistakes happen, certainly. If it had not been for the Bloc Québécois, the whole thing might have fallen through.

The people of the Great Lakes might have found themselves in a legal vacuum. That is why I am calling on all members to work together. At the same time, I am well aware that we will have a great deal of work to do. We will do it responsibly and thoroughly. When the committee receives Bill C-45, if the House so desires, the committee will have to proceed thoroughly and responsibly, taking the time not only to consult, but also to make any amendments it considers appropriate.

It is not just a matter of time, it is also a matter of respect for the industry, fishers, communities and everyone directly or indirectly involved in the fisheries. A number of amendments will be made to this bill, which I feel is a work in progress. I believe that some parts will have to be removed and that we will have to agree on some others. I cannot agree with one of the objectives of Bill C-45, which provides that the department can use the resource to fund its research work. What have we come to? I understand that the resource is public, but it should benefit the people who fish it and live off it. A bill should not make it possible to do indirectly something that we would not want to see done directly: using this money to fund research. If, after 138 years, this is the sort of change that is being proposed, we will have to go back to the drawing board. We will defend this principle tooth and nail. There are others we could elaborate on.

I just want to summarize what I was saying, but I know that I will have an opportunity to come back to this over the course of the debate and possibly in committee if the House chooses that route.

Bill C-45 enhances the co-management of the fish populations by giving fishers more power and more responsibility. It also creates a new tribunal that will have the authority to punish poachers by imposing penalties ranging from fines to revoking fishing permits.

I want to remind hon. members that under the current system, even the most insignificant offences are referred to a criminal court, which can involve a lengthy and costly process.

In addition to having at its disposal an entire arsenal of penalties, this tribunal will consist of individuals who have a good understanding of the fishing industry, and vigilance will be the order of the day.

The bill finally recognizes that some legislation in Quebec and the provinces is equal or superior, and it thereby cuts down on duplication. On that matter, the Bloc Québécois, as a sovereignist party, has another objective. As an aside, if there ever were a sector of the economy in Quebec that could attest to the fact that if we were sovereign we would be better off, it would certainly be the fishery sector.

I know that some people do not necessarily agree with me, but that is the broad consensus in Quebec. We will eventually see this, during a referendum. The fisheries file perfectly illustrates why Quebec needs sovereignty. And, as they say, the sceptics will be confounded.

However, as for the negative points of the bill, obviously, the issue of consultation has been mentioned. In a way, the proposed amendment is relatively interesting. I know that the committee will also work very hard, and respectfully, but above all, very thoroughly. That is how it is done.

I know that the current minister was on the committee. Now he is the minister, wearing a new hat, one might say. I know he worked actively within the committee, just as I did. We face several challenges. Of course, the various crises bear witness to that.

I must also mention that, recently, for example, the sale of licences from one province to the next created the following risk: a crab boat was sold to a P.E.I. business, without a history of a crab quota, meaning that 25 jobs per boat left our region, not including the jobs linked to the plant. This is dangerous. This is what it means for jobs on the boats and in the plants. This is dangerous.

Does the bill address the situation? I do not think so. Should it address the situation? In my opinion, yes, absolutely. Of course, there was a reaction. We found a way to say that perhaps the licence could be attributed to P.E.I. or elsewhere, but not the attached quota. That may be a way to slow things down, but it will not completely prevent such situations.

I will have the opportunity to come back to this over the course of the next few hours or, if necessary, in the weeks and months to come, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of these people who depend on this industry and who—

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from the Bloc, who obviously has an interest in the bill. It is really worth pointing out that this bill has not been redone or reconstructed in 139 years. Contrary to the amendment by my good friend and colleague from Bonavista--Gander--Grand Falls--Windsor, I have to ask my colleague from the Bloc, since he did state that he agrees with the bill in principle, if he would not agree with me that if we extend this for another six months, as the amendment calls for, time will go by and they will want another delay.

Then, the next thing we know, we will have been waiting 149 years. I wonder if my colleague from the Bloc would support me in asking my colleague from Gander to withdraw his amendment and get on with this. I also must say that our minister has drafted a great bill. I think even my minister would agree with me that no bill is ever perfect, but I think this is a good bill. I am sure that the minister is open on this from time to time.

However, delaying it is not the way to go. Let us get started with something that appears to me to be a very good bill. Fisheries is big in my riding, as it obviously is to that gentleman over there, and I can appreciate that. I would like to hear his comments.

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would very much like to thank my Conservative colleague for his question. I would say that we should not exaggerate. Although I do not know the member in question, I think he has exaggerated somewhat.

The amendment submitted will be scrutinized and analyzed on its merits. However, the letter that I presented at the outset, signed by the citizens of my riding who represent a number of fishers in my riding, should be retained in principle. They feel that the bill could be improved and that is why they say yes. However, they are quite shocked because they feel they were not consulted. Therefore, it is important to take the time to analyze the situation.

I am in favour of the proposal or the proposed amendment . However, I will take the time to analyze it because I believe we must act rigorously and responsibly in this matter.

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore should know that there is less than a minute for both the question and the answer.

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member's colleague, the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, for the great work he did on the new ombudsman bill for veterans in Canada.

I have a question for my hon. colleague, for whom I have great respect and who represents a fantastic area of the country. The motion put forward by our colleague from the Liberal Party basically asks that people in his constituency, the people he just spoke about, have the opportunity to give their input prior to second reading. We have asked the minister too. We need more time so that these people across the country and in the member's riding can have that input.

I thank him very much for saying that he will carefully look at the amendment and consider it in due time.

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine must know that his time has expired, but I will give him a moment to answer.

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, a moment can be short or long.

In conclusion, members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans have always acted responsibly and will continue to do so to protect the industry from—

Fisheries Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I am sorry but time has expired. When Bill C-45 comes back for debate in the House, there will be five minutes left for questions and comments with regard to the speech made by the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-294, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (sports and recreation programs), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

There is one motion in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-294. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.

Motion to Amend
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-294, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing lines 10 to 15 on page 1 with the following:

“(A) the taxpayer is, in that month, a registered participant with, or member of,

(I) a sports team or recreation program of the employer in respect of which membership or participation is restricted to persons under 21 years of age, or

(II) a sports team or recreation program of a college or university,”

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will, of course, support Bill C-294, now before us, because it helps young athletes.

The situation in which athletes find themselves is a reflection of the importance given to sports. And there is work to be done, considering that this country will host the 2010 Olympic Games.

The Bloc Québécois strongly supports this bill, which is a step forward to help athletes directly, because, in many cases, they must pay to participate in their sport, particularly young athletes, who receive very little help, both in terms of money and visibility or credibility.

There is only one program providing direct financial assistance to athletes, and that is the Assistance Athlete Program, or AAP. The funds earmarked for this program account for only 13% of the overall budget for sports in Canada.

So, despite the minister's announcement earlier this year that this program would be improved, the fact remains that athletes need more support from the federal government, which seems to perceive these athletes more as a source of visibility and pride, than as people who should get support.

So, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill, which provides additional assistance to athletes, particularly young athletes, who must often spend large sums of money to train in order to perform, on things such as food and housing, sportswear, transportation, tuition fees, medical expenses, travel and competition expenses, registration fees at competitions, training session costs, membership fees, food supplements, and so on.

The amendment that I presented at report stage, and which is proposed by the Bloc Québécois, seeks to recognize the important role of Quebec and Canadian university sports, as regards sport issues.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment that you read is to add a second part to clause 1(A), so as to include a sports team or a recreation program of a college or university. That is an addition. The bill already includes all the teams whose members are under 21 years of age. However, university teams should be supported, because they include young athletes. In many cases, some members of those teams will be over 21 years of age, and it would be unfortunate to exclude them for that reason.

To highlight the importance of university sports in Quebec, I would like to speak about an event that takes place every year from September to March. More than 10,000 student-athletes participate in 11 sport disciplines, with a schedule of close to 3,000 events. These events lead to the ultimate goal in university sports: claiming the National Championship title. This weekly competition provides student-athletes with the best there is to offer in Quebec and in Canada.

Annually, regional champions from the four conferences vie to compete in the following disciplines or championships, which are held in November of every year: women's field hockey; men's and women's cross country; women's rugby; men's and women's soccer; the Mitchell Bowl, which is the football semi-final; the Uteck Bowl, which is also a football semi-final; and the Vanier Cup football final.

In March of every year, the following championships take place: women's and men's wrestling; women's ice hockey; men's and women's swimming; men's and women's volleyball; men's and women's indoor track and field; men's and women's basketball; and the University Cup for men's ice hockey.

There are many events at the university level which deserve to have this clause included in the bill.

No other sport organization in the country can match the breadth and scope of such a program. From Victoria to St. John's, student-athletes competing for national honours represent an exciting vibrant dimension of Quebec and Canadian society. Every Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) student-athlete must attend an annual drug education seminar as part of the CIS drug education and doping control program. The seminar highlights key issues and health concerns of drugs in sport. This seminar is extremely beneficial as it allows the student-athletes to discuss the ethics of drugs in sport and educates them about CIS's zero tolerance policy.

Internationally, student-athletes can experience the excitement of the Winter and Summer World University Games, the second largest international multi-sporting events in the world, second only to the Olympics. Every two years, student-athletes have an opportunity to compete with the best from around the globe in 12 sporting disciplines at the summer games and seven sporting disciplines at the winter games. These games provide Canadian university athletes with a unique experience both culturally and athletically and are often the platform for student-athletes to launch their international athletic careers.

My purpose in summarizing these various activities was to emphasize the contribution of university sports to the next generation of Quebec and Canadian athletes, and to support the motion in amendment I tabled at the report stage.

The purpose of Bill C-294 is to amend the Income Tax Act to provide additional support for athletes by excluding from their taxable income allowances from non-profit groups or associations. Concretely, the bill proposes adding a provision to the existing Income Tax Act to exclude from their taxable income any allowances for board and lodging and any other reasonable expenses of the taxpayer that are paid to or on behalf of the taxpayer by a non-profit organization in connection with its operation of a sports team or a sports or recreation program, to a maximum of $350 for each month of the year, adjusted annually to reflect inflation. This applies in two cases: if the taxpayer is registered during the year with the organization as a member of the sports team or as a participant in the sports or recreation program; and if the taxpayer is under 21 years of age. In fact, membership in the team or participation in the program must be restricted to persons under 21 years of age. We are proposing this amendment because we found that the part that allowed only for teams whose members were all under 21 years of age automatically excluded many university students.

I would like to take a moment to illustrate how important Sport Canada is. This bill does much more than give tax credits to athletes, it reopens the debate on funding for amateur sport and the general situation of athletes in Canada and Quebec. Sport Canada is the public agency that administers sport in Canada. The agency comes under the Department of Canadian Heritage and under the direct political responsibility of the Secretary of State for Sport, who reports to the minister. Its mandate is to help athletes achieve excellence in high-level sports and build a Canadian sports system in order to reinforce the unique contribution sport makes to Canada's cultural identity.

Unfortunately, I will not have time to talk about the various programs Sport Canada offers, but the purpose of my presentation was to demonstrate that, even though some efforts are being made, we are not providing enough support for our athletes, especially young athletes. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill. We encourage all parliamentarians to support our amendment in order to ensure that this bill includes university sports.

Motion to Amend
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I understand where the member is coming from. We all should be trying to encourage athletic participation as best we can but I believe the amendment would create a lot of problems.

The bill is completely confined to $300 per month for room and board. It is also restricted to organizations where the participants are all under the age of 21. If we are to use the Laval football team as an example, which is an excellent team with a top notch program and it won the Vanier Cup, most of the players are over age 21 and therefore would not be eligible for this.

Second, the junior teams got into difficulty because the tax department said that was an employer-employee relationship. If a university were providing room and board to a student, which I doubt is happening right now, but even if it were, that would not be an employer-employee relationship. There would be no tax consequences for the room and board at a university level. If it is happening, it is being done by a third party, in the case of Laval by a very wealthy person who supports the program.

However, as best as I can understand, if he is helping students with their room and board it is not subject to taxation under current law. It is a different category altogether and it diverts away from the main attempt to get the 140 junior A teams across Canada, many of them in Quebec, and the junior B teams to bring the tax relief to them so they can have the same benefit that maybe the Laval football players have at present.

This is a catch 22. It does not really lean anywhere. If there were some way the Bloc member could withdraw the motion, it would keep us focused on the main issue, which is to help midget hockey, junior B hockey and junior A hockey which are really suffering a great deal right now because of current tax rules. The university people do not experience this problem.

Motion to Amend
Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, given that the subject of today's debate deals with the financial tribulations of young Canadian athletes, I would like to pause for a moment or two, if I could, and begin my remarks with an appropriate salute to a fallen soldier.

Yesterday, Canada lost one of three remaining veterans of World War I, Lloyd Clemett. Lloyd was a resident of Toronto and first enlisted in the Canadian Forces an incredible 91 years ago.

As I understand it, the bill before us was initiated through the efforts of a Saskatchewan boy of high school age.

Lloyd Clemett was just 16 years old when he volunteered for action and was eventually sent to the front lines in France. His valiant service to the country was lauded and recognized in his time and should be now, for now it falls on us to ensure that his sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Today, just as in the time of Lloyd Clemett, young men and women are apt to pursue their dreams against all odds, be it on an ice rink in rural Saskatchewan or on a basketball court in downtown Toronto. The House should be ready to affirm the pursuit of sport for our youth and remove any barriers that might stand in their way.

The act before us deals with the issue of young athletes billeting their way into rural escapes to pursue the games they love.

In and around my constituency, many young athletes arrive on a daily basis. Some are supported by parents and some are lucky enough to be sponsored or championed by large or local businesses but others face financial hardships and paying their own way as they balance school responsibilities and sport.

In rural parts of my province, the latter situation is the most common. In parts of the country, where a metropolis of opportunity is not looming, it is even more unusual to find student athletes who are as confident with their finances as they are with their hockey stick or baseball glove.

Young athletes who assume part time jobs while living in communities that have adopted them should not be further burdened by a tax system that penalizes them for their sacrifice.

The House must give support to this bill but we must also ensure that it serves a greater good for athletes of all kinds, with abilities at all levels and in cities and communities all across the country. We are all well aware that star athletes and sports prodigies have an easier time making ends meet than the stalwart and dedicated sportsmen and women who still play for passion.

While it has been and will always be in our best interest to foster the best of the best, and while our society will always be drawn to the extraordinary acts of athletic achievement, the intent of the bill seems to salute the hard-working yet unheralded athletes.

There is something about the purity of sport that inspires us to forget our daily troubles and escape into the games we played as youths.

While I am not as quick as I once was on my skates, I know the joy of a hockey rush and, on the other hand, the solitude that can only be found at the lonely end of the rink. The lessons and benefits of sport are unique and invaluable. Amateur sports and amateur athletes deserve all the support the House can give.

I believe the bill, subject to the proper and traditional scrutiny, is a good first step but a first step that can meet the criteria for affirmation of the House. In fact, it would be hard to argue against the basic thrust of this proposal which seeks only to relieve amateur athletes of an undue tax burden.

I would like to direct members' attention to the comments which were made by my colleague, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. He pointed out in a detailed way some of the shortcomings of the present tax regime that purports to support amateur sport and that definitely improvements need to be made, as other members have attested to.

Over the course of this debate we should also make it clear that we in the House recognize the sacrifice and hard work being done by those who billet and house these athletic travellers. Without the generosity of families who open their homes to players of hockey, lacrosse and so many other sports, the vibrancy of sport in Canada would be greatly reduced.

By being so accommodating and welcoming, these billeting families are helping to improve the situation of Canadian athletes and Canadian sport itself. I wish to applaud these generous citizens. I am confident that all members of the House will join with me in that recognition.

When an athlete is provided with funds from a team that is only generating revenue by way of ticket sales and gives those funds to the family that is hosting him or her, it should be a taxless exercise. Surely the sacrifice is thankless enough.

Apart from the families and the athletes, we must also consider the coaches. I recently met with Clifford Linton, a dedicated parent and coach from my riding who represents concerned parents and athletes. He expressed to me and proved with appropriate documentation the huge disparity that exists between the cost to train an athlete and the funding available from the government.

In addition to the unusually high costs associated with children in sport, the government also requires that any athlete who wishes to represent Canada in international competition must pay a fee to Athletics Canada. In one instance where two junior athletes were fortunate enough to win the right to represent Canada at the world championships in Beijing, their chance of a lifetime was nearly cancelled by a $9,400 total expense. There comes a time when the coaches and athletes at Canada's highest level can no longer ask their friends and families for support and the government must lend a helping hand.

Any nation can trace its sporting history back to its early recollections. In Canada we have such a rich history of sport: Algonquin lacrosse matches that amazed the early Europeans; Royal Military College students playing what is considered the first ever hockey game with students from Queen's University. Our history books tell us that John Kennedy and Lester Pearson were united by their professions, of course, but formed a much more personal bond over their shared love of baseball.

Sport is a timeless and valuable aspect of our history. There is no bond across the social milieu that is greater. We can all sit in an arena or stadium and be united by our love of the hometown team or of our hatred for the bitter rival. It is sport that truly brings out the best in us and the best of us.

This bill has noble intent and with some enhancements could provide both substantive financial support and reaffirm our understanding of the role sport plays in our Canadian way of life.