House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was going.

Topics

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Laval and tell her that I was a very well-behaved adolescent.

I must say that I find the government's approach very dangerous, when it says that it will be tough on crime, it will enforce the laws and it will impose penalties. The government is trying to play the matador, beating its chest to try to show criminals that it is strong and tough, even though it does not even comply with Federal Court decisions. I find that extremely problematic.

This Conservative government is clearly inconsistent. It has proven this on many occasions, and we have seen it in the House during many question periods. We still do not have an answer. The government is still saying that it will read the documents and give an answer later. It is always putting things off.

We have seen this in the Abdelrazik case, which was before the Federal Court. The court ruled against the federal government. And even though he has had two days to read 100 pages, all the Minister of Justice will say is that he will read the file and eventually give an answer. Meanwhile, Canadians are being left to perish in horrible conditions abroad. This is totally unacceptable. As I told my colleague from Laval earlier, many people in my riding are outraged by that.

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a comment that is not too harsh. It is a small criticism directed at the Bloc and its support for this bill.

The information obtained by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights indicates that there is not enough room for inmates in provincial and federal prisons. As far as I know, the Bloc likes to portray itself in this House as the protector of the interests of Quebec and its citizens. Having said that, we know that in Quebec, as in all the other provinces, the jails are full and there is no money to expand them.

I ask my Bloc colleague, is it not irresponsible to support this bill, because it will increase the number of inmates in the province of Quebec and in all the other provincial and federal prisons?

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I understand my NDP colleague's concerns, but as I said earlier, our job is to legislate. This is an excellent bill, and I am a little disappointed that the NDP is against it because it could really help keep prisoners in jail and ensure better outcomes for victims' family and friends.

Of course, now we will have to deal with another problem: lack of funding to build and expand prisons. Take Laval, for example. One of my colleagues presented a petition concerning a former penitentiary that had been closed. The Conservatives say that they are trying to keep crime in check. As I have said, they claim they are trying to get tough, but unfortunately, they are not putting up enough cash to make it happen.

Another problem is that there is a shortage of resources not just for prisons, but also for police forces.

We have to take a much more comprehensive look at the issue. For once, the government has given us a good bill. We have to take advantage of this opportunity and support it because this is something we have been asking for for years. Now it is clear that we will have another job to do. I encourage my NDP colleagues, along with my Liberal colleagues, to get involved in a new campaign to fund prisons.

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, there is a small population of individuals in Canada who commit crimes and are inveterate criminals. One of the great challenges we have, and one of the things that makes the public angry and our police officers dispirited, is that these inveterate criminals appear to be thumbing their noses at the justice system because they receive small penalties and are able to revolve quickly through it.

That small group of people has to be separated from the majority of individuals, who often have other problems such as dual diagnosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol effects, psychiatric problems and substance abuse issues. That population of people who are basically committing misdemeanours has to be removed.

However, I want to ask my colleague what he thinks we should do for that small population of individuals who have essentially made a conscious decision, without any mitigating factors, that they are going to commit crimes against Canadian citizens. What things can we do, as all of us believe must be done, to strengthen the rights of victims in Canada?

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

I recently attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security with our colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. He told me that close to 39% of people in prison have problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and mental illness. A comprehensive approach is therefore needed. Eliminating two-for-one crediting of time would be one way to make sure that these people remain in prison. If they are sentenced to 25 years, then they should serve 25 years. If they are sentenced to 15 years, then they should serve 15 years.

Of course, we also need to work on the reasons these criminals commit these crimes, reasons such as poverty and mental illness. There should also be a major initiative to address these issues.

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, we are confronted with an interesting phenomenon in this piece of legislation. It seems fairly straightforward. It is a very small piece of legislation. There are really only two sections to it when we actually analyze it.

What it does is bring to the fore a debate and an analysis that we as parliamentarians should be involving ourselves in to a much greater degree than we have up to this point.

The reason we have not done so up to this point with the government--and I would have to be critical of the prior Liberal administrations over the last decade or so--is that we are confronted with this reality: we have declining crime, but increasing populations in our prisons, both at the provincial level and at the federal level.

Another phenomenon that I think very few members of this Parliament understand is the shift that has occurred over roughly the last 10 years in the number of people incarcerated in pretrial detention centres, as opposed to those who are incarcerated after sentencing, whether at the provincial level or at the federal level.

The ratio of the pretrial, pre-sentencing, custodial population and the post-sentencing population has reversed itself. It used to be roughly two to one; that is, one-third of the population in incarceration in this country at any given time would be in pretrial custody, and two-thirds would have been incarcerated post-sentencing and would be in our federal prisons. I want to be clear that I am only talking about the adult population.

We have a provision within the Criminal Code that allows our judges, as a sentencing guideline, to take into account the pretrial custody period of time, and the conditions, in sentencing after conviction.

Over a period of time, as the number of individuals in pretrial custody shifted to such larger percentages and a corresponding deterioration occurred in the conditions in those detention centres, a practice grew up in our courts--and this is true at provincial court levels across the country, in the territories and at the federal superior court level--for the judges to begin universally granting credit for that pretrial custody in excess of a one-to-one ratio.

In fact, by the time this bill came before this House, it was fairly common for credit to be given--on average, for all sentences--at close to a two-to-one ratio. Actually, as we heard in the committee, it is somewhat less than two, but it is right around there.

Then in some extraordinary cases over the last two or three years, we also had the phenomenon developing across the country of credit being given at a three-to-one ratio. The reason for that was not only the basic humanity of our judges, but also our international obligations: as a nation, we have signed on to protocols to treat our prisoners in a humane fashion in both pretrial settings and post-sentencing settings.

One of the specific provisions in those international protocols is that prisoners serve their time in cells that are designed for one person and that have only one person in them. What has occurred in both the pretrial custody setting and more and more in the post-sentencing setting is that we are finding people in ratios greater than one to one in the cells. As often as not, it is three to one, and in some cases it is four to one.

I am going to concentrate my remarks on some of these detention centres, because this evidence was before our courts on a regular basis. Some of them are very old, there is no programming in terms of any education and sanitary conditions generally are poor. We can go down the list.

As the judiciary across the country heard evidence on this in individual cases, the practice of granting two-to-one credits became very common. It was almost universal. It was not mandated by any statute, whether our corrections statutes or the Criminal Code. It is certainly not in any sentencing guidelines in the code. It was simply because judges, on an individual basis, knew how bad the conditions were in the detention centres where they were placing people.

That was all about the judiciary trying to send a message to the political level of government, the administrative level of government, that they had to do something about this. We have signed on to these international protocols and have the responsibility to treat prisoners humanely, and we are not doing it. That is really the message that was going out.

The message that was received was that judges were just going off on their own and playing around with this. I have heard sometimes offensive comments from legislators at both the provincial and the federal levels attacking our judiciary, believing that somehow they were granting two-to-one and three-to-one credits just on whims.

That is not the reality. We have an excellent judiciary. I have said this in the House before and I am going to repeat it again. If we do not have the best judiciary in the world, there are none that are better. That is true whether we are at the provincial court level or at the federal level of judicial appointments.

They do not do this on a whim. For the better part of a decade they have been wanting to send the message to the legislators that we are not getting it, because we are not deploying necessary resources. Not only are we not deploying the necessary resources to clean up the pretrial detention centres, but at this federal level of government, in this chamber--and this has been true of not just the Conservatives, although they may be going a little faster than the Liberals--we are consistently going quite rapidly toward increasing the number of charges that would result in jail times. We are also increasing the length of time that people are spending in jail.

The result is that we have this backlog in our courts, as more and more defendants are not pleading guilty. We have rules that are developing that require greater disclosure. That again is justifiable in terms of a fair trial, but it is taking longer for cases to get through, so we have this growing population, now at almost a two-to-one ratio, in pretrial custody in conditions that by international standards are not humane. Our judges want the legislators at both the provincial and federal levels to do something about that.

Instead of doing something about it--instead of deploying added resources or perhaps using other mechanisms, such as community programming, to divert prisoners from lengthier sentences--what we do is respond with this piece of legislation, in effect saying to the courts that we do not trust their judgment on how to handle pretrial credits.

This bill really is quite disrespectful to judges in that regard. It says that we are going to impose mandatory requirements. If this bill goes through--as it almost certainly is going to, because the other three parties are clearly going to support it--we are going to mandate only one-to-one credit as the standard. The effect of that is to lengthen the time people will spend in post-trial custody.

In circumstances that are justifiable, the bill will allow judges to go to 1.5-to-one credit, even though, as I said earlier, the standard across the country is now closer to two to one on average.

I was very clear in committee to try to get this information. There are no additional resources being planned to assist the provinces because all the pretrial detention centres, with very few exceptions in the territories, are operated by the provinces. There is absolutely no plan on the part of the government to provide the provinces with additional resources for better quality settings for pretrial detention centres. The conditions will remain as they are and get worse at the pretrial level.

We heard from lawyers who appeared in committee that we inevitably would be faced with a charter challenge. We are not in keeping with the international standard on to which we have signed. We already know what the standard is. It is not like we can argue we are close to it. We are not and we know that. The standard is a very clear one at the international level. That is offensive to the section 12 of the charter, which requires us not to provide for cruel and unusual punishment, and it amounts to that.

If we proceed with this, all we will do is provide the scenario or circumstances for a while. I think the courts will do what they can to provide the 1.5 credit because the circumstances will be bad enough to do that. Inevitably, there will be a charter challenge and I have believe that challenge will be successful.

If a charter challenge is successful, there has to be a result to that. There has to be a diminution on the part of the court to compensate for the charter breach. We then are going to find and more and more judges making a finding of a charter breach and releasing more and more prisoners from custody. I do not find any appreciation on the part of the Minister of Justice of this.

Judges will provide bail when they would not have otherwise or they will release them, maybe even dismiss the charges because of the breach of the charter, specifically section 12, cruel and unusual punishment. That is coming down the road. All this bill does is hasten it coming.

I want to be quite clear about this. Even if we do not pass the bill, that will probably happen, unless the federal government provides additional resources to divert or build more prisons. Again, there is no indication that it will do that.

I want to talk about another consequence of the legislation. Maybe one has to have practised law for a while to appreciate the reality of this. If this goes through as proposed and the courts can grant, in justifiable circumstances, an extension from the 1 to 1 credit to the 1.5 to 1 credit, much more evidence will have to be presented to the court. Even if there is a guilty plea, instead of sentencing taking on average—

Truth in Sentencing Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret having to interrupt the hon. member. He will have approximately six minutes remaining for his comments when the debate on the bill resumes next week.

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 resumed from April 24 consideration of the motion.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to this very important motion introduced by my colleague, the member for Cardigan, who has, throughout his career here, vigorously defended the interests of his constituents and the interests of all Atlantic Canadians and all Canadians. In fact, as a member of Parliament during this economic crisis, he has stood in the House in support of sectors that have been in dire straits in other parts of the country, including the auto sector.

It is important to realize that this is a Parliament with members from all parts of Canada who vigorously defend the interests of all regions of Canada. That is what makes this place a special place. In the same way that the hon. member for Cardigan has stood up and vigorously defended the auto sector, we have a responsibility also to recognize the challenges faced in Atlantic Canada today by our lobster fishers.

The fact is we have seen lobster prices go from $6 a pound down to about $3.50 per pound. We see a lobster fishery that is worth about $1 billion and the Conservative government is only offering $10 million to try to save a $1 billion industry. That is $10 million for advertising, nothing to help restructure the industry and nothing to provide long-term vision to preserve and maintain this proud and important industry to our regions.

Again, the Atlantic lobster fishery is worth $1 billion. The government is offering advertising money worth about 1% of the annual value. When we compare that to the size of the bail-out for the auto sector, it is very clear the government places no value whatsoever on the lobster fishery. It does not understand the lobster fishery. Nor does it understand the needs and the challenges faced by families living in lobster fishing communities in Atlantic Canada. It does not understand the challenges faced by people in the lobster industries in communities in my riding, like Halls Harbour and Blomidon. It does not understand that these are proud people who have worked hard and provided for their families over the years. During this crisis, they need help to survive it.

What we are calling for is very clear. We need to see changes in EI benefits to ensure EI fairness for all Canadians during this crisis. In the lobster fishery, we need to ease access to credit in support for inventory costs during this crisis.

The fact is many of the lobster processors and companies have had their financing pulled out from under them, as the Icelandic banks have tanked. The Icelandic banks were disproportionately involved in the financing of our lobster fishery. As that banking system collapsed, it exposed our lobster fisheries to enormous down side. Whether it is through government agencies like EDC, for instance, or through programs such as ACOA, working with the chartered banks, we need to ensure we provide the appropriate backstop to financing to ensure the credit crunch that is threatening the future of our lobster fishers does not kill it. We have to ensure, at this critical time as we see the global banking crisis disproportionately affect the Icelandic banks, that it does not disproportionately threaten our lobster industry.

It is clear, with 10,000 licensed harvesters in five eastern Canadian provinces, that we need a federally funded license rationalization program to help lobster fishermen adjust to the reduced capacity, and I have read up to 20% of the licenses potentially, a licensed buy-back program to help rationalize the industry. There are simply too many licences out there now for the size of the industry as it exists. The federal government has to play a role in that, in the same way it has to play an important role as global market conditions hurt our forestry industry. The Conservative government has failed in that regard as well.

What is painfully clear and absolutely obvious with the government is this. Whether it is a vulnerable forestry family in a forestry town affected by the global economic downturn, or a vulnerable lobster fishery family in a coastal Atlantic Canadian town facing crisis today and facing a question of survival, they can expect very little sympathy or assistance from the cold-hearted Conservative government.

It is a government that has turned its back on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Canadians who have lost their jobs. We saw the Statistics Canada labour report this morning. In the manufacturing industry it shows we have seen the greatest job loss in the history of Canada. In fact, we are down now to the same number of manufacturing jobs in Canada as we had in 1976. In over three years in office, the Conservative government has offered no vision for manufacturing. It has turned its back on manufacturing.

Lobster processing is part of food processing, which is part of manufacturing. What is the government doing to help lobster processors adapt to be more competitive, to invest in cutting edge technology, to reduce energy consumption to be more efficient? The answer is nothing. The laissez-faire “I don't care” Conservative government is not interested in helping the vulnerable during this time because Conservatives do not believe in the role of government. They do not understand the role of the government. However, fundamentally it is their lack of belief in the role of government that hobbles their capacity to act now. It is terribly difficult to do things when they do not believe in them.

Whenever the Prime Minister is called on to help people, he has to pinch his nose to do so. He does not see a role for government in helping the vulnerable. It is critically important during these crises that governments help Canadians, help them build a bridge to a brighter future and get them through these tough times. That is why we have strong national government, a strong national government with strong national programs that reflect the collective will of Canadians to help people in every region of the country when they face crisis.

One of the most unifying principles in Canada that really helps make us Canadian, and is part of our DNA, is the notion that when in need, regardless of where a Canadian lives, other Canadians in other parts of the country want to help and will help. One of the responsibilities we have as members of Parliament elected to the House, regardless of where we are from, is to learn, to seek to understand the challenges faced by Canadians in areas in which we have not lived or do not live. One of the incredible privileges of being a member of the House is the opportunity to learn more about Canada. However, that opportunity to learn about Canada comes with a responsibility to do something to help Canadians.

In the Reform Party it was all about doing everything the constituents wanted and nothing else. The fact is we have a responsibility not just to stand up for our constituents, but to stand up for all Canadians, regardless of where they live in the country.

My message to all members of Parliament in the House, and the message from the member for Cardigan, is even if we do not have a lobster fishery in our riding, we have a responsibility as a member of Parliament to understand this issue and the challenges that lobster fishing families face right now.

The crisis that the lobster fishery faces right now threatens an age-old tradition and a strong vibrant industry. I urge every member of Parliament to support this important motion from the member for Cardigan.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my opposition to the motion currently before the House.

There is undoubtedly a profound economic and social attachment to the fishery in many Atlantic communities.

Until recently, there has been a steady increase in Atlantic Canada's lobster harvesting capacity. Several things have contributed to this growth in capacity, including a prolonged period of strong and consistent foreign demand for Canadian lobster, accompanied by relatively high prices at the wharf.

The lobster fishery now faces significant challenges. Foreign demand for lobster has fallen dramatically, and prices paid to harvesters have plummetted. But the cost of harvesting, the cost of buying fuel, and bait has not decreased, and neither has the cost of living.

The prospects are difficult, especially bleak for harvesters who went into debt to purchase their boats, equipment and licences. There is no doubt that the current economic downturn has had a huge impact on this industry, and the industry is reeling. Our government understands that.

I would like to take a few minutes to describe how the Government of Canada is helping to address the challenges faced by the lobster industry. Our government is working with the provinces, with the industry, and other stakeholders in this regard.

To support the industry to manage through these difficult economic times, on May 22, 2009, our government announced that it was directing $10 million from the community adjustment fund to the Atlantic provinces and to Quebec to improve marketing, assist in innovation, and develop new products and technologies in the lobster industry. This funding will be provided through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions.

Our government also secured the participation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in an international lobster marketing campaign. The campaign will invest more than $450,000 in a series of world class marketing activities designed to boost foreign demand for lobster. Strengthening retailer and consumer demand for Canadian lobster will go a long way toward solving the problem the industry is currently facing.

The government also continues to work with the provinces, lobster harvesters and processors on an emerging issue related to foreign markets, that is, an increased call for fishery eco-certification.

A growing number of markets around the world have begun to introduce rules about imported seafood, fish and fish products. The rules typically require that harvesters prove that their fisheries are ecologically sustainable as well as maintaining accurate records to facilitate the traceability of seafood products.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, provincial governments and industry are also currently collaborating to create a lobster development council which would be aimed at increasing domestic and international market access, and supporting the industry in reaching the eco-certification standards necessary for the global markets of the future.

The government is also working hard to help the industry obtain greater access to capital, a key concern of lobster harvesters and entrepreneurs in virtually every industry in every corner of our country.

Canada's economic action plan includes a long list of measures to achieve this goal. For instance, the government has invested some $5 billion in the business credit availability program. The program will help businesses access the financing they need to weather the current economic crisis and prosper as our economy recovers and stabilizes.

Canada's economic action plan also allocated millions of dollars in infrastructure for coastal communities. Investments in small craft harbours, science facilities and the Coast Guard will provide lasting benefits for the fishery while stimulating economic activity in many of this country's coastal communities and pave the way for long-term economic prosperity.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has also provided flexible and permissive licensing rules, such as lobster partnering, where two licence holders work on the same boat together, and also licence stacking, which is investment by a single licence holder in a second licence.

This licence flexibility fosters conservation, reduces harvesting efforts and increases economic viability. Officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada continue to work with regional fisheries associations and cooperatives to identify and implement management measures appropriate to their circumstances.

Our government is determined to address the root causes of the problems that face Canada's lobster industry. The problems are complex and require a comprehensive toolbox of solutions and partnerships.

Industry-led licence retirements would provide another means to reduce harvesting capacity. One advantage of this approach would be that people who stand to benefit, the remaining licence holders, would decide best how to share the costs and benefits associated with licence retirement.

The Government of Canada cannot and should not restructure the industry by itself.

I encourage my hon. colleagues to support the government's concerted effort to bolster the lobster industry by rejecting the remedy that is suggested in the motion that is now before us, and instead supporting DFO's strategy to deal with the long-term underlying issues that threaten the economic prosperity of fishery dependent coastal communities.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to congratulate my friend, the hon. member for Cardigan, in his efforts to talk about what is happening in Canada's lobster fishery because I believe it is indicative of what is happening in fisheries right across the country, from coast to coast to coast.

As the country, in a sense, is going through this deindustrialization process, we are processing less, making less, and we are doing less as Canadians. We are relying more and more on energy prices and a service economy which is no foundation for an economy. Those jobs do not pay the same.

I will take us from lobsters on the east coast to the commercial fishery on the west coast which describes the same phenomenon time and again. At its base, the government lacks the discipline or the will to put in place a plan and strategy that will allow not just for the survival of a commercial fishing industry but it to achieve something more than it was.

We have seen certainly on the west coast as much as on the east coast that the ability of people to go out and fish and put food on the table and earn enough to support their families is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

I will give an example, Madam Speaker. You may be familiar with Knight Inlet on B.C.'s west coast which has lost five very viable runs and that the southern coastal commercial fishing industry is virtually gone. There are so few boats in the water that to call it an industry at all is paling.

I can recall Conservatives, when they were in their previous incarnation in opposition, railing on this very fact. They would rail on the very thing that we are talking about today, which is the viability of these industries to survive. The government seems to have some sort of repulsion toward the idea of planning, of putting in place something that says this is where we are today, here are the measurable goals we wish to be at in the future, and to give those fishing communities that rely on this resource some sense of hope.

Whether we are on the east coast in the Atlantic provinces or we are on the west coast, when we go to these communities and sit in the coffee shops and at the kitchen tables and talk to those who are involved in the industry and ask them how they are feeling about their future, more often than not they will point to their kids and say there is so little chance of them being in the industry. There is so little chance of passing on licences or boats to them because the prospects for the future are so grim, so desperate, that it is not in good conscience for them to suggest that their children follow in their way of life.

We have to take a moment and pause here as parliamentarians, speaking in this hallowed place, and think of the generations who have come before us who have helped built this country. One of the primary things this country has done, it has gone out on the water and fished.

One essential thing that allowed the first settlers, those who came across from Europe, and that allowed the first nations communities, who have been here since time immemorial, to survive year in and year out was the ability to go out and harvest the wealth of the seas.

Now we are facing a moment as a result of a number of factors, some of which are not in the government's control but a number of which are, that through negligence over the years we have seen the continual erosion of the base and the foundation.

There are a couple of points I would like to make with respect to this motion as well as with the viability. When we look at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, I can recall talking to the minister when she was first appointed to the position. She talked to me about how she was going to whip those guys into shape. She was going to tell the department which direction it was going to go in and how fast to move.

I warned her. I said that she was not the first and only fisheries minister to come in with that kind of attitude and the department just rubs its hands and says, “Boy, we'll train this one too, like we trained the last one and the one before that”. She would follow into the top down pattern that has become the DFO, the black box of Ottawa, the one that describes these intentions and plans with so little communication with the people who are actually in the industry, with so little understanding of what it is for those communities that rely on this industry.

It has become so top heavy. It is this top heavy organization based on such a small foundation on the water, the people who have the experience and live in the fishing communities. This top heavy organization with 1,500 to 1,800 DFO people work here in Ottawa. We continually lose DFO officers out on the west coast and east coast. There is not that much of a commercial fishing industry here in Ottawa last time I checked. In fact, non-existent.

DFO has even lost the ability to monitor the stocks. If these things cannot be monitored, when it comes to lobster, halibut or salmon, they cannot be measured or managed. If the stocks cannot be managed, no wonder the government is constantly faced with a lobster crisis, a salmon crisis, and on down the list we go.

It seems to me that the government can make jokes about the communities that are suffering under these crises. It can suggest that these people are not actually suffering and pretend and hope it goes away, but simply ignoring the consequences of the government's inaction and failed policies means misery in the lives of people who rely on this.

It is not a laughing matter. I would ask my Conservative colleagues to not treat this as some sort of glib thing that they can wash off on a Friday afternoon. I encourage them to grab another cup of coffee if they are having trouble staying awake. I will ask the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to peek over her shoulder at the conduct of her colleagues when discussing such an important issue. Laughing, yawning and carrying on are not becoming of members of Parliament when discussing such an important issue.

When we look at the 750 boats we have lost on the north coast of British Columbia alone, I would ask the members to go into the communities that I represent, talk to those families and say that there is no crisis in the fishing industry. We see the fish that do come to ground. They are processed overseas in China, Korea and other places, and then brought back and sold to Canadians. The government thinks that is a fine policy. We see processing plants standing idle and Canadians not working.

I see another member coming the west coast here who knows the situation in our commercial fishing industry. It is a pale version of itself from years past. It is a shadow of its former self. A fishing industry that built his community and communities that I represent alike is no longer what it was. We ask the government, how is it going to go from what it is right now to something more viable and stronger, with more value added and more enhancement? Be it lobster or salmon, it does not matter. We are asking for a plan. There is no plan coming from the government.

When the government does announce some very basic ideas like Pacific north coast planning and implementation, the government announces the plan but does not announce any funding to go along with it. It announces the notion of being able to go out and know what is actually out there as a resource, but it does not put any money behind it.

How can we possibly go out and monitor these things and understand the state and survivability of the stocks if we do not put any money behind it? It is not true. We cannot. There is simply no way to go about this.

At the first nations level, we have seen the attempt of government to have some sort of dialogue with first nations when it comes to these stocks. It has also failed.

We know that there is a way forward. We know that the communities have the solutions and answers to create a viable industry. This motion simply calls on the government to pay greater attention and to say that we are not calling this a sunset industry any more. We know we can do this. We can fish, harvest, gather, and process these resources here in Canada, create the kinds of jobs that we need to see and give those families and communities a sense of hope.

This is a serious matter for us all. This is a matter we should take with the utmost seriousness. The failure to do so will be a failure to recognize our history and a failure in our approach to the future.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Madam Speaker, where I come from, this is quite a serious issue.

We have a number of fishermen who are trying to make a living and who cannot catch enough fish to pay their bills. I asked a couple of questions in the House today, and I was very sorry that I did not receive an answer.

The first question was about the rationalization program. We cannot find out if there is going to be one or there is not going to be one. If there is not going to be one, we are going to destroy the industry.

I hope the government members do not believe that rationalization can happen anyhow. It cannot. If they lose their boats, if they lose their fleet, the financial institutions take them back and sell them to somebody else and the pressure is kept on the stock.

I have been around here for a number of years, and I have seen what took place with the cod stock and with the herring. I hope and pray to God that we did learn a few lessons. There are people who risk their lives to go out and make a living.

Fish does not come from the store; it comes from the sea. We have people who risk their lives to go out and get the fish.

We talk about the bailouts in the banking industry, about the forestry industry, and about the automotive industry. Everybody I represent supports that we support these industries to make sure we continue to have a strong country. However, in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, we have an industry too, the lobster fishery.

I also asked a question on employment insurance today. I feel the minister responsible for employment insurance would like to do it, but she needs the support of the government and the Prime Minister. The mechanism is there to put the dollars into the hands of the fishermen so they can survive for one more winter. It is a matter of survival.

The motion indicates that the Government of Canada should implement a program to reduce the effort on the Atlantic lobster fishery, in fact to remove the licence. The licensing is the responsibility of the Government of Canada.

It makes no difference to me, and it does not affect the motion and what the government does if there are provincial governments or other agencies that have dollars to put in, but it is the responsibility of the Government of Canada to come forward and help this industry.

Why is the fishing industry left out? Why would we want to leave out an industry that has been around for hundreds of years?

The government is in the position to do this. Take the credit and do it. It will save an industry, and it will do nothing but help the government's own situation.

I hope it is in the process of making some announcements, first on the EI program. It is simple to do. The mechanism is there, so just do it. It would put dollars in the hands of people who need it. If the government puts the rationalization program in place, then it saves an industry, an age-old industry in this country. That is why I pushed so hard in the spring to have the fisheries committee tour Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

My hon. colleague from the government indicated that there should be an industry-led rationalization program. I am sure he does care. However, we cannot put a rationalization program in place on the backs of fishermen who are going broke and losing their own fleets. That would make absolutely no sense.

I am asking the Prime Minister and the government members, when this comes up, please support this motion, or even better still, implement what I have recommended to make sure this industry survives.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Is the House ready for the question?

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Atlantic Lobster Fishery
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?