House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seats.

Topics

7 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, I do not know how close to the line the member's language is getting in terms of being unparliamentary, but it must be getting very close as he has done nothing but make a series of personal attacks on the minister, farmers and farm organizations.

I would like to point out that he knows what he is talking about when he talks about thuggery, because it was he and his government that locked farmers in jail on this very issue. It was also his government that changed the legislation without ever consulting farmers, and he has the gall and hypocrisy to come here today and tell us that we should be doing something other than what he has done himself.

The question the member asked was about meeting with the board of directors. I was very disappointed. The minister was invited to meet with the board, but he was going to Russia and the board knew that. The minister asked if I could possibly attend the meeting, but the board of directors refused to meet with me.

I know there are directors like Henry Vos and Jeff Nielsen who work very hard for western Canadian farmers. I wanted to meet with them to see what kind of solutions and interests they had for the future. However, the board insisted on making some excuses and would not meet with me. The board had refused to meet with the minister in the past as well.

I guess I am not surprised when the member, in his comments at one point, said that he had been invited a number of times to Winnipeg. That is not surprising. There is a certain connection between the Liberal Party and a number of members of the board. I could point to two or three examples where that seems to be the case.

About a year ago, I had a chance to ride back from a reception with one of the Liberal members. He said maybe more than he should have, but he said that the Liberals had a chance to meet with the Wheat Board in Winnipeg at their summer caucus. He said that the board said that it really loved them, but that it would not tell western Canadian farmers that.

There is a reason the board should love them. I do not know if it was Reg Alcock's campaign manager or EA, but the board hired her to be the government relations member for the Wheat Board. Paul Martin's failed campaign manager was hired to do polling. The board hired law firms in the last couple of months that have required Liberal senators to recuse themselves from the debate because for them to be involved would have been a conflict of interest. We see that connection between the Liberals and the Wheat Board's board of directors.

I think we are going to see that again tomorrow. I think a circus stunt will be pulled off. We will see a couple of Liberal members trying to get attention, trying to make this into a political situation because for whatever reason, they do not seem to want western Canadian farmers to have certainty. I think that is what is really offending and annoying western Canadian farmers.

I just had somebody on the phone about 10 minutes ago who said, “Would you tell the member for Malpeque that the Wheat Board has been responsible for so much growth in western Canada. It has been the growth of the specialty crops and the growth of canola”. He wanted me to carry that message directly to the member for Malpeque when he heard that I was going to be talking to him.

The member for Malpeque has been dragging an anchor all the way from Malpeque to Winnipeg. Apparently he is going to be there tomorrow. I do not know why he does not realize that farmers in western Canada have moved on. Farmers want to have certainty and they want the freedom to market their own grain. The member, a few members of his party and a few lonely people in western Canada still stand between farmers and certainty.

We look forward to passing the bill. We think it is important. It is going to bring certainty to western Canadian farmers. Certainly they are looking forward to that day. We ask the member to join with us to make sure that certainty takes place on January 1. We ask him to not continually interfere with the situation in order to cause uncertainty.

I guess he, his party and the NDP as well have taken seriously the request of the eight board of directors from the Wheat Board when they said, “Would you mind disrupting the legislation as much as you possibly can and then we'll work together to try to disrupt the market so that when the government implements the bill, it will cause uncertainty for farmers”.

On this side of the House we want to do exactly the opposite. We want to bring the bill forward and we want to provide certainty.

December 13th, 2011 / 7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary certainly misses the point. If there is one thing that will be certain as a result of the government's action in destroying the Canadian Wheat Board, it will be uncertainty in the grain markets. That will be the bottom line.

The key point is that we are asking the government to abide by the rule of law, as the Federal Court has asked it to do. We are asking the government to respect farmers' opinion and allow farmers the right to have their say on their marketing institution. The Conservatives have denied them that right.

However, the Conservatives went very far and even managed to intimidate their own bureaucrats to the point that the deputy minister of agriculture confirmed at the Senate committee on Bill C-18 that rather than provide the minister with objective advice he stated, “I was asked to indicate the studies that support that”, meaning the open market option, “and I have done so”. There were other objective studies. He failed to release them. The government has even intimidated the bureaucracy.

Why does the government not abide by the rule of law?

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, to wrap this up, the truly shameful thing is that the member for Malpeque and his interim leader are flying to Winnipeg tomorrow to hold a publicity stunt with Allen Oberg and other members of the tinfoil hat crowd with the express purpose of disrupting the markets in western Canada.

We live in a free country. We are giving farmers freedom. It is the right thing to do. Removing the CWB's single desk is the best thing for the economy. It will result in increased innovation, investment, value-added opportunities, and employment in western Canada. We want to extend to all wheat and barley farmers the property rights upon which our nation was built.

As one farmer wrote today in the Winnipeg Free Press, “The right to sell my property (i.e., my own wheat) to whomever I like should not be a collective decision”.

That is what I have believed for many years. That is the difference between the member for Malpeque and myself.

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, the government is making cutbacks to fisheries research and management and is claiming that it will not affect us. At the same time, the ocean ecosystem and the fishery industry are facing a very uncertain and worrisome future.

In the past, fishers depended on Fisheries and Oceans Canada for scientific information in order to make well-informed decisions regarding the TAC, the total allowable catch.

Over recent years, the department has made deep cuts to the funding of this essential scientific work. These cutbacks have an adverse affect on the quality and effectiveness of the department's decision-making when it comes to fish stocks that are endangered or vulnerable.

One of the most serious examples is the recent closure of the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. The FRCC was a science-based organization respected by the industry's fishers. For 10 years, the FRCC conducted an annual review of the TACs for the groundfishery. The FRCC was at the origin of numerous moratoriums imposed since the 1990s.

Only very rarely were its recommendations not accepted or followed. The need for scientific assessment of the fisheries has never been greater or more evident. The closure of the FRCC and the reduction in the number of science programs are quite worrisome.

In my riding, we are still experiencing the collapse of groundfish stocks, such as cod and redfish. Due to this ecological and economic crisis, which has persisted since the 1990s, my region has lost some 30 to 50% of fisheries related jobs.

The fishing industry in the Gulf is in transition because of a trend towards shellfish, such as snow crabs and lobster. The result is paradoxical: the value of the fishery has increased despite the disappearance of a lot of fish stocks, since shellfish sell at a higher price than groundfish. Unfortunately, scientists are unable to fully explain why the shellfish are so plentiful. They do not understand the long-term effects of this fundamental change to the ecosystem.

The shellfish industry is also poorly managed: the snow crab fishery is tanking and scientists are unable to say whether the same fate awaits the lobster fishery. Companies in the Gaspé, such as E. Gagnon & Fils in Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, employ over 500 people in their fish plants, which includes shellfish.

How do we reassure these people that they will keep their jobs and still be able to earn a living in the future? Scientists are essential to a fishery that is based on the precautionary principle. However, Fisheries and Oceans Canada does not seem to focus on science. Conducting stock inventories every 3 or 5 years is not enough. Clearly, there is a need for a lot more scientific research, not less.

With the cutbacks at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, what guarantee do we have that scientists will be able to continue their work as advisors to fishers and the industry?

7:10 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Madam Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to respond to the member opposite and to set the record straight about how Fisheries and Oceans Canada is delivering on its mandate through programs and services that a modern fishing industry requires.

The member has mentioned our government's spending on research and management. I can tell him and the House that since 2006 our government has demonstrated a strong commitment to science at Fisheries and Oceans, including investing $30 million to upgrade 13 laboratories at sites across the country. We have also set aside $388 million to construct three Coast Guard offshore fisheries science vessels, with berths for 13 scientists each, to undertake environmental and fishery research, and one offshore oceanographic science vessel, with berths for 23 scientists, to conduct oceanographic, geological and hydrographic survey missions.

This government has also approved $720 million for the construction of CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, Canada's largest and most powerful icebreaker. When it is delivered in 2017, it will be available to support Arctic science over three seasons each year instead of the current two seasons, with a greater geographical reach into the high Arctic.

We have invested $14 million to complete mapping and data collection in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans for Canada's submission to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we have invested $9.7 million in science to support emerging commercial fishing.

However, we are not through with our progress yet. As we face the challenges of the future, we will continue to accelerate our progress toward supporting a more modern economically and ecologically sustainable Canadian fishing industry.

How are we going to do that? For starters, fisheries management programs will be modernized to create an environment in which stability, predictability and transparency will allow fish harvesters to make informed business choices and decisions for the long term.

We will continue to improve ecosystem science and habitat management by focusing resources on areas of greatest impact and improving transparency and effectiveness.

We will continue to streamline programs and make greater use of modern technologies to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our programs, and where appropriate, we will wind down non-core programs that are no longer part of our mandate.

All departments have been asked to review their program spending as part of the Government of Canada deficit reduction initiative. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Canadian Coast Guard programs and services will contribute to that effort by focusing on core mandate responsibilities, taking advantage of modern technologies and continuing to seek cost efficiencies.

The department is committed to meeting its deficit reduction targets and achieving value for money for taxpayers. At the same time, we are effectively delivering on our mandate through well-designed programs and services that are regularly refreshed to take account of the priorities of Canadians.

Over the summer and fall, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans travelled from coast to coast to coast and met with key players from the fishing industry to discuss how the department can best support their economic growth. He has spoken to stakeholders whose interests lie in aquaculture and wild fisheries and heard their views on licensing, sustainability, conservation, export markets and all the other issues that are important to them.

These consultations helped shape the planned changes in how the department will operate, changes that will come into effect over the next three years to ensure we continue to protect our ecosystems and build a stronger fishing industry.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member. I do not think the answer is sufficient but at least it is a start.

The minister told us that the government will replace the FRCC with direct links between the industry and scientists, but what assurances do we have that decisions will be made objectively? In addition, how will this government plan long-term conservation, which was one of the main tasks of the FRCC, which no longer exists?

How can Canadians be certain that the department will not make decisions blindly? We need scientists who have the respect and support of the government, fishers and all other industry stakeholders.

How can we ensure that scientists will be there and that they will give us good advice?

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Madam Speaker, I think the key message that we are trying to deliver is that we cannot afford to continue with old ways of doing business, so we have chosen to focus on the future. That is really the only sensible option.

Our government is committed to ensuring that programs are efficient and effective and that they achieve expected results for Canadians. To get there, we are focusing more fully on our core mandate.

Yes, we are modernizing our program and policy approaches. We are transforming how we do business on behalf of Canadians. In the future, our business and regulatory practices will be characterized by clear rules that are consistently applied, thus bringing predictability and stability to stakeholders.

The department will embrace the use of modern navigational services, and the Canadian Coast Guard will rebalance its resources to where they can have the greatest impact.

By streamlining core programs and shedding non-core programs, accelerating the take-up of new technologies and aligning departmental resources where needs are the greatest, the department will be in a stronger position to meet its strategic outcomes and to serve its stakeholders and all Canadians.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:18 p.m.)