Fisheries Act, 2007

An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Loyola Hearn  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of Nov. 29, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment repeals and replaces the Fisheries Act. It seeks to provide for the sustainable development of Canadian fisheries and fish habitat in collaboration with fishers, the provinces, aboriginal groups and other Canadians.

It sets out management principles governing the exercise of responsibilities under the Act, and provides tools and authorities to improve the ability of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to properly manage fisheries and fish habitat.

Part 1 establishes a regime for the proper management and control of fisheries. It allows the Minister to stabilize access and allocation in fisheries, issue fishing licences, conclude agreements with groups that participate in a fishery and issue fisheries management orders.

Part 2 provides for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat.

Part 3 provides for the control and management of aquatic invasive species.

Part 4 provides the necessary powers to administer and enforce the Act.

Part 5 establishes the Canada Fisheries Tribunal and sets out a system of licence sanctions for fisheries violations to be administered by that Tribunal, which will also consider appeals of licence decisions.

Part 6 provides for regulations and other related matters required for the administration of the Act.

Part 7 sets out transitional provisions and consequential amendments and repeals certain other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

March 24th, 2015 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

David Henley Member, Canadian Maritime Law Association

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for inviting the Canadian Maritime Law Association to discuss Bill S-3 today. I particularly appreciate being here with my colleague, Mr. McGuinness. As he suggested, while their focus is on the context and the underlying issues, the Canadian Maritime Law Association had a closer look at the drafting. So I hope that our presentations will complement each other.

My comments will cover three brief points. ln the first part, I'll briefly introduce the Canadian Maritime Law Association. In the second part, I'll essentially confirm that we endorse the bill. ln the third part, I would like to reiterate an area where the bill could be improved, and that will mirror our submission to the Senate on this point. Our endorsement of the bill, though, is not at all contingent upon this suggested improvement.

To begin, the Canadian Maritime Law Association is an organization consisting of both practising maritime lawyers across the country and a number of constituent companies and associations involved in the maritime industry. There are currently 14 of those constituent members representing a broad spectrum of the shipping industry. I can name the full 14, but just to give you a sense of the types of organizations, they include the Canadian Shipowners Association and the Shipping Federation of Canada.

The CMLA has its origins in Canada's involvement in international maritime law organizations. Specifically, the Comité Maritime International is an international body that was organized in 1897 to promote uniformity and reform in international maritime law and commerce. The CMLA is Canada's representative to the Comité Maritime International. The CMLA looks at domestic maritime laws, among other things, with one of the goals being uniformity. Since Bill S-3 would basically implement an international treaty that promotes uniform law, it's been of interest to the CMLA for some time. We have been monitoring it and have made similar submissions before the Senate. We've also had representatives on conference call meetings with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans involving the port state measures agreement and its implementation.

The fisheries committee of the CMLA has reported to its membership a number of times throughout the progress of the bill, and we've not received any adverse comments from any of our members. The CMLA agrees with the philosophy of the port state measures agreement. Specifically, because some countries do not effectively control their fishing vessels, we agree that it's necessary for states where fish are landed, including Canada, to take steps to control illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The CMLA is strongly in support of DFO's initiative to curb this illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing through the implementation of this bill.

Although we support Bill S-3, there is one minor area where we feel there could be some room for improvement, and it's a particular area of drafting. Clause 8 of the Bill proposes an amended section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This section retains wording from the existing act that allows seized fishing vessels and goods to be redelivered on posting of a bond in an amount and form satisfactory to the minister. lt also requires consent of a protection officer for release of that seized vessel. This is very similar to the existing wording in subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act.

Subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act was reviewed by the Nova Scotia courts in the trial decision of R. v. McDonald in 2002, which was upheld by the court of appeal, and in that decision the judge observed that, “It seems there is a failure in the legislation to have the issue of interim possession of these important items determined judicially”. Essentially the judge was critiquing subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act, which is largely the same as section 13 of the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The CMLA feels that this is a timely opportunity to make that amendment in the current legislation. We concur with the comments of the judge in that decision of R. v. McDonald.

The CMLA is of the view that both section 71 of the Fisheries Act and section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act are fundamentally flawed because they provide that the security to be granted for release of a vessel must be in a form and amount satisfactory to the minister as opposed to a court. As I've said, this provision has been interpreted by at least one court to mean that if no form of security is satisfactory to the minister, the vessel need not be released.

Our suggestion is a modest improvement to the bill. It would be a proposed change to section 13, similar to what was proposed by the government in 2007 when it looked at changing subsection 71(2) of the Fisheries Act, 2007. That was in Bill C-32. Unfortunately, that bill died on the order paper, so the amendment was never implemented.

But the amendment required is very simple. It just changes the determination of the form and the amount of the security from the minister to a court or tribunal.

When a fishing vessel is seized by the Government of Canada pending trial, it can take one to two years, or even longer in some cases, to work its way through the courts. The underlying concern is that during this time the owner of the seized vessel cannot use the vessel, and it very likely will put the crew out of work. Given the presumption in our legal system of innocence until proven guilty, preventing the vessel from working pending trial seems problematic. It amounts to a penalty prior to any finding of guilt.

The Fisheries Act and the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act have always had provisions whereby owners of these vessels could post money to get the vessels released pending trial. Normally in that case, the penalty that the crown is seeking would be roughly what they're seeking for security to release the vessel, sometimes slightly in excess of that. This allows the asset, then, to resume working pending the outcome of the trial.

The problem with the current provisions in both Fisheries Act subsection 71(2) and section 13 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act is that they essentially say that the court can allow the vessel to be released, but they also say that the minister and not the court decides on the amount and form of the security. The fundamental concern we have with this is that this amount and form of security should be determined by an impartial and independent person, such as a judge or an administrative tribunal. With the present version of section 13, this task is essentially performed by the minister, which effectively in most cases means that it's the fisheries officer conducting the investigation who decides upon the amount and form of security.

The earlier amendment recommended in Bill C-32 to the Fisheries Act would have substituted a court or tribunal for the minister. I recognize that there is no tribunal associated with the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. In the present case, the CMLA is of the view that section 13 could refer only to a court rather than the minister.

I'd also note that in the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act there's a requirement in section 13 that a protection officer “consent” to the vessel being released. The CMLA also suggests that this reference be deleted because, similar to the minister, the protection officer is not necessarily an impartial and independent person. In our view, the reference should also be to the court, or the court should decide that.

To summarize, Mr. Chair, the CMLA proposes this minor amendment to address what we see as largely a procedural concern. We think it's timely to fix what we see as a minor flaw in the legislation. We believe, given the presumption of innocence until proven guilty under our legal system, that the court is best positioned to set the form and amount of security and that this change would improve the bill. Regardless, the CMLA does agree with the philosophy of the legislation and endorses Bill S-3.

Subject to any questions, those are my submissions. Thank you.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I heard the member for Lévis—Bellechasse say “agreed”. It would be fine to sit, but what has happened over the months that have gone by? What has happened in Parliament under the Conservative minority government? What will happen in the coming months?

If the bills are so important, as the Conservatives are saying, the government can guarantee that, if the motion is not passed, the House of Commons will not be prorogued. That means that in September we will come back to the House and continue to work. The Conservatives would not prorogue until October or November, as they have done before: a young government that came to power prorogued the House of Commons when we could have been debating bills.

This session, after the May break, our calendar shows four more weeks of work. Of these four weeks, two are reserved for the possibility of extended sitting hours here in the House of Commons. I cannot accept that the Conservatives are saying that we are a bunch of lazy people, and that we do not want to work, when this government has done everything possible since last August to ensure that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs could not operate.

It has been at least two or three months now since the committee last sat because the Conservatives have refused to appoint someone to chair it. The Conservatives decided that the matter submitted to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was partisan, and that is why they are not replacing the chair.

I remember that we appointed a new chair, we voted for a new chair, but the chair never did call a meeting of the committee. The chair is being paid to carry that title, but he met with the members once, and then, it was only to adjourn. Is that not partisanship? When a party refuses to hold a public debate on things going on in Parliament or with political parties, that is partisanship.

As I recall, during the sponsorship scandal, it was fine for the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, which was chaired at the time by an opposition Conservative member, to hold hearings and discuss the sponsorship scandal.

But now that the Conservatives are the ones who spent $18 million during the last election and shuffled money around to spend another $1.5 million on top of that, well, they do not want to talk about it. They will not talk about it. When the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was about to discuss another case, it was shut down again.

To this day, there are bills that have not been debated in committee. The Conservatives think that democracy should happen nowhere but in the House, and certainly not in committee. Parliamentary committees are an important part of our political system, our parliamentary system, our democracy. We were elected by the people in our ridings to come here and pass bills.

We cannot invite a member of the public to testify in the House of Commons, for example. We do not hear witnesses in the House of Commons. We have parliamentary committees where we can invite constituents or people from any part of the country to explain how a bill will affect them and to suggest ways to improve the bill.

For the Conservatives, the most important committee is the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. All they want to do is create justice bills. They would rather build prisons and put everyone in jail than adopt sound social programs to help people work and give them a fair chance in life. For the Conservatives, you either follow the straight and narrow path or you go to jail. These are the sorts of bills they are most interested in.

These are the sorts of bills they are most interested in, yet they brought the work of this committee to a standstill. The chair left the committee and said there would be no more meetings. Experts and members of the public are being prevented from talking to us about important justice bills. This evening, the Conservatives are asking to extend the sitting hours of the House of Commons until June 20 in order to discuss and pass these bills, because they are important. If we do not vote for these bills, then we are not good Canadians. That is in essence what they are saying. They do not want any debate.

They would have us believe that if we extend the sitting hours of the House of Commons every evening until June 20, there will be a terrific debate. We will debate these bills. We will have the opportunity to see democracy in action. At the same time, they have brought the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to a standstill. I have never seen such a thing in the 11 years I have been in the House of Commons. I have never seen such a thing.

I would go so far as to say that it has become a dictatorship. Everything originates from the Prime Minister's Office. So much so that, last week, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons complained that he was tired of rising in the House of Commons. He is the only one to stand up; the ministers do not even have the right to rise to answer questions. It is always the government House leader who answers questions. He was so tired one day last week that he knocked over his glass and spilled water on the Prime Minister. They should have thrown water on him to wake him up because he was tired. He himself told the House that he was tired.

That shows the extent to which the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons as well as the Prime Minister's Office, and not the elected Conservative MPs, control the government's agenda. The MPs have nothing to say. There are also the little tricks of the Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip who told members how to behave in parliamentary committee meetings, which witnesses to invite and how to control them. If they are unable to control them they interrupt the meeting. I have never seen anything like it in the 11 years that I have been an MP.

I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages since 1998. We invited the minister to appear in order to help us with our work and she refused. She refused. She was asked in the House why she refused and she replied that she did not refuse. The committee was studying the Conservatives' action plan. If they wish to make an important contribution to communities throughout the country, there is an action plan to help Canada's official language minority communities—anglophones in Quebec and francophones in the rest of the country.

The action plan was being studied. We asked the minister to speak to us about the action plan so we could work with her. She refused and said she would appear after the plan was tabled. We will invite her again. I have never seen a minister refuse to help a committee.

We invited her again to the Standing Committee on Official Languages concerning the 2010 Olympic Games. The francophone community will not be able to watch the Olympic Games in French anywhere in the country because the contract, which was bid on by CTV, TQS and RDS, was awarded to CTV. We asked the minister to come to the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Instead she said that it was not important for this country's francophones, and she declined. The communities have questions. This all happened in the fall.

This spring, at budget time, the Conservatives declared that money for the action plan or for official languages would come later. We are used to that. We receive an article in English and are told that the French will come later. That is what the budget reminded us of. The money will come later.

But people are waiting. They are wondering what will happen to their communities. People from Newfoundland and Labrador even came to speak to the committee. They told us that currently, minority language communities are having to use lines of credit or even credit cards to help the community. It would be interesting to hear the minister explain why the Conservatives are not giving that money to communities, as they should. They promised to help minority language communities.

I would like to come back to the environment. When we were supposed to be working on environmental issues, the Conservatives systematically obstructed this work for days. They said they had the right to do so. Indeed, they did have the right; that is no problem. We have done the same thing, we will admit. That is part of debate.

Someone came and asked me how we could stop this obstruction. I told that person that it was their right to obstruct and that, if they wanted to talk until the next day, they could. However, when that happens, the chair must not take sides.

Yet that is what happened at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. We had to ask for the chair of the committee to step down. In fact, when we arrived at the committee meeting at 11 a.m., the Conservatives took the floor in order to filibuster and if one of them had to go to the bathroom, the chair adjourned the meeting for 10 minutes. That is no longer obstruction. When we asked the chair if it was going to continue after 1 p.m., he told us to wait until 1 p.m. to find out. Then, at 1 p.m., he decided to adjourn the meeting.

We have been trying since August to discuss the problem of the Conservatives, who had exceeded the $1.5 million spending limit allowed during the last election campaign. The problem with the Conservatives is that they want to hide everything from Canadians. They spoke of transparency, but they wanted to hide from Canadians all their misdeeds. When they were on the opposition benches, they counted on this, especially during the Liberal sponsorship scandal. I remember that and the questions they asked in the House of Commons and in parliamentary committee. They did not hold back.

But they do not want that to happen to them. And if it does, they try to hide it. That is why they did not allow a parliamentary committee to discuss the problems they had created, such as the story with Cadman, our former colleague. His wife said today that her husband told her that he was promised $1 million if he voted with the Conservatives. She never said that was not true; she said that was what in fact was said. Her own daughter said the same thing, that promises had been made. The Conservatives are saying that no one has the right to speak about that. Only they had that right when they were in the opposition, but not us. They are acting like gods and we have to listen to everything they say.

Today, they are moving a motion asking us to listen to them. And yet, when the House leaders and the whips met in committee there was nothing on the agenda. I have never seen the like. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons was even asked if there was anything else on the agenda. He just smirked. He was mocking us and today he wants us to cooperate with him. The Conservatives are saying that they are here to work, but they have blocked all the work of the House of Commons for the past six months.

And they are lecturing us?

When the House leader of the Conservative Party tries to give us a lesson and says that we do not want to work, but they are here to work, I cannot believe it.

We have a committee that does not even sit right now. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has not sat for the last two or three months. The Conservatives do not want to hear what they perhaps have done wrong. If they have nothing to hide, they should have let it go ahead.

The Conservatives said that if they were to be investigated by Elections Canada, they wanted all parties to be investigated. Elections Canada did not say that all the parties were wrong. It said that the Conservative Party had broken the rules of Elections Canada by spending over the limit of $18 million. It was the Conservative Party that did that. Right away the Conservatives filed a lawsuit against Elections Canada. Now they say we should not talk about that in the House of Commons.

Every time we went to the House leader meeting and the whip meeting, they had nothing on the agenda. The Conservatives say that they are very democratic. They want a big debate in the House of Commons on bills. BillC-54, Bill C-56, Bill C-19, Bill C-43, Bill C-14, Bill C-32, Bill C-45, Bill C-46, Bill C-39, Bill C-57 and Bill C-22 are all at second reading.

I will not go into detail about what each and every bill is, but even if we say yes to the government, we will be unable to get through those bills. If we want to get through those bills, it will be the PMO and the Prime Minister's way. The Conservatives bring bills to the House and say that members opposite should vote with them. If we do not vote, they say that we are against them. That is the way they do it, no debate.

The debate, as I said in French, should not only take place in the House of Commons; it should to take place in parliamentary committees. That is the only place where Canadians have the right to come before the committees to express themselves. That is the only place people who are experts can come before us to talk about bills, so we can make the bills better.

When a bill is put in place, it may not be such a good bill, but maybe it is a bill that could go in the right direction if all parties work on it. If we put our hands to it, perhaps it can become a good bill. We could talk to experts, who could change our minds, and maybe we could put some new stuff in the bill.

However, no, the Conservatives got rid of the most important committee that would deal with the bills in which they were interested, and that was the justice committee.

I may as well use the words I have heard from the Conservatives. They say that we are lazy. How many times did we say at committee that we would look after the agenda, that there were certain things we wanted to talk about, for example, Election Canada and the in and out scheme? At the same time, we said we were ready to meet on Wednesdays and we could meet on other days as well to discuss bills.

We proposed all kinds of agenda, and I dare any colleague from the Conservative Party to say we did not do that. We have proposed an agenda where we could meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the Conservatives refused.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to move the standard motion that can be made only today. I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Monday, June 9, 2008, and concluding on Thursday, June 19, 2008, the House shall continue to sit until 11:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last week in answer to the Thursday statement, this is we have work to do week. To kick off the week, we are introducing the customary motion to extend the daily sitting hours of the House for the final two weeks of the spring session. This is a motion which is so significant there is actually a specific Standing Order contemplating it, because it is the normal practice of this House, come this point in the parliamentary cycle, that we work additional hours and sit late to conduct business.

In fact, since 1982, when the House adopted a fixed calendar, such a motion has never been defeated. I underline that since a fixed calendar was adopted, such a motion has never been defeated. As a consequence, we know that today when we deal with this motion, we will discover whether the opposition parties are interested in doing the work that they have been sent here to do, or whether they are simply here to collect paycheques, take it easy and head off on a three month vacation.

On 11 of those occasions, sitting hours were extended using this motion. On six other occasions, the House used a different motion to extend the sitting hours in June. This includes the last three years of minority government.

This is not surprising. Canadians expect their members of Parliament to work hard to advance their priorities. They would not look kindly on any party that was too lazy to work a few extra hours to get as much done as possible before the three month summer break. There is a lot to get done.

In the October 2007 Speech from the Throne, we laid out our legislative agenda. It set out an agenda of clear goals focusing on five priorities to: rigorously defend Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; strengthen the federation and modernize our democratic institutions; provide effective, competitive economic leadership to maintain a competitive economy; tackle crime and strengthen the security of Canadians; and improve the environment and the health of Canadians. In the subsequent months, we made substantial progress on these priorities.

We passed the Speech from the Throne which laid out our legislative agenda including our environmental policy. Parliament passed Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, to make our streets and communities safer by tackling violent crime. Parliament passed Bill C-28, which implemented the 2007 economic statement. That bill reduced taxes for all Canadians, including reductions in personal income and business taxes, and the reduction of the GST to 5%.

I would like to point out that since coming into office, this government has reduced the overall tax burden for Canadians and businesses by about $190 billion, bringing taxes to their lowest level in 50 years.

We have moved forward on our food and consumer safety action plan by introducing a new Canada consumer product safety act and amendments to the Food and Drugs Act.

We have taken important steps to improve the living conditions of first nations. For example, first nations will hopefully soon have long overdue protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Bill C-30 has been passed by the House to accelerate the resolution of specific land claims.

Parliament also passed the 2008 budget. This was a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada amid global economic uncertainty. Budget 2008 continues to reduce debt, focuses government spending and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of uncertainty.

As well, the House adopted a motion to endorse the extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with a renewed focus on reconstruction and development to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.

These are significant achievements and they illustrate a record of real results. All parliamentarians should be proud of the work we have accomplished so far in this session. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

As I have stated in previous weekly statements, our top priority is to secure passage of Bill C-50, the 2008 budget implementation bill.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much-needed changes to the immigration system.

These measures will help keep our economy competitive.

Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians.

These priorities include: $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $100 million for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

These investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass before the summer. That is why I am hopeful that the bill will be passed by the House later today.

The budget bill is not our only priority. Today the House completed debate at report stage on Bill C-29, which would create a modern, transparent, accountable process for the reporting of political loans. We will vote on this bill tomorrow and debate at third reading will begin shortly thereafter.

We also wish to pass Bill C-55, which implements our free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

Given that the international trade committee endorsed the agreement earlier this year, I am optimistic that the House will be able to pass this bill before we adjourn.

On Friday we introduced Bill C-60, which responds to recent decisions relating to courts martial. That is an important bill that must be passed on a time line. Quick passage is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our military justice system.

Last week the aboriginal affairs committee reported Bill C-34, which implements the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. This bill has all-party support in the House. Passage of the bill this week would complement our other achievements for first nations, including the apology on Wednesday to the survivors of residential schools.

These are important bills that we think should be given an opportunity to pass. That is why we need to continue to work hard, as our rules contemplate.

The government would also like to take advantage of extended hours to advance important crime and security measures. Important justice measures are still before the House, such as: Bill S-3, the anti-terrorism act; Bill C-53, the auto theft bill; Bill C-45 to modernize the military justice system; and Bill C-60, which responds to recent court martial decisions.

There are a number of other bills that we would like to see advanced in order to improve the management of the economy. There are other economic bills we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability, Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39, to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-57, to modernize the election process for the Canadian Wheat Board, Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector.

If time permits, there are numerous other bills that we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers, Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins, Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods, Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to 8 years from a current maximum of 45, and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

It is clear a lot of work remains before the House. Unfortunately, a number of bills have been delayed by the opposition through hoist amendments. Given these delays, it is only fair that the House extend its sitting hours to complete the bills on the order paper. As I have indicated, we still have to deal with a lot of bills.

We have seen a pattern in this Parliament where the opposition parties have decided to tie up committees to prevent the work of the people being done. They have done delay and obstruction as they did most dramatically on our crime agenda. They do not bother to come and vote one-third of time in the House of Commons. Their voting records has shown that. All of this is part of a pattern of people who are reluctant to work hard.

The government is prepared to work hard and the rules contemplate that it work hard. In fact, on every occasion, when permission has been sought at this point in the parliamentary calendar to sit extended hours, the House has granted permission, including in minority Parliaments.

If that does not happen, it will be clear to Canadians that the opposition parties do not want to work hard and are not interested in debating the important policy issues facing our country. Is it any wonder that we have had a question period dominated not by public policy questions, but dominated entirely by trivia and issues that do not matter to ordinary Canadians.

The government has been working hard to advance its agenda, to advance the agenda that we talked about with Canadians in the last election, to work on the priorities that matter to ordinary Canadians, and we are seeking the consent of the House to do this.

Before concluding, I point out, once again, that extending the daily sitting hours for the last two weeks of June is a common practice. Marleau and Montpetit, at page 346, state this is:

—a long-standing practice whereby, prior to the prorogation of the Parliament or the start of the summer recess, the House would arrange for longer hours of sitting in order to complete or advance its business.

As I stated earlier, it was first formalized in the Standing Orders in 1982 when the House adopted a fixed calendar. Before then, the House often met on the weekend or continued its sittings into July to complete its work. Since 1982, the House has agreed on 11 occasions to extend the hours of sitting in the last two weeks of June.

Therefore, the motion is a routine motion designed to facilitate the business of the House and I expect it will be supported by all members. We are sent here to engage in very important business for the people of Canada. Frankly, the members in the House are paid very generously to do that work. Canadians expect them to do that work and expect them to put in the time that the rules contemplate.

All member of the House, if they seek that privilege from Canadian voters, should be prepared to do the work the rules contemplate. They should be prepared to come here to vote, to come here to debate the issues, to come here for the hours that the rules contemplate. If they are not prepared to do that work, they should step aside and turnover their obligations to people who are willing to do that work.

There is important work to be done on the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. I am therefore seeking the support of all members to extend our sitting hours, so we can complete work on our priorities before we adjourn for the summer. This will allow members to demonstrate results to Canadians when we return to our constituencies in two weeks.

Not very many Canadians have the privilege of the time that we have at home in our ridings, away from our work. People do not begrudge us those privileges. They think it is important for us to connect with them. However, what they expect in return is for us to work hard. They expect us to put in the hours. They expect us to carry on business in a professional fashion. The motion is all about that. It is about doing what the rules have contemplated, what has always been authorized by the House any time it has been asked, since the rule was instituted in 1982. That is why I would ask the House to support the motion to extend the hours.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 5th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, this week we have focused on the economy by debating and passing at report stage the budget implementation bill as part of our focused on the economy week.

The bill guarantees a balanced budget, controls spending and keeps taxes low without imposing a carbon and heating tax on Canadian families.

It also sets out much-needed changes to the immigration system in order to maintain our competitive economy.

It will also include the new tax-free savings account, TFSA, an innovative device for individuals and families to save money. That bill is now at third reading and we hope to wrap up debate tomorrow on the important budget implementation bill to maintain the health and competitiveness of our economy.

Next week will be we have work to do week. Since the Speech from the Throne we have introduced 59 bills in Parliament.

These bills focus on fighting crime, sustaining our prosperous and dynamic economy, improving Canadians' environment and their health, strengthening the federation, and securing Canada's place in the world.

To date, 20 of these bills have received royal assent, which leaves a lot of work to do on the 39 that have yet to receive royal assent. I know the Liberal House leader suggests perhaps we should work on only three, but we believe in working a bit harder than that.

To ensure that we have the time necessary to move forward on our remaining legislative priorities, I will seek the consent of the House on Monday to extend the sitting hours for the remaining two weeks of the spring sitting, as the rules contemplate. I am sure all members will welcome the opportunity to get to work to advance the priorities of Canadians and get things done.

I will seek in the future the consent of the opposition to have next Wednesday be a special sitting of the House of Commons. This is to accommodate the special event about which the Liberal House leader was speaking. The day would start at 3 p.m. with an apology from the Prime Minister regarding the residential schools experience. I will also be asking the House and its committees to adjourn that day until 5:30 p.m. to allow for solemn observance of the events surrounding the residential schools apology. Residential school survivors and the chief of the Assembly of First Nations will be offered a place of prominence in our gallery to observe these very important formal ceremonies in the House of Commons.

Tomorrow and continuing next week, we will get started on the other important work remaining by debating the budget implementation bill. After we finish the budget bill, we will debate Bill C-29, to modernize the Canada Elections Act with respect to loans made to political parties, associations and candidates to ensure that wealthy individuals are not able to exert undue influence in the political process, as we have seen even in the recent past.

We will also discuss Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers; Bill C-53, to get tough on criminals who steal cars and traffic in stolen property; Bill S-3, to combat terrorism; Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability; Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins; Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods; Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45; Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules; Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers; Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector; Bill C-45, regarding our military justice system; Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain; Bill C-39, to modernize the grain act for farmers; Bill C-57, to modernize the election process of the Canadian Wheat Board; and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

I know all Canadians think these are important bills. We in the government think they are important and we hope and expect that all members of the House of Commons will roll up their sleeves to work hard in the next two weeks to see that these bills pass.

June 5th, 2008 / 9:45 a.m.
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Assistant Auditor General, Former Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Ron Thompson

Let me, if I may, talk a bit about each of those.

Certainly on Bill C-32 and the act that's now in place, we would not be in a position to comment on the pros and cons of a piece of legislation, either an existing act or one that is being proposed, unless it had sections in it that dealt with our particular office. Otherwise, we stay away from that, because if we get into it, we'd be heavily into policy. Debating the merits of a particular piece of legislation is your purview, and certainly not ours. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to duck that, if you don't mind, other than to say that it was interesting to see that aquatic invasive species are in this draft bill.

In terms of the complexity of the issue, I don't think anybody is suggesting there's a quick fix to all of this stuff. If there were, it would have been fixed years ago—and maybe $2 million would be enough to fix it. But again, what we're not finding when we do our audit is DFO doing the kind of risk analysis and assessment that would maybe get to the bottom of what could be fixed, and what could be done in a more thoughtful way. I think that's where one would want to have them here to talk to them and explore with the officials why they're doing what they're doing and not doing something a bit more.

On the socio-economic impact, absolutely.... I have a cottage north of here, and a cottage is a cottage, but I remember very well three years ago when our lake was suddenly full of Austrian milfoil, I think it was, and you could almost walk across the lake—and it's a big lake. Now the milfoil is gone, but when you think of the effect it has on just weekend warriors like me—who are really very small potatoes, in a sense, though it's very personal—these things really do have a huge impact on people's enjoyment. They have a huge impact in the dollar sense on industry. It's into the billions—not the millions, but the billions—every year. You're right that the Lake Ontario region is heavily affected by them.

This is an example where—and Mr. Vaughan certainly knows about this better than I do—the concept of sustainable development really comes into play, the merging together of the various aspects of this concept of sustainable development. There are economic aspects of these aquatics, there are social aspects of the aquatics, and there certainly are economic aspects of them. And somebody, somewhere should be doing an analysis to determine what the right decisions should be in addressing them, because you probably can't do everything at once with these aquatic invaders.

But you can't just look at the environmental concern; you really should be looking as well at the economic effects and at the social effects. That's the essence of sustainable development, and that's something that we would hope government departments like DFO would be practising in a very proactive way.

June 5th, 2008 / 9:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

So there has been some movement there.

You also brought up and talked a little bit about Bill C-32. I'm just wondering, has your department given any assessment to you now? Of course, if you take a look at the bill, which is not law yet, it basically empowers the minister or the Governor in Council to make regulations pertaining to aquatic invasive species. But is there anything further you can elaborate on insofar as any potential changes to the Fisheries Act or a revamping of the Fisheries Act are concerned when it comes to dealing with aquatic invasive species?

Could you comment on any shortfalls in the current legislation or the current regulations dealing with them? Is it a legislative problem? We talked a little bit about whether or not it's a financial problem or a manpower or a resource problem. We talked a bit about whether or not it's an interdepartmental issue. Your report documents quite clearly the way ballast water works, and it's no secret that ballast water is one of the key contributing factors to the movement of aquatic species.

The other thing we talked about is the $8 million out of the $10 million, the 80% of the money that's basically going to the sea lamprey. From a biological perspective, there are some things you can control and some things you can't control. You can chemically control things. You can use biological controls, but what you usually end up doing is inviting in another non-native species to control the original non-native species. Sometimes, if you ask people in Australia what they did to control rabbits, it just goes on and on from there.

The last thing I want to talk about is the socio-economic impact. Has any analysis been done of that? If you take a look at just the Toronto area alone, there are four million people who live right on the shore of one of the Great Lakes. If you take a look at the number of people who live in southern Ontario, which borders on most of the Great Lakes, you could say that roughly 37% of the population of Canada lives along those lakes. And if you take a look at the economic impact of the sea lamprey, which has moved into the freshwater lakes, and the impact it's had on those lakes, maybe from an economic perspective the money is being spent where it has the best economic impact.

I'm just wondering if you could speak to any of those types of concerns.

June 3rd, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

That's going to lead me to my next question. The proposed new act, Bill C-32, which is very explicit, basically says that the minister must employ scientific evidence from a conservation principle in his management plans. You presented evidence to this committee stating that in your opinion, if the minister does not.... Well, every decision of the minister is challengeable in a federal court.

Do you think if the minister were to maintain this fishery on a status quo basis, given the scientific evidence out there--right or wrong--that is being presented to you and to him, and the new act were employed, that the decision of the minister to maintain the status quo could be challengeable in a federal court? Would the scientific evidence support his decision to maintain the status quo?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 29th, 2008 / 3 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Parliament has been having a very successful week. We started with a successful address to Parliament by the President of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko. The president gave an eloquent speech that was well received by all parliamentarians and Canadians.

This week the House of Commons has been proceeding on the theme of sound economic management without a carbon tax. We passed Bill C-21 to give aboriginals living on reserves the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act. We passed our biofuels bill, BillC-33, at third reading and it is now in the Senate. This bill requires that by 2010, 5% of gasoline and by 2012, 2% of diesel and home heating oil be comprised of renewable fuels.

Our bill to implement the Free Trade Agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association—the first free trade agreement signed in six years—passed at second reading and was sent to committee.

Bill C-5, which deals with nuclear liability issues, also appears poised to pass at third reading and be sent to the Senate today.

Last night, the Minister of Finance appeared for over four hours to answer questions by parliamentarians on the main estimates of his department.

Yesterday, the finance committee reported the budget bill back to the House. This bill would ensure a balanced budget, control spending and keep taxes down while avoiding a carbon tax and a heating tax on Canadian families. As well, it would make much needed changes to the immigration system, which will help keep our economy competitive. We will begin debate on that important bill, the budget implementation bill, at report stage tomorrow.

Next week we will be on the same theme, focused on the economy week. Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians. which include $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $110 million to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

Those investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass this session due to opposition obstruction and delay. Today we again saw evidence of such procedural delay tactics from the opposition in the form of a concurrence motion. All opposition parties joined together again to ensure that important legislation to strengthen key Canadian economic sectors could not be debated in the House earlier today.

I want to state clearly that this government is absolutely committed to ensuring the passage of the budget implementation bill this session.

In addition to debating it tomorrow at report stage, we will debate the bill next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, if necessary.

We will also debate: Bill C-7 to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-43 to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39 to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46 to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-14 which allows enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32 to modernize our fisheries sector.

With regard to the question of the remaining opposition day, as the House knows, we have had all but one of those opposition days already during this portion of the supply cycle. The last opposition day will be scheduled sometime between now and the end of this supply cycle. We do know that we are scheduled to rise on June 20.

With regard to the very helpful suggestions of my friend with regard to the apology to our first nations communities for the residential schools issue, plans are underway for that. I am happy to ask the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to take the very helpful suggestions into account and, if necessary, we would be happy to take up the matter at our usual House leader's meeting.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 15th, 2008 / 3 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, in keeping with our theme for this week, which is strengthening democracy and human rights, today we will continue to debate Bill C-47, which is a bill to provide basic rights to on reserve individuals to protect them and their children in the event of a relationship breakdown, which are rights that Canadians off reserve enjoy every day.

We will debate our bill to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement, Bill C-34, and Bill C-21, which would extend the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act to aboriginals living on reserve.

We will also debate Bill C-29, which is our bill to close the loophole that was used most recently by Liberal leadership candidates to bypass the personal contribution limit provisions of the election financing laws with large personal loans from wealthy, powerful individuals, and Bill C-19, which is our bill to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45.

Next week will be honouring our monarch week. Members of Parliament will return to their ridings to join constituents in celebrating Queen Victoria, our sovereign with whom Sir John A. Macdonald worked in establishing Confederation, and honouring our contemporary head of state, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The week the House returns will be sound economic management without a carbon tax week. The highlight of the week will be the return of the budget bill to this House on May 28.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much needed changes to the immigration system. These measures will help us ensure the competitiveness of our economy. I would like to assure this House that we are determined to see this bill pass before the House rises for the summer.

We will start the week by debating, at third reading, Bill C-33, our biofuels bill to require that by 2010 5% of gasoline and by 2012 2% of diesel and home heating oil will be comprised of renewable fuels, with our hope that there will be no carbon tax on them.

We will debate Bill C-55, our bill to implement the free trade agreement with the states of the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

We will also debate Bill C-5 dealing with nuclear liability issues for our energy sector; Bill C-7 to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-43 to modernize our customs rules; Bill C-39 to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers; Bill C-46 to give farmers more choice in marketing grain; Bill C-14, which allows enterprises choice for communicating with their customers through the mail; and Bill C-32 to modernize our fisheries sector.

The opposition House leader raises the question of two evenings being set aside for committee of the whole. He is quite right. Those two evenings will have to be set aside sometime between now and May 31.

With regard to the notes that were quoted from by the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, they were their notes and referred of course to announcements that clearly have been made about the need and the imperative of restoring our military's equipment and needs in the way in which the Canadian government is doing so.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 8th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the government took a major step forward this week to maintain a competitive economy, our theme for this week, and I am happy to advise the House that yesterday the Standing Committee on Finance agreed to report the budget implementation bill back to the House by May 28.

This is excellent news. The budget bill ensures a balanced budget, controls spending, and invests in priority areas.

This week also saw the passage of Bill C-23, which amends the Canada Marine Act, and Bill C-5 on nuclear liability at report stage.

Today, we are debating a confidence motion on the government’s handling of the economy. We fully expect, notwithstanding the minority status of our government, that this House of Commons will, once again, express its support for the government’s sound management of Canada’s finances and the economy.

Tomorrow, will we continue with maintaining a competitive economy week by debating our bill to implement our free trade agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association. It is the first free trade agreement signed in six years and represents our commitment to finding new markets for the goods and services Canadians produce.

If there is time, we will also debate Bill C-14, which would allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers; Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector; Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector; Bill C-43, to modernize our custom rules; Bill C-39, to modernize the Grain Act for farmers; and Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain.

The government believes strongly in the principle of democracy and the fundamental importance of human rights. Next week we will show our support for that with strengthening democracy and human rights week. The week will start with debate on Bill C-30, our specific land claims bill. The bill would create an independent tribunal made up of superior court judges to help resolve the specific claims of first nations and will, hopefully, speed up the resolution about standing claims.

We will debate Bill C-34, which is our bill to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. We will debate our bill to provide basic rights to on reserve individuals, Bill C-47, to protect them and their children in the event of a relationship breakdown, rights that off reserve Canadians enjoy every day.

As I said, we are committed to strengthening democracy in Canada. Yesterday, I had an excellent discussion on Senate reform with members of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee. That discussion will continue in this House next week when we debate our bill to limit the terms of senators to eight years from the current maximum of 45, as foreseen in Bill C-19.

We will also debate our bill to close the loophole used by leadership candidates to bypass the personal contribution limit provisions of the election financing laws with large, personal loans from wealthy powerful individuals and ensure we eliminate the influence of big money in the political process.

With regard to the question about estimates, there are, as the opposition House leader knows, two evenings that must be scheduled for committee of the whole in the House to deal with those estimates. Those days will be scheduled over the next two weeks that we sit so they may be completed before May 31, as contemplated in the Standing Orders.

There have been consultations, Mr. Speaker, and I believe you would find the unanimous consent of the House for the following:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, on Friday, May 9, starting at noon and ending at the normal hour of daily adjournment, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

May 8th, 2008 / 9:45 a.m.
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Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Bevan

Right now the minister issues a licence each year. There's no legal status in that licence beyond one year. The practice has been to reissue, of course, but legally that licence only lasts for a year.

If you're a lending institution, you're being asked to lend somebody money on an asset that only lasts a year, and is issued at the absolute discretion of the minister. There's nothing in law that says the minister has to reissue that licence. Therefore, lending institutions have some nervousness about that kind of process.

What we have in Bill C-32, and had in Bill C-45, was to provide more duration in law to the licence, which in many cases is the biggest asset in the enterprise, and provide it with a legal status where it lasts for enough time to allow the debts to be amortized over that period of time.

May 6th, 2008 / 9:30 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I apologize to the committee and to the minister for being late this morning. I had a personal matter to take care of.

Mr. Minister, first of all, I want to thank you and your department very much for the effort on behalf of the sealers. I know it was a very difficult winter this year with the Paul Watson group. Personally, I think you handled it very well, so I want to thank you for that.

Also, with respect to the recreational fishing awards yesterday, I know one person from my riding is a very happy man today, so again, thank you for that. And thank you for the heritage lighthouse protection act. Your department worked very well with this committee and others, and your group should be congratulated on that.

My questions are a little different from that. First, as you know, the west coast indicated there will be a shutdown of the chinook fishery this year, although I didn't hear from the U.S. or state governments whether there is any compensation for those fishermen. If indeed Canada goes the same route, or doesn't announce a closure but just doesn't announce any openings, is there any possible compensation for these fishermen in those communities?

Mr. Bevan will know about my second question because I've asked him before. In the far north, in Grise Fiord, Arctic Bay, and Resolute Bay, would there be any opportunities for those fishermen who are wanting some access to the turbot fishery on the other side of the zero A line--and Mr. Bevan indicated that the line couldn't move because it's quite a technical thing within NAFO--to have some economic opportunities from the resource up there?

My third question, sir, deals not just with DFO but also with the provinces regarding the mining act, especially schedule 2. As you know, two lakes in Newfoundland were slated for destruction--two in Nunavut--and we hear there are more across the country, where mining companies can use fresh water lakes as tailing ponds. We're obviously all concerned about the protection of fish habitat and the fish resource itself. I'm wondering whether you plan any changes to that act. In brand-new Bill C-32, even though it says you can only kill fish by means of fishing, the order in council still gives the Governor in Council the authority to kill fish by other means. Unfortunately, filling in healthy aquatic systems with tailing ponds is another means of killing fish.

I'm wondering if you could answer those questions, sir. And I thank you for your time this morning.

May 6th, 2008 / 8:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

—and I left standing.

I hope you have a pen because I have a few quick questions. I'm just going to run through the questions and I'll let you answer them.

DFO estimated last September that the European Union had already overrun its 2007 Greenland halibut or turbot quota by 10%, and the EU fleet just kept on fishing after that. What is the assessment of the EU's NAFO Greenland halibut quotas in 2007? What did DFO estimate the EU's catches were as against those quotas?

The proposed new NAFO convention contains provisions for reviewing objections, which you talked about, so what provisions does it contain to review and redress the violations of accepted quotas? You may want to talk about the reforms that were made.

Also, your government has now committed to bringing all significant international treaties to the House. So the question is not if, but when, the new NAFO reforms will be brought to the House.

Also, how will your commitment to extend the 200-mile limit affect issues such as the turbot quota?

Finally, changing gears just a little bit, I received correspondence regarding Bill C-32, and it says this:

We also recommend that the government send Bill C-32 to the Parliamentary Standing Committee prior to second reading to allow for adequate collaborative consultation and accommodation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We ask for your support in this regard.

Unfortunately, that was not done. It continues:

Given the important implications to First Nations of these proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act, failure to fully and adequately engage and consult First Nations may result in eventual legal challenges.

This correspondence was signed by Phil Fontaine, the national chief.

Obviously, that's a serious way of going about the issue. Why has the government not pursued taking the bill to committee prior to second reading?

Could you start with the issue of Greenland halibut or turbot, and also the new NAFO convention?

May 6th, 2008 / 8:05 a.m.
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St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Good morning, everyone. Bonjour, mes amis.

Certainly we're pleased to be back. I'm glad you mentioned the staff. You've had them here more often than you've had me.

When I hear some of my colleagues talk about their experiences before committee, and certainly their officials, quite often coming to a committee can be pretty onerous. Our department has always felt very comfortable coming here. We try to give you what information we can, or provide it to you. I must say that all of us have been treated in the type of manner you would expect from a group like this. I've been part of it for a number of years. It helps to get the job done, so I thank you for that.

With me today are some familiar faces: Claire Dansereau, my department's associate deputy minister; George Da Pont, commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard; Cal Hegge, the assistant deputy minister of human resources and corporate services; and of course, no stranger to you at all, David Bevan, my ADM of fisheries and aquaculture management.

I've know you've met them several times regarding main estimates for this year's budget. I trust the discussions were helpful to you.

Today I'd like to begin by taking a step back from the details of the main estimates to provide a broader perspective of the financial picture over the past couple of years, which will hopefully give us a bit of a background for discussion. Following that, I'd like to discuss matters of collaborative arrangements between fish harvesters and the department, and I will finish up by making a statement about the coast guard.

I'm proud of the investments we've made to support Canada's fisheries and better manage our oceans. Since 2006, and leading up to this year's federal budget, our government has committed about $860 million to help Canada's fishing communities. We've increased DFO's budget by just under $100 million a year in permanent funding. We have introduced, and then improved, the first capital gains tax relief for our fish harvesters. All of you are the beneficiaries of that, because I'm sure you take credit for it. We financed the health of the oceans initiative for cleaner waters. We've reinvested in science and funded integrated commercial fishery plans on both coasts. We've put funding in place to renew the coast guard fleet, and we have improved habitat conservation and protection. And we have stepped up fisheries enforcement.

Bill C-32, a modernized fisheries act, will soon be at second reading in the House of Commons. I hope I can count on your cooperation to move it into committee, where you can do whatever work you want. There was some talk about us perhaps trying to limit the committee. I assure you that once it's in your hands, you will be the masters of it. There will be no interference from us whatsoever.

This extremely important piece of legislation follows extensive discussions over the past several years, with provinces, territories, as well as fishing interests, aboriginal groups, stakeholders, and others. Since tabling Bill C-45 in December 2006, people have had access to the bill. We have held numerous meetings with stakeholders to explain the content of the proposed legislation. As a result, almost 400 people and organizations provided us with feedback and suggested changes to the text. We listened. Where there was general agreement, we took action and modified the text. A lot of the major changes were your own suggestions on clarification and others. In terms of suggestions where there was no agreement, we will need to discuss that at committee stage.

I truly hope I can count on your support and cooperation during the committee stage to make this the best bill possible. I know from my own experience that the committee can do excellent work on this bill, just as it did on Bill S-215, an act to protect heritage lighthouses.

In terms of the bill, I say do your deliberations and make whatever changes are necessary. We want the best bill possible. And if we can't deliver that, we have a chance to vote for it in the House. Are we going to get perfection? Probably not; you never will. Is it better than what we have and as good as we can get under the circumstances? If it is, we should pass it. If it's not, then I'll live by your decision.

Together we can modernize this legislation, for industry, stakeholders, and Canadians. I call on all of you, in your duty as parliamentarians, to do just that.

This past February, with economic uncertainty around the world, we called for a prudent federal budget. We still found room to make key investments in Canada's fisheries. We committed $22 million over the first two years to help develop a more competitive and sustainable aquaculture sector. We have $70 million over five years, which has been accepted very positively by the aquaculture industry and the provinces involved. We devoted $10 million over two years to help fix up harbours. This is for community ownership. As you know, there was a commitment of $45 million to do that, so we can divest ourselves of harbours that are eating up the money you need to spend on your own wharves and breakwaters, etc.

Our government has also committed $8 million over the next two years to build a commercial harbour in Nunavut, one of several needed if we're going to see Nunavut benefit from its resources. It's going to be expensive, but it's needed in order for them to properly manage the resource and benefit from it.

The budget also set aside $720 million for a new polar class icebreaker. That's on top of the $750 million last year for a number of coast guard midshore patrol vessels. This vessel will have a far greater capability than the one it's replacing, by the way. As well as icebreaking, it will support a range of DFO programs and services like fisheries management activities, fishery science, and it will also help maintain Canada's presence in the north.

The government also devoted $20 million over the next two years to complete required mapping of the Arctic and Atlantic seabeds. This is a sovereignty issue, and it supports our claims to the outer limits of Canada's continental shelf. This funding is not from our department exclusively, but it will certainly help us manage, protect, and develop northern fisheries, while helping Canada stake its rightful claim to our northern continental shelf.

As I mentioned, my second topic concerns the matter of collaborative arrangements between fish harvesters and the department regarding the use of fish. You recently received my department's response to your follow-up questions on collaborative arrangements. You will recall the Larocque and APPFA decisions made in 2006. The issue was whether collaborative arrangements put in place years ago fit with legal decisions made in the Federal Court in these cases. In the wake of that, a number of agreements we had, arrangements we had with the fishing industry, were struck down.

In all, we have reviewed 206 activities and projects that could have been impacted by court decisions. In 2006, 68 out of the 206 agreements we have with different groups involved use of fish agreements in exchange for scientific or fisheries management activities; 138 did not. We reported this to you in February. You have asked for more detail and it's in our response.

To recap, all but two of the 68 arrangements have continued in a modified form that is consistent with the Federal Court decision. We have returned most allocations that were previously used to form joint projects to the total allowable catch. We've just put them back in the common pool. Thirteen allocations have remained with the fishing industry association or a community, but now they do not require help in the department with fish management or science. Eleven did not have a use of fish component, while the two that did no longer have an obligation to fund DFO activities.

I have always believed that the fish quota should go to fish harvesters, but in the past, special allocations were provided to some community groups. We are also continuing to review these allocations to make sure they are in line with court decisions.

The bottom line is that we're still gathering the data needed to run the fishery. This is thanks to an increase in our budget of $12 million per year until 2012 and to using the industry resources in a manner that complies with the court. Also, by reducing costs we're focusing on essential conservation information and exploring non-financial options for staying the course.

I'm satisfied these measures are minimizing the impact on my department's programs and services as well as on Canada's fish harvesters.

As I mentioned, to wrap things up, I'd like to say a few words about the coast guard.

We're well aware of the tragedy at sea that took the lives of four sealers—Bruno Bourque, Gilles Leblanc, Marc-André Déraspe, and Carl Aucoin—aboard l'Acadien II in March. This is a loss of the deepest order for their families, the community of the Magdalen Islands, and all of Canada.

I know that one of our colleagues, Monsieur Blais, was very, very close to that. We spoke often during that terrible tragedy, and he certainly did yeoman service for his people in that regard.

In the days following the incident, we sent an official from coast guard to the Magdalen Islands to provide support and information to the grieving families when the bodies of their loved ones were returned home.

I grew up in a fishing village, as did a lot of you. While Renews was a lot smaller than the Magdalen Islands, when we have a tragedy at sea, as we've all had—especially in places like the one Bill Matthews represents, and maybe more so than anywhere—we know what it's like and what effect it has, not only on the community but also on the whole area.

In circumstances like these, people want answers and they want them quickly. As you know, the coast guard is carrying out an internal incident safety review. That review is being led by an independent investigator, retired Rear Admiral Roger Girouard. I've met him, by the way, and I would think he is as fine a person as ever I've met. He certainly knows what has to be done, how to do it, and I have every belief he will do it well. His team will, of course, be cooperating with the RCMP and the Transportation Safety Board, which are also reviewing the matter. We want these investigations to be quick, but we also need to be thorough, so that when all the facts are clear we can proceed accordingly.

We have remarkable people in our coast guard, people who have dedicated themselves to serving others and who don't hesitate to put themselves in harm's way to save another. So this tragedy weighs heavily on their minds, too, I can assure you. Day in and day out, the coast guard does an awful lot of work for Canada. This, too, is worth noting. Even during these difficult times, our work continues. It is still our coast guard, and we are fortunate as Canadians to have it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

May 1st, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, our week devoted to action on the environment and health of Canadians is proving to be a success. We just passed Bill C-33 at report stage with the support of two of the other three parties. This is our bill requiring that by 2010 5% of gasoline and by 2012 2% of diesel fuel and home heating oil be comprised of renewable fuels. It represents an important part of our plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. Debate of this bill at third reading will now be able to commence tomorrow.

We have also started to debate two bills to improve the safety of food, consumer products and medical products in Canada.

On Monday we debated Bill C-52, to create the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and yesterday we debated Bill C-51, to modernize the Food and Drugs Act.

We also introduced Bill C-54, to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins. We will continue to debate these bills today and tomorrow.

During these uncertain economic times to the south, our government has led the way on the economy by taking decisive and early action over the past six months to pay down debt, reduce taxes to stimulate the economy and create jobs, and provide targeted support to key industries. In keeping with our strong leadership on the economy, next week will be maintaining a competitive economy week.

We plan to debate the following bills intended to enhance the competitiveness of certain sectors of the Canadian economy: our Bill C-23, at third reading stage, to amend the Canada Marine Act; our Bill C-5, at report stage, on liability in case of a nuclear incident; and our Bill C-14, at second reading stage, to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act.

We will also debate at second reading Bill C-32, which modernizes the Fisheries Act, Bill C-43, which amends the Customs Act, and Bill C-39, which amends the Canada Grain Act. We will also begin to debate Bill C-46. This is our bill to free western barley producers from the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly by giving them the freedom to market their own products. We will debate at third reading our bill to amend the Aeronautics Act, Bill C-7.

My friend, the member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader, said that government business and the doing of business in the House of Commons appeared to end on Tuesday. That is because next Wednesday and Thursday will be opposition days, and I would like to allot them as such at this time.

In terms of the question he raised with regard to Bill C-293, which is a private member's bill, I understand it is scheduled to come before the House in early May. At that time the House will have an opportunity to deal with the matter.

In terms of estimates and witnesses appearing before committee of the whole, the government does have to designate those to occur before May 31. Late last night I finally received notice of which two departments were identified and we will soon be advising the House of the dates that will be scheduled for consideration of those matters in committee of the whole.