moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to address the House concerning Bill C-465 which would designate the third Saturday in September of every year as a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.
Today I will be highlighting some of the economic contributions of those who participate in this time-honoured tradition, while my colleague from Yorkton—Melville, with whom I will be splitting my time, will discuss the importance that hunters, trappers and fishers play in conservation efforts.
As the House knows, hunting, trapping and fishing have played a vital role in Canadian history. Indeed, these practices have been part of the Canadian identity long before Canada became a nation and have been vital in the geographical and economic expansion of our great country.
Today, over eight million Canadians of all ages fish and millions more hunt, supporting an annual economy in this country of over $10 billion. National Revenue's statistics from 2008 and 2009 show just how important hunting, trapping and fishing has been in our economy.
I would be remiss if I did not take a few moments to reflect on how hunting, fishing and trapping are in the actual DNA of this country. As I mentioned at the start of my speech today, at the very beginning of this country, our first nations sustained themselves through hunting, fishing and trapping. They traded with each other in foodstuffs, in the hides and in the other goods that they obtained from Canada and mother earth.
We know that millions and millions of Canadians take part in this very valuable and time-honoured traditional way of not only sustaining ourselves but in enjoying a time with our family and our friends.
Just in the last few weeks in Ontario, we had two weeks of deer hunting and I, like many millions of other Canadians, went with family and friends and took part in that time honoured tradition. I know that in many provinces literally hundreds of millions and billions of dollars are raised through the sale of hunting and fishing paraphernalia as well as trapping paraphernalia to the people who take part in those occupations.
I also know that governments raise funds in order to conserve our natural resources through the sale of hunting and fishing licences, and federally, of course, through the sale of stamps for migratory game birds and other endeavours for which the federal government is responsible.
In Ontario and Quebec, hunting alone represents more than $1.5 billion in economic activity. The economic contributions speak for themselves.
This day would not only recognize the economic contributions of those who undertake these activities for recreational purposes, but also those who hunt, trap and fish for commercial purposes. For example, I would like to highlight the economic impacts that the fur and sealing industry have had on Canada. The fur trade in Canada is composed of approximately 60,000 trappers and include 25,000 aboriginals, with an additional 5,000 representing fur farmers, manufacturers, dressers and retailers. More important, the fur trade in Canada contributes close to $800 million to our gross domestic product. This is composed of $300 million in fur garment sales, $25 million in wild fur sales and $78 million in rancher fur sales.
Likewise. the sealing industry is a time-honoured tradition that allows people to provide for their families. In isolated villages, where people have limited employment opportunities, sealing can provide up to 35% of their income. As well, the meat from seals helps feed families and saves them from buying expensive store bought items. Sealing is now seen as a renewable resource that provides excellent pelts for clothing, meat consumption and seal oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which is a nature diet supplement.
I could go on but I believe those facts and figures strongly highlight the important contribution commercial and recreational hunters, trappers and fishers have made to Canada. The economic contribution is but one of many.
I would ask all hon. colleagues to support the bill. I will tell members why. It is in the DNA of my family and in the DNA of many members who will be getting up and speaking in support of this bill. When I say it is in the DNA, I mean just that. Whether we have aboriginal ancestry in our families or whether we are new Canadians, we know that hunting, fishing and trapping are an important part of the social fabric of this country.
All we need to do is go out to any lake or river and we will find a family, a father or a mother with his or her son or daughter, taking part in that time-honoured tradition.
I can tell members that in my constituency all we need to do is go to some place like Hastings and we will see new Canadians, with their children, with their grandparents, fishing off bridges, along the canal and along Rice Lake, as well as the Trent system or Lake Ontario. The Ganaraska River, through Port Hope, is one of the best steelhead fishing rivers in the province of Ontario and indeed in this country.
My seatmate from British Columbia, who sits just down the way from me, has partaken in hunting in the mountains of British Columbia, hunting elk, mule deer et cetera.
This is so important that every single provincial conservation group has contacted my office and said they supported this bill at committee. We heard from representatives from the east coast to Ontario, and they were 100% behind this bill. Why? Again I say it is because hunting, fishing and trapping are in the DNA of our country. One of the reasons this country was founded was the fur trade. We could go into the history of the Hudson's Bay Company and how that enterprise helped found this country and helped map this country and see the great resources that God has bestowed upon us.
I think it is important for us to recognize that, at least on the third Saturday of each September. We chose that date because it blends with our friends from the United States, many of whom come to Canada and help our economy.
That particular day is also recognized by several provincial governments and is recognized as a day when families go out and partake in or enjoy one of the most time-honoured traditions; that is, just sitting down with their sons or daughters, sitting down with a friend or a neighbour or sitting by themselves. As I have said so often to some friends of mine who talk about the stressors of life, put away the Prozac, put away all those anti-depressants, grab a fishing rod, put something on the hook or just let it dangle, put it in the water. Their troubles will soon dissipate because they are communing with mother nature. That sounds a bit simplistic, but I challenge anyone to take that up, grab a fishing rod or go for a walk in the woods. They will find that communing with nature by just sitting there and enjoying the wonderful country that is Canada, one of the greatest places on this fair earth to live, will not only contribute to their own health but to the health of those around them because, quite frankly, I find that walk in the woods, that time with family while they go out and partake in hunting or fishing is just great.
As I say, trapping is part of this. My maternal grandfather was a trapper in northern Ontario, as was my uncle. The fur trade is a tradition, of course, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, that we all recognize as the founding of our country.
I could go on at length and, quite frankly, I just know that my friend from Yorkton—Melville will want to tell Canadians and to share with Canadians some of his experiences and some of the advantages of recognizing the third Saturday of every September as a national hunting, fishing and trapping heritage day.