moved that Bill C-501, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this afternoon to address my private member's bill, Bill C-501, which would formally designate the third Saturday in September every year as Canada's national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.
Bill C-501 calls for a nation-wide designation of a special day to commemorate the historic role of these traditional activities and a celebration of the part that hunting, trapping and fishing plays in Canada's heritage, social fabric, and indeed our economy.
A hunting, trapping, and fishing heritage runs deep in my family. My maternal grandfather Narcisse Viens came to Ontario from Aylmer, Quebec. He was a great hunter and a very successful trapper. My father Ben, my brothers, and my two sons, James and Matthew, are following in their great grandfather's and grandfather's footsteps, and I must say their father's footsteps.
In 2017, we will be celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. In the lead-up to that celebration, it is important that Canadians know about, appreciate, and celebrate our history and traditions, which help to define who we are as Canadians today.
Hunting, trapping, and fishing were and are an integral part of life for Canada's aboriginal peoples and our first settlers. Further, the availability of game and fish determined where people settled in this great country of ours.
These activities were the first forms of trade and even currency, and they formed the very backbone of Canada's early financial structures. In part, they helped to set the tone as well as the direction of our economic and social development.
Hunting, trapping, and fishing are vital to the livelihood of Canada's northern communities. I recall my days on the northeast patrol of the Ontario Provincial Police along the James Bay and Hudson's Bay coast, and at the time of year when the geese were returning or leaving, the availability of these migratory game birds sustained communities through some long, hard winters. They supplemented a very expensive diet, and members know how expensive groceries can be in the north.
These activities fuel the economy of our northern communities by attracting more than 400,000 visitors each year. I know that the member for Yukon will agree that it is vital to the economies of our great territories in the north because it provides tourism. Hunters and fishers go there to enjoy some of the world's best fishing and hunting.
I would like to speak now about something that is important to Canadians, particularly those Canadians who garner their living or part of their living through trapping.
There are more than 65,000 Canadians who work in different sectors of the fur trade. The fur trade contributes $800 million to the Canadian economy, including over half, $450 million, to our export markets.
Some of the world's top designers are using fur in their collections. Fur garments are a sought-after status symbol for wealthy customers in China, Russia, and South Korea. In fact, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement will remove border taxes from mink, many farmed, which will provide Canadian exporters with a new edge in this emerging market.
Our aboriginal and many non-aboriginal trappers use the pelts of fur-bearing animals for their living, and for the Canadian fur industry, which is beginning once again to thrive in our country.
The value of hunting, fishing, and trapping in this country is over $10 billion a year, and I believe that I am underestimating that significantly. As an outdoorsman, I can vouch for the many organizations to which we belong, and there is no group of people in this country who are greater conservationists than hunters and anglers. I dare say that we are stewards of the environment and recognize the need for ongoing conservation and restoration.
I would like to thank a few of the organizations that have supported this bill, communicated with me, and encouraged me to continue on in the second time around for the bill.
I want to recognize the Alberta Fish & Game Association, the BC Wildlife Federation, the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Friends of Fur, the Canadian Outdoors Network, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Fur Institute of Canada, the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation, the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters, All-Party Outdoor Caucus, the Conservative Hunting and Angling Caucus, the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation, the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Habitat Canada, Safari Club International, and the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association. I also want to recognize the member for Yukon, of course, and his great support of this bill, as well as many members of Parliament both on this side of the House and on the other.
I echo the Speech from the Throne in stating:
Since Canada’s earliest days, our economy has been built on our abundant natural resources. Directly and indirectly, the natural resource sector employs 1.8 million Canadians, many in skilled, high-paying jobs. Resource development generates $30 billion annually in revenue that supports health care, education, and programs that Canadians cherish.
These activities of hunting, fishing, and trapping help contribute to the other natural resources that I have just specified.
Economic action plan 2014 proposes to provide an additional $15 million over 2 years to extend the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program. This program brings partners together to support the common goal of conserving and protecting Canada's recreational fisheries.
This bill has all-party support, as well as the support of every provincial and regional outdoor federation across this great country of ours. It is crucial to honour the heritage of those who have gone before us and bring special recognition to those who participate in hunting, trapping, and fishing today.
Please join me in supporting my bill so that every third Saturday of September will be known as Canada's national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.