An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of June 20, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Fisheries Act to, among other things,

(a) require that, when making a decision under that Act, the Minister shall consider any adverse effects that the decision may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, include provisions respecting the consideration and protection of Indigenous knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and authorize the making of agreements with Indigenous governing bodies to further the purpose of the Fisheries Act;

(b) add a purpose clause and considerations for decision-making under that Act;

(c) empower the Minister to establish advisory panels and to set fees, including for the provision of regulatory processes;

(d) provide measures for the protection of fish and fish habitat with respect to works, undertakings or activities that may result in the death of fish or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, including in ecologically significant areas, as well as measures relating to the modernization of the regulatory framework such as authorization of projects, establishment of standards and codes of practice, creation of fish habitat banks by a proponent of a project and establishment of a public registry;

(e) empower the Governor in Council to make new regulations, including regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks and importation of fish;

(f) empower the Minister to make regulations for the purposes of the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity;

(g) empower the Minister to make fisheries management orders prohibiting or limiting fishing for a period of 45 days to address a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries and the conservation and protection of fish;

(h) prohibit the fishing of a cetacean with the intent to take it into captivity, unless authorized by the Minister, including when the cetacean is injured, in distress or in need of care; and

(i) update and strengthen enforcement powers, as well as establish an alternative measures agreements regime; and

(j) provide for the implementation of various measures relating to the maintenance or rebuilding of fish stocks.

The enactment also makes consequential amendments to 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.

Votes

June 13, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
June 13, 2018 Failed Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
April 16, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
March 26, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-68 following the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans' review and analysis of this bill.

We thank the committee members for their careful study of this legislation and their thoughtful amendments. During this review of Bill C-68, my colleagues in committee heard from many different witnesses and experts. I would like to take this time to talk about what they heard. I would also like to share the concrete steps proposed to make improvements and move forward with this legislation.

From the environmental NGO community and members across the aisle in the Green Party and the NDP, the committee heard about the importance of water flow for fish habitat. The government supported the associated amendments put forward in committee.

The committee also heard from industry groups seeking amendments to the rules proposed for the processing of applications for habitat authorization during the transition from the current to the new legislation. In response, the committee adopted the amendment to provide clearer transition provisions.

The committee also heard about strengthening the federal government's legal obligations when major fish stocks are in trouble. This is why the committee proposed the inclusion of requirements, under the legislation, that the minister sustainably manage or rebuild fish stocks that are prescribed in regulation. However, the legislation would require that when such cases arose, Canadians would be informed and provided with a rationale. Our aim is to sustainably manage fisheries resources for the long-term benefit of Canadians.

As members know, in 2012, the previous government decided to change habitat protection without the support of or consultation with indigenous peoples, fishers, scientists, conservation groups, coastal communities, and the Canadian public. In contrast, our government has worked with all Canadians and has encouraged everyone to be part of this process. The proposed amendments to Bill C-68 are part of our government's broader review of environmental and regulatory processes under Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, which was reviewed by the committee.

The Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development also adopted some important amendments, which have been reflected in Bill C-68. These include better protections for indigenous knowledge and clearer transition provisions that would ensure better business continuity.

The changes proposed in Bill C-68 would support several government priorities, such as partnering with indigenous peoples; supporting planning and integrated management; enhancing regulation and enforcement; improving partnership and collaboration; and, finally, monitoring and reporting back to Canadians. This is transparency.

This bill would include the reintroduction of the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat as well as the prohibition against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing. There are measures to allow for better management of large and small projects that may be harmful to fish and fish habitat through a new permitting scheme, for big projects, and codes of practice, for smaller ones.

The amendments would enable the regulatory authorities that would allow for establishing a list of designated projects, comprising works, undertakings, and activities for which a permit would always be required. We have been, and will continue to be, engaged with indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, stakeholders, and others to capture the right kinds of projects on the designated project list.

Habitat loss and degradation and changes to fish passage and water flow are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine fish habitat in Canada. It is imperative that Canada restore degraded fish habitat. That is why we proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that would include the consideration of restoration as part of project decision-making.

The bill is motivated by the need to restore the public's trust in government, which was lost following decisions made in 2012.

In order to re-establish the trust of Canadians in government, access to information on the government's activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat, as well as protecting information and decisions, is essential. We listened and we proposed, through Bill C-68, measures to establish the public registry, which will enable transparency and access. This registry will allow Canadians to see whether the government is meeting its obligations and allow them to hold the government accountable for decision-making with regard to fish and fish habitat.

The addition of new purpose and consideration provisions will more clearly guide the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions and provide a framework for the proper management and control of fisheries, and for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.

Fisheries' resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous peoples. Respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada, taking into account their unique interests and aspirations in fisheries-related economic opportunities and the protection of fish and fish habitat, is one way we are showing our commitment to renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples.

We listened to Canadians on the need for modern safeguards. That is why we have proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that provide a new fisheries management order power to establish targeted fisheries management measures for 45-day increments where there is a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries or to the conservation and protection of fish. This will help to address time-sensitive emerging issues when a fishery is under way and targeted measures are required.

Proposed changes to the Fisheries Act include a new ministerial authority to make regulations to establish long-term spatial restrictions to fishing activities under the act, specifically for the purpose of conserving and protecting marine biodiversity. This will support our international commitment to protect at least 10% of our marine and coastal areas by 2020. Proposed changes also include authority to make regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks.

As I mentioned earlier, our government reached out to Canadians to help put the bill forward. We listened to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and provided direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and stocks. We were pleased with the amendments of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans during its clause-by-clause review. We listened to environmental groups, and the committee proposed provisions aimed at implementing measures to promote the sustainability of the major fish stocks.

In addition, in keeping with modernizing the act in line with other federal environmental law, changes are being proposed to the Fisheries Act to authorize the use of alternative measures agreements.

Through Bill C-68, the Government of Canada is honouring its promise to Canadians. By restoring the lost protections and providing these modern safeguards, the government is delivering on its promise as set out in the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Fisheries.

Since introducing this bill, we have heard support from a broad range of Canadians for these amendments that will return Canada back to the forefront when speaking about fish for generations to come.

I urge all hon. members on both sides of the House to join me in supporting this bill, which is so important.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak tonight to Bill C-68, the new Fisheries Act. Although I grew up, and still live, far from the coast, my family has deep history in coastal fisheries. My mother's family, the Munns, once controlled the cod fishery of Labrador. My great uncle William Azariah Munn was what one might call a cod liver oil baron. Luckily, my mother hated the stuff so much that she did not force it on me and my siblings.

Getting back to the bill, the bill comes from a Liberal promise in the last election campaign when both the NDP and Liberals ran on platforms that included the repealing of Conservative legislation that gutted all of the environmental protections of federal legislation. We are very happy the Liberals have finally acted on this, although I am not sure why it took so long.

The bill would finally restore protection for all fish across Canada. When I say all fish, I would like to point out that under the previous Conservative legislation, all fish were not created equal. Only those fish that were part of a commercial or indigenous fishery were protected, and they were not protected as strongly as they were in the past. I am happy that some of our rarest and most vulnerable fish species, like the speckled dace of the Kettle River, are now protected in this manner once again.

In the past, the Fisheries Act was the strongest piece of legislation that actually protected habitat in Canada. As many here know, I was a biologist in my past life, and I spent a long time working on ecosystem recovery plans and species at risk. Time and again, my colleagues would point out that the only legislation, federal or provincial, that effectively protected habitat, was the Fisheries Act. As a biologist who worked on land, I was always a bit jealous of my fisheries colleagues since there was little or nothing that had the same power of protection for terrestrial habitats.

This habitat protection was at the core of earlier versions of the Fisheries Act. The Conservatives took this habitat protection out in 2012 through Bill C-38, one of their omnibus budget bills. This action resulted in a huge public outcry, and among the voices were four former fisheries ministers, including one of my constituents, Tom Siddon, a former Conservative fisheries minister. He wrote an open letter to the government, urging it to keep habitat protections in the act.

This new act is still deficient in a few ways regarding habitat. For instance, while it talks about the water in rivers and lakes as fish habitat, it does not discuss the amount of that water. That is clearly important. Increasingly, low water levels in our rivers and lakes are causing difficulties for fish. Many of our fish require good quantities of clean, cool water, and more and more often they are faced in late summer with low levels of warm water that can be lethal to fish, especially to salmonids.

This act also does not address the habitat conflict between wild salmon stocks and the practice of open-net salmon farms. We should be moving in an orderly fashion toward closed containment farms to isolate fish health issues caused by the farms that impact wild salmon stocks under the open-net regime.

Bill C-68 empowers the fisheries and oceans minister to make management orders prohibiting or limiting fishing to address a threat to the conservation and protection of fish. Of course, I am fully in favour of this power, but I wonder how often it would be used, despite the fact that it would likely be recommended on a regular basis by scientists.

Fish are consistently treated differently from terrestrial species in conservation actions. As an example, of all the fish species assessed as threatened or endangered in recent years by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, less than half have actually been placed on the Species at Risk Act schedules. If a terrestrial species is in trouble, it is generally added to the list as a matter of course. However, but if a fish is in trouble, it is out of luck. This attitude has to change.

As well, the bill would give a lot of discretion to the minister to make decisions based on opinion rather than on scientific evidence. This practice must be limited and only used in exceptional circumstances. I am always concerned when it is enshrined in legislation and seemingly encouraged, as it is here and in other recent legislation, such as Bill C-69 on environmental impact assessments.

I am happy there is a provision in this act to give the DFO more resources for enforcement. I hope some of those resources can be used to rebuild the DFO staff that used to be found throughout the British Columbia interior to promote fish habitat restoration and rebuilding fish stocks.

There are no DFO staff left at all in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions now, despite the fact that there are numerous aquatic stewardship societies across my riding that used to have a great relationship with DFO and its work, and which benefited from that work. Volunteer groups that are devoted to aquatic habitats on the Arrow Lakes, the Slocan Valley, Christina Lake, the Kettle River watershed, Osoyoos Lake, and Vaseux Lake would all benefit through a renewal of those staffing levels. They talk to me regularly about that, and that they miss that help.

I would like to close with a good-news story that shows what can happen when Canadians take fish conservation into their own hands, identify the problems and solutions, and then work hard to make good things happen. That story is the restoration of salmon populations in the Okanagan. This story involves many players and funding from the United States as well as Canada, but it is mainly a story of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, ONA, the first nations of the Okanagan, who came together to bring salmon back to the valley.

Salmon, or n’titxw, is one of the four food chiefs of the Okanagan peoples, and is central to their cultural and trade traditions. When I was a kid in the Okanagan, salmon were in very low numbers. The Okanagan is part of the Columbia system, and those fish had to climb over 11 dams to get back to the spawning grounds. Most of the Columbia River salmon runs died out, but a few sockeye came back to the Okanagan every year, though maybe a only a couple of thousand in some years. However, after years of work by the ONA and other groups, we often see runs of over 100,000 fish. The Okanagan River is once again red with sockeye in the autumn. The ONA has taken an ecosystem-collaborative restoration approach that combines cultural ceremonies and salmon feasts with technical restoration. They work collaboratively with provincial and federal authorities, and everyone in the region has benefited, with recreational fishery openings, an increase in licence revenues, and local salmon to the public. I enjoy the sockeye out of Osoyoos Lake every year now.

This approach has enabled the ONA to grow to one of the largest inland first nations fisheries organizations in Canada. It has 45 full-time staff, which is probably 10 times the staffing level of DFO in the interior of B.C. It has its own hatchery, biology lab, habitat restoration course, and courses that are even taken by DFO staff.

However, even though they have been working collaboratively with DFO, they have still identified some serious issues to me.

First, there is a need for a harvest sharing agreement between Canada and the U.S. There is no agreement in place to ensure minimum food fishery requirements for first nations, and there is no other place in the Pacific region where there is up to 150,000 salmon harvested between Canada and the U.S. that does not have such an agreement in place.

Second, ONA has asked for support for the Columbia River Treaty renewal and the importance of Canadian salmon. Okanagan salmon are the only Columbia River salmon returning to Canada, and they are directly affected by how Canada stores water in its treaty dams.

Third, it points out the need for support for ONA's salmon restoration in the upper Columbia, which is in the Kootenay region. There are no salmon there now. ONA submitted a proposal to DFO and asked the minister back in September 2017, but it has received no response.

Fourth, the ONA regrets to see the overall exclusion of first nations at the Columbia River Treaty table, which is something that is very important to them.

To conclude, we will be supporting Bill C-68, but there is clearly still a lot of work to be done to protect our fish and our fisheries.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9 p.m.
See context

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-68, especially after having come back from committee. I know that my colleagues on committee did an outstanding job. They brought forward some thoughtful amendments, and I believe we have a good piece of legislation. During the review of Bill C-68, my colleagues in committee heard from many different witnesses and experts. I would like to take the time to talk about what they heard, and the concrete steps they proposed to help further improve this legislation for the benefit of all Canadians.

The changes proposed in Bill C-68 support several government priorities and key themes: partnering with indigenous peoples, supporting planning and integrated management, enhancing regulation and enforcement, improving partnership and collaboration, and monitoring and reporting back to Canadians. Canadians want to know what is taking place within the fishery. This bill includes the reintroduction of the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat, as well as the prohibition against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing. There are measures to allow for better management of large and small projects that may be harmful to fish or fish habitat, through a new permitting scheme for big projects, and codes of practice for smaller ones.

The amendments would enable the regulatory authorities that would allow for establishing a list of designated projects comprised of works, undertakings, and activities for which a permit will always be required. We have been engaging and will continue to engage with indigenous peoples, provinces, territories, and stakeholders to ensure that we capture the right kinds of projects on the designated project list. Habitat loss and degradation, and changes to fish passage and water flow, are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine habitats in this country. It is imperative that Canada restore degraded fish habitats, and that is why the proposed changes in the Fisheries Act include consideration of restoration as part of the project decision-making.

This bill is motivated by the need to restore the public's trust in government, which was lost through the changes made in 2012. In order to re-establish that trust, access to information on the government's activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat, as well as the project information and decisions, is essential. We listened. We proposed, through Bill C-68 measures, to establish a public registry which will enable transparency and access. This registry would allow Canadians to see whether their government is meeting its obligations, and allow them to hold the government accountable for decision-making with regard to fish and fish habitat. The addition of new purpose and consideration provisions would clearly guide the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions and providing a framework for proper management and control of the fisheries for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.

Fisheries resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous people. Respect for the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada, taking into account their unique interests and aspirations in fisheries-related economic opportunities and the protection of fish and fish habitat, is one way in which we are showing our commitment to renewing our relationships with indigenous people.

We listened to Canadians on the need for modern safeguards. That is why we have proposed changes to the act that would provide new fisheries management order power to establish targeted fisheries management measures for 45-day increments, where there is a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries, or to the conservation and protection of fish. This would help to address time-sensitive emerging issues when a fishery is under way and targeted measures are required. This tool might be used to assist in our current protection of the North Atlantic right whale. Proposed changes to the act include a new ministerial authority to make regulations to establish long-term spatial restrictions to fisheries activities under the act, specifically for the purpose of conserving and protecting marine biodiversity.

This will support our international commitment to protect at least 10% of the marine and coastal areas by 2020. Proposed changes also include authority to make regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks.

As I mentioned earlier, our government reached out to Canadians in developing the bill. We listened to the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development and the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and provided direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and stocks. We are pleased that the standing committee has offered amendments during its clause-by-clause review to improve the bill in this regard. We listened to environmental groups, and the committee proposed provisions aimed at implementing measures to promote the sustainability of major fish stocks.

We also heard from Canadians on other important issues. We have proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act that would prohibit fishing for a whale when the intent is to take it into captivity, unless circumstances so require, such as when the whale is injured, in distress, or in need of care.

In addition, in keeping with modernizing the act in line with other federal environmental law, changes are being proposed to the Fisheries Act to authorize the use of alternative measures agreements. Alternative measures agreements are designed to effectively address contraventions of the act without the need to engage in costly and arduous court processes. Alternative measures agreements are a formally recognized resolution process designed to address offending behaviour. The process focuses on redressing the damage and addressing the root causes of the contravention. Alternative measures agreements provide a cost-effective alternative to the criminal justice system and have been shown to reduce recidivism.

We have been clear on our commitment to make inshore independence more effective. That was a considerable issue in the last Parliament, and I have heard about this issue from Port Morien to Port Hood, all the way down to Little Dover. Proposed changes provide specific authority in the Fisheries Act to develop regulations supporting the independence of inshore commercial licence holders and enshrine into legislation the ability to make regulations regarding owner-operator and fleet separation policies in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

Through Bill C-68, the Government of Canada is honouring its promise to Canadians. By restoring lost protections and providing modern safeguards, the government is delivering on its promise, as set out in the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Since the introduction of this bill, we have heard support from a broad range of Canadians for these amendments, which will return Canada to the forefront of protection of our rivers, coasts, and fish for generations to come.

I mentioned the hard work of the committee and how its efforts have made a good bill even better. The committee heard about the importance of water flow for fish habitat from the environmental NGO community, members across the aisle, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, as well as the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. The government supported the associated amendments put forward in committee. We believe they will contribute to the effective management of fish habitat.

In Bill C-68, we strengthened the federal government's legal obligations when major fish stocks are in trouble. The committee built on this by proposing the inclusion of requirements, under the legislation, that the minister sustainably manage or rebuild fish stocks that are prescribed in regulations. Of course, we realize that this may not always be possible for environmental reasons, or because of the adverse economic effects some measures may impose on communities.

Again, I want to thank the committee. This is a good bill made better by the amendments that were proposed by the committee. I look forward to questions from members.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise this evening with some serious concerns with respect to Bill C-68. While one might think that fisheries legislation would impact only our coastal communities, in actuality this legislation would increase costs for every single town, city, and rural municipality across this country from coast to coast.

That is why it is unfortunate that the Liberals have once again moved time allocation on this very complex and important piece of legislation. By refusing to give us the time necessary to debate this bill, they are, in essence, muzzling Canadians across Canada by refusing to give them a voice through us as members of Parliament who have been elected to represent them in this place. The Liberals have shut down debate on a major overhaul of our Fisheries Act, which will have a huge impact on farmers and municipalities across Canada, as well as on our natural resource development sector. The Liberals have consistently refused to listen to stakeholders, and now they are refusing to listen to parliamentarians. By way of doing that, they are refusing to listen to Canadians.

The Liberals have reintroduced an incredibly onerous provision of the Fisheries Act. This is the blanket prohibition on any work that could cause the death of any fish. As the explanation document on the Department of Fisheries' website spells out, “Fish habitat means water frequented by fish and any other areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes, including spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas.” According to this, fish do not even need to be present in order for this act to apply, which of course is problematic.

I live in Lethbridge, southern Alberta. There is no ocean or a commercial fishery within close proximity. However, my region relies extensively on water management through a system of irrigation channels, reservoirs, and catchment areas. This legislation means that a farmer who so much as changes a ditch on his or her property that is somehow connected to a waterway will be impacted by this legislation. These farmers would have to apply for a permit in order to make any changes to their land. Therefore, the penalties are beyond onerous. The federal government could charge someone up to five years after the work has already taken place.

Family farms are not extravagant operations that can afford a full-time environmentalist or compliance officer within their operation. Therefore, if farmers have to apply for permits every time they take a tractor out to dig a ditch or deepen a slough, we can imagine how difficult it would be for those individuals or those operations to follow this legislation. They will have to worry about whether or not some activist animal rights group will come after them and attack them for taking their tractor out and digging a ditch on their own property in order to accomplish something that is necessary within their operation.

Farmers are among the strongest conservationists on the planet. They are among the people in Canada who advocate and act, a key word here, most strongly in favour of the environment. These are women and men who are doing a whole lot of good for our country, yet the legislation that is before the House would actually punish them. It demonizes them, and that is not fair.

This was an unprecedented year for flooding in both British Columbia and the Maritimes. Large municipalities and small rural communities alike are now realizing the need to significantly invest in flood prevention works. Whether that is as simple as building a higher dike or building dry channels to redirect flood waters at peak times, these works will now cost significantly more money to complete because municipalities are now going to have to hire an army of lawyers, consultants, environmentalists, and so forth, in order to uphold this legislation.

Testimony from Manitoba Hydro provided to the fisheries committee clearly stated that the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act enhanced and broadened the act's protections for fish and fish habitat by adding the word “activities”. In describing the true effect of the 2012 changes to the act, which this bill is trying to reverse, Gary Swanson of Manitoba Hydro stated:

[T]he addition of the word “activities” in the prohibition against serious harm to fish arguably represents greater protection for fisheries, as do the addition of requirements for reporting all incidents of serious harm, the duty to intervene to address impacts, the extension in the time limitation for laying of charges from two to five years, and the establishment of contravening conditions of licence as an offence.

Let us put that in simple terms, shall we? There is much less certainty as to what this act applies to, which means it is great for lawyers but really bad for small businesses. It means it is great for environmentalists, but it is really bad for municipalities. It is really bad for Canadians, period.

Now the result will be a bureaucratic gridlock as thousands of permits are filed for. However, then it will end up being known that those permits actually are not even required. There will be this process that is incredibly onerous.

The previous Conservative government simplified this legislation because the complete prohibition of any potential harm to any body of water that might possibly host a fish was just simply unworkable. The Conservative approach focused on protecting commercial, recreational, and aboriginal fisheries. That approach focused on reducing significant harm to fish populations where they actually lived. That allowed for a proper balance between protecting fish in our waterways and ensuring that small businesses had the legal certainty to carry on their work and run a profitable business.

Proposed section 8 of this bill also sets out the establishment of fees for quotas, and proposed section 14 would establish the setting of fees for conferral. What does that mean? It means more fees that Canadians will have to pay for permits and authorizations.

Section 14 of this bill proposes powers for the creation of fees for regulatory processes with no parameters for who might be charged and how much they might be charged. It means higher costs for everyone, for them, for us, for every single Canadian. It means less money in the pockets of Canadian families because it means increased taxation. Municipalities will have to raise their taxes in order to apply for the permits that they require to do the work that needs to be done. As a result, small businesses will have to raise their prices because they will have to apply for permits, go through bureaucratic bodies, jump through hoops, and cut through red tape, in order to do their projects. This is on top of all the tax increases that the Liberal government has already placed on Canadian families, which is to say nothing of the carbon tax that is still to come.

The government has repeatedly stated that this bill is necessary to restore so-called lost protections. My colleague, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, has submitted an Order Paper question, asking the government for proof of harm resulting from these so-called lost protections a number of times now. In its response to this Order Paper question, the government said that it cannot produce any proof because the department does not have the resources or the mandate to make such determinations. This is very interesting. This bill is the solution to a problem that has not been proven to actually exist, at the government's own admission. It is ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous.

The minister claimed that there were face-to-face consultations when he appeared at the committee on November 2, 2016. An Order Paper question response, dated March 22, 2017, contradicted this by stating that no face-to-face consultations had taken place. In this place, in the House of Commons, we are not allowed to call something a lie or call someone a liar. I will say that the minister certainly told an untruth.

Furthermore, we have concerns with the bill's proposals for the establishment of advisory panels. There is no accountability. There is a blank cheque being signed over, and what will they accomplish?

In conclusion, this legislation overreaches from even the pre-2012 version of the legislation. It includes the ability for indigenous groups to provide secret testimony directly to the minister that cannot be challenged by the person applying for the permit. It also creates a host of paid positions, to which the Liberal minister can appoint his friends with very little actual work required, and no accountability mechanism in place. Combined with the changes to the environmental assessment legislation, it effectively means the end of natural resource development in Canada. On top of that, it adds legal uncertainty to every Canadian, from logger to farmer to miner, about whether or not they are in compliance with the law.

I stand today in this place totally opposed to this legislation because it is bad for Canadians.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Lethbridge for laying out how terrible Bill C-68 is, and in particular, how it will unfairly impact our municipalities, especially those in rural Canada.

When I was first elected back in 2004, one of the things I heard from my municipalities over and over again was that they had to deal with the fish police from DFO, and how that slowed down their ability to clean ditches, replace culverts, and provide proper drainage on agricultural lands. What we are doing here is going to duplicate what the provinces already do at home.

I want to thank my hon. colleague for standing up for rural Canada, and standing up for farmers and ranchers, and for all the hard work she does in working alongside the municipalities in her region, because this legislation is terrible.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I always welcome young women to this place, and especially young women with grit and determination, like the young member for Lethbridge. I regret that I disagree with everything she said this evening about Bill C-68.

I do not know if she is aware, but in 2012, the national organization representing municipalities in this country, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, urged the Harper government to remove the sections from Bill C-38 that would weaken the protection of fish habitat. By the way, the motion that was brought forward on the floor of the FCM convention came from none other than a former Conservative fisheries minister, the hon. Tom Siddon, who also joined in an open letter denouncing the weakening of fish habitat protection, which was also signed by another former Conservative fisheries minister, the hon. John Fraser. Bill C-38 was an egregious attack on the fisheries resource.

The fisheries resource and agriculture resource need not be in conflict, and in Bill C-68 they are not.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I see that the debate is slowing tonight. I thought I had a few more minutes to prepare, but I am happy to speak about my concerns in relation to Bill C-68.

A number of my colleagues have raised the troubling situation that we are debating a fisheries bill. It has some provisions related to fish habitat. There have been some great comments, including from an NDP member who has some experience as a biologist. That is when our debates here are at their best. Unfortunately, this debate is also under a cloud, considering that the Ethics Commissioner has now added the fisheries minister to the list of ministers of the Liberal government whose actions are going to be examined. It is with respect to the awarding of a fishing-related licence. It is unfortunate, because that is a cloud hanging over this debate.

I have heard on several occasions many members of the Liberal Party suggesting that in a previous government, fisheries management and fisheries licences did not take into consideration aboriginal treaty rights and aboriginal participation in both the traditional fishery and the commercial fishery, despite the fact that evidence shows that this is not true. If we look at some of the press releases and media advisories in relation to fishery licence competitions or proposals and requests for groups to bid, the consultation with and participation of first nations communities was part of that. It is unfortunate that some members, including the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, are making suggestions that are not supported by a cursory examination of what was happening in the last government, and that concerns me.

Bill C-68 is before the House under the cloud of yet another minister being examined for ethical conduct with the awarding of a fisheries licence to a group of proponents that did not have a boat but had a number of connections, both deep and familial, to the Liberal government. That seemed to eclipse consideration of any experience actually on the sea.

As someone who did fisheries patrols with our navy and with our air force on the Flemish Cap, I am proud of our heritage fishing and the fishers engaged in the practice. It is a hard living. As my colleague from British Columbia, our friend the fisheries critic, has highlighted the tremendous work of Canadians, they should know that any group has the ability to bid for these licences, because it is a monopoly. This is a serious power the government has, and now the fisheries minister is the third minister to be examined for how he has used that power.

The first minister to be examined was actually the Prime Minister, the first in both ways. He is the first minister. The finding of his investigation, as we know, was guilty. There is one outstanding investigation involving the finance minister, and now there is the fisheries minister. We cannot forget that in considering this legislation.

There are also two other big parts of Bill C-68 that should concern Canadians. Not only do we already think there is a cozy relationship, with some of the most recent fisheries proponents who were awarded a contract by the minister having close Liberal ties, but the government is enshrining that in Bill C-68 with paid advisory boards to advise the minister. Why is that?

The minister has a department that has done that quite well for over a century, in combination with consultations with stakeholders, industry groups, unions, and first nations. Why this new advisory board needs to be employed and paid and staffed is beyond me. It reminds us of the Liberal approach of surrounding themselves with more friends to tell them that they are doing a great job. They are not, and we are going to hear from the Ethics Commissioner on that.

The minister will have the ability to withhold critical information from bid proponents. Considering everything that has gone on, that should concern Canadians as well.

I am going to speak for the third time, with the remainder of my time, about ideological creep, once again, with the Liberal government enshrining directly the precautionary principle into legislation with very little to no debate. I have raised this before on the Oceans Act and the classification of marine protected areas and its basis. I raised it a few weeks ago with respect to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and here we are today with the Fisheries Act, another very strategic placement of the precautionary principle.

In proposed section 2.5, “Considerations for decision making”, the first consideration is listed as “(a) the application of a precautionary approach”. That is listed along with a number of grounds. The precautionary approach and the precautionary principle are the same thing.

What is also listed in the considerations for decision-making? This is the government that, when in opposition, used to always talk about science-based and evidence-based decision-making. What does it list in decision factors the minister can take into consideration? The precautionary approach is proposed subsection 2.5 (a). The third consideration, 2.5 (c), is “scientific information”. I guess it is going to have to look at that. Proposed subsection 2.5(d) is “indigenous knowledge”; 2.5 (e) is “community knowledge”; 2.5(g) is “social, economic, and cultural factors”; and 2.5 (i) is “the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors”.

This is about fisheries and decisions related to fisheries. Beyond science, beyond the people who fish, and beyond our first nations, that should be the factor in decision-making. There is the creeping edge of the precautionary principle, and now we have intersectionality, another political measure, being inserted into this. I am astounded.

Any time there was a decision made in relation to advancing projects related to resource development or other things, the Conservatives were accused of ideological underpinnings driving to support business and tear down environmental considerations. That was not the truth. Certainly we wanted certainty for proponents, but this is now the third bill on which I am talking about a direct ideological approach being embedded in legislation that is not even rooted in science.

I have said before that the precautionary principle being the guiding force has been criticized roundly, in fact, by one of President Obama's most senior advisers, the White House chair of regulatory affairs, Professor Cass Sunstein. He wrote, which I have quoted a few times, “the precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent.” Why is that? It is because it allows people to make decisions based on a hunch, based on a concern, based on a “we had better act”, or as some people have described it, better safe than sorry.

What was talked about when this principle was first advanced, back at the Rio climate conference? It was suggested at that point that it could only be considered when there was serious or irreversible harm demonstrated before precaution might come in. Now the government, through many pieces of legislation, without much serious scrutiny, I might add, apart from the Conservatives raising it from time to time, is embedding the precautionary principle and a list of cultural, social, and other factors where it can make decisions related to the sustainability of fisheries. It is preposterous, and it should concern people. It is giving the Liberals enough wiggle room to do whatever they want based on how they feel.

Where does this come from? One of the big groups pushing for the precautionary principle to govern and actually supersede science was the World Wildlife Fund. We certainly know where its former head is working now. He is the PMO lead. It should concern Canadians that those approaches and those things advocated for are now being systematically put into legislation without any serious discussion, and directly contrary to what science suggests. They are not even putting in an approach that irreversible harm should be the standard before this approach is used.

Liberals are, by stealth, providing an ideological approach to make decisions without scientific certainty. When it comes to our fisheries, we should be proud that under a Conservative government, John Crosbie, we remember, made a tough decision about the cod fishery, based on science, in the face of people protesting and threatening harm, because it was based on science, not on a hunch and not on ideology.

This is the third bill. Canadians should wake up to how ideological and unscientific the government is.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to correct something in the present tense about Bill C-68 and correct some revisionist history. The hon. John Crosbie, fisheries minister at the time, closed down the cod fishery after it was gone. It was officially gone. National Sea Products and Fishery Products International could not find any fish, and at that point, there was a cod moratorium. The minister of fisheries at the time ignored the pleas from inshore fishermen that the fishery was going to collapse.

I would go to the present tense, and what needs correcting is the idea that the precautionary approach has been put on a high pedestal in Bill C-68. I would refer the member to the language in proposed section 2.5. That list of considerations he read out are not mandatory conditions of action. It says, “the Minister may consider, among other things”, then that long list is there. It is hardly tying the minister's hands, and it does not make sure that every decision is guided by the precautionary approach. This is good legislation, and it is about time we passed it. I do agree that it should not be passed under time allocation.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, this is a very interesting discussion and there have been some good speeches this evening.

I will start by saying there are two pieces of federal legislation aimed at protecting the quality of Canada's fresh water. These laws implement Ottawa's clearly stated constitutional jurisdiction and responsibility in two specific areas: navigation and the fishery. I am speaking of the Navigation Protection Act, formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act and soon to be renamed the Canadian navigable waters act by virtue of Bill C-69, which passed at report stage today and is on its way to passing at third reading. The second piece of legislation, of course, is the Fisheries Act. These two laws are really the basis of federal water policy. Often water policy comes more out of provincial jurisdiction, but the federal government has something to say about water policy, and it is through those two main pieces of legislation.

Navigation and fishing were key aspects of life at the time of Confederation and remain significant today in our diversified modern economy. This is no doubt the reason that jurisdiction for both navigation and the fishery were given to the central government, this plus the fact that, as Pierre Trudeau famously said, “Fish swim,” which means they cross provincial boundaries, as do marine vessels for that matter.

Based on the speeches I have heard here and on what I know to be the Conservative narrative, it is fair to say the Conservative opposition does not see these two laws broadly as environmental laws. This is despite the fact that both laws govern and protect the aquatic environments on which vessels traverse and in which fish live. The Navigation Protection Act and the Fisheries Act are part of a grouping of four federal laws that are the basis of federal environmental policy in Canada, a grouping that includes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is being renamed the impact assessment act under Bill C-69, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which has just gone through its five-year legislative review at the environment committee under the very able stewardship of the member for King—Vaughan.

It was the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act that the Harper government targeted for revamping in order to restrict their scope and significance for the environment. The Harper government amended the Navigable Waters Protection Act twice, including at one point changing its name to the Navigation Protection Act. The first time it restricted the act's scope was in a 2009 omnibus budget bill, and the second time in a 2012 omnibus budget bill.

I know members find it hard to believe that the Conservative government would ever do that, but yes it did use omnibus budget bills and they were not necessarily encompassing only financial matters. The 2012 omnibus budget bill by the Conservative government removed broad Fisheries Act protections for all fish habitats, stipulating that the act would from then on only prohibit “serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or that support such a fishery”.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative government used the 2009 omnibus budget bill, if I am not mistaken, to also weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is why the government had to bring in Bill C-69 to strengthen environmental assessment in Canada and to regain the trust of Canadians regarding the federal government's commitment to protecting the environment.

I know the Conservatives are unhappy with government budget bills when they have too many pages, and call them omnibus bills, but there is no comparison—Madam Speaker, you will recall, you were in the House—to the blatant manner in which the previous government stretched the meaning of budget bill to effectively cover everything from banks to canoes and sailboats to trout, shellfish, and crustaceans. That is what the Liberal platform objected to: the Harper government's semantic elasticity with regard to the notion of a budget bill.

Bill C-68 rolls back the changes the Harper government made to the Fisheries Act. As has been mentioned by others, the bill protects all fish and fish habitat. The definition of “serious harm to fish” is also being removed.

Those carrying out projects would be generally responsible for avoiding harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat. However, when proponents are unable to completely avoid harm to fish, an authorization permit with conditions may be issued by the minister to allow a project to proceed without contravening the act. I wonder if the opposition is critical of this ministerial discretion, given its criticism of ministerial decision-making power in Bill C-69.

It is important to note the distinction in Bill C-68 between designated projects and routine projects. I have not heard that distinction mentioned on the other side. Designated projects would always require ministerial approval. These are of course expected to be large-scale projects. Currently, under the bill the previous Conservative government was responsible for, projects requiring authorization are determined on a case-by-case basis, which adds complexity and uncertainty for business.

As for routine smaller projects, published codes of practice would provide advice to proponents on how to avoid project impacts on fish or fish habitat. Although the regulations defining designated projects have not been created, I imagine irrigation canals or flood canals on farms would not be considered major, large-scale projects, like dams. I believe they would be considered routine projects, and farmers could just avail themselves of a guide of best practice and do the best job they possibly could. There is a bit of fearmongering on the other side about what the impact of the bill would be on farmers, who are indeed very much the backbone of a large part of the Canadian economy.

Laws are all well and good, but enforcement is always the key. The government will invest $384.2 million to ensure the capacity to enforce the Fisheries Act. Among other things, this money would go toward increasing the number of front-line fishery habitat officers.

Also worth mentioning, Bill C-68 would empower cabinet to make regulations for the rebuilding of fish stocks. It would also empower the minister to make regulations for the purposes of the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity. Again, I am curious to know whether the opposition objects to ministerial discretion in these cases.

Significantly, the bill requires that the government consider the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge when making decisions about fish habitats. This supports the government's priority on reconciliation with Canada's indigenous peoples.

Finally, Bill C-68 would ban the capturing of whales, dolphins, and porpoises for the purpose of keeping them in captivity. This should be welcomed by those who hold to the protection of marine wildlife. They are people like the beluga specialist, Dr. Pierre Béland, who is the world's most well-known expert on the beluga whale, and who was actually involved in an aqua-hacking conference in Toronto this past weekend. Aqua hacking is a process by which we look for solutions to problems, like pollution affecting our waterways.

Lastly, it is worth noting that extensive consultation was undertaken to arrive at the measures we are debating today. There have been two rounds of online public consultations, and over 100 meetings with partners, stakeholders, and indigenous groups. In 2016, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to review the previous government's changes to the act. This review resulted in 32 recommendations, which helped shape Bill C-68. This is on top of all the debate that took place in 2012 around changes to the act undertaken within the context of a rather egregious so-called budget omnibus bill.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand this evening to speak to the bill.

I will take a bit of a different approach because I am from Saskatchewan. As has been mentioned, our lakes are beautiful. We have wonderful fish and all kinds of animal life. It is very pristine and beautiful. We are also a major agricultural source within the country, as well as natural resources.

The Conservative Party of Canada supports the protection of our oceans and fisheries. Our previous changes to the Fisheries Act were enacted to support transparency in the decision-making process and to provide a level of certainty to those who had an investment in this. It is important to note that we were very robust in our expectations in determining whether environmental conditions were being met. However, we worked with the natural resource and the agricultural communities.

The term “the environment and the economy go hand in hand” does not belong to the current government. Back in 2009, that is the exact term I used to express Conservative values when I was running in for nomination. There is no question that on this side of the floor, the environment and the economy are both important, which is why our prime minister understood that Canada's role on this issue had to include a global look at the world. Canada has a responsibility in relation to the rest of the world, not just for the environment but for our economy as well. That is where our ability to work with the environment exists. Some people cannot afford to make a living. More and more we find ourselves in a situation, where investment is running out of the country as fast as it can. We are losing jobs. We cannot compete with the United States. We cannot afford to do a lot of the things that we want to do as a country to ensure our economy is strong while at the same time our environment is strong.

When I was a brand new member of Parliament two and a half years ago, one of the first visits to my office was a young man from an environmental engineers group. I could not say exactly which group it was as I was in a bit of a daze. However, we had an amazing conversation. He said, knowing what was coming from the the government and the likelihood of changes to this very act, that what we had was very good. It was very robust, very challenging, there were huge expectations, and it provided a level of certainty.

We kept hearing how the government just rushed these things through. I did not appreciate what he said to me at the time, but I do now. Certainty enabled resource producers to know the parameters under which they would be working. They hired environmental engineers like himself to ensure they did absolutely everything they could to be prepared to be to meet the requirements for their new projects. His perspective was that certainty made all the difference in the environment and the economy being able to go hand in hand.

That is the case in my riding where we have potash development at this very moment. There is a circumstance there where habitat would be be influenced by the productivity. I have a news flash. It does not matter what we do, whether it is build a house, build a downtown store, put in a new farm building, or whatever, we impact our environment. However, the concept of offsets, which the Saskatchewan Mining Association referred to in its brief, is very important.

It said that it had worked previously with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the topic of habitat banking, resulting in the 2012 publication “Fish Habitat Banking in Canada: Opportunities and Challenges”. As such, it said that it supported the addition of proponent-led habitat banking into the amended act. Why? The current government would say that it is because it is this evil group that wants to destroy our environment, which is ridiculous. The truth of the matter is that it wants to be responsible. I know it spent millions of dollars in securing other land as the habitat that would be protected to ensure that its business could grow and people all across our province and our country could be employed. We need that balance. I do not see that balance at all with the government.

With Bill C-68, the Liberals have added additional layers of regulatory uncertainty.

We have heard a lot tonight about the impacts on the farmers and how that will deter them in a lot of ways. My fellow member, I believe the member for Foothills, spoke to this issue a while back. He talked about how fish would be found because of floodwaters or whatever and all of a sudden these drainage areas would have to be made into bedding areas for fish, and how difficult that would be for the farming community. The member across the floor, I believe it was a member from Prince Edward Island, said that he was sure that would be dealt with at committee, that it was common sense. That is not what I am hearing from the government at all. The member from across the floor said that it was common sense to enable the Prairies and places where this was overreach to be considered in the bill. Apparently, that will not be the case.

The Liberals have said that they are restoring the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat prohibition, yet they have sidestepped any obligation to uphold the HADD regulations in the legislation by providing the minister with the ability to exempt certain provisions. How will they decide which ones they will exempt and which ones they will not? That is a dangerous place to be. We know Canadians look at what is done in the House and know what politics do. We have already heard tonight about the circumstances where this is being abused. I even wonder about the water systems that will be put in our first nations, which are under water advisories. This is a really good thing. It needs to be done. I have small communities all over my riding that need that as well. What kind of advanced research was done on the implications of putting those systems in? We need to have fairness across the board.

I want to mention one more thing. We are having trouble getting this pipeline built, yet today there was an announcement that stated, “Voisey's Bay Underground Mine Construction To Begin This Summer”. This is in Labrador. Obviously, it is a priority to make that happen. It states:

Three former Liberal premiers were on hand for the official announcement this morning...[and the] agreement was signed.

The project is expected to result in 1,700 jobs...$69-million in tax revenue for the province.

It is an ore mine. However, somehow we cannot get this pipeline built to the coast to enable our provinces, which have wonderful resources, to make a difference in the Canadian economy, and to do it in an environmentally-friendly way. I am very proud of my province. We have a lot to show and teach the government about good environmental standards.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10:15 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak on Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence. As members can imagine, as a coastal British Columbian, I understand the importance and significance of protecting our fish. Where I live, it is not just our food security, our economy, or our culture, but it is integral to everything and is what connects us. It is even in our language. As saltwater people, fish and the protection of fish is given utmost priority. We always say that the health of our fish and our salmon is a reflection of the health of our communities. The importance and significance of this bill would restore the act that needs to be put in place as soon as possible so that we can protect our fish and bring ourselves back to abundance.

One of the key changes made to the Fisheries Act in 2012 that removed protection for fish and fish habitat, and that will be restored, is the harmful alteration and disruption or destruction of fish habitat. It goes further by restoring the definition of fisheries to include all fish. However, it still does not address the conflict mandates, which Commissioner Cohen identified, of conserving wild salmon while protecting harmful salmon practices. This was in the mandate letter to the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. The Prime Minister himself instructed the minister to act on the recommendations of the Cohen commission on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River.

In recommendation 3 of his report, Justice Cohen recommended, “The Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product.” DFO is still continuing to promote salmon farming, its industry, and the product. We are concerned that the government has not followed through with this promise. It is impossible for the government to be an agent and also promoting an industry that might have detrimental impacts and effects on our wild fish. The goal and mandate of DFO should be restored to that of just protecting wild salmon and wild fish. New Democrats would like the government to follow through with the promise it made in the 2015 election campaign and that was outlined in the Cohen commission.

It has not done that, and it is something that is raised repeatedly. In fact, the Pacific Salmon Foundation just came out against open net salmon farming. Many groups in my riding are raising concerns about the impact it is having. Many indigenous communities in my riding are raising concerns around the impact of salmon farming. We would like that to be split out so that we can make sure DFO is doing its historic job of advocating for and protecting our fish. That is not happening now, and it is not in this legislation.

It is the first time that rebuilding of depleted fish stocks has been included in the Fisheries Act. However, details on rebuilding this will be in regulations. Those regulations need to be strong, with timelines and targets, and it needs to take into account the impacts of climate change and species interactions. We know in my area that climate change is real. In 2014, it was so dry—and then rained just in time, in August—that we were worried we would lose all of our fish as the streams ran dry at the time when the fish needed to spawn upstream. It is important that is integrated in the legislation, but also setting clear targets and necessary investments. The government keeps talking about its oceans protection plan and its record investments in coastal restoration, but in fact we are not seeing that on the ground.

As I said earlier, the Somass River still has no coastal restoration funds. It is expecting about 350,000 pieces of sockeye salmon this year, which is well below the average of just over a million and the high of 1.9 million. How do we get back to abundance? We need to make adequate investments, and we are not doing that. The salmon industry in British Columbia brings in well over $1 billion, yet we do not even invest $50 million in that sector. As a former business person, I know that is far from adequate in terms of investment in an industry that is so critical to British Columbians, in tourism, the commercial sector of fishing, the recreation sector, and for food security.

It feeds many people, especially indigenous people who rely on that fish, people living in poverty. It is important that the government backs it up with real investment. The bill states the following:

require that, when making a decision under that Act, the Minister shall consider any adverse effects that the decision may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, include provisions respecting the consideration and protection of Indigenous knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and authorize the making of agreements with Indigenous governing bodies to further the purpose of the Fisheries Act;

It is concerning that it is still far from free, prior, and informed consent, a specific right that pertains to indigenous peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I am going to quote from the Nuu-chah-nulth's Ha'wiih, who are the hereditary chiefs of the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth first nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island. They have identified five concerns, and one is the purpose of the Fisheries Act, which must include reconciliation with aboriginal people. They said there is no reference to aboriginal people or unique and important ties to the fishery.

The Prime Minister has said that the “failure of successive Canadian governments to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is our great shame. And for many Indigenous Peoples, this lack of respect for their rights persists to this day.”

Second, there is another quote from the Prime Minister: “We now have before us an opportunity to deliver true, meaningful and lasting reconciliation between Canada and first nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit peoples.

Lastly, he has stated before that, “We are all in this together, and the relationships we build need to reflect this reality. In Canada, this means new relationships between the government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples – relationships based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

They would like to see this mean true, meaningful, and lasting reconciliation that includes reconciliation with aboriginal people in the purpose section of this legislation, and say, “We do not submit that Reconciliation is achieved by the Fisheries Act alone; rather, we submit that the Fisheries Act can assist in achieving Reconciliation.”

They would like to see incorporating respect for indigenous law. They say, “We respectfully advise that section 2.5 should be amended by adding the following: the traditional and contemporary laws of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, as provided to the Minister.”

Third, they are concerned about controlling ministerial discretion. They say “that the minister 'may' consider certain named issues when making a decision.” They recommend that the word “may” in section 2.5 be changed to the word “shall”. They say that, “We remain to be convinced that the government of Canada will always be a government that shares the need to preserve the environment, conserve and manage fish species conservatively, and respect the rights, laws, and traditions of Indigenous people.”

Fourth, they would like to see consistency of the reference to aboriginal peoples.

Fifth, with regard to restoring fish habitat, they say, “While we approve of the protections being given to the Fisheries habitat, we cannot concede that enough is being done to restore the habitat and repair the damage done by industry, over-fishing, or mismanagement. We therefore recommend that the purpose of the Act be amended further by adding the following: 2.1(c) the restoration of damage for compromised fisheries and fish habitat”.

They would like to see that in there. They say the time is now for the federal government to take the lead in habitat restoration. This legislation provides the perfect vehicle to do so.

Last, the bill gives a great deal of discretion around decision-making to the minister, allowing decisions to be made based on the minister's opinion rather than on scientific evidence.

In closing, we support the bill. We support restoring fish habitat. We would like to see some of these concerns addressed. These are concerns that are shared widely in my riding of Courtenay—Alberni, that are shared by many of the groups that are doing the hard work, many of the groups that are advocating for our salmon in particular, and our fish.

Many of the salmon enhancement groups have identified that they have not seen an increase in 28 years in many of the hatcheries.

This has been a failure of repeated governments. Hopefully the government will put forward a real plan so we can bring back our fish stock to abundancy.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10:25 p.m.
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Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Andy Fillmore LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I must say it is wonderful at long last to finally hear from a member on the opposition benches in a riding that actually touches the ocean.

As the MP for Halifax, which includes the great fishing community of Sambro, people in Atlantic Canada remember the reckless changes that the Harper Conservatives made to the Fisheries Act during their time in office. We remember the 430-page Conservative omnibus bill, which in 2012 gutted the protection of Canada's fish and fish habitat without consulting indigenous peoples, fishers, scientists, conservation advocates, or coastal communities in any meaningful way whatsoever. Bill C-68 would once again restore those protections that the Conservatives threw aside.

I am glad to hear organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund of Canada, Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre speak out in favour of the measures contained in this legislation.

Would the hon. member not agree that Canada needs a strong regulatory authority to protect our fish and fish habitat, as contained in Bill C-68?

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the hall in the Liberal Party just asked a question about why people from the Prairies were standing up to speak to this act. I guess he did not realize oceans and fisheries is on the Prairies and has an impact on a lot of our municipalities in how they go about conducting their business on a day-to-day basis. The Conservative Party of Canada supports protecting our lakes and rivers and the oceans and the fisheries. There is no question about that. Let us get that on the record right now: We support that and we are behind it 100%.

I love to fish. We have many colleagues who are in our hunting and angling caucus who love to fish. We do a lot of catch-and-release, we use barbless hooks, we take responsibility, and we take the appropriate measures when we are fishing to make sure that a fish, when it is caught, is returned alive and safe and there for somebody else to enjoy in the future. Northern Saskatchewan is a beautiful province to fish in. I know the member for Regina—Wascana has been here all night, and he would agree with me. When we go up into northern Saskatchewan, we see the development and the fisheries there and we see the people and the beautiful landscape and it is a great place to go fishing. I encourage all members to come to northern Saskatchewan and do some fishing with barbless hooks and catch-and-release because that is very important.

Back to the business of today, what the Liberals have done in Bill C-68 is add an additional layer of bureaucracy, and that is very concerning. In 2010 and 2011, we had SARM, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, coming into our offices, saying, “We need help. We are trying to build a culvert in a dry creek bed, and we cannot get approval from oceans and fisheries”. I remember Bud Strube from the RM of Shellbrook came into my office and said, “We have a bed here that we have to change the culvert in because the beavers have dammed it.” Because they dammed it up it didn't flow last spring, it took out the road, and did harm to the actual stream that the fish would go up and down during the spring season. Therefore, during spring runoff there is water in that culvert. By the time the middle of June hits, there is nothing in that culvert. They change it in July and August when there is nothing in the culvert and then it is there, ready for the next spring. However, they would apply to oceans and fisheries for the appropriate permits and it would sit on somebody's desk. It would be sitting there and it would be July, it would be August, September. November was coming so they were phoning to say they needed to get this done, freeze-up was happening. There would be no response. Finally when they got a response, it was already frozen up. They would go and change the culvert because they had to do it. They had to make sure the culvert was in place for the next spring's runoff. They would spend twice as much money. They are inefficient in how they do it. They cannot do as clean and nice a job in November as they could in July or August, but that is the result of having that type of bureaucracy on the Prairies.

The reality is we can have proper management of the waterways without the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy in this case is an example of where it has gotten in the way. When the government adds a bureaucracy, the first thing it does is try to justify why it should exist. What do the officials do? They start bringing in all sorts of crazy rules and regulations that they interpret on their own to make it tougher to do things. I will go back to my rural municipality example. I had a rural municipality just outside of Arborfield. It had some flooding and the people had to change some culverts. It was no problem, as it was pretty straightforward. Therefore, they thought they should do some mitigation the next year. Again, they were going to go in and put some different culverts in. The rules said they had to put in all these different types of mechanisms in case there should be rain. They spent two to three days putting in these mechanisms in case it should rain, to manage erosion and all that, where it would have only taken them two hours to change the culvert. Who pays for that? I pay for that. The taxpayer pays for that. Every person in that municipality paid for that expense. Where was the common sense? It was not with the bureaucracy.

That is where I get really concerned when I listen to members on the opposite side say, “Farmers are going to be protected here. We know that. We have not seen the regulations. We do not know what the regulations are going to say, but do not worry, it will all be fine.” We have heard that before and we are not going to buy it again. This has a lot of concerns.

One other concern I have is about the transparency of the minister and his role in the decision-making process. When we make a decision, we base it on science; everybody in this House would agree with that. In this scenario, and the Liberals have done this in other areas, they have based it on the minister's interpretation of what he wants to achieve. That is not bankability, that is not predictability, and that is not even logical in a lot of cases. If they have science saying that this is the way something should be done, then that is the way it should be done. I want them to give me a good reason why they would not do that. What scares me even more is the minister does not have to reveal the science. He does not even have to justify his decision to the taxpayer. He can just do it. How does that make sense?

It does not make sense. Why would they put themselves in this scenario? In fact, in this type of scenario with good governance, it would never pass the smell test. It does not work.

If the government is basically telling people who are going to take on a project here are the rules, check all the boxes, and do everything by the rules, but the minister can come in at the end of the day and say, “You did not smile nicely; you didn't wear a nice enough tie. I am not going to approve your project.” That can actually happen, and that is wrong. That should never be the purview of any minister in a Canadian government. That creates a lot of concern.

The Liberals talk about establishing advisory panels. Again, there is no context around what this panel would do, who it would be made up of, what it would consist of, or what the end goal at the end of the day is for that panel. However, some more Liberal members can be appointed to a panel, they would get their per diems, and life would be great. There would be another panel that would make some recommendations, and like I said about bureaucracy, the Liberals love to make rules to give themselves something to do.

What do we think this panel is going to do? I think panels are important. I think consultation is very important. I think it is important that government actually talks to the people who are affected, but when separate panels are created that do not have a vested interest in the project, what is the end game? Why are they there? That is very concerning.

We will work closely with fishermen and farmers. We will do what it takes to make sure that we have a proper fisheries going into the future. We will make sure that our kids and grandkids actually have a place to go fishing, that they will have a sector to work in, and that it will be profitable and bankable. After all, Conservatives know that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. The Liberals should actually take their own advice in that regard. We have to have balance. We have to mitigate the balance. We have to understand that there will be sacrifices once in a while in order to achieve what is better for everybody involved.

That is just the reality. That is part of the decision-making process. I think I will close right there, and open it up for questions. However, I am very concerned with what we are seeing here. We are seeing a reversal of things, and it will not make things better for Canadians. It will make it worse. It will not make us more competitive as a country or a better country; it will make us weaker. It actually will not create a future for our families, our kids, and our grandkids and their kids. It will make it harder. Why would we do this? It just does not make sense, unless there is a Liberal goal at the end of the day.

Again, we stand with our fishermen. We stand with the people in the sector. We will always stand up for them to make sure there is common sense when it comes to doing things in the fisheries.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10:40 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, although we are debating Bill C-68, I cannot leave the comments the member for Prince Albert just made unchallenged. I participated as an intervenor in the review of Kinder Morgan before the National Energy Board. There were two pieces of evidence. One was from Kinder Morgan that completing the expansion would create 90 new permanent jobs, 40 in Alberta and 50 in British Columbia, and that during construction, it would create 2,500 jobs a year for two years.

The other evidence about jobs came from the largest union representing oil sands workers in Alberta, Unifor. Its evidence was that completing the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion would threaten Canadian jobs and cause a loss of jobs, with a direct threat to the remaining refinery in Burnaby, and losing, through opportunity costs, the jobs that could be created by having the product refined in Canada. Unfortunately, the National Energy Board ruled that jobs were not inside its mandate. It did not want to hear anything about jobs, and refused to hear the evidence from Unifor.

In fact, there is not a single study anywhere, despite all the rhetoric and propaganda, that tells us Kinder Morgan would be a long-term job creator in Canada. Again, the evidence the NEB refused to hear from the largest union involved was that it was a threat to jobs.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-68.

I will begin by thanking the member for Prince Albert for the important points he made to this debate. I find it disappointing that science is being ignored, and the member for Prince Albert reminded us of the importance of respecting science. Rhetoric and false statements being made in the House to make a point really discredits that party, that individual, when they make false statements.

Regarding Kinder Morgan, the member for Prince Albert reminded us that the decisions need to be based on science and not on protesting, making outrageous statements, and carrying out illegal activities. As members of Parliament in Canada, we have to look at what is good for the country. What do we need to do? The Liberal government decided that energy east was a no-go. It ignored the science and made a political decision that energy east was a no-go, that Ontario and Quebec, the eastern part of this country, will have to continue to import oil from the Middle East. It will have to be tanked up the east coast and brought into Canada from a foreign entity.

Canada could be self-sufficient if we had energy east. We could ship our oil out of Canada if we had the infrastructure. Right now what we are hearing from the science base is that we move our oil and gas. We leave it in the ground, which means we destroy the standard of living that Canadians enjoy, or we move it by tanker or train, but we are not going to move it the safest way, which is with pipelines. It is bizarre. It is unscientific. It makes no sense when I talk to Canadians. Again, the member Prince Albert reminded us of the importance of respecting science.

I want to give a little history lesson on how we ended up dealing with Bill C-68.

I will go back to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, CEPA. It is a piece of legislation that a lot of regulations for environmental protection was based on. It passed in 1999, the prime minister was Jean Chrétien, and it came into force in 2000. CEPA needed to be reviewed every five years, which is very common with legislation. It came into effect in 2000, and the five-year review would have been in 2005.

Who was the prime minister in 2005? That was Paul Martin. Jean Chrétien's government went from 1993 to December 2003, and in 2003, Paul Martin took over. There was an election in 2004. I was elected in 2004.

I have served my community for 14 years in local government on city council. However, we had trouble even cleaning and maintaining the ditching system so that we would not have flooding, as that was constantly restricted. We heard from not only the local government that I served on but from farmers, and right across the country. Things were not working. Therefore, I was quite excited when I was elected in 2004 and expressed a strong interest in making sure that on the problems we had in the country we could always do better. We can learn from what is not working. Local governments and farmers need to be able to maintain proper drainage systems; otherwise, they plug up. That was very important.

I was really excited in 2006 when there was another election and Paul Martin was no longer the prime minister. Stephen Harper became the prime minister in 2006. I was honoured to be asked to be the parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. One of the first things we did was realize that the legislative requirement to deal with CEPA should have been done no later than 2005. It was now 2006.

The past Conservative government kept its promises. It did what was required for good governance. It served Canadians extremely well. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act review was overdue. We began with that and we spent a couple of years of consultation, hearing from Canadians about what needed to be changed. We heard that over and over again. That consultation included experts, scientists, and indigenous peoples. We did not rush it. We got it right. From that we made a lot of changes.

In the discussion that we have heard here, not science-based but rhetoric, where we have the NDP saying that the changes that were made hurt salmon. That is not true. We have heard from the Liberals that the previous government gutted protections without consultation. That is not true. Hansard will support that there were years of consultation to get it right. That is not what we see from the Liberal government where they ram things through using time allocation: “We have heard enough. We have heard from the witnesses who we chose and we wanted to hear from, so now that we have heard what we wanted to hear, we want to move this through.” That is not in the interests of Canada, and it not science-based.

The Liberals have said that they want to restore the lost habitat protection. However, that is not what happened. There were improvements so that the drainage systems across the country could be maintained. People were not being fined. We were being realistic. Yes, we do need to protect our waters. We need to do that.

Those are the changes that were made by the previous government. Now what we have in Bill C-68 is again the rhetoric or statements that are not based on science. The end result will be layers of regulatory uncertainty.

There were over 50 witnesses that came to the committee. Not one of the witnesses could identify any harm that had been done by the previous government. Actually, the committee heard about the good that had happened. There was not one witness who could show by science any support for Bill C-68 and the need for any of the amendments and changes in Bill C-68.

There were over 50 witnesses. One of the witnesses came from the Canadian Electricity Association. With the changes of CEPA, which I spoke of a moment ago, we heard from electricity producers. They said that one of their challenges is that if they put fish into the streams and restock the streams, the habitats change. They want to improve the habitat to make it better and healthier. However, if they hurt any fish by having all of these new fish introduced into the streams and lakes, they will be held responsible for an existing structure. They said if we could provide freedom for them to make those changes, they wanted to do that. It is good for the environment, just like farmers wanting to make things better, so as long as they were not going to be hurt by doing that, they would like to be able to make those changes. That was one of the changes that was made.

Now what the Liberals are saying will restore lost habitats actually will have the opposite effect. That is what the Canadian Electricity Association said, that Bill C-68 represents one step forward but two steps back. Bill C-68 is a missed opportunity for the federal government to anchor the Fisheries Act in a reasonable population-based approach, rather than focused on individual fish, and to clearly identify fisheries management objectives.

What is being proposed creates uncertainty. It puts farmers at risk and it puts infrastructure at risk. What it does, though, is that it keeps a political promise made by the government. That is why we are not hearing science-based information. Rather, we are hearing rhetoric. It is really sad.

It was in 2005, just before there was a change in government, there was a report from the commissioner of the environment. It stated, “When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground”. That is happening again, and that is not in the interests of Canada.