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

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

First 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 / 10:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, in those nine years from 2006 to 2015, when we were in government, there was consultation. There were these changes, and there was a coast to coast tour on salmon. We started on the west coast and ended on the east coast. There is a problem with salmon. It has not developed over one year. It has been over many years. The previous Conservative Parliament was committed to trying to find those answers. Those answers are not only one issue. It is the whole issue of how we are protecting the environment and enhancing the environment.

Unfortunately, Bill C-68 will not solve that problem through rhetoric, because it is not science-based. I believe everyone on this side is committed to doing whatever is necessary to enhance the environment for the salmon, but it is a problem that may take many years of commitment from all sides to find the solutions.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak tonight to Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence, and there are some consequences.

In the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals promised to strengthen the role of parliamentary committees. The Prime Minister promised Canadians that committees would be independent, giving them the ability to better scrutinize legislation and “provide reliable, non-partisan research” through their reporting to Parliament. Two years after the election, the same Liberals introduced Bill C-68, legislation that would bring in a number of changes to the Fisheries Act without considering a single expert's advice from stakeholders or the committee study of the bill.

The proposed changes ignore some of the major findings from a report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that was presented to the House in February 2017. On September 19, 2016, the fisheries committee agreed to the following motion, which stated:

...review and study the scope of application of the Fisheries Act, and specifically the serious harm to fish prohibition; how the prohibition is implemented to protect fish and fish habitat; the capacity of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to deliver on fish and fish habitat protection through project review, monitoring, and enforcement; the definitions of serious harm to fish and commercial, recreational, and Aboriginal fisheries; the use of regulatory authorities under the Fisheries Act; and other related provisions of the act, and provide its recommendations in a report to the House....

The committee convened 10 meetings in Ottawa from October 31 to December 12, 2016, before presenting the report to the House of Commons in February 2017. Overall, the committee heard testimony from 50 different witnesses during the study and received over 188 submitted briefing notes. It was a comprehensive and fact-based study with experts from almost every province putting forward policy suggestions. If the government were truly committed to strengthening the role of parliamentary committees, this study should have formed the basis for Bill C-68 with all of that consultation.

The Liberals essentially ignored the committee's report, including one of its most important recommendations, which stated:

Any revision of the Fisheries Act should review and refine the previous definition of HADD [the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat] due to the previous definition’s vulnerability to being applied in an inconsistent manner and the limiting effect it had on government agencies in their management of fisheries and habitats in the interest of fish productivity.

Following hours of testimony from the 50 witnesses and briefing notes from more than 180 associations, groups, and individuals, it was agreed that a return to HADD was not ideal, and that, should the government return to HADD, it would need to be refined and reviewed. Bill C-68 ignores this recommendation and introduces a return to HADD.

HADD is referred to in proposed subsection 35(1) of the legislation, which states, “No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.” Essentially, this means that any sort of development that could be harmful to, alter, disrupt, or destroy any fish habitat could be stopped or not approved by the government, taking us back to one of the major issues we have seen, especially with municipalities and the concerns they had when they tried to make any type of alterations. They would have to go to DFO and the provincial governments to make sure they were satisfying conditions that they knew, on the ground, were not necessary. It added costs.

I had the opportunity earlier to question the member for Cape Breton—Canso about the concerns municipalities had. He indicated that they are getting so much money that they really do not care whether or not that is the case. Of course, I think they would question just how quickly that money is coming out, but the concerns they have are still there. Going back to a system that does not respect the rights of communities and municipalities, and the concerns about agriculture and different groups that some members discussed earlier, it is no wonder we are having trouble getting different types of projects off the ground. This is a major concern, and hopefully I will have a chance to discuss that later.

As the committee report noted, this section was applied inconsistently and it was unclear. The concern is always that developers are often bogged down in these battles over the vague guidelines. For example, there was no clearly defined outline of what constituted a fish habitat, or what was seen to be harmful, in the previous version of the act. There was no clear path forward, and HADD became an obstacle to development, growth, and investment within the industry. It was becoming a consistent roadblock for projects and growth.

We need to listen to expert advice, instead of politically motivated advice. In the debate over the bill's provisions, stakeholders have been flagging this proposed change as problematic. The reinstatement of these measures will result in greater uncertainties for existing and new facilities, and undue delay. This can very well discourage investment at a time when Canadians and Canadian businesses need it the most. The key component here is certainly.

A few months ago, I had an opportunity to be with the trade committee in southeast Asia, and in some of the discussions we had with fund managers, we wondered how we could, in good conscience, tell people to come to Canada and invest. That is shameful when we think of the tens of billions in project dollars that have already left, and the fact that people are starting to say that Canada is not a place for an investment dollar. It is not as though an oil and gas project is not going to be developed. Otherwise, it will be developed, but it will be developed somewhere else in competition with us. For those who suggest that this is going to help with greenhouse gases and so on, this just changes it from an opportunity for us to use our natural resources, to some other place taking advantage of that.

Certainly, the same situation has occurred with the Kinder Morgan discussion, in which the government used $4.5 billion to purchase a 65-year-old pipeline, and gave that company the opportunity to go someplace else to build pipelines to bring someone else's product into eastern Canada. How is that ever going to change anything?

That is the major concern I have, and people see this as one of the major issues with government overreach, which is certainly the case here.

Let me be clear: Conservatives wholeheartedly support the protection of our oceans and fisheries. Our previous changes to the act brought a fine balance between encouraging growth in the industry and responsible conservation. Our previous changes to the act also enacted provisions that provided transparency in the decision-making process, and provided a level of certainty to those invested in the act. Unlike the Liberals, Conservatives listen to the people on the ground, instead of importing ideas and policies from Liberal insiders, foreign interest groups, and radical eco-activists. As Conservatives, we take our cues from Canadians, and we understand the importance of finding the right balance.

It was for this specific reason that in 2012, our former Conservative government removed HADD and replaced it with the following:

35 (1) No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery.

This definition was much clearer, and was more universally accepted because it struck the important balance required between development and conservation.

There are also changes within this bill that would undermine transparency and due process by allowing the ministers to withhold critical information from interested proponents. How is that transparent?

Another change I am worried about is the fact that the bill would allow the minister to establish an advisory panel with taxpayer-funded members and panellists, but does not set the guidelines or limitations for its use. Without any guidelines, these panels may be subject to abuse, especially if they are established by politically motivated individuals.

On behalf of the many Canadians and industry experts against the new changes, I join my Conservative colleagues in urging the Liberal government to listen to expert advice and reverse this senseless change, revisit the return of HADD, and amend the legislation to ensure that economic development and environmental protection go hand in hand and not head to head.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard referenced a number of times in this place that municipalities across Canada were upset with the Fisheries Act, and that is why the Harper government acted to change it.

I just want to reference this again. I mentioned it earlier in debate. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities dealt with this issue in 2012. They brought before the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' annual general meeting a motion to urge former prime minister Harper to protect habitat and to take those sections out of Bill C-38 that weakened habitat protections. The motion was brought forward by a British Columbian, and former Conservative minister of fisheries, the hon. Tom Siddon, who happened to be an elected official within his own area of British Columbia. It was brought to the floor of the FCM, where it passed.

Where municipalities have weighed in on this issue, they have called for the protection of fish habitat. There is no question that there can be times when there are conflicts for some rural municipalities, but those issues have been largely dealt with in Bill C-68. It certainly has the support of municipalities across the country.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 11:15 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak on Bill C-68 tonight. The comment that was made earlier this evening from one of my colleagues across the floor was that he was happy that a member from the west coast or a coastal riding was getting up and speaking about this. I am not picking on him for any reason, but I think it highlights one of the issues we are having with this bill. There seems to be a lack of knowledge or scope when it comes to our friends in the Liberal government not understanding the ramifications and implications that the decisions they are making with this bill will have on every region of the country. That is why we are seeing many of the rural members of Parliament from the Conservative side getting up to speak to this bill, because it will have very real and profound consequences on our rural communities.

I want to back things up prior to 2012, when these changes to the Navigable Waters Act and the Fisheries Act were made by the previous Conservative government. I recall I was a journalist at that time in a small community newspaper throughout southern Alberta. I remember covering numerous council and town hall meetings hosted by rural municipalities that were having significant issues when when it came to dealing with culverts, small bridges, drainage ditches, seasonal waterways, and irrigation canals, and the hoops, bureaucracy, and red tape they had to go through to try to complete some of those projects.

Prior to 2012, municipalities had to go through labour-intensive regulatory requirements when it came to areas of what was then called “navigable waters”. They were forced to endure lengthy delays, because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was inundated with thousands of applications from municipalities that were waiting for it to come and make decisions on their projects, not to mention the length of those delays. It proved extremely costly to these municipalities that were having to endure these very long wait times. I would think many of us who have rural municipalities in our ridings understand that many of these municipalities are extremely small. They simply do not have the financial or staffing resources to be able to handle the workload and amount of paperwork that comes along with a Department of Fisheries and Oceans assessment. Therefore, our rural municipalities were coming to the previous Conservative government with these problems and issues with respect to managing their own lands. That is when the previous Conservative government came up with these changes to try to reduce some of that regulatory burden. We wanted to turn the focus to ensuring that the protections in that legislation focused on the most critical fish and fish habitat in navigable waters. At the same time, we wanted to take some of that regulatory burden off some of the waterways that probably never had fish habitat and would never have fish habitat, but were still under the same regime and regulatory layers of bureaucracy that any river, stream, ocean, or lake would come under, when we were just talking about drainage ditches and irrigation canals, for example.

When we talk about some of the changes that were made, I think we need to highlight that the act maintained a very strong regulatory regime and protected very important fish habitat, but it had more of a practical scope. It reduced that administrative burden on not only municipalities, but also the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It had now freed up a lot of its time and resources to focus on the most important cases and waterways without having to deal with very minor projects for municipalities. However, it also empowered municipalities to be the environmental stewards of their own waterways. When it comes to those types of projects and waterways, who would be better to be the stewards of those lands than the municipalities, the councils, and their staff, who are on the ground each and every day? They know the history. They have that local knowledge. They know whether it is fish habitat. They know if it is a seasonal waterway. Certainly, they know that better than a bureaucrat in Ottawa. Therefore, I think it was a win-win situation for the municipalities, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Now we are faced with these changes in Bill C-68, which would expand the definition of fish habitat, expanding it even wider and more broad than it was prior to 2012. That is very disconcerting in the fact that it was burdensome and difficult to deal with and almost impossible to enforce prior to 2012. How difficult will this be when not only we restore it to the previous definition, but have even expanded that definition to a much wider scope. It has re-engaged a lot of those same regulations, but it also introduces something that is new, which is designated projects. This will include any projects within a category that could impact any waterway, whether it has a specific impact on a known fish habitat or not.

What is even more concerning for our stakeholders, municipalities, farmers, and ranchers is the fact that there is no definition on what a designated project is. This is really a larger narrative that we have seen from the Liberal government. It rushed through this legislation without doing all the homework and all the background work first so that it tabled a complete document that everyone could understand exactly where they stood. The legislation is very clear. The rules and regulations are very clear. There are still some very large holes in it with which stakeholders are very concerned.

The other issue, which is a large narrative with some of the Liberal legislation we have seen, is the minister would have more expanded and broader powers. This is very similar to what we have seen with Bill C-69.

We now have proponents in the energy sector that are divesting themselves of the energy sector because they do not feel there is a clear path to success. If they do apply for a project, whether it is pipeline, a mine, a forestry initiative, LNG, they could go through the regulatory process, through every environmental review, could pass all of those things, but at several steps during the process, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change would have the authority to step in and tell them to go back to the beginning. The minister could cut it off right there and tell them the project was not in the public interest or it was not something that could be supported. That would be the end of that project.

There is no clear definition of how to reach success or if there is a definitive pathway that people would know their projects would not succeed. We cannot have those types of projects at the whim of one person. That is very similar to what we see in Bill C-68 where the minister would have similar powers.

This is a crippling burden for municipalities that do not have the resources or the infrastructure to deal with these things. Imagine the burden and the impact it will have on farmers and ranchers who absolutely do not have the wherewithal to handle some of these issues.

Prior to 2012, a farmer in northern Alberta explained to me that he had a spring run-off area that went through his field. He would put a couple of 2x4s down during the spring so he could drive his machinery over it when he sprayed or seeded. However, Fisheries and Oceans came to him before 2012 and said that it was a waterway because it could float a canoe or a kayak. Certainly it could for about two weeks in the spring, but the rest of the time it was dry. He had to build a bridge over that seasonal spring runoff area. We are not talking about a river for the last pirate of Saskatchewan to float down the plain. This was simply a spring run-off. He was very concerned that he would have to go back to this. This will very burdensome to him.

Again, this goes back to the narrative that the Liberal government implements knee-jerk legislation, without doing the due diligence, without having an idea of what the ramifications will be and the unintended consequences, or doing the economic impact analysis of these decisions and what they will have on other sectors.

This is again another attack on rural Canadians. It is not science-based, front of package labelling, food guide, carbon tax. These changes will impact our rural communities, farmers, and ranchers who are struggling just to stay in business. Now there is a potential trade war with the United States.

For farmers and ranchers in rural municipalities, their livelihoods depend on healthy waterways, lakes, rivers, streams, aquifers. No one would take better care of these waterways than those who are on the ground, rural Canadians, farmers, and ranchers.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin with a story. I will roll back to pre-2012.

My community of Abbotsford is the foremost farming community in the province of British Columbia. Somewhere in the order of 20% of all farm-gate revenues emanate from our community. Much of that is from two beautiful areas with A1-quality soil, Sumas Prairie and Matsqui Prairie, where there are all kinds of different farming operations under way.

I used to be a city councillor in Abbotsford. One of our farmers, who I will call Henry, was one of the pillars of our community. He was one of the originals in our community, one of the pioneers. He had farmed Sumas Prairie all his life. One day, he came into my office in a real fit of anger. He related to me that he had been on his land cleaning ditches that he himself had dug. A couple of years later, of course, those ditches were filling in with leaves, twigs, and other debris. He wanted to clear them so that his property could drain properly. Anyone who knows Sumas Prairie knows that it is an area that needs to be properly drained. It is a former lake bed, and it needs to be managed properly. However, Henry was in my office very upset, because as he was cleaning his ditch, a fisheries officer had approached him. By the way, he was a fisheries officer with a gun. He had accosted Henry and said, “Sir, don't you dare touch that ditch anymore. You're harming fish habitat.”

Of course, Henry said that this was a ditch he dug for drainage purposes, and there were no fish in this ditch. “It is fish habitat we are protecting”, said the fisheries officer, “and Mr. Farmer, you're not entitled to do anything with that ditch of yours.”

We heard this from farmers across Abbotsford. My colleague, the member for Langley—Aldergrove, who served on city council with me, can verify those facts. Of course, city council had no power. This was federal legislation under which these officers were acting. That is why our former Conservative government, in 2012, stepped up to the plate and addressed this problem. We removed the focus on what at that time was fish habitat, and we replaced it with a focus on protecting fish, because that is what it is all about.

In light of the situation I just described, our government first of all looked at what is called the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, or HADD. We said that HADD was the wrong standard to apply. What we should be applying is any activity that results in serious harm to fish, not fish habitat, that are part of a commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fishery or to the fish that support such a fishery. That is the way the new legislation read, and it was warmly received.

My colleague for Saanich—Gulf Islands, the leader of the Green Party, suggested that Canadian municipalities did not support our 2012 amendments at all. That is patently false. What we should do is ask those of us who were in municipal government at that time, or in the years leading up to it, and we can tell members exactly why this legislation was introduced, and we had the strong support of municipalities across Canada.

Another one of the challenges of the legislation we have before us, which is a big step backwards, is the use of what is called the precautionary principle, which is basically better safe than sorry. The precautionary principle sounds great. We should always be safe rather than sorry. The problem is that it does not work in real life.

I refer the House to an article written in 2011 by Jonathan Adler, in which he talks about the better safe than sorry approach, the precautionary principle. He says, “We all accept this as a commonsense maxim. But can it also guide public policy? [Some people] think so, and argue that formalizing a more 'precautionary' approach to...health and environmental...will better safeguard human well-being and the world around us.”

He goes on to say:

If only it were that easy. Simply put, the precautionary principle is not a sound basis for public policy. At the broadest level of generality, the principle is unobjectionable, but it provides no meaningful guidance to pressing policy questions. In a public policy context, “better safe than sorry” is a fairly vacuous instruction.

Taken literally, the precautionary principle is either wholly arbitrary or incoherent. In its stronger formulation, the principle actually has the potential to do harm.

He goes on to say, “Efforts to impose the principle through regulatory policy”, which is what our friends are doing here, but they are doing it in legislation, “inevitably accommodate competing concerns or become a Trojan Horse for other ideological crusades.”

The problem with the precautionary principle is that it becomes a Trojan Horse for ideological crusades. Let me give the House a great example.

We have a government here that has been beholden to the environmental movement. In fact, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts, used to lead the World Wildlife Fund in Canada. Think about it. When we have a precautionary principle, it is people that have influence in government that are able to, unnecessarily through their influence, direct decisions in a way that suits their interests. If we have an ideological predilection in a certain direction, like Mr. Butts does, imagine how quickly we would find ourselves in a situation where it is speculation and ideology that replace true science as a basis for making decisions.

This legislation would establish remunerated advisory panels. When Liberals establish advisory panels, especially ones that are remunerated, they are used basically to allow insiders and friends to benefit from government.

Look at the surf clam issue in Newfoundland where the fisheries minister intervened. He provided special gifts to his friends by taking a surf clam licence away from one company that had pioneered the surf clam business in Newfoundland and giving it to another company that had connections to insiders in government and to friends and family.

What was the end result? This new company, which did not even exist and is still not incorporated, had no boat. Imagine that. It had no boat, but was awarded this licence, thereby depriving the people of Grand Banks, Newfoundland, of their opportunity to benefit, to have livelihoods, to have income from this business.

This is what happens when legislation like Bill C-68, which would amend the Fisheries Act, is twisted in a way that benefits the Liberal government, insiders, and friends of the government.

Canada as a country can do better.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to debate this very important bill, Bill C-68, which deals with changes to the Fisheries Act. I will point out that in general, the government's legislative agenda is floundering. It has clammed up. Liberals are trolling the bottom. They are trying desperately to get through as much legislation as they can, and they are doing it under repeated time allocation. I looked hard, and there are no pearls in this one. The government is putting forward these changes to the Fisheries Act in defiance of good sense.

Now, this bill is very important in my riding. Why do I say that? I represent a riding in Alberta, and there are not a lot of people who earn their living by fishing in Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. However, the framework that existed before 2012 with respect to fisheries protection and navigable waters protection is quite perverse. Members have spoken about this already. It is the idea that it was pretty easy to get almost anything designated as fish habitat. If my kids are out playing in the yard one day, they dig a hole, it rains, and it fills up with water, maybe that is a fish habitat. All of a sudden, that requires all kinds of processes, consultations, and changes. That obviously does not make any sense.

More seriously, there were issues with farmers, people who were building ditches for drainage, very simple normal activities. Things would fill up with water and all of a sudden get designated as fish habitat, which would invoke all kinds of different protections, regulations, and red tape from the federal government.

I do not think it is rocket science or even fish science to say that we should be thinking more rationally and strategically about how we protect our fish stocks. Rather than having this sort of proliferation of designation of fish habitat—and navigable waters was another issue that was drawing in similar kinds of over-regulation—we would try to be strategic about protecting fish stocks. We would think about what those critical points of protection were. We would have strong regulations in those cases, and, at the same time, we would not be protecting things in the wrong way.

On this side of the House, we favour rational, effective, and, as much as possible, surgical regulation; that is, regulation that does the thing it is intended to do, and the repeal of regulation that does not do what it is intended to do, that is not connected to a clear, rational objective. That is why, for instance, when Conservatives were in government, every time we introduced a new regulation, we developed a structure so that there would have to be a corresponding removal of regulation. Any time that ministers wanted to bring in new regulations, they also had to think about removing other regulations. That is a good approach, because sometimes government fails to think about repealing old, irrelevant regulations, trying to tighten up and smarten the rules. Again, it is not about not having those protections in place; it is about ensuring that those protections are rational and effective, and actually associated with the objectives that the regulation is in fact intended to serve.

In 2012, the previous government brought forward changes that shifted the focus from protecting fairly arbitrarily defined fish habitat to actually protecting and preserving our fish stocks. That was a good approach. It was widely supported by civil society. It was not supported by some voices, but, generally speaking, those who saw the practical problems and the practical need for improvement supported our approach. Some parties in this House waved the flag and said that fewer waterways were protected. We were effectively protecting vital waterways and assuring that the farmer's ditch, that hole that my kids dug in the backyard, did not get designated as a waterway. There was an appropriate level of protection for places where fish actually live, and there was no merit in applying those regulations beyond their usefulness.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government has sort of drunk their own bathwater when it comes to these talking points. They have bought into these lines about how they need to go back to the old regulatory system, which piled on unnecessary red tape and made it harder to do any kind of development, but with no discernible objective.

I did want to say if one wants to talk about what actually is harmful to fish and what is harmful to waterways, let us talk about the decision by the former Liberal mayor of Montreal to dump raw sewage into the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the approval he received from the environment minister to do that. Raw sewage and the environment do not go hand in hand. However, the government wants to make it more difficult to do science-based development. It wants to make life harder for the energy sector. It put all kinds of barriers in the way of energy development and pipeline development. It wants to make it harder for municipalities to develop by putting unnecessary regulatory burdens in front of them, unless one is a well-connected, former Liberal MP who is the mayor of Montreal. Then if one wants to dump raw sewage in there, go for it.

How did the fish feel when that happened? Do fish feel? I do not know, but it was not good for their health, is the point.

I know members across the way are excited about this point but they cannot get around it. Our approach was one that actually protected fish habitat, that actually sought to protect fish stocks. It was science-based, it was consistent, and it was safe and effective.

My constituents often ask me about the double standards they see from the government. On the one hand, it talks about the environment. On the other hand, the government's approach to environmental policy is totally disconnected from reality, such as the piling of hurdles on the energy east pipeline. Again, there was Denis Coderre's strong opposition to the energy east pipeline because there might be some spill, allegedly. That was his line associated with that. At the same time, the government was not thinking about the impact on the fish from raw sewage. This is a floundering legislative agenda, indeed. Someone has heard me repeat that joke. However, they are hearing it for the first time. That is good.

There are a few other provisions in this bill that I want to touch on, in the time that I have left. The bill raises transparency concerns and due process concerns. For one thing it allows the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents. We have heard a lot of discussion from the government about transparency, about sunny ways, and about how sunlight is the best disinfectant. However, we actually see in reality a consistent refusal to apply this lofty talk on transparency in practice. We see that happening and that certainly is disappointing. Again, we see cases of that in this particular piece of legislation.

This bill, as I said, piles on additional unnecessary regulations. It fails the test of being surgical and focused on achieving any clear, discernible result. This bill allows also for the establishment of advisory panels. These have former Liberal politicians and soon to be former Liberal politicians salivating, I am sure, about the opportunities of joining advisory panels for which they will be, no doubt, richly remunerated. However, there is no clarity around the guidance they will be required to give or the limitations on the use of these panels, or the conditions that they will be subject to.

The government, in creating more opportunities for patronage appointments, is not thinking about the fish. It is only thinking about the well-connected Liberal insiders. At the time of clam scam, one would think that it would want to avoid even the appearance of this kind of problem. Alas, it has not.

There are many concerns that we have with the bill: the problems for development, the troubling mechanisms, and other points I have not had time to get to. In any event, I will be opposing the bill.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 7th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue with the report stage debate on Bill C-69, the environmental assessment act.

Following this, we will turn to Bill C-75, the justice modernization act, and Bill C-59, the national security act.

If time permits, we shall start debate at report stage of Bill C-68, the fisheries act, and Bill C-64 on derelict vessels.

Tomorrow morning, we will begin third reading of Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty. Next Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are allotted days. Also, pursuant to the Standing Orders, we will be voting on the main estimates Thursday evening.

Next week, priority will be given to the following bills: Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Act; Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters; Bill C-64, the wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act; Bill C-68 on fisheries; and Bill C-69 on environmental assessments.

We also know, however, that the other place should soon be voting on Bill C-45, the cannabis act. If a message is received notifying us of amendments, that will be given priority.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise here today to speak to Bill C-69, one of the most important attempts to modernize our environmental protection laws in Canada.

In large part, I think it was meant to deal with some of the actions of the Conservative government, which gutted a lot of our environmental protection laws in the previous Parliament through changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, et cetera. We dealt with fisheries in Bill C-68, but Bill C-69 is an answer to try to fix some of the other acts that were radically changed by the previous government.

I have to say, off the top, how disappointed I am that the government not only brought in this bill as an omnibus bill, a huge bill, well over 300 pages long, but it moved time allocation in the first debate after only two hours. It moved time allocation on the bill yesterday as well. This is a bill that really should get fulsome debate. I am disappointed that not only did the government move time allocation, but it took so long to bring in this bill.

The NDP originally asked the Speaker to rule this an omnibus bill so that we could deal with it separately. The government agreed that we could vote on the navigable waters section separately. We also asked that the bill be split up for committee study. The first section, on the impact assessment, is ideally suited for study by the environment committee. The central part, which deals with the National Energy Board and the Canadian energy regulator, belongs with the natural resources committee. The navigation protection section, obviously, should have gone to the transport committee.

That division of labour would have provided for a thorough and efficient study. Instead, the whole bill was thrust onto the environment committee, where, with impossible deadlines, many important witnesses could not testify. I was contacted early on by a consortium of Canadian scientists who had studied this and wanted to present evidence before the committee. This was not a single scientist; these were a lot of the important environment scientists in Canada. They were denied access to the committee simply because, I imagine, there were too many witnesses trying to testify before the committee in those tight timelines.

At committee, the NDP submitted over 100 amendments, none of which were accepted. Tellingly, the government submitted over 100 amendments of its own. This tells me that the legislation was clearly rushed into the House and should have been written with more care.

The Liberals are hashtagging this bill #BetterRules, but the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the legal experts who arguably know more about this subject than most Canadians and most politicians, has said that this legislation in neither better, nor rules.

I will quote from a briefing note prepared by Richard Lindgren of the Canadian Environmental Law Association:

[T]he IAA is not demonstrably “better” than CEAA 2012. To the contrary, the IAA replicates many of the same significant flaws and weaknesses found within the widely discredited CEAA 2012....

[T]he IAA does not establish a concise rules-based regime that provides clarity, consistency, and accountability during the information-gathering and decision-making process established under the Act. Instead, the key stages of the proposed impact assessment process are subject to considerable (if not excessive) discretion enjoyed by various decision-makers under the IAA.

At the most fundamental level, for example, it currently remains unclear which projects will actually be subject to the IAA.... [It] contains no benchmarks or criteria to provide direction on the type, scale, or potential effects of projects that should be designated under the new law.

I would like to spend a little while speaking more to the second part of the bill, the energy regulator section.

This section disbands the National Energy Board and creates a new but rather similar body called the Canadian energy regulator. The section opens with a preamble and a statement of purpose. Surprisingly, in this day and age of a brave new world of energy, neither makes reference to linkages between energy and climate. In fact, there is no mention at all of climate in this entire section.

Much of the public work of the old NEB was about regulating pipelines. One could easily come to the conclusion that this is a case of closing the barn door after the horses have left, since it seems unlikely that the new regulator will ever have to review an application for a major new oil pipeline.

The Minister of Natural Resources has risen countless times in this place declaring that the government has restored confidence in the energy regulation system, and that is why the Kinder Morgan pipeline can be built. Unfortunately, he is deeply misinformed.

A couple of months ago, I met with Dr. Monica Gattinger of the Positive Energy group at the University of Ottawa, who studies this very issue of public confidence in energy issues, and Nik Nanos, whose polling firm had asked Canadians about that confidence. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Nanos found that public confidence in the Canadian energy regulation system was at an all-time low. If we thought it was low during the Harper government, it has continued to decline, and now only 2% of Canadians have strong confidence in the energy regulation system. That lack of confidence is shared by members of the public on both sides of the issue: it is lowest in both Alberta and British Columbia. It results in situations like the Kinder Morgan impasse. I should mention that the last time I heard the minister speak on this subject, he did admit that confidence was suddenly a problem in this area.

The Liberals promised during the last election to put the Kinder Morgan proposal through a new, stronger review system, but instead sent a three-member ministerial panel on a quick tour along the pipeline route, giving communities, first nations, governments, and the concerned public almost no advance warning to prepare their presentations. No record was made of the proceedings.

Despite the serious shortcomings of this process, the panel came up with six questions that it said the government would have to answer before making its decision about Kinder Morgan. I will mention only the first three.

First, can the construction of the Trans Mountain expansion be reconciled with Canada's climate commitments?

Second, how can pipeline projects be properly assessed in the absence of a comprehensive national energy strategy?

Third, how can the review of this pipeline project be squared with the government's commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

I would suggest that none of these questions was answered, even in part, before the government made its decision to approve the Kinder Morgan expansion, and none of them were answered before the government bought the pipeline, which was actually the old pipeline. This leaves a lot of questions about how the government is to regulate itself in getting that pipeline built.

Amazingly, none of those questions are properly answered in the legislation before us, which comes two years after the Kinder Morgan decision. After the government has accepted Bill C-262, which calls for government legislation to be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, there is no mention of this in the body of Bill C-69. Only after much pressure did the government agree to put it in the preamble, where it would have no legal effect.

We need to restore the confidence of Canadians in our energy regulatory system and in our environmental impact processes. Without that confidence, it will be increasingly difficult for Canadian companies to develop our natural resources, which are at the heart of our national economy.

The Liberals continue to pretend they are doing good, but they are all talk and no action, or as we say in the west, all hat and no cattle. We need bold action to build a new regulatory system that gives voice to all concerned Canadians.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 10:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 31.

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 33.

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 34.

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 37.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 38.

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 39.

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 40.

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 41.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 45.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 46.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 48.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 49.

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 50.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 51.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 52.

Motion No. 53

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 53.

Motion No. 54

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 54.

Motion No. 55

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 55.

Motion No. 56

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 56.

Motion No. 57

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 57.

Motion No. 58

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 58.

Motion No. 59

That Bill C-68 be amended by deleting Clause 59.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a fun day. This is the third time I have stood to speak on a piece of legislation today.

I do not know who they are, but there are people in the gallery who, for maybe an hour or so, have watched the festivities. All of us in the House should applaud the people in the gallery who are sitting through these festivities and thank them for paying attention to what we are doing. I am sorry it has not been riveting but very boring, but I thank them for being here. It is important.

Right now, we are talking about Bill C-68. Some of my colleagues across the way have said this is probably one of the most fundamental pieces of legislation we could debate this session, and perhaps even in the last decade. My comments will ring true from previous interventions on it. Bill C-68 is, from a policy perspective, another unnecessary piece of legislation aimed at making Canadians feel good, but without any basis in science. I already know what my colleagues are laughing at. It is the line I used, “unnecessary piece of legislation”. That was to elicit that response.

As part of the economic action plan in 2012 in support of the responsible resource development plan, the previous Conservative government put forward changes to the Fisheries Act geared to strengthening the act and removing unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. I have sat in meetings at the fisheries committee time and time again, at which DFO officials talked about fish stocks. In successive governments, some of these officials from the department have appeared before, for example on the northern cod fishery, which we know is still at critical levels. Twenty-six years ago, it was identified as a critical fish stock. One of the things we have been challenged by, whether it is policy, a department, or management, is with how to grow our most critical fish stocks in Canada.

Back in 2012, as part of the economic action plan, the previous government decided it needed to do things a little differently. It needed to start thinking about removing some of the red tape and looking at ways to create more fish. Our changes supported a shift from managing impacts to all fish habitats. People will ask what that means. We heard previously that any body of water that a tube or some type of vessel could be floated on could be deemed a fish habitat, which means that a tailings pond or a pond on a construction site filled with rainwater could be deemed a fish habitat. The previous government focused on the regulatory regime and managing threats to the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's commercial, recreational, and indigenous fisheries.

Instead of listening to experts in this process, the people who use our waterways and fish our rivers, the people who actually depend on our fisheries and waters to make a living, our indigenous peoples, the current government is turning a deaf ear to practicality and pushing forward through the use of time allocation, no less. As I said today, this is the 41st time it has moved time allocation. Again I go back to the Liberals' campaign promise that they would be the most open and transparent government in Canadian history and that they were going to let debate reign. What we have seen, instead, is that if they do not like the way things are happening, if they do not like the way the opposition is pressuring them, they just shut down the debate.

It has been probably two hours since I reminded Canadians who are listening and reminded colleagues across the way that the House does not belong me. It sure as heck does not belong to the folks across the way. This is not their House. This is Canadians' House. The 338 members of Parliament have been sent here by great Canadians to be the voices of those electors.

By shuttering debate on such an important piece of legislation as Bill C-68, what are the Liberals doing? They are saying to every opposition member of Parliament and all those Canadians who elected them that their point of view does not matter. The only ones that matters are the folks on the government side of the House.

Time and time again at committee, when we were studying the bill, we asked experts, academics, environmental groups, fishers, and industry whether the changes in 2012 really had damaging effects on our rivers, lakes, streams, and fish habitat. We asked for proof. How many witnesses came up with examples of lost protections or any examples of harmful alteration or disruption? There was not one witness who came forward with any evidence of that.

As a matter of fact, what we saw were the environmental groups, the usual suspects, who talked about how the Harper government members were ogres on the oceans and the environment. I beg to differ.

The Prime Minister, in the 2015 campaign, with his hand on his heart, said that our indigenous people were going to be our most important relationship. He said it not only then but before and all the way through this last little while, yet we have indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast that say that the consultation was a sham. It was not like the clam scam that we could talk about right now, and in my last discussion I did talk about that, where the minister arbitrarily took 25% of quota and allocated it to Liberal friends and families.

Bill C-68 is another feel-good piece of fluff to satisfy the environmental vote the Liberals were going after during the 2015 election. That was what they had to do. They were beholden and had to make sure that they followed through on their promise, but there was no evidence of any damage from the changes in 2012.

We asked industry at committee if any of those changes made it easier for projects to be approved. If we listen to the environmental groups and the Liberals, it was walk in one day, and an hour later, they had their permit and were tearing up everything. Industry made it clear to us that to move forward, it did not make it easier. As a matter of act, in some cases, it made it harder, but it was clearer.

Not only was it clearer for industry and stakeholders, it was also clearer for DFO to enforce. With that, I will rest.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sit with the gentleman on the fisheries and oceans committee. I thought we did an awfully good job on Bill C-68. We went back and forth, we discussed amendments, we accepted some of each other's, and worked it right through. We were fixing years of neglect and cuts, cuts to science. Yes, it was easier for the DFO to administer the old act because the Conservatives gutted DFO's ability to do anything by cutting it back. It is pretty easy to follow the rules when there are only a few rules.

Does the member remember the testimony we heard from first nations, reflecting upon the fact that back in 2012-2013 it was very clear that the only voices the Conservatives heard in that consultation were the voices of industry, which showed in full measure in the bill they produced? Maybe the member can recall what we heard from indigenous people who felt totally shut out by that earlier process.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:05 p.m.
See context

Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the amendments to the Fisheries Act.

For far too long we have taken our oceans for granted. This was demonstrated when, in 2012, the previous government decided to change the habitat protections without the support of, or proper engagement with, indigenous peoples, fishers and anglers, scientists, conservation groups, coastal communities, or the broader Canadian public.

By comparison, our government has listened to and worked with all Canadians and has encouraged everyone to be a part of this process. This bill is the result of that good work.

Bill C-68 has several key themes: partnership with indigenous peoples, supporting planning and integrated management, enhancing regulation and enforcement, improving partnership and collaboration, and monitoring and reporting back to Canadians.

During their review of Bill C-68, my colleagues at committee heard from many expert witnesses from right across the country. I would like to take this time to talk about what they heard and the concrete steps they proposed to help improve the legislation even further for the benefit of Canadians and the benefit of future generations.

From the environmental NGO community and members across the aisle, the committee heard about the importance of water flow for fish habitat. The government supported the associated amendments put forward at committee, and we believe they will contribute to the effective management of fish habitat.

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

The committee also heard about strengthening the federal government's legal obligations when major fish stocks are in trouble. That 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 regulations. Legislation will require that when exceptions are made for environmental or socio-economic reasons, Canadians will be informed and will be provided with a rationale for those decisions. As with every decision, our aim is to sustainably manage fisheries resources for the long-term benefit of all Canadians.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the committee for their contributions to Bill C-68.Their previous study engaged Canadians right across the country and led to 32 recommendations, all of which are included in this legislation. Their further work after second reading has again contributed significantly to this bill, and Canadians will surely benefit from their diligence and their hard work.

This bill includes the re-introduction of the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, otherwise known as the HADD provisions, as well as the prohibition against the death of fish by means other than fishing. There are measures to allow for the better management of large and small projects that may be harmful to fish or fish habitat through a new permitting program for big projects and through codes of practice for smaller projects.

These amendments will enable the regulatory authorities that will allow for establishing a list of designated projects, consisting of works, undertakings, and activities for which a permit will always be required. Our goal is to streamline processes and provide greater certainty while protecting the environment, and we have engaged with indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, and other stakeholders to make sure that we capture the right kind of projects under this designated project list.

Habitat loss and degradation and changes to fish passage and flow rates are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine fish habitats in Canada. It is imperative for Canada to restore degraded fish habitats. That is why amendments to the Fisheries Act include the consideration of restoration as a part of project decision-making.

One message that we heard clearly when we engaged Canadians in developing this bill was that much of the public trust in government was lost through the 2012 changes. Throughout the review of the changes to the Fisheries Act, a common message received was the need for improved access to information on the government's activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat as well as access to project decisions and information. We listened and we introduced amendments to establish a public registry, which will enable transparency and open access. This registry will allow Canadians to see whether their government is meeting its obligations and to hold us accountable for federal decision-making with regard to the protection of our marine ecosystems. The new considerations under the amendments to the Fisheries Act seek to more clearly guide the responsibility of theMinister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions.

The addition of new purpose and consideration provisions 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.

As we all know, fisheries resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous peoples. Respect for the rights of indigenous peoples of Canada, as well as taking into account their unique interest 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 relationships with indigenous peoples.

Amendments to the Fisheries Act include 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 and supporting our international commitment to protect at least 10% of our marine and coastal areas by 2020.

As I mentioned earlier, our government has reached out to Canadians in developing this 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 listened to environmental groups and adopted measures aimed at rebuilding depleted fish stocks by requiring decisions affecting a stock in the critical zone to consider whether measures are in place aimed at rebuilding the stock and when habitat degradation is a factor in the decline of the stock, whether measures will be in place to restore such habitat. We have presented in this bill the appropriate safeguards to sustain the health of our oceans and fisheries for our future generations.

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

Over 72,000 Canadians make their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities. Many are middle-class, self-employed, inshore harvesters. The minister has been clear on his commitment to make inshore independence more effective. Amendments speak to a specific authority in the Fisheries Act, rather than policy, to develop regulations supporting the independence of the inshore commercial licence-holders and will enshrine into legislation the ability to make regulations regarding the owner-operator and fleet separation policies in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

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 and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Since 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 and coasts, and fish for generations to come. I urge all hon. members on both sides of the House to join with me in supporting the bill.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to apologize to the House for my excitement. I am excited when we are talking about Bill C-68 and anything to do with fisheries. However, as our hon. colleague was speaking, a player who I coached in my community of Prince George, Brett Connolly, and his Washington Capitals just won the Stanley Cup. I am very happy for one of our players. He is a great kid.

I may not get a chance to congratulate him, but maybe our hon. colleagues could join me in actually wishing Brett Connolly and the Washington Capitals congratulations.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Mr. Speaker, my congratulations to any Capitals fans out there.

Today, we are discussing Bill C-68. It is interesting. For the last month or so, I have been answering these unsubstantiated claims in the House on the surf clam issue. In fact, the member opposite found a way to bring it up on a previous bill we were debating some 10 to 15 minutes ago.

I understand why the Conservatives do not want to talk about the improvements we are making to the Fisheries Act, because this is broadly supported by Canadians. The reason it is broadly supported by Canadians is because we consulted broadly, from coast to coast to coast. Canadians are proud of the fact that we are restoring protections, that we are installing modern safeguards, that we are taking steps to bring in hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new marine protections to ensure those 72,000 jobs, those middle-class jobs that are provided in the fishing industry right across the country, grow to maybe 100,000 jobs or 150,000 jobs.

That is what this government is focused on, and that is what we will continue to focus on.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-68 would restore lost protections, including the HADD protections, and it would strengthen the role of indigenous communities.

When I was first made Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, one of the things I did in my first summer was make sure that I went out and visited as many indigenous communities as I could get to. Most indigenous communities had not had a parliamentary secretary or a minister of fisheries and oceans visit for maybe one or two generations, if at all.

This legislation would strengthen the role of indigenous communities. It would provide an increased role in decision-making, policy-making, and monitoring. It would go right alongside our investments in indigenous communities, including $250 million to give more indigenous communities access to the fisheries. That is going to cause generational changes that will be very positive for all Canadians, especially indigenous communities.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to be one of the British Columbians to whom my friend referred. It seems this is a fully British Columbian night.

I am proud to speak in support of Bill C-68. I want to salute the enormous work and contribution made by our fisheries critic, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. This bill goes a long way toward restoring lost protections to the Fisheries Act and introducing some modern safeguards.

We believe that the legislation to restore the HADD prohibition, which is the prohibition against harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction, should have been introduced immediately following the last federal election. Then we could have been working together to modernize the act from there. However, we did not see that from the Liberals. Therefore, the modernization that we could have supported earlier took a bit of time to get in place, and of course we still have to enact it. I believe that Bill C-68 is okay, although it could have been a lot better, for reasons I will explain.

We introduced a series of amendments to further strengthen the Fisheries Act. Although we were successful in seeing a couple of them pass, the ones that were defeated were also important, for reasons I will come to. They would have strengthened the act and had positive impacts on the health and sustainability of the fish populations and their habitats for generations to come.

Bill C-68 restores much of what was lost under the changes made by the previous Conservative government in 2012, and it introduces a number of positive provisions that we support. I would like to talk about those before I come to some of the deficiencies, in our view.

First, returning the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat, and its applicability to all native fish and fisheries, as well as the prohibition on causing death of fish by means other than fishing, were critical. The fact that they were restored is an excellent feature of this bill.

Second, including in the act key provisions to strengthen how it is interpreted is important, such as a purpose statement, along with considerations for decision-making and factors to inform the making of regulations under this bill that reflect key sustainability principles.

Third, the bill introduces provisions that address the rebuilding of depleted fish populations. We talked about that earlier.

Fourth, it would establish a public registry to support the assessment of cumulative effects and to enhance the transparency of decision-making.

Fifth, strengthening provisions with respect to ecologically significant areas would move us from concept to action, at last.

Sixth, there is greater recognition of indigenous rights and knowledge, particularly in light of the historic commitment of the House in Bill C-262 to enshrine the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Finally, the fact that there is going to be a statutorily mandated review every five years is also an important evergreen provision in this bill.

The bill was amended at committee. One of the important amendments was the rebuilding of fish stocks section, because the core function of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is to manage our fish populations for the long term so that we have a sustainable fishery. That is what this is all about. If they are not at a sustainable level, we will not be able to allocate the fish because we will not have the fish to allocate. That is obviously important. For the first time in 150 years, Bill C-68 recognizes the importance of rebuilding overfished stocks by creating a legal duty to develop plans aimed at moving stocks out of a critical zone. I think that this is really important, if, as I suggested earlier, regulations are actually made to do the work that is necessary.

These are welcome and long overdue. I think we have to be sober about the state of our fisheries. Since 1970, over half of the biomass of our fisheries has disappeared. By some estimates, only slightly more than one third of our stocks are still considered healthy in this country. At least 21 of Canada's fish stocks are in the critical zone, and our fishing industry is precariously balanced on the continued abundance of only a few species.

Therefore, these changes are important, and I salute the government for bringing them in. However, I also have to flag some concerns. First, the minister can make exceptions to these requirements under certain conditions. We have to make sure that this discretion to exempt fish stocks does not get abused. Second, the law only applies to what are defined as “major fish stocks”, a phrase that will only be defined in future regulations. This creates a situation in which the government could circumvent the intent of the legislation by dragging its heels indefinitely on adding fish stocks to the regulations, thereby not requiring sustainable management measures or a rebuilding plan. These concerns were raised by my colleague at the fisheries committee, and I want to put them on the record again this evening.

The NDP introduced a number of amendments to Bill C-68, 22 of them to be exact. A few of those improvements are still valid. First, the NDP submitted amendments to broaden the information base so that the public registry captures all projects, and to ensure compensation for the residual harm to fish habitat caused by small or low-risk projects. Those amendments, unfortunately, were defeated.

Second, explicit protection for environmental flows and fish passages was an issue, and we proposed amendments to strengthen those provisions for the free passage of fish and for securing the environmental flows needed to protect fish and fish habitat. I am happy to say they were passed at committee and are part of the bill.

Third, I have already alluded to the recognition of indigenous rights and knowledge. The committee heard testimony, for example, from Matt Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. New Democrats believe that reconciliation should be a part of all legislation. A true nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples, consistent with our Constitution, should be fully embraced and reflected in the Fisheries Act. The amendments along those lines were defeated.

Fourth, on measures to increase transparency and accountability, the committee heard eloquent testimony from Linda Nowlan from West Coast Environmental Law, who made some great suggestions to increase transparency and accountability. The NDP made amendments to that effect, but they were all defeated.

Fifth, provisions to apply owner-operator and fleet separation policies to all coasts were proposed. Some of the most compelling testimony we heard was from young fishers from the west coast, and yet the section in the act talks about an independent inshore commercial fishery as being in “Atlantic Canada and Quebec”. Canada's New Democrats fully support putting owner-operator and fleet separation policies in the Fisheries Act, but we wonder why we did not do the same thing for our Pacific coast. First nations and independent fishermen on the west coast want the same policy as Atlantic Canada. New Democrats moved an amendment to open that door, but the door was closed and the amendment was defeated.

I want to make one further point before I conclude. We support the bill. We recognize the need to protect fish habitat, but I cannot let the opportunity go by of talking about the impact that the Kinder Morgan, now Government of Canada, tanker project will have, and the possibility of its destroying, with a devastating spill of diluted bitumen, the essential habitat and aquatic ecosystems that our fish depend on.