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

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Victoria asked, and as the good book says, “Ask and you will receive”. We have a member from Alberta here, standing to represent another province in this great debate.

I hope members will indulge me while I quickly mention my friends and colleagues, Andrea Khanjin, Lindsey Park, and David Piccini, who won their seats this evening in the Ontario election. It was a pleasure serving with them in Ottawa and knowing them as friends. I am very proud of them tonight, and I want them to know that.

I rise to speak on Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act. For my whole life, from the Fraser River all the way to Ontario's Rideau Lakes, my passion for fish, fishing, and preserving and sustaining fish stocks is very important to me. I am passionate about preserving and sustaining fish and fish habitat, but I see little reason to support Bill C-68, a flawed bill that will over-regulate and would solve a problem that does not really exist.

Canada has strong protections in place to ensure the preservation of fish and fish habitats, but there is always room for improvement. However, the Liberal government has rejected any amendments from the committee, amendments that would ensure the best legislation for Canadians.

The government introduced Bill C-68, which introduces a number of changes to the Fisheries Act. However, it ignores some of the major findings from a report from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that was presented to the House of Commons in February 2017. On September 19, 2016, the fisheries committee, including Liberal members, agreed to the following motion. They would:

...review and study the scope of the 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 in 2016, before presenting this report to the House of Commons in February 2017. Overall, the committee heard from 50 different witnesses during the study and received over 188 submissions and briefing notes. It was a comprehensive study, which, if the government were truly committed to strengthening the role of committees in this Parliament, would have formed the basis for Bill C-68. However, Bill C-68 essentially ignores the committee's report, including one of the most important recommendations contained in the report. This recommendation stated:

Any revision of the Fisheries Act should review and refine the previous definition of HADD 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 testimony from 50 witnesses and briefing notes from more than 180 associations, groups, and individuals, it was agreed that a return to HADD was undesirable and that should the government return to HADD, it needed to be refined and further reviewed. However, Bill C-68 ignores the recommendation completely and introduces a return to HADD.

Now HADD is referred to in 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 is harmful, alters, disrupts, or destroys any fish habitat could be stopped or not approved by the government.

I have friends who have personally experienced the overzealous regulation of the Department of Fisheries in its enforcement of HADD. A dear friend of mine, who has played a senior role in the air cadets in western Canada, told me of how much trouble he had dealing with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans a number of years ago before the Conservatives made reforms. My friend needed to renovate a firing range for the air cadets. This was a public range that was used by private individuals and the air cadets to practice. He was required by new government regulations to renovate this range in order to make it live up to the codes that the government had set for it.

In the process of dealing with this one set of government regulations, he quickly ran afoul of another set of government regulations. Every spring, during the snow melt, a small stream would form and run straight through the range. For 10 months of the year, one could hardly tell that a stream existed. There was no water, as it would dry up. However, once DFO officials got involved, they discovered traces of a common fish that could have been in the stream. They immediately halted the renovations to the gun range, which had operated for decades, because of the possibility that a fish habitat existed on the range. It could only have been there for less than two months of the year, because that is the only time there was water.

Because they were not able to renovate the range because of these old DFO regulations the Conservatives had removed, they were unable to recertify the range. Effectively, they shut down the range, depriving air cadets and private individuals of a facility necessary for their training and improvement.

That is a personal story of how some regulations, although they are intended to do good things, can really impact the everyday activities of Canadians in a way that does not really achieve the accomplishment. That is why we need to review and make clear what HADD really means.

As the committee report noted, this section was applied inconsistently and was oftentimes very unclear. Developers were often bogged down in battles over what constituted fish development, and it was an inconsistent roadblock for projects. Therefore, in 2012, the Conservative government removed HADD provisions and replaced them with the following:

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.

That is a very broad way of putting it. It captures a lot of the environmental effects, but it also introduces a certain level of judgment. There is a balance between the environment and the economy, and when we have that judgment, we just cannot have something that says that nothing will be done if it does any harm to fish. We need to look at whether it is a serious harm or not. When we introduce that level of judgment, it allows us to get to the best decisions.

This previous Conservative law had a very clear and more universally accepted interpretation. It was accepted, and it struck an important balance between development and conservation. I submit that this is the right balance.

The committee report we did together with the government recognized this by cautioning against a return to HADD provisions. However, although the Liberals want to talk a big game about empowering committees, they ignored this recommendation.

The consultation was done for the government. As I said earlier, there were more than 50 witnesses at the committee and more than 180 submissions. All the Liberals needed to do was read the report, and they would have seen in black and white that a return to HADD provisions was not favourable among stakeholders. Not one single individual or organization was able to present the committee with any scientific proof of harm that resulted from the elimination of HADD in the 2012 legislation. Therefore, I think we must assume that the 2012 legislation was working quite well.

The government refused to listen to a committee and rejected all the amendments. The government's approach to legislative, regulatory, and policy frameworks governing infrastructure projects, from a gun range to the way local farmers manage their property, will cause competitive disadvantages for Canadian companies across Canada and a massive regulatory headache for everyday Canadians.

We will not have a chance to make the necessary adjustments on this side of the House, but I urge our colleagues in the other place to take a long, serious look at Bill C-68 and make any necessary recommendations to this flawed legislation.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
See context

Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech intently, particularly the story about the gun range. We heard similar stories about fields and drainage ditches and the like.

We know that industry wants certainty on their timelines and on their requirements. We also know that we have to start addressing cumulative effects, because we know that the effects of many small projects can be just as significant as the effect of one large project. To balance this, we have developed what we call codes of practice. Does the member opposite support the codes of practice as laid out in Bill C-68?

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to speak to Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act, a lengthy bill that would have a number of impacts on fisheries and fish stocks across Canada. The bill would also have wide-ranging implications for economic development for farmers, rural municipalities, and others.

I am from an Ontario riding. While members may not think there are a lot of fish in Ontario, we have a thriving fishing industry in the Great Lakes and also in many of our smaller communities. In fact, right down the road from my farm is a fish hatchery that supplies fingerlings across the world. Fish and fish habitat is important to all of us in Ontario as well.

It is my understanding that the fisheries and oceans committee conducted a full study of the 2012 changes made to the Fisheries Act, and conducted a full study of changes brought in by Bill C-68. I would like to focus most of my comments on the testimony heard during the committee's study of the 2012 changes.

The committee started its study in October 2016 and presented a report to the House in February 2017. The committee heard from 50 different witnesses during the study and received over 188 submitted briefing notes. It was a very comprehensive study, and it would have been a useful tool for the government to use when it was drafting this legislation.

The study looked directly at the changes that the previous government, our Conservative government, made in 2012 to the Fisheries Act, changes that significantly improved it.

One of the significant changes that was made in 2012 was a shift away from what was commonly referred to as HADD, which stands for “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat”. It is contained within subsection 35(1) of the bill where it is stated, “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 seen to be harmful to, altering, disrupting or destroying fish habitats would be subject to an immense amount of review and red tape, and could be stopped or completely prohibited.

It is unclear, however, about what constituted a fish habitat. It was found that the DFO applied this definition in a inconsistent manner, and others played fast and loose with this term and used it broadly to apply to waterways that really had no impact at all on fish stocks. The system was ineffective and was a nightmare for development. Worst of all, after all this red tape and bureaucratic interference, it had no measurable success in protecting or preserving fish populations.

The changes in 2012 brought in a much simpler and effective definition to ensure fish were protected but that reasonable projects could still move forward. The definition at that time was “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 is much more effective and provides certainty and clarity for developers, for farmers, for fishermen, for first nations, and for others.

In the report from the fisheries and oceans committee, the third recommendation stated, “Any revision of the Fisheries Act should review and refine the previous definition of HADD due to the previous definition’s vulnerability to being applied in an inconsistent manner”. This is the heart of why HADD was changed in 2012. It was applied in such an inconsistent and subjective manner. The recommendation went on to say, “and the limiting effect it had on government agencies in their management of fisheries and habitats in the interest of fish productivity.”

I am confused as to why we are now seeing what looks to be a return to HADD in Bill C-68. It does not make any sense. The committee testimony is there in black and white, and it was heard time and again when the committee studied Bill C-68.

We all know that when the previous government brought in the 2012 changes, environmental associations and others threw their hands up in the air and screamed that these changes would be the death of all fish in Canada. However, the proof is just not there.

It is my fear here that the government is simply returning to the pre-2012 provisions to appease these groups.

One impact that is not always clear to many is the impact that farmers face due to the Fisheries Act, and it will be 10 times worse under a system that uses the HADD definition. When farmers are looking to expand their farm or develop their farmland, they can get caught up in reviews of their projects under the Fisheries Act. A return to HADD would make the lives of farmers much more difficult.

When testifying before the committee, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture stated that prior to 2012 there were “lengthy bureaucratic applications for permitting and authorizations”, but the 2012 changes “drastically improved the timeliness and cost of conducting regular maintenance and improvement of activities to their farm.”

That is so crucial, because farmers can get caught up in this red tape and actually be prevented from moving forward with improving their farmland or construction of buildings.

The CFA expanded on this by stating that:

It is CFA's position that a complete revert to reinstate all provisions of the Fisheries Act as they were would be unproductive, would re-establish the same problems for farmers, and would provide little improvement....

This was again reiterated during the study of Bill C-68 at the fisheries and oceans committee.

Farmers do not want to return to a pre-2012 system. In fact, no one but those who oppose development want a return to the pre-2012 system. The government should stop catering to these interest groups and abandon this plan.

It is not just farmers who have concerns, though. The Canadian Electricity Association has said that Bill C-68 is “one step forward but two steps back.”

They went on to state:

CEA is particularly concerned that the government has chosen to return to pre-2012 provisions of the Fisheries Act that address 'activity other than fishing that results in the death of fish, and the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat. In practical terms, this means that virtually any action, without prior authorization, could be construed as being in contravention of this Act. Consequently, the reinstatement of these measures will result in greater uncertainties for existing and new...energy projects that directly support Canada's clean growth agenda and realize its climate change objectives.

To make a long story short, this is bad news for Canadian development and will have no positive impact on the protection of fish populations in Canada.

The government had an opportunity to make this legislation work when it was offered reasonable amendments during the committee clause-by-clause study. Unfortunately, again, as in so many instances when the Liberals talk about being open and amenable to amendments, when it comes to the actual committee work, committee members are always overpowered by the majority of Liberals on the committee, who refused the amendments.

As we have witnessed time and again, the Liberals do not care about rural Canadians or development. I only hope Canadians will listen to our message of positive change and send them packing next October.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act. Before I get into the bill itself, I want to share with the House that my riding has various communities that benefit directly from fisheries. We have the Eastern Passage area, which is a very big community focused on fishing, and then we have other communities as we move down toward the eastern shore. Down in Seaforth and then into Chezzetcook we see all kinds of fishing taking place.

This is a very important bill, because we need to make sure we restore the protections that were cut back in 2012 by the former Conservative government. One wonders why those cuts were made. It is obvious, in the three years I have been here, that the Conservatives had a lot of difficulty balancing investment in the economy and the environment, which is so crucial.

The Conservatives moved forward to make those changes. It is important to know how they made those changes. Did they consult? Did they check with the fishers? Did they consult with environmentalists? Did they consult with the various coastal areas and harbours? No, they put it into an omnibus bill so that it was hidden. There was no consultation, and they just put it in there to slide it through and make cuts to various protections for the fisheries. It affected all the coastal communities, as well as the environment, and people had no opportunity to express themselves in any way, shape, or form.

However, this government took a very different approach. We consulted with Canadians. All Canadians had the opportunity to participate in this consultation. We also had two round tables, where Canadians could participate and offer their advice, suggestions, and comments. They could share some of the key areas where they had concerns.

Furthermore, our Minister of Fisheries suggested to the permanent committee on fisheries that it could have various witnesses come in and share their opinions on this important topic. This exercise allowed for 32 more recommendations to come forward. All those consultations and the feedback from Canadians in various forums allowed the minister, his staff, and the government to put forward legislation that would solidly ensure that we are protecting our fisheries and that we have some standards and safeguards in place, but also that we can do business, which is crucial for our economy.

We have invested over $284 million in that initiative. We have invested as well in the ocean supercluster. We have invested $1.5 billion in the oceans protection plan, and $325 million in the Atlantic fisheries fund. That is a clear indication.

I would like to point out that these cuts were comparable to all of the other cuts made by the Conservative government, such as those that weakened our official language communities.

I will go back to the first point, which is the restoration of these protections to ensure that we are protecting our fish and fish habitats, which is crucial to protecting the resource. That resource is precious and important to all Canadians. We benefit from that resource, and we cannot afford not to protect it. In the House, not too long ago, I presented a petition from my constituents Blair Eavis and Walter Regan about the conservation funding for the partnership program, which is important to continue as well.

Also in the legislation are some guidelines about issuing permits. There have to be guidelines, and they are very important. If it is a major project, we have to have a permit process. If it is a small project, then we would basically have a code of practice. This would actually help the industry, because the people in the industry would know there is a process in place. If they are going to bid on projects, they would know that these steps need to be taken, and therefore they would consider that when they put out bids. That is important, but it was not in place in the process.

When the minister considers issuing those permits, he has to consider what effect that would have on the fishing industry and the habitat, and whether there are alternate ways we could do these types of projects to ensure that we are balancing the economy, our resources, and the environment, which the Conservatives never did. That is a crucial issue that the past government did not do.

The minister would also be responsible for ensuring that the fish stocks are not depleted, and if they are depleted there has to be a plan in place to replenish that industry, because it is crucial. That is what it is all about: monitoring and making sure that we are safeguarding our resource, which is crucial.

To go further and continue with the transparency that our government has put forward since the beginning, we would have an official public registry. That registry would show what plans are in place to support, protect, and safeguard our industry. That would be public, so people would be able to see the plans and give feedback on those plans, which is crucial. Also, in that public registry we would see any permits that were issued, and on what conditions.

We would also see, which is very important, any agreements that may have been signed between the federal government and the provinces or the indigenous peoples. That is crucial. There is a very important piece about indigenous peoples' rights in this legislation, which was not considered by the past government in the last 10 years prior to our being here. This is what open and transparent government will bring, and we have done that on many occasions. Of course, we also had the political financing, which is another transparency legislation that we brought forward. There is access to information as well and the mandate letters that were made public. They were made public so that people would have an opportunity to speak on those issues.

This bill, to amend the Fisheries Act, would allow us to keep the fishery strong, but also to ensure that the environment is safe for a long, long time. These changes were crucial, and I am very proud of our government's commitment and our promise to move forward on this issue. In only two years, we are here with this legislation, which is extremely important.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, and express gratitude to them for their generosity and patience. Meegwetch.

I also want to thank the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook for sharing his time with me, and acknowledge this shows a spirit of respect toward opposition benches from the current Liberal government. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak, although I still must object to the use of time allocation and reducing time for debate in this place. However, the respect shown in shortening time but still allowing a member such as me to have at least one crack in second reading to this very important legislation is appreciated. It is particularly appreciated when I stand to speak, with shared time from a Liberal member, with the intention of attacking Liberal legislation, which I have done recently with shared time.

Today is a different occasion. Bill C-68 would repair the damage done to the Fisheries Act under former budget implementation omnibus bill, Bill C-38, in the spring of 2012, as the hon. member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook was just referencing. This bill goes a long way. Within the ambit of what the Minister of Fisheries can do, it would repair the damage done by omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, in relation to the Fisheries Act. I want to speak to that, as well as the one aspect where it would not fully repair the damage.

This is definitely a historic piece of legislation. The Fisheries Act was brought in under Sir John A. Macdonald. Canada has had a fisheries act for 150 years. That act traditionally dealt with what is constitutionally enshrined as federal jurisdiction over fish, and some people may wonder where the environment landed in the Constitution of Canada and the British North America Act. Where was the environment? The fish are federal. The water is provincial if it is fresh water, and federal if it is ocean water, so there has always been a mixed jurisdiction over the environment.

Over fish, there has been no question. Fish are federal. In the early 1980s, this act received a significant improvement, which was to recognize that fish move around and they cannot be protected without protecting their habitat. The Fisheries Act was modernized with a real degree of environmental protection. It had always been a strong piece of environmental legislation, because if we protect fish then we tend to protect everything around them.

In this case, the Fisheries Act was improved in the early eighties by a former minister of fisheries, who by accident of history, happened to be the father of the current Minister of Fisheries. It was the Right. Hon. Roméo LeBlanc. We use the term “right honourable” because he went on to be our Governor General. He amended the Fisheries Act in the 1980s to include protection of fish habitat, requiring a permit from the federal Minister of Fisheries if that habitat was either temporarily or permanently harmed or damaged. This piece of legislation is the significant pillar upon which much of Canada's environmental regulation rested.

What happened in Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012 was a travesty that remains in the annals of parliamentary history as the single worst offence against environmental legislation and protection by any government ever. It was followed up with a second omnibus budget bill in the fall of 2012, Bill C-45, which took an axe to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. In the spring, Bill C-38 repealed the Environmental Assessment Act and replaced it with a bogus act, which I will return to and discuss. Bill C-38 also repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, the National Roundtable on Environment and the Economy, and gutted the Fisheries Act.

Rather than go on about that, the hon. member who was just speaking referenced the changes made. I can tell people some of the changes that were made, and I was so pleased to see them repealed. When one opens a copy of Bill C-68, the first thing one sees is subclause 1(1), “The definitions commercial, Indigenous and recreational in subsection 2(1) of the Fisheries Act are repealed.” This is not a scientific thing. This is what Bill C-38 did to our Fisheries Act. Fish were no longer fish. They were only fish if they were commercial, indigenous, or recreational. That language came straight from a brief from industry. It did not come from civil servants within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It came from the Canadian Electricity Association. That is repealed.

This bill would bring back protections for habitat. It goes back to looking at some of the foundational pieces of how the Fisheries Act is supposed to work, and then it goes farther.

I have to say I was really surprised and pleased to find in the bill, for the first time ever, that the Fisheries Act will now prohibit the taking into captivity of whales. That was a very nice surprise. It is proposed section 23.1. I asked the minister the other day in debate if he would be prepared to expand this section with amendments, because over on the Senate side, the bill that was introduced by retired Senator Wilfred Moore and is currently sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair, and I would be the sponsor of this bill if it ever makes it to the House, Bill S-203, would not only ban the taking of whales into captivity but the keeping of whales in captivity. I am hoping when this bill gets to the fisheries committee. We might be able to expand that section and amend it so that we can move ahead with the protection of whales.

This bill is also forward-looking by introducing more biodiversity provisions and the designation of areas as ecologically sensitive, work that can continue to expand the protection of our fisheries.

I will turn to where there are gaps. Because I completely support this bill, while I do hope for a few amendments, they come down to being tweaks.

Where does this bill fail to repair the damage of Bill C-38? It is in a part that is beyond the ability of the Minister of Fisheries to fix. That is the part about why Harper aimed at the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and the Environmental Assessment Act.

There was not random violence in this vandalism; it was quite focused. It was focused on destroying the environmental assessment process so that we would no longer be reviewing 4,000 projects a year. Of those 4,000 projects a year that were reviewed under our former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, most of them, about 95% of them, were reviewed through screenings that were paper exercises, that did not engage hearings, and so forth. However, it did mean that, at a very preliminary level, if there was a problem with a project, a red flag could go up, and it could be booted up for further study.

There is a reason that the Fisheries Act habitat provisions were repealed. They were one of the sections listed in our former Environmental Assessment Act under what was called the “law list”, where a minister giving a permit under section 35 of our former Fisheries Act automatically triggered that the decision was subject to an environmental assessment.

Similarly, why did the former government take a hatchet to the Navigable Waters Protection Act? Like the Fisheries Act, it is an act we have had around for a long time, since 1881. It was not an act that had impeded the development of Canada or we would never have had a railroad. Since 1881, we have had the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The previous government took a real axe to it. The current Minister of Transport has gone a long way toward fixing it under one portion of Bill C-69.

This is why. Navigable waters permits also were a trigger under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Do members see where I am going here? This was synchronized action. It was not random.

The current government has pledged to fix all of the damage done by the previous government to environmental laws. Where the failure to fix things is evident is in what is called the “impact assessment act” in Bill C-69. It has abandoned the concept of a law list altogether. It has abandoned the concept of having permits and environmental assessments required whenever federal money is engaged. In other words, the Harper imprint of going from 4,000 projects reviewed a year to a couple of dozen will remain the law of the land without significant improvement to Bill C-69. In particular, the decisions the Minister of Fisheries makes should be subject to an EA, just as the decisions of the Minister of Transport should be subject.

In my last minute, I want to turn our attention to something I hope the Minister of Fisheries will take up next, because he is doing a great job. I hope he will take up looking at open-pen salmon aquaculture. It must end. It is a threat to our wild salmon fishery on the Pacific coast. It is a threat to the depleted wild Atlantic salmon stocks on the Atlantic coast, where I am originally from. There is no Atlantic salmon fishery because it has been destroyed. However, there are still Atlantic salmon, which could restore themselves if they did not have to compete with the escapement of Atlantic salmon from fish farms in Atlantic Canada, and the destruction of habitat by those farms. On the west coast, these are not even indigenous species that are escaping and threatening our wild salmon.

Let us close down open-pen fisheries, give aquaculture to the Minister of Agriculture, have fish in swimming pools on land, and let the Minister of Fisheries protect our coastal ecosystems.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak to Bill C-68.

Bill C-68, from a policy perspective, is another piece of unnecessary legislation aimed at making Canadians feel good. It is filled with fluff. It is all about pandering to environmental groups. It is all about making sure that those that backed the Liberals in the 2015 election get their due, much as what we heard earlier when the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook spoke.

If those who are in the audience were falling asleep previously, they should stay tuned, because I promise it is about to get more lively in the short period of time that I have to speak.

The member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook talked about how proud he is of the government investing in fisheries and investing in areas within his region. His own family has just received a lucrative surf clam quota worth hundreds of millions of dollars. People heard that correctly. I am looking right at the camera and I am going to say that again. The brother of the Liberal member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook just received a lucrative surf clam quota worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and all on a bid that has lots of questions about it.

Therefore, I would beg to differ in terms of some of the points that have been put forward about being open and transparent, and how the minister seems to be doing the right thing. Well, he is spending a lot of money; there is no two ways about it. He is spending a lot of money, but is value going to come out of that money? Who is benefiting from the money that is being spent? I would hesitate to say that Bill C-68 is going to be the stopgap for the changes the government is putting forth that it says are going to have such a profound impact on our waterways and our fisheries.

I sit on the fisheries committee. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard has been before us numerous times. We heard just last week that our northern cod is at near decimated levels. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard likes to throw money at things, but it does not like to throw money at things that are going to have an impact on those who are in the communities. It has not done anything that is going to help create more fish so that we have fish not only for today, but for the future.

The Liberals say that former Prime Minister Harper absolutely gutted the Fisheries Act. I will be the first to admit that the Fisheries Act has been around for 150 years. Maybe it needed some modernization, but the changes the government has put forward are more fluff than anything else.

As a matter of fact, numerous witnesses came before the committee, including academics, environmental groups, or NGOs that are a steady stream into the minister's office. We had local fishers and people in those communities who said that with the Conservatives at least they knew they had the ear of the ministers. Now they have to go through the NGOs to get to the ministers, because the ministers place greater importance on the NGOs than on those who actually matter the most, the communities and the Canadians that the policy impacts the most.

It is interesting that the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Fisheries stood up to talk about the surf clam and said that it was all about reconciliation, yet the winning bid had no first nations, no multiple first nations partners. This was a critical component of the bid criteria. There were no first nations partners, until after the bid was announced.

Three weeks later, there was an announcement of the first nations that were there. The bid actually included just placeholders, which said, “Hey, trust us, we'll get that done”. Guess what? The brother of that member of Parliament, or the group that got the bid, was not even incorporated. It was not even a legal entity. It did not have a boat, a vessel, and did not have a facility to do this.

This leads people to believe that this just does not smell right. As a matter of fact, it sounds very corrupt. Therefore, it is very rich to have that member of Parliament stand in the House and preach about his open and transparent government that he is so proud of. Obviously, he is proud of it, because his family is benefiting from a quota worth hundreds of millions of dollars. That is unacceptable.

As we know, it is open and transparent if one is a Liberal insider or family member, and one would get the appointment. If one is a Liberal insider or family member, one would get the job. If one is a Liberal insider or family member, guess what? One would get the quota. That is what we are seeing.

Today, with Bill C-68, it is interesting that people are saying that Prime Minister Harper absolutely decimated the fishery. I will tell members that this is more of an attack on Prime Minister Harper by folks who dislike him than it is on his policy. That is shameful. Not one witness who came to our committee to testify on this could demonstrate any loss of fish habitat because of what was done in 2012, and that includes academics, environmental groups, fishers, and industry experts. Conservatives want to make sure that we have the appropriate balance between the economy and the environment. We do not want to see our rivers, lakes, and streams ruined.

I am a hunter and a fisher. My family has farmed, logged, fished, and hunted our property in the Cariboo Chilcotin for generations. We want to make sure it is there for future generations. It is shameful how we get this holier-than-thou attitude when all the Liberals are doing is pandering to special interest groups.

Members can tell I am a little heated, and I will tell them why. I was in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, earlier this week and I talked with Edgar, Brenda, Barbara, Bernice, Barry, Tom, and Kevin. I talked with people who are impacted by the policy decisions that the minister has made, which impact that community. With 300 years of fishing history, they have had their ups and downs, but they have had consistent economic viability. They have been okay for about 27 years in terms of the surf clam fishery.

This arbitrary decision to take away 25% of the quota from that community is not acceptable. They are going to see job losses. Edgar told us that he does not want to go on EI. He wants a job. He had 52 weeks of work this year, and with this decision, it looks like he will lose 17 weeks of work. He does not want EI. He wants to work. We heard that time and time again.

Shamefully, it seems that the minister is more intent on looking after his Liberal family and friends than the families of Grand Bank. It is disappointing and, frankly, it is shameful.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 29th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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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 the House will continue second reading debate of Bill C-68 concerning the Fisheries Act. The House will then adjourn for the Easter break and allow members to return to work in their constituencies and also spend some time with family and friends.

Upon our return on April 16, we will commence second reading debate on Bill C-74, the budget implementation act, and continue that debate for the remainder of the week.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all my colleagues, their families, and everyone who works and helps us in this place a happy Easter and a pleasant break.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that open-ended question which allows me to continue with my earlier remarks.

One of the main pillars of our election campaign was to revisit the nature in which environmental assessment and protection of our natural resources are undertaken in Canada. In that context, there was a review of transportation, natural resources, environment and climate change, and also the Fisheries Act. When I look at Bill C-68, I consider it in the context of changes that are also put forward with respect to CEAA . I look at it in the context of the broader national consultation that was undertaken with the NEB, the offshore petroleum boards, the CEAA process generally, and of course our international obligations and our commitment to protect 10% of offshore resources under our Aichi targets.

This is really a national undertaking. When people think of fisheries in Canada they think of the north, British Columbia, the Great Lakes, Quebec, the maritime provinces, and then of course Newfoundland and Labrador. It is really the sum of what makes Canadians Canadians in understanding that we have a place in the world, that we have a role in protecting our natural resources. There are changes in this legislation that would both allow us to protect our national resources and also to develop them sustainably so we can enjoy the high standard of living that we have.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, this is a day that the citizens of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country have been working toward and waiting for. Bill C-68 is an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence. The consultation effort itself has strengthened engagement with Canadians, enhanced transparency in fisheries activities, and improved the health of fish and fish habitat, and we are just getting started.

This new legislation and our debate will go a long way to help restore and strengthen the public trust so badly damaged by the previous government with regard to the Fisheries Act. In 2016, our government initiated a consultation process that engaged thousands of Canadians. Citizens expressed grave concern about lost protections. They spoke out about the importance of science and academic freedom. Indigenous peoples offered voices of experience, traditional knowledge, and ways of working together that we have been missing. Commercial fishers said they wanted to be included in decision-making.

The amendments we are debating today fundamentally recognize that decisions must be guided by the principles of sustainability, by the precautionary principle, and by an ecosystem management approach. This provides hope to many British Columbians for whom Roderick Haig-Brown, named in Campbell River this summer as a person of national significance to Canada, is a source of inspiration, a guide, and a mentor. He wrote:

The salmon runs are, in truth, the wealth of the Pacific Ocean brought readily back to the hand and use of man. For his part, man has used them and abused them, injured and restored them. He knows enough to multiply them even beyond their original abundance—and he is threatening them with total destruction.

Haig-Brown wrote this in 1959, almost 60 years ago. I take his words very seriously.

Fundamental to a robust Fisheries Act, important amendments include protection for all fish and fish habitats, at last, restoring the previous prohibition against harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, known as HADD. These protections were taken as immutable, and yet they were stricken from the legislation in an act of callous disregard by the previous government. l am very grateful to the many who fought for this to be put back into the Fisheries Act.

Other important amendments include that indigenous traditional knowledge would inform decisions that impact habitat. The legislation would strengthen the role of indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring, and policy development, and will honour traditional knowledge. It would put short-term measures in place to respond to threats to fish that may suddenly arise. It would restore a prohibition against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing. It would provide full transparency for projects, including a public registry of projects.

The legislation promotes restoration of degraded habitat and the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks, and strengthens the long-term protection of marine refuges. The bill clarifies and updates enforcement powers to address emerging fisheries issues and to align current provisions in other legislation.

Bill C-68 demonstrates that our government is proactive in protecting wild salmon stocks and the diversity of fish and fish habitat in Canada. It is vital that we support and pass this legislation. We need every aspect of Bill C-68 badly. We also need to look ahead and be visionary by drafting a separate but related national aquaculture act. A national aquaculture act would facilitate a regional approach to aquaculture and should include how we can transition away from open net pens to closed containment salmon aquaculture on the west coast of Canada.

In collaboration with indigenous peoples, the Government of British Columbia, hundreds of stewardship groups, and industry, a national aquaculture act would provide a way to ensure an increasingly profitable and productive aquaculture industry.

On behalf of many on the west coast, I am here to represent the view that it is time to transition British Columbia's open net pen salmon aquaculture industry to closed containment. Momentum is gathering globally and close to home to develop a profitable, productive aquaculture system and sector through closed containment.

In Washington state, a bill has just passed through the state Senate to phase out open net salmon aquaculture by 2025. As licences expire, they are not being renewed. If an operation is in violation of the lease, it is shut down. Senator Kevin Ranker introduced the bill. I spoke with him, and he said he had never seen anything like the support that came together from all 29 treaty tribes in the state, commercial fishers, and recreational fishers. Senator Ranker's constituency is the same as many of ours in British Columbia because it encompasses, in Senator Ranker's words, the magical, majestic Salish Sea.

From a business perspective, the global open net pen salmon aquaculture industry is operating in an increasingly unpredictable environment. The biological costs to control sea lice and viruses are rising. The industry is not able to control stock losses or escapes. Licenses are very difficult if not impossible to secure. Public support for the status quo is attenuating and capital is being actively invested in closed containment facilities globally. Governments are paying attention.

From an environmental perspective, there is evidence that sea lice and viruses are transferred from farmed fish to wild salmon stocks. Norway has put a moratorium on open net farms due to the sea lice problem. Add to that the recent complete net pen collapse in Washington state and it is obvious that we simply cannot stand by and allow these threats to wild salmon and wild salmon habitats to continue.

From a trade perspective, British Columbia and Canada should also not concede our strong role in the industry, our knowledge, and our brand to the first movers who know that the status quo will simply not allow for the growth of the sector and who are gaining market advantage over us to research, innovation, and investment.

Canada is a trusted global leader in high value, safe, secure, sustainable food and we have the potential to develop our agri-food sector, particularly in light of recent trade agreements and supercluster announcements. Through technology and innovation in the sector, Canada can bring more high-quality farmed salmon to global markets, create jobs, and strengthen the economy.

Social innovation presents the potential for industry and first nations to be enterprise partners. Transitioning to closed containment is a way for nation-to-nation collaboration in pursuit of business opportunity, trade, and a healthy aquatic environment. In just two and a half years, our government has made it clear through our actions that we are committed to strengthening engagement and transparency and to rebuilding trust with Canadians.

Last year, the government invested $1.4 billion in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in their base budgets, as a result of a program integrity review that revealed the magnitude and devastation of the Harper government cuts. This is in addition to our historic $1.5 billion investment in the oceans protection plan to further protect the marine environment from coast to coast to coast. As the minister has stated, to preserve, protect, and help restore our environment, we need a Fisheries Act that Canadians can trust. We must continue to build a relationship based on respect for the protection of our shared environment.

I would like to thank Canadian citizens for their ongoing commitment to volunteering, studying the science, advocating, and leading. The people of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country have certainly played a major role in the proposed Fisheries Act legislation we are considering today and that will continue no doubt. I am very grateful for their wisdom, spirit, and tenacity in getting us to today.

Our government is taking great strides to protect fish and fish habitat and the environment. I ask my colleagues in the House to please join me in supporting these important amendments and in passing Bill C-68 and then let us take the next step toward a national aquaculture act.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, less than seven hours of debate is being allowed on Bill C-68, a really important piece of legislation, limited by the Liberal government. I am sorry that closure has been invoked on the bill.

I want to ask my colleague about the Cohen commission recommendations. For her riding, as in mine, this was a hot election issue. Coastal people are passionate about wild salmon and were very encouraged in particular by the Liberal government's commitment to implement the Cohen commission recommendations, and specifically, by the mandate letter to the fisheries minister with specific instructions to implement the Cohen recommendations.

Recommendation three was to break the conflict of interest, which has been repeatedly observed of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in that it is both the regulator of the salmon industry, protector of wild salmon, and the promoter of the farmed salmon industry. Those are in conflict. Certainly wild salmon and farmed salmon open net pen Atlantic salmon farming are in conflict.

I would like to know if my colleague shares my concern that the Liberal government has still failed to act on Cohen commission recommendation three.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, those codes of practice that are currently in place were put in place by the previous government, and there is no need to actually change them. The entire campaign that the member and all of his colleagues ran on was based on falsehoods and misinformation to the public about what the changes in the Fisheries Act of 2012 were all about. If the member does not believe me, if he wants to waltz around this issue, I will give him a waltz: one step forward two steps back. However, those are not my words. That is a statement by the Canadian Electricity Association on Bill C-68:

...one step forward but two steps back.

CEA is particularly concerned that the government has chosen to return to pre-2012 provisions of the Fisheries Act that address “activity other than fishing that results in the death of fish....

Those were not my words, but the words of job creators and employers who are actually helping to pay down the debt that the hon. member keeps voting in favour of increasing.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

moved that Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to speak in the House of Commons on this important legislation. You, Mr. Speaker, are a former minister of fisheries and oceans yourself and will understand the significance of the Fisheries Act in communities like the ones you and I represent, so it is a privilege for me to have this opportunity to stand in the House.

Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine coastal areas that are both ecologically significant and linked to the economic prosperity of Canadians. Our government knows that we have a responsibility to steward these resources for future generations while maintaining economic opportunities for many people and communities who depend on them.

In my mandate letter, the Prime Minister asked me to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act. In 2012, the government got rid of a number of fish habitat protection measures without engaging indigenous peoples, fishers, scientists, conservation groups, coastal communities, or the general public in any meaningful way and without their support. What made that decision even more unacceptable was the fact that the changes were buried in a 430-page omnibus bill in the hope they would slip by unnoticed. Canadians definitely noticed.

Indigenous and environmental groups were especially concerned with changes made to the act and rightly perceived those amendments as weakening what should be of shared concern for Canadians: the protection of fish and fish habitat. Industry partners were thrust into uncertainty with regard to their responsibilities under the act.

Our government has worked and consulted with a broad range of Canadians, and we encouraged everyone to be part of this important conversation. Provinces, environmental groups, fishers associations, indigenous groups, and thousands of Canadians helped shape the amendments currently before the House of Commons.

The proposed amendments to Bill C-68 are part of the government's broader strategy to review environmental and regulatory processes and cover several key themes, including partnership with indigenous peoples; supporting planning and integrated management; enhancing regulation and enforcement; improving partnerships and collaboration, including with industry; and monitoring and reporting back to Canadians.

The Fisheries Act is one of Canada's oldest pieces of legislation. It was enacted shortly after Confederation. It has been amended very little since that time, which is why it needs to be updated and modernized. To that effect, Bill C-68 adds new provisions dealing with the objectives and considerations that must be examined in the decision-making process under the act. The proposed objectives seek to create a proper management and control framework for fisheries and the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, particularly through pollution prevention.

The new considerations under these amendments are designed to clearly guide the responsibility of a minister of fisheries and oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions under the act. Bill C-68 proposes amendments that would restore protections for fish and fish habitat to ensure that these protections apply to all fish. We are reintroducing the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat, as well as the prohibition against the death of fish by means other than fishing.

We are also introducing measures that would allow for the better management of 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, so that industry partners, as well as everyday Canadians, can be certain about their responsibilities but not unreasonably burdened when undertaking small, local projects.

In the past, uncertainty in the act has caused some uncertainty among project proponents with respect to their obligations and responsibilities. The proposed amendments create regulatory authorities that will make it possible to establish a list of designated projects, including the commitments and activities that will still require a licence.

Our goal is to streamline these processes, and we will be engaging with provinces and territories as well as indigenous peoples and stakeholders to decide which kinds of projects should be on the designated project list.

We are also formalizing the creation of a proponent-led habitat banking regime. Habitat banking is an international best practice for offsetting project impacts where a freshwater or marine area is created, restored, or enhanced by working to improve fish habitat in advance of a project's impact.

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

These amendments provide clearer, stronger, and easier rules to establish and manage ecologically significant areas and provide stand-alone regulations to protect sensitive or important fish habitats. Given the important ecological characteristics of sensitive areas, certain types of work and activities may be prohibited and others may be identified as being subject to a special information gathering under a new authorization regime.

During the review of the 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act, we heard over and over again about the need to improve access to information on government activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat. Indigenous communities, industry associations, environmental groups, universities, and my colleagues on the House of Commons standing committee all talked about the importance of transparency in the decision-making process under the act.

In order to re-establish public confidence, we are proposing amendments to establish a public registry, which would be available online. By enabling greater transparency, the registry would allow Canadians to hold the government to account in its federal decision-making with regard to fish and their habitat.

Fisheries resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous peoples. The respect for the rights of indigenous peoples as well as taking into account their unique interests and aspirations in fisheries-related economic opportunities and the protection of fish and fish habitat are important means of renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples.

For instance, the Fisheries Act is being amended to require the minister to consider any potential adverse effects resulting from decisions the minister might make in accordance with the rights of Canada's indigenous peoples, as set out in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

In addition, our government recognizes the importance of the traditional knowledge of Canada's indigenous peoples in sound decision-making regarding fish and fish habitat.

Indigenous peoples across Canada, and other Canadians from coast to coast to coast, can rest assured that the government will act to protect the confidential traditional knowledge that indigenous people would share with the government under the provisions of this legislation.

Many indigenous communities are in close proximity to areas where projects that may affect fish and fish habitat are proposed, and many communities see new roles for themselves in how these decisions are made.

We have proposed long-overdue amendments that would provide for the making of agreements with indigenous governing bodies to further the purposes of the act, as we have done in the past with provinces and territories.

There are currently no legislative or regulatory requirements in place with respect to the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks.

The commissioner of environment and sustainable development, as well as our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, have recommended that any revisions to the Fisheries Act should include direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and fish stocks.

Environmental groups have also called on the government to adopt measures aimed at the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks within the Fisheries Act. This is why we are proposing amendments that would require decisions affecting a stock in the critical zone to consider whether there are measures in place aimed at rebuilding that stock, and, when a minister is of the opinion that habitat degradation is a cause of the decline of the stock, whether measures are in place to restore such habitat.

This positive obligation on governments and greater transparency, we believe are essential to strengthening the Fisheries Act.

We also heard Canadians' views on other important issues related to the Fisheries Act. Although the number of aquariums that keep cetaceans in captivity for public display has fallen overall, this is still a sensitive issue that Canadians are deeply concerned about.

Our government recognizes that it is now wrong to capture these magnificent creatures for public display. Consequently, we are proposing amendments to the Fisheries Act that would prohibit the capture of a cetacean when the intent is to bring it into captivity, except in circumstances where the cetacean is injured, in distress, or in need of rehabilitation.

The Senate has, for a long time, done good work in respect to this important issue. I want to salute former Senator Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia and others in the Senate who have continued to press this important issue in the minds of Canadians.

Some 72,000 Canadians make their living from fishing and fishing-related activities. Most of them, including self-employed inshore harvesters, are part of Canada's growing middle class. In many places across Atlantic Canada and Quebec, the fishery is the economic, social, and cultural heart of communities. As the fisheries minister, one of my duties is to ensure that these important traditions endure. However, threats remain to this way of life. Fish harvesters, particularly in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, have told us time and again that they need greater protection for their economic security, and they need help to ensure their economic independence.

It was clear to me that these important policies, like the owner-operator and fleet separation policies, were being circumvented by controlling agreements, which threaten the independence of the inshore and midshore fleets by removing the control of licences from individual harvesters to larger corporate interests. The amendments we are proposing would entrench existing inshore policies into law, with all the legal enforcement power required to protect small coastal communities and independent inshore harvesters.

I stand firm in supporting the economic and cultural fabric of these coastal communities. Our government has recognized that a licensing regime that supports independent inshore harvesters is critical to the economic livelihood of these communities and the families and Canadians who depend on them.

As I said, we looked at ways to strengthen the independence of the inshore sector and enforce the act more robustly. That is why we are proposing amendments that enshrine a specific power in the Fisheries Act, rather than a policy, in order to develop regulations that support the independence of inshore commercial licence holders. The amendments proposed today would entrench into law the power to make regulations on owner-operator and fleet separation policies in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

In so doing, this act helps to protect middle-class jobs in our coastal communities by ensuring that present and future fisheries and oceans ministers may consider the preservation and promotion of the independence of licence-holders in commercial inshore fisheries in the decision-making process.

I want to thank a number of organizations that have played a key role in these amendments with respect to owner-operator and fleet separation. The FFAW, the Maritime Fishermen's Union, le Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels de homard du sud de la Gaspésie, the Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, and the Canadian Independent Fish Harvester's Federation have been instrumental in this important work.

Fishing can be a dangerous occupation, involving many risks not only for fish harvesters, but for the marine environment as well.

With the unprecedented death of 12 North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from June to September last year, we know that Canadians expect prompt and urgent action by their government. This is why we are proposing amendments to the Fisheries Act that provide a new fisheries management order power to establish quick and targeted fisheries management measures. These measures will be used for 45-day increments where there is a recognizable threat to the conservation and protection of our marine ecosystems. The proposed fisheries management order power is meant to address emerging issues when a fishery is already under way and when time-sensitive and targeted measures are also paramount.

In my mandate letter, I was asked by the Prime Minister to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by the end of 2017, and to 10% by 2020, which is the target we are now on track to achieve. I am pleased to report to the House that we have not only achieved our 2017 target, but we will continue to work diligently to ensure that we surpass the 10% commitment through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

To help us fulfill these international commitments and obligations, we are proposing amendments to the Fisheries Act that provide 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.

We are also proposing amendments that will strengthen the act. During the many public engagement sessions that were held, Canadians made it clear that they wanted to see more fishery officers, conservation officers, and patrols, as well as more offenders being caught and punished.

To incorporate modern protection mechanisms into the act, some amendments are being proposed to clarify, strengthen, and modernize enforcement powers under the act, for example by empowering fishery officers to intercept any vessel or vehicle and require it to be moved to a place where an inspection can be carried out.

The proposed amendments also seek to increase the authority of the courts with respect to seizure and forfeiture under the act, and allow the use of alternative measure agreements to address certain contraventions.

As I mentioned earlier, the Fisheries Act is one of the oldest and most important environmental laws in Canada. It was passed in 1868, just one year after Confederation, and did not change much until the late 1970s, when habitat protection provisions were first added by one of my predecessors, who, coincidentally, was my father, Roméo LeBlanc.

Then, as now, the act remains a model among Canada's environmental laws. That is why we have ensured the amendments we have introduced to the Fisheries Act include updated and modern tools that are the hallmarks found in other environmental legislation. We are proposing modern provisions such as the power to create advisory panels, fee-setting authorities, and provisions respecting the collection of information.

I consider myself privileged to stand in this House, as my father did in 1977, to introduce amendments to the Fisheries Act that served his generation. I hope that this new modernized act will live up to my father's legacy and do for our generation what he and the previous Parliament did for theirs.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to stand in the House and speak about the new Fisheries Act. I have had numerous interactions with the minister over my time in Parliament and I know his heart is in the right place. I do have some issues with the new Fisheries Act, however. My background is in fisheries. I have a graduate degree in fisheries biology and have been active in the field of fisheries science for over 20 years.

I also sat on the fisheries and oceans committee in the previous government and for two years of the current government and was involved in the hearings regarding the new Fisheries Act.

The Fisheries Act was written in 1868 and had three fundamental functions: the proper management and control of fisheries, the conservation and protection of fish, and the protection of fish habitat and the prevention of pollution. It was considered one of the strongest pieces of environmental legislation that Canada had, but it evolved over the years to such a point that when we were in government we had to make some changes to the old Fisheries Act.

The courts had determined that what was considered fish habitat was expanded and expanded so that almost all of Canada became fish habitat. Therefore, the act became quite unwieldily and these were some of the problems with the act. This is from a paper that I wrote in 2001 for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy where we looked at the current Fisheries Act. That was about the time when, what we called back home, the “fish cops” descended on prairie Canada and wanted to inspect every drainage ditch that every producer had put in place. The old Fisheries Act created a lot of uncertainty and created more uncertainty in the development process in prairie Canada, especially for rural communities. It was very unclear as to who had jurisdiction over natural resource development.

It had a wide scope. The definition of fish habitat under the old act included entire watersheds and extended the reach of the federal government to policy areas such as watershed and land use planning, areas where DFO clearly lacked expertise. Again, we are going back to this old regime. The program removed any regulatory discretion since all fish habitat was considered important. There was no ranking of significant fish habitat versus habitats that were less significant.

Canada is a very large place. In my province of Manitoba, for example, we have 100,000 lakes and no one can know everything about all these water bodies. I think Ontario has 250,000 lakes. We look at our coastlines, and the amount of fish habitat and fisheries water in Canada is absolutely enormous. Most of these fish populations are fairly poorly studied, and because of that, all water bodies are presumed to be fish habitat until proven otherwise.

Under the old act and again with the new act, the costs of compliance are not considered and for poorer rural municipalities the costs of compliance under the old act and probably under the new act will add a major burden. It also adds to the regulatory burden. The new act is layered on top of other regulations and I am going to return to this very important point later.

Ironically, the old Fisheries Act actually threatened existing conservation programs. There are many angling groups that work very hard to enhance and improve fish habitat. When a fish habitat is enhanced and improved, I guess that is an alteration. For example, in my constituency the walleye is considered the most valuable fish. One way to enhance walleye populations is to take trucks on the ice in the middle of winter, put gravel on the ice, and when the ice melts the gravel sinks and voila, there is a new walleye spawning area and it increases the population of walleye. One wonders if that is an alteration of fish habitat. I guess it is, but again, this will inhibit very important conservation programs. Again, we think that the new act would have these same attributes.

As I said in my question for the minister, in 2009 the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development conducted an audit under the old Fisheries Act. Again this is the regime we are going back to and this is what the auditor found in 2009:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada cannot demonstrate that fish habitat is being adequately protected as the Fisheries Act requires. In the 23 years since the Habitat Policy was adopted, many parts of the Policy have been implemented only partially by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or not at all. The Department does not measure habitat loss or gain. It has limited information on the state of fish habitat across Canada—that is, on fish stocks, the amount and quality of fish habitat, contaminants in fish, and overall water quality. Fisheries and Oceans Canada still cannot determine the extent to which it is progressing toward the Policy’s long-term objective of a net gain in fish habitat.

The auditor went on to point out, “There has been little progress since 2001, when we last reported on this matter.” Therefore, the old way of doing business clearly failed.

We are going back to the old definition of fish habitat. Bill C-68 says that fish habitat means spawning grounds and any other areas, including “nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas, on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes.”

The key word is “indirectly”. Ultimately, every drop of water, unless it is evapotranspired, flows into a smaller waterway, then to a larger waterway, and then eventually to an area where fish exist. The word “indirectly” means that basically all of Canada would become fish habitat. The lawn on Parliament Hill would be fish habitat. Therefore, clearly, such a wide definition of fish habitat would give great licence to fisheries officers or as we call them back home “fish cops” and could cause some grave difficulties for communities and municipalities.

This wide definition of fish habitat was emphasized over and over by witnesses at the fisheries and oceans committee, of which I was a part of. I sat through every single meeting during the revisions to the Fisheries Act that the government was proposing.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the largest farm group in Canada. Mr. Ron Bonnett is the president and also an active farmer in Ontario, and these are his comments regarding the pre-2012 Fisheries Act:

The experience that many farmers had with the Fisheries Act, unfortunately, was not a positive one. It was characterized by lengthy bureaucratic applications for permitting and authorizations, and a focus on enforcement and compliance measures taken by officials....

Many farmers were then relieved when the changes that were made just a few years ago [by the Conservative government] drastically improved the timeliness and cost of conducting regular maintenance and improvement activities to their farms as well as lifting the threat of being deemed out of compliance.

Mr. Bonnett went on to point out:

There are also many accounts of inconsistency in enforcement, monitoring, and compliance across Canada with different empowered organizations, which led to a confusion and indiscriminate approaches to enforcement and implementation. Even at the individual level, there were different interpretations of the act based on one's familiarity with agriculture....

It is CFA's position that a complete revert to reinstate all provisions of the Fisheries Act as they were would be unproductive, would re-establish the same problems for farmers, and would provide little improvement in outcome for the protection and improvement of fish habitat. Human-made water bodies such as drainage ditches simply should not be treated as fish habitat.

He went on to talk about the Fisheries Act of 2012 that we put in. He said:

The current streamlined approach is working far better for all and efforts should continue this approach....

Overall, any changes to the current Fisheries Act [2012] should be considered as to how they will support outcomes-based conservation rather than a process-oriented approach.

This is a very important point. Here is a farmer saying that the old Fisheries Act actually inhibited conservation projects that the agriculture community wanted to implement on their own land. The old act, which sounds like the new proposed act, was process and process, and enforcement and enforcement. If we really want to improve fish habitat, then we should get out there and improve it, but it is going to be very problematic whether projects like these will be allowed to continue.

Again, regarding the changes that the Conservatives made, Mr. Bonnett said, “There are still some challenges when you have multiple jurisdictions working on that”, but again, he says the Conservatives Fisheries Act 2012 “has improved dramatically from what it was.”

Regarding the old act, Mr. Bonnett had this to say:

...we saw a lot of inconsistency, depending on the DFO office. One would come in and say, no, there's no problem, go ahead. Another one would come in and it would be a whole bureaucratic process that you had to go through. I guess that would be the caution about just putting HADD back in place without having some clear and enforceable guidelines that spell out how you treat a municipal drain.

It is important to talk about the issues agriculture had with the old Fisheries Act. I and many others on this side of the House represent agricultural communities. I saw first-hand, prior to my becoming a member of Parliament, the problems the act created.

What did we do to modify the former Fisheries Act? In the old Fisheries Act, there was equal consideration of all fish species and all fish habitat. We focused on the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational, and aboriginal fisheries and on effective management of key threats, such as aquatic invasive species.

Going back to the old act, all projects were reviewed for any impacts on fish and fish habitat, and advice was provided on a project-by-project basis. We went to the effective management of projects linked to fisheries of commercial, recreational, and aboriginal importance through the adoption of tools.

In the old act, there was duplication and overlap between federal and provincial review processes. Our act, the Fisheries Act from 2012, relied on best place delivery and partnerships with third parties.

As I said, it goes back to the old way of doing business. Interestingly, in 1986, the department wrote “Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat”. I gather that it is still DFO's fish habitat policy. It is a great piece of work, done when Mr. Tom Siddon was the minister.

The 1986 fish habitat policy talks about the national application of the Fisheries Act. It says:

The policy applies to those habitats directly or indirectly supporting those fish stocks or populations that sustain commercial, recreational or Native fishing activities of benefit to Canadians.

That was the vernacular in 1986. Fisheries and Oceans Canada recognized its responsibility to protect and increase fish stocks. That first sentence is interesting. Our act, the Fisheries Act from 2012, is directly in line with the fish habitat policy in 1986, which talked about specific fisheries being protected through the protection of their habitat.

It goes on:

In addition, Fisheries and Oceans recognizes its responsibility to protect and increase fish stocks and their habitats that have either a demonstrated potential themselves to sustain fishing activities, or a demonstrated ecological support function for the fisheries resources. In accordance with this philosophy, the policy will not necessarily be applied to all places where fish are found in Canada, but it will be applied as required in support of fisheries resource conservation.

Our Fisheries Act of 2012 was actually in line with current departmental policy. This is why the act, as we wrote it, was well received by industry groups, rural communities, farm groups, angling groups across the country, and many others.

When we held our hearings at the fisheries committee, we asked a clear question of many of the witnesses who were obviously not in support of the Fisheries Act, 2012. We asked them if they could prove that there were any impacts on fish populations in Canada as a result of the changes made by the Fisheries Act, 2012. Naturally, there was a lot of hemming and hawing and saying they did not have enough information and that there was not enough time. On and on it went, but not a single witness could point to any fish population in Canada that was negatively affected by the changes embedded in the Fisheries Act of 2012.

Again, I am going to talk about the pros of the Conservative approach to fisheries conservation. We much prefer the direct approach to enhancing fish habitat. We created a program that was actually enabled by the Fisheries Act of 2012, called the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, through which we partnered with fisheries conservation groups across the country. They provided half the funds for the work and the RFCPP provided the other half. Well over 800 fisheries enhancement projects were undertaken and successfully completed across the country.

I would note that the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program is being sunsetted by the current Liberal government. Is “sunset” not a nice word? It implies sitting on the beach with a cool one and watching the sun go down. Actually, this program has been shot down and is going down in flames. There are hundreds of angry groups across Canada whose mission is to do direct conservation and enhancement of fisheries across the country that will now not be provided with support.

I would point out something about Atlantic salmon, a fish that is obviously near and dear to the minister's heart, I would hope. Our fisheries and oceans committee did a major study on Atlantic salmon, and not a single recommendation from that study has been implemented. We recommended a seal reduction program. We recommended a significant increase in the striped bass harvest. We also recommended that diplomatic action be taken against Greenland for overfishing our Atlantic salmon. Nothing has been done.

Here is a clear case of the minister talking a good game about caring for fish, but there is a fish right in his backyard, the Atlantic salmon, of importance to thousands of anglers and businesses in his region, and nothing is being done to help that particular fish species.

However, over $200,000 or $300,000 is going to the fish cops. I would rather see direct programming that would help Atlantic salmon stocks, and other stocks across the country, to rebuild.

I am pleased that there is a provision in the proposed act to talk about rebuilding stocks. I like the habitat banking portion. Hopefully the government will be open to some amendments on that and open to some ideas on how it could be done, because a number of us have a few thoughts on that. Again, all that money is going to enforcement when there are groups, like the Miramichi Salmon Association, which I belong to, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, that do things like create cold water refuges for Atlantic salmon so the fish can summer better and survive better than they would otherwise. We hope that projects like that could go on.

Bill C-68 is part of the Liberal plan to kill development. The Prime Minister's principal secretary, Mr. Gerald Butts, once said: “The real alternative is not an alternative route, it's an alternative economy. We don't think there ought to be a carbon-based energy industry by the middle of the century.” I am sure the thousands and thousands of middle-class Canadians who work in the energy industry will be very disappointed to know that this is the thinking in the Prime Minister's Office. The ultimate agenda is to severely restrict Canada's energy industry.

I want to quote the Canadian Electricity Association. It is headed by the hon. Sergio Marchi, who said:

In practical terms, this means that virtually any action, without prior authorization, could be construed as being in contravention of this Act. Consequently, the reinstatement of these measures will result in greater uncertainties for existing and new facilities, and unduly delay and/or discourage investment in energy projects that directly support Canada's clean growth agenda and realize its climate change objectives.

Of course, the other shoe to drop is how investment is leaving Canada. Suncor CEO Steve Williams said, in a headline that reported what Suncor's activities will be, “Suncor to shun major new projects amid Canada's 'difficult' regulatory environment”.

I had the honour of working in the oil sands in 2009-10. I lived in a camp for an oil sands project. There were people from all walks of life. People talk about the industry as if it were some kind of bad word. The industry is workers and people. There was a young dad saving for his child's education, a young couple saving for a down payment on a house, and a senior couple saving for a dignified retirement. These are the kinds of people who work in the energy industry. These are the kinds of people who will be hurt by this excessive regulatory process that is killing energy and natural resources jobs across the country. I am afraid the new Fisheries Act is just part of that, so I will be unable to support it.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak in favour of Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence.

I would like to point out at the onset that we welcome the legislation to restore HADD, harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, to the act. We believe the Liberals should have done this immediately following the last federal election. There is no excuse for waiting.

Back in 2012, when the Conservative government gutted habitat protection from the act, 600 scientists and four former fisheries ministers, including two Conservatives, wrote to the government, stating that the changes in the act “would be a most unwise action, which would jeopardize many important fish stocks and the lakes, estuaries and rivers that support them.” They were right.

Over the past six years since these changes, the number of charges relating to a violation of the new section 35 under the weakened Fisheries Act legislation was zero. That means since 2012, there have been no charges. This, despite the fact that according to documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun in 2016, there were almost 1,900 complaints.

The vague language in the Conservative bill made it impossible to prove that a project would kill fish. Once habitat protections were restored to the act, we believed a thorough review to improve and modernize the Fisheries Act would engage Canadians, would be based on science, indigenous, and community knowledge, and the precautionary principle would have been undertaken, immediately after the 2015 election. That would have been the responsible thing to do, but here we are today, two years later, and finally we have this legislation.

The Fisheries Act is the key federal law for fish habitat protection and one of the key laws for marine biodiversity, and is an essential part of Canada's environmental safety net.

When announcing this legislation, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard said that he was open to amendments that would strengthen the bill. Therefore, we will be proposing amendments for consideration.

In Bill C-68, the definition of fish habitat is improved by referring to the water fish need for survival. However, the proposed amendments do not include explicit legal protection for environmental flows, the amount and type of water needed for fish and aquatic ecosystems to flourish.

What are environmental flows? The Brisbane Declaration provides the most widely accepted and applied definition. It says, “Environmental flows describe the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems.” Another document, which discussed the Brisbane Declaration, stated, “environmental flows are essential for providing both direct and indirect benefits on which current and future generations rely.”

We heard from Linda Nowlan of West Coast Environmental Law about the importance of protecting environmental flows at fisheries committee. She testified:

....the act must protect key elements of fish habitat, including environmental flows. The Fisheries Act should provide a legally binding national flow standard to conserve the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows, also known as environmental flows.

CSAS scientists point to this issue as a deficiency in the current regime and say that a national standard is needed. The act should define conditions of flow alteration that constitute HADD based on science advice from the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat and used by DFO. Our brief contains more information on that. These are key changes, and if enacted, they will demonstrate the government's commitment to modernize the act.

I certainly agree with her, and on this would encourage the government to review West Coast Environmental Law Association's brief, “Habitat 2.0: A New Approach to Canada's Fisheries Act”, which includes an entire section on the importance of environmental flows.

One of the greatest disappointments of the legislation is that it would not remove the promotion of unsafe salmon farming practices and farmed salmon as a product from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans mandate, which in turn would lower impacts to wild salmon.

The government should be commended, however, for its commitment to the precautionary principle but it needs to show it with action.

The precautionary principle recognizes that in the absence of scientific certainty, conservation measures can and should be taken when there is a lack of knowledge of a risk of serious or irreversible harm to the environment and/or resources using the best available information. Under this principle, the trigger for government action to protect wild salmon is for science to demonstrate the existence of more than a minimal risk.

In my province of British Columbia, the evidence has been piling up. Graphic videos have surfaced of virus-laden bloody discharge from farmed salmon processors spewing directly into the ocean, where wild salmon migrate, blood which has been confirmed to be infected with the highly infectious virus piscine reovirus, or PRV.

CTV's W5 covered first nations' occupation of open-net salmon farms on the west coast, as the minister knows. It showed footage that contained graphic images of deformed farmed salmon and spoke about the disastrous effects of spreading disease, which, on an industrial scale, has an impact on our wild salmon population.

The documentary relayed the struggle of environmental activists to remove open-net salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes, highlighted how the farms were spreading dangerous viruses like PRV to wild salmon, and how their expansion had correlated to the dramatic decline of B.C.'s wild salmon fishery. Further, the documentary showed how the salmon farm industry colluded with government to deny what DFO had already confirmed, and that is that PRV is present in farmed salmon and is spreading to wild salmon.

In British Columbia, Gary Marty, the head scientist-veterinarian in charge of testing for disease also co-authors industry-boosting papers with Marine Harvest, the largest player in the B.C. industry.

Clearly, the federal government is in conflict because the department's mandate contains a provision to promote the salmon aquaculture industry. This goes against the Cohen Commission recommendations, specifically recommendation 3, which says, “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.”

In the W5 documentary, the minister said that the government was committed to not expanding the industry until the science was settled. Even the department's own scientists have shown PRV and HSMI have entered the wild in the Pacific Ocean. How much more risk do we need to demonstrate before it takes action? Clearly, this industry presents more than a minimal risk. It is time to get these diseased-ridden farms off of the wild salmon migration routes.

Last week, I was copied on a letter to the Prime Minister from Chief Ernest Alfred of the 'Namgis First Nation. He wants the Prime Minister to know why they walked out of his town hall meeting in Nanaimo. It is an important message that everyone in government needs to hear. I would like to read it onto the record. It states:

Open letter to the Government of Canada

Dear Mr. [Prime Minister],

I've been asked to provide an explanation as to why our People walked out of the Town Hall in Nanaimo. Important statements needed to be made to your Government, and on behalf of our People, I'd like to strongly express our total frustration for not getting the chance to address our serious concerns.

Representatives of numerous First Nations can be clearly seen seated in front of the giant Canadian flag. I am dressed in a Peace Dance Headdress. One that we use to show our peaceful welcome, and resolve. I am also wearing a woven cedar bark tunic used in war. My peace headdress was quickly removed after we left the building. A symbolic act to show the total lack of respect being shown our Nations. In our territorial waters off the Broughton Archipelago, war has been declared against us, and the livelihoods of our coastal People.

168 days ago, we started Occupations on the fish farms in our territories. Our mission has been to peacefully record, report and protest the illegal practices in our waters. This mission is not a new one. Our People have been demanding the removal of these feedlots for over 30 years. Until now, we have never had an investigation into fish farm operations in this manner before. This self-regulated industry cannot be trusted with such important information. To be very frank, we have become more than frustrated and impatient. During the last 168 days, we've seen Fisheries Officers only twice. There is no problem with Piscine Reovirus, and that is because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been trying to hide it. [The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans] has teamed up with Marine Harvest and is fighting us in Court. It seems to me that the Government of Canada is attempting to reconcile with Norway but using our territory to do that. That is wrong! Our waters have never been surrendered, neither has our lands and our hereditary rights to oversee them.

The very status of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago have come into serious question. A Norwegian Invasion has taken place in our waters and we have been forced to act to defend our investments in wild salmon. Eviction notices have been given, heavy RCMP involvement, arrests, B.C. Supreme Court proceedings, lost aquaculture industry status and reputation, Government reviews and investigations have had little or no influence on the reckless practices of the aquaculture industry, within our territories. In fact, the companies have restocked almost all the fish farms in our waters, against numerous warnings of serious consequences. We have had enough!

First Nations People, environmental groups, ecotourism organizations, and countless wild salmon economy contributors, from one end of the Province to the other, have shown us their full support and solidarity. Emails of support continue to pour in from all over the world. It seems as if British Columbia's fish farm industry has the world's attention. Meanwhile, I find it troubling, sad and embarrassing that we do not have the attention of the Federal Government of Canada. We are all saying the same thing.

Our wild salmon economy must be protected. The jobs that fish farms provide will still be there when the farms are moved to shore using closed containment technology. The economy that is so important to your government will return along the west coast. Fish farms do not create jobs - Fish farms have killed jobs along the coast!

The Federal Government must remove the open net fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago that have remained in the territories of 6 allied Nations without the consent or consultation for over 30 years. Immediate action is required if the Federal Government has any hopes of reconciliation in our territories.

With all due respect, stand with us!

Sincerely, Kwakwabalas

Chief Ernest Alfred

Swanson Island Occupation--'Namgis First Nation

Clearly, first nations have had enough. How can a government that purports a true nation-to-nation government relationship with first nations ignore these pleas for action? It is shameful. I implore the government to listen. No more studies, no more words, it is time for action. Please meet with them.

In 2017, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans studied the Fisheries Act. The New Democratic Party of Canada submitted recommendations to be incorporated into the Fisheries Act in order to fully modernize it. We recommend that in order to advance the nation-to-nation relationship with first nations, a new modernized fisheries act should: one, recognize indigenous rights in the act; two, move beyond delegation to work with first nations as full partners in fisheries management; three, recognize first nations' right to commercial trade and barter opportunities; four, include guiding principles of reconciliation that allow for and promote consent-based shared decision-making processes, for example, co-management or co-governance with first nations, and that have the flexibility to reconcile pre-existing sovereignty and first nations jurisdictional authority; five, expand factors considered in decision-making to include principles of sustainability, including ecological integrity and cultural sustainability, indigenous law, protection of inherent aboriginal rights, and the principles found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and finally, ensure meaningful consultation, accommodation, and a consent-seeking process with first nations to build new regulations.

I hope those recommendations can be incorporated into Bill C-68 at the committee stage.

Another concern we have is that Bill C-68 gives the minister too much arbitrary power to authorize harmful development and industrial projects. I hope the government will consider amendments to update language in the bill to require decisions based on scientific evidence rather than the minister's opinion. Let us put science in and keep the politics out.

Martin Olszynski, an assistant professor in law at the University of Calgary, an expert in fishery law, agrees. He is quoted in DeSmog Canada as saying:

[T]here's an unfortunate use of "discretionary language, meaning that many components of the proposed legislation are basically up to the opinion of the minister—and requiring no specific evidence.

He went on to say:

For example, there's a section about implementing measures to manage the decline of fish stocks. The newly amended legislation includes the phrase “if the Minister is of the opinion that a fish stock that has declined to its limit reference point or that is below that point would be impacted.” That's not satisfactory for some.

In the same article, Brett Favaro, research scientist at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University said:

I was hoping for a line that was not “if the minister is of the opinion that a fish stock has declined”, but “if the fish stock has declined as determined by the best available evidence then there should be measures in place aimed at rebuilding the stock.”

I am hopeful that we will be able to clean up some of these language issues at committee.

Bill C-68 also enacts the NDP recommendation to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on rebuilding. We recommended that in order to prioritize the protection of fish and fish habitat, a new modernized Fisheries Act should mandate rebuilding fish stocks when they have fallen below healthy levels and mandate a report annually to Parliament on the status of Canada's fish stocks and the management decisions made for stocks in critical zones.

In October 2017, Oceana Canada released a comprehensive review of the state of Canada's fisheries and the first annual assessment of how the government is managing them. The results were alarming. They revealed that Canadian fisheries are in serious trouble with only one-third of stocks considered healthy and 13% of those in critical condition. Further, 36% could not be determined due to insufficient information.

Although the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada reported 19 Canadian marine stocks in critical condition, Oceana found 26 in its analysis using the same sources of information. At the time of the report, Dr. Robert Rangeley, director of science, Oceana Canada stated, “What's more concerning is that there are only three plans in place to rebuild these 26 dangerously depleted populations."

It is shameful that Canada lags behind international standards of sustainable fisheries management. In countries where governments are legally obligated to rebuild, fish populations have bounced back. The numbers are impressive. Mandatory rebuilding in the United States has meant that in the last 20 years, 43 stocks have been rebuilt. Those stocks now generate on average 50% more revenue than when they were overfished.

This is the first time rebuilding of depleted fish stocks has been included in Canada's Fisheries Act; however, details on rebuilding will be in the regulations. This does concern me, but if those regulations are strong, with timelines and targets, and if they consider the impacts of climate change and species interactions, we will be on a path to success.

I will finish with a quote by Susanna Fuller from the Ecology Action Centre, who agrees. She stated:

We will continue to advocate that the regulations require timelines and targets as well as an ecosystem approach to rebuilding, taking into account impacts of climate change and species interactions.

I am—

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very important speech and his comments to the government which really does not listen.

I wonder if the member could comment on a statement by the Hon. Sergio Marchi from the Canadian Electricity Association. He is a previous Liberal cabinet minister. He said that Bill C-68 “represents one step forward but two steps back”. He went on to say:

In practical terms, this means that virtually any action, without prior authorization, could be construed as being in contravention of this Act...will result in greater uncertainties for existing and new facilities, and unduly delay and/or discourage investment in energy projects that directly support Canada’s clean growth agenda and realize its climate change objectives.

Here we have a government that is not listening to the conservation side of things, first nations, and is not listening to the business side of things.

I wonder if the member could comment on how much work has to be done in committee to get the bill right.