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Evidence of meeting #43 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was great.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

David Ullrich  Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

David Ullrich

There were six separate ships, but I don't know how many actual fish were involved.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

But how many got in? That's the problem.

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

I always wonder what would happen if this money were spent on education, on informing the public—and I'd just like you to comment on that, on what a massive harm it is to the economy of the cities and the millions of people who live in the Great Lakes area.

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

David Ullrich

I think that's an absolutely essential element of this. Since we released our report on January 31, I've given close to 15 different presentations to the broader public and to narrower interest groups just to inform them about this. But absolutely education and outreach are critically important, with regard not only to the carp but to all invasive species. We're somewhat fortunate because the Asian carp is a bit of a poster child. All you have to do is go to Asian carp on YouTube and you can see all sorts of exotic things that they're doing.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. MacAulay.

Mr. Donnelly.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

And thank you, Mr. Ullrich, for being here and for your presentation.

I just want to pick up on some of the previous themes, but I guess the first question I wanted to asked is why municipalities find this issue so important. What do they see as their specific interest? You mentioned the multi-billion-dollar fishery, but maybe you could speak from the angle of the cities or the municipalities and just highlight that briefly.

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

David Ullrich

My best sense of this is that there has been a growing recognition on the part of mayors all along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence as to how absolutely essential the integrity of the resource is to their broader economic well-being. Granted, the fishery is probably not a huge part of each one of their individual economies, but, just as an example, recreational boating associated with fishing and other things is very important. The marina business all along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence is critical. But I think there's something beyond that, and maybe even more of an intangible, and that is the integrity of the resource. To anticipate that being really taken over, dominated by a species like the Asian carp, is something that just generally would make the resource much less attractive. I think city leaders feel this almost even more so than do, say, the governors or premiers, because they're right there all the time hearing from their citizens if the beaches are closed or the fishing's bad, or whatever it might be. So it's kind of the proximity and the immediacy of the interface with the resource that I sense really generates this very strong interest of the cities.

Historically, you're right: the cities haven't been as involved in issues like this. But starting with the formation of our organization, and the fact that we've grown, the cities really do care about this. That's my sense.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

So they're becoming much more progressive on issues.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Thank you.

Perhaps you could mention the top three issues the initiative is focusing on or what you think Canada should focus on in dealing with aquatic invasive species.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

David Ullrich

Just specifically on aquatic invasive species, Asian carp is clearly number one.

The second goes back to Mr. MacAulay's comment related to education and outreach. Certainly this is the kind of thing where cities have a real responsibility in terms of public education. Being able to do this through the school systems and other things I think is critically important.

I think the third issue with regard to invasive species would be the support of law enforcement. I think that getting the Canadian border patrol—and granted, it was the Ontario Ministry of the Environment that got involved—to inform the local police force of these types of things is an important thing as well, so that they can be trained to look for these things. There is some talk about generating, I think, a memorandum of understanding among law enforcement on the Canadian and U.S. sides to deal with this, which I hope would include local law enforcement.

That would be a third area for dealing specifically with invasive species.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Thanks.

In the remaining time I have, I just want to come back to the financing of the barrier. I know it came up earlier, but are cities willing to play a role in the financing? Did I hear you say they are? Perhaps you could comment on the timeline. Obviously a multi-year approach is needed. We're looking at, I would imagine, the provinces and the states as well as both national governments funding this.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Can you provide any more detail on the breakdown of the timing, and the players involved in the financing?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

David Ullrich

I really can't, and I'm sorry to say that; we put all of our emphasis on the technical and engineering side of things.

We knew this would be a huge challenge. Actually, as recently as Friday afternoon I was meeting with representatives of the Bank of Montreal about creative approaches to this.

I hesitate to commit the funds of any of our cities, but my sense is that cities view this as being so important that at the point down the road when decisions are made about this, I think they would be prepared to pay their fair share. The whole question is what is that fair share?

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Exactly, and that's—

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Thank you, Mr. Donnelly.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Okay. Thanks.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rodney Weston

Mr. Allen.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Ullrich, for being here.

I have a couple of questions. First, with respect to the infrastructure and what would be needed, who has the final decision on it? Is it the government or is it the Army Corps of Engineers? I see they're doing their study as well. Who has the final say?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

David Ullrich

It would be the U.S. Congress that would ultimately decide, because they would decide if the money could be spent. The Corps of Engineers is doing all of the technical work, but a project of this magnitude would go to Congress.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Okay.

You talked a little bit about the use of rotenone in a certain section of the river.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

How big an area was actually done with the rotenone, and how did that work? Was it effective? And how could you tell if it was effective?