That is right. He is presently the governor general. In fact some fishermen have commented that they wish that orders in council would actually come from the governor general because they appreciated those orders so much when he was the fisheries minister.
That piece of legislation unilaterally declared a 200 mile exclusive fishing zone in Canada. That is not the same as the exclusive economic zones, the EEZs, in other nations of the world. This was a unilateral action by Canada to save the fishing resource. That was in 1977.
When was the next piece of legislation that really broke new territory on behalf of the fishery in Canada? From 1977 until 1996 we had 10 years of Tory rule and not one piece of legislation was passed by this Chamber which we could call a historic piece of legislation.
Then we come to the year 1996. Again under a Liberal administration, this time under the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who is the member from the historic riding of Bonavista-Trinity-Conception, legislation was brought in to do what the other nations have done. Instead of the exclusive fishing zone, we have declared an exclusive economic zone for Canada so that Canada can be a
part of the team of nations around the world that are trying to save the fisheries. We would have identical legislation.
Today this bill is truly a historic piece of legislation. Why is that? It is for the very reason that countries in Europe do not like the legislation. It is for the very reason that some countries in Europe, and yes the United States and quite a few other countries are objecting to this bill. The reason is that it gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans unusual powers to seize foreign fishing vessels which are fishing illegally, according to what the Canadian government is declaring, on the high seas adjacent to Canada's territorial zone.
When the opposition parties complain and say that this bill gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans too much power, they have to realize that we either have to do it or we do not do it. We have to give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the power to do things which are unusual under international law in order to save the fishery of Canada.
In Europe they are saying there are 14 articles which have extraterritorial effects. I have looked through this bill in the last 15 minutes trying to find those articles. I found some of them. One of the articles for example will allow the government in the future when an offence has been committed to seize a vessel that is owned by the same company that owned the vessel that committed the offence.
Let us say we had a fishing nation which violated the rules on bycatch in the NAFO zone which the hon. member was talking about.
What is a bycatch? A fisherman once defined it as a catch you accidentally catch when you're trying to catch another catch. It means that some fishermen use the bycatch rule of 10 per cent to catch more than 10 per cent of what they are allowed to catch.
Suppose the records of that vessel reach Canada after the fact. The vessel is gone. The skipper probably will not be seen in Canadian waters again and no charges under the present law can be brought against the company that owned the vessel. Under this bill Canada can now seize a vessel that belongs to the same company from the same foreign nation that committed the offence to satisfy a judgment.
An internal audit was done when the Tories were in power in 1985. It showed many cases of bribery, of money being exchanged, money being put in people's mailboxes to try to buy influence with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by these foreign captains. A fisheries officials in one case found $25,000 in a mailbox. He immediately reported it to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Fisheries and Oceans knew who did it but they could not charge that fishing captain because he did not show up in Canadian waters again.
Under this legislation DFO will now be able to seize another vessel that belongs to that company from the foreign nation to satisfy the judgment.
I do not know the entire 14 articles to which the European Union is objecting, but one to which it is objecting is this. Under the bill the Canadian government will be able to bring charges against a stateless vessel on the high seas that is in a management zone of the northwest fishing organization to which the hon. member from the Bloc referred a few moments ago.
If a vessel from the United States of American-and we have them-constantly violates the fishing agreements entered into with countries that belong to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, charges cannot be brought against the American vessel because the U.S. does not belong to the organization. Under this bill we will be able to do that. There is a whole section on stateless vessels.
These are some of the things that the Bloc and Reform Party should be standing up and saying: "What a marvellous piece of legislation. Canada will be the first nation in the world to put some real teeth into enforcement to try to save the fishery" because the fishery needs to be saved. I think everybody would agree with that.
In the past, prior to 1993, Tory governments gave quotas to foreign nations. In the fall of 1979 Russia received a quota of 100,000 tonnes of capelin, the food of the cod fish. That Tory administration gave it a 100,000 tonne quota for 1980, thereby giving the Russians a higher quota of capelin than the entire Canadian fleet has ever caught in its entire history and then you wonder what happened to the fishery.
In 1985, 1986 and 1987 when fishermen were telling the politicians that there was a problem in the fishery the administration in power here in Ottawa continued to give out foreign licences. The Tories turned their backs and looked the other way when all the dragging was going on. They even encouraged it.
The hon. member from the Bloc represents an area of Quebec that has the best spawning area in the world for mackerel. The Tory administration actually gave Norway and Sweden licences for mackerel in Canadian waters which would stop the mackerel on their way to the spawning grounds at the end of May.
The Tory government, in the mid to latter part of the 1980s, gave licences to Cuba, Japan, Russia, to five fleets to catch another food of the cod, the squid, off the province of Nova Scotia. Can anyone imagine that?
For the Government of Canada to constantly say that it does not know if it is going to harm the cod fishery if it gives licences for fishing the food of the cod, it should know that the squid that were once in abundance on the coast of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, have disappeared. Why did they disappear? It was not Canadians who made them disappear. It was not Canadians who made the capelin disappear either.
They disappeared because of the foreign nations fishing in Canadian waters with licences given by the Tory administration in Ottawa. The squid come up in a narrow line. They are born in Florida, live for only one year and then go back. They know where to go. They die in Florida at the end of the year. However, the circle they make goes up the east coast of Canada in a thin line. Fishermen refer to it as the trans-Canada highway of squid.
Lo and behold, the previous Tory government gave licences to the Japanese, the Cubans and the Russians to block that passage of squid every single year in the 1980s. That is why we had no squid in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland.
As well, the Tories gave licences for all the fish we do not even think about here like argentine. They also gave licenses for another fish, a scrawny thing with a big swelled head, which reminds me of some of the politicians across the way. They gave licences for every species of fish in our waters and they gave them to foreigners.
Today these opposition parties should be standing up and congratulating the government by saying that this is the best news they have heard since the depletion of the cod fishery. Perhaps it is the single best piece of legislation that could ever be brought before the House of Commons, to be able to arrest stateless vessels that fly no flags and vessels on what is called the high seas outside of Canada's zone.
We need legislation to be able to govern what happens on the high seas, just as we need it when it comes to the attachment of wages act. Certain people in our society are excluded from the attachment of their wages. One of them is somebody who is on the high seas or somebody who is a seaman and another one is somebody in a foreign embassy. However, the government is bringing in legislation so that child support payments and so on can be retrieved from these people. Here is another piece of legislation which will grant the government powers on the high seas.
To conclude, the Bloc is against it, the Reform is against it, the NDP is against it and the Tories are against it. All of these nations quoted by Canadian Press are against it because those nations do not want to have their gigantic, huge draggers stopped around the Canadian coastline from ruining our fishery.
It is a historic day and a historic piece of legislation. Once again it has been brought in by a Liberal administration, the third such piece of legislation we have had in the past 20 years.