It is a spawning ground for future references or future movements by ministers. That is one of the key problems.
Another problem with DFO is it is very stagnant. It has well over 800 people at 200 Kent Street and not one of them is catching any fish or setting any fish in the Hull River or the Rideau Canal.
One of the serious recommendations we made in this report is that DFO seriously downsize and move to the coastlines to where the resource is so it can have a better handle on what goes on on all three coasts of Canada and our inland waters.
The east coast report seriously condemns the government and the bureaucracy within DFO. It is one of the changes that has to happen.
Nobody on the east coast except for those who are involved in the ITQ and the big corporates which were funded by this and previous governments agree with the government. Ninety-five per cent of all people in the fishing industry on the east coast vehemently disagree with the current policies and practices of DFO.
Why are they continuously ignored? They are continuously ignored because they do not have a voice in Ottawa. They did not have a voice until this report came out. What is the government's response? A complete whitewash of this report.
It is absolutely scandalous that parties as diverse as the Reform Party, the Bloc Quebecois, the Progressive Conservatives, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party can agree to this report only to have it turned around and voted against by their own members because of the pressure tactics of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
It is an absolute whitewash. It is an absolute scandal that we can spend all this money touring those provinces on the east coast only to have the report completely ignored by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and by the bureaucrats in Ottawa.
As we know, this government has spent over $4 billion since 1988 readjusting the people on the east coast out of the fishery.
Has there been any great improvement over the years? Absolutely not. The lives of thousands and thousands of people have been totally disrupted.
What is the attitude of the centrally based Canadian government? Move. Just get up and move.
One of the reasons I decided to run as a member of parliament followed what the Prime Minister of the day said in a late November or early December town hall meeting on the CBC. A woman very passionately and eloquently told him that she had her education, that she was trying to look after her children and that she was finding it difficult to get a job. She asked the Prime Minister what he and his government could do to help her.
The Prime Minister's answer at that time was “In life some people are lucky, some are not. You may have to move.”
It is quite obvious that that attitude permeates the entire Liberal government. All that is heard by the people who have worked for centuries in the resource is “you have to move”. That is an attitude that is absolutely despised on the east coast of Canada and in northern Quebec.
This report exemplifies the courage, the stamina and the wisdom of people on the east coast. The fact of the matter is that these people know the resource better than any of us. They have worked it for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Speaking of the tragedies of the policies of DFO, at the beginning of this year the town of Canso, Nova Scotia, which is a wonderful small coastal community, after over 400 years of self-sufficiency, will have to claim civic bankruptcy. It is the first time it has ever had to do that.
All of the young people are leaving and all of the businesses are slowly shutting down for one specific reason: the town had no access to fish. What they did get was minuscule.
The Friday before last I took a tour of Canso and the town of Mulgrave, Nova Scotia. Mulgrave has the only shrimp peeling and processing plant in all of Nova Scotia. Earlier this year the government of the day, in its wisdom, gave 28,000 additional metric tonnes to Newfoundland and Labrador. Not one tiny little shrimp went to the town of Mulgrave. These people begged, they pleaded, they argued, they did every single thing that could be done to convince DFO that all they wanted to have was 2,000 metric tonnes of that 28,000 metric tonne allocation. They got nothing.
Even the provincial Liberals with their current minister of fisheries, Mr. Colwell, and Mr. MacLellan, the premier of Nova Scotia, did absolutely nothing to help these people. That means that the premier of Nova Scotia has absolutely no clout with his current friends in the Liberal government.
The result of this will be that at the end of this year the town of Mulgrave will lose its shrimp peeling plant. It will move to Newfoundland where it can have access to the shrimp.
The owner of ACS Trading is a business person. He loves the town of Mulgrave. He pays very good wages to the people when they can get work, but the fact is that they have no access to the shrimp.
As a business person he will have to move his plant to Newfoundland where they have excess access to shrimp. Parts of Newfoundland are asking for Nova Scotian boats to go up there and help them catch all the quota they have. It is like a Klondike with the shrimp up there. Mulgrave got absolutely nothing.
The same applies to the town of Canso with respect to turbot. When I visited Canso there were 11 boats in the harbour, all of them from P.E.I. Every one of those boats had lobster licences, they had crab licences and as a bonus to them all they had tuna licences.
In this report we talk about adjacency. Adjacency means that those people who live closest to the resource should have first access to the resource, working in conjunction with the other provinces in the area. The problem is that Canso only has two tuna licences, while P.E.I. has hundreds.
These boats were catching tuna within a rock's throw of the dock in Canso. The people in Canso watched all their tuna being caught by other provinces. The people of Canso have no access to it, except for two little licences. It is absolutely incredible that this government can pit one province against another. The result is that these people have to go on EI.
Now, with the changes to EI, they cannot even do that. They go right to social assistance. These people have all the pride, all the love and all the hard-working skills to maintain themselves in a productive society. What is this government's response? It turns around and hits them and hits them and hits them with bad regulations that will do absolutely nothing for their future and their families.
What is the ultimate answer from this government? Move. In a town where their great, great grandfathers and grandmothers are buried, where all their ancestors lived, where they grew up, where they love to live, the response from this government is to move.
Move to where? Toronto? Next fall 2,000 people at the Boeing plant, the McDonell Douglas plant, are going to lose their jobs. How are these people who fished all their lives going to compete for jobs with highly skilled people from the Boeing plant? What is going to happen then? It is absolutely criminal.
I wish for once that members of the centrally based Canadian government would get out of their chairs, out of their offices and en masse go to the town of Canso to have a look at what is going on.
There have been 50 different requests in a year and a half from the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, from myself and from our party for the current Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to go to Canso to speak to these people. What is his answer? No.
These people even came up to Ottawa to speak to him. What was his answer? “I can't speak to these people”. He is the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. His job is to speak to people from the fisheries and oceans world and he refuses to meet with them. But he has absolutely no problem meeting with his friends, Mr. Bob Wright of the Oak Bay Marine Group, on the west coast. He receives one phone call and he is there. Thousands of people on the east coast of Canada deserve and need this man's attention and his department's attention to the failures of the practices and policies of DFO, and the answer is no because it does not fit into the general plan.
In conclusion what I am going to be saying is exactly what has happened to these people and why it is happening. The fact is, this government, in its slippery backhanded way, has privatized the fishery. Through the ITQ system the five big corporations on the east coast control over 70% of the fishery resources on the east coast. Right now they have 50% and through individual transfer quotas they have an additional 23%.
There was a gentleman from the great town of Sambro, near Halifax. He was 48 years old and had a grade five education. I watched him baiting his lines and putting them into a bait box. He looked at me with all the experience of the world, with a really weathered face and said “You can have it this way in the fishing industry. You can have one man make $210,000 a year, or you can have seven of them make $30,000 a year. Make your choice”.
My choice was very simple. People who can earn $30,000 a year are extremely proud people. They are proud of who they are. The recent Swissair disaster in Nova Scotia proved exactly how proud these people are. That fisherman was one of those people who late at night risked his life to see if there was any possible way to recover bodies or survivors from that ill-fated flight. That is the type of people these fishers, plant workers and families are. This government wants to shut down their communities.
At least Joey Smallwood when he was premier of Newfoundland asked them to leave. This government does not have the courtesy to meet with these people. These people, to put it in ocean terms, are the salt of the earth. It is an absolute disgrace. Every single Liberal member should be absolutely ashamed that these people can be treated that way.
I ask the Liberals to go to the east coast to meet with these people. I ask them to read the east coast report and ignore what the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his useless bureaucrats have done. I ask them to read it for themselves. If they do not believe us, they should go there themselves, have a look and talk to these people. Then they will understand once and for all that these people want to work. They do not want the damn TAGS program. They do not want the useless EI programs. They do not want social welfare. They just want to work. These people have been working the resource for hundreds of years. All they want to do is work.
I am giving this government one more chance to vote for concurrence in the east coast report. There were nine Liberal members who voted for concurrence in the report at committee. They agreed to it. It is a unanimous report. When we have the vote today we are going to see those people sit like little sheep and vote against it because they have been whipped into cowardice and do not have the balls to stand by what they read.