House of Commons Hansard #209 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was states.


Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

moved that Bill C-27, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act to enable Canada to implement the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and other international fisheries treaties or arrangements, be read the third time and passed.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

This is a rather unique moment in Canada's history. As a follow up to the initiative taken by the Prime Minister of Canada yesterday in calling up the greatest hockey player ever and encouraging him to stay on, I would like to seek unanimous consent to put the following motion.

I would move that, in the opinion of the House, Wayne Gretzky should not retire but should play one more season in the National Hockey League. However, in the event that he decides to retire, then consideration should be given to appointing Wayne Gretzky as Canada's ambassador for hockey.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, as much as probably all of us agree with the sentiments expressed in the motion, we cannot agree to have a motion of the House incite someone to making career changes or choices.

When Mr. Gretzky makes his decision, should we want to congratulate him by way of a motion, I am sure all of us would want to do that then, but I do not think we can accept the motion as presently worded.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

As there is no consent at this point we will proceed to debate.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-27, which will enable Canada to ratify the United Nations agreement on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory species, commonly known as the UN Fisheries Agreement, or UNFA.

The bill amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act. When Bill C-27 is passed and these acts are amended, Canada will then be in the position to ratify the United Nations agreement and the UNFA will then provide an important tool for the protection of straddling stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

I am pleased that the legislation has reached this final stage of approval by the House. It has been a long process but the outcome will be well worthwhile.

Once we have passed Bill C-27 and have ratified the UN fish agreement, we will then have increased moral authority to encourage other states to ratify the agreement.

We can get on with the job of seeing that this and other international agreements to conserve the world's fisheries are brought into force and implemented.

At this point I would like to remind the House of some of the history which demonstrates the need for international action to deal with overfishing of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks and which eventually led to the development of UNFA.

By way of background we need to go back to 1977 when Canada, as did many other nations, established the 200 mile exclusive fishing zone. It is important to note that Canada's continental shelf extends beyond the 200 mile limit and thus fish stocks straddle the limit. This geographic situation has been a cause for concern for Canada even before the fishing zone line was created.

In 1979 NAFO, or the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, was created to take responsibility and to protect fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic beyond Canada's 200 mile limit. This was followed by the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS, which was open to signature in 1982 and which came into force in 1994.

UNCLOS provides coastal states with the exclusive sovereign right to explore, exploit, conserve and manage fisheries within the 200 nautical miles from their shore. However, it only provides general rules for co-operation and management of the straddling and the highly migratory stocks.

Despite the advantages and the advances of NAFO and UNCLOS, overfishing by vessels continued outside Canada's 200 mile limit in the northwest Atlantic. This contributed to the decline of straddling groundfish stocks of cod, flatfish and turbot.

In 1989, in response to scientific evidence of a serious decline in fish stocks, Canada began a major campaign to end overfishing in the northwest Atlantic. For example, in 1990 Canada hosted a conference on high seas fishing in St. John's, Newfoundland. We had experts there from coastal states around the world trying to design new principles for high seas fishing.

During the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit at Rio, Canada won international support for the convening of a conference for the negotiation of new arrangements to establish comprehensive rules for the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks on the high seas.

The UN Fisheries Agreement was concluded in August 1995 and Canada was one of the first countries to sign. To date, 21 states have ratified the UNFA. This agreement requires 30 ratifications to enter into force.

During this time the international community developed other instruments to deal with similar problems in the fishery. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, developed the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, which is fortunately known by the more convenient term as the Compliance Agreement.

Members of the House are well aware of much of this material so I will not go into detail. I will only say that the FAO Compliance Agreement and the FAO Code of Conduct are significant steps toward greater fisheries conservation, but the United Nations Fisheries Agreement that we are discussing today is by far the most important tool that we could have.

Why is UNFA so valuable? It sets up a new legal framework which will provide the effective monitoring, compliance and enforcement needed to protect straddling and highly migratory fish stocks on the high seas.

Proper conservation and management of these stocks will make a significant contribution to ensure the sustainability of this important food source for future generations.

This will probably be one of the most important international issues that faces the world in the 21st century. If we do not take adequate steps to protect stocks of fish in the high seas, within 20 or 30 years, indeed, within our children's lifetime and perhaps our own we will see more than half the world's surface cease to be a source of protein in food for human kind. Half the world's surface will become a desert from the point of view of feeding human kind. That is the issue. That is why it is so important to work in this area.

Let us have a look at some of the main sections of the agreement. First, under general principles, the UNFA provides guiding principles for the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. These include the precautionary principle whereby states must be more cautious in their fisheries, scientific conservation and management decisions when information about the fishery is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate; compatibility between measures applied inside and outside a coastal state's waters to ensure that measures adopted by a coastal state in its waters for straddling fish stocks are not undermined by measures applicable to the high seas; the use of the best scientific evidence available to determine resource status; and the minimization of pollution, waste, discards and bycatch.

The second point I would like to stress is the obligation to co-operate. This is an international area and international co-operation is essential. The United Nations fisheries agreement reiterates the law of the sea obligations for parties to co-operate in the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks either directly or through regional fisheries organizations and arrangements. For Canada, the two key organizations are the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, which I mentioned earlier, and the international convention for the conservation of Atlantic tuna, those highly migratory stocks.

The UNFA also sets out general principles and obligations regarding the setting up, functioning and strengthening of regional fisheries organizations and provides rules concerning the participation of states in such organizations. As we know, the problem of non-members bedevils agreements of this type.

UNFA provides specific rules with respect to non-members of regional fisheries organizations.

In effect, UNFA binds the parties to co-operate in the management and conservation of straddling or highly migratory fish stocks, whether or not they belong to a given regional fisheries organization. Vessels whose flag states are party to UNFA are bound by that organization's conservation and management measures even if they are not party to the organization.

With respect to transparency, UNFA has provisions to oblige regional fisheries organizations to be transparent in their decision-making and other activities. Intergovernmental organizations and NGOs that are concerned with straddling and highly migratory fish stocks will now have an opportunity for observer participation in meetings of these organizations.

Some organizations—ICCAT for example—have already established guidelines for their participation. NAFO and others are considering proposals to do so.

Co-operation is a very important principle when it comes to science and management. UNFA reiterates the UNCLOS principle that states have a duty to co-operate in the conservation and management of fishing resources.

Specifically, this means that states undertake an obligation to co-operate in exchanging and sharing scientific, technical and statistical data and information concerning straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, and also co-operate in finding the right solutions for sustainable management of the resource.

UNFA requires flag states to undertake measures to ensure that their vessels comply with regional conservation and management measures and do not engage in activities that undermine the effectiveness of such measures.

UNFA offers a strong compliance and enforcement regime, a regime which allows states other than the flag state to take action, such as boarding and inspecting a vessel flying the flag of another state that is party to UNFA, without prior authorization of the flag state, to ensure that vessels are complying with conservation and enforcement measures developed by regional fisheries organizations. These provisions are an important step towards prevention of overfishing of stocks that straddle Canada's 200-mile limit.

The eighth point is the dispute settlement procedures. Finally, there are compulsory and binding dispute settlement procedures. These procedures are established for disputes which arise out of the interpretation or the application of the United Nations fisheries agreement or regional fisheries agreements, such as the NAPO convention which I mentioned before.

UNFA refers to the procedures set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will apply to states that are party to the United Nations fisheries agreement whether or not they are parties to the law of the sea agreement. This is a very useful technique which provides states that are parties to the UNFA with an effective way to resolve disputes concerning the conservation and management of those straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.

The non-flag state enforcement regime and the compulsory and binding dispute settlement procedure of the UNFA make it the strongest existing international regime applicable to the high seas.

I would like to say a word on the need for this bill.

The merits of UNFA are clear. Now we need to adopt Bill C-27 in order for Canada to be able to fully implement the agreement. Existing legislation is, for the most part, sufficient to allow Canada to implement the 1995 agreement. There are, however, some gaps. Bill C-27 is intended to allow Canada to assert the rights meet the obligations set out in the agreement. By design it goes no further than that.

We have worked hard. When I talk of hard work I would like to pay special tribute to the hon. member from Malpeque for his dedicated work in this House and in committee. We would not be here with the possibility of this bill without his untiring dedication. I believe that this should be recognized by all members of the House on both sides.

The member for Malpeque and other members of the fisheries committee, as well as members of this House from coastal ridings, have worked hard to ensure that the bill is fully consistent with the agreement. We will implement this legislation in a manner that is fully consistent with our rights and obligations under the agreement.

States that accede to the agreement and honour the obligations that it sets out have nothing to fear from this legislation. We will fully respect the safeguards that are set out in the agreement.

Differences that arise, such as whether the obligations have been honoured, will be negotiated between states, resolved within the framework established by the regional fisheries organizations or, as a last resort, submitted to compulsory and binding dispute settlement.

For ourselves and states which accede to and honour the obligations set out in the agreement, the confrontations of the past will happily be relegated to the pages of history. In our view the agreement, once ratified by ourselves and our fishing partners, will make an important contribution to conservation, a sustainable fishery and constructive relations between states.

Once the bill is passed and subordinate regulations are made, Canada will be in a position to ratify the UNFA, and I stand to state on behalf of the Government of Canada that we will ratify the UNFA when that stage is achieved.

The compliance and enforcement regime is the only part of the UNFA that needs to be implemented by the adoption of new legislation. That is why we introduced Bill C-27.

Canada has already begun to implement the agreement. At home we are reviewing our domestic and foreign fishing policies to verify that all of them are in compliance with the principles and rules of the agreement. Internationally we are working to implement the UNFA principles and rules within the regional fisheries organizations to which we belong, such as the International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, as well as through our participation and negotiations to create new regional fisheries organizations, particularly in the western and central Pacific.

I am convinced that the general adoption and implementation of these guiding principles and rules by which regional fisheries organizations operate will improve the way we manage the world's fisheries.

Once we have ratified UNFA, Canada can be a leader in urging others to ratify it and to implement its principles, rules and values, both within their jurisdiction and within regional fisheries organizations throughout the world.

We cannot solve the problems of the world's fisheries alone, but Canada intends to be a leader. With the UNFA and the other tools at our disposal, and with the co-operation of our fishing partners, we can bring an end to the destructive and wasteful fishing practices of the past, and we must do that.

I therefore urge the House to move quickly to adopt Bill C-27.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today. I would like to say that it is very nice to see the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans back and in good health after his accident.

As we speak, we are seeing an unprecedented situation. Never before in the history of mankind have we seen our fish stocks being decimated in such a rapid fashion. Not only have we seen them decimated, indeed they are becoming extinct. From the east coast of Canada to South Africa and to the west coast of Africa to southeast Asia we are seeing fish stocks all over the world damaged and destroyed by overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution.

Internationally, as the minister said in his speech, we have in front of us an enormous challenge. How do we provide fish and fish species not only for our families to enjoy but for future generations? From a morale perspective, how do we ensure that these creatures, which have been on the earth longer than people, continue to exist in the future? Therein lies the challenge.

To articulate the problem will take a long time, but we must start. We have seen the raping and pillaging of our fish stocks all over the world in an unprecedented fashion. International communities and governments have been unable to put together a framework with teeth to address this situation. That is what this bill was supposed to do. That is what the international agreement was for. Unfortunately, while this bill goes part of the way, it does not have teeth to properly address this issue.

We are seeing fish stocks diminishing and becoming extinct all over the world. This is a serious problem for all of us. We are also seeing radionuclide cancer causing agents, teratogenic agents, being increased through the food chain. We are finding them not only in small fish but also in larger fish and indeed large mammals. If we look at the beluga whale population in the eastern part of Canada, we see an unprecedented amount of cancer causing agents within their body masses. If we look to the north and see the aboriginal people who live there and consume a large amount of fish in their diet, we see an unprecedented amount of these cancer causing teratogenic agents.

Not many people are talking about this, as I know the member from the other side who is from the north will articulate, but the tragic manifestation of that is that we have found in their populations an unprecedented number of babies born with birth defects, people suffering from cancers at levels that we have not seen in other populations, and numbers which are a silent tragedy not only within our own country but in other countries that share the north.

Earlier this week there were representatives from Russia here, many of whom were from parts of northern Russia such as Siberia and Irkutsk. Their aboriginal communities are suffering from unprecedented levels of these cancer causing agents. Their people are suffering from these cancers and birth defects. It is a silent tragedy and is a direct result of the pollution that has been dumped in the oceans of the world, affecting all of us.

We see pillaging by large boats that are going around the world laying nets even in spite of international laws. These groups show a wilful disregard for the fish stocks that exist today. They will do whatever it takes to pillage and take whatever they want.

One of the challenges of Bill C-27 and one of the challenges of the UNCLOS was to put teeth into a document that will be able to address these pirates of the high seas. In no uncertain terms they will have penalties applied to them so that they cannot continue to engage in the rape of our oceans which affects all of us.

Destruction of the habitat is also occurring not only within the oceans but also on land. In my province of British Columbia we have a hodge-podge situation. The province is responsible for part of the environment and the feds for the other. There is very little co-ordination. As a result deforestation is taking place to the edge of the rivers, which is destroying crucial and critical salmon habitat.

Our response should be to create a system working with the provinces to ensure that it does not happen. We also have a situation on private lands where individuals have the ability to engage in, and do engage in, the wilful destruction of habitat on those lands, often high up in the river system. This has a profound and damaging effect on the entire river system, destroying habitat that is crucial for salmon species in particular to be able to breed. This serious situation has occurred for a long time and the minister has been unable or unwilling to address it.

The private sector would be very interested in working with the government to provide an equitable solution to ensure that the habit is protected and that the interest in personal land is respected. They are not mutually exclusive principles. We can have personal ownership and still have the ability to protect the land and the resources. When an individual's actions has a profound and damaging effect on the entire ecosystem, it should not be allowed but is going on right now.

It is one of the most important things that has led to the destruction of the salmon fishery on the west coast. It is not necessarily overfishing, which has had a profound effect, but it is the damage of the habit. The desecration of habitat is the single most profound factor in the destruction and decimation of our salmon species.

That is clearly within the purview of the federal government and the provincial government. My colleague, the critic for fisheries from Saanich—Gulf Islands, and my other colleague from Delta, both of whom have worked very hard to provide constructive solutions to the minister, need to be listened to. Their solutions need to be employed. The minister needs to work with his provincial counterparts to make this a reality.

There are things that can be done. Let us look at how fishermen are suffering. Right now the government has made promises and these promises have been broken. I will give the House some examples of what it has been doing.

I have a letter from a constituent which was written to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It articulates very clearly how the transitional job fund that has been put forth by the minister and promised by the minister is simply not doing its job. It reads in part as follows:

Despite the announcement made by the minister on June 19, 1998, very little has been resolved for displaced fisheries workers. Of the $100 million promised for licence buyback measures, only $23.4 million is accounted for.

A letter from the minister dated March 9, 1999, sent to me by my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands, states that of the $100 million for habitat protection laid out and promised by the minister only $6.5 million has actually been paid out. Some 6.5% of the total amount of money designated for the critical reclamation of habitat has been paid out.

The final $200 million as promised aid according to the minister's letter is only being paid out at $41.7 million or 20.8% of the money. The rest, nearly 80%, has not been paid out. This means that since the minister promised the money to be forthcoming to fisherman and their communities over nine months ago, less than 18% of the promised moneys has been paid out to fishermen, their families and their communities. These people are suffering. They are in his province. They are in my province. They need help. They do not want handouts but they certainly want to get back to work.

Many of the projects that are being put forth and funded by the transitional job fund are not very useful for ensuring that the people working in the fishing community will have another long term sustainable job to go to, not a short term make work project by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

There are solutions, some of which I will articulate. These solutions would fulfil what we all want to see. We want to see the rejuvenation of fish and their habitat in a long term sustainable fashion.

One of the things for which we have been pushing for years is fish farming. Many years ago Canada was a leader in fish farming. What happened was that Chile and Norway usurped us and now are world leaders in fish farming. Norway in particular does it right.

We need to look at the example of Norway to see what it did right. Within fish farming lie jobs that people currently in the fishing communities who are unable to work at their traditional roles can go into instead of trying to make fishermen information technology specialists and computer specialist with an eight week course when they are in their forties and fifties and have over 20 years of experience fishing. As they say, it ain't going to happen.

We can train them and put them into jobs that may not be exactly what they have done before but would certainly be congruent with what they have traditionally done. To train them or to ask them to map rivers and streams that have been mapped a dozen times before is clearly an expensive make work project. Why not give them the skills to do the work within fish farming, which could create a lot of jobs.

In my riding we have proposed for years a hatchery on the Sooke River. This hatchery in a community with over a 20% unemployment rate could create over $90 million in spinoff benefits and hundreds of jobs. In the community of Sooke 200 or 300 jobs would have a profound, dramatic and positive impact on people's lives. They would be working in something close to the land. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities would be provided a mesh or a linkage between them, which would do a lot for developing peace and harmony between communities that are fighting over a diminishing resource. We must look at that.

Another example is Iceland which has done a remarkable job of saving its fish. It has a long term sustainable fishing industry. When Iceland representatives approached Canada some years ago they came with open hands and said that they would work with us to rebuild our fishery on the east coast. What did they get? Indifference and a cold shoulder from a country that has been a leader in the fishing industry.

We as a country, particularly our east coast, desperately needed help. We desperately needed a plan to revise, revamp and rejuvenate the economy but got absolutely nothing. Now we see the payoff for that neglect. We see communities on the east coast suffering and relying more and more on government handouts and less and less on the ability to provide for themselves.

That has not only damaging effects on them as individuals but profound and damaging effects on their economy and communities. The social fabric of the communities on the east coast has been torn apart as it is being torn apart on the west coast.

There are solutions. I am not for a moment advocating what has taken place in southeast Asia which has engaged in fish farming that has been absolutely destructive to its environment. We do not need to adopt that, but we need to open our eyes and look at countries around the world which have done an excellent job of saving their fish and providing a long term sustainable fishery.

I will go back to Iceland for a second. It tries to focus on getting the maximum value per fish. As a result it has managed to ensure that each fish caught, particularly in a sports fishing capacity, generates an awful lot of money. I believe it is $80 to $100 per fish.

In the difficult times of today with the difficult decisions that have to be made what I will say is politically incorrect but in my view needs to be discussed. Less reliance has to be put on purse seiners, on those large fishing vessels that vacuum the ocean.

The minister wants to buy back. The process he is engaged in, the so-called Mifflin plan, will centralize fishing in a very small number of hands. Those hands will be the big boats. The argument they will put forth is that by having fewer boats fewer fish will be caught. That is not true and the reason is that the technology of today will merely expand to fit the boats. These boats can catch much more than they do. They just need the opportunity to do it.

The Mifflin plan is destroying and taking away the fishery from small individual operators and putting it into the hands of large fishing boats, many of which are owned by the large fishing corporations and packing groups. Does that do much for employment? No. Does it do much for increasing value added fish products? No, it does not. We should be striving for maximum value and maximum employment in a sustainable fashion for the fishing industry in Canada. That is not what the government's plan is doing and that is not what is happening now.

It can be done. The government has heard from from my colleagues from Saanich—Gulf Islands and from Delta—South Richmond constructive, effective and pragmatic solutions to deal with the problem. All we have had is basically a blind eye. I will give the minister credit. He had a lot of courage this year in closing down some fisheries and in the process saving some species. For that he ought to be congratulated.

If we are to protect our fish, which came to light a few years ago, enforcement is critical. DFO enforcement officers are beside themselves. They try to enforce the laws but people higher up in DFO have meddled in their affairs and prevented them from doing that. As a result the best enforcement officers, if they have been doing their jobs, have in fact been marginalized and those who have played the party game in the bureaucracy have advanced.

The DFO bureaucracy has been pulling the teeth of the enforcement officers preventing them from enforcing the law, which is a complete outrage. Strong enforcement of our present laws and the respect of the minister, deputy minister and the people high up in the echelon are needed so that the enforcement officers will be supported and protected in doing their jobs.

The scientists in DFO have to be supported and encouraged because whatever plans we have must be based on good science. Over the last few years in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and with this Liberal government politics has overridden good science.

A case in point is the cod fishery on the east coast. A couple of years ago cod stocks were shown to be increasing a bit. What did the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans do? The minister said he would open it up for a limited cod fishery in spite of the fact that the scientists had said we were having an increase in our cod but to do nothing and let it ride a bit so the numbers could increase. For purely political reasons prior to the last election the then minister opened up the fishery. He destroyed the ability of the cod fishery to sufficiently expand and have a long term sustainable fishery.

It speaks of a problem the scientists have been having in DFO for a long time. In spite of their hard work and diligence, in spite of their tenacity in finding the best solutions possible, the mucky-mucks on top and the politicos kept their answers and solutions under wrap. They forced the scientists not to say anything and rapped them on the knuckles when they did. That is idiotic.

Those studies are funded by the taxpayer. The taxpayer has a right to know what they are. As a result I would submit to the minister that all scientific studies done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans be made public. All interested parties could then look at them and know what is going on on the ocean floor. Everybody would know the number of fish there, the projected fish stocks, what we need to do to save them and what we might be able to do in terms of fishing them sustainably. These are things we have to determine.

The number of fish that are going to be pulled out have to be based on sustainable quotas and the quotas have to be based on good hard science. They cannot be based on politics. Politics has killed our fishery historically.

We have enormous challenges ahead of us not only within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans but also in the policies we enact domestically and internationally. The minister's speech indicates that he is very interested in this issue. I know he is very interested in stopping the habitat destruction, the pollution and the other elements of overfishing that have gone into destroying not only our fish stocks but the fish stocks of many others.

Polluters in our country and around the world are continuing to dump damaging toxic carcinogenic materials into our oceans. This has long term and profound effects not only on fish but also on mammals. The minister must work with the Minister of the Environment to implement tough laws, laws which have teeth, to penalize those individuals who are wilfully polluting our oceans, rivers and streams. At the present time many polluters at best get a rap on the knuckles and at worst nothing. Because of short staffing in both the Department of the Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans these things are simply not enforced.

With respect to Bill C-27 and the UN convention on the law of the sea, one of our great challenges on both the east and west coasts is the foreign fishing vessels which come into our waters, pillage our fish and then escape outside the 200 mile zone. Unless some rigid specifications are met, our interdiction officers cannot apprehend these boats once they get outside the 200 mile zone. That should not happen.

Pirates of the sea should not have anywhere to escape to if they are pillaging the oceans. Oceans have no boundaries. There are no lines indicating “this is ours and that is yours”. The pollution and damage that takes place in the oceans affects all of us. We can no longer turn a blind eye and let it continue.

In closing, I implore the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to work with the Minister of the Environment and the provincial ministers to develop constructive plans, as he has heard here from across party lines, to address pollution, habitat destruction and overfishing. Without those, we will not have a fishery in the ocean and species will become extinct. All species will suffer. Not only will it be the fish in the sea that suffer, but we will suffer as well.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Madam Speaker, there have been discussions among the various political parties.

It is fair to say that this is Wayne Gretzky day in Canada. We recognize the Great One is agonizing over what he should do in terms of his future. In light of this moment, I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to put the following motion. I move:

That, this House recognizes the outstanding contribution that Wayne Gretzky has made to Canada's national sport.

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10:50 a.m.


Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I have no problem with this motion, and as a friendly gesture, I would now like to read the French version.

Que le Chambre reconnaisse la contribution extraordinaire que Wayne Gretzky a apportée à notre sport national.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Does the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys have the consent of the House to propose the motion?

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10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


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10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there agreement to adopt the motion?

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10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, 18, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act to enable Canada to implement the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and other international fisheries treaties or arrangements, be read the third time and passed.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a bit amusing to in the House to speak on a bill right after a tribute to the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky. I hope the Canadiens will forgive me. I will try not to skate around the issue but rather will attempt to explain the bill we are examining.

Before addressing Bill C-27, whose purpose, I would remind members, is to implement the United Nations Fisheries Agreement, it is necessary first of all to see what that agreement is all about. I will then look at how Canada intends to Canadianize certain parts of it.

I have a copy in front of me of the United Nations Agreement, and I think it is important to review it. I would like to begin by reading its preamble. This is an agreement that will go down in history and will govern all countries on the earth, if more than 30 countries ratify it in the coming weeks and months.

In its preamble, the agreement states:

The States Parties to this Agreement,

Recalling the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982,

Determined to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks—

This refers to the stocks which straddle or migrate across exclusive economic zones.

—and highly migratory fish stocks,

Resolved to improve cooperation between States to that end,

Calling for more effective enforcement by flag States, port States and coastal States of the conservation and management measures adopted for such stocks,

I am still reading the preamble:

Seeking to address in particular the problems identified in chapter 17, programme area C, of Agenda 21 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, namely, that the management of high seas fisheries is inadequate in many areas and that some resources are overutilized; noting that there are problems of unregulated fishing, over-capitalization, excessive fleet size, vessel reflagging to escape controls, insufficiently selective gear, unreliable databases and lack of sufficient cooperation between States.

Committing themselves to responsible fisheries,

Conscious of the need to avoid adverse impacts on the marine environment, preserve biodiversity, maintain the integrity of marine ecosystems and minimize the risk of long-term or irreversible effects of fishing operations,

Recognizing the need for specific assistance, including financial, scientific and technological assistance, in order that developing States can participate effectively in the conservation, management and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

Convinced that an agreement for the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Convention would best serve these purposes and contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security,

Affirming that matters not regulated by the Convention or by this Agreement continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law, have agreed as follows.

And so forth.

Why do I take the time to read the foreword? This document sets out and puts on the table the general philosophy of the countries signing it. I would like to make a few comments at this time.

Coastal Fisheries Protection ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We must go to Statements by Members and this would seem like a good time to interrupt. There would be 35 minutes left in debate when next the member has the floor.

Canadian Hemophilia SocietyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that April 17, 1999 is World Hemophilia Day.

This year in Canada approximately 50 newborns will be diagnosed with hemophilia, an inherited blood clotting condition caused by deficiency of two blood proteins.

The impact of hepatitis C and HIV-AIDS on the hemophilia community has been devastating, bringing many challenges. The Canadian Hemophilia Society provides support and services to Canadians who live with the disease. The society has responded to the increased challenges with programs and services that endeavour to meet the needs of all persons living with hemophilia and those also infected with hepatitis C and/or HIV-AIDS.

Please join me in congratulating the Canadian Hemophilia Society and its compassionate volunteers for their work and dedication.

Nisga'A TreatyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Nisga'a treaty is winding its way through the B.C. legislature. The NDP government is ramming it through using something the Liberals are well familiar with: closure. The federal Liberals have indicated they intend to ram it through parliament, likely using closure as well.

Are these two governments right or wrong? I guess that depends on your point of view. If these governments are dictatorships, then I guess they can do whatever they want. However, if they are a democracy, they have to listen to the people, a rather bothersome concept for both of these parties.

What are the people of B.C. saying? Three regional plebiscites on the Nisga'a treaty have all rejected it by over 90%. The 25 public meetings I held in my riding indicate the same level of rejection.

British Columbians want aboriginal issues settled, but in a manner that works for all. A treaty that places aboriginal assets and powers in the hands of a few does not benefit most aboriginal members. A treaty that provides special benefits to a few on the basis of race does not resolve past differences for anyone. If the Liberals want to end western alienation, they had better start listening to the people of the west, all of them.

International Year Of Older PersonsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has designated 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons. Canada has one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world. In 1951 less than 10% of the population was over 65 years of age, but 30 years from now, we can expect one in five Canadians to be over 65.

However, our seniors are vital participants in all walks of life. In Canada 69% of seniors provide some kind of support or help to spouses, children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours. An estimated 23% of Canadian seniors contribute some time each week to unpaid volunteerism and the value of that volunteerism is estimated to be as much as $2.3 billion per year. Seniors are also the largest per capita donors to charities.

These are but a few of the reasons why it is appropriate for 1999 to have been designated the International Year of Older Persons. This is our year and our special opportunity to honour and thank our seniors for their special contribution to the lives of all Canadians from sea to sea to sea.

ChinaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, whenever a Chinese leader visits Canada there is always the public discussion of human rights in China.

This is an important issue and needs to be discussed. However, the debate often obscures another reality in China.

This was brought home to me last week when I visited a small rural village in the mountains of Guangdong province in southern China. There I met a young woman who told me a story about Premier Zhu Rongi, when he first became premier, who, when he saw the poverty that so many Chinese live in, said, with tears in his eyes, “What kind of premier am I that our people live in such poverty”.

As a result, Premier Zhu is working hard to bring decent health care to rural China. He insists that all children get an education and he strives every day to create the conditions that will give those children a better future.

This is a perspective that is not often heard in North America and one that we should consider when we rush to condemn.

United States CustomsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have very serious concerns on the U.S. administration's proposed fee for the use of the U.S. customs' automated system. Canada moves by truck. Close to 80% of merchandise trade with the United States is by road. Members in the Chamber appreciate that this fee, being considered to help fund a much needed upgrade of automated commercial operations, would increase the cost of Canadian exports to the United States.

We acknowledge the need for and efficiency of upgraded automated commercial operations. Indeed, it has become an essential and vital component of international trade. Goods and the information associated with them must travel quickly to respond to the needs of just in time inventory management systems and the pressures of global competition.

I suggest the proposed new levy would be a customs user fee of the type that is prohibited by Article 310 of NAFTA and therefore inconsistent with U.S. obligations under NAFTA.

I commend the Minister of International Trade and the Canadian ambassador in Washington for registering our strong opposition and urge them to vigorously continue this challenge. Canadian traders deserve nothing less.

Saskatchewan NursesStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, as a former health care practitioner and now as a member of parliament from Saskatchewan, I am appalled by the undemocratic and arrogant action taken by NDP Premier Roy Romanow to end the nurses strike in our province.

While refusing to represent the interests of health care workers, the Saskatchewan government has rammed through back to work legislation in just six hours. Now the NDP is threatening the provinces nurses with fines and jail time if they do not comply.

The actions of Saskatchewan's NDP premier are causing hospital closures and forcing patients to seek treatment out of province. This is because the NDP will not bargain in good faith with nurses and the government refuses to enter binding arbitration. Consequently, nurses are being forced to accept unfair wages. As a result, the nursing shortage and poor working conditions will continue.

Hopefully Saskatchewan voters, just like their counterparts did in Ontario and as they will soon do in British Columbia, will vote to remove yet another out of touch, socialist NDP government.

Sechelt First NationsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


David Iftody Liberal Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, today our government marks another important milestone in Canada's history with a treaty signing with the Sechelt First Nations in British Columbia.

In the short time since we began charting a new course with the aboriginal people under our initiative called Gathering Strength, we have concluded landmark treaty agreements with the Sechelt and Nisga'a in British Columbia, and we have witnessed the birth of a new territory called Nunavut. These historic events reflect the spirit behind Gathering Strength.

Each agreement reflects solutions that are uniquely suited to the needs and aspirations of various aboriginal communities, respecting the diversity of our country that is a hallmark of Canadian federation.

This government has demonstrated its dedication to fairness and justice through the negotiation of honourable treaties. We are determined to reconcile the past so that we can plan for a brighter future.

Today, with aboriginal people in Canada, we share our common future with pride and dignity.

BilingualismStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian federal policy on bilingualism is a failure.

Out of one million francophones who were living outside Quebec in 1996, 350,000 have been assimilated by English speaking Canadians in their daily activities.

This is not the opinion of Quebec sovereignists, nor even of representatives of Canada's francophone minority, but of Neil Morrisson, who was the secretary of the royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism, 30 years ago.

In spite of the superficial changes made over the past 30 years, there has never been a concrete and effective plan of action to reverse this tendency, which leads directly to the integration of hundreds of thousands of francophones in Canada.

Quebec, through Bill 101, which was sponsored by the late Camille Laurin, passed effective legislation to ensure that French would thrive in Quebec. Will the federal government have the courage to take concrete action before it is too late?

Equality DayStatements By Members

April 16th, 1999 / 11:05 a.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, April 17 is equality day.

This day marks the 17th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is a remarkable initiative taken by the government of the Right Hon. Pierre Trudeau.

The Liberal government and the Prime Minister are committed to the principles in the charter and the resultant jurisprudence, just as we are dedicated to the linkage between human rights and economic prosperity with our trading partners.

The charter of rights and freedoms guarantees freedoms already enjoyed by Canadians and formulates new rights. The charter broke new constitutional ground respecting mobility rights, equality rights, minority language educational rights, gender equity and multiculturalism.

Since 1982 courts at all levels have dealt with thousands of charter cases, some decisions seriously impacting public policy debate. All Canadians can be proud that this is a country which celebrates equality and human rights.

Wayne GretzkyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, December 30, 1981. I will never forget that night.

Wayne Gretzky took to the ice with seconds remaining on the clock. The Great One was only one point away from scoring 50 goals in 39 games. My sons were cheering. I, along with thousands of fans were chanting, “Come on, Wayne, let's go. Come on, Wayne, let's go”.

The puck found Wayne's stick as if by magnetic attraction. The Flyers could only watch as Wayne made that memorable shot.

He shoots, he scores and the fans went wild. Single-handedly, Wayne Gretzky brought finesse back to hockey. With it, he brought untold delight and sheer wonder to millions of fans in North America and throughout the world.

Wayne is in a class by himself. Wow, what a Canadian. There will never be another like No. 99. Now his records belong to the ages.

On behalf of all Canadians, thank you, Wayne, thank you very much.