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House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was impaired.

Topics

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those opposed will please say nay.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

The yeas have it?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am just checking if everybody is awake. We are going very fast. In my opinion the nays have it.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

An hon. member

The nays have it?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Let us start all over. In that way we will get it right.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those in favour will say yea; all those opposed will please say nay.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Well, the yeas have it this time.

On division, since there is only one member who stood.

(Motion agreed to)

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am well aware that I cannot challenge the Chair, but I question conducting a vote twice when a decision was already called.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The hon. member has the right to challenge the Chair, I agree. On the other hand, it was not clear who was standing and who was not standing in the House. If the hon. member wants to take it up with the Speaker, he can take it up with the Speaker, I believe.

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, my remarks are brief. All members of the House supported the bill at second reading. I thank them for that. All members of the House of course also supported the bill in committee, at least in the form it was when it eventually left the committee. I want to express my appreciation to all members.

The bill deals with a number of technical amendments. I thank the entire House for its support. Those will conclude my comments.

As I was saying earlier, this is a bill that only brings technical amendments to some bills. Since it has been supported by parliamentarians at all stages up until now, I take this opportunity to thank all members of the House for their support.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, to listen to the government House leader speak about the bill it is as if there is nothing to it and we should just say yea and leave here. I guess it does not matter whether we say yea or nay, we will have to say whatever the government side wants us to say anyway, it appears.

There are a couple of very interesting points in the bill. Under clause 4, subsection 19(1) of the act is about the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is what a lot of people refer to as the government engine in Atlantic Canada. It is an agency that over the years has done a tremendous amount of good, but it is also an agency that has been manipulated by the government to carry out its wishes rather than fulfil the needs of the people who live in the Atlantic region.

When we hear members in general and the public talk about government abuse of money and about all the money dumped into Atlantic Canada, quite often those of us from Atlantic Canada can stand up and defend what the government is doing, but there are times when we cannot because of the manipulative processes the government uses in funding through agencies such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. However, it is an agency that has tremendous potential to help Atlantic Canada.

A couple of years ago, my colleagues from the Canadian Alliance, the pre-Canadian Alliance Reform Party, talked about the sinkhole in Atlantic Canada. They were referring to Hibernia, into which went a lot of federal government money. Today, since we have educated them on the potential of Hibernia, they realize that the project now returns and will return manyfold the amount of money that the government has put in or will put into it over the years.

There are times when areas such as Atlantic Canada, parts of Quebec and the western regions in the country, maybe not in marine sectors but certainly in agricultural sectors and in oil development, need a boost from government agencies simply because the magnitude of the investment is too great for the private sector, or the start-up risk is too great. Government incentives are needed. That is when government can play an extremely important part.

In the case of Hibernia, it did play an extremely important part. At the time, the private sector could not finance a project of that magnitude. It was not money being thrown into a sinkhole. It was money being put into a region to develop a project that has now shown how beneficial it is, not only to the region but to the country. In fact, I would say it is more beneficial to central Canada than it is to the region in which the project was developed and is operating, because the greatest amount of money coming out of that project comes to the coffers in Ottawa and certainly does not go to the coffers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

For Atlantic Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is an engine which, properly operated, could provide tremendous assistance to the region.

What is happening in the bill? In clause 4, subsection 19(1) of the act is replaced by the following:

The Board shall meet at such times, but at least once in each year, and at such places as the President may select.

What that says is that the board now has to meet only once a year.

The board of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, like the board of Marine Atlantic or any other government agency or crown corporation, should be the group of individuals that directs policy, selects projects for funding and that independently keeps an eye on what money is being spent, where it is being spent, and the benefits that would accrue from such investment.

If the board is a relatively important or influential board, then undoubtedly it will cause some problems for manipulative governments and manipulative ministers. I certainly do not want to say that the minister responsible for ACOA is a manipulative minister, because we understand that the junior minister, the Minister of State for ACOA, is a very good fellow. In fact, he is so good we understand he might be made minister of fisheries shortly.

I hope that prediction comes true, because the individual, coming from Atlantic Canada, would probably know something about the fishery, completely unlike the person who sits in that chair today who would not know a codfish from a bakeapple. That is part of the problem and of course--

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am wondering what this statement has to do with the bill. I think the member is on a little bit of a rant.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The hon. member for St. John's West.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Madam Speaker, all the hon. gentleman wants to do is distract me from issues which are very pertinent to the bill but somewhat embarrassing for the member and his party.

I was saying that the minister really responsible for ACOA is the Minister of Industry. Now, knowing that, in case some people did not, do members think that a person in such a position might manipulate ACOA or the funds that flow through it? I leave it up to hon. members to answer that question.

However, clause 4 of the bill states that the board of ACOA can meet only once a year. To suggest that the board of such an important agency meet only once a year downgrades the agency and its potential and shows that the real decision making power is in the hands of government. The ironic thing about this is that on same page the bill creates an act establishing Telefilm Canada. The clauses describe the constitution of Telefilm Canada, a new agency that the government is putting together consisting of six members to be appointed by the governor in council. It goes on to say the board shall meet at least once every three months, so Telefilm Canada, now being created by the government as part of the bill, is important enough to meet every three months while the board of ACOA is now downgraded to meeting once a year.

I wonder if my hon. colleague from Prince Edward Island, whose area has benefited greatly from ACOA, now sees how importantly his government looks upon this agency which has been so helpful to our region. Maybe he, like I, will protest this downgrading of the board's authority.

The other interesting clause in the bill is about wiping out the old Fisheries Prices Support Board. If members were to speak to anybody in the fishing industry they would say that they have no objection to that, simply because the board has outlived its usefulness. With free trade now and competition factors affecting the industry, not only in relation to Canada dealing with the United States but Canada dealing with the world and vice versa, the Fisheries Prices Support Board and others are certainly no longer relevant. The deletion of that board would not have a negative effect on the fishing industry.

However, again, here we are a couple of days before the House closes for Christmas and we are spending time talking about deleting a board that is no longer relevant. I wonder why the people from the department of fisheries and the minister in particular are not here in front of the House. As I say this, I am presuming that my friend from Prince Edward Island, the chair of the fisheries standing committee, will stand up and agree with what I will say, because he more than any of us realizes the lack of impact on fisheries policy the minister has.

We have a Department of Fisheries and Oceans for which the funding has practically been totally eliminated. The only saving grace that the minister has had at all in recent years is the extra amount of money put into his department to buy out licences from people who are trying to get out of the fishery.

It is an amazing kind of mathematics that has been carried out. Hundreds and hundreds of licences have been bought out and millions and millions of dollars have been expended to do this. Yet when we total up the numbers there are more people fishing today than there were when the process was started. I am not sure what is happening here. I am certain, however, that the minister is not sure what is happening either.

If the minister is to bring something before the House, where is his request for funding to deal with wharves, harbours, dredging and sheltered basins for fishermen? Where is the request for funding to deal with the coast guard problems? If we fly into Canada today we go through all kinds of scrutiny. If we come in by road we are lined up at the borders. However, if we have anything from a dory to an ocean liner we can land anywhere in the country and nobody would know we were coming unless we called ahead.

These are the issues along with the aquaculture problem we are facing. While our aquacultural industry is on the verge of collapse because of competition from Chile, our Minister for International Trade sits by and does nothing. Shrimp fishermen in Atlantic Canada are trying to get their product into the European market. They are hit with a tariff while the Minister for International Trade sits by and does nothing.

It is frustrating when there are so many problems in the department to see that the only contribution of the minister in this session to our fishing industry was to wipe out the Fisheries Prices Support Board. Perhaps it is best to say nothing. What is the good of it when people we talk to do not understand the process anyway?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Do we have questions and comments on this legislation?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

2:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

That was a 40 minute speech with no questions or comments.

Points of OrderGovernment Orders

December 7th, 2001 / 2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I raise a very important point of order with respect to procedure in the House just a few minutes ago when you called for a vote. It was a correct ruling on your part that on the voice vote the noise from the nay side far exceeded that on the yea side. You called it correctly by saying “In my opinion the nays have it”. At that stage Liberals stood five demanding a recorded vote. According to the rules of the House, such a vote is automatically deferred, this being a Friday.

I think your procedure by conducting it again and changing the outcome is such that the present debate should be precluded. I think you should revert to the decision already made and called. The Liberals having responded, that decision was made and it was clear.

That is what we should simply go back to. That is my very strong suggestion, plea and, if I may use a union term, demand.