House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 a recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 5, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take immediate action to extend custodial management over the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and of the Flemish Cap.

Madam Speaker, it is both an honour and a privilege to debate this extremely important motion, especially for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, it goes well beyond that because the precedent set here is to encourage the government to protect the fishing resources around our shores, whether it be the east coast, the west coast or the north. It also encourages the government to get the best out of our natural resources, to protect and ensure that we maximize the benefits from our natural resources.

First, I would like to explain what is meant by the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, and the Flemish Cap. Like many countries around the world, Canada has a 200 mile limit. Our continental shelf however, in two areas off the coast of Newfoundland, extends beyond the 200 mile limit; two peaks jut out outside the 200 mile economic zone. These two peaks are referred to as the nose and tail of the Grand Banks because they are part of that historic fishing ground known as the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

The two sections are in questionable international waters. That means Canada does not have jurisdiction over everything that goes on there and I will explain that as well.

The Flemish Cap is to some extent an underwater island. It is a shelf further from the 200 mile limit, but one that is off and part of Canada's continental shelf.

In reality, we have three pieces of real estate which Canada says it cannot do anything about what goes on there. We have nations from all around the world blatantly abusing the resources that swim over these three pieces of real estate.

I say swim over because the law states that anything that is on, attached to, or under this piece of land is controlled by Canada because it is part of our continental shelf. We have control over any drilling rights and we also have control over any sedentary species. Sedentary species are shellfish that move very little. They are not physically attached to the ground and they do not move very far.

While Canada has control over the actual land, what is on it, or semi-attached to it or under it, it does not control what swims over it. That gives other countries the right to come in and catch the fish that swim over the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

We might ask however, if we control the land, why do we let others come through our territory and drag their heavy doors, which the draggers use, across our ground if we are responsible for the actual ground?

That is an interesting case and no one wants to push it because of all kinds of implications. In reality, the actual land is within our control. If so, undoubtedly, we are responsible for any environmental damage done to it.

Why I throw that out is because we are going to hear from the government that we cannot extend custodial management over the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap because it is in international waters. The resources that swim over these three pieces of land are allocated to different countries, some of which have lengthy historic rights and all of which have agreements within NAFO.

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization allocates quotas to some 19 countries, including Canada. One might ask, if that is the case, what is the problem? The problem is that many of these countries do not adhere to the quotas given.

Canada has no problem with other countries fishing outside the 200 mile limit within the NAFO-regulated zone, because they have been fishing there as long as we have. When John Cabot discovered Newfoundland in 1497, he went back home and talked about all the fish he found. Ever since that date, we have had European fishers and others come and fish our waters, particularly the Spanish, the Portuguese, the English and so on.

As I say, many of them have fished it for as long as the people who settled here on this side of the Atlantic have fished it. That is not the problem if they live within the allocations. However, some of the nations do not. Some of the nations blatantly abuse the resource.

There is no one to control this. Even though NAFO sets regulatory quotas, it has no way of dealing with somebody who just says, “I do not agree”. In fact, there is a veto clause or an objection procedure. If they say they do not agree with the fish allotment given to them and they are going to catch x number of tonnes beyond that amount, everyone is powerless to do anything about that.

Many countries just go out and catch whatever they can catch without getting caught. Even if they get caught, it is seldom, because Canada has very poor surveillance mechanisms, except for our aerial surveillance, which is top notch. On the ocean, however, we have very little clout to deal with the perpetrators. Occasionally we catch an offending vessel. One, the Olga , was caught in St. John's a year and a half or so ago with all kinds of cod aboard, a species under moratorium. What happens in a case like that?

Let me give another example of a Portuguese vessel that got a citation quite some time ago. We found out that they had 100 tonnes of species under moratorium stacked in packages 10 deep, all marked incorrectly so as to deceive anybody who boarded the vessel. Luckily we have some very good fisheries officials. When they get the opportunity and when they get the resources to do their work, we have people who know what to do and how to do it, above and beyond the call of duty.

However, these boats that are caught offending and overfishing cannot be dealt with by Canada. They cannot be dealt with by NAFO because NAFO has no enforcement mechanisms whatsoever, and therein lies a major problem. They have to be sent back to their own countries to be dealt with. We know what happens there, do we not? I ask the question. Maybe members know, but I do not and the minister does not, because we have made some freedom of information requests asking what has happened to certain vessels and the answer was that they had no record of what happened. We just send the boats home and we do not know what happens after that. Of course in no time after that they are back fishing again, doing whatever they want to do.

How can we control it? Other countries besides Canada have concerns. They have concerns about the lack of science. They have concerns about the environmental conditions. They have concerns about what is happening to the biomass generally. They have concerns about overfishing. They have concerns about blatant abuses of rules and regulations. Countries like Norway and Iceland, particularly Norway, and even England and Scotland, have told us that they are extremely concerned about what is happening out in the ocean. They see what is happening. They know little about it, but what they do know is that some controls should be put in place to avoid abuses.

Why is something not being done? Because nobody has taken any leadership whatsoever. What has our Minister of Fisheries and Oceans done? What has the department done? We checked to find out how much correspondence there was between DFO and the minister and NAFO about overfishing. Do members know how much there was? None. There was absolutely none. That is inconceivable. No one in authority is paying any attention to a major renewable resource that created jobs for thousands and thousands of Atlantic Canadians. It is being destroyed.

A short while ago, a group of individuals in my home area did an analysis of how much benefit our province would receive if we could catch the same amount of fish we caught in 1973. Today the whole fishery in Newfoundland is worth somewhere around a billion dollars. Most of that is because of the crab and shrimp we catch in our waters inside the 200 mile limit.

If we could catch the same amount of groundfish, if we forget crab and shrimp, which are extremely lucrative, if we could catch only the groundfish, the flounder and cod, et cetera, that we caught in 1973, our industry would be worth over $3 billion to Newfoundland alone. That is what a renewable resource can do if protected.

Can we do anything? Yes, we can. What is the first thing we should do? We should show leadership. Are we seeing any? No, none, except from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The committee has raised the issue with the support of everyone on the committee from all parties in the House.

We have not had any problem whatsoever in getting support from every party in the opposition on this issue, because it is similar to the collapse of the beef industry in Alberta. The people involved in farming realize what devastation can be caused when an industry collapses. They more fully understand what happened in Newfoundland and Labrador when the fishing industry collapsed. We are all alike. It gives us a better chance to understand each other across the country, and we know that if we are going to do something about such disasters we have to support each other.

Here is a great chance for the House and for our country to start doing something to protect our resource. If nobody else is interested in protecting these resources, let Canada step forward. Little Iceland, some years ago, was seeing its resources raped by foreign boats from other countries, particularly Spain and Portugal, which are still the big culprits today, and of course England. England in particular was fishing extensively off the coast of Iceland. Iceland told them to get out of their waters. They refused. What did Iceland do? Iceland sent out its gunboats. Little Iceland took on the rest of Europe and won.

What has Canada done? Canada is the major player, the major owner of this resource, the supposed custodian of this resource. We have done nothing.

In fact, the minister has no power to do anything. If he gets involved in international issues, he has to go to the foreign affairs and international trade department. In our experience, their response is, “Shh, be quiet, you might interrupt our international trading agreements”. Maybe we would have problems with our wine going to France and French wine coming here. We might not get the South Koreans to come and build car factories. We might not be able to sell our wheat to Russia.

We are supposed to look after our own people. We have not been doing it. It is about time we started doing it. Somebody has to show leadership. The committee has done everything it could. It has gone to the European countries. It has written to all the countries in NAFO, in their own languages, expressing concern. It has received support from countries such as Norway and Iceland in what it is trying to do, that is, to draw attention to overfishing.

The real leadership, however, has to come from government. And government has been a complete and utter wimp when it comes to looking after the fisheries, not only on the Atlantic coast but all over the country, and particularly this stock of northern cod, which was the greatest mass of fish anywhere in the world. The northern cod was the greatest resource we had in the country. We have let it be destroyed by foreigners simply because we do not have the guts to take them on.

I ask for support in the House for this motion, but I particularly ask government to support this so we can move forward in this direction. Undoubtedly we will get support from other countries when they know we are protecting the resource, not only for us but for them also, because they share in that resource. It can be an all-inclusive solution if government just takes custodial management of this area.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to be first to stand up and congratulate the hon. member, my colleague from St. John's West, for bringing this motion before the House. It is an extremely important issue. I know it is important for Newfoundland, but I believe this issue is important for all Canadians.

Having served on the fisheries committee when we were looking into the issue of the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, I was among those who heard from the mayors of communities like Trepassey and Burgeo, who came to tell us about the devastation of their stocks. We heard the stories about the lack of enforcement under NAFO on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. We know that there is overfishing going on and the resources are stressed.

We feel that the government needs to muscle up and protect what belongs to Canada. It is not a problem that Newfoundlanders should have to face alone. It is a problem on which Canadians need to stand with our neighbours in Newfoundland. We need to defend what is ours. This is our continental shelf.

I want to ask the member about enforcement. He mentioned that little Iceland muscled up and managed to defend its fisheries from overfishing and foreign fishing. We know that there are observers on board these vessels. We know that many times the observers report infractions but there is no enforcement.

I wonder if the hon. member would like to comment on Canada's ability to respond, be it via Coast Guard or via armed forces surveillance. How would Canada need to respond in order to implement custodial management of the nose and tail and the Flemish Cap of the Grand Banks, which is a Canadian resource, a part of our heritage that needs to be defended?

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Let me first pay tribute to the people who work in the Coast Guard. Let me pay tribute to the people who work at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the local level, to the people who work in St. John's, to the people who try to do the best they can with the resources they have.

However, it is in the resources where we find the problem. Are we properly surveilling? Do we have an enforcement mechanism to look after blatant abuses in those areas? The answer is no.

In the fisheries committee we are now doing a study on the Coast Guard. For a lot of last year our Coast Guard boats were tied up simply because they could not afford fuel. We have copies of directives telling Coast Guard forces to reduce speeds to reduce fuel and to only go to sea when they have to. That is not the way to protect a coast and to prevent people from overfishing.

We need more money. We need more resources given to the people who are only too willing to do the job. The people on the ground, as we say, or in this case on the sea, have no problems doing the job. They do a tremendous job.

I mentioned aerial surveillance. We have the best aerial surveillance anywhere in the world. A Newfoundland company, Provincial Airlines, does a tremendous job under charter to the department, but their base of coverage is limited. If we could expand that, we would know a lot more about what is going on out there and we would prevent a tremendous amount of overfishing and abuse.

To answer the member's question, what we need is more resources, properly focused, but what we need most of all is some leadership from government and that is something we have not seen.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok Québec


Georges Farrah LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Madam Speaker, I would also like to thank the member for St. John's West who raised this very important question in the House. This is not the first time we have discussed this issue. We have had other opportunities to talk about this.

As my colleagues mentioned, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has reviewed at length this issue which is so crucial not only for the people of Newfoundland, who are directly affected, but also for all Canadians.

It is absolutely true that the situation beyond the 200 mile limit in the Atlantic is one of overfishing. Nobody in the department, not even the minister, denies that the situation there is unacceptable. This situation directly affects the stocks and the fishing industry in Canada, especially in Newfoundland where they have fish plants.

The proposal by the member for St. John's West is unacceptable for our country, both from a legal and an international standpoint. This proposal is asking us to unilaterally impose our laws in international waters. We know there is a problem with overfishing, but unfortunately, deciding that Canada will unilaterally control fishing activities beyond the 200 mile limit is not realistic.

NAFO did not have the status of an organization until now, but substantial improvements have been made. Management by NAFO has not so far alleviated the problem. That is why the member is putting forward this motion.

The alternative he is proposing is unacceptable and could have some serious consequences for our country at the international level.

I will refer to the former member for St. John's West, John Crosbie, who was also Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for a while as you know. I think the present minister succeeded Mr. Crosbie. This Conservative member and minister said repeatedly that this solution was not realistic. Therefore, that is the point of view we must adopt when we look at it.

This being said, Canada is an active member of NAFO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization. Through Canada's leadership within the organization, some changes have been made in recent years. These changes were not made as fast as we would have liked. However, in the last two years, specific measures were adopted to ensure that the situation improved. We recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done, but as far as we are concerned, opting for such an extreme solution will only have an even more negative impact in the short or medium term.

I will not list all the meetings that have been organized by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization since 1995, but important improvements have been made in the last two years. At the September meeting held in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, NAFO member countries agreed unanimously to establish a long term halibut conservation plan. This plan provides for a 60% reduction of the quota. Because of the leadership shown by Canada, the participants really realized that if we do not respect this resource, it will soon disappear. That is something tangible that clearly demonstrates that improvements need to be made.

As for the monitoring and surveillance of vessels, we have taken concrete measures over the past year, closing our ports to fishing vessels from the Faroe Islands. When boats are caught in contravention off the 200-mile limit, Canada has to have measures in place to make sure that these countries are penalized.

On the other hand, with the stopping of the Santa Mafalda about a month ago, the control of this overfishing has been greatly improved. The vessel was brought to St. John's Harbour, in Newfoundland, if my memory serves me well. Portuguese inspectors caught in the act a vessel that had illegal quantities of fish while there was a moratorium in place. We saw that the Portuguese, among others, really co-operated on this issue.

Consequently, the situation is not simple or easy. There are a lot of improvements to be made. However, we must definitely and very objectively admit that, in the last few years, there has been a considerable improvement concerning NAFO.

With regard to the alternative suggested by my colleague from St. John's-West, he is the first to say that people do not have enough resources for custodial management, despite the fact that they do some remarkable work. If we were to unilaterally impose Canadian management in international waters, imagine how we could control such action. It would take absolutely enormous amounts of money. Yet, the action as such is not legal on the international level.

I understand the members and people of Newfoundland. They are really the victims of completely unacceptable situations. Canada is known internationally for its respect of rights and as a society which is governed by the rule of law. Unfortunately, I do not think it is realistic to suggest the proposal before us can be implemented.

That is why we should keep working hard within the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization to assert our leadership. We are one of the major contributors to this organization. We should not shy away from taking the leadership inside this organization and enforcing our legislation.

As I already said, recent meetings have shown some improvement. We should continue to work in this direction. We should also become international leaders. In Canadian and interior waters, we have taken our responsibilities. Even if we impose sacrifices and quotas on fishers, we can understand their frustration when the same restrictions are not respected by those fishing in international waters. It is frustrating for Canadian fishers, and we understand that. Of course, it is frustrating.

To conclude, I have to say the minister will do his best to take a leading role. We have demonstrated that recently, and we will continue. We will also make sure the Canadian vision is shared by all other partners in NAFO. We cannot force it on other partners. In the medium and long term, we will prevail if we can persuade our partners.

With the kind of mounting evidence we have that many countries do not abide by the rules, we are making some progress. We are taking a leading role. Let us keep working in that direction. In my view, it is the most realistic and fair solution to this problem.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

October 30th, 2003 / 6:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from St. John's West for moving this important motion. It is extremely critical to the people of Newfoundland. Certainly it has repercussions right across Canada when we look at the west coast as well, where I am from. The motion is very timely and very appropriate.

The crux of the problem is that a coastal state like Canada does not have rights to the water column above the continental shelf where it extends beyond the exclusive economic zone. We have jurisdiction over sedentary species, but we do not have exclusive fishing rights for fin fish that swim over the continental shelf. Therein lies the problem with the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

Currently the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization has the mandate to control and manage that fishery. The mandate is the conservation and management of fish stocks within the area and outside the 200 mile limit of the coastal states which comprise Canada, the U.S.A., France for St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Denmark for Greenland. NAFO's objectives are to promote the optimal utilization, rational management and conservation of the fishery resources of the convention area. It is an admirable mandate, but certainly it has not met the expectations established at the beginning.

I would like to quote a few witnesses who gave evidence before the committee when it was on the east coast studying this issue some 18 months ago:

NAFO was an organization that failed desperately in controlling and managing the stocks on the edge of our continental shelf.

NAFO is really an extremely ineffective organization in terms of enforcing its members to be compliant with its own rules and regulations.

NAFO is clearly not working as it is presently structured.

NAFO is a useless organization because of the objection procedure.

I can tell you, NAFO is not working and NAFO will not work.

It goes on and on. Another witness stated:

The reason it is not working is because the enforcement is left to the member nations. Clearly, they feel that they can flagrantly violate the regulations and rules. They can go out and vote the quotas, and participate. The conservationists can be outnumbered by those with self-interest. It fails on two levels. It fails because the rule setting is not in compliance with scientific advice and secondly, because the enforcement is left to the nations who are violating it for their own benefit. They are not enforcing it. Clearly, if you can be as flagrant as they have been, if you can fail to file your reports and still go fishing out of these countries, then it is just not being taken seriously.

Really that is the problem. We believe there is a solution. The committee believes there is a solution. There was a unanimous report. I was a member of that committee. That solution is custodial management.

Under a custodial management regime, Canada would assume sole responsibility for the management and conservation of the areas of our continental shelf beyond the 200 mile limit, the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. However, foreign fishing interests would not be removed. Instead, historic allocation and access would be respected.

In 1990 the Oceans Institute of Canada emphasized this issue:

In short, conservation of fish stocks on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks must not be perceived as a “grab for a bigger piece of the pie” by Canada.... Furthermore, Canada must make it clear that the purpose of such unilateral action would not be for Canada to claim a sole right to harvest straddling stocks on the high seas; rather, the purpose of such action is to preserve Canada's interests, and the interests of the international community, in the conservation of these stocks.

We are talking about straddling stocks. These are fish stocks that swim sometimes inside the 200 mile limit which we control, and sometimes outside. There is no fence there to stop them. We can manage that fishery resource within our limits but once they swim across that 200 mile line they are fair game for anybody and everybody. Therein lies the problem.

The essential purpose of custodial management would be to establish a resource management regime that would provide comparable standards of conservation and enforcement for all transboundary stocks inside and outside the 200 mile limit. A custodial management regime is a necessary and reasonable response to the failure of NAFO to rectify its current problems and to bring its members under control.

Recently the Senate issued a report on straddling fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic, and I would like to quote from page 61. It states:

The Committee recommends that, given the precarious state of the world’s fishery resource and the special interest that coastal states have in fish stocks adjacent to their 200-mile EEZs, the Government of Canada, in pursuing its foreign policy objectives in the area of sustainable development, forcefully begin to advance the notion in international forums that coastal states should be accorded a greater say in decision-making and an enhanced role in administering the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to which they belong. Compatibility of management and conservation measures for straddling fish stocks, both inside and outside 200-mile EEZs should be the major objective sought by Canada.

That is the crux of the matter. The solution is custodial management. It can be done if the will to do it is there.

As recently as September 19, a news release was issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It states:

Canada Cites Two EU Vessels for NAFO Violation

In the past week, Canadian NAFO inspectors have cited two European Union (EU) fishing vessels for serious violations of the NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures (NCEM) on the tail of the Grand Banks.

On September 13, Canadian NAFO inspectors from the patrol vessel Leonard J. Cowley boarded the Portuguese vessel Santa Mafalda in Division 3O. The inspectors estimate that 50% of the catch, approximately 50 tons, was American Plaice and other moratoria species.

On September 17, Canadian NAFO Inspectors operating from the HMCS Charlottetown boarded the Portuguese trawler Joanna Princesa in Division 3O. The inspectors estimate that 30% of the catch, approximately 30 tons, was American Plaice and other moratoria species.

That was 30 tonnes or 60,000 pounds of fish.

This problem is ongoing. Reports have come out over a number of years crying for action from the government to deal with this issue. The solution is very obvious. The solution is custodial management. It will work on either coast of Canada. We can see problems coming in the future on the west coast. Fisheries are in trouble on either coast. We are having difficulties. We have to deal with the issue in Newfoundland, and the member for St. John's West has the solution.

I urge the House to support Motion No. 136 to ensure that we can deal with this problem into the future.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, before I start I would like to make a small correction because there is a mistake in the French version of the motion. It should not say “gestion de garde” because there is no such thing; it should read instead “gestion axée sur la conservation”. It is important to mention that. It is indeed “gestion axée sur la conservation” and not “gestion de garde”.

I would like to congratulate my colleague from St. John's West for bringing this motion to the House. It is truly an important motion.

I listened to the parliamentary secretary who, in a way, did answer him. I believe he was trying to justify the government's action. However, the attitude of the government ever since Newfoundland joined the Canadian federation has been absolutely unacceptable and unjustifiable.

It is unjustifiable because it allowed a resource to be destroyed. It is unjustifiable because it allowed an entire industry to be destroyed, an industry that was the main industry in Atlantic Canada, that was the main industry in Newfoundland and the Gaspé, where I come from. It was also the main industry in other Atlantic provinces. Over the years, the government allowed this resource to be destroyed because it did not take the necessary steps to protect it, as other countries did.

My colleague mentioned that point earlier. He mentioned Iceland, a tiny country of some 284,000 inhabitants. This year, its catch of cod will exceed 200,000 tonnes. This tiny country took matters into its own hands. On several occasions it extended its territorial waters. On three occasions, this tiny country vigorously defended its resource.

Here is a country with 284,000 inhabitants who stands up to the United Kingdom and its armada, and successfully stands up for justice at the international level to protect its resource. This is a very important example.

What has happened here in Canada? I heard the parliamentary secretary say, “Yes, but we should not irritate countries we are working with .We must respect international law”. Indeed, I agree. I quite agree that we have to respect international law. But I also agree that the government should try harder. I also agree that the government did not take the necessary steps in the past.

That is where the problem lies. The government says that we must follow international laws, and that is just fine. However, let us talk about the first time that we had a moratorium, which caused a terrible disaster in the Maritimes.

Indeed, for the last two years and even before that, that is since 1993, a lot of people have been forced into unemployment. The government must have invested some $2 billion to support the economies of these provinces, and it still has not learned its lesson. It was in 1993. Ten years later, we are still discussing the same situation, and a new moratorium was imposed last spring.

What is happening? How can a government be so incompetent and inept at managing a resource?

On top of that, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans produced two reports over the last two years. The first one, issued in June 2002, was entitled “Impacts and Solutions, Conservation on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap”.

The minister's response was almost instantaneous. He dismissed out of hand all the recommendations contained in the report without having even read it or consulted it. What did the committee do? I would remind members that it was a unanimous report from all parties, from coast to coast, and even from a member of the Bloc Quebecois, namely myself, since I sit on that committee.

That shows how important an issue this is. It can be just as important for Newfoundland as it can be for British Columbia or Quebec. If Quebec were independent, I am sure that it would not have managed the resource in this fashion. It is very important, and it has to be said.

At every meeting of provincial fisheries ministers, they discuss this issue. It is the same thing for the Newfoundland fisheries minister. So they come back to this issue and ask the federal government to take its responsibilities and to manage the resource properly.

I was saying there was a first report that was practically dismissed out of hand. Seeing that, the committee produced another report in March 2003. Again we asked the government, unanimously, to take the necessary measures to implement the custodial management of fisheries resources on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. We did so because it is our resource.

Our resources are being pillaged and plundered on a daily basis, and by a great number of countries. We may pretend that progress in being made, that improvements are being made, but I can tell the House that by the time decisions are made to protect our resources, there will not be much left. It has happened before.

To protect our resources, all the federal government did here, at home, was to impose a moratorium. Will we have to wait until every country in the world has imposed a moratorium on our resources and there is nothing left inside or outside the 200 mile limit? That is what the government is waiting for, since it has not taken any concrete measure.

In the last two years, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has proposed solutions to this problem. It was the duty of the government to consider them carefully, to determine if they could be implemented and, through the foreign affairs department, to start negotiating some kind of solid agreement to protect the resources on theNose and Tail of the Grand Banks and of the Flemish Cap.

As a member of the Bloc Quebecois, I can assure my hon. colleague that we will strongly support and endorse this motion as we have done in the past two years.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec


Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for St. John's West for his continuing interest in this matter.

I support wholeheartedly any measure that would improve the viability and the conservation of fish stocks inside and outside the 200 mile limit.

However, I believe that even with custodial management on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish cap, we will not solve the overfishing problem. I am not the only one to think so.

Custodial management, whether the initiative is unilateral or results from negotiations, would be problematic and difficult to enforce and many believe that it would even be contrary to the interests of Canada.

Any unilateral initiative in that direction would run into strong opposition from countries who fish outside the Canadian 200 mile limit. The international community would consider it to be contrary to customary law and it could bring about some serious judicial, political and even military consequences.

Furthermore, this proposal would be costly. Canada would have to pay for new scientific activities, monitoring and law enforcement operations in a much larger area of the ocean.

We would also have to look at the possibility that some countries would ignore the extension of Canada's jurisdiction or oppose it. We would have to spend considerable amounts of money to defend ourselves before international courts in the event of prosecutions by other countries.

It would be just as difficult to have custodial management in the context of negotiations, which is the second possibility for putting such a policy and such a management in place. Once again, the international community would strongly oppose it.

Custodial management would hurt Canada's interests on another important level. This initiative would greatly diminish Canada's influence on the international level, as well as its ability to bring about positive changes within international organizations such as NAFO.

Whether opposition members like it or not, Canada shares the oceans with other countries. We must effectively promote conservation and sustainable management of oceans. Custodial management would considerably diminish our ability to voice our concerns, that is the concerns of our Canadian fishers, and to improve the way our stocks are managed. Canada must remain at the decision making table if it wants to ensure a bright future for the fishing community.

This does not necessarily mean that fish management in high seas must not be improved. However, the work done in the recent by DFO and the hon. minister gives me hope that we can improve the situation.

For example, in 2002, the department put forward Canada's position at meetings with NAFO countries. Canada closed its ports to fishing vessels from the Feroe Islands and Estonia, because they did not abide by the regulations. We also announced a new approach to banning offending vessels that fish in the NAFO regulated area from accessing our ports.

In February of this year, experts gathered at a round table to analyze various options for improving conservation and management of straddling fish stocks. In June, the minister reported to his North Atlantic counterparts on Canada's grave concerns about non-compliance with regulations and on the need to unite their efforts in order to find solutions.

Finally, this September, Canada made important progress at the NAFO meeting in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Outcomes of this meeting included the drafting of a long term conservation and restocking plan for the Greenland halibut, adoption of a pilot project on compliance and increased conservation measures and enforcement of NAFO regulations.

And that is not all. This year, Canada has embarked upon a series of bilateral consultations with most of our NAFO partners, insisting on the urgent need for vessels to comply with NAFO rules, and encourage governments to take action against those who do not obey.

In addition, Canada continues to collaborate closely with other countries to achieve ratification of the United Nations Fish Agreement, the UNFA. When it is ratified, this agreement will become a precious tool to compel fishing countries to comply with very rigorous standards of conservation and respect for regulations.

In the longer term, the DFO is redefining its strategic orientation in order to make important changes and give Canada the means to influence NAFO's orientation in the years to come. A working group of advisers from the provinces and industry has been established to analyze options and define the strategic orientation.

These measures show clearly that the Government of Canada takes this issue very seriously. They also show that we are able to work—and work well—with our partners at home and abroad to make substantial improvements in the management of open ocean fish stocks.

Establishing a custodial management strategy in the nose and tail of the Grand Banks is not a realistic solution and will not serve the best interests of Canada nor the best interests of our fishers.

Canada has every reason to improve the situation through collaboration and concerted efforts with its international partners.

That is why I cannot support the hon. member's bill, although I congratulate him on his efforts.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak about such an important issue. Of course, the hon. member for St. John's West has always been front and centre on this. The member is probably the most experienced member I know. He understands the fishery and its relationship with Newfoundland and Labrador.

We are going through a very difficult time only due to the fact that the federal government has refused to take control, to show leadership and do something with a Canadian resource of which Newfoundland and Labrador is a part. As a result of it, we are now reliant on the federal government for programs. Our people should not have to worry about that.

In my area of Gander and Grand Falls, the groundfish licence fisher people and plant workers are struggling. As a result of that, we are now dependent on government for programs for EI eligibility. There is not enough work to be found.

The government is slow with programs. If only it would do the right thing, take control of the nose and tail of the Grand Bank and the Flemish Cap, then we would have control of our resource to do what we should do for the people who we represent. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would benefit from our resource, get the full potential from it and as a result, we would not be dependent on Ottawa for anything.

Our resource is very rich. We have put a lot of dollars into the economy because of our fishery. It is similar to our oil industry. Everything leaves our province and Ottawa controls it. That has to stop. We have to ensure that we have control and leadership over that so our people will become dependent upon the ocean for their income rather than upon Ottawa.

For some reason or another, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians seem to have to beg all the time for what is rightly theirs, the fish and grounds we fish off. If we were part of the United States, and I said this before in the debate on the fishery, the United States would not let its product or its resource go to foreign nations without a fight.

We have no worries about Iceland blowing them out of the water or going out with the warships. Canada should do it. The U.S. would do it. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are very concerned that there is not enough of leadership.

We will hear all kinds of different views, but it is very important to realize that the people in Newfoundland and Labrador and the people in my riding, who depend on the fishery, want leadership from the federal government. They want it to take control so we can develop our resource for our people, not people of other nations.

I know we have to build with other nations, but an elderly gentleman said something to me 10 days ago when we were on the campaign trail in Newfoundland and Labrador. He asked me why the federal government was so concerned about helping other people in other nations rather than helping Canadians.

I do not know why, but one reason comes to mind. It is more concerned with diplomacy than taking care of its own people. We have to start taking care of our people in Newfoundland and Labrador and in the rest of Canada because we are the ones who are here for others.

I know we have to take care of the people in African nations, in Chile and in Afghanistan, but we have to take care of our own people first. We have to ensure that our resources in Canada stay within Canada, within Newfoundland and Labrador, within Alberta, within Nova Scotia and within all other provinces so we, as a group and as country, benefit the most. If the provinces benefit, people will be working and we will not have the worry about having to rely on EI programs.

It is a slap in the face to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to need handouts from Ottawa. We appreciate it when times are tough. That is why the federal government is here for us. When times are tough, yes, we must meet the demand and the challenge.

It is time for the federal government to realize that the fish resource in Newfoundland and Labrador should be there for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and on the coastline of Canada, not for other countries to tear apart and take home for their own benefit.

Scientists have said that the groundfish in Newfoundland and Labrador is at an all time low. The cod fishery has been closed. Then all of a sudden about eight weeks ago the fisheries minister said that the scientists were wrong. If I remember correctly, he said that there were five times the amount of cod in the ocean than had been anticipated.

Was a fall fishery for cod opened? No. Was there more surveillance so that we could make sure that foreign countries and people are not taking fish illegally? No. They have cut back on prosecution. They have cut back on surveillance.

If we are to protect our resources, especially in the fishery, we have no other choice than to make sure that the fishery is there for the people we represent. The federal government has to take a different approach on surveillance. It has to take a different approach on management. It has to take a different approach when it comes to Canadians.

We do not want to become reliant on EI programs from year to year. We want fish in the plants. We want oil processed for the benefit of Albertans, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and Nova Scotians. We want to prosper in our own province and not become reliant. By taking control of the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, we will definitely make sure that it happens.

I want to make sure that members of the House realize that this is a very serious matter. I thank members for the opportunity to speak. I hope that other hon. members will say a few words because this is a very important issue for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and for all Canadians.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec


Marcel Proulx LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to address the House tonight to say a few words in this important debate. As indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, assuming custodial management over the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and of the Flemish Cap is not a workable option for a number of very valid reasons.

The preferred approach is to work with the international community. Again in September we had the proof that cooperation can produce concrete results. The annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, held in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, from September 15 to 19, was attended by 17 signatories. Canada had three key goals.

First, we wanted better compliance to make sure that the rules governing the fisheries are followed and that the countries that do not follow them suffer the consequences. Second, Canada must make sure that decisions are based on science, and third, we wanted to reaffirm our common commitment to make conservation a top priority with regard to the management of our fish stocks.

Conservation of fish stocks in the area under NAFO and compliance with the rules of this organization were among the main points on the agenda.

I am very happy to report that Canada made progress in those two areas.

However, I see that time is running out quickly and I will not have the opportunity to present all my arguments. I must say that the best way to act is for Canada to keep on working in close cooperation with its international partners to improve the situation.

This is why I cannot support the motion put forward by the member.

FisheriesPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it is entirely appropriate that I rise in the chamber today regarding the response to my question of June 12 regarding the lack of proper equipment for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. For the benefit of Canadians, I repeat what I said to the minister that day regarding Afghanistan: soldiers are dying in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a dangerous place. I warned the minister that it was his moral duty, his obligation to the soldiers and their families, to ensure that Canadian soldiers were equipped for that hostile environment. More important, on that day I asked for a promise from the Minister of National Defence that no Canadian soldier would die because the government was too cheap to provide the equipment the troops need.

The Minister of National Defence was not in the House that day to make the promise then. However, he chose when he came to my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke when he was at Base Petawawa in July, to promise before family and friends of departing soldiers, as well as to the national media, to resign his post if any Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan because of a lack of equipment.

I am now going to read into the record a letter which I believe sums up the feelings of a majority of Canadians:

Dear Member of Parliament,

I have just attended a funeral in CFB Petawawa today.

It was the second in two days, the one yesterday being for Sergeant Short and the one this afternoon for Corporal Beerenfenger.

As I watched the public grief of the families of these two fine soldiers, I was struck by the number of times that I have heard this week that they were deployed to Afghanistan accepting the risks and that their deaths could not have been avoided. While the former may be true, the latter is not and it outrages me that the Minister has avoided any responsibility in this matter.

The Minister of Defence claims it was the commanders on the ground who made the decisions about the vehicles that were used and that the force deployed properly equipped.

Several months ago I recall the Minister of Defence stating that he would offer his resignation if the Canadian contribution to ISAF was not properly equipped to fulfill its mission.

It is my opinion that these two soldiers died because they were not given the proper equipment to complete their mission.

They died as a result of a political expedient and as a consequence of decades of neglect of the Canadian Forces by the Liberal government.

The Defence Minister should have been at the funerals so that he could hear the sobs of these soldiers' widows, children and mothers that came from broken hearts.

The defence Minister should experience the dread that Canadian soldiers experience while patrolling terrain that has the potential to be hiding an old anti-tank mine, or a newly placed roadside bomb before uttering placating and condescending statements.

I believe very strongly that these two soldiers could be alive today had the Canadian Battle Group been properly equipped and I hold the Minister of Defence responsible for their deaths.

It chills me that the Defence Minister is even considering an extension of the ISAF mission for Canada.

I fear for the lives of Canadian servicemen and women.

It is time for the Minister of Defence to admit responsibility for the deaths of Sergeant Short and Corporal Beerenfenger and to resign.

That letter was received in my office shortly after the deaths of the two Canadian soldiers.

It is time for the truth before any more Canadians die needlessly.

We know today that not only was he aware of the Iltis jeep being a death trap for patrolling soldiers, but the Minister of National Defence knew also that his plan to eliminate the tank from the Canadian Forces' inventory would also cost more Canadian lives. In fact, his own department's internal--

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario


Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am appalled at the lengths to which the member will go for purposes of politicking and drama, especially to go to the lengths of using the tragedy that occurred in Afghanistan.

May I assure the House, although I do not think it is necessary, that the minister is well aware of his duty and fulfills it to the absolute utmost and that no soldier died in Afghanistan because of inadequate equipment. As I say, I am appalled that any member, such as the member opposite, would make such allegations.

When preparing deployments for peace support missions abroad, the top priority of both the Canadian Forces and the government is always our soldiers' security. This was certainly the case when the time came to organize the Canadian Forces deployment to Afghanistan as part of Operation Athena, the Canadian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force.

Operation Athena is a crucial but dangerous mission. There are those who oppose the international community's efforts in Afghanistan and who will try to dissuade us from our mission. However, the Canadian Forces will neither retreat nor run away from this important task. They are fully committed to their mission in Afghanistan.

Before any unit is declared operationally ready, it is completely certified by the chain of command to be prepared to meet all missions and all tasks. This assessment includes examining equipment requirements, readiness and training. Based on numerous sources of information and intelligence, commanders in the field assess the security situation and based on that assessment, they decide which equipment will be used.

The situation on the ground and areas of responsibilities can change or evolve during a mission. At times the threat level may increase, while at other times it may decrease. Therefore, it is merely prudent military planning on the part of commanders to constantly reassess which equipment is required for the mission at any given time.

Rest assured that every effort was made in the planning of this mission to ensure its success and the safety of our troops. We took steps to provide our men and women in uniform with high quality, appropriate equipment which includes remotely piloted vehicles to survey Kabul from the air--

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

It is just getting there now.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

--counter-bombardment radars to detect incoming projectiles--although I cannot think of anything that would protect me from such incoming projectiles from across the House--new night vision equipment, and artillery and light armoured vehicles.

Also Canadian Forces members deployed to Kabul received bullet protective plates to be added to their fragmentation protective vests as a safety measure. As a result of a request from the commanders on the ground, the Canadian Forces are in the process of sending additional light armoured vehicles and Bisons to Kabul. These armoured vehicles are expected to arrive in theatre by mid-November.

To conclude, I will simply say that we will spare neither money nor effort to ensure the safety of our troops and that every Canadian soldier who sets foot in Afghanistan as part of Operation Athena will have been trained and equipped for success. I have no doubt that throughout this important mission, the Canadian Forces will continue to make us all extremely proud.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister's own department's internal report labelled the minister's plan “morally wrong”. These are not the words of the official opposition which the minister is so quick to dismiss. These are the words of his own department.

If the minister had taken the time to listen to the professionals, they would tell him that the tank operates as a defensive platform, particularly when it is used with the infantry. Only track vehicles have the off-road manoeuvrability as well as the capability to support the extra armour needed to protect soldiers in a landmine environment. I pointed this out to the Minister of National Defence's predecessor as I did to the minister in committee. Therefore, the minister cannot say that he was unaware of the equipment needs of the army.

I certainly agree with the minister that changes need to occur in the decision making process from the top down. Only now what has become apparent is that the change should be starting with a change in minister.

The ballistic plates to which the member opposite referred, if it were not for us, the soldiers would not have the ballistic plates for their protection vests even now.

FisheriesAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Madam Speaker, as the Minister of National Defence said today in question period, he listens and works very closely with the commanders and senior personnel of the armed forces. He makes all decisions in conjunction with the advice that they are given. The House can rest assured that he does not require the advice that is being proffered this evening by the member.

His job is very clear. His duties are very clear. The government and the Prime Minister have full confidence in both the abilities and judgment of the Minister of National Defence.