This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.

Topics

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the concern I have about a debate like this is the perceptual image that is created by it. It seems people are debating whether we should give major breaks to people who live in the north because of the cost of goods and services. If we were debating something like that, undoubtedly, we would be debating with a tremendous amount of input by all sides. We realize the costs to live anywhere in the rural parts of ours country, particularly the north.

However, as the parliamentary secretary mentioned, we do not have any costs in relation to ice breaking, and we are not talking about that. We are not talking about eliminating the costs of freight, which the private sector charges.

I will use one example. A very popular machine in the north is the Ski-Doo. The cost of a reasonable one now is about $10,000, and that is not a good one. I understand the cost of sending that to the north is about $300 in freight. We are not talking about eliminating that. This amount is charged by the company that transports it.

We are talking about the fees associated with placing the navigational aids and structures to help these boats cross the 60th parallel and move into the north. It collects for us only $100,000. The cost passed on to the consumer by the company that pays the fees will be $1 on that Ski-Doo.

We just brought the GST down from 7% to 6%. This alone saved the individual buying the Ski-Doo $7. The 1% drop in GST was seven times the amount of any fees passed along by a company bringing stuff to the north.

In light of his mention of tax breaks as a way to help people get money directly in their pockets, does he not think that is a pretty good deal?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out in my speech, we need to keep this in mind. There really is not the infrastructure in Nunavut, for example, to conduct the sealift, the resupply, in a normal way. The Coast Guard already provides those other services of temporary mooring and harbour buoys, offloading services and so on. When we add them up, it cost more than it recovers from the $100,000 of cost recovery for marine services fees from south of 60 to north of 60.

As the minister has said, we always want to ensure that we address their needs. We realize there are some unique socio-economic conditions. It might well be, as we conduct a national review of this, that we come up with a single rate for the Arctic, but let us not prejudge that.

As my hon. colleague from the Bloc has suggested to our committee, why do we not bring in some witnesses before the committee and have an intelligent discussion about that before proceeding with a motion like this one?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have one more question. I would like to kill two birds with one stone given the minister's presence and his interest in this matter.

This is also a question of fairness. Maritime transporters transiting south to north in the Arctic have to pay marine service fees. Yet foreign vessels that do not travel via the south or who just stay north do not pay any marine fees. So this is about fairness. I would like to know what the parliamentary secretary has to say about this.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if it is so much a matter of fairness. The reason for it, as I think the member knows, is that there are agreements between shippers from other jurisdictions, and in fact they are reciprocal agreements, such that if a ship is coming from Maine, let us say, there are agreements that the Canadian Coast Guard has with that jurisdiction. We are bound by these agreements. I think that all in all they are good agreements to have and we probably would not want to change them.

As I have said, we are not opposed to discussing this and taking a look at it. We think we should do it in a well ordered way and that is in fact what is going on at this moment with government and industry.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in this debate today, although I feel like I am interrupting the glorious embrace that is taking place between the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his parliamentary secretary.

This specific issue has been dealt with and debated in the past. When it was laid down in 1997 we thought it had been dealt with and had disappeared for a while, but when it was not enacted, it appeared before us again. That is the purpose of the motion brought forward today by my colleague in the NDP. That is why we stand in debate.

It is great to see the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in the House today. He appeared before committee just two weeks ago. I thought we had a frank and fulsome debate on a number of different issues in questioning the minister. It was interesting. Whether he has changed his eyewear over the last number of months, I do not know, but he seems to be seeing things a little bit differently now that he has assumed the reins of that department. Maybe he has a somewhat greater insight now or a different perspective on a number of issues within the department, in seeing that it is a ship that takes a great deal of energy and effort to turn around.

Being a long-serving member of that committee, he knows that there is one thing he can count on and that is the support of the committee in bringing forward strong recommendations. For the most part, I have had the great pleasure to work on that committee since coming to this House almost six years ago. What I have always enjoyed about that committee is that there is a great degree of support, of collegiality and of working in cooperation with all parties to come out with a greater public good, with recommendations on whatever the issue might be that will better enhance the day to day lives of those who harvest the sea or those who work in the sea. There have been a great number of those recommendations over the last number of years.

I think of the MCTS report that we put forward. I look at the work that has been done on small craft harbours and the recommendations that have come forward from the committee. I look at unanimous reports that have come forward through the committee. We are currently working on a strong, all party recommendation in support of the seal hunt, in support of Canadians who draw their livelihood from the seal harvest, and we will stand together shoulder to shoulder and make those recommendations. Hopefully the minister will exercise his wisdom and leadership and respond to those particular recommendations that come forward from the committee.

I have just had the opportunity to speak with the minister on one issue that we have seen a great deal of progress on and which was brought forward in my own back yard. It was the issue of munitions, at sea munitions and the post-war dumping of those munitions. There was a strong recommendation from the fisheries and oceans committee. It has been acted on. The last number of years have shown great progress on that issue.

When this particular issue came forward, it was one during that had not been discussed during my tenure at the fisheries and oceans committee. Certainly, though, when we looked a little deeper, we asked why in the heck it was not moved on. Why has action not been taken on this since it was first discussed and passed in 1997?

We had brief discussions in a past committee meeting. As well, I have been very thankful for the work that was done by my colleague from Nunavut, my colleague from Yukon and, as was mentioned in the House earlier, Senator Willie Adams, who has been a strong advocate of this issue. They have been able to inform our caucus, and certainly a broader swath than that, of the impact of the issue on communities in the north. I want to thank them today.

What I see is that this is another opportunity for the committee to do something good for the people of Canada, but more particularly the people north of 60, because these are the people on whom its impacts are greatest. Let us look at the cost of living in northern communities. I think all members of the House are very much aware of the cost of living in northern communities. These fees do have an impact on those who buy the goods, who buy the groceries and the Ski-Doos, as was indicated earlier, or any services. These fees do have an impact, because they deal with pretty much the sole source of resupply for those north of 60. They have a tremendous impact.

As the parliamentary secretary alluded to, the costs of navigational aids and the placement of navigational aids have come down tremendously over the last number of years. If we think back to years ago, our coastlines were dotted with manned lighthouses and there was a tremendous cost to the national treasury in trying to support them. Investments have been made in technology and we have come a long way. With the evolution of navigational aids, the costs of navigation in the country now have come down considerably.

When we are still charging what was being charged back in the mid-1990s and probably prior to that, and with navigational aids costs coming down, maybe that alone is enough of a basis or a rationale to identify that this is the time to make sure we go forward on this.

Already a couple of members have spoken on this topic today. They talked about the impact on the average Canadian who is living north of 60. Whether or not this particular fee is stifling or suffocating to development in the north, we obviously see it as at least a burden. It is not a huge cost to the treasury, but I believe there is a benefit that can be yielded for so many people in the north. We certainly hope that the government sees the merit in this and can support it.

Speaking from our party's perspective, we certainly do not see this as a magic formula. There is so much more that has to be invested in the north and there are so many other issues that impact on the north, but we see this as one small thing that we believe should be acted on. The fee exemption was established in 1997 but never acted on and we think that now is the time. For the benefit of all those living north of 60, this party will be supporting the motion.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his questions and statement today. Living in a rural area, he knows very well the costs associated with that.

The member was absolutely correct when he talked about the unique situation north of 60. These particular fees are not going to break the bank for anybody. This is about the principle of it and the aspect that these fees could increase or change; these fees could do all kinds of things. That is why there is an exemption on the books as of 1997. He is correct. Unfortunately, it was never acted upon. Really all we are asking is to have the exemption maintained. That is it. It is not that difficult. I would like his comments, please.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Exactly, Mr. Speaker. This case has been made in the House before. It is unfortunate that it has not been acted upon, but when it did come forward we were very much aware of it. A friendly amendment was put forward by one of our colleagues on the committee. As I referenced earlier, it is a very collegial committee and I believe we work toward the greater good in most cases.

We understand fully that there is an initiative going forward. The future approach to marine services fees is going forward, but this is something that was dealt with already. It should have been enacted in 1997. It was established in 1997. As we go forward with the future fees and what we do with the rest of the national template, that is one thing, but let us get this off the books today. Let us support the motion and make sure that the exemption is started today, immediately.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague, the member for Cape Breton—Canso, for all the work he has done through the years on the fisheries committee.

I first would like to comment on something said earlier by the Minister of Fisheries, who talked about how the GST cut is much greater than what the fee would be, yet at the same time, the Conservatives again raised the basic income tax for income earners in the bottom tax bracket. In typical Conservative fashion, the government gives one amount with the left hand and takes with the right at a much larger rate. That negates his little argument.

I would like to ask a question of my hon. colleague. It pertains to the committee itself and some of the good work it has been doing over the past while. For people who are watching this from outside the House, perhaps it will shed some light on some of the good he has done and seen and on what has been successful in the past year as far as work from the committee going into legislation is concerned.

Maybe he would like to comment on the good work that the Minister of Fisheries did when he brought custodial management forward in the committee. Perhaps he would like to update us on that particular motion.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I certainly would not want to put words in the mouth of the Minister of Fisheries. He is quite capable of answering for himself. I am sure there are many questions surrounding custodial management that will be posed to him as things go forward on that particular file.

I do not want to sound like an infomercial for the fisheries and oceans committee, but if people were to talk to members on that committee they would say that a great number of people have made a contribution to the committee over the years. We will be in transit soon. The committee is heading to Gander and parts north next week, as a matter of fact, to speak to seal harvesters. We are travelling to Yarmouth and other parts of Nova Scotia to talk about the whole issue of boat stabilization, something that is very important to the fishery and to the professional harvesters who ply their trade and raise their families on the fruits of the sea.

So yes, I think we have made a number of great contributions to many issues, but this one should be an easy one. This should be a no-brainer. We should be able to get this one done. It has been discussed. It has already been supported. It has been established. Whether this was an oversight or whatever the rationale is, the fact is that it should take effect immediately as we go forward with the study on the overall national fees for marine services.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate.

At the outset, I would like to clarify the context of the debate once again. The proposal is quite broad, and the motion enables us to look at the issue from a broad perspective.

The committee is recommending that the government not apply marine service fees on Canadian commercial ships transiting to and from waters north of 60o based on the socio-economic conditions of the north consistent with the fee exemption established in 1997. This is the first recommendation. There are others, but the government seems to have forgotten or chosen to ignore them.

The second recommendation is this: that the exemption be applied immediately without any further delay and that the Canadian Coast Guard's cost recovery policy with respect to the north be subject to further review in the development of a national future approach to the marine services fees.

This enables us to consider the debate in its broader context. Canada is surrounded by three oceans and has very long coastlines. Documents I consulted said that Canada's coastline is 243,792 km long. That accounts for 25% of the world's coastline. This matter is therefore anything but minor.

The motion gives us an overall view of what is taking place at present. This is also an opportunity for me to mention that a Quebec organization, the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council, has already expressed its opinion on this file. Let me state some facts. The costs of the Coast Guard represent about $40 million in all. Part is for marine services fees—the subject of today’s motion—and part is for icebreaking fees. Generally speaking, $13 million goes to icebreaking and the other $27 million goes to marine services fees. This is one factor to be considered in our debate of the motion and it is why I am providing these illustrations.

The St. Lawrence Economic Development Council is interested in our discussion today. Moreover it has already had the opportunity to present its position in this regard many times. It did so quite recently, to the Canadian Coast Guard, in April 2006.

Some of the members of the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council—SODES—are the shipowners that serve isolated locations in the Arctic, our topic of discussion today. These shipowners have to pay marine services fees since their services involve trips between ports located south of the 60th parallel and ports located north of the 60th parallel.

These service fees inevitably have an impact on the cost of maritime transport, which in the end has to be assumed by the isolated communities that are resupplied by ship.

In this regard, SODES is in agreement with the Government of Nunavut, which says that we should not charge these service fees since the costs of transportation are already very high for serving Arctic locations. This is another factor to be considered in our debate of the motion.

Living in the Arctic is not necessarily easy on account of the climatic conditions. Unfortunately, when it comes time to resupply, the only way to operate is by air or by sea. A lot of these resupply goods arrive from the South, and that has some impact on the prices paid by the people who live in the Arctic.

“Marine services fees,” said SODES, the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council, “do not apply to ships sailing exclusively north of the 60th parallel”. That is actually the subject of one of the questions I had the chance to ask a few moments ago.

However, the supply of remote communities in the Arctic inevitably involves marine transport from ports located south of the 60th parallel from which the goods are shipped.

For this reason, the exemption from marine service fees in the Arctic should have initially included transport linking the Arctic with ports located in the south. It would have been the right thing to do because the principle that there are no fees north of the 60th parallel is already recognized, it is applied and there already is an exemption. However, it is not only goods from the north that are transported in the north; there are also goods that arrive from the south.

The fact of not applying service fees for marine transport between the north and south of the 60th parallel is a result of the desire not to impose additional economic costs on remote communities and to encourage a quality marine service at reasonable cost.

That brings me to the key element of the discussion we are having today. We will probably have an opportunity to return to this subject at another time. Today, I want to make it clear that I believe the Canadian Coast Guard should not become a collector of fees. There is a service to be rendered to communities, especially those in the Arctic, but the Coast Guard should concentrate on marine safety.

The Coast Guard does excellent work in that area. I recently had the opportunity to visit with members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary who were holding an exercise in Gaspé during the summer. It was a competition among members of the Auxiliary. In terms of marine safety, members of the Coast Guard already have a record of providing service to people in need in situations that are sometimes unfortunate and even tragic.

There is also another responsibility regarding the Arctic region, considering what is going on there because of climate change. There is a shift taking place. Things could change and it is possible that current traffic will increase. That also falls within the context of debate on the motion. So there is scope for a very broad examination of the situation.

In the case of ice breaking or marine service fees, I do not think that the Coast Guard should become a collector of fees or get in the way. Rather, it should devote its energies to helping marine companies engaging in cabotage. I am speaking about products that are shipped from the south to the north over a great distance and sometimes, under difficult conditions. The Coast Guard must not become simply a collector of fees. I do not believe that is its mandate.

If I am not mistaken, the overall budget of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is $1.4 billion a year. Marine service fees—in other words icebreaking charges—involve $40 million. The subject of the motion today involves only $100,000 or $200,000. We see what this debate is really all about and, by extension, what the government's systematic obstruction is about.

It seems totally natural to me to vote in favour of this type of motion. It was surprising to hear Conservative Party representatives in committee presenting arguments that did not fly. These arguments left us with the impression that this motion would cause a revolution.

It is not a question of revolution, it is a question of logic and fairness. It is as simple as that. This issue raises some relatively important questions: what is the role of the Canadian Coast Guard; what should the government's contribution be; and, how we can work with people from the shipping industry?

In my opinion, what would be useful in this file is for the government to act with more diligence.

The Liberals were very slow to take action. The problems with the icebreaking services and the fees have existed for some time for the shipping industry. There is still no long-term agreement. Year in and year out, the industry operates with something that was decided a number of years ago.

It would be interesting for the Conservative Party to simply rally around the opposition, which is in the majority, and support its position, which is also held by the majority. They have the right to change their minds. Today, in committee, they did not rally around the opposition. They do not seem to want to do so, but they are listening. Listening does not have to be something passive; it can be active. I invite them to change their minds, to change their decision and to rally around this position. It is simply a question of logic and fairness.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague has been on the standing committee for quite some time and has made a great contribution, as have other members. I heard the member for Cape Breton—Canso a while ago talk about the harmony on that committee. I am well aware of that. I was on the other side of the House and a member of the committee for five years. I know how well members of the committee have worked together. In fact, just about all the reports, if not all of them, were unanimous ones. When I say that I find that most of the members think alike, it is very seldom that members are on different sides of any issue the committee is talking about.

I am somewhat concerned that a study is being done in relation to fees in the north in light of the fact that this is an evolving issue. I am also concerned that a member would raise this as an issue for debate in the House before all the facts and figures came out. This might lead some people in the north to think this is some kind of a big government decision that is going to help them save a lot of money, when in reality what is being asked for is a favour by the shippers that the fees north of 60 be eliminated, which would be a benefit to them.

Will the shippers pass that saving along to the customer in total, spread right across the north, including the provision of goods and services brought to the diamond mines and the oil industry? The total cost is $100,000. We can figure out what it means to an average individual living in the north. It is practically nothing.

In light of the fact that fees generally are being looked at and that this has a minuscule effect, does the member really think we should be creating an illusion here that might make the people in the north feel that somehow or other we are trying to pass along great benefits to them when it is certainly not the case at all?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would say that, if anyone is creating an illusion here, it is the government. The debate we are having and to which I am contributing, is, in fact, much broader. It is not a matter of just a few thousand dollars. At this time, if we were to look at other areas, I would simply remind the House that, when it comes to helping the oil and gas industry, government members are not very interested in having a debate. They just go ahead and act. Yet, this is not the case when it come to logic and fairness, as in the current situation.

This brings me back to the main point of my presentation, that is, it would be entirely reasonable for the government and the minister—with all due respect for his duties and responsibilities—to get behind us and agree to set a good example in this file regarding fees. Setting a good example does not mean waiting and waiting some more, then reviewing and reviewing some more. That is what is currently going on. Unfortunately, when the Liberals formed the government, they reviewed and reviewed some more, while people were left to wait. I find this waiting somewhat damaging, because it suggests a lack of responsibility and rigour, which a government should demonstrate.

In that sense, once again, this brings me back to my main point. I would very much appreciate it if the members opposite, members of the government party, would support the opposition majority on the committee.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore for putting forward the motion to concur in the third report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I had the honour of sitting in on that committee, even though I was not a regular member of the committee, and to speak on this issue.

A lot of technical information has been coming from the different speakers this morning. I want to speak more to the human element, the impact of marine service fees on communities and just what sealift means to us.

I listened to some of the debate earlier. I do not know if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is fully aware of his comment about the fees that will not apply already north of 60 from points to other points. Not a lot of freight goes from my northern community to any other community. I would say that 99% of our freight comes from the south. If fees are to be applied to cargo going from the south to the north, that is pretty well all the cargo. Not a lot of cargo goes from one northern community to another unless it is moving, let us say, heavy equipment that might have been used for a project in one community to another.

The sealift is the most important service for a community in my riding of Nunavut. In all the years that I can remember, it was the most important event in a community because that was the only way to ship goods in. Today there is a little more option with air traffic but the costs are horrendous.

What we are really talking about here is applying the exemption and not eliminating service fees, as I heard the Minister of Fisheries mention in answer to another speaker. It is applying the exemption that was set out in 1997 to our understanding that it means from all points that are going north of 60, which is the majority of the shipments.

Let us take my community as an example, which is pretty well the norm for most communities. When we get the sealift in August or, if we are very lucky, July, we are getting the bulk fuel for our community for the rest of the year, which is for electricity, because our electricity is only diesel generated, it is to heat our homes and it is for all the vehicles. This is, in some communities, only one shipment for the whole year and it is usually the first order of supplies that come to a community.

The next important shipment will be the building supplies for any construction in a community. If we are very lucky, it will be for housing, and if we are extremely lucky, we will get a building season out of that shipment. Some communities do not have the luxury of having a season to even start building that summer. Therefore, everything has to be shipped in by a certain time in order to take advantage of a building season.

The sealift is also a chance for the stores to resupply their merchandise that can be shipped over the summer. Luckier communities do get some shipments in now by air but, again, that is very expensive. Average people do what they call a sealift order, which is common in our communities, where we order the supplies we will need over the whole year for our own individual homes.

In explaining the sealift, I am trying to give the House an understanding of how important the sealift and marine services are for our part of the country where there are no roads and things must be flown in. Any extra costs that are put on top of already very high freight rates, even through sealift, is another added cost that most certainly will be passed on to the customer.

We live in the most expensive area of Canada and yet we will not live anywhere else. Even if we had the choice to move away from our communities, we would not. I am thinking of little communities, like Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay, that are closer to the North Pole than they are to Ottawa. Even though the people were relocated there, they do not want to move away from there because that is now their home. However, they feel that the government and the country should be aware of their existence in that part of our country and that we ensure the cost of living is reasonable.

We are not asking for a lot. We are just asking that a reasonable cost of living be available to us. We are not asking for the moon. We are asking for an exemption of marine fees that have not been applied in the way that we understood them. This has been a long-standing issue and one on which I have been lobbied for many years.

I wish, when we were in government, that we had put this matter to rest. I know it was before the marine advisory board. My understanding is that the board members felt that it was not up to them to make the decision to do the exemption because that was already in place in 1977. It was more a misunderstanding, I believe, of how to apply that exemption. I heard the parliamentary secretary say that it would be applied to a ship or a cargo transport if it were going from another northern place to another northern place north of 60. However, that is not the bulk of the material that goes to our communities. It is not coming from another point north of 60. It is coming from south of 60.

Because I see this day to day in my communities, I am probably not giving the real impression of the message I am trying to get across here. I can see the sealift orders being landed on shore from my house and I can see all the off-loading. I see the vehicles and boxes of building materials being unloaded. There are whole sea cans of perhaps 60 feet by 20 feet metal containers of absolutely everything we want to ship up north. Almost everything a community needs is being shipped to our communities.

One of my sons had the good fortune of being able to buy a vehicle in Winnipeg last April but he did not receive his new vehicle until late August. We here in the south have the concept of going to a car lot, buying a car and driving away with it. My son drove his vehicle for a day in Winnipeg, which was to drive it over to the person who would be shipping it up north. He then had to wait for months and months for his vehicle to get to where he lives. Those are of the kinds of things that we live with. We live with delays of getting whatever we buy in the south to get to our communities. On top of that, we must pay extra costs.

This is really part of a bigger issue. As the parliamentary secretary said, this is not a big deal because we are not talking about a lot of money. However, it is just one more thing on top of all the many other things that we as northerners must be patient about as Canadians in this country. We must be patient while we wait for things to get to our communities and we must be tolerant of all the extra fees that we pay on top of the freight.

Gestures like this mean a great deal to us because it means that the rest of the country is understanding of the different issues and challenges that we must deal with. If we could eliminate the marine service fees that would become a win for us. It would make us look forward to the next one and the next acknowledgement of what we have to live with in our part of the country.

I just wanted to add my comments to all the great interventions that have been made by members in this House. I wanted to put more of a human element on this issue and let the House know what it means to those people living in our part of the country to have these kinds of things debated in this House. It gives everyone a chance to see what these gestures mean to us and it provides a better understanding of the unique situations that we have in the north.

I wanted to take this opportunity to add strength to the motion to concur in the third report. I certainly hope all members will support the report because it brings a better understanding of the challenges we face in the north. Many people in my riding of Nunavut are anxiously awaiting the outcome of this debate. They hope to see an exemption to the marine service fees.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nunavut for a very moving and informative scenario of what life is like in the north. Something we sometimes forget to add to the dialogue in this House is the human element and how the decisions we make affect people in their day to day lives. I found her remarks very interesting.

She talked about the costs not always being monetary costs, but being the cost in waiting and the cost in inconvenience that a lot of people in the north experience that we in the south do not. I want to ask her if the small costs in savings for the government will outweigh the personal human costs. Will this make things better? I wonder if she could comment a bit more on this.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, certainly, and that is what I am trying to make other people understand. It is always more than dollars and cents. It is always more than the actual writing of a report or motion. It is always more than the words.

The implications and the impacts of policies laid down, usually in Ottawa, do not fully take into consideration what that means to the average person on the street. Sometimes the significance of things that we do here is not taking in the whole picture. What might seem like a simple thing here, south of 60, ends up being such a complicated issue.

In my speech I tried to present a picture of the impact of some of the decisions made down south. I am always very appreciative when members of the House come to my riding to experience for themselves the impact of some of the policies and decisions that are made here in Ottawa.

Our entire country needs to understand that it is not as simple as dollars and cents. It is important to be aware of the relationship and the understanding that people have of our part of the country, and the different culture and different group of people who so much want to live in that part of the country and would not trade it for anything else, and yes, even the offer of trees.

Some people once said to me that they felt so sorry for me because I lived above the tree line. I said that I love being able to see as far as the eye can see, and I know someone from Saskatchewan will understand that.

It is with those kinds of dialogues, the visits and interaction among different Canadians that we begin to appreciate and better understand why people are so happy to live in that part of the country and want the rest of the country to understand the different difficulties and challenges that they have. That makes for better policies here in Ottawa and it certainly makes for better lives in this country.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the member for Nunavut to tell me if I have understood correctly. What she is asking for is an acknowledgement of a people who live in difficult conditions, of a people who know very well of what they speak. We should realize that the issue has been brought here at their request and that they support it. I imagine that they feel it is quite a shame, regrettable even, that so much effort is put into refusing something which, in the end, costs very little. Those living in isolated communities are forced, unfortunately, to be much more creative somehow. They must ask for so much more in order to obtain very little.

I feel that it is a question of acknowledgement and common sense. It also has to do with our land mass. We are proud of the fact that we have a large land mass and that Canada is a big country. The same goes for Quebec, which will soon become a country. When talking about the Magdalen Islands or northern Quebec, we take pride in the fact that Quebec is big, that Canada is also big. Nunavut is certainly an isolated community but what I am hearing is that they are asking for understanding and it seems that, on the government side, they are having a great deal of difficulty recognizing the importance of this matter and of the motion we are discussing today.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, we all know that if we feel there are certain wrongs that have been done, whether it is in personal life or as a government or a country, acknowledgement of that is always a very powerful message. It is certainly part of learning to work with different groups in the country. We have a country that is totally diverse in culture and language, and has differences regionally depending on where one lives in Canada .

I fully acknowledge that this motion speaks not just to my riding of Nunavut but to other parts of the country that are also affected, northern Quebec being one of them, Labrador, and Northwest Territories.

We can find many incidents in the history of this country where different parts of the country and different groups in the country have felt that there needed to be some acknowledgement of some injustice or some misunderstanding that has happened. Any acknowledgement goes a long way in reconciling our differences. It is not just this but to use this as an example, as I mentioned in the previous answer, acknowledgement of our unique situation certainly goes a long way in making it easier for us to work with different groups.

When there is better understanding between two opposing groups and a better effort to understand the two sides, there is always a better chance for us to come to some compromise.

When I look at the different land claims that have been successful in this country there is always compromise on all parts, whether it is the aboriginal group, the territorial or provincial government or the federal government. There must be compromises on all sides. That happens because they were able to recognize the differences and come to an understanding of where everyone is coming from.

This is a part of building that relationship, understanding that there is a unique part of this country that has to be looked at differently in applying government policies. There is never going to be one answer that fits all. I know we tried to do that with national laws because that is our mandate, but understanding that there are different parts of the country that need to be understood in a different way goes a tremendous way in bringing those bridges together.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is the House ready for the question?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

JusticePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2006 / 11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition that is very important to my riding, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

The subject of the petition was discussed in this House not long ago, and it will continue to be discussed in the coming weeks and months. I hope we will arrive at the right conclusion.

I am referring to the Wilbert Coffin affair. Mr. Coffin was convicted of a crime and hanged in the 1950s.

More than 2,000 people in my riding are presenting this new petition to the Minister of Justice that calls for clearing the name of Wilbert Coffin, a man from Gaspé.

MarriagePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition today from my constituents and others from all over southern Alberta. They petition Parliament to reopen the issue of marriage and to amend the Marriage for Civil Purposes Act in order to promote and defend marriage as the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.