Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House today to support the goals of my Manitoba colleague in Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage.
I was the first MP to jointly second the bill in April of this year. The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, our neighbour to the east of my constituency of Yorkton—Melville, is to be commended for his efforts to preserve the practices of hunting, fishing and trapping, practices so central to our history and tradition that they form an integral part of the fabric of our culture.
There is a growing list of 358 municipalities from every province in Canada that support this groundbreaking piece of legislation. I am eager to engage the efforts of the 77 MPs and senators who comprise the newly formed outdoors caucus, representing all four political parties in this House and all 10 provinces and two territories, and to discuss how we can best accomplish the goals described in Bill C-222.
We should promote our hunting, fishing and trapping heritage activities, because the men and women who use the outdoors are most interested in preserving the environment. Many groups are seeking to shut down these three traditional heritage activities. Acknowledging and using the considerable resources of the federal government to promote our traditional heritage activities would go a long way to protecting them.
There is no question that hunting, fishing and trapping are heritage activities. Where would Canada be without them? All of the exploration and settlement of Canada took place mainly because of these three heritage activities, but where do we find recognition of this fact in the old government's websites? Nowhere.
Hunting, fishing and trapping do not appear in the 221 items listed in the site map of the Canadian heritage department's website. Hunting, fishing and trapping are not a part of Canada Tourism's website. Hunting and trapping are also missing from the Canadian Tourism Commission's website and just 12 fishing lodges are listed. The section on wildlife does not even mention hunting or trapping.
Nor is there any mention made in any of these three websites with respect to gun shows, shooting competitions, skeet shoots, historic re-enactments, gun clubs, fish and game organizations, wildlife federations or trappers associations, all essential elements of preserving the heritage activities of hunting, fishing and trapping. These three activities are essential to wildlife management and habitat conservation and rehabilitation.
This certainly indicates a lack of recognition by the old federal government, which Bill C-222 proposes to address. This lack of recognition begs the question: how can we protect these heritage activities if we fail to acknowledge that they even exist? In failing to acknowledge these heritage activities, the old government also failed to acknowledge the huge contribution that hunting, fishing and trapping make to Canada's economy and jobs.
Sustenance hunting is an important part of the lives and survival of thousands of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, but sport hunting is where the real money is at. In August of this year, the Library of Parliament completed a report entitled “The Benefits of Firearms Ownership--Hunting and Wildlife Management”. In this paper, Library of Parliament economist Tony Jackson wrote:
The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force on the Importance of Nature to Canadians...is made up of agencies responsible for the environment and tourism.
In 1996, 10.3 million Canadians aged 15 and over took part in outdoor activities, with 4.2 million fishing and 1.2 million hunting. According to the survey, men and women enjoy the Canadian outdoors equally; however, 85% of recreational hunters are men, as are 66% of recreational fishers.
Respondents were asked to report their detailed expenditures for mainly nature-related activities over a 12-month period. In just under half of the reported trips, the participants undertook more than one activity. The survey estimated that over $7.2 billion was spent on outdoor activities in natural areas in 1996, including $1.3 billion on wildlife viewing as both a primary and secondary activity. Canadians spent $1.9 billion on fishing and $823.8 million on recreational hunting.
One of the first tasks of the new outdoors caucus that I co-chair with the hon. member for Yukon will be to ask the environment minister to renew this survey.
In addition to this direct economic impact, in the last 15 years hunters have devoted 14 million volunteer hours or 1,600 years of personal work to habitat conservation. Hunter licence fees brought in almost $600 million to government treasuries, coupled with approximately $600 million spent on equipment, travel, lodging, guides, tourism and other expenditures.
Despite the fees and paperwork created by the useless gun registry each year, approximately 70,000 foreign visitors, mainly Americans, come into Canada with their guns to hunt and sport shoot each year.
The Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association reports that anglers spend a total of $6.7 billion annually to support their outdoor passion. For example, in the year 2000, recreational fishermen spent $970 million on boat equipment alone. According to the most recent industry reports, in Canada eight million people of all ages fish. Let me repeat that: eight million people.
In 2000 Canadian anglers devoted over one million volunteer days to cleaning up waterways and fish habitat. In 1999 Canadians spent $1.3 billion on overnight trips for hunting and angling. That is almost three times the revenue obtained from all the performing arts in Canada, including government grants and private donations.
The Fur Institute of Canada states:
The Fur Trade in Canada contributes approximately $800 million to the Canadian GDP... The Fur Trade in Canada is comprised of approximately 60,000 trappers (includes 25,000 Aboriginal)...The first international marketing for Canada's premier [fur] resource began in 1670 with the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company.
That is what I call a heritage activity.
Hunting, fishing and trapping are indeed important parts of our heritage. They deserve recognition and protection in keeping with their place in history and to the extent possible, given the respective constitutional jurisdictions of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. That is why I commend my colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for his years of work in this important heritage preservation and conservation initiative. I had a motion that I was going to put forward to the committee on the subject of the bill so that the report could be issued by the committee, but I cannot get the consent of the mover and some political parties so there is no sense trying to move forward on that.
In summary, we need to recognize our heritage activities. The traditional aspect is important to the development of this country. I would urge all members to support this and carry it forward. One of the key things that we have to remember is that these are the people who are most concerned about preserving and enhancing our environment and making sure that we use our outdoors respectfully.
I am thankful to have been allowed to address this issue. I hope all members will take to heart the remarks that I have made.