No, in fact, Mr. Speaker, it was during part of the Mulroney government. I had the honour of sitting here for five years in the opposition watching the Mulroney government not put the dollars into small craft harbours. What really got to our fishermen in the Cardigan riding, whom I got to know very well, was the barricades. They had never heard of all these barricades that went up. Barricades were put up because the wharves were not safe for fishermen to walk on or drive on. That is totally unacceptable.
Along with the wharves not being in shape, the dredging was not done. People who do not understand the fishery might not understand how important dredging is. If the dredging is not done properly, the propeller will hit the fan. If there is a stone in the fan, it will destroy the propeller. That is $2,000 to $3,000 gone down the drain for the fisherman. It can bend the shaft. It can break the housing. It can cause a lot of damage. That is what we do not want to see.
That is a small indication of what it was like from 1988 to 1993, when we took over the government. What I want to see is that this government does not let this type of thing take place.
We all can recall quite clearly, I think, the devastating effect that the Mulroney government had on Canada. I can remember numerous times receiving calls from fishermen. Their problem was that they needed to have the harbour dredged when they were going out to fish. These people were trying to make a living and the harbour was not dredged. We would have to try to persuade the minister at least to get it dredged enough that it could be brought up to a workable standard.
I want to make sure that the government does not turn its back on this primary industry and that it provides sufficient funding to continue the maintenance of the harbours. There has been a lot of work done in the last number of years. Great strides have been taken by the fishing community, along with the government, whereby the management of these small craft harbours has been taken over by harbour authorities made up of fishers and individual people in the community who are not involved in the fishery.
As an aside, a few weeks ago I was very pleased to be in Surrey. It is not a small craft harbour, a DOT harbour, but a lot of work went into it. I was involved with the group of fishermen and people involved in the community. We received a $22.5 million package in order to put this into the private hands of the harbour authority. This is what is called progress.
These harbours are so important for the community. In my area alone in the Cardigan riding we have 21 harbour authorities managing 22 core harbours. This means that not only do the fishermen take time from fishing to manage the harbours, but they also put their hard-earned dollars into repairing these harbours. If the government were to cut $20 million from the budget, it would be impossible for fishermen to continue to pick up the additional costs to manage the harbours.
In 1995 in the Maritimes there were 557 harbours, all managed by small craft harbours. Since that time, the management of 285 core harbours has been taken over by 244 harbour authorities that service the maritime fleet. This is a responsible industry and it should be commended for working with the federal government to manage the harbours.
We must remember that harbour management is an additional responsibility and we all know the hardships that have been experienced in different sectors of the fisheries over the past several years. This is why we want to make sure that the government does not cut $20 million in funding. In fact, it should increase it by a minimum of $15 million and also do the in depth study that I mentioned in harbours right across this country. In fact, what we have to realize is that the $15 million is just the cost of doing business, of catching up with inflation. It is not an increase at all. It is so important that these dollars are put in.
Let me point out that the reduction from 557 harbours to 285 in the Maritimes shows that the fishermen in the past have rationalized and that the funding is only spent on core harbours to ensure that the industry is being serviced in a responsible manner. Cutting $20 million from the small craft harbours budget would put the industry on the same course that the Mulroney government put it on from 1984 to 1993. That course was straight to the rocks. We just have to be sure that we convince the government not to let this happen.
I would like to see the motion make sure that the government does not shipwreck the fishing industry and put more undue hardship on fishermen. The viability of the fishery depends on the infrastructure that is required for people to carry out their daily activities on shore as well as on the water. I do not know if everyone here realizes it, but it is not all that easy. It is hard work. It is hard work to go out on the sea, but those who do also provide a lot of work for people on the shores and in the plants. All the spinoffs connected to the fishery are so important to the economy of the region I represent. That is why I want to make sure that the House understands how vitally important it is that we do not let the likes of this happen.
I was pleased to see my motion passed by the committee. I hope the House sees fit to support my motion so that next year's budget will not be cut, as I mentioned, by $20 million, but in fact will be increased by at least $15 million. In fact, more dollars would only make a better job of the harbours.
The last major project in my riding was announced last August, when I was able to secure $3.9 million for a major harbour improvement project at Launching Pond. The harbour was devastated by a major storm surge that happened in December of 2004 before there was any frost or ice to protect the shoreline and harbour in the province from the destruction.
As a matter of fact, the severe storm of 2004 seriously damaged many harbours, particularly those in the eastern end of the province, which I have the privilege of representing. The storm was also associated with a tidal surge. The battered harbours and breakwaters eroded and destroyed the shore protection and deposited tonnes of sand in the harbours, channels and basins.
One of the problems is, of course, that mother nature can be both very helpful and very devastating. This major storm in 2004 was very destructive. It caused a lot of damage. There was no frost in the ground. If the ground and everything is frozen around the harbour it makes a big difference, but in this situation it was not, and the storm created a lot of harm. There was a lot of work done previous to this, but there is much more work that needs to be done from this day on.
At the Naufrage Harbour the storm removed part of the deck of the wharf, lifted pilings and damaged the tie-back system. The repair project had to re-secure the pilings, decking and tie-back system as well as replace the back wall and re-ballasting structure.
Dredging was already scheduled for the Naufrage Harbour. As we know, a lot of environmental planning has to go into it. It can be a great problem. A lot of that was done, but along came the storm. More evaluating had to be done and more dollars had to be spent. In fact, approximately 30,000 cubic metres of material were removed from the harbour basin.
Both North Lake and Launching Pond required basin dredging. The work at North Lake involved the removal of approximately 15,000 cubic metres of silt and sand from the inner basin while Launching Pond saw 7,000 cubic metres of material removed. Launching Pond also suffered considerable shoreline erosion during the December storm.
Armourstone, which is a very important part of wharf repair, was placed to stabilize the area as it sheltered structures on the south side of the harbour from weather related damage. At Sturgeon, damage was done to the wharf decking, fenders and stringers as well as the wharf approach. Repairs have been undertaken along the placement and additional armourstone was added along the wharf approach.
The storm also dislodged a section of armourstone on the Grahams Pond wharf, but there had been a fair bit of work done on the Grahams Pond wharf with a lot of armourstone, which I will get to later. It certainly helped the situation. That is why if one spends dollars in the appropriate manner, if one does the right study, finds out what the problem is and where the dollars need to be spent and provides the dollars, one can in fact save money for the treasury and fishermen.
The entrance breakwater at Beach Point shows the effect of the severe storm conditions and repair and replacement of the armourstone on the north side of the structure. This project will protect against future storm damage by providing additional protection to the harbour basin.
These are just a few of the problems that will come about if the dollars are not allotted in the appropriate manner in order to secure the harbours.
Before time runs out, I want to mention a very important harbour, North Lake Harbour. It is called the tuna capital of the world. Media from all over the world have come to this harbour. If we did not have small craft harbours and the funding in order to keep this harbour in place, the more than 90 lobster boats would not be able to fish in and out every day and the more than 100 tuna boats would not be able to go in and out every day. I am sure that my colleagues in the House of Commons realize how important it is to make sure that the government fully understands that this must be cared for.
The government did one thing that pleased me very much, and when someone does something right, I will give my congratulations. The government included my private member's bill, Bill C-216, in the budget. It had to do with a $500 capital gains tax exemption for fishermen right across the board, and it was important that this be done.