House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was hst.


Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

December 7th, 2009 / 9:55 p.m.


Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary's question asks me to comment specifically towards the content of my speech. I talked about how NAFO was originally ratified in 1979 and I pointed out that many things have changed since that point in time.

I think it is important to note that we need to ensure that we have the tools to deal with the issues that we have before us today. The issues today are not the same as the issues we were facing in 1979. I think the former fisheries minister, when he came before our committee, used an analogy that was very well put. He talked about some of the voices of the past coming forward to criticize this amendment. He likened it to sending the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs team to the Olympics here in 2010 to defend Canada's honour.

I think it was well put. I think it was an analogy that certainly served us very well in our committee proceedings. I think the parliamentary secretary is bang on. We need the tools to deal with the issues today.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

9:55 p.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the NAFO convention. It is great to follow some of the members who serve with me on the fisheries committee. I feel bad; I might leave a bit of time at the end. It depends upon how many questions are asked by my fellow members.

It was interesting to listen to the debate of the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine. He is the guy who put on a great event last week for the seal hunt. He is a strong supporter of the seal hunt.

He referred to the members who had worked a long time on DFO issues and had brought the issue to Premier Williams. He also talked about Premier Williams bringing up the issue. While we might not necessarily agree with Premier Williams on this issue, the member for Saint John and I might be on the same page as Premier Williams on some more recent issues, possibly.

A lot of testimony came out in committee. People were talking about the involvement, and whether the people who were negotiating for Canada on this stage had a mandate and while they came back with this deal, did they really have a mandate to do this? There were some concerns about some of the things that had been agreed to.

Bruce Chapman, who is with the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council, stated:

In terms of the delegation meetings on the NAFO convention, I don't recall any views expressed contrary to the consensus of the Canadian delegation.

That is important because that indicates that we did have representatives there. Our chief negotiators and our lead negotiators were there, but there were also representatives from industry and representatives from the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador who played a role in these negotiations. Therefore, each of the interested stakeholders had an opportunity during those negotiations to actually put some things forward.

What is important to note is that this process started back in 2005 with the previous government. We launched a multi-faceted strategy to address overfishing, the strategy involved diplomacy, governance, management reform and enhanced enforcement. Canadian officials encouraged other fishing nations to take responsibility for the actions of their fleets and to help reform regional fisheries management organizations. NAFO was a principal target.

At that time, NAFO members agreed with Canada that it was time to modernize the NAFO convention to bring it in line with the provisions of the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement. NAFO members agreed that we had to be forward looking and give ourselves the modern decision-making tools required to deal with the modern problems that we face today.

NAFO has made significant improvements. At committee, there were good witnesses on both sides of the argument. Each and every one of the witnesses said that the original NAFO convention was broken. It did not work. It was important for us to come up with a convention that would actually work for all the nations that were involved in the negotiations. Progress has been made on that.

I want to refer to some of the comments that were made in committee.

Phillip Saunders, dean of the Dalhousie Law School, talked about our sovereignty and the 200-mile limit. He talked about how important it was that Canada had complete control, as my friend from Saint John also pointed out.

Mr. McDorman, professor of law at the University of Victoria, stated:

And there is progress here. By the standards of other organizations there's actually been some significant progress made here with the NAFO amendments.

I've looked mostly at the institutional structural issues, and I see there's a positive rather than negative.

There were many other witnesses in committee who also told us that there are many other positives that came out of this and it was not all negatives. I understand that when witnesses give testimony in committee, people are looking for a balanced debate. In the debate tonight, the balance is on the other side of the argument. It is important that we have strong witnesses and that they be recognized.

There were also unsettling disputes. There was a significant discussion in committee about dispute settlement. Mr. McDorman said:

As I point out, that's a problem, but it's a problem that exists in all the fisheries organizations. It's not unique to NAFO. That may not make you feel any better, but it's not as if, for the sake of argument, the Canadian government has somehow failed to achieve something that somebody else has accomplished. In this particular case, they certainly have not.

When we look at some of the comments that were made by very reputable people who were part of this negotiation, it is important for us to understand that we have pushed for things that were part of this negotiation and we were successful. We have actually pushed for NAFO members to adopt stronger rules to deal with violations and to ensure that those responsible are given tough sanctions that would serve as effective deterrents to illegal fishing activity.

As a result, recently it has become mandatory for NAFO members to recall offending vessels to port in cases of serious violation for a detailed inspection. The stronger rules also brought in greater consistency in the interpretation and application of the NAFO conservation and enforcement measures.

Outside the conservation aspects of this, we also heard from a conservation standpoint of the change not just to stock but a whole ecosystem approach, which is a much more holistic view of our fishing resource.

As we move forward and reflect on the new NAFO agreement, the new system is going to give NAFO the teeth that it has always lacked. As everybody said, the previous NAFO convention was not successful. Under this agreement, on the enforcement side vessels that commit serious infringements such as the misreporting of catch or fishing of moratorium species would now be ordered to return to port immediately for a full inspection.

Looking at the cost of doing business, these boats are huge. They get outfitted to go out for extended periods of time. Not only that, but they incur a significant expense when it comes to the cost of fuel and whatever else. It is a pretty harsh penalty in itself when one of these vessels is forced to go back to its home country for any infringements it has committed.

The reforms have also established key principles for NAFO states to follow in the development of sanctions against vessels caught fishing contrary to NAFO conservation and management regimes.

While the reforms to the NAFO monitoring, control and surveillance regime are important, they are only part of the solution. The amendments to this NAFO convention complement the enforcement reforms. These changes are providing a modern decision-making process. We have all the countries onside.

I know there were some people who said they were concerned that some of the other countries would welsh on some of these deals, but in any international agreement it is going to require give and take to make these things happen.

I believe the amendments to this 1978 NAFO convention are in the best interests of Canada, in the best interests of fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic. We are better protected based on the commentary from the witnesses. I hope that my fellow members and I have convinced all members that it is time for us to ratify this convention and move on with business.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.


Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to ask my hon. colleague a question. I would have liked to ask the previous speaker a question but I will focus on him.

He sat through all the hearings on NAFO and I asked this question of every single witness who appeared, Is this custodial management? In testimony after testimony everyone said that no, this is not custodial management. The only two people who think this is custodial management is the current minister and the former minister. Even their own senator does not think this is custodial management.

I have two questions for the member. Does he honestly and truly believe this represents custodial management or was his leader right when he said,“We will give coastal states, particularly Newfoundland and Labrador, an increased role in the management of the fishery”. It sounds great. “Early in our mandate, we will seek to include a bilateral agreement with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for this purpose”. It sounds great. “We will make moves to extend the 200-mile limit to the edge of the continental shelf, the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap in the north Atlantic, and to assert Canadian custodial management over this area”.

Who said that? It was the Prime Minister. It sounds like custodial management, but the government has not delivered on it. How does the member feel about that?

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member asked that question, because I was prepared for it.

In committee and in the conversation we were having on custodial management, it was as though I was back in my elementary school days. There were two things we always did when we defined something. One was that we did not use the word in the definition. That is the first thing we did not use.

The second thing is that I want to give him a definition of “custodian”. I took this out of the dictionary. It says that a custodian is a person who is a keeper or a guardian--not an owner--entrusted with guarding or maintaining a property, such as a janitor. We can all talk about our school days and the janitors. They did not own the school and they did not own the hallways, but they sure looked after them. That was their job.

I think that Loyola Hearn, the former minster, when he was there, actually said to the member that it is all in how we define it. I think that is true, because we have the exclusive zone within the 200-mile limit, but I think we are a custodian of that area. We are working with NAFO and we are working as co-custodians of that area to make sure that we protect the long-term sustainability of fish stocks.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.


Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech, but I also want to comment on the previous speaker, the member for Saint John, who suggested to the member that the Toronto Maple Leafs are an example of how things have changed from 1967 and compared that to NAFO. Mr. Speaker, imagine walking into an argument like that. The Toronto Maple Leafs are somewhat like the NAFO situation in that they have not changed in 20 years. They did not win then, they are not winning now, and NAFO has not been a success.

Why should it be a success now? We have a new team. We have a new coach. We have new players. Who are they? Are there new rules for the game?

I do not think so. What we have now is a backward step. In fact, the situation has changed, and we have a set of rules that are not going to work now any more than the rules worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last 40 years.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.


Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I feel badly that he has been maligning the Toronto Maple Leafs, because they actually did beat my Montreal Canadiens last week, so we should not be maligning them too much.

We do have a new team and we do have a new coach, and this government is taking a strong stand for Canadians. We are taking a strong stand for the preservation of fish and the long-term conservation of our stocks. That is what this team is really trying to do.

We sent that team to negotiate a strong deal. We improved on the 1978 deal, and it is going to be better for conservation, better for the NAFO states, and better for Canada.

Fisheries and OceansCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 10:12 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today and Standing Order 66(2), all questions necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Wednesday, December 9, 2009, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

It being 10:13 p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 10:13 p.m.)