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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organizations.

Topics

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Chair, this is a sad day for the fishing industry on the east coast of this country. The lobster fishermen in Prince Edward Island are having difficulty with not being able to sell some of their lobster and here we have a ban on seal pelts by the European Union.

I want to thank the parliamentary secretary for his words and I want to ask him if he feels that the ban on seal products and the trade talks with Europe are two separate issues. If I understood the minister correctly, that is what she said. I do not feel they are separate issues. This is a trade issue. It is an illegal issue. We need to address this with a united front.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary to respond.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Chair, I find it a bit ironic that we are talking about a united front when I have not, even tonight through all of these hours, heard a clear condemnation of the actions of one of their own colleagues in the Liberal caucus.

Let me say that the action that has been taken by the European Parliament is a legal action, it is a legislative action. We believe it to be illegal. However, because it is a matter of legislation and law, it will very likely require a legal solution. That is why the WTO exists and we intend to take that action.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Chair, I have listened to the debate for quite a while and it seems to me that all of the parties here in the House have to work together for a common purpose and not fight among ourselves.

I think back to a previous minority government in Manitoba, when Gary Filmon was the premier. He worked with Gary Doer, who was the opposition leader at the time, and Sharon Carstairs, who is now in the Senate, and they dealt with some very important issues of the day: the Meech Lake accord, the Charlottetown accord, and the whole issue of banning smoking was dealt with through an all-party committee. We left acrimony out of it and we worked together for a common cause.

I think that is what we should be doing here. We have to take the fight back to the European Union. One of the members of the Liberal Party mentioned earlier that the Germans have exposure here, allowing a hunt. I can see an ad running in Europe, sponsored by a Canadian coalition, pointing out those inconsistencies to kill this before it goes much further. We should get together on this issue.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Chair, perhaps I am naive, but I agree with the member. We do need a common front on this and I think we do have that, at least in this House. We need to move forward, collaborating and co-operating, each of the parties, as best we can. As a government, we are open to advice on how the other parties think we can move this forward in a particular way. I think we are open to that. That is what concerned us so much earlier, just weeks ago really, when there appeared to be a lack of solidarity coming out of the Canadian Parliament on this issue. It concerned me and I think it should have concerned all of us.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Chair, I have a couple specific questions for my hon. colleague.

First, there are a couple of inconsistencies in what has been said tonight by some of the opposition members. I do believe it is important to have a united front. Every once in a while we have strayed from that and some of the opposition members have tried to trivialize Ambassador Sullivan's hard work in Europe. He has done yeoman service for this House and certainly for fisheries and oceans. Would the member comment on that?

Second, there has been some discussion about the fact that since 2006 there have been fewer seal pelts sold, but no recognition of the fact that there has been a downturn in the world economy, that we have had a couple of years of very serious sea ice that has made it harder to access the pelts, and that the Russian and the Chinese markets have dried up. That somehow it is somebody else's fault.

There is no absolutely no recognition of Senator Mac Harb and his coordination and his effort to work with the Humane Society International Canada to undermine the work of this House and the work done by the fisheries committee. Worse yet, he sent a personally signed letter on his letterhead to every single member of the European Parliament.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Chair, my colleague has raised some good points, particularly with respect to Ambassador Sullivan. On one of the trips that I was on, I had the opportunity to travel with him. He had not been in the job very long at that time. I think everyone who knows him knows that he has an incredible ability to assimilate facts and he communicates so well. I saw him do that in a very impressive way, I have to say.

In fact, at the subsequent meeting the next year, I was there with the former minister, Loyola Hearn. We found that at least the fisheries ministers from the countries in the North Atlantic were onside largely, apart from the EU, on this issue because of the work that had been done by our officials, our ministers and Ambassador Sullivan.

The member has raised a good point in that any attempt to say that lower pelt prices since 2006 have anything to do with our representation I think is quite patently false.

I think we said enough about the member in the Senate. I think it disappoints all of us—

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am going to stop the hon. parliamentary secretary there. I know there are some other members who have an interest in asking questions.

The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Chair, the point was brought up earlier. First of all, about the world prices, just a second here, this is about a ban, this is a trade issue. Let us stick with that for just a moment.

I want to speak to the comment made by the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's earlier about how a precedent has been set by other countries and their hunts and it was highly irregular. I would like to point out that a year and a half ago I brought forward a motion in this House that banned deer and boar products from Germany because it is an unregulated hunt. The parliamentary secretary stood up and said it was a wrong idea. He said “That is wrong. We should not do that”. He just agreed with the member here on similar actions.

If I were to bring forward a motion in this House to ban products from Europe that were harvested inhumanely, irresponsibly, would he support it?

And by the way, since I am at it, in talking about wayward senators, how does he feel about what Mike Duffy did a while ago? Perhaps he should be kicked out as well.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Chair, I know it is late. Maybe that explains the fact that I did not understand much of what he was getting at there. I do not think I made any commitment in response to the question from my colleague from the NDP about what he was talking about there.

If the member wants to bring forward a motion, well, let him bring it forward and we will see what it says. If his motion is one where he wants to fire the opening salvo in a trade war with the European Union, then we on this side of the House at least, because we are responsible for the government and not just for opposition, will take that very seriously, of course.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Chair, I have simple questions for the hon. member.

One, would he support assisting sealers through this very difficult time? They are going through a very challenging time and a lot of uncertainty.

Two, would he also have his Prime Minister, his government, during free trade talks with the European Union, raise this very important issue?

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Chair, in terms of assisting sealers, the point would have to be made whether the difficulties they are experiencing now have something to do with the ban or not. That is really what we are talking about here tonight.

I think largely what they are experiencing this year is some difficult ice conditions. The ice conditions this year though are not as difficult as they were in 2007 when we did put in place a form of ice compensation.

The two ministers involved in this issue would have to consider whether there are the same conditions that would require that. I think they would be willing to at least consider it.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Chair, I want to thank all of my colleagues for their comments tonight regarding a very important industry on the east coast. I once saw a bumper sticker in Nunavut that read, “Eat seals, 1,000 polar bears can't be wrong”. The reality is the polar bears are absolutely correct. Seal meat is 58% protein. The gelatins, the skins, the pelts, the animal is total utilized. It is harvested humanely, correctly, sustainably and market driven from the waters off our east coast.

Congratulations to Rebecca Aldworth and Paul Watson. They have just destroyed the livelihood of thousands of Atlantic and northern Canadians. I hope they sleep well tonight after they have their pâté. I hope they sleep well tonight after they have their caviar, or their champagne. I hope they sleep well tonight. I hope they have the courage to go to the small outports of Newfoundland and Labrador, to the small communities on the Quebec shore, to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I hope they go into the homes of those sealers and tell them what they just did, and take food out of the fridge, bread off the table, gas out of the truck, because that is exactly what they have accomplished.

I told the fisheries committee that I was in Washington D.C. and I walked by a store called the Luxe Store. There was a huge poster on the window with the picture of a white coat seal on it. The caption read, “Stop Canada's killing slaughter of seals”. There were cards for people to sign and send off to the Prime Minister of Canada. I brought one of the cards back to the committee. I give the chair of our committee, the hon. member for Saint John, kudos for writing a letter immediately to the company telling it that this was false, that it was wrong and deliberately misleading. I am not sure that he got a response back from the company.

This is what we are arguing against. We have an open air abattoir. How many Europeans have actually gone into an abattoir where veal is being prepared? How many Europeans have gone into an abattoir where, and I forget the name, pâté comes from?

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Foie gras.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Foie gras, exactly. I wonder if they have actually seen how that is prepared, or the muskrats of France, or the pheasants, or the boar, or the deer, or the chickens. It goes on and on.

To be completely frank, when humans take an animal out of the wild for consumption, it is never a pretty sight, but this is not about the semantics of how a seal is killed. This is about the livelihood of people who have a right to earn a living. They have a right to feed their families. They have the right to take a sustainable resource which is in no way in danger, not even close to being in danger.

My hon. colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's was absolutely correct when he talked about the explosion of grey seals on Sable Island. Two things could happen with those grey seals. There will either be a natural massive die-off from a disease among themselves, or we are going to have to cull them, which means they sink to the bottom of the ocean and become lobster bait or crab bait. There are no market systems at all. There is no opportunity to earn a livelihood or to utilize the entire animal, just an out and out cull, an out and out slaughter. It is insane, but this is exactly what is going to happen if we allow the EU to do this.

The hon. parliamentary secretary asked for some recommendations. I would ask him to ask the minister to immediately convene an all-party committee, as soon as humanly possible, to go to Europe and to press upon the EU and the ambassadors that this has the unanimous support of the House of Commons. I will not get into what a member of the Senate has done. That is just fighting among ourselves.

The reality is we should immediately send to Europe an all-party committee with members of industry as well and explain to the Europeans the consequences of their actions. I know it has been done before. I have been here since 1997, and my hon. colleague has been as well. From former minister Anderson right to the current minister have all been supportive of the seal harvest, whether they be Liberal or Conservative. As a member of the NDP I have watched both parties fully support the seal harvest. There has been no difference in that.

I know Loyola Sullivan. He has worked very hard on this issue. David Bevan, the ADM of fisheries, has worked very hard on this issue. It is the number one issue on the files of the current minister. I understand that. Unfortunately, all these efforts have not been successful. The old adage is to never allow facts to get in the way of a good story, and this is what has happened here.

The unfortunate part is that it is too bad Canadians could not see what happened here tonight. Literally every member from the east coast and Quebec was here tonight, including the minister and the parliamentary secretary. Members from the five provinces and Nunavut were here tonight to talk about this very serious issue.

I have watched take note debates, as has my colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's, for over 12 years. I do not think we have seen this type of representation on an issue as important as this one for a long time, in an effort where we all collaborate and work together. This is how Parliament should be working when we have an issue that affects us all. I tell all Canadians, if they think the east coast is just about Newfoundland and Labrador, well they are next.

A former Liberal member, Murray Calder, is a chicken farmer. There was a complaint about the de-beaking of chickens. I remember that very well. What is next: de-beaking chickens, branding cattle, a hook and release of fish? What is next? They will not stop. If it is seals today, it will be regular fishing practices tomorrow. It will be regular poultry products, pork, cattle and everything else the next day until, in the end, we will all be eating lima beans and tofu. There is nothing wrong with lima beans and tofu. They give me gas, but that is okay.

Historically, this is a vitally important industry to our country. Imagine anyone in the world saying that there will be an exemption for Inuit and northern products of seals to the EU. Imagine walking around Amsterdam or Brussels wearing a seal vest and seal gloves. We would say that they are okay because they were caught by a native hunter. Oh sure, that will work. We could have a big sign on the back that says the pelts were aboriginally caught and harvested. It does not work that way.

This will do exactly what the 1982 ban on the leghold trap did when I lived in the Yukon. It will literally destroy the lives of people. People have been living on that sustainable industry for hundreds of years. I lived in the Yukon when that happened. It was devastating to those people, because that is what they did for a living. Their forefathers did it, their fathers did it and they did it, but all of a sudden someone over in Europe with no connection to them at all took away their livelihood literally overnight. What was the cost of that? It cost the territorial government an awful lot of money.

If the government is not successful in getting this decision turned around, we will be telling the government that those people will require compensation. That means the average Canadian taxpayer will have to get into their pockets to support these people who, by the way, were supporting themselves. That is the tragedy of all of this. These people are earning a livelihood, and may I add that it is not the safest livelihood in the world. Every time they get on the boats or on the ice, they are risking their lives. Why would they do it? Why would they participate in this very dangerous activity to provide for their families? Because that is what they know. That is what they do. They are proud of their heritage. They are proud of their traditions.

I have seen a tremendous amount of sealers over the years. I have worked with members of Parliament on all sides to promote this activity in a sustainable manner and a humane manner.

We were on the coast guard vessel with the committee a couple of years ago. We were with veterinarians. The veterinarians told us exactly what happens with a hakapik or a rifle when a seal is shot or clubbed.

No sealer, in my opinion, wants to see an animal suffer, but this is their traditional industry. They have a right to this industry. I can assure the House and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the minister and my colleagues in the House that they will have our support in defending the interests of the good people of eastern Canada.

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Chair, I just came back from an Atlantic coast tour of the lobster fishery. In every meeting place, whether it was Iles de la Madeleine, P.E.I., Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, people constantly talked about seals.

I am glad the member mentioned the grey seals and said that we would need to have a cull anyway, which is what it will come to. This resolution is specific. It does not rule out that we will have a hunt and that we will probably need to have a cull because the seals will grow out of control. If they grow out of control, the fish will not grow out of control.

A seal has value and there is value in its products. Could the hon. member tell us how ludicrous this decision is to take the complete value by eliminating this hunt and turning it into a cull?

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Chair, I do not think there has been a member of Parliament in the history of this House who wants to see any animal completely destroyed and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. If we can harvest and utilize the entire animal, that is what we should be doing.

My colleague from Tobique—Mactaquac is absolutely correct when he says that two things will need to happen. Either the seals will naturally die out due to a disease of some sort because there are too many of them or we will need cull them.

My hon. colleague from Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte was also absolutely correct. As many Europeans fish off the nose and tail of the Flemish Cap, if they suddenly realize that the seals are destroying their livelihood when it comes to the fishery, they will ask us to do something about the seals. That is the irony and hypocrisy of this. They may eventually move another resolution that we need to cull three million or four million seals because they are affecting their livelihood.

I do not think that the EU made a very sound decision. What it made today was a political decision. It had nothing to do with science and it had nothing to do with facts. The unfortunate part is that when a decision is made based solely on politics, it ends up screwing up the lives of thousands of people and their families.

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10:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague across the way for asking that question because we just heard how the seal herd has impacted the lobster fishery in Nova Scotia.

I want to finish off with something the Canadian ambassador for fisheries conservation, Loyola Sullivan, said, which is that “if anyone thinks there isn't going to be a ban in Europe is sadly mistaken. This is the Conservative-appointed guy who was going to the EU to promote our seal industry.

That did not work so the government decided to appoint an unelected Conservative senator, who could not even convince the voters in his own riding to vote for him, to go to Europe and promote the seal hunt. I, too, wrote the minister and asked for an all party committee in December to go to Europe and fight this exact battle.

The member is obviously in support of this. Does he have any confidence that the minister will actually take that recommendation?

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10:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Chair, in fairness, the minister is new and I understand she has been very well briefed on this issue. With all the files on her desk, this is a very difficult one because it does not just involve the fisheries minister. It also involves the trade minister. I would like to see the Prime Minister get personally involved as well. He is in Europe now and I am hoping he will, not just privately but publicly, say something in very strong terms. I know my colleagues obviously cannot speak for what may or may not be said by the Prime Minister.

However, I will give the fisheries minister credit. I believe she is very serious about this issue. Hopefully, she will take the recommendation of an all party committee very quickly. However, one minister cannot do it on her own. She needs the support of the entire House.

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10:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. It being 10:39 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today under the provisions of Standing Order 53.1, the committee will rise and I will leave the chair.

(Government Business No. 3 reported)

Seal HuntGovernment Orders

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Accordingly this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.)