House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.


National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to address the House concerning Bill C-465 which would designate the third Saturday in September of every year as a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

Today I will be highlighting some of the economic contributions of those who participate in this time-honoured tradition, while my colleague from Yorkton—Melville, with whom I will be splitting my time, will discuss the importance that hunters, trappers and fishers play in conservation efforts.

As the House knows, hunting, trapping and fishing have played a vital role in Canadian history. Indeed, these practices have been part of the Canadian identity long before Canada became a nation and have been vital in the geographical and economic expansion of our great country.

Today, over eight million Canadians of all ages fish and millions more hunt, supporting an annual economy in this country of over $10 billion. National Revenue's statistics from 2008 and 2009 show just how important hunting, trapping and fishing has been in our economy.

I would be remiss if I did not take a few moments to reflect on how hunting, fishing and trapping are in the actual DNA of this country. As I mentioned at the start of my speech today, at the very beginning of this country, our first nations sustained themselves through hunting, fishing and trapping. They traded with each other in foodstuffs, in the hides and in the other goods that they obtained from Canada and mother earth.

We know that millions and millions of Canadians take part in this very valuable and time-honoured traditional way of not only sustaining ourselves but in enjoying a time with our family and our friends.

Just in the last few weeks in Ontario, we had two weeks of deer hunting and I, like many millions of other Canadians, went with family and friends and took part in that time honoured tradition. I know that in many provinces literally hundreds of millions and billions of dollars are raised through the sale of hunting and fishing paraphernalia as well as trapping paraphernalia to the people who take part in those occupations.

I also know that governments raise funds in order to conserve our natural resources through the sale of hunting and fishing licences, and federally, of course, through the sale of stamps for migratory game birds and other endeavours for which the federal government is responsible.

In Ontario and Quebec, hunting alone represents more than $1.5 billion in economic activity. The economic contributions speak for themselves.

This day would not only recognize the economic contributions of those who undertake these activities for recreational purposes, but also those who hunt, trap and fish for commercial purposes. For example, I would like to highlight the economic impacts that the fur and sealing industry have had on Canada. The fur trade in Canada is composed of approximately 60,000 trappers and include 25,000 aboriginals, with an additional 5,000 representing fur farmers, manufacturers, dressers and retailers. More important, the fur trade in Canada contributes close to $800 million to our gross domestic product. This is composed of $300 million in fur garment sales, $25 million in wild fur sales and $78 million in rancher fur sales.

Likewise. the sealing industry is a time-honoured tradition that allows people to provide for their families. In isolated villages, where people have limited employment opportunities, sealing can provide up to 35% of their income. As well, the meat from seals helps feed families and saves them from buying expensive store bought items. Sealing is now seen as a renewable resource that provides excellent pelts for clothing, meat consumption and seal oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which is a nature diet supplement.

I could go on but I believe those facts and figures strongly highlight the important contribution commercial and recreational hunters, trappers and fishers have made to Canada. The economic contribution is but one of many.

I would ask all hon. colleagues to support the bill. I will tell members why. It is in the DNA of my family and in the DNA of many members who will be getting up and speaking in support of this bill. When I say it is in the DNA, I mean just that. Whether we have aboriginal ancestry in our families or whether we are new Canadians, we know that hunting, fishing and trapping are an important part of the social fabric of this country.

All we need to do is go out to any lake or river and we will find a family, a father or a mother with his or her son or daughter, taking part in that time-honoured tradition.

I can tell members that in my constituency all we need to do is go to some place like Hastings and we will see new Canadians, with their children, with their grandparents, fishing off bridges, along the canal and along Rice Lake, as well as the Trent system or Lake Ontario. The Ganaraska River, through Port Hope, is one of the best steelhead fishing rivers in the province of Ontario and indeed in this country.

My seatmate from British Columbia, who sits just down the way from me, has partaken in hunting in the mountains of British Columbia, hunting elk, mule deer et cetera.

This is so important that every single provincial conservation group has contacted my office and said they supported this bill at committee. We heard from representatives from the east coast to Ontario, and they were 100% behind this bill. Why? Again I say it is because hunting, fishing and trapping are in the DNA of our country. One of the reasons this country was founded was the fur trade. We could go into the history of the Hudson's Bay Company and how that enterprise helped found this country and helped map this country and see the great resources that God has bestowed upon us.

I think it is important for us to recognize that, at least on the third Saturday of each September. We chose that date because it blends with our friends from the United States, many of whom come to Canada and help our economy.

That particular day is also recognized by several provincial governments and is recognized as a day when families go out and partake in or enjoy one of the most time-honoured traditions; that is, just sitting down with their sons or daughters, sitting down with a friend or a neighbour or sitting by themselves. As I have said so often to some friends of mine who talk about the stressors of life, put away the Prozac, put away all those anti-depressants, grab a fishing rod, put something on the hook or just let it dangle, put it in the water. Their troubles will soon dissipate because they are communing with mother nature. That sounds a bit simplistic, but I challenge anyone to take that up, grab a fishing rod or go for a walk in the woods. They will find that communing with nature by just sitting there and enjoying the wonderful country that is Canada, one of the greatest places on this fair earth to live, will not only contribute to their own health but to the health of those around them because, quite frankly, I find that walk in the woods, that time with family while they go out and partake in hunting or fishing is just great.

As I say, trapping is part of this. My maternal grandfather was a trapper in northern Ontario, as was my uncle. The fur trade is a tradition, of course, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, that we all recognize as the founding of our country.

I could go on at length and, quite frankly, I just know that my friend from Yorkton—Melville will want to tell Canadians and to share with Canadians some of his experiences and some of the advantages of recognizing the third Saturday of every September as a national hunting, fishing and trapping heritage day.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise once again to speak in favour of Bill C-465, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day.

This act would designate the third Saturday in September in each and every year as national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day. At the outset of the debate on this bill, I commended the member for Northumberland—Quinte West for bringing this bill forward. He spoke very eloquently on the ways, the why and the how, this type of activity in the great outdoors of Canada is within all our spirits and in our souls. It is something that is very Canadian.

At that time I also noted the importance that hunting, trapping and fishing activities for food, ceremonial and commercial purposes continue to have for our aboriginal peoples, since time immemorial. It is interesting to note that the rights of Canada's aboriginal peoples with respect to hunting, trapping and fishing are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

There is little doubt that hunting, trapping and fishing were the first forms of trade and currency and formed the very backbone of Canada's financial structure. Many communities can also trace their very establishment to these activities.

In my riding we had early trading centres, one at Fort Selkirk, which was at one time burned by the first traders, the Chilkoot Indians. It was a major part of the first economy at first contact in my riding alone.

Many communities can also trace their establishment to these activities. As co-chair of Parliament's outdoor caucus, I want to point out that in today's economy it is estimated that more than eight million Canadians take part in hunting, trapping and fishing activities, representing $10 billion worth of economic stimulus.

Hunters, trappers and anglers have funded and participated in research projects to help save the wetlands, reintroduce wildlife and restock lakes. They have improved safety conditions and encouraged and helped educate younger generations to participate in the traditions of hunting and fishing, as well as trapping, objectives I have outlined in my own private member's bill, Bill C-277.

Some will point out that anglers, trappers and hunters collectively do more for environmental conservation than all other groups combined. It is estimated that Canadian anglers annually donate more than one million volunteer days to aquatic improvement projects alone.

We are also told that the United States has had such a day since 1972 and that the Yukon territory and provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba have similar recognition dates on their books.

Bill C-465 does not aim to protect or regulate hunting, trapping and fishing in any way.

Those who make a living from these activities often encounter difficulties, and this day will help inform and make the public and decision-makers aware of their situation, their concerns and their needs.

My constituent, Murray Martin, who is an outdoor writer, offered me his thoughts on Bill C-465, which I would like to share with the House of Commons.

Mr. Martin wrote this about the hunter's environment:

The measure of a man's success in saving the best parts in his world will be reflected in hunting and fishing. And just as game fish and wildlife are the truest indicators of quality natural environment, so are out field sports are the truest indicator of quality freedom. A world that cannot sustain fish and wildlife may be well groomed and prosperous, and have a strong Gross National Product, but it is a synthetic place that is also unable to sustain the human spirit.

The member for Northumberland—Quinte West talked very eloquently about the human spirit and the effect hunting and fishing have had on Canadians' lives and souls.

A second quote from Mr. Martin is a reference to “The Genuine Sportsman Does”:

The fisherman and hunter recognize quality country, and keenly aware of elements. For one thing, this person has a close bond with game birds and animals creatures that are the cream of wildlife. They know that they are the biological indicators of the environment quality, and the real worth of a place may be more accurately weighed in terms of game and fish than in GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT.

Here is one final thought from Mr. Martin:

The genuine hunter and fisherman are out most...practical environmentalist. Of all civilized people, they are still the people who are our agent of awareness of our dependence on nature.

Hunting and fishing have been important activities in my riding of Yukon since time immemorial, starting with the aboriginal people who have been doing it for hundreds of generations. Hunting and fishing are important to their way of life. These activities provide them with food and clothing. They are important to their ultimate survival. We hunt and fish quite often in our spare time, but imagine how integral it is to their way of life when they had to do it until they got food, 24/7, for survival. Failure meant lack of survival. So it was absolutely essential, ingrained in their DNA, as the proponent of this bill said.

Subsequent to that time, on first contact trapping became an important part of the aboriginal economy. It improved the lives of aboriginal people because of the things they could get in trade for the furs they were not using for themselves.

Aboriginal people continue to fish and hunt and trap to this very day, to sustain themselves with healthy foods, country foods, in much of the northern half of Canada and in many other parts of Canada as well. These activities are still essential to their lifestyle as is the migration of the mammals that are important to them and the various runs of fish.

My riding has all sorts of game animals, five species of salmon, Arctic char and lake trout. These lead to modern-day economic activities. For example, outfitters have concessions all over Yukon, and many times they use aboriginal guides because they have the expertise in that type of work.

Many other people in my riding and their families undertake hunting and/or fishing activities in their spare time to augment their diet and to enjoy the outdoors and to come in contact with the great nature that we are blessed with in Canada.

I want to close with some thoughts on comments made by other members during this debate. I want to mention some of the effects hunting and fishing have had on my life, which are very similar to the bill's proponent.

One of the first activities I remember as a child was going fishing with my father. I still have some of the pictures from when I was four, five and six years old. I have pictures of me with a little string of fish. I remember one day I asked him how I would know when a fish was on my line, and he said the line would go all around in circles, like this. He went to unload some stuff from the car and when he came back, I asked, “Like this?”, and my line was going in circles. There was indeed a fish on the line and I remember it being too big for me to bring in.

I remember spending hundreds if not thousands of hours on the banks of streams, fishing. I spent just as many hours in the ocean and in lakes. It was the activity, not the fish. I do not even like to eat fish that much. I give it away to friends and family. But I enjoyed the activity of being out there in nature, of enjoying a pursuit that has been part of our souls since time immemorial.

Of all countries, Canada should certainly recognize a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day. I provide my full support for this bill. I congratulate the proponent for bringing it forward. I also want to congratulate all parties for supporting it. It would be a great way to celebrate these great Canadian activities that are so integral to our history and our spirit.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to Bill C-465 introduced by my colleague, the Conservative member for Northumberland—Quinte West, to establish a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

The Bloc Québécois supports this bill because we support hunting, trapping and fishing, which are an integral part of the historical and cultural heritage of Quebec. It is virtually impossible to oppose a day that would celebrate the activities that made such a significant contribution to the development of our contemporary wildlife conservation policies.

Even before the arrival of the first explorers and European colonists, hunting, trapping and fishing were the main economic activity on which the first nations depended. Even today, these activities represent the livelihood of many aboriginal communities in Quebec and their main source of food and commercial income. An economy based on hunting, trapping and fishing was the catalyst for exploration and trade.

We know that the economy of the French colonies and the first British colonies in our corner of the Americas, between the 16th century and the 18th century, was based largely, if not exclusively, on the fur trade.

This shows that hunting, trapping and fishing are much more than just outdoor activities. In Quebec, they are particularly meaningful. For a great many people, they have a sentimental and cultural value not found elsewhere in the world. For that reason, the Bloc Québécois cannot oppose instituting a hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

On the one hand, these activities have significant economic value. On the other, they contributed in the past, and continue to contribute, to the development of a unique model of wildlife and environmental conservation. I would like to expand on these two points.

First, for many aboriginal peoples living far from major centres, hunting, trapping and fishing—in addition to being traditional activities linked to their distinct culture—are activities that play a key role in preserving the Amerindian culture and identity. Furthermore, they are the main source of food. These people live very far from markets and the price of foodstuffs is often exorbitant in the few stores that supply these areas.

In a number of non-aboriginal communities, hunting and fishing are also one of the main sources of income. These activities are complementary, seasonal occupations that are essential to the economic well-being of the regions furthest from major centres.

Beyond the purely economic and commercial benefits, the recreational activities of hunting, trapping and fishing serve as important economic engines. Together they are part of an industry that injects about $10 billion into the Canadian economy every year. Furthermore, in times of economic downturn, the communities surrounding the areas where these activities are practised definitely feel the effects.

Of course, using the economic argument and invoking the practical nature of a proposal is always a good idea in politics. However, this national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day to be celebrated on the third Saturday in September every year is intended more to celebrate the unique contribution these activities have made to Canada's cultural and historical heritage.

The fact is, beginning in the 19th century in North America, hunters, trappers and fishers were among the greatest defenders of wildlife and environmental preservation. As a result, they created a unique, groundbreaking model for protecting and regulating the use of natural resources. Extremely aware the importance of preserving nature, they were the first proponents of conservation and scientific wildlife management. Thus, they were the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated use wildlife threatened the future of many species and, as a result, also threatened a lifestyle.

Led by Teddy Roosevelt in the United States, Sir Wilfrid Laurier in Canada, and a host of sportsmen on both sides of the border, early conservationists helped to create the first laws restricting unfettered use of wildlife. They worked in support of sustainable use of fish and wildlife and helped to create hunting and fishing licences. Their efforts eventually resulted in the creation of the North American wildlife conservation model, the underpinning for most fish and wildlife preservation programs in existence today.

It is hunting and fishing organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and a number of others across the country that have helped, mainly through funds paid by hunters, trappers and fishers, to preserve wetlands and protect and reintroduce certain endangered species like the elk, the Atlantic salmon and the wild turkey.

It could be said that, in some ways, the hunters, trappers and fishers of Quebec are innovators when it comes to what we refer to today as sustainable development. Hunting, trapping and fishing contribute to preserving our natural heritage and, in some ways, our historical, cultural and political heritage; to keeping them up to date; and to forging, in the future, a unique link between peoples and their natural resources.

In closing, I have a small concern, not about this bill, for which the Bloc Québécois has just voiced its support, but about the proliferation of theme days in general. These days always promote a good cause and we cannot oppose virtue. However, I believe that it is important that the House set rules and guidelines for the passing of this type of bill. We cannot oppose virtue, but there are only 365 days in a year. If we continue to pass all these bills to institute theme days, we will soon run out of days.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the representative of the people of Timmins—James Bay, I am particularly proud to speak to this bill to designate the third Saturday in September as a national day to recognize hunting, fishing and trapping as a heritage cultural activity in our country. The people of Timmins—James Bay have long been deeply involved in celebrating and living a way of life that is very much based on the land.

I want to say at the outset that we recognize within the Parliament of Canada that the issues around fishing rights, licensing of hunting and how it is carried out are certainly provincial jurisdictions. We have no problem recognizing the authority of provincial jurisdictions across the country. However, I think there is a role for the federal House to play in recognizing the importance of hunting, fishing and trapping.

Some of my colleagues have spoken about the huge financial role those activities play within our economy and communities. I fully recognize that. Tonight I would like to speak on the role we can play as a federal House in recognizing the heritage, the historic and present cultural activities.

Canada is becoming increasingly urban. Many people recognize this and have spoken about it. It is important to go back to where our roots have been.

Long before there were any highways in this country, there were the rivers. The rivers were the original highways that brought people throughout this country. What drew them initially was the relationship between the European settlers and the first nations around the fur trade. This is a relationship that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years.

In the region I represent, Lake Timiskaming was the waterway that brought the fur trade north. There were meeting places in the old fort on the Quebec side, and the people of Temiskaming traditionally called it Obedjiwan. It was the meeting place where people came to trade.

As the Europeans came, there was the North West Company, and Orkney Islanders were working for the Hudson's Bay Company. They were meeting with the first nations people who already had standards in place for how they were moving the furs. The furs were brought up through Lake Timiskaming, through places like Fort Matachewan, up the Abitibi and into the large rivers feeding into the James Bay lowlands, the Moose River, the Mattagami River, all the way to Moose Factory.

Many people in Ontario do not know that the oldest English settlement in Ontario is Moose Factory. Moose Factory was the centre of the fur trade going back to the 1600s. This was the original economic relationship within Canada.

Many people might say that was hundreds of years ago, but trappers are still active in Timmins—James Bay. Hundreds of years later we still have a trapping economy. North of 50° in my region the first nations economy is still very much dependent on hunting, trapping and fishing rights. I am very glad that the member from the Conservative Party who brought this bill forward realized the need to recognize the first nation rights that exist under section 35.

This bill is an example that amidst all the partisanship and rancour that exists in the House of Commons it is possible for all four parties to work together at certain times.

I think of the volunteers who keep our land-based activities so strong in northern Ontario. Ducks Unlimited does such incredible work with the recovery of wetlands. We only have to go to the Hilliardton Marsh to see the incredible job that Ducks Unlimited does and the involvement of young students and community volunteers.

In Kirkland Lake there is a district fish and games society which is volunteer based. It does a lot of work in terms of restocking our local lakes and ensuring that our local lakes remain vibrant and a source for community involvement.

What we need to do better as politicians is work more with the hunters, fishers and trappers who are out there at the grassroots level. We need to listen, as we say in the first nations communities, to their traditional ecological knowledge.

We cannot get the bureaucracy and the so-called scientific approach to land management to get too far separated from the people who are on the ground. If we go into Larder Lake in September, or to Matachewan or Cochrane in the fall, we will find many hundreds of families that are so intricately involved in the exploration of their traditional ways of life, which is the hunt camp, the moose hunt, the fishing and the partridge hunting.

We can do a better job of involving the front line people who love hunting and fishing, who want to ensure that we have sustainable levels of moose, deer and caribou. Let us work with the volunteers of these organizations and the hunters and fishers and get some of their expertise.

The bill reminds us that this is where we have been, that this is where we are and this is where we will continue to be. We have been blessed all across Canada. I am particularly favourable to Timmins—James Bay, but all across Canada there is such an immense bounty from our lakes and from our wildlife. We must continue to ensure that this is a sustainable bounty that remains for the next generation.

If we talk to the hunters, fishers and trappers, we will see people who are on the front lines of conservation. These people not only want to defend a long-standing way of life and culture, but they are very involved in ensuring that we have the proper duck habitat, that we maintain solid populations of moose and caribou across the north.

I want to celebrate the traditional hunting and gathering cultures of our north and recognize that the culture of our hunters and fishers is something to be celebrated. Hunting and fishing is something to be protected. Hunting, fishing and trapping is so much a part of what Canada is. We should be recognize this day and we should thank those on the front lines who do so much in the way of conservation.

This is a cultural activity and it would be incumbent upon me to quote from the bard of northern Ontario. I was once referred to by Peter Gzowski as the bard of northern Ontario, but this poet has taken up the mantle. Mr. Charlie Smith from Massey writes about the hunting, fishing and trapping cultures. In the book The Beast that God has Kissed, for which I wrote the introduction but I will not give myself a plug, this is what Charlie Smith says about the hunting culture of the north. We need a poet who can really speak to the immense beauty and depth of emotion that we have when it comes to hunting, fishing and trapping. He says:

Our coats all turn to fire
When the light is going down;
It's a mighty rite of autumn
Making meat out of the ground.
When the season turns to winter
You will find us cold and fey,
Everyone a shining beacon
At the closing of the day.
We bring death like gifts of wonder,
We take life out in the gray,
We fade in and out like whispers,
When we silent slip away.
We are technologic predators
Singing songs as old as time,
As we join the waltz of winter
When the horned one's in his prime.
The ravens cheer and guide us
And the new men hate our way,
With our coats of fibre fire
At the closing of the day.

The New Democratic Party of Canada supports the long-standing traditions of our hunters, our fishers and our trappers. We support the efforts of conservation and we support a day to recognize the unique cultural importance of hunting, fishing and trapping, not just in northern Ontario, not just in communities like Larder Lake, Cochrane, Moose Factory and Attawapiskat, but all across Canada. It is a culture that is based in our land, the land of Canada, is second to none in this world.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I am able to address the House today concerning Bill C-465, an act that would establish a national hunting, trapping and fishing day annually on the third Saturday of September.

Many members know that I am the co-chair of the outdoors caucus. It is a non-partisan group of MPs and senators that promotes the rights of hunters, anglers, sport shooters and trappers on Parliament Hill. This caucus boasts one of the highest memberships on the Hill and the bill lines up nicely with our goals.

As my hon. colleague stated, I would like to take this time to highlight the important role that hunters, trappers and fishers play in conservation efforts and I would also like to take the time to highlight the widespread support the bill has already received.

Historically hunting, trapping and fishing have been some of the greatest economic drivers behind Canada's westward expansion. More important, these practices were essential to the survival of first nations, Inuit and European settlers who lived in what would one day become Canada.

Today, those who hunt, fish and trap are playing a vital and essential role in conservation efforts around the country. Hunters and anglers do more to protect the environment than government or any of the large international environmental groups do.

Hunting, trapping and fishing are Canadian heritage traditions which provide people of all ages the unique opportunity to spend quality time outdoors with family and friends in every region and riding of this country.

The concept of parks and protected areas was first conceived in North America over a century ago. These areas exist today across Canada and around the world, due in large part to the advocacy efforts of people who hunt, fish and trap. Our heritage of fishing, hunting and trapping includes a proud history of respect for the outdoors, which continues to translate into positive conservation action in all areas of Canada.

People who participate in these activities are also at the forefront of improved hunter safety training and safe firearm handling and proficiency. Anglers can be found advocating for water safety and administrating boat handling training programs. Trappers teach humane trapping methods and proper conservation of fur-bearing species.

Support for the bill has been overwhelming. Members from the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Parties have jointly seconded this non-partisan bill that applies to so many of our constituents. I notice even members of the Bloc have supported it today. The bill also enjoys wide support from non-government organizations, businesses and individuals across Canada.

I would like to take a moment to thank a few of these groups that have been extremely helpful and generous with their support: the Alberta Fish and Game Club Association, British Columbia Wildlife Federation, Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Friends of Fur, Canadian Outdoors Network, Canadian Sport Fishing Industry Association, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Fur Institute of Canada, Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation, La Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Outdoor Caucus Association of Canada, Prince Edward Island Wildlife Federation, Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Shimano Canada Limited and Wildlife Habitat Canada.

On October 19, Bill C-465 went before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. This gave some of the members of the House a first-hand look at the contributions hunters, trappers and fishers had made to Canadian society. I will quote several officials who spoke on behalf of the bill at the standing committee.

Mr. Greg Farrant, government relations manager for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, said:

Bill C-465 is an important first step toward the recognition of the important heritage of hunting, fishing, and trapping in Canada and the contribution that anglers, hunters, and trappers make to the conservation of the resource for current and future generations .

Mr. Tony Rodgers, the executive director, Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters said:

All of us in this room are the descendants of successful hunters and anglers. In some cases they may be from a few generations back, but we would not be here without our forefathers having hunting and fishing skills.

We also heard comments from Dr. Robert Bailey.

It is very clear our history, society, economy and conservation efforts are all linked to those who participate in outdoor traditions such as hunting, fishing and trapping. We need to promote these traditional heritage activities and encourage more Canadians to participate in them.

I thank the member for Northumberland—Quinte West for bringing forth Bill C-465 and I hope everyone in the House will support it.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I, too, am very pleased to speak to Bill C-465. I did take the time to re-read the speech by the member for Northumberland—Quinte West on June 1, 2010. I must agree that it is one of the best speeches that I have read in the House.

He made reference to the fact that several other provinces have special days. The provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have existing legislation and, as he indicated, Saskatchewan is in the process of doing it. Manitoba's day seems like a number of months ago, maybe it was not that long ago, but I was certainly invited to participate in it. It, coincidentally, was just days after the vote on the long gun registry. So I was pleased to be very welcomed at that event.

I have talked to the member in the past and he agreed that the state of tourism was not what it should be in a cross-border sense. He said that perhaps passing his bill, which will surely become law, will actually aid the tourism industry in this country. I share with him the concerns about that, because we have all been hearing from owners of tourist facilities and tourist camps about how business has dropped. One business in northwestern Ontario that has been in the family for three generations, is, I believe, in danger of closing right now because the number of tourists has dropped off. Part of that has to do with the strong dollar. We have not seen such a strong dollar since Diefenbaker's days and that comes with many challenges.

However, there are other areas in which the government and the member could us and help the tourism industry. I have at least two on which I would like to ask for his support tonight. One of them has to do with the cost of passports. We have the ability in the House to pass an all-party motion. However, this past summer, we were lucky enough at the Midwestern Legislative Conference, which is an annual conference that has been held for quite a number of decades now, consisting of 11 midwest states, starting with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin, and three Canadian provinces, which would include Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The members should know that it is very difficult to get any sort of resolution through this body, because we are talking about 500 politicians, Democrats and Republicans, who can fight about almost anything, and Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats from Canada who also can fight about almost anything if given a chance.

Do members know what we did at that conference? We decided to bring a resolution sponsored by Senator O'Connell from the state of North Dakota into the U.S.-Canada committee. The committee spent most of its time, its two or three hour meetings, discussing this one resolution out of the 15 that it had to deal with, and everybody on that committee was supportive of it. As a matter of fact, it was seconded by a Liberal MPP from Ontario and it made it through the committee with almost everybody wanting to speak in favour of it, and an American legislator telling the committee how he had to pay $500 for four passports. If legislators are questioning what we are doing, we can imagine what the public have to say about it.

The resolution was passed unanimously by this body and letters were sent to the Prime Minister and the President. I would ask the member, who is in the governing party, if he will help. I believe it would help the tourist operators and the hunters and trappers of this country a lot if he were to use his good offices and his powers of persuasion within his caucus and among his cabinet members to encourage the government to look at dealing with the passport issue.

By the way, I should point out that Canadians have a much bigger uptake in passports than Americans do. While 50% of Canadians have passports, only 25% of Americans do.

At the conference, the resolution that was passed unanimously—

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Avalon is rising on a point of order.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about Bill C-465, the national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day act. As much as I would like to hear the hon. member talk about passports and other things, I think it would be appropriate if he stuck to this particular bill.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The member makes a good point. We are at third reading, which, of course, has much stricter guidelines for relevance, so I will ask the member for Elmwood—Transcona to keep his remarks on the subject matter of the motion before the House.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that was a very silly comment, because the fact of the matter is that all of this has to do with the subject at hand.

I spoke to the member for Northumberland—Quinte West when the bill was at second reading, about the state of tourist camps and the hunting industry in this country, and I think he would be the first to remind the member for Avalon that we are trying to improve the product. We are trying to improve the hunting industry in this country. While we cannot have a direct effect on the strong dollar, we certainly can try to convince governments to reduce passport fees, for example, to encourage more cross-border tourism.

I want to deal with a number of other issues, but for the people who complained about hunters not being able to manage and conserve animals, we only have to look at the slaughter of the buffalo in the late 1800s. For many centuries, the buffalo provided the essentials of life for prairie natives. The fur and hides were made into clothing and shelter and the meat was a main source of food.

The tribes lived largely a nomadic life while following the herds across the Prairies, and at one time there were as many as 50 million buffalo on the North American plains. Even in the early 1870s, there were herds so vast that it took several days to pass them.

After that, the demand for buffalo hides surged when a tanning method was developed that allowed the soft hide to be made into tougher, more desirable leather. In addition to that, there was advancement with the repeating rifle, allowing hunters to kill buffalo in large numbers.

Following that, there was a mass slaughter of the buffalo population in the United States. By the end of the 1870s, millions of buffalo had been slaughtered for sport and profit. Killing buffalo had even become a pastime for sportsmen from Britain who travelled to the plains to take part in the hunt, not unlike what transpires today with people going to Africa to be involved in safaris.

In Canada, fur traders, plains natives and hunters helped slaughter about four million buffalo. When Canadian settlers started farming, the first cash crop for some were buffalo bones, sold by the ton for fertilizer. One would think that with that use of the resource, it could never be restored. The fact of the matter is it is positive testimony to the human experience that the buffalo population has been brought back. That is actually a very positive story that we can tell, as opposed to a very negative one of the slaughter of a whole species that could have been extinct, but we brought it back.

It has been mentioned by other members that as people have moved off farms and away from rural areas, moved to cities, they have become distant from this issue, even hostile to it. We saw that with the gun registry. People in cities are very willing to accept the gun registry, whereas people who live in rural areas, in small towns or on farms, who deal with wild animals and trapping and hunting issues, understand that—

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a few minutes to talk about this excellent bill, which I support and many of my colleagues in our party support as well.

I am from Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario. Many people throughout northwestern Ontario indulge in our hunting, fishing and trapping activities, but even the ones who do not actually do it themselves, their brothers, their friends and their cousins do and many of them benefit from the fish and game on their table that they do not hunt themselves.

I am a hunter myself, a fisher person, and a former licensed trapper. I am very proud that for 10 years I lived on a trapline and slogged through snow at -20°, -30° or -40° to do that trapping.

Hunting, fishing and trapping are our national heritage. There was a time when many Canadians, if they were not able to hunt, fish and trap, did not eat. They did not live. It is not only a cultural thing and a personal heritage thing, but for a long time in our country it was their survival.

The licence fees of hunters and fishers across Canada, in many cases, support most of our conservation. In addition to being a hunter and a fisher, I am also a bird watcher, a conservationist and I support the creation of parks and wilderness areas. However, I have always found it ironic that most of the people who do not hunt and fish have not yet found ways to actually put money directly into our hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation funds.

When I learned to trap, I learned from my native friends in the Armstrong area, from the Whitesand First Nation, from the people who live in Namaygoosisgagun, along the CN rail line where there is vast wilderness and wonderful hunting, fishing and trapping.

Those aboriginal people have learned those skills and they have practised those skills for thousands of years. As we know, they were here for many thousands of years before we were. It was generous of them to teach me those skills so that I can pass them along in future years to my son.

We had explorers in Canada, our cartographers, people such as David Thompson and others who were not only cartographers but worked sometimes for the Hudson's Bay Company and other trapping companies. They mapped our prairies, our forests and our rivers. They worked their way to the Pacific Ocean and paved the way for the incredible country that Canada is today.

Today, millions and millions of Canadians still hunt, fish and trap. Hunting, fishing and trapping, especially hunting and fishing, are a very important part of our economy. They are important to our tourism industry. They are important for many Canadians for outdoor recreation, for urban and rural and hinterland folks.

They are a source of healthy food in this day and age when many of our supermarket foods are contaminated by herbicides, pesticides, hormones and additives. Wild foods, country foods, are healthy to eat.

As I have mentioned, it is a family activity. I have already taught my 15-year-old son how to fish and how to fillet, and to cook them too. Soon I will be teaching him how to shoot and how to hunt.

I would like to summarize by saying that I am very much in favour of the bill. I support it wholeheartedly and I urge the House to hurry it along to the other place and pass it as the law of this country.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. There being no further members rising, I will go to the hon. member for Northumberland—Quinte West for his five-minute right of reply.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it will not take five minutes. My hon. friends from every party have indicated their support, have reiterated how important the bill is to Canadians, how important the bill is to all of us in the House who represent Canadians.

All I want to say is a very heartfelt thank you to not only all the members of Parliament, but to all the fish and game clubs and organizations across Canada who have written to us in support of the bill. I want to thank all the members and we will do what we can, every single member here, I believe, to light a little fire over at the Senate and get those senators to support the bill and to pass it, because it means so much to Canadians.

I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker; and through you to all the members of the House once more, my heartfelt thanks for the recognition of this, not only for every hunter, fisher and trapper, but for the families, those who went before us to teach us how to do those things, our deceased fathers, mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers who I think will be looking at this and saying, “Way to go, all you guys and gals in Parliament; this is the right thing to do”.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:10 p.m.


Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 29, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources a question about shipping nuclear waste through the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence. I know that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, in response to various pressures, held two days of hearings and allowed 30 days for the submission of briefs. In other words, there has been some consultation.

I am quite concerned about the fact that, in my opinion, there is no strategic policy framework on radioactive waste from nuclear reactors. What is more, over 200 municipalities have already raised some concerns about this, and rightly so. I thought it would be a good idea to look at this in greater depth during these adjournment proceedings. During question period, we have only 30 seconds for the question and answer. It is good to be able to ask this type of question.

Gordon Edwards, PhD, co-chair for Canada of the Great Lakes United task force, is asking questions. He is calling for the establishment of a strategic framework. Such a framework already exists for spent fuel, but not for radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.

What is the government waiting for to establish a strategic framework? What should Canada's policy on exporting and importing this kind of waste be? Should Canada allow the shipment of this kind of waste on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, in light of the fact that this would be the first time that Canada would be exporting or importing radioactive waste from nuclear reactors that have been decommissioned or refurbished?

Furthermore, there is a second precedent. Radioactive waste from nuclear reactors would be shipped for the first time through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. And radioactive waste from Canadian reactors would be introduced for the first time into the international scrap metal markets.

It would be appropriate for the government to answer these questions. The Standing Committee on Natural Resources has decided to wait for the decision from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, but it is not just a matter of whether or not to issue a permit. We must take a closer look at the issue to avoid creating a precedent in the absence of a strategic framework.

I would ask my hon. colleague to please answer that question.

7:10 p.m.

Oxford Ontario


Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as members know, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Canada's nuclear regulator, has received an application from Bruce Power for a licence to transport 16 steam generators to Sweden in order to recycle 90% of the metal.

I am told that the application clearly indicates the generators can be safely transported and that all steps are being taken to ensure the shipment poses no risks to the public or the environment. The contaminated material is entirely contained within the generators, which have been sealed.

As well, I understand the level of radioactivity sealed inside each of the generators is extremely low.

Still, concerns have been expressed. As a government that is committed to ensuring the protection of the public, the workers, and the environment, we understand that these concerns must be taken seriously and be addressed.

That is why the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal, held, and streamed via webcast, its public hearings that were held on September 28 and 29 to consider Bruce Power's application. The commission heard from 77 members of the public.

The CNSC commissioners also heard from their own experts, both in terms of their assessment of the Bruce application and their response to issues raised by intervenors.

Following the September hearings, and after careful analyses, the commissioners requested that CNSC staff undertake an additional analysis of a few specific issues, which was in turn sent to the participants, inviting them to provide further comments by November 22, 2010. The commission is continuing its deliberations on the application.

Our government has confidence in the decisions of the CNSC as an independent regulator. The commission has a long and distinguished track record in making objective science- and risk-based decisions.

In fact, a recent independent assessment conducted on the International Atomic Energy Agency determined that CNSC does an effective job in carrying out its role.

I want to remind my hon. colleague that CNSC is an arm's-length regulator. This means that we must allow it to make this decision, which will ensure the safeguard of the health, safety, and security of Canadians.

The government recognizes how important the nuclear industry is to Canada and Canadians. The industry creates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.

We are committed to strengthening Canada's nuclear advantage and ensuring that nuclear generation remains a viable option for emissions-free power at home and worldwide. As part of that, we are committed to responsible, effective, and efficient regulation of the industry. The nuclear industry is a carefully regulated industrial sector.

We have a strong and modern legislative framework in place, including the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The CNSC will only license nuclear facilities and activities that are environmentally responsible and safe.

We will also continue to move forward on the policy initiatives to build public confidence in the industry and position it for growth. For instance, we are moving forward with the modernization of our nuclear liability legislation.

We will continue to monitor the activities of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization as it moves forward on long-term management of Canada's spent nuclear fuel.

We will also advance our own long-term waste management strategies, which are the Port Hope area initiative and the nuclear legacy liabilities program.

We want a nuclear industry that is strong, clean, and safe, and the CNSC will continue to pay a vital role in achieving this.

7:15 p.m.


Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his response. However, it remains to be seen whether we will have a strategic framework for fuel. As he correctly pointed out, there are already regulations concerning spent fuel.

Given what he said, does he believe that a government can outline a vision and implement a strategic framework in order to avoid setting dangerous precedents while still complying with regulations and a quasi-judicial tribunal?

7:15 p.m.


Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I complete the rest of my response, I would like to congratulate my colleague across the aisle. He has taken part in Movember month, and my understanding is this is the last we will see of him with a moustache. He has raised $7,000 for a very worthwhile charity. I congratulate him.

Mr. Speaker, our government has complete confidence in the CNSC. We have no doubt that the CNSC decision will safeguard the health, safety, and security of Canadians.

Thirty thousand Canadians are employed in Canada's nuclear industry, many of them in highly skilled, well-paying jobs.

Our government is a strong supporter of this industry, which has operated safely in Canada for more than 50 years, providing much of our electricity supply.

In all of our activities, our first priority is always the health and safety of Canadians. In the CNSC, we have a strong and independent regulator that plays a vital role in overseeing this priority at nuclear sites across the country.

We want to help Canada's nuclear industry succeed in its ultimate goal of providing a reliable, safe, and emissions-free source of power at home and worldwide. This goal is--

7:15 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.

7:15 p.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am hoping to expand on the question I posed on October 4 about the way the government seems less than interested in tracking down Canadian funds being held in offshore, tax-free accounts and how its plans to cut 200 positions at the Canada Revenue Agency, key positions that track down money hidden in tax havens, shows this is true.

Successive governments have spent decades turning a blind eye to Canadian tax evaders. They may talk a good game but the proof is in the amount of money recovered and the resources allocated to the battle.

We know that wealthy Canadians and corporations have invested $80 billion in the Cayman Islands, Barbados and Bermuda. While billions are lost, the government tells us there is no money for spending here in Canada.

To put this in perspective, we should consider that direct Canadian investment in these islands is $13 billion more than that invested in the whole United Kingdom. There is a reason for this. The U.K. is not a tax haven. Profits made on that investment are taxable.

There is no doubt that these tax havens represent a reduction in Canadian fiscal capacity. They are a funnel on the Canadian economy and contribute to both the mounting deficit and the unequal burden placed on the average taxpayer.

I think we can all agree that it is not fair nor is it sound economic policy. The question then becomes: what are we to do about it?

We have seen what the government is doing. Again, it is turning a blind eye and losing out on billions of dollars. Instead of committing to getting this money back into Canada, the government has chosen to cut back 200 positions at the Canada Revenue Agency over the next three years. This is being done with the knowledge that every dollar invested in CRA employees, who are dedicated to hunting down offshore accounts, gets Canada $4 back. I am sure if we asked the average taxpayer if he or she wanted the government to cancel the cuts at CRA and chase down these tax cheats, the answer would be a resounding and emphatic yes.

Who would not want to balance the tax burden? I suppose the government's deep-pocketed friends, the ones who benefit from the way things are now. Only those taking advantage of the loopholes will tell the government they are pursuing the appropriate course of action on this issue. Just like with their bizarre census decision, the government is listening to the minority at the expense of everyone else.

New Democrats do have a plan for dealing with tax havens. It is a simple prescription that relies on three proposals that can be summed up as transparency, enforcement and disclosure.

The government is pushing ahead with its plan to slash CRA's ability to deal with tax haven cheats. Instead of reassuring hard-working, law-abiding taxpayers that everyone will pay their fair share, the government is cementing the belief that there are two sets of rules in Canadian tax policy: one for corporations and wealthy individuals and one for everyone else. It is not fair.

I ask again: How can the government justify cutting jobs in the unit responsible for recovering money from those guilty of tax evasion?

I commend the House for taking the time to hear me out. We have to take some action with regard to tax havens.