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.


Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.


Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today to take part in the debate on Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures.

My speech will be very simple; I would like to discuss two main points. First of all, the Conservatives are mismanaging public money, and the way they waste money is shocking. Second, the priorities they set out in the budget do not meet the needs of Canadian families.

Starting with my first point, this is a government of shockingly bad wastage of public funds and mismanagement.

Of course we have heard already from many of the speakers about the record $56 billion deficit. Having been part of a provincial government wrestling down a deficit, which was in place when the government I was part of came in and took responsibility, I know how difficult it is to reduce deficits.

We have a huge challenge over the coming years. This is a government that does not appear to understand the value of money and does not appear to understand the importance of taking every taxpayer dollar extremely seriously and ensuring that every dollar is put to its highest and best use in the public good.

What we are anticipating from the current government's plans is $156 billion in new debt between 2009 and 2014, which would cost taxpayers $10 billion a year. Every single year, each and every year, that is $10 billion that will not be available for all of the many other things that are priorities for Canadians. That money would essentially be wasted. It would be taken out of the productive economy to pay interest costs.

I would ask my colleagues across the way if they actually believe it would be easier for the next generation to pay down this debt that they are incurring on behalf of Canadians as we speak. It will be much more difficult when there are fewer people in the workforce, when there are more people receiving pensions, when there are more people at an age that would put pressure on our health care system.

When we spend tomorrow's money, it has to be very wisely, and that is exactly what the government does not understand. Apparently, wisely for the government is in pursuit of votes and in pursuit of seats. That appears to be the vision of the current government, unfortunately for Canada and unfortunately for Canadians who deserve and need a vision to address the challenges that we have facing us in the future, the competitive challenges, the environmental challenges, the social challenges.

The wasteful spending has become a hallmark of the current Conservative government.

Again and again we have seen evidence that tax dollars are treated as though they are the private preserve of the Conservative members and cabinet.

I would call part of their wasteful spending the P3 plan. I wish the P3 plan were a plan about partnerships to create value for the future, public-private partnerships to build and create. However, the P3 plan of the current government essentially is about the planes, prisons and photo ops. That is the huge commitments of dollars, the billions of taxpayer dollars that are being committed unwisely and wastefully; for example, $16 billion for the stealth fighter planes.

We begin to trip over the word “billion” as though it did not have meaning. A billion is the number of minutes since Christ was born. A billion is a huge number. If one were to plant a tree every eight feet, a billion trees would be a swath of trees around the equator 400 feet wide. That is a billion. That is a huge number. We need to somehow find a way to have the government understand the scale of a billion dollars when it commits $14 billion or $16 billion for a stealth fighter program without a rationale as to why that actually is the equipment that our troops will need and that our government strategy to protect Canada or to protect our Arctic territory will require, when there is no clear rationale.

In fact, there is a refusal to respond to the Liberals' request for a clear rationale for why this particular equipment with this incredibly high price tag is the right one. That was not forthcoming. Second, these planes failed to have a competitive bid and failed to secure jobs in Canada.

It is just one of the reasons why I have to shake my head, seeing a group of members of Parliament who claim to be pro-business using such woefully inadequate practices for making their decisions in such a way that is so wasteful of the public dollars.

Another issue in the P3 program is the prisons, which appear to be heading towards $10 billion to $13 billion in spending of tax dollars at a time when crime is going down, as I want to remind the members opposite. This is a proposal to focus a huge amount of borrowed public funds, which will need to be paid back by workers in the future, on prisons when the evidence is very clear. In California for example, one in ten Californians is in jail. What has that done for the economy of California? It is not a very positive story.

I would ask the members opposite why the Conservative prime minister of Great Britain is coming forward with a goal of reducing the number of prisoners by 50%. He is a Conservative prime minister. Why would that prime minister be looking at reducing the need for prison cells and reducing the number of prisoners? It is because that is good public policy. What the government is doing is the opposite.

Not only is this an expensive use of borrowed public funds, not only is it bad public policy, but the government attempted to deceive the public as to what the costs of its crime agenda, its punishment agenda, would be. The government claimed a certain bill would cost $90 billion and was then outed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer when in fact the tab was some 100 times higher for the projected costs of prisons that the government will be foisting on the Canadian public.

It is wasteful spending on prisons, planes and photo ops. There has been much said about the photo ops. Again, it was $1 billion for 72 hours of the Prime Minister having his face in the newspapers and in the news coverage. Is that really a priority for Canadian citizens?

Rather than more for less, which is what the business community strives to do, more value at a lower cost, this is a government that has been delivering more borrowing and spending for less result and less value. There has been more borrowing to spend $30 million more on a census that is universally condemned across the country and outside the boundaries of this country for what it will do to frustrate researchers who are trying to provide services to Canadians.

There was more spending on a historically high ad budget that is highly focused on partisan signs to promote the government's agenda. There was more spending on the Prime Minister's office, up $10 million, to increase the Prime Minister's ability to control and spin information, leading to another one of the major critiques. For example, the journalist associations from across Canada, in a public letter, have said that our democracy is at risk with this increasingly secretive government that makes information difficult to access, that holds back freedom of information requests and that hides information and makes it unavailable to journalists who are then finding it very difficult to hold the government to account.

The fourth estate is an essential tool of our democracy to hold the government to account and to enable the public to know whether they are being properly served by their elected representatives, on the government side or not.

Journalists across the country are putting up the red flags and sounding the warning bells that the Conservative government is secretive, hiding information and undemocratic.

The second point I want to touch on in my remarks today is about the priorities of Canadian families and the fact that the priorities of the government, with its P3 program and more borrowing and spending for less value, are not addressing the primary priorities of Canadian families.

First there is health care. I would like to emphasize the importance of care to better health.

Care is very connected with health and the government has ignored the needs for care. It has ignored the predicament of people who take care of their chronically ill loved ones or aging spouses and parents. There is no help for them. The government has ignored the gap between the rich and the poor and Canada's gap will only widen under the policies of the government.

I want to underline that this is a very serious proposition for the well-being of Canadians and our country in the future because the research is unequivocal. Countries that have a lower gap between the rich and the poor have better outcomes on an entire range of indicators that have to do with health, happiness and well-being. Countries that have a low gap between the rich and the poor have fewer suicides, lower child mortality, higher happiness of citizens, better health, stronger families and virtually every indicator of health, happiness and well-being. A country ranks higher on those very important indicators of the strength and the resilience of that country when there is a lower gap between the rich and poor.

The government is doing everything it can in its policies to increase that gap. Where is the Conservatives' anti-poverty plan? Nowhere. That is something on which a Liberal government is committed to providing leadership. Where is their housing strategy? Completely absent. It was embarrassingly obvious during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games that the federal government had completely taken itself out of the business of caring about providing leadership to ensure that affordable housing was available to those who needed it.

Not only are Conservatives not providing leadership to push things forward, they are undermining the leadership that the provinces and municipalities have undertaken to put a safety net under some of the most vulnerable, for example, the Insite facility in Vancouver. All peer reviewed research shows that facility saves lives. That facility puts a safety net under some of the most discouraged human beings in our country. It provides them with a safe place to engage with the health care system, to get the drugs they need to be well when they suffer from HIV-AIDS and to help them prevent passing that condition to others.

It is about compassion, but it is also about preventing the spread of disease and it is about saving lives. The government has gone to endless lengths in the courts to undermine Insite, not to support it, not to partner with the province and the city that support it, but to undermine and eliminate it. It is a shocking abrogation of human responsibility by the government.

These are some of the areas on which the Liberals will provide leadership on: the Liberal family care plan to support those who spend months or years to care for their loved ones, anti-poverty strategy, housing strategy, health care and education.

Education is the foundation of health, success, a wealthy society and a sustainable economy and the solution to the challenges of the future.

Education is very critical and that will be a number one priority of a Liberal government.

The government across the way has chosen to cut dollars for research in the universities, while spending the unimaginable kinds of dollars on signage. Every time the government does anything, it is forcing an expensive sign to be created.

When my constituents drive down the streets of Vancouver and see an economic action plan sign, they think that is another piece of playground equipment that cannot be purchased. The signs are costing an average of $2,000 to $3,000 each. The government wants to advertise its partisan ways using taxpayer dollars.

Why not use it for education? Why not use the dollars for making post-secondary educations more affordable for aboriginal people? Many young aboriginal people have the grades and are eligible but cannot obtain post-secondary educations. This is another equality issue that is tied in with education.

Protecting the environment is not a priority for the Conservatives. On the contrary, they see it as a barrier. They have relaxed the rules concerning the impact of development on the environment.

Shockingly the government is cutting funds for protection the environment. It sees protection as a barrier. Therefore, it is no surprise that it has cut la Fondation canadienne pour les sciences du climat et de l'atmosphère, the very organization that for decades was the steward of climate science. It has had its funding cut and those experiments are now to be abandoned.

They have slashed the energy efficiency program, the only major program for renewable energy.

The government has cut programs and it has cut the climate legislation. This is an uncaring, secretive, controlling, visionless and ruthless government and Canadians are getting tired of it. The bill is just one more expression of the misplaced priorities that ignore the real needs of Canadians.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have time for questions and comments the next time this bill is before the House.

The House resumed from November 25 consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Mission in Afghanistan
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25 the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #132

Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion defeated.

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-465, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Rick Norlock 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 Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Larry Bagnell 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 Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Meili Faille 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 Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.


Charlie Angus 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.