House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was summits.


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

6:05 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his passion for hunting, fishing and trapping. I have just one question I would like to ask him. He knows we have been discussing this.

There are two amendments I would like to propose at committee. One would be the inclusion of the line, “Whereas aboriginal peoples have exercised and been sustained by traditional hunting, trapping and fishing activities for food, ceremonial and commercial purposes since time immemorial”. The second amendment is a friendly amendment to add the word “coast”. The bill says “coast to coast”, so it would be made “coast to coast to coast”.

Is the member in agreement with these two amendments to Bill C-465?

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

6:05 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question and, of course, his support for this bill. Yes, I believe the inclusion of our three coasts is very important to the bill and I would welcome that.

As I made my presentation before the House, yes, we need to recognize that the traditions of hunting, fishing and trapping began with the first nations, and continue to this day. So, I do think it is important for that inclusion, and I look forward to speaking with the hon. member at committee, and exploring the way we could incorporate that into the existing bill before this House.

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

6:10 p.m.


Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Northumberland—Quinte West very much for introducing the national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day idea. It is an excellent idea.

I am a fisherman. I am a former hunter. I am a former licensed trapper. In northwestern Ontario, hunting, fishing and trapping are not just a hobby, as they are for many. It is a culture. It is a way of life. It is a source of food. It is a source of income for many aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.

Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in northwestern Ontario have a long history of hunting, fishing and trapping. They were the first conservationists in our area. They were the first environmentalists in our area. So, on behalf of the citizens of Thunder Bay—Superior North, I would like to commend the hon. member on this most worthwhile proposed piece of legislation,

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

6:10 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope he is happy to know that this member will take one week off this summer. I will be flying to Thunder Bay and then driving to Armstrong. From there, we are going to take a float plane into one of the northern lakes, and he is pointing to himself because I suspect that he may be the member of Parliament for that area. We are going to go where a group of my very close friends are and we are going to be fishing for those beautiful walleye that are there. I like to say pickerel, but walleye, apparently, is the appropriate word.

The member is entirely correct. The importance of hunting, fishing and trapping cannot be overstated to the life of the people who live in the north, but not just the north. In my riding, we have first nation territories that are along Rice Lake. They still depend on the ability to hunt, trap and fish.

I am hoping that we can have a few witnesses come before the committee to tell Canadians about these things. We as members of Parliament understand some of these things, but I think Canadians, especially new Canadians who are new to this country, need to look at the rich heritage that we have.

I made reference to my grandfather who was a trapper in northern Ontario. His name was Narcisse Viens. I can tell members that the stories he told us about when he was trapping in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s in northern Ontario kept us away from the TV they were that good. That is pretty good to say when we are talking to some young people.

So, yes, to the member. I look forward to perhaps having him attend committee and talk about the importance.

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

6:10 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, as co-chair of the non-partisan parliamentary outdoor caucus and as the MP representing Yukon riding, it gives me great pleasure to speak in support of Bill C-465, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day. As the mover of the bill, the member for Northumberland—Quinte West, is aware, I have two amendments that I would like to see added to the bill. These amendments will be proposed at committee study of the bill.

For the record here in the House, I will explain why I am proposing amendments, so all hon. members will understand them as well.

The first amendment would be inserted after the first line of the preamble, and it would read:

Whereas Aboriginal peoples have exercised and been sustained by traditional hunting, trapping and fishing activities for food, ceremonial and commercial purposes since time immemorial;

From this line, members and all those who will read Bill C-465 will take note of the recognition of aboriginal peoples and the significance of hunting, trapping and fishing in the culture, past and present.

When I first read the bill, the absence of aboriginal recognition was very obvious to me, and as a result, I consulted with several aboriginal groups. I want to thank them for their input, which resulted in the amendment that I will propose at committee.

It is also interesting to note that the right of Canada's aboriginal peoples with respect to hunting, trapping and fishing are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982, so it only seems fitting that this fact once again be acknowledged in Bill C-465.

The second amendment that I will propose at committee is the addition of the words “to coast” in line two of the preamble. Once again, as members know, Canada is bordered by three coasts and should be acknowledged as such when we speak of activity taking place from coast to coast to coast.

One of the reasons I am supportive of Bill C-465 is because of my own private member's bill currently listed as Bill C-277. I proposed this legislation over three years ago. With each new session of Parliament, the number on the bill changes but not the content. Bill C-277 calls for the establishment of a national fish and wildlife heritage commission and to re-establish the survey on the importance of nature to Canadians, to help protect Canada's natural resources, and it promoted activities related to fish and wildlife, including hunting, fishing and trapping.

If Parliament sees fit to pass Bill C-465, which I expect it will do in good order, then possibly some of the goals I outlined in my private member's bill will be met.

As an example, in Bill C-277 I advocated the promotion of practices that will lead future generations to value recreational hunting and fishing; the promotion of public participation in fish and wildlife conservation programs; the promotion of youth participation activities related to fish and wildlife, including hunting, fishing and conservation; and the promotion of tourism related to fish and wildlife, including hunting and fishing.

Surely these objectives could be highlighted as Canadians begin to plan and mark special events in celebration of a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

While the member for Northumberland—Quinte West proposes this as a national day, other provinces and territories have already enacted or are in the process of drawing up legislation to recognize the heritage importance of hunting and fishing, as he mentioned in his speech.

In my riding, Yukon Territory, there is such legislation on the books that was passed by the territorial assembly back in 2003. It recognizes that hunters and anglers contribute to the conservation, understanding and management of the Yukon's fish and wildlife. It has been an important part of our past for our cultural, social and economic heritage and is very important for the same contributions today.

For Yukon people, hunting, fishing and trapping is about sharing knowledge, experience and history of the land and waters. It is about passing on of traditions. More important, it is about learning respect and love for our natural environment. Hunting, fishing and trapping allow us to be part of nature, to better understand who we are, what we are part of and how important nature is.

As many members know, Yukon is a large riding with a small population, but it is important to note the significant impact on the territorial economy that is a result of hunting, fishing and trapping.

One of the first points of contact for those interested in hunting and fishing in the Yukon would be the Yukon Outfitters. What is their contribution to the territorial economy? Let me tell everyone.

Yukon Outfitters directly employ more than 250 people. They also generate in excess of $15 million that supports over 300 local businesses, their employers and the Yukon economy.

Yukon Outfitters account for 10% of all non-government money coming into the Yukon. Yukon Outfitters and their clients generate more than 8% of Yukon's tourism dollars and are responsible for more than 12% of Yukon tourism jobs. In effect, Yukon Outfitters are responsible for 20% of all tourism dollars in the territory. This also means that 85% of all the money generated by Yukon Outfitters remains in the Yukon supporting local businesses.

Yukon Outfitters generate more money for the Yukon economy with fewer tourists and less impact than any other Yukon business. At the same time, Yukon Outfitters are committed stewards of the land and are venturing their own funds to look after a public resource. The same is true of two other great Yukon organizations: the Yukon Trappers Association and the Yukon Fish and Game Association.

The United States has a national organization for promoting its hunting and angling heritage. Many states have enacted laws protecting hunting and fishing opportunities, and as I have mentioned, several provinces and territories have also done so. Members of Parliament should be assured that Canadian wildlife federations and fish and game associations welcome the passing of an act respecting a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

History has shown that less than 100 years ago, when wildlife was threatened like no other time in recorded history in North America, people who understood the value of fish, wildlife, trapping and wild lands came together to restore and to protect and conserve. These people, like now, were active hunters and anglers. They helped to preserve and protect a heritage that we are asking to be recognized now with the passage of Bill C-465.

People fish, hunt and trap for a variety of reasons. Some hunt and fish strictly to put wild meat on the table. Others hunt and fish because it allows them to be closer to nature and justifies more quality time spent in the wilderness. Some individuals hunt, fish and trap because it is deeply rooted in the social fabric of their culture. The reasons people hunt, fish and trap are complex, varied and often overlapping.

These activities are deeply imprinted, to a varying degree, on all people of the world. Archeological evidence shows that these activities have been with us since the early days of mankind. Even in our modern, technological society where the majority of people are far removed from the realities of nature, individuals have retained the right and the desire to hunt, fish and trap.

As I said at the outset of my speech, I look forward to moving two amendments to Bill C-465 when it goes to committee, and if these amendments are accepted, I look forward to continuing to support this bill enthusiastically. I congratulate the member for Northumberland—Quinte West for bringing this piece of legislation forward.

I am delighted to see my other co-chair of the outdoor caucus here today. I know he is a big supporter of the bill, and as a co-chair of the outdoor caucus and member of Parliament for Yukon, I know my constituents will welcome the news when I tell them in the near future that Parliament has passed an act respecting a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

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

6:20 p.m.


Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of the bill that would designate a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day. As we know, hunting, trapping and fishing are legitimate activities that have a positive impact on the economies of the regions, and they are part of a way of life for many people and many communities.

This bill does not aim to protect or regulate hunting, trapping and fishing in any way. It does not interfere in the government's business or in its jurisdictions. It is the Government of Quebec's business to enforce the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife and the Fisheries Act, among other things.

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, of their concerns and their needs. Therefore, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this bill, as I mentioned before.

This bill would designate September 23 as National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day. This would be a day to recognize the economic and cultural contribution made by hunters, trappers and fishers in Quebec and Canada.

We need to distinguish between two main categories of activities: sport fishing and hunting, which are leisure activities, and commercial fishing and hunting, which are how some people make a living or earn most of their income. This is an important distinction, because this bill is about hunting, fishing and trapping as leisure activities, not as ways to earn a living. The two types of activities do not have the same purpose and are not governed by the same laws or sometimes, as in the case of fishing, even by the same level of government.

In Quebec, sport hunting and trapping are governed by regulations made under the provincial Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife, while fishing is governed by the Quebec Fishery Regulations, which come under the federal Fisheries Act.

Management of the maritime fishery also comes under federal jurisdiction, while the management of the freshwater fishery is a provincial responsibility, except in the four Atlantic provinces. It is important to remember that federal government delegated responsibility for managing the maritime fishery to Quebec in 1922, but unilaterally took back that responsibility in 1983.

In fact, in Quebec, two entities are responsible for managing the freshwater fishery: the Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec, which manages the resource and issues sport fishing licences, and MAPAQ, which issues commercial fishing licences.

Moreover, the fishery has always been among the areas over which Quebec has traditionally demanded control:

The provinces should have exclusive jurisdiction over the following: education, property law and civil law, hospitals, trades and professions, fisheries, marriage, agriculture, municipal institutions and schools, insurance, the establishment...

There are many economic spin-offs from hunting, fishing and trapping activities in Quebec. We have quite a few statistics. For example, 408,000 Quebeckers are hunting enthusiasts; 813,000 Quebeckers are recreational fishers. Each fisher spends $1,287 every year; hunters, $756 each. This spending adds up to a total of $308 million spent by hunting enthusiasts each year. This spending means that 3,322 jobs are either created or maintained, it equals $87.3 million in salaries and it generates $157.3 million in value added. You can see how important it is.

Hunting, fishing and trapping activities are beneficial to managing wildlife conservation. Hunting, fishing and trapping are not only legitimate hobbies for thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians, they are also used by governments as wildlife management tools. If animal or fish populations are not adequately controlled, a number of problems could develop, such as property damage—and related prevention costs—and rodents that damage roads, bridges, dams, drainage systems and wiring. There are also losses to farmers, their crops and livestock, as well as losses to the forestry industry.

I would like to digress for a moment and mention the comments made by Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu on Sunday concerning the excessive deer population in the Eastern Townships.

He said that the decrease in hunters “has a direct impact on the number of traffic accidents because of deer-vehicle collisions”, explained the senator who worked at the ministry of recreation, fish and game for 15 years.

He added that if deer are not culled in the Eastern Townships, in any given year there are between 5,000 and 8,000 deer collisions. The ministry of transport recorded just 6,000 collisions per year. I say “just” because of the figures provided by Senator Boisvenu. The transport ministry even records minor accidents.

It is obvious that Senator Boisvenu is using the figures—although I am not sure how he has stretched the facts—to support what he is saying. It does not require more hunters or guns, but an increase in Quebec government quotas. Sport hunting and fishing is one way the Quebec government controls animal populations.

I cannot help but raise another one of the senator's ridiculous statements: “It does not occur to 14- to 18-year-olds to buy a gun”. In a roundabout way, he was explaining that he was against the gun registry and that the increasing number of single mothers raising their children alone means that “hunting is no longer a tradition handed down from father to son”.

He added the following comment, that I would call unfortunate, if not ridiculous: “It does not occur to 14- to 18-year-olds to buy a gun”. I would say that it is a good thing that it does not occur to young people to buy guns.

I will continue. We were speaking about controlling animal populations. Hunting and fishing are an excellent way to do that.

Quebec's ministry of natural resources and wildlife is relying on two studies conducted to try to determine the possible repercussions of abandoning sport hunting and trapping as a wildlife management tool. Several animal rights groups claim that hunting and trapping are outdated methods for managing animal populations and that other methods could be used. It is not as simple as that, since animal birth control and relocation are not only quite costly measures, but they have also proven somewhat ineffective.

Wildlife managers also maintain that wildlife management budgets could never be increased enough if sport hunting and trapping were ever abandoned.

I see I am running out of time, but I think I have enough time to share with my colleagues a press release issued by the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, which welcomes this national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

The Federation...welcomes the private members' bill introduced by the federal member [for Northumberland—Quinte West] designating a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

The federation sees this as a gesture of recognition of the contribution made by hunters and fishers to the country's social, economic and ecological development. This gesture is a clear demonstration of the government's support for hunting, fishing and trapping activities, which are all fundamental components of Canada's national heritage. This measure fits into the federation's action plan, as we have been trying for seven years to have a national hunting day declared in Quebec.

Pierre Latraverse, president of the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, confirmed that his organization wholeheartedly welcomes this proposal from the Canadian government. He said that this initiative serves to prove once again the tremendous heritage value of these traditional harvesting activities in Quebec and Canada.

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

6:30 p.m.


Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-465, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, introduced by the member for Northumberland—Quinte West.

I am happy to support the bill and show my support for the thousands of Canadians, including many Sudburians, who relish the end of summer and approaching fall and the start of hunting season.

Let me first look at the history of these Canadian pastimes to illustrate the traditional nature and relevance of these activities then and now.

The challenge of the pursuit, the satisfaction of living off the land, hunting in northern Ontario is a local tradition that has been connecting people with nature for centuries. Hunting, trapping and fishing are part of an ancient tradition and an integral part of Canada's national and cultural heritage. Our ancestors and aboriginal groups in Canada used to hunt and fish for food and clothing to ensure their survival.

Today these activities are still an important part of life for hundreds of thousands of Canadians and millions of people around the world. For many aboriginal groups in Canada it is still an important method of food gathering and income, while for others hunting is a recreational activity that provides an opportunity to further friendships and camaraderie, an opportunity to experience nature and relax in the great outdoors and to make an important contribution to conservation.

The fact is Canadians love nature and being a part of it. A survey conducted a few years ago assessed the nature and wildlife affinity of approximately 20 million Canadians. Of those surveyed, nature-related activities were placed at a premium with a total of 1.5 billion days devoted to nature trips and taking part in activities like recreational fishing and hunting.

In 1996 approximately one in twenty Canadian citizens pursued game in the Canadian forests. Canadians who actively hunted took an average of 12.7 hunting trips annually with 16.9 days each year that the average participant spent going out on these hunts.

Spending time in the great outdoors is what we Canadians do best and it is not hard to figure out why. Canada's lush countryside and its wild forest lands, hills and mountains make it home to a vast number of some of the most magnificent game animals ever seen. This has made Canada a year-round season for season hunting ground for seekers of wild game from all over the world.

I do not mind telling the House that Sudbury, Ontario, my great riding of course, is at the top of the list as it offers hunters and fishermen the best of both worlds. With over 330 lakes within the city limits, greater Sudbury is an urban centre just steps away from the wilderness, one of my city's greatest attributes. Local hunters and anglers can get home from work and within an hour be at their camps, hunting game or out on the lakes fishing.

Whether it is by car or bush plane, one can leave downtown Sudbury and within minutes be immersed in dense northern bush mixed with beautiful stands of birch and poplar, rolling hills, marshlands interspersed with the breathtaking blues and greens of inland lakes and winding rivers.

It is worth noting that Canada maintains various nature preserves and sanctuaries to protect big game and small game animals and thousands of species of game fowl, as well as the wild habitats to sustain them.

Areas like the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area offer 55 kilometres of well-marked hiking and biking trails. One can explore the magnificent flora and fauna of the region, including a wetlands area created by Ducks Unlimited.

Just north of the city one will find the Jackson Lookout and Information Centre that overlooks High Falls, a waterfall formed by the Onaping River that cascades 150 feet into the Sudbury basin.

The Sudbury Game & Fish Protective Association is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the area. The Chelmsford Fish and Game Association is also worth noting for its efforts in this regard.

These are just a few of the spots to see, Mr. Speaker, on your next visit to Sudbury.

Not only are these activities enjoyable and part of growing up in northern Ontario, they also make significant contributions to our local and national economy.

Hunting, fishing and trapping are part of a massive industry, one that helps power tourism and the economy in a number of communities across Canada. In fact, according to the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association, Industry Canada sources estimate that eight million people of all ages fish in Canada.

Canadian anglers spend $6.7 billion annually, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Between 1984 and 1999 anglers and hunters directly contributed more than $335 million to wildlife habitat conservation, and I am sure that number is growing.

Canadian anglers also devoted one million volunteer days to cleaning up habitat and enhancing the fishing environment. Canadian hunters also donate close to one million hours per year to habitat conservation. Of course, the hunter licence fees brought almost $600 million to government treasuries, which of course helps all of our economies.

While my community has fallen on rough times with layoffs and the ongoing strike at Vale Inco, many find a way to escape from their daily stresses and ongoing worry by taking a time out in nature. For many families in my riding of Sudbury, hunting, fishing and trapping are part of a family tradition. For many fathers and their sons and daughters, it can be a rite of passage, the first time a father brings his son to the hunt camp or the first fishing trip for a parent and his or her daughter.

For years families have been teaching their children how to enjoy these activities safely and responsibly while improving their awareness of the natural environment. A child's first hunting or fishing trip is right up there in terms of childhood and young adult experiences with getting their driver's licence and things along those lines. It is an important part of what it means to grow up in northern Ontario.

In conclusion, I would be very glad to support this private member's bill. I believe it is time that we as a nation recognize these popular and traditional Canadian pastimes and pay tribute to those in hunter orange and honour their favourite pastime by deeming every 23rd day of September as national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

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

6:35 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, which has been put forward by my colleague from Northumberland—Quinte West.

I would like to take this time to highlight the importance that these activities have on our national economy, the important role that hunters, trappers and anglers play in conservation and to highlight the support this bill has received.

As co-chair of the parliamentary outdoors caucus, I was honoured to second this bill. It is a non-partisan organization, with over 100 MPs and senators as members, and its purpose is to protect our traditional heritage activities.

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

A major part of these outdoor heritage activities is the direct connection to natural resource conservation of our fish and wildlife. A love and respect for nature learned through first-hand experience in fishing, hunting or trapping inspires people to dedicate their time, effort and money to the conservation and preservation of fish and wildlife, and this is a key point that I would like to emphasize.

Anglers, trappers and hunters collectively do more for environmental conservation than all other groups combined. They do so without fanfare and often without any public recognition, but with the dedication that has defined the outdoor heritage community for over 100 years. The hand that holds the fishing rod or the bird gun also holds the shovel at a stream side improvement day and the chain saw at a wildlife habitat management project.

Canadian anglers annually donate over one million volunteer days to aquatic improvement projects. Hunters also donate millions of hours and dollars each year to efforts which benefit dozens of wildlife species far beyond the few which are actually hunted.

Many of my colleagues may be surprised to learn that the very concept of parks and protected areas, first conceived in North America over a century ago, exist today across Canada and around the world due in large part to the advocacy efforts of people who hunt and fish. Our heritage of fishing, hunting and trapping includes a proud history of respect for wild creatures and wild places, 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 and teaching water safety and boat handling training programs. Trappers teach humane trapping methods and proper conservation of furbearing species as a heritage from Canada's original founding industry. Current statistics clearly show that people who hunt, fish and trap are law-abiding members of society who are safe and who put something back on behalf of our outdoor heritage. In contrast to the negative image of these activities promoted by some for their own reasons, the facts are clear and the safety record commendable.

Over eight million Canadians of all ages fish and millions more hunt, supporting an annual economy in this country of over $10 billion. The largest retail outlets are located in urban areas.

Over 40,000 jobs are supported by these activities in all regions of Canada. According to government statistics, more people over the age of 15 fish than play golf and hockey combined. The voting strength of Canadian anglers is almost 50% greater than seniors age 65 and over. Canadians annually spend as much to go fishing as they do to buy beer. The impact of fishing and hunting on tourism and related economies in rural areas is dramatic. Clearly our outdoor heritage activities are enjoyed by Canadians and visitors to Canada alike, from coast to coast.

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. 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, Robert Sopuck, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Shimano Canada Ltd. and Wildlife Habitat Canada.

As mentioned previously, hunting, fishing and trapping played an essential role in the early development of our nation. Today people fish, hunt and trap for some very personal and profound reasons that connect us to our history, to our magnificent outdoors and to one another. Teaching a child to fish is one of life's great moments. These activities remain as economical and relevant today as ever. Some suggest that these activities are more relevant than in the past as our modern, urban lifestyles tend to insulate us from the natural world. Fishing, hunting and trapping connect us to the wild places. They always have.

We owe our thanks to the ongoing efforts of hunters, trappers and anglers and what they continue to accomplish for all of us. It is due to these people that the conservation of land, water, forests and the species living there have been so successful in Canada. These individuals recognize the natural balance that must be maintained through science-based sustainable use of fish and wildlife.

It is my great privilege to speak in support of Bill C-465, a bill which represents the interests of so many Canadians in all regions of our nation. I encourage every member of the House to show their support for the bill in recognition of our outdoor heritage activities and the millions of our fellow citizens who actively participate and enjoy them.

I thank the member for Northumberland—Quinte West for bringing forth Bill C-465.

I have enjoyed hunting and fishing since I was very young. Unless we have experienced these outdoor heritage activities, we do not know how wonderful and valuable they are. There is no substitute for getting out into our great Canadian wilderness. Our whole attitude to the world changes through these activities. Respect for life and nature grows immensely when we participate in hunting and fishing.

I again want to emphasize the wonderful activities that we have on our doorsteps. I encourage more Canadians to participate in them and learn more about them. It can really enrich their lives. I hope this special day every year will remind us of the need to do that.

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

6:45 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking to Bill C-465 this evening. I see that all of the parties in the House here are in favour of the bill, so we will be sending it off to committee in due course.

The bill is fairly simple in that it will designate September 23 or perhaps the third Saturday, I believe, in September, depending on how the committee develops, as a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day. We have to recognize that in the United States there has been such a heritage day in existence since 1972.

With the increased border changes over the last couple of years, with the United States requiring passports for their citizens to get back into the country and with the global recession still not quite resolved, there is a lot of pressure on the tourism industry right across Canada, and certainly in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario which is very close to Manitoba.

The camps are hurting. There are numerous camps, fishing and hunting camps, in northern Manitoba and in northwestern Ontario that rely very heavily on American tourists, cross-border tourism. We are finding that this business is down. I think the sponsor of the bill recognizes that, in effect, it is down around 30%. We have to do whatever we can to try to get the hunters and fishers back to Canada to keep our industry alive.

I listened to all of the speakers today, and each one of them made very good speeches on this topic. The immediate past speaker talked about how large an industry we are talking about. Canada is still a country that is rural based. We like to pretend in the city that somehow Canada is becoming increasingly urban, and that certainly is true.

I recall only 30 years ago, in the 1960s, Winnipeg was, I think, the third largest city in the country. I believe Montreal was first, Toronto was second, Winnipeg was third and Vancouver was fourth. That has all changed now. Toronto, becoming the huge city that it is, is number one. Montreal dropped in terms of the relativity. Other cities like Calgary and Edmonton are coming up.

Having said that, Winnipeg still has a percentage of the Manitoba population. It used to be 50% of the entire population and now it has grown to perhaps 70%. Having said that, and even though my riding is 100% urban, the fact of the matter is people are only one step removed from rural life and rural farms.

People go out in the thousands to cottages outside of Winnipeg and northwestern Ontario. They participate in fishing and hunting. It is a very substantial part of our economy. However, there are pressures with increased populations, with the animal rights movement and our young people increasingly becoming vegetarians, and taking a little bit different attitude toward the rural lifestyle. I find that to be particular to the urban setting.

People are gradually getting somewhat removed from their rural roots. I think it is very important for us to try in some way to get back to our past and recognize where we came from.

I did some research on the topic yesterday and the day before, looking into the history of the buffalo hunt as an example.

I think that the buffalo hunt is a really good example of an activity that had a lot of the worst signs of a hunt. Hunters went out and hunted and just killed enormous numbers of buffalo. The fact is that after a number of years, the buffalo population was almost extinct. However, the settlers of the day recognized that this could not be sustained. They worked to bring back the buffalo population to the point that in 2005, it was estimated that there were over 500,000, or half a million, bison on farms and ranches in North America.

To the pessimistic people among us, I want to say that the history of the buffalo is a good example of how we should be able to recover from our mistakes and create a balance.

The Bloc speakers mentioned that the number of accidents between cars and deer rises in Quebec when hunting activity drops. As in all things, there has to be a happy balance.

It is no different for a minority government. It has to recognize that to get things done, we have to co-operate. This is a good example to the member who brought this idea forward that he is going to have unanimous agreement to move this bill on to committee.

I want to thank him very much for--

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

6:50 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

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

6:55 p.m.


Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in tonight's adjournment debate, otherwise known as the late show. For the benefit of those watching at home, this is an opportunity for parliamentarians to focus briefly on what might be considered unfinished business of the House prior to adjourning for the day.

The unfinished business that I would like to talk about tonight is in reference to a question I posed to the Minister of the Environment on April 1 about the contamination of the Athabasca River being caused by oil sands industry activities. In his very short response to my question, the minister betrayed his misunderstanding of three areas in particular: first, Dr. David Schindler's findings; second, the Fisheries Act and third, the Canada-Alberta Administrative Agreement for the Control of Deposits of Deleterious Substances.

Those are the three areas I would like to focus on in this very brief debate. First of all, it bears mentioning that the minister has qualified the science that has been done on contamination of the Athabasca River by oil sands activities as garbage science. He has mentioned this in media interviews. He considers this garbage science even though there is mounting evidence by very reputable scientists that the oil sands are contaminating the Athabasca River and its tributaries; in other words, the Athabasca watershed.

A related aspect of the minister's misunderstanding of the science is found in his answer. He called Dr. Schindler's research “allegations”, which I think is a little disrespectful of one of the world's greatest water scientists. He suggested that Dr. Schindler's findings, in a report that he presented to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, are related only “to airborne emissions as opposed to Fisheries Act issues”.

It is true that Dr. Schindler's research found a link between oil sands development and the deposit of pollution in the Athabasca coming from particular matter that is settling in the Athabasca River. There is no doubt about that.

However, while Dr. Schindler's research found high contamination of polycyclic aromatics, including several known carcinogens in snow samples from the Athabasca River, near the centre of oil sands activity and at the bottom of the impacted Athabasca River tributaries, it also found high concentrations of several contaminants under the ice that are known to be high in tailings ponds. They are sites that are just downstream of tailings ponds, indicating that there is some effect of tailings pond leakage under winter's low-flow conditions.

In other words, not only is pollution being deposited on the river from the air, but contaminants are also found in the water in winter under the ice, which means that these are contaminants coming from the tailings ponds that are leaking into the Athabasca.

6:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I always find it sadly shocking when a Liberal member brings up issues on the environment, which highlights what has happened because of 13 years of inaction from a former Liberal government. In the four short years that we have been the government, there have been dramatic successes in cleaning up those messes left by the previous Liberal government.

Environment Canada is an active participant in monitoring the development and growth of the oil sands through environmental assessments, multi-stakeholder environmental management committees, science and technology research, and the enforcement of regulations.

Dr. Schindler's study suggests that emissions from the oil sands industry are higher and cover a wider area than previously thought. However, the study does not assess the ecological impact of the suggested higher levels of emissions. Environment Canada scientists are currently assessing fish health in the Athabaska and its tributaries to determine the ecological impact, if any, of these emissions.

The government is working with all the stakeholders on a national approach that will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The government will assess current air and water monitoring programs in the Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan areas and will evaluate whether supplementary information needs to be collected. The study's authors claim that the results show that better monitoring is needed and that more remedial measures need to be taken to ensure the health of those living along the Athabaska and its tributaries.

Environment Canada works closely with the Alberta government under the Canada-Alberta Administrative Agreement for the Control of Deposits of Deleterious Substances under the Fisheries Act. The Alberta government issues permits that prohibit the release of tailings to surface waters. Under the Canada-Alberta agreement, the province has a commitment to alert Environment Canada if monitoring indicates leaching into the waters frequented by fish.

Environment Canada has a research initiative to focus on the fate and remediation of natural ecosystems. The purpose is to understand the effluents from the oil sands industry, their fate, and the effects on the natural ecosystems and to establish baseline data for the health of the Athabaska River system so that we can gain insights into the possible ecological effects of the oil sands activities.

With regard to the enforcement of the regulations, Environment Canada is committed to working with the province of Alberta and all stakeholders to ensure that oil sands development respects the environment. Environment Canada works to ensure that any existing new or expanded facility meets the requirements and regulations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Fisheries Act, water pollution prevention provisions, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Since 2002, enforcement officers have conducted 26 inspections and two investigations under subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act related to the release of deleterious substances into freshwater frequented by fish.

We take our enforcement role very seriously, and action is taken if violations are found.

7 p.m.


Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the federal government does not take its enforcement responsibilities seriously at all, and this is the problem.

The hon. member mentioned the Canada-Alberta Administrative Agreement for the Control of Deposits of Deleterious Substances, but the federal government has been absent, really, from this agreement. In fact, the Commissioner of the Environment stated only a year ago that the main coordinating committee of this agreement has not met for three years.

Also, the agreement has not been fully implemented. For example, and I am reading from a note from the Library of Parliament, under clause 5.2 of the agreement, Canada and Alberta envisioned establishing an arrangement relating to “complementary and co-operative monitoring programs with provisions for information sharing”.

However, it appears that no such arrangement was ever concluded. The government is missing in action on this. I must remind the hon. member that under the Fisheries Act, one does not have to prove that the ecosystem is damaged, only that deleterious substances are being deposited, whether from air or from water.

7 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that the only government in Canadian history that has been so absent in action was the previous Liberal government. He referenced the commissioner. She said that the Liberals made great announcements but that before the confetti hit the ground, they were gone and had forgotten what they had just announced.

This government is working with the provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive air management system that would significantly reduce air pollution emissions from all sources in Canada. All industrial sources, regardless of the air quality or where they are located, would be required to comply with a sector-specific national emissions standard. If air quality in a given area is under pressure, even more stringent requirements will be imposed on any industry or facility in the area by the provincial department of the environment.

7 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to follow up on a question about the government's funding for police officers in cities and towns across Canada. I asked this question in the House on April 20. Earlier that morning I had met with representatives of the Canadian Police Association as part of their annual police day on the Hill.

I had an opportunity to sit down with three police officers from British Columbia, two of whom were from the Victoria Police Department and one from the Coquitlam RCMP detachment. In addition, I have had the pleasure of meeting with police representatives on a number of occasions in my role as public safety critic for the New Democratic Party. I can say very clearly that it would do well for all members of the House, and the government in particular, to start listening to police officers about the positive social investments needed in our communities to keep Canadians safe.

The CPA came to Parliament Hill with three key priorities: first, long-term sustainable funding for police officer recruitment; second, an independent police association to facilitate collective bargaining for RCMP members; and third, a public safety officer compensation benefit for the families of fallen police officers.

I am pleased to say that New Democrats have stood in the House and supported the Canadian Police Association on each and every one of those matters. It is time for the government to follow suit.

With regard to the long-term sustainable funding for police officers, New Democrats have long supported an increase in resources for policing. New Democrats especially want to see more community policing in Canada. When police officers work in partnership with schools, with neighbourhood associations, with cultural groups and with leaders in the community our streets are safer for everyone.

In Vancouver Kingsway, we want to see more police in our communities, on Main Street, at the SkyTrain stations and patrolling our parks. This is the kind of police presence that works for prevention and it works to bolster community confidence.

We have called for funds to be tied directly to the recruitment of officers and for the funds to be renewed and sustainable in the future. This is critical because it is not enough just to advance funding for the creation of positions. Stable funding is needed to sustain these positions well into the future. We also must remember that for every one police officer position we create, we need civilian support staff who do critical work in supporting that police officer.

New Democrats also believe in the right to collective bargaining for all Canadians and that right belongs to RCMP officers no less. Police officers in municipal police forces across this country have the right to collectively bargain in detachments without any interruption in service or impact on public safety, but the RCMP is the only police force in our country that does not have this right.

The government should stop fighting RCMP officers in court over their access to basic labour rights enjoyed by virtually every other Canadian and work with them instead to further the safety of our communities. RCMP officers simply want a right to have a say in their working conditions and, with essential services obviously being a designation that they would fall under, this would present no interruption or threat to the provision of services.

Last, New Democrats believe that the government should implement a public safety officer compensation benefit for the families of fallen police officers. My colleague from Nickel Belt introduced a private member's bill that would establish a $300,000 benefit for families of fallen RCMP officers that would be payable regardless of years of service. I was proud to second that bill, Bill C-514, when it was introduced in the House and I would call on all members to support this. We do not care who gets the credit. We just want to see that it gets done.

I have three questions. First, will the government commit to providing permanent stable funding for new police officers? Second, will it work with RCMP officers to allow them to exercise their rights to free collective bargaining to improve their working conditions? Third, will the government join with New Democrats and support a $300,000 benefit for families of fallen RCMP officers and for public safety officers across the country?

7:05 p.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the questions of the member for Vancouver Kingsway regarding the police officers recruitment fund. It sounds as if he is not aware of the good work that this government is doing with police. I hope the NDP is now no longer a member of the hug-a-thug club.

One of the government's most important duties is the protection of its citizens against threats to their safety and security. This government takes this duty very seriously and one of our priorities since coming to office has been to strengthen public safety and security, to protect Canadians in their homes and communities and to ensure that Canada remains the best place in the world to raise a family.

To achieve this goal, we have made significant investments in policing, starting in 2006 when we became government, with $645 million over five years to increase the RCMP's federal policing capacity, including funding for an additional 1,000 positions to focus on drugs, organized crime and other law enforcement priorities.

As part of our safer community strategy, this government has also delivered on the key platform commitment of making funding available to the provinces and territories to support the recruitment of 2,500 new front line police officers. Budget 2008 set aside $400 million allocated on a per capita basis and over five years for the creation of the police officers recruitment fund to encourage provinces and territories to recruit additional front line police officers.

Establishing the first-ever police officers recruitment fund is a considerable federal investment that marks an important step forward in a way that respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction for policing, while ensuring maximum flexibility.

Consistent with their responsibility for policing, it is up to the provinces and territories to allocate funding as they see fit in their municipal and provincial police services. Provinces and territories are able to use the fund in a way that is best suited to address their local public safety priorities and policing needs.

All provinces and territories publicly confirmed their participation in the police officers recruitment fund and the fund was established on March 31, 2008. All provinces and territories have received their allocations and have the flexibility to draw down all of these funds at any time over the five years.

A number of provinces have publicly announced how they intend to use this funding: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island. For example, in February 2009 British Columbia announced it will be using its share of the fund toward hiring 168 new police officers within two years to focus on gang violence.

Given the diverse public safety needs across Canada, the public officers recruitment fund will go a considerable way toward supporting and complementing the costs of provincial police recruitment initiatives. This is an example of governments working together to respond to the priorities of Canadians.

All governments acknowledge the importance of reporting to Canadians about how public funds are used. Under this initiative, provincial and territorial governments have been encouraged to report directly to their residents on the expenditures and the outcomes anticipated.

7:10 p.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned the hug-a-thug club. I have never hugged a member of his government yet.

Police officers know what is needed to keep our communities safe. When one sits down and talks to them, they very often express priorities that are common sense, progressive and in line with what New Democrats have repeatedly called for from the government, but which it refuses to deliver.

Police know that successful crime prevention is, by definition, the best way to keep our communities safe. Yet the government has cut funds for crime prevention. It knows we need serious investments in mental health and addictions treatment in our communities and that we need to tackle social problems like poverty and homelessness if we truly want to get to the root causes of crime. Instead, the government plays games with cheap headlines and silly comments like the one the member just made.

Police know that community safety starts with children. We need youth diversion programs that keep kids away from gangs. We need to have courses in high school and to properly fund primary and secondary education in every province and territory so young people finish high school and get rewarding educations and employment.

Does the government agree with police on these points? If so, will it commit to making the social investments needed in our communities to keep Canadians safe?

7:10 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know the proof is in the pudding. How has the NDP voted on justice bills? The $400 million for the police officers recruitment represents significant new funding for provinces and territories. How did it vote? It voted against that.

I cannot think of one justice bill that the NDP has ever supported in the House. Talk about the hug-a-thug club? It is the NDP. Canadians know this government is serious about making Canada safer. We place the rights of Canadians over the rights of criminals every day.

7:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:14 p.m.)