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.