Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador for his intervention. I also thank the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for allowing Canada to join Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.
I would say that what salmon is to British Columbians, what pickerel and bass are to central Canadians, what Arctic char is to northern Canada, cod fish is to Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a symbol of heritage. It is a symbol of the people. In fact, many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can trace their ancestry to people who have fished the great seas in the past for their livelihood.
With Remembrance Week coming up, it would be fair to say that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have not only fed the world, they have also fed many great soldiers, airmen, airwomen and sailors not only in Canada but our Allies in other countries throughout the war effort as well. Many a soldier ate bully beef as well as salt cod.
We also know that trade between the Caribbean and Newfoundland and Labrador ran from cod to rum. I thought that was a balanced trade deal.
However, I believe the reason why the Conservatives do not want an inquiry is because they do not want to know the truth. They do not want to know the facts.
I was on the fisheries and oceans committee for over 13 years. We studied all aspects of the fisheries in this country to death to come up with reports, of which 95% were unanimous, meaning members of the Reform, Alliance, the PC Party, the Bloc Québécois, NDP, Liberals and the Conservatives at the time supported those recommendations, only to have them fall flat on the desk of the minister of the day.
In 1998, I asked for a full judicial inquiry into the practices and policies of the management of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for Canada.
Hutchings and Myers are the best oceanographic and fishery scientists in Canada and the world. They said very clearly in their report when they came to Parliament Hill that in their opinion science had been manipulated at the highest levels when it came to the cod crisis in this country. What party was in government at the time that happened? It was the Conservative Party of Canada. Those are the facts.
In my mind, it was the Kirby report of 1982, which formulated the companies of Fisheries Products International and National Seas, that started the over aggressive fishing of those stocks which caused the downfall of the outports of not only Newfoundland and Labrador but also the provinces of P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
People anywhere who believe that the management of Canadian fisheries is any good at all are fooling themselves. We and the Conservatives know that is not the case. I can quote numerous interventions wherein Progressive Conservatives, Reformers and members of the Alliance were slamming the Liberal Party for the mismanagement of the fisheries in Canada. They were good at it too.
I remember a certain John Cummins of British Columbia who was probably one of the most vocal critics of fisheries management in this country. He did a fantastic job at it because he was a commercial fisherman. Even his own party did not like some of his criticisms. However, he was not only standing up and fighting for the fishermen of his province but also for their way of life. On some parts I obviously disagreed with him but I could not knock his passion and desire to stand up for the men and women whose livelihoods were made from the sea.
Right now both the provincial and federal governments are concentrating on oil resources, the so-called non-renewable resources of this country, the petro-economy. Time and again I have asked, what will happen when oil and gas resources are gone? No response is forthcoming. There is only silence on that side.
If the fisheries are managed correctly and properly, seven generations down the road will be able to access a renewable, natural, healthy, vibrant food-based resource, not just for the people of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador but for the entire world.
Why, in the life of any parliamentarian, would we not want to do everything possible, everything within our power, be it federally, provincially or municipally, including opposition members, to ensure the sanctity and the survival of that renewable resource?
I have tremendous respect for my good friend and hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met, but he quotes from and talks about the FRCC report. I have worked for a long time with the FRCC. Its members are fantastic fishermen, scientists, environmentalists, et cetera. However, what did the government just do to the FRCC? It cut its funding to the point where it no longer will exist.
One second the Conservatives will quote its report and hand it up as a litmus of sound management and advice and then cut its funding. Why do they do that? How many scientists now within DFO across this country are about to lose their jobs? When we heard the parliamentary secretary speak, I felt like buying a fishing boat. I felt like quitting my job, selling everything and going out fishing because, according to them, I am going to be well off. That is what Crosbie said in 1992. I remember when Pierre Pettigrew introduced the TAGS program so people would get five years of employment subsidy and payment subsidies and retraining so those who were left in the fishery would be well off. The folks were told not to worry, that they would be given bit of money, with a few shackles here, and they could train to be barbers. We had five barbers one time train for one small town of a couple of hundred people. That turned out really well. The fact is that it failed.
What did Premier Dunderdale say the day after she was elected? She said that they would need to deal with the fishery and reduce the number of fishermen and plant workers in the province. Not necessarily like that, but she said words similar to that. It is funny that she never spoke like that during the campaign. She only spoke like that after the campaign.
I am not blaming anyone here. It was not the Conservatives alone that mismanaged the fisheries. It was the federal Governments of Canada, the provincial governments, the fishing industry, the international fleets and NAFO. Everyone is partially to blame for this, including, I may say, the opposition, at times pushing for extra resources to help people get through the bad times, to get their EI, et cetera. We are all responsible for the downturn in the fishery. It is also our job to hold them to their fire, not just the Conservatives but the Liberals and previous governments before that. It is not a question of pinning one blame against the other. That is easy to do.
However, an inquiry would get everything out in the open and find out where the problems were, what the government and others have been doing to this point and where the road map to the future leads. That is Canada's national shame and the world looks at us saying that we had one of the world's largest, abundant, prolific protein fish stocks on the planet and now it is minuscule compared to what it used to be. Over 20 years and more, it is still the way it was in 1992. That is the shame.
I just want to thank my hon. colleague from St. John's, Newfoundland, for bringing this forward. I ask the government to reconsider, call for the inquiry, get the facts on the table and truly help the good people of Newfoundland and Labrador.