House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cyberbullying.


Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour will have five minutes to complete his speech when the debate resumes.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-501, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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

5:30 p.m.


Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to help support my colleague on this important piece of Canadian heritage. The function of the hon. member's private member's bill is to make sure that we, as Canadians, honour and respect the history and the heritage of hunting and trapping and the individuals who make their living in the heritage industries. It is a way of life in this country that helped to build Canada.

It is important for us, and we have done a very good job over the last number of years as a government to make sure that Canadians understand our historical past and the pieces of history that have shaped this country. I want to make sure Canadians understand what we are doing.

This private member's bill would help us understand where we have come from and would preserve this way of life, the ability of individuals and organizations in this country to continue to fish, hunt, and trap and honour our past and preserve that way of life, whether it is for making a living and actually providing for families and their communities or as a recreational opportunity.

Let us be frank. It is important for me, as somebody from an urban area, from the city of Burlington, Ontario, that I and all members stand together on this private member's bill, Bill C-501, to support those from across the country in honouring a special day of the year, a heritage day for hunting, trapping and fishing. Let me just read out the preamble to the bill, which sums up what we are doing:

Whereas hunting, trapping and fishing are part of our natural heritage; Whereas the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have traditionally participated in hunting, trapping and fishing; Whereas Canada's hunters, trappers and fishers have made a significant contribution to the development of our nation by traversing and mapping the prairies, forests, streams and rivers from coast to coast to coast; Whereas millions of Canadians participate in and enjoy hunting, trapping and fishing; And whereas hunting, trapping and fishing contribute significantly to our national economy....

We would have this special day set aside. I now live in an urban area, and therefore, those who participate in fishing and hunting are recreational hunters and fishers. They are not doing it for a living. However, I grew up in a small town in Ontario, Port Elgin, on Lake Huron. Beside that community is a native reserve, the Saugeen Indian reserve, which I grew up knowing. That reserve actually owns the property that is now Sauble Beach.

Fishing played a very important role in the lives of the first nations, and not just in the past for the aboriginal people fishing out of the Great Lakes. Fishing played a key role in the survival, growth, and development of that aboriginal area, the Saugeen reserve.

I can recall distinctly, growing up, that down at the end of my street, there had been an Indian settlement at one time. We had longhouses redeveloped there. Numerous artifacts from that area were from a fishing village. Their livelihood was not from farming but was from fishing. Most of the artifacts from that area dealt with their fishing existence.

It is important that this heritage day highlight and assist others in remembering where we come from in terms of traditional fishing, hunting, and trapping opportunities and where we will go, as a nation, in the future.

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

5:35 p.m.


Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to support Bill C-501, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day.

I would like to take a moment to thank my colleague opposite, the member for Northumberland—Quinte West, who introduced this bill, which is designed to recognize and celebrate the importance of these activities and what they bring to Canadian society. This bill speaks to many of the people in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

If this bill passes, the third Saturday of September would be designated as National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day all across Canada.

The NDP is proud of this part of Canada's history and heritage. We know that hunting, fishing and trapping—along with all the related activities—have always played an integral role in the economic, social and cultural development of every region in this country.

This is especially true in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, where hunting, fishing and trapping have been very important activities for hundreds of years. In fact, very well-known private hunting and fishing clubs existed in my riding as far back as the late 1800s. Among the most prestigious in Quebec are clubs like the Tourili club and the Triton club, located just a few kilometres north of Saint-Raymond de Portneuf.

The vast natural spaces found in my riding have been the envy of many people and have drawn many visitors over the years. These clubs have played host to many well-known people, including Winston Churchill, who visited the clubs in my riding. Many members of the Rockefeller family also enjoyed the hunting and fishing clubs in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. Even the 25th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was a fan of these hunting clubs, particularly the Tourili club. He hunted moose there on more than one occasion.

I invite my colleagues to do a little Internet research when they have some time. They will find pictures of Theodore Roosevelt with the antlers of moose he hunted in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, which has a long, proud history of hunting, fishing, trapping and all related activities.

Today, we are lucky because the wilderness in my riding is no longer reserved for the English elite, as was the case at the time, in the 1800s. Now we can all enjoy these beautiful spaces in my riding, as my constituents do almost every day. There are many sites reserved for hunting and fishing virtually everywhere in the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

According to Guy Moisan, one of my constituents and a member of the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, hunting and fishing are practically a religion for many of the people living in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

Among the many nature sites in my riding, I can mention the Portneuf wildlife reserve and the Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, where it is possible to fish in certain areas. People can fish from nearly all the wharves on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Neuville, Portneuf and Donnacona, as well as on the many lakes and rivers in the riding. People in places such as Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, Saint-Basile de Portneuf and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures engage in these activities, and it would be very meaningful to them to have a special day dedicated to celebrating the heritage surrounding hunting, fishing and trapping.

These activities bring countless benefits to my riding. Tourism is among the major contributions from activities associated with hunting, fishing and trapping. Other economic benefits include sales of the licences and equipment needed to practise these activities and the trips made throughout the region to enjoy the many hunting and fishing spots. All this promotes the economic development of my region, but most of all, of course, it helps maintain this fine tradition that has existed for hundreds of years in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, as I mentioned earlier.

One very important thing about hunting and fishing is that, in addition to being leisure activities and livelihoods, these activities teach you to respect nature and animals. That is one thing that Mr. Moisan said when we had a chance to discuss Bill C-501.

These issues are in line with the NDP's concerns, such as the protection of endangered species, the ethical treatment of animals and the protection of our rather fragile ecosystems.

I do have some criticism for the government. Although there are some good bills that acknowledge certain aspects of our heritage, such as hunting, fishing and trapping, we have seen many other bills introduced by this government that jeopardize ecosystems and have an impact on species. For example, I am thinking of species of fish or other animals that could be affected by new natural resource development projects.

Making decisions without any forethought leads to problems, and that is where citizens and hunters and fishers alike will see negative impacts. Mr. Moisan talked to me about that. Every year, in my area, people have to go further and further away to fish and hunt, and they are catching less and less. There are a number of reasons for that, including urban development.

Environmental issues and various factors such as pollution and massive, uncontrolled catches have adversely affected hunting, fishing and trapping.

The bill does not address that issue, but it should be brought to the attention of the House. As I mentioned, the Conservatives have already made decisions with disastrous consequences for the environment.

One of the most serious decisions made here, which will directly affect fishers and possibly hunters and trappers in the region and across the country, is the elimination of the protection for thousands of Canadian lakes and rivers. This will have a direct impact on opportunities for hunters, fishers and trappers to contribute to regional economies that rely in part on these activities. It is absolutely deplorable that we are faced with this situation.

The Conservatives often say that they support duck hunters, fishers and hunters of other game. However, when they make decisions like that, they have a direct and harmful impact on the activities of people they say they represent and whose interests they claim to defend.

The Conservatives are somewhat inconsistent, but all the same, the bill before us today meets some of the needs expressed by hunters and fishers in my riding. They think a day that celebrates hunting and fishing can have significant positive impacts. In addition to promoting those activities, it is also a good way to get new people involved and attract more and more young people.

In Quebec, a lot of communities celebrate fishing days, usually in June. In communities in my riding, such as Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, Saint-Basile and Shannon, people go out and enjoy those activities. That is when young people make their first catch and get hooked.

Having a national day to celebrate our hunting, fishing and trapping heritage and to encourage more people to take part will be a positive outcome of the bill. That is one of the reasons I am proud to support it.

I hope that people from all parties will do the same so that we can have an annual celebration of the important role that hunting, fishing and trapping have played in Canada's history and in our social, cultural and economic development so far, and of the importance these activities will have to future generations.

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

5:45 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I stand and address Bill C-501. It is an interesting bill that crosses all party lines in terms of support. It is something that we, or at least I, have heard a great deal about in terms of the whole issue of hunting and fishing and the rights thereof.

Just a few weeks ago, I was interested to read an article that was printed in the Winnipeg Free Press, I believe, about the history of the province of Manitoba. That is why I take an interest in all of the whereases within Bill C-501. In essence, it encapsulated a very interesting story about how Manitoba evolved. If it were not for hunting, in particular, we would not have the province of Manitoba that we have today. That is not to take anything from settlers or our first nations and so forth in terms of what was there prior to the commercialization, if I can put it that way, of the hunting industry.

It is worth noting what the bill is actually calling for. It calls for us to recognize a specific day every year for hunting. It says:

Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the third Saturday in September is to be known as “National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day”.

I do not quite understand that particular day and why that day was chosen. I suspect that there was a great deal of meaning given to the selection of that day. What I do know is that this industry has played a significant role in the founding and development of our great nation.

The Hudson's Bay Company exists because of fur trapping and so forth. It is a company that has been around for hundreds of years. In fact, the Northwest Passage going down into Churchill and the many different routes there were established because of Hudson Bay.

At one point, Manitoba was no more than just a postage stamp in terms of its boundaries. When we look at the expansion of its boundaries and at a lot of the current roads that are in place, we see they are based on our history and heritage, which in good part played into trapping and hunting, and, to a certain extent, fishing.

There were really two significant companies. The Hudson's Bay Company would have been incorporated, let us say, 350 years ago. That was one of the first commercial incorporations of a company dealing with merchandise here in North America, if not the first.

Let there be no doubt that its expansion and the way it went into western Canada in particular, which is where I will hold my comments to, was simply phenomenal. As the industry grew and settlers, who were quite anxious to come to the Prairie provinces, came through Churchill, it led to the development of many different communities. Ultimately, it attracted a new company, known as The North West Company.

If we take a look at The Forks today, we will see Fort Gibraltar, which is used as a tourist destination. It is used as a place to go for a wedding or to participate in the Festival du Voyageur activities. It is something that is there so that many Winnipeggers, Manitobans, and others can get a sense of the time when hunting and the fur trade played such a critical role in our development as a province.

My understanding is that the number of trading posts, whether from the Hudson's Bay Company or The North West Company or combined, far exceeded 150. We can imagine the impact that would have had in the lives that they would have touched.

It was the wildlife, whether that be the roaming buffalos, beavers or other large and small animals that were trapped and the fur used to sustain the economy, ultimately allowing our province to grow and prosper to what it is today.

I read the section in the bill that talks about the importance of these significant contributions to the development of our nation. It also makes reference to the aboriginal people of Canada who have traditionally participated in hunting, trapping and fishing. For hundreds and into the millennium of years, our first nation people have been very dependent on trapping, fishing and hunting in terms of being able to not only establish but continue to grow and prosper. Even before Europeans came to our country, it was recognized that those three things played a critical role.

Whether we reflect on the past or talk about today, there are many Manitobans who appreciate a good hunt, if I can put it that way. There are mechanisms that we put in place. For example, to hunt elk, there are restrictions and one has to get a licence and so forth.

I have had the opportunity to engage with a number of hunters. My colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, is an avid hunter, and I understand he was very successful this past fall. I must say that I have fished, but I have never had the experience of hunting for a number of different reasons. However, I do recognize its value.

I have a constituent who goes by the nickname of “Tiny”. He is quite the opposite of tiny, which is why he has that nickname, but he is an avid hunter and spends a great deal of time in rural Manitoba. It is something that he genuinely appreciates. He cares for the land and the people.

Our first nations continue to be dependent in a very significant way on that traditional lifestyle. If members take a trip out to Gimli around Lake Winnipeg, they would see a community that is dependent in good part on harvesting the many fish from Lake Winnipeg, which are ultimately exported beyond Manitoba's borders.

Therefore, whether it was in the yesteryears or today, members will find that hunting, trapping and fishing play a significant role in the province of Manitoba. Even though my comments have been around my home province, I believe that members will find they are applicable to many, if not all, provinces in one way or another.

Suffice it to say that in looking at what the private member's bill is hoping to accomplish, I do not know why people would oppose it. Hunting, trapping and fishing have been a part of our life and our nation. Therefore, I suspect the bill will receive support from virtually all members of the House. Being a private member's bill, it will be a free vote but I anticipate that there will be significant support.

I applaud the member's initiative in recognizing something that is really important to a number, if not all, Canadians. One does not have to be a hunter in order to appreciate the contributions of that industry.

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

5:55 p.m.


Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to rise in support of the bill of the member for Northumberland—Quinte West, the national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day bill.

For me, the love of hunting, trapping and fishing is visceral and personal. We can talk about the numbers all we want. We know that recreational fishing generates $8 billion a year and hunting probably in the order of $3 billion to $4 billion a year. Four million Canadians participate in hunting, trapping and fishing on a yearly basis, but the numbers are cold in comparison to what these activities actually mean to the people of Canada and me personally.

I was born and raised in Winnipeg. My parents were born in eastern Europe. After starting a family, the first thing my parents did was buy a cottage in Whiteshell Provincial Park outside of Winnipeg. They took their children there—I was the eldest—and they taught us the wisdom and the lore of nature. I caught my first fish at age 4, and that is an experience I will never, ever forget. It has profoundly affected me for my entire life and, quite simply, that experience has made me what I am. That is why the bill of the member for Northumberland—Quinte West is so very important. That is why I am so proud to speak in support of the bill. I am also proud to be chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus. Of all of the parties in the House, my party is the only one to have a hunting and angling caucus.

I thought long and hard about this particular speech I was about to make, and many thoughts cascaded through my mind as to what I would say. Again, I go back to my parents. Hunting, angling and trapping are family activities. They bind families together and form the bonds of family, as they have for hundreds and thousands of generations. My parents, Joseph and Ida Sopuck, were adamant that their children would spend time in the outdoors. As I said, those experiences have affected me, my brother and my sister for our entire lives.

In particular for me, when I thought about that first fish, I thought about where that fish came from, what made this fish, what caused this fish to happen and what caused this fish to bite the end of my line. That thought process starts a person thinking about the environment. One starts to think about what it is about a river or lake that would produce a fish that people can catch. One thinks about water quality, the fisheries and the health of the environment. In my own case, that led to a 35-year career in conservation.

My very first career was as a fisheries biologist and I have had a marvellous and rewarding career in conservation, as have many in the House, particularly the member for Yukon, who was a conservation officer for many years, and the member for Wetaskiwin, who was a biologist like me. As I said, hunting, angling and trapping cause people to think about what goes on out there. They develop a deep love, care and respect for the environment and conservation. What is little known and appreciated in the larger world is the role that hunters, anglers and trappers have played in conservation. We are the first conservationists, and we are the most effective conservationists.

Back in the 1980s, there was a drought in western Canada and, indeed, across much of the Prairies. Waterfowl populations were in deep trouble because of the lack of wetlands, the difficulties in terms of nest success and so on. Waterfowl hunters from across North America—Mexico, Canada and the United States—got together and decided they needed to do something about it. The hunters said they needed to create the largest single conservation program in North American history, and they did. The hunters of North America created the North American waterfowl management plan, and over $2 billion has been spent on the conservation of North America's waterfowl since then.

I sit on both the fisheries and the environment committees, and I hear a lot of people talking about conservation. The hunters, anglers and trappers of North America do conservation and generate real conservation results. That is a track record matched by nobody else.

Hunters, anglers and trappers are unique among the entire conservation community in that we treasure abundance. We want to see the skies filled with birds. We want to see the forest filled deer. We want to see lakes filled with fish. We tirelessly work to ensure that happens.

Last year our government created the recreational fisheries, conservation partnerships program, the first time that a Canadian federal government acknowledged the recreational fishery in Canada. The budget for that program was $10 million a year.

The program was announced in June of last year. Within three weeks our government had received 135 proposals from across the country and 100 of those projects were funded. Projects were funded from the Maritimes to British Columbia, enhancing salmon habitat, trout habitat, creating walleye spawning areas, rehabilitating streams and on and on.

Community groups were funded by our government to make real and measurable environmental improvements. That is what the hunting, angling and trapping community does.

Why do we want to do this? It is because the experiences that we have in the outdoors affect us profoundly. For eight years before I became an MP, I used to write the hunting column for the Winnipeg Free Press. I talked to hunters across Manitoba about their experiences. I wrote columns about nature and conservation, hunting experiences and so on.

Some of the most profound columns I wrote were based on experiences of parents hunting with their children. I recall an interview I did with a father who told me about hunting with his son. His son killed his first deer on that particular hunt. I must admit the father was choked up when I was talking to him on the phone. He was choked up about the experience. He was on the verge of tears, because of what that meant to him to be there with his son when his son took his first deer.

I will never forget what the father said to me. He said that as a result of that experience, he would always have his son. That is what hunting, fishing and trapping do for families and for our country. Perhaps that young lad will have a career in conservation. That is an experience that is so profound, so moving and significant that it is remembered by all of us who have experienced it.

I had the honour in June of being the guest speaker at the annual general meeting of the Fur Institute of Canada. The fur trade, a number of years ago, was on the ropes. There were many well-funded groups and organizations that wanted to kill the fur trade. I am very happy to say that the fur trade is on a very healthy footing these days. Prices are up and trappers are doing extremely well.

I am a supporter of the trapping industry because it supports a way of life that is very important to our country. The trapping industry provides the dignity of work to people in remote and rural communities who would have no other economic opportunities. Again, between the trappers, the fishermen and the hunters, we have thousands of eyes and ears on our environment who are vigilant about protecting the environment, ensuring conservation programs are put in place and ensuring that a sustainable way of life is maintained.

That is why I am so very pleased to support the member for Northumberland—Quinte West and his Bill C-501, National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act.

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

6:05 p.m.


Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I stand in support of Bill C-501, an act respecting a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are great hunters, great trappers and great fishermen, be it for cod, salmon, trout, Arctic char, moose, caribou, seals, rabbit, beavers, turr or grouse. We live off the land. We live off the sea.

Our first nation and aboriginal peoples have lived off the land and sea for thousands of years, and they continue to do so.

Our ancestors who got off the boat, primarily from Europe, made a life in Newfoundland and Labrador on the edge of the North Atlantic, in the most inhospitable of places, to be closest to the fish that sustained them. Life was hard. Life was brutal. Life was work from dawn till dusk, but that life made us strong. That life made us self-sufficient. They were certainly not the richest of people, not in terms of cash dollars, but rich in terms of how hunting, trapping and fishing built character, shaped our culture and formed our heritage.

This bill is important because hunting, fishing and trapping have been instrumental to the social, economic and cultural development of communities in every region of Canada, not just Newfoundland and Labrador—although that is my focus, as the member of Parliament for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hunting, fishing and trapping still play a vital role in the outports and communities that dot Newfoundland and Labrador, urban and rural. Most freezers in most homes contain local moose. They contain local fish. There are not many outport kitchens that do not have bottled salmon or rabbit or moose.

I was on the south coast of Labrador last spring. The woman whose home I entered apologized as soon as I got there because she did not have anything prepared to eat. By the time I left that house, I had eaten bottled salmon, bottled lobster, rabbit, turr, the sweetest partridge berries I had ever tasted, homemade bread and fresh vegetables from the kitchen garden. I had a feast of food prepared from the land and food prepared from the sea.

However, the best meal I have had so far this year was in a fishing shed in Petty Harbour, just outside St. John's, after a day on the North Atlantic, fishing crab.

When we got in, one of the fishermen pulled out a couple of bottles of moose and cooked it with some onions on the floor of the shed, in a huge frying pan, with a propane flame. I can taste it now. It was lovely.

We still live off the land and off the sea. I am proud of where we come from.

This bill is recognition of the importance of hunting, trapping and fishing to our way of life.

However, there are problems that we should reflect upon in this debate.

Let us begin with moose. The animals, moose, are not indigenous to Newfoundland, to the island portion of the province. Moose were only introduced successfully in 1904. However, since then, the population has ballooned, exploded, to the point that moose-vehicle collisions are a real problem. There are literally hundreds of moose-vehicle collisions every year.

I had a collision myself, in October 2012, on the edge of Terra Nova National Park. I will never forget it. It was dark. It was misty. I was driving relatively slowly. The speed limit was 100 kilometres an hour; I was driving 80. Out of nowhere, in front of me, appeared a moose. I hit it head-on. I remember thinking, “If that moose flies through the windshield, I'm dead”. It rolled over my bonnet and flipped over the windshield. The moose died about five minutes later. I had about $9,000 worth of damage to my vehicle. I lived. I am here to tell the tale.

The Conservative MP for the Manitoba riding of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia recommended last summer that we cut down on moose-vehicle collisions. How? What was his recommendation? His recommendation was that we kill every last moose.

Let me quote the Conservative MP, a quote contained in a press release that was on the MP's website:

...the obvious solution is to cull (in other words, kill) all the moose on the island. Removing all the moose from the island will be a huge public safety benefit, it is the environmentally friendly action to take, and it makes economic sense.

For me, that makes no sense.

I stand here today in support of An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day. An outrageous suggestion such as killing every last moose, an entire population of a food source, does not respect our culture. It does not respect our hunters or even nature.

Moose may have been introduced to Newfoundland, but the cod are what drew us to Newfoundland and Labrador. Codfish were once Newfoundland and Labrador currency. “In Cod We Trust”: not anymore.

For the true story of the destruction of our commercial groundfish fisheries, such as cod and flounder, I recommend a new book that was released two weeks ago. It is called Empty Nets: How Greed and Politics Wiped Out The World's Greatest Fishery. That book is by a former industry leader named Gus Etchegary.

In case the hon. members of this House do not realize it, the world's greatest fisheries were on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Codfish stocks have been pounded to the point that the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, or COSEWIC, is recommending that Atlantic cod be declared an endangered species.

There is still a food fishery, when Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can fish cod for our tables, but that fishery only takes place during a narrow window, with strict catch restrictions. Newfoundland and Labrador was known for its fish. The day, the decade, has actually come when it is illegal for most of the year for a young boy or girl to fish for cod from the edge of a wharf. That day came more than 20 years ago, a day nobody thought would come. It is 21 years since the Government of Canada shut down the northern cod fishery for the first time in a 500-plus year history, and there is still no recovery plan for that northern cod. It is shocking that there is no recovery plan for a commercial fishery that was shut down more than 20 years ago.

Let us move on to seals. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are proud of our sealing heritage. However, let me read a quote from 1985. This quote is from a sealer, and it was contained in the report of the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada:

As a sealer, as a fisherman standing before you today, I say to you that I am the endangered species. I am endangered but I still fight back. I will survive. I will not let animal rights become more important than human rights. I will not let people give souls to animals while they rob me of my human dignity and right to earn a livelihood.

That was from 1985.

Our tradition of sealing suffered yet another blow this week with the decision of the World Trade Organization to uphold the European ban on Canadian seal products. The Conservative government has announced plans to appeal that ruling, but if the government were serious about standing up for the seal hunt, the Conservatives would have made the seal ban a make-or-break issue during trade talks. They did not do that.

Under the current Conservative government, we have witnessed the greatest body blows to the seal harvest in our history, with ban after ban. A national hunting, trapping, and fishing heritage day would be a good time to reflect on the current government's absolute failure to stand up for the seal hunt.

A heritage day would also be a good time to reflect on how the government has gutted the federal Fisheries Act. A recent federal court ruling in Newfoundland and Labrador noted that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has the ability to control the alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat. In other words, if there is no monetary value for a fish, it is worth nothing.

To sum up, I support this bill, but I also support policies that ensure that hunting, trapping, and fishing can continue in this country in a sustainable and meaningful way. It is one thing for the Conservatives to say they support hunters, trappers, and fishermen, but if their policies do nothing to protect our land and our sea and do nothing to protect our culture and our heritage, then the words are meaningless and a fishing heritage day would mean nothing.

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

6:15 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Like the member for Northumberland—Quinte West, who is an avid sportsman and a conservationist, I enjoy the outdoors just as much as he does, as many Canadians do. I know many people in his riding and my riding do as well. I would like to personally thank him on behalf of everyone here for bringing the bill forward. It is long overdue.

As I listened to the member who spoke before, I cannot help but say that this government has done more to protect the rights of hunters and fishers in this country than any other party in the history of Canada. We got rid of the gun registry, something that should have never been put in place to start with. It was really nothing about safety. It was trying one step at a time to take away guns because people for all intents and purposes are against hunting. That is a known fact.

I want to talk about what has made hunting and fishing such a passion for me. I can remember when I was around age six or seven and my dad, who is still an avid hunter at 81, took me out on a hunt with him. I was not carrying a gun, but he took me along. He stood me under a balsam tree by a pond. I remember standing there as it started to get dark, and a fox came for a drink. At that age in the middle of a big wilderness I remember wondering if my dad was going to come back. Not long after the fox left, a doe came for a drink with two fawns.

I think that entrenched in me the beauty of wildlife. It stuck with me and I have been an admirer and a hunter of white-tailed deer, among other species. My dad gave me my first gun at age 12. It was a Christmas present but a couple of weeks before that he and his friends were going to go on a fox hunt. He unwrapped the gun and said he should not be giving it to me, but he did because we went out hunting that day. I did not shoot anything that day. I did not see anything, but not long after that I shot my first deer with that gun. I did not realize I had that first deer. Being a rookie at hunting deer at 12 or 13 years old, I thought I had missed it. I went off to school with my siblings the next day and my dad checked and I had shot the deer. When I came home from school, there was a strict lesson for my brother Tom and I. My dad told us where the deer was and we were to go back and get it. The lesson in all that was that a hunter never wastes meat. I have taught that to my boys. I know my brothers have taught that to their boys.

People do not understand hunting and do not hunt, and that is fine. I respect their choices in life. However, a lot of them do not understand that it is not just about the kill or the catch of the fish. It is being outdoors, quality time and if a hunter is fortunate enough to take something from the land, he is to look after it well, take it home and consume it. There is nothing any healthier than good venison, a fresh perch, trout or salmon out of Georgian Bay near where I live. It is all very healthy and managed right. There are some bad examples as in anything, but most hunters and fishermen respect where they hunt and where they fish. That is why the bill is so important and we should never forget that.

I talked about getting my first deer and I hunted for years with my brothers and my dad, and then friends. I can remember the day that my own sons got their first deer. I think their dad was as happy as anybody was. It gave me great pleasure in seeing that.

My family still goes to the hunt camp. In this job I do not get there as much as I would like to. It is one of the things that I miss the most being in this place, but that is something that one has to do when one commits to a job.

My family and brothers still go there. It now includes my brothers-in-law, my sons and my nephews, and that is not going to change. On Thanksgiving here recently, we were at one of my brothers' places and what did we do that day? With my nieces, nephews and brothers, we had a skeet shoot that day before a great Thanksgiving dinner.

That is why it is important to remember that hunting, fishing and trapping outdoors is a heritage. The bill would protect that and enshrine it, and I fully support it.

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

6:20 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The member for Northumberland—Quinte West will now have five minutes of response.

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

November 27th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we heard from across the aisle, I will take the little kick in the pants from the official opposition. I know its members support this bill. I accept that. I thank them and all of the members across the way. I especially thank the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, who I know is an avid fisherman, hunter, and trapper, and who cares very much about the environment and making sure that those activities continue to be part of our Canadian heritage.

On September 22, 2009, there was a press release that came out of the White House in the United States of America. I will not read it all, because many of the members here spoke of what the President of the United States said.

Toward the end, he stated:

Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 26, 2009, as National Hunting and Fishing Day. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize this day with appropriate programs and activities.

This is one small part of the reason I brought this bill forward. It is to match the laws of this country to those of the United States for the Americans who come up to every one of our ridings in this place that have fishing and hunting camps or cottages. They invest, and they enjoy our natural bounty of fish and game and contribute greatly to the economy of our country.

I thank the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River for his wholehearted support for this bill. I thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who said how important hunting and fishing were to her and her family and pointed out the fact that women are now an important part of the hunting, fishing, and trapping heritage of this country.

I also thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his heartfelt support of this bill and his reasons and passion for that.

Finally, I give thanks to my friend from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his party's support for the bill.

As the member who previously spoke said, hunting and fishing are sort of a rite of adulthood. I will use the term, and I know some people might object, but it is a rite of manhood in my family when one's son or daughter catches his or her first fish or harvests his or her first moose or deer. It is part of our DNA. It means so much to a father and son, and to a grandfather, to see his children and grandchildren do this.

It was mentioned before by the member from Manitoba that it was part of the founding of his province. This hunting, fishing, and trapping heritage is part of what Canada is. Our country was founded because the Europeans really loved beaver for making warm clothing. That started the whole trade. However, I will not repeat what the member said.

This bill is really a motherhood bill. It recognizes the importance of this. We have many other days we recognize.

Members heard in prior speeches about the billions of dollars spent annually by people who fish and hunt recreationally. Members heard about those who trap and seal, and the importance of sealing to our northern communities, whose sealing tradition has been their very subsistence for years. We, as a country, support this. Because this bill means something, there is all-party support. It does not cost anything. It sends a signal to all Canadians, especially new Canadians who are coming into a country that has such abundance. We need to protect that.

The previous speaker said that it is the hunters and fishers who are the true conservationists. There are still ducks, moose, and deer all over. The member from Newfoundland mentioned how many moose there are. These are things to be treasured. They are to be harvested because the good Lord expects us to be good stewards. To be good stewards means that we can enjoy nature's bounty, but we are good stewards of it. That is what this bill is about.

I encourage all members of Parliament to put aside our partisanship, put aside our rancour, think about the people in our ridings who enjoy these activities, and please vote for this bill.

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

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

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

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


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

6:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

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

Champlain BridgeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to ask the government questions about the Champlain Bridge.

I asked a question on November 6 about how the government was managing this issue. Hon. members will recall that it took the NDP, elected municipal and provincial representatives from Quebec and even the business community to force the government to do something about replacing the Champlain Bridge.

What is even more alarming is that we have now learned that the government has known about the problems with the Champlain Bridge for over 10 years. It is not just the Conservative government that is involved. The Liberal government was in power at that time. The successive governments have really dragged their feet with regard to the Champlain Bridge and, today, it is mainly the residents of the south shore and the greater Montreal area who are paying the price. Two lanes are closed, which is causing major traffic delays. It is also resulting in an enormous loss of productivity and a huge waste of time.

I asked a more specific question about how the government is dealing with this issue. Since being elected, I have been asking the government questions to try to improve its transparency. We asked the government to work with the opposition parties in committee on the issue of the Champlain Bridge. Unfortunately, this issue is not being examined by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

The question that I asked on November 6 dealt specifically with how the government is managing this issue, namely, the awarding of contracts. The government confirmed that a $15 million contract was awarded to Arup Canada without a call for tenders. There are rules for awarding contracts. As I said in the question I asked the government, untendered contracts often mean cronyism and corruption. Unfortunately, in Quebec, we often have to deal with corruption when it comes to construction and that is the reason for the Charbonneau commission. Let us hope that the government will learn a lesson from that.

However, we do not need to wait until the end of that commission to know that the contracts and the management of this file must be transparent. We are talking about a file worth between $3 million and $5 million. Once again, the government still has not given us the exact figures. It gives us some, but without giving us any detailed reports, which, once again, I asked for a long time ago.

What is most alarming in how the government is managing this file is that when we ask about the $15 million contract that was awarded, the minister's response is, “the firm in question has been working on the bridge file for quite a while now, along with the company that was awarded the contract for the business plan”. Thus, a $15 million contract was awarded without a call for tenders, because the firm is associated with the company looking after the business plan and making proposals. A contract was awarded without a call for tenders simply because the firms are associated.

All we are asking for is transparency. There were also calls for an international architecture competition quite some time ago, in order to ensure openness and to ensure that the bridge's concept, design and architecture is symbolic and worthy of the 21st century. The government refused yet again, and, from what I understand, it deliberately refused to acquiesce. Those calls came from the City of Montreal and the surrounding municipalities.

I want to know if the government ever plans to take this file seriously. Will it be more open and transparent?

Champlain BridgeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec


Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this adjournment debate and to answer my colleague's questions.

As mentioned at the beginning of this project, our goal is to minimize the costs to taxpayers and promote the user-pay principle. That is why the new bridge will have a toll.

That said, the specific tolls that will be collected once the new bridge opens are currently being studied by our consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, as part of the business case for the project. The company is working to finalize the business case, which will include an analysis of traffic projections and estimated revenues under different toll scenarios. The actual toll rates to be applied will therefore be discussed, and a government decision will be made once the government has completed all analyses.

I would like to point out that during similar projects, including highways 25 and 30, the toll rates were disclosed just a few months before the infrastructure was put in use. Our ultimate goal is to make responsible financial and technical decisions.

As an example, on October 2, Buckland & Taylor recommended that we take measures to fill the gap between the expected lifespan of the existing Champlain Bridge and the opening of the new bridge, initially scheduled for 2021. We implemented all the recommendations made by Buckland & Taylor as soon as we received them.

As hon. members know, the condition of the Champlain Bridge is constantly monitored to ensure the bridge is safe. Following one of these inspections, a southbound traffic lane was closed as a precautionary measure while the reinforcement work was being done. This closure supported Buckland & Taylor's recommendations on the need to expedite the work to open the new bridge.

Given the accelerated schedule, one of the responsible decisions we took as a government was to commission the Arup company to develop the technical requirements for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the bridge, to be integrated into the procurement documentation.

In awarding the contract, Public Works and Government Services Canada, which awarded the contract on behalf of Transport Canada, conducted a rigorous analysis of all possible procurement approaches. The Arup proposal was thoroughly analyzed to ensure it provided the best value for Canada.

Following this analysis, it was determined that awarding a contract to Arup without a tendering process would shorten the timeline for building the new bridge by at least six months. What is more, the Government Contracts Regulations authorize the government to award a contract without a tendering process when it is in the public interest. Awarding the engineering contract to Arup was one of the key ways we were able to ensure that the new bridge will be completed more quickly because the firm is already very familiar with this file.

It is important to mention that Arup and all its main subcontractors and consultants cannot be a part of any team that submits a bid in the future public-private partnership pertaining to the new bridge over the St. Lawrence.

Aside from awarding the contract to Arup, we are reassessing the project timeline in order to find other ways to have the new bridge ready more quickly. Once we have finished doing this in the next few weeks, we will release the new schedule. I want to be clear. Although we are trying to speed up the process, we will meet all of our commitments, particularly with regard to the architectural quality of the new bridge. As hon. members know, the government has always been sensitive to this issue.

That is why, last May, in co-operation with the City of Montreal, we began assessing various options to make sure that the new bridge would be of high architectural quality, yet still completed on time and on budget.

Following that process, a report was submitted to us, and the government will soon make a decision on which option to go with.

Champlain BridgeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I am somewhat disturbed and definitely very concerned.

The parliamentary secretary just said that his goal is to circumvent tendering rules because he wants to save six months.

We know that the government is dragging its feet. It is like pulling teeth trying to get it to replace the Champlain Bridge. Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated has been asking Transport Canada for a replacement for 10 years, saying that it needs to happen.

The government knew that when it came to power. Reports have been released, including a Delcan report, that also say that the bridge needs to be replaced. Despite that, in the 2011 election, the government said that it would not replace it.

My concern appears to be justified: the government is deciding not to hold an international architecture competition and is opting to use the services of a company without a call for tenders so that the company will benefit.

This is yet another example of patronage that favours the government's friends. It is sad.

Champlain BridgeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, with this bill, we are employing the user-pay principle to ensure that taxpayers get value for their money.

Bridge tolls will be announced in due course. As you know, the related analyses will be finalized shortly.

We will always try to make the best decisions, in the interests of Canadians, on this issue.

We will not cut corners when it comes to ensuring the safety of those who use the bridge.

One way to ensure that is to have a new bridge open as quickly as possible. Awarding the contract to Arup will help us achieve that goal.

I can assure you that the new bridge will meet the needs of users because we are ensuring that its design, architecture and functionality are taken into consideration throughout the entire planning process. I invite my colleague to do his part by paying his taxes.

Economic DevelopmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is hard not to comment on the quality of the contribution that members opposite make to debates here in the House. Unfortunately, I do not have time.

I would like to read the question that I asked on November 8, 2013:

...mourning will take time, but the very courageous people of Lac-Mégantic are ready to rebuild.

Business people will be part of the solution, but many of them are struggling right now because the town's commercial core was decimated by the tragedy.

Will the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec listen to the chamber of commerce and business people in the Megantic region and set up a special funding program to help businesses get back on their feet, in addition to the decontamination and reconstruction budget that has already been announced?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, for Official Languages and for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec gave the following answer:

Mr. Speaker, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec's mandate focuses on economic development.

I swear that is what he said. He went on to say:

We are always concerned about regions that are struggling, and we will help them.

I guess I will have to try one last time. It is unbelievable. Members of the House were told that the mandate of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is economic development. That November 8, 2013, answer wins the prize for most insipid answer ever in the House. That is why we are looking for something approaching a better answer tonight.

I would like to point out that my colleague did not mention the word “Lac-Mégantic” in his answer. He did not even manage to say the word “Lac-Mégantic” in the answer he gave on November 8, 2013.

The NDP is pleased with the $60 million that will be allocated to rebuild Lac-Mégantic's downtown and with the $95 million federal contribution for decontamination.

The Minister of International Development's comment that “This is not the time for bureaucratic squabbles” gave us hope.

That statement must guide all of the government's actions at all stages and with all partners.

I should point out that five months have passed since the disaster and there is still no agreement on how Ottawa will pay its share of the $60 million.

Lac-Mégantic's downtown was destroyed and will be out of commission until 2015.

The new commercial condos being built will allow some businesses—though not all—to reopen, but not before February 2014.

A news article from November 21, 2013, included the following quote from Karine Lévesque, the business valuation director, regarding the situation facing business owners in Lac-Mégantic:

Some are covered by a fixed amount, for example, the first $5,000 or $150,000. Other policies cover lost profits for the first 12 months, but that is the maximum. After that period...we will have to see what measures the government will put in place.

Only 25% of business owners in Lac-Mégantic have the better 12-month coverage.

We have to rebuild this town. We also have to ensure that the town becomes prosperous again.

Before he finished his last visit to Lac-Mégantic, the Prime Minister stopped in for a photo op at a cheese factory in Lac-Mégantic.

This evening, I am asking the government if it will turn its photo ops into action and create a special funding program for Lac-Mégantic—it is okay to say that word tonight, unlike November 8 when he could not even say it—in addition to the money already announced, to support business owners in Lac-Mégantic.

If so, when will this program be put in place?

Economic DevelopmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec


Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question and his concern for the people of Lac-Mégantic.

This will allow me to explain just how much the government wants to help this community that was devastated last summer. We are committed to rebuilding and reviving the town's economy. We have also taken action to support rail safety and to make this means of transportation safer.

The Prime Minister visited the town the day after the accident to see the extent of the damage and to provide his support for the people of Lac-Mégantic. On July 22, the Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, announced $60 million in assistance for response and recovery efforts for Lac-Mégantic.

A first instalment of $25 million will be provided by Public Safety Canada to support immediate response and recovery needs. Another $35 million will support economic recovery and long-term rebuilding of the community and businesses. Thus, Public Safety Canada and the Economic Development Agency of Canada have joined forces to work with various stakeholders to support the Lac-Mégantic community and to respond to its needs.

I want to point out that the Government of Quebec is the primary point of contact for this issue. The money is available and we are actively working with Quebec. The government has always offered its support to help communities get back on their feet during times of crisis. We make it a priority, and we reiterated that commitment in the throne speech.

There have already been several meetings to discuss the terms of this co-operation, which will provide tangible support for communities and businesses in Lac-Mégantic. Of course, there are short-term measures in place. The federal government will also provide long-term development support, to help this community be prosperous over the long term.

On November 21, the Prime Minister went to Lac-Mégantic for the third time and announced that the government would provide additional financial support for the decontamination work in Lac-Mégantic. We will split the decontamination costs in half with the Government of Quebec, up to $95 million. The city of Lac-Mégantic and the Government of Quebec expressed a need for assistance. This additional assistance shows that our government is working to help community stakeholders with their solutions.

Our multi-faceted support shows that our government is willing to do everything it can to help the people involved in Lac-Mégantic's economic development, as they are working on its recovery and stimulating economic activity.

Economic DevelopmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has taken a very small step.

My colleague said “Lac-Mégantic” in a response about the need to support Lac-Mégantic's economic recovery. That was a very small step. However, as usual, this government completely sidestepped the question as to whether it will launch a specific program with a specific amount of money attached and a clear implementation date, an initiative that would specifically target SMEs, which are in serious financial difficulty as a result of the worst rail disaster in the history of Canada.

They are outright victims. Those people had businesses in a prosperous downtown that was destroyed. They will soon run out of the little insurance money they received. My colleague spoke about providing tangible support. What we are suggesting this evening is simple and tangible.

Why will the government not simply announce what it intends to do about this specific need instead of talking about other issues concerning Lac-Mégantic?

Economic DevelopmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, as we have always said, we are committed to keeping Canadians safe.

We will work together while respecting provincial and territorial jurisdictions during tragic events such as those we witnessed in Lac-Mégantic.

The $35 million that has been set aside for Lac-Mégantic's economic recovery is an exceptional measure that is being overseen by Economic Development Canada, which is perfectly suited to carry out this mandate. Economic Development Canada is a key partner for economic development in all regions of Quebec. Its community presence provides an opportunity for the organization to really understand the needs and challenges each region is facing. It is also there when a community is facing the extraordinary challenge of economic recovery.

The government is committed to stimulating the economy, creating jobs and ensuring long-term prosperity. It will be there for the businesses and the community of Lac-Mégantic.

Economic DevelopmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:50 p.m.)