House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Report StageBudget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do get that impression.

I think that the Liberals surround themselves with people who are extremely well-off and who can give them $1,500 donations. The Prime Minister is meeting billionaires at the Ritz-Carlton. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are millionaires themselves. The Prime Minister had a very privileged life. I am not condemning him for that, but it is clear that he grew up in an environment where he never had to worry about money. He was always given everything he wanted.

People who have to work for a living are the ones who are suffering as a result of this government's elitist policies.

Report StageBudget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec


David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House this afternoon on something that really is a centrepiece of our government's policy moving forward: the budget. The budget is important to Canadians in so many ways, but, in particular, because it represents a strong and courageous change in direction from policies that the previous government undertook that would have the impact of making my children and grandchildren and everybody else's children and grandchildren across the country a whole lot weaker for many years.

We plan to invest over $180 billion in infrastructure over the next 11 years. So many of these expenses will directly touch upon my riding, such as social housing. The previous government, over the past 10 years, completely abandoned its responsibility in the area of social housing. I am privileged to sit in the House next to the member for Spadina—Fort York, who greatly inspired our platform and, therefore, greatly inspired the budget as it now stands. I really would like to pay homage to him.

He has an urban riding in Toronto, which is much like my urban riding in Montreal, and the housing needs are glaring, in particular, because of the federal government's abandonment of its responsibility 10 years ago. We need better social housing, we need to renew co-op agreements, which are very important in my riding. We need to have the money available for those co-op agreements to be renewed, and for those co-operative housing arrangements to reinvest in their own infrastructure, such that the buildings do not become dilapidated and continue to be vibrant communities moving forward.

My riding straddles the end of the city and the beginning of the suburbs, and there is the question of affordable housing as well. We need to be flexible to allow homeowners to repair their own homes and for landlords to repair their rental properties, particularly at the lower end of the rental scale, such that tenants will have a good stock of affordable housing. The fact that we have had the courage to say we will run deficits in order to improve our stock of social housing and infrastructure generally, I think, is an important change of direction.

There is also money in infrastructure for social innovation and technological innovation, two things that are very dear to my heart. I taught intellectual property for many years and have had to follow, for professional reasons, quite happily, I might add, the whole digital revolution. The world has changed immensely since I started teaching intellectual property in 1998. It has been unbelievable and the possibilities created for both economic advancement and the reshaping of society through the digital revolution are breathtaking.

I have, and I hope to have, social innovation projects accepted for my riding, as well as trying to bring some of the fruits of the digital revolution into my riding to create good middle-class jobs, but also to allow people to live closer to where they work and allow the community to thrive in that manner. It is a new generation where people do not necessarily want to commute for a long time in order to get to work. I hope I have the ideal riding for that possibility. By investing in infrastructure, particularly in these kinds of digital areas, we might be able to create those possibilities.

My riding is also blessed with two jewels, the St. Lawrence River and the Lachine Canal, both of which could profit greatly from investment in green infrastructure. The Lachine Canal is, for many reasons, so historically important in the history of Canada, in the development that occurred along that canal. Now we need to re-deploy the Lachine Canal as a recreational space. That requires infrastructure spending not just on the canal itself, such as the walls of the canal, and its development into a 12-month-a-year recreational facility, but also for decontamination.

All the lands in the southwest of Montreal are effectively contaminated because of their industrial history. Moving forward on any kind of project, whether around the Lachine Canal or whether a social housing project in Verdun or in Ville-Émard, we need to be thinking about funds for decontamination in order to make our infrastructure projects work.

Let me open with the following, because we are talking about the environment, and it is something that I feel needs to be said in the House as regards the price on carbon. People who speak out against a price on carbon seem to think they have a right to pollute. It used to be treated in the economics literature as an externality, something a property owner or business owner did not have to think about. It was external to his or her thinking. However, that kind of analysis is completely wrong. No one has the right to pollute. No one has the right not to consider these externalities of their own business activities. It is their responsibility precisely to consider the environmental impact of everything they do. It is part of the responsibility of being a property owner. It is part of the responsibility of being a business owner. I spent the better part of 20 years as a property theorist arguing just that. Therefore, it is not unjust to price carbon. In fact, it is equitable and just, and it is righting a historic wrong, whether in terms of analytical thinking or in terms of justice itself.

One of the most courageous things we are doing in this budget is the idea of an infrastructure bank. This is precisely in recognition of the fact that some of our infrastructure needs are so great that we need to turn to pools of investment capital in Canada and throughout the world to realize these kinds of projects.

There is a project currently being conceived in Montreal for a high-speed rail. Funding for that would come from Quebec's massive investment from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. This is the kind of project that the investment bank would target. They are projects that have some income stream that an investment fund or pension fund might want to invest in over the long term, with a stable and steady rate of return for its investors.

Why not tap into this? It makes possible all sorts of projects that will help my children and grandchildren move around the city of Montreal, should they choose to stay there, or anyone else. It really takes courage. We envisaged this in our platform, it was in our campaign booklet, and we are bringing this to reality. It is going to be fantastic.

Finally, I need to speak about the families in my riding, both the young and the old.

The Canada child benefit will help many families who live in my riding who are struggling to make ends meet. This non-taxable benefit, which is much more generous than the previous benefit, will certainly be an advantage over what we previously had, a miscellaneous mumbo-jumbo of tax credits and whatnot that was far less generous than our single, clear program.

When the future Prime Minister announced this in Montreal at the Olympic stadium, it was pointed out that the 70,000 seats in that stadium matched how many kids in Quebec would be raised out of poverty by this measure. I am proud to be part of that.

Finally, for the seniors in my riding, reducing the age for eligibility for benefits to 65, increasing the old age supplement, in addition to what we are doing in Bill C-26 on the CPP, means that our benefits for seniors are going to give them a dignified retirement. It will help, in particular, those who are really struggling, and believe me, I met many of them at the door.

There are measures in here to help veterans. There are measures in here as far as employment insurance goes. It would take another two or three days to recite these, but I am happy to conclude at this point by saying that this is a courageous budget. “Courage” is the word that characterizes it. We have had the courage to come forward to take these measures, put them in place for our kids and our grandkids, and I am proud to be part of it.

Report StageBudget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member will have five minutes of questions coming to him when we resume debate on this legislation.

It being 1:30 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 November 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-228, an act to amend the Fisheries Act in regards to closed containment of finfish aquaculture and provide my thoughts, my comments, and my background on a few points on the bill.

I appreciate the efforts the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam has made on behalf of wild salmon over a number of years. However, he is not the only one in the House who has taken up helping wild salmon. This member has also been working for wild salmon for nearly 20 years. I am guessing there are members of the House from Atlantic Canada who have also put in some time on behalf of wild salmon on that side of the country.

I have had the privilege of being an active conservationist in streams, lakes, and rivers, where we could go today and see the ongoing benefits of the work done. Just before I returned to this fall sitting of Parliament, I spent some time working with DFO staff, first nations members, and conservation club members, some of whom had travelled from distant communities. We spent some time in hip waders and gum boots, slugging through muck and silt to the mouth of the Salmon River. There we worked with burlap fencing, sandbags, shovels, and sweat to rechannel the lower portion of the river into a singular channel that would be deep enough for migrating Chinook salmon to reach their spawning grounds.

For years this river delta has been filling in with silt to a point that it spread out in multiple small fingers, none of them deep enough for the fish to leave the lake and continue the last few miles to their spawning beds. These fish, nearing the end of a spawning migration of hundreds of miles, had only a few miles to go. Without the blood, sweat and blisters of the DFO staff, first nations, and volunteers working together, those fish would not have reached their spawning beds and not have been able to complete their mating ritual and produce the next generation of wild salmon.

Now members might wonder how this has relevance to Bill C-228, which speaks to salmon aquaculture. Well the silt that had filled in the Salmon River Delta is allegedly from years of logging and farming practices along the river's course. Although these practices may be the cause of the siltation and restricting the ability of salmon to access their historic spawning channels, government is not planning to shut down or remove the farmers and loggers from their ability to continue to farm or harvest timber.

What is being done instead is that farming and logging practices are being improved. Farmers are being encouraged to build exclusion fencing to keep livestock out of the river. They are being encouraged to replant riparian areas and stabilize stream banks so that not only do the salmon benefit but the farmers benefit when they do not lose more land being washed downstream during next year's spring freshet.

Through collaborative efforts, changes are being made. Farming and other activities that drive our economy are able to continue so people have jobs and jobs pay taxes, and taxes pay for schools and hospitals. That is why it is relevant.

Bill C-228 would force government and aquaculture farmers to completely move or change their current practices. Bill C-228 would force government to compensate these fish farmers for their losses and provide employment insurance for displaced workers.

Rather than provide incentives and encourage improvement in practices, Bill C-228 would virtually eliminate a viable, job-creating, revenue-generating farming sector right out of the province and probably right out of the country. Representatives of the salmon farming sector have indicated that the expense of moving and changing their operations to closed containment would leave them little option. Increased operating costs would necessitate that they reduce their costs, especially transportation of goods to market. This would mean industry would move to markets in the U.S., in New York, Los Angeles and overseas to Asia, virtually destroying jobs and income in Canada.

While there are risks and possible causes for wild salmon decline, I believe those risks are better managed or mitigated through collaborative programs where fishermen, farmers, and industry can work together to improve situations that may be impacting our wild salmon.

Another point I would like to touch on in this bill is that it only refers to salmon aquaculture in Canadian waters off the Pacific coast. I wonder what our Atlantic colleagues in the House would have to say about the implications of Bill C-228 expanding to the Atlantic coast. I find it interesting that we have heard little from those Atlantic members on this. I wonder if they are even paying attention.

Bill C-228 also states that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans must:

Within 18 months...prepare, table in Parliament and implement a plan for transition to the use of closed containment facilities setting out, among other things, specific support measures for corporations and workers in the finfish aquaculture sector affected by this transition in order to protect the jobs and financial security of those workers, including training and income support through the employment insurance system.

While I believe we need to support workers who may have lost their jobs through reasons beyond their control, I do not believe we should pass a bill that would, for a start, kill jobs, that would drive revenue-generating business out of Canada, and then have taxpayers compensate those businesses and workers that are impacted. Bill C-228 says nothing about the continued viability of the businesses or the long-term stability of the remote communities they support.

I recognize the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for his efforts for wild salmon, but the proposals of Bill C-228 are under-developed and under-defined. They seek to tear down the barn before a new barn can be built. While there is a chance this bill could see amendment at the committee stage, that cannot be assured.

I recognize that there are concerns and issues with our wild salmon on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and that these issues need to be addressed and managed. However, Bill C-228 would fail to promote co-operation of employees, commerce, and government for the improvement of operations on a collaborative basis. Bill C-228 would fail to consider the practicalities of the transition and adaptation of a sector that provides 6,000 long-term jobs, many of which are in our coastal communities. Bill C-228 would add to the tax burden borne by hard-working Canadians.

While I have expressed my own commitment and concern for wild salmon and admit that there is much to be learned, the issues I have just listed prevent me from supporting Bill C-228. What I could support is a collaborative approach to the issues and a collaborative plan to manage our wild salmon and our aquaculture sector.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have today in this Parliament a historic opportunity to act on the key recommendations of the Cohen Commission to protect wild salmon and the wild salmon economy and to innovate and take action on coastal job creation.

The importance of wild Pacific salmon cannot be overstated. They are the foundation of indigenous culture in British Columbia. They are the foundation of our coastal ecology, and they established British Columbia's settlement pattern.

Salmon support a $102-million west coast commercial fishery employing 1,400 people. They support a $326-million west coast recreational fishery employing 8,400 people. They fuel a $783-million west coast wilderness tourism industry employing 26,000 full time, and roughly 40,000 in total. Yet wild salmon are at risk globally. Due to climate change and the increased prevalence of salmon farms along migratory routes, salmon populations on the west coast are at serious risk.

Worldwide, since 1975, oceans have absorbed 90% of the excess heat from global climate change. Worldwide, fisheries, as a result, could lose $10 billion of their annual revenue because of climate change.

Since salmon farms proliferated on our coast in the nineties, Fraser sockeye populations have crashed. In 2009, the salmon run on the Fraser River saw only 1.4 million fish, a drastic low in spawning returns from typical levels, which are usually 20 million to 30 million. Sockeye salmon at our latitude are threatened with extinction by 2050, and potentially all species of salmon are threatened with extinction by 2100, if we do not act. This would affect everything, moving up the food chain, including resident killer whales.

Writes Diana Hardacker from the riding I represent, “I teach students at the Nanaimo River Fish Hatchery about the important irreplaceable role that Pacific Salmon play in the health of our ecosystem, and our health. Any threat to that, namely disease from Atlantic salmon, is unacceptable.”

I agree. Open-net fish farms are a further threat to Pacific wild salmon. They are located in key migratory areas for wild salmon, and there is evidence that they are harming wild salmon. Feces and waste feed damage the ecosystem near fish farms. They promote the spread of disease and allow sea lice to flourish.

Imagine being a wee salmon minnow running the gauntlet of net-pen fish farms on the migratory route. They emerge bristling with sea lice. Salmon have enough to contend with between ocean, river, lake, and four years out in the ocean without this impossible burden of sea lice. If and when viruses spread to wild salmon, which are already under threat from sea lice, the results could be even more catastrophic.

I salute the work of Alexandra Morton. She is a heroine on our coast for standing up for wild salmon and ringing the alarm on science and the threat from salmon farms.

We need to transition to closed containment. West coast salmon, wild salmon, are under threat from sea lice, pollutants, and diseases coming from open-net fish farms. We have see this happen already. Norway, Chile, Scotland, and now B.C. have all had problems with their wild salmon fishery as a result of the contamination from open-pen fish farms. We cannot afford the declining wild salmon population, and we cannot afford the aquaculture collapse.

I heard about this from Julie Smith, who wrote to me, “As someone who was a commercial fisher for over 25 years and now has lost my job because of the decline of fish returns, this is something I feel very strongly about. Please support this, it is important.”

I urge the government to do the right thing and transition this industry to safe closed containment technology.

New Democrats called for a judicial inquiry into the sockeye collapse of the Fraser salmon run, and then we championed the implementation of the recommendations resulting from the Cohen Commission. The new Liberal government has promised full implementation of Cohen's recommendations, yet 18 of its 20 deadlines have passed already without any action.

Cohen said that the Government of Canada should remove from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' mandate the promotion of salmon farming as an industry and farmed salmon as a product.

Never was the need more clear to remove that conflict of interest than when we heard the DFO parliamentary secretary in debate last month proclaim the spotless record of the aquaculture industry. It is just not fair.

We heard strong words from Cohen on the precautionary principle and the possible link between open-net salmon farming and the decline in wild salmon.

We are arguing in the bill today that closed containment salmon farms are the solution for the west coast. They would create jobs while protecting wild salmon. We already have 70 licensed closed containment fin farms in British Columbia already, so the technology is proven. They would keep the farm environment on the farm, and the wild environment wild. They would protect wild salmon from parasites like sea lice. On-land fish farms can better control the water temperature and water quality, maximizing the efficiency of growth, which is good for the salmon farming business.

It is time to innovate. The rate of change in this industry is tremendous and Norway and Denmark are already generating very good results. This is proven technology and we are already making great strides across Canada in closed containment Atlantic salmon production with Sustainable Blue in Nova Scotia and Kuterra leading the way in B.C.

With many of my colleagues from three different parties in the House, we had the chance to visit Kuterra. It has been in operation since 2013 and is fully owned by the 'Namgis First Nation on northern Vancouver Island. It is designed to produce 450 tonnes per year of antibiotic and hormone-free, non-GMO Atlantic salmon. All the water is recycled and cleaned every hour and 99% of that water is reused. The solid waste, which in traditional fish farms is dumped into the ocean, is filtered, captured, and composted in Kuterra's on-land farm. The ammonia in the water is converted to nitrate and can be used for aquaponics.

I cannot say enough how inspiring it was to go to this facility to see local people innovating, working together, creating local jobs, using local feed, and generating those on-the-ground results that can really inspire further success.

We have heard again and again from the proponents at Kuterra what a tremendous advantage British Columbia has. We already have fish farms, technicians, processing plants, everything to give us an advantage now over the United States. Yet the Danish company Langsand Laks is starting a 30,000 tonne on-land closed containment Atlantic salmon farm in Florida. Canada could get ahead of this sustainable, hi-tech wave by innovating now to protect wild salmon.

My colleague, the member of Parliament for Port Moody—Coquitlam, has such a strong record of standing up for wild salmon. He has flown across Georgia Strait, across the Salish Sea, and down the Fraser River. He has been a fantastic proponent and advocate, along with NGOs like the Georgia Strait Alliance. His bill before us today would strengthen the Fisheries Act by requiring west coast salmon farms to move from open-net harmful pens to safe closed containment systems within five years.

It would require the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to plan the transition of the salmon farming industry on the west coast to closed containment in a way that moves those jobs that support the local economy. It is a win-win for the environment and local employment.

While 150 first nation bands oppose open-net salmon farms, there is tremendous support for this on-land salmon farm bill. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Fisheries Alliance, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the B.C. Wildlife Federation, and hundreds of others are in support. Moreover, almost 1,200 of my constituents have written to me to say that they want to see Parliament support the bill.

I will end with a plea to Parliament to recognize the sacred duty we have, the responsibility we have, to make things right for both the wild economy and local jobs. We can support a just transition to on-land closed containment salmon farms in B.C., proving that Canada can innovate, create jobs, protect wild salmon, and protect B.C.'s coastal economy.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

December 2nd, 2016 / 1:45 p.m.


Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Kootenay—Columbia is located in the Rocky Mountains. For 10 years I was manager of visitor services with provincial parks for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and I know how important a healthy wild salmon population is to the economy, the environment, and, indeed the way of life that people enjoy on the coast.

I also spent a bit of time as a teacher and I know that, apparently, people need to hear things at least three times before they really start to remember and understand them, so some of the facts that members will hear today they will have heard once or twice, but for probably a third time as well.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to support my NDP colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam and his private member's bill, Bill C-228. I want to thank the member for his many years of work as a champion for west coast wild salmon, the oceans, and coastal communities. I was proud to run under the 2015 federal NDP platform that included a commitment to transitioning salmon farms to closed containment and it is my sincere hope that the members of the House will take action to support what is clearly science-based policy and protect this important resource.

Wild salmon play a vital ecological, cultural, and economic role on Canada's west coast. They feed species at risk, such as orca whales, eagles, bears, and other large mammals, and carry essential nutrients deep into coastal forests during their spawning cycles up rivers and creeks. Wild salmon is an important food source for coastal communities and an integral part of west coast first nations' economy, diet, and culture.

West coast wild salmon is a key economic driver in the region, supporting a $102-million commercial fishery, a $326-million recreational fishery, and over 9,000 family-supporting jobs in coastal and first nations communities. Wild salmon is also an important contributor to the $783-million west coast wilderness tourism industry, which employs 26,000 people full time and roughly 40,000 people in total.

Coastal communities, cultural traditions, and complex ecosystems depend on a healthy west coast wild salmon population. Unfortunately, west coast wild salmon are under threat from sea lice, pollutants, and diseases coming from open net-cage fish farms. In British Columbia, the Fraser River salmon run historically topped over 100 million fish. Now, a run of 20 million to 30 million is considered exceptional. In 2009, only 1.4 million Fraser River sockeye returned to spawn. The NDP was a consistent supporter of the resulting judicial inquiry and of the important recommendations that came out of the Cohen commission.

It is important to note, though, that the devastating downward trend in our wild salmon population has continued, with indicators showing this year's salmon run to be just as low as the one that triggered the inquiry in 2009. Who is the major culprit? Open net fish farms have spread diseases and parasites to wild salmon populations; damaged ecosystems with feces and waste feed; and can kill whales, two in the last three weeks tangled in nets, and other marine mammals. Escaped farm salmon continue to end up in the wild population, further contributing to these problems.

Earlier this year, Dr. Kristi Miller of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed the presence of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, or HSMI for short, in salmon samples collected from a B.C. fish farm located on the Johnstone Strait. The presence of this deadly salmon disease further raises the alarm that action must be taken.

Open net farms are located on essential wild salmon migration routes, including the Discovery Islands. If HSMI disease were to spread to wild salmon, already under threat from other diseases, including sea lice, the impact on the salmon population could be catastrophic. The Cohen commission recommended that the federal government apply the precautionary principle in relation to protecting wild salmon. The implementation of this principle means that when science demonstrates the existence of more than a minimal risk to our wild salmon population, the government is required to take action to protect it.

The Liberal government has claimed to be committed to the precautionary principle and protecting the wild salmon economy, but rather than take action to encourage closed containment fish farms, even in light of the overwhelming evidence pointing to the harms that they cause, the federal government has extended the duration of open net salmon farm licences from one year to six years.

The government also continues to allow diseased salmon to be transferred into farms on the west coast. At the same time, the Liberals have further allowed the destruction of wild salmon habitat by approving Site C hydro dam and Pacific NorthWest liquid natural gas developments.

Norway, Chile, and Scotland have all seen the negative impacts of open net farms on their wild salmon fisheries, leading to declining wild populations and collapses. We are now seeing the same potential problems in British Columbia. We need to learn from these examples and take action now to protect Canadian wild salmon.

Bill C-228 is part of the answer. This bill strengthens the Fisheries Act by requiring west coast fish farms to transition from open net pens to safe closed containment systems within five years. It also requires the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to develop, table, and implement a plan to facilitate the transition of the west coast salmon farming industry to closed containment—and this does need to be a transition—within 18 months of the bill receiving royal assent.

This is sound, science-based policy that has received widespread support from stakeholders. Professor Rick Routledge of Simon Fraser University has said, “the scientific evidence that has emerged over the past several years clearly shows that aquaculture-related parasites and viruses pose far more than minimal risk to Fraser sockeye, and to other wild Pacific salmon more generally.” He goes on to say, “The only way that I can see to safeguard this globally significant natural treasure from this very real threat is to require a rapid transition to closed-containment, land based facilities.”

Closed containment farming systems place a barrier between wild and farmed salmon, effectively eliminating some of the most negative impacts of open net salmon farming, and significantly reducing others. A transition to closed containment technology has many benefits for the wild salmon economy, including removing the threat of disease and parasites, reducing the need for antibiotics and chemical treatments in fish farming, allowing farmed salmon to grow to market weight faster, and commanding a premium price for an environmentally sustainable product, providing greater operational control to minimize investment risk and losses, and ultimately protecting our marine ecosystems.

These systems are already finding success in salmon production across Canada, led by Kuterra in B.C., and Sustainable Blue in Nova Scotia. There are also more than 70 licensed closed containment fin fish farms in British Columbia growing salmon, tilapia, crayfish, and trout.

As Aaron Hill of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society notes, “Closed containment aquaculture protects wild salmon from harmful viruses and parasites that can be spread by salmon farms. We shouldn't have to trade off the health of our wild salmon for aquaculture jobs, and if Bill C-228 passes, we won't have to. Moving to closed containment salmon farming is a no-brainer.”

I could not agree more. We can protect our environment and our jobs with this safe, reliable, proven technology. Bill C-228 provides us with a historic opportunity to protect wild salmon and the wild salmon economy. As our nation's federal representatives, we in this House have a responsibility to pursue a long-term vision for Canada's natural heritage.

As Andrew Wright of The Willow Grove Foundation has said, “Closed containment holds the promise of creating a diversified enduring rural economy with no environmental impacts. It allows wild and farmed salmon economies and ecosystems to thrive.”

Canada can become a world leader in closed-containment technology, providing jobs for first nations and our rural and coastal communities, while also taking a science-based approach to protecting our environment. I strongly urge all members of this House to support Bill C-228, and to protect the national treasure that is wild salmon for generations to come.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.


Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam for bringing this important bill to this place. I am very happy to speak to it and express my strong support for it.

As others have mentioned, the bill proposes to move open-net salmon aquaculture pens to safe, closed containment systems over a five-year period. This will have significant beneficial impacts on the survival of west coast salmon and Pacific ecosystems in general.

The five species of Pacific salmon are a keystone of aquatic ecosystems in British Columbia. Salmon mature in the open Pacific then migrate hundreds of kilometres inland to spawn.

I want to mention, even though it has already been mentioned today, that the sponsor of this bill has swum the length of the Fraser River twice, 1,400 kilometres each time. He knows what the salmon have to go through. Admittedly, he has only done it downstream, so he has not fought the currents all the way. However, it is still an impressive feat and a real testament to his efforts to save wild salmon.

As the salmon fight those currents, they are bringing rich nutrients from the ocean into the interior rivers, lakes, and forests. One simply has to witness the spectacle of wildlife around a salmon spawning ground to understand the significance of this. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of bald eagles gather at the spawning sites to feast on the spent spawners, moving from river to river as the different spawning events unfold throughout the summer, fall, and winter.

These eagles comes from all over western North America, from Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Alberta, and Northwest Territories. The salmon runs are an essential part of their winter survival, as well as the survival of a myriad of other species, including bear, waterfowl, and others that rely on salmon, including the orcas that feed on them as they come back out of the ocean through the narrows of Johnstone Strait and other places on the coast.

The young salmon swim downstream to the Pacific, usually spending time in the rich estuaries of the river mouths, which act as nurseries. Estuaries in B.C. have been prime locations for industrial activity: port facilities on the tidal flats of the Fraser estuary, logsorts up and down the coast, and recently a new proposal for an LNG port on one of the most important ellgrass beds at the mouth of the Skeena.

First nations have also relied on salmon for millennia. For many indigenous communities across British Columbia and Yukon, salmon are the centrepiece of their food supply throughout the year, and have always been central to their culture. They were an abundant, predictable, and easily preserved resource.

In my riding, first nations have travelled each year to significant concentration sites, such as Okanagan Falls and south of the border at Kettle Falls. In the Okanagan Nation, or Syilx culture, salmon, or Ntytikxw , is one of the four food chiefs, along with Skimxist, bear; Speetlum, bitterroot; and Seeya, Saskatoon berry.

However, salmon populations have suffered greatly over the past century. Heavy fishing in the early 1900s significantly reduced many stocks. Clear-cut logging along streams degraded spawning habitat. Hydroelectric dams have wiped out 20 salmon stocks in British Columbia, most of them on the Columbia River. Climate change threatens to diminish stocks further, as spring freshets come earlier and weaker, and summer droughts become longer, drier, and hotter. Salmon die in warm, oxygen-poor waters.

When I was young, there were few salmon that returned each year to the Okanagan River to spawn. Although the Okanagan was one of the last two viable sockeye runs in the Columbia River system, only about 5,000 fish came back each fall. Chinook salmon were even more endangered. One population estimate of the Okanagan spawning population from about a decade ago was only seven individuals.

Some years ago, serious efforts began to restore the sockeye populations of the Okanagan. In the last decade, these efforts have been spearheaded by the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Through its efforts to rebuild the spawning channels of the Okanagan River, sockeye now number in the hundreds of thousands in good years.

Last year, a half million sockeye entered the Columbia destined for the Okanagan, all but 10,000 died in the warm-water pools below the 11 dams they had to deal with on their way upstream. This year was cooler and wetter, and the return was good.

It is clear that salmon populations on the Pacific coast of Canada face a multitude of challenges, and any addition to these cumulative stressors could tip populations over the edge, sending them into decline and local extinction.

Bill C-228 would remove one of those challenges, a significant one. We know that open-net salmon farms have impacts on wild salmon populations, through disease, parasites, pollution, and escapement. Remember, these are Atlantic salmon in these pens and when they escape and try to spawn in the local rivers, it is a serious problem for wild salmon populations. We know that the aquatic ecosystems of British Columbia and much of the terrestrial ecosystems around spawning rivers are being degraded because of this situation. We know there is a problem, and we know the answer. We know what we have to do. We simply have to have the political will to fix the problem.

In the past, when we have faced similar situations, we have been successful. In the 1960s and 1970s, we discovered that DDT was causing dramatic declines in the populations of birds of prey around the world. Eagles and falcons were disappearing. We knew the cause. It was DDT, so we banned that pesticide, even though it was costly in the short term for the agricultural industry. I know that impact. I grew up on a small apple orchard and saw what my father had to do in buying new equipment to deal with the new pesticides that replaced DDT. However, we fixed the problem, and have seen eagle and falcon populations rebound in spectacular fashion over the past 40 years. The agriculture industry has not only survived but has flourished.

We can do the same for wild salmon. The bill calls for a shift from open-net salmon farms to closed containment systems. That is the right thing to do. We can still have a successful salmon farming industry on the Pacific coast, one that is based on sound environmental principles, and one that could command higher prices for its product because of those principles. Canada can become a world leader in closed containment systems as the world makes this shift.

I urge every member of the House to support Bill C-228 and save our wild salmon.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.


Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government got a couple of things wrong in its response to my bill, so I am happy to correct the record and give members something to think about before the vote.

The parliamentary secretary said that we have no evidence that the environment is sacrificed to pursue the economic development of British Columbia's aquaculture industry. That is simply not true. Earlier this year, the government's own departmental scientists confirmed the existence of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, HSMI, in farmed salmon. The Cohen Commission and numerous studies, including a study published in October in Marine Policy, concluded that there is a risk to wild salmon due to the transfer of sea lice and disease.

The government also said that closed containment is unproved technology. Again, this is not the case. In B.C., Kuterra, owned by the 'Namgis First Nation, produces 400 tons of closed containment salmon each year, which is antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and non-GMO. In Nova Scotia, Sustainable Blue will produce 100 tons of closed containment salmon this year and up to 150 tons or more next year. In Washington State, Domsea Farms has been producing land-based freshwater coho salmon for 37 years. These salmon are now available in 124 Overwaitea stores throughout western Canada. In Denmark, Danish Salmon has closed containment facilities capable of producing 2,000 tons of salmon annually, and Langsand Laks is supplying customers with weekly harvests year round and is planning a 30,000-ton closed containment salmon south of Miami in Florida.

The parliamentary secretary said he agrees with the spirit and intent of my bill, which is good news. However, it is not good enough. If the government is serious about protecting west coast wild salmon and respecting Justice Cohen's concerns and recommendations, then the Liberals should vote yes to Bill C-228.

Study after study for more than 15 years has come to the same conclusion.

In 2001, the Leggatt Inquiry into salmon farming in B.C. concluded:

Removing the net cages from B.C. waters and replacing them with a closed-loop containment system which prevents waste from being discharged into the environment will resolve most of these problems.

The industry has invested substantially in net-cage technology and must be given time to convert its operations. But we feel that this process must begin immediately and that conversion be subject to a regulated time-table. Farms in salmon migration routes or other sensitive areas should be converted to closed containment systems as a first priority and all salmon farms should be converted within three years.

That was 15 years ago.

In 2003, the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans recommended that the department prohibit the development of finfish aquaculture near or in major salmon-bearing rivers. The report went on to recommend that the department work with industry to develop closed-loop aquaculture systems for finfish aquaculture and that this be the only system permitted in Canada. This was 13 years ago.

The B.C. legislative Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, in 2005 to 2007, recommended that a rapid transition to ocean-based closed containment begin immediately and that industry transition to this technology within the subsequent two years. The report also said:

It is our expectation that ocean-based closed containment technologies developed in BC will be licensed and sold around the world as consumers demand more sustainable aquaculture practices. This sustainable solution includes a barrier between farmed fish and the marine environment.

That was almost a decade ago.

Finally, the Cohen Commission, in the most comprehensive review of Pacific salmon management in Canada, concluded:

...the potential harm posed to Fraser River sockeye salmon from salmon farms is serious or irreversible. Disease transfer occurs between wild and farmed fish, and I am satisfied that salmon farms along the sockeye migration route have the potential to introduce exotic diseases and to exacerbate endemic diseases that could have a negative impact on Fraser River sockeye.

This is science-based, commercially viable, common-sense legislation that is long overdue.

I hope I can count on all members of the House to do the right thing and vote in favour of Bill C-228. Let us move this legislation to committee so we can look at ways to implement the solution that study after study has recommended but Canada has failed to enact.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is the House ready for the question?

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members



Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Fisheries ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the nays have it.

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, December 1, the recorded division stands deferred until Tuesday, December 6, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

It now being 2:12 p.m. the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:12 p.m.)