Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that last Friday, I raised the question of worthwhile projects not being allowed to apply for funding under the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program. The reason I asked the question is that for the past year, not a single new funding application has been accepted. I asked the government if it would open the program for funding proposals, such as the Killarney Lake aeration field project, and unfortunately, I did not receive an answer.
The question is not about whether there is money for the program, as I understand that the department has allocated $10 million for this fiscal year and $8 million for the next fiscal year. When determining if any of those dollars were available, my office contacted DFO, and it said the money had all been allocated for this year, even though no call for proposals was released.
I do not know if this is true, because when I searched the government's news release website, I thought it would be teeming with information on all the projects that had been allocated funding under this program, but I was surprised to find only one project listed.
l thought it must be an oversight that the Government of Canada did not post any news releases on the website. The next logical step was to go to Google to maybe discover any local stories over the past two years. I found only two more projects. After searching the government's news release website, searching Google, looking for a full list of projects on DFO's website, and even asking the Library of Parliament to get involved, I am no closer to finding out how the government has allocated two years' worth of money and is refusing to accept any new proposals.
I am certain the parliamentary secretary will laud the success of the program, and I hope he does, because it was designed by none other than a Conservative MP, the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. When I say designed, I literally mean the member was involved in every aspect of the program and almost single-handedly spearheaded this initiative.
There is one specific element of the program I want to highlight. It is that it was specifically created to fund small and medium-sized projects of $20,000 to $100,000. With that evidence in hand, I would suspect that there would be hundreds of projects that would have been allocated the $10 million from last year and the $20 million found in the department's budget this year.
Taking the government at its word that all the monies have been allocated for the multi-year projects, there is little evidence to suggest what it is being spent on. Second, if the government has strayed from the original intent of the program, to support smaller projects put forward by local fishing groups, healthy lake groups, and conservation districts, is it not forgetting why the program was originally put in place?
The government has millions of dollars for a number of different projects, including rinks and Stanley Cup tributes. Could it not open the program for worthwhile initiatives like the Killarney Lake aeration field for this fiscal year?
Now that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries has had a full weekend to prepare for this question, it is my sincere hope tonight that I could get a clear answer. My question is simple. Will the government allow funding proposals, such as the proposed aeration for Killarney Lake, to be accepted for this fiscal year?