Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to the private member's bill put forward by the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame. It is also an honour to work with the member on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
I want to recognize the message the member for Labrador just spoke to, that being the importance of the seal harvest and seal products to those communities and their traditions and heritage.
I appreciate this opportunity to support the member and Bill S-208, which seeks to designate May 20 as national seal products day.
Canada is known as a melting pot for cultures from around the world. This is something we can be proud of. While we Canadians can be proud of how that melting pot is always changing, we should also be proud of how we developed as a country, a country that is continuing to grow and prosper from the ability to sustainably harvest and market our natural resources, resources such as our wood products, although that market is somewhat hindered right now; our minerals; our fisheries; and of course, the resource that was originally responsible for Canada's early development, our fur products. Those fur products included beaver, muskrat, marten, and of course, seal. All of these species have been harvested sustainably, and we continue to have healthy, viable populations. In fact, some seal populations are now at historic levels.
Seal products are much more than fur or pelts. They are a high protein product for our tables, and they provide top omega 3 oils for health care products, which many remote maritime communities rely on for their livelihoods. Without them, many of those coastal communities would dwindle and perhaps die.
What is really significant is that with the loss of those communities would be the loss of a big part of our Canadian heritage, a heritage we need not be ashamed of, a heritage that has continued for hundreds of years, sustainably and continuously. It allowed the early residents of this continent to live here. It allowed early European settlers to immigrate and build better lives for their families than they might have had in their homelands. It is a heritage that is truly part of Canada.
In considering this legislation, I reflected on another bill, a successful bill that recognized how important our outdoor- oriented heritage is in Canada, and that was Bill C-501, which passed in 2014. It was introduced by Rick Norlock, the member from Northumberland--Quinte West. That legislation established the third Saturday in September as National Hunting Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, a day to recognize, as this bill would, the importance of these activities in the development and survival of this great nation of ours.
While many members of the House may never have had the opportunity, and I might say enlightenment, of taking part in any of these amazing activities, I believe that all members can see how these activities and the products derived from them have played an important role and should be recognized nationally. Without that recognition, we risk losing not only the significance of hunting, trapping, fishing, and sealing but we risk losing those communities on our coasts and in our hinterlands that are so dependent on the products that can be obtained in a sustainable way.
I would like to take a few minutes to share some of my thoughts and my experiences in participating in some of these heritage activities. Although I have not participated in a seal harvest, I have had the incredible experience of being out in the wild pitting myself against the elements, pitting myself against the instincts and senses of the fish and game species that are so abundant in Canada.
Anti-use groups will try to diminish what we do and how we survive as Canadians because they want to end our legal activities. However, because of my participation in these activities, I will put myself up against them any day. These activities have enabled me to experience what really goes on out there. They have allowed me to put food on my table and to do so sustainably. I have learned that the best way to value and build appreciation and continued recognition of our fish and wildlife resources is to be immersed in it, partaking in the activities of fishing, hunting, trapping, and sealing, something many opponents will never get the chance to experience and will never understand the value of being there, touching it, and experiencing it first-hand.
I admire the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame for his initiative in asking for recognition of the value and the importance of seal products to our indigenous communities, our coastal communities, and the individuals who retain their sustenance and livelihood from seal products. We need to continue these roles and the importance of this. I truly admire him for putting this forward, not just on behalf of the residents of his area on the east coast, but for the importance of similar activities such as hunting, trapping, and fishing across the country.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not make special mention today. I would like to take the opportunity to wish my loving wife Linda a happy 38th anniversary.