House of Commons Hansard #312 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was iran.

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Main Estimates 2018-19—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the points of order raised on May 29, 2018 and May 30, 2018 by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona regarding vote 40 under Treasury Board Secretariat in the main estimates 2018-19, also known as the budget implementation vote.

On May 29, I ruled on an earlier point of order of his regarding the same vote. In that ruling, I indicated that speakers have generally been reluctant to rule that an item in the estimates was out of order except in clear cases where the supply item had a legislative dimension and was not pure supply.

The hon. member, in his intervention of May 29, argued that the funds sought under vote 40 do not appear to be for a purpose under Treasury Board's legal mandate, as defined in the Financial Administration Act. Instead, it is a central fund from which Treasury Board will allocate money to other departments and agencies for them to carry out their mandates. He felt this circumvented the usual practices for supply. He also contended that this vote cannot reasonably be compared to other central funds under Treasury Board, which are all either consistent with its legal mandate or otherwise justifiable.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader responded to this point by arguing that the hon. member's reading of the Treasury Board's mandate was too narrow. In his view, there was no question that these matters fall within the legal mandate of the Treasury Board. He also cited my earlier ruling indicating there is ample precedent for monies to be granted to a central fund.

On May 30, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona argued that some of the specific initiatives in vote 40 lack proper legislative authority. In particular, he noted that initiatives relating to employment insurance and cybersecurity seem dependent on measures contained in Bill C-74, Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1. As this bill is not yet law, he felt it was not proper for the government to seek appropriations for its implementation.

Finally, given that vote 40 will fund a variety of initiatives in various departments and agencies, the member felt it problematic that the vote had been referred to a single committee, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. In his view, it would be more appropriate for the initiatives in vote 40 to have been studied by the committees directly responsible for those departments and agencies.

I will deal with this last point first. When the estimates are tabled, they are automatically referred to committee in accordance with Standing Order 81(4). As is the case with documents tabled under Standing Order 32, it is the government that determines to which committee each vote will be referred. While this used to be done by motion, the Standing Orders were amended in 2001 to make the referral automatic. The minister now provides the Table with the list of committees to which separate votes are sent for study. In the case of vote 40, it was referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, a committee with a fairly wide-ranging mandate on matters relating to estimates. In its study of vote 40, the committee is free to invite whomever it feels appropriate. I do not believe there is any role for the Speaker to become involved in the matching of votes and committees.

On the matter of the legal authority for the spending, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 873, indicates:

The Chair has maintained that estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent (those clearly intended to amend existing legislation) should come to the House by way of an amending bill.

My predecessors have addressed this issue in a number of different rulings. Speaker Jerome, in a ruling found on page 607 of the Journals of March 22, 1977, explained:

...the government receives from Parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by Parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item in my opinion ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.

Nothing in the wording of vote 40, as I read it, seeks to amend existing legislation. The hon. member acknowledged as much in his intervention. He questioned whether the Treasury Board has the legal authority to spend for the purposes of the initiatives contained in vote 40. It is clear, however, from the vote wording that the funds are to be granted to the Treasury Board so that it can transfer them to other departments and agencies. As the hon. member himself concedes, the vote wording specifically says that expenditures of the funds must be for purposes “within the legal mandates of the departments or other organizations for which they are made.”

The hon. member's objection, really, is a matter about which department is seeking the funds. He does not feel it appropriate that Treasury Board requests money for a central fund on behalf of other departments or agencies. As I stated in my ruling on May 29, 2018, there is ample precedent for central funds. The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona cited many of these in his intervention. While he argues that vote 40 is of a different nature than other central funds, I am not convinced that Treasury Board lacks the legal authority to manage it. As the hon. parliamentary secretary argued, this would require a rather narrow reading of the Financial Administration Act. I do not believe the vote can be ruled out of order on that basis.

Again, as I indicated in my earlier ruling, it is up to the government to determine the form its request for funds will take. It is for members to decide, in studying and voting on the estimates, whether or not the money should be granted. In the case of vote 40, some members may wish that the request had been in a different form. In the end, they are left to make a decision on the request as the government has presented it. The Chair's role is limited to determining if the request for funds is in a form that does not require any separate legislative authorization and if it respects the limits of the supply process.

This brings me to the final point raised by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona. He argued that certain initiatives do not appear to have existing legislative authority, but instead appear to be dependent on legislation currently before Parliament or yet to be introduced. Speaker Sauvé, in a ruling found at page 10546 of the Debates of June 12, 1981, indicated, “the Appropriation Act should only seek authority to spend the money for a program that has been previously authorized by a statute” and that, by seeking funds for programs where the legislation had not yet been introduced, the government was putting the cart before the horse.

On March 21, 1983, she addressed a similar matter. Vote 10c under Industry, Trade and Commerce in that year’s supplementary estimates provided for payments under the Small Business Investment Grant Act, which was still before the House in the form of Bill C-136. In ruling the vote out of order, she stated at page 23968 of the Debates:

Vote 10c clearly anticipates legislation and, in that sense, seeks to establish a new program in the absence of other legislative authority and seeks the funds to put it into operation.

The matter to be established, then, is whether existing legislative authority is lacking for the initiatives identified by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona. Absent this authority, it would be premature for the government to be seeking funds. Previous Speakers have noted that it is not always easy to identify the legislative authority for particular initiatives in the estimates. Unfortunately, the parliamentary secretary, in his response, did not directly address this point. This information would have been helpful for the Chair in determining whether such authority is lacking.

The hon. member asserted that, as the budget indicated that certain initiatives would be the subject of legislation, it follows that such initiatives should not receive funding through the estimates until that legislation is passed. It is not entirely clear to the Chair, however, that these activities have been shown to lack existing legislative authority. To take, for example, the matters relating to cybersecurity, according to annex 1 of the main estimates, the funds are to be transferred to the Communications Security Establishment, CSE, which has an existing legislative mandate under the National Defence Act. While Bill C-74 does indeed provide for the transfer of certain employees from other departments to the CSE, I believe that the CSE does have a mandate under existing legislation to spend for such purposes. Were the government proposing to grant funds to an organization not yet created or for an entirely new purpose, I believe there would be a valid objection, but that does not appear to be the case in the examples enumerated by the hon. member.

I must admit that, at the outset, the matters regarding Employment Insurance caused me some concern. The main estimates themselves explain, at page I-9 and I-10:

Costs related to Employment Insurance benefits and Children’s benefits are the largest components of the items excluded from the estimates. Most Employment Insurance costs are paid directly out of the Employment Insurance Operating Account, rather than a departmental appropriation, and are therefore not specifically included in estimates.

The authority to spend funds for the purposes of paying employment insurance benefits is statutory, pursuant to the Employment Insurance Act. It is not entirely clear why this request has been included in vote 40, whether it is truly additional funds or whether the amount has been included for information purposes. Regardless, the question to determine is whether legislative authority for the request is lacking. The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona indicated that the funds were to make permanent an existing pilot project for people working while on claim. While the provisions in Bill C-74 make this change to the Employment Insurance Act, it is clear to me that there was legislative authority under the existing act for the pilot project.

While the hon. member raised important questions, Speakers have generally ruled items in the estimates to be irregular only when they clearly lacked a legislative basis or when the items themselves sought to amend existing legislation. I do not believe that to be the case with vote 40, and therefore I rule that it is indeed in order.

I appreciate the hon. member’s vigilance in ensuring that proper practices are followed regarding the estimates. As this is the first time the House has been presented with a budget implementation vote of this nature, it is important to ensure that the limits of the supply process are respected. That said, I also want to remind the hon. member of my ruling of June 4, 2018, when I underscored the importance of being concise when presenting a point of order. Even on a matter as complex as the estimates, it should not require multiple lengthy interventions to make one’s point. I am certain all hon. members will keep this in mind in preparing their arguments.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and

That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and 15 minutes before the end of Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question period.

The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we go all over again. I am going to bring the House back to 2015, when the member for Papineau was campaigning and said that if he were elected prime minister that debate would reign, that he would not enforce time allocation. Here we are, and I believe this is the 42nd time that we are seeing time allocation, and on such an important bill.

The Liberals are saying that they are restoring and fixing Bill C-68, the Fisheries Act, which is a historical piece of legislation, because they are undoing the harmful changes that our Conservative government did in 2012. They are putting back the HADD provisions, yet they sidestep any obligation to uphold the HADD regulations in this legislation by providing the minister with the ability to exempt certain provisions. We know that the Fisheries Act is vitally important. Why is the minister trying to once again limit the debate on such an important piece of legislation for Canadians?

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of the member's comments, and certainly on the importance of this legislation to Canadians. He and I may have differences on how some particular aspects of the bill may or may not work, but I certainly share his view, which is a view that Canadians have shared with us, that this is one of Canada's most important pieces of environmental legislation. It is one of the oldest pieces of legislation. I think the first bill was passed after Confederation. It has been over time one of the most effective pieces of environmental legislation, because of exclusive federal jurisdiction in so many of these areas.

It is also legislation that has allowed coastal communities across the country to develop thriving local economies, allowed Canadians to participate actively in commercial fisheries and recreational fisheries, and has obviously allowed the participation of indigenous communities in many of these fisheries. It has structured economic relations that have been important, not only for coastal communities, but for thousands and thousands of women and men who earn their living from the fishery.

We made a commitment to Canadians in the 2015 election that we would restore lost protections. My hon. friend referred to some of the changes that the previous government made in omnibus legislation which evacuated some of the important environmental protections. We restored those, but we went further by incorporating modern safeguards. We did not simply cut and paste what existed in the 1970s. We included things like a positive obligation on the government to work on restoring fish stocks that are in serious condition. We also talked about restoring and protecting habitat.

My colleague, the Minister of Public Safety, and I had an opportunity in Saskatchewan to meet the rural association of municipalities, and producers. As a result, we also included important things like codes of practice, to ensure that agricultural operations and small municipal works are not overly burdened by complying with the Fisheries Act provisions.

We tried to modernize the act in a way we think is very balanced, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you will agree. I notice you are sitting on the edge of your chair. It must be because you are in profound agreement with those important statements that I have just made.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I was going to ask the minister if he knew how many of these time allocations have been moved during this Parliament. However, we heard a minute ago that there have been 42.

First of all, does the minister realize that this is the 42nd time allocation motion? Also, in the last Parliament, what were his thoughts when the Conservative government made such excessive use of these time allocation motions? Did he agree with that? If not, why does he agree now? What happens to our democracy when there are so many time allocation motions in a Parliament?

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Hochelaga for her questions.

I also thank the NDP for its support for Bill C-68. I had the opportunity to work with her colleague, the NDP critic. Some amendments were adopted by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, including very positive amendments proposed by the NDP. I think this is a good example of committee members working together. The suggestions made by witnesses and the examples we received from other administrations helped us strengthen and improve the bill. I am very proud of that. I thank the NDP for its important work in this regard.

The time allocation motion should come as no surprise because we made important commitments to Canadians during the 2015 election. We have worked closely with parliamentarians for several months. We conducted extensive public consultations. We held widespread consultations to get Canadians' suggestions on how we could modernize and improve the Fisheries Act.

We think the time has come for the House of Commons to vote on this important bill. What is more, we will have to wait for our colleagues in the Senate and work with them because they too need to study and debate this major bill. I hope we will be able to work with them in a very constructive manner in the fall, if the bill has reached that stage by then.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague across the way talked about open and transparent ways and about consulting with Canadians. One of the issues our fisheries committee found when we were studying this was that a lot of communities and a lot of Canadians feel that they have not been truly consulted. By shuttering debate and forcing time allocation, the minister is indeed saying that all the members of Parliament on this side of the House, and all the Canadians, the electors, who elected the opposition, really do not have a say, and their views really do not matter. They are shuttering debate and not allowing all the members of Parliament to have a say on this bill.

It is interesting that the minister talks about the commitment to openness and transparency, because what this bill would also do is undermine transparency and due process by allowing the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents. It would also give the minister sole discretion to make policy without consultation, something similar to what we are seeing with the surf clams and how that is impacting the town of Grand Bank. Bill C-68 is just another bill that would give the minister the authority to go in and make policy without consulting Canadians, and that is wrong.

Would my hon. colleague across the way not admit that perhaps shuttering debate on a bill that is so fundamental, while talking about openness and transparency, might be just a bit too far-fetched?

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, it perhaps will not surprise colleagues that I do not share my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George's view that it is far-fetched. What is far-fetched are some of the assertions made by colleagues in this House that these important amendments would reduce transparency or make the act somehow less accessible. What we have decided to do in modernizing the Fisheries Act and restoring lost protections, but incorporating modern safeguards, is in fact to open it up, for example, to the voices of indigenous peoples and to incorporate indigenous traditional local knowledge in decisions made by governments with respect to stocks of fish, licensing, and other considerations.

What we have also done is ensure that this legislation is reflective of the recommendations we received from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I was extremely proud of the consultation the committee did and what it heard from Canadians. The committee received hundreds of submissions and heard from witnesses. The vast majority of the recommendations made by our colleagues on the standing committee, including from the opposition parties, are incorporated in this legislation.

What could be more transparent than referring the bill to a standing committee, as this House did some weeks ago, hearing from witnesses again on the actual piece of legislation, and then amending the bill to improve it, including amendments from opposition parties? That speaks to transparency but also to the desire to listen to Canadians and ensure that we get this right. That is certainly the way we have approached this legislation. I am quite confident that the vast majority of public opinion in the country will think that these are significant and overdue improvements to the act. They are certainly ones of which we are very proud.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister about this bill and about calling for time allocation. I hope I am still going to get time to speak to this bill. It is a very important piece of legislation and one that we in the NDP generally approve of. We are supportive of it, but there are still problems with it and with fisheries management in Canada.

I am from the interior British Columbia, where we used to have DFO staff throughout the interior who acted as community advisers for a lot of the stewardship groups that worked on salmonid enhancement and aquatic enhancement. Those have all gone. I am very proud to say that we have the Okanagan Nation Alliance, a first nations group, that has stepped into that void and has done tremendous work. However, I am just hoping that in the future, we will see a revitalization of the DFO in the interior of British Columbia and across Canada to help with fish-habitat enhancement and fish-stock revitalization, as was done in the past before the Fisheries Act was gutted back in 2012. I wonder if the minister could comment on that.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his question, and also, as I mentioned to his colleague from Hochelaga, to thank New Democrats for their support of this legislation. We have worked constructively with our colleagues in the New Democratic Party, and we certainly are committed to continuing to do so. We share a lot of the same objectives.

My colleague specifically commented on stewardship groups and the conservation and protection officers, fisheries officers themselves, who have played and continue to play, we think, a very important role in some of the small communities, including the ones my colleague referred to in South Okanagan in British Columbia. One of the things I am proud of is our government's decision to invest almost $300 million in the implementation of these new provisions, these improvements, we are pursuing with respect to the Fisheries Act. That will necessarily include the hiring of additional conservation and protection officers. They are remarkable women and men who work in small communities, and often, I have been told, in partnership with community groups and stewardship groups.

We will also be hiring some of the habitat protection officers my colleague referred to. The previous government cut almost 40% of these jobs. If one is going to evacuate and remove some of the environmental protections, why would one not just carry on and eliminate some of the staff that used to enforce those provisions? That is exactly what the previous government did. To make sure that this legislation is as effective as Canadians expect, and as we certainly want it to be, we are proceeding to hire and recruit exactly the kind of people my colleague referred to.

I would be happy to work with him and discuss exactly where these people will be located. I do not have the detailed plan yet of what particular offices will see what particular new personnel hired, but I would be happy to work with him and all colleagues in the House, once we have that information, to ensure that we get that right. We think that is going to be one of the successes of this legislation.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this bill is supposed to be about openness and transparency and balancing environmental considerations with commercial considerations, but in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, the Coast Guard basically drove a bunch of icebreakers down, crushing the Sombra ferry crossing and killing the commercialization that was happening on both sides of the border. Even though a solution has been proposed that is environmentally acceptable, no action has been taken on the part of the government. I would ask the minister why he has taken no action.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 7 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Sarnia—Lambton is referring to an unfortunate circumstance that took place some months ago, when the Canadian Coast Guard was proceeding to undertake some icebreaking activities on the American side of that particular body of water. There had been some damage that was sustained. It, unfortunately, is a matter that is private in nature. The Canadian Coast Guard does not have responsibility for those particular circumstances. We have had a chance to discuss with my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton and share with her the circumstances the Coast Guard uncovered or determined when it looked at that operation.

One thing we think is important is to ensure that the Coast Guard has all the important resources it needs to safely do the work Canadians expect of it. I am particularly proud of investments we have made in the Canadian Coast Guard. It is an iconic Canadian institution. It is a remarkable group of women and men who serve in the Canadian Coast Guard. We are committed to ensuring that they have the best tools and platforms to do the work safely that Canadians expect of them,. We will continue to invest and support the Coast Guard as it does that important work.

As my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton noted, it is important to Canada's economy. Icebreaking is probably one of the best examples of an activity that is critical to the Canadian economy and one that the Canadian Coast Guard does very effectively.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague who is rising today to defend the time allocation motion moved by his government. Not so long ago, in June 2015, the minister sat with the Liberal Party on this side of the House and his colleague from Winnipeg North said the following about time allocation motions:

The [Conservative] government, by once again relying on a time allocation motion to get its agenda passed, speaks of incompetence. It speaks of a genuine lack of respect for parliamentary procedure and ultimately for Canadians. It continues to try to prevent members of Parliament from being engaged and representing their constituents on the floor of the House of Commons.

Those were the words of the member for Winnipeg North. He is now part of the Liberal government that is once again moving a time allocation motion.

What has changed since my colleague was on this side of the House and always voted against time allocation motions? Today, he is on the other side of the House and is moving time allocation motions. I am certain that he will support this time allocation motion when we vote shortly.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Sherbrooke.

If ever there was a member to quote, I cannot imagine a better one than our colleague from Winnipeg North, an extraordinary parliamentarian with a great deal of experience in the House. He always had something to say about the previous Conservative government's abuses, for example when it prevented committees from doing their work, or when its MPs, its committee members, were given a rule book they had to follow to make sure that the committees could not function.

When I was the government House leader, I had the privilege of working with the member for Winnipeg North, who did in fact identify some of the Conservative government's extraordinary abuses of procedure. However, as he also said repeatedly, and once again I agree with my colleague from Winnipeg North, time allocation is a necessary tool in a legislator's toolbox to ensure passage of bills that are very important to Canadians and that are part of the solemn commitments we made to Canadians in 2015.

I can imagine my colleagues across the way criticizing us for not putting our agenda in place and not keeping our election promises. I am not surprised, because on one hand they do not want to help us keep an election promise we are very proud of, and on the other hand, they claim that we are not interested in listening to opposition members or working constructively with them.

I would remind my colleague from Sherbrooke that I was extremely pleased to work with his colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam on this bill. We saw the committee adopt NDP amendments and we are very proud of that. We will continue to work with all members in order to ensure that we have the best bill possible to present to Canadians, and we believe that is exactly what is happening.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rémi Massé Liberal Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must commend the work of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, his team, and his department, because since our government came to power, important measures have been taken for our coastal communities, like the ones back home in Gaspé, which depend heavily on the fisheries. The minister promised to reinvest in research, for example. Back home, in my riding, $27 million was invested in the Maurice Lamontagne Institute and in hiring more scientists. That is significant.

There were also investments made in environmental initiatives because the Fisheries Act is a major component of our environmental plan, which seeks to restore our coasts to ensure that fish can come back and restock our coasts.

Earlier, the minister talked about the consultations that were held to help modernize the legislation. I know that he consulted a number of organizations and associations. I would like him to share some of the feedback he got during those consultations.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for his question and especially for his important work representing his constituents. I had the privilege of visiting his riding with him when he was a candidate and was hoping to earn the confidence of the voters, as he did so well, to become a member of Parliament. I saw that he was very familiar with the economic challenges and opportunities in his riding, especially when it comes to the fishing industry.

My colleague is an important adviser to me and our government, for example, on the issue of improving fishing infrastructure and wharves. In his riding, which I have visited many times, I saw the economic, social, and cultural significance to the small coastal communities of having fishing infrastructure and wharves in good condition. This infrastructure helps provide major economic opportunities for the communities.

I am extremely proud of my colleague's work on this file. He mentioned consultations. We had the opportunity to meet groups of fishers together on occasion. We also spoke to the processing industry, which employs thousands of people in coastal communities, in his riding and mine, for example. People told us they were worried that the owner-operator principle that we put in the act might be restricted or changed.

In English, it is the owner-operator principle.

This principle is very important to the economic future of small communities, as well as to inshore and midshore fishers, like the ones my colleague represents. This is an example of how these groups asked us to do something and we took appropriate action. I am very proud of this, and I hope that my colleagues are as well.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague across the way talked about all the consultation.

I am going to go on again and again about it. Overwhelmingly, Canadians from coast to coast to coast said they felt they were not consulted. In fact, indigenous groups said that it was more of an information session, not really a consultation.

It is interesting that our hon. colleagues will talk about all the cuts that were done previously by the Conservative government, and will go on and on saying that the changes that took place in 2012 resulted in a loss of fish and fish habitat. Out of all the consultations we had as a committee and all of the witnesses who came forth, how many came forward with evidence of proof that the changes in 2012 resulted in a loss of fish and fish habitat? It was absolutely zero.

We have a lot of questions. The one I want to ask is this, and I will keep my question short. I know the minister likes to go on and on. Was the hon. minister aware that in all the consultations the fisheries committee had not one environmental group, academic, local group or department official came forward with any evidence that the changes made in 2012 resulted in any loss of fish or fish habitat? Not one witness who came before the committee offered any evidence that the changes made in 2012 resulted in any loss of fish or fish habitat.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George talked about consultation. It is important to understand that consultations were at the core of our review prior to presenting this legislation.

The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act were very much done with the views of Canadians in mind. For example, my department, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, consulted broadly with Canadians, provinces, territories, indigenous groups, and other stakeholders. We had two rounds of online public consultations and held hundreds of meetings with indigenous groups, stakeholders, and partners to seek their views on restoring lost protection and incorporating modern safeguards.

We received extensive feedback throughout the consultations, and I know my colleague will be extremely interested in this. For example, our department had 2,163 Canadians register online to participate in these consultations. We received 5,438 e-workbook questionnaires that were completed by Canadians. We had over 170 meetings with indigenous groups and resource management boards. We had over 200 separate submissions from indigenous groups.

The standing committee itself, as I said before, did extraordinary work and heard from 50 witnesses, held 10 meetings, and received 188 written submissions.

If we think that this legislation is so well crafted, so balanced, and so effective, it is precisely because we heard those voices that inspired us to get this right. That is exactly what we think we have done.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I will share some conversations I had with some of the first terms members. They were very concerned about the actions of opposition members over the last number of weeks, that they were being obstructionists, and were delaying the whole process in the chamber. I might have joined in with that conversation and agreed with them had this not been my 18th June here. For 10 years, we were on that side of the House, in the deep, dark, gunnels as the third party. Every June, for 10 years, we did our best as an opposition to ensure that we opposed the government, and we used every trick in the book that we could. In government, one uses every tool available, and closure is one of them.

I commend the minister on this. He took the legislation to committee and accepted a great number of amendments from the NDP. However, amendments under the Conservatives were like a species at risk, because they would entertain none. Therefore, this legislation did get a great viewing.

I would ask the minister to go over the list of people who have weighed in on this, who have consulted on this, and how this stands quite differently from how the Conservatives went about their business and really showed no respect for the committee process.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to follow our colleague for Cape Breton—Canso, because, as always, we think he has summarized exactly the essence of the problem. The previous Conservative government used every parliamentary tool at its disposition to disrupt, obstruct, and stifle debate. In fact, the Conservatives at one point had published an actual manual of how to drive parliamentary committees into the ditch. They had a whole series of steps, such as if it appeared that an amendment might be supported, this was what a member would do to ensure the committee would grind to a halt, and did not conduct any business.

We think Canadians were frustrated and upset by that. That is why we have taken a much different approach. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and the work it has done on the legislation is proof positive of that point. My colleague for Cape Breton—Canso said it so very well.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

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

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.