House of Commons Hansard #414 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.


Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC


That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, the House proposes that amendment 1 be amended by replacing the text of the amendment with the following text:

(4) If an order is made under subsection (2), the Minister shall publish, in any manner that the Minister considers appropriate, a report

(a) indicating the area of the sea designated in the order;

(b) summarizing the consultations undertaken prior to making the order; and

(c) summarizing the information that the Minister considered when making the order, which may include environmental, social, cultural or economic information.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.


Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak about Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The bill would help protect our marine and coastal areas, and it would bring us closer to our 10% marine conservation target by the end of 2020.

Before I get into the substance of the amendment and the bill, I would like to thank the sponsor of the bill in the other place. I know that it is because of her passion for protecting our marine and coastal areas that we are here today debating the bill before we can see it pass and in action providing interim protection for our oceans.

While we commend the work of members of the other place and the important discussions that took place when the bill was under consideration in the other chamber, we are unable to support the amendments that were made at committee and subsequently passed.

However, in debating the motion today, we are proposing an amendment that we believe would capture the intent of the amendment from the other place. The proposed amendment would, first, in line with the amendment on geographical location, require that the geographical location of a proposed area for interim protection be published when an order was made, along with other information relevant and necessary to the order.

Second, as we have maintained, the amendment on consultations by the member of the other place representing Nunavut is indeed already covered by existing legislation and regulations. That is why our amendment proposes to require that consultations undertaken to establish the interim protection MPA be published upon an order being made. We have said repeatedly that consultations are required, so now the government would ensure that we showed that consultations had taken place for the interim protection MPA to be established in the first place.

Discussions in the other place looked at the importance of consultation and engagement, which will continue to be the foundation for establishing all marine protected areas, or MPAs, now and in the future.

Bill C-55 does not weaken our commitment to develop MPAs in collaboration with governments, partners, stakeholders and the public. This bill does not take shortcuts in establishing MPAs. It does not eliminate any steps. In fact, it provides new tools to make sure we are protecting more of our marine environment.

As members know, the purpose of the bill is to allow the optional use of a new mechanism to provide interim protection for an ecologically sensitive marine area and to freeze the footprint of activities in the area following initial science and consultations with our many partners and stakeholders. This freeze on ongoing activities would be in place for five years, during which additional science and consultations would continue as part of the process to establish a permanent marine protected area.

The proposed ability to provide interim protection is a common-sense approach that would respond to the reality that during the seven to 10 years it takes to establish an MPA, nothing is protected. With the new interim protection provision, some measure of protection would be provided, in the spirit of the precautionary approach.

The bill would also modernize enforcement powers, which would bring the act in line with other environmental legislation. These new powers would be important for ensuring the effectiveness of our 13 current marine protected areas and for meeting each of their conservation objectives.

The discussion in the other place on amendments focused predominantly on, one, ensuring that communities most affected were part of the consultation process, and two, fulfilling our duty to consult with indigenous peoples, as required under section 35 of the Constitution.

I would like to assure members of this chamber that our government takes both of these requirements very seriously. Engagement, consultations and consideration of socio-economic information and traditional knowledge are fundamental cornerstones to establishing marine protected areas and, indeed, for interim protection under this bill.

I commend the members of the other place for their commitment to these issues and for ensuring that their regions are well represented in the debate on Bill C-55.

We consult and collaborate with a wide range of governments and marine resource users as well as other stakeholders, experts and the public at various stages, including the following: at the outset, to select an area of interest; when gathering information needed about the ecological importance of a sensitive marine area, the socio-economic conditions related to the area and any current or planned activities that may be of concern; when identifying initial boundaries and conservation objectives for an area based on the best available science, including traditional and local knowledge and a risk analysis; and when developing a proposed regulatory approach and studying the benefits and costs of such an approach. There is also a 30-day public comment period when the regulations are pre-published in the Canada Gazette. We consult on an ongoing basis to provide input to the development of the management plan for an area, and of course, MPAs are collaboratively managed with local partners once designated. Furthermore, sections 29 to 33 of the current Oceans Act explicitly outline required consultations.

As pointed out by the sponsor of the bill in the other place, based on an analysis by Professor Nigel Bankes, from the University of Calgary, the change proposed by the member of the other place representing Nunavut is a piecemeal amendment that is counter to the spirit and intent of the proposed interim protection provision. It would only serve to slow down a process where the objective is to do quite the opposite, which is to provide early protection to areas on an interim basis and following the precautionary approach.

Senator Patterson’s amendment and, indeed, his explanation are based on the need to ensure that consultations take place. As I previously stated, sections 29 to 33 in the Oceans Act already provide for this, and all legislation must respect section 35 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, an amendment put forth by the member for Nunavut, which is based on a request from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and supported by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, was passed by the House committee and would ensure that all interim protection orders would be consistent with existing land claim agreements. Therefore, I respectfully suggest that the amendment from the member of the other place is unnecessary. As Professor Bankes stated, it would add requirements to establishing interim protections that are greater than what is required when establishing a permanent MPA and would curtail the application of the precautionary approach.

Professor Bankes writes:

since the amendment is only proposed to apply to the creation of MPAs by ministerial order and not to the process of creating an MPA by Order in Council and regulation, it will arguably be more difficult to use the ministerial order process than the MPA by regulation process.

I hope members will agree that this is neither logical nor consistent with the purpose of the bill. As the parliamentary secretary on this file, it is my view that we cannot continue to allow areas of ecological significance to go unprotected. This bill helps to achieve that without shortchanging consultations with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, coastal communities and stakeholders.

Many members will recall that in 2012, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development commented on the slow pace of establishing marine protected areas in Canadian waters. The report stated:

During the 20 years since Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 10 federal MPAs have been established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada as part of their marine protected area programs. Federal, provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations are collectively protecting about 1 percent of Canada's oceans and Great Lakes through MPAs. At the current rate of progress, it will take many decades for Canada to establish a fully functioning MPA network and achieve the target established in 2010 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve 10 percent of marine areas.

It is worth noting that we have come a long way over the past four years since our government took office in that we have increased our marine protected and coastal areas from less than 1% to over 8%.

However, the process continues to remain long and comprehensive. It still takes years to establish an MPA, but under Bill C-55, we have an opportunity to provide early protection for sensitive and ecologically significant areas that support the health of our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them.

The report by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development also identified the following factors that affected the rate of progress in creating MPAs: prolonged jurisdictional negotiations, including unresolved land claims; a poor understanding by Canadians of the environmental and socio-economic benefits of MPAs; delays in the approval process; lengthy legislative and regulatory processes; and the competing interests of stakeholders.

In terms of the latter point, I will refer to a letter submitted by the QIA, which represents over 15,000 Inuit, regarding the need to ensure that the interim designation process respects the rights of the Inuit. The letter expresses QIA's opposition to Senator Patterson's amendment.

President Akeeagok writes:

The further proposed amendment under consideration...would require the Minister to hold an additional public comment and consultation period before issuing an interim MPA order. We are concerned that this proposed amendment risks undermining the actualization of Inuit rights by conflating the requirement to uphold the rights of Inuit with a broader engagement with the interests of stakeholders. The current version of Bill C-55, sets out the appropriate hierarchy.

West Coast Environmental Law also spoke out against the amendment in its letter dated March 20, 2019. It states:

The proposed amendment would require the Minister to hold a public comment and consultation period before issuing an interim MPA order. We are concerned that this proposed amendment is redundant and, at worst, risks defeating the purpose of the interim MPA order.

Their letter also emphasizes that aboriginal rights and indigenous interests are, indeed, protected by the government’s constitutional obligations and the Oceans Act.

As mentioned earlier, I believe this amendment represents a piecemeal effort to improving consultations and, rather than adding value to the process, is redundant and only serves one single section of the bill.

As Professor Bankes put it:

The result of this amendment, if adopted, will be to create a stand-alone set of consultation provisions with respect to a single section and a single power within the statute. This is not a logical approach to address and improve the standard of consultation, nor an approach that will provide certainty with respect to consultation. It will simply beg more questions than it answers with respect to issues such as what the rules are (or should be) with respect to other powers within this same statute.

I would also like to speak to the redundancy of the amendment regarding the requirement to post the approximate geographical location of a proposed protected area on the DFO website and to make a preliminary assessment of any habitat or species in that area before making an order for interim protection. Let me explain some of the reasons this is redundant.

We already meet the requirement to clearly identify and provide public information on the proposed boundaries for an area to be protected as well as details on the area’s important ecological features, such as its habitat and species.

Developing and making this information available to the public is already required under the federal regulatory process, as outlined in the Statutory Instruments Act and the Cabinet Directive on Regulations.

Marine protected areas are a globally and scientifically proven way to protect marine biodiversity and preserve special marine features. They also help restore our natural capital for the benefit of future generations, supporting the long-term sustainable use of our marine resources and the economic benefits this protection provides. This in turn has a direct and positive impact on coastal communities which rely on healthy oceans.

In short, marine conservation is an essential and integral part of long-term economic planning and helps us better prepare for the impacts of climate change. However, all of this is a moot point if we do not have the right mechanisms in place to establish marine protected areas in a more timely fashion both when and where it is needed. It is simply not acceptable to wait seven to 10 years to protect ecologically sensitive areas in our ocean.

Climate change, global warming and ocean acidification mean that time is no longer on our side, which is why our government has gone to great lengths and held extensive consultations to amend the Oceans Act. I submit that the two amendments put forward by the other place, while right in their intent, will actually hinder the work that needs to be done to protect our marine and coastal areas.

As such, we respectfully reject the amendment by the Senate and propose that an amendment that we believe fulfills the intent of the Senate amendment is accepted. This will help us protect our oceans in a more timely manner while we continue to consult with Canadians, apply the precautionary approach and make scientifically informed decisions.

I trust we can move forward with these important measures that are designed to protect our oceans and coasts for the benefit of all Canadians.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is no surprise to me that the Liberal government will not accept any of the amendments from the Senate, because this is how it always goes. I am not sure why we delay bills by a year, sending them over to the other place, when we always do to not accept its amendments. It seems like a waste of time.

I want to talk about the part of the legislation that would give the government powers to declare areas of interest. In Sarnia—Lambton, we have a number of areas of interest that we have made huge progress in cleaning up and blue flag status is back for the waters, etc. However, under the government, it has consolidated us with the Niagara region and cut the funding so we are basically stalled with respect to the progress.

Why does the member think the bill will be good when the government can, without any evidence whatsoever, create new areas of interest when it has not addressed the ones that exist already?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, there are a couple of parts to that question. First, the amendments that were brought forward by the Senate were clearly well-intentioned. The result of those amendments is that the government has proposed an amendment that is consistent with the spirit of the Senate. The slur against the Senate that it is constantly bypassed by the government is not a fair one.

With respect to the identification of areas of interest, these are the subject of a rigorous process, a science and evidence-based process. Once an area of interest is identified, there is extensive opportunity for consultation before any step is taken subsequent to that. The indication that this is somehow arbitrary and immediate is disingenuous.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to put on the record that I will vote for Bill C-55, the Oceans Act, as it comes back to this place.

This is probably my only opportunity to say something I have been wanting to say for awhile, which is that we owe so much to the former minister of fisheries, the member for Parliament for Beauséjour. He worked hard to fix the Fisheries Act, Bill C-68, which I hope gets back to this place soon so we can pass it. I hope it passes in the Senate unamended.

We need Bill C-68 as quickly as possible. We need Bill C-55. Constituents have contacted me, asking me to vote for the Oceans Act, and I will.

However, I wanted to take a moment in the House to extend my best wishes and constant prayers for my friend, the member of Parliament for Beauséjour, the current Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade. I thank him for his work. I also thank the current Minister of Fisheries. This is important legislation and I am really pleased to see it have full support of the government.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, we, too, are very grateful to have someone of the calibre of the member for Beauséjour in our caucus and are fully aware of the substantial contributions he made while serving as the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian coast guard.

We share the anticipation of the hon. member with respect to the return of Bill C-68 to the House and the speedy passage of Bill C-55, and are grateful for her support in this regard.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for showing how the government is working with the Senate to enact amendments that are within the spirit of that. However, could he expand on what his constituents are saying?

Being from Prince Edward Island, clearly his constituents have a great stake in the protection of our oceans. Could he talk about what he is hearing back home?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, Canadians in general, and Prince Edward Islanders in particular, care about the health of our oceans. They care about biodiversity. They care about conservation.

Any and all measures we take to be a responsible, international partner with respect to marine protected areas and marine conservation targets are well received by a place like Prince Edward Island. Our very livelihood, our social fabric is inextricably intertwined with the health of our oceans. Therefore, this is important to Prince Edward Islanders, as it is to so many in coastal communities.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.

I am not an expert in these matters, but, like everyone else, I am very worried about global warming.

How can we even think of allowing oil and gas exploration in marine protected areas?

We would never dream of putting an oil well or a tar sands development in a national park. There is even talk of asking Alberta to slow production or clean up the process so it pollutes less. I think the whole idea is preposterous.

Why are we still talking about this?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As the hon. member knows, a group of experts made recommendations about rules governing marine protected areas. Those parts of marine protected areas already being used for exploration will not be counted toward the internationally recognized targets.

We are taking this seriously. It is very important to have a strong economy and a healthy environment. It is possible to strike a balance between the two, and that is very important to our government.

It is important to understand the rules governing marine protected areas.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary stated that the bill did not take shortcuts. That is absolutely and categorically not true. I have sat in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans since the beginning of this Parliament. In fact, before Bill C-55 was brought to the House, I put forward a motion in committee that we study the process of establishing MPAs in Canada to ensure the process was open, accountable and effective.

This bill would take some shortcuts. It would enable the minister, without consultation, to establish areas of interest, not marine protected areas but areas of interest, that would allow the minister to absolutely shut down these areas for any activity other than what may have been taking place in the last 12 months, without any consultation and without any accountability whatsoever.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to explain how that is not a shortcut.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, the act sets out, in significant detail, the consultations that are required at every step of the process. Under existing Oceans Act MPAs, there is no protection until there is full protection. The measures that are contained in the bill before the House, in the amendment before the House, set out the process for consultation to ensure there is interim protection during that five to seven years before a full MPA becomes established.

Therefore, this is not a shortcut; this is something that is done in the interests of conservation, in the interests of biodiversity and in full partnership with all stakeholders.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to these proposed amendments from the Senate and the government amendment to those amendments.

I believe all Canadians, myself included, want to see protection for the special areas and species we have in our marine systems, special features like sea mountains, hydrothermal vents, deep-sea gorges and the creatures and species that live in those places. They hold incredible examples of sea life, some of which I have seen as life-size replications at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia. Some of those species and replicas are so bizarre and unbelievable looking. They look like they are creatures out of a horror movie, but they live in some of the deep-sea gorges off our maritime coasts.

Those are certainly aspects that we need to consider protecting, but there are other aspects of the bill that have been equally or more concerning, and that is our coastal communities. Our country has been built on our fisheries. The cod fisheries off of Newfoundland certainly helped establish that great area of the country and then it became a part of this greater country in 1949. Fisheries on our west coast helped build the province of British Columbia into the strong province it is today. The fisheries continue to be a strong part of the economies there.

Over the past number of months, since the current government came into power, we continually have heard concerns from local communities, not just the fishermen in those communities but the businesses, the people, the schools and the churches, which all rely on the livelihoods of the people who make their living off the sea. We have seen protests in front of the minister's constituency office in the past week by people who are concerned about fisheries closures on the west coast. We saw protests on the east coast when the minister visited there. Lobster fishermen are concerned they will be shut out of areas due to marine protection. We have heard concerns from coast to coast to coast.

However, we did not see that kind of protest and concern in the north, and there was a reason for that. The marine protected areas there were proposed by the local communities, the local indigenous peoples and the local Inuit. They recognized the special features of the areas and the special cultural activities that took place in those areas.

We had an incredible opportunity as members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to do a study on the implementation process for marine protected areas in Canada. I put forward a motion in 2016 that the committee study the process to ensure it was efficient and equitable and that it considered all the processes in place, and possibly being put in place, to establish marine protected areas. I put forward that motion long before the government introduced Bill C-55. That particular study had to be set aside while we did the committee work on the study of Bill C-55. We integrated a lot of the testimony we heard both on the study put forward at committee and the committee study of Bill C-55.

In those processes, we saw the absolute importance of consultation in the process. That is the main thrust of the amendments put forward by the Senate, which are being watered down by the government amendment. The Senate looked at the bill and said there needed to be accountability, openness and transparency, which the government seems to lack. It has a record over the past three and a half years of a lack of accountability and transparency, which is very evident and clear to the Canadian public.

Bill C-55 was put forward with great intentions. It was meant to help the government achieve targets, targets that were set by the previous Conservative government, to achieve a 10% protection of our marine protected areas by 2020. We are getting very close to that, but it is because of the great work and the unequivocal consultation process that have taken place. Yes, sometimes it took five to seven years, or maybe 10 years, to establish a marine protected area, but the ones that have been put in place have been accepted by the local communities for reasons that they saw were important.

In fact, with the ones I talked about in the north, what the local communities up there saw as most important was to try to keep the outside world out of their cultural practices, the way they need to harvest beluga whales to maintain their way of life. It was interesting talking to one of the chiefs up there. He does some travel to represent his community, and he is an incredibly amazing fellow. He talked about how, when he comes to the southern parts of Canada for consultation meetings or meetings with the government, he has to move away from his traditional diet of muktuk, whale, and seal. He said that he could eat three hamburgers for dinner and still feel hungry, and it is not until he gets back home and has a feed of muktuk that he actually feels full and satisfied again. That part of life is so important up there.

That is why the creation of MPAs was put forward in the Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk areas of the Arctic coast. The communities saw the values, and the government agreed with those values. The government went through a strong consultation process of including those communities in deciding what the criteria should be, what areas should be protected and what the results for the local community would be as far as activities are concerned, such as what harvest would be allowed in those areas. Those are examples of what was taking place under the previous rules and the previous government: strong consultation, strong input and strong collaboration with the local communities.

I want to go back to the mention of the protests we have heard about. As the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, we travelled to all coasts of this great country. We started on the east coast, in the Maritimes, and travelled to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We talked to the people on the ground. They were all concerned for their communities, not because of closures but because of how the closures might be done. They wanted input. They know the local features and the local values of what is important.

After we finished touring the Maritimes, we toured the west coast and the north. We talked to fishermen on the west coast, and again, they wanted input. There was talk of closures of areas off the Pacific coast. There was one area that was referred to locally as “the kitchen”, because that was where the local fishermen went to catch the greatest portion of their total allowable catch for halibut. The halibut were there in such high numbers that the fishermen could go out safely in good weather, catch their quotas and come back. That area has been fished continuously for decades. It is highly productive and highly sustainable, and yet they feared it was being considered as a marine protected area. This would have meant that, rather than going out for just a short time in a highly productive area, they would have had to travel further distances to unknown territories, where the catch was uncertain, and possibly spend more days out there through more inclement weather, putting their crews, boats, livelihoods and lives at risk, all because they had not been consulted.

That is the continuous testimony that we heard, time and time again, both in the study that I put forward at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and in the committee's study on Bill C-55.

Again, all Canadians want to see the special areas protected, but they want to have some input on what those special areas are and how they are protected. They also want to know what is being protected. That was part of what was in the Senate amendment, that the areas and the habitat and species that were in those proposed areas be identified before the closures are put in place.

Going back to the way Bill C-55 is worded with regard to areas of interest, certainly the parliamentary secretary talked about MPAs, which would still have the full consultation process in place, but areas of interest would not. The full consultation process happens only after those areas of interest are established.

Areas of interest also include closures and restrictions, whether it is shipping restrictions, fishing restrictions, boating restrictions, bottom use, and oil and gas exploration and development. All of those restrictions can be in place almost instantly with an area of interest designation.

For the parliamentary secretary to say that there are no shortcuts being taken with Bill C-55 is absolutely preposterous.

The weeks, months and sometimes years required to make sure that the multiple, complex and intricately connected pieces of MPA puzzles are put together properly are so important. It is not something that can be rushed, just so we can meet an international goal, to be in the spotlight on the international stage. Canada has led the way in this in many ways. As I have said, we have almost reached the 10% target. We reached the 5% by 2017 quite comfortably by identifying other protective measures that come into place that actually protect the features of an area.

Rockfish closures off the coast of B.C. were put in place long ago, because those areas were recognized as special spawning and rearing habitat for the core values of those populations. By allowing those rockfish closure areas to be established and reducing the amount of harvest in those key productive areas, the spill-off from those areas goes into many other areas of the ocean around the area, allowing other fisheries to continue outside of those local areas. Those are the types of things that really work.

What we have seen from the government is empty consultation, time and time again. Last year, we saw examples of how it had consulted for weeks and months, I believe, on the snow crab closures off the Atlantic coast. It established a process working with the crab fishermen to determine when the openings would take place, all in the aspect of protecting the right whale from the entanglements that were taking place. Nobody wants to see any of those deaths occurring from fishing ropes or from equipment that is in the water. Those measures were strongly valued and respected, because consultation took place.

At the same time, lobster fishermen had not been consulted. They had closures slapped on them with no notice. Basically, they were ready to go out on the water and set their traps, and they were told no, there are closures. They were frustrated by the lack of consultation by the government, by the fisheries minister and by his staff.

As recently as last year, we saw fisheries closures on the west coast to protect the southern resident killer whales. That is something we all value. We see the world value in protecting that population of southern resident killer whales.

There was strong consultation supposedly taking place with the fishing communities on the south coast of B.C., on Vancouver Island, and input supposedly being received by the department staff on where the proposed closures should be, on what time frame those closures should be and on the type of gear restrictions. All of that process seemed to be working, but then, when the fishing season was upon us, lo and behold, the fisheries minister announced totally different closures, totally different boundaries, focusing fishing pressure in a small area. Rather than spreading out the fishermen and their access over a slightly larger area, which had been proposed by the fishermen, all of a sudden everyone was constrained in a very tight area, and all the fish were coming past that very tight area.

In fact, I had the opportunity to be out there and experience this. The person I went out with said that we were lucky to be there after a long weekend. When we were there, there were about 25 or 30 boats all hemmed up against an invisible line in the ocean, drawn by the fisheries minister to protect the area north of it. There were the boats, side by side, all crammed into one small area, rather than being dispersed throughout a much broader area. However, on that day, there were only 25 to 30 boats. Apparently, on the long weekend prior to that, there were 200 boats in that same area. I cannot imagine the impact that this type of concentrated pressure would have. I have seen this in my work with fish and wildlife management. I have seen fishing and hunting pressure, shortened seasons, condensed pressure into shorter and shorter time periods. Instead of dispersing it over wider areas, it has been concentrated into a very short time frame, making the harvest that much higher. The concentration in that short period of time is so intense that it is just not workable.

We do not want to see that with marine protected areas, just to meet a target number for areas that need to be covered to meet international and not necessarily Canadian standards. Again, as I mentioned, the government seems to be in a big rush to get the spotlight on the world stage by meeting these targets by a set deadline, rather than doing it through a consultative and considered way with local communities that have a desire to meet those standards. The cases of conservation that I have talked about, the compression of seasons and the compression of areas, the intense pressure, are simply not good for fisheries or wildlife management or for the protection of our areas.

I want to get back to why the Senate brought this amendment back to the House. I credit the Senate for taking the time to study this, to see the potential risks that were there and to actually try to hold the government to accountability standards, which the parliamentary secretary seems to claim is redundant. Well, redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. Redundancy can actually be a good thing. We see it in safety mechanisms all over the world. Redundancy means accountability and safety: safety for our communities that rely on our fisheries and access to the oceans, safety for shipping lanes that may need to go through or near an area, safety for the future economy of the country.

I cannot let the government go sliding through with this amendment it wants to put forward and really water down the Senate amendment.

There were a series of recommendations out of the parliamentary study that I put forward at the fisheries committee.

Recommendation 1 states:

That, when identifying new areas of interest for marine protected areas, the Government of Canada evaluate net economic and social values and responsibilities, including cost of patrol and enforcement in Canada, particularly for remote marine areas.

While some of this is in the bill, very much of it is left to regulations that will come out of the bill. We had big concerns with how some of these marine protected areas are going to be patrolled. That was another part of the consultation process we heard in the communities. The communities felt that often the fishermen or local guardians might be best suited to do the patrols and enforcement of those areas. Local lobster and crab fishermen might be best able to identify that a boat does not belong out there and question why it is there. They could be the reporting mechanism for that and could move it forward to the proper authorities for investigation and possibly enforcement.

Recommendation 2 of the report states:

That areas of interest and marine protected areas not be considered in isolation from sustainable fishery management practices.

That really gets back to the rockfish closure areas that I was referring to on the west coast. Those rockfish closures are considered a protective measure to increase the actual square kilometres of areas that are considered protected under the targets of 5% and 10%.

Recommendation 3 states:

That the Government of Canada acknowledge any negative impacts on people who directly depend on the resources of a marine protected area and the Minister use his or her discretionary powers to consider providing offsetting measures in consultation with the fishing industry where loss or harm is proven.

Again, the strong consultation piece is what is measured here. The consultation piece is what is missing in Bill C-55 and what the Senate is trying to put back in through its Senate amendment. Because of that, I am going to be suggesting that we oppose the government's amendment and approve the Senate amendment, because the Senate amendment will place much more accountability on the government.

Recommendation 4 from the standing committee's report states that the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard should table an annual report to Parliament that includes a list of Oceans Act marine protected areas designated during that year and information on whether or not each established marine protected area is meeting its conservation objectives.

That has been one area where we have consistently seen the minister's department fail time and time again. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development has issued a couple of reports over the past year and a half, very damning reports, against the fisheries minister's department. One came out last fall, I believe it was, showing there is a very low level of accountability within the department.

In fact, one of the things in a previous report from the commissioner, dating back over a year ago, was that when the department was audited on whether it had established integrated fisheries management plans for 155 major fish stocks in Canada, which it had committed to do in 1995, it was found that in 2005, 10 years later, the department had only recommitted to developing those integrated fisheries management plans.

The report that came out in, I believe, 2016, which was 10 years after the second commitment and 20 years after the first commitment, identified that the department had still not updated a large number of the integrated fisheries management plans. This was simply to develop integrated fisheries management plans for 155 fish stocks in Canada.

The department's response to the audit showing that it had failed time and time again was to develop a plan to develop those plans. It is absolutely unbelievable. The department failed to develop a plan after committing twice to do so, but it has committed to developing a plan to develop those plans. That is the type of unbelievable accountability that has happened under this fisheries minister and under this government time and time again.

Madam Speaker, I see we are getting close to question period. Do I have a couple of minutes left?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have time after question period to continue.

Flooding in the OutaouaisStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Madam Speaker, the flood crisis is far from over in the Outaouais. Water levels are rising once again in Mansfield, Fort-Coulonge, Waltham, Campbell's Bay, L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, Pontiac and the list goes on. The situation is critical in some areas, where water levels are expected to rise 10 inches higher than last week. In preparation for the second deluge, Canadian Armed Forces personnel are being redirected to western Pontiac. We appreciate this support from our troops.

Our thoughts go to all of those people who are affected by this disaster who must once again leave their homes, rebuild their sandbag walls and prepare for the worst.

While the crisis is not over, the issue of compensation is on everyone's mind. Our government has been proactive on this issue by granting $2.5 million to the Red Cross to help disaster victims and by announcing yesterday that the government will provide early financial assistance via an advance payment to the provinces. As well, our government is committed to contributing financially to the cleaning up of affected areas.

Bobcaygeon Awards of ExcellenceStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, the Bobcaygeon and Area Chamber of Commerce recently held its Starlight Celebration gala, where awards of excellence were presented. The chamber, which has proudly been serving Bobcaygeon, my hometown, and the surrounding area since 1977, understands that small business is the heartbeat of the community.

I would like to congratulate all 36 award nominees and recipients, including Maureen Lytle of Kawartha Settlers' Village for the employee achievement award, Debra-Claire Kemp of Kawartha Mediums/Zen Den for new business achievements, the Bobcaygeon Curling Club for the not-for-profit award, Kawartha Settlers' Village for the tourism achievement award, Douglas and Son for the business achievement award, Shawna Love Leigh of Studio 358 for the creative arts achievement award and Shaukat Mohamed for the citizen of the year award.

Finally, I send a special thanks to all the sponsors, staff and board of directors, as well as the president, Donna Wood, and office manager Christine Whelan for organizing such a memorable evening.

Mathieu Froment-SavoieStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, on April 3, 1991, a resident of my riding passed away. His name was Mathieu Froment-Savoie, and he was the son of Ghislain and Pierrette. He was extremely talented, but above all tenacious and courageous. Mathieu had terminal cancer.

Life is not always easy. We must persevere, as Mathieu did and as his parents did following his death. Founded in 1999 and now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Maison Mathieu Froment Savoie provides high-quality palliative care services to people at the end of their lives. The centre really focuses on the well-being of the patients and their loved ones, easing their suffering with respect, dignity and compassion as they go through this important stage of life.

Mathieu, we will never forget you. To Ghislain and Pierrette, who are here with us today, thank you.

Seniors' ConcernsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, in April I visited seniors residences in my riding, and I want to thank the folks at Riversdale House, St. George's, Kiwanis Manor, King Edward Place, Harry Landa Court, Shepherd Apartments, McNaughton Place and the McAskill Manor for their warm hospitality and great conversations. I learned a lot.

Unfortunately, the most common theme was that the benefits received when people turn 65 do not cover their basic needs. Every day these folks are making tough decisions between enough food—never mind healthy food—and life-saving medications.

For seniors living in affordable housing, any increase in their pension, like the cost of living increase in their guaranteed income supplement or OAS, means their rent goes up.

The Liberal government needs to better understand that its policies heralded as help for seniors living on low incomes are not really helping make life more affordable. Seniors in my riding were very clear on what would make life affordable when living on a pension: universal, free prescription drug coverage. Pharmacare is the help they need and want now.

Flooding in Ottawa West—NepeanStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, the last few weeks have been emotional and difficult for communities along the Ottawa River. Two record-breaking floods have occurred now in three years in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean. The communities of Britannia, Belltown, Crystal Bay, Rocky Point, Lakeview and many others have been battling historic rising water levels that are threatening our homes.

In trying times like these, I was proud to witness the strength and power of people coming together to support our community, the thousands of volunteers who worked tirelessly filling 1.5 million sandbags across the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

To the community volunteers; to the NGOs, such as the Ottawa Volunteer Search and Rescue, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross; to the first responders; to local businesses; to Canadian Army personnel in Operation Lentus, especially 2 Combat Engineer Regiment—on behalf of all of us in this chamber, we give thanks for their hard work and dedication to our community.

National Nursing WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, as the shadow minister of health, I am pleased to celebrate National Nursing Week. The theme for 2019 is “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health for All”. This is appropriate, given the leadership of over 421,000 nurses on the front lines of our health care system across Canada. Each and every day, they deliver compassionate, professional care to their patients.

I know this very well because my daughter is a nurse who has worked in intensive care, home care, palliative care, cardiac care and the emergency department. She and the many nurses like her across our nation endure difficult working conditions, violence from patients and they still deliver excellent care.

With our aging population, we will need many more nurses to join the profession and bring their innovations.

On behalf of Her Majesty's opposition, we commend all nurses for their contribution to our nation. I thank them for their service.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Madam Speaker, as residents of a coastal community, we live on the front lines of the battle against climate change in Saint John—Rothesay.

I would like the incredible young leaders from Saint John High School, St. Malachy’s Memorial High School, Harbour View High School, Simonds High School and Rothesay High School, who demonstrated last week to call upon their elected representatives to take concrete action to tackle climate change, to know this. I rise today on this “Fridays for Future” to stand in solidarity with them by standing in support of our federal government's plan to tackle climate change.

Our government's plan is the most ambitious federal government climate change plan in Canadian history. The incredible young leaders in Saint John—Rothesay, who took to the streets to demand climate action, deserve a member of Parliament who will stand up for them in this place by standing up for such ambitious climate action.

Prince Edward IslandStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, yesterday, in his hometown of Georgetown, P.E.I., Dennis King was sworn in as the 33rd premier of P.E.I., along with his cabinet.

I rise to offer my congratulations to Premier King and his government. He has vowed to take a collaborative approach in his dealings with other parties and levels of government, and I stand ready to work with him to advance the interests of islanders.

I also ask the House to join me in thanking Wade Maclauchlan for his service to our province. He has balanced the books and achieved remarkable success in employment, economic and population growth.

After a distinguished career in academia, he took on what he referred to as his “retirement project”; the premiership of the province he loved. His incredible intellect, photographic memory and a killer work ethic have served islanders well. He left the place better than he found it. He poured his heart and soul into public service, and for that I offer gratitude and respect.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Scot Davidson Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker. the residents of York-Simcoe went to the polls just three months ago to elect me as their member of Parliament. However, most cannot wait for the opportunity to vote again this fall, and I do not blame them. The people of York—Simcoe are tired of the Liberal government's record of broken promises, ethical scandals, economic failures and foreign policy blunders.

The Prime Minister promised sunny ways in 2015 with a new approach of honesty and responsibility. However, the reality now faced by ordinary Canadians is high taxes, out-of-control spending and a government out of touch with the struggles of everyday families, seniors and students. This is especially apparent to the residents of York—Simcoe and other communities in rural Canada, who find themselves on the outside looking in, as the Prime Minister attacks them and their way of life.

Canadians across the country will have an opportunity to change all of that in the upcoming election. Until then, it is clear that the Prime Minister is not as advertised.

Vaudreuil—SoulangesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Peter Schiefke Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, volunteers are the backbone of our communities. These ordinary women and men do extraordinary things. Not only are these people helping their fellow Canadians, but they are also building better communities for everyone.

Today, I want to take a moment to recognize members of my community who improve the lives of others, one selfless act at a time. These are local heroes, such as the hundreds of volunteers giving their time at the Hudson palliative care centre or the ones helping out community members in need through organizations like the scouts, the guides, the cadets, Nova Hudson, L'Actuel, Moisson Sud-Ouest, les maisons des jeunes and Le Pont Bridging. It is also our farmers, business owners and neighbours, young and old, who more recently helped prepare meals and filled up sandbags for neighbours whose lives had been touched and impacted by this year's historic floods.

On behalf of the House, I thank all volunteers whose service and generosity make our communities and our country better.

First RespondersStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize the vital work that first responders do to protect and serve our communities. Each day, they bravely put their lives on the line to ensure we can live with peace of mind.

This weekend in my riding there are two great events.

The first event is a carwash at the Gordon R. Snow Community Centre, hosted by volunteer firefighters from stations in Fall River, Wellington and Waverley. All proceeds of the carwash will go toward Camp Courage. This camp introduces young women to the demands of being a first responder and encourages them to pursue a career as first responders.

The second event is an emergency preparedness jamboree in Porters Lake. The annual jamboree is a community awareness project that can help prepare residents and their families for any type of emergency.

I would personally like to thank all first responders for their tireless work for our communities.