Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fish.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fisheries and Oceans March 22nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for St. John's West must agree with us that there is absolutely no question of hiding anything whatsoever. Moreover, the department has very clearly demonstrated this with the appearance before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans by Pat Chamut, the ADM responsible for NAFO negotiations, who gave a progress report on the negotiations. As well, there was yesterday's courageous decision by the minister to no longer allow ships from the Faeroe Islands access to Canadian ports.

However, as far as the specific request from the newspaper is concerned, we are in the process of assessing the situation, because the information requested is of course connected with international negotiations and we are going—

Fisheries March 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, first off, obviously I would like to thank the member for St. John's West for having raised this issue in the House of Commons, an issue that has been studied at great length by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

I would also like to highlight the excellent contributions make by all of the members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, who have worked together very effectively, members of all parties. What is important for us, our common objective, is to work hard to ensure that maritime communities are able to live off fish resources adequately and properly.

I would also like to add that, as a member from Quebec, often when we talk about the fishery, people wonder what we are talking about, because in Quebec, the fishery is not seen as an important part of economic activity. What is important to highlight—and this is very important—is that for the maritime communities in Quebec that survive on the fishery, the economic situation for them is as bad as it is for communities in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island.

Accordingly, even though the fishery makes up a relatively modest portion of the entire economy of Quebec, for those communities, it is a very important element of economic development.

As a maritime country, Canada has always been particularly interested in the oceans and their resources. The fishery has long held a significant place in the lives of Canadians, from historical, economic and cultural perspectives.

We understand perfectly well that adequate conservation measures and proper management play a critical role in maintaining the viability of fish resources in our oceans.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the minister for his very effective and very prompt action regarding the situation, particularly beyond the 200 mile limit. As my colleague, the member for St. John's West said, all of the stakeholders in the fishery across the country welcomed the appointment of the new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. So it is a great pleasure to work with the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Government of Canada regards overfishing to be a serious problem. That is why we have given our full support to the United Nations agreement on straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, also known as the United Nations Fisheries Agreement.

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which took effect in November 1994, gives coastal states exclusive sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the fisheries within a zone extending 200 nautical miles from their shores.

It does not, however, address the rights these states have over straddling fish stocks and highly migratory deep sea species.

Hence the importance of the action we are taking. If we as a country are taken steps within our 200 mile limit to have highly efficient conservation measures—which is not always easy, given the economic situation of our communities—it is important for countries fishing outside our limits to respect international conventions, for the very purpose of preserving this resource, which is so vital to the development of our communities.

For example, some of the straddling species, such as cod, dab and halibut, move about within and beyond the east coast fishing zones, that is beyond the 200 mile limit, as well as the adjacent offshore waters. The highly migratory species such as swordfish and tuna move about the high seas and the exclusive economic zones of the coastal states.

The United Nations Fisheries Agreement helps remedy some of these shortcomings. It was adopted in August 1995 by a United Nations Organization conference. Canada signed it on December 4, 1995 and ratified it on August 3, 1999. It took effect on December 11, 2001, after ratification by the 30th country on November 11, 2001. This represented a major step in international co-operation as far as the high seas were concerned, an objective of considerable importance to Canada for a long time.

As hon. members are aware, Canada played a lead role in the ratification of this agreement on the international level, and the contribution of all of the fisheries ministers who participated very actively in the adoption of this agreement needs to be recognized.

The agreement establishes guiding principles for the sustainable management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, such as the precautionary approach and the minimization of pollution, waste, discards and bycatch.

It also sets out serious obligations for flag states to respect and contains provisions regarding the oversight and application of fisheries measures established by regional fisheries organizations in order to ensure compliance. In addition, a dispute settlement mechanism contained in the agreement provides for the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the high seas.

What does this mean in the world? It means that regulations are now in place, that regional organizations can effectively take action to prevent overfishing, that in the case of fishing at levels which would not ensure sustainability and when disputes arise between countries, there is a dispute settlement mechanism available.

The principles of the agreement are principles very much after our own hearts, principles such as conservation and the precautionary approach.

This is why we were very proud of our active participation in its development. We played a key role in the negotiations leading to the adoption and entry into force of the United Nations Fisheries Agreement. We were proud to be among the first countries to sign this agreement in 1995. Since then, many other countries have ratified it as well: the United States, Russia, Norway, Iceland, Brazil and Australia.

Canada has never shirked its responsibilities as a leader in the international management of fish. In fact, the Government of Canada took its commitment towards the UNFA very seriously. It tried to incorporate these principles into its legislation and its policies, as well as within regional fisheries organizations such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.

It is all very fine and well that we enforce these rules in our country, but it is also important that they be respected by other member countries and signatories to this agreement.

We just saw how important this is. During the inspection of a Russian ship, the Olga , officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans found 49 tons of cod and nine tons of ray on board. The fish had been taken outside Canada's 200 mile limit. Such activity violates the moratorium imposed on all stocks of cod in NAFO's regulatory area. We continue to closely monitor this situation. However, the case of the Olga clearly illustrates the importance of implementing the principles of the UN agreement on fisheries in all regional fishing organizations.

Above all, Canada has worked hard to get the message through. Over the years, we has assumed a leading role in promoting that agreement around the world.

Whenever we had the opportunity, we explained that the UN agreement on fisheries is a giant step toward the effective management of international fish stocks. This agreement will have a truly positive impact on all the nations that rely on sound and abundant fisheries.

The message has been heard. In December, following its ratification in Malta, the UN agreement on straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks officially came into effect. This was a great victory for all maritime nations, and a giant step toward the effective management of the world's fish stocks. Canadians can be proud of this major achievement.

The agreement gives the countries of the world the means to manage fishery resources in a sound fashion, and to protect them offshore. It is a perfect example of the commitment made by Canada and the countries of the world to promote responsible fishing practices, and to ensure the establishment of strong and sustainable world fisheries, now and in the years to come.

In conclusion, Canada will pursue its efforts to convince the states that have yet to ratify the agreement to do so at the earliest opportunity. We will continue to put pressure to ensure the full and effective implementation of the UN agreement on fisheries.

Finally, I applaud the very quick action taken by the minister to ensure that this agreement is respected by all the countries that depend on fishing.

Fisheries February 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the member is referring to a case which is before the courts. I think that it is entirely normal and prudent at this time not to answer the question directly. Let us wait and see what the outcome is.

Fisheries February 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue which has been raised relatively recently. As the member is aware, the new minister has just been appointed. He will look at all aspects of the issue and, in due course, be in a position to reply.

Marine Safety February 8th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

As you know, the coast guard contributes to the marine safety of Canada through its monitoring activities, which it carries out in concert with Transport Canada.

I am very pleased to inform the House that following the Minister of Finance's last budget, $3 million will be added for air surveillance, $5 million for leading edge equipment for Canadian vessel traffic services and an additional $7 million for Coast Guard activities, a grand total of $15 million in additional spending to make our marine borders safer in Canada.

Coast Guard October 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is well aware, the decision taken by our government is to ensure that, in light of the present situation, vessels notify us 96 hours prior to arrival in Canadian waters instead of 24.

The same thing applies to the 96 hour notice as when it was 24. The coast guard works in close collaboration with Customs Canada, Transport Canada and the U.S. coast guard to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

Aboriginal Affairs October 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his good question.

We were very pleased to see that this year the situation in Burnt Church improved a lot.

As we know, fishing in Burnt Church has always been a relatively sensitive issue. This year, the permit for subsistence fishing that was delivered to that community allowed it to catch lobster, mostly, while complying with the regulations and the act.

However, there is still a lot of work to do, because we must reach a long term agreement with Burnt Church. We will work very hard during the winter to reach such an agreement with this aboriginal community.

Regional Development April 30th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges Canada will be facing in the 21st century will be to ensure the economic development of all its regions. Our young people are the future of our regions.

What action does the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada plan to take to stem the exodus of our young people from the regions?

Fishing Ports April 4th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform hon. members and Canadians of a major federal investment in the Gaspé region.

An amount of $1.8 million will be invested in maintenance dredging operations and other works in fishing ports of the Gaspé. These ports include those of Cap-Chat, Bonaventure Island, l'Anse-à-Beaufils, l'Anse-à-Brillant, les Méchins, Port-Daniel Est, Saint-Godefroi and Tourelles.

The importance of ports for fishers and local communities is obvious. I am convinced that these improvements will prove beneficial.

Such an investment shows that the federal government cares about the regions of Quebec. Maintaining safe and viable ports in the Gaspé will create new economic opportunities.

This shows once again that federal initiatives meet the needs of the people of the Gaspé and of the other regions of Quebec.

Regional Economic Development February 14th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, on February 5, the Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada announced that our government will be investing in 11 projects in Gaspé and Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

This injection of close to $2 million in the regional economy will result in overall investments of some $7 million. In addition, our government's action will make it possible to create and maintain some one hundred jobs in Gaspé and the Islands.

These contributions are a concrete example of our government's commitment to the people of Gaspé and Îles-de—la-Madeleine. They are a clear illustration of our desire to provide the proper support for economic recovery in these regions.