moved that Bill C-222, An Act to recognize and protect Canada’s hunting, trapping and fishing heritage, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a great honour to rise this evening to speak to Bill C-222. There is no question that this is a heritage bill. Bill C-222 is an act to recognize and protect Canada's hunting, trapping and fishing heritage. I will be brief so that we can hear from as many members of the House as possible.
Canada prides itself on Canadian heritage. We are proud of our culture, our history and our roots. From a historical perspective, hunting and fishing have always been part of aboriginal life in Canada, going back to before the arrival of the European settlers. This right is protected in the Constitution of Canada. In no way does Bill C-222 affect their charter rights.
The first settlers relied on hunting, fishing and trapping for their survival. For over 300 years since their arrival Canadians have enjoyed the practice of hunting, fishing and trapping and continue to do so to this very day. Millions of Canadians fish and hunt. Most of us either are involved in those activities ourselves or we know someone who is involved, our neighbours, our families, our friends. That is why those activities should continue to be heritage activities.
Today hunting, fishing and trapping contribute over $5 billion to our economy annually. There is no doubt that hunting, fishing and trapping are part of Canada's heritage and history.
The intent of Bill C-222 is to make a statement about hunting, fishing and trapping, to acknowledge their history and to protect their future as legitimate activities. That is the bill's main purpose, to acknowledge their history from cultural, historic and heritage perspectives, and also to protect their future as legitimate activities.
There are three clauses in the bill. It is a very short bill. I know that clause 3 intrudes into provincial jurisdiction. That is why I would recommend that we remove that particular clause from Bill C-222.
British Columbia, Ontario and a number of other provinces have legislation in place for the protection of hunting, fishing and trapping. The House of Commons needs to follow the same road that some provinces have already done so.
I would recommend to the committee that clauses 1, 2 and 3 be replaced by one clause: That a person has a right to hunt, fish and trap in accordance with the law. I say again, that it is to be in accordance with the law. This right is conditional; it is not absolute. That is the key difference. That same clause is actually found in the B.C. legislation.
The easiest way to succeed is to keep this bill very simple and to make Bill C-222 a one-line bill. Bill C-222 has very broad support across the country. Literally millions of Canadians would like to see the bill succeed. This bill is supported in principle by the all-party outdoor caucus, which is made up of members from all sides of this House.
I look forward to hearing from other members of the House.