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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was concerned.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Independent MP for Nanaimo—Alberni (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Reproductive Technologies March 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is apparent that the minister does not understand the question.

It now appears that each big budget Genome centre is to do its own research into ethics, environment, legal and social concerns. It sounds a lot like appointing an ethics counsellor to oversee the Prime Minister and his government without providing any rules.

Why has the government reneged on its longstanding promise to provide a regulatory framework for genetic research?

Reproductive Technologies March 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Society of Canada report in January warned about an inherent conflict of interest caused by giving regulatory agencies a mandate to both promote and regulate genetic research.

Regulations have been promised ever since the royal commission on reproductive technologies was tabled in 1993. Why is the minister committing large dollars to establish Genome centres before adequate safeguards or guidelines are in place?

Tax On Tools February 28th, 2001

Madam Speaker, last week I directed a question to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans regarding the Canadian coast guard search and rescue dive team based on the west coast, on Sea Island. The question was this: why has the minister disbanded this dive team?

The Canadian coast guard dive team at Sea Island was founded as a pilot project in 1995. Previous to this, between 1985 and 1995, there were 36 deaths, at least 13 of which, it is suggested, could have been prevented had there been divers present. The coast guard dive team was operating on a Hovercraft out of the Sea Island base.

In a letter I received from the minister, the reasons put forward for disbanding the program were that there was risk to the divers and a minimal gain. While the letter was in transit, a tragedy did occur on the west coast. A car driven by Mr. Paul Sandhu went over a dike and ended up in the Fraser River. Tragically, Mr. Sandhu died in that accident.

There have been three reasons put forward as to why the dive team was disbanded. The safety of divers was one issue. Second, there was the issue of the need for a dive team. Third, there was a question of jurisdiction. Exactly whose responsibility is it for search and rescue dive capability on the west coast?

According to the minister, it is not the coast guard's responsibility. If it is not the coast guard's responsibility, then whose is it?

The Richmond Review published an article on this just recently. According to an interview with Vice-Admiral Ronald Buck, commander of maritime forces in the Pacific region, he said that it is not the department's mandate to respond to these types of emergencies, although it will respond when it is ordered to.

The Department of National Defence has bases in Esquimalt and Comox, but both are quite a bit removed from the Sea Island area where there is such heavy marine and air traffic exposed to considerable risks.

If it is not the responsibility of the Department of National Defence, then perhaps it is the RCMP's responsibility. The RCMP also has a dive team, but when contacted, RCMP Sergeant Dennis Erickson, program manager for the E division underwater recovery team, said that his squad is not set up as a rescue team although it will respond to distress calls. It is not the RCMP's mandate to perform underwater rescues.

In the tragic incident involving Mr. Sandhu, the RCMP divers arrived at the scene of the accident about 35 minutes after they were alerted. The hovercraft based team was there within three minutes of being notified.

The question of jurisdiction comes back to this: why was this team disbanded? Looking at the other two issues, that is, safety of the divers and need, I alluded to a report that said in the 10 years previous to when the dive team was originally operating, there were 36 incidents, 13 of which might have resulted in lives being saved.

There is no other site in B.C. and probably in Canada with a combination of search and rescue influences like the lower Georgia strait and the Fraser River. The factors include heavy year round traffic, a demonstrated high frequency of capsized vehicle incidents, close proximity to a busy year round port, and a major urban centre. All this is in proximity to an existing 24 hour a day crewed high speed vessel platform, with personnel who are very well trained.

The minister said he would be taking several weeks to review the issue. Will he commit to table in the House the parameters of the review, indicating the deadline that he has issued to his department for the review?

Coast Guard February 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, on Friday I asked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans a question about the disbanding of the Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue divers. Tragically on Sunday Paul Sandhu died when his car jumped a dike and landed in the Fraser River.

The search and rescue hovercraft was there within three minutes. Divers could have attempted a rescue but they were not allowed to bring their diving gear due to the minister's order. They were forced to stand by as firefighters pulled the vehicle from the water.

Will the minister explain to the House how he could justify this bureaucratic decision that has already resulted in one lost life?

Fish Farming February 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, before I respond to the hon. member's motion, as this is my first time speaking in the House I would like to thank the citizens of Nanaimo—Alberni for the trust they have given me to represent their interests in the House. As I begin my career in serving them I pray that I will honour that trust. I thank my campaign manager and the wonderful team that worked hard to ensure our success during the election. I also thank my wife Helen for her love, constant support and encouragement.

Mr. Speaker, if you will permit me a small personal digression, I would like to pay tribute to my late father, Albert Lunney, who passed away during the election campaign on October 24. I know that there are a number of hon. members who have followed their fathers' footsteps into the House and I congratulate them. On his deathbed my father told me that he had bought a pair of shoes a number of years back and he liked them so much that he bought a second pair. He had never been able to wear out the first pair, so he wanted me to have the second pair. To my surprise, they fit me. When I visited him in the hospital the next morning, although he was unable to lift his head from his bed I could see the pleasure on his face when I whispered to him “Dad, I am going to wear your shoes in the House of Commons on my first day”.

It gives me great pleasure to have fulfilled that pledge the day we first assembled in the House for the 37th parliament, the same day the Speaker was elected and, Mr. Speaker, you yourself were appointed. I congratulate you also. It is a day that I and many of us will never forget.

I have one final word and then I will turn to the matter of debate. One of the things I learned from my dad was a love for truth. My dad used to say that truth is stranger than fiction. It is my hope that during the 37th parliament members of both sides of the House will be known for a passion for truth and for service to the people who have elected us to this House.

Turning to the matter of debate, Motion No. 119 reads:

That in the opinion of the House, the government should undertake a study of the issues posed by the fish-farming industry, with particular regard to ecosystem health.

I am pleased to address this issue because it is one of particular significance, study, opinion and debate in my own constituency of Nanaimo—Alberni. Aquaculture in B.C. began in the early 1900s, with shellfish, oysters, clams and mussels. Farmed salmon were introduced in the early 1970s and have quickly become the leading product in the industry. The B.C. coastal area currently employs about 2,400 people and produces product worth about $200 million Canadian.

Aquaculture shares elements of concern with all elements of agricultural activity. Indeed, all human activities leave a footprint of some kind on the environment. It falls to us as good stewards of the environment to consider the short term and long term impacts of that footprint and to make sure our practices are balanced so that our needs of food production and the growing demands of humanity for food are balanced with the environmental concerns to protect unpredictable wild stock and natural resources. We must ensure that we employ best science practices to balance these potentially competing concerns.

That said, we know that extensive studies have been and continue to be done. The minister announced last August, just in time for the election, a commitment of about $75 million over the next five years for sustainable and environmentally sound aquaculture. I understand that included about $32.5 million for science and research.

I know that we have an aquaculture commissioner's office now, with a $2 million budget, and we have had travel to both coasts by the fisheries and oceans committee to look into the issue. Ongoing studies are continuing. We might wonder in this request in Motion No. 119 whether we are asking for funds for a study to study what the government is already studying and spending.

Referring to the Commons debate on the issue in the 36th parliament, I quote my colleague for Vancouver Island North, who stated:

The creation of a big budget aquaculture commission in Ottawa is not the answer. What is needed is a clear progressive mandate and budget for more biologists to vet project proposals. The committee heard from private investors who either had already or were prepared to invest their money in labour intensive aquaculture only to see their hopes and dreams dashed on the bureaucratic rocks.

The frustration of many in the industry has resulted in a brain drain coupled with capital shift as many highly skilled and experienced personnel from B.C. are increasingly leaving for countries such as Chile, Norway and Asia. Indeed, on my last flight home to Vancouver Island I spent considerable time in conversation with one such individual returning from Chile to his home in Nanaimo.

Many genuine and serious concerns about protection and wild stocks and the environment have been advanced. We have heard them articulated very well this morning by the hon. member in his motion. The concerns include, as he mentioned: escapement, the potential for escaped salmon to interbreed; disease; sea floor contamination; bioactive chemicals; and potential nutrification of the sea floor. Also, there are economic concerns on the west coast as commercial fishermen see their market undercut by low priced farm fish.

All of these are legitimate concerns and are worthy of scientific and public scrutiny. These issues have been studied, are being studied and no doubt will continue to be studied. I will say that intense scrutiny and study has brought about some changes, at least on the west coast where our provincial government has put in rather extensive controls. There was a moratorium on expanding fish farms a few years ago and to my knowledge it has not yet been lifted.

There have been improvements. The early farms involved shallow water which was sheltered. That of course led to real problems with disease and to sea floor problems. All farms now have to be in deeper water where there is a greater flush. That has reduced the problem of disease, at least in our end of the world, and the sea floor problems.

I understand that treatment is also expensive. Treatment has to be prescribed by a veterinarian and that adds to the cost of the feed. That in itself encourages good farming practices. Science has contributed to safety.

Predators do attack the nets. Auxiliary nets are now being used to keep them away.

A recent advance is the use of cameras to control feeding so that when feeding slows the dispensing of food also slows and reduces the sea floor pollution.

Although we have had escapes of Atlantic salmon and there are anecdotal stories of salmon in our coastal streams, there is no indication they have been successful at spawning or crossbreeding.

Many of the concerns originally advanced have been addressed by good science applications. A whole new area of concern is the attempt to develop genetically modified fish. The report of the Royal Society of Canada which was recently presented calls for an intense protocol of scientific screening before any GM organism is released into the environment. This principle should rightly be upheld in Canadian waters.

On the other side of the coin, I know that in our environment the fish farmers often come under criticism for being found in pristine areas where boaters or kayakers do not expect to find them when they are seeking solitude. However, occasionally these people have also been involved in rescue and in harbouring and sheltering boaters who have been in trouble. Also, they are involved in cleaning up the environment as they pick up after other boaters who discard diapers and floating bottles and other paraphernalia.

The hon. member mentioned some of the horror stories that have happened, where production has gone unbalanced. Indeed, there is going to be a need to maintain balance. There is a dynamic tension among production, regulation and conservation. To be successful we must find the balance. We must retain fundamental respect for the earth. The earth is our home. We must use the best tools of science, such as observation, measurement, quantification, verification and diligence, to ensure that production is optimized with minimal long term impact, but we must also strive to ensure that bureaucratic and unwieldy regulations do not frustrate an industry that has the potential to contribute to growing demands for food and to an urgent need for stable, long term, year round employment in our coastal communities.

The hon. member has raised some very good issues. The need for ongoing study is certainly there. We hope that much of the available funding already committed to by the minister for the next five years will be invested in continuing the research that needs to be done.

Coast Guard February 16th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the west coast has one of the most heavily travelled marine corridors in Canada, making the waters near Vancouver one of our busiest rescue centres. Now the government is planning to abandon coast guard search and rescue diving activity even though the team has saved lives and has a spotless safety record.

The coast guard has primary responsibility for marine rescue. Why exactly is the minister cutting important search and rescue capabilities on the west coast?

District Of Ucluelet February 15th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the dire economic situation of the Ucluelet district of the riding of Nanaimo—Alberni.

While many regions of the country are enjoying current positive economic dividends, the collapse of the hake fishery has wreaked havoc on this small and fragile community. Three fish plants remain closed due to lack of fish. Hundreds of workers have had no work and therefore do not qualify under present EI regulations. The suffering in this coastal community is as great as anything that has been seen on the east coast of Canada.

Last December a meeting of regional and provincial representatives took place to examine what could be done to help. Concerned community leaders have assembled an advisory committee asking the federal government to come to the table and help resolve this crisis. To date this has not happened.

On behalf of the good citizens of the district of Ucluelet, I ask the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Human Resources Development to focus attention to this side of the continent and address this important issue for a community in crisis.