Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and discuss a bill that would help ensure that our firearms policies are safe and sensible. Sitting here and listening to the opposition, including the member for Malpeque and the NDP members, talking about this bill, it shows just how out of touch they have become with rural Canadians and Canadians who love sport shooting.
Our government has worked tirelessly to ensure that we target criminals with tough sentences, not law-abiding Canadians with needless red tape. We have long spoken out against the impracticality and unnecessary practice of burdening law-abiding farmers and sport shooters with administrative requirements that do little or nothing to contribute to public safety. We have worked diligently to address these issues.
We know that law-abiding firearms owners find these requirements intrusive and offensive. Certainly, ending the long-gun registry was an important achievement for our government to move toward safe and sensible firearms policies. Most recently, as members know, we introduced Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act. Among other things, this legislation would streamline the licensing system and further ease unnecessary administrative red tape for law-abiding farmers, hunters and sports shooters.
Our government believes in a balanced approach to firearms control. For instance, we believe it makes sense to simplify the regime and have only one type of license. That is why we have proposed, under the common sense firearms licensing act, to merge the possession-only license with the possession and acquisition license.
We also believe that it is in the interest of public safety that individuals should be properly instructed in the safe use of firearms. That is why our government has also proposed under the legislation to make sure that course participation in firearm safety training is mandatory.
With the bill before us, we can go one step further toward ensuring that Canadians from coast to coast to coast benefit from safe and sensible firearms policies. In that spirit, I would like to commend my friend, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, who introduced Bill C-637, an act to amend the Criminal Code in firearms storage and transportation. It is a proposal that our Conservative government is proud to support.
It is important to hone in specifically on what items we are talking about today. They are BB guns, pellet guns and paintball guns. These excluded firearms that do not discharge a shot, bullet or other projectile at a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 metres per second, or 500 feet per second. Given their low muzzle velocity and energy, our government is of the view that these items should be excluded from all storage and transportation requirements and offences. Therefore, the proposal in this bill falls squarely within the safe and sensible realm.
Let us look at the design of the bill, specifically. The bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to exclude these items from the storage and transportation requirements under the Firearms Act and the offences in the Criminal Code that relate to storage and transportation. In effect, Bill C-637 would exempt individuals from prosecution for offences related to the careless storage and transport of these items, which have previously been erroneously lumped in with ordinary firearms.
By way of example, let us say that a young woman wants to go with her friends to an open field, park, or farmyard, far from other people, and they are taking their air pistols. They shoot some pop cans off a tree stump or a fence post with that pistol. Currently, if she throws the pistol and some of the pellets into her backpack, she is liable to charges under the Criminal Code for the unsafe transport of a firearm.
This is ridiculous and unacceptable. I have taken part in similar activities. I grew up on the farm, and when I was growing up, the first gun I had was a pellet gun. It was a lot of fun, but it taught me about safe handling and how to use a firearm carefully.
We must not let the government run amok and ban these types of Canadian heritage activities. Again, most rural Canadians and a lot of people within urban centres use these air guns, whether they are pellet guns, BB guns or paintball guns, if they go out and have some fun at the paintball course.
Some members on the other side of the House are claiming that this would create a spike in the use of air guns and criminal activity. This is simply not the case. What this bill would do is codify what Canadians from coast to coast have always assumed to be the case, which is that air guns are not firearms. They should not be treated like firearms, and they should not have the consequences associated with firearms.
The Liberal and NDP logic on this issue is similar to that of the long gun registry. They loved the long gun registry. They believe that government intervention will solve all the world's problems but let us look at the statistics. When we ended the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, gun crime in Toronto went down by over 80%. This is not to say that these two items are linked. It is simply to say that those who commit crimes with guns do not obey the various laws prohibiting murder, armed robbery and so on. It is simply foolish to believe that they will stop committing crimes because their guns must be registered.
The bill before us today is very important. What the bill would do is clarify some confusion around the legal obligation of air gun owners that has arisen because of the November 2014 Supreme Court ruling. The effect of the decision upheld the current law that certain air gun owners are subject to prosecution if they carelessly store or transport an air gun. The bill will address the confusion and help provide clarity for owners of these types of firearms.
Before my time comes to an end, I would like to specifically thank the Canadian Shooting Sports Association for working with our government and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for analyzing the Supreme Court decision impacting air guns. I believe that the legislation introduced by the member is an important milestone in addressing the needlessly burdensome paperwork that exists in our firearms regime.
In conclusion, this is a balanced approach that will contribute to our ultimate goal of ensuring our firearm policies are safe and sensible. I hope that all members will support it.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-637, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to firearms storage and transportation, which is a private member's bill put forward by the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
As is typical of the government, it is not part of a public safety package that brings together a number of areas for public safety from the government itself. We constantly believe, on this side of the House, that even though bills are coming forward as private members' bills, they are one-offs, often not well thought out, and often on small issues. In fact the member could not even give us the information whether any charges had ever been laid under this particular bill. They are coming forward as private members' bills and often they really complicate the criminal justice system and do not make for good public safety policies. Many of them come forward just to try to create some political discourse for internal objectives of the Conservative Party of Canada and to try to drive wedges between Canadians on different sides of the issues.
I am concerned, and we will oppose this legislation because any weakening of the provisions to store and transport these weapons—it is a strong word—is against the interest of public safety. Simply put, the legislation would take away the criminal liability for unsafe storage and transport of these weapons, which can and do inflict injury. This raises serious concerns related to public safety, particularly related mostly to children but to youth as well.
As others have said in the House, I expect there are many who have used BB guns and pellet guns as kids in their own life experience. I certainly have. They do cause harm. It is possible to lose an eye. I had a neighbour who in fact had that happen many years ago. That was not safe use.
The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette mentioned himself that the use of BB guns and pellet guns is good training for later in life in the safe use, transport, and storage of these weapons. Having these restrictions there makes good sense for long-term lifetime use of other guns that may be used in hunting and experiences later in life. Therefore, it is important to keep these restrictions in place to ensure that happens, because it is a training ground for young people. They recognize then that the law is there.
The legislation seeks to ensure that BB guns, airguns, and most likely pellet guns are not deemed firearms for the purpose of their transportation and storage. Therefore, the Criminal Code provisions related to the transportation and storage of firearms would not apply to these weapons. That is basically what the bill does. We maintain though that, simply put, the legislation would take away the criminal liability for the unsafe storage and transportation of these weapons, which can and do inflict injuries. This raises serious concerns about public safety, especially as it relates to youth.
There appears to be no dispute of the fact that BB guns, pellet guns, and air guns are weapons and are fully capable of discharging a projectile, which can cause serious injury, if not death. Therefore, we believe it is against the interest of public safety to weaken provisions on weapons that are often used by children. The Liberal Party of Canada believes in a balanced gun control approach that prioritizes public safety while ensuring that law-abiding firearms owners do not face unfair treatment under the law. We do not believe the current situation is creating that unfair treatment.
It is important to note that in Justice Rosenberg's Ontario Court of Appeal decision of September 4, 2013, the following was stated, which raises serious public safety concerns:
If an airgun that otherwise meets the definition of “firearm” in s. 2 because of its dangerous nature and its capability for causing injury, is not found to be a firearm because it does not also meet the use and intended use requirements in the definition of “weapon”, it escapes regulation under s. 86. It would be lawful to leave such a dangerous object in an area where children might have access to it, or to shoot it in a dangerous manner. Liability would attach only if someone actually was injured or killed. Such an interpretation would not be consistent with the public safety objective of the legislation.
He makes the point that we on this side of the House believe is necessary to be made, and that is that these can cause harm. Transportation and storage is part of the regulatory requirements to ensure that they are done in a safe manner and consistent with the law. As I said earlier, that is good training ground for guns that may be used later.
An analysis by the Library of Parliament of Bill C-637 indicated the following with respect to the consequences of this legislation:
Bill C-637 adds s. 84(3.2) to the Criminal Code, which would extend the deeming provision to section 86 and the provisions of the Firearms Act as they relate to the transportation and storage of firearms. This means that air guns or BB guns with low muzzle velocities would not have to be treated like firearms and need not be stored and transported in the way firearms are required to be. Since air guns or BB guns do not fit within any of the other categories of weapons listed in section 86, it follows that these types of weapons would not be required, by this section of the Criminal Code at least, to be transported, stored, etc. with “reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.”
That is a very important point.
The Library of Parliament goes on to say:
This does not mean, however, that more general provisions concerning criminal negligence could not be applied. Section 219 of the Criminal Code defines “criminal negligence” as showing “wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.”
If they are used in that fashion, the other charges would apply.
I have no problem and, in fact, believe the use of BB guns and pellet guns is good training, but I do believe the current law should apply. Therefore, it does not need to be changed as this private member's bill would do.
I do not have time to quote the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, but it is very concerned about BB guns and pellet guns being used as weapons. They can be replica firearms and, therefore, used in criminal activity.
There is concern on the part of police associations. Basically, the bottom line for us is we do not believe this bill is necessary.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for that important question. I am pleased to report to the House that Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, received royal assent this week.
The bill will strengthen intellectual property rights for plant varieties, reduce red tape, improve how government carries out its business with the Canadian agriculture industry, enhance trade, and grow Canada's economy. Importantly, the bill also includes farmer's privilege, which explicitly permits farmers to use seeds from the crops they grow.
It is absolutely shocking that the official opposition voted against the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his continued support for the people of Ukraine. I am pleased to announce that today Canada will join the United States-Ukraine joint commission on defence reform and bilateral co-operation. This will significantly improve Canada's ability to provide assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces. Together, we will increase the capacity of the Ukraine security forces to defend Ukraine's territorial integrity.
In the face of this unacceptable Russian military aggression, Canada will do its part to support Ukraine, its sovereign territory, and the people of Ukraine.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this very important legislation. Before I begin, I would like to indicate that a few members of the House were part of the cohort of 2009 that was elected. Not too long before today was the fourth anniversary. I believe a few of them are here, so I wish to congratulate the member for Winnipeg North and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
Bill C-43 is at an important stage where we will soon see it come into law. The legislation builds on the very strong foundation that has been laid this year and over the past almost nine years. We are continuing on a portfolio of initiatives that have been introduced, such as affordable measures to create jobs, promote growth and support long-term prosperity. This key strategy is working. It is creating jobs, it is keeping the economy growing and, perhaps most important now that our economy is going in the right direction, we are returning to a balanced budget in 2015.
Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession of 2008, we have created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs since the depth of that recession. When I say “we”, I mean the private sector. The government can only help the economy, but it is the businesses that are the employers. Thankfully, due to all those hard-working entrepreneurs, we have one of the strongest job creation records in the entire G7 during that period.
I would like to highlight some of the outcomes of our economic action plan. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are in fact the lowest in the G7, at 46% lower than those in the United States of America. Let us not forget that we are starting to see some large American corporations choose to do business in Canada and, quite frankly, I support that. Even if it is not necessarily a burger of choice of mine, I will still buy that product.
What is more, Canada leapt from sixth place to second place in Bloomberg's rankings of the most attractive destination for business. Both the IMF and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G7 over this year and the next. For the seventh year in a row, the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system the world's soundest. It is true that it is very conservative, and during the boom times of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, perhaps it did not lend out as much money as some other countries, but that policy sure kept it in good stead when 2008 hit.
All the major credit rating agencies accord Canada a top AAA rating with a stable outlook, a rating shared by very few countries. A recent New York Times study found that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada, substantially behind in the year 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States. In fact is that the Canadian middle class is among the wealthiest in the developed world.
The federal tax burden is at its lowest in over 50 years. Remember that we have removed more than one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls. The average family of four saves nearly $3,400 this year. A small business earning $500,000 now saves over $28,000 in corporate taxes thanks to our low tax philosophy. It is clear that Canada has become an international success story.
However, Canada is still not immune to the global economic challenges beyond our border. Our government has been adamant that as long as Canadians are still looking for jobs, our work is not done.
With that, let me highlight three measures that are helping small businesses as well as ensuring Canadians are first in line for new jobs.
Bill C-43 would implement our recently announced small business job credit, which would save small employers more than $550 million over 2015 and 2016. It would also lower EI payroll taxes by 15%. This is real money that a small business can use to help defray the cost of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, supporting growth and job creation.
That is not all. The legislation builds on our support for small businesses and entrepreneurs by reducing barriers to the international and domestic flow of goods and services. This measure will promote job creation and improve the conditions for business investment.
I am very proud of our government's achievements as it works to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.
Economic action plan 2014 includes training for students and focuses federal investments in youth employment in high demand fields. It also supports young entrepreneurs through mentoring. Students participating in Canada's education system are the largest source of new workers. Providing them with the right skills is essential to furthering the country's economic prospects.
In 2011-12, more than half a million Canadians received direct financial support from the Canada student loans program to help them pursue their post-secondary education. Over $2.4 billion in loans were provided and over 336,000 students obtained a total of $640 million in Canada student grants.
In my role as chair of the post-secondary caucus for our government, I have met with many student groups and all of them have universally said that this program is far superior to the millennium scholarship fund.
Canada places at the top of the OECD rankings in terms of post-secondary educational payment, thanks in part to these federal supports for students. However, more can be done to ensure young Canadians receive the training they need to realize their full potential.
That is why we have not only reached out to students in a broad, general way, but we have also helped other organizations that are focused on first nations and aboriginal learners. I would like to highlight Indspire, a wonderful program that is led by Roberta Jamieson, and you know her quite well, Mr. Speaker. This program has succeeded where government has not in the past. By helping this organization fund more students, we are seeing more first nation learners than ever before. I would like to again congratulate her for all the work she has done over the years and I look forward to seeing this program continue to receive funding.
The government invests over $330 million annually in programming for youth through the youth employment strategy, which provides skills development and work experience for youth at risk, summer students and recent post-secondary graduates.
Economic action plan 2014 announced that our government would improve the youth employment strategy to align it with the evolving realities of the job market. This process would also ensure federal investments in youth employment, providing young Canadians with real life work experience in high demand fields such as science, technology, energy, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.
Although Canada boasts high levels of post-secondary achievement, the transition to a first job can be very challenging. Youth graduates often lack opportunities to gain the workplace experience and skills necessary to find and retain jobs. In addition, too many Canadian graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed, while employers are searching for workers.
Recognizing these challenges, our government proposes to strengthen youth programming by dedicating $40 million toward supporting up to 3,000 full-time internships for post-secondary graduates in high demand fields in 2014 and 2015-16.
This has also in part been inspired by some of the work that has been done over the years by the Mitacs organization, which has helped deliver internships for science post-grads and post-grad engineers into the technology sector, and that has been very successful.
We have been supportive of not only the private sector in helping it employ more individuals, but bringing students into the private sector so they can gain that world experience they need to further their career, and also essentially become an important contributor to our economy and help pay the taxes that support all the programs that benefit Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
I look forward to any questions my colleagues might have.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the hard-working member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for all the great work he is doing in the fisheries conservation program. It is tremendous work, and a lot of our conservation organizations are taking advantage of that program.
My colleague across the way just talked about division 16. What it would allow it to do is incorporate other acts in this, such as the Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act and others. It would also allow for the recognition of where the provinces have a role to play in the environmental area. As well, with the efforts that have recently been undertaken by this government over the past number of years, it would make sure that we have one person for the regulations. We do not need four or five people doing the same thing, which is what we tended to have previously. There was an overlap in all this legislation.
Given the member's experience, I wonder if he could comment on the effectiveness of having one regulator on top of things.
Mr. Speaker, that is not what my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette said at all. I am sorry, but that was really not a very profound question.
I will go back to something the hon. member mentioned earlier about the definition of a terrorist. Maybe I misinterpreted what he said. He said that someone who is religious could be there, that there is a symbolic element in a terrorist act. There is obviously violence in a terrorist act, but it could not be personal.
I submit that converting to another religion that has some members who preach violence obviously has a religious connection. It does not get any more symbolic than attacking Parliament and the National War Memorial, or the people there. It certainly does not get any more violent. When someone has espoused or incorporated those kinds of beliefs, it becomes personal. To use the member's own definition, but maybe in reverse, that is a terrorist. That is what those people are.
Nobody here is a terrorist. Nobody is saying that. Nobody is saying that anyone here supports terrorism. That is just plain silly.
First, Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the member's comments about the member of Parliament for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, who I think is one of the most honourable, conscientious, conservation-minded, and environment-minded members that the House of Commons has ever seen. Any disparaging comments from the other side with regard to this individual will certainly not meet any good standing with me.
I have a zoology degree, and I have worked as a conservation officer and as a fisheries biologist in my home province of Alberta. I understand full well that one can have one's cake and eat it too when it comes to responsible resource development.
I enjoy the clean air, clean water, and clean land that I live on in my home province of Alberta, and I know full well that all the protections are given to species in Canada, whether it is through the Species at Risk Act, the Fisheries Act, or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and that no project would go ahead, especially, when there are species and habitat that would be considered fragile or where there could be detrimental effects.
The problem with the entire motion we are discussing today, though, is that the NDP has already pre-positioned itself to oppose the project before the National Energy Board has even received an application, and that just underscores the complete ideological aversion it has to anything to do with oil and gas projects.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
It is a pleasure to rise today to speak to the motion put forward by my colleague across the floor.
In my comments today I want to focus on a particular part of the member's motion. The member talked about how the proposal will constitute an unacceptable environmental threat. I want to talk about what our government has done to mitigate any of the concerns that might come from the environmental threats that the member talked about.
Our government, in support of a world-class tanker safety system, has announced $31 million over five years for the Canadian Coast Guard to establish an incident command system, which is commonly referred to as an ICS, across the Canadian Coast Guard. This forms a crucial part of the world-class tanker safety system initiative by offering standardized on-scene, all-hazard management methodology, which is designed to ensure the effective command, control and coordination of response efforts to all maritime incidents.
Implementation of the incident command system will increase the Canadian Coast Guard's ability to work collaboratively with other emergency responders who currently use this system. Therefore, it will allow multiple stakeholders to participate in important decision-making processes simultaneously and also for effective planning and response initiatives in order to address all marine pollution and all hazard incidents in a predictable and structured fashion.
By 2018 the incident command system will be fully implemented, strengthening the existing response regime. Simply put, the Canadian Coast Guard and its partners will be better positioned to respond to oil spill events and other marine emergency incidents in co-operation with key partners and other departments and agencies in a timely and effective manner. The incident command system is another example of how Canada's world-class tanker safety system is being strengthened to protect Canadians and our environment.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, including the Canadian Coast Guard, is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Transport Canada, Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada on a suite of important initiatives that are being implemented to support our world-class tanker safety system.
Under Canada's marine pollution preparedness and response regime, the polluter is responsible for cleaning up and paying for its own marine spills. Private sector response organizations play an important role by maintaining effective response plans and an inventory of equipment to respond to spills from ships in Canadian waters south of 60.
In May 2014 the government announced the implementation of area response planning, which will provide a new and improved method for preparing and responding to marine oil pollution incidents.
Area response planning is a new and dynamic risk-based model that allows for spill preparedness and responses to be tailored to the level and types of risk in a given region based on certain factors such as marine conditions, environmental sensitivities, tanker size, and traffic levels.
This new and improved response planning approach will replace the current regime where private sector response organizations are mandated to maintain the same response capacity across Canada. Our government is seizing an opportunity to ensure the appropriate frameworks and safeguards are in place and enhanced to protect our environment now and for generations to come.
This new area response planning process will be piloted in four initial areas: the southern portion of British Columbia; Saint John and the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick; Port Hawkesbury in Nova Scotia; and the St. Lawrence Seaway from Quebec City to Anticosti Island, Quebec.
As one can imagine, transitioning to an area response planning approach is a significant undertaking. This is why we are focusing significant effort on the planning process to ensure the pilot projects successfully demonstrate the future of our world-class tanker safety system.
The Canadian Coast Guard and our federal colleagues acknowledge that we cannot develop the area response plans alone. To this end, beginning in 2015, a series of engagement activities will be planned to ensure stakeholders' views are reflected in the process.
The Canadian Coast Guard is the lead federal agency in developing the local area response plans, using a collaborative approach to involve aboriginal communities, other levels of government, and a broad range of local stakeholders.
Safety is the top priority of the Canadian Coast Guard. In fact, Canada has one of the most advanced and comprehensive search and rescue systems in the world and is regularly consulted by other countries seeking advice and training on how to establish and maintain a system as effective and efficient as ours. The Canadian system is made up of multiple layers that provide an effective response capacity to any search and rescue incident within Canada and our surrounding waters.
The Canadian Coast Guard and National Defence are the principal pillars of the federal system. They provide the primary response to aeronautical and maritime emergencies with specialized equipment and highly trained professionals who remain ready to respond to incidents 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
The Canadian Coast Guard continues to maintain a maritime rescue sub-centre in Quebec City which provides bilingual search and rescue coordination services for mariners in distress. The search and rescue system can be activated by the professional search and rescue coordinators at any of the three joint rescue coordination centres in Canada. These search and rescue coordinators are highly trained and can coordinate additional response capacity from other government resources, the highly committed volunteers of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, and commercial vessels and aircraft in the vicinity of mariners in distress.
The final but no less important piece of the search and rescue system is the multitude of plans and exercises that ensure that all the layers of Canada's search and rescue regime are ready to respond effectively and efficiently to real-life distress situations. The federal government continues to invest in the assets and the modernizing of systems to ensure the ongoing high level of service that Canadians expect and deserve. Billions of dollars have been invested in new Coast Guard, naval, and air force assets that will not only ensure the present level of service but also improve our capacity and capabilities to respond to incidents anywhere in Canada well into the future.
Finally, the federal search and rescue system regularly reviews and re-evaluates Canada's capacity and capability in relation to the risk. This entails working closely with our provincial and private partners to ensure that our plans are up to date and as comprehensive as possible to serve and protect all mariners in Canadian waters.
In closing, the Government of Canada will continue to support the brave men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard by equipping them with the resources required to protect Canadians and our environment.
It is exactly because of initiatives like these that I cannot support the motion brought forward by my colleague today.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for the question.
I would like to assure Canadians that the Minister of Public Safety has taken actions to ensure that the historic fur winter hats worn by the RCMP will not be discontinued, despite the efforts of radical animal rights activists. The RCMP decision, which is causing much glee among anti-fur activists, is being fully overturned.
Our government will always stand up for Canada's hunters and trappers.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment t:o thank the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for funding opportunities under the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for spawning the idea.
I had the opportunity to announce funding for the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority last week, with assistance from the member for Durham. Our government is providing significant funding to the Ganaraska River riparian tree planting project.
I am pleased to see the success of this program and for the government's continued commitment to support individuals and organizations working along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams across the country to protect and restore fishing habitats for future generations.
Projects like these have a direct benefit on the health of our watersheds as well as an indirect benefit on local economies. Recreational fishing alone attracts thousands of visitors to Canada and contributes billions of dollars to our economy every year.
Projects funded under the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program will benefit our communities for many years to come.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the chief government whip.
I rose this morning, before rising here, thinking about how grateful I am to be in this wonderful institution in this amazing country of ours, how grateful I am just to be standing here, and what an honour it is to represent the people of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country and to be with colleagues who champion the interests of Canadians day by day.
It is also my honour to express support for a bill that keeps Canada on track. I am speaking of economic action plan 2014, tabled by our Minister of Finance.
Our government has charted a course for this nation that has led us through uncharted waters, namely the fragility of the global market. However, despite this uncertainty, there is no doubt that we have emerged triumphant, as our nation's economy continues to thrive.
This is not a coincidence. Our government has, since 2006, relentlessly pursued job creation and economic growth with the full intention of creating a stable, sustainable, and prosperous Canada.
In my remarks today I will focus on four aspects of budget 2014, which illustrate this focus and commitment. I will be drawing direct ties to the people of my constituency who brought their interests to me and to this Parliament through me.
Canada's economic success manifests a vision set forth by our Prime Minister. We cannot witness the transition from a multi-billion dollar deficit to a predicted multi-billion dollar surplus next year without first acknowledging the efforts of this Conservative government.
With the elimination of our deficit, Canadians can anticipate lower taxes, a higher standard of living, greater opportunities for job creation, and a significantly smaller financial burden on our children and grandchildren.
Canada has already leapt from number six to number two in Bloomberg's annual ranking of the most attractive countries for doing business in the world, just behind Hong Kong. A reduced deficit will continue to attract investment and signal our nation's stability on the global stage.
What I see in front of us is a budget that reflects the priorities of our citizens. I know for a fact that this budget addresses four key areas that interest my constituents and other Canadians: the environment, the economy, health and fitness, and search and rescue. I am equally confident that it will reflect the concerns of Canadians from coast to coast.
We have seen a growing number of Canadians voice their concerns regarding our environment. Today I am proud to tell these Canadians that their government has listened. It is my long-held belief that the economy and the environment are inherently entwined. In fact, in my speech to this House last year, entitled “The environment is the economy”, I relayed the concerns of The Future of Howe Sound Society and other constituents that we must embrace the two in tandem.
Economic action plan 2014 follows the lead of innovative Canadians who continually find ways to stimulate the economy while protecting our natural resources. The economy and the environment are not at war, so the advancement of one should not prejudice the other. This is evident in B.C., where a great number of people, including constituents of mine like CaroleAnn Leishman, have expressed their concerns over proposed pipeline projects, despite their potential economic rewards.
This budget will fund the National Energy Board to review pipeline projects so that Canada's economic pursuits can be reconciled with the protection of its natural resources. Our government will not commit to specific energy transportation projects, but will sustain dialogue with the aim of reconciling economic potential with environmental restraint.
As our Minister of Natural Resources recently declared:
No project will be approved unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
Energy exports will continue to grow and create many great jobs for Canadians, but the government remains committed to ensuring safe and responsible resource development.
Economic action plan 2014 will also invest in environmental sustainability by protecting Canada's recreational fisheries, so brilliantly championed by organizations in my riding such as the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable, the West Vancouver Streamkeepers, the Squamish Streamkeepers Society, and the Squamish River Watershed Society.
Last year, the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program received $10 million, and this year the government is renewing its commitment to environmental sustainability, another demonstration of our government's ability to balance both economic and environmental goals.
The recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program commenced last year at the urging of organizations like the ones I mentioned and people around the country who care about the recreational fishery.
I congratulate the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his championing of this program. This is a strong encouragement to show our government has listened to and acknowledged the voices of people who are passionate about salmon and other fisheries in B.C. and throughout the country.
Increasing financial support for another great organization, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, responds effectively to advocacy by fellow Conservative B.C. members. I am proud to have championed the PSP cause along with them. It is another great aspect of budget 2014.
With our government's devotion to environmental sustainability in mind, Canadians can anticipate more economic progress without great cost to the environment. My constituents in Powell River and the Sunshine Coast and the mayors who have been so powerful in advocating for new jobs, like Wayne Rowe in Gibsons, John Henderson in Sechelt, and Dave Formosa in Powell River, can look forward to adding more jobs in their areas as Canada's economy continues to strengthen.
More than one million net new jobs have been created since the recession. When compared with other G7 nations, Canada's economic performance is among the best, leading the pack in job growth.
In this budget, the government has re-emphasized its desire to find employment for every Canadian and reduce job vacancies.
Internationally, I commend our government for securing free trade agreements with other countries. When our government came into power, Canada had three established FTAs. This number has now grown to 44, including the recent Canada-Korea trade agreement—to which the Speaker has contributed—our nation's first official trade agreement in Asia.
Under our government's leadership, Canada will continue to bolster its economy by trading with other nations in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Within our borders, our government also commits to the future employment of our youth, through its youth employment strategy. This program aims to provide young Canadians with real-life work experience that aligns with the evolving realities of the job market. We need to ensure that young Canadians can access employment in high-demand fields, like science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and trades. The government has recognized this need and proposed a $40-million investment to support 3,000 full-time internships, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. Allowing our youth to gain work experience is a worthy investment and a proactive step toward reducing future unemployment and strengthening our economy.
I am also excited to see how our government has recognized health and fitness as a priority in its 2014 economic action plan, a priority I have championed, to reflect the emphasis on this area shown by my constituents in the Olympic riding.
I applaud the government's initiative to increase the rate of excise duty on tobacco products as a viable method of increasing federal tax revenue. This measure illustrates our government's desire for fiscal responsibility and, more important, for a healthy Canadian population.
This budget also addresses prescription drug abuse, another concern shared by my many Canadians, including West Vancouver police chief Pete Lepine, who has worked closely with me to bring about a national prescription drug drop-off day, which will occur this year on May 10.
The new economic action plan proposes to invest $44.9 million, over five years, to expand the focus of the national anti-drug strategy, so we can also address this emerging health and safety concern. This investment would serve a diverse Canadian population, by enhancing education on the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription drugs, among other things.
Having watched our Olympians and Paralympians demonstrate the ultimate in health and fitness in Sochi, I am delighted to see our government's continued desire to support Canadian athletes of all levels. Sport promotes leadership. It plays a vital role in our culture, both as an expression of our national identity and as a means of inspiring more Canadians to become active and healthy. This budget would maintain our government's record level of investment for athletes without leaving anyone behind.
While our Olympians are supported through initiatives like own the podium, our government supports Paralympians, amateurs, and Special Olympics athletes, as well.
The last provision upon which I would like to touch is the search and rescue tax credit. This commemorates Tim Jones, the amazing revered volunteer who led the North Shore rescue team for 26 years and who participated in over 1,600 rescue operations. The search and rescue tax credit would recognize the important role played by volunteers who put themselves at risk for the sole purpose of serving their communities.
In conclusion, I see Canada's 2014 economic action plan as another step in the right direction.
Today, I have highlighted four of the many aspects of budget 2014 that are particularly relevant, not only to my constituency but to the whole country: environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, health and fitness, and the recognition of our nation's search and rescue volunteers.
The return to a balanced budget is the fulfillment of a long-term goal. The proposals I have mentioned are examples of our government's commitment to Canadians. It is a good time to be a Canadian. This budget would help ensure good health for our people, our environment, and our economy.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about our new economic action plan 2014, “The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities”. I have been thumbing through it, and I am excited about all the good things in this budget and that we are on our way to a balanced budget. I am excited that we will be able to start paying down debt and making more investments into our economy and for Canadian families. There are so many great things in here. I am going to briefly go through a few of them, and then I am going to talk about the things that are important to my riding of Selkirk—Interlake.
We will launch the Canada job grant effective April 1, 2014. We will partner with most provinces and move ahead in matching jobs with people who need jobs. We will have the investment and partnership from the business community. The job-matching service is something we would do to help match jobs with Canadians who are looking for work.
We are going to create the Canada apprenticeship loan and run it the same way that we run the Canada student loans program. It would finally allow youth who want to participate in the red seal trades with an opportunity to get student loans while they are taking their apprenticeships. We would increase the number of unpaid internships for young Canadians, with $55 million.
We would cut more red tape for small business. I know of small businesses up and down the main streets in my communities and the owners have to do so much paperwork. The more we can do to reduce that load, the better. We have been working at this for the last several years, and the more we can do, the better off our businesses are going to be.
We are going to continue to have more research in technology and innovation and development, with $1.5 billion over the next decade to allow our universities and colleges to establish the Canada first research excellence fund. These are great things.
There were some things that I was hoping to see in this budget that I am very pleased to see are here. They are important to Manitoba and to Selkirk—Interlake.
One of the things we announced was a $200-million natural disasters mitigation program. This would help communities prepare for natural disasters. Selkirk—Interlake has had a number of overland floods because of either ice jams on the Red River, or flooding over Lake Manitoba because of the diversion along the Assiniboine River and Lake Winnipeg. Whenever we have had weather bombs come through and raise the lake levels, or there is excessive moisture because of heavy snow melts as well as wet springs, we have had a lot of damage.
Where we have been able to put in flood mitigations like the Red River Floodway, “Duff's Ditch”, as we call it in Manitoba, they have saved billions and billions of dollars from flooding in the city of Winnipeg. If we can continue to make those types of investments in dikes and diversions and floodways, it would provide more opportunities to protect more communities, more property, and more Manitobans.
However, it is not just in Manitoba; this is available across the country. I know that in Quebec we have had flooding. We have seen some disasters this past spring in Calgary and High River, and other places in southern Alberta. This is the type of investment from our federal government that would ensure we could mitigate those types of disasters and provide the infrastructure that would have ongoing benefits to communities. It would not cost the treasury billions of dollars time and again with the devastation like we saw in Calgary this year.
I am excited to see the new horizons program get another $5 million in addition to what it already gets. I know that the new horizons centres in my riding, as well as other seniors centres, have benefited from this program. Whether it is from accessibility grants, mentoring programs, or investing in their facility, it provides a place for seniors to gather, share, and have fun, and to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. I know they appreciate it whenever they get money to keep improving their facilities.
In 2005, one of the bills I introduced when I was in opposition was called Jonathan's Bill. That became law a couple of years ago, through the hard work of my friend and colleague from Leeds—Grenville. We were able to establish a program that provides EI sick benefits to parents and families who are caring for terminally ill or critically ill or injured children. I am happy to report that program will be enhanced by $2.4 million over the next two years. It would continue after that with funding of $1.2 million in excess of the EI benefit there now, to allow families to stay at home and care for their children. There is nothing worse for children than to have to depend on the care of someone who is not their mother, father, or grandparent, and to be sitting with strangers, maybe in a hospital.
It is better for their recovery and for their well-being if they can have time to sit at home and be cared for by a family member. Especially if they are undergoing treatment or surgery, it is going to be important that children are with loved ones and that their families get the support they need to help them recover.
In my riding, I often hear how difficult it is to be wired in on the Internet. In rural Manitoba, as in lots of places across rural Canada, Internet access is difficult. It is either dial-up or really poor wireless service. The $305-million broadband program that was announced would speed, extend, and enhance the broadband high-speed Internet network across Canada to over 280,000 Canadian households. That would be a welcome addition for so many homeowners and businesses throughout Selkirk—Interlake.
We would invest another $40 million to improve small craft harbours. I know that many people do not realize that in Manitoba we have an inland sea. In the riding of Selkirk—Interlake, we have over 1,000 commercial fishers. Those commercial fishers on Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba depend on having safe harbours. It is important that they have the ability to access funding to improve those harbours to keep them safe and to deal with some of the weather damage they have experienced over the last few years. I can assure everyone that they are thankful.
As a farmer in an area that represents a large farming and ranching area, I am glad to see one thing I have been asking to have for some time, which is an extension of the tax deferral program for livestock producers when they undergo drought or overland flooding. Right now cattle, goats, sheep, bison, and hogs are the only livestock that qualify for tax deferral. If farmers are in a situation where they have no feed, no pasture, and no opportunity to grow a crop to feed those animals because of flooding or drought, one option many farmers and ranchers entertain is to actually sell the livestock and re-buy stock when weather conditions improve. We have always offered farmers a tax deferral of up to 12 months if they have had to liquidate their herds. Rather than having to pay it off as income tax, they have that cash on hand so they can purchase replacement livestock.
I am glad to report that in the budget we would extend that program to include bees and horses, because in our area, we have a lot of PMU operations and horse breeders. Those are commercial farm operations.
When we talk about bees, we are not just talking about honeybees. We are also talking about leafcutter bees, which pollinate a lot of our crops, especially clover, alfalfa, and some of the other legumes that are so important to the overall production of western Canadian crops.
One thing my friend from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette has been working on is having the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program. We ran it for the last two years as a pilot. It went over so well that it would be extended another two years and would be increased to $15 million. I see my friend from Wetaskiwin is here, who has also been a very big player in having this program. It enhances not only the commercial fishery but the recreational fishery for the sports fishers who go out there and angle and go after trophy walleye and catfish in the Red River in Manitoba and northern pike, which we call jackfish.
There are so many opportunities for working in partnership with local fish and wildlife organizations in our small communities to develop better fisheries, to enhance the habitat, and to protect and conserve those important natural areas. I am very excited to see that.
One thing that has been very positive, as well, in my area is the trails program, whether it is for snowmobiles or hiking. This $10 million for the National Trails Coalition would improve accessibility for people who love the outdoors and want to get out and see our natural spaces. It is one area that has great benefit for the riding of Selkirk—Interlake, not only for the snowmobilers and off-roaders but for people who like to go out on bikes or to hike and just enjoy the beautiful area of Selkirk—Interlake.
With that I am more than happy to take some questions from my colleagues. I encourage everyone in the House to support this great budget and get back to having a balanced budget and paying down our national debt again.
Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct pleasure and honour today to speak to the budget. I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
I have been reading the budget and making a few notes, and there are a couple of highlights I would like to flag not just for members of the House, but also for my constituents back home in Mississauga South who will benefit from the budget.
I realize that not many viewers are watching because everyone is probably rivetted to the Canadian men's Olympic hockey game that is going on right now. This budget reflects the excitement that many Canadians are feeling about the Olympics and about the hockey game.
The captain of our team for budget 2014, the hon. Minister of Finance, has stickhandled the budget once again. This is his 10th budget and he has once again done a great job. With over one million new jobs created since the worst of the recession, I am very proud at how the Minister of Finance has dealt with this.
I appreciate that those who are not watching the hockey game are listening to me. I would like to tell the House about a couple of things that are important to me, my constituents, and all Canadians. I would like to continue on the theme of the environment, which we have been talking a bit about today. This issue is of great importance in the riding of Mississauga South.
I have had some experience with recreational fisheries in working with Credit Valley Conservation. It has done a wonderful job in restoring the wetlands in the Rattray Marsh area of Lake Ontario in south Mississauga, and I thank it for that.
I also want to thank the Minister of Finance for renewing the recreational fisheries community partnerships program. An additional $15 million will be provided over two years to extend this partnership program. My colleague across the way will also probably highlight this program but I wanted to mention it because people sometimes do not know that urban areas also benefit from these types of programs.
My riding, which is situated on beautiful Lake Ontario and has the Credit River running through it, has been able to benefit from this program and leverage double the funds as a result. We have been able to help restore the Rattray Marsh wetlands. As I said earlier, in concrete ways we are actually helping the environment, and that is a big deal to me.
In terms of the environment and families, I am quite proud that the budget recognizes the Earth Rangers Foundation. This organization is dedicated to educating children and families about biodiversity and empowers them to become directly involved in protecting animals and their habitats. It is an organization that operates across Canada. I have seen the work it does in the GTA. I am particularly pleased that economic action plan 2014 would provide $3 million over three years to support and expand the existing family oriented conservation and biodiversity programs of the Earth Rangers Foundation .
I would like to switch gears for a moment. I am not sure if the House is aware that I had the honour to chair a special parliamentary standing committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women. The committee studied violence against aboriginal women in Canada.
This is a huge problem—not just in the aboriginal community—one that all Canadians care deeply about and one that our government is working very hard to erase. That is why I was so proud when I saw that this government is making this a priority by establishing a DNA-based missing persons index or registry. Essentially, we would be using technology to help find these women. We need to use all the tools available to us to solve this very tragic problem. Budget 2014 would provide $8.1 million over five years to create this DNA-based missing persons index. Once this DNA data bank is established, it will be much easier for the RCMP to continue doing the work it needs to do to find missing women and to identify remains.
While that is very important, I would also like to point out that, related to that, there has been a renewal of $25 million to address violence against aboriginal women and girls in general. This same pocket of funding actually started in 2010 with $25 million, so we renewed it in this budget because the five years was almost up. In the last few years, with that funding, the government has made targeted improvements to law enforcement and the justice system, including the creation of a national centre for missing persons and unidentified remains.
The government has also made enhancements to the victims fund to ensure that aboriginal victims and families of missing and murdered aboriginal women have access to culturally appropriate services; and it has supported the development of community-based awareness initiatives, which are very important, as well as safety plans to promote the safety of aboriginal women and girls. These are issues that the committee has been discussing for the past year, almost, and I am delighted that the government has recognized we need to take action. We are putting our money where our mouth is on this issue. As I say, there will be another $25 million over five years to continue efforts to reduce violence against women; this is an issue that all Canadians care about.
I was on the phone this morning with a representative of Community Living Mississauga. Her name is Debbie Moffatt. We were talking about the ready, willing, and able initiative, which is mentioned on page 62 of the budget. For people who are not aware, this organization helps people with intellectual disabilities—autism, for example—to gain employment, because people sometimes need a little extra help and a hand up. They are able to become contributing members of society with the help of the Canadian Association for Community Living. I am familiar with the Mississauga branch, which does very good work.
In fact, when we met in my office quite a few months ago, Debbie was telling me about Costco, which is one of the companies that has taken on the ready, willing, and able program. It is having great success in hiring folks through this program. I would like to quote, from the budget, one of the new Costco employees, as a result of this program, who said:
I'm very happy about getting this job, and I'm getting paid an equal wage—and a good one at that. I look forward to being part of a team and not being treated any differently—now I can tell my brother, my friends and my mom that I work at Costco!
These are the kinds of things that ready, willing, and able does for folks with intellectual disabilities.
I wanted to talk about supporting women entrepreneurs, but perhaps I can fit that into one of the answers.
Mr. Chair, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
I will speak briefly about Canada's developmental systems in Ukraine and specifically about our continuing commitment to advancing democracy and the rule of law.
Our respective nations share historic ties that extend back through generations of Ukrainian migration to Canada. Ukrainian Canadians have given so much to Canada, and Canada remains committed to giving back to the Ukraine.
In 1991, Canada was the first western nation to recognize Ukraine's independence. Since then, we have devoted considerable effort and resources to support the Ukraine's democratic and economic transition.
Good governance is vital to democracy and for achieving the sustainable economic growth required to move populations from poverty to prosperity. It provides the processes and institutions through which a government is accountable to its citizens.
An election is democracy's fundamental accountability process. It is essential that election processes be fair and free to ensure leaders are genuinely accountable to the people they are elected to represent. As we know, this lack of accountability has been an area of deep concern in Ukraine for quite some time. That is why Canada has provided consistent support for free and fair elections in Ukraine over the last two decades by sending election observers to witness the 2004 and 2010 presidential elections and the 2006 and 2007 parliamentary votes.
In 2012, Canada fielded its largest-ever electoral observation mission, sending 500 Canadians as observers with the Mission Canada bilateral electoral observation mission. Overall, Canada provided $11.4 million in support for the 2012 election process, particularly through Mission Canada but also through support to Ukrainian civil society organizations that mobilized thousands of young volunteers to conduct their own election monitoring and public awareness campaigns.
Through its development program, Canada has also provided technical assistance to Ukraine to modernize its electoral laws and systems. Through the implementation of an online training system for electoral commission members and observers, this system is now being used for the repeat elections that are now under way.
Canada is known for its ardent support for elections in Ukraine. The observers Canada has sent to Ukraine over the years have seen the reality of Ukraine's electoral processes. They know there is a long way to go for Ukraine to reach the international standards of free and fair elections.
In 2012, observers witnessed the misuse of state resources, a lack of transparency of campaign and party financing, vote buying, and biased media coverage, but they also observed a real democratic competition, fierce at times, and an unprecedented engagement of Ukrainian youth in domestic electoral observation efforts. This is cause for hope. Without Canadian and other international observers, the situation might have been much worse. Ukrainian citizens are very appreciative of Canada's generous election observation efforts and solidarity. The Ukrainian people yearn to live in a real democracy.
A functioning democracy needs active, informed citizens, well-functioning public institutions, and rule of law. Canadian development assistance to Ukraine reflects this. Despite Canada's ongoing contributions and despite contributions from many other countries wanting and working for a more free and democratic Ukraine, recent events demonstrate that a democratic deficit still exists and indeed appears to be deepening.
Canada has continued to support Ukrainian efforts toward the rule of law. Canadian development assistance work in the judicial sector has helped ensure timely and transparent court decisions in selected courts. This project is introducing a comprehensive curriculum and training program to improve the capacity of judges to streamline the resolution of commercial cases involving small and medium-sized enterprises.
Canada will continue its support for democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine. It continues to be our priority to work in the best interests of Ukraine's citizens so that they can have complete faith in their electoral processes and ultimately reap the rewards of a truly democratic and prosperous society.
Mr. Speaker, let us talk instead about why the bill is dealing with veterans, reducing the number of permanent members from 28 to 25 on the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. In whose interest is it to reduce the number of representatives on the Veterans Review and Appeal Board? By what convoluted pretzel logic could the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette support a piece of legislation that has such a profoundly negative effect on veterans, of all people?
Another impact for Manitoba specifically, where we have great big beautiful buildings, is that the Conservatives completely changed the mandate of the National Research Council. They laid off hundreds of Canada's top scientists and researchers. Did we debate this in any adequate way? No, we just learned about it when they prorogued Parliament long enough to invent this neo-conservative wish list that is against the best interests of working people in every respect.
Mr. Speaker, as we heard from across the aisle, I will take the little kick in the pants from the official opposition. I know its members support this bill. I accept that. I thank them and all of the members across the way. I especially thank the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, who I know is an avid fisherman, hunter, and trapper, and who cares very much about the environment and making sure that those activities continue to be part of our Canadian heritage.
On September 22, 2009, there was a press release that came out of the White House in the United States of America. I will not read it all, because many of the members here spoke of what the President of the United States said.
Toward the end, he stated:
Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 26, 2009, as National Hunting and Fishing Day. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize this day with appropriate programs and activities.
This is one small part of the reason I brought this bill forward. It is to match the laws of this country to those of the United States for the Americans who come up to every one of our ridings in this place that have fishing and hunting camps or cottages. They invest, and they enjoy our natural bounty of fish and game and contribute greatly to the economy of our country.
I thank the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River for his wholehearted support for this bill. I thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who said how important hunting and fishing were to her and her family and pointed out the fact that women are now an important part of the hunting, fishing, and trapping heritage of this country.
I also thank the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his heartfelt support of this bill and his reasons and passion for that.
Finally, I give thanks to my friend from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his party's support for the bill.
As the member who previously spoke said, hunting and fishing are sort of a rite of adulthood. I will use the term, and I know some people might object, but it is a rite of manhood in my family when one's son or daughter catches his or her first fish or harvests his or her first moose or deer. It is part of our DNA. It means so much to a father and son, and to a grandfather, to see his children and grandchildren do this.
It was mentioned before by the member from Manitoba that it was part of the founding of his province. This hunting, fishing, and trapping heritage is part of what Canada is. Our country was founded because the Europeans really loved beaver for making warm clothing. That started the whole trade. However, I will not repeat what the member said.
This bill is really a motherhood bill. It recognizes the importance of this. We have many other days we recognize.
Members heard in prior speeches about the billions of dollars spent annually by people who fish and hunt recreationally. Members heard about those who trap and seal, and the importance of sealing to our northern communities, whose sealing tradition has been their very subsistence for years. We, as a country, support this. Because this bill means something, there is all-party support. It does not cost anything. It sends a signal to all Canadians, especially new Canadians who are coming into a country that has such abundance. We need to protect that.
The previous speaker said that it is the hunters and fishers who are the true conservationists. There are still ducks, moose, and deer all over. The member from Newfoundland mentioned how many moose there are. These are things to be treasured. They are to be harvested because the good Lord expects us to be good stewards. To be good stewards means that we can enjoy nature's bounty, but we are good stewards of it. That is what this bill is about.
I encourage all members of Parliament to put aside our partisanship, put aside our rancour, think about the people in our ridings who enjoy these activities, and please vote for this bill.
The electoral district of Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette (Manitoba) has a population of 75,103 with 53,549 registered voters and 189 polling divisions.
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