To the Editor:
What will be left of Canada’s fisheries after the Conservatives are through? They voted to pass reckless changes to the Fisheries Act, which remove provisions that protect fish habitat from destruction. Habitat destruction is the most common reason for decline of a species. Without habitat, we can’t have healthy fish stocks.
These changes undo the cornerstone of environmental law in Canada and have attracted widespread opposition—even from Conservatives. Former conservative fisheries ministers Tom Siddon and John Fraser have publicly opposed the changes. So have more than 625 scientists and former Liberal fisheries ministers Herb Dhaliwal and David Anderson.
Existing laws can be improved, but these changes are being passed without the proper scrutiny they need to get the balance right. The Conservatives are ramming them through in their 400 page omnibus budget bill, leaving no time for proper study. They claim these changes are so essential that they have to be passed right away, yet they didn’t even merit a single mention in the Conservatives’ recent election platform.
The changes are part of a widespread, willing neglect for our fish by the Conservatives. While they have grown public spending by leaps and bounds over their six years in power, they have cut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by over 25 per cent. Poor enforcement has greatly reduced the number of pollution and habitat violations that are pursued by DFO; indeed, convictions for violations are now almost non-existent.
Over 75,000 Canadians are directly or indirectly employed through our fisheries and many more fish for fun, with one in every seven adult Canadians applying for licences every year. Conservative MPs need to shake off the iron-grip of the Prime Minister’s office, start thinking for themselves and protect our fish!
Lawrence MacAulay, MP, Liberal Critic for Fisheries and Oceans