Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 22 - Evidence - June 2, 2015

OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, to which were referred Bill S-224, An Act respecting National Seal and Seafood Products Day; and Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence), met this day at 5:33 p.m. to give clause-by-clause consideration to the bills.

Senator Fabian Manning (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: I would like to welcome honourable senators here this evening. We're meeting to continue consideration of Bill S-224 and Bill C-555 and may soon be at a stage to proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of both bills. However, I would like to draw to your attention that committees typically hear from the sponsors of the bills prior to conducting clause-by-clause consideration.

Senator Hervieux-Payette joins us this evening as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and she is the sponsor of Bill S-224. Therefore, I would like to ask the senators if they would agree that Senator Hervieux-Payette be afforded the opportunity to appear as a witness with respect to Bill S-224.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: For Bill C-555, rather than proceeding with clause-by-clause consideration this evening, the fact that we have given the opportunity for Senator Hervieux-Payette to appear, I would like to offer the opportunity, whether it is accepted or not, for the sponsor of Bill C-555, which is Mr. Greg Kerr, MP for West Nova, Nova Scotia. Is it agreed that Mr. Greg Kerr be afforded the opportunity to appear as a witness with respect to Bill C-555 on Tuesday, June 9, and then proceed with clause-by-clause consideration following his appearance?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Wells: Point of order.

The Chair: Go ahead.

Senator Wells: Wouldn't that be a decision of steering?

The Chair: It could be. We talked about that earlier in the day, and because of the fact that we're down to only a couple meetings left, I didn't want to come back and push it to the limit here. I would rather that the committee as a whole decided.

I don't think from my conversation that Mr. Kerr will be here, but I wanted to afford him the opportunity to appear if he wanted.

Is everyone agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Is it agreed that the in camera portion of this meeting be transcribed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Senator Hervieux-Payette.


Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C., sponsor of the bill: I want to thank my colleagues for their interest, and especially for their willingness to look into this matter. Despite the fact that we have many items on the agenda, I think it is important for us to continue to show our determination to protect a trade that remains extremely important, especially on the East Coast, but also in the far north.


I made a fabulous speech at second reading, so I hope you can read my speech because I spoke of the reason why I would introduce a law to have a day for the seal products and the products of the sea. It is to again challenge the European Parliament that has adopted that option, and also the fact that they always fight Canada on this question, of course forgetting that Sweden permitted seal hunting in 2014 because of their problem with the fish stocks. Estonia and Finland have a quota, which means that we're not the only ones supervising this kind of hunting. Some of you say "harvesting.'' As far as I'm concerned, in French it doesn't make any difference.

I must say that Greenland has been an ally for a long time. Like us, they are overwhelmed with the quantity of seals. As far as I'm concerned, the people who are involved with this trade, whether we're talking about the people of the North, who I have accompanied on their seal hunt in Nunavut — I also visited a plant that processes the skin and fat, which is being recycled into Omega-3, so there is a good business in Newfoundland.

The same thing with the Magdalen Islands where the hunting may be more complicated because they use little boats and it is a very dangerous type of operation. For them, it is the beginning of the season after a tough winter. To live there in the winter is not a piece of cake.

I'm just saying that whether I'm talking about Quebec people, Newfoundland people or the Inuit people, we owe it to them to salute their courage, skill and hopefully to have this product eventually make it on the international scene, especially in Europe.

I feel that to have that day, May 20, after the hunting has taken place, is the proper moment, and also to stand up to the international community to say that we never accepted the decision of the WTO talking about the morality of the hunt, which for me was certainly not to the great glory of the WTO, rendering a decision against Canada on this question. It never talked about the commercial or the scientific treatment of these herds and making sure that we are the guardian of this resource.

This is a real renewable resource, and I feel we in Canada should be entitled to sell that product around the world. It is standing up for these people. It is in fact showing how proud we are, and each year, let's celebrate that day properly and continue to eat that product because it is very popular in my province. I'm sure you have good cooks in Newfoundland and they have good cooks also in the North.

I hope you will support the bill and we will have a common approach to this, and we will celebrate together next year, since we're not going to an election in the Senate.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Hervieux-Payette, for your comments and putting the bill forward.

I understand, Senator Wells, that you may have a comment.

Senator Wells: Thank you, Senator Hervieux-Payette, for the introductory remarks.

I agree. I not only sit on the committee, but I'm also a critic of the bill. I applaud you for putting this forward. The work that sealers do is dangerous. It is honest work, and I think we should take every opportunity to celebrate the legitimacy of what they do. They're well trained and this is really recognizing responsible, sustainable and humane harvesting, and putting that out to the world. I applaud you for that. Thank you for putting it forward.

Senator McInnis: I want to commend her as well for this. My favourite movie is Tombstone — Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday made a comment that I thought was always very wise when it comes to the WTO. Their "hypocrisy knows no bounds.'' That is so true when it comes to the seal hunt. As you point out, the countries are doing it right under their nose.

Part of the reason we wanted to do it was, of course, because of the alleged — and I believe true — fact that they eat an awful lot of our fishery, and they're all over the place.

I commend you for it, and I think a day to acknowledge it may just help because it is an industry.

And thanks to Senator Hubley. She now has me on that pill because I told her my joints were bad. Senator Raine said to me that it will take six months for it to have effect, and I'm starting to feel the effect. It is a wonderful thing. It is an industry unto itself.

So thank you for acknowledging this and bringing it forward. I think it is wonderful.

The Chair: Amazing stories.

Senator McInnis: I know. I wanted it to be on record.

Senator Raine: Listen, about the seal products and the seal oil, I was very distressed when I went into my local health food store where the man regrettably told me he could not sell it anymore because he had a lady come in and say if he kept selling seal oil, she would picket his business. This is in Kamloops, British Columbia. He felt very bad because he knew it was a good product, but he said: "I can't afford to have my small business picketed.'' So a day to celebrate the products and the legitimacy of the products is very, very good.

Now, if you don't mind, I would like to read into the record an email I got. You may have got a copy of it as well. It reads:

Dear Senators,

I would like to thank all of you who support the seal hunt. With so many off our coasts it is more of a harvest than a hunt. It is a shame so few are harvested his year. I hope they will be harvested to manageable numbers in coming years before disease and starvation takes away the opportunity to harvest this natural, renewable, and sustainable resource.

I'm a mixed ethnicity and I love seal meat. I cook it in many ways and really enjoy the flavour. I am not a hunter and depend on others to get the meat for me and my family. This year, with the decline in commercial hunt, I had only one meal of meat and it appears that will be all I will get. I'm terribly upset about not having seal for the coming winter. I feel deprived because I can't hunt myself, and those holding personal licenses are getting meat for their own families. This leaves me out of the opportunity since none of my family hunts seal. I have to do without. I certainly hope that the commercial seal harvest happens next year else I will have to endure another winter without enjoying one of the best meats the world has to offer.

Last year, I was able to get 6 carcasses and 12 flippers. I butchered the carcasses myself and froze ribs and steaks then bottled everything else besides the flipper. I had seal most every week and thought I would get more this spring but that did not materialize. I stretched what I had as far as I could, hoping to get more but with deep regrets I feel I had what there is left for me this year. One meal at a community event, that's all, that's it.

And then she goes on.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I received that this morning.

Senator Raine: This is the type of person we are responding to, people who know how good this meat is.

The Chair: We're going to move to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill now. I wanted run through a couple of housekeeping items for those who may not be aware of a number of points in relation to clause-by-clause consideration. If at any time a senator is not clear where we are in the process, please ask for clarification. I want to ensure at all times that we all have the same understanding of where we are.

In terms of the mechanics of the process, I wish to remind senators that when more than one amendment is proposed to be moved in a clause, amendments should be proposed in the order of the lines of the clause. Therefore, before we take up an amendment to a clause, I will be verifying whether any senators had intended to move an amendment earlier in that clause. If senators do intend to move an earlier amendment, they will be given the opportunity to do so then. Hopefully, it will fall in line.

One small point: If a senator is opposed to an entire clause, I will remind you that in committee the proper process is not to move a motion to delete the entire clause, but rather to vote against the clause as standing as part of the bill. I refer to Beauchesne, citation 698(6), which notes:

An amendment to delete a clause is not in order, as the proper course is to vote against the clause standing part of the bill.

I would also remind senators that some amendments that are moved may have consequential effect on other the parts of the bill. I refer senators again to Beauchesne citation 698(2), which notes the following:

An amendment must not be inconsistent with, or contradictory to, the bill as so far agreed to by the committee, nor must it be inconsistent with a decision which the committee has given upon a former amendment.

In the spirit of this statement, it would be useful to this process if a senator moving an amendment identified to the committee other clauses in this bill where this amendment could have an effect. Otherwise, it would be very difficult for members of the committee to remain consistent in their decision making.

Staff will endeavour to keep track of these places where subsequent amendments need to be moved and will draw our attention to them. Because no notice is required to move amendments, there can, of course, have been no preliminary analysis of the amendments to establish which ones may be of consequence to others and which may be contradictory.

If committee members ever have any questions about the process or about the propriety of anything occurring, they can certainly raise a point of order. As chair, I will listen to the argument and decide when there has been sufficient discussion of a matter in order to make a ruling, but I think we are all in agreement with the bill.

The committee is the ultimate master of its own business within the bounds established by the Senate, and a ruling can be appealed to the full committee by asking whether the ruling shall be sustained.

As chair, I will do my utmost to ensure that all senators wishing to speak have the opportunity to do so. For this, however, I will depend upon your cooperation, and I ask all of you to consider other senators and keep your remarks to the point and as brief as possible.

Finally, I wish to remind honourable senators that if there is ever any uncertainty as to the results of a voice vote or a show had of hands, the most effective route is to request a roll call vote which obviously provides unambiguous results. Senators are aware that any tied vote negates the motion in question.

Are there any questions before we begin clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-224? If not, we can now proceed.

Is it agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall the title stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Postponed.

Shall the preamble stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 1, which contains the short title, stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 2 carry?

Do you have an amendment for clause 2?

Senator Wells: Yes. I would like to move:

That Bill S-224 be amended in clause 2, on page 3, by replacing line 3 with the following:

""National Seal Products Day''.''

And that would have the effect removing the words "and Seafood.''

The Chair: Senator Hervieux-Payette, do you have a question?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Yes, I just want an explanation. Why do you want to remove it? The title there is the same as the European law. Of course we want to deal with this question with the same approach so that both are legitimate. Now we are singling out just the seals and we are removing the seafood products. I want an explanation as to why we would remove that.

Senator Wells: Thank you for your question, Senator Hervieux-Payette.

There are two points. One is that our Canadian law doesn't have to mirror the European law on a similar topic. We generally know that, but I think the focus would be on seals. I'm not presupposing your intent because it does say "Seafood Products'' as well. But in my mind the focus should be on seals and broadening it to seafood products weakens that focus on seals.

There are already movements to have a national seafood day, and I didn't want this to interfere with that because I think that can stand on its own merit as well.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Mr. Chair, I think we will not have enough days in the year and that maybe we will have to extend the year if each product is to have a different day.

I will accept the amendment because I have no choice, but I'm saying that I don't think we are reinforcing the point by just stressing the seals. Seafood products are legal and I would say a good part of that has been stolen by the Europeans, from my own knowledge of the fishing off the East Coast. I thought this would reinforce our position internationally. We can remove it, but I don't support it.

Senator Baker: Senator Wells makes a very good point in that the bill is about a particular seafood product, namely the seal products, but is there another reason why you wanted to include all seafood products? When you say "Seafood Products,'' it would cover everything in the ocean.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Yes.

Senator Baker: Is there a particular reason why you would like to include all seafood products with the seals?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I thought this was a major industry in Canada. When we talk about harvesting seals, I hope we are still harvesting fish and so on. In fact, my knowledge of having so many other countries fishing in our own part of the ocean is that we are penalized when we do recognize the 200-mile limit and the Continental Shelf.

It is as if you were telling me we agree on the fruit but we disagree on vegetables. As far as I'm concerned these are food products and for me this is related to seafood products. It could be any others. Whether we're talking about lobster or other seafood products, let's be proud of that.

Senator Baker: As you know, as a lawyer, your preamble counts as a part of your bill. It directs you as to what the intent of the bill is. Do you find that if you change the name you would also have to change the preamble?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: No, because I would say seal is one particular item contained in seafood, but if we are just going to deal with seal, it goes well with the preamble.

Senator Baker: In other words, if Senator Wells' amendment were passed, the preamble would still stand as it is?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Well, hopefully.

The Chair: That's our understanding, yes.

Senator Baker: Okay.

Senator Wells: Thank you, Senator Baker. That's a good question.

It might be instructive if we look at it this way. That title wouldn't necessarily include all products from a seal because all products from a seal could include fur or leather or oil, which aren't food products.

In removing the seafood products, yes, you're removing things like mussels, salmon and hake, but you're still maintaining the essential element of what I would like to see in this bill, and that's the celebration of the seal and the products associated with the seal, which aren't necessarily food.

The Chair: Any other questions or comments on the proposed amendment?

In amendment to the motion that clause 2 carry, the Honourable Senator Wells moves:

That Bill S-224 be amended in clause 2, on page 3, by replacing line 3 with the following:

""National Seal Products Day''.''

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the motion in amendment carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause 2, as amended, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause 3 carry?

Senator Wells: I would like to make an amendment. It is essentially a consequential amendment. I move:,

That Bill S-244 be amended in clause 3, on page 3, by replacing lines 4 and 5 with the following:

"3. For greater certainty, National Seal Products Day is not a legal holiday or a''.

That would reflect the removal of seafood products.

Senator Baker: Could the sponsor of the bill explain what is meant by a "legal holiday'' or a non-juridical day?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I guess you won't get the holiday and leave the Senate on that day, senator. You will have to spend it right here, hoping that we will have the possibility of eating some seal on that day. Maybe Senator Wells will be in charge.

The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the motion in amendment carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause 3, as amended, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause 1, which contains the short title, carry?

Senator Wells: I move:

That Bill S-224 be amended in clause 1, on page 2, by replacing line 35 with the following:

"Products Day Act.''.

The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the motion in amendment carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall clause 1, as amended, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the preamble carry?

Senator Wells: I move:

That Bill S-224 be amended in the preamble, on page 2, by replacing line 30 with the following:

"Seal Products Day;''.

Currently it says, "Seal and Seafood Products Day,'' and I propose that it be replaced by "Seal Products Day.''

The Chair: Does everyone understand that?

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the motion in amendment carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the preamble, as amended, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the title carry?

Senator Wells: I move:

That Bill S-224 be amended by replacing the long title with the following:

"An Act respecting National Seal Products Day''.

The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the motion in amendment carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the title, as amended, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Shall the bill, as amended, carry?

Senator Cordy: I'm looking at the summary. It says that this enactment designates May 20 as "National Seal'' — so that should also be changed. And at the top of page 3, the title is "National Seal and Seafood Products Day.'' That would have to be changed.

Senator Baker: The summary is not part of the bill.

The Chair: The summary does not need to be amended and its title is not part of the bill.

Senator Cordy: That's fine.

The Chair: Luckily we have all this assistance around us.

Shall the bill, as amended, carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

Does the committee wish to consider appending observations to the report? I haven't been made aware of anything.

Is it agreed that I report this bill, as amended, to the Senate?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you senators for your cooperation.

As I said, we're going to leave Mr. Kerr's bill until next week. I need a motion to move in camera, pursuant to rule 12-16(1)(d), for the consideration of our draft report. It is moved by Senator Meredith. All those in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried.

(The committee continued in camera.)