Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

January 08, 2007 14:44 ET

Statement by Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: DFO Budget Increased Under New Government

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 8, 2007) - A recently distributed document from opposition MP Todd Russell concerning activity on the fisheries file since I became Minister in February 2006 completely misleads the public.

His primary concern seems to be about DFO's budget. He would have been correct to have had such concerns in the past, when under the Liberals, DFO's budget was reduced by 23% - knocking out a whopping $219 million.

However, the fact is that since our new government assumed power, we have increased the departmental budget by $99 million per year. That's stable, long-term funding that will be there every year as long as we remain in power.

This means more - not less - money available for the Coast Guard, small craft harbours, enforcement and science.

Russell also incorrectly asserts that there has been no progress on fighting foreign overfishing. At first blush, one would be tempted to take his word for it, since his party is accustomed to making no progress on this file, so he should be able to identify failure. Unfortunately, he has failed to recognize that, in less than a year, we have managed to overhaul NAFO into an organization that now requires countries to deal harshly with offenders who break the laws.

With new rules now in effect, vessels found misreporting are ordered immediately into port for thorough inspection, at the expense of their bottom line. If their home countries refuse to apply the rules when doling out punishment, they are now legally responsible for their lack of action.

These changes are in addition to our increased ability to electronically monitor the dozen or so vessels out near the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap, plus a constant presence watching first-hand their fishing activity.

In regards to my first 11 months in office, I find it interesting that Mr. Russell would contradict his colleague Dominic LeBlanc, a Liberal MP from New Brunswick and son of former fisheries Minister Romeo LeBlanc. On national TV, when asked about the legislation I introduced to modernize the 138-year-old Fisheries Act, Mr. LeBlanc said the following:

"My initial reaction is that Mr.Hearn's suggested amendments to the Fisheries Act are in fact good legislation. I think Mr. Hearn has been an outstanding Minister of Fisheries. He's very close to inshore fishermen. He's establishing in legislation principles like conservation and the right of fishermen to participate in decisions that affect their livelihood. From my initial look at the Bill it is certainly something we would want to look at supporting." (Mike Duffy Live, CTV NewsNet, December 13, 2006)

In offering his critique of this government's performance, Mr. Russell conveniently omits the fact that for the first time in three years - including the entire time that he was MP - our government actually hired new fishery officers to patrol Atlantic waters. He doesn't talk about the millions I announced to upgrade science facilities. And he definitely doesn't talk about the re-invigorated, stabilized budget that DFO now enjoys thanks to the change in government that Canadians elected last January.

I understand that Mr. Russell as an opposition MP needs to take partisan shots at the government. However, it does not serve the democratic process well to withhold facts that provide an accurate picture.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Steve Outhouse, Director of Communications