June 17, 2010
Miller Speaks on Bill C-465 to create a National Heritage Day for Hunting, Fishing and Trapping
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to address Bill C-465, which seeks the designation of the 23rd day of September of every year as an official national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day. This national day would commemorate hunting, trapping and fishing as part of Canada's heritage and as present day recreational pursuits.
My riding of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound has some of the best hunting and fishing areas in Canada, and the people there love to hunt and fish. Every year we celebrate a number of fishing derbies, such as the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular, which is a fishing derby that brings out thousands of local residents and tourists to the community of Owen Sound and area. As many as 5,500 anglers have entered this event in any given year. I myself take part in as many hunting and fishing trips as I can, although not as many as I would like, throughout the year with friends and family locally and on Manitoulin Island.
I very much look forward to the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing fulfilling the promise she made to her constituents a year and a half ago that she would stand up and support getting rid of the gun registry, which Bill C-391 would do. I sincerely look forward to that. I know her constituents are waiting with bated breath to make sure she does that.
Hunting, trapping and fishing are traditions that are alive and well throughout Canada. They are not just part of our past, but part of the current heritage of Canadians from coast to coast to coast who enjoy these pastimes for the sport, for the camaraderie and for food, whether it be fresh fish, venison, wild turkey, moose meat and many others. I want to emphasize this point. As we all know, if one who can hunt and fish, one will never starve in this great country of ours that is rich with fish and game resources.
My riding has many sportsmen's, fishing and hunting clubs in every municipality that keep these traditions not only alive but strong. They do great work to maintain community spirit, educating the young on the importance of hunting, fishing and especially conservation, as well as charitable work. The Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen's Association, of which I have been a member for 35 years or more, operates a fish hatchery that raises and plants thousands of fish into our local lakes and streams.
I echo the Speech from the Throne in stating that our values as Canadians are rooted in our history. Hunting, trapping and fishing have been an integral part of the life of all Canadians and our first settlers. These activities defined where people settled and determined transportation routes. These activities formed the very backbone of our financial structures. Hunting, trapping and fishing helped to set the tone for our economic and social development. Whether it be the Hudson's Bay Company and the fur traders, or later, farmers settling across the landscape, hunting and fishing have been integral to the nation.
North American aboriginal people still use hunting, trapping and fishing as a means to provide food, clothing and tools for their families. Settlers and Canadians have hunted and fished to help feed their families when times were tough or crops were poor. Hunting, trapping and fishing allowed for the establishment of a partnership between different aboriginal peoples and the European settlers. From a historical perspective, fur trading played a key role in the creation and exploration of North America and formed the basis of Canada's early economy, an economy that today is one of the world's most stable.
Through hunting, trapping and fishing, Canadian communities were forged. Citizens were brought together; together in trading, together in communities and together in celebrations. Hunting, trapping and fishing are defined by the landscape of Canada and these pursuits ultimately resulted in the mapping of mountains, prairies, forests, streams and rivers across Canada.
Hunting requires the hunter to be resourceful, patient and observant, skills that are valuable in all facets of life.
Designation of a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day would provide an opportunity to highlight how fishing and hunting provide sustenance and are intricately tied to cultural traditions of Canadians.
Hunting, trapping and fishing are predominantly recreational activities today, enjoyed by Canadians and international tourists alike. These activities make significant contributions to Canada's economy. For example, in 2008, hunting, trapping and fishing contributed $1.2 billion to Canada's gross domestic product. Canada's fur trade, which includes fur farming as well as trapping, contributes more than $800 million to the national economy each year. This industry is a huge part of the economy in Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound, where tourists flock in all seasons of the year for fishing and hunting opportunities.
These industries support and strengthen Canada's economy and sustain jobs. From campsites to outfitters, from travel guides to restaurants, the hunting, trapping and fishing industry attracts visitors to Canada and provides many Canadians with opportunities to explore Canada's natural environment. Canada's economy has benefited from this billion dollar industry.
Funds from the sale of hunting tags, licences and stamps are used to help protect wildlife and natural habitat. This is done through conservation projects undertaken by organizations like Ducks Unlimited Canada, a non-profit organization which is dedicated to the conservation, restoration and management of wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. Through its western boreal forest initiative, Ducks Unlimited Canada is working to find a sustainable balance between development and protection of the wetlands.
The need for conservation of Canada's natural resources was first recognized by hunters—
Mr. Larry Miller: Madam Speaker, I remind the other members in the House that they will get their turn to speak.
The need for conservation of Canada's natural resources was first recognized by hunters, trappers and anglers as they realized that the development and unregulated use of natural resources posed a threat to the future of many species. As such, hunters, trappers and anglers have been active supporters of laws and regulations governing the sustainable use of our natural resources.
Canadians actively participate in hunting, trapping and fishing. Each year, approximately 3.2 million Canadians participate in recreational fishing and spend $7.5 billion on the sport. Nationally, about one in every 10 Canadian adults is an active angler.
Recreational fishing is a legitimate social and economic use of fisher resources and is integrated into the management plans that conserve fish stocks. Managing and sustaining recreational fisheries allows Canadians to enjoy Canada's natural resources. Many hunters, trappers and fishers of today aim at living in harmony with nature to develop a strong sense of observation and to reconnect with nature and their roots. Myself, I hunt and fish as a sanity time to charge my batteries and clear my mind from the stresses of work and politics.
When practised in a responsible and respectful way, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations. In fact, in most instances, these activities are necessary for sound wildlife management. For example, the deer population will often grow too large in number for a habitat to support. If some deer are not harvested, they destroy their habitat and that of other animals and often die from starvation or disease.
The harvesting of wildlife is carefully regulated to ensure a balance between population levels and wildlife habitat. Hunting also plays a role in public safety by managing bears, coyotes and cougars in urban and suburban areas and the protection of private property for agricultural crop production.
The United States of America has celebrated a national hunting, trapping and fishing day since 1972, when it was passed by Congress and proclaimed into law by the President of the United States. In Canada, similar legislation exists in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, recognizing the contributions that these activities make to the cultural, social and economic heritage. In 2009, Manitoba also had its first hunting appreciation day.
The designation of a national hunting, trapping and fishing heritage day would serve as a link between our ancestors and future generations. It would serve as an opportunity to raise awareness about the history of our great country and the role that hunting, trapping and fishing have played in the exploration and settlement of Canada. This day would provide an opportunity to celebrate the long-standing practices of hunting, trapping and fishing in Canada. It would also provide an opportunity and encourage Canadians to travel and explore their country and discover the heritage of their ancestors.
I can think of no better way to recognize the culture of a riding like Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound and its people, along with a nation like Canada, with a rich history of hunting and fishing, than making September 23 a national heritage day. I reiterate my support of the designation of that day as a federal commemoration of an important aspect of national history and heritage.