I was unable to speak to the reporter on the day she contacted my office, and I'm afraid that, as a result, inaccurate information from my NDP colleague was contained in your article [Fisheries changes spawn community interest, Jan. 10, TIMES].
I was not able to attend MP Fin Donnelly's recent session at Golden Ears United Church, nor did I receive an invitation, however, from the press it received, I feel that a very one-sided and misguided discussion was had on the changes made through Bills C-38 and C-45.
As Budget Implementation Acts, Bills C-38 and C-45 improved several different pieces of legislation, including the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act, two that were discussed at the meeting on Jan. 7.
In reference to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, now the Navigation Protection Act, Bruce Bell was quoted as saying, "What we learned [Monday] night was that the rules and controls over our lakes and rivers in Canada are being eroded in the interest of economics."
I would like to assure you that this is simply not the case. In fact, provincial and municipal leaders have told the federal government for years that the Navigable Waters Protection Act- - a law designed in 1882 to ensure that bridges would not block shipping - vastly oversteps its intended purpose.
Under the NWPA, every project on a waterway in Canada required federal approval, while more than 90 per cent of the applications did not interfere with navigation.
The government is fixing this outdated law to reflect its historic intent: to protect navigation.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities supports this direction, correctly seeing that the removal of unnecessary delays will save taxpayers' dollars.
Nothing in the Act compromises federal, provincial, or territorial environmental laws. The Navigation Protection Act is about just that, navigation. Stringent federal legislation remains in force to protect the environment in the form of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, The Fisheries Act, The Migratory Birds Convention Act, and The Species at Risk Act.
To be frank, transportation experts will continue to make navigation decisions and environmental experts will continue to make environmental decisions.
Concerns were also raised about recent amendments to the Fisheries Act. While I was quoted briefly at the close of your article, my full statement was not printed, including an explanation of the Navigation Protection Act, as outlined above.
The Fisheries Act changes will focus on managing threats to Canada's recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries to ensure their ongoing productivity and sustainability. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will still be diligently protecting the habitat that supports these fisheries, including their food fish.
The focus is now, I believe rightly, on protecting habitat for fisheries' sake, not protecting habitat for habitat's sake.
This government will also have greater ability to protect sensitive areas and to enforce conditions of authorization. We will ensure that these new measures conserve and protect Canada's Fisheries for future generations.
Randy Kamp, MP, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission
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