Statement made on 01 October 2009 by Senator William Rompkey (retired)
Hon. Bill Rompkey:
Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It is with regard to amendments to the Convention of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization now laying on the table of the House of Commons which the government can approve without parliamentary consent. There is discussion happening in both houses, I think.
This convention and the amendments to it could, under certain circumstances, open up our 200-mile fisheries zone to control by foreign countries, including the European Union.
I do not have to remind the chamber that this is the same European Union which participated in the demise of the cod stocks off the northeast coast. As a result of that, we have many young Newfoundlanders working in Alberta and elsewhere. This is the same European Union that recently banned Canadian seal products for which this chamber stood up, thankfully for those of us with sealing in our areas. This is the same European Union that now wants to insert itself into policies in the Arctic, about which the Prime Minister has said we must use it or lose it and that, in no uncertain terms, is sovereign Canadian territory.
Therefore, this convention and its amendments are extremely important and I am not sure they have been brought directly to the attention of the Prime Minister. I will ask the minister if she would do that. There is no rush here. Norway is the only state that has approved this convention so far.
This issue is a complicated one that needs more study. We need to examine it carefully because the convention and its amendments could have serious effects for all of us who represent coastal areas in Canada — all of us, no matter where we come from. On the East Coast, this matter could have serious effects for us down the road.
I ask the minister if she will bring this issue directly to the attention of the Prime Minister, and if she will ask the Prime Minister to take time to examine this complicated area before the government approves the convention and its amendments.
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