Fish story

Reader surprised by Colin Mayes' MP report - Environment is a priority

I was surprised to read Colin Mayes recent MP report called “The environment is a priority.”

Reading further, I see that “Protection of fish and fish habitat has been a priority for your government.”

I was dubious, as a friend within DFO (Federal Fisheries) in Vancouver has been describing the panic within the department over the 50 per cent staff loss that has occurred over the last year.

Here is little research that refreshed my memory of events.

Section 35 of the Fisheries Act was passed under the Mulroney government in the ’80s requiring an environmental review before someone can ‘alter or destroy a body of water (habitat) that is vital to the life cycle of fish’.

Then in 2012, included in Bill C-38, known as the Omnibus Bill, the Conservatives removed the reference to habitat and placed protection on fish that are ‘part of a commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fishery’.

In other words, if we can’t eat it, we don’t care about it.

Concern at the time was that this was a reaction to industry pressure from oil & gas, and mining, with the Conservative rationale being that every drainage ditch was holding up development.

Before the bill was passed, four former federal fisheries ministers held a joint conference to protest this change.

Mr. Mayes concludes his column with ‘Yes, Prime Minister Stephen Harper does have a plan for protecting the environment’.

Why do I feel manipulated?

Dave Smith, Vernon