The CHILLIWACK Progress kicks off a 2015 Federal Election editorial series today, centred on questions that zero in on what matters to people in Chilliwack-Hope. The following first question was fired off last week to all candidates:
“The mighty Fraser River is closed now to sockeye fishing of all kinds in part because of high in-river temperatures and conservation concerns. Describe the impact this is currently having on Chilliwack-Hope. What do you envision doing, if elected, to ensure the federal government is taking adequate measures to preserve and protect iconic salmon runs of the Fraser River for all British Columbians?”
Green Party candidate Thomas Cheney’s answer:
The management of salmon is by no means a simple task, but climate change, habitat loss and poor fisheries management, such as bottom trawling, is making an already challenging situation more difficult. Our rivers used to be so full of salmon that old timers describe being able to use fish to walk across rivers. Salmon are essential to many of the life forms we share this area with, even providing a significant boost of fertilizer for forests. The loss of salmon is affecting tourism and food security for residents, particularly first nation communities.
As an MP, I would first reverse the legislation passed by the Conservatives that removes fish habitat protection, a policy designed by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Secondly, I would work to transition the fishery from destructive large-scale fishing techniques to stock-selective techniques such as fish wheels. I would also ensure that forest management does not degrade salmon habitat by applying ecological forestry practices. The Green Party would also work on restoring key habitat areas and ensure that hydroelectric development does not cause loss of salmon habitat. Finally, I would fight to phase out salmon aquaculture ocean feedlots and take action on climate change, two major threats facing Pacific salmon.
NDP candidate Seonaigh MacPherson’s answer:
We mark our year by the life of salmon: the appearance of spring salmon; later, First Nations’ fishing camps; late summer fly fishers; and spawning salmon in fall. Integral to our local economy, salmon are a major food source for First Nations and a primary tourist product of the region, all of which are now threatened.
After Conservatives cut over $1B of DFO’s budget since 2006, in August, Mark Strahl doles out $313,000 and Harper bequeaths $15M for BC salmon in shameless attempts to win votes.
As your NDP Member of Parliament, I commit to advocate for the interests of salmon through:
(1) Climate Change Action: The NDP committed to implement a cap-and-trade on carbon; invest in renewable energy; and reduce emissions to 34% below 1990 levels by 2025.
(2) Scientific-Environmental Oversight and Enforcement: The NDP will restore independent public oversight, supported by a Parliamentary Science Officer, and rigorous environmental assessments to establish quotas and industry risk levels to inform decision-making to protect both fish and human populations.
(3) Local Consultation: I will continue to support and consult local organizations involved in protecting our local rivers and salmon, such as Sto:lo, FVSS, and WaterWealth.
Conservative candidate Mark Strahl’s answer:
While we have seen record returns of Fraser River sockeye salmon in the last five years, any time that the Fraser River is closed to fishing there is a significant impact on the local sports fishing industry as well as on area First Nations who rely on the salmon for food, social and ceremonial purposes.
When I was the Chair of the BC/Yukon Conservative Caucus, I helped spearhead the effort to provide 100 per cent of the revenues collected through the Salmon Conservation Stamp to the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF), so that they could expand on the great work that they do in preserving and enhancing salmon habitat.
Prime Minister Harper has recently announced a re-elected Conservative government will provide an additional $15 million to the PSF to restore and preserve salmon habitat across the province of BC.
Locally, our Conservative Government has made significant investments in fisheries habitat restoration and protection on the Vedder River, Cheam Lake and Browne Creek Wetlands to name just a few. We also recently announced major infrastructure upgrades for the Cultus Lake DFO Laboratory.
These investments and initiatives will help ensure that our precious BC salmon resource is protected and preserved for future generations.
Liberal candidate Louis De Jaeger’s answer:
The implications of salmon returning in 2015 and in future years are unclear. Chilliwack-Hope’s direct economic spinoff of non-Aboriginal economies are based on a vibrant sports fishery including hotels, restaurants and tourism. We also have a cultural and economic Aboriginal food fishery that includes commercial, social and ceremonial harvest.
In 2009, The Harper Government established the Cohen Commission to look into declining Sockeye stocks in the Fraser River. Still in 2015, the results continue to be ignored particularly in light of its enormous cost to taxpayers ($26 million resulting in 75 recommendations). Neither the NDP, or the Conservative Party have included the Cohen Commission as part of their election platforms.
In 2014 I attended my Candidate Training in Ottawa, and participated in the Liberal Caucus. At that time I specified that the Fraser River salmon have always been a source of food, wealth, and trade to our region. The fish are intricately tied to the continued existence of Indigenous peoples in this area, as well as many species of birds and animals. I am proud to say that a Liberal Government will implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission, (www.cohencommission.ca), and I will continue to champion this cause.
Libertarian candidate Alexander Johnson’s answer:
This is a question for someone more qualified to provide you with something worth while than a Politician. If you’re looking to see if I’m knowledgeable on the subject, no I’m not.
Still, this is an easy question to answer. I would allow the Municipal and Provincial Government’s to work out a solution that they are much better at making – or should be if we trust them. Why pay someone else to make a decision that we can better make for ourselves?
Regardless of your belief of what the source is, rising temperatures is something we must deal with. Environment is important. Quality of life is important. We need to find balance. As technology grows exponentially we have to learn on the fly. I don’t have an answer for you that is going to convince you I should be able to make that decision for anyone. But I don’t think a Federal Watchdog will either.
Allowing a Federal Government who has all the Canadian rivers to pick from doesn’t mean it’s the best for British Columbia and more specifically Chilliwack and Hope. We have the tools available to deal with these issues more efficiently and effectively – and without a Federal Shield to protect them – with more accountability.