Former MP charges Tory gov’t ‘gutting’ fisheries act

Chilliwack MP draws fire for facilitating meeting with farmers concerned with fishery regulations.

Former fisheries minister Tom Siddon is openly criticizing the Tory government’s “gutting” of the federal Fisheries Act by removing fish habitat protection measures.

And Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire when he held a one-sided “roundtable” last month that brought local mayors with a beef about fisheries regulations together with the parliamentary secretary to the fisheries minister.

Chris Gadsden, a fisheries activist in Chilliwack, said he “applauded” Strahl for holding the roundtable meeting, but “he should also be sitting around this same table with environmental groups as well as First Nations to hear their concerns.”

“With all the talk lately about the proposed changes … by not meeting with these groups it continues to raise concerns about the lack of transparency by government these days, both provincially and federally.”

Gadsden said one of the main reasons the BC Liberals lost the Chilliwack-Hope byelection “is losing touch with the voting public.”

“If Mr. Strahl, along with his fellow MPs visit the Fraser Valley again, he should consider meeting with those that sent him to Ottawa, to represent all of us.”

But Strahl defended the meeting, saying the roundtable was an “opportunity” for elected officials to share their concerns about fisheries regulations with Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp, parliamentary secretary to the fisheries minister, and with Calgary Centre MP Michelle Rempel, parliamentary secretary to the environment minister.

“I didn’t pretend it was a debate on the issues or it was a townhall meeting,” Strahl told The Progress.

He also said the government is not removing protection for fisheries habitat, but looking for a “common-sense” approach to preserving the environment and protecting species at risk.

“I wanted my (MP) colleagues to hear firsthand how the current heavy-handed approach of the bureaucracy is affecting my constituents,” Strahl said.

Farmers have been pushing for changes to the act for years, saying it doesn’t recognize the difference between fish-bearing streams and drainage ditches that need to be periodically cleared. Under the proposed changes, government would no longer protect all waterways that “may” contain fish.

Strahl said the aim is to focus the government’s limited environmental protection resources “on those areas that are the highest concern.”

Marvin Rosenau, a vocal fisheries critic, said he wasn’t surprised by Strahl’s one-sided roundtable meeting.

“Mark Strahl is leading the charge of eco-fascists intent on making the last dime off the backs of the last remnants of an absolutely spectacular eco-system,” he charged.

Rosenau, a former provincial biologist and now a fisheries instructor at BCIT, said an “extremely good” inventory has been collected on the ditches that farmers claim hold no fishery value.

“We know what goes on in those so-called non fish habitat ditches,” he said. “Essentially, what these farmers are doing is industrializing the landscape.”

He said some of the “engineered” ditches “are simply coho streams re-arranged for irrigation.”

“A massive and productive floodplain of fish and aquatic values … has been drained, ditched, tiled and laser-levelled for agricultural profit,” he said.

“All we’ve got left is a tiny fraction of the vast schools of coho that once thrived in the floodplains of the Fraser River,” he said.

Siddon told reporters earlier this month that he is “appalled” by the Conservative government’s attempt to “gut the fisheries act under the radar” in Omnibus Bill C-38 that includes proposed changes to the National Pipeline Act, the Environmental Assessment Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Exploration Act.

A former Conservative MP, Siddon charged the Tory government is clearing the way for major economic projects by speeding up approval processes contained in the legislation.

Just Posted

A lone walker on the Hope River Corbould Park Rotary Trail on March 29, 2021. City of Chilliwack is seeking community input on its parks, recreation and culture master plan. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)
Community input sought on the future of Chilliwack parks and recreation

Feedback from public sought as master plan for Chilliwack parks, rec and culture starts this summer

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Most Read