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Lawrence MacAulay, MP

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Lawrence MacAulay

Conservatives let nearly $1 Billion go unspent at DFO

Posted on January 27, 2015

OTTAWA – Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay says it is unacceptable that the federal Conservative government has let nearly $1 billion go unspent at the department of fisheries and oceans. The government’s response to an order paper question recently tabled by the Island’s longest-serving MP revealed $957.1 million in unspent funds allocated to DFO since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, topping out at $173.9 million or almost 9 percent of DFO’s budget in 2013-14.

MacAulay says Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea has been seen around the province and region making funding announcements, but when large cuts have crippled DFO and the department is not spending such large amounts of money it does have access to, then it is questionable whether the funding announcements Shea is making will ever actually see the light of day.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that this kind of money is going unspent when the Conservatives have already gutted DFO, slashed budgets for vital programs like Small Craft Harbours, fisheries and climate science, coast guard and research stations, and downloaded costs onto the backs of fishermen”, said MacAulay. “Unfortunately the Conservative government is becoming more and more secretive with how they are spending and allocating money in the departments, but it is apparent that departments are sending massive amounts of money back to the Treasury Board to pad the bottom line for the Conservatives.”

“We have seen recent infrastructure announcements and Minister Shea has attempted to highlight money for Small Craft Harbours, coming on the heels of the budget for that program being cut in half by her government. In theory, this may sound like good news, but with her answer to my question showing a billion dollars going unspent, I am very skeptical of just how much of this funding will actually be spent and how much will sent back to Treasury Board. It’s all just electioneering on the part of the Conservatives.”

MacAulay added, “In DFO’s most recent corporate business plan, it says that the department is ‘unable to sustain a sufficient and representative workforce needed to support, deliver, and manage the Small Craft Harbours program’, while also making many references to the physical infrastructure risk at DFO.”

“There are serious problems in the department of fisheries and oceans and sending a billion dollars back and saying there is nowhere to spend it certainly will not fix them. I truly hope the government will consider the effects of their gutting of DFO and critical programs like Small Craft Harbours. And the effects that sending money for these programs back will have on the coastal communities of Prince Edward Island.”
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You can view the Order Paper Question, tabled in the House of Commons Dec. 4, 2014, below:

Q-861 – MacAulay – lapsed funding

Oceans warming, more acidic, Arctic sea ice disappearing

Posted on January 19, 2015

Published in ‘The Hill Times’ January 19, 2014

When it comes to climate change, sometimes the changes taking place beneath the surface of the ocean can get overlooked. As the country with the world’s longest coastline these changes are vital for us to understand. Oceans are warming, becoming more acidic, Arctic sea ice is disappearing, and the location of fish stocks is changing.

Warming oceans are sending some fish stocks toward the poles at a rate of 15-26 kilometers a decade. As the location of these fish stocks change, as the Arctic ice recedes at an alarming rate, and as the nature of risks to the oceans increase, it is vital for Canada to have the scientific capacity to understand what is happening.

Regrettably, the way the Conservatives have governed the country has led us in exactly the opposite direction. The Conservatives have gutted crucial research stations and programs, including eliminating DFO’s contaminants program. As a former marine mammal toxicologist with the program put it, “we don’t know what is coming tomorrow, let alone next year in terms of some of these potentially catastrophic incidents in our oceans.”

The Conservatives have also cut or closed the Sustainable Water Management Division, the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program, the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, the Kluane Lake Research Station, the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Habitat Management and Fisheries Protection, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, DFO libraries and water pollution research labs across the country, the Climate Change Adaptation program, and the Ocean Forecasting program, which is the foundation for marine information, and given blanket authorizations for the dumping of deleterious substances in Canadian waters. And this is just a drop in the bucket of the many cuts to research and environmental programs. Of course we all remember the Conservatives’ treatment of the Experimental Lakes Area and the invaluable climate change research being done there. Even the New York Times slammed the Conservatives’ attack on science related to climate change and fisheries as “an attempt to guarantee public ignorance”.

Considering the increased importance environmental changes are placing on the North, it is also vital to note that Canada’s environment commissioner has found a stark contradiction between the Conservatives’ words and actions regarding the Arctic. Many high risk areas are not surveyed and charted properly, icebreaking presence in the Arctic is decreasing, there are no mechanisms for detecting hazardous and noxious substances in Arctic waters, there is no coherent and reliable account of marine traffic in the Arctic, and no national vision to support safe marine transportation in the region. The Harper government claims to be a champion of Canada’s North, but claims like this must be backed up by solid actions to protect Canadian interests and resources, not just empty rhetoric.

Whether it’s acidification, changing temperatures, the loss of sea ice, or any number of factors, changing conditions in the ocean must be understood for the good of our fish and seafood industry and the many people in coastal communities who rely on them.

Canada must do more to be a world leader on these issues, but we need leadership in Ottawa that will invest in the people, infrastructure, and research needed to ensure this potential is realized. A Conservative government that forces thousands of Canadian scientists to march in protest claiming “no science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy” is simply proof of the failure of the Conservative government.

Question Period October 20, 2014

Posted on October 21, 2014

Coast Guard

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, the Russian container ship that drifted off the west coast raises serious concerns about the response capability of the Canadian Coast Guard. This serious situation was only under control when a U.S. tugboat arrived.

After scathing reports from the Auditor General and Environment Commissioner, and after cutting hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of vital employees, why has the Conservative government allowed our Coast Guard to degrade so severely? What steps are being taken to protect Canadians?

Debating Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act; September 18, 2014

Posted on September 19, 2014

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Speech on Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act; September 18, 2014

Posted on September 19, 2014

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection […]

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Question Period – June 20, 2014

Posted on June 25, 2014

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims that record out-migration from Prince Edward Island is not caused by his EI changes when […]

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Question Period – June 12, 2014

Posted on June 12, 2014

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a record number of people are leaving Prince Edward Island due to the Conservative cuts and changes to EI. […]

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Honouring the Fallen

Posted on June 10, 2014

Today is a day to honour, remember, and reflect on the tremendous sacrifice made by three fallen members of Canada’s RCMP. Since the senseless incident last week […]

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The many Tory attacks on fisheries and oceans (Published in ‘The Embassy’ June 4, 2014)

Posted on June 6, 2014

As World Oceans Day 2014 approaches it is an important time to reflect on the protection and conservation of our ocean and marine environments. With the […]

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Question Period May 30, 2014 – Cohen Commission/Fisheries & Oceans Management

Posted on May 30, 2014

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, after spending $26 million of taxpayers’ money on the Cohen Commission, the Conservatives have shelved the report and its […]

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