Editor’s note: This is a letter to John Weston, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Randy Kamp, MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission. It was copied to The Chief for publication.
Thank you for time to meet in Squamish this past Tuesday at Totem Hall. We feel this was a valuable preliminary meeting to begin a consultative process. We look forward to a second and further meetings, as indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary Kamp. We think it’s important, however, to recognize that this was a preliminary meeting — as structured and with the limited time available, it was not possible to respond to 10 questions without at least a week’s advance notice to digest the material.
With respect to the document “Understanding the Amended Fisheries Act: Questions for Consideration,” you requested input from our group specifically to address the regulations that derive their authority from the Act. In order to effectively provide input on the 10 questions asked, we need to know:
• Can you provide a clear timeline set out in advance that allows for reasonable periods of time to review and consult on the process and content?
• Who drafted these questions and which office is going to receive the answer to the questions?
• What assurance do we have that our input will be given serious consideration?
• What would be reviewed under the old Fisheries Act that won’t be reviewed under the new?
• What scientific analysis will be made before the regulations are finalized? Will that analysis include scientists outside the Department of Fisheries and Oceans?
• How will the new regulations integrate the Wild Salmon Policy and take into account the forthcoming results of the Cohen Commission?
• What assurance can we be given that 33 per cent cut to DFO Habitat staff and closure of five DFO offices in the province of British Columbia in key salmonid habitat areas that the new Fisheries Protection Program will be effective?
• What assurance is there that the traditional “precautionary principle” will be applied under the new act, given that the new emphasis appears to be more on “fish kill,” rather than the broader, traditional, more protective “habitat.”
We very much appreciate John Weston’s continuing efforts to have community meetings relating to fisheries and habitat issues. We look forward to your prompt response on these questions.
On Behalf of Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable Group
Hon. John Fraser
Randall W. Lewis, Squamish First Nation
Dave Brown, vice-chair, Squamish to Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee