The NDP MP for Port Moody-Coquitlam says he's disappointed with this week's vote on his private member's bill but also buoyed by the support he has had from politicians of all stripes as well as biologists, industry and the public.
On Tuesday, Fin Donnelly's bill C228 — to protect wild salmon — was defeated at second reading in the House of Commons 217-80. Among those in favour of the proposed legislation was Ron McKinnon, the Liberal MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.
Donnelly, the critic for fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said he was pleased many west coast MPs came on board to back his bill; he was also supported by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and nine out of 10 Bloc Quebecois MPs. In addition, his campaign got a boost from Canadian actor William Shatner and prominent environmentalist David Suzuki.
Donnelly said he's been working for nearly 25 years to ban open net-cage fish farms on the west coast. On the latest round, "I raised a ton of awareness of this nationally," he told The Tri-City News today (Thursday). "Over 99% of the feedback we got was positive from folks. The industry, by and large, didn't raise a lot of concerns with my bill."
Donnelly said his next step is to work with the federal fisheries committee on how to tackle the issue and build support — especially in the Atlantic provinces.
As well, he will turn his attention to the Liberals' draft Fisheries Act; a report is due to go before government in the new year (the review of the current legislation is now being conducted by the parliamentary standing committee on Fisheries and Oceans).
Meanwhile, McKinnon's private member's bill — C-224, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act — was supported in the Senate last week by Conservative Senator Vern White, the former head of the RCMP V-Division (Nunavut) and former head of the Ottawa Police.
His bill is now with the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.