Environmental Enforcement Act

An Act to amend certain Acts that relate to the environment and to enact provisions respecting the enforcement of certain Acts that relate to the environment

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Sponsor

Jim Prentice  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends certain enforcement, offence, penalty and sentencing provisions of the following Acts:

(a) the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act;

(b) the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act;

(c) the Canada National Parks Act;

(d) the Canada Wildlife Act;

(e) the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999;

(f) the International River Improvements Act;

(g) the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994;

(h) the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Act; and

(i) the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

It adds enforcement officer immunity to the Acts that did not expressly provide any. It also adds the power to designate analysts for the purposes of the Canada Wildlife Act and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. It also adds inspection and search and seizure powers to the International River Improvements Act.

It amends the penalty provisions of the Acts by establishing distinct ranges of fines for different offences, by creating minimum fines for the most serious offences, by increasing maximum fines, by specifying ranges of fines for individuals, other persons, small revenue corporations and ships of different sizes and by doubling the fine amounts for second and subsequent offenders.

It amends the Acts to make the liability and duty provisions of directors, officers, agents and mandataries of corporations, and those of ship masters, chief engineers, owners and operators, consistent between the Acts.

The enactment amends the sentencing provisions of the Acts by adding a purpose clause, by specifying aggravating factors that, if associated with an offence, must contribute to higher fines, by requiring courts to add profits gained or benefits realized from the commission of an offence to fine amounts, by requiring courts to order corporate offenders to disclose details of convictions to their shareholders and by expanding the power of the courts to make additional orders having regard to the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission.

The enactment adds to each of the Acts a requirement that details of convictions of corporations be made available to the public and that all fines collected be credited to the Environmental Damages Fund and be available for environmental projects or the administration of that Fund.

This enactment also creates the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act which establishes an administrative monetary penalty scheme applicable to the Acts listed above as well as to the Canada Water Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real privilege to speak to Bill C-16. It is an issue close to my heart and the hearts of many Canadians.

The bill amends nine environmental bills, and it creates a new act. It builds on the work the Liberal Party did in 1995 on the environmental damages fund. I want to thank the Liberal critic for the hard work he has done in trying to move these issues forward in the House.

The march to extinction is something all of us are aware of. It receives short attention in the House, but we have never seen this rate of increase in the destruction and elimination of our species in the history of our planet. The cause of it is human activity. Seven billion people on our planet are having an indelible impression on our world. Some of it is good; some of it is bad. Between 8 million and 14 million species exist on our planet today, and the rate of extinction in those species is truly frightening.

This bill creates increased penalties for violators. It forces violators to not only pay fines but to also pay money to repair the damage they have done. It is a welcome change. We, in the Liberal Party, support the bill moving forward to committee to strengthen it and make it even better.

This bill is good but it flies in the face of actions by the government, which have been extraordinary. Many members on the other side do not know that the government has been removing critical funding to various species programs that have been established by some of the finest scientists in Environment Canada and NGOs across our country. The Conservative government has been eviscerating programs that are critical to the protection of habitat and species.

I will provide some hard facts and numbers. The national wildlife area protection program protects critical habitat. What did the Conservative government do? It carved off $2 million, a huge chunk of its funds.

The budget for the migratory bird program, which monitors the health of bird populations, was cut by 50%. This is at a time when the change in bird populations has been truly frightening. I am going to get to that later on. There has been a massive reduction in bird populations in Canada, and many of the birds that migrate from points south to the Arctic make a stopover on our territory. The government has been eviscerating programs necessary for monitoring their activities.

The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network analyzes the health of ecosystems. It is incredibly important. The government cut an astonishing 80% of its funds, for heaven's sake. I ask that the environment minister put that money back for these programs. If the government cares about biodiversity in Canada and cares about our environment, I ask that it put the money back.

This happened in the face of the red list that was done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The IUCN is a body that started in 1943. It has over 11,000 scientists around the world, and it does the most comprehensive assessment of biodiversity on our planet. In fact, the IUCN started the World Wildlife Fund. It is the premier organization that interacts with and integrates environmental groups, NGOs, and government bodies all over the world.

The International Conservation Caucus Foundation was very happy to host Julia Marton-Lefèvre, who is the director general of the IUCN, earlier this week. She eloquently spoke to government members, government ministries and members of the ICCF, telling us about the catastrophe that has befallen the species of our planet. She is asking that Canada be a leader in this area.

The Liberal Party's former environment minister, who is here today, did an extraordinary job in his work internationally. He is a member of the ICCF, and he is making incredible contributions here in the House and internationally based on his extraordinary and unparalleled experience. The government would be wise to listen to the former minister of the environment in these areas. There are many things it can do.

I will outline some of the problems we have right now.

What is the unprecedented rate of increase in extinction that I mentioned? According to IUCN, 44,837 species have been assessed and 38% are threatened with extinction. There are 22% of all mammal species and 31% of all amphibians that are threatened with extinction. That is a very important group; I think this is the year of amphibians, if I am not mistaken.

Amphibians are very important because they are the proverbial canary in the mine shaft. They are amphibians in a mine shaft, if you will. They are so sensitive to our environment that when they go it is a harbinger of things to come. It is not good.

With respect to birds, 14% are threatened with extinction. Regarding warm water reef corals, the corals that build up reefs in warm waters, 27% are threatened with extinction. With respect to fish, 90% of the fish species we are harvesting right now are at the limit or beyond the limit of their carrying capacity. We are overfishing the earth's oceans.

What can be done? As I mentioned before, seven billion people on our planet are having an indelible effect. The IUCN and the WWF and others will tell us there is a basic principle we have to look at.

Integrated human activity and conservation can be done, but it requires an integrated approach. If we simply say we have to protect and conserve places without taking into consideration the needs of human populations, we do not preserve the areas we want to preserve. In fact, unless the areas generally have value to people, there is a much greater risk of those areas being destroyed.

The best bet is to ensure that those areas have value for people. Some areas have to be protected by not allowing any human activity. But most areas can be managed in a way that ensures the human environmental footprint and activities are minimal so there is a benefit to humans and a benefit to the areas that are important in terms of critical habitat.

CIDA has an enormous opportunity to do this. Personally, I have been to Africa 26 times. I have had a great opportunity to spend time at the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service in South Africa

I am bringing that up for a reason. Back in the 1890s, the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa had the second-largest land mammal in the world, the great white rhino. Sixty of these animals were situated in one small area, in Umfolozi reserve in South Africa. The South African government said it was the custodian of this extraordinary species for the world and it had to preserve the rhinos' critical habitat. The government did that.

The government also recognized that if it was going to expand the numbers, it would have to expand habitat. So, the KwaZulu-Natal Conservation Service has expanded the habitat, and it has created conservancies. There is a benefit for people, but there is also a way to generate funds that can be shared for people in primary health and education and infrastructure, particularly for rural populations. There is also money to create and protect habitats, do scientific assessments, pay for game guards and expand and buy new territory to protect more habitat. There are lessons there for all of us.

The result, if I can use the example of the white rhino, is that now there are more than 18,000 rhinos. The population went from 60 to 18,000 in less than a century. It was an extraordinary act. The principle I am driving at is that we can do this.

CIDA does not get this. I do not understand why. They can, and they should, have a department in CIDA that could actually integrate conservation, environmental protection and human development. They could fit wonderfully together. To look at them as two separate parts is illogical, unworkable and ineffective. To combine them both would be very effective.

The Prime Minister should call on the relevant cabinet ministers, those involved in the environment, health and international development and have a working group to integrate these actions. The silo does not work. And I am going to get to some of those other principles later on.

Alanna Mitchell was also part of the international conservation caucus. She was a Globe and Mail reporter, who was named by Reuters as the top environment reporter in the world. As a Canadian, this was something to behold.

She has written a book called Sea Sick, in which she eloquently describes the effect of humans on our oceans. She made a very poignant point: if ocean life dies, life on the land will die too.

The reasons for this are complex, but part of the reason is global warming. When the temperature in the ocean rises, there is acidification that causes a change in the pH level. This change affects the living creatures in the ocean, resulting in a massive die-off. This causes a feedback mechanism where the rising temperature of the ocean reduces the ability of the living creatures to absorb carbon dioxide. We get this terrible feedback loop that we do not want.

As I said, the former environment minister, the former leader of my party, has fought hard for Canada to take a leadership role. He set extraordinary benchmarks for the world to follow. The Conservative government has dropped the ball. It is looking at intensity targets. The government has no concept, no plan whatsoever to deal with the Copenhagen conference that is going to take place at the end of this year.

The world climate conference is going to be held in Geneva, on August 31 to September 3. Canada should play a prominent role at this conference. We should also be going there with an effective plan of action to deal with this issue. It is not good, it is not effective, and it is irresponsible for the government to simply put its head in the sand and say that others will deal with it. That is not good enough. The government's failure to develop an effective program would be a huge act of irresponsibility towards the citizens of our country. The government should be listening to members of the Liberal caucus and other political parties who have great ideas and can help make Canada a leader in this area.

I want to talk about carbon sinks. We have to look at carbon sinks as areas with value. Take a forest, for example. We cut down the trees and those trees are sold. But those carbon sinks have value now. A hectare of tropical jungle, for example, will take out about 200 tonnes of carbon every year. If a value is put on carbon, at say $10 a tonne, that is $2,000 a hectare. That is a huge amount of money to a developing country. That money would convince the country not to cut down the trees in that jungle.

This is important, because the two great lungs of the world, in Amazonia and the Congo Basin, are being destroyed as we speak. Once they are destroyed, we cannot get them back. There is an urgency on this matter that I cannot overstate. The failure to deal with this now will affect the health of this planet for generations to come, and there is no going back.

Canada should take a leadership role in supporting the REDD program. The carbon sinks in the world have a value, and the REDD program convinces countries not to destroy what really belongs to all of us.

There was another innovative program, which took place in Cameroon. It has an area between two national parks that is crucial habitat. Cameroon is a poor country and it does not have the money to protect that habitat. But if that area is leased out, it could be protected and a larger area could be created that is crucially important for the migration of animals.

Canada should take a leadership role in convincing the international development community that part of the money for official development assistance should go into these programs. Areas could be preserved by leasing them at a small amount of money, thereby protecting critical habitat and preventing them from being destroyed. These areas are really part of a legacy for everyone around the world; they do not belong to one country. If we protect these areas, we protect the health of our planet.

I would also like to speak on the issue of trafficking. Most Canadians know about the trafficking in guns, drugs, people, alcohol and cigarettes that takes place in our country. What they probably do not know, and this is a shocking embarrassment, is that Canada is one of the top conduits in the world for trafficking in endangered species. It is true. Organized crime benefits from this illegal product.

We are a conduit of products, whether it is products from big cats, the various tiger species existing in Asia, our own bear gall bladders, bear paws, a host of different animal products, that are trafficked through Canada.

There is also an online trafficking process that takes place now. In fact, the International Fund for Animal Welfare did a great assessment of this and it was frightening. It took a look at 7,100 auctions taking place online for the trafficking and selling in endangered species products.

These were animal parts, as outlined in appendix I and appendix II. These animals are threatened with extinction. As I said before, appendix I lists at all the big cats species, such as the Bengal tiger, the Siberian tiger and the Sumerian tiger, which is down to 300. There has been a massive decrease in the Bengal tiger. All the various tiger subspecies are being destroyed.

Canada has the trafficking of bear products and other animal products, both large and small. Let us not forget reptiles and birds are trafficked illegally all over the world.

The government needs to take these issues seriously. It must look at working towards developing effective legislation to address the trafficking of these products on line. The failure to do this will contribute, and has contributed, to a massive change and effect on the ability of these animals to survive.

Part of the solution is to have robust domestic legislation, enforcement of that legislation and awareness. We can work with our partners in the NGO community and in others. We have a lot of extraordinary environmental groups in Canada. In fact, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation has hosted the IUCN, the WWF and Alanna Mitchell on the effect on our oceans, and we will host others. COSEWIC was here recently also.

The lack of attention the government has given to the environment is an abrogation of its responsibility to protect environment.

Another mismanagement on the part of the government is the Navigable Waters Protection Act. I do not know why the government attached changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act to the budget bill, Bill C-10. This has caused enormous concern among Canadians. It has nothing to do with the economy.

This is a various serious problem in my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. There are concerns about access, environmental protection, projects moved forward without any interest whatsoever on the effects those projects will be on our areas.

Right now we have a mega marina project proposed for the inner harbour in Victoria. In my view this project is a recipe for a human disaster. Without the proper assessments, the project will cause a safety hazard, which will potentially cause the death of Canadians.

Canada has an enormous opportunity. The march to extinction is occurring now. Our biodiversity is linked to our survival. Once this is gone, it will never come back.

If we fail to deal with this problem now, if we fail to integrate conservation and human development, if we fail to integrate economic interests and preservation, if we fail to take an international approach to protect the large carbon sinks in the world, if we fail to have an effective plan to deal with global warming, if we fail to protect the our areas of critical habitat, if we fail to do these things, then our species will be doomed too.

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I understand an amendment was made at committee to allow private prosecutions under the act, probably because a number of the members did not trust the government to properly enforce the legislation.

If we allow private prosecutions, would that also impact on class action lawsuits? The member is probably aware that Quebec and Manitoba, and I think possibly B.C., have class action lawsuit legislation. Would there be any application of that type of approach and that type of legislation to this bill? If not, could there be?

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not a lawyer so I do not feel equipped to answer that complex legal question. I will ask my colleagues in our party who are lawyers. In fact, our environment critic is a lawyer, so I will ask him that question.

However, we are not sure whether the government will be able to enforce this. When it comes to our wildlife officers, the evisceration by the government of moneys for our wildlife officers has caused a huge problem. British Columbia had only one wildlife biologist enforcement officer for the southern half of Vancouver Island. How on earth can one officer deal with the complex issues and the large territory in half of Vancouver Island, such as poaching, the destruction of critical habitat that affects our salmon runs and excessive overfishing? It is absolutely impossible.

We implore the government to make a robust investment in our fisheries and wildlife officers. They are extraordinary people. They do a great job. The government needs to listen to them because they are on the ground and they know what goes on.

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Conservative Party is not necessarily in a big hurry to enforce the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. The environment is not among its priorities. Recently, I was asked to replace a member of the committee that is currently studying the Species at Risk Act.

I would like to tell the member who just spoke that when the Liberal Party was in power, it did enforce this act. It revised it and provided money in the budget to protect wildlife, vegetation and aquatic and terrestrial species. But the Conservatives cut more than 50% of the funding for these programs, and they abolished some of them.

Did the government slash 50% of the funding for these programs and abolish some of them because this money was not being spent? Did that give the government of the time a surplus of $12 billion a year?

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct. I am glad he brought up many of the Liberal interventions, from the Species at Risk Act to the Law of the Sea, which we signed onto. My colleague, the former environment minister, hammered out international agreements for the environment. He managed to do something that no one else in the world has been able to do. The Liberal Party also put forward the environment damages fund.

However, this has been a chronic pattern with respect to the Conservative government. I ask the Conservatives to look in their hearts. They can promise things, but in good faith the Liberal Party worked closely with them to deal with a stimulus package and investment in various areas with the hope the government would roll out those funds. If those funds do not get on the ground to help projects, then they are useless.

We worked with the Conservatives to facilitate the process to ensure those funds would move through the House quickly to benefit Canadians. Yet last year 75% of the infrastructure funds for my province were simply not used. They have been sitting in the bank. This has been a chronic pattern.

I ask the Conservatives to put pressure on their ministers to get these moneys out, for the sake of our constituencies and, most important, for the sake of Canadians to help them in their time of need.

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for putting into his presentation a whole series of issues related to the environment. I am especially happy that he was able to point out, for all hon. members in the House, the correlation between environmental issues, government inaction and the impact on the economy. I know he concentrated more than anything on biodiversity and bio-sustainability and the ability of mammalian and fish life to withstand the assault on the environment.

Since the hon. member touched on issues related to the economy and the government's inability to address environmental and economic issues together, I would like him to comment on something that is very current in his province of British Columbia. The black liquor in the pulp and paper industry, a great element of our forestry economy, is producing an environment where our companies are unable to compete with their American counterparts, which are receiving about 8¢ per litre of production in their pulp and paper enterprise.

As my hon. colleague knows, the use of this black liquor, which is a bio-product that is used for energy transferring in the pulp and paper industry, is being subsidized in the United States to the tune of 50¢ a gallon, or about $90 million per typical pulp and paper production company.

Our companies cannot compete because our government has no incentive program to get our industries to become responsible in not only energy sustainability, but in an energy sustainable environment that diminishes CO2 emissions, and it makes our product much more competitive and environmentally sustainable. In fact, they attract private sector investment dollars in modernizing a huge element of the British Columbia economy, that is the forestry business and the pulp and paper business, and at the same time maintain the biodiversity environment for all our animal and fish life.

Could he comment on why the government refuses to provide the same kinds of incentives—

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is the failure on the part of the government to do what the member said in terms of incentivizing, in coming out with a plan that will incentivize the private sector to adopt green technology.

The private sector really wants to do this. Companies from Alberta to B.C. to Newfoundland are begging the government to work with them to develop those incentives. However, the government has a tin ear. It speaks to a lack of thoughts and ideas that the Conservative government is unable to produce. That is sad, because the ideas are out there. They are in the House of Commons right now. They are out there in the private sector. They are in the universities. The scientists have them. They have offered all manner of innovations, whether it is wind power, solar, geothermal or tidal. We have overcome many of the difficulties in tidal and wave power in which Canadians have taken leadership. These are the kinds of innovations we should be rolling out, if even only in pilot projects.

On the biofuel issue, the IPCC, the International Panel for Climate Change, has said that biofuels are becoming more and more a pariah. There may be some areas where it is useful, but in areas like corn, it is having a deleterious and devastating effect on our economy in so many ways.

I am sorry our time is up because there is much more to talk about.

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, although I rise in support of this bill, I would like to take this opportunity to expand on some key points and concerns. We feel that Bill C-16, an act that relates to the environment and enacts provisions respecting the enforcement of certain acts that relate to the environment, is a step in the right direction. For this reason, we are supportive.

However, it should be noted that this act is still lacking in several areas. Hopefully we will see many more improvements to this act in the near future. I think it is ironic that the government has tabled the bill claiming that it is committed to enforcing environmental laws, given the fact that it has failed to live up to its Kyoto commitments. Furthermore, let us not forget that this is the very government that is busy gutting federal environmental laws in order to expedite its so-called stimulus package.

It has relaxed the very requirements and laws pertaining to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which could very well result in ecological impacts on some of our waterways. The Navigable Waters Act was gutted by the Conservatives during the 2009 budget and we think that is an exceptional shame. This underlines the fact that they have no long-term vision or real understanding of environmental issues. Improvements to be made include the need for enforceable regulations pertaining to greenhouse gases or for countless toxins and pollutants that are awaiting regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act or the Fisheries Act.

Bill C-16 redefines penalties. However, the penalties are not increased for corporations. Under the bill, there is no jail time for corporations that break laws, yet it increases the financial toll and jail times for individuals. This is another example of how the government favours the big corporations. We saw that today with respect to the $90 million, based on the Auditor General's report, where the businesses are basically using Canada Revenue as an investment purpose as opposed to a way to pay their taxes. We think that is a shame.

The increases in individual punishments are, at times, five times those originally prescribed prior to Bill C-16. Yet the same adjustments are not made in relation to corporations. Basically, Bill C-16 amends eight different acts to create a uniform system of punishment. However, it is noted that these particular punishments are flawed. The impact on individuals has been increased dramatically, yet the punishments for corporations are basically inconsequential.

Most of us remember, in April 2008, the incident pertaining Syncrude Canada Ltd. and the impact on environmental issues that it created. Improvements—

Environmental Enforcement Act
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May 13th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member across certainly has a lot to say, but let us see. They are the ones who have failed to act on the environmental impact.

We saw what it did to the wildlife when 1,600 migrating ducks flew into a toxic pond owned by Syncrude. The total amount fined to this company was approximately $800,000, which was a very small amount for such a large company, given the negative impact their actions had on our wildlife and environment. There is very little incentive to encourage and ensure that corporations commit to environmental laws. For these companies, the few thousand dollars they have to pay out are a small price to pay when they choose to turn a blind eye to environmental laws.

What is required is a suitable method of policing corporate environmental offenders. Consideration should be given to increasing fines to approximately four times the current amount. This would mean that, for first offences, these companies would be hit with a much more forceful punishment. Imagine if those dollars were to be reinvested in protecting our environment.

As previously mentioned, we support this bill; however, it is with some reservation. No matter how many laws and policies the government puts in place, the impact will be minimal unless there is the political will to actually abide by and enforce those laws and policies.

I understand the member for Kenora has a lot of rhetoric to offer, across the board. Obviously this just goes to prove how much the Conservatives are not in tune with the environmental laws that need to be put in place.

On that note, although this bill provides additional tools to officers who will enforce this act, providing that the government ensures there is enough funding to have the appropriate number of enforcement officers employed, there is still a dire need for amendments to eight different acts to harmonize the penalties. This is long overdue.

The bill will require publication to shareholders and the general public of convictions under environmental law. It will not require publication of all violations, warnings, orders and tickets issued, all agreements and all charges. That is exactly what we need to put out there.

On that note, I think it is important to really recognize whether the government is actually committed to ensuring we have the proper environmental laws in place, given the fact that it basically gutted anything that had to do with Kyoto.

I can tell you that Domtar in Espanola had ensured they would be up to date with regard to the Kyoto targets. They invested all their money to make sure it was going to get done. They wanted to make sure that their company was going to be at the forefront on this. Basically, all the other companies are being told, “No, it is okay. You don't have to abide by it”. I think it is a shame.

On that note, I am going to close. I would be glad to take any questions.

Environmental Enforcement Act
Government Orders

May 13th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, for presenting the New Democrat position on this bill.

This is obviously a bill that we feel has many positive aspects. However, we are quite concerned about the implementation, and very specifically, about the regulations.

I would ask that the member tell me a bit of her thoughts with respect to what kind of work Canada has done and what kind of reputation it holds on an international scale as a result of its complete disregard for the Kyoto protocol, as a result of pulling away from commitments it made internationally, and what that means for the work we need to be doing here.

Environmental Enforcement Act
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May 13th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Churchill, Manitoba, for her question. When the government decided not to follow through with the Kyoto targets, it had a great impact across the world as to whether Canada was actually committed.

No longer are we leaders with regard to environmental laws. We are seen as being quite weak. I think that is extremely important as to why the NDP chose to put forward its climate change bill once again, which actually would bring back those Kyoto targets.

So I would again like to thank my colleague for her question.

Environmental Enforcement Act
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May 13th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for an excellent presentation regarding Bill C-16. We are looking at a bill that is 193 pages long and is quite involved.

One area that I would like to question her about is the whole area of the enforcement officers and the training methods for these officers. We are concerned that the officers be highly trained in their jobs and therefore able to correctly implement the environmental practices.

Again we are concerned about the government's capacity and desire to enforce this act, once we go through the final processes and pass it into law. Would the member comment on that particular issue of the enforcement officers?

Environmental Enforcement Act
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May 13th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

During my speech I did talk about the enforcement part. Certainly the enforcement officers that we have out there right now are actually extremely well trained and can do the job. The problem is that there are not enough of them to do the job. Plus, we need to make sure that the laws that are put in place will actually do the job that needs to be done and give them the proper tools to enforce that.

Certainly there is a major problem with regard to ensuring that there are enough people there to take this on. As we have seen with regard to the tainted meat issue in the past, the government is not committed to enforcement.

Environmental Enforcement Act
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May 13th, 2009 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member a further question.

This bill would eliminate the power of the courts by establishing, under legislation, minimum and maximum penalties. For example, by making a maximum penalty of $6 million, that is not a high enough penalty if a situation develops, such as an oil spill, where there could be a loss of $100 million or more. The penalty in that case would only be $6 million. That brings us into the whole issue of whether corporations should be let off the hook for what are essentially very small fines in relation to their overall revenues, as opposed to the heavier penalties that would be placed on individuals.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on that whole area and those two points.

Environmental Enforcement Act
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May 13th, 2009 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us review some of the fine requirements under this bill.

The maximum fine for an individual under these new punishments would be $1 million. This amount is a real sacrifice for an individual, not to mention the threat of jail time. Corporations can see offences of no more than $10 million, even on continual offences. The financial sum is beyond harsh for an individual, but very weak for corporations.

For example, ExxonMobil made an estimated $477 million in 2008. A punishment of $10 million is not much more than the cost of doing business for such a corporation. ExxonMobil was forced to settle for approximately 75% of the $507.5 million in damages it faced for the Exxon Valdez tanker spill, off the coast of Alaska. This amount of fine is something suitable for a massive corporation.

We have to look at the impact as well. Let us not forget about the impact on our wildlife and the length of time it takes to clean up a spill. It is going to be very important when these fines are levied that the money be reinvested in exactly what the fine was levied for. Basically, it needs to be reinvested into the environment.