Bill C-3 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.
This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 1st Session.
John Baird Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
May 25th, 2010 / 10:10 a.m.
Dr. William Adams Research Scientist, As an Individual
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, as a research scientist with Environment Canada, I was involved in the 1970s series of studies called the “Beaufort Sea project”, which included extensive research on the potential impacts of oil pollution in the Arctic and on the climate. It appears that, as oil exploration and production are again being planned, there is a growing probability of a major oil spill or even a blowout occurring, which would release oil into the Arctic ice and water regime.
I would also like to make the point that recently Bill C-3 extended Canadian jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles offshore, thus greatly increasing the area requiring monitoring, and has increased the cost and difficulty of remedial activities in the case of oil spills that are now a Canadian responsibility.
I am the immediate past chair of the Defence Science Advisory Board, which is working on studies sponsored by DND on infrastructure requirements for increased activities by the Canadian Forces in the Canadian arctic. We are also looking at an all-of-government approach in trying to assess the potential for collaborative infrastructure initiatives with northern communities. I mention that just for some background on myself.
The results of my early studies, part of the 1970s Beaufort Sea project, were on the physical and biological impacts of the largest--to date--controlled experimental crude oil spill on sea ice. I want to help the committee to gain an appreciation of the risks and to see what regulations and timing may be appropriate with regard to granting permission for offshore drilling to be undertaken safely in ice-covered waters. There is some background on the Beaufort Sea project provided in the text of my brief, which unfortunately didn't get translated in time. This is the sort of thing that you should gain access to. These are the summary reports. There are five of them and they are available from Fisheries and Oceans. There are 42 technical reports, which this summarizes, and I'm talking about the summaries now.
We studied the impact of oil on the melting of sea ice in the spring, as well as the impacts on the organisms living in, under, and on the ice. Another major area of study was the impact of oil on the reflectivity of ice, in other words the albedo of the oil-contaminated sea ice. This measures how much the sun's radiation is absorbed compared to how much is reflected back from the surface. The concern was whether oil-polluted sea ice from a major blowout could impact the climate by influencing the degree of ice cover in the Arctic Ocean from year to year.
The field experiments were conducted by releasing eight individual spills of hot crude oil in the winter, 36 barrels each, under two-metre-thick landfast ice. We then followed the fate of the crude into the spring breakup period and on into the following year when landfast ice melts, of course, each year. The spills were into 800-foot diameter containment booms frozen into the ice such that the average depth of the crude was one centimetre in the contaminated areas.
I have a few images here that will give you an idea of what we did. The first shows where the experiments took place on the Beaufort Sea at a place called Balaena Bay near Cape Parry, which is to the east of Inuvik and Tuk. You can see here that the bay was an enclosed bay with a very small mouth into the open Beaufort Sea. This was chosen for safety: if we had to seal it off, we could. The actual spills took place in this little corner of the bay and consisted of these eight boomed areas under which the crude was pumped.
This is what it looked like in the spring. You can see the eight boomed areas and you can see crude oil beginning to emerge.
This was in June, so the melt had begun. Partial disposal of oil by burning is possible, and in June we did begin to try burning. Oil can be burned when it first arises in the spring, but soon after being exposed to the air and the sun, the lighter fractions disperse and you can't burn it. Large areas of the surface can also be contaminated by black soot from the burning.
Oil rises up through brine channels. Sea ice is a very complex material and it has channels through which the oil rises.
This is what it looks like on a burned area where you can see soot. There's a lot of soot and that extends over hundreds and hundreds of metres from the site, even when it's not very windy.
This shows one of the organisms that's at the heart of the food chain in the marine environment; this is a marine diatom. We studied these, and there were various changes. We found them to be more numerous and more diverse in the presence of oil. We also found much algal growth in the melt ponds in the oil area compared with the control area. Here is an image that gives you an idea what it looks like from a human perspective out on the ice.
And here is an indication of where the landfast ice is. You can see that there's an active shear zone between the landfast ice, which is the ice that melts every year and remains stable throughout the winter, and a transition zone, which is multi-year ice and some first-year ice, and then the main polar pack, which has a sort of gyre that goes in the direction I am pointing, past Banks Island and the Canadian shores.
Just to give you, from a cartoon perspective, a sense of what the ice looks like, you can see in this next image that you have the first-year ice, you have an active zone that contains multi-year ice, often with ridges and the possibility of scoring the seabed, and then you are out into the polar, multi-year ice. Multi-year ice can grow up to ten feet thick, and every ten years it's basically regenerated by refreezing from the bottom and melting from the surface. It's a very dynamic system.
That gives you a short course on the ice in the Arctic.
The tests we conducted, the largest so far ever conducted with real crude oil, were conducted without natural gas. There would normally be gas accompanying the crude in a blowout, and the large gas bubble that would form under the ice therefore couldn't have been observed in this. It would have major effects on what would actually happen.
The major conclusion we came to was that oil-contaminated landfast sea ice melts faster in the spring and stimulates biological processes that differ from those in normal sea ice. Secondly, any physical modelling, without including the surprising biological responses to the oil itself and to the burn products that have seen from these experiments, would not predict the impact of an oil blowout on the dynamics of the sea ice regime in the Arctic. That is, biological systems may be a determining process in looking at the impacts of oil on the environment and climate.
October 29th, 2009 / 11:30 a.m.
Donald Roussel Director General, Marine Safety, Department of Transport
Yes, I knew this one would come to me. Thank you, Mr. Bagnell, for the question.
When we did Bill C-3 in March, we were in front of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications with the ministers, and we did answer a large number of questions on that particular front.
When it comes to pollution prevention in the Arctic, we mentioned to the SSCOTC committee that we deploy a Dash-7 airplane for the Arctic, and in Madame Roy's speech we mentioned that we had done 188 flying hours on board those planes this year. It's not just a sightseeing tour. We have enforcement officers from both the Department of the Environment and Transport Canada.
Beyond the system in the north for aerial surveillance, which is also supported by satellite imaging, we have during the seasons people who are working in Tuktoyaktuk, where they are deployed. We have also staff in Churchill when ships are there, when foreign vessels are loading grains.
So we have our staff during the seasons who are fully authorized and have the power of pollution prevention officers. But of course we go where there is shipping activity, and there are limited shipping activities during the seasons. On average, we get about 88 vessels doing roughly 188—
Opposition Motion--Business of the House
Business of Supply
June 19th, 2009 / 9:20 a.m.
Prince George—Peace River
Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the opposition day motion moved by the hon. member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader.
The motion recognizes the role of the House in ensuring government accountability. As we know, that is the primary function of Parliament in our Westminster system.
More specifically, the motion at hand calls for three things: first, that the Standing Orders of the House be changed with respect to the scheduling of allotted days this fall; second, that the House calendar be altered to accommodate the G20 meetings in September; and third, that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget.
I will touch on these three points very briefly, as it is the government's intention to support the motion. I will devote the remainder of my remarks to a more general discourse on the successful functioning of Parliament and my experiences of this past session.
The opposition day motion provides for a change to the rules of Parliament with regard to how the government may allocate opposition days this fall. Since coming to office in 2006, as a general rule our government has always tried to evenly distribute the opposition days in the parliamentary calendar. In certain circumstances we recognize that legislative priorities can force a deviation from this practice. However, we do support the idea of amending the Standing Orders to ensure that this usual practice becomes a rule.
The second provision of today's opposition day motion provides for a change to the House calendar for the fall of 2009. Under this provision the House would open a week earlier than currently scheduled and it would then adjourn for the week of September 21. This will enable the government to focus on the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 24 and 25.
The G20 is the chief forum for the world leaders, as a group, to address issues resulting from the global economic crisis, and Canada has played an active and important role in these discussions. At the fall G20 meetings, the Prime Minister and other world leaders will discuss progress in promoting economic recovery and they will consider new ways to address global economic and financial challenges.
I think we can all agree that there is no more pressing issue before Parliament than dealing with the global economic downturn, which has caused personal hardship and job loss around the world. Unfortunately, as we all know, Canada has not been immune.
Our legislative program of this past session has reflected that the economy is the number one issue for Canadians. As such, I am pleased to support a motion that permits the Government of Canada to give its undivided attention to the critical economic discussions that will be taking place at the G20 summit in September.
The third provision of today's opposition motion requests that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget. In the face of global economic uncertainty, this government presented a budget in January with a comprehensive economic action plan to stimulate economic growth, restore confidence and support Canadians and their families during this global recession.
This economic recovery program is unprecedented in our history, and it is working. Canada was the last group of seven country to enter recession and the International Monetary Fund expects that we will have the strongest recovery coming out of it.
The government has also taken unprecedented steps in reporting on our economic action plan. We tabled an initial budget report in March. A week ago we tabled a second budget report, which outlines how 80% of the measures in our economic action plan are already being implemented. This government welcomes the opportunity provided by today's opposition day motion to table a third budget report in September. In fact, we committed to such a report in our budget presentation earlier this past winter.
The Minister of Finance announced at the time that he would be tabling an economic report in the fall. This being the case, I commend the official opposition for echoing the government's pre-existing intention and commitment to provide quarterly reports on the economy in and through the House to all Canadians. As we debate this today, I think it is important to remember that the government was already committed to providing that report in September.
As all members in the House know, the last few weeks have not been easy in this place. In fact they have not been easy on Canadians from coast to coast to coast. During this time of economic challenge, Canadians did not want to hear about the possibility of an election. Canadians want us to continue to work to achieve results for them. They know we cannot afford an election, which would put Canada's economic recovery at risk, halt stimulus investment across the country and limit our ability to continue to implement our economic action plan for Canadians.
By avoiding an election, we have enabled the government to continue its course of doing everything possible to turn this global recession around on our own soil. The cooperation we have seen emerge over this week, spearheaded by our Prime Minister, has not only avoided a costly and unwanted election but has clearly demonstrated to Canadians that their Parliament can work for them.
Despite the partisan political drama played out during the daily 45 minutes of question period, Canadians may be surprised to know just how cooperative and productive this past session of Parliament has been. Since January, our government has worked with all opposition parties to advance many important bills that will help Canadian families. We have moved forward on our electoral commitments, and I am pleased that much more has been done.
Since January, the government has introduced a total of 54 bills. By the time the Senate adjourns for the summer next week, I expect we will have royal assent on 26 of those bills, including such important legislative initiatives as Bill C-33, which will restore war veterans' allowances to allied veterans and their families; Bill C-29, to guarantee an estimated $1 billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and co-operatives; Bill C-3, to promote the economic development of Canada's north; Bill C-28, to increase the governance capacity of first nations in Canada; and Bill C-14, a critically important justice bill to fight the scourge of organized crime.
Although much work has been accomplished, a good number of bills that continue to be priorities of our government remain on the order paper, including Bill C-6, to enact Canada's consumer product safety act to help protect the health and safety of all Canadians; Bill C-8, to provide first nations women on reserve with the same rights and protections enjoyed by all other Canadians; and Bill C-23, to open new doors for trade between Canada and Colombia.
Furthermore, our government has continued to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to fighting crime and violence in this country. Our justice minister, the hon. member for Niagara Falls, has been unrelenting in his determination to hold criminals accountable and protect victims and law-abiding Canadian citizens.
Over a dozen justice related bills have been introduced since the beginning of this parliamentary session, which include Bill C-15, Bill C-26 and Bill S-4, to help fight crimes related to criminal organizations, such as drug-related offences, identity theft and auto theft; Bill C-25, which will return truth in sentencing and eliminate the two for one credit; Bill C-36, which will repeal the faint hope clause, and Bill C-19, the new anti-terrorism bill.
Unfortunately none of these bills have completed the legislative process during this session of Parliament. Again, due to the leadership of our Prime Minister, thankfully our country will not be plunged into an election and these bills will remain on the order paper. We hope to pass them into law in the fall.
I look forward to continuing the spirit of cooperation in this place in September to accomplish this unfinished business for all Canadians. Five of these bills have already passed one chamber of Parliament and they are before the second House for consideration. On behalf of vulnerable Canadians in particular, we have to keep moving to get the job done on this important legislation.
In closing, I am pleased that the government has been able to develop today's opposition day motion in cooperation with the official opposition. This House of Commons should more often focus on what all of us have in common rather than what divides us. While I would have liked to have seen some debate on some of our newer bills that we have just introduced and passed more of our justice and safety bills, this parliamentary sitting is winding down in the age-old Canadian tradition of compromise.
We all know that this place is about debate, trade-offs, negotiations and compromise. This is how Parliament works. This is how our very country was born, has grown and continues to develop and flourish.
As I have already indicated, the government will be supporting today's motion. I again salute our Prime Minister for his leadership in staving off an election, which I think would be dreaded by the vast majority of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I wish you, and all colleagues in this House, a very happy summer.
Private Members' Business
June 11th, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer
Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
June 11, 2009
I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Rosalie Silberman Abella, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in her capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 11th day of June, 2009 at 3:56 p.m.
Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor
The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Customs Act; Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act; and Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
June 9th, 2009 / 4:10 p.m.
Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC
Mr. Speaker, the reason why I laid out the chronology since 2007 was precisely to try to show what we have been through in the Liberal Party and to illustrate the relationship between Bill C-3, Bill S-3, which came from the other chamber, and Bill C-19. That is the jargon we parliamentarians use.
In other words, we had a bill in the other chamber, Bill S-3, which introduced some provisions that were extremely important, I would even say fundamental. Unfortunately, for all sorts of parliamentary reasons, Bill S-3 could not be brought forward in this chamber and so the government decided to reintroduce Bill S-3 in the form of what we are now calling Bill C-19.
If Bill C-19 reiterates the elements of Bill S-3, as I really have the impression it does, those being safeguards and protections for individual freedom, then I will have no problem supporting Bill C-19.
Marine Liability Act
May 14th, 2009 / 11:35 a.m.
Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Yukon for raising some very important issues in the context of this legislation. There are several, but I will pick up on one of the latter issues, and that is all of that which is resident under the permafrost is under the ice.
My colleague from Yukon has mentioned on several occasions, with respect to this bill and Bill C-3, that it is important to protect the environment and the interests of the aboriginal communities there. I note people in the audience are following this debate attentively. They picked up on that issue as well.
My colleague from Yukon knows very well that one of the issues we attempted to raise with Bill C-7 was that vessels would potentially go through the Northwest Passage. He made reference to the fact that potentially a great number of scientists and geophysicists would look at the latent, vast deposits of petroleum resident in that part of Canada.
For example, the 2008 U.S. geological survey found that 13% of all the untapped, undiscovered petroleum deposits were resident in Canada's Nordic lands under the ice sheets. Further, it found that 30% of the natural gas deposits worldwide were resident off the shore of Yukon and northwest of Nunavut. Indeed, 20% of all liquefied natural gas products were resident in that same place. When we have an environmental accident, where vessels that are not prepared to assume their responsibility travel through these waters, the potential for environmental disaster is huge.
My colleague from Yukon mentioned a moment ago that all such vessels travelling in this area ought to carry a liability of some $2 billion. The bill does not go that far. Could the member elaborate on the relationship between the liability that must be carried by these commercial operators and the environmental requirements of not only the north but all of Canada?
Marine Liability Act
May 14th, 2009 / 11:15 a.m.
Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of items I would like to comment on peripheral to the bill. It gives us a chance to address issues that our constituents have and some are exactly in the legislative wording of the bill. I will concentrate most of the time on issues related to my riding in Yukon and to my role as critic for northern affairs, so issues covering the whole of the Arctic.
I want to emphasize on a more global scale the point the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca made on the book Sea Sick. If we were to add the prevention of pollution in the bill, it would just accelerate the problem that is in that book, a very critical problem in the world, one that is affected by increased carbon dioxide in the seas thereby damaging sea life. This bill goes to prevent, in a number of ways, issues related to oil spills.
Basically, the book makes the point that global warming is bad. However, in addition, the oxygen that we all breathe comes from phytoplankton in the seas and a small degree in pH change could eliminate that. Essentially, the oxygen on earth and the carbon dioxide would dissolve into the oceans.
As the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca said, there is even much more potent global warming from methane. It is not only coming out of the permafrost as it melts but in huge chunks of frozen methane on the sea bottoms in most parts of the world, including off his riding on the west coast of B.C., off the coast of Japan and of course, in the Arctic. This is a huge concern and Parliament had to bring this to the attention of Canadians this impending crisis, caused by carbon dioxide dissolving in the oceans, to life on earth.
I also want to reiterate the point he made about bilge cleaning and oil spills, that we do not need a wreck of a ship to cause tremendous damage, particularly in the very sensitive eco-environment in the Arctic. It is more sensitive, harder to replenish than the oceans in the rest of the world because of the cold temperatures, et cetera. As ships go up there they either dump waste, which I will talk about later, or they clean bilges or they get other species into the waters. There can be a devastating introduction of new species and extinction of the existing species that have been so essential to life in those areas for thousands of years.
The bill is good in regard to increasing protection for the seas of the world, the lifeblood of many societies, especially in the Arctic, but we have to continue to work in this area on all these other considerations we are going to talk about. I will be talking about proposed future amendments related to that type of protection.
I want to talk about a technicality in the bill and I would like to compliment the Department of Transport. When the bill first came up in a previous government, there was a serious problem in that it applied the rules related to large ocean-going cruise ships, to small canoes, rafting, outdoor adventure and recreation type businesses. Of course, those businesses, for whatever reason, did not get their message across in the first iteration of the bill, but they certainly did afterward because this could put many of them out of business. The rules just did not fit. They did not make any sense. It could make it prohibitively expensive.
There is an inherent risk that people accept in adventure tourism. There is a need to staff people with qualifications. For some companies that only do one or two trips a year, some of the provisions did not make any sense. Insurance provisions could have made it totally uneconomic to even have an operation.
I certainly compliment the Department of Transport for dealing with the wilderness tourism industry and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and coming up with amendments to this bill that would not totally wipe out the adventure tourism industry that primarily involves canoes, kayaks and rafts. That is a tremendous improvement to this bill.
I want to talk for a minute about oil spills. This bill contains a great provision in that it amends the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage. Liberal members from B.C. talked about how dramatic oil spill damage can be. Of course, this added liability is very important and it is a good section of the bill.
I want to talk for a minute about what is not addressed yet in Canada over and above this and that is oil spills in the Arctic. In the Arctic there is at present no technology to deal with oil spills. The Beaufort project studies in the 1970s were funded by the federal government and industry also contributed. They did a lot of research in this area. There are some extensive volumes of information on this. However, the bottom line is they did not come up with a solution. Within a few days of an oil spill occurring under ice, the damage is irreparable. There is no way of collecting it. There certainly needs to be research in this area.
The government is very enthusiastic about the fact that perhaps a third of the world's remaining natural gas reserves and a quarter of oil reserves, something of that magnitude, are in the northern oceans. Yet, a government agency could not issue a permit right now. I know that the government thinks that should be developed, but it could not even issue a permit right now because it has no answer to the environmental damage that would occur due to an oil spill.
Statistics make it very clear, I think American statistics, that with the number of projects and developments that take place in the seas, such an oil spill is very likely or at least has a significant probability of occurring. Obviously, we need that protection. As I said earlier, any type of chemical or species damage in the very sensitive Arctic environments could cause long-lasting irreparable damage to the oceans, the life in the oceans and, of course, to the indigenous people who have used the ocean life for thousands of years.
We need to get on with it very quickly. There should be encouragement from all parties to do the research and invest more in research, likely in collaboration with oil companies, on mechanisms for cleaning up the inevitable hydrocarbon spills in the oceans of the Arctic.
The record so far on increasing specific research projects in the north is not good. In the last budget, for instance, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences has been cancelled. The three main granting councils in Canada have lost money and researchers, and I believe a letter from 2,000 scientists in the country decried that. The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences funds things like Eureka, the closest post to the North Pole.
If we are interested in sovereignty, obviously we want scientists in the north. Why would we be cutting and closing our most northern establishment in Canada? It is a backward step related to sovereignty, but more importantly it is a backward step related to Arctic science. It is great that we are increasing facilities in the north, but it is not great if they are going to be empty facilities without any scientists there. I want to really enforce that particular point.
I also want to pick up on an excellent point made by the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe on enforcement. There have been a number of bills to increase enforcement provisions. This is just another one in the order. We must increase our enforcement ability. That is generally accepted and I am sure this bill will pass in Parliament. However, the problem identified over and over again is that the will of the government to provide the enforcement and the resources to actually enforce these things is lacking. A good example is on the inspections related to listeriosis. The government set up a system where there would be fewer inspections on the floor, moving the inspectors off the floor of the meat plants.
Another example was a proposed bill that I think has been hoisted because it was kind of inconceivable, but it was a bill to reduce inspections of grain. This would not only jeopardize human life but would jeopardize Canada's reputation around the world by reducing the inward inspections of Canadian grain.
A third example was in Bill C-3. We just recently extended Canada's ability to enforce the Arctic waters. I think it was unanimously passed. That was great. We extended Pierre Trudeau's bill from 100 miles to 200 miles because of the Law of the Sea change. So it was an administrative change.
Therefore, we increased the area where Canada could apply enforcement by a huge amount, the size of Saskatchewan, yet there was not one penny more allowed for enforcement to cover that area. I think our critic, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, made that point very eloquently in debate. It is like saying the Toronto police force added another city the size of Toronto to be enforced, but no police officers are added. What is the use of having a law with no enforcement capabilities?
When questioned on that, it was suggested that we have one propeller plane for the Pacific Ocean, one propeller plane for the Arctic Ocean, and one propeller plane for the Atlantic Ocean. I know one of the northern scientist experts, a professor, was kind of laughing at that. I really do not think that is sufficient monitoring enforcement.
Another answer was that we have increased the environmental inspectors, but remember that we are extending the area of enforcement from 100 miles to 200 miles, so we start at 100 miles out to sea and go out 200 miles out to sea in the Arctic. We asked where the inspectors were being placed and the answer was Yellowknife. If we look at a map of Canada, we can see how many hundreds and hundreds of miles Yellowknife is from the ocean, and then we would have to go 100 miles out before the bill even came into effect.
We have a bill here that increases enforcement. I would just encourage the government to make sure that we are all in favour of the items in here and that it supports the spirit of bill in making sure that it can be enforced.
I want to talk about some amendments that I propose for the future. The reason I have not brought them forward yet is that these are amendments related to this type of bill and a number of other bills.
The problem is that there are a number of items related to shipping, shipping pollution, dumping, oil spills, and the structure of boats that are capable of going through the Arctic spread through a whole bunch of acts. It is very hard to figure out the appropriate place for the amendments that I am going to talk about.
I am putting them on the table now, just to forewarn people. I am hoping that the experts in the federal bureaucracy may have an interdepartmental committee to sit down and decide whether these things that are scattered through a number of bills, probably more than half a dozen bills, should actually be in one bill, how the deficiencies should be dealt with, or whether they should be in more than one bill. Therefore, I am putting on the record some ideas for amendments. These could be looked at in the future if the experts in the various departments and the stakeholders think they are necessary.
Organizations like the Canadian Bar Association, the National Maritime Law Section, the Canadian Maritime Law Association, Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada, Canadian Shipowners Association, Tourism Industry Association of Canada had input in the bill. If they think these types of amendments are important and are needed, they can provide feedback to me and government officials. Environmental associations can also so the same thing.
As an example of one problem, under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, ships can dump grey water into the Arctic Ocean. I have spoken twice on the sensitivity of that ocean to detrimental substances. In fact, a couple of summers ago the government specifically mentioned that the navy, on individual occasions, would apply for permits to dump grey water.
These are the types of things at which we need to look. Are they necessary or can they be avoided in order to help protect that environment, especially with today's increasingly effective technology to protect the environment by building containments within ships.
The first amendment is for ships travelling Canadian Arctic waters. They would have to adhere to a zero tolerance policy with regard to the dumping of waste in these waters. Personally I think that is feasible. I have had no feedback saying it is not because of the modern technology available to us. It may cost cruise lines and military vessels, but it should be investigated.
The second amendment is the dumping of waste in Arctic waters would be subject to a first offence penalty. This amendment relates to the fact that there were some limited enforcement mechanisms in some bills. Dumping of waste in Arctic waters would be subject to a first offence financial penalty regime, depending on the nature of the waste dumped, extent of the quality of the waste dumped and the estimated damage on the pristine Arctic water ecosystem, plus cleanup costs.
The third amendment is repeat offences would result in more severe financial penalties, including the clean up of environmental damage cost and/or incarceration.
The fourth amendment is it would be incumbent upon shippers entering Canadian waters to provide proof of insurance liability to offset pollution mishap, cleanups or dumping violations. We heard earlier about the tremendous cost of the Exxon Valdez spill, which was far more than what was specifically provided for. The member for Newton—North Delta made that point, but what if that had been under ice? It would have been substantially worse.
The next amendment is ocean going tankers would need to carry a minimum $1 billion per load liability policy. Smaller barges and vessels carrying cargo that could result in toxic or oil spills would need to carry a minimum of $250 million liability policy.
The next amendment is other freighter vessels and container ships would need to carry a minimum of $500 million per load liability.
The second last amendment is cruise lines would need to carry a $350 million liability policy.
The last amendment is all vessels travelling in Canadian waters would be subject to Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian armed forces and Canadian Environmental Service boarding and inspection for potential environmental spills, dumping or violation of shipping standards in Arctic waters.
I put that out for the government officials and stakeholders to provide feedback and to start discussion on improving our protection of the pristine and very vulnerable Arctic ecosystems.
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act
May 4th, 2009 / 4:15 p.m.
Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Etobicoke North for sharing her time with me and for her thoughtful words on Arctic sovereignty and the environment.
There is an old saying that the road to hell is paved with the best intentions. In looking at Bill C-3, an act to amend the Arctic waters pollution prevention act, that is what comes first to my mind.
This proposed legislation is relatively simple in terms of its purpose. Bill C-3 amends the definition of “arctic waters” in the act to extend the boundary north of the 60th parallel of north latitude from 100 to 200 nautical miles offshore. This is most definitely a direction in which we must head.
The age of the north as an intense area of international interest is upon us. We are in a new reality. Steadily melting Arctic ice is not just exposing vast unexplored fishing stocks and mineral wealth; it has also made the Northwest Passage navigable in the summer. In September 2008 the MV Camilla Desgagnés as part of Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc., NSSI, transported cargo from Montreal to the hamlets of Cambridge Bay. A member of the crew is reported to have claimed that there was no ice whatsoever.
An open Northwest Passage would cut 5,000 nautical miles from shipping routes between Europe and Asia.
Just about everyone agrees that the many islands that populate the Arctic to the north of Canada's mainland belong to Canada, but what about the water between them? Who, if anyone, has jurisdiction over the waters separating Somerset Island from Devon island, or Melville Island from Banks Island?
As stated by Donald McRae in a paper published by the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, “It must be demonstrated that the waters are the internal waters of Canada and that the waters of the Northwest Passage do not constitute an international strait”. Yet the Russians have planted their flag on the ocean bed at the North Pole 4,200 metres below sea level. Since 1994 the Russians have also staffed a research base, called Ice Station Borneo, only 60 kilometres from the Pole. Over the years Denmark has sent ice reinforced frigates and laid many claims to ownership over Hans Island. Just days before U.S. President George Bush left office, his administration asserted U.S. military sea power in a rebuttal to Canada's claims. The U.S. maintained the Northwest Passage is a strait used for international navigation.
Updating the act with new language to update our country's claims to the area is a natural progression of our sovereignty claims. It is something we on this side of the House support. However, at the end of the day there are too many questions that have yet to be resolved when it comes to enforcement and tangible actions associated with such an update.
Canada's call to action must include northern penetration by land, sea and air. We need to be prepared to defend our rights to our land in the world courts by building a strong case to what is rightfully ours. According to the United Nations Law of the Sea, we have until 2013 to stake our claim.
By sea, Canada needs super icebreakers that can make it to the outer reaches of our territory. We also need more medium-sized icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard that could be stationed as far north as possible. How many ships will be needed to get the job done by 2013? Do we build, lease or borrow the ships required? Do we have the people to fill the required positions? These questions have not been properly answered by the Prime Minister.
By land, Canada must look at establishing permanent settlements in the north that would offer air access infrastructure and safe harbours for the vessels that would venture north to do seismic testing and mapping and yet, there is no plan on how and when this will occur.
By air, Canada needs to monitor movements of others in the dispute and to track changes in the ice. We need a fleet of planes that can offer supply, research, and search and rescue capabilities.
Should Canada not be able to have a military plane in the air within six hours of any potential need, do we have additional airports planned for the north so we can properly reach all of our territory?
Once again, the government has deflected these kinds of questions by offering no specifics.
This bill will extend Canada's sovereignty over additional waters that would represent an area the size of Saskatchewan. This is significant. If Canada wants to step forward and make claims in the international arena, then dedicated resources are needed, a diverse and balanced plan must be drawn up and executed and, most important, we need to stop talking without any sort of bite behind our bark. The eyes of the world are not only on the north but also on the actions, or inactions, of the government.
Right now, Canada with regard to northern sovereignty and our ability to protect what we consider ours, is being laughed at, as is our environmental stewardship.
On a final note, recently I had a chance to speak to the CEO of the Churchill Port Authority, a man who was once an esteemed parliamentarian in his own right, Mr. Lloyd Axworthy. He spoke of the great promise of the north and how fragile the ecosystem is there.
We have a short window of time to do this right. This legislation, in its current form, is not there yet.
To conclude, I and my colleagues support the simplicity and necessity behind this bill. However, we are also looking for more than rhetoric and political posturing in working toward building strength and stability in protecting Canada's north. I hope the Prime Minister and the government will realize the intentions. I would love to support this bill, and once it goes to committee, we will see how we can deal with this. This is about our country's future.
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act
May 4th, 2009 / 4:05 p.m.
Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to lend support to Bill C-3, a bill to protect Canada's Arctic environment and sovereignty.
The Arctic grail, or Northwest Passage, was the water route through Canada's northern islands that explorers sought for three centuries.
In 1903, Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, waited months for the ice to sufficiently melt so that his vessel could be the first to successfully navigate the passage. In 1940, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police schooner began charting the grail's icy waters to demonstrate Canada's sovereignty over the north.
In the future, climate change and not navigational skill may turn the explorers' elusive dreams into a major maritime highway, with the nautical journey from China to New York reduced by 7,000 kilometres.
With climate warming, new passages will develop and Canada will be increasingly open to international traffic. Concerns will increase regarding control and regulation of shipping activities, environmental degradation and protection of northern habitats, and who controls the Arctic and its resources. About 25% of the world's remaining oil and gas reserves lie beneath the Arctic Ocean floor.
While the opening of the Northwest Passage and Arctic may be attractive, this could prove the ultimate test of our claim to Arctic sea sovereignty.
The Arctic coast represents almost 70% of Canada's coastline and stretches 165,000 kilometres from James Bay and Baffin Island to Yukon.
However, the Arctic, a region celebrated in our country's anthem, is under siege. In 1985, the U.S. sent its icebreaker, Polar Sea, through the Northwest Passage without asking permission of or informing Canada. In 2007, Russian explorers used a submarine to plant their country's flag on the seabed at the North Pole, 4,200 metres below sea level. Politicians bordering the Arctic saw the exercise as a plan to extend Russia's territory almost to the Pole itself and to lay claim to the vast energy and mineral resources below.
In the future, our Arctic may be vulnerable to airspace, surface, both maritime and terrestrial, and subsurface incursions. Canada must be able to monitor and recognize such invasions and enforce sovereign claims over its territory.
The North Pole is an international site administered by the International Seabed Authority. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a coastal country has the right to control access to the 12 nautical mile shoreline belt along its coasts. A country can also control the resources under its coastal waters up to 200 nautical miles from its shores. More important, a country may expand its territory much further if it can prove that the rock formations underneath the water are connected to its continental shelf.
Therefore, some questions beg to be asked. What scientific data have been collected? What have we learned about our continental shelf? Will we be ready to submit this data to the UN commission by 2013? What new funding is necessary to support required research beyond the 43 projects that were under way in 2007 for the International Polar Year.
It is generally agreed that islands north of Canada's mainland belong to Canada, but what about the waterways? Will Bill C-3 determine who has jurisdiction over the waters separating, for example, Devon Island and Somerset, or Banks Island from Melville Island, as the channels dividing some of the islands in Canada's north are less than 50 nautical miles wide?
Will Bill C-3 support Canada's assertion that the Northwest Passage represents internal territorial waters? The United States, along with other countries, has argued that this water constitutes an international strait that any ship should be free to transit. However, there were only 11 foreign transits between 1904 and 1984, suggesting that the Passage was not used as an international shipping route.
If Bill C-3 does not protect sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, what action is being taken to do so? It is not enough to have an Alert military base some 800 kilometres from the North Pole when Russia staffs a year-round research base 60 kilometres from the Pole. It also is not sufficient to argue that the waters separating most of the islands in Canada's Arctic are frozen most of the year and in fact turning them into an extension of the land.
A stronger argument, however, may be that Canada's northern aboriginal and Inuit peoples use and occupy the land.
While most of the Arctic sovereignty disputes are between Canada and the United States, Denmark also has been involved. Perhaps the government could, therefore, give us a status update on Hans Island located between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
Canada has not been doing enough to declare and enforce its Arctic sea sovereignty.
How might Canada strengthen its northern interests? First, the government must define sovereignty with elements of authority, control and perception, and with rights, such as jurisdictional control, territorial integrity and non-interference by outside states.
Second, the government must define how to exercise sovereignty. A former national defence minister stated that “Sovereignty is...exercising, actively, your responsibilities in an area”.
Third, the government must plan how to enforce both our sovereignty over Arctic waters, as well as the environment to the limits of our exclusive economic zone.
In addition, the government must also consider appointing a senior minister to lead an Arctic agenda and work with Environment Canada, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, National Defence, Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada and territorial leaders, and purchasing more than one icebreaker as Canada's fleet will not be adequate once shipping increases.
According to the Senate committee report, “Russia's icebreaking capability is what empowers it to make a claim for a large part of the Arctic Ocean”.
Because the Prime Minister has stated that scientific inquiry and development are absolutely essential to Canada's defence of its north, the government must also consider the following: creating a national network of permafrost monitoring stations that northern communities and oil and gas companies could use to plan for future buildings, pipelines and roads; endowing a separate Arctic research foundation to support atmospheric, economic development, oceanographic and wildlife research; fulfilling a promise to create northern research chairs at Canadian universities; and reinvesting in the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1909, Robert Peary and his team reached the top of the Earth. Five months later, when the group landed on the northern shores of Labrador, Peary sent a cable that made headlines around the world: “Stars and stripes nailed to the North Pole“.
We need to ensure that Canada remains sovereign over ours, the Northwest Passage, and the waterways between our Arctic islands. We need to ensure that we identify the true expanse of our territory. We need to keep our north, the “splendid frozen jewel...for which centuries, men of every nation...struggled...suffered and died”, Canadian.
I forgot to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Newton—North Delta.
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act
May 4th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB
Madam Speaker, I rise also in support of Bill C-3. The expansions of the ambit of the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act are welcome and long overdue, but I would also like to speak to what we need in tandem with this measure, what is missing and where we need the current government to commit.
We need concerted action in a number of frameworks. It is not simply me who is standing up and saying this. We are hearing this from the other Arctic nations. We are hearing this from scientists who have just gone through two years of intensified polar research and are identifying a lot of critical actions that need to be taken by the government in tandem with other Arctic nations and to get the support of other nations around the world for those who border on the Arctic and are at risk.
We need concerted action to expand exponentially Canadian investment in polar research. At a time when the scientists have told us that they are just beginning their research and are making absolutely groundbreaking discoveries about the value of the Arctic to the world, the funding has ended.
This is a time when we should be stepping up to the plate. Canada should be taking the leadership. We have lands that border right across the Arctic. We are laying claim to the interests in being able to benefit from the resources that the Arctic can provide us. It is incumbent upon us to stand up in the international arena and say that we need all the nations, not only those bordering the Arctic but worldwide, to put resources in, to match any funding that we put in, to research further what the impacts might be once the Arctic melts, sadly, and as activities begin to step forward in oil and gas extraction, mineral extraction, and simply, shipping across the Arctic.
We hear from even the Canadian polar researchers that the Arctic ecosystem is at severe risk. It is extremely sensitive. It is already suffering the effects of climate change. There are already unbelievable changes occurring to the Arctic, not just the Arctic ice shelf breaking off but new areas that we were previously unaware of.
For example, the Arctic scientists are discovering freshwater lakes that are created when the ice melts and moves towards the land. It has created lakes we did not know about before, and there is a rich diversity of biota in those lakes that we have only begun to study. Similar to the tropical rainforests to which we turn for solutions in terms of major cancer research, and so forth, it may well be that the biota of the Arctic is even more important, which is all the more reason for us to intensify our research and send more researchers up to the north to document this knowledge.
We also need to seek the advice of the polar scientists in developing our policies on northern development and negotiation strategies at international tables. It is absolutely incumbent upon us in this country that we base any determinations on the future of the Arctic on science, and that has been sadly lacking. We need to be intensifying that money. It is not enough to simply do the research; we need to turn to those very scientists to advise us on what kinds of measures need to be taken. These include deliberations on climate change, resource extraction, water resources and wildlife.
Dr. Warwick Vincent, a renowned polar researcher from Canada, gave a presentation on the Hill about a month ago, and much to everybody's surprise, revealed information that nobody knew previously about the Arctic, such as the freshwater lakes that we previously did not even know existed. We did not know how they were created. He is crying for support from parliamentarians to continue the research, to continue to give the support so that Canada can benefit from that information and he can continue to work in tandem with researchers from around the world.
This is not a time to be pulling out the Canadian researchers, to be shutting down those research programs or stations. This is a time to be working in tandem with scientists around the world so that we can show leadership.
This is also the time to stand up for the Arctic environment and northern communities. We need to put those interests at the forefront, not just petroleum corporations' right to develop, not just the right of Canadian interests in oil and gas development and mineral extraction in the Arctic, but to make sure that any development that occurs in the future is actually for the benefit of Canada, particularly for the northern communities.
We need to provide leadership at the international level at the UN climate change tables. Climate change is one of the critical reasons we need to step up to the plate and speed up our research and our negotiations with countries around the world on protecting the Arctic and making sure that there is a regime in place to protect the Arctic and prevent any kind of unfortunate impacts. The last two successive governments, the current government, has simply dragged its heels on this issue.
For heaven's sake, let us not embrace the fact that the Arctic is melting and say that is great news because we can expand oil and gas extraction. Let us do our best to slow that down until we can make sure that kind of development is done in a safe way that benefits Canada and does not simply leave us with a huge liability to try to clean up the mess left behind not just by other countries' mineral extraction and oil and gas activity, but unfortunately, possibly our own mess, if we are not ready to address those impacts.
We need to take a stronger stand in the Arctic Council. It was formed in 1996. Eight Arctic nations signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. Where is Canada in taking the forefront and the leadership? It is our Arctic on which there is an impact. It is our Arctic that we wish to claim.
We need to pay more attention and put more resources into our position at those tables. We need to be sending ministers to those tables. We need to be sending the Prime Minister of Canada to those tables and declaring that we care about the Arctic; the Arctic is ours.
We need the other countries around the world to step up to the plate and take joint action with us. We want to proceed in a co-operative way.
Given our limited capacity now in the Arctic, there is no way that Canada is going to be able to address the kinds of activities that are speeding along as the Arctic melts. We are going to have to work co-operatively with other nations. We are going to have to share from their resources, their icebreakers, and share in their research knowledge. This is a time to show co-operation, not competitiveness.
I know full well about the Arctic Council, and I know about the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. When I was the assistant deputy of resources for the Yukon government, I had the privilege to participate in that strategy on behalf of the Yukon government at the science table, not just in terms of scientific discoveries but to make sure that those discoveries moved into law and policy so that we would have a binding, clear framework for the northern governments and for the federal government and to make sure that all those levels of governments were included in any strategies at those international tables. It is incumbent upon us to take a stronger stand at that table.
Surely we should be raising the issue of the Arctic at the U.S.-Canada energy security and climate change table. Perhaps we are, but we do not know for sure because it is a secret table. We have had no report from the government about whether there are joint co-operative ventures on protecting the Arctic and making sure that North American interests are protected against other nations as we move forward and as we benefit from those resources.
We also do not know whether at those tables with respect to security in energy development there are joint discussions about co-operation between the United States of America and Canada to make sure that we gear up to have the proper equipment and staffing, and so forth, to actually protect and have surveillance in the Arctic. It would be worthwhile to have the ministers come back to the House and tell us whether the Arctic issue is at the table in those bilateral discussions.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was created quite some years back. This commission created a council of environment ministers, which includes the United States of America, Canada and Mexico. Why not use this commission and the council of ministers to further the dialogue about ensuring the environmental security of our Arctic? Surely we could initiate some projects through joint funding.
Why are we not showing leadership in advocating for an Arctic treaty? Canada is fully participating in the Antarctic treaty. It seems absurd that we are not championing the cause for a similar treaty for our own Arctic. So I would encourage the government to step up to the plate and be at the front of the line, pushing for an Arctic treaty. It can do nothing but benefit Canada's interests.
It is all the more critical for the Arctic because of the sensitivity of the Arctic environment, but also because, unlike the Antarctic, the Arctic is populated—with Canadians. So it is all the more important that we make sure that we have a treaty of nations around the Arctic and that we ensure that the provisions of that treaty put at the forefront the interests of Canadians and Canada's northern environment.
Are we raising these issues in our law of the sea and our MARPOL discussions? Are we making sure that the tankers that are going to be coming through the Arctic have improved standards, that the hulls can withstand the Arctic ice and that there is capacity for spill cleanup, that the spill response recovery funds are large enough to respond to the disasters that could occur in the Arctic and how complicated it will be to actually address spills?
What is most important in the Arctic is that we prevent spills, so we need to be taking action now to make sure that any development that occurs in the Arctic prevents impacts. After the fact will be too late.
We need to have expanded measures to protect the interests of the Arctic communities. We need to make sure that in terms of any kind of development that occurs in the Arctic, whether it is simply shipping traffic or whether it is oil and gas or mineral extraction, we think first and foremost of the impact on the harvest rights of the northern communities and to ensure that those communities are secure and that they are given a benefit and direct interest in any development.
We need to push for stronger standards and enforcement for tanker traffic and other vessels. As I mentioned, we need to make sure that we have spill prevention. After the fact will be too late. We need to learn from the Exxon Valdez spill, but for heaven's sake, we need to learn from the Wabamun Lake spill of bunker C oil. We cannot address the impacts once these kinds of spills occur; there is just no way of knowing.
I experienced that first-hand with the bunker C's oil spill in Wabamun Lake, and to this day, scientists have no idea what the fate of that oil spill is and the long-term impact on that freshwater lake. All the more so for the Arctic, an extremely fragile environment, what are we putting in place to make sure that we can respond to those spills? We do not even have the naval complement or the coast guard complement right now to address those spills, and neither does the U.S., so we need to be stepping up to the plate really quickly.
We are told by the scientists weekly that the ice is melting far faster than previously forecast. Are we putting the appropriate resources into making sure that we are ready for that? Do we have the readiness for security of the Arctic? Do we have the ships? Do we have the crews trained? Do we have all the impacts assessed and the appropriate responses? As the member for Yukon mentioned, do we have the search and rescue capacity? Certainly not at this point in time. We have very small populations up there and very little ship and crew capacity.
We are extremely vulnerable in the Arctic, and who is more vulnerable than the very communities that live in the Arctic. They have small, dispersed populations. They have minimal capacity for emergency response, even less capacity than we had in the Exxon Valdez and the Wabamun Lake spills. They have a very limited capacity for evacuation in the event of a major disaster.
I am told the naval capacity is extremely limited. There has been no Canadian navy icebreaker in the Arctic since the 1950s. There is no current capacity to enter the Arctic waters' significant ice cover. The majority of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are near their end of life. We cannot rely on U.S. support, because it is in the same state as we are in terms of shortage of equipment.
Naval analysts are raising serious security issues for this development in the Arctic. They are saying there is very little ability worldwide across the Arctic for spill response and that we face serious problems with shipping security. We have no way to deal with an incident where we have nuclear devices or some other kind of explosive device coming across the Arctic, landing in our lands in the Arctic and then heading down across Canada by rail or air. Right now, there is no strategy that we are aware of.
I want to close my remarks by mentioning prescient comments by renowned author and journalist Alanna Mitchell, who gave a presentation to the parliamentary international conservation caucus just a week ago. She has issued a new book, called Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis. What she has presented to those who were fortunate enough to hear her is a real wake-up call, that while we are trying to get our government to actually address climate change, we have a far greater crisis occurring in our oceans. Apparently, if we lose the land base, the life in the oceans can continue; but if we lose the life in the oceans, the land base will cease to exist. So it is time for us to be putting a lot more resources into paying attention to the fate of the oceans, particularly the Arctic Ocean, which is extremely sensitive.
I will close my comments today with a comment from the internationally renowned author and journalist, Ed Struzik, who is published widely on the Arctic and has recently published a book on the fate of the Arctic under climate change. He states:
In the not-too-distant future, the forces of climate change are going to transform this icy world into a new economic frontier. The end of the Arctic will be the beginning of a new chapter in history. The Age of the New Arctic remains to be written.
I would say to the government, to its credit, introduce these new provisions, extend the ambit of the scope of the Government of Canada to protect the Arctic environment from impacts, but, for heaven's sake, please table with us the government's compliance strategy and how it will actually enforce this expanded law with what is coming to us in the Arctic.