Evidence of meeting #3 for Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-38 in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was environmental.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo  National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
  • Fred Denning  President, The British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd.
  • David Schindler  Professor of Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, As an Individual
  • Terry Quinney  Provincial Manager, Fish and Wildlife Services, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
  • William Amos  Director, University of Ottawa - Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, Ecojustice Canada
  • Ron Bonnett  President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
  • Kevin Obermeyer  President and CEO, Pacific Pilotage Authority
  • Scott Vaughan  Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • Clarence T. Jules  Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

I'm happy to speak to this, because in part 3 the government actually strengthens environmental protection by providing increased safety measures around tanker traffic, including the use of pilots, and I'm very excited to hear about Mr. Denning's thoughts around that section of the budget implementation act.

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

On the same point of order, Ms. Duncan.

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Could we have the page number for that, please?

7:45 p.m.

A voice

She can read the bill—

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

She can read the bill herself—

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

Well—

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

It's not there.

7:45 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

I'll look for that, but in the interests of time, please continue with your answer, Mr. Denning. I'll get back to it in a second and see if that section is indeed there.

Before we continue, I have here that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and the Species at Risk Act are all involved. There was a question of tanker safety, which could have broader implications for how it would affect perhaps species at risk, or whatever the case might be, when it comes to environmental protection. So I'm going to humour this for a little while, but I'm going to ask the questioner....

Mr. Allen, if you can stick specifically to part 3 of this bill, it would be much appreciated.

Mr. Denning, your testimony was quite broad. If you can focus on those issues with respect to the environment, that would be what we're looking for here—environment, fisheries, and so on.

7:45 p.m.

Capt Fred Denning

The risk mitigation factors that were identified specifically for the Enbridge project would establish standards that are as high or higher than anywhere else in the world that we're aware of. The possibility of a significant oil spill is something that none of us wants to consider.

As pilots, we all have our communities, our homes, what have you, on this coast. Our work was done specifically to look at the conditions we would face moving ships in and out of Kitimat. Now, we have been doing that for many years, and our rate of incidents is next to zero.

The implementation of the larger vessels was seen by some as increasing the level of risk. After many years of study, including many trips to some very high-tech simulators in Europe, as well as the live ship trials, it confirmed with us that if we put the risk mitigation factors in place that were recommended, it would increase the levels of safety and protect the environment, which concerns us all very much.

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Thank you very much.

Mr. Schindler, we had testimony last night from Mr. Prystay, who is an environmental engineer with the Canadian Construction Association, and he was talking about doing a lot of these environmental assessments. His company, Stantec, does a lot of these clear across Canada. He didn't look like one of these young student engineers who was doing these ten-page reports.

He talked about his experience and the work they do, and he talked about the inconsistencies across Canada, especially with DFO's habitat biologists and various projects and the level of aid that's required to support a review, the level of habitat compensation that's required when a project goes for authorization. It's quite variable across the country, and it's even reflected in the operational statements that DFO has across the different management units.

This bill is attempting to try to put some more standardization around that. Do you read anything in the bill that is not saying that, and do you see that standardization across the country as a bad thing?

7:50 p.m.

Professor of Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. David Schindler

I think the standardization would be a good thing. I think, though, the way I would go about it is more uniform training and in some regions more people. I know that at one point people in DFO were very frustrated. One of my fellow scientists who was doing reviews exclaimed that he had 400 before him, ranging from an individual road culvert up to a pulp mill in size, which he was expected to do rapid screening on and declare them as ones that could be handled by an individual officer or had to go to some higher level of review, the highest being a full federal-provincial review. So they've been manpower-limited; I'm sure they've been training-limited. It's like any police force or whatever. Standards are variable across the country. We do our best to make sure they're not, but they always are.

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

There are a couple of interesting sections, and one of them we won't have time to get to—aquatic invasive species—but if I do, I will.

Do you see the proposed section 4.4, where the ministerial authority can undertake programs and projects with conservation organizations...? I see that as a very strong point in this. A lot of these conservation organizations—and I have a lot of them in my riding, like the Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Association—do tremendous work. Do you see it as positive that they can write these agreements for stewardship?

7:50 p.m.

Professor of Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. David Schindler

I think it's positive that they can. I would prefer to see some more specific language. I always get very nervous when I see the word “may” rather than “must”. The minister “may”, to me, means that a lot depends on who the minister is and what side of the bed he gets up on. If I look at it from the standpoint of a potential investor, that would make me very nervous because I couldn't see a clear path.

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

It could be something specified by regulation, though.