Debates of Nov. 4th, 1994
House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.
- Marine Transportation Security Act
- Points Of Order
- Down's Syndrome Awareness Week
- Government Spending
- Remembrance Day
- Michael Smith Award
- Gun Control
- Governor General Scholarship
- Gun Control
- Remembrance Day
- Toyota Motor Corporation
- Unemployment Insurance
- Pharmaceutical Industry
- The Environment
- Salmon Fishery
- Mil Davie Shipyards
- Foreign Affairs
- Flags Of Convenience
- Laurier Club
- Gun Smuggling
- Climate Change
- Film Industry
- Income Tax Act
- Liberal Government
- International Trade
- Ports Canada
- Points Of Order
- Committees Of The House
- Public Service Staff Relations Act
- Questions On The Order Paper
- Remembrance Day
Marine Transportation Security Act
Art Eggleton for the Minister of Transport
moved that Bill C-38, an act to provide for the security of marine transportation, be read the third time and passed.
Marine Transportation Security Act
Cape Breton—The Sydneys
Russell MacLellan Parliamentary Secretary toMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure as an Atlantic Canadian to have an opportunity to speak on this very important bill.
I rise in the House in support of the Marine Transportation Security Act and to explain to members of this House the need for a single comprehensive act to prevent acts of violence which could be detrimental to Canada's marine interests.
Canada is for the most part a haven from violence for many other parts of the world. To maintain our security we must, just as we admonish our children, be prepared and avoid danger. It is far better to prevent violence than to suffer its consequences. Canadians as evidenced by their abhorrence of violence and their support for strengthened firearms control want to end the needless loss and tragedy caused by preventable acts of violence.
The Marine Transportation Security Act will help prevent needless loss to Canadians, their marine transportation system and its operators, users, employees and dependants. The bill we are debating today recognizes that Canada is not currently facing any dire threat. However it also acknowledges that threats do occur and that to minimize potential injury we must be ready to deal with these threats in their earliest stages.
Security is commendable at ports under the control of Canada Ports Corporation particularly at the port of Vancouver where vessel and port operators practise co-operative security. This bill will ensure that Canada has an appropriate legislative framework which enables the implementation of basic levels of security wherever required and with the flexibility to respond rapidly should danger increase.
Legislation does exist which enables the Minister of Transport to take measures to prevent acts of violence occurring by air and rail transportation. However, it should be a matter of concern to members of this House that there is not at the present time any comprehensive legislation in Canada authorizing the government to take preventive security action to protect Canada's marine interests.
Canada endorsed and promoted compliance with voluntary international security measures designed to protect passengers and crews on board ships. Use of these measures in Canada and other nations has however been inconsistent. Our marine industry and those it touches remain vulnerable.
Security provisions in existing marine transportation legislation such as they are are fragmented and inadequate. Different legislation applies dependent on flag state, type of vessel, port, waterway and marine facility.
No Canadian legislation is specifically concerned with preventing acts of violence. None ties together the various elements of the marine industry in a way that can provide the appropriate and timely response necessary to react to security threats.
The variety of legislation that might apply to any vessel, facility, waterway or person depending on the location and segment of the marine industry involved serves to delay rather than expedite response to threatening situations.
In addition to the potential for confusion, the lack of an appropriate legislative vehicle for marine security does not allow effective response. Use of different legal frameworks to provide for security would result in different security regimes with more confusion, less compliance and higher costs.
In examining solutions to the lack of preventive security authority, the government considered the use of existing legislation and found it to be inappropriate to the task.
The Emergencies Act for example, while allowing preventive regulations to be made, applies only when an emergency has been declared. This limits its preventive utility. Further, members will recall this act was not invoked even during the 1991 Persian Gulf crisis.
The Criminal Code and the Security Offences Act while providing authority to respond to security incidents do not sanction preventive action.
The Canada Shipping Act is principally concerned with the safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment but it is not germane to security from acts of violence in the broad context of the marine industry.
The Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Ports Corporation Act, the Harbour Commissions Act, the Toronto Harbour Commissioners Act, the Hamilton Harbour Commissioners Act, the Public Harbours and Ports Facilities Act and the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority Act, apart from their obvious territorial and jurisdictional limitations do not provide specific authority or enforcement capacity with respect to preventive security measures.
Before bringing these proposals forward non-statutory methods of preventing acts of violence against marine targets were also considered. There are however a variety of problems with this approach. In considering self-regulations the fact that the seaborne element of the industry is largely under foreign flag would create unequal conditions between vessels and would be unenforceable in a similar vein.
Canadian ports operate under mixed ownership with different statutes and authorities. Equality in application and enforcement of requirements under self-regulation would also be unachievable regarding such ports. It would be unrealistic to believe that either voluntary compliance or self-regulation would provide a rapid, consistent response to any threat in such a diverse industry.
As I mentioned earlier, despite the performance of Ports Canada police and the North West CruiseShip Association, voluntary compliance with marine security measures in Canada and elsewhere in the world has been generally low. It is apparent there is little practical alternative to regulation. The high degree of non-compliance with voluntary security standards for international passenger vessels and the predominant view of other major commercial segments of the industry that there is no need due to the current lack of threat underline particularly the need for regulated preparation. The fact there is no threat to Canada at the present time should not prevent us and deter us from being prepared for such an eventuality.
Options to a single, newly minted act have also been considered, including the retention of the current regime, amending existing marine transportation legislation on an act by act basis, and amending the various transportation legislation. Amending all existing marine transportation security acts by an omnibus bill was also considered.
After thorough consideration of various options for achieving appropriate security regarding the marine transportation system including voluntary compliance, self-regulation and the various legislative alternatives, the government has concluded that the most reasonable, efficient and effective method is to enact a comprehensive Marine Transportation Security Act.
This act has come with a good deal of consideration by the Department of Transport. The Marine Transportation Security Act is such a comprehensive act providing the requirement I have spoken to previously. It incorporates all appropriate security authorities and provisions in one document, thereby allowing for ease of maintenance and compliance. The bill will permit consistent, equitable implementation and enforcement and can, if need be, apply to all elements of the industry in Canada regardless of their location or nationality. It will ensure the government's ability to respond quickly and appropriately to changing threat conditions.
The Marine Transportation Security Act does not apply to vessels and facilities under the authority of the Minister of National Defence. Government vessels or facilities, where no commercial activity is involved, will not be subject to regulation because they are adequately provided for by the government's security policy and the government's ability to control them. Pleasure craft, fishing vessels and small commercial craft in ports are also not candidates for regulation as they do not provide the same attractiveness as terrorist targets as do other segments of the industry.
The international cruise vessel industry and the ports serving it would be the main regulatory priority once this legislation is in place. Except for relatively few agencies such as the North West CruiseShip Association, compliance with voluntary international security standards by the cruise industry while in Canada has been inconsistent, in part no doubt because of the lack of a perceived threat there.
There is no lack of perceived threat here I think.
Marine Transportation Security Act
David Anderson Victoria, BC
It's a big impression.
Marine Transportation Security Act
Russell MacLellan Cape Breton—The Sydneys, NS
This priority is in line with Canada's commitment to the practical standards developed by the international marine organization and the determination of this government that the history of violent acts against cruise vessel passengers elsewhere in the world will not be replayed here in Canada.
To Atlantic Canada which is a part of the country that receives considerable benefits from visiting cruise ships this is very important. The cruise ship industry on the west and east coasts is very important to the country. We are proud to show the beauties and advantages of Canada to our visitors.
People the world over rely on Canada as a safe haven and a stable country that will provide safety and enjoyment while they are within our boundaries, including our offshore jurisdictions.
I do not think we can let these people down. We have to live up to this standard and in doing so we have to be prepared as Canadians to safeguard our visitors. This major piece of legislation will do just that.
Major commercial vessels, ports and other marine facilities which serve them are the second priority for preventive security regulation. Cargo vessels carrying dangerous substances, and ferries in ports where large numbers of people may be exposed should be adequately prepared to respond to security threats. Regulation envisioned for this segment of the marine industry is primarily in the domain of contingency planning.
The best time for preventive legislation is not after a disaster, it is before one can occur. I urge my colleagues in the House to support this legislation so that a preventive security framework providing appropriate and timely protection for Canadians and Canada's marine interests can be established.
Marine Transportation Security Act
Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-38 is a technical bill that tightens up measures pertaining to marine safety on passenger ships, ferries and others. It is the marine equivalent to similar bills that have existed for some time with respect to aviation. It brings Canada's marine industry more in line with similar legislation already passed in Britain, the United States and several of the more sensitive Mediterranean countries.
Communications with user groups and other affected people produce some concerns with the bill's original wording but virtually all of these concerns have been addressed by amendments made at the committee level.
The Reform Party supports this bill but does not intend to offer any further amendments or any additional speakers. It appears there is all-party support for the bill as amended.
It is very ironic that we have so much time to debate bills on which there is no dispute when the government saw fit to invoke closure last spring on a number of very contentious bills. The dictionary defines contempt as the feeling that a person, act or thing is mean, low or worthless. The invoking of closure was something the Liberals found contemptible when they sat in opposition. Somehow during the walk across the floor to the government side of the House their perspective changed. My position echoes their old position. In fact, I find the invoking of closure to be actually beyond contempt.
Since Bill C-38 is under the transport ministry let us look for a minute at other actions of this department as it is the body that is responsible for Bill C-38.
During the last federal election the Liberals were looking for some campaign issues to raise their profile. They found one in Toronto with the Pearson airport contract. They stated that the contract was a rotten one, full of crooked dealings between the Tories and their friends. They stated that if they were elected they would investigate this contract, expose the wrongdoing and then cancel it.
They left something out on the follow-up to that promise. They never exposed any wrongdoing. Was there any? We do not know, do they? There are two possibilities on this issue. One is that when the so-called independent review took place they could not find any wrongdoing. If so, they had a problem. After all, with all screaming about what a rotten deal the Pearson contract was, it would be embarrassing to admit they were wrong.
The solution to this scenario was to continue the claim that the deal was rotten, cancel it and make sure the legislation banning the contract holders from going to court where they might expose the fact that there were no rotten deals was passed. The other possibility is that they did find a lot wrong with the way the contract was obtained, but the guilty party was the Liberal connected portion of the contract holders. It would not do to expose that in court, so we have the same solution.
During the committee stage of Bill C-22 I offered an amendment that would require any settlements to flow through the transport standing committee. This would have kept the amounts of payment and the payees public. The public certainly had the right to know how this was being handled. Government members refused. I reintroduced the same amendment at third reading, but again the government voted it down.
The issue at stake was not so much the Pearson contract but rather the basic rights of Canadians, whether they were companies or individuals. If the government can arbitrarily revoke someone's rights, as it did in the case of the Pearson contract, it can do it anywhere, to anyone, in any situation, maybe even in the enforcement of the provisions of a marine security act. That is beyond contempt.
If questionable activities were limited to the transport problem that would be one thing. In that situation we could probably accept Bill C-38 at face value. However, revoking or ignoring the needs and rights of Canadians seems to be a general theme of this new Liberal Party with its new found perspective. This means we must look much closer at the emerging pattern provided by the Liberal cabinet in order to determine what is its real agenda.
For example, consider the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the recent developments showing that he interfered with the
activities of the CRTC. Further examination revealed that this was not the first time he had done so. That is beyond contempt. Further it underlines the concerns I have in dealing with Liberals in all areas, including Bill C-38.
The Minister of Human Resources Development recently tore a page from the Reform policy on funding for post-secondary education. We have advocated the use of student vouchers to channel federal moneys for universities through students to the universities of their choice. This would have neither increased nor decreased tuition for students. It was simply meant to be a more effective way to make the universities more responsive to the needs of students.
However the minister in tearing out that page must have left most of it behind. The proposal he made was to propose issuing a voucher that was in fact a loan repayable to the government, and then cut off federal transfer payments in support of post-secondary education. This would have effectively doubled tuition costs for students who are already having trouble affording an education. That is beyond contempt.
Bill C-38 deals with the security of those who use the oceans. In that context let us look at recent actions or the lack of action by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Millions of west coast salmon have recently gone missing. Even though the salmon may never surface again, evidence that the recommendations of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which may have prevented this catastrophe were ignored by the minister. This evidence is surfacing regularly. That is beyond contempt.
Safety and security are the main points of Bill C-38. The health and safety of the Canadian public were the subjects of a recent private member's bill dealing with HIV testing for immigration applicants, submitted by the member for Calgary Northeast. Although a few Liberals were prepared to go against the grain and vote in favour of the bill, unbelievably the majority under the direction of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration defeated this basic measure to ensure the health and safety of Canadians. That is beyond contempt.
Enforcement measures under the marine safety and security bill will fall in some part into the realm of justice. Let us take a look at the integrity of the justice minister. This is the minister who was planning to introduce new restrictive firearms legislation without one shred of evidence it will do a single thing to prevent the criminal misuse of firearms.
This is the minister who stated: "I will not legislate according to head count. I will do what I believe is in the best interests of Canadians". That statement interprets to: "I do not care what Canadians want, I know what is best for them". That is a rather scary concept. We might have this same minister involved in decisions that challenge matters arising out of Bill C-38. I find the minister's attitude to be beyond contempt.
One thing we have not heard is when the government intends to invoke concerns about aboriginal people into this bill. It may well be that with potential land settlement claims eventually some port may end up being owned by an aboriginal group. If that happens the Minister of Transport would have to work in consultation with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development whose record on legislative fairness is the worst of all the ministers we have discussed thus far.
He is the minister who introduced Bills C-33 and C-34. These two bills were rushed through the House to the extent that the Liberals invoked closure to finalize the bills on which even aboriginal people were writing to us with their concerns. If the land settlements contained in these bills were to be used as a precedent for all aboriginal people in Canada, we would need a land area four times the size of my home province of British Columbia to settle. These bills establish self-government at an unprecedented level and apparently revoke the Charter of Rights and Freedoms from the aboriginal people affected by this bill. This type of action and attitude is beyond contempt.
The Prime Minister is the person who is ultimately responsible for all ministers and all legislation. Bill C-38 is no exception. He is the person who recently claimed to have consulted with the ethics counsellor but had not talked with him at all. He later stated that he had not met nor talked to the ethics counsellor personally, but rather had directed his staff to do so. All this time the Prime Minister was referring to advice that he received from the ethics counsellor. Now we find that no one consulted with the ethics counsellor. This is a measure of integrity from the person on whom the responsibility for Bill C-38 rests? Not only is this very unsettling, it is beyond contempt.
Let us look at the Standing Committee on Transport, the committee that dealt with Bill C-38. At a recent meeting this committee went through the process of electing chairs and vice-chairs for the committee. At that meeting I asked for the voting on positions to be done by secret ballot. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport objected to this request suggesting that the Reform Party was trying to introduce unacceptable secret dealings into the committee.
I was forced to point out to the parliamentary secretary that this procedure was recommended in the Liberal's little red book. What is more it is the very method by which the Speaker of this House is elected.
My motion was defeated and the Liberals once again elected a member of the party who is dedicated to breaking up this country to be the vice-chair of the transport committee. This procedure was repeated in every committee in this House. I find that beyond contempt.
I said at the beginning I would support Bill C-38 and I will. The reason I am supporting it is due in part to my consultation with users whose concerns have been addressed.
There is some potential for integrity on the other side. It is hopeful. Some members chose to vote in favour of the bill on HIV testing for immigrants. Notwithstanding the actions of the transport committee on the election of vice-chairs it appeared to be at most times a reasonable group working to resolve problems facing Canadians, I guess because there are no cabinet ministers who sit on committees. Because of this I will continue my support of the bill but it does not end my basic concern that the attitudes and actions of many government ministers in this House are beyond contempt.
Marine Transportation Security Act
Paul Mercier Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-38 to provide for the security of marine transportation now before us meets an obvious need. Our party is in agreement with the principle of this bill and approves the enforcement procedure. Rather than waste my colleagues' time, I will limit myself to recalling briefly the bill's objectives, its highlights and its reception by the stakeholders. Unlike my predecessor, I will leave considerations not directly related to the bill aside.
First, the objectives. The bill's objective is to introduce in the marine sector the same security principles found in the air and rail transportation sectors. Although these sectors have security measures regarding boarding, there are none in the case of marine transportation. The government cannot, therefore, intervene in emergency situations, such as when a vessel is threatened by unlawful activities or poses a risk to a port facility.
The legislation focuses primarily on transportation of passengers. Screening measures will be instituted in ports to ensure that weapons and other explosives are not brought on board. This measure is aimed at preventing hijacking, sabotage and hostage-taking.
We all remember the tragedy of the Achille Lauro about ten years ago-and we are only now considering action. A group of Palestinian terrorists took over a Greek ship by force and took the passengers and crew hostage. Since then, the International Maritime Organization has established security standards to be observed in port facilities and on vessels. These standards, which were first developed in 1986, were ratified by Canada in 1993. The purpose of the bill before us is to implement these security measures.
It should be noted that 85 per cent of passengers on cruise ships are Americans and that the American government carries out surveillance of port security measures worldwide. In certain cases, it may recommend that American citizens avoid certain ports. Guaranteeing security in our ports is a way of protecting our tourist industry.
The bill puts in place the legislative framework and authorizes the minister to make regulations to deny certain vessels access to Canadian waters and re-direct vessels posing security concerns to a secure place. For example, a vessel subjected to a bomb threat would be directed to proceed to a place where it poses less of a security threat to persons, vessels and marine facilities, before undergoing authorized screening by Canadian officers.
The bill makes it illegal for passengers or crew to have on board weapons or materials such as explosives that could be used as weapons. It will apply to all vessels in Canada, whether registered in Canada or not, and shipowners and port authorities will be required to install a security system including sensor equipment like the ones used in airports. The legislation will also apply to port facilities and drilling rigs. Naturally, vessels and facilities under National Defence authority will be exempted.
The legislation will have teeth: in the case of a corporation, the maximum fine will be $200,000. I might add that the bill was well received by the community. It met with the full approval of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority and the Canada Ports Corporation.
For these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-38.
Marine Transportation Security Act
Dianne Brushett Cumberland—Colchester, NS
Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to add my voice to those who have addressed this House today in support of the Marine Transportation Security Act, Bill C-38.
The primary purpose of the Marine Transportation Security Act is the prevention of violent acts which could result in the loss of lives or impairment of the national transportation system. It is necessary however to also consider the financial implications of the bill before us now.
This government has a responsibility but even more this government has an obligation to ensure the security in marine transport, not only for Canadians but for our guests and visitors to this great country.
The Government of Canada has promised that regulations subsequent to this act will be made in full consultation with interested parties, consultation which is beyond that normally required for regulation. These consultations will include parties which have already contributed a great deal to the development and promotion of good security practices in Canada such as
Canada Ports Corporation and the North West CruiseShip Association.
I know that my colleague, the Minister of Transport, will ensure that such consultations are pursued with full vigour in order to ensure achievement of the optimum method of protecting the system while at the same time enhancing its competitiveness.
This legislation has been specifically designed with the flexibility to require enhanced security measures when threats are increased thereby requiring minimum expenditures in time and dollars when there is no apparent danger. This approach is in keeping with the current lack of threat to Canadian marine interests. The government has also promised to utilize to the fullest extent possible best industry practices and performance standards instead of detailed technical specifications. These commitments by the government will result in the most appropriate regime at the very lowest cost.
Very little in this world is free. The financial resources that a regulatory regime pursuant to this act will require the marine industry to expend are truly very minimal. We know that most passenger vessels have the technical and human resources to comply with very little effort should they choose to do so.
Unfortunately because Canada has such a good reputation as a safe destination, a safe haven, some operators tend to be less than diligent here in their observation of security precautions. This legislation will help ensure that passenger vessels do the things that are necessary and not only the things that are minimal to avoid becoming victims of unlawful acts while in Canada.
Other elements of the industry such as major cargo vessels, major ferries and the ports which serve them will have to expend a small amount of time to develop and practise contingency plans and conduct security surveys. Employees of major Canadian ports will also have to take basic preventive security training in line with regulatory requirements. Many of the ports implicated already have security plans and surveys. Some go well beyond the requirements envisaged.
For those areas that will have to expend limited resources, it is certainly not more than would be required to conform with good business practice and management. The government will add from its existing base of expertise in the Department of Transport, administration, training, monitoring and co-ordination resources that will make the sum of the security efforts greater than the individual parts.
The international cruise trade is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Canada annually. This trade over the last 10 years has grown at an average of 10 per cent a year. It shows no sign of abating. One incident of violence against a cruise vessel in the Mediterranean, the Achille Lauro , resulted in major losses, direct losses to the Greek economy of more than $300 million U.S. This does not account for losses in subsequent years of recovery. The preventive insurance this bill proposes is insignificant in comparison to such potential losses.
My colleagues have pointed out that other nations have increased their marine security. In particular, we know that the U.S. has security legislation already in place and that it will likely implement a marine security regime this year. The U.S. already has the authority to issue travel warnings regarding destinations it considers not to provide adequate security. I would remind members of this House that approximately 85 per cent of Canada's cruise ship trade is made up of American citizens. They come to Canada because they feel safe in Canada.
It would be folly to treat visitors to our land or indeed to treat Canadians themselves moving within each jurisdiction within this land with less concern and less respect than our American neighbours do. Will we not be good hosts as many nations already are, requiring security which adds to the ultimate enjoyment of travel? I would suggest that considering the cost of the security proposal before us, failing to offer it to our guests and to Canadians alike would be like buying friends a meal in a fine restaurant but refusing them a dinner mint after because of the cost. Failing to provide adequate protection certainly runs the risk of discouraging tourism and losing important revenue.
It was only last week that our Prime Minister was speaking on tourism for Canada, admitting that we will put money, billions of dollars, into the industry luring international conventions and trade to come here. They will come here because they feel good about Canada and they feel safe about Canada. Their interests will be better protected with this legislation.
I do not think I am far out on a limb when I suggest that safety in travel is a primary concern of all travellers, for all citizens. All responsible nations, including Canada, have a range of laws to ensure that our planes, trains, ships and cars travel with security. Now it is time that we ensure that marine travel is also guaranteed that same security. We offer to our people less safety and perhaps a threat of death if we do not engage in this legislation in this House. We have still more laws governing operation of the transportation system such as capacity to drive rights of way, waterways, roads, et cetera. People simply would not travel if they were in fear of tragedy of death en route.
None here can have forgotten the tragedy of the Air India disaster. Security in mass transportation is as critical as a failed engine or as an impaired driver. It is an important element that travellers and tourists need and want and that we must ensure.
The Saint John Evening Times Globe in a March 4 article about cruise lines stated: ``For passengers from Miami, New York and Los Angeles security is a huge consideration. Cruise lines like to go places where they know their passengers are safe, and not just from pickpockets but safe from terrorism and the whole works''. They want safety first. There can be little doubt that security is critical to life, but it is important to competition and to the economy and cannot be overlooked.
I urge my colleagues to support the bill to ensure that Canada has this important competitive advantage. In so doing it will ensure that visitors to Canada enjoy the beauty of the country, the serenity of the landscape, and arrive and depart with memories of Canadians that will live on forever and, above all, will ensure their immediate and quick return to Canada.
I live in Nova Scotia. I live on the water. Cruise ship lines come into our ports annually. Their great desire to come to these small ports, to these unique and scenic landscapes, is growing immensely. It increases more than 10 per cent a year in the east. We look forward to promoting it even more. The potential is tremendous not only for the pleasure of it but for the economic value. Those people tell us in the follow up reports that they love Canadians and want to come back.
I urge my colleagues to support the bill. It is imperative and obligatory that we serve Canadians and our visitors with dignity and security of safety.
Marine Transportation Security Act
David Anderson Minister of National Revenue
Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise following the very eloquent remarks of my colleague who has described the importance of the legislation from an east coast perspective. I concur in what she said about the importance of the industry. It is important not only for Quebec, the Gulf of St. Lawrence area, Nova Scotia and indeed all Atlantic Canada but it is immensely important on the west coast.
What has been introduced by the parliamentary secretary is enabling legislation that will allow regulations to be put in place and, in addition to regulations, some security measures and rules. Some are of less importance, less legal standing than regulations, but nevertheless are legislation, security measures or rules. They all have the same objective: to ensure a greater level of safety for the cruise ship industry operating in Canada. This is very important. My colleague has very correctly given some figures. I may be repeating one or two of them. However the cruise ship industry is estimated to be worth $500 million to Canada's economy.
Let me remind the House that we are facing a tourist account deficit in the country of $8 billion per year. This is a major financial hemorrhage to the national accounts. Every effort must be made by Canadians over the next few years to rectify that balance and to improve the opportunities in Canada for tourism. That is precisely what my colleague's legislation will do.
Cruise ship operations create a demand for port services. Victoria and Vancouver in particular are very fortunate to have the opportunity of taking advantage of foreign ships, which may be of Panamanian, Dutch, German or British registry, that come to our ports and then take people north up the inland passage and ultimately to Alaska.
Generally the process is for the passengers to get off at that point, participate in some tourism in Alaska or in Yukon, which is very important to those areas, and then fly back to their home destinations. At that point another group of tourists will arrive by air and board the ship for the return trip to Vancouver and Victoria. In our cities they live aboard the ship. However once the ship turns around with another group of tourists to go home, many of the people stay behind for a few extra days.
Cruise ship companies are enormously supportive of efforts to extend the tourist period of their passengers in Canada and, I might add, in the area of the United States adjacent to us. We are trying to keep them in B.C. and Washington. We are trying to give packages. I give cruise ship companies full credit for the efforts they make to assist us in having the people stay longer in our part of the world. They have allowed promotional materials and packages to be promoted on their vessels, which is immensely helpful to our balance of payments position.
Virtually all operating vessels are registered outside Canada. Most of them are not of American registry. Most are from outside North America. We are getting a few more of the so-called pocket cruise ships with anywhere from a hundred to a couple of hundred passengers on board. Some have even fewer than that. They are important as well. A new niche area is the private yacht type cruise with 50 or 150 on board, not the massive cruise ships as we know them. There is expansion in the industry. People are moving into different areas which have not been exploited previously.
The Canadian shipping industry in Canada has been depressed in recent years because of rising costs, changes in Canadian ownership requirements and, very important, the recession. As my colleague mentioned, in the cruise ship industry there have been 10 consecutive years of growth and an increase of 190 per cent in traffic in that period.
In 1991 there was a total of approximately 714 cruise ship sailings, nearly half a million embarking passengers and a total number of passengers of nearly three quarters of a million. I should add that it is still increasing dramatically.
Thanks to American legislation it is more advantageous for a foreign flag vessel to use a Canadian port. The Jones act requires that American ships be used between two American ports. Going up to Alaska it is advantageous to foreign ships to use Canadian
ports. If they could not do so they would simply be out of the business.
We know well of the importance of safety to this industry. We know well because there have been a series of accidents, fires in particular, in the Caribbean and elsewhere which have led to loss of life. We have all heard of the tragic loss of a ferry in the Baltic in recent weeks. It is an industry which can be dramatically affected by accident.
It is also an industry that can be dramatically affected by other people's regulations. I remind the House of the impact of American regulations on the Caribbean cruise ship industry some years ago following a series of fires that essentially enforced American law throughout the Caribbean regardless of the flag of the vessel involved.
With the legislation we are trying to put in place a system whereby we will be able to regulate and put in place security measures and rules for vessels so that we can guarantee the goose will lay a very important golden egg. We want to ensure that we keep costs to the industry down.
Our belief is the extra cost that could possibly come as a result of these measures would be less than $1 per passenger and probably closer to 80 to 85 cents. The extra cost would not be borne by Canadian taxpayers or by Canadian ports but by the industry. I might add that many cruise ship companies will have absolutely no extra costs as a result of meeting Canadian regulations because their standards are extremely high; they have very safe and seaworthy vessels at all times. This is not a major expenditure item that will impact adversely upon the industry.
I do not know the exact amount of time, but we will have some period of time after the legislation comes into effect to consult with industry and analyse the impact, where the costs can best be borne and how the charges can best be made. We will ensure we work as closely as possible with other regulatory agencies internationally to ensure that we do not get out of sync with international regulations.
We will be able to show to potential tourists that we have a system in place in Canada which will go a long way toward assuring their safety at sea. There have been accidents in Canada. Cruise ships have hit rocks or had other unfortunate mishaps. It is important for us to be able to show that we have gone an extra mile and have done what was necessary to ensure safety in the industry.
As a west coast person I rise to join with my colleagues from elsewhere in supporting this piece of legislation. Its major purpose is the safety of people who use cruise ships that are major contributors to a very important and growing area of our tourist industry. Given the balance of payments considerations I repeat the importance of having everything possible done to insist that we in Canada gather the maximum advantage from tourism. This is the type of low cost measure that will assist us in doing so. Therefore I am delighted to be here in support of the legislation.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)
Points Of Order
Len Taylor The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to clarify matters that have appeared in the press today which may have an impact on question period or later in the day in the Chamber.
The New Democratic Party caucus has for some time expressed concern about its ability to raise issues in question period on behalf of those Canadians who are looking for alternative views and questions to be discussed in this place.
This week as a caucus we have taken a specific analysis of question period to the Speaker. That analysis is currently being examined by the Speaker and the clerks at the table. As a caucus we are waiting for the Speaker to complete his review of our concern. We are then prepared to meet with the Speaker to discuss how we can improve our access to question period to ensure the views of all the people who voted for us in 1993 and who support us today are heard in this place.
Our caucus concerns remain, but as a caucus please let it be understood that it is not our intention to imply in any way the Speaker is or has shown any favouritism during question period.
On behalf of the New Democratic caucus in Parliament and as the House leader for the New Democratic Party, I say that we are looking forward to continuing our discussions with the Speaker.
Points Of Order
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)
I thank the hon. member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake for making that clarification to the House at the earliest opportunity.
It being 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5) the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.
Down's Syndrome Awareness Week
Statements By Members
Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais Madawaska—Victoria, NB
Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members of the House that Down's Syndrome Awareness Week runs from November 1 to 7, 1994.
About one person in 700 is born with Down's syndrome. During this week, the Canadian Down's Syndrome Society is making the public aware of the abilities, strengths and needs of Canadians who have Down's syndrome.
For a child or adult, as well as the parents, family and health, education and social science professionals, Down's syndrome is a challenge which must be met so that everyone with this syndrome can develop their full potential.
Together let us wish the Canadian Down's Syndrome Society an excellent awareness week!
Statements By Members
November 4th, 1994 / 10:55 a.m.
André Caron Jonquière, QC
Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, the President of the Treasury Board tabled in this House the federal government's regular Supplementary Estimates, which call for additional expenditures of $1.9 billion. They show that the Liberal government intends to spend $5.3 billion more than originally anticipated.
The Minister of Finance plans to spend another $3.3 billion on debt servicing because of his mistake in forecasting interest rates. This increase is offset by a $3.4-billion reduction in UI benefits.
Without this reduction in UI benefits, this week's Supplementary Estimates would have amounted to $5.3 billion instead of $1.9 billion. When will UI benefits be cut next? The next time interest rates fluctuate! The Minister of Finance and his Treasury Board colleague should tell us so clearly.
Statements By Members
Margaret Bridgman Surrey North, BC
Mr. Speaker, this week is Community Safety and Crime Prevention Week. It has special significance for me and my constituency of Surrey North because of the many tragedies that the community has experienced in the past few years.
The list of victims keeps getting longer: Jesse Cadman, Sian Simmonds, Laurie Wood, Linda Williams, Chris Lussier, Paul McDaniel, Graham Niven, Sukhjit Sangha and now Pam Cameron.
It might be expected that tragedies such as this would sap a community of its strength. Instead the people of Surrey have been galvanized by these tragedies and have become proactive in preventing further misfortunes. Community groups such as CRY have sprung up and have been able to turn the anger of individual citizens into a constructive group trying to change our justice system.
Let this week become a constant reminder of the need for legislation conducive to establishing and maintaining a constructive and co-ordinated partnership involving the laws, the enforcers and the citizens.
Statements By Members
Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North, MB
Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity today to speak to the occasion of Remembrance Day, which falls next Friday, November 11.
It reminds us of our veterans, of our heroes, living or dead. It reminds me today of one World War II hero from my riding of Winnipeg North, Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski, to whom a memorial was dedicated last June 12.
Officer Mynarski in a real sense was the very archetype of a hero in that he gave his life that others may live in freedom, in peace and in prosperity. Thus he exemplifies the service, courage and self-sacrifice that our veterans have displayed throughout Canada's history.
On this occasion it is not only a reminder to all Canadians to remember their heroic deeds but a reminder to us in Parliament to assist veterans and their families in their independent living that is their due.
Remembrance Day is an occasion to recall the deeds of our heroes, the sacrifices of their families and to do our public duty to them.
Michael Smith Award
Statements By Members
John Murphy Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS
Mr. Speaker, earlier this week Acadia University's division of continuing education in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants was selected as the recipient of the 1994 Michael Smith award for science promotion.
This award is presented to individuals and groups that have demonstrated strong efforts to encourage young people's interest and abilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Staff and students alike can take pride in being recommended by a jury of their peers in science promotion and education.
Acadia University and its division of continuing education have long been considered centres for science education.
I had the pleasure to attend this ceremony in Ottawa and I am proud of the accomplishments of this outstanding program.
I encourage all members of this House to join me in saluting this achievement by Acadia University.