House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was columbia.

Topics

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we share the same province and our constituents have spoken loudly about their concerns over the environment and the government's lack of action in dealing with some of the major environmental challenges we have seen.

My colleague mentioned the first nations situation and how they must be consulted as partners in addressing these challenges. Could she tell us how the government could do a better job of engaging first nations to ensure their needs and the needs of non-first nations people are met and we have sustainable development in the future for British Columbia?

The engagement between environmental and human security are two halves of the same whole and, unfortunately, the government is missing the boat on this. China and other countries are vaulting ahead and we do not seem to have a plan. As I mentioned before, even the United States has an active partnership that it has developed with the private sector and other partners.

The government has an opportunity to develop these innovative partnerships to deal with the environmental challenges before us. How does my colleague believe it needs to do a better job to achieve these objectives?

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, we must respect the traditions and territories of first nations. More than 50 first nations will be impacted in a very negative way by this pipeline and any disaster or spill that might happen. The fact that first nations have come out so strongly and in such a united way with one voice and working with many other partners and allies is a strong indication that the government not only has to be at the table in terms of working out land use, development and plans, but it needs to be done in a way that is respectful of the history and traditions of first nations communities. We have not seen that.

What is taking place with this Enbridge proposal flies in the face and contradicts many of the principles we have heard around working in partnership with first nations. From that point of view, it is a test of what the government says and what it actually does. This motion brings that to the forefront.

The government has an opportunity here to do something in a meaningful way by engaging in consultation, or it can ignore what first nations are saying and only listen to the captains of industry who basically just want to export more and see the tar sands grow more.

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way talked about action on the environment. As she well knows, this government is one of action and we have a continental harmonized approach to tackling the fight against climate change with aggressive targets of a 17% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. She also knows that emissions have already started to go down under this government.

Last night, we saw her and all the members of the NDP vote against a federal sustainable development act. We also know that in committee they are opposing and actually trying to change the definition of “sustainable development”. We have seen them in action voting against sustainable development last night and also in committee. Why does she not care about ensuring her actions match her words?

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I would note that the parliamentary secretary neglected to mention one other action his government has taken, which is to kill the great climate change bill that was in the Senate, using an unelected, undemocratic body to kill a very progressive, forward-looking bill. It is sad that he would neglect to mention that action.

The fact is that the NDP has a superb record on bringing forward concrete proposals around climate change. We have been the strongest opponents in this House in terms of challenging the government on its lack of accountability on climate change. Our bill passed, not once but twice, through the House of Commons and then was killed in the Senate. Need I say more in terms of where the government is at?

It is heading into the next round of negotiations in Cancun and it has no plans. The one thing we had as a ray of hope, the government killed it off.

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate on an NDP motion today, which says that:

...the government should immediately propose legislation to ban bulk oil tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound as a way to protect the West Coast's unique and diverse ocean ecosystem, to preserve the marine resources which sustain the community and regional economies of British Columbia, and to honour the extensive First Nations rights and title in the area.

This is a very important and timely motion. Many people in British Columbia have recently become mobilized. People have been mobilized on this issue for decades, but recently the Enbridge proposal to put a pipeline through northern British Columbia, from the Alberta tar sands to the north coast of British Columbia, to allow supertanker traffic out of the north coast of British Columbia has mobilized people to call into question the judgment that would see this kind of proposal go forward.

People are hot to trot on this issue, to put it mildly. It is something that is incredibly concerning and there is huge support for ensuring a ban on tanker traffic on the north coast of British Columbia. Polls have shown that over 80% of British Columbians support a ban on tanker traffic on the north coast of British Columbia.

We know that there are very significant features of the north coast that are significant in terms of the ecology of this planet. The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact coastal, temperate rainforest in the world, and the government and others have worked to preserve that area. Unfortunately, all it would take is one tanker accident to undo that work and to damage, perhaps irreparably, that rainforest. This is one area that a legislative tanker ban would continue to protect.

We also know that the ecotourism industry is growing in British Columbia and certainly in the north coast. We know that it is a $2.6 billion industry at this point and there is lots of potential for expansion of that industry.

We know too that the kind of support that has been exhibited in British Columbia is extensive. The Union of B.C. Municipalities in October, without dissent, passed a motion calling for a ban on tanker traffic on the north coast.

We also know that B.C. first nations have been very involved in this, that their territories are directly impacted by this proposal and would be directly impacted by any kind of tanker accident on the north coast. They have been incredibly outspoken and united in their opposition to tanker traffic on the north coast. The Coastal First Nations made a statement in March 2010. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit have spoken out clearly on this issue. Just minutes ago, the Fraser First Nations, who represent 61 indigenous communities along the Fraser River, signed on to their Fraser declaration opposing the Enbridge pipeline and the tanker traffic on the north coast. There is absolute unanimity among first nations in British Columbia on this issue, and it is growing daily, as we have seen today.

There are many concerns about what an accident on the north coast would mean. We have seen that on the west coast of North America before. The Exxon Valdez is a terrible example of what could happen, with 11 million gallons of crude oil spilling in Alaskan waters. We know that it killed 2,800 sea otters, 250,000 birds, 22 orcas, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, 1.9 million salmon and 12.9 billion herring, so it was a significant accident and it caused incredible long range damage to the west coast.

We keep hearing that there is an Alaskan tanker exclusion zone, that tankers cannot come within 150 miles of the coast of Haida Gwaii, and yes, there are in place north-south restrictions, but what we are talking about now is opening the door to east-west transport in and out of ports on the north coast of British Columbia. This is a completely different proposition, so responding to questions about a north coast tanker ban by saying that there is this exclusion zone really completely misses the point and does not deal with the need for a legislative ban on tanker traffic on the north coast of British Columbia.

Why is it necessary? Environment Canada tells us that it predicts, every year, 100 small oil spills, 10 moderate oil spills and 1 major oil spill, based on current levels of tanker traffic in Canada.

Given the unique difficulties of navigating the north coast of British Columbia, the unique difficulties of cleaning up a spill that happened in those waters, this has to be a concern.

In my own constituency, people are concerned as well. I think the issues on the south coast are somewhat different because there already is existing tanker traffic on the south coast, and a lot of that is based in my constituency of Burnaby—Douglas.

Because of the concerns that folks on the south coast and in Burnaby have about this, I hosted, with my colleagues from Burnaby—New Westminster and Vancouver East, a forum on oil and water transportation issues back on November 10. We invited a range of people to speak to this issue.

Kinder Morgan, which represents the existing pipeline from Alberta to the coast, which has its terminus in my riding, did not participate in our panel. However, it did send representatives to attend the meeting. Port Metro Vancouver, as well, sent representatives to attend the meeting and be available should there be questions.

The panel included folks from Dogwood Initiative, Andrea MacDonald was the representative of Dogwood Initiative. We had Ben West from the Wilderness Committee and Terry Engler from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 400. We had the Pacific Pilotage Authority. Captain Kevin Obermeyer, its president and CEO, was its representative. Captain Stephen Roy Brown, the president of the Chamber of Shipping, was also on our panel.

Those folks all presented about the key issues that are related to the transportation of oil on the south coast and out of Port Metro Vancouver, out of Burnaby—Douglas, in fact.

Burrard Inlet forms the northern boundary of Burnaby—Douglas, of my riding. It is, as I said, the terminus of the existing pipeline from Alberta's oil fields to the west coast. Kinder Morgan owns and operates that, and that facility is located in the riding.

Burnaby—Douglas is also home to the Chevron refinery, the only refinery on Canada's west coast.

Burnaby—Douglas used to be the home of a Shell refinery and Gulf refinery, as well. Those have since wound down. However, Shell and Petro-Canada still have distribution facilities in Burnaby—Douglas.

The oil and gas industry is a significant industry in my constituency. It would be wrong for me to ignore the fact that people are concerned about their jobs in this industry, in my riding. They do recognize that this industry does provide good, family-supporting union jobs, and that they produce and distribute products that we all still use. That raises the question of the job impact. It also raises the question of how we change our lifestyle and our dependence on fossil fuels.

We know, too, that products that are produced in Burnaby and that are piped to Burnaby are also shipped up the coast of British Columbia to coastal communities, to power vehicles, to actually power electricity production in some communities, so that this is still a necessary requirement for those communities and something that has to be maintained.

We also need to consider, though, how we change the fuel consumption habits in those communities, how we can help those communities change their dependence on fossil fuels and shift to alternative energy sources.

We also know that some of the products that come through the pipeline to Burnaby are shipped to the northwest United States for both further refining and distribution. Recently, products are being shipped to Asia, more oil and crude oil is being shipped to China, in particular, and the potential for raw bitumen exports to Asia also continues to come up.

There is concern about oil spills in my community. We have seen a major pipeline accident in July 2007, where oil spewed over a neighbourhood for almost half an hour while it could not be shut down after an excavator broke the Kinder Morgan pipeline. That has people in my constituency very concerned about the safety of pipelines, given that they go through residential neighbourhoods, given that they go through wilderness areas, as well, in British Columbia.

People in the riding have concerns about the navigation of supertankers and large oil tankers into Port Metro Vancouver and under the Iron Workers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge.

There is concern about pilots. There is concern about what happens if a ship loses power. There is concern about the clearance from the bottom of the harbour and what it would mean if a tanker ran aground. There is also concern about spill response capacity. We know that Burrard Clean Operations, the organization that has major responsibility in Port Metro Vancouver, has a 10,000 tonne cleanup capacity, but we also know that many of the tankers that come in and out of the harbour carry 110,000 tonnes of oil products. We also have heard recently that the Coast Guard's capacity to respond to an oil spill is also in question after a recent audit.

There are lots of questions that arise for people on the south coast as well, questions about risk management, questions about how we want to tie into the further development of the tar sands, and these are all issues that need to be addressed both on the north coast and--

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Burnaby—Douglas for his comments on this important motion. The member is renowned as one of the strongest constituency members of Parliament in the country. He has a long history of serving the previous member of Parliament. In the last six and a half years he has been absolutely phenomenal in providing that constituency service and support in the constituency. He runs an operation that is really a template for all of us as members of Parliament.

The member hosted, as he mentioned earlier, that public meeting around the issue of this possible extension of monster tankers off the B.C. coast. I would like him to speak very specifically about what kind of feedback he had from the residents of Burnaby—Douglas at that meeting, how people feel in his riding. We heard earlier that the Conservatives were saying do not listen to British Columbians. They certainly do not seem to care about British Columbians' opinions on the softwood lumber sellout or the HST. I guess the question is are they going to listen to British Columbians on monster tankers? To what extent are people in his riding concerned about the Conservative plan to push monster tankers on the B.C. coast?

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, as the member knows because he was at that meeting, people are very concerned about the whole question of tanker traffic and oil tanker traffic on the coast. They are concerned from the point of view of what it means to the explosive and expanded development of the tar sands and the sustainability of that kind of oil development. But they are also concerned about what it means to transport bitumen, crude oil and other petroleum products through a pipeline across British Columbia through wilderness areas and through residential and urban areas. They have had the very dramatic experience of what results when there is an accident and accidents happen. Enbridge had a very serious pipeline accident in the American Midwest in the not too recent past. These are very serious issues and accidents can happen. Almost inevitably accidents happen, so people are concerned about the safety of the pipeline.

People are also concerned about what happens when that oil is transported out of Burrard Inlet. They have seen what happens when there is a spill in our local harbour in Burrard Inlet. They saw that after the pipeline accident where a lot of that oil that spewed from the pipeline when it was broken ended up in the harbour, in Burrard Inlet. They saw the damage that caused. They have seen smaller oil spills resulting from ordinary tanker traffic in and out of the harbour, which has caused problems for wildlife and problems for recreational use around the harbour area. They have seen the kinds of issues that arise and the kinds of problems that we have with managing the industry that we have now.

People are not taking a ridiculous position on this. They realize that they still use those products. They realize that jobs are part of all of this, so they know it is not necessarily an easy solution on the south coast where we demand these products, where we need these jobs, but they believe that there are alternatives to further expanding the tar sands, to further expanding and enabling the use of fossil fuels. They want a government that hears them on that. They do not have that now. They do not have a government that listens to them when it comes to their concerns, the overwhelming concerns of British Columbians, about tanker traffic on the north coast and their concerns about how that existing traffic is managed on the south coast.

They do not have a government that is willing to listen to them and to take action on those things. That is why we have brought this motion forward today, to say that we need a legislated ban on supertanker traffic on the north coast. That is something that needs to be written down so that it is taken into consideration so that the policy is in place and there is no backing away from it. The support for that position is so widespread in British Columbia, municipal politicians without dissent agree with that. Incredible organizations and coalitions of first nations have come together, almost unprecedented, to support a ban on this and to oppose the Enbridge pipeline through northern British Columbia.

Something is happening. The Conservatives had better listen to it or they are going to hear it from British Columbians.

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present some of my thoughts on the issue of the NDP's opposition day motion.

This is a commitment that has long been held by the Liberal Party of Canada. In fact, it is the heritage of Prime Minister Trudeau from back in 1972 that the Liberals are still supporting. We are very pleased that the NDP members are in support of this also.

I have been listening to the debate. That eight out of ten British Columbians feel very strongly that there should be a ban on supertanker traffic along the north coast is a very key point.

Let us look at what is behind the fact that British Columbians feel so strongly about this. I think it is simple and we can never lose sight of this context. That is, if there are 200-plus supertankers in that area and something goes wrong, and it seems that something always will, we cannot undo it. We can never reverse it. There is no turning back. The government can spend billions but we can never go back to the way it was. Nor can we ever reverse the public anger and the public sense of betrayal should there be an accident. That is the key point.

If the government, as it seems to be doing, is determined to support a project that would entail hundreds of crude oil supertankers in these vulnerable and dangerous waters and the worse should happen, the world will be changed forever. British Columbia's coastline will be changed forever and the world will have changed for the worst. That is the key issue. That is the crux of why so many British Columbians are clear that it is not worth that risk.

We mentioned that eight out of ten British Columbians support this ban. There was a poll by an independent polling agency that asked:

Since 1972, the Canadian federal government has banned oil tankers from transporting crude oil through B.C.'s inside passage to protect the coast from oil spills. Now, Ottawa is considering allowing oil tankers to transport crude oil through our coastal waters. In your opinion, should we ban or allow oil tanker traffic in B.C.'s inside coastal waters?

Over 80% of respondents said to ban it. Just 15% said to allow it. That is a very clear indication of the will of British Columbians.

As other members have pointed out, this is across the spectrum. Communities right across British Columbia support a ban. First nations support a band. In fact, 61 indigenous communities that have claimed territory in the Fraser Basin which actually represents about two-thirds of the land mass of British Columbia have just signed a declaration. They are concerned about the impact of tanker traffic and potential spills on the salmon's ocean migration routes and rightly so, because there is no going back should there be a major spill.

I have been in that area of British Columbia. I have had the privilege to work in inlets on the coast. I have had the privilege to be in boats and small planes, and to recreate in that area, as do many thousands of British Columbians and tourists. People come from outside our province and our country to experience what is considered to be an international jewel, the mid and north coast of British Columbia.

I have walked in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary amid the grasses and the estuarial waters where grizzly bears come to feed on the returning salmon. To picture that area covered with black, tarry goo is unimaginable. Modelling of a spill from a tanker in the inland north Pacific coastal waters suggests that the spill could affect the ecology, the coastline and plants and animals that depend on it from the tip of Vancouver Island to well north of Prince Rupert, depending on the time of year and weather conditions.

Do we want to risk that? Does the government want to risk that? The government is speaking in favour of that, but the people of British Columbia and first nations are against it. The government has a choice either to listen or not to listen to the people of British Columbia.

It could risk changing the coastline of B.C. forever. These tankers are far larger than the Exxon Valdez. That oil spill happened over 20 years ago and the oil has not gone away. The impact on wildlife is ongoing. Some species have never recovered. We risk losing more wildlife should the government continue to push forward.

The Conservative government has adopted its usual tactic of sowing confusion through deceit in its response to questions that I have put forward since visiting the Gulf of Mexico last May. I have received an array of responses to my questions as to whether the government will continue to respect the ban on tanker traffic in the inland north coast waters as governments have done since 1972. The responses from the government have been designed to confuse this protection with the protection on the exterior coast of Haida Gwaii and with drilling moratoria. This was a separate moratorium.

The government is using its usual tactic to deceive and confuse. That is exactly why the Liberals have taken a stand. That is why in June, the Leader of the Opposition said that the Liberals would put a permanent ban in place to ensure the continued protection of this precious area.

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member will have 12 minutes left for her comments after question period.

Special Olympics World Summer Games
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to congratulate my constituent, Christine Sullivan, who will be competing in power lifting at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

Christine is from my riding of Medicine Hat, and she and 108 other athletes are proudly representing Canada. In Greece they will promote the fundamental principles and values of the Olympics. These athletes show us that no matter what the obstacle, through hard work and dedication they can achieve athletic excellence. They are an inspiration to us all.

The 2010 Winter Olympics were a resounding success. There we saw the Olympic spirit as we watched our athletes uphold the values of friendship, respect and excellence.

I am certain that Christine and her fellow athletes will continue to make Canada proud. Sportsmanship is a commendable goal and these athletes are given the opportunity to be role models and teach our kids valuable lessons. The real winners in sports are those who know how to persevere and to behave with dignity.

Let us all unite behind the red and white jerseys of our Special Olympics athletes.

Mental Health
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, mental health is something that impacts all Canadians, either directly or indirectly.

Dr. Shimi Kang is a young woman who has spent many years as one of Canada's leading experts on youth and women's mental health and addictions.

She founded Canada's largest program for youth with mental health and substance use disorders, and created the youth, culture and mental health fund to address awareness and stigma in diverse and immigrant populations.

She is making a real difference by creating awareness across all communities.

I stand today to commend Dr. Kang for her work and wish her luck in her candidacy as one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1992, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 3 to be the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 650 million people throughout the world have a mental or physical disability that affects their daily lives.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how having a disability affects people's lives. This day also serves as an opportunity to increase awareness among the public and private sectors of the concrete benefits of integrating these individuals into our economic and social system. Today, the public and private sectors are encouraged to find innovative solutions to effective integration.

I would like to emphasize the importance and relevance of this day on which we all have the opportunity—together—to transform words into actions. We all have a role to play in making equal opportunity a reality, thus ensuring that people with disabilities are truly able to participate in our society.

Mining Industry
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I am standing on behalf of the people of my riding and the people of Manitoba who are saying that Vale's plan to close the smelter and the refinery in Thompson is unacceptable.

Many Manitobans are critical not only of Vale but of the federal government. How can this government justify giving Vale $1 billion to strip over 600 jobs from Manitoba and eliminate our major processing capacity?

Did the federal government know that Vale was planning to cut our jobs when it gave Vale our money? Did it even ask? Where were the Manitoba Conservative members of Parliament? Is it just a coincidence that all this took place during the debate over foreign takeovers and potash in Saskatchewan?

One thing is clear: Vale's announcement is an attack on the people of Manitoba. The government talks about job creation. How about working to keep our jobs?

The government must be at the table. It is time for the government to stop standing up for Vale and to start standing up for the people of Thompson and Manitoba.

Renfrew County District School Board
Statements By Members

December 2nd, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the students and teachers of Renfrew County District School Board are saying goodbye to Mr. Roy Reiche.

Roy served the students and parents of Renfrew County for 15 years as the elected trustee for Laurentian Valley and North Algona Wilberforce townships as well as being the board chairman for three terms.

Renfrew County's population is spread out in pockets over a wide geographical area. Our residents, particularly in the rural areas, face a number of challenges when it comes to the delivery of services. This fact is apparent when it comes to education and the need to provide the same opportunities for our students as students receive in areas where they have access to more resources.

Roy operated on the basis that one puts the students first. This has meant fighting for education dollars when necessary and using the resources one has in a responsible fashion. It is a lot of hard work with many tough decisions. For his time on the board of education, Roy will be remembered as a class act.

I appreciate being given this opportunity, on behalf of the people of Renfrew County, to pubically thank Roy for his years of public service on the board of education. May he enjoy his retirement.