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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is transport.

Conservative MP for Essex (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 48.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Transportation February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, obviously, budgets wait until budgets are actually revealed, but what I can tell the member is that this government has made substantial investments in Marine Atlantic. It has done so on a major capital program, which is just winding up, and we continue to ensure that it has the operational funding it needs to deliver its quality service to Atlantic Canadians.

Canada Post February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post has a responsibility, obviously, in the conversion of community mailboxes, to be doing its consultations with communities as well as to be taking the important measures to ensure that the areas in front of community mailboxes are kept clear. We expect it to hold to its responsibilities.

Canada Post February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post, an independent crown corporation, is responsible for its own operations, which include its commercial and financial decisions. Canadians are choosing means other than letters to communicate with each other. Because of the drop in demand, the volume of mail has plunged by nearly 25% since 2008, and the trend is steady.

The Conference Board of Canada expects Canada Post to lose about $1 billion per year between now and 2020.

Canada Post February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post delivered 1.2 billion fewer pieces of mail in 2013 than it did in 2006. Two-thirds of Canadians do not receive their mail at home. Canada Post has to balance its budget without burdening taxpayers. We expect nothing less than that.

Canada Post February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the plan is Canada Post's five-point plan. It is an independent crown corporation. It is dealing with a situation where it delivered 1.2 billion fewer pieces of mail in 2013 than it did just in 2006. The member also well knows that two-thirds of Canadians currently do not receive door-to-door delivery.

We expect Canada Post to operate on a financially self-sustaining basis, as is the law. We expect nothing less than that.

Health February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government takes air quality in the Limoilou sector very seriously. A number of measures were taken in response to the dust emissions in 2012 to ensure that air quality standards are met and to prevent further incidents. The Quebec Port Authority is working closely with the province and Quebec City on this issue. Transport Canada is satisfied with the measures the port has taken and with its ongoing co-operation with the authorities. Quebec government officials have confirmed to Transport Canada that there was no indication of a threat to public health caused by the transshipment of nickel in the port in February. Transport Canada will continue to monitor this matter.

Health February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Beauport—Limoilou for his question and for his concern, which we share, for the health of his riding.

First of all, Quebec government officials have confirmed that there was no indication of a threat to public health caused by nickel transshipment in the port on the date mentioned by the member for Beauport—Limoilou. We must be very cautious about making connections that could raise unnecessary health concerns for the people of Quebec City.

Air quality in the Limoilou sector, in connection with the activities of the Port of Québec, is closely monitored by Transport Canada, Environment Canada, the Quebec Port Authority and the Government of Quebec's Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, among others. There are frequent communications among the various stakeholders on this matter, and immediate action would be taken in the event of an incident or data indicating a risk to public health. Transport Canada is satisfied with the partnership established to ensure that air quality standards are met.

As mentioned before, following the red dust episode in October 2012, many measures were put in place by the port, the company involved and other partners. Since that time, the Quebec Port Authority and its partners have invested $27 million in various environmental measures, including a real-time air quality monitoring network; water cannons; a monitoring patrol that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and waterproofing measures for the transshipment equipment.

The fact is that the Port of Québec is determined to meet the environmental standards and has made considerable efforts to do so. Transport Canada is satisfied with the measures put in place by the Quebec Port Authority, which is an independent organization that is responsible for its own activities.

The mission of the Quebec Port Authority is to promote and develop maritime trade, serve the economic interests of the Quebec City region and Canada, and make sure it is profitable while respecting the community and the environment.

We are confident that the measures that have already been put in place and the ongoing co-operation with the various relevant stakeholders will allow the Quebec Port Authority to fulfill that mission.

We support the Port of Québec as a key player in the economic development of Quebec City, the province of Quebec and Canada. Environmental and public health concerns are important priorities for Transport Canada and the Quebec Port Authority.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to speak about Canada's current role in dealing with the ongoing issue of abandoned vessels and wrecks across the country.

More specifically, I would like to address the issue in the context of Bill C-638, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and why the government cannot support the proposed bill.

Our government has a robust mandate to deal with the safety of navigation and the environment. In fact, two of Canada's oldest pieces of legislation in the marine domain continue to be the foundation for navigation safety and the protection of the marine environment. I am referring, of course, to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and the Navigation Protection Act.

Canada's principal legislation governing marine transportation safety and the protection of the maritime environment is the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. The act covers a vast array of safety requirements for shipping and recreational boating and includes stringent provisions for the protection of the marine environment. It also includes international commitments varying from ship safety standards to ship source pollution.

In fact, part 8 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of both Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard regarding pollution prevention and response.

Transport Canada is the lead regulatory agency for the pollution prevention and response regime, which includes management and oversight; the development of regulations and standards; and the implementation and enforcement of those regulations, notably relating to response organizations.

The Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for spill management under section 180 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Specifically, it provides a national preparedness capacity, manages the national response team, and is the federal monitoring officer, or on-scene commander, for marine pollution incidents.

Together, Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard work diligently to ensure that the safety and environmental provisions under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, are carried out efficiently for incidents, including abandoned vessels and/or wrecks that pose an imminent risk to the marine environment.

Regarding provisions for wrecks, part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, clearly outlines the functions and current capabilities of the receiver of wreck for wrecks in Canadian waterways. In general terms, these functions continue to serve the best interest of the Canadian public by helping protect the rights of the vessel owners and by assisting those who wish to salvage wrecks when and were possible.

The receiver of wreck functions are administered by Transport Canada's navigation protection program. These are the same Transport Canada officials who administer the Navigation Protection Act.

As members are aware, the Navigation Protection Act is Canada's principal piece of legislation allowing for the safe construction and placement of works in Canada's busiest waterways, while maintaining safe navigation.

While the main focus of the act is to review, authorize, and approve works, such as bridges and dams, in navigable waters, the act also includes provisions for being able to deal with obstructions in waterways listed in the schedule of the act.

For the purposes of the Navigation Protection Act, an obstruction can be a vessel, or part of one, that is wrecked, sunk, partially sunk, lying ashore, or grounded. This means that sections 15 to 19 of the Navigation Protection Act can deal with abandoned vessels or wrecks that have become an obstruction to navigation in navigable waters listed in the schedule of the act.

In addition, section 20 of the Navigation Protection Act allows the Minister of Transport to authorize any person to take possession of and remove the vessel, or part of the vessel, under certain circumstances.

I have presented a brief overview of our government's current legislative mandates that respond to the abandoned vessels and wrecks that pose imminent danger to both safe navigation and the marine environment and, in general terms, whereby the owner of these vessels are not known.

There are certain considerations that our government has taken into account in its review of the proposed bill.

First, currently, under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, part 7, the Minister of Transport can take action when and where necessary to manage wrecks that pose a hazard to navigation and the marine environment.

Making obligations mandatory would require the receiver of wreck to take action on every wreck and to take every reasonable measure to locate the owner of the wreck, regardless of its location or state. This would create a financial burden on the federal government, and that means on the Canadian taxpayer. In the same vein, it would be costly to the Canadian Coast Guard and it would divert resources from responding to priority vessels, causing damage to the marine environment.

Our government recognizes that the current part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act does not capture all wrecks that are vessels of concern. In particular, wrecks where the owner is known but unwilling to act are not captured. The proposed bill does not provide a solution to this issue.

In addition, the bill only addresses remediation through government intervention. It does not address the issue of vessel life cycle management. Public outreach focusing on the roles and responsibilities of vessel ownership is needed in order for any remediation program to be effective. I understand that work is under way to promote greater understanding among vessel owners of their life cycle management responsibilities.

The bill proposes that the Canadian Coast Guard be designated as receiver of wreck. However, designating the Canadian Coast Guard as receiver of wreck for all wrecks in Canadian waters will not only make it difficult for the Coast Guard to focus on its current mandate for pollution response, it will duplicate Transport Canada's functions, causing operational inefficiency and confusion.

Finally, I would like to point out that under federal legislation, the Coast Guard is not a separate legal entity in and of itself. It is considered part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Therefore, the Canadian Coast Guard cannot be receiver of wreck or make regulations regarding their management.

While our government appreciates the importance of the issues surrounding vessels of concern and wrecks in Canadian waterways, Bill C-638 does not address them. Instead, the bill would obligate the federal government to use valuable resources on abandoned vessels and wrecks that pose no hazard to marine safety or the marine environment. In addition, the bill is impossible to implement under current federal legislation and therefore fails to present a viable solution to the issue of wrecks. For these reasons, the government opposes Bill C-638.

Prevention should be the focus of this issue, not mandatory government remediation measures. Our government supports the immediate initiatives being led by Transport Canada and undertaken in partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other interested parties to develop an implement a public outreach campaign. This proactive approach includes targeting the broader issue of vessels of concern and ensuring that owners have the information that they need to take responsibility for the life cycle management of their vessels.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her intervention and her private member's bill that she has put forward today. I will be making some remarks on that shortly, in particular on why the Canadian Coast Guard cannot be designated as a receiver of wreck, which is a major technical flaw in the bill. Apart from that, the way the system works right now is that owners are responsible for their vessels. In the case particularly where there are known owners, certain actions can be taken.

What the bill proposes to do, though, is quite different. It actually proposes to shift the liability from the owner of a vessel onto the government and therefore onto the taxpayers. I do not know whether the member thinks that might not lead to people dumping their boats when they realize they are no longer responsible for doing anything responsible with them. That is a problem.

Secondarily, the member has talked about an estimated number of boats, probably underestimated. We know that dealing with some of these boats can cost into the millions of dollars, maybe even the tens of millions of dollars, for removal and cleanup. Does the member have an idea how much it would cost to have the taxpayers deal with every single derelict vessel in Canada?

Canada Post February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member will know that Canada Post is an arm's-length crown corporation that makes strategic decisions about its future and its operations on a day-to-day basis independently of the government. It has a five-point plan that it is putting into place to ensure the continuance of daily mail in this country.

The municipalities spoke on this matter at a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, where they voted two to one against a motion to restore door-to-door delivery for one third of Canadians.