Bill C-14 (Historical)
Canada Shipping Act, 2001
An Act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
David Collenette Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
The Royal Assent
November 1st, 2001 / 4:40 p.m.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend the Deputy Governor General in the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-14, an act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other acts—Chapter No. 26.
Bill C-11, an act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger—Chapter No. 27.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 26th, 2001 / 10:45 a.m.
Lynn Myers Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, by bringing this bill forward the Minister of Transport has indicated that this is a very important piece of the transportation puzzle. It is not a piecemeal approach, contrary to what was said by the last speaker. As outlined by the minister and the government it is a great vision of what we need to do regarding transportation.
The fact that there is widespread support for the bill underscores the commitment of some of the other parties in the House that this is an important bill well worth consideration and support. At the end of the day that will be precisely what we see.
It is part of the overall plan of our government to proceed with transportation matters in a manner consistent with the values of Canada and, more important, with the needs and requirements of the various regions across Canada. It is the position of the federal government that we need to do the kinds of things necessary to ensure that takes place.
Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada, is a very good bill and one worthy of note. I would like to outline some of the things that would happen as a result of the legislation.
The Civil Aviation Tribunal, CAT, is an independent, quasi-judicial body established in 1986 to review administration enforcement decisions taken under the Aeronautics Act. There is a bit of history here. The Civil Aviation Tribunal performed to the satisfaction of both Transport Canada as well as the aviation community for over 15 years. We applaud the good work the tribunal has done over the years. It is a good example of regulatory best practice. We commend it and look at how it might apply in other areas because it has done such good work over the last number of years.
It has shifted reviews and appeals of enforcement decisions under the Aeronautics Act from the minister, senior department officials and the courts to an administrative body characterized by independence, expertise, expediency, affordability, fairness and transparency. This is a great hallmark for the tribunal. It made the transformation in a manner consistent with the values of Canada and with what Canadians expect from a regulatory body.
In the fall of 1988 consultations were held with the various transportation sectors on a departmental proposal to transform the CAT into a multi-modal tribunal so that the enforcement review processes available to the aviation sector under the Aeronautics Act would be available to other transport sectors as well. Those discussions went well as some very good conclusions were reached as a result of a great deal of dialogue with the various partners and stakeholders in the transport area.
The acts principally implicated are: the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railway Safety Act. The new shipping legislation as proposed in Bill C-14 is also implicated as is the Canada Transportation Act. A wide number of acts are affected in this very important area.
The proposed transportation appeal tribunal of Canada bill is modeled after legislation that established the Civil Aviation Tribunal, part IV of the Aeronautics Act. The latter would be repealed by this legislation.
The TATC bill addresses, first, the jurisdictions of the new tribunal in very general terms; second, the appointment of members including the designation of a chairperson and a vice-chairperson; and, third, the qualifications of tribunal members hearing particular cases on review and on appeal. In general terms cases must be presided over by members with expertise in the particular sector, although there are exemptions medical cases or other related issues.
Fourth, it also addresses the nature of tribunal hearings, including that strict rules of evidence do not apply and that the standard of proof in hearings is on the balance of probabilities; fifth, the authority of the tribunal to hold hearings in private in defined circumstances; and, sixth, the authority of the tribunal to award costs and expenses in defined circumstances.
These are important sections to remember and important aspects to note. They underscore the commitment of the government to ensure flexibility and fairness.
The authority of the tribunal to hold its hearings in private is broader than is the comparable authority of the CAT. The bill would provide that hearings could be held in private where they might disclose personal medical information or business information of a highly confidential nature and where the private interests of the individual or company in keeping the information confidential outweigh the general principle that hearings be conducted in public. Prudence and common sense are the orders of the day.
The ability of the tribunal to award costs and/or expenses in defined circumstances is new. The CAT does not have the comparable authority. The tribunal may award costs and the reimbursement of expenses where a matter brought before it is frivolous or vexatious, where a party fails to appear at a hearing without justification, and where the tribunal grants an adjournment at the request of a party on short notice.
This underscores the fact that these folk mean business, and well they should because this is a very important sector of the Canadian economy. They would act in a very expeditious fashion. That is exactly what is outlined here and what would take place.
While the tribunal bill addresses the jurisdiction of the tribunal in a very general sense, the tribunal's specific authorities and decision making powers are set out in various modal transportation acts outlined in other sections.
Similar to the decision making authorities of the CAT, the tribunal would have the final decision making authority in punitive cases where safety is not an issue, for example the assessment by the minister of an administrative monetary penalty against an air carrier for a regulation contravention. That would be an example where the new tribunal would act.
However where safety, competence and qualifications are at issue, for example the suspension of a seaman's certificate because he or she is medically unfit, the tribunal would only be available to confirm the minister's decision or refer it back to the minister for reconsideration
These are very important aspects of the tribunal. They underscore the commitment of the government to act in a manner consistent with the way things should operate in Canada. I believe it is very important in that sense.
There are a number of proposed amendments to the Aeronautics Act that would include clarifying the authority of the minister to refuse to issue or amend Canadian aviation documents and establish the jurisdiction of the tribunal in relation to such decisions, for example to confirm the minister's decision or to refer it back to the minister for reconsideration; revising the procedures for the assessment by the minister and review by the tribunal of administrative monetary penalties; authorizing the minister to refuse to issue, amend or renew, or to suspend Canadian aviation documents based on outstanding monetary penalties being owed by the applicant or document holder. These decisions are not reviewable by the tribunal.
There are two additional amendments that are worthy of note: to clarify when certain decisions by the minister related to Canadian aviation documents may come into effect and to repeal of part IV of the act which established the Civil Aviation Tribunal, thereby allowing for seamless transition to the tribunal.
There are also amendments that would affect the Canada Shipping Act. A number of statutes would be affected as a result of this new bill and I will highlight those now. The proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act would establish the jurisdiction of the tribunal under section 120, the suspension of a personnel certificate by reason of medical incapacitation; section 125, the suspension or cancellation of a personnel certificate based on a false statement or fraud; section 128, the suspension or cancellation of a foreign certificate; section 133, suspension of a personnel certificate based on convictions for specified offences; and section 504, the suspension or cancellation of a personnel certificate which is based on various grounds.
The procedures for tribunal review are comparable to those proposed in the new shipping legislation, Bill C-14. The role of the adjudicators would be assumed by the tribunal. This is very important because it makes that kind of shift in a way that is consistent with government policy and the very good vision of the Minister of Transport in this all important matter.
There are three things I will highlight. First, 30 days' notice of a proposed suspension or cancellation of a personnel certificate must be given, unless the minister then makes an ex parte application to the tribunal to have the certificate action take effect immediately. Second, in cases involving competency, qualifications and other safety matters, the tribunal is limited to confirming the minister's decision or referring it back to the minister for reconsideration.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 26th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
David Collenette Don Valley East, ON
moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning on Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.
This bill was debated at second reading earlier this month and this week the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations finished its examination.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations for handling the bill so expeditiously.
The committee met with representatives of the department this week, which enabled them to obtain answers to their questions.
In the transportation sector there has been a real modernizing of our federal transportation legislation in reforming the ways that we administer and enforce our legislation in the interests of the Canadian people.
We think that the establishment of the tribunal would contribute greatly to legislative reform in the transportation sector. The legislation does so in three key areas: First, it allows for the use of a broader spectrum of administrative types of enforcement actions in relation to minor regulatory violations.
Second, it provides for review of the use of administrative enforcement actions by an expert body completely separate from the department which we think is particularly useful.
Third, the legislation promotes consistent government treatment of persons engaged in federally regulated transportation activities in the rail, marine and aviation sectors.
I apologize for not taking part in the second reading debate on the bill but I believe my parliamentary secretary spoke. During the review by the committee, I was pleased to note that the representatives from all parties indicated support for the general principles behind the tribunal and its establishment.
It is always a pleasure to see that such non-partisan co-operation is possible.
I thank my colleagues in the opposition for their co-operation and their recognition that this multimodal tribunal is a good idea and a very sensible way of enforcing legislative provisions.
I would like to share with hon. members some of the key elements in the bill.
Bill C-34 has two key components: first, the establishment of the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada; and, second, the outlining of the tribunal's jurisdiction and decision making authority by amending six key pieces of transportation legislation: the Aeronautics Act, the Railway Safety Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
We have had a very heavy legislative load at transport in the last few years. In the coming months I hope to bring forward the Canada airports bill as well as amendments to the Aeronautics Act, which are in progress but will need to be advanced in view of the events of September 11, and the Canada Transportation Act later next year. It will be a busy year for those members of the House interested in transportation. That does not even take into account the issues that we are having to grapple with on the airline and air safety front.
The establishment of the new and improved tribunal involves the transformation of the existing Civil Aviation Tribunal into a multi-modal transportation tribunal. It would provide the rail, marine and aviation sectors with access to an independent body.
The bill deals with the machinery aspects of establishing this tribunal such as membership appointments, duties and qualifications, and the review and appeal hearing process. It also includes transitional housekeeping provisions to ensure that the work of the Civil Aviation Tribunal continues smoothly into the new body.
Members of all parties have indicated that the expertise of the members appointed to this tribunal will be crucial to the tribunal's credibility. Obviously there will be some considerable overlap.
The legislation makes relevant transportation expertise a mandatory criteria. This would involve separate rosters of part time rail, marine and civil aviation members. Within each roster there would be a wide variety of expertise: commercial, mechanical, legal and medical, to name a few. This means that a review hearing dealing with a rail matter would be heard by a member with rail expertise, a medical issue would be heard by a member with medical expertise, and so on.
This tribunal would not only have an impressive array of relevant transportation expertise but it would come at an impressively low cost. The roster of part time members would only be paid when they are hearing a case.
That brings me to another issue. The jurisdiction of the tribunal in terms of the types of administrative enforcement decisions it could review is set out in the amendments to the six transportation acts. The tribunal would be able to review six different types of administrative enforcement decisions found in varying degrees in the six pieces of transportation legislation including administrative monetary penalties, refusals to remove enforcement notations, railway orders, a variety of licensing decisions, notices of default in relation to assurances of compliance, and decisions surrounding screening officer designations.
The powers of the tribunal would depend on the nature of the administrative enforcement decision being reviewed. Where the enforcement action is substantially punitive in nature, the tribunal would be able to substitute its decision for that of the department. For example, a tribunal review of an administrative monetary penalty.
However where the enforcement action has more to do with competencies, qualifications to hold licences, public interest or other safety considerations, the tribunal would generally be authorized only to confirm the department's decision or refer the matter back for reconsideration.
It is not the intent of the legislation to dilute the fundamental safety and security responsibilities of the Minister of Transport under the various transportation acts. I wish to thank members of the House who provided their comments and support for the bill.
In closing, I am sure the transport appeal tribunal of Canada could provide an efficient and effective review. I am confident that it could benefit from the same levels of support as are currently available to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.
I hope members would agree that it is appropriate at this time to address a few words to the current chair, vice-chair and members of the Civil Aviation Tribunal. They will set the stage for this expanded tribunal with their effective management of the cases brought before them. I wish to express to each of them our gratitude for a job well done. I know their expertise will carry forward through the transition period.
Canada Shipping Act, 2001
May 10th, 2001 / 4:55 p.m.
Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL
Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act and amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act.
When the bill was tabled, the minister's press release stated that it would update, modernize and streamline Canada's marine law and that it would delineate new roles for the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The minister also indicated that the bill would allow the entire marine community to operate in a manner that is safer, more efficient, environmentally sound and responsive to the needs of Canadians in a global community and a global economy. These are laudable aims that we in this party can support.
The proposed amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act are purported to generally streamline the administration of the act and to promote greater competition in the marine shipping industry.
Shipping conferences of course are groupings of shipping lines that are essentially cartels. The word cartel brings to mind OPEC, an organization dedicated to fixing the volume and price of oil on world markets. Similarly, shipping conferences collude on prices and services and claim to prevent wild fluctuations in same as regards the marine shipment of goods. The conferences claim that the benefit to our importers and exporters is stability in the shipping industry.
In general, most stakeholder witnesses at the transport committee felt that Bill C-14 was generally an improvement over the current situation. However, just about every group of witnesses had one or two complaints about one clause or another. As an opposition critic and a layman in the field, one is faced with saying yea or nay to a complicated piece of legislation where the average witness says that he or she is in favour of 95% of the bill but that he or she is strongly opposed to clause x or y.
One major change that the bill brings in is to put all commercial vessels under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transport and all pleasure craft under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Department of Transport will now have to create an automated small vessel registry as small commercial vessels under 12 metres in length used to be handled by DFO. One hopes that this will not result in a bureaucratic nightmare for small commercial vessels.
One concern that has come up is that the boats are not always pleasure craft or commercial vessels, depending on usage. In many rural areas of Canada, the family pleasure craft is sometimes rented out to say a sports fishing or outfitting company if there is a large increase in clients. The vessel that met the pleasure craft standards yesterday may not meet the Department of Transport rules for commercial vessels tomorrow. This will preclude rural people from making a few extra dollars if the transport department rules are strongly enforced. There are implications down the road for ordinary people that may not be evident at first glance.
One witness asked the committee “What if a pleasure craft gets into an accident with a small water taxi?” Whose jurisdiction is it to straighten out that mess, the Department of Transport or DFO?
There are millions of pleasure craft in Canada and this bill would allow the minister to make regulations on standards of construction and equipment carried on boats. A number of witnesses expressed concern that the government may require pleasure craft to be upgraded in order to be licensed. This could lead to financial hardship for many small boat owners, especially pleasure craft owners, whose boats were bought many years ago when standards were different or not as high as they are today. Are we going to run into a situation that sees people being refused a licence unless considerable money is spent on a small boat?
I am given to understand that federal legislation requires that a boat with an engine larger than 9.9 horsepower be licensed, and that includes many boats in Canada. At present we have a paper only licensing system where a form is filled out that goes into a file cabinet and nowhere else. If a boat is licensed, carries a number and gets lost or stolen, how do police trace it? At present they cannot look it up on their computers because the only copy of the licence is in a file cabinet in some government office halfway across the country. As a result, thousands of small boats in the country are not licensed at all, and because the boat may be at a lake near a cottage, no one in authority really knows it exists.
The solution of course is a computerized licensing system, but I wonder if the general public out there is ready or willing to get into a new bureaucratic system on boats that has been taken for granted for years. I realize that boat traffic in some of the lakes and waterways in the mainland of Canada can be very dense during the summer months and tighter controls are necessary. In rural Canada, however, such a new intrusion into peoples' lives may not be welcome. My problem of course is that the bill raises more questions than it probably answers.
Bill C-14 claims to be progressive in that enforcement mechanisms would allow for administrative penalties in addition to the usual court proceedings. In theory, this would allow the minister to take action against lesser infractions without dragging someone into court and maybe giving him or her a criminal record. That could be very good.
However, in court one must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and one has the protection of the charter of rights. In an administrative penalty, the onus on the minister to prove guilt is far less onerous. Just about all the witnesses commented that they disagreed with the administrative penalties because one would not have full access to due process as one would have in a court of law. I do not know if that is good or bad. I guess we will have to wait and see.
At the beginning of my remarks, I mentioned that the amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act were purported to encourage more competition in the shipping industry. The exemption in the act's title refers to exemption from Canada's competition laws which would normally outlaw cartel activities. In particular, the Minister of Transport claimed that the bill would bring our legislation more in line with our American trading partners. The shipping conferences generally agreed but people with goods to ship, the Canadian Shipping Council for instance, did not. We will wait to see where that leads as well.
Shippers want to be able to enter into confidential contracts with individual shipping lines so as to get the lowest price for shipping their goods. This bill would allow them to do so, but there is no clause requiring the owner of the ship to keep the details of such a contract secret from other shipowners in the conference.
In the United States a shipper can enter into such a confidential contract but in the U.S. the owners of the ship and the members of the conference are expressly forbidden to share the details of the contract with fellow conference members. The change in our rules would be a step toward the American rules but falls a bit short of them.
The shippers wanted a dispute settling mechanism in the legislation but were also disappointed. As well, they wanted a sunset clause ultimately phasing out the cartels over a number of years, and they lost that battle as well.
All told, the shipping conference legislation changes little that would help our exporters and importers. The bill merely makes some administrative improvements to the status quo.
I am given to understand that changes to Canada's shipping laws have been in the works for many years and there have been extensive consultations with many stakeholders. I am reluctant to vote against the bill if there has been that kind of wide consultation. However, I have grave reservations about the implications for small pleasure and commercial vessels. I fear that in due course the public may be in for more bureaucratic entanglements than they currently expect or want.
Canada Shipping Act, 2001
May 10th, 2001 / 4:40 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois will be supporting Bill C-14, because the development of the Canadian shipping industry should have been reviewed decades ago. This legislation has been long awaited by the public, shippers and receivers of goods and also part of the industry.
Again, we will never say it often enough, this bill should have been passed in the last parliament. It did not happen because the government called an election for no better reason than to please some politicians. Because of that early election, bills like Bill C-14 are once again before the House.
Was the wait worth it? That is the big question that we and the people of Quebec and the rest of Canada who are listening should be asking ourselves. As I was saying, Bill C-14 was introduced in that last parliament but was not passed because the government called an early election. Did the government use the delay to go over the bill and ensure that the industry would be totally happy with the proposed changes to the Canada Shipping Act? I am afraid not.
In a press release dated March 1, 2000, the Minister of Transport stated that this legislation, as introduced, was aimed at promoting the economic growth of the shipping industry. That is what the Minister of Transport said on March 1 regarding the introduction of Bill C-14. All those who are concerned about the future of shipping in Quebec and in Canada expected the government to seize the opportunity, being just a few months into its mandate, to introduce a stronger bill that would have really helped the shipping industry, as mentioned by the minister in his statement.
I repeat that he said in that statement that the bill's intent was to promote the economic growth of the shipping industry. It so happens that the Bloc Quebecois had mentioned on several occasions that the only way to promote the economic growth of the shipping industry was to establish a real federal shipbuilding policy.
We had no choice but to recognize that the bill that was introduced at the beginning of this parliament is a carbon copy of the previous one, except for some 27 amendments dealing mostly with periods, commas and legal technicalities. We sadly realized that the government had not taken this opportunity to establish, through this shipping bill, a true federal shipbuilding policy.
Even though the minister received a report in early April from the committee, the national partnership project committee on shipbuilding, he has still not announced what he plans to do about it.
Advantage could have been taken of it to introduce a real change, not just piecemeal amendments. This was a new bill, even if it was drafted already for passage during the last parliament. Since a committee was struck, as I have said, the national partnership committee on shipbuilding, which has submitted its report to the minister, we could have taken advantage of it as a good responsible government to introduce a whole new chapter on shipbuilding in Canada, but as hon. members will have realized, this was not done.
The Bloc Quebecois, and myself in particular, want to see the entire matter of shipbuilding revisited. As we speak, the shipyards are only at about 25% capacity. In Quebec there is an obvious decline, when total job numbers are looked at, in Lévis, Île aux Coudres and Les Méchins, and the situation is the same everywhere, in Vancouver and in Halifax. In the past it has given work to some 12,000 people, but as we speak the figure is scarcely 2,750.
This is hard to understand. We MPs wage battles for our constituents. The Bloc Quebecois has fought for them on shipbuilding, on the number of jobs in this sector. We began the battle. The government struck an independent special committee, which was to produce a report.
When the bill that preceded Bill C-14 was introduced in the previous parliament, the government could argue that it could not add a chapter on shipbuilding because it was waiting for the committee to table its report. The committee has now submitted its report, but the minister has yet to decide what he will do with it.
In order to promote the industry's economic growth, it might have been very interesting, as the minister said, to add a whole new chapter on the recovery of Canada's shipbuilding industry. Why? Because the Canadian workforce is qualified and it costs less than that of most of our competitors. We have an edge on all the other countries.
The majority of Canadian shipyards use very modern equipment and advanced technology. Two of them hold ISO 9001 quality certification, while four have ISO 9002. Shipyard managers and other stakeholders in the marine industry feel that they were abandoned by the federal government at least ten years ago. They feel left out compared to other industries such as, to name but one, the aerospace industry. The shipbuilding industry deserved to be listened to in a serious and independent fashion.
With direct access to three oceans and to the world's longest inland waterway, shipbuilders and shipowners wonder why Canada chose to let their industry down.
These are issues that were raised by the Bloc Quebecois and that the government decided to deal with by setting up a special committee. However, it did not see fit to include a whole chapter in the new Bill C-14 to deal with the industry.
Shipping is the most economical means of transportation and the one that is most respectful of the environment. A number of shipyards are surviving at the present time because of provincial government intervention, although this is an area of federal jurisdiction.
We talk about all kinds of jurisdictions. Today or yesterday the Prime Minister announced the creation of a task force on urban issues that will be travelling across Canada. That is an area of provincial jurisdiction, one that is the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec. The government should leave it to the provinces, but it is apparently very hard to understand.
Quebec has tax measures, including a tax credit. Nova Scotia has a specific program of financial guarantees. British Columbia has encouraged the acceleration of its aluminum ferry program. Canada's shipbuilding industry is at a disadvantage compared to its Asian competitors, who receive government subsidies of up to 30% of the amount of their contracts, the Europeans, who receive about 9%, and the Americans, who benefit from protectionist measures. Yet Canada has neither subsidies nor protectionist measures. We have missed the boat.
I would like to commend my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois, the hon. member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, who introduced, on October 14, 1999, a private member's bill, Bill C-213, on shipbuilding. His bill was intended to promote shipbuilding in Canada and to enhance the competitive capacity of Canadian shipyards.
Obviously our fine Liberal government decided to not make this bill a votable item. Still, I congratulate my colleague on his effort, because he had three very ingenious and significant ideas arising from the discussions he had with the industry. That is why there were three parts to his bill.
The first part concerned the establishment of a program of loans and guarantees to indicate to the shipbuilding industry in Canada that there was a program providing that 87.5% of the amount of a loan for the purchase of a ship could be guaranteed by the federal government.
There was therefore, initially, a loan guarantee, and then a rate of interest comparable to that available for loans from financial institutions to large and financially strong corporations.
It would have been possible to provide a loan guarantee with competitive interest rates and a repayment schedule comparable to that offered by financial institutions to large corporations. The method of repayment would suit obligations and be appropriate for a business that could become very prosperous.
The second part concerned the exclusion of new vessels from the application of the lend lease regulations. Because of their complexity, lend leases effectively eliminated the purchase of ships in Canada by lend lease. The new lend leases include repayment conditions, which harm the industry. New ships were excluded from the lend lease regulations.
The third innovation was to establish a refundable tax credit. In 1997 the government of Quebec announced tax incentives to stimulate the shipping industry. These incentives were based on a tax credit. The Quebec government raised the refundable tax credit for shipbuilding from 40% to 50%. The federal government could have offered the same kind of tax credits to businesses in the shipbuilding industry to breathe new life into this industry.
It did not happen. Once again, the Liberal government missed a golden opportunity in a very interesting bill that was supposed to be a life saving measure for the shipping industry, according to the minister himself. I repeat that he said in a statement on March 1 that the bill's intent was to promote the economic growth of the shipping industry.
Why did he not heed the recommendations presented to him in April by the committee that he himself established? Why did he not take advantage of this new expertise and these new recommendations to include in the very interesting shipping bill a whole chapter on shipbuilding in Canada?
It would have solved the problem and would have given momentum to an industry which, I repeat, is only operating at 25% of its capacity today.
The present number of workers is 2,750. It used to be 12,000. These men and women, these Quebecers and Canadians, expect that when the time comes to bring in a bill the government will table one that they want. I repeat, we had one that was votable at the end of the last parliament, which was interrupted when the government decided to call an election to satisfy the wishes of certain politicians.
However, the government again brings in an identical bill, when it would have had a great opportunity after being presented with a most interesting committee report to bring in a real bill that would have got the shipping industry back on its feet, with a whole chapter devoted to shipbuilding and to getting this important industry back on its feet, since it is operating at only 25% capacity. We have the brains and the skills necessary, and we are capable of competing with all other industries in the world.
Once again the Liberal government, the Government of Canada, has not listened to the recommendations by taxpayers, by representatives of the industry, and by the Bloc Quebecois. The Bloc Quebecois has staunchly defended, not for partisan reasons but for human ones, the skilled men and women who are getting on in years but would still like to use their experience for this fine country. They cannot, because there is no work at this time.
The government has again missed a golden opportunity to include in this Bill C-14 a whole chapter on shipbuilding, which could have revived the industry in a number of our regions that are experiencing major blips. We could have had an opportunity to revive this entire industrial sector, which involves a number of regions on the coasts of both Quebec and Canada. This would have been an excellent opportunity, one once again missed out on by a government that is too arrogant, that governs alone without heeding good recommendations from those who are anxious to pass them on.
Canada Shipping Act, 2001
May 10th, 2001 / 4:35 p.m.
Andy Burton Skeena, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-14 on behalf of my party. Bill C-14 is an act respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other Acts.
For the benefit of those Canadians watching television, I will summarize the purpose of the bill.
This quote is taken directly from the bill. It states:
This enactment overhauls and replaces the Canada Shipping Act, other than the portions that concern liability, with modernized legislation that will promote the safety and economic performance of the commercial marine industry as well as ensure the safety of those who use pleasure craft. Key changes to the existing legislation include improvements to provisions to protect and support efficient crews, ensure passenger and vessel safety and protect the environment. A new administrative penalties scheme provides an alternative means for dealing with certain contraventions.
The enactment clarifies the marine responsibilities between the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The enactment organizes the contents, updates the terminology and streamlines substantive requirements to make the law much clearer and easier to understand.
The enactment amends the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 to inject greater competition within shipping conferences, to streamline the administration of the Act and to ensure that Canadian legislation covering international liner shipping conferences remains in harmony with that of Canada's major trading partners.
On this side of the House, we feel that these are all good and supportable directions for the legislation to take. As the quote outlines, Bill C-14 is a significant piece of legislation. I am told the departmental officials have worked on this for some time in an attempt to perfect it.
As the members in the House know the bill was originally introduced in the House as Bill C-35, which died on the order paper in the 36th parliament when the election was called. Bill C-35 did not go so far as to include the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act amendments. It only dealt with the regulatory changes affecting the industry.
This bill contains some 334 clauses and is just under 200 pages long. I reiterate that obviously the department officials have worked on this for some time. We would have appreciated more time to go through it in a little more detail and perhaps absorb it a little better, however we were not allowed that time.
Bill C-14 was introduced at first reading on March 1. It went to second reading the following week and was sent to committee shortly thereafter. As I said earlier, it was a very speedy process and I would have to wonder why.
The committee stage for this bill was a journey in itself. We heard the departmental officials give testimony and briefings regarding the bill and heard from witnesses in the industry as well. Some members may also have been visited by lobbyists from the shipping conferences exemption side of the bill urging support for the bill without amendment.
All of this happened in short order and the bill moved along the process quite smoothly until it came to the clause by clause examination. The opposition, and even some Liberal members of the committee, were not too impressed at the lack of organization by the department when presenting amendments.
We entertained 27 separate amendments at committee. This may not seem excessive but when they are dumped on your lap at the beginning of a meeting it certainly is a handful. We certainly did not appreciate such short notice nor did we appreciate not having the opportunity to review these amendments beforehand.
As many members know, clause by clause can be a rather tedious venture at the best of times, but with many last minute amendments of a detailed nature to a bill which deals mainly with regulations, it makes the process all the more taxing.
Up until that time, we thought highly of the officials for undertaking such a monumental task as to redraft such a large and detailed act. However being so disorganized as to drop those changes in the committee's lap at the last minute suggested either that the bill was possibly not ready for the floor of the House when it was first introduced or the drafters of the bill did not take the time to check their work.
Either way, as the government official put it, 27 minor amendments were put to committee and frustrated the entire process. The amendments were so poorly written that the parliamentary secretary had to verbally amend an amendment on the fly.
This is not acceptable. For members of parliament to truly have input in the process of making laws in the country, we need to ensure that the process is properly seen to.
We are now at third reading where amendments can be made to the bill at hand. We see today that there are no further amendments of the bill. At least right now it appears that way. However I would not be surprised, if the process allowed for it, if we were presented with last minute amendments.
I know the Speaker made a recent ruling preventing frivolous amendments, but I say to the hon. members in this Chamber today, does that mean that committee now becomes a mockery? I hope not.
This may be a phenomenon that only occurs with the transport department. I do not know. However I do know that I did not care for it and I do not think other members of the committee cared for it either.
With regard to the bill, at present the official opposition supports the bill in its current form. As I said earlier, we did have some concerns about the speed of the process, but overall the general direction of the bill is positive and it needed to be done.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me the leeway to express my frustrations with the process. I would urge the members opposite, and should departmental officials be watching today, that to have good law making in Canada we have to get down to the business of drafting both in committee and in the House and at report stage, to ensure that such abuses of the process which occurred in this committee no longer happen.
In closing, overall we support the general direction and the long overdue overhaul of the legislation. We have some real concerns over the need to fast track this lengthy bill and would have preferred more time to analyze it in detail.
Canada Shipping Act, 2001
May 10th, 2001 / 4:25 p.m.
Ronald J. Duhamel for Minister of Transport
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their patience. I am anxious to do this because I do not get this opportunity nearly as often as I used to in the past. It is indeed a great pleasure to be able to speak to members about Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act, at third reading debate.
Before I discuss the bill I acknowledge the important role that members of the House and the standing committee played during the examination of the proposed legislation. Changes to Bill C-14 would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of industry. I also acknowledge the quality of their submissions to the committee.
This bill deals mainly with the safety and promotion of a safe environment. These are major priorities for Canadians. The challenge is to maintain safety and protect the environment against a number of threats while still promoting the health and viability of the shipping industry.
Officials from the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans worked closely with all interested parties to ensure that the legislation's pollution prevention provisions are modern and consistent with other domestic and international standards. The departments have also worked together to ensure that the penalties for non-compliance would be effective and reflect those imposed in other legislation.
Let me point out to the House that when ship source pollution is detected in the marine environment, Transport Canada investigates in close co-operation with Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard. It is clear that industry supports the departments as they move toward a brand new Canada Shipping Act. This legislation shows that this government is committed to deliver a new statute that will benefit the marine sector.
We have also heard an outline on the provisions of this bill, the compelling reasons for it and its many strengths. Transport Canada is very proud of the consultative process that has made the legislation possible.
While industry for the most part spoke in favour of the proposed bill, several remained in opposition to the enforcement scheme. It is to this scheme that I would now like to focus members' attention.
Bill C-14 would establish a streamlined administrative enforcement scheme. It would use modern, cost-effective means to secure compliance with regulatory requirements. The Department of Transport is committed to work with its partner agencies to ensure a consistent application of the enforcement measures contained in this bill.
The administrative penalty scheme would ensure that Transport Canada has a firm statistical base by which to assess the effectiveness of its regulations and help focus its enforcement activities.
Judicial fines have also been set at amounts high enough to deter unsafe and environmentally irresponsible practices. These amounts reflect the potential harm that can result from these practices. They would ensure that penalties would not be regarded as simply the cost of doing business.
This bill is a conscious effort to hold those responsible for non-compliance liable for the consequences of their actions, including corporation heads.
Nobody should be able to avoid personal liability by hiding behind a corporation.
The proposed system contained in this bill is fair. It would provide for a more efficient and less costly alternative to the courts. It would provide for an alternative to financial sanctions through the use of assurances of compliance.
This system would be based on the successful program of administrative penalties developed in the Aeronautics Act, the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, and the Competition Act.
This House will recall that during second reading some concerns were raised about the government's ability to protect Canada from foreign vessels that failed to comply with international standards. I want to point out that in section 227 vessels that contravene international conventions relating to safety and the environment can be denied access to Canadian waters.
I will now speak about Part 15 of the bill, which deals with amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act. Part 15 of Bill C-14 contains several pro-competitive amendments. These amendments would encourage greater competition within shipping conferences.
The amendments strike a balance between the interests of shippers and conference shipping lines and are the result of an extensive consultation period with all stakeholders.
The amendments are aimed at streamlining the implementation of the act.
In response to shippers' concerns, a motion to amend the proposed legislation on service contracts was introduced. Modifications were made to clarify the level of confidentiality in regard to the service contracts shippers negotiate and sign with individual conference lines.
The government realizes that in order to protect various Canadian interests a balanced approach is needed with regard to the legislation on conferences.
It is in Canada's interest to continue to attract foreign shipping lines while at the same time encourage affordable ocean transportation and an adequate and reliable level of service for shippers.
By adopting the amendments to SCEA, Canadian legislation pertaining to shipping conferences would be maintained on par with our trading partners.
The bill before us would bring about much needed change in Canada's marine law. It would usher in a new era in marine safety and environmental protection.
Transport Canada has consulted widely. It listened to stakeholders and made changes to accommodate their concerns. We have a bill before us that responds to many of their concerns without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the legislation.
The bill is fair, thorough and effective. It would give Canada's marine industry the legislative framework it needs to operate successfully in the 21st century.
I urge the hon. members to support Bill C-14.
Business Of The House
Oral Question Period
May 10th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I believe it is the first opportunity I have had to respond to the hon. member in that capacity. Let me begin by congratulating her on the position she holds.
This afternoon we will continue consideration of Bill S-11, followed by Bill S-16 respecting money laundering. As a matter of fact the debate on Bill S-11 may have collapsed just before question period. That means we will start with Bill S-16 respecting money laundering, followed by Bill C-14, the shipping legislation. Afterward, if there is any time left, we will resume debate on Bill C-10 regarding marine parks.
On Friday we will begin consideration of Bill C-22 respecting income tax amendments at report stage and third reading. We will then return to the list I have just described should we not have completed Bill C-14, Bill C-10 or Bill S-16, for that matter.
On Monday next, if necessary, we will resume consideration of Bill C-22, followed by Bill C-17, the innovation foundation bill, at third reading. We will then return to the list that I described a while ago.
On Tuesday it is my hope that we will be able to commence and hopefully complete the third reading of Bill C-26, the tobacco taxation bill, as well as the second reading of Bill C-15, the criminal code.
Next Wednesday it is my intention to call Bill C-7, the youth justice bill at report stage. We also hope to deal next week with Bill S-3 respecting motor vehicles, Bill C-11, the immigration legislation, if reported, and Bill C-24, organized crime. As well there has been some discussion among political parties and hopefully we can deal with Bill S-24 respecting the aboriginal community of Kanesatake at all stages in the House of Commons, provided that it has been reported to the House from the other place.
May 8th, 2001 / 3:45 p.m.
Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB
Mr. Speaker, I am interested to know from the member why two government bills going back to 1993 were allowed to die on the order paper. Specifically I mention Bill C-76 first read on December 11, 1996, and Bill C-14 first read on October 30, 1997.
Why were those bills allowed to die, given the fact that the government does and did have a majority?
National Drinking Water Standards
Oral Question Period
May 8th, 2001 / 2:35 p.m.
Allan Rock Minister of Health
Mr. Speaker, we are happy to debate ideas but we do think that gamesmanship is really unnecessary.
Let us look at the Alliance Party's position on this very issue when I introduced Bill C-14. The member for Macleod said:
Doom and gloom is always wonderful, but Canadians do enjoy a pretty good standard of drinking water. Maybe some individuals who say that environmental legislation is totally ineffective should reflect upon the success we have had.
The member went on to say, referring to my bill at the time:
This bill is unnecessary. This bill is intrusive. This bill is potentially expensive.
What a change we have had across the way.
National Drinking Water Standards
Oral Question Period
May 8th, 2001 / 2:30 p.m.
Allan Rock Minister of Health
Mr. Speaker, the government provides leadership by sitting with provincial authorities, health experts and scientists to make sure there are guidelines in place to assist provinces in their responsibility to provide safe drinking water.
I cannot let the question pass without observing that when we introduced legislation some years ago, Bill C-14, to deal with a federal responsibility, namely the quality of the materials through which the water passes, that party opposed it and said that the legislation was unnecessary. I gather it has changed its tune.
May 8th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, as one of my colleagues just said, that was a shameful response. In fact, when it comes to health protection it is the law that we turn to, it is tough regulations that we require, and it is leadership from the federal government that is so imperative on all fronts. The government has failed to uphold its responsibility to act under even existing legislation to ensure that a national health safety system is in place.
The problem we are dealing with today is not just that we are trying to get the government to move away from a position of inaction and passivity. It is also an attempt to get the government to reverse almost a decade of catering to individuals and organizations with a vested interest in seeing privatization, deregulation and off loading of responsibilities so that in fact there are few standards to adhere to and there is unfettered access in terms of marketplace endeavours.
I sense today that there is a shift in the political climate in this country, that in fact the pendulum is swinging. Given the facts that this motion was initiated by the Tories and seems to have support from at least some Alliance members, it suggests to me that we are finally, as a collective, coming back to the realization that government must play an active regulatory role in health protection. That means setting standards, national policies and mandatory guidelines when it comes to something as basic as the quality of our water supply.
I hear some acknowledgement on this whole issue from members across the way on the Liberal benches. That is heartening, because over the last little while we have witnessed a government that has been prepared to evade its responsibilities on fundamental health protection matters.
When the government was elected in 1993, it began a process of moving our health protection capacity within government from a precautionary model, or one that said the ultimate responsibility of government is to ensure that the do no harm principle is maintained, to a risk management model where in fact private industry would set the standards and government would monitor and do its best. In fact, when it came down to it, it was a buyer beware model that had to be followed.
Today we are feeling the consequences of that kind of approach and we are realizing that it was wrong. We are paying the price now. We have to catch up on many fronts. We have talked in the House about food safety, about adverse reactions from drugs and about the quality of air. Today we are talking about probably the most fundamental issue when it comes to health and well-being, that being the safety of our water supply.
What do we have today in terms of federal action to deal with the fallout from Walkerton and North Battleford and all the other centres that my colleague from Windsor—St. Clair referred to? Not much.
We should have learned from the Walkerton tragedy a year ago. At that time many organizations and members of parliament were calling for the government to put in place a national water policy with mandatory standards and with the financial resources to deal with infrastructure difficulties. Nothing has really happened in that whole year. Back then in the spring of 2000 numerous organizations and members of parliament talked about how our water management laws were outdated, how they went back to the fifties. They talked about how our general anti-pollution laws were outdated and needed to be revised. They talked about unenforceable policies, guidelines and objectives of varying vintage.
What has happened since that period in our history? What good came out of the Walkerton tragedy? Why do we have to deal with North Battleford today when in fact all the lessons were there for us to learn one year ago or more? That is the travesty of the situation.
However, we all know that it is never too late to learn from the mistakes of our past and today is an opportunity to move forward. Today we call upon the government to actually take action, in whatever form it wants. It could be, as a senator has recommended, to amend the Food and Drugs Act to include mandatory standards and programs dealing with quality of water. It could be a separate, safe, national water safety law, as other groups have recommended. It could be the establishment of a special committee with resources to get moving on the problems immediately. The bottom line is that we need action today. Canadians need action today.
I do not think any of us want to hear from constituents who are worried about whether the water they have to access is safe. With something as vital and as essential as this, which we require on a day to day basis, we cannot allow people to live with that kind of uncertainty, worry, fear and anxiety about their health and safety. There is no reason for the government to delay on this matter.
Yesterday the Minister of Health referred briefly to a bill he introduced back in 1997, Bill C-14, an act respecting the safety and effectiveness of materials that come into contact with or treat water destined for human consumption. I remind members of the House that bill only dealt with a tiny portion of the issue of water safety. It dealt with the questions of water filters and water plumbing. It was pulled suddenly from the agenda of the House and not returned, and no action has been taken since.
Many members in the House expressed concerns at that time about whether or not the government was truly serious about addressing water quality, or whether it was just another attempt to respond to international trade agreements, to harmonize standards globally. We questioned whether or not there was a real framework in terms of dealing with a national safety system. We were anxious to see that debate continue. We call again on the government to bring forward a piece of legislation or a set of recommendations that will allow us to move further immediately.
In closing, let us remember Walkerton a year ago and North Battleford this week. Canadians are feeling particularly vulnerable in terms of being exposed to contaminated drinking water. All these events underscore the need for safe drinking water legislation and mandatory guidelines on the quality of our water. We must act now.
Oral Question Period
May 7th, 2001 / 2:25 p.m.
Allan Rock Minister of Health
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we have developed, with our provincial partners, the very kind of standards that the member is talking about. Access to safe drinking water is one of the fundamental rights of citizenship. We are determined, working with our partners, each doing our own part and playing our own role, to see that safe drinking water is available.
Let me just note something before sitting down. When we introduced Bill C-14 some three years ago dealing with materials through which drinking water passes to establish legislative standards, the NDP opposed it saying that it was a case of misguided—
Business Of The House
Oral Question Period
May 3rd, 2001 / 3 p.m.
Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my opposition counterpart for this excellent question.
This afternoon we will continue with Bill C-6, the water export bill. If this business is finished earlier than the end of the day, which I understand it might be, I would then propose to call Bill C-15, the criminal code amendment. If that is the case, I would ask for the minister and the official opposition to speak. After that, I would adjourn the debate and we would not proceed further.
I want to take this opportunity to indicate that it had been my original intention to call this bill last Monday. However I was informed that the text I had and the text that was provided to other hon. members was not the same. I apologize for the differences that appeared in the texts. It is my intention to at least start Bill C-15 this afternoon. I will get back to the next time we will consider Bill C-15 in a moment.
Tomorrow there has been an all party agreement to consider Bill S-5, the legislation regarding the Blue Water Bridge, at all stages.
We would then deal with Bill S-2 respecting marine liability. That would probably be the end of the consideration of legislation for tomorrow. As a matter of fact I do not propose calling anything else given the progress today.
There has also been similar all party agreement to consider Bill S-4 regarding civil harmonization of civil law at all stages on Monday. We would do second reading stage and by unanimous consent the bill would go to committee of the whole and subsequently third reading all in the same day. This would be followed by Bill C-15, which we will start later this afternoon pursuant to the remarks I just made.
After question period on Monday, regardless of the progress, I would propose to call Bill S-17, the patent legislation. Tuesday shall be an opposition day.
Next Wednesday and Thursday we will be looking at cleaning up any leftover legislation that I have just described and also adding: Bill C-17, the innovation foundation bill; Bill S-11, the business corporation bill; Bill S-16, respecting money laundering; and Bill C-14, the shipping act amendments to the list of matters that may come up.
I will also be speaking to other House leaders about arranging early consideration, and hopefully we can do that now, about Bill C-7, the youth justice bill, given that the committee has now concluded its consideration of this bill.
This is the program I offer to the House for the upcoming week. I thank hon. members on all sides of the House for their usual co-operation.