An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Jean Lapierre  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment transfers powers, duties and functions from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this is the first time in this Parliament that I rise officially to make a speech, I would like of course to salute the people of my riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, who put their confidence in me for the third time. I want to thank them and to reiterate my commitment to defend their issues and the cause of Quebeckers, which is Quebec's sovereignty, in case some may have forgotten.

I also want to reiterate my commitment to the people of Boucherville. My riding has changed; it now includes half of the City of Boucherville and half of the City of Longueuil. These two halves now form the vast riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher. I salute them and I thank them for putting their confidence in me.

I am pleased to address Bill C-3, which was introduced by the Minister of Transport. The only purpose of this bill is to transfer certain responsibilities from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, to the Department of Transport.

At first glance, one might think that this bill does not really have any impact and that it merely clarifies the act and formalizes a December 2003 order in council transferring certain operational responsibilities from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport.

First, I want to reiterate the Bloc Québécois' position, which was very well presented earlier by my colleague, to the effect that we are opposed to the principle of this bill, for the simple reason that our goal is to truly improve, in the long term, the chronic underfunding problems of the Canadian Coast Guard, and to dissipate the confusion that prevails regarding the sharing of responsibilities in the area of water safety and marine pollution prevention. These are extremely important issues, both in terms of public safety and environmental protection.

I really wonder why this government would not opt for a long term vision, instead of a game of musical chairs that will have no effect at all on the fundamental problems of the Coast Guard. I really wonder about this decision, particularly in light of the unanimous report tabled in March 2004 by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which highlighted a series of problems affecting that organization. The committee concluded that the problems experienced by the Coast Guard could not be solved through cosmetic changes to the organization. Incidentally, the hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, who sat on the committee, spoke extensively on this issue. He told us about the work of the committee that led to these conclusions.

This report proposed a series of recommendations that could be implemented, namely those stipulating that the Canadian Coast Guard should be an independent agency and, especially, that it should have adequate funding and a sufficient independent budget for its current roles, its new mandate and the additional responsibilities recommended in this report.

What worries me, as a parliamentarian, is knowing what this government is doing with this unanimous report. What does the government do with any report tabled in committee? I will tell you. When a report suits the government, then there is no problem. However, when the unanimity of a committee bothers the government, it shelves the report and moves on to something else. This is unacceptable. It is an insult to democracy and committee work.

The unanimous report on employment insurance, tabled in May 2001, is still fresh in our memory. What did the government do with that report? It shelved it. The Bloc Québécois is still working hard today to have that report implemented. What did the government do with the report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans? It shelved that report as well. This government has to stop being so arrogant and start recognizing the work of the committees and parliamentary democracy within the committees.

We do not know what the future holds. Maybe one day it will be this government's turn—the Liberals' turn—to be shelved by the public. Despite the Prime Minister's fine speeches on the democratic deficit, nothing changes. If the Minister of Transport, the Prime Minister's lieutenant, truly wants to make his mark, then he should propose viable long-term alternatives, not just cosmetic ones. He should implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans—measures that address the true basic problems.

I expect a little more from the Minister of Transport. I hope he will at least read this important report that offers a sustainable and serious solution to the challenges faced by the Canadian Coast Guard. For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-3.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / noon
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Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with keen interest to the speeches made about Bill C-3. It is of great interest to me, as I live very close to the St. Lawrence river and, from time to time, I have encounters with the Coast Guard, or what is left of it. People have to realize how difficult it is for it to fulfill the mandate it has been entrusted with.

The member argues that now is not the time to talk about that, because the only thing the government is currently doing is transferring the Canadian Coast Guard to another department. However, at the same time, it says it is following what the committee recommended.

In my view, that is not altogether accurate. The committee took the time to study the serious problem that the Coast Guard currently faces. Various stakeholders and a number of specialists, as well as representatives of all parties in the House, were heard. That led to a unanimous report to the effect that things within the Coast Guard had to be done differently. It was not a matter of just changing departments. Therefore, I do not understand the deputy saying that now is not the time to talk about it. I would like to know where and when we will be allowed to take the time to talk about these things. When, in his opinion, will it be important enough for us to act as soon as possible?

His colleague has also mentioned that we will be able to consult with the department of Transport twice a year. There was a study by a parliamentary committee in which all stakeholders were invited. Do we need further consultations to act? What's the member's view?

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:55 a.m.
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Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise and speak to the House about the importance of Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act, as introduced by my colleague the Minister of Transport.

As we know, the transportation industry as a whole is a vital component of our economy. When looking at the marine sector of this industry, we must keep in mind that it operates in the context of not only a domestic environment but also an international one.

In recent years a substantial amount of work has been done in an effort to modernize our national transportation system and prepare this sector to meet the needs of the coming century and the demands of the global marketplace.

To meet these goals, the government has undertaken a number of initiatives with regard to all modes of operation, focusing primarily on simplifying acts and regulations. These initiatives are consistent with the overall federal transportation framework, which emphasizes a national vision with regard to security, safety, efficiency and environmental accountability.

On December 12, 2003, the Prime Minister announced that responsibility for policy on marine security and safety would be centralized under the Minister of Transport. To that end, some parts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were transferred to the Department of Transport.

As a result of all these changes, all policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and navigable waters protection now lie with Transport Canada.

These are very important changes for the marine industry and its stakeholders. Canadians will now have a single point of contact for these policy issues associated with marine safety and security. This consolidation of responsibilities is expected to improve efficiency in both marine policy and operations.

As the content of this bill is considered to be policy neutral, these changes can only be looked upon as neutral and positive ones by the marine industry, and the consultations have definitely shown that.

The intent of Bill C-3 is very clear to us today. Most important, it clarifies each department's responsibilities as a result of the transfer on December 12, 2003. It consolidates all aspects of policy responsibility for marine safety into one federal department. It improves the responsiveness, coherence and consistency of the marine regulatory framework in Canada. It enhances service delivery on marine matters for all stakeholders. It ensures that the roles and responsibilities of the government remain the same in whatever department they are found.

It preserves the authorities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to carry out the operational role assigned to it by orders in council. It ensures that the powers, duties and functions transferred from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to the Minister of Transport are unambiguous, in order to prevent litigation or any contentious issues. It preserves the logic and the coherence of the affected statutes.

The changes introduced in this bill are changes that marine stakeholders have been suggesting for some time. In addition, these changes are welcomed by both the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The enactment of this bill is a vital step in effecting the Prime Minister's announcement of December 12, 2003.

At this time, I would like to reaffirm my support of Bill C-3, as tabled by my colleague.

I want to emphasize the point that this is just a small bill putting into legislation administrative changes. It just confirms administrative changes. It does not make all the other changes that people would like to have made to the Coast Guard and to environmental regulations and safety. That is for another time and for other bills. This is just an administrative bill that the industry wanted. It just solidifies these cases.

Some people have used the opportunity to talk off topic about other things on the Coast Guard and reports and everything. Of course I have my own wish list that I could talk about, such as expanding the Coast Guard in the north as part of the northern sovereignty agenda, which was in the throne speech. Those debates will come in time, but this bill is just an administrative function. It has nothing to do with those who were waxing eloquent on the democratic deficit.

If they want to use this opportunity to talk about that, I would just like to congratulate the Prime Minister, as I have numerous times in this House, for the incredible change he has made in the democratic deficit. On the day he came into power, suddenly a huge number of votes became free votes for the members on this side. It was demonstrated right away with people voting their conscience on a number of items.

As members will see in committees, there is more freedom. It has been a great change to Parliament. I think that has been a great addition. If people want to talk about that, I think it is one of the great pillars of the Prime Minister's agenda for Parliament and it has been very successful to date in a very short time.

This is just an administrative bill to transfer some responsibilities that it makes more sense to have in the Department of Transport. That is what people have asked for and that is what this bill does.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Yes. In response to the other issues, I will go back to the bill itself, which is of course something for the respected employees we have. In many cases, when they would look for the answers they would have to go here or go there. What the bill does is answer the concerns, not just for our bureaucrats but also for the respected people in the industry itself. When it comes to pleasure boats and when it comes to environmental measures, we have responded in this case. Changes were made and were implemented back last December. What we have done now is that we have caught up with that in the bill. We have certainly responded to the concerns.

The issues the member brings up will be addressed in the future. I do not think the comments brought up earlier really stand up to that, because what we have right here is that as part of the Canada Shipping Act we are taking care of the concerns on small vessel regulations, boating restriction regulations, competency of operators of pleasure craft regulations, and marine navigation services. All of these concerns are being addressed in the bill. That is why I wholeheartedly support Bill C-3.

The Canadian Coast Guard, under DFO's purview, continues to manage the aerial surveillance, which gives respect to what it does best. By having DFO keep the aerial surveillance, fisheries and security, we are listening to the concerns of our bureaucracy and we are listening to the concerns of our people. We are listening to the concerns of all Canadians.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Mr. Speaker, I too share a great amount of interest given my riding, but certainly in this situation these are the ongoing concerns that we no doubt will address at present and in the future.

What is important about Bill C-3 is that it does answer many of the concerns of the stakeholders in this situation. For instance, the government is transferring from the fisheries department to the transport department policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities for pleasure craft.

With regard to the environmental aspect, a lot of it will be transferred. This is what was asked for by the stakeholders in this situation. What we have done is that the government has responded to the initiatives taken by the people. In turn, we are now following up on that, with the implementation being done back in December 2003.

I would also note that many of the aerial surveillance programs will also be transferred to the transport department. This is of course in response to what the Department of Transport has asked for and, more important, it is also what the stakeholders have asked for. They have made the request and we have responded in kind.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Exploits, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Yukon.

Before I start to speak to the bill, I am very honoured and pleased to be representing the constituents of Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor. They have bestowed upon me the greatest honour that I could ever receive, and that is to represent them in this honoured House as their member of Parliament. I would also like to thank the people closest to me who got me in this position.

I am pleased to rise to speak in support of Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act that has been tabled by my colleague, the Minister of Transport.

Marine transportation has a special significance for Canadians. Our waterways were the original routes for travel and commerce. That commerce has grown as the country has grown. The bill gives the House an opportunity to promote a more transparent and predictable regulatory system for marine transportation, and I join my colleagues in emphasizing the importance of shipping in the Canadian and global economies. For instance, waterborne transportation carries three-quarters of the world's international trade, and it is economical. On a single litre of fuel, for instance, one tonne of freight can travel 240 kilometres by ship.

Stakeholders in the marine community welcome the change as it makes it much easier to know which minister and which department is responsible for what. The division of policy and enforcement responsibilities between Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been difficult to understand and to implement in the past. That is why we react this way. Having one minister responsible for pleasure craft and another responsible for non-pleasure vessels, in particular, was a constant irritant for the stakeholders. It is their concerns that bring us to this point.

The bill supports improved service delivery in both policy and operational function. Specifically, all Canadian coast guard policy, responsibilities and operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, marine navigation services, pollution prevention and response and navigable waters protection are transferred now to Transport Canada. Those policy responsibilities include the development and management of legislation, regulations, standards and the guidelines.

The bill will help the Department of Transport to do its job of protecting safety and also protecting the environment, a sincere commitment the government has made in the past and we do it again here today. The bill responds directly to stakeholder concerns. Stakeholders have had their concerns about the complexity of having two departments of government sharing policy responsibility in just one single field. The government has listened to the stakeholders and the bill brought forward today reflects that.

The changes reflected in the bill will make it easier for stakeholders to make themselves heard in the future. Recreational boaters and industry alike will welcome the Minister of Transport's open consultation forums the Canadian marine advisory councils. Any Canadian who takes an interest in marine safety and the protection of the marine environment can take part in these meetings which take place twice a year across the country and are open to all members of the public. There, stakeholders from coast to coast to coast can meet in person with officials of the department and participate in the initiatives that affect them.

The content of the statutes affected by Bill C-3 remain otherwise unchanged. The rules remain the same. Therefore, there is no adverse impact on the environment or international relations. The implementation of the transfer of responsibility has no significant cost; it is being done inside of existing resources. Delivery of service to stakeholders and other Canadians goes on without interruption.

I am pleased to promote the government's stated objectives of “a transparent and predictable regulatory system that accomplishes public policy objectives efficiently, while eliminating unintended impacts” and “providing an up to date legislative framework for business concerns”. That is why, in this honoured hall, I support Bill C-3 for my colleague.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:35 a.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague, who is an expert in fisheries, what he thinks, as a parliamentarian, about the fact that the present Prime Minister, who prides himself on fighting against the democratic deficit, presents, as one of his first bills, Bill C-3, legislation that does not take into account unanimous recommendations made by a parliamentary committee. This committee toured across Canada, met dozens of experts and people who know this issue.

As a parliamentarian, what does he think about this insult to the House, to the members of Parliament, to him as a member of this committee, and also to all the Liberal members who signed a unanimous report?

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary just mentioned that Bill C-3 is a government neutral bill. I wonder if my colleague from the Bloc thinks the parliamentary secretary has read the report recently tabled by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which deals with the Coast Guard.

Over the last number of years since the Coast Guard was taken from Transport Canada and moved to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, it has seen a tremendous number of cutbacks, to the point where it can no longer operate. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled a report stressing that the Coast Guard has to be beefed up. As for some of the frills which we see in Bill C-3 about moving to Transport Canada, I think it is just a deflective move by the government thereby allowing it to say, “Oh, we are making changes to the Coast Guard”.

I ask my colleague, are these the types of changes we should be making to the Coast Guard? Or should we deal with the substantive issue that the Coast Guard has to be beefed up to do the job that the Canadian Coast Guard is supposed to do?

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:30 a.m.
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Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague across the way with great interest. Certainly he raised some points that need to be discussed as well as debated, but I cannot help but note that Bill C-3 is a government neutral bill. It shifts responsibility from one department to another department.

Let me read some notes for my good friend. On December 12, 2003, the Government of Canada transferred from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to Transport Canada “all Canadian Coast Guard policy responsibilities and certain operational responsibilities relating to pleasure craft safety, marine navigation services, pollution prevention and response, and navigable waters protection”.

I was interested to hear my good friend talk about Coast Guard equipment and the increasing pressure on the Coast Guard. I wonder if my colleague as well as all his Bloc colleagues are trying to hijack the idea of transferring responsibilities and being revenue neutral, let us say, by saying that we need more priorities and more equipment in the Coast Guard, that we need to invest in priorities. I am sure that is a discussion we can have at a different date and in a different place, including in here, but this is not the idea or the gist or the substance of the bill.

I understand that members from time to time do take the opportunity to increase a bit of substance, but certainly Bill C-3 is a mechanics bill passing from one department to another department and has absolutely nothing to do with equipment for the Coast Guard. However, that is a discussion we could have on another day.

I would ask my colleague across the way if he agrees that this is mechanics and mechanics only and that those members are just gesturing on the fact about equipment.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2004 / 11:10 a.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the bill we have before us, Bill C-3.

The sole purpose of this bill is to transfer certain responsibilities from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, particularly responsibility for the Canadian Coast Guard, to the Department of Transport.

The bill does not propose any really major changes. As the government has said, there are no new costs involved in the transfer of responsibilities.

Hon. members need perhaps to be reminded that these responsibilities have been with Transport in the past. If I am not mistaken, these responsibilities, including that of the Canadian Coast Guard, were transferred to Fisheries and Oceans in the early 1990s. So this is a kind of backward step. It is a kind of return to the previous situation, after the realization that the transfer to Fisheries and Oceans was not really working.

In December 2003, the government transferred the responsibilities we are discussing today to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by order in council. These responsibilities needed, of course, to be in the legislation, which is why the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act will be amended.

This does not, unfortunately, really solve the problem of the Canadian Coast Guard. This body has numerous responsibilities. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans studied the role of the Canadian Coast Guard on two occasions, and in March 2004 tabled a unanimous report containing 18 recommendations on the Coast Guard, its role and its importance.

The government ought perhaps to have taken its cue from that report and introduced a bill making the Canadian Coast Guard an independent agency. That was the gist of the main recommendation. As an agency, it could fulfill responsibilities serving both the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in fact even all departments concerned. This was a very important recommendation that should have compelled the government to make the Coast Guard an independent agency as soon as possible.

The other problem affecting the Coast Guard in particular is underfunding. I think everyone from industry people, to the Coast Guard itself, to parliamentarians agrees. The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, among others, found that the Canadian Coast Guard is completely underfunded. In the current state of its fleet and with its lack of adequate human resources, it could never meet expectations.

I would simply remind hon. members that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans reported that the Canadian Coast Guard is rusting out and the fleet is clearly undercapitalized. That is the position of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

The average age of Canadian Coast Guard vessels is 20.2 years and the median age is 19 years; for the larger vessels the average age is 24.8 years with a median age of 22 years. Almost 80% of the fleet has reached or passed its half-life, and nearly 50% of the vessels have five years or less of useful life left. The picture is bleaker when considering large vessels, for which the respective numbers are 95% and 39%.

As reported by the Auditor General, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimated in 1999 the replacement cost of all of the large vessels was at $2.2 billion. That seems like a lot of money, but if it had been invested at the time, in the early 1990s, to replace the fleet, the figure would have been a lot less, and all the vessels and equipment of the Canadian Coast Guard could gradually have been replaced.

Since September 2001, the Canadian Coast Guard has faced a nearly catastrophic situation, with new mandates. Emergency investments have had to be made and funding is still completely inadequate.

We are talking about a cost of $2.2 billion, but simply to replace the large vessels over 30 years old, it would cost $750 million. Obviously the main challenge will be to replace the Coast Guards ships and other equipment. As Commander John Adams, Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, said, “—based on a renewal rate of only 4% for the asset base, the coast guardshould be investing between $140 and $150 million in capital funding into our infrastructure each year”. That is what should have been done in the past, of course. If there had been an annual investment of $140 to $150 million, or even $100 million, for 10 or 15 years, the problem would not exist today. We would now have a Canadian coast guard much better equipped to fulfil its mandates and meet the needs.

As the Coast Guard Commissioner said, “Our budget over the last ten years has been in the order of $30 million to $40 million”. This represents a shortfall of about $100 million per year for the Coast Guard, just for replacing certain equipment. Now we find ourselves in a situation that could be called practically impossible. The Canadian Coast Guard's fleet needs to be replaced or modernized, and large amounts of money must be invested to achieve the desired results, the results the public, the Coast Guard and the industry all want to see.

This is what has happened over the years. Since the infrastructure was not replaced, it is aging and deteriorating. Moreover, there has been another problem. The Coast Guard is clearly understaffed. Today, in my opinion, the Canadian Coast Guard is unable to respond to all calls for its services.

The bill before us transfers the responsibilities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the Department of Transport. However, in the end, no money is allocated. Who will assume these responsibilities? Who will meet the needs expressed? It is very difficult to tell. The bill is not at all clear on this. Do we want to create another structure within the Department of Transport to meet the needs that are transferred to that department, or will we use, among others, the Canadian Coast Guard? If we rely on the Coast Guard, it goes without saying that we will have to invest more in its equipment and also in its personnel.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans noticed something else during its review of the Canadian Coast Guard. I am referring to the difficulty that Coast Guard personnel is currently experiencing in fulfilling its mandate. We are talking about people who cannot take training courses, because there is not enough personnel to replace them. This means that they cannot take development courses. That includes the whole management framework, since managers themselves are not replaced because there are not enough of them. The result is that the Coast Guard personnel is asked to do too much. After a while, these people get tired. So, the Canadian Coast Guard is subjected to totally unwarranted pressure.

Let us not forget that the Coast Guard must fulfill all kinds of duties, including research and rescue operations. This is very important for recreational boaters and fishermen, among others, particularly in my region, but also on the west coast. Indeed, fishermen must travel further at sea to find the resources, thus putting their lives at greater risk.

This is another reason why the Canadian Coast Guard is subjected to greater pressure now than in the past. It is not necessarily equipped to meet the needs or to be able to properly carry out its mandate with respect to search and rescue. We have seen some pretty tragic cases recently. The same is true of emergency environmental response.

At present, with the growing maritime traffic—which is not likely to diminish, given the import and export activities of both Quebec and Canada—pollution is indeed one of the biggest problems, because of the ships either sailing or docking in our waters.

Naturally, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans reports that, currently, the source of the majority of discharges of substances such as oil at sea is unknown or, if known, impossible to be acted on to resolve the problem.

Also, the Canadian Coast Guard does have a role to play within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with respect to the protection of fisheries resources , in terms of search, among others. Here again, we can say that the Coast Guard is unable to meet the needs.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans therefore made 18 recommendations. As I indicated earlier, the main one is for a renewed Canadian Coast Guard to be established as anindependent civilian agency. That is the committee's wish, and I think that the government should have taken heed.

Another recommendation of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans was that the Canadian Coast Guard be under Transport Canada but, before, that it become a stand-alone agency, that is, an independent civilian agency. We can see that some responsibilities are being transferred to Transport Canada, and we know that the Canadian Coast Guard used to come under that department. Perhaps all this could have taken place before the government introduced the bill before us.

Why transfer some responsibilities to Transport Canada? Because that is the lead department for maritime security. And, following the events of September 11, this role was of course expanded. Transport Canada is working with all security agencies, and the Canadian Coast Guard should also be involved.

The Department of Transport is also responsible for shipping traffic in general, and a major part of the Coast Guard responsibilities involve shipping traffic safety. Right now, we get many complaints from people who live on the shores of the St. Lawrence River about shipping traffic, and especially about bank erosion. Ships travelling at high speed in the channel generate powerful waves, which damage part of the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

One important role of the government would be to regulate the traffic in order to limit the speed of large ships. The Coast Guard would manage this traffic, which, for currently does not seem to be controlled. We do know that the speed of ships in the St. Lawrence River channel is regulated only by implicit agreement between ship owners and the pilots. Shipping generates erosion and other problems.

There is another crucial element in connection with traffic on the St. Lawrence River and towards the Great Lakes, and it has been examined by the fisheries and oceans standing committee. I am talking about the invasion of our waterways by exotic species that are harmful to our resources. This problem will only get bigger. The Department of Transport and the Coast Guard have a role to play to prevent this kind of problem.

The Department of Transport and the Coast Guard could play a very important role, that of inspecting and cleaning vessels entering our waters so that no more invasive species will be brought in.

Another recommendation was that the Canadian Coast Guard be given full operational funding. I have underscored right from the start that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans found the Coast Guard to be seriously under funded. The March 2004 report recommended to the government that it be properly funded. We know that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is one of the least well funded of departments. I would say it has had the smallest budget increase since 1993, along with the biggest cuts. Even though some have said that it is precisely because the Coast Guard is connected to Fisheries and Oceans that it is underfunded, I am only partially in agreement with that. Whether the Canadian Coast Guard is transferred to the Department of Transport in whole or in part, whether it is made into an agency or not, if it gets no more funding that when it reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the situation will not be corrected. It will remain unchanged.

The Government of Canada must gradually invest in the Canadian Coast Guard. This must be done regularly, annually, so as to renew all infrastructures. Compared with other coast guards around the world, the Canadian Coast Guard is among the poorest and least well organized. Looking at the United States, we can see that their coast guard reports to the armed forces; it is very well equipped and can fulfil the mandates assigned to it.

One of the recommendations of the March 2004 report entitled “Safe, Secure, Sovereign: Reinventing the Canadian Coast Guard” reads:

That the Canadian Coast Guard be given the explicit authority to act on behalf of other agencies—

That is what I was just saying. If we create an independent agency, it should have, and I quote

“the explicit authority to act on behalf of other agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canada Revenue Agency, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada in situations where there is reasonable cause to believe that Canadian laws are being broken.”

At present, I think there has been some weakening of these mandates through a number of agencies and departments. That means we are now going through a similar process to what happened in the United States. That country created an agency and gave it selected powers taken from other departments. I think that is what should be done here. We should create an agency whose role will be to coordinate and fulfil mandates. It is a role that could be given to the Canadian Coast Guard, if the government is willing to establish it as an independent agency.

We do not completely support this bill. We agree with certain things, but disagree with others. We feel this bill, as it stands, will not improve anything about the way the government fulfils its mandates or the way the Coast Guard can fulfil its mandate in the future.

In conclusion, the important thing is to make investing in the Canadian Coast Guard a priority. It must become a real agency and it must have the means to fulfil its mandate.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

I am pleased to conclude here, because I get the feeling that many in this House are anxious to see this week come to an end, myself included. Not that I want to see the end of my speech, because there is plenty more I could say on this bill.

I will just state that we are opposed to Bill C-3 and that we, the 54 members of the Bloc Quebecois, will keep watch steadfastly, day in and day out, over the interests of Quebec.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

There are only incredible risks to the fauna, the environment and the St. Lawrence River.

Experts are addressing increasingly the very important question of the beauty of the St. Lawrence River. We know that the St. Lawrence is the pride of Quebec and is associated with Quebec. It is an incredible gem, a place where business is conducted. It is a shipping channel. Nonetheless, with everything we hear about the intentions of the Liberal government, and in particular to dredge the St. Lawrence Seaway, and everything being presented in Bill C-3 today, I understand why the residents of the municipalities I mentioned earlier are worried. I am sure that the residents of both sides of the St. Lawrence, from the Gaspé to Montreal, including the regions of Montérégie, Centre-du-Québec, Quebec City and Îles-de-la-Madeleine, have the same concerns as the people I represent. Like all my colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois, I oppose the principle of Bill C-3.

Let me come back to the long title. Note the great expectations they have with a title like: act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act. It is a long title. One would expect major changes with such a title, but they are empty words.

The purpose of this bill is to amend four acts. First, it mentions the Canada Shipping Act. Do we have a Canada Shipping Act? We have the semblance of an act. Look at what happened with the shipyards. There was a shipyard in Sorel and one in Lévis, but we know what happened. Now, they would have me believe that with Bill C-3 we are going to change the Canada Shipping Act? What act? If it exists, is it solid? I do not think so.

There is also the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. As with the former act, are they trying to convince us that they are going to change an act from 2001 that did not satisfy anyone in this House?

Of course, let us not forget shipowners and the Martin family. These people are very influential when the time comes to make decisions. Here is a good one: I do not know if this is always the case but, apparently, the Martin children must go through the ethics counsellor to speak to their father, who is the Prime Minister. This is how the government would have us believe that the Prime Minister has no say whatsoever in the administrative decisions made by his children. Come on, give me a break on this Friday afternoon. Who is going to believe this? Who finds Howard Wilson credible? What credibility was there in Jean Chrétien meeting with Mr. Wilson to indicate to him, whenever there was a problem, what to say, or else be fired? This is how they tried to sell us the idea that the government was acting objectively and ethically.

The more things change in this Parliament—and we have only been here since October 4—the more they stay the same. The Prime Minister has changed, as have a number of ministers, but nothing has really changed. We do not see any improvement, and this is particularly true with Bill C-3.

The Liberals have a thing about respecting, or rather not respecting, unanimous reports. Think about the one on employment insurance, which was also not respected. Here we are dealing with the recommendations of another unanimous report tabled in March 2004. Either this government has trouble remembering things, or it has trouble reading the documents available to it.

If a different party were in power, someone other than the Liberals, we could understand some little hitches as files were transferred. But no, it is the same gang, still the Liberals. When it comes time for action, they have big gaps in their memories. I would say they have a selective memory, which tends to favour those who support the Liberal Party and to ignore the interests of Quebec. Selective memory is what it is.

Could you indicate how much time I have left, Mr. Speaker? You will understand that I want to respect your authority.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for at last giving me the chance to speak. I know you are still getting used to the position and I know you are making quite an effort to understand our language. I congratulate you on that. You can probably understand that some of us on this side of the House also sometimes have a bit of trouble pronouncing the names of certain western ridings, so we are even on that score.

Like my colleagues from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Alfred-Pellan, I am concerned about this most vital question of Bill C-3. It is even more vital to Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière than to most ridings. I do not want to launch into a travelogue here, but there are five lovely villages along the shores of the St. Lawrence: Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Sainte-Croix, Saint-Louis-de-Lotbinière and Leclercville.

Those five parishes represent the roots of French colonization.They have been in place for two or three hundred years. Generations of their inhabitants have taken pride in living on the shores of the majestic St. Lawrence. I shudder at the thought of Fisheries and Oceans' responsibilities being handed over to Transport Canada. It is scary to think about what will happen when the Department of Transport steps in to slow down the huge ships that ply the St. Lawrence, particularly the Martin family ships.

We have had such a hard time figuring out all the red tape that ensued from the federal government's cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We eventually managed to cut through it all to get information, to find out who in the department has which responsibility and who will give us straight answers. Now, in order to improve the system, those responsibilities are going to be transferred to Transport.

Who at Transport will provide answers on important issues, like Fisheries and Oceans did? We know what reorganizing the work means. Will Transport employees be equipped to provide the same service that the Fisheries and Oceans people did? These are questions that need to be asked.

I have some experience and I have seen many departmental reorganizations on the other side of the House; so, we shall see.

Still, usually when the ministers are shuffled, and often when a new prime minister comes in, the names are all changed, and then we MPs must explain to the public how it works.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada looks after fauna, protects against pollution, and also is responsible for ice breaking on the St. Lawrence River. The department's experts have done their best, even though they have been faced with savage cuts since 1993 by the former finance minister, who is now the Prime Minister of Canada.

How are we to understand the logic behind this transfer? How are we to understand this government, which prides itself on being pro-environment and yet does such things as this?

When these responsibilities are transferred to the Department of Transport—and I hope they never are—will that department give as much attention as Fisheries and Oceans did to the issues, jurisdictions, and decisions that DFO officials had to make respecting an area as important as fisheries and oceans?

I will not be giving a course in semantics this afternoon, but in order for the people to understand, usually the department bears the name of the resource to which it is attached. For everyone, it was simple: Fisheries and Oceans meant that they looked after fisheries and oceans. Now we will have to convince the public that the Department of Transport is looking after fisheries and oceans, although the Department of Transport is identified with aviation, highways, and everything to do with roads. Now, with Bill C-3, we will attempt to convince the public that the Department of Transport can do this work. It is impossible.

Moreover, in proposing this game of musical chairs, if the Liberal government had said that such and such a responsibility was being assumed, that it was being moved to a particular sector, if improvements had been proposed, such as enhancing the services provided by Fisheries and Oceans, if it had added more money and resources to enhance the security of people who deal with the DFO, perhaps I might have accepted Bill C-3.

But only responsibilities are being transferred. There are no improvements, no additional funds, no additional resources.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Again, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations to you.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to the House about the importance of Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act, which has been introduced by the Minister of Transport.

As members know, the transportation industry as a whole is a vital component of our economy. When looking at the marine sector of this industry, we must keep in mind that it operates both domestically and internationally.

In recent years, a substantial amount of work has been done in an effort to modernize our national transportation system and prepare this sector to meet the needs of the coming century and the demands of the global marketplace.

To achieve these objectives, the government has taken a number of initiatives in all operational modes, and its efforts have mainly focused on simplifying acts and regulations. These initiatives are still within the overall federal framework relating to transportation, which promotes a national vision on security, safety, efficiency and environmental responsibility.

On December 12, 2003, the Prime Minister announced that the responsibility for marine safety and security would be consolidated under the Minister of Transport.

To effect this centralization, some parts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have been transferred to the Department of Transport. Following these changes, Transport Canada now has all policy responsibilities and some operational responsibilities for pleasure craft security, marine navigation service, pollution prevention, environmental intervention and waterway protection. These are very important changes for the marine transportation industry and its stakeholders.

Canadians will now have a single point of contact for policy issues associated with marine safety and security. This consolidation of responsibilities is expected to improve efficiency in both marine policy and operations. As the content of this bill is considered to be policy neutral, these changes can only be looked upon as positive by the marine industry.

The intent of Bill C-3 is very clear to us today. Most important, it clarifies each department's responsibility as a result of the transfer of December 12, 2003. It consolidates policy responsibility for all aspects of marine safety in one federal department. It improves the responsiveness, coherence and consistency of the marine regulatory framework in Canada. It enhances service delivery on marine matters for all stakeholders.

It ensures that the roles and responsibilities of the government remain the same in whatever department they are found. It preserves the authorities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to carry out the operational role assigned to it by the orders in council. It ensures that the powers, duties and functions transferred from the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans to the Ministry of Transport are unambiguous, in order to prevent litigation or any contentious issues. It preserves the logic and coherence of the affected statutes.

The changes introduced in the bill are changes that marine stakeholders have been suggesting for quite some time. In addition, these changes are welcomed by both the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The enactment of this bill is a vital step to effecting the Prime Minister's announcement on December 12, 2003. At this time, I would like to reaffirm my support of Bill C-3 as tabled by my colleague today.

Canada Shipping ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2004 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I shall be splitting my time with the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre. Please allow me, as well, to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker.

It is with great pleasure that I rise today to support Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act, that has been introduced by my colleague the Minister of Transport.

The bill clearly outlines the changing responsibilities mainly affecting the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as brought about by the Prime Minister's decision last December and reflected in the related orders in council.

It is a positive move, not only for the government but also for those who are governed in the marine world by a variety of legislation which can be confusing and difficult to find who is responsible and for what.

This change is encouraging as it would provide Transport Canada the responsibility for policy relating to pleasure craft, marine navigation services, pollution response and navigable waters protection. It would provide a single focal point for the majority of ship, vessel or pleasure craft safety matters as well as protection of the marine environment from vessel spills.

Many stakeholders will see this as a move in the right direction. I am aware how difficult it has been to identify, within the Canada Shipping Act, areas of responsibility covered by Transport Canada and those of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

I too realize that the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 was drafted to clarify the division of responsibilities. It is an improvement but in fact, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 does not offer one-stop service in matters of security.

For example, in an accident involving a pleasure craft and a commercial vessel, there will certainly be representatives of Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the scene. Obviously, this could lead to confusion for those involved, and be seen as a duplication of services. We must correct this situation at all costs.

The bill will correct and clarify who will be responsible under those acts. It is reassuring to know that the same department will be responsible for the safety regimes for all vessels. This can only lead to further harmonization in the development and application of regulations and standards.

I also understand that the bill does not contain any changes in policy, and the changes reflecting the new and more appropriate responsibilities of the Minister of Transport will not create any new resource burden for the government. It just makes sense.

In conclusion, I would like to restate my support for this bill. It is appropriate and it clarifies responsibilities. It provides Canadians with one-stop service in terms of marine safety and does so without unwanted financial impact.

In plain words, it makes sense. The throne speech said we would streamline legislation and regulations to enable government to work better and smarter. Bill C-3 does just that.