An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition against the transportation of oil by oil tankers on Canada's Pacific North Coast)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Joyce Murray  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of Feb. 14, 2011
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment amends Part 9 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to prohibit the transportation of oil by oil tankers in the areas of the sea adjacent to Canada’s Pacific North Coast known as Queen Charlotte Sound, Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance.

It also allows the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to designate other areas of the sea in which the transportation of oil by oil tankers is prohibited.

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.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak today about the importance of B.C.'s north coast and why we are seeking to protect it with Bill C-48.

The area targeted by the tanker moratorium goes from the southern border of Alaska to the tip of continental British Columbia, to the north end of Vancouver Island, and it includes Haida Gwaii.

I will begin by reading from a document written eight years ago:

[This bill] legislates a crude oil tanker ban in the dangerous inland waters around Haida Gwaii known as Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. It will protect our oceans and communities from the risk of a major oil spill and promote a sustainable economy – one that supports B.C.’s growing fisheries and tourism sectors.

[This] bill responds to the clear voices of British Columbians, [the majority]...of whom support a permanent tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast. First Nations, B.C. municipalities and thousands of businesses whose growth and sustainability depend on a healthy ocean and coastal ecosystem are united in their call for a permanent ban.

To be clear, [this bill] does not apply to natural gas products and will not affect existing deliveries of condensate into Kitimat, B.C. It will not prevent the continued transport of diesel and other oil products to local B.C. communities or in any way affect current or future shipments of oil to Asia and the United States through the Port of Vancouver. The bill does not limit growth in exports of Canadian crude to expanding international markets. And finally, it allocates no new ministerial ability to close other shipping areas in Canada, as these powers already exist under the Canada Shipping Act.

[The bill] does acknowledge that Canadians want communities and wildlife protected and [they want] prosperity. This can be achieved by making smart choices about where and how development takes place.

We have witnessed the environmental, economic and social devastation caused by the Exxon Valdez and BP catastrophes [in the Gulf of Mexico]. One major spill along B.C.’s shorelines would threaten fragile ecosystems, endanger wildlife, harm lives and communities, and jeopardize many of our...[tens of thousands of] coastal jobs. It is simply not worth the risk.

I am reading from a letter that was written to my colleagues when I tabled Bill C-606 back in 2010. Today, I am so grateful and appreciative to our Minister of Transport for having tabled this bill, Bill C-48, which would do exactly what I called for with my bill, Bill C-606.

I had a chance to visit 15 communities up and down our coast, hosting events to hear from community members, including the chambers of commerce, indigenous people, and citizens. There was an overwhelming consensus that the Pacific north coast was a very important internationally-significant area that we must protect and defend from the risk of a major oil spill.

I spoke with individuals who showed me pictures of themselves wearing gumboots as they cleaned up oil from sea life and shorelines up in Prince William Sound in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill of 10.8 million U.S. gallons of oil back in 1989. Some of those ecosystems have never recovered from that spill, and it affects the economy and ecology of those areas today. I certainly understood the concern the people in the north coast had.

I will explain why that area is so unique, actually risky, and why in my letter I talked about this risk British Columbians did not believe was worth it with respect to the benefits to our province.

I want to give credit to the environmental advocacy groups that raised awareness about the risk of oil tanker traffic and spills in our north coast related to a pipeline that was proposed for the area. It has since been determined not permissible by our government. I want to also thank our Prime Minister for recognizing that our Pacific north coast is not the right route for pipelines and oil tankers.

I was privileged to successfully ensure that the ban on oil traffic in the Pacific north coast was included in two Liberal platforms, one in 2011 and one in 2015: promise made, promise kept.

The marine ecosystems that span the northern coast of British Columbia are unique. The coastline itself with its rugged cliffs and inlets provides an abundant environment for its ecologically rich and diverse animal populations. It is dotted with thousands of islands and etched with deep fjords. The coastal rainforests are places of stunning biological prosperity and diversity, and an environment that deserves protection.

Not only is the north coast geographically complex, it also supports a wide range of distinct marine ecosystems. These ecosystems provide spawning and schooling areas for fish, and is important for a variety of sea birds, marine mammals, and other marine fauna, like humpback and killer whales, and that says nothing about the region's rich flora.

I had a chance to travel in this area as the environment minister for the province of British Columbia. I spent a week on a B.C. Park's boat touring the isolated inlets and shorelines as we sought to discuss with local indigenous peoples the possibility of creating a provincial park and reserve in the Great Bear Rainforest. I had a chance to see just how little human impact there had been on that part of our coast and how it really was a virgin ecosystem, which is expressed in the rich variety of the ecosystem I spoke about.

It was not just the marine areas that were so important to protect, but also the area on land, which a pipeline was proposing to traverse. The pipeline would have crossed hundreds of fish and salmon-bearing streams. It would have crossed wilderness, mountain, and valley areas with virgin forests and ecosystems, which are almost impossible to even hike through as they are so remote and uncivilized, and I say that in the technical sense. So few people live there in such vast areas that are uneroded. It is very important for grizzly bears and other wildlife to live without the impacts of human civilization, which have caused challenges to their abundance in other parts of our province and country.

In the northern coastal area, salmon still runs in the rivers, trees hundreds of years old loom over vast landscapes, and predators and prey keep the delicate balance necessary for these ecosystems to thrive. Our government is committed to ensure that this coast remains a vibrant ecosystem for generations to come. Ecotourism in this area is growing year by year as people from around the world recognize how internationally unique the area is.

The government recognizes that indigenous groups have inhabited the north coast for millennia and continue to rely on its bountiful ecosystems as foundations for their cultures and economies. As I travelled around Haida Gwaii and Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in a sailboard a few years ago, I spoke to many indigenous people from Haida Gwaii. They were completely and utterly determined that their precious area would not be subject to the risk of a major oil spill by oil tanker traffic. Therefore, this moratorium is very important to those members of the Haida Gwaii community.

Bill C-48 is a significant step being taken by our government to enhance environmental protection for this pristine and important coastline.

The minister also travelled from coast to coast to coast to hear from people about this particular project. From Haida Gwaii to Iqaluit and St. John's, he wanted to hear their perspectives on the oil tanker moratorium and improving marine safety.

Our government has met with stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, other levels of government, and indigenous groups to listen and gather input. I have to recognize that the Minister of Transport has done a full and deep job of consulting with people across the country. As the proponent of Bill C-606 in 2010, which was up for debate in March 2011, I was not able to do quite that thorough a job of consulting, but certainly the majority of people I spoke with felt that this was an important initiative. The minister heard a diversity of views, and the importance of these environmental protections was made abundantly clear.

Coastal communities and industries everywhere in Canada understand the importance of healthy ecosystems to protect the way of life and livelihoods of those areas. In fact, there is a wide range of economic activity that feeds and sustains the Pacific north coast region's economic life cycle. For over a hundred years, we have had logging, mining, fisheries, and canning and processing facilities. Those activities have been important and have supported many communities along the coast.

I want to acknowledge that the Province of British Columbia has really worked hard to consult with stakeholders from environmental groups, communities, indigenous communities, and industy to make sure that its land use planning process reflects where there should be more intensive use of the land and waters, and where there should be more protection of the land and waters. That balance has been found in our province. It can always be improved, but there has been a great deal of emphasis on proper management of the lands and waters in British Columbia since the 1990s, including the government I was part of in the early 2000s.

It is not something our government takes lightly, to ensure that a particular activity, such as a pipeline or oil tanker traffic, will not be permitted there. The jobs that would have been created, I would point out, were not an enormous number. The building of the pipeline would have created some jobs for sure, but once it was built, the number of ongoing jobs would have been far less.

The moratorium would protect the livelihoods of communities on British Columbia's north coast by providing a heightened level of environmental protection, while continuing to allow for community and industry resupply by small tanker, which was an important part of the bill I proposed as well, Bill C-606. We know that these communities and the industry rely on marine shipments of critical petroleum products to sustain their livelihoods. That is why our government will continue to allow shipments of crude or persistent oil products below a certain level, which is 12,500 metric tons.

The moratorium would protect the northern coastline, that whole area and its delicate ecosystems, including Haida Gwaii, from accidents that could upset this fragile region via a major oil spill.

We know that the vast majority of citizens in this area do not believe the risk of that kind of major spill, which we have seen before on our west coast, is worth it. We understand that should something like this happen, our coast would never be the same. On the north coast, there are far fewer services to prevent a spill, to act quickly if a major oil tanker were in difficulty, and to prevent the damage.

This tanker moratorium does not tell the whole story of our protection of the coast and the precautionary approach that we are building in to help safeguard the marine environment in this region. I want to mention the oceans protection plan, which adds another set of protections. The oceans protection plan is a $1.5-billion initiative on which there was wide consultation. I know many members of the Pacific caucus, the B.C. members of Parliament, were asked to provide input into what should be in the oceans protection plan.

It will improve our incident prevention and response regime and address environmental concerns in the event of a marine accident. The oceans protection plan will lift the liability cap for defraying the costs of cleanup, should there be a spill, to unlimited liability. I am referring now to smaller ships. My colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam read into the record some concerns about the smaller ships that were underneath the cap. There would be unlimited liability and the government would implement a levy on oil shipments to fund compensation, as well as to speed it up, so communities would not be not stuck footing the bill for the cleanup of smaller spills.

In the bill, we recognize that when the delicate balance of this coastline becomes threatened, it upsets relationships between the environment and its inhabitants. It is not just about today's coastal communities. It is also about inhabitants that have spanned thousands of years. The Musqueam first nation, for example, which is on a different part of the coast, the south coast, has a record of habitation and its traditional areas for over 4,000 years. We know there are deep historical and cultural ties to the Pacific north coast that support cultural practices and social structures, and that is also what makes this area worth protecting.

Clearly, the oil tanker moratorium is just one of many initiatives in our comprehensive plan to protect the marine environment, to begin restoring some of the species that have been impacted by human activities over the years, and changes to our oceans, like acidification and warming from climate change, and the warming of streams that are necessary for our salmon cycle. There is so much work to be done, but this is a key part of it for a key part of our country, which is the Pacific north coast.

I hope we will have the full support of all members present for the passage of this bill, to take this important step in protecting one of the world's most diverse and rich regions anywhere on the planet.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I hope my colleague across the way will support this bill, as all the NDP members agreed to support my bill, Bill C-606, because of the importance of protecting coastal rainforest that is untouched. A pipeline would have had to go through the Coast Mountains, days' worth of wilderness, which have no roads and no human activities.

This particular bill would protect an area that is remote and that the Coast Guard probably could not even get to, even with the additional resources and funds our government is putting into the Coast Guard. There is no capacity to deal with an oil spill in these remote waters. I am very proud that we will not be facing that horrible possibility on our Pacific north coast, and I hope the member will support the bill.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I worked on this issue as a core project in Vancouver Quadra from early 2009. Therefore, I want to also acknowledge all the constituents of Vancouver Quadra, the environmental groups, the communities, and the indigenous communities on British Columbia's coast that paid attention to the potential risks to our coast and supported the idea of banning crude oil tanker traffic, consistent with a policy moratorium that had been put in place in 1972 by a previous Prime Minister Trudeau.

Therefore, I would like to share with the members a press release I wrote in February 2011, after two years of work on this. It said:

Yesterday, Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP... announced that C-606, her private Members’ bill to ban oil tanker traffic off B.C.’s north coast, has been officially submitted to proceed to debate next month. “We are now one step closer to a legislated oil tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast--the only way to protect our oceans and communities from a catastrophic oil spill... If disaster were to strike in our northern coastal waters, B.C.--and Canada as a whole – would never be the same.

Bill C-606 legislates a crude oil tanker ban in the dangerous inland waters around Haida Gwaii known as Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. The bill would not affect current deliveries of diesel and other oil products to local communities

The work to protect that area of the coast has been going on for a long time. The press release continued:

We’ve witnessed the Gulf of Mexico and Exxon-Valdez oil spills. It’s just not worth the risk...In perfect conditions, industry considers 15 percent recovery of oil a success, but a recent report by Canada’s Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner raised serious doubts about the Conservative government’s ability to even respond to a spill.

This initiative is widely supported by British Columbians in all parts of the province. In fact, a press release I issued in March 2011 talks about a two-day campaign being kicked off to meet with Vancouver Island residents and stakeholders about Bill C-606, the bill to legislate a ban on crude oil tankers in B.C.'s dangerous northern waterways. It says that I would also be consulting with the northern communities, the community of Kitimat, where a terminal for an oil pipeline that would be transported through those waters for which it was planned, and that I would visit first nations, community organizations, local businesses, unions, and municipalities to reach out to those communities. Those early consultations made it very clear that “An oil spill would hurt our communities, our environment, our businesses, and our way of life. This is not a risk British Columbians can afford to take”, quoting from that press release.

I am talking about this because I want to acknowledge and thank some of the key environmental organizations that brought this issue forward to the Liberal caucus of the day. The four environmental organizations that were critical to this work, doing the research and encouraging us to move forward on this issue, were Dogwood Initiative, Living Oceans Society, Stand.earth, and West Coast Environmental Law.

This was a real priority. Why was it so important and why is it so important for a government that is committed to protecting the environment, a particularly sensitive environment in this case, while also protecting and developing a strong economy? It is because B.C.'s coastal economy in 2010 was estimated to have 56,000 jobs tied to clean coastal environments, jobs in fisheries, tourism, ecotourism, and recreation, film and television among them. It also was about a way of life for our coastal communities.

Imagine being in Hartley Bay, a remote coastal community, as I had the privilege to be, knowing that community's supermarket really is its freezers. The fishermen go and harvest the shellfish, the abalone, the mussels and clams, the salmon, and the halibut, and the residents eat that seafood throughout the year, as they have for a millennia. It is about a way of life, as well as an economy and an environment.

I came naturally to thinking about how we could protect our coastal environment from a devastating oil spill. I was a tree planter and reforestation contractor working on the north coast in my late teens and early 20s, and I came to know it well.

I also had the chance to travel up and down the coast as a minister of environment. Imagine being at the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, this amazing and rich estuary, watching the grizzly bears feed with their families, as I had a chance to do. Imagine that being fouled with a crude oil spill, as happened in Alaska's estuaries with the Exxon Valdez oil spill? We could never go back.

Therefore, I and so many British Columbians were committed to ensuring that these dangerous waters would not be the location of a devastating oil spill. We are reminded by the Deepwater Horizon, the Exxon Valdez, and some of the other spills off our coast that human error and equipment failure are something one can never guarantee will not happen.

B.C.'s north coast is home to the Great Bear Rainforest and some of the world's most diverse ecosystems, including 27 species of marine mammals, 120 species of marine birds, and 2,500 individual salmon runs.

One of the big concerns after the Exxon Valdez example was the jobs that would be lost as well as the impact on the environment. I met with a woman who came to one of my meetings wearing the gumboots she wore when she went to clean up the Exxon Valdez spill up in Alaska.

I am so proud of our government and our minister for having done significant consultations throughout the province and for having discussed this with groups from the coast right through the interior.

I want to again thank my constituents for supporting me on this. I would like to thank our minister and our Prime Minister for delivering on this promise to British Columbia and to Canada to protect this very special part of our country.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of Bill C-48, an act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast.

Legislating the prior informal ban has been a policy objective of Canada's NDP for many years, which received support from Liberal MPs, particularly on the west coast.

The history of Bill C-48 has been quite the legislative roller coaster. Multiple private members' bills have been tabled to protect the north coast, but none became law.

In 2001, Bill C-571 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2009, Bill C-458 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2010, Bill C-606 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2011, I introduced Bill C-211. In 2012, Bill C-437 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2014, Bill C-628 was introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

In 2010, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley moved a north coast tanker ban motion, which passed in the House 143 to 138, with the support of all parties in the House, except Conservative minority government members who voted against it.

Now, here we are finally debating a bill that would protect the north coast from crude oil tanker traffic for good. The New Democrats welcome the legislation, but we do so with caution. We are concerned that Bill C-48 would give the minister of transport too much arbitrary power to exempt vessels from the legislation and the power to define what fuels would be exempt from the act. We hope the government will implement constructive amendments to limit ministerial power and increase oil spill response resources beyond its ocean protection plan commitments to respond to spills from refined oil vessels not covered by this ban.

Our NDP caucus, local first nations, municipal governments, trade unions, environmental NGOs, grassroots activists, and concerned citizens have over the years increased the call for this ban due to the environmental threat posed by the northern gateway pipeline project.

Northern gateway would have meant the annual passage of 225 supertankers bigger than the Empire State building, which would carry three times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez did before its catastrophic spill into similar waters. Cleanup and coastal recovery for the Exxon Valdez spill cost about $9.5 billion, of which Exxon paid only $3.5 billion. Twenty-five years after that spill, fish habitat and stocks still have not fully recovered. I shake my head in disbelief that so many MPs in the House still think the northern gateway pipeline project would have been a net benefit to Canada.

It is equally galling that our last government ripped up essential environmental laws and undermined the National Energy Board process in order to rubberstamp this pipeline project and others like it. As a result, we are still living with the short-sighted rip and ship mentality for Canada.

It was this short-sighted economic vision that disregarded the crown's obligation to our first nation's people. Canadians still remember how in December, 2013, despite overwhelming opposition from British Columbians and first nations, the National Energy Board recommended approval of the project, along with its 209 conditions. British Columbians showed their resolve to defend our coast by creating a broad-based movement of resistance, which today has shifted its focus to the Liberal's Kinder Morgan pipeline project expansion.

The defenders of our coast were vindicated in January 2016 when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the Province of B.C. “has breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult” with the Gitga'at and other coastal first nations on the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline project.

Not considering the environmental dangers of a pipeline through northern B.C. was a grave mistake. A large spill would be a disaster for the north coast. In particular, a supertanker oil spill could deal a serious blow to our already struggling wild salmon.

In British Columbia, our wild salmon are considered an iconic species, an integral part of our identity. They are a keynote species that delivers nutrients deep into the forests when they die. They are a major part of what makes the Great Bear Rainforest so great. Salmon support first nations communities, coastal communities, and are an integral part of our west coast economy.

The waters off British Columbia's north coast are a significant salmon migration route, with millions of salmon coming from the more than 650 streams and rivers along the coast. The impacts of a single oil spill would be devastating.

The commercial fishery on the north coast catches over $100 million worth of fish annually. Over 2,500 residents along B.C.'s north coast work in the commercial fishery. The fish processing industry employs thousands more.

The magnificent beauty of this region and the abundance of salmon have made it a world-renowned destination for ecotourism. The tourism industry has been a major catalyst for employment, economic growth, and opportunity in British Columbia. Businesses in this region have worked hard to promote their location as a major tourist destination.

As other resource-based jobs have taken a hit, tourism has provided a much-needed economic boost. The west coast wilderness tourism industry is now estimated to be worth over $782 million annually, employing some 26,000 people full-time and roughly 40,000 people in total. People from all over the world come to the north coast to witness the annual migration of the more than 20,000 gray whales and northern killer whales.

The shoreline is dotted with sports fishing lodges, as fishing enthusiasts flock to experience the natural marine environment and wild ocean and take part in the world famous fishery. People are often left awestruck after spending even a day kayaking, bear watching, or enjoying a guided trip showcasing the majestic west coast. They come to photograph sea otters and bald eagles, and to experience in some cases the untouched natural environment of the Pacific coast.

This legislated crude oil tanker ban will help protect the Great Bear Rainforest and Gwuii Haanas marine conservation parks. These two protected areas have incredible biological diversity that all parties in the House agree should be protected. They contain many species of concern like iconic killer whales, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and Pacific salmon. With so much at stake for our economy and our ecology, we are happy that Bill C-48 legislates an end to the threat posed by projects like northern gateway, but are also disappointed that the bill does not protect B.C.'s coast outright from oil tanker spills.

Limiting tankers to more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil on the north coast of Canada appears arbitrary and dangerously high. I encourage the government to make public the past and current oil shipment information for this region and provide a rationale for the 12,500 tonne threshold, including the types of vessels or shipments it will include or exclude. There is no reason to impede necessary vessels that help our coastal communities thrive, but clarity is required to ensure a proper threshold so as not to cause undue risk.

The bill makes exceptions for refined oil products like diesel, gasoline, and propane in order for coastal communities to be resupplied and to support value-added petroleum industries. While most of this is understandable, it means the bill does nothing to protect our coast from refined oil spills that could impact marine environments and disrupt valuable ecosystems.

The recent Nathan E. Stewart disaster shows just how big a threat refined oil spills can be. It demonstrates the need for increased oil spill response funding and training on the north coast and increased oil spill prevention measures for refined oil vessels.

For those needing a reminder, the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground in the early hours of October 13, 2016, near Bella Bella, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, spilling toxic diesel into critical fishing areas off B.C.'s central coast. The vessel eventually sank, spilling as much as 110,000 litres of diesel into the marine environment. Cleanup efforts were repeatedly hampered by bad weather and the vessel was not recovered until more than a month after it sank. Good thing the Nathan E. Stewart was not at maximum fuel capacity. The damage would have been even worse.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation showed spill response was inadequate, including slow response time, insufficient and ineffective equipment, a lack of safety gear, and confusion about who was in charge. First nations leaders were outraged at the government's slow and inadequate spill response. This bill would do nothing to ban vessels like the Nathan E. Stewart from carrying the amount of fuel that it did. We must learn from this disaster to prevent such accidents, and to ensure that, if they do occur, coastal communities are better equipped to quickly respond. We are encouraged to see investments in spill response as part of the government's much-touted oceans protection plan. However, these investments alone are simply inadequate.

It is discouraging that despite the NDP's objections, the government closed three integral marine communications and traffic services centres on B.C.'s coast, which undermines the ability of a speedy spill response. Justine Hunter of The Globe and Mail wrote:

The MCTS is responsible for monitoring distress calls, co-ordinating responses, and taking action to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels in Canadian waters. However, with only two MCTS officers responsible for monitoring a vast stretch of B.C.'s coast, from north of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border and including the inside passage, a source with knowledge of the situation says there was little chance that anyone would have spotted the doomed course of the tug, charted in real time on marine traffic maps through its Automatic Identification System transponder.

The best spill response plans include spill prevention plans and, sadly, the current government is moving in the wrong direction. B.C.'s MCTS centres deal with an incredible volume of marine traffic. By consolidating MCTS resources into only two centres, Prince Rupert and Victoria, the government has increased the number of vessels that our already overworked Coast Guard staff have to monitor and has opened up the system to new failures. Marine vessels continue to report that communications systems regularly go down, leaving vessels without Coast Guard contact. It was short-sighted to close the Comox MCTS centre, removing much-needed resources along our coast who have local knowledge and monitoring capacity. The most troubling aspect of Bill C-48 is that it would allow the Minister of Transport to make exceptions for indeterminate lengths of time without public review or comment.

Gavin Smith of West Coast Environmental Law said:

Section 6(1) of Bill C-48 allows the Minister, by order, to exempt identified oil tankers from the ban on any terms and for any period of time. Moreover, section 6(2) says that the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply to such exemption orders, which removes requirements that such exemption orders be published and made easily available for public inspection.

This provision, if used to its full extent, could allow wide-scale and long-term exemptions from the oil tanker ban to be ordered behind closed doors without opportunity for public review and input, effectively gutting the purpose of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act. The need for this provision is unclear given that Bill C-48 already includes sensible exemptions from the oil tanker ban for vessels in various forms of distress (e.g. to ensure the safety of the vessel, for medical emergencies, or to render assistance to another vessel in distress), as well as vessels under the control of the Minister of National Defence. It is even more puzzling that the government has proposed excluding such exemption orders from the application of the Statutory Instruments Act, which effectively makes them less public.

Canada's New Democrats agree. The powers given to the minister in this bill would undermine its positive aspects. The minister's power to exempt ships for indeterminate amounts of time if deemed in the public interest is far too broad. There should be time limits on exemptions and opportunities for public comment on any long-term exemptions. This should also apply to the regulatory authority to add or remove fuel types that count under the ban.

Bill C-48 has loopholes large enough to drive an oil tanker through. Ministerial discretion has been used by the Liberal government and others to circumvent the positive aspects of this bill. There is no need to continue this pattern of letting industry circumvent Canada's environmental laws without constraint or review.

This bill is a positive development for British Columbians and Canadians, but it can be improved. It protects what we hold dear and takes us a step closer to a different vision of development on Canada's west coast. However, with the ability to veto protection for destructive megaprojects, the bill still leaves B.C.'s north coast vulnerable.

We ask the government to listen to first nations, NGOs, and coastal communities to close the gaps in Bill C-48 and truly protect the assets of the Pacific north coast.

Canada Shipping ActPrivate Members' Business

December 2nd, 2014 / 6:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-628, introduced by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Bill C-628 would exclude supertankers from the inland waters around Haida Gwaii, an area of significance to our whole province and an area that I know well from having been an environment minister who travelled up and down the coast in boats and small planes and from having been a tree planter and reforestation contractor who worked in these areas.

I have seen first-hand the teeming wildlife and the quality and fragility of the ecosystems in that area. As the House well knows, Canada's quality of life is closely connected with the health of our oceans and our ecosystems. Those ecosystems and that coast are integral not only to our livelihood and way of life but also to Canada's economy. Nowhere is this relationship more important than on British Columbia's north coast.

I join the vast majority of British Columbians, including dozens of first nations communities on the coast and in the interior, who are of the view that transporting oil by pipeline through the proposed route to the head of Douglas Channel and transporting oil by supertankers in turbulent and hazardous waters pose unacceptable risks to the environment, the communities, and the businesses that depend on that environment and to all Canadians who share pride in the common heritage of this very special place.

I am pleased to support the bill, which is modelled after my own bills, both Bill C-437 as well as Bill C-606 from a previous Parliament. I had the privilege of being in the order of precedence in 2011, after having travelled the area a number of years earlier, as the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has described having done.

In 2010, I had the privilege of travelling from the southern tip of Vancouver Island up to Kitimat and to communities from one end to the other on our north coast, consulting with people and hearing their views and the strong support that inspired me to put this bill in the order of precedence. Unfortunately, it died an early death because of the early election call in 2011, just short of the fixed election dates that are in law in our country.

I am happy to see the House have the opportunity to address this bill again. I think I mentioned in my question earlier in this debate that the bill is substantially based on mine and consists essentially of Canada Shipping Act changes. I did not hear that there were any differences from my previous bill in the substantive part of this bill.

Then there are two aspirational sections in the National Energy Board Act, both of which are eminently reasonable. They ask the National Energy Board to ensure that consultations have taken place and to report on them in their consideration of a project. They also set out that the National Energy Board should consider the impact on employment in upgraders and refineries and in the petrochemical industry. Of course the Liberal Party is very supportive of the idea of consultation and is supportive of having local employment from our natural resources, so those are instructions to consider important issues.

I appreciate that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has built on the work that I and many others before me have done to protect this area. In fact, it was a long-standing policy of Liberal governments from the time of Pierre Elliott Trudeau not to allow tanker traffic in the inside passage between Haida Gwaii and the central and north coast of Canada. That long-standing policy put the environment into the centre of the consideration, and our economy flourished notwithstanding, so it is not essential to risk oil spills in this area in order to have a thriving economy.

In fact, our contention is that the economy of the coast is important as well, and that would be at risk. There is a strongly expressed consensus among the communities of the province of British Columbia, and especially first nations and coastal first nations—like the Haisla, the Haida, the Heiltsuk, the Gitga’at, the Lax Kw'alaams—whose heritage is tied into the ecology of shellfish collection, of salmon, of an abundance of sea products, and simply the ability to be able to continue having some of their traditional practices. It is so important for coastal first nations, and I want to acknowledge them for having been strong voices for many years in support of banning tanker traffic in those inland waters.

The Conservative government has unfortunately undermined a very fundamental principle of our country's and our government's ability to balance the various interests and activities that come before it. What the Conservatives have done is undermine the environmental regulatory framework. What that has accomplished for the current government is to block many of the projects that it aspired to complete, because of the erosion of trust by the public in anything that the Conservatives have to say.

I heard the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar talk about public trust in the current government. I want to point out that every time a member from the Conservative Party says that a member did not vote for this, that, and the other, the public should remember that the omnibus bills and many of the other bills are designed exactly to put some positive changes into some very political, ideological legislation. We call them poison-pill changes; they make it impossible for opposition members to support them, just for the very purpose of the Conservative members being able to later say that they did not vote for this, that, and the other. That is actually code for the Conservatives undermining our democracy with the way they put forward legislation, especially these omnibus bills. I want any members of the public reading this to recognize that code the next time they hear it, because they will hear it every day in the House, used as a tool, which undermines the public's trust in the Conservatives because of their anti-democratic processes.

Turning back to the bill, I want to note that B.C.'s north coast is the home to the Great Bear rainforest and some of the world's most diverse ecosystems, which include 27 species of marine mammals, 120 species of coastal birds, and 2,500 individual salmon runs. This also is an area of the coast of British Columbia that is home to 55,000 coastal jobs, and many of these jobs would be at risk should there be an oil spill. Oil spills happen, whether due to technological or human failure. We know that they happen. Should that happen, our coast would never be the same.

Regarding this particular pipeline project that this bill is addressing, which is the pipeline to Kitimat, rather than having learned the lesson of their failures of consultation and their failures in undermining the regulatory process, the Conservatives have compounded them since then by making changes to the National Energy Board to further limit consultation, further squeeze the time that people are being given to have comment, and further de-legitimize any of the projects in British Columbia that the National Energy Board is contemplating. That will then live on in public mistrust of other projects that the Conservative government is trying to put forward.

My hope, in closing, is that the Conservative Party members of Parliament from British Columbia will join us to vote for this bill because their constituents want them to do that. Their constituents are solidly behind this kind of protection of the area around Haida Gwaii from the potential for oil spill, and the Conservatives' constituents in British Columbia are for proper environmental regulation, for communities granting permission for these major invasive projects before they push them through with the National Energy Board.

I invite the Conservative members to consider that and join us in supporting this bill so it will pass. I would like to congratulate the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his initiative in putting this forward.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001Routine Proceedings

December 14th, 2010 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-606, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition against the transportation of oil by oil tankers on Canada’s Pacific North Coast).

Mr. Speaker, this bill is being seconded by the member for Yukon.

I am very pleased to introduce my private member's bill, which is an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. It is a prohibition against the transportation of oil by oil tankers on Canada’s Pacific north coast.

I want to thank the member for Yukon for his strong support and for seconding this bill. The member is a tireless advocate for the people of the north and for the sustainable economic development and protection of the environment.

This bill is a response to the vast majority of British Columbians who want continued protection of the inland borders around Haida Gwaii. That would be the areas of the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Islands. They want this area protected from the transport of crude oil for export in oil tankers and supertankers.

This very strong desire for protection is democracy at work. This includes municipalities, first nations and residents in British Columbia, including the residents of Vancouver Quadra.

Over the years, we have experienced the Exxon Valdez accident and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is a reminder that there cannot be a guarantee against an oil spill caused by human error or equipment failure. This law would protect the north coast.

I want to thank my Liberal colleagues, colleagues from other parties in the House and all of the advocates for a protected coast for their support.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)