Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act

An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Denis Lebel  Conservative

Status

Second reading (House), as of March 18, 2013
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

Part 1 enacts the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, which authorizes the Minister of Transport to undertake to indemnify certain aviation industry participants for loss, damage or liability caused by events that are commonly referred to in the insurance industry as “war risks”. The Minister may undertake to indemnify all aviation industry participants, or may specify that an undertaking applies only to specific participants or classes of participant or applies only in specific circumstances. The Act also requires that the Minister, at least once every two years, assess whether it is feasible for aviation industry participants to obtain insurance coverage for events or other similar coverage, and that the Minister report regularly to Parliament on his or her activities under the Act. Part 1 also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 2 amends the Aeronautics Act to provide certain persons with powers to investigate aviation accidents or incidents involving civilians and aircraft or aeronautical installations operated by or on behalf of the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces or a visiting force. It also establishes privilege in respect of on-board recordings, communication records and certain statements, and permits, among other things, access to an on-board recording if certain criteria are met. Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 3 amends the Canada Marine Act in relation to the effective day of the appointment of a director of a port authority.

Part 4 amends the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010. Among other things, it gives force of law to many provisions of the Convention, clarifies the liability of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund with respect to the Convention and confers powers, duties and functions on the Fund’s Administrator.

Part 5 amends the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to introduce new requirements for operators of oil handling facilities, including the requirement to notify the Minister of their operations and to submit plans to the Minister. It extends civil and criminal immunity to the agents or mandataries of response organizations engaged in response operations. It also introduces new enforcement measures for Part 8 of the Act, including by applying the administrative monetary penalties regime contained in Part 11 of that Act to Part 8.

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.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here to deliver my first speech since the summer break, following a busy summer that was full of ups and downs. I am on my feet, ready to respond to the government and hold it to account.

Bill C-3 has to do with marine safety and aviation safety. Once again, there is a discrepancy between the bill's objective and what it actually does. We already debated Bill C-3 in another form before prorogation. At the time, it was Bill C-57, which was referred to committee. The NDP proposed some amendments, which were all rejected. The NDP also asked the government to expand the scope of the bill, which the government also refused to do.

This attitude is really unfortunate. When we are dealing with topics as broad as aviation safety and marine safety, they are often very complex and require the testimony of expert witnesses. Logically, then, if we are opening up such a debate, we need to try to go over the entire subject and take the opportunity to discuss all the appropriate aspects of marine and aviation safety in order to avoid having to constantly come back to such a technical subject. Basically, it is a little like spring cleaning at home—we have to look inside every nook and cranny. We cannot simply choose the parts that interest us. This is the logical way to go about it, but unfortunately, the government refuses to apply this logic. It does not agree that as long as we are discussing such complex issues, we should explore them fully and completely.

As I said, one thing we wanted was to expand the scope of the bill, in order to discuss in particular the closure of the marine rescue centres and the negative impact of some legislation on environmental protections, specifically for coastal environments. All of these subjects were directly related to the bill's objective. Unfortunately, the Conservatives refused to do so.

Bill C-3 also proposes to amend the Marine Liability Act. It also seeks to implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010. Canada has been a signatory to this very important convention since 2010, and only today are we seeing a bill seeking to implement it. The convention defines the liability of vessel owners for costs incurred when oil or other similar materials are spilled.

It is very important to highlight and clarify the liability of companies and vessel owners when such a spill occurs and when damage is caused. If oil or other noxious and hazardous substances are spilled, Canadian taxpayers should not have to cover the cleanup and damage costs.

The limited liability of private businesses is a recurring problem from one bill to the next. We saw this in Bill C-22. The real costs and inflation over time are not being considered, and there may be a considerable burden on Canadians. As New Democrats, we believe in the polluter pays principle, unlike the Liberals and Conservatives, who constantly fob off the true environmental, social and economic costs onto current and future Canadian taxpayers.

As the deputy critic for natural resources and energy, I believe it is extremely important to understand that proper natural resource development requires a constant and appropriate legal framework.

When development in certain industries is not subject to a legal framework, investors tend to flee. Also, let us not forget that, to be developed, this natural resource must be transported. However, if the transportation framework is flawed, the industry can become unstable.

Therefore, we must protect our natural resource development as well as the economic potential of that development. To attract investment, this activity must have an adequate legal framework. People will want to invest in Canada if they know that safety measures are in place to reduce incidents, particularly during transportation.

Canada signed the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010. Yes, it is a 2010 convention.

In the fall of 2012, quite recently, two large transport vessels ran aground on the west coast because of the marine traffic. Today, we are under the impression that, with this bill, the Conservative government is trying to apologize for its inaction over the last few years.

The government may have wanted to show goodwill when it signed the international convention in 2010, but years have passed. There have been disasters since then and oil spills on the west coast. We are only now debating this bill at third reading. It took a long time.

Throughout the various stages of the bill, many members have pointed out the government's failings when it comes to safety. Shutting down marine safety programs and cutting budgets is certainly no way to promote safety. The Conservative cuts are being felt even in our air force.

Recently, the Canadian air force had to resort to stealing parts from search and rescue aircraft kept in museums to keep its planes going. We will not even mention the Liberals' recycled submarines. Obviously, things are not any better on that side.

Part II of the bill amends the Aeronautics Act to give the Airworthiness Investigative Authority powers to investigate aviation accidents or incidents involving civilians and aircraft or aeronautical installations operated by or on behalf of the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces or a visiting force.

In other words, instead of letting the Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigate when a military aircraft is involved, the investigation could be done by an authority under the Department of National Defence, which is therefore not required to release its report, as is the case for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

A witness from the armed forces told us that some reports and secrets are not made public for security reasons. However, when we hear that the armed forces consider a secret the number of soldiers taking drugs for erectile dysfunction, we realize that we might not agree on what should be secret in the armed forces.

Many flights pass through my region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, including military planes that fly over the northern part. The consequences of one accident could help us avoid other accidents with civilian aircraft, but unfortunately, since this information is sent to National Defence and the report is not made public, other avoidable accidents can occur. I find it unfortunate that the government's decision is to favour this new way of doing things.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2014 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

It is very important for me to be able to rise today and speak to Bill C-3. I will pull back a little bit and talk about some of the specifics related to this bill.

When looking at Bill C-3, we see it is something we will support at third reading because of the modest improvements in marine security that we have seen in this bill. However, it is important to recognize that, as usual, we try to bring forward some amendments at committee, really to make the bills better. That is what we are supposed to be doing. We are supposed to be strengthening the bills and laws of this country to make them better for Canadians. However, as usual and once again, the Conservatives completely voted against all of our amendments. It is unfortunate. These amendments did not just come from the NDP; they came from witnesses and stakeholders.

We really need to ensure that the government starts to listen. What we heard from my colleague just a few minutes ago is that it is not listening to first nations in British Columbia. It is not listening to the Government of British Columbia, which said no when it comes to northern gateway. It is also not listening to, I believe, 67% of the population, which is against northern gateway.

We needed to ensure that Bill C-3 had a broader scope. It is something we asked for. We asked that this bill be allowed to go to committee before second reading to ensure we were looking at ways of enhancing this bill and making it better, making sure we can protect our pristine coastline on the B.C. coast. Unfortunately though, that never happened.

Let me give members some key facts and figures before I continue. What we have heard about tanker traffic is that it is increasing the chances of an oil spill in Canadian waters, yet the government has decreased the marine communications and traffic centres and environmental emergency programs. It has done this even though the estimates state that oil tanker traffic tripled between 2005 and 2010, that tanker traffic is expected to triple again by 2016, and that the proposed pipeline expansion projects would increase crude oil deliveries from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels per day.

We need to ensure that we are protecting our coast, but again, this bill would not address it.

Let me talk a little bit about those amendments. We wanted to ensure that Canadian taxpayers are not on the hook for cleanup costs and damages following the spill of hazardous and noxious substances. We wanted to ensure transparency regarding investigation reports of aviation accidents or incidents involving civilians and the military. Those proposed reasonable amendments never made it past the committee.

Prior to debating Bill C-3, which I believe was the former Bill C-57 at second reading before prorogation, we requested that the scope of this bill be broadened by sending it to committee before second reading for a study that would aim to include a more comprehensive measure to safeguard Canada's coast. It would also, in part, reverse many of the cuts that we have seen from the Conservative government and the closures specific to marine and environmental safety. I believe that we sent a letter to the Minister of Transport back in April, 2013, to outline this request.

Bill C-3 would make amendments to five acts. I will touch on those briefly. The first part would enact the aviation industry indemnity act, which would authorize the Minister of Transport to undertake to indemnify certain aviation industry participants for loss, damage, or liability caused by “war risks”.

The second part would amend the Aeronautics Act to provide the airworthiness investigation with the powers to investigate aviation accidents or incidents involving civilians and aircraft or aeronautical installations operated by or on behalf of the DND, Canadian Forces, or a visiting force.

Part 3 would amend the Canada Marine Act in relation to the effective day of the appointment of a director of a port authority, in that the municipality or the port authority notifies the port ASAP.

Part 4 would amend the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010, or as it is known, the HNS convention.

The liability scheme that was created for this talked about shipowners' liability limited to $230 million. Damages in excess of shipowners' liability were to be paid by an international fund, which is that HNS fund, up to a maximum of $500 million.

In part 4, the availability of the ship-source oil pollution fund to oil spills would exclude HNS spills. We wanted to ensure, at committee level, that this is broader.

Part 5 really looks at the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. It was introducing new requirements for operators of oil handling facilities, including the requirement to notify the minister of their operations and to submit plans to the minister. There are some other segments to that as well.

I think it is important for us to then say that we believe, as I talked about in the last amendment, that Canadian taxpayers really should not have to pay the cleanup costs and damages following a spill of hazardous or noxious substances.

However, we have seen the government refuse reasonable amendments that may have prevented Canadian taxpayers from being responsible for damages exceeding $500 million.

It is also important for us to say that the NDP is committed to ensuring that oil spills never happen on our coasts. We have seen the Conservative record in the past. There was the closing of British Columbia's oil spill response centre, the shutting down of Kitsilano Coast Guard station, and the gutting of environmental response programs. This is making it increasingly difficult for us, and even for Canadians, to trust that their concerns are really being taken seriously.

Some of the things that we really wanted to see in this bill to safeguard Canada's seas include reversing those cuts to the coast guard and reversing the scaling back of the services; the cancelling of closure of the marine communication traffic service centres, including the marine traffic control communications terminals in Vancouver and of course in St. John's, Newfoundland, as well; the cancelling of the closure of B.C.'s regional office for emergency oil spill responders; and the cancelling of the cuts to Canada's Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research.

Those are just a few of the things we really would have liked to have seen in this bill. Unfortunately, they are not there.

When it comes on the eve of the announcement on northern gateway, what we are really seeing now are the concerns and the worries of Canadians being ignored by the government. As I heard earlier, 67% of people in British Columbia are opposed to northern gateway. We have the government saying no. We have first nations saying that they do not want this, and that they need to have some type of discussion. I wish the government would listen to first nations and have that communication with them. Unfortunately we are seeing that this is not happening.

To put it into perspective, we are going to see about 1,100 kilometres of pipeline pumping raw bitumen through the pristine forest and rivers in northern British Columbia. That is about 525,000 barrels of raw bitumen per day. What is really scary is Enbridge's record on pipeline safety. We have seen over 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, resulting in over 16,000 barrels of oil going into the environment.

We can all agree that no one wants to see that in northern British Columbia. We need to do everything we can to protect northern British Columbia.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2014 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is great to speak to Bill C-3 today. I will be sharing my time this morning with the fabulous member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park. She deserves a round of applause.

This legislation seeks to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act and make changes to many different pieces of existing legislation, such as the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act, and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

Right now we are debating Bill C-3 at third reading. I want to mention at the outset that the NDP will be supporting the bill at third reading because, as my hon. colleague before me mentioned briefly in his response to questions, it would make marginal improvements to the situation we have at hand.

However, I must also note that during the committee study of the bill, amendments were proposed that came from suggestions from witness testimony at committee. The NDP moved seven amendments and the Green Party moved three. All 10 of the amendments that were put forward, based on expert testimony, were refused by the Conservative majority on the committee. Even though Bill C-3 would make modest improvements, even better improvements could have been made, and were put forward, but Conservatives on the committee made sure they did not pass.

Just briefly, I want to mention a couple of the general themes of the amendments we proposed.

One of the amendments required the Minister of National Defence to publish all reports from the studies of the disasters that happened, rather than keeping them as internal documents.

Another amendment was with regard to extending the ship-source oil pollution fund, the SOPF, to non-oil spills that could pollute our waters. Conservative members chose not to support that.

Bill C-3 was formerly Bill C-57, which was tabled in March 2013. That legislation died on the order paper when that session of Parliament was prorogued.

Bill C-3 appears to be part of a concerted effort by the Conservatives to correct their lack of credibility in areas of transport safety, particularly oil tanker traffic on the west coast, in face of the mounting opposition we are seeing across the country to the Northern Gateway pipeline, which was originally proposed in 2006.

I think the real reason why the government is finally pushing on this issue is that the bill would implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010, to which Canada is a signatory. The convention has not been implemented yet, so this legislation would allow for its implementation.

New Democrats believe that Canadian taxpayers should not be on the hook for the cleanup costs and damage that follow a spill of hazardous and noxious substances. In consequence, we have proposed that damages from a hazardous and noxious substance spill exceeding $500 million liability should not be paid by taxpayers. They should be covered by the SOPF, the ship-source oil pollution fund. Polluters should be responsible for the cleanup of oil spills, rather than taxpayers across the country.

Part 2 of the bill would give the military the AIA, which is the airworthiness investigative authority, the traditional Transportation Safety Board investigatory powers in the event of an aviation accident involving the military.

For example, if the military exclusively investigates a defined military-civilian accident, the Transportation Safety Board is no longer involved. The military investigator only reports the results of that investigation to the Minister of National Defence. Canadians do not know what is in the report, in the investigation or the outcome of that report. The New Democrats feel that our operations need to be far more transparent. One of the amendments we had put forward was to make these reports public, rather than them only being given to the Minister of National Defence. Canadians should know what is in those reports.

Other measures that the New Democrats wanted to see in a bill to safeguard Canada's seas included: reversing the Coast Guard closures and the scaling back of the services included in the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station; cancelling the closure of B.C.'s regional office for emergency oil spill responders; cancelling the cuts to Canada's Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research; and reversing the cuts to key environmental emergency programs, including oil spill response for Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia. We put forward many other suggestions to reverse many of the cuts put forward by the Conservative government that decreased safety on our coastlines and in Canadian waters. Many of these amendments were not accepted by the Conservatives on the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee.

We are now left with Bill C-3, which is, as I said at the outset, a marginal improvement, but not the best it could be. However, we do support the bill at third reading.

The two pieces that we really pushed for in committee were to not have Canadian taxpayers on the hook for large-scale hazardous and noxious substance spills. It should have been the polluters. The second piece was that there needed to be increased transparency regarding investigations and the reports that would come out of those investigations. We know how the Conservatives are with respect to transparency and accountability, so I will not go too much into repeating the fact that the government likes to keep things secretive and does not like telling Canadians what it is going on.

The context of Bill C-3 focuses on administrative organization, but lacks in actual environmental improvements. Ben West from ForestEthics Advocacy said that continuing on this path of safety cuts and emergency response closures, “we have actually been aggressively moving in the wrong direction on this file”. I am concerned because this may have been on the topic of forest or coastline safety in British Columbia, which has a high level of tanker traffic.

My constituency of Scarborough—Rouge River is home to the Rouge Park. The government just introduced legislation in the House to create it as Canada's first urban national park. We are consistently seeing actions by the government that are moving away from forest safety and not ensuring the viability and long-term sustainability of our forests. Rouge Park is a grand forest that was created by community activists, including me. In the spring we go out and plant trees and bushes and in the fall we remove invasive species to ensure that our park, the people's park, will thrive and be a large, successful park.

It is great that the Conservatives have finally come on board, 35 years after the community and local activists started to work on this park, to make it a national park. However, we need to ensure that it is done in a sustainable way where we protect and respect the existing legislation and greenbelt protection measures. We also need to talk to the local first nations communities that have sacred burial grounds and a village there. We also need to talk to the local community activists who work on the ground in the community.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a wonderful starting point for my speech this afternoon on this bill, Bill C-3, which is a follow-up to Bill C-57 from the last session of this House.

In truth, this is a bill that should have been dispatched some time ago. It was not, because of the very long prorogation brought in by the Conservative government.

It is a technical amendment bill in many respects. It makes a number of good, positive contributions to improving transportation. However, my remarks this afternoon will be couched in a broader context, and I think it is important for us to keep in mind how these changes are but a step forward in a transportation environment that is, in my view, in a very serious and precarious state in Canada today.

It is a conclusion I and our party do not come to lightly. It comes from many dozens of witnesses who have appeared before committee. It comes from the exhaustive and detailed report from the Auditor General on rail safety released late last fall, which can fairly be described a scathing indictment of the Conservative government's performance on rail safety over the past eight years.

In some respects, Canadians are not surprised, because this is the fifth minister in eight years. What we have had is a succession of ministers transiting through the transport portfolio. Whether they are transiting upwards or downwards or out is another question, but what it shows is that those five ministers have not been paying attention to their brief. They have moved through, and Transport Canada's systemic problems remain.

When my colleague from the NDP persists with his seatmates to point to the private sector as the bad guys, or the bad gals, what it really demonstrates is the fundamental problem with the NDP, which is that it has a difficult time with the free market and a difficult time with free market operators. It does not understand that in today's world in the 21st century, companies derive their licence to operate not from any one order of government—not from the federal government or a provincial government or a municipal government—but from the Canadian public.

It is a concept that is widely known as the social licence to operate, and woe befall a company that crosses the Canadian public. However, that said, the notion of a safety management system as put forward by the Auditor General and as put forward by many actors who participate in safety management systems is that it is a partnership, a partnership between the regulated and the regulator. In this case, the regulator is the Government of Canada, through Transport Canada, the department responsible for transportation and transportation safety.

It is a partnership. It takes two to tango in a partnership.

The thrust of my remarks this afternoon is as follows. One of the partners is falling well short of its responsibility in making sure the safety management system is working, whether it be in the marine sector, the airline sector, the rail sector, or the road transport sector. That partnership, that point at which the regulated company and the regulator come together, is why we are studying safety management systems at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities today.

Let us talk a bit about the role and purpose of government.

The NDP believes that there should not be this kind of partnership with the private sector. I believe that is a mistake. I believe there are efficiencies, good faith, goodwill, and many other drivers in the private sector that can be harnessed in a partnership to make sure that conduct is appropriate and that things remain safe.

On the other hand, the Conservatives believe that the real role and purpose of government in the 21st century is to withdraw government. I believe the Prime Minister is what I would describe as a constitutional purist. He does not believe the federal government should be involved in many areas where it is involved today, and he is—by stealth, by subterfuge, hidden behind the scenes—removing the federal government from very important areas. That is manifesting itself in this sector.

That is why, when we look at the public accounts for 2012-13, this is what we learn. The numbers do not lie.

The Minister of Transport will get up and say, for example, that the government has spent $100 million on safety since 2009. It sounds like a big number, except that it spent $600 million on advertising over those same years. It spent $550 million on outsourced legal fees. Let us set that into context and look at the public accounts.

The office of Infrastructure Canada was cut 17%. VIA Rail was cut 15%. Aviation safety was cut 11%. Marine safety, which this bill addresses most specifically, was cut 25%. Road safety was cut 5.5%. Rail safety has a very marginal increase at a time when we are seeing great stress and pressure on our railway system, particularly as it relates to the transportation of dangerous goods like oil and diluted bitumen. There is pressure from Canada's oil sands and from the Bakken oil shelf in North Dakota and from southern Saskatchewan. Many different sources are now putting lots of pressure on our rail safety system.

What would we expect of a government that believes in the role and purpose of government and believes in getting the big things right, such as safety? What would we expect it to do in full knowledge that there is increased pressure on our railway system and our marine system because of increasing traffic? We would expect it to invest more, not less, in safety. However, we have seen systematic cuts in investments in safety.

Crude oil shipped by rail in Canada has increased 32,000% since 2009. The government has known that for eight years. It was given this information when it received its briefing books when it formed the government back in 2006, so we have to ask what has happened since then.

The most definitive voice we can rely on, as Canadians would agree, is the Auditor General of Canada. That is the most trustworthy and objective voice we have so far. There will be more to come, I am sure, as more information is made available.

Let us take a look at the Auditor General's incredibly important report, because it has a bearing on this bill and whether or not this bill goes nearly far enough to deal with the crisis in rail safety.

Moments ago the minister stood and said, quoting the Auditor General, that the concept of SMS is sound. She is right in quoting the Auditor General. That is what he wrote. He wrote that the concept of safety management systems is sound, but then he went on to eviscerate, to make plain, to expose to the light of day the absolute failure of the Government of Canada under the Conservatives to make sure its side of the partnership is upheld in the notion of these safety management systems.

Here are the fundamental conclusions that the Auditor General of Canada has reached. This is undeniable. The government knows it, all members know it, and Canadians know it.

First, Transport Canada does not have an audit approach that provides a minimum level of assurance that federal railways have implemented safety management systems to manage their safety risks and comply with safety requirements. Wow. It does not have an audit approach that provides a minimum level of assurance. That is conclusion number one.

Next is conclusion number two, and it gets more serious as we move forward in the report. On safety, here is what the Auditor General said explicitly, in words in black and white. In speaking of safety, he said that despite the department's discussions with the industry, it does not have clear timelines. The report says:

...it does not have a formal process to set clear timelines for overseeing significant safety issues from the time they are identified until they are resolved.

The report goes on to state:

We found that the work plans are vague in terms of timelines for monitoring progress on important safety issues.

Conclusion number three is as follows:

...the Department was missing other important risk and performance data to supplement inspectors’ knowledge gained from previous inspections.

Unbelievably, here is the list. This is in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. This is what we learned.

We are missing the federal railways' own internal risk assessments. That is a fundamental part of the safety management system of our railway system.

We are missing information on the sections of track that are used in transporting dangerous goods. We are missing information on the condition of railway bridges, which are carrying tens of thousands of cars carrying dangerous goods, and we are missing the financial information of privately owned federal railways. That is not publicly available. Therefore, we cannot even assess the financial status of many of the companies that are being regulated and are participating in the safety management system.

There is something else, and it is perhaps the most egregious aspect. It really is shocking.

The Auditor General looked at Transport Canada over three years. It took 36 months. The report said that the department set up a three-year cycle for auditing the safety management systems of each federal railway. There are 31 federal railways, and that cycle is supposed to be completed once every three years for each railway.

In three fiscal years, Transport Canada completed 14 audits on eight federal railways—not on 31, but on eight. That is according to Transport Canada's own determination.

Inside, it says it needs to perform way more audits than it actually did. How many did it perform? How many did it complete out of the number it said it had to complete? It completed 26%. Just one-quarter of the audits that Transport Canada itself said had to be performed to keep railways safe were performed.

Just to set this in context for Canadians, four million passengers a year ride VIA Rail, and that is a good thing. We want to encourage people to use light transit. We want to work toward reducing our greenhouse gases and make our transportation system more efficient.

In the three years it was audited by the Auditor General, VIA Rail and its safety management system was not audited once. Four million passengers a year and not one audit was performed by Transport Canada. That is very serious business.

The Auditor General goes on to say at the conclusion:

These findings indicate that Transport Canada does not have the assurance it needs that federal railways have implemented adequate and effective safety management systems.

That is where this is falling down. It is the responsibility of the Conservative government to invest in the capacity it needs at Transport Canada to do its job, not to work toward fictitious and arbitrary deadlines for the elimination of deficits so the Conservatives can run on it in the 2015 election campaign. As they do this, we see behind the scenes what they are doing to transportation safety. It is undermined.

The Auditor General says that even the methodology being used to determine the number of inspections it is supposed to perform is outdated and flawed, and it goes on. This is how serious it is right now.

The Auditor General's office examined whether there were enough inspectors inside the department to perform the inspections they had to perform on aviation, on marine, on road, on rail, on all forms of transportation for which the government is responsible.

The Auditor General found, according to Transport Canada, that it needed 20 system auditors to audit each railway once every three years. How many did Transport Canada have on staff over the three-year period audited by the Auditor General? Ten. One half of the actual amount of inspectors and auditors it required to do the audit required is actually on staff.

It gets even more challenging. Not only does it have half of the inspectors it is supposed to have on staff, on top of that Transport Canada is now responsible for overseeing another 39 non-federal railways. That is 31 federal railways and 39 non-federal railways for which it has responsibility.

For the 10 inspectors it had on staff during the three-year audit, Transport Canada did not know whether the inspectors actually had the required skills and the competencies to do their jobs. It says that inspectors and managers are not trained in a timely basis. It cannot even warrant that the inspectors who are there are objective and independent because they come mainly from the federal railways that are regulated.

In short, we have a government that does not get it. It does not get the role and purpose of government in the 21st century. It is about cut and withdraw, and what happens? We compromise cherished Canadian public services and values.

It is the responsibility of a government to get the big things right. That includes safety in the transportation sector, but we have no evidence, and we have waited for it, that the government will take it seriously. I hope, beyond all hope, that it does not take another tragedy like the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic to get the government's attention.

February 27th, 2014 / 9:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you to our witnesses for appearing not only in person, but by video conference. We appreciate your submissions.

I want to start by clarifying a few things here. First of all, Bill C-3 relates, as I sort of said in my intervention earlier, to establishing our compliance, our ratification if you will, of the HNS protocol of 2010. In other words, it's going to allow us now to move from what we heard Tuesday is a system of simple general liability in the event of an HNS spill to a much more robust regime of up to about $400 million in combined coverage.

This bill, which originated as Bill C-57 in 2013, actually predates the tanker safety expert panel's work, both on its recommendations on the oil regime, and on its continuing work on HNS. It's meant to plug a gap that currently exists.

Can any of the witnesses tell me what the most expensive HNS spill is on record? Is there one that has exceeded $200 million? We're not talking about oil such as in Exxon Valdez; we're talking about things like vegetable oil, potash, those types of substances. Can anybody name one that's over $200 million?

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. That is not my introduction. It is simply the title of the bill, which amends a number of things.

First, I would like to point out that Bill C-3 has already been debated in another form, as Bill C-57. Before supporting that bill at second reading, the NDP asked that it be reviewed to broaden its scope and reverse Conservative cutbacks and closures regarding marine safety and the negative changes to environmental protection. Those topics directly concern the purpose of the bill. That request was refused—no surprise there—but the NDP still moved forward.

I am speaking to this bill today to indicate why I will support it, what reservations I have, and what additional measures I would like to see in order to ensure true protection, much more extensive protection of what this bill is designed to protect.

As I said in my introduction, this bill changes a number of things. I would like to highlight some that I find most important. First, the bill seeks to indemnify air carriers for damage caused by war risks. The intent is simply to make sure that, in dangerous situations, air transportation can continue, come what may. It is quite interesting. The bill also grants powers to investigate aviation incidents or accidents involving civilians, aircraft and aeronautical installations. Put simply, the power of investigation increases when an accident occurs, and that too is very interesting.

The only reservation I have about this measure in Bill C-3—and I hope I will be able to deal with it in committee after this vote at second reading—pertains to the discretionary power being given to the minister. I want to make sure that he is not given too much.

Let me digress a little. As the critic for citizenship and immigration, I have a good deal to say about the discretionary powers that are increasingly being given to ministers in a number of bills, including this one.

In our immigration system, we have seen a number of amendments in bills that have changed the system and given more and more discretionary power to the minister. I find that worrisome. We have a very complex and elaborate system, with very competent officials. Yet the minister is being given more and more discretionary power. That worries me. I am not pointing the finger at any minister in particular. I am simply talking about a principle that opens the door to decisions being made in back rooms, where we have no ability to seek real accountability or point out where mistakes have been made here or there. That is the end of my digression. Making that point made me feel a lot better.

In short, the clause in Bill C-3 that deals with the Aeronautics Act must be examined closely to make sure that the discretionary powers given to the minister do not go too far. I hope that we will hear from a number of people who can give us the benefit of their wise counsel.

Bill C-3 also proposes to amend the Marine Liability Act. The bill seeks to implement an international convention that Canada signed in 2010, the Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea. Canada is a signatory to this very important international convention and today's bill seeks to implement it. The convention defines the liability of vessel owners for the costs incurred when oil or other similar materials are spilled. It is very important to highlight and clarify the liability of companies and vessel owners when a spill like that occurs and when damage is caused.

Finally, the amendment to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, is also very important. It introduces new requirements for operators of oil handling facilities, which is somewhat along the same lines as the amendment I mentioned earlier.

The amendment also proposes the application of new measures and monetary sanctions, with new investigative powers for Transport Canada investigators. Once again, we see the same idea. Those two amendments are the most important.

As another aside, I would like to refer to what happened recently in Lac-Mégantic. I agree that it is not really the same thing, but we are still talking about the same principle of owners and operators being liable.

After the recent Lac-Mégantic tragedy, we saw how the province took action. People on the ground and Quebeckers from across the province joined forces to provide assistance to victims and to raise funds for reconstruction and restitution after this oil-related accident.

It is unacceptable that it is the people who must come together and pay for that damage. People were kept in the dark for so long before finding out whether the company's insurance was going to pay for the damage. In the end, a large part of the cost had to be covered by the province and by generous and compassionate individuals.

That is the link I want to make here. These amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the Marine Liability Act may provide a solution by ensuring that companies at fault in the case of spills or catastrophes like that one will be a little more liable.

I will now continue with the bill. I said earlier that Canada was a signatory to the 2010 International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea. Yes, I said the 2010 Convention. Well, not so long ago, in the autumn of 2012, two big transport ships sank off the west coast because of the current traffic.

Today, we have the impression that the bill that we are debating is a means for the Conservative government to apologize for its failure to act all these years. By signing the 2010 international convention, perhaps the government was demonstrating goodwill, but too much time went by after that. Catastrophes happened, and spills happened on the west coast, and it is only now that I am debating this bill at second reading. That is much too long.

Yes, Bill C-3 introduces corrective measures, and once again I will be supporting it at second reading. It may be too little, too late, but I just wanted to raise the matter.

What will the next step be? The Conservatives have set up a three-person tanker safety expert panel. In November 2013, the panel was to publish a report on how to reform the oil spill response regime. I am mentioning it because all too often we have seen very interesting reports being tabled without their recommendations being taken seriously or implemented quickly.

I hope the Conservatives will show good faith when this report is tabled and that they will implement meaningful and serious reform measures as recommended by the panel, in order to improve companies’ safety and liability. Oil tanker traffic is increasing and we must ensure that our regulations keep up.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2013 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to speak to Bill C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

I will start with some background. This is the former Bill C-57. Unfortunately, it died on the order paper when the government made the wonderful decision to prorogue Parliament. When the bill was introduced, the official opposition's natural resources critic, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, wrote to the Minister of Transport. I would like to begin by reading some excerpts from his letter.

I should say that I have been an MP for just over 30 months now and I sometimes feel disillusioned because I feel that the opposition and the governing party are really not listening to each other. We have come up with good solutions. We are ready to give credit to the government where credit is due, but in our democracy, a majority government could not care less about what we say. That is why I think it is important to mention that my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster went to the trouble of writing to the minister on April 5, 2013. He prefaced his letter by stating that he was writing on behalf of the official opposition.

In the second paragraph of his letter, my colleague pointed out that Bill C-57 had a few good things going for it. He added that the piloting experience required and increased oversight were a step in the right direction, but he noted that there was still a long way to go to make up for the draconian cuts that had been made to oil tanker safety in the previous federal budget.

He started by saying that we supported the bill in principle. In fact, we asked the government to send the bill to committee before second reading in order to address some of our concerns.

For example, my colleague wrote in his letter that, under Bill C-57, authorities would report directly to the Minister of Transport in the event of an accident. The bill also limits liability. That said, accident prevention is barely mentioned. He said that he was certain that the minister understood why British Columbia residents were not satisfied with a simple response plan in the event of an oil spill off the west coast. This is not a trivial matter. They want to ensure that action will be taken.

He closed his letter by saying that we hoped the Conservative government would choose to cancel its decision to cut safety measures and that it would broaden the scope of Bill C-57.

We actually said that Bill C-57 was a good bill, but that we wanted to broaden its scope a bit. In response, we received a self-congratulatory three-page letter from the Minister of Transport.

It said thanks for taking the time to write to me on Bill C-57, the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act. I am glad that you recognize the positive aspects of this legislation. Blah, blah, blah.

In those three pages, the government boasted about being good for Canadians. It is rather incredible.

As the official opposition, the NDP did attempt to kickstart the dialogue that unfortunately has broken down in Ottawa. The NDP wanted to work with the government to do more, to better serve Canadians and to better respond to the concerns of people living in coastal areas. Unfortunately, the government was not the slightest bit interested in our proposals. It told us that it did not have to do what we wanted.

I would like to say that in the three-page letter written by the then minister of transport, he never mentioned that our proposals had some potential. He did not apologize for not allowing us to study it in committee; he did not even acknowledge that that was the purpose of the letter. It was so arrogant on his part. It is unfortunate.

Now the bill has returned under another name: Bill C-3. As my colleague mentioned, this bill will amend five acts.

Part 1 enacts the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, which authorizes the Minister of Transport to undertake to indemnify certain airlines for loss, damage or liability caused by events that are commonly referred to in the insurance industry as war risks.

This creates a system under which the government covers the costs of damage in the event of unlawful attacks such as rebellion, hijacking or armed conflict. It is about keeping important air services in operation in Canada in the event of a crisis.

We are seeking clarification on some small points. The government is so afraid of what it is proposing that it is not ready to go to committee to answer our questions. I find that annoying.

Part 2 amends the Aeronautics Act to provide certain persons with powers to investigate aviation accidents or incidents involving civilians and aircraft or aeronautical installations operated by or on behalf of the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces or a visiting force.

We want in-depth consultation on this part with expert witnesses, in particular in terms of the discretionary powers of ministers.

As hon. members are aware, Conservative ministers have been giving themselves a lot of discretionary powers for the past two and a half years. We would like to have a little more information about this.

We would also like to go deeper into the matter of public disclosure of the results of investigations. We are all in favour of transparency.

Part 3 amends the Canada Marine Act in relation to the effective day of the appointment of a director of a port authority. There is no problem with that.

Part 4 amends the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010.

I will quote what that 2010 international convention added:

The Convention covers the following damage resulting from the carriage of [hazardous and noxious substances] by sea: loss of life or personal injury on board or outside the ship carrying HNS; loss of, or damage to, property outside the ship; loss or damage caused by contamination of the environment; and costs of preventive measures taken by any person after an incident has occurred to prevent or mitigate damage.

Part 5 amends the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, to introduce new requirements for the operators of oil handling facilities.

On the whole, this is good, including the requirement to notify the minister of their operations and to submit plans to the minister. I live in hope that the minister will notify Canadians as soon as he is notified.

Part 5 introduces a few points, including a new requirement whereby the operators of oil handling facilities must submit to the minister a response plan, civil and criminal liability for response organizations engaged in response operations, the application of new measures and monetary sanctions, with new investigative powers for Transport Canada investigators.

I see I am almost out of time. Those are the five pieces of legislation that will be affected by this bill. As I said, that is not bad. Overall, I agree with the bill. I would have liked it to go a little further. This is a common problem with our Conservative friends. Basically, I would have liked it to go to committee, but we will have to wait for third reading.

We will be voting in favour of this bill at second reading. That does not mean we will be supporting it at third reading. We will wait and see what the experts have to say.

I wanted to talk a little bit about what this will involve, but I will go directly to what we want to see in this bill.

We came up with about 10 ideas of what we want to be included. Among them, we would like the cancellation of plans to reduce Coast Guard services and close stations, including the Coast Guard station in Kitsilano. We would also like the cancellation of cuts to marine communications and traffic services, including the maritime traffic control communications terminals in Vancouver and St. John's.

The government must cancel the closure of the British Columbia regional office.

I will not have enough time to name all of them. We had about 10 good recommendations. I imagine my colleagues who sit on that committee could list them. It is important that we take the time to do a proper study. I would have liked to refer this to committee before second reading, but since this is where we are, I would be happy to answer questions from my colleagues.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2013 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which was previously Bill C-57.

First, I would like to give a few statistics to support my argument. Clearly, this bill has a number of objectives, in particular that of improving safety when oil is shipped by water. That is an objective that interests us on this side of the House.

I think that this issue is particularly relevant and urgent given that tanker traffic tripled in Canada between 2005 and 2010, particularly on the west coast. The issue is extremely relevant since that traffic is expected to increase by 300% by 2016, and with all the pipeline expansion projects now on the table, the delivery of crude oil will increase from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels a day.

The bill makes only relatively minor amendments and improvements, but given how urgent and important this situation is, we will support the bill at second reading. There is no guarantee, however, that we will support it at third reading. The essential work will be done in committee.

One of the reasons why we are supporting the bill is this. Despite the figures I just mentioned, the government has reduced the funding for or eliminated a number of organizations that play a vital role in monitoring and quickly responding to oil spills or other marine disasters of this sort. For example, the government has cut funding for various marine communications and traffic services centres and for environmental emergency response centres.

The bill amends five laws. I think that we can all agree on the amendments. The first part of the bill, which amends the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, provides for the compensation of airlines for loss, damage or liability caused by war risks.

Part 2 amends the Aeronautics Act to provide certain persons with powers to investigate aviation accidents or incidents, whether civilian or military. This will have to be clarified to determine the role of the armed forces, for example. Will they investigate an air disaster or catastrophe, an accident or incident, if it involves both civilian and military aircraft? The involvement of the armed forces in an investigation of such an incident will have to be closely examined in relation to the responsibility of the Transportation Safety Board.

Part 3 amends the Canada Marine Act. It amends the effective day of the appointment of a director of a port authority. This is a relatively minor amendment because the purpose of this part of the act is simply to amend the effective day based on the date of notice from a municipality or a government.

Parts 4 and 5 are much more important in terms of scope and consequences.

Part 4 amends the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010. The convention itself provides that the owner of a ship shall be liable for the costs and expenses incurred by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, by a response organization, or by any other person, in Canada or in a state that is a party to the convention, in respect of measures taken to prevent, repair, remedy or minimize damage caused by hazardous and noxious substances.

This is an absolutely fundamental issue, particularly having regard to the funding cuts, cutbacks and reductions that have been imposed by the Conservative government. We are talking about organizations based on both the west and east coasts.

One of these organizations that is directly affected is in the riding that I represent, Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. This centre has been directly affected by the proposed closure of the search and rescue centre based in Quebec City, whose function, as its name indicates, is to carry out marine search and rescue operations, particularly in the St. Lawrence River up to the gulf and estuary. This centre remains open, but we cannot say that is thanks to the Conservative government. In fact, in order to save $1 million, according to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the government wanted to close this centre which serves a vital function. It was opened in the 1970s as a direct response to criticism from the Commissioner of Official Languages. The needs of the communities on the northern and southern shores of the St. Lawrence, as well as of francophone users of the river, were not being met. I should point out that the government wanted to eliminate this centre and transfer its operations to Halifax and Trenton.

In a very recent report, the Commissioner of Official Languages found that closing this centre would result in the reduction and virtual elimination of appropriate search and rescue services in French. This has also been confirmed by the Canadian Coast Guard. It has been clearly demonstrated that the Halifax and Trenton centres are not equipped to provide these services. Not only is there the language issue, but there is also another extremely important issue: knowledge of the banks. This issue particularly affects the Quebec City centre, the Newfoundland and Labrador centre, and the west coast centres.

I would like the government to examine its conscience with regard to the bill we are now discussing, and also with regard to its responsibilities and actions in the area of marine transport safety.

Part 4 deals with the liability of ship owners who could be held liable for spills of oil or other hazardous substances. Another factor will be extremely critical, given the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic we witnessed not so long ago. In the case of rail transportation, the liability rests with the owner of the railway and the trains. In the recent Lac-Mégantic case, the insurance seems to be clearly inadequate in relation to the damage caused.

These recent cases involving rail transportation should serve as an example to us in marine transportation. I fervently hope that the transport committee or the appropriate committee will study this matter very seriously.

Finally, part 5 amends the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Actually, it requires companies to notify the minister of their operations and to submit plans to the minister in order for operations to be conducted. Once again, the matter is one of prevention. The points we are discussing here are extremely complex. I want to make sure that the committee studying this bill does so diligently in order that safety and prevention needs are met.

We in the NDP have done our job. We have proposed various measures to expand the mandate of the bill and the scope of the amendments proposed by the government. We want to make sure that the bill on which we will be asked to vote will fully and completely protect the environment in which this shipping will occur. We must protect the coastal communities that lie close to the areas where ships already sail and where even more ships transporting hazardous materials, such as oil, will be sailing. Oil tanker traffic is going to increase considerably in the coming years, and the government must do its job and take this matter seriously.

I invite the government to give this extremely complex bill serious study and, in due course, to include in it the items that we have proposed so that it properly meets the country's future needs.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2013 / 1:40 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-3 and while some Conservative members asked questions, none actually spoke on this legislation. Yet, this is a government bill. It should be very important to the Conservatives, but not a single one rose to talk about safety and the investments made to ensure that there will be fewer spills and that tanker traffic will be safe.

We live in a country blessed with natural wealth. There is an abundance of natural resources. The development of these resources, including mining, rail, forest and marine resources, is largely responsible for our country's economic prosperity. We must secure this prosperity in the long term, and to do so we must protect our environment.

An offshore oil spill can have catastrophic consequences for decades, such as water pollution, dwindling fish stocks, harm to health and to the environment, and massive job losses.

Today more than ever, our wealth depends on how we manage our resources. That is the key to our development and this should be an inescapable fact. Bill C-3 seeks to amend five important acts dealing with the aviation, aeronautics and marine industries. Bill C-3 is a new version of Bill C-57. The NDP had asked that this bill be amended to ensure that it truly protects our environment. Unfortunately, as usual when it comes to environmental protection, the Conservatives rejected all our calls to improve former Bill C-57.

The most important part of the bill deals with marine safety and oil spills. It is also this aspect of the legislation that needs improvement. In fact, if we really want to protect Canada's coasts that part should be examined by experts. Part 4 of Bill C-3 amends the Marine Liability Act. It deals with the concept of liability in the event of an oil spill. Under the act, the owner of a ship is responsible for the costs and expenses incurred by the government following the spillage of dangerous products at sea.

Part 5 of Bill C-3 amends the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. It sets new rules to compel oil companies to notify the minister of their operations. These companies will have to submit a response plan to deal with a disaster or an accident. The NDP, a number of stakeholders and many citizens have been eagerly awaiting such a provision.

The bill is absolutely necessary, but it does not meet many of the challenges of oil development and transportation in Canada. It is a good step forward, but it is still quite limited. This legislation should include many other aspects of marine transportation.

The shipping of oil is risky business. As a number of my colleagues pointed out, tanker traffic tripled between 2005 and 2010, and it is expected to triple again by 2016. The increase in oil shipments leads to more spills, whether onshore or offshore. According to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, there have been close to 10,000 spills in the world since 1970. That is a huge number and it is very alarming.

I will refresh your memory. In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform spilled 678,000 tonnes of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In March 2001, the Petrobras oil platform, in Brazil, spilled 300,000 tonnes of oil. In March 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 38,000 tonnes of oil off the coast of Alaska, not too far from us. Canada is not sheltered from these accidents. Burrard Inlet is the second most dangerous point to navigate in Vancouver. In March, the largest emergency response ship ran aground off the coast of Vancouver and took 11 hours to make the trip to Vancouver from Esquimalt. There are some problems, and we should carefully consider this issue in committee to make practical amendments and improvements that address current needs. With the increase in maritime traffic in the Arctic, the risk of accidents is even higher.

Canada's ability to combat pollution in a northern climate is more limited than in a southern one. Intense cold, distance and lack of on-site emergency equipment would make emergency operations much more complicated.

Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, recently said:

If a tanker were to spill oil off the coast of British Columbia today, the federal government would not have the resources to handle a large-scale disaster.

Last year, Scott Vaughan, the former commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, said that the liability limits and compensation programs could be inadequate if a spill were to happen.

The absolute liability limits have not been changed in 24 years. Updates have been needed for ages. Although the Conservative government plans on increasing petroleum resource development, it has not increased liability for these resources. For example, the Atlantic liability is $30 million. However, the full cost of cleanup for the Exxon Valdez disaster was more than $3 billion. That is a disproportionately big difference, and it is quite worrisome.

The U.S. coast guard seems to take the risk of accidents more seriously. The Minister of Natural Resources is studying the effects of increased tanker traffic on the west coast whereas Senator Maria Cantwell feels that a supertanker oil spill near our shores would threaten the thriving coastal economy and thousands of jobs.

It is therefore difficult to understand why the Canadian Conservative government is making cuts to marine safety. Why did the Conservatives shut down the Newfoundland and Labrador marine rescue centre? Why do they want to close the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre? The sub-centre responds to almost 1,500 distress calls every year. Why close down the Kitsilano Coast Guard station in British Columbia? Why make cuts to marine communications and traffic services, including the terminals in Vancouver and St. John's?

No matter how much the Conservatives remind us that they want to improve marine safety, they are not able to rise in the House today to answer questions, to clarify the situation and to defend their views. No one on the Conservative side has stood up today. Yet these issues are vital to public health and safety, environmental protection and thousands of jobs.

Ever since the Speech from the Throne, they think they are the champions of job creation when they are actually jeopardizing thousands of jobs. That boggles the mind. It makes no sense at all.

The government should understand that, to respond to risks at sea, it must base its decisions on science and facts, and consult with experts, not censor them or cut their jobs.

Bill C-3 could be greatly improved if the government listened to what the experts and the opposition have to say. That seems a lot to ask, however, of a government that prefers to base its decisions on old neo-liberal theories like “government intervention is not required” and “industry will be self-regulating”. We can see what that way of thinking produces when we talk about rail safety or food safety. Many incidents occur, and people are affected. The Conservative theory does not work, and it leads to disasters like what occurred recently in Alberta.

The NDP would nevertheless have a few suggestions to make to the government, if it was prepared to listen. We suggest that it cancel the cuts to marine safety, strengthen the capacity of petroleum boards so that they can see about preventing oil spills, and raise the limit for cleanup after a spell. The limit is currently set at 10,000 tonnes, which is not really enough, given the increase in the size of tankers and in the traffic.

We also suggest that it apply the polluter-pay principle. That is what the government said it would do in the Speech from the Throne. We are still waiting for the government to put the principle into practice.

It should also bolster the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund. This currently stands at $400 million, but the damage from a single spill like the Exxon Valdez spill, for example, would run into billions of dollars. The government should therefore be more realistic, and a little more responsible.

The NDP would also like very much to hear from expert witnesses on part 2 of the bill. Under clause 19, the military is given investigative powers formerly assigned to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which issued public reports. That will no longer be the case.

There is some progress, therefore, in this bill, but much more work has to be done to achieve real improvement. We have to bring in more resources and arrange for experts to be consulted, so that safety is improved in practical ways in oil projects.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2013 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-3.

During the previous session, we called upon the government to broaden the scope of Bill C-57, the former incarnation of Bill C-3, by sending it to committee prior to second reading so that more comprehensive measures aimed at protecting Canada’s coasts could be incorporated into it. Unfortunately, our request was turned down, and as several of my colleagues have mentioned, in addition to denying our request, today the Conservatives are not even speaking to this bill, explaining their position or answering our questions. It is truly deplorable.

The bill before us today does not go any further than Bill C-57, but we will nevertheless vote in favour of it at second reading, in the hopes that we will be able to convince the government to improve upon the marine safety provisions when it proceeds to clause-by-clause study in committee. The outcome of the efforts in committee will determine whether or not we will support Bill C-3 when it moves to third reading. Again, I hope that we will be able to truly debate the bill’s provisions in committee, and I call upon the government to be open-minded and to work with the opposition to make this bill a better piece of legislation.

I will concede that Bill C-3 does contain a few positive provisions. Enhanced monitoring and piloting requirements are a step in the right direction. The implementation of the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2010, to which Canada is a signatory, is also a positive development. However, as I indicated earlier, Bill C-3 does not go far enough. It does not reverse the effects of last year’s drastic budget cuts on oil tanker safety. The provisions in Bill C-3 aimed at improving safety will have a relatively minor impact as compared to the risks posed by, for example, the closure of B.C.’s oil spill response centre, the closure of the coast guard station in Kitsilano and the cuts to environmental emergency response programs. All of Canada, and not only B.C., is affected.

The government has decided to close the marine rescue centre in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is also planning to shutter the marine search and rescue centre in Quebec City. These rescue centres respond on average to 1,500 distress calls each year. Who will be there to rescue sailors from Newfoundland and Labrador and from Quebec when they encounter an emergency at sea?

In the fall of 2012, two large transport vessels ran aground on the west coast because of marine traffic conditions. Marine traffic is projected to increase significantly on the west coast. Add to that the fact that increasingly large tankers are being put into service. We have higher traffic volumes, larger vessels and Bill C-3, which does not go far enough. I am concerned by this state of affairs, as is our party.

As an MP and as a citizen, I have some serious questions as to why the government would not want to beef up the bill as the NDP is asking it to do. Upon closer review of Bill C-3, we are left with the impression that the government is trying to make up for its lack of leadership in the field of marine safety since taking office. If it really wants to show some leadership, it must avoid half-measures and put some teeth into its bill, because it still comes up short. We want to take part in the process.

If the true aim of Bill C-3 was to promote greater tanker traffic safety, the Conservative government could seize the opportunity to review the cuts announced in the latest budgets and reconsider eliminating marine safety programs. As I said, we have a number of suggestions and recommendations to make and we are prepared to work in committee to improve the bill.

The NDP is committed to ensuring that oil spills along our coastlines become a thing of the past and that our sailors stay safe.

In our view, a bill aimed at protecting Canada’s seas should provide for the following: firstly, the cancellation of plans to reduce Coast Guard services and close stations, including the Coast Guard station in Kitsilano. Secondly, it should expand the capacity of petroleum boards to handle oil spills, as recommended by the Commissioner of the Environment. Thirdly, the bill should also require Canada’s Coast Guard to work with its American counterparts to carry out a study on the risks associated with increased tanker traffic in Canadian waters.

As I said earlier, we have clear suggestions for improving the bill now before us. As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to put in place conditions that will prevent oil spills from occurring on the west coast and elsewhere in Canada.

Scott Vaughan, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, has stated that Canada does not have the means to respond effectively to an accident involving a supertanker such as the Suezmax, which carries between one and two millions barrels of crude oil. Just imagine a disaster of that magnitude.

To be precise, Mr. Vaughan stated that the transport capacity of the Suezmax “significantly exceeds Transport Canada’s spill-response thresholds”. This kind of statement is truly alarming. What is the government waiting for? When will it take action?

A major spill off Canada’s shores would not only do irreparable harm to the marine environment, but would also result in thousands of job losses. We need to do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen. I would like to hear our Conservative colleagues explain why it makes sense not to improve this bill so as to cancel the closures and cutbacks that are in the works.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

November 19th, 2013 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, at this point, I should inform you that I will share my time with the member for Edmonton—Strathcona, who will take over for me.

First, I would like to provide some context for Bill C-3. My colleagues have already discussed it a bit this morning, but I think that, as the member for Sherbrooke, it is important for me to speak to this bill and inform the House about the concerns of my constituents. I do not represent a coastal riding, but my riding is close enough to the east coast of Canada and the U.S. that these issues are important to my constituents. In fact, anything that has to do with the environment affects the people of Sherbrooke. I am pleased to speak to Bill C-3 here on their behalf.

As hon. members know, this bill was introduced during the last session, that is, during the first session of the 41st Parliament. At that time it was Bill C-57. Since we already had the opportunity to study it during the last session of Parliament, this bill is somewhat familiar to us. My colleagues already know that we will support this bill at second reading.

I would also like to remind the House that we tried to broaden the scope of the bill, and I will say more about that later because I have not yet explained exactly what the bill is about. Our attempts to broaden the scope of the bill were fruitless. Now that Bill C-3 is before us, we are trying again; we are speaking up. We hope that our attempts to improve it will be successful so that we can support it all the way through the process. Between now and then, we would like to send the bill to committee for a thorough review to ensure that it meets our constituents' expectations.

This bill amends five acts and has four main parts. I will focus on the last parts.

Part 1 would indemnify certain air carriers for loss, damage or liability caused by war risks. I am not really sure where this legislative change comes from, but if there is a crisis or a war, the government would compensate air carriers for damage caused by illegal attacks, such as armed conflict, rebellion or hijacking. I will not go into any detail about that part.

Part 2 is about air transportation and amends the Aeronautics Act to provide certain persons with powers to investigate aviation accidents or incidents involving civilians and aircraft or aeronautical installations operated by or on behalf of the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces or a visiting force. This is interesting, actually. We would like to talk about an issue in this part of the bill. I think that this issue will come up in committee when we take a closer look at the bill.

Right now, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is responsible for investigating aeronautical accidents involving the armed forces. According to this bill, the armed forces would take over that function. A military investigator would be responsible for that and would have to report to the Minister of National Defence. We would like to know if those reports will be made public.

Currently, reports produced by the TSB are made public. In recent months, unfortunately I must say, we have come to learn a great deal more about the TSB. It really is not clear from the bill whether the reports produced by the Department of National Defence investigator will be made public. Obviously, these questions will be raised later in committee. I simply wanted to point out that we have some reservations about part 2 of the bill.

Part 3 does not call for any major amendment. It pertains to the appointment of port authority directors. The appointments would take effect on the day on which notice of appointment is received by the port authority. I will not elaborate further on this part of the bill.

This brings me to the two main parts of the bill that are of great concern to us and that we find especially important, specifically the amendment to the Marine Liability Act. The bill provides for the coming into force of the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 2010, pursuant to an international convention concluded in 2010.

This part covers the costs and expenses incurred by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans when a spill occurs. The company responsible for the spill must have adequate insurance in place to cover the financial cost of the cleanup. It is important to understand that tanker traffic continues to increase. Traffic has increased in recent years and is on track to quadruple by 2016. So then, given the rapid increase in tanker traffic, this is an especially important consideration today.

As tanker traffic increases so too do the attendant risks. The same holds true for highway traffic. The more automobiles and people travelling on our highways, the greater the risk of accidents happening. It is no different when it comes to oceans and waterways. Fortunately, accidents are not a daily occurrence, but when they do happen, the consequences can be quite devastating. We have a number of examples to draw on from around the world, whether it is ships that have spilled some of their cargo, or accidents occurring on offshore oil rigs. One recent example was the spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. I am sure everyone remembers the extensive damage done to coastlines. The damage does not last only a few weeks. We are still seeing the effects of the spill today. It has had a major impact on ocean ecosystems.

So then, it is important for companies that take the risk of transporting these products to be able to respond when an accident occurs. That is the least they can do. When a company is responsible for shipping oil products, it must be held liable when an accident linked to its activities occurs. The public or governments should not be held liable. By government we mean the public because the government operates on taxpayers’ money. In short, the government should not have to bear the full cost when an accident occurs. The companies should be the ones assuming the risks. Moreover, government authorities should put in place regulations to ensure that everything is in order, that inspections are carried out and that shipping companies abide by a minimum set of rules. Every single accident cannot, however, be prevented. That is impossible. So, when one does happen, companies must be able to take responsibility for the damage that they have caused.

This brings me to part 5 of the bill which amends inspection provisions in order to ensure that companies have plans in place in the event of an accident and that they submit them to the government so that authorities, whether local, provincial or federal, can respond immediately to an accident. These authorities would therefore already have the plans in hand and would be aware of the nature of the products being transported. It would therefore be much easier to respond quickly and effectively in such cases.

The bill is a step in the right direction. We support the small positive steps that are being taken. Therefore, we will be happy to support the bill at second reading. In committee, we will look at what can be done to continue moving in this direction.

As opposition members, our job is to suggest measures. That is what we will continue to do when the bill is examined in committee. We will try to improve upon its provisions, so that it is the best possible piece of legislation by the time it is adopted.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

November 4th, 2013 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, after my colleague’s speech, there is not a great deal more for me to say. He clearly outlined what we want to know about Bill C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

There is a great deal of confusion at the present time over Bill C-3 and Bill C-57. We all know that is because the Conservatives prorogued Parliament. Today we find ourselves debating legislation that was outstanding when the last session of Parliament ended. Bills were brought back before the House and given new numbers. That explains the confusion. I just wanted to mention that in case anyone following these proceedings might be confused.

That being said, I do want to point out that the NDP is supporting this bill at second reading because it provides for modest improvements to marine safety. Obviously it is difficult to be opposed to something positive. Because it provides for modest improvements, we are prepared to move forward. However, the bill clearly falls short of what we had hoped and expected legislators to do, and obviously of what needs to be done.

Before voting in favour of Bill C-3 at second reading, the NDP had called for it to be referred, prior to second reading, to a committee where consideration could be given to incorporating more comprehensive measures to protect Canada’s coastlines and to neutralize or reverse to some degree the impact of Conservative cutbacks and closures affecting marine safety and environmental protection.

The issue of marine safety is obviously one that is very close to my heart, as the member for Québec. In fact, I have been calling on the Conservative government since 2011 to reverse its decision to shut down the Marine Search and Rescue Centre in Québec City. More importantly, it is the only officially bilingual centre in Canada and in North America.

I also have to say that the centre in Quebec City, which was established more than 35 years ago, was put there specifically to accommodate staff with intimate knowledge of the geography of the St. Lawrence River, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and all its nooks and crannies. The expertise developed there was substantial. I realize that for the Conservatives, expertise represents a cost that you have to slash to achieve a zero deficit.

Yet expertise is a value that contributes much more than that. That is why in this case, too, I am concerned when I see cuts made with no thought given to the investment required to protect our fellow citizens on land and at sea.

When the Quebec City maritime search and rescue centre was established, it was also a means of protecting essential services in French, now threatened by this Conservative majority government, which believes it can get away with anything.

We also know that in Quebec City, fully bilingual staff are not to be found in the centres. The decision was made to close the centre in Quebec City and transfer half the calls to Halifax and the other half to Trenton. It was also decided to transfer calls from Cap-à-l'Aigle west to Trenton, and from Cap-à-l'Aigle east to the centre in Halifax.

However, the decision made in 2011 has so far generated huge costs in logistics, competitions and job offers to find people who are competent. Efforts have been made to recruit people, but experts do not come in a Cracker Jack box. Experts are really hard to find because it takes years of experience, specific qualifications and academic credentials to build that kind of expertise.

When they sought to transfer the centre from Quebec City to Trenton, they relaxed the selection criteria in order to find recruits. According to the latest information, they nevertheless still have not found the staff they need in Trenton to handle the calls. In Halifax, the people are not yet sufficiently qualified.

In Halifax, a rescue drill was held last February. I gave a press briefing, one of many about the Quebec City centre. The rescue drill, which was billed as normal procedure, was a complete failure because, for a normal operation, it seems that they unfairly increased the number of people assigned. In spite of that, the bilingual coordinator was reportedly overwhelmed; people involved who thought they could operate just as well in French as in English were completely powerless to cope with the work to be done; there were also complaints about a lack of familiarity with the St. Lawrence, a river with a long history.

Even in the time of Jacques Cartier, there were difficulties in navigating some parts of the St Lawrence. It is a distinctive river. There are strong currents in some locations, and some parts of the river have yet to be charted. Some parts are familiar to people who use the river, but are not necessarily to be found on the numerous technical applications for navigation. That tells you how much we need experts familiar with such details, which are not always incorporated into any kind of device.

Despite the failure experienced last February, the Conservatives had decided to press on, even with failure after failure. They are transferring the Quebec City centre to Trenton and Halifax, even though nothing is right, and nothing is working after so many years. Yet they were told. What is more, there was no public consultation on the matter and there was no impact study before the decision was made. We understand, moreover, that the minister never visited the centre in Quebec City to see the work being done on site.

Whatever bill we are discussing in the House, whether it relates to transport, health or employment insurance, I am always surprised that impact studies are not carried out, and people are not consulted: neither the provinces, nor the municipalities, nor the experts in the field. No. The government believes it is right, and goes ahead and makes the decision. This is regrettable, however, because what leads us to make wrong decisions is the belief that we are right, and that we are capable of handling everything ourselves.

Nevertheless, hundreds of resolutions were adopted across Canada by associations of pilots, fishers, enthusiasts, pleasure boaters and front-line people in favour of keeping the Quebec Marine City Search and Rescue Centre open. A motion was adopted unanimously in the Quebec National Assembly. Resolutions by a number of municipalities, including the City of Quebec and everywhere else, even in eastern Canada, for example, called for maintaining the centre. Despite this, the government always turns a blind eye.

You cannot reduce services and claim to maintain them by saying that nothing will change. It is untrue. Whenever I hear the Conservatives talk, I get angry because I say to myself that they understand nothing.

In this case, whether it is the Coast Guard or the veterans that are involved, there is no app for it. You cannot say that people will manage by going on line, and everything will be done automatically. No, you need experts, you need people who can answer questions and who operate in the field. That is what is important. That is what needs to be understood in the case of Bill C-3, but also in all the decisions the government may make.

In closing, the bill seems to be part of a concerted effort by the Conservatives to address their lack of credibility in the area of transport safety. We in the NDP know very well, however, that transport safety is not something the Conservatives do.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2013 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-3 which is the follow-up bill to Bill C-57 from the last session of this House, which has not passed by now, in part, because the House was prorogued for an unusually long period of time. It is unfortunate, because I think we would have dispatched this legislation much more efficiently had we been sitting here.

In many respects, what we are seeing in the bill is a piecemeal or what I might even describe as an incoherent approach to transportation safety policy in Canada. Small things are trickling out in dribs and drabs without a comprehensive approach to transportation safety in the country to deal with the important issues that have been raised, by many speakers, on marine transportation, rail transportation, passenger safety, and beyond, of course.

The bill is mostly about technical amendments, and the Liberal Party of Canada will be supporting sending the bill to committee.

It has different parts. Part 1, enacting the aviation industry indemnity act, would allow aviation participants, in the event of loss or damage, to deal with what are called “war risks”. This flows from the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, when insurance companies stopped offering air carriers liability insurance for what are typically called war risks. That is part 1 of the bill. I am looking to hearing more about it at committee.

Part 2 amends the Aeronautics Act to establish a new procedure for investigating accidents or incidents involving civilians and military aircraft. Again, for clauses 10 to 26, I am looking forward to seeing more evidence to substantiate the new process in the Aeronautics Act that will allow for investigation of accidents that involve civilians and military aircraft or installations. That will be important to go through.

Part 3 amends the Canada Marine Act in relation to the effective date of the appointment of a director of a port authority. That is more or less standard fare. It is very much housekeeping.

Part 4 amends the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea. This effectively provides for the liability of ship owners and operators for damage caused by pollutants. In particular, it finally implements in Canada the liability scheme established pretty much elsewhere internationally by the several international conventions that are already in place.

We are making progress in terms of these small amendments.

Finally, part 5 amends the Canada Shipping Act to introduce new requirements for operators of oil handling facilities, ostensibly, the governments says, to help produce a world-class tanker safety system. I cannot help but be struck by “world-class tanker safety system”, when the government rushed through licences in the Beaufort Sea, with full knowledge that there is no technology to deal with potential spills should there be one in that most fragile Canadian sea.

Let us turn to the overall context within which I think this bill has been presented and what is happening out there among Canadians.

First, the Lac-Mégantic tragedy shook the country. Obviously, it affected Quebeckers, the people of Lac-Mégantic and their families. This tragedy, which still weighs heavy on the minds of Canadians, stunned us and affected us deeply.

We had also a bus-train collision here in the city of Ottawa. We had a derailment in Calgary, which Mayor Nenshi spoke of some time ago, and of course, we had the derailment over the weekend in Gainford, Alberta. There are so many more instances of rail safety questions.

The bill is being deposited at a time when we are debating pipelines. We are debating pipelines heading west, the gateway pipeline. We are debating pipelines heading south, the Keystone pipeline, and of course there is the question of Line 9, reversing the flow of a pipeline between Sarnia and Montreal to provide more feedstock for eastern Canadian refineries.

I would pause for a moment and say that I think the government has seriously compromised Canada's reputation with respect to its dealings on the Keystone pipeline. It has, in fact, weakened us. For that matter, to a certain extent, it has even weakened the democratic presidency of President Obama by actually not working with American congressional leaders and the President's office to show that Canada is serious about climate change. Because we have been delaying, denying, dragging our feet, making up stories, and hitching our wagon to President Obama, and at other points to somebody else or to some other factor, Canada is now very much behind the eight ball. When it comes to Washington, and, I can certainly confirm from international experience, elsewhere, Canada is now considered to be a pariah on the climate change file. In a sense, this is how the Prime Minister has seriously compromised our reputation in Washington and has put the Keystone pipeline very much at risk.

As I said, Canadians are very concerned about a few things. They see these instances on television and read about them in the newspapers. They are very concerned about passenger safety, community safety, and marine safety, of course. They are concerned about the transport of dangerous substances and what is happening in their local municipalities with trains running in and out. They are very concerned about environmental protection. One of the least well-known fallout effects of the Lac Mégantic tragedy is the fact that it is going to take decades, and probably hundreds of million if not billions of dollars to clean up the affected watershed in that region. That is something we let slip, to a certain extent, in coverage outside Quebec.

Another factor at play, of course, is that there is a trend toward moving more and more oil in Canada by rail. This is worthy of exploring so that Canadians understand what is happening. There are important fundamental questions about our aging Canadian rail infrastructure. There are important questions being raised about the types of railcars that have been used, both in Canada and the United States, for decades and their safety and engineering standards, for example.

Why is there such a trend toward moving more and more oil in Canada by rail? The first reason is that North American oil production is outpacing pipeline capacity. For example, rail shipments of oil to our coastal refineries or export centres have gone from about 6,000 train carloads in 2009 to almost 14,000 carloads this year. That is a massive and significant increase in moving oil by rail. We have seen a concomitant investment by the railway companies in new cars and new capacity to carry more oil, of course, because they want an ever-increasing share of that market opportunity, as one would expect from a private company.

The second reason we are seeing more oil carried by rail is that, as I mentioned, railways want to increase their market share. They have seized upon an opportunity here, because shipping oil by rail as a substitute idea is being encouraged by the Conservatives as a way to circumvent the approval processes, which they often have been weakening or undermining, whether it is the NEB or environmental assessment. We know that this is the case. We have seen it. It has been happening now for years. They are also trying, in certain quarters, to circumvent strong or ferocious opposition to different ideas being put forward by industrial proponents. That is having another effect. It is another force at play that is driving oil onto our railways.

The third factor is that there is enormous pressure on our infrastructure, and I alluded to this, for both rail and pipeline. Even if all current pipeline projects are approved in Canada, oil production will exceed pipeline capacity by one million barrels a day by 2025. That is, in 12 short years we will exceed our pipeline capacity by one million barrels a day.

The first thing I thought of when I came face to face with this statistic was to reflect on the words of the former premier of Alberta Peter Lougheed who asked some very probative and profound questions about the pace of development in our oil sands, whether or not we were having an adult conversation about that pace, whether the effects in the immediate areas were going to be properly mitigated, and so on and so forth. We see that there is a massive push and rush to increase capacity in terms of oil production but not the infrastructure to deal with it.

On that note, pressure on rail, of course, is coming from a plan of doubling oil sands exploitation over the next decade or so. The pressure is also coming from the 10 to 12-year life span of the very huge Bakken shale gas formation in both North Dakota and Montana. There we are seeing an oil and gas field that is presently producing some 700,000 barrels of oil a day. Now, the estimates are that would last for 10 to 12 years with production rising from 700,000 to one million barrels a day.

Interestingly, the light crude on board the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway that exploded in Lac-Mégantic came from this area, the Bakken shale gas formation, on route to an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. Bakken, as a project does not lend itself, say the energy economists, to a pipeline because it is not economic. It takes some 50 years for a pipeline to be judged to be economic, to pay for itself, and this, as I mentioned, has a 10 to 12-year remaining shelf life in terms of exploitation of the gas and oil in that particular reserve.

Another important question at play in context as the bill is brought to the floor is the following.

There are some very serious and legitimate questions being raised with respect to the enforcement of railway safety by Transport Canada. Nowhere is this more evident than in the safety management systems, SMSs, which rail companies are required to produce and abide by. For that matter, different companies involved and regulated by Transport Canada also have safety management systems; airlines, for example. However, these safety management systems are not rendered public. They are not made available or disclosed to interested parties, such as stakeholders, flying passengers, company executives, folks who work on railways, people who are in the business of insuring railways and the shipment of these risky products. These safety management systems are not disclosed.

I think we can do a lot better than that in terms of the probity and transparency that Canadians are asking for and deserve going forward.

Transport Canada, once these safety management systems are put in place, then perform audits on a company's SMS. However, for the audits on railways, and the same thing applies with pipeline companies, there is no requirement for an explicit, what we might call, safety culture assessment. An auditor can go in and audit against a document and spot check. However, that does not necessarily mean that there is an explicit requirement for the auditors and inspectors to sit down with senior managers, interview employees, deal with suppliers, talk to other regulators at the provincial level for railways that do not cross provincial boundaries, and so on and so forth.

We can do a lot better with respect to these safety management systems in making them more transparent. I think that transparency shining the light of day on these management systems would help improve them.

I have also heard from a number of inspectors who are retired from Transport Canada or presently working within Transport Canada. They are deeply concerned about the capacity of Transport Canada to perform these audits on safety management systems on a number of fronts, whether it is marine shipping, airlines, railways and beyond.

There are very troubling questions being raised by these inspectors who are good people, of good faith and goodwill, who go to work every day and try to do their jobs, but are now feeling the pinch as they try to cover so many different regulated companies and do not have the capacity to do so. That is something we are going to have to explore in a much more meaningful way at committee in due course, whether it is with respect to the bill or with respect to the promised, deep railway-safety study that the committee was supposed to undertake this fall in the wake of early findings from the Transportation Safety Board in terms of its learnings derived from the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic.

Shifting gears a bit, in some respects the bill would address the liability question but only tangentially, as I mentioned earlier. There are lingering questions. Most Canadians, once they are over the shock of something as dramatic as a bus in this city, here in my backyard just outside my riding, colliding with a train where citizens are killed, or 47 of their fellow citizens having died in Lac-Mégantic, then questions around who is responsible come to the fore. Here is where we as parliamentarians are going to have to examine very carefully the whole question of liability. Who is responsible for the liability, the costs? Who is responsible for indemnifying, for example, the Town of Lac-Mégantic? Who is responsible for helping the families of the victims, those who may be disabled in an accident and those who feel the effects on their human health, perhaps? Who is responsible with respect to spills at sea? Who is responsible for spills on land and environmental cleanup costs? I alluded to that earlier with respect to Lac-Mégantic.

We have seen what happened with a major spill on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in the United States. We have seen what the National Transportation Safety Board has said about that in the United States which, in parentheses, concerns me because that NTSB evidence is not being heard at the National Energy Board in Canada as Enbridge makes applications for different kinds of pipeline projects. I believe that we should be examining global practice. What has happened in one jurisdiction is something we should be learning from in this jurisdiction, and vice versa.

When our Canadian Transportation Safety Board issues a report eventually and finally on Lac-Mégantic and that terrible tragedy, there will be many findings that are capable of being extrapolated to other countries and locations. I do not know why the Conservatives have closed and narrowed the evidentiary acceptability gap, if I can call it that, at the National Energy Board to the point where the findings of the NTSB in Washington are not being factored into applications being made by a proponent in Canada. It just makes no sense. Most corporations today, as they work hard to earn their social licence, want to be able to have a global code and standard of practice and drive it up everywhere together, roughly at the same time and in the same way.

We have a lot of questions with respect to who is responsible and who is liable.

I had a constituent write to me recently and ask whether liability should extend here to the company that was actually importing the oil, and in this case, whether the Irving Oil refinery is responsible in part. Should it have some fiduciary responsibility? That is an important question for us to examine.

We need a comprehensive approach going forward. It is a wonderful opportunity for parliamentarians to get it better for Canadians. There is fear in Canadian society. We have an obligation to assuage that fear by doing good and better work. I am concerned about what the Auditor General concluded in a report in 2011, which stated that, “Transport Canada has not designed and implemented the management practices needed to effectively monitor regulatory compliance” with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods as set out by the department.

We can do better than that. We owe it to Canadians. We owe it to our companies. We owe it to shippers. We owe it to all the folks out there with good faith and goodwill who want to ensure we actually do better and do right by Canadians.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 17th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, with regard to election reform legislation, I think it is clear that there has been a continuing stream of submissions from important panels, including the Chief Electoral Officer. I know the minister is taking all of this into account and wants to make sure that all the considerations are taken into account so we have the best possible legislation in place for the next election. I look forward to that being introduced in the House and hopefully being supported by all sides of the House.

Second, on the question of the Senate, we are awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court on the reference on our legislation, which has been in the House and which was opposed by the opposition parties, to allow for Canadians to have a say in who represents them in the Senate and to establish term limits. All Canadians who have been elected to the Senate have been appointed by the Prime Minister thus far. There have been a number of them and we hope there will be more in the future. We look forward to the Supreme Court's decision on the Senate, at which time we will act in that regard.

It is great to see you and all other members of Parliament here today. I know that the Conservatives had a hard-working and productive summer in their ridings and are anxious to get back to work here in Ottawa.

As we begin a new parliamentary session, I take pride in the fact that already this year—between January and June—we have passed 37 new laws, already matching our government's most productive year in office.

In fact, since we formed a majority government in the past session of Parliament, 61 government bills have reached royal assent. It is a very productive and orderly approach. I plan to continue what has been a productive, orderly and hard-working Parliament and to build upon this success through the many exciting initiatives that have been outlined in the throne speech.

In a moment the House will start debating government Motion No. 2, about which my friend asked, a motion to facilitate business here in the House this fall, including our principle-based proposal for reinstating all business where it left off in June.

Tomorrow, we will start the second reading debate on Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which was introduced this morning.

On Monday, before question period, we will start second reading on a bill to be introduced tomorrow. Hon. members will note that the long title as printed on today's order paper is identical to the one borne by the previous session's Bill C-57.

Monday afternoon the House will consider a ways and means motion, notice of which will be tabled, related to budget measures. Following that, the House will resume consideration of government Motion No. 2, should debate not continue today.

On Wednesday, the House will first consider a ways and means motion, the notice of which will also be tabled, in relation to certain housekeeping amendments found in last session's Bill C-61, the offshore health and safety act. After that vote we will debate the budget implementation legislation flowing from Monday's ways and means vote. That debate will continue for the balance of the week.

Finally, Tuesday, October 22, shall be the first allotted day.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 13th, 2013 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this time last week, I said that I hoped to have a substantial list of accomplishments to report to the House. Indeed, I do.

In just the last five days, thanks to a lot of members of Parliament who have been here sitting late at night, working until past midnight, we have accomplished a lot. Bill C-60, the economic action plan 2013 act, no. 1, the important job-creating bill, which was the cornerstone of our government's spring agenda, passed at third reading. Bill S-8, the safe drinking water for first nations act, passed at third reading. Bill S-2, the family homes on reserves and matrimonial interests or rights act, passed at third reading. Bill C-62, the Yale First Nation final agreement act, was reported back from committee and was passed at report stage and passed at third reading. Bill C-49, the Canadian museum of history act, was reported back from committee. Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act, was reported back from committee this morning with amendments from all three parties. Bill S-14, the fighting foreign corruption act, has been passed at committee, and I understand that the House should get a report soon. Bill S-15, the expansion and conservation of Canada’s national parks act, passed at second reading. Bill S-17, the tax conventions implementation act, 2013, passed at second reading. Bill S-10, the prohibiting cluster munitions act, passed at second reading. Bill S-6, the first nations elections act, has been debated at second reading. Bill C-61, the offshore health and safety act, has been debated at second reading. Bill S-16, the tackling contraband tobacco act, has been debated at second reading. Finally, Bill C-65, the respect for communities act, was also debated at second reading.

On the private members' business front, one bill passed at third reading and another at second reading. Of course, that reflects the unprecedented success of private members advancing their ideas and proposals through Parliament under this government, something that is a record under this Parliament. This includes 21 bills put forward by members of the Conservative caucus that have been passed by the House. Twelve of those have already received royal assent or are awaiting the next ceremony. Never before have we seen so many members of Parliament successfully advance so many causes of great importance to them. Never in Canadian history have individual MPs had so much input into changing Canada's laws through their own private members' bills in any session of Parliament as has happened under this government.

Hard-working members of Parliament are reporting the results of their spring labours in our committee rooms. Since last week, we have got substantive reports from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Standing Committee on Health, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

We are now into the home stretch of the spring sitting. Since I would like to give priority to any bills which come back from committee, I expect that the business for the coming days may need to be juggled as we endeavour to do that.

I will continue to make constructive proposals to my colleagues for the orderly management of House business. For example, last night, I was able to bring forward a reasonable proposal for today's business, a proposal that had the backing of four of the five political parties that elected MPs. Unfortunately, one party objected, despite the very generous provision made for it with respect to the number of speakers it specifically told us it wanted to have. Nonetheless, I would like to thank those who did work constructively toward it.

I would point out that the night before, I made a similar offer, again, based on our efforts to accommodate the needs of all the parties.

Today we will complete second reading of Bill S-16, the tackling contraband tobacco act. Then we will start second reading of Bill C-57, the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act.

Tomorrow morning we will start report stage of Bill C-49, the Canadian museum of history act. Following question period, we will return to the second reading debate on Bill S-6, the first nations elections act.

On Monday, before question period, we will start report stage and hopefully third reading of Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. After question period Monday, we will return to Bill C-49, followed by Bill C-65, the respect for communities act.

On Tuesday, we will also continue any unfinished business from Friday and Monday. We could also start report stage, and ideally, third reading of Bill S-14, the fighting foreign corruption act that day.

Wednesday, after tidying up what is left over from Tuesday, we will take up any additional bills that might be reported from committee. I understand that we could get reports from the hard-working finance and environment committees on Bill S-17 and Bill S-15 respectively.

Thereafter, the House could finish the four outstanding second-reading debates on the order paper: Bill C-57; Bill C-61; Bill S-12, the incorporation by reference in regulations act; and Bill S-13, the port state measures agreement implementation act.

I am looking forward to several more productive days as we get things done for Canadians here in Ottawa.