Energy Safety and Security Act

An Act respecting Canada's offshore oil and gas operations, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Joe Oliver  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act (the “Acts”) primarily to update, strengthen and increase the level of transparency of the liability regime that is applicable to spills and debris in the offshore areas.

More specifically, Part 1, among other things,

(a) expressly includes the “polluter pays” principle, which is consistent with the notion that the liability of at-fault operators is unlimited;

(b) increases to $1 billion the limit of liability, without proof of fault or negligence, to which certain operators are subject in the event of a spill or damages caused by debris;

(c) provides that an applicant for an authorization for the drilling for or development or production of oil or gas must demonstrate that it has the financial resources required to pay the greatest of the amounts of the limits of liability that apply to it;

(d) establishes a regime in respect of the development of transboundary pools and fields;

(e) provides for new circumstances in which information or documentation that is privileged may be disclosed;

(f) establishes a legal framework to permit the safe use of spill-treating agents in specific circumstances;

(g) harmonizes the environmental assessment process for projects for which the National Energy Board, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board is the responsible authority, as defined in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, with the requirements of that Act, including by establishing timelines for carrying out environmental assessments and creating participant funding programs to facilitate the participation of the public in environmental assessments; and

(h) creates administrative monetary penalty regimes.

Finally, Part 1 makes amendments to remove certain discrepancies between the English and French versions of the Acts, as well as to modernize the language in the Acts.

Part 2 of the enactment repeals the Nuclear Liability Act and enacts the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act to strengthen the liability regime applicable after a nuclear incident. It also provides for the establishment, in certain circumstances, of an administrative tribunal to hear and decide claims and implements certain provisions of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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.

Votes

  • Sept. 25, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-22, An Act respecting Canada's offshore oil and gas operations, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the Bill; and That,15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Business on the day allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
  • May 29, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-22, An Act respecting Canada's offshore oil and gas operations, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the third day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today on Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act. I will be splitting my time with my neighbour, the very capable member for Northumberland—Quinte West.

This bill has been a long time coming to the House. It addresses a number of specific provisions for the offshore oil and gas industry as well as the nuclear energy industry. It is our government's effort to modernize legislation and regulation around these industries. We are hoping that this will not be the third or potentially fourth time that the NDP attempts to delay and block such important modernizing legislation.

The offshore industry is an area where the federal government works collaboratively with the Atlantic provinces. There are accords with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Those provinces will update their legislation following the passage of Bill C-22. For offshore exploration in the north, it is the National Energy Board that is responsible for the oversight of exploration and drilling, whereas with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, it is the offshore petroleum boards that are the specific and expert regulators.

This bill is our attempt to make sure that Canada continues to have world-class and modern regulation of these industries, which are parts of Canada's dynamic energy economy; to make sure that safety is at the forefront of these industries; and to make sure that the environment is respected in the process as well.

As I said, the two areas addressed by this bill are the offshore industry and the nuclear industry. I will speak to both briefly in my remarks on elements of the bill, and then I will discuss something dear to my heart, which is the nuclear energy industry in Canada.

On the offshore oil and gas exploration side, this bill would carry out an important act by clearly enshrining the polluter pays principle in legislation. That is important. It would recognize that when there is fault or negligence on the part of operations in the offshore environment, there would be unlimited liability for people who are negligent or at fault in their operations in that sector.

In the no-fault regime, this legislation is important because it would update and modernize an approach and compensation levels and structures that are remnants of the 1970s. In the case of the offshore oil and gas industries, the no-fault provisions would be increased from a $30 million range for compensation to a $1 billion range for compensation. I think most Canadians would agree that these things should be updated at least every 25 to 30 years. In this case, we are looking at a gap of almost 40 years in updating the regulatory approach and updating those limits and insurance requirements for operators.

The bill would also make it much easier for the government to be directly capable of seeking damages for environmental impact from operations. We all want to make sure that those things never happen, but this bill, which promotes safety and security, would address these liability issues with unlimited liability where there is fault, as I said, and with requirements for compensation of up to $1 billion in the no-fault regime. Canadians think that that is important.

The other aspect, as I said at the outset of my remarks, is the nuclear industry. This is another case in which the regulatory regime and compensation levels would be updated after a lag time of 30-plus years. In cases of incidents in nuclear energy generation, the old cap of civil liability, which is in the $75 million range, would also be increased to $1 billion. Absolute liability would rest with the operators.

The operators, who have a terrific track record in Canada, a perfect track record, I might add, certainly know that they are required to keep the highest standards and ensure that they have adequate operating and insurance coverage to meet the new limits, which would be updated with Bill C-22.

Importantly, on the nuclear side, we are also increasing the limitation period from 10 years to 30 years. This is important because claims may arise from an incident. Remember that we are talking about the what ifs, the very unlikely scenario of any incident. The claims period for accessing compensation should be longer than 10 years. As a lawyer, I know limitation periods are important, but it is important to have a limitation period that acknowledges that some damages or injuries will present themselves long after the incident. This is another way of bringing this up to a modern era.

This bill would also allow Canada to be a signatory to an international convention, the International Atomic Energy Agency's convention on supplemental compensation. This would bring us up to a standard where we could be a signatory to that important international convention, which deals with transborder and international issues with respect to offshore and the nuclear energy industry. This would also make sure we would be world class. Our compensation levels are among the top in the world, particularly in the top for countries with active industries in these sectors.

This is an important modernization of the regulatory and compensation structure for these important industries.

As the member of Parliament for Durham, I am also very happy to be an active proponent of nuclear energy in Canada. Our world-class excellence in this area is something we do not talk about enough. I wanted to do that as an MP, someone who had worked in some energy regulatory matters as a lawyer beforehand, so I helped create the nuclear caucus in Ottawa to promote the industry, to try to raise the level of knowledge among parliamentarians and certainly among Canadians on the important role this industry played in Canada.

Canada was the second nation to have controlled nuclear fission, to create cheap and affordable clean energy. That is an achievement we sometimes forget. The great part of our experimental work in industries in the nuclear sector is that we were never a nuclear nation in terms of warheads. We always used nuclear energy peacefully, and our technology remains among the world's best.

There are 71,000 jobs connected to the nuclear and supply industry in Canada, representing a $7 billion benefit to our GDP. There are 19 operating reactors across Canada. In Darlington, there are four reactors, which, in 2013, were awarded an international safety award from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

If we look at the Durham region at large, beyond just my riding, 50% of Ontario's electricity is generated by nuclear power, a good portion of that coming from the Durham area. This is important because this power is affordable and predictable, it is baseload power, and it is GHG emission-free. So many people in the House, particularly in the NDP, talk about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but then, at the same time, oppose nuclear energy. It is really an absurd position.

I would note that the member for Winnipeg Centre actually said in the House, “We do not want to see the Darlington nuclear power plant doubled in size. We want to see it shut down”. When 50% of the baseload electricity in Ontario is from nuclear, we cannot set up a few wind turbines to replace that. It shows the absurdity of the position of the member for Winnipeg Centre and many of his colleagues.

I have been a proud supporter of working not only with Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in my riding, but also the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries. Our government provided it with an $88,000 global opportunities for associations grant to sell technology abroad. AECL Candu technology is present in China, Romania, India, Pakistan, Argentina, and in Canada, with a perfect track record. I do not want to forget that It is also in South Korea. When I was in South Korea, people talked positively about our industry. It has an error-free record and some of the best technology in the world, so we need to celebrate industries that are world champions.

I would also like to mention the University of Ontario Institute of Technology's clean energy research laboratory, where nuclear power can help work with hydrogen and isotopes to create clean technology.

The bill is important to modernizing our regulatory structure and allowing our industries' offshore industry and the nuclear industries to excel.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

François Pilon Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.

He said that the $75 million for compensation has been increased to $1 billion because the compensation levels dated back to the 1970s. In his speech, he also said that the amount should be updated every 25 years. That said, the amount was updated for the 1990s. Does he not think it would be appropriate to update it again, given that this is 2014?

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for asking the question in the way that he did because it allows me to politely chastise his party. This is the fourth time that our government has tried to bring this type of legislation before the House, only to be delayed, blocked, and impeded by the New Democratic Party, which has a very bizarre position on nuclear energy. New Democrats, and the member for Winnipeg North, oppose nuclear-generated electricity which provides the majority of Ontario's power, yet they want more reductions on greenhouse gas emissions.

They do not seem to realize that in certain provinces with an industrial base, like Ontario, we cannot pull out 50% of the electricity generation which is all greenhouse gas emission-free, and replace it with wind or solar. It shows that the NDP does not understand the modern economy.

I would ask the member to speak to his leader, and members like the MP for Winnipeg North, to tell them to stop blocking this legislation to update our standards.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the member is doing an outstanding job in his area of the country, in Durham region, and part of that is making sure that jobs are protected and jobs are created.

Moving forward with Bill C-22, our government is very much focused. Unlike what the NDP would like to do, essentially bankrupting these companies that are moving forward, and putting people out of work, we are moving forward to make sure this is done in a responsible way and that we are creating jobs in the interim.

I would like to ask the member for Durham for his thoughts with regard to how this contributes to job creation, and with respect to the opposition members' position and how it is a job-killing motion.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Labour for her intervention and for her passionate work across Canada. She certainly has a soft spot for the Durham region, and that is appreciated by me and all of the MPs. For a time she was one of the leading surgeons in our area, and it was deeply appreciated.

She certainly also understands the importance of this industry, not just to Ontario but to the Canadian economy. If we look at the generation and supply network, there are 71,000 jobs in a very high-tech and innovative sector. Canadian technology, represented by CANDU technology, is world class, with a perfect operating record. We should be promoting this more internationally.

We do have plants in half a dozen or so countries around the world, generating greenhouse gas emission free power. However, our regulatory regime, the safety and environmental represented in Bill C-22, needs to be updated. This should not be an opportunity where the NDP, and even the Liberal Party, because the Liberal candidate in the by-election called the nuclear industry “a necessary evil”, stand in the way of modernizing the regulatory framework for some of our leading energy industries, the offshore and nuclear. This is about world-class regulation and promoting jobs in Canada.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, and particularly on the ways in which the bill would enhance environmental protection.

As part of our responsible resource development plan, our government has been clear that the development of our natural resources will only proceed if it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

Over the past year, our government has initiated a series of new measures to ensure that the development of our natural resources in the offshore is balanced with the protection of the environment. For example, we have increased the number of tanker inspections, required the use of double-hulled ships, and we have improved navigational tools and surveillance used in offshore.

Our government has worked closely with the governments of Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that Canada's offshore oil and gas regime remains world class. In each province, offshore oil and gas projects are closely and jointly managed by a federal-provincial offshore board, namely the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

Bill C-22, the proposed energy safety and security act, builds on this work and would provide a world-class regulatory regime for Canada's offshore oil and gas sectors, as well as the nuclear sector, while strengthening protection for Canadians and the environment.

Bill C-22 is focused on the three main areas: prevention, response, and accountability. Today I would like to focus on the area of accountability, namely polluter pays.

In our Speech from the Throne, our government committed to enshrining the polluter pays principle into law. Bill C-22 would do exactly this. It would place accountability on industry and protect Canadian taxpayers in the unlikely event of an accident.

The polluter pays principle assigns responsibility to the polluter, who would have to pay for any damage done to the environment as well as any associated cleanup costs. In doing so, this principle would encourage industry to put more emphasis on the need to protect the environment through the course of its operations.

Under Bill C-22, our government would deliver on the promise to enshrine the polluter pays principle in the law for the offshore civil liability regime.

The current offshore civil liability regime is twofold. First, in the event of an at-fault accident, the offshore operator is subject to covering all costs related to cleanup and remediation. Second, an offshore operator could be subject to absolute liability, even without fault, of up to $30 million in Atlantic Canada and $40 million in the Arctic. This means that if an operator deliberately or negligently causes an accident, it is wholly responsible for all damages and cleanup costs. If it is not negligent in causing the accident, the offshore operator is liable for the accident and any damages that emanate from it, but only up to $30 million in the case of the Atlantic offshore and $40 million in the Arctic. This is clearly out of date, and the legislation before us will update these liability limits.

One of the key features of Bill C-22 is that it will raise the absolute liability limit to $1 billion. This would bring Canada's offshore liability limit in line with other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. It would mean that if a company caused an accident in the offshore or Arctic but was not found at fault or negligent, it must cover costs of up to $1 billion. I think we can all agree that this would be a significant improvement from the current $30 million and $40 million, in the offshore Atlantic and Arctic respectively.

Unlimited liability will remain. This means that if found at fault, a company must pay for all of the costs regardless of how much they are.

Another key feature is that the legislation would establish a basis to seek environmental damages. This would ensure that any damage to species, coastlines, or other public resources could be addressed in a timely and effective manner. The civil liability regime created under the bill would be one of the most robust and comprehensive in the world.

In addition to actual losses, environmental damages resulting from an accident will be included in the new civil liability regime. This is an important aspect of our legislation, and I would like to outline what can be claimed under that regime.

The regime is set out in three broad categories of damage, as follows: first, claims for all actual loss or damages incurred by any person as a result of an incident; second, the costs and expenses incurred by the federal government, a provincial government, or any other person in taking action in respect of a spill; and the third category would cover claims by the federal or provincial governments for loss of what is referred to as “non-use value” relating to a public resource that is damaged by a spill.

The scope of what would be included under the first category of damage is broad. It would cover all actual loss or damage, including loss of income and future income. With respect to aboriginal peoples, it would include the loss of hunting, fishing, and gathering opportunities. This head of damage would include the loss of what falls under the term “use value”, which would include claims for damages to what is commonly referred to as “ecosystem services”.

The second category of damage would enable the federal and provincial governments, or any other party, such as third-party response contractors, to recoup the costs they incur in the course of taking measures to respond to or mitigate a spill.

The third and final category of damage would create liability for loss of what falls under the term “non-use value” in relation to public resource. This would mean that the federal government or provincial government could bring forward a claim for damage to environmental assets that are valuable to Canadians and future generations.

We introduced authority to account for loss of non-use value in the calculation of fines for environmental offences, in 2009.

Bill C-22 would mark the first time that civil claims for loss or of non-use value of public resources would be available under federal legislation. This would clearly be a big step in improving environmental protection. I am proud that our government has brought it forward.

In conclusion, future generations depend upon our taking a long view of protection: establishing clear liability rules, plus an economically meaningful marker demonstrating that we value the full scope of benefits that we receive from our environment.

Bill C-22 would recognize the economic and social value of our natural resource assets, and the diverse and unique value that the environment holds for Canadians.

I urge all of my hon. colleagues to support this important legislation, and I remain available for any questions that may arise.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know our party is concerned about both sides of the issue, the environmental issue and also the jobs that come from natural resource development. The opposition seems to think it is an either/or discussion. We believe that we could do both and do it responsibly.

Would the member explain how that responsibility is important to us, to the Conservative Party?

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we do not think that it is either the environment or jobs. We believe that the responsible use of our natural resources coupled with environmental protection is doable, and that is what the bill actually enhances.

We know that the extractors of this country, whether it be the petroleum industry, the mining industry or the forestry sector, all combined, create the basis of our economy, the basis upon which much of our economy is founded.

We can do that responsibly. Indeed, Canadians are known around the world as some of the best mining researchers. Almost every single operation around the world has mining engineers or someone from the Canadian mining industry involved. We have learned from other countries that do not have the track record that we have. We have learned that responsible resource management and the protection of the environment go hand in hand to create jobs. I want to thank the hon. member who comes from an area of Canada where this is most important.

The hon. member for Durham talked about the nuclear industry and the jobs it created. In my riding, which is adjacent to Darlington, we produce nuclear fuel. Cameco Corporation is the largest non-government employer in Northumberland County.

We know all too well the importance of this industry to Canada. I thank the hon. member for Durham for bringing that to the attention of the House and all Canadians.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, liability in the nuclear energy sector is one of our concerns.

Increasing the liability to $1 billion is a good start. However, the Japanese government estimates that the cleanup from the Fukushima accident will cost $150 billion. That is far higher than $1 billion.

If a similar accident were to happen in Canada, who would be liable for the remaining $149 billion? If the people of Drummond and my colleague's riding were to receive the bill, I would like him to explain to his constituents why they have to pay so much money while the companies are not held more accountable.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that question just confirms what the hon. member for Durham said about the NDP. It is really not interested in what the liabilities are and the fact that we are increasing them. It just does not like the nuclear industry and wants to find any excuse whatsoever to not support the legislation.

Let me assure the hon. member that the Canadian nuclear industry post-Fukushima was reviewed by a task force created by that industry by the commission itself in 2011.

The hon. member for Durham has said, and this is a fact, that in over half a dozen countries around the world and in this country, there have been no nuclear incidents that caused anywhere near the concern that the hon. member refers to in Japan. That accident occurred due mostly to human error, and that is not a fault of the nuclear industry but a human error.

In Canada, with the nuclear reactors that we have, the CANDU reactors, those types of human errors have not occurred and are highly unlikely to occur. To reassure the member, the legislation says that once that threshold of $1 billion is exceeded, the matter comes back before this Parliament, before the government, and the House will decide what further action needs to be taken.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I should let you know that I will be sharing my time.

It is a pleasure for me to rise in the House to represent the people of Gatineau on this lovely Friday before we go back to our ridings for a week. People might wonder why the people of Gatineau would be interested in the Act respecting Canada's offshore oil and gas operations, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts. Unlike my colleague who just spoke, I can say that it is of great interest to us, as it should be to all Canadians.

This law outlines what would happen if serious problems were to occur, especially in cases of offshore oil and gas spills. This legislation also outlines the levels of responsibility in the event of nuclear incidents. Nonetheless, as we all know, it is often Canadians who are expected to foot the bill.

I always have to smile a little when people talk about the government's money. It is not the government's money; it is the taxpayers' money. That always reminds me of the time someone told me that the government was nice because it had sent him a cheque at tax time. I told him that the government did not send the cheque out of the goodness of its heart, but because it had taken too much of his money, and, on top of it, without paying interest.

I already spoke to this bill at second reading, and I want to acknowledge the tremendous work done by my colleagues from Hamilton Mountain, Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Edmonton—Strathcona, for this is not an easy issue. That act is very hard to read.

In my speech at second reading, I said I was very pleased that our critic in this area had made a recommendation to approve the principle of the bill and suggest amendments at the committee stage. The amendments sought expanded liability and the implementation of global best practices.

The member said that she was going to present amendments to try to strengthen the bill. After some explanations and some rather heated debates, the NDP caucus, which always works very well together, rallied behind the member and her recommendation and voted in favour of the bill at second reading.

Of course now we are getting a slap on the wrist from the government because we have announced that we will be voting against the bill. I find many things in the House pretty shocking, but I was deeply shocked when the Conservatives flatly rejected the serious, intelligent amendments presented by my colleagues of the official opposition.

This is a very important bill that could potentially represent billions of dollars. The sun can't shine every day. We have to be prepared for the tough times. That is what we call risk management. If we do not plan ahead, we might go bankrupt and have to borrow money to pay for things.

This should raise a flag for the Conservatives, unless they think it is up to Canadians to always pay for their mistakes. I want to pick up on what my colleague said. I am still trying to digest what he said about the fact that there has been no human error because accidents only happen as a result of human error.

According to him, since there has been none, this justifies neglecting to include the necessary compensation guarantees with regard to the nuclear industry. With all due respect to the hon. member, that is a bit cavalier because the principle of this bill is to protect against the risk of accidents.

The goal is also to ensure that there are reasonable amounts of money to do so.

I often tell the House that we have a tendency of forgetting the past and that is why we continue to make the same mistakes.

There has not been a case of human error in the nuclear sector. So much the better. However, human error was a factor in Lac-Mégantic, and there is a cost attached to that. All kinds of repairs and rebuilding are going to cost millions if not billions of dollars. I do not wish that on anyone.

I represent the riding of Gatineau, which is in the Outaouais region and the National Capital Region. Chalk River is not very far from there. I remember reading articles in the Ottawa Citizen about the transport of rather dangerous and radioactive materials. Quite often we are not even aware of what is happening under our noses.

I believe it is our duty to ensure that the legislation we pass protects Canadians. At the same time, Canadians should not be our country's cash cows.

Some companies earn huge amounts of money from their industry, and we are not against industry, as one of my colleagues mentioned earlier. We simply want to ensure that polluters pay their share and that they do it the right way. For example, if an accident happens, we want companies to be required to compensate anyone who is affected and to fully fix the situation, not to stop at $1 billion. Although $1 billion is a nice figure, it is just a drop in the bucket if you look at the astronomical costs associated with events that happen around in the world.

I would like to talk more about the work done in committee. I was shocked to see that the Standing Committee on Natural Resources had three meetings. Some might say that holding three meetings is fine. However, there were just two meetings with witnesses on a bill that is really not easy to study, and one meeting for the clause-by-clause study.

If memory serves, the two meetings with witnesses were not even full meetings, because of interruptions for votes. All members experience this in committee. Sometimes groups of witnesses are forced to wait for us while we come back to the House to vote. To date, we have come to the House 80 times to vote on time allocation motions, as was the case with this bill.

I am rising in the House to speak to a bill at third reading that is subject to a majority-led gag order. In other words, since the government holds a majority, it is in control of the committee so no one really knows what happens during in camera meetings. There were requests to extend the meetings in order to hear from all of the witnesses who wanted to share their opinion and provide information. Although I do not know what was said behind closed doors, I understand that those requests were denied.

Committees are not an extension of our work here. It is not simply about debating one another. It is about listening to the witnesses and trying to understand the bill. However, given what happened and in light of the comments from some witnesses, we do not get the impression that the bill was seriously, thoroughly studied in committee. There were not very many witnesses who were able to speak. That saddens me deeply.

Another thing that saddens me deeply is that Bill C-22 is being debated under an 80th time allocation motion.

I have already expressed my views on time allocation motions, which can be necessary. They have been used by other parties in power, which were not our party. I hope that we will never have to get into that kind of discussion. I would not like to be criticized for something I said. I am usually consistent and I walk my talk. However, 80 times is really too much.

I would like to take the time I have left to say that I hope the people of Gatineau can participate in Remembrance Day day ceremonies that honour this special time we set aside to remember what our veterans have done for us every day.

I will be at the Norris and Pointe-Gatineau branches of the Royal Canadian Legion to honour the presence and bravery of our veterans.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know the member's question is specific. I will not necessarily give such a specific answer. I am not a specialist in the matter.

What I said in my speech is that what I want to avoid is that it falls on Canadians, everyday Canadians, to pay for these things. The idea behind the legislation is to try to have reasonable amounts covered. I am not so sure about the amounts that are there and whether the committee had the chance to do a proper study of what those amounts really represent for the industry and Canadians.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her eloquent speech.

If the nuclear industry is truly mature, it should cover costs in accordance with the polluter pays principle. Unfortunately, this bill maintains subsidies to the industry and downloads the financial risk onto taxpayers for costs that exceed $1 billion.

Taxpayers are not the ones doing the polluting.

Does my colleague think that citizens deserve better protection if companies make a mess?

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is our biggest complaint about Bill C-22. If the Conservatives really wanted to protect Canadians and the environment, they should have harmonized the two parts of Bill C-22 by imposing the same standards on the nuclear energy and oil and gas sectors.

That is what has me stumped about this bill. The government has not provided an adequate, acceptable or reasonable response to explain this double standard that seems to exist between the oil and gas industry and the nuclear industry. Is it because the government knows that damage caused by the nuclear industry would be much worse and more costly and, in that case, it is not prepared to force the industry to provide compensation?

I do not know what is behind all this, but something does not feel quite right. I think it is a shame that a thorough study of the bill was cut short to benefit the people who keep telling us about their nice nuclear industry in television ads. Congratulations, they do things. We must not think that the nuclear industry is fundamentally bad. The nuclear industry does a lot of very good things, but let us be realistic.

We do not talk about it enough, but there is potential for human error. I realize that there may not have been any errors yet, but something could happen. To err is human. That is what we have to protect ourselves against. We must ensure that we treat the industries the same way.

Energy Safety and Security Act
Government Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the fact that there are only two and a half minutes remaining to debate this bill really does illustrate the point that many members have made on our side.

The government has now used time allocation 80 times. It shows that what I want to say about this bill will not get into the record today. I cannot possibly deal with this matter in two and a half minutes. Other members of our caucus will not be allowed to speak at all on this very important bill.

Previously the member for Gatineau was talking about how this bill was considered when it was in committee. There were only two days of hearings, in which only nine witnesses called, and on the second day those hearings were cut short, and understandably, by bells in the House. Then time allocation and scheduling that were forced on the House and on its committees by the government meant that the committee was not able to complete its consideration of the bill.

Then only one day was given to deal with possible amendments to the bill. There were 32 amendments submitted from the opposition. If we think about the amount of time, namely two hours, with 32 amendments and four opposition members, it is clear that the government was not interested in hearing what people had to say, because they were allowed about one minute each to explain these amendments. Obviously, on a very technical and important bill, one minute per amendment is not taking Parliament and democracy seriously.

It is an indication that the government is not prepared to listen to anything that people have to say on this side of the House. It is indicative of what I would say is the Conservatives' attitude toward democracy. For them it seems to be all about winning and only about winning.

Lately we have seen yet another Conservative member who took that idea way too far. He was forced to leave the House because of his disrespect for the rules about making politics fair.

Time allocation is also indicative of the government's attitude toward debate. It seems to believe that debate is something it has to sit through until it gets its way. For me, debate is very important here. I was elected by my constituents to bring their concerns to the House of Commons, and those concerns will vary from member to member. I represent a riding on Vancouver Island. There are people who represent an entire country. On the same bill, the interests of our constituents will be different, even if we are in the same party. The government seems to view all of this as a needless process because it won the election. I have a much higher view of democracy than that.