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 ActGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
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Durham Ontario

Conservative

Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

François Pilon NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Erin O'Toole Conservative 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeMinister 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Erin O'Toole Conservative 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Rick Norlock Conservative 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Bob Zimmer Conservative 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Rick Norlock Conservative 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

François Choquette NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Rick Norlock Conservative 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Françoise Boivin NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Françoise Boivin NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Djaouida Sellah NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Françoise Boivin NDP 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 ActGovernment Orders

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

Randall Garrison NDP 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.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome all members of this place back, and in addition, the new members.

It is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to discuss how our government has taken action to strengthen energy safety and security in Canada's offshore and nuclear energy industries.

The health and safety of Canadians and of our environment is of the utmost importance to our government.

In the Speech from the Throne we pledged that no resource development would proceed unless safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. In other words, no development would proceed unless rigorous environmental protection and health and safety measures were in place. That is the goal of Bill C-22. The legislation builds on Canada's already strong record of safety and security in the nuclear and offshore industries, and it will ensure that Canada's thriving energy sector will continue to grow.

One of the key features of the energy safety and security legislation is the $1-billion protection it provides to Canadians. The legislation would raise the absolute liability limits in both offshore and nuclear sectors to $1 billion. These changes would ensure that Canada continues to have world-class regulatory regimes. As hon. members know, Canada's liability regime is founded on the polluter pays principle. With Bill C-22, we are enshrining this principle into legislation for the first time. The bottom line is that Canadian taxpayers and the Government of Canada will not have to foot the bill in the unlikely, perhaps rare, event of a spill.

The Canadian offshore oil and gas industry is booming and provides many economic benefits for Canada's Atlantic region, including thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

From an economic perspective, activities in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore accounted for about 28% of the nominal provincial gross domestic product in 2012. In the Nova Scotia offshore, they represented about 3% of the provincial GDP.

Canada collected an impressive $8.4 billion in royalties from the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore and $2 billion from the Nova Scotia offshore and transferred those funds to these respective provincial governments. I am sure they appreciated that. Offshore development is currently one of the fastest growing sectors in Canada. Right now there are five major projects under way in the Atlantic offshore, another project under construction with initial production slated for 2017, a major prospect in the Flemish Pass, and several major exploration projects under way.

Atlantic Canada currently produces about 200,000 barrels of oil a day. That is about 15% of Canada's conventional crude oil production and seven million cubic litres a day of natural gas. Put another way, that is enough to heat about 950,000 Canadian homes for one year.

There are still opportunities for the oil and gas industry. Our country has the resources to help meet international demand for energy, which is expected to increase by one-third by 2035.

Most of that growth in demand is coming from emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Few countries are developing natural resources on the scale and at the pace of Canada. There are hundreds of major natural resource projects under construction or planned for the next 10 years. These are worth approximately $675 billion in investment.

The Government of Canada shares the management of the offshore with the governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Companies operating in Canada's offshore have an excellent track record. Every stage of offshore oil and gas project development, from exploration to production, is managed and regulated by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

These boards ensure that operators exercise due diligence to prevent spills in Canada's offshore. With this in mind, we work closely with these two provinces to update and expand legislation to ensure that Canada's offshore regime remains world class.

Canada's environmental safety record in the Atlantic offshore, for example, is already very strong. In fact, some 73 million barrels of oil are produced in the region each year, without a significant spill since production began in 1997. Our plan for responsible resource development strengthens environmental protection by focusing resources on the review of major projects. We have put forward new measures, new fines, to punish those who would break Canada's rigorous environmental protections. We have also increased the number of inspections and comprehensive audits of federally regulated pipelines.

What is more, we are bringing in tough new measures for oil tankers to ensure the safe transport of energy resources through our waterways. These measures include the introduction of the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act and the formation of an expert tanker safety regime and proposed ways to strengthen it. Building on these measures with Bill C-22, our government is taking tangible steps to make our robust liability regime and its great record even stronger.

Our proposed changes focus on four key areas: prevention, response, accountability, and transparency. They will help further strengthen safety and security to prevent incidents and ensure a swift response in the rare or unlikely event of a spill. As I mentioned, our liability regime is founded on the polluter pays principle.

First, we are proposing to enshrine this principle in the legislation and to maintain unlimited liability when an operator is found to be at fault. This will clearly establish that polluters will be held accountable.

Second, we will ensure that the liability limits reflect modern standards. Under the current regime, offshore operators in the Atlantic have absolute liability of $30 million. Given the value of this resource and the boom currently under way in offshore exploration and production, most members, I think, can agree that this amount needs to be raised. That is why we are increasing the benchmark to $1 billion with this bill. In this way, Canada's benchmark remains among the highest in the world.

In addition to increasing the absolute liability in the Atlantic from $30 million to $1 billion, our government is also increasing the absolute liability in the Arctic from $40 million to $1 billion. Fault or negligence does not have to be proven for operators to be responsible for that amount of damage or compensation. I think that is important.

Let us move to a discussion, then, of financial capacity.

We must also ensure that companies operating offshore have the financial capacity to meet their obligations.

Before any offshore drilling or production can take place, companies have to prove that they can cover the financial liabilities and damages that may result from a spill. Currently the financial capacity requirements range from $250 million to $500 million, with $30 million to be held in trust for working in the Atlantic offshore and $40 million for working in the Arctic offshore. This deposit is held in trust by the offshore regulator as a letter of credit, guarantee, or bond. These amounts will increase to $1 billion for financial capacity and $100 million to be held in trust per offshore project. These are significant resources that I think go a long way to help build public confidence.

Furthermore, we are taking steps to create greater transparency in the offshore industry. With this in mind, we are making emergency planning, environmental plans, and other documents filed with regulators available to the general public. This will ensure that operators make protecting Canadians and the environment their first priority.

These are just some of the ways we are protecting Canadian taxpayers by ensuring that Canada has one of the strongest offshore liability regimes in the world.

In fact, with the passage of this legislation, Canada's offshore liability will be among the most stringent in the world. We will ensure that only those companies with an interest in operating safely and securely and with the financial wherewithal to address any problems will be able to comply.

I would like to spend some time talking about nuclear liability, the second piece of this act.

Canada's nuclear industry is also a critical component of our energy resource mix. This industry accounts for 30,000 high-quality jobs and helps make Canada's electricity supply among the cleanest in the world.

Electricity from nuclear energy powers our homes, our businesses, our cities and even our cars. In fact, nuclear energy is helping reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 89 million tonnes a year, which is the equivalent of over 18 million cars.

Our country is recognized the world over as a leader in nuclear energy for a number of important reasons. For one, Canada's nuclear industry boasts an impressive safety record. It has operated safely and securely for over 50 years. In fact, there has never been a single claim under Canada's nuclear liability act.

We have robust technology, a well-trained workforce, and rigorous regulatory requirements. The industry is supported by legislation, such as the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, and is overseen by the independent expertise of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

What most Canadians probably do not realize is that Canada's nuclear liability regime is already nearly 40 years old, young by anyone's standard in this place, I am sure. However, times and standards have changed when it comes to the nuclear industry. Clearly, this legislation needs to be brought into the modern age.

As a responsible government, we must ensure that our system is up to date and that it can respond to any incidents. That is why we have brought in a bill to modernize Canada's nuclear liability regime.

This new legislation will increase the amount of compensation available to address civil damage from $75 million to $1 billion. We believe that the $1-billion figure strikes the right balance between protecting Canadian taxpayers and holding companies accountable in the event of an accident. The amount is also in line with current international standards.

The proposed legislation maintains the key principle of absolute and exclusive liability for operators of nuclear facilities for injury and damage. This means that the liability of the operator will be unqualified and undivided. There will be no need to prove fault, and no one else will be held liable.

These are big numbers we are talking about. In fact, nuclear insurers have indicated that a $1-billion liability limit would mean an increase in premiums of five to eight times the amount operators are currently paying. If we take, for example, some of the operators in Ontario who have several reactors at their nuclear power plants, they currently pay premiums in the neighbourhood of up to $1.2 million for a $75 million insurance policy. Under this legislation, they would be required to pay annual premiums of up to $10 million for a $1 billion insurance policy.

What about the cost to ratepayers? Based on average monthly electricity consumption by Ontario households of 1,000 kilowatts an hour, the impact of the increased insurance would amount to a very small amount. In fact, it would be roughly less than $2 per year.

As for compensation, Bill C-22 will broaden the definition of compensable damage to include physical injury, economic loss, preventative measures, and environmental damage. It will also extend the limitation period for submitting compensation claims for bodily injury from 10 years to 30 years. This will help address any latent illnesses that may only be detected years later, after an accident. It is another important way our government is protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

Bill C-22 would significantly improve the claims compensation process, increase the financial liability of nuclear operators for damages and provide greater legal certainty for Canada's nuclear industry. Ultimately, these reforms would boost public confidence, Canadians' confidence in the safety and responsibility of the industry as a whole.

Our government is taking these concrete steps to address other important issues for the nuclear sector. This includes responsibly managing legacy waste, restructuring Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and promoting international trade.

Let us talk about international efforts.

As hon. members know, when we talk about nuclear energy, we are talking about a global issue that knows no borders. With Bill C-22, we are implementing the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. This convention is an international instrument to address nuclear civil liability in the rare and unlikely event of a nuclear incident.

By adhering to these additional international standards, Canada will bolster its domestic compensation regime by up to $450 million by bringing in significant new funding. This will bring the total potential compensation in Canada up to $1.45 billion.

Joining this convention will reinforce our commitment to building a strong, global, nuclear liability regime.

This underscores how important this Canadian bill is, not only with respect to financial issues, but also in other areas, such as clarifying what constitutes a nuclear incident.

These changes will also help provide greater certainty for Canadian nuclear supply companies that want to market their services in a country that is a member of the convention.

Given that our closest neighbour, the United States, is already a member, our membership will allow the two countries to establish civil liability treaty relations.

Korea and Japan have also signalled their intention to join the convention. Once Canada becomes a member, the convention will be one step closer to becoming a reality.

In conclusion, our government believes that economic prosperity and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive goals. They can and they do go hand in hand. The legislation we are debating today is designed to do just that.

This bill will ensure that Canada's energy resources are developed safely and responsibly and that the environment is protected.

The energy safety and security act would provide a solid framework to regulate the offshore and nuclear liability regimes in Canada and to ensure they would remain world class. It sends a strong signal to the world that Canada is a safe and responsible supplier of energy resources and that Canada, at the same time, is open for business.

That is why I want to urge all hon. members to support this important legislation. I have appreciated the debate in previous sittings, and I look forward to responding to questions from my colleagues at this time.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, as you can imagine, as the NDP critic for natural resources, I have a ton of questions for the minister that I would love to ask, but I do not want to offer him a big buffet today so he can pick and choose which ones he answers. I will focus in on something really specific.

Access to information documents acquired by Greenpeace indicate that the Department of Natural Resources commissioned a study on the impacts of the economic effects of a nuclear accident in 2013 to support revisions to the nuclear liability and compensation act.

According to those documents, Ontario Power Generation and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission limited the scope of another study on the health effects of a nuclear accident so they would not undermine the study by the ministry.

The CNSC study was released to the public and the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, but study on the economic consequences of a nuclear accident was not.

To me, it is completely unacceptable that both parliamentarians and the public would be kept in the dark with respect to that study as we are debating Bill C-22.

I am respectfully requesting the minister today to agree to table those documents in the House of Commons so we can all have the benefit of knowing what that study said before we give third and final reading to the bill.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question and her participation in this debate.

At every turn throughout this debate, we have had an opportunity to look at legislation tabled here today, and in previous debates, that talks about a world-class liability regime. In getting to that point, we have had every opportunity to hear from experts.

There is plenty of information out there for us to rely on in order to advance the debate on this important and timely subject matter.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, during the committee reports at the committee stage, where the committee reviewed this bill, the scope of the committee's work was strictly restrained. It was very narrow, as decided by the government majority in that committee, of course.

One sometimes senses the invisible hand of the minister in the committee and the decisions that are made. However, one of the things that we ought to have been studying was the impact of this bill in the north and what the limits ought to be for liability, particularly in relation to oil and gas exploration in the north.

The Prime Minister likes to go to the north and go around on snowmobiles and so forth, and we see him on the front of ships, but he does not seem to show much interest in the environment. We never hear him mention climate change when he is in the north, for example. That is a concern.

In committee we ought to be able to look at questions like what our response capacity is and what we could do about incident prevention in the north. When the committee last talked about these issues a few years ago, at the time of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the experts that came before it said that the ability to deal with spills in the north, under the ice in the Arctic, was not there.

However, we know the minister has given approval for at least two wells. I think that there are three exploration licences that have been given in the Beaufort Sea, two of which are in deep water.

What is going to happen here?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's curiosity on this issue.

Canada's current absolute liability limits have not been updated since the 1980s. Indeed, we are taking a significant leap forward from the $30 million to $40 million range in the Atlantic and Arctic to $1 billion. This will place Canada's liability regime squarely among those of its peer countries.

In case of fault or negligence liability remains unlimited.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that should be very interesting to all Canadians. All of us care about our environment. We want to ensure that our environment is protected. In fact, no government in Canadian history has been more proactive on the environment than this government.

I think what Canadians want to know is, in broad terms, how would Bill C-22 actually toughen the environmental standards? We are not content to sit where we have been. We are continually increasing the environmental standards.

I would like the minister to address how this bill would toughen our environmental standards, continue to hold our energy companies accountable and ensure that the environment is protected for Canadians while our development proceeds.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's contributions and her hard work on the standing committee with her two hands, and not my invisible one.

I appreciate the fact that energy is a key issue for her constituents. What I can assure her is that our regime and what is proposed in this bill, in both offshore and nuclear liability, compares well with the international community in terms of competent, independent regulators and their ability to enforce the kinds of standards about which she is concerned. We recognize that there are other countries that have provided benchmark standards. Norway and Australia are world leaders in offshore regimes, based on their respective regimes of extensive regulation and predictable process.

We have looked to those regimes. We have considered the important and rigorous role that the independent boards perform at arm's-length in the interest of putting the safety of our Canadian communities in these areas, and Canada as a whole, at the forefront in developing these kinds of regimes, whether they are nuclear, offshore, pipelines, tanker safety and the like.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP also believes that polluters must pay. This reduces the liability of taxpayers, who should not have to pay for something that they did not do.

Could the minister explain to Canadians why the bill does not apply to the nuclear industry? I am referring to the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources on June 3, 2014.

Furthermore, why does a company like General Electric, a reactor supplier, not have any obligation in the case of an incident? This question is in reference to the 34th meeting of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources on June 5, 2014.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, while some countries have an unlimited liability limit, which would be Finland, Germany, Switzerland and Japan, in practice the capacity for operators to compensate for damages is limited.

For example, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese government stepped in to bail out its operator. This meant it was effectively putting the utility under government ownership in order to allow it to continue to supply electricity to its customers.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member pointed out the fact that the absolute liability for an offshore spill had increased from $30 million to $1 billion. That is a significant increase of $970 million, and that is a good thing. However, in the United States, for example, the cap on the absolute liability for a spill is at $12.6 billion U.S. Ours is going to be set at $1 billion Canadian and in the United States it is $12.6 billion U.S.

In 2010, the total cost for the British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico with the Deepwater Horizon is $42 billion U.S. and rising. That includes the total cleanup, the criminal penalties and civil claims.

The increase from $30 million to $1 billion is a significant increase, but is it enough?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope the member is signalling support for this industry as a whole. I had a chance to be in Newfoundland not too long ago where the palpable enthusiasm in economic activity in Newfoundland was very clear to me. The important role that we play in working with Newfoundland and Labrador on offshore activities, particularly in regard to this act, is significant in terms of striking that right balance between a liability regime that works for continued economic activity.

Canada's current absolute liability limits, as I said earlier, have not been updated since the 1980s. This bill seeks to ensure that Canada's offshore regime for oil and gas remains world class. The $1 billion absolute liability would place Canada's regime squarely among those of its peer countries. As I have said before in answers to previous questions, in the case of fault or negligence liability remains unlimited.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to participate in the debate on 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.

I suppose I should begin by giving a brief synopsis of what the legislation is about, since it has now been some months since the bill was last before the House.

With respect to nuclear liability, Bill C-22 would update Canada's nuclear liability regime to specify the conditions and the procedure for compensation of victims following an incident at a nuclear power plant. It would maintain the principles of absolute limited and exclusive nuclear liability for operators except in situations of war or terrorist attacks. It would increase the absolute liability limit from $75 million to $1 billion. These nuclear liability changes would apply to Canadian nuclear facilities, such as nuclear power plants, research reactors, fuel processing plants, and facilities for managing used nuclear fuel. Moreover, the bill would extend the limitation period for submitting compensation claims for bodily injury from 10 years to 30 years to address latent illnesses, while maintaining the 10-year period for all other forms of damage.

With respect to offshore oil and gas liability, Bill C-22 purports to update Canada's offshore liability regime for oil and gas exploration and operations to prevent incidents and to ensure a swift response in the event of a spill. It would maintain unlimited operator liability for fault or negligence and would increase the absolute liability limit from $40 million in the Arctic and $30 million in the Atlantic to $1 billion for offshore oil and gas projects in both Arctic and Atlantic waters. Significantly, the bill explicitly references the polluter pays principle to establish clearly and formally that polluters will be held accountable.

As members may recall, my NDP colleagues and I supported this bill at second reading in order to get it to committee so that it could be studied thoroughly and so we could present amendments to fix its many flaws. As we indicated at the time, our support was premised on the promise made by the former Minister of Natural Resources that there would be plenty of time for public consultations. I guess we should have known better.

After the cabinet shuffle in the spring, the new Minister of Natural Resources simply ignored his colleague's commitment. Instead of comprehensive public hearings and detailed scrutiny of the bill, the natural resources committee was allotted only three meetings, for a total of six hours, to study this important piece of legislation. Two of those meetings were set aside to hear from witnesses and one meeting was for clause-by-clause consideration. To add insult to injury, one meeting designated for witness testimony was cut short because members had to go to the House for votes, and that lost time was never compensated for at a later date.

With apologies to Thomas Hobbes, this committee process was “nasty, brutish and short”. The whole process was a sham, entirely in keeping with the government's utter disdain for public consultation. The government's desire to get this legislation passed without any meaningful input was, of course, not lost on Canadians.

As one witness said before the committee, her family lives just shy of four kilometres from the Pickering nuclear power plant. Her neighbours know nothing about Bill C-22 going through Parliament, and the witness did not have time to tell people that Pickering residents' personal assets were currently being discussed in the hallowed halls of Ottawa. They have one newspaper that goes out Wednesday and Thursday. They could not even get real-time news during the ice storm through the mainstream media, let alone news about a bill rushed through Parliament.

Not surprisingly, this impassioned plea for more time to study Bill C-22 and its impact on Canadians and their communities did nothing to change the government's approach to dealing with this important file.

Just as Canadians got the brush-off, so did members of Parliament. New Democrats put forward serious amendments, buttressed by expert testimony, that would have significantly improved the government's bill. The amendments were reasonable and simply aimed to strengthen the bill by bringing fairness and balance to its approach. However, not a single one of our amendments was adopted, and as a result, the government missed out on enacting a truly cutting-edge piece of liability legislation for Canada's energy sector.

It is unfortunate that I have only 20 minutes in the House today to reflect on some of the powerful witness testimony that we heard in committee. Twenty minutes is wholly inadequate to explain the importance of some of the amendments New Democrats moved and to explain the deleterious consequences of the government's inaction with respect to their adoption. At a minimum, I owe it to those who lent us their expertise to give a high-level overview of the bill's serious flaws.

In a nutshell, here is what New Democrats attempted to accomplish with our amendments. First, we tried to establish the polluter pays principle, including the removal of a liability cap. Second, we wanted to see the sustainability principle adopted in this legislation by including non-use value damages.

Third, we attempted to increase the incentive for safety by making suppliers and contractors liable, not just operators.

Fourth, we moved an amendment that would increase the timeframe for submitting claims regarding bodily injury, latent illnesses, and death.

Finally, we tried to get concrete commitments for inclusive public consultations on a go-forward basis.

We moved 13 amendments in these five broad categories, but not a single one was passed. Let us look at them in a little more detail so that folks who may be watching the debate here today can truly understand the potentially dire consequences of the Conservatives' intransigent attitude on this file.

Let us look at what the bill entails. The single biggest flaw in this bill is that it continues to subsidize the industry by making taxpayers assume any financial risk in excess of $1 billion. It does this by failing to uphold the critical principle of polluter pays. In Bill C-22, absolute liability is capped at $1 billion, putting public funds and taxpayers on the hook for accidents that exceed this limit.

Witnesses repeatedly told the natural resources committee that the $1 billion cap is as arbitrary as it is inadequate. Here is just a sampling of the testimony we heard.

In a submission from the Canadian Environment Law Association, Theresa A. McClenaghan wrote:

...the amount of $1 billion is far too low to provide assurance of the ability to adequately compensate victims of a severe accident in both the offshore oil and gas as well as the nuclear energy sectors. In the offshore oil and gas case we saw the experience with the Deepwater Horizon spill where President Obama established a $20 billion fund which is not even inclusive of the environmental damages or state clean up costs. The potential consequences of a Fukushima large accident from the nuclear plants in Ontario could far exceed the amount of 1 billion dollars; this number would have to be assessed in light in property values in the GTA as well as the experiences at Chernobyl and Fukushima. The concerns about the reality of potential accidents are not academic concerns; an article written by Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette of the University of Notre Dame just after the Fukushima accident listed 26 unintentional nuclear core-melt accidents that have occurred worldwide since the 1950s; the most notorious of course including Chernobyl in 1986 and the three at Fukushima in 2011 . For Fukushima, the Physicians for Social Responsibility have cited figures ranging between $250 billion and $500 billion in consequences from the events there. The scale of these types of accidents far exceeds the billion dollar amount that Bill C-22 establishes for the absolute liability limit in both the oil and gas and the nuclear sectors.

Professor William Amos from Ecojustice echoed those concerns. He said:

I sense the $1 billion number is literally picked out of thin air. Conversations we had with the government were not dissimilar to the question of what's the right number. We said there is no right number; it should be unlimited liability. It seems to me that at a certain point there has to be a recognition on the part of the government that, if there is going to be a functioning free market, then entities that want to engage in risky activities, for example Arctic offshore drilling, they should be able to pay the full freight. I think it is unlikely that we could expect the crown to recover all of the damages caused, including non-use damages, if there were a worst-case scenario off any of Canada's coasts.

He went on to say:

The goal of any extracontractual liability regime is to make sure that an operator's actions in terms of prevention are at the highest possible level and to make sure that the company itself, not the Crown or the taxpayers, assumes the clear risks. Certainly, when a regime is based on the polluter pays principle, and when the provisions of the legislation require the company to pay a greater part of the damages in the case of a catastrophic spill, the company will take steps in advance to modify its behaviour. In this case, modifying the behaviour of those with a financial stake is most important.

Finally, I want to quote from the testimony of Dr. Gordon Edwards from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility:

We urge you, as elected representatives of the Canadian population, not to approve this Act for third reading without insisting on due diligence. First of all, why is there a need for such a limitation of liability? Shouldn't every enterprise be required to accept full responsibility for potential offsite damages? If the government has to ultimately step in to deal with a messy situation, such as that at Lac Mégantic, so be it—but why should the owner or operator have his responsibilities lifted from his shoulders ahead of time? Secondly, where did the figure of one billion dollars come from? This is even less than the cost of a reactor refurbishment. It is far less than the cost of onsite damages in the event of a severe nuclear accident, for which the owner/operator is fully liable and adequately insured.... Costs are mounting. Overnight, the estimated cost of the radioactive cleanup of Port Hope went from $800 million to $1.8 billion. Overnight, the $7 billion cleanup of Chalk River went up by another billion dollars.

New Democrats on the committee took that expert testimony to heart and introduced amendments to abolish the $1-billion liability cap. We agree that Canadian taxpayers should not be on the hook for cleanup and compensation costs beyond the $1 billion. The Canadian taxpayer is not the polluter and therefore should not be held liable for damages caused by the industry. Only if we legislate the polluter pays principle will Canadians get the protection they deserve.

Keeping on the theme of liability, let me quickly raise a couple of other issues we sought to address through our amendments at committee. First, as if it was not bad enough that the Conservatives refuse to lift the liability cap altogether, they added insult to injury by giving additional discretion to the minister to reduce absolute liability even below the already inadequate $1-billion threshold. In the absence of any credible rationale for providing relief from liability, we moved to have those provisions scrapped from the bill. We simply cannot trust the Conservative government to protect the public interest when it has a track record of abusing arbitrary powers. Not surprisingly, our amendments were handily voted down by government members on the committee.

Our efforts to create a more even distribution of liability met a similar fate. In its current iteration, Bill C-22 completely excludes suppliers from any liability. On the nuclear side, they are not held accountable beyond negligence, thereby limiting the possibility of a more even distribution of liability. Not incorporating the supply chain as part of the liability process places the entirety of the blame on the operator. This allows smaller suppliers to act in a hazardous way, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear accident, as companies down the supply chain may act with financial impunity for their actions.

Instead of leaving taxpayers on the hook for cleanup costs that a company could not pay, New Democrats at the committee submitted amendments that would include suppliers and contractors in the liability process. This would increase the incentive for implementing best practices throughout the entire supply chain and would therefore help to ensure the safety of Canadians.

A number of witnesses supported our belief that we needed to fix the imbalance in the existing legislation. Theresa McClenaghan, from the Canadian Environmental Law Association, addressed supplier and contractor liability this way. She said:

Both aspects of the bill channel supplier and contractor liability to the operator or the licence holder for that absolute liability portion, but only on the oil and gas side is liability ever possible against suppliers and contractors and their negligence. On the nuclear side, that's never possible. The nuclear suppliers to that entire supply chain never have to consider the consequences of the decisions they are making around risk, and on the nuclear side as well as the oil and gas side, decisions are made every day around risk.

In its brief, CELA said:

...we would recommend amending Bill C-22 to bring suppliers and contractors into the liability framework in the nuclear sector, just as it does in the offshore oil and gas sector, and to remove the cap on liability so that the nuclear operators as well as others in the supply chain are liable for consequences of their negligence beyond their $1 billion insurance.

I could not agree more. We should not be allowing suppliers and contractors to engage in the nuclear sector with full immunity from any and all liability risks. Nuclear operators should be facing the full consequences of any negligence on their part, just like they do in the oil and gas sector.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst from Greenpeace, agreed. He said:

At this time, in terms of liability, a reactor supplier has no obligation if an accident occurs. That is how the law is worded and that is also true of the new version. In our opinion, this is not a good thing. In the case of Fukushima, it was demonstrated that the designer, General Electric, was aware of the reactor's problems not only in design but also in manufacturing. That was not what caused the accident, but it did contribute to the radiation leaks into the environment. In any other industry, the Japanese could have sued the company. We therefore recommend that there be a right of recourse in that respect. The operator is always the entity that can be sued. However, a negligent supplier could be sued by the operator as he is in the best position to do so and thus obtain the largest amount of compensation for the affected population. That is what we are requesting.

Sadly, even this most reasonable amendment was rejected by the Conservatives at committee.

The same is true for another eminently reasonable amendment dealing with the health of Canadians. We moved an amendment that sought to increase the time frame for submitting claims regarding bodily injury, latent illnesses, and death. The current prescription for claiming damages due to injury and latent illness is 10 years. Bill C-22 would increase this to 30 years, but there is no medical evidence to suggest that health issues manifest and are then able to be identified within 30 years. On the contrary, from what we know about the mutagenic effects of radiation release and exposure, the government should have used this opportunity to include an additional generation to the time frame for submitting claims.

In an effort to strengthen this part of the bill, New Democrats moved an amendment that would have simply extended the time limit from 30 years to 50 years. However, even something as straightforward as that was met with Conservative opposition. Protecting the public interest was clearly not at the forefront of the government's objectives when drafting the bill.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Conservative members on our committee would also vote down our amendment seeking to create meaningful and inclusive public consultation on this file. New Democrats moved an amendment that would require the review of the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act to be made public, and that it be done in consultation with non-industry stakeholders and those not affiliated with the nuclear industry. Such an approach is crucial to transparency and accountability. As Dr. Edwards asked rhetorically at committee, “should there not be an opportunity for adequate public input and debate on the substantive pan-Canadian issues of equity that are involved? Shouldn’t citizens from provinces without nuclear power reactors be given the opportunity to comment on a bill that would potentially bind their children and grandchildren?”

The answer of course is yes; they absolutely should. However, that was not the answer we got from the Conservatives when we moved our amendment at committee. Those efforts too were voted down.

I know my time is almost up, but I do want to say just a few more things about the offshore oil and gas side of the bill. One of the cornerstones of the NDP's energy policy is sustainable development. It ought to be a guiding principle in all sectors of Canada's energy economy. However, as it is currently written, sustainability gets short shrift in Bill C-22. It de facto ignores those vital aspects of our world that cannot and have not been assigned a monetary value. The bill fails to provide any regulation-making provisions for the calculation of non-use environmental damages.

Here is what Professor Amos told our committee. He said:

...the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the availability at common law of natural resource damages, or damages which compensate for harm to non-use value...of the natural environment.... However, natural resource damages claims at common law are currently subject to uncertainties. ...the process for assessing natural resource damages is ill-defined, reflecting a lack of baseline ecological information and the inherent difficulty in assigning monetary values to environmental values.

It is commendable that Bill C-22 includes the legislated imposition of liability for natural resource damages, including the explicit adoption of damages for non-use values. However, no regulation-making powers are included in Bill C-22 for the calculation of non-use damages. This is a serious gap, as significant regulations are needed to address the lack of baseline ecological information and the inherent difficulty in assigning monetary values to environmental values.

To close that gap, we moved an amendment to both quantify and account for the loss of non-use damages. We wanted to use the regulatory window to include the environment in assessing the scope and the cost of harm to the environment. Sadly, those provisions were never adopted, leaving the whole section on non-use damages deeply flawed.

None of our amendments were intended to tease the proverbial bears. We acknowledged that starting the debate on enhanced liability was a step in the right direction. However, failing to improve the bill represents a colossal wasted opportunity. We did not propose things that were radical or over the top. In fact, most of our amendments simply sought to bring greater fairness and balance to the legislation. Even our proposal to remove the liability cap altogether is not as radical as the government would like Canadians to believe. In fact, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland all have unlimited liability for nuclear power plants already. Even in the U.S., the absolute liability limit is $12.6 billion.

Do not let the Conservative response to that fool you, Mr. Speaker. Predictably, the Conservatives will try to suggest that an unlimited cap would encourage operators to claim bankruptcy instead of cleaning up after an accident.

However, that is looking at the problem upside down. New Democrats believe that liability has to be strong enough to ensure that a nuclear or offshore disaster never happens in the first place, and that operators will have to put the best safety measures into practice. That is how to protect the interests of Canadians, and frankly, they deserve nothing less.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the very important issue of liability. There is no doubt that Canadians as a whole want to see more accountability for corporations in terms of developing our resources.

The question I have for the member is specific to the offshore oil and gas industry.

One cannot help but think of the economic benefits that Newfoundland and Labrador have experienced through a lot of offshore development. However, it would seem that the NDP position, or at least what the member seems to be implying, is that with any sort of offshore gas exploration whatsoever, any interested private sector company would have to provide, up front, the potential liability insurance for any potential disaster that may occur.

Could the member provide some clarification? What goes through my mind is the impact that would have had on today's oil and gas industry in Newfoundland.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from my colleague specifically about the oil and gas offshore industry.

The member referenced Newfoundland, but it would be equally valid on the west coast. I appreciate what he is saying about unlimited liability seeming perhaps too high a threshold, which I suppose is what he is suggesting.

I would remind the member that the offshore BP gulf oil spill of 2010 is expected to cost as much as $42 billion for total cleanup. What the current government is proposing is that the company be on the hook for only $1 billion. If this happened in Canada, that would leave Canadian taxpayers on the hook for $41 billion.

To suggest that companies who engage in these activities ought to be liable in a polluters-pay-principle kind of way for their operations off our shores is not an unreasonable position. In fact, I dare say even members of the government, well not elected members from the government, but certainly bureaucrats who work for the government would agree.

I will read what Mr. Jeff Labonté, Director General, Energy Safety and Security Branch, Energy Sector, Department of Natural Resources, said when he was before the committee:

...I think providing for higher levels of liability provides a better level of protection. The higher the level of liability, the more likely that industry and actors within the community will take broader measures to be more preventative to help ingrain the safety culture that's expected of the operations.

Surely Canadians deserve to have the safety culture ingrained in their operations.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Hamilton Mountain for her very enlightening speech.

I have already had the honour of speaking to this bill in the House. What came out of the committee's work shakes me to the core and really scares me. I would like to quote Gordon Edwards, who had this to say about the problem of liability: “The exposure of the Canadian taxpayer is unavoidable under this legislation and it's unlimited. ...It is financial planning with no planning whatsoever.”

In other words, as with the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, the people responsible for those accidents will sneak away and the burden will fall on the taxpayers, the government, the provinces and the municipalities that may be victims of an accident.

Witnesses testified at only two meetings. I would like my colleague to tell me how those far-too-short meetings went and what the tone of the government representatives was.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to comment on that again, because as I said during my comments in the speech, it was ridiculous. We had three meetings set aside at two hours each. Two sets of two hours to hear witnesses and then two hours to deal with this mammoth bill and for clause-by-clause consideration.

We did not have nearly enough time to hear from Canadians. Those who made submissions to our committee actually commented on the fact that they did not have enough time to give us thoughtful and in-depth expert opinion.

We were fortunate that some of the members I quoted, from Ecojustice, from CELA, from Greenpeace, gave us superb testimony, but my goodness, when we are talking about legislation that potentially deals with the equivalent of a Fukushima-type accident, which happened in Japan and cost $250 billion to $500 billion for cleanup, surely we should have taken our time in making sure that we have this piece of legislation right.

This is not only about taxpayers being on the hook for cleanup, that for sure is part of the equation, but equally important, as MPs in this House, it is our responsibility to make sure that we have legislation in place that prevents those accidents, those spills, from happening in the first place.

I am proud to serve in the caucus of a leader who was the environment minister in Quebec, who has years of experience and a proven track record on sustainable development, on environmental protection.

We had expertise to give and the time just did not allow us to do that job as fully as we would have liked.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask the hon. member if it is not the NDP position, essentially, that in this country the nuclear sector should not exist and should cease to exist. Is it the NDP position that in the oil and gas sector there should be no more exploration? What is its position in relation to this kind of resource development on both these issues?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course we acknowledge that the nuclear industry will be with us in the foreseeable future. What we on this side of the House would like to see is the government actually getting serious about investing in a diversified, mixed energy economy. To that end we would like the government to actually invest in new technologies, in green technologies, which is something the government has not done at all.

On the contrary, we have lost the renewable power production incentive and the wind power production incentive. Even something as beloved by Canadians as the eco-energy retrofit program for people's homes was gutted by the government.

Yes, we acknowledge that the nuclear industry will be part of our energy mix for some time to come, but we desperately want the government to diversify that mix, and we have not seen any commitment from the government. On the contrary, we are now taking steps backward.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain for the way she summarized the shortfalls in the legislation. She was very thorough and she was eloquent in her speech as well.

I have also spoken on the legislation, and some of the immediate weaknesses in the legislation in terms of the absolute liability is the fact that it is not enough.

As the hon. member pointed out, there will be an increase in absolute liability from $30 million to $1 billion. That is a substantial increase, but when we compare it to other jurisdictions, as the hon. member pointed out, like the United States, for example, which has an absolute liability of $12.6 billion and where the case of the Deepwater Horizon, the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has a total cleanup bill so far of $42 billion and rising, we can see that the $1 billion this legislation points out is not enough.

I have two questions for the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain. First, do we deserve any less in terms of absolute liability than the United States?

The second question is whether or not the increased liability could enhance the prevention of nuclear accidents or offshore oil and gas accidents.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because both parts of it are spot-on. That is exactly what we should be focusing on in this debate.

I want to say that we had ministry officials, the minister's own advisers, before the committee. I quoted Mr. Labonté before. Let me do it again. Here is what he said:

...recognize that our liability levels were less than our peers and thus, we wanted to keep up.

If we wanted to keep up, why are we so far below the liability levels of our peers even now, even under this new legislation? Germany, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland all have unlimited nuclear liability for nuclear power plants in place already. Even in the U.S., as my colleague just rightly pointed out, the liability limit is $12.6 billion.

If we are taking this opportunity, the first in 40 years, to update the legislation, why not get it right? Why not do what the minister's own officials are suggesting and get us to the same level as our peers? We have failed to do that, and I think it is one of the reasons the bill is deeply flawed.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to be here today, in the House of Commons, to speak to Bill C-22.

The Conservative government has failed, on numerous occasions, to follow through on prior attempts to update nuclear liability legislation and update the safety and security regime for Canada's offshore. I am pleased to see that this legislation has finally come to third reading. Past attempts were started and then the government would either call an election or prorogue the House and not bring the bill forward. We have seen that with various government bills, whether it be on the Criminal Code or a variety of matters. The government introduces a bill with great fanfare and then we do not see it for months. It disappears, and the government does not present it again in the House. It is nice to see that finally we are getting somewhere in terms of this legislation moving forward because it does deal with an important issue in terms of nuclear liability and the liability for spills offshore.

I want to thank the witnesses who appeared before the natural resources committee to talk about this legislation. We would have liked to have heard a lot more from them, had we not been cut off a number of times, and had we not had a limited time of three days to consider the bill. I appreciate that they were willing to share their expertise, provide insightful comments, and give us their sage advice. We should all be thankful when experts appear before our committees.

Unfortunately, as is the case with much of the work conducted in committees of the House, the government restricted the scope of the study of this legislation. We all know that the government has the majority on almost all committees and can determine not only what the committee will study but the terms and scope of the study. It was very much restricted in this case. In fact, government members showed a distinct lack of interest in what we should have been doing, which was to make every effort to ensure that we ended up with the strongest possible legislation on this issue. If we think about the role of members of Parliament and our responsibility to hold the government to account and ensure that legislation is as good as possible, in my opinion, that did not allow us to do the job we ought to have been able to do, which is what committees are for.

If a member is a government backbencher or a member of the opposition and not a minister or a parliamentary secretary, then that member has the responsibility for holding the government to account. When governments have been going for a while, I have seen some members on the backbenches start to realize that. However, it would seem that we have fewer than ever with the Conservative government and we need to see more of that kind of attitude. There is a lack of interest in legislation that is focused on more than just the economic side of the equation, as in this case when we are dealing with the economy and the environment. We must do better than that in future.

The development of our natural resources and the strength of our economy depends on having good policies that people can have confidence in, so we can get community support for the kind of things that are happening or might happen in natural resources. If the government is seen as simply a cheerleader, as not being a responsible regulator, then we are going to have a hard time convincing Canadians that we are going to do a good job of regulating the natural resource sector. That is the fundamental problem that the government has at the moment.

The Liberal Party supports the development of our energy potential in Canada. We recognize the positive contribution that resource development has on our economic growth and job creation, especially for the middle class.

We also understand, and this is essential, that resource development must be done in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. It must be done through consensus building, which is something that is entirely lacking these days. The need is there to ensure that if an accident does happen, the proper regimes are in place to deal with an accident. Obviously a key part of that process is by making sure that legislation, like this legislation dealing with liability limits, is in place and that it protects our interests. With regard to Bill C-22, everyone in the House understands that there is a need to raise the absolute liability limit in terms of the offshore oil and gas sector and the nuclear sector.

Let us be very clear. Let us understand what this means. If we have a case where there is an accident, either at a nuclear site or in the offshore oil and gas sector, and negligence is proven by the operator, liability is then unlimited. The operator would have to pay for the entirety of the damages, whatever they might be.

What we are talking about is a case where negligence is not proven and the liability is absolute. This means that regardless of whether someone proves that the operator was negligent, it still has to pay, because the operator was undertaking this risky activity. That is what this is about.

That is the reason we have supported this legislation. It is going in the right direction. In the nuclear sector, it would increase the liability cap from $75 million to $1 billion, bringing Canada in line with the promises it made when it signed the international Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. In the offshore oil and gas sector, the absolute liability for companies operating in the Atlantic offshore would increase from $30 million to $1 billion, and in the Arctic, from $40 million to $1 billion.

With regard to the Arctic, as I was saying earlier when I asked the minister a question, there are still many unanswered questions. Is $1 billion adequate in the Arctic, where the environmental conditions make spill response efforts very challenging? There we are dealing with a situation where we are a long way from ports. It is a remote and isolated area, with difficult conditions.

We heard today that the minister has approved exploration licences, two of them in deepwaters in the Beaufort Sea. We heard at the natural resources committee a couple of years ago, at the time of the BP Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, that the technology did not exist to clean up a spill in the high Arctic in deepwater under ice.

It seems to me that this is a very irresponsible decision by the government when that kind of cleanup capacity is not there. Yet, we did not have a chance at the committee to get into this because the scope of our study was so restricted. That is most unfortunate.

Why did we not also take the opportunity to look at our ability to respond generally, and to review our ability to respond to other events and accidents in shallow water in the Arctic, or any kind of spill there? We did not get to that.

As my esteemed colleague from Ottawa South said in debate on Bill C-22, the committee should examine the question of response capacity and incident prevention in the Arctic. That should have been examined by the committee. I hope that the member is recovering well from a broken ankle that he unfortunately suffered not too long ago, and I look forward to his quick return.

Instead of being concerned that the science does not always exist to confirm how long ecological damage will last, the government has rushed through those Beaufort Sea exploration licences that I mentioned. That is perhaps why the government decided that the scope should be so narrow for our committee study.

The member for Ottawa South also correctly pointed out that while looking at the issue of nuclear liability, the committee should have addressed the question of what has been happening around the nuclear sector in the past eight years. I suspect that government members may have been told to avoid any discussion of how we are no longer a world leader in the production of nuclear power capacity, as we have been in the past. They may have been told to avoid discussion of how the government ran down the value of the AECL and sold it off at bargain basement prices, and how it compromised Canada's future with regard to nuclear energy. This is not to mention the production of medical isotopes, which has been so important, and where Canada has been one of the world leaders.

Part of the discussion at the committee around suitable liability limits should have been focused on how we see the role of nuclear power as part of the energy mix going forward. The committee, for example, could have looked at how nuclear might fit in with renewable power options in the future, and other energy sources, like geothermal or tidal.

Wind is another area that is very interesting these days. My province of Nova Scotia has tremendous wind resources. I suppose some might say MPs have good wind resources as well, but that is another kind of wind resource. I am not sure if my colleague appreciated that remark, but he seemed to agree.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Lukas Swan, a professor of engineering at Dalhousie University. He runs the renewable power storage lab where they are working with various kinds of batteries. However, the important thing is not so much the different kinds of batteries, as the examination of the different kinds of conditions that happen with wind turbines. Sometimes there will be different speeds and fluctuations, with all kinds of variables. They are trying to find out what works best in managing the batteries so that we can have more capacity.

At the same time, there is a new study going on in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, involving a company called LightSail. It started because of the research of a young woman from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She is a graduate of MIT and has developed new technology to store energy, in air basically, underground cabins that compress air. Previously there were problems with that, and she has created a new technology where a very fine mist can be sprayed so that heat is not created. Heat had apparently been a problem in this technology until now. There is a major trial project going on in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, thanks to the brilliant research of this young person, who is 26 years old and from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. That is a marvellous example of renewable energy that is happening right here.

In fact, if we in Canada can get this right, if we can actually find a way to be successful with much better storage of electricity, we will overcome the problem of wind, which unlike the wind of some MPs of course, does not blow all the time. Wind does not blow all the time. Therefore variability is a problem when we want to have power. People want to turn on the television, a microwave, oven, or do the laundry, and not just when the wind is blowing. Getting this right so that we can even out the power supply with storage could make an enormous difference. In a place like Nova Scotia, it could remove the need for what we have now, which is power created by coal and natural gas, although more and more wind is playing an important role. We think tidal power is making very good progress, and we hope it will play a big role in the future.

It is unfortunate that the scope of the committee work was restricted. We did not get an opportunity to examine these important questions in a broader context. We could have perhaps ended up with a much stronger bill. It reminds me of a study that we did last year at committee on the cross-Canada benefits of the oil and gas sector. There is no question that there are benefits to that sector across this country. I am from Nova Scotia. We have natural gas off our shore, which is important. We have exploration by BP and Shell for oil, and that could have a positive impact on our economy. There are benefits across the country.

As I said before, it is the Conservatives who have majority at committee, so they have the ability to determine what a committee will study and what its scope will be. In having a study that looks only at the benefits, where we cannot ask questions about the cost, problems, challenges, or the downsides of an industry, we end up with a report that has no credibility with the public. It does not advance what we are attempting to do in creating a report that is credible, to tell of the impact across the country, both good and bad. Let us have a balanced approach and look at both of these things because there are benefits and there are costs that we need to examine. We need to make it more sustainable. We need to improve the performance of the industries. We have some that are good, but there is always room for improvement on the environment.

We all recognize that Bill C-22 is an important piece of legislation, particularly given some of the disasters we have seen recently around the globe. There was the devastating meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which is estimated by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology to cost at least $31 billion; I heard a much larger figure earlier. The damages from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, in the Gulf of Mexico, are estimated at $42 billion.

While this updated legislation is long overdue, we do need to ensure the level of liability is appropriate in relation to the level of potential damage of either a nuclear incident or an offshore spill. It is also relevant to consider how frequently these things occur. We have to examine those things. If we do not consider both of those, we have the view of the NDP, which is that we would not have the kind of exploration we have had off Newfoundland and Labrador and not have the economic benefit we have had.

We have to have a good regime that protects our environment, but let us have one that makes sense. Let us consider all of these things.

We of course need to make sure that Canadian taxpayers are not at risk and that the polluter pays principle is maintained. That is why it is important that if a company is negligent, it pays the whole shot, obviously. Let us keep that in mind.

The real question before us today is this: do we think the limit of liability for the nuclear sector should be at $75 million, or should it be $1 billion? For the offshore, should it be $30 million in the Atlantic and $40 million in the Arctic, or $1 billion? Which is it going to be?

In my view, the answer is fairly obvious. This bill is by no means perfect; it could have been much improved; it should have had much more study in committee; however, the answer is this bill should be supported.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place on behalf of my constituents in Davenport in Toronto.

I have to say that I am just a little confused about the Liberal position on this bill. The member is comparing the liability in this bill to accidents that have happened, Fukushima being one of them, in which the bill mounts beyond the $30-billion, $40-billion, $50-billion range, so I suppose the question is this: does the member think that $1 billion is enough, given the fact that the liability in the United States is over $12 billion? Does the member feel or believe that Canadians should be protected to at least the level that their American neighbours are protected, or is he happy with $1 billion?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my hon. colleague, I think the question is actually this: do we think that we have to consider the environmental concerns and the impact of environmental disasters as well as the economic benefits of various activities? Do we consider both, or do we decide that we are not going to have any of these activities? The result of the NDP position on this issue would be that we would not have these activities at all. We would not have an offshore sector off Newfoundland and Labrador. Is that really what the NDP wants? They would not answer that question earlier. They would not say that they do not want that, but that is what flows from what they are saying.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the remarks from my colleague. I was not at the committee, but I am certainly concerned about the remarks that he made with reference to the committee, which seemed to describe the way that my committee operates too. There is a limited selection of witnesses, and it tries to narrow the focus of the study and not get to some of the broader issues.

In my area, liability would always be a concern, but I have to question the member. Liability is one side of the equation. What is the government doing in terms of prevention? In the fisheries in the gulf and on the east coast, fishermen are greatly concerned and are opposed to some of the exploration for oil development. That development could lead to an economic boom, but they are concerned because they do not believe enough preventive measures are being taken to assure the protection of the environment during that exploration and possibly during the drilling for oil and gas.

Therefore, my question is a broader one. Has the committee looked at those other issues from a preventive side rather than just from the liability side, as this bill seems to purport to do?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, the fact is that the current government is not all that interested in prevention in general. We think of its attitude towards criminal penalties. In most cases the Conservatives are much more interested in penalizing people, especially in cases of criminality, than they are in prevention, and this is another example of that attitude.

As I was saying earlier, this is an area that the committee ought to have been able to study to see what is happening in this field and have experts tell us what is going on and what ought to be happening. I know that much more should be happening under the current government in terms of prevention.

However, the fact of the matter is that, again, the scope was restricted so much by the Conservatives in committee. The Conservatives, who have a majority, ended up with a scope so narrow that one was not able to get into it very much, and we had only three days to study the bill.

In the end, though, the question is whether we are better off with a limit of $30 million or a limit of $1 billion. I think the answer is obvious. In the utopian world of the NDP, perhaps it would be unlimited. Of course, then we would not have any of these activities at any rate. It is fine to think of living in utopia, but we do not.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the bill would increase the absolute liability from $30 million to $1 billion, which is a good thing, and it is absolutely welcome. However, the increase would still pale in comparison to the absolute liability of the United States, which has been set at $12.6 billion U.S. That is $12.6 billion U.S. versus $1 billion Canadian.

The member for Halifax West seems to be suggesting that if we increase the absolute liability to any more than $1 billion, we would be killing the industry. However, if the United States can have an absolute liability of $12.6 billion U.S. for their industry, is the member saying that we cannot afford to have that same level of absolute liability set for Canadian waters and waters off Newfoundland and Labrador?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, this leaves me confused about what the NDP's position is. Is it in fact, as I have heard up until now, that absolute liability should be unlimited, or is it what the member is now proposing, which is the American level is of $12 billion?

This leaves me a bit confused. I am not surprised that I hear a confused response from NDP members on this issue, but I do not think it makes much sense to be unclear in the way that they are on this question.

As I said before, the fact of the matter before us is this: do we vote for a bill that would increase the limit in the offshore of Newfoundland and Labrador from $30 million to $1 billion, or do we not?

In my view, the bill is not ideal, but I have to decide whether it is an improvement and whether to vote for it or not, even if it is not the ideal. I know the NDP love the ideal, but we are not in the world of playing with ideals. We have to make a choice, and we are making the choice to move in the right direction, even if imperfectly.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, were it not so disappointing, it would be pretty funny to see the hon. member for Halifax West mimicking the Conservatives. It is resignation on his part. He is giving up in the face of the challenge of trying to improve a bill that might have some relevance and a positive impact, but that stops far too short when it comes to the issues in question, whether we are talking about offshore oil development or the nuclear industry.

It is truly disappointing to see him use rhetoric, sophism, to bring everything down to “if you are not with us, you are against us”. If he is going to imitate George W. Bush, then maybe he could use his words. In any case, he could take the time to listen to our arguments to understand and see how woefully inadequate this bill is. That is why we are against it. I would like my colleague to explain why he gave up so quickly and why he is giving in to the Conservatives on a bill that is clearly inadequate.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

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

I respect the NDP's right to take the stance that it has. If I understand correctly, they believe that absolute liability should be unlimited, even if there is no proof that there was any negligence. In my opinion, that would put an end to the oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Nova Scotia.

I respect their right to that opinion, but I do not agree with them. I believe that when we have the opportunity to improve the situation, by increasing the limit from $30 million to $1 billion, we should approve it. That is my opinion, but I respect their alternative position.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:35 p.m.
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Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Wetaskiwin.

I appreciate this opportunity to speak to our government's proposal to modernize and strengthen Canada's nuclear and offshore liability regimes and how these proposed changes will ensure that Canada's safety system for these important industries continues to be world class. Knowing that some hon. members have had questions in this regard, I would like to specifically address the increase in the amount of absolute liability this bill would provide, an amount that not only meets but in many cases exceeds the standards set in other countries.

At the outset, I would like to remind my colleagues of the outstanding safety record of Canada's nuclear industry. We can be proud that it is second to none. Through decades of service, Canadian nuclear technology has a proven record for safety and reliability, a record for safety and reliability that matches or surpasses any in the world.

The regulatory framework for Canada's nuclear industry is similarly highly regarded around the world. It is solid and robust, supported by legislation such as the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, overseen by the independent expertise of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Together and with the industry's own commitment to excellence, this regulatory framework and independent oversight continue to assure Canadians that they can rely on our nuclear industry to be a safe, secure, reliable provider of clean electricity.

At the same time, our government is aware that one aspect of Canada's nuclear regulatory regime is not in keeping with international standards.

The existing Nuclear Liability Act has been in place since 1976. While the basic principles underlying the legislation remain valid, the act is almost 40 years old. It, indeed, needs to be updated to keep pace with international trends, including increasing the level of compensation to an adequate level in the unlikely event of a nuclear incident that leads to injuries or damage.

In fact, the liability limit would have been increased already had it not been for the ideological opposition that the NDP has for nuclear. Nonetheless, our government remains focused on establishing a modern liability regime to address potential civil damages that may result from a nuclear incident. That is precisely what Bill C-22 would do.

Bill C-22 would increase the amount of compensation available to address civil damage from $75 million to $1 billion. This amount is not only in line with current international standards, it is in fact significantly higher than the limits set by a number of what might be considered Canada's nuclear peers.

In the United Kingdom, for example, operator liability is currently capped at approximately $260 million, barely a quarter of the absolute liability that would be imposed by this bill. In France, a country with close to 60 power reactors, the operator liability limit is even lower, at about $140 million in Canadian funds. In Spain the limit is about $227 million in Canadian funds, in South Africa it is $240 million Canadian and in Belgium it is $450 million, less than half the liability amount that Bill C-22 would put in place in Canada.

I would also like to remind hon. members that we are talking about absolute liability. That means an operator is responsible for up to $1 billion in compensation for damages that may result from an incident, regardless of the cause, regardless of who is at fault and even if fault is never established or even alleged. This means Canadian taxpayers are not left on the hook. This bill would also require operators to demonstrate that they would have the financial capacity to deliver that amount.

I would remind hon. members as well that Bill C-22 would also serve to implement the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. By adhering to this convention, Canada increases its domestic compensation regime by up to $500 million by bringing in significant new funding from the other parties to the convention. In order words, the total potential compensation available in Canada could reach $1.5 billion.

It has been suggested that Canada should follow the example of the United States where nuclear liability limits appear to be higher. In fact, in the United States the individual operator's liability is capped at about $415 million in Canadian funds, again a fraction of what would be the case with this new legislation in Canada. It is true that in the event of an incident that resulted in damages in excess of an operator's liability insurance, the U.S. regime includes a provision for all operators of power reactors in the U.S. to contribute to a compensation fund, $125 million each for the reactors they own. The difference here, however, is that there are more than 100 power reactors in the United States. Such a system is not feasible in Canada where we have only 19 reactors and 4 operators.

In determining an appropriate limit for absolute liability, we must take into account, and this bill certainly does take into account, that liability must be within the capacity of insurers. Bill C-22 addresses the need for operators to provide appropriate compensation without burdening them with exorbitant costs for unrealistic amounts of insurance against events that are highly unlikely to occur in our country.

The $1 billion strikes a proper balance between providing adequate compensation for citizens for a nuclear incident and holding companies to account in the event of an incident. This amount is also well above the liability limit imposed on nuclear operators in many other countries and it is in line with limits that have been proposed in the E.U.

In summary, Bill C-22 would ensure Canada's nuclear liability regime meets the definition of “world class” in every respect, from the type of damages that can be claimed to the time allowed to make claims, to the $1 billion in absolute liability of nuclear operators to pay those claims. I urge all members in the House to support this important legislation.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a quotation to the member.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requires that there be, at most, a 0.01% chance of any given nuclear reactor having a nuclear accident with core damage. For the 10 reactors in the Toronto area, a simple calculation demonstrates that this probability, over five years, is 10 times 5 times 0.01%, or 0.5%.

The probability exists. How can the member say that there is no risk to Canadians?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I said, this act would modernize safety and security for Canada's offshore and nuclear energy industries. It would ensure a world-class regulatory system as well as strengthen safety and environmental protections. It builds on Canada's strong record and would ensure our energy sector could thrive. The $1 billion absolute liability would place Canada's regime squarely among those of its peer countries.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:45 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, when looking at issues of liability, even though $1 billion in liability is certainly more money for which the nuclear industry would have to be responsible than in previous bills, the reality is, as we know from nuclear accidents, that $1 billion will not begin to cover the cost of a large-scale nuclear accident in Canada.

Initially, it was put forward as an excuse for holding it to $1 billion as a liability cap that if it were not there, it could affect provincial electricity rates. However, through questions on the order paper I had it confirmed that it would not affect provincial electricity rates to remove the cap.

I would like to ask my friend, the hon. parliamentary secretary, this. Would it not be more prudent to have no cap at all and to ensure that the nuclear industry, under the polluter-pay principle, pays the full cost of the accident we hope will never happen, but could in fact happen any day in our country?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, again, what we are talking about is absolute liability that will be paid in the event of an incident.

Operators will be expected to carry insurance to cover the costs of any incident should it occur. The $1 billion absolute liability will place Canada's regime squarely among those of its peer countries.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member just said that the $1 billion absolute liability will put us “squarely among those of its peer countries”. However, the $1 billion pales in comparison to the absolute liability in the United States of $12.6 billion.

How can the member say that this puts us squarely among our peer countries when there is a difference of $11 billion or $12 billion? What is the member talking about?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is not correct to say that the liability limit is $12 billion in the United States, as the member continues to assert.

The United States' system is very different from that of other countries. In fact, the operators' liability is capped at $375 million of insurance. In the event of an accident resulting in damages exceeding the liable operators' insurance, all U.S. operators, 104 reactors, would also contribute up to $125 million for each reactor they operate, which would make available a compensation pool of a maximum of $13 billion should it be required.

This type of pooling system would not be feasible in Canada given that we have far fewer nuclear reactors.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I hope you had a great summer. It is nice to be back and to see all my colleagues here in the House. I trust that everyone had a great break. It is nice to see that we picked up right where we left off, in the spirit of co-operation here in the House.

I am pleased to participate in this important debate on Bill C-22. While it is not a topic around the barbecue circuit in my riding, be assured that it is very important that we discuss this. The bill is important, because it seeks to increase safety and accountability in Canada's offshore and nuclear liability regimes.

Most hon. members would know that Canadians are very fortunate. Canada has an extraordinary wealth of natural resources that other nations can only envy. In an increasingly energy-hungry world, we are among the world's leading energy producers of crude oil, natural gas, and uranium. With our vast energy resources, Canada is well positioned to play a leading role in meeting the world's future energy needs.

As the International Energy Agency has told us, traditional energy sources like oil and gas will continue to be the dominant energy source for many years to come. However, the world energy map is changing dramatically. In fact, global energy demand is expected to increase by about 40% from 2010 to 2035, with much of that new demand coming from Asia.

World energy demands are on the rise, and Canada has an enormous supply of energy to meet these demands. Growing energy demands in the Asia-Pacific and the developing world are ushering in a new era of energy use and opportunity for our great country. There are hundreds of major resource projects currently under way in Canada or planned over the next 10 years. They are worth approximately $675 billion in investment. That means hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadian families, jobs in every sector of our economy and in every corner of our country.

With these opportunities on the horizon, our government is working to increase Canadian trade and investment and to expand Canada's energy infrastructure. That is why I would like to talk about the government's responsible resource development plan.

Our government's plan for responsible resource development is helping to ensure that Canada can seize these new opportunities and others to come. Our plan is sending a strong message that Canada is open for business and has a modern, efficient regulatory system. We have set firm beginning-to-end timelines for project reviews. Where provincial review processes meet federal requirements, we can get projects moving faster by eliminating the unnecessary duplication that has weighed down project reviews in the past. Our streamlined approach is providing clarity and predictability for project proposals. It is making international investments in Canada's natural resource sectors much more attractive. In a nutshell, it means that new projects and proposed infrastructure will be reviewed and approved to come on stream in a timely manner so that Canada can sharpen its competitive edge.

However, our plan is not just about developing resources efficiently. It is about developing them responsibly. Simply put, we will not approve any project unless it can be done safely. Let me assure members that we are committed to developing Canada's natural resources while strengthening our environmental protection. We firmly reject the notion that we cannot do both. Through our actions, we are proving that we definitely can.

Over the past year, our government has initiated a series of new measures to ensure the safe development of our natural resources. Through our plan for responsible resource development, we have introduced new enforcement mechanisms, including monetary penalties for non-compliance with environmental requirements. Oil and gas pipeline inspections have increased by 50% a year, and comprehensive audits of pipelines have been doubled.

While our government focused on increasing safety measures for our energy sector, what did the opposition do? They voted against more pipeline inspections, against implementing fines for companies that break the law, and against doubling the number of pipeline audits. That is truly a record of shame.

As part of our commitment to responsible resource development, our government promised Canadians that we would take action to maintain a world-class liability regime in Canada's nuclear and offshore energy industries. We have been clear: projects will only be approved if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

One of the key features of Bill C-22 is that it would raise the absolute liability limits in the offshore and nuclear sectors to $1 billion, bringing Canada's offshore and nuclear liability limits in line with similar regulatory regimes, such as in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Denmark.

As hon. members are aware, Canada's liability regime was founded on the polluter pay principle. With Bill C-22, we are fulfilling our commitment in the Speech from the Throne to enshrine this principle in law. This means that Canadian taxpayers would be protected in the unlikely event of a spill or accident. With the passage of this legislation, companies operating in Canada's Atlantic and Arctic offshore areas would be subject to one of the highest absolute liability standards in the world.

Canada's nuclear safety record is outstanding. In fact, there has never been a claim under Canada's Nuclear Liability Act. We have robust technology, a well-trained workforce, and stringent regulatory requirements. However, as a responsible government we must ensure that our security systems are always up-to-date and able to respond to any incident. That is why we are demonstrating our commitment by introducing legislation to strengthen Canada's nuclear liability regime.

Ultimately these measures are all about the same thing: acting responsibly by protecting Canadians and protecting our environment. This legislation would provide a solid framework to regulate the offshore and nuclear liability regimes in Canada to make them truly world-class. It would send a strong signal to the world that Canada is a safe and responsible supplier of energy resources and that Canada is also open for business.

Unfortunately, the NDP wants to shut down Canadian businesses by opposing the nuclear industry. As the leader of the NDP said, “I want to be very clear. The NDP is opposed to any new nuclear infrastructure in Canada”. That is not a responsible position.

The bottom line is that our government will not take any lessons from the opposition. We will focus on what matters to Canadians: ensuring that resource development is done responsibly and creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

I urge the NDP to abandon its reckless position and encourage all members to support this important legislation.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:55 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech.

However, I will not hide the fact that I have many questions and concerns that he did not address.

My question is about a very specific topic, and that is damages associated with non-use value. This is an important principle that has been raised during debate on this bill. We can always quantify the economic value of a natural area, but we also need to look at other damages. There could be significant repercussions for communities.

With respect to marine areas, we were had by the Conservatives when they focused protection measures solely on commercially viable species, which overlooks the richness, the diversity and the complex interrelationships in a marine environment.

I would like to hear the hon. member's thoughts on the government's deliberate failure to include non-use value. It seems quite problematic to me. It is a huge loophole that companies could exploit.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is asking me a question in regard to changes made to the Fisheries Act, and the House is currently debating Bill C-22, which is nuclear and offshore liability changes we are proposing.

The reality is that everything under the absolute liability regime would be covered when it comes to the polluter pays principle. That would mean damages to people, damages to property, and damages to the environment. All of it would be covered under absolute liability. That is what the word “absolute” means. It is unfortunate that the hon. member does not understand that word.

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I said earlier in my remarks on the bill that members on the Conservative side are only interested in one side of the equation, or they were in committee when we studied this legislation, but it is also true of the NDP and its position on the bill.

Does my hon. colleague not think that we ought to consider what tax revenue comes to Canada and its provinces from these industries? What revenue is there for Canadian workers who have salaries in the nuclear sector or in the offshore oil and gas sector? What revenue is there for pensioners who have pension funds or mutual funds that invest in these sectors?

We heard from the minister that going to $1 billion for absolute liability would increase the cost of insurance for these companies by eight or nine times. Could the member tell us if he knows what the NDP's plan of unlimited absolute liability would do to the cost of insurance for the companies in this sector? What would be the impact on these sectors?

Speaker's RulingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, rare is the day when I have a colleague in the Liberal Party asking me to help him beat up colleagues in the NDP. However, I will take the bait, because here is what the NDP is proposing.

The NDP and the Green Party simply do not want nuclear facilities in Canada. I will answer my colleague's question directly. My understanding is that raising liability to $1 billion would cost the average household a couple of dollars a year on its utility bills to cover it. However, if we were to move to unlimited liability and the vast amount of liability being proposed by other parties, it would result in a hefty increase to those premiums. Ultimately, as we all know, regulated utility industries are regulated to the point where they will make a profit. That is the way those systems are set up, and those costs will be passed on through those energy utility boards in the various jurisdictions to those consumers. That much we do know.

It is a responsible approach to go to $1 billion of unlimited liability for the offshore sector for oil and gas and for nuclear liability. We have seen from various countries around the world that we are in line with what everyone else is doing. We are going to protect our environment but also not place an unreasonable burden. We will strike that right balance not only to protect taxpayers but to ensure that there is money left over on the kitchen table at the end of the month.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6 p.m.
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NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House after working in the constituency all summer. I am glad to see my colleagues' smiling faces around, all ready to co-operate as we move forward into this session.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-22, an act respecting Canada's offshore oil and gas operations, and enacting the nuclear liability and compensation act. I will be splitting my time with the member for St. John's East whom, I am sure, will have lots to say about how the bill would affect Atlantic Canada.

I do have an admission to make. George Bush has been very influential in my life, and I somehow cannot seem to get nuclear and nucular straight sometimes, so I beg your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, if I do accidentally misspeak. I promise that is as far as I will go toward copying Mr. Bush.

I also thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for her hard work on the bill. She is an outstanding member of Parliament and also a great leader within the NDP. She has led the natural resources committee since taking over recently very well, so I thank her for her work.

Although we supported the bill at first reading, we did so with the hope that the committee would accept some of our amendments, would listen to the witnesses, listen to what we had to say on our side. Unfortunately, we will not be supporting the bill at third reading because we did not really feel we were listened to. We put forward 13 amendments, which we thought would improve the bill quite a lot, but the Conservatives rejected all 13 of those amendments.

I was formerly a member of the natural resources committee and quite enjoyed my time there. I found my colleagues on both sides to be open to suggestions, willing to bring in witnesses who were not partisan, and really conciliatory. I quite enjoyed my time in that committee. Even sometimes they would accept motions from the opposition parties for study, which I thought was quite good of them.

I do not actually think that the rejection of these amendments came exclusively from the members of the committee. It was probably from the PMO. As we know if we have been on enough committees in the House, no matter what kind of debate we are having or what kind of witnesses we hear from, we do have dictums that come from central office to say what exactly will show up in bills. Again, it is sad that this happens.

In fact, I think that perhaps this is related to the bill. There is a member of the natural resources committee from Saskatoon—Humboldt who has a private member's motion where committee chairs would have much more freedom over the content of their reports and also the committee agenda. I am proud to say I jointly seconded that motion and support it as it moves through the House, hopefully to enactment. That bill points out what should happen in committees.

However, I do think the members of the natural resources committee are reasonable on all sides and would do a very good job if they were freed from the constraints of the Prime Minister's Office. I really do not fault the natural resources committee for rejecting all our amendments, but we know that the all-seeing eye that is the PMO has probably made this happen.

My second comment about the bill is that it is all about energy, once again. It seems that all the time of the natural resources committee was spent talking about energy usage and disposal all across Canada. I find that this not only engages the natural resources committee but also the industry committee, which I have also sat on.

We have had many bills tabled in the House that specifically deal with how we use energy in Canada. This one is no exception. This one is about how we extract oil and gas or how we use nuclear power and what happens in the event of accidents. It is tied in to our consumption and usage of energy. It shows us a sliver of the complexity of energy usage in Canada.

For example, just to outline a little bit of what is included in the bill, it updates Canada's nuclear liability regime to specify the conditions to compensate victims following an incident at a nuclear power plant and the levels of liability of operators. That is needed. Every country in the world that uses nuclear power has to have these kinds of provisions. It is a needed step forward but a very small part of Canada's energy portfolio.

The second is dealing with oil and gas exploration off the coast. The measures in the bill are supposed to explain what happens in the event of an accident, so they are important. This is off the Arctic and Atlantic waters.

There are important issues that are dealt with in the bill. Although we know it has been tabled five times and finally coming through the House, whether it will make it all the way to the end I do not know. However, it is too bad that it was rushed through at this stage and none of our amendments were taken.

Part of our problem with the bill is that it does not really uphold the idea of polluter pays. It does discuss this notion but it does not really deal with polluter pays when it comes to the nuclear energy sector. For example, there are provisions in the bill, as I understand it as I was reviewing it again this morning, that allow the minister to make adjustments as to how much a company or operator would have to pay in the event of an accident. It does not mandate an inclusive consultation process for specific projects.

In my riding where this is not specifically related to oil and gas but the industry, when there is no proper consultation there are problems with getting the social licence from the local community. Therefore, whether it is pipelines, drilling offshore, or dealing with nuclear energy, if there is no proper consultation there will never be social licence and there will be problems.

We have had a pipeline rupture in my community in 2007. Because there was not an inclusive system in terms of how we deal with pipeline spills, there are still ripples within the community and real resentment toward the company for these types of accidents.

The other problem with the bill is that it removes company liability for oil spill chemical dispersants. That is also a problem because if we think that we have to clean up the oil and we use something that is as bad as oil or even worse, then there is no liability for the companies and we think that is a problem. I think the folks listening at home or reading what we propose would say that these are things that are worth including in the bill, but of course they have been rejected.

Our 13 suggested amendments were consistent with the principle of polluter pays, including the removal of the liability cap, which reduces taxpayer liability. As we have seen, these offshore spills, the BP spill in the gulf in the United States is a recent example, can run into the billions of dollars for cleanups. The liability cap right now is far below the costs of such a cleanup. Our amendments also included the principle of sustainability by adding non-use value damages, which are important to consider.

When I think about what we are debating here, what we are talking about, what is going through on this third reading, it is the whole idea of how we deal with energy in Canada. We do not have a comprehensive plan. Most countries in the world have a national energy strategy. They have not only a long-term view of what should happen in the country but also a comprehensive view, which is thematic. For example, in the United States energy security is probably the key principle of its national energy strategy and everything kind of falls from this key principle.

We have a sliver of a bill that deals with a very small component of our overall energy plans in this country. Unfortunately, it is not very comprehensive and non-inclusive. It is kind of a shallow vision instead of what we really need for Canada, which is a large vision. That is what people will get when they elect an NDP government in 2015.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:10 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Burnaby—Douglas for his important presentation. I share his concerns about the nuclear industry.

There has been no industry that constitutes such a giant white elephant in terms of its fiscal impact on Canadians. Contrary to what we heard earlier from a Conservative colleague, this industry has gobbled up about $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies. Removing the cap would not affect provincial electricity rates in any provinces that still use nuclear energy.

The reality is that, there but for the grace of God go we, every single event that occurred at Three Mile Island had previously happened in Ontario nuclear plants but not all on the same day and at the same reactor. Human error is always the biggest risk. As more reactors are brought on stream, the promises made when they are built are never fulfilled. We are always told they are going to be reliable and then we find that retubing is required or that the Point Lepreau reactor in New Brunswick is over budget, as always, or that it takes much longer than the government thought it would take. The government of the day in New Brunswick that approved retubing Point Lepreau ignored the recommendations of its own public utilities commission to do so. It ignored the advice, by the way, of the current leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, David Coon, who clearly said more money would be wasted.

It is interesting to hear Conservative members defend an industry that has gobbled up things that they usually would have opposed, massive subsidies to something that simply cannot bear market forces.

I would ask my hon. colleague if he would not agree to just removing the cap on liability and making this industry pay its own way if, God forbid, we ever have a nuclear accident.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to deal with in the member's question.

Those of us who live on the west coast are very conscious of nuclear accidents. We were concerned about possible radiation coming on the shores of British Columbia as a result of the Fukushima plant accident. Government monitoring has been cut, so it is hard for us to determine the exact extent of this radiation.

However, I am quite excited about a new technology called fusion. A very active company in my riding called General Fusion is trying to move toward a much safer use of nuclear energy. I try to visit it every year and see its progress and it is going quite well. I am proud of its work and hopefully that technology will develop.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, if there is one issue that sets us apart from the members across the way, it is natural resources.

Today, in response to a question I asked as to why nuclear energy was not included in Bill C-22, the minister more or less said—I do not have his exact words in front of me—that when disaster struck Japan, it was so bad—those are my words—that the government had to take matters into its own hands.

If I understand what this government is saying, we will pay once disaster strikes. Canadians will pay for everything that happens with regard to health, cancer, the environment, and cleanup. We saw what happened in Lac-Mégantic.

The NDP prefers to plan ahead. When a company sets up somewhere, can we estimate the environmental cleanup cost in the event of an accident? What would be the human cost and the health-related cost in the event of an accident?

We have to look at this from a sustainable development standpoint. That is the right approach. We need to have green development—we are indeed a green party—for our country so that Canadians can have what is best for them and their children.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, planning is essential and that is what we have been proposing since we were elected as the official opposition in 2011, and beforehand. My colleague from St. John's East could probably tell us how long we have been arguing for the need for a national energy strategy when we do forward planning, not only inclusive but comprehensive. That is greatly lacking on the other side. Those members are content to have foreign companies come in and do whatever they want in Canada. We think that is not the right way to go and more Canadians are agreeing with us.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity today to speak on third reading of Bill C-22. Third reading, of course, is the opportunity to debate the bill after the committee has, we hope, improved it during committee hearings by listening to experts from all sides, accepting recommendations from experts as to how the bill can be improved, and, in most Parliaments, accepting amendments from the opposition seeking to make the legislation better.

Unfortunately, in this Parliament we do not see much of that. In fact, it is very rare for amendments from the opposition to be accepted by the government, even when it agrees with them. In an incident during the debate on a justice bill, 88 amendments were made in committee; the government rejected them all, only to try to make them itself at third reading, and they were ruled out of order. That is how obstinate the government can be.

I spoke as well on second reading, and my colleagues in the NDP, the official opposition, as you may know, Mr. Speaker, supported this bill at second reading. We saw it as an improvement over the existing regime and we supported it in the collegial hope that when evidence was heard from experts in committee, their expertise, knowledge, and understanding would be taken into account and there would be a better bill at third reading. Unfortunately, the 13 amendments that were presented by the official opposition were all rejected by the government. Not only that, it limited the debate. There was a request for an additional week to deal with some of the debates and discussions that needed to take place, and that was refused.

I can say that there are some things New Democrats like about this bill, and I will repeat them because I think we are responsible for some of them.

This bill, in one form or another, without the oil and gas part of it, the nuclear side, has been before Parliament previously. This is, I think, the fifth time. At one time, the NDP was the only party that opposed the bill when the cap was raised from $75 million to $650 million. It is now up to $1 billion, so that is an improvement over what would have existed if the bill had gone through a couple of years ago, and New Democrats take credit for arguing that the $650 million limit was inadequate. There has been an improvement in that way, so we are pleased to say that we have had some effect on this aspect.

The real problem, of course, was that for some 38 years Canada's nuclear industry has had a cap of $75 million of liability. This is an industry that can cause enormous amounts of damage not only to the environment but also to the health of individuals for many years to come. We noticed that with the Fukushima situation in Japan, the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, and, of course, with Three Mile Island a number of years ago in the U.S. These were very serious accidents, and to say that we are going to have an absolute total liability of $75 million is clearly a direct subsidy to an industry—a licence, in fact, to not only pollute but also to cause extraordinary harm to the citizens of a country.

That is what we are talking about here. Some people might call it a subsidy to the industry, but it is also a licence to pollute, to destroy the environment, and to take risks.

One of the things about liability is the obligation to look after the damages that are caused. That is what the polluter pays principle is. If people pollute the environment and make a mess, they need to clean it up. If someone says they do not have to clean it up, there is going to be a bigger mess. Anybody who has teenagers in their homes knows that. If teenagers are told they do not have to clean up after themselves, that they can leave their dishes wherever they want and throw their clothes on the floor because someone else will look after that, then there are going to be a lot of messy dishes and a lot of clothes on the floor. Saying that people have liability and responsibility makes the operators, whether of offshore oil and gas or of a nuclear facility, care more about safety. Obviously there is going to be a safety regime, but it makes them take responsibility in a way that they might not otherwise and it gives safety a bigger priority.

The $1 billion sounds like a lot, but not when it is put into perspective. I heard the member for Wetaskiwin. I think he was trying to be reasonable. He said that the $1 billion liability is going to cost and that it will be the consumers who will have to pay for it. He said it would add $2 or maybe $3 a year to each consumer's electricity bill. I will take him at his word; I do not know the numbers. He must have some reference for those numbers.

However, if it was $5 billion liability, it would cost consumers $10 or $15 per year. We are talking about $1 a month. For the protection that we are talking about here, maybe that is reasonable. Maybe people opposite think it is unreasonable. I do not think it is unreasonable if we are talking about having protection versus not having protection and about having an incentive for a nuclear operator to pay greater attention to avoid accidents.

It is a little bit a question of degree, but it is also a question of principle. We have asked to see the polluter pay principle in both aspects of this bill. In the oil and gas section there is a $1 billion absolute liability, whether the operator is at fault or not, and in the case of fault on the part of an operator in the oil and gas industry, there is an unlimited liability. They have to find the resources or insure against the resources up to whatever the cost of the damage is.

It can be argued, and we would argue, that the $1 billion is enough in terms of absolute liability if we are looking at an accident in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or in the Arctic. Absolute liability means that it starts getting cleaned up right away, regardless of who ultimately has to pay.

That is what fault is all about. Lawyers will fight over who is responsible or what percentage of the fault lies with this party or that party. That is fair. I am not opposed to lawyers, as some people in this House seem to be. Lawyers have a role to play; I played one myself. The Speaker probably did a fair bit over his career as well. In the meantime, absolute liability is designed to make sure that the job gets done.

This is a question that has to be dealt with. Although the liability may be spread in fault after it is all over, and we are still seeing that in the Gulf of Mexico case with Deep Horizon, absolute liability means that it gets started right away. The work is done to clean up the damage that has been done because they are going to be responsible regardless of what the fault is, and we have that.

I am going to just end here. The reason we are not supporting the bill now is that it does not include the polluter pay principle on the nuclear liability side and it does not include the principle of sustainability. Even with the $1 billion absolute cap, it gives the minister the right to waive it or lower it at his discretion. That is the wrong thing to do, because it opens up the door to all sorts of lobbying and favouritism.

Everybody would lobby, presumably, because if it is available to them, why should they not? Why should they not seek an exemption? Why should they not seek to lower their liability because of the consequences it might have for shareholders of the company or for some other aspect of their operation?

Based on those problems, the failure to accept reasonable amendments to this bill, and the failure to recognize these principles in the bill, we cannot support this bill at third reading.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech, which truly enlightened us about the possibilities and the limitations within this bill. I would like my colleague to elaborate on some of these limitations he talked about in his speech.

In his view, what improvements could be made to the bill? Can he talk about the NDP'S proposals to improve this bill that the government unfortunately left out?

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the improvements that we sought to make would have been to ensure that the principle of sustainability was contained in the bill and spelled out to demonstrate the requirement that there be a recognition of these principles of sustainability when one is dealing with inclusive participation, the precautionary principle, and equity or fairness with sustainable development between the environment and industry, but we do not have that. One of those aspects is, of course, the issue of absolute liability.

The total maximum liability for the nuclear industry is set at $1 billion. However, we know the extent of the accidents that have happened. Experts say that these accidents can happen somewhere in the world every 10 years, so it is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Obviously the industry tries to be as a safe as it can, but why should the people of Canada accept that liability beyond $1 billion when it seems that it is possible for the industry itself to accept it for a reasonable amount of money?

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

If we look at the nuclear sector specifically, one of the deficiencies of the bill is the issue of financial liability for all the suppliers and contractors working with operators. Right now, they are unfortunately not included and that might create problems in the supply chain, leaving only operators liable.

That seems problematic to me. I think my colleague will agree that, if all of the stakeholders in the supply chain are liable for problems and damages caused by a nuclear accident, we can obviously hope that they will adopt better practices. I would like to hear his thoughts on that.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

September 15th, 2014 / 6:30 p.m.
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a bit complicated in one sense, but the insurance principle is basically that we spread the risk. The more people who share the responsibility, the easier it is to manage the risk. That is the basis of insurance.

Why should there not be liability for people who happen to be suppliers? If they are excluded from liability, then that seems to be a problem. We believe that they should be included in the responsibility for accidents. If they are participating in that industry, they should participate by bearing some of that risk themselves.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

moved:

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

at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the 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.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is another sad moment in Parliament. This is the 66th time that this government has used time allocation or closure in Parliament. In the past, the Conservatives complained about the corrupt Liberals imposing a record number of time allocation and closure motions, but the Conservatives have since broken that record. This is the 66th time they have used time allocation.

Here is why this is again not a very intelligent move, because we are talking about a bill about which the government has unfortunately not been able to bring good, solid legislation into the House. I can recall in 2008, Conservatives brought forward Bill C-15, and they were so embarrassed by the bill because it was so poorly drafted that they sat on it for three years. They never brought it forward. Bill C-15 went right through 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Now they have introduced what they hope to be a better bill, a bill that does have some very positive aspects to it—there is no doubt—but a bill that has also raised some very serious questions.

Like Bill C-15, which they sat on for three years, they have been sitting on this, refusing to bring it to Parliament for debate for months. The issue is that we have a bill that has some flaws and also has some good things, and we certainly support the principle of the bill, but in the scant minutes of debate that the government has accorded so far, only a handful of members of Parliament have been able to speak and have been raising those questions.

Why has the government refused to bring it forward for debate? Why is the government so intent on refusing the types of amendments that need to be brought in to amend the bill? Why, for 66 times, has the government been running roughshod over parliamentary rights and democratic debate in the House?

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's question. In fact, we are not limiting debate. We have had a significant amount of debate at this stage with respect to this piece of legislation. As the member knows, we are at second reading now. Then the bill goes to committee. Then it returns back to the House for further debate.

Therefore, I am unclear why he thinks we are limiting debate. Canadians have given us a strong mandate to focus on creating jobs and economic growth and, at the same time, putting in pieces of legislation, whether it is this particular one or in the context of our measures around world-class pipeline safety or marine safety to ensure that we have the right pieces of legislation in place for the health and safety of our communities and the protection of the environment.

Canadians expect our government to make decisions, to take action on our commitments, and that is what our government has done and is doing in the House of Commons in the context of this debate right now.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, once again, and for the 66th time in the House of Commons, we have seen the majority Conservative government's new approach to dealing with process inside the House. It is quite disappointing. What we have is a majority Conservative government that uses its majority to limit the debate inside the House.

Past government House leaders, both in opposition and government, have always recognized that there is a responsibility to sit down and negotiate in good faith so that the bills that are quite controversial get more debate than those bills that might not be as controversial and that all members will support.

The government has not been able to negotiate any sort of agreement regarding an appropriate passage of legislation through the chamber. It is, unfortunately, dependent on using time allocation, which is closure. The government does not like to use that word, but let there be no doubt that it is closure.

My question for the government House leader is this. Why, ever since the Conservatives achieved a majority government, have we seen this change in attitude from the Prime Minister's Office, which says that the only way we can pass legislation in the House of Commons is through closure? It is a sad day for the chamber. It is a sad day for all Canadians.

My question for the government House leader is: Why?

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot possibly answer that with as many words as the member has put forward. However, I can say that we are not limiting debate. In fact, we have had a significant amount of debate at this stage. I was here, speaking to this bill previously.

As the member knows, we are at second reading now, as I said before. The bill then goes to the committee and it returns to the House for further debate. I am unclear why he thinks this is limiting debate, but I can tell him that we will continue to keep our commitments to Canadians, introducing and advancing important legislation like the bill we are talking about today.

I look forward to debating this important piece of legislation, being here and being present, discussing it with all of our colleagues, having studied it in committee with parliamentarians hearing from expert witnesses.

Of course, the purpose of time allocation is to ensure that adequate time is allocated for further debate and consideration of the bill. That is the exercise we are going through right now.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, up is down and down is up in this place today. It is either time allocation or it is not time allocation. It is either closure or it is not. If it is not closure, we should be debating the bill, but we are not, because the government has invoked time allocation. This is what is happening, and it has happened time and time again in this place.

When I first arrived here, the government moved a time allocation motion on a bill that it said we had debated in the House in a previous Parliament. That was the government's justification for that time allocation.

There is no justification for this, except to mute debate, to limit the legitimate voices of opposition members—and Canadians—who want to participate in the right process of democracy in this place. That is something the government shows it has little respect for, time and time again.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I heard a question in there, but I will take this opportunity to speak more specifically to this bill.

There is no question that this is a pressing and substantial piece of legislation. It is consistent with our approach to responsible resource development, which as I said earlier, aims to increase jobs and economic growth opportunities for regions across Canada. It would ensure that the energy sector has safe and secure policy and legislation in place to protect the health of our communities and to protect the environment for all Canadians.

These measures, which are contained in this bill, would build on a sound system overseen by strong regulators to ensure world-class standards for Canada's offshore and nuclear industries. Obviously, we have had some good debate on this already. Our exercise now is to continue that debate. It will go for some time today. At that point, it will have a chance to go back to committee, where committee members are enthusiastic about further expert witnesses and participation from stakeholders on it. After that, we will bring it back here for further debate.

This is all good news. In this sense, today's exercise will ensure that parliamentarians have the opportunity they need to discuss and debate this, both here in the House of Commons and at the standing committee.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. minister is unaware that the closure motions, this being the 66th one, have the effect of depriving members of Parliament from adequately debating the bill. Particularly for smaller parties in this place and independent members of Parliament, the rotations on limitations like five more hours at second reading mean it is extremely unlikely for me to put forward the concerns I have at second reading, unless the Conservatives want to give me one of their 10-minute speaking spots, which I will gladly take.

I actually have had questions on the order paper. They are now answered. They confirm that the $1 billion liability could be removed. The Conservatives could remove the cap altogether without having any impact on provincial electricity rates, which has been one of the arguments used for keeping the cap. Also found in the response to the question on the order paper is that they have estimated that the risks of a large-scale nuclear accident would reach $100 million. We know what happened in Fukushima, Japan and $100 million as an estimate of loss is completely out of the realm of real estimates of a catastrophic accident. Then in the response to the question, they do go on to say, “The limit is not meant to address a catastrophic loss involving loss of containment”.

We need a lot more time to debate the bill so we find out why the regulator has decided not to address a catastrophic loss involving loss of containment. That is exactly the kind of nuclear accident for which Canadians want to know the operators are fully responsible.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question and commentary. I can assure her that I have a full appreciation and understanding of the processes that take place in the House. I take great pride in my previous capacity as a parliamentary secretary and now as a minister, to be aware of those. I thank her for giving me an opportunity by way of her question to respond to that matter.

With respect to any questions and comments the member has to the substantive dimensions of this debate on the nuclear liability piece, the Government of Canada is bringing forward a modernized nuclear civil liability legislation that would bring the absolute liability of operators of nuclear facilities up to $1 billion. This is being done to be in line with other levels in other peer jurisdictions. There is an important emphasis on the word “peer” for those who may understand that, obviously with respect to countries that are engaged in similar activities. The legislation would also broaden the number of categories for which compensation may be sought and improve the procedures for delivering those compensations.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege this morning of being in committee and hearing the Minister of Natural Resources address our committee about what his priorities were. We were told that the government had been clear that projects would not proceed unless and until it had been proven safe for workers, communities and the environment.

If nuclear and offshore oil and gas are so safe, why would we have to put any kind of liability requirement on it? We know and it is known around the world not to be safe. Serious questions have been raised in the community, particularly post-Fukushima and post-BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that the limits the government is imposing on liability fall far below the amounts of liability. Essentially what the government is saying is that the industry should go ahead, that it will limit its liability and that the public of Canada will cover it.

What is reprehensible is not so much that the Conservatives have limited debate in this place, but we are fast-tracking the review in committee before we even have the bill. There will only be two meetings to debate this. We will have probably two hours to talk to experts in these huge areas. The public will not have the opportunity to participate because these hearings will not go out to the public, to the coastal communities, to the Arctic coast and to the communities adjacent to the nuclear facilities, including the proposed waste management facilities.

The only place where the public would have an opportunity to hear the issues, and we the members of this place can raise the concerns that members of the public raise with us, is here. The Conservatives in their wisdom have decided they do not want to hear those concerns.

Why does the minister not want to hear from members of Parliament and why does he not want to hear from Canadians about their concerns with the potential far too limited liability?

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question. I have had a chance to work with her closely on other standing committees. She may be one of the best at packing 12 questions into one. I will try to deal with the number of issues she has raised and perhaps opportunities.

I get the sense from the way she put that question that she may be on a treadmill to provide energy for her own home. She seems to suggest that there are no other forms of energy that she would like to see in Canada. That would not be consistent with our record in Canada. More than 78% of our domestic energy is produced from non-emitting sources. It would not fairly reflect the dynamic supply potential that Canada has for energy and the safe way with which and by which they are delivered.

There are important elements of that. Obviously safety is the key. Safety addresses prevention, preparedness and response. To get to the finer point of her question of liability, liability is there for the penultimate purpose of providing that extra set of circumstances, as rare and remote as they might be, that protects Canadians.

First, with respect to nuclear liability and compensation, the government has taken into consideration, among other things, an amount that, in three regards, is sufficient to deal with the consequences of controlled releases of radiation.

Second, it is within the capacity of insurers to provide insurance at a reasonable cost.

Finally , it is in line with modern liability limits in other countries. Therefore, this amount would also put Canada's liability notably among the highest internationally. We are proud of that record.

After my visit to Rome, we were pleased to see that countries were looking to us as a model and a world leader when it came to the safety with which we produced and transported various forms of energy at home and for the purposes of energy supply abroad.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to what the minister said earlier, which was that we have had a good, wholesome, sufficient debate in the House. I wanted to clarify this for the minister. Maybe he is a little confused because we have had debate in the House on this bill at this stage only on one occasion, which was on March 25.

Therefore, my question for the minister is along the lines of why the hurry now. If the Conservatives wanted to ensure that the debate occurred in the House, then they had the opportunity to bring it back the next day. If they felt that it was an important and pressing matter that needed to be dealt with expeditiously, then they had the opportunity to bring the bill back into the House for debate the next day, or the day after, or the week after, even the month after, but they did not. Therefore, why the hurry today? What is the hurry now?

I am the closest New Democrat member of Parliament to the Pickering nuclear plant and I do not get a chance to speak to this bill. Therefore, my constituents in Scarborough do not get a chance to have a voice in the House on this bill because I probably will not be able to speak to it. Once again, the government is moving time allocation for, if I remember what my House leader said, the 66th time, breaking every record there is in the history of Parliament.

What is the hurry now? He had months to bring it up for debate. I would like him to tell all of us and Canadians why the hurry now.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is almost as good as the member for Edmonton—Strathcona. Let me address a couple of the issues.

First, I appreciate her question. I am not so sure, in the context of this debate or normal relations, I appreciate the condescending tone with which it was delivered. I am not confused about this. I can assure her that if she wants to have a speaking place, she should speak with the House leader for her party. I am sure, given the member's proximity to Pickering, he would be more than happy to accommodate for that.

However, I do know this. Canadians expect their government to make decisions and to take action on its commitments. That is exactly what we are doing here in the context of offshore activities and nuclear liability. We are going to continue to keep our commitment to Canadians by introducing and advancing important legislation.

It is quite timely that we are here having these debates around this legislation because it is consistent with actions we have taken quite recently in other areas of energy production, energy infrastructure and energy transportation.

I look forward to not only debating this important legislation today and having it studied at the committee by parliamentarians, but also taking into account and accommodation, the contributions of expert witnesses in that process.

The purpose of time allocation for this debate is to ensure that adequate time is allocated for further debate and consideration of a bill, but of this bill.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, Canadians also expect parliamentarians to do a proper review of legislation, to have the time in the House to debate the issues properly, to have the time at committee to have the witnesses in so it can do an adequate job. They also expect that proposals and amendments from opposition parties be considered as well. That is not happening under the government on most legislation. Maybe it will under the current minister. We know he is new. He is quite excited about getting legislation into the House. I would think he would want to see it given more time so he could profile all the good things he claims to be doing with the legislation.

Would that not be a better approach rather than, for the 66th time, the government implementing closure on this legislation?

I would like to see a new minister turn over a new leaf and allow Parliament to function as it should

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

I guess turning over a new leaf is important, Mr. Speaker. It may not change my opinion of certain things that are important to my constituents, like what is in the bill, like a position on another important issue such as the gun registry.

I know the member opposite, coming from his particular riding, is keen to understand, to debate and to be assured that the proposed measures would strengthen incident prevention, response capability, operator accountability and transparency, particularly with respect to the offshore component for some geographical relevance, among other changes. This new legislation would enshrine in the statute of the principal polluter pays. Oil and gas companies operating in the Atlantic and Arctic offshore would be subject to the strictest liability in the world. Liability for the environmental costs and third party losses from spills would be absolute and up to $1 billion.

We are having this debate. I look forward to this moving on to the next step. The member's participation in the committee's important work would help ensure for him and his constituents that this government is on the right track when it comes to this legislation.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister has to do with some simple math. I am talking about extending this debate for only another five hours. He knows, with the rotations that take place, that means no more than five more New Democrats will to get to speak. The last three of us who stood are all people waiting to speak. I suggest we should ask somebody else for a place. That is exactly the problem with time allocation. There is no place to ask for that because we want to speak to this bill.

It also undervalues the diversity of our country. The member for Scarborough—Rouge River wants to talk about nuclear liability because she is near Pickering. I represent Vancouver Island.

We are talking about maritime liability being set at $1 billion. We now have major pipeline projects coming forward on the coast. Is this a parallel for those? Every day tankers the same size of the Exxon Valdez will go by Victoria. Twenty-five years ago that spill cost $4.5 billion to clean up. I have some important points I would like to raise from the perspective of the west coast.

How does the member think we can accommodate the diversity of our country when he leaves only five spaces for the New Democrats in this important debate?

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Again, Mr. Speaker, I am quite hopeful, knowing the House Leader of the Opposition, as I do, as the completely accommodating gentleman he is, that he is going to see to it that NDP members who have some specific concerns have an opportunity to speak to this bill. I am sure that his twitching arm means that he is excited to get them on the roster.

That notwithstanding, the member raised a really good point in his question. It was along the lines of alignment with respect to liability on a couple of key measures, some of them relevant to his riding. I have lived in Langford. In fact, I have been back and forth to British Columbia over the past three weeks. People are talking with a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement about the pieces Canada is putting in place to ensure that the safety, preparedness, prevention, and liability regimes are in place for these dynamic energy, transportation, and infrastructure requirements coming forward from the British Columbia government, for example, with respect to LNG, and their implications for pipeline safety and shipping.

There has been tremendous enthusiasm from my British Columbia ministers. They are looking forward to this as it pertains to offshore and tanker safety and liability limits. I know that they are looking forward to support from NDP members from British Columbia on these important points. We will be curious to see which way they stand in this place on those issues, because of course, British Columbians are depending on their federal parliamentarians to represent their interests in responsible resource development that puts a particular focus on environmental protection and the economic opportunities that go along with energy production, transportation, and infrastructure.

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats do not represent the government yet, but on October 19, 2015, this will be the government side of the House. There is no doubt.

What the minister just said is, I think, quite disingenuous. There were two very good questions from the members for Scarborough—Rouge River and Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, both of them saying that it is a real problem when 280 members of Parliament are cut off from being able to speak to a bill. It is not up to the minister to then say that the Conservatives will let a few of them speak, and somehow that makes it okay. This particular time allocation motion shuts 280 members of Parliament out of the debate on what the minister admits is a very important subject.

The Conservatives do not seem to want to speak to these issues or any others. They just do not seem to represent their constituents. However, New Democrats actually care about the quality of the legislation we bring forward and its impact on the lives of Canadians. How can the minister accept that 280 members of Parliament are being denied their ability to speak on behalf of their constituents on this bill and to offer improvements so that the bill can be fixed, unlike Bill C-15, which languished for three years until the government dumped it? How can he shut 280 members of Parliament out of this important debate?

Bill C-22—Notice of time allocation motionEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government has faced continued attempts by the opposition to delay and obstruct these important bills.

My reference in a previous question to government was the B.C. government. The member knows that. Any capacity New Democrats have to understand how government works would be for them to actually support what British Columbians and the British Columbia government is looking at right now, which is to ensure, for the benefit of folks in that beautiful province and for Canadians across the country from coast to coast to coast, that they have the right pieces of legislation in place when it comes to energy as a general matter, and then as we advance debate and discussion, the specific types of legislation.

Canadians then expect their government to make decisions and take action on our commitments. That is what our government has done with this particular piece of legislation. I look forward to this process continuing, including today, with debate, the important activities that will occur at the standing committee, and then a return to the House.

Second readingEnergy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to be speaking in front of this learned House today. I understand that we are speaking on Bill C-22. As we know, Bill C-22 is the energy safety and security act. This bill would enhance environmental protection. It is part of our responsible resource development plan. Our Conservative government has been clear that the development of our natural resources will only proceed if it is safe for Canadians and for the environment.

Over the past year, our Conservative government has initiated a series of new measures to ensure that the development of our natural resources offshore is balanced with the protection of the environment. For example, we have already taken major steps toward enhancing the environmental protection of Canada's maritime domain through an increased number of tanker inspections, mandatory use of double-hulled ships, and improved navigation tools and surveillance offshore.

Our Conservative government has worked closely with the governments of the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia, 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 the federal-provincial offshore boards, 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, would build on this work and provide world-class—

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Centre.

It is a great opportunity to speak to this very important piece of legislation that would update the liability limits for nuclear and offshore oil and gas sectors. As part of our government's responsible resource development plan, we are enshrining the polluter pays principle into law, and certainly this makes for a very important piece of legislation.

I would like to focus on the fact that the proposed act would play a very central role in advancing our government's northern strategy. I will be limiting most of my remarks to that aspect of the bill, although it would also affect the Atlantic offshore region of our country. When much of the attention has been focused on the impact of the legislation on the Atlantic offshore, it would be equally valuable to northern residents, industry, and taxpayers, as it would extend the same provisions and protections to the Arctic offshore.

We know that Canada's north has tremendous resource potential. Approximately 38% of Canada's remaining marketable resources of natural gas are located in Canada's Arctic, as well as 35% of the remaining light crude oil at over 11 billion barrels of oil. These figures do not include unconventional resources, such as shale oil and gas.

Canada's Arctic petroleum, found primarily offshore in the Beaufort Sea, accounts for one-third of the country's unconventional oil and natural gas reserves.

The responsible management of Canada's immense petroleum and mineral resources in the region supports our northern strategy goals: more predictable, timely environmental reviews; reduced regulatory burden and duplication; improved environmental protection, which is always important; and meaningful aboriginal consultation making provision for that. No one likes duplication just for duplication's sake and this would harmonize a lot of the regulatory burdens and ensure that they are far easier to follow.

More specifically, Bill C-22 would provide the clarity and certainty industry needs to ensure its developmental plans protect the environment while promoting economic development in Canada's north. The energy safety and security act would also help ensure that any future development occurs in a way that respects aboriginal communities and safeguards the environment for the benefit of future generations. All Canadians can be assured that our government is committed to the safety of Canadians and the protection of the environment.

Once passed, the new legislation would enshrine in law the polluter pays principle that I referred to earlier. This would fulfill our commitment in the Speech from the Throne. It would mean that oil and gas companies operating in both the Atlantic and Arctic offshore would be subject to one of the strictest liability regimes in the world.

Under the proposed act, before any offshore drilling or production activity could take place, the proponent must provide evidence that it can cover the financial costs and damages that may result from a spill. Absolute liability for the environmental costs and third-party losses in the unlikely event of a spill in the Arctic would increase from the $40 million that is there today to $1 billion. Of course, the regulators may require higher amounts if they deem it necessary.

A proponent found at fault for a spill would continue to be completely responsible for cleanup and compensation costs.

However, we are saying $1 billion for strict and absolute liability. Whether they are responsible or at fault or not, the liability would be there. Of course, anyone found at fault for a spill would continue to be completely responsible for cleanup and compensation costs, as I mentioned.

This would standardize northern and southern oil and gas regimes across the country.

In addition, Bill C-22 would demand that industry provide regulators with direct and unfettered access to $100 million in funds per project or a pooled fund of $250 million. This would give regulators immediate access to money in the unlikely case they need to take direct action to respond to a spill or compensate affected parties.

There would be an immediate short-term provision, there would be a longer-term provision, and there would be a significant increase in the amount of liability under strict liability and an unlimited amount otherwise.

The energy safety and security act would also establish the right of governments to seek environmental damages. This means that they would have the power to pursue operators for any damages to species, coastlines, or other public resources. These measures would build on a sound system overseen by strong regulators to ensure world-class standards for Canadian offshore and nuclear industries. They would further strengthen safety and security to prevent incidents and they would ensure swift response in the unlikely event that a spill takes place. Prevention and response and then, in the unlikely event, damages would ensue.

It would also build on recent legislative initiatives to complete our government's action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes by ensuring a predictable, timely regulatory system across the north that supports economic growth in the north while ensuring environmental stewardship. A prime example of such an effort is the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which received royal assent on March 27, 2013. It gives northerners more control over their own land and resources and will help ensure Northwest Territories residents benefit from the responsible development of the region's great resource potential.

Apart from having strong regulators, Canada has a responsible industry with a solid record of safety and security. With the assurance of these strict new requirements, northern communities can proceed with resource development projects with confidence. We need only consider the benefits the energy industry has already produced for northerners to appreciate its potential to generate even greater impacts for Arctic communities when these energy resources are responsibly developed. Responsible development is key in all areas, but particularly in the north.

In earlier phases of exploration, more than 1,500 wells were drilled, which led to abundant discoveries. Some discoveries were developed for production to support local energy consumption in the north. Imperial Oil's Norman Wells installation, for instance, has contributed to the town's energy supply and economic development. For several decades now, it has also sustained the surrounding communities in terms of jobs, businesses, and infrastructure. It has generated a large revenue stream to government with a percentage of revenue contributing to resource revenue sharing with aboriginal groups in the Mackenzie Valley under the provisions of their land claims.

We know that the Beaufort Sea has incredible potential to produce even better results in the future. There have been more than 60 discoveries to date. In addition, several companies hold exploration licences with cumulative work commitments of over $1.8 billion. Oil and gas companies are planning work and have filed extensive drilling proposals with the National Energy Board. The proposed drilling is a first for Arctic deep waters, and the first after the release of the National Energy Board's 2011 report on offshore drilling in the Canadian Arctic. That report confirmed that the National Energy Board's regulatory regime can address matters related to the safety of northerners, workers, and the environment.

Environmental stewardship is and always will be a key consideration in resource management. Achieving this objective requires accurate environmental and other scientific, social, and economic data to support good decision-making. Oil and gas exploration development creates unique opportunities to advance Canada's knowledge of the north. As part of the northern strategy, we are looking for innovative programs to advance responsible development and increase our knowledge of the north. One example is the Beaufort regional environmental assessment initiative, or BREA for short. Our government is providing $21.8 million over four years to ensure that governments, Inuvialuit, regulators, and industry are prepared for renewed oil and gas activity in the Beaufort Sea. Northerners play a prominent role in BREA and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is part of the national executive committee, while the Inuvialuit Game Council and representatives of the hunter and trapper committees are members of various committees and working groups.

The north's resource potential is a key asset for Canada, though still largely unexplored and untapped. Oil and gas exploration development essentially offers an opportunity for economic and social development through investments, jobs, and training and infrastructure, as well as revenues from resource development.

Given this world-class potential throughout the Arctic, it is imperative that exploration continue responsibly and that northerners actively participate and benefit from that development. Bill C-22 is designed to do just that, as it complements and advances the northern strategy, which promotes the same goals.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is another example of how the Conservative government refuses to act quickly and even meet international standards, which are much higher than those it is proposing.

I want to know whether the member opposite is prepared to ask his government to raise the standards to match the standards that exist elsewhere in the world, which are much tougher than the ones his minister is proposing.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, this particular legislation would raise the standard considerably in terms of the amount of liability and the amount that developers must put together. It would raise the liability amount from $30 million or $40 million, depending on the location, to $1 billion, and there are provisions beyond that. When we compare that to the amounts and the standards in the world, we certainly meet or exceed the top countries involved in this particular type of regime.

This legislation is leading in its own way, and it would be a standard that others would use and apply in the future.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am saddened by the fact that the member's speech is full of the same bluster we hear in the Conservatives' remarks about their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Everyone in the world—not just in Canada, but the world—knows that Canada is an outlier when it comes to its efforts with respect to its environmental record. The Conservatives are not even expected to meet their very low 2020 expectations under Copenhagen, and that is an extreme disappointment.

With regard to bluster, BP spent almost $8 billion trying to clean up the Gulf of Mexico after that oil spill, yet the member for Souris—Moose Mountain touts $1 billion as being an adequate amount of liability. Could he possibly tell me from his investigation how the $1 billion limit of liability was set, when we all know that costs are going to be well beyond $1 billion if there is ever a spill?

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the nuclear liability portion of this particular piece of legislation would ensure that we have continuous production of clean energy, particularly in Ontario, and that member is from this particular province.

In my riding we have the carbon capture and sequestration project, which takes care of emissions generated in other types of electrical production, so we have gone a long way in ensuring clean energy and in dealing with that aspect of it.

The present liability portion is $30 million to $40 million. This would be increased substantially. Not only would it be increased substantially, but the bill makes provision for additional funds to be put in place by the operators for immediate concerns and immediate purposes. Additionally, depending on which part of the legislation, the matter can be brought back to the House as well.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's contribution to this debate and the important work he is doing for his constituents.

I want to build on this discussion about liability. While I would find it otherwise irresistible to respond in some way to the previous member's question about greenhouse gases, and I am proud to say that this government has delivered a net reduction in GHG emissions for the first time ever, I need to talk about liability, because it is more to the point of this particular debate. I am concerned about the NDP's proposal for a nuclear liability amount that would not take into account the real capacity of insurers.

Could my colleague tell me how Bill C-22 would balance the need for operators to be responsible for the costs of an incident with the need to be realistic while protecting Canadian taxpayers? It is a tough but fair question at this time in the debate.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22 does address the need for operators to provide adequate and appropriate compensation—and I have referred to that—without burdening them with exorbitant costs for unrealistic amounts of insurance against events that are highly unlikely to occur in this country. The $1 billion that I spoke of strikes a proper balance between providing adequate compensation for citizens for a nuclear incident and holding companies to account in the event of an accident. In all of these matters we must have that balance.

The amount is also well above the liability limit imposed on nuclear operations in many other countries and is in line with the limits that have been proposed in the EU, so in a lot of ways we have set a standard and in a lot of ways we have done what other countries have been thinking about doing.

Of course, when we look at what the present regime is compared to what we propose it would be, we see there is a substantive and significant increase to ensure that there is adequate protection at the same time that we protecting taxpayers as well. This is a balance that I think has been appropriately achieved in this bill.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very excited to be getting up to speak on Bill C-22.

The energy safety and security act should actually boost Canadians' confidence in what is already a very world-class safety and regulatory regime for our offshore and nuclear industries.

Bill C-22 is important, and it is important to the marine environment that we all love. It demonstrates here today, with concrete proof, that our government is committed not only to protecting the safety and security of Canadians but also to protecting our environment.

Let us make no mistake: we are the only party in this House of Commons that is looking out for our environment and for our sustainable energy development. This energy development pays many of our bills, bills for education, pensions, and health care, things that vastly increase all Canadians' quality of life.

As we have said, under our responsible resource development plan, the development of our natural resources will proceed only, and I highlight this, if it is safely done in a way that is safe for Canadians and safe for our environment.

I want to give a little background.

Management of offshore oil and gas in this case is carried out jointly by the Government of Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Government of Canada has been working very co-operatively with these two provinces to create a really strong offshore safety system for oil and gas exploration and operations, and it is world class.

That is not just rhetoric. In fact, an independent consultancy group, PFC Energy, rated Canada, the U.K., Norway, and Australia as the world leaders in offshore regimes, in contrast to what the NDP was trying to feed us a few minutes ago.

This is based on our unique combination of extensive regulations and processes. Bill C-22 is going to take those even further. The energy safety and security act reflects the continued collaboration with the provinces and really strengthens regulations in three main areas. Those are prevention, response, and accountability.

Today, given my limited time, I am going to focus on response, and pollution response specifically.

Bill C-22 enhances our response capability by adding what we are calling a new tool to the emergency response tool kit in the very unlikely event of a spill. That tool is spill-treating agents.

I will address what spill-treating agents are, why they are a very effective response option, and the stringent safeguards this bill puts in place so their use is environmentally safe.

I am sure all members in the House would agree with me on one thing, which is that in a world-class response regime, it is critical to have the capability to respond in the most effective way possible if there is ever an incident. A key component of Bill C-22 involves giving responders the very best technology and scientific advancements available so that they can have that swift and effective response.

Spill-treating agents are scientifically determined to be the best way to mitigate the environmental effects if there is a spill. Of course, our aim is to prevent any spills, and Canada does have an excellent track record. In fact, the vast majority of spills are under one litre. That is right: under one litre. I think it is important that Canadians know that so they can put this issue in context.

Our largest spill, regrettably, was 1,000 barrels at Terra Nova in 2004. The next-largest Atlantic Canada spill was just 38 barrels. That lets people know what we are dealing with here.

No spill, of course, is one we want to see, but when used appropriately, generally within the first 12 hours, spill-treating agents can reduce the impact of an oil spill on the environment. When these substances are applied to the oil spill, they change the behaviour of the oil so that they can help control the path that the spill is going to take and they can mitigate the effects of the spill on the coastal or marine environment. They will also assist in the natural process of biodegradation.

Spill-treating agents are not new. In fact, they are an accepted part of the offshore oil and gas safety regime in a number of countries with regimes similar to Canada's, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

At present, spill treating agents are not used here in Canada, but in 2013 the tanker safety expert panel, an independent panel that was commissioned by Transport Canada, recommended that the government approve the use of these spill treating agents. Therefore, with this bill today we are accepting that recommendation. We believe it really does make sense. I should stress that these agents would only be used if their use would result in an overall net environmental benefit.

With that in mind, there are four conditions we have put in place in the bill. These agents could only be used if the conditions are met. First, the spill treating agent must be on an approved list prescribed by the government. Second, the spill treating agent must be included in the operator's spill contingency plan, which must be approved by the offshore regulator before the operator begins operations. Third, the regulator's chief conservation officer, who is an individual with a wide range of powers, has to determine that the use of the spill treating agent is really likely to achieve this environmental net benefit. Fourth, the spill treating agent has to be used in conjunction with the regulations and conditions that are imposed by the chief conservation officer I just spoke about.

I will just explain these conditions in a bit more depth. The first condition states that the spill treating agent has to be on a prescribed list. The minister of the environment, not the minister of natural resources, would actually establish this list based on scientific evidence regarding the potential for these agents to provide an environmentally beneficial effect. It is setting that bar very high.

The second condition is built into the operating licence. Every operator has to submit a contingency plan in order to actually obtain an operating licence. If the operator wants to use a spill treating agent, it has to be included in that plan. The regulatory bodies here are the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Unless one of these two boards determines that the use of the spill treating agent is likely to achieve this net environmental benefit, it would not be accepted as part of the spill contingency plan.

The effect of all this is to require really careful consideration of whether the spill treating agents are actually appropriate and environmentally beneficial, both at the front end of the planning process, as well as later on in the planning process when an event might actually happen. This planning would also allow for informed decisions to be made quickly, because in the event of a spill we want to act fast, so that we can contain it.

The third condition, that the offshore board has to determine that the use of the spill treating agent must be likely to achieve an environmental net benefit, is a way to verify that the response options that are put into that plan at the beginning are actually going to be appropriate on the scene, as every spill has different conditions. It would be assessed on both ends. There are a lot of variables that can be present at the time of a spill that might make the agents appropriate or not. They are things like waves and tides and how much the product might be dispersed.

The fourth and final condition is that the spill treating agent would have to be used in accordance with the regulations and any additional conditions that are imposed by the chief conservation officer. This gives some flexibility to further fine tune the conditions on the scene as our use of scientific and technical know-how evolves.

In conclusion, spill treating agents are part of a comprehensive toolkit of spill response techniques. Responders have indicated that they want them in their toolkit. Currently, the mechanical techniques they are using that we are most familiar with, booms and skimmers, can be quite effective but superior results can often be gained by using these spill treating agents.

Bill C-22 provides numerous checks and balances, which I have gone through, to ensure they would only be deployed when their use would be of a net environmental benefit. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, in his fall 2012 report, supported these measures.

Bill C-22 is one more reason Canadians can have confidence that their government is diligently protecting all of our interests in developing offshore oil and gas and protecting our environment every step of the way. I ask my hon. colleagues opposite to join us in supporting Bill C-22 at second reading so it can move on to committee.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that the member for Calgary Centre dealt primarily with oil and gas, but my concern is about the nuclear side of this bill.

One of her colleagues earlier suggested that the amounts proposed in this bill would bring Canada in line with Europe. However, our limitation would be $1 billion for a nuclear accident, while the U.S. limitation is $12.6 billion and Germany, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland have unlimited liability. There is no liability.

Is putting a liability cap on something that is potentially so dangerous not a way of subsidizing an industry? Is that not a negative consequence for the Canadian taxpayer?

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear the NDP worried about the taxpayer, but I am delighted to answer the question.

I have a particular interest in the nuclear industry, because I covered it as a natural resources reporter. I can tell members that this $1 billion is the right balance between providing adequate compensation for citizens if there is a nuclear incident and also holding companies to account.

We are moving to the polluter pays model. This limit is well above the liability limits that are being imposed on nuclear operators in many countries.

The NDP is never happy until it can actually shut down all of our industry in Canada.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask the same question of this member as I did of the previous Conservative speaker.

The Conservatives are somewhat delusional in having Canadians believe that they care at all about the environment. They are outliers, not just in Canada, but throughout the world in their inattention to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Now, the member would have us believe that somehow this legislation is the panacea to protecting our environment.

The previous NDP member asked about liability. It cost close to $8 billion to clean up the Gulf of Mexico after the BP spill. Somehow, she thinks that $1 billion is an acceptable amount to Canadians as a limit of liability.

I would ask her very specifically, because she claims that it is a balance, if she can tell us how the amount of $1 billion was arrived at, when other countries have vastly larger limits and other spills have cost vastly more than $1 billion.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. I apologize.

Greenhouse gases do not go down by themselves. The member opposite should know that the government's record is reducing greenhouse gases. We are more than halfway on our way to meeting our emissions targets, while the greenhouse gas levels went up 30% under the Liberals opposite.

The safety record in the Canadian offshore is absolutely phenomenal. We have a phenomenal track record. We have basically never had a consequential spill on our west coast. On our east coast, I went through the two spills: one was of 1,000 barrels and the other was of 38 barrels.

Believe me when I say that $1 billion is plenty, and it meets the criteria that are being used in other countries around the world, and exceeds them in many instances.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, it seems to be that, here in Ottawa, we receive officials from all across the north who are coming here because they want to see that their local input and local priorities can go forward. We have passed many bills in the House to help support development and to help support investment.

Obviously, there are many cases where Canadians want to see increased jobs and growth, but also increased environmental sustainability. The member has brought up many points in her speech that, as she said, strike a balance. For example, there are many opportunities in the north where small hydro projects or small nuclear projects may allow a resource development community to be able to open up new opportunities.

Does the member feel that this piece of legislation would help those kinds of opportunities? Again, these new kinds of plants—for example, nuclear facilities in France—require more updated laws. Would these kinds of opportunities, in the member's estimation, come along with this bill's passage?

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, of course they will, and we heard some very interesting testimony at the natural resources committee recently about how energy development in Canada has actually extended our life spans. It has resulted in the reforestation of much of this country, because we used to take all of our fuel straight off the surface of the earth and cut down all the trees. Now, because of advancements in oil and gas and nuclear, we actually are living in a much greener country and on a greener planet than we used to.

Of course, we cannot go without mentioning our aboriginal Canadian citizens, because we are specifically targeting to work with them. We have been consulting with them and have heard that in resource development, they are often a community that can really benefit from this kind of activity.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak in support of our government's proposed new legislation to increase accountability in Canada's nuclear and offshore industries.

Before I continue, I would like to announce to all present that I will be splitting my time with the valued and intellectual member for Yukon, who sits with me on the natural resources committee and does an absolutely amazing job standing up for Yukoners and their natural resource sector and does a much better job than the previous member of Parliament for that region certainly did.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs has responsibility for Canada's international treaties as well as nuclear non-proliferation policy, he has stressed the importance of bringing Canada into an international nuclear liability convention. This convention would facilitate trade among nuclear power manufacturers while providing for streamlined compensation in the event of a nuclear accident in a country that is a party to the treaty. This is important to Canada, where 15% of electricity is generated by nuclear power. The mix of nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar-powered generation means that 77% of the electricity produced in Canada emits no greenhouse gases. We are number one in the G7 in this regard.

To advance Canada's intention to join an international nuclear liability and compensation regime, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Consular, the hon. member for Blackstrap, signed the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage, or the CSC, in Vienna, in December 2013. I would like to talk about some of those benefits.

With Canada's having achieved that important milestone, let me emphasize that the passage of Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, would allow Canada to ratify and fully join the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage. I should note that Canada's signature on the treaty has encouraged Japan and South Korea to accelerate their approval processes for joining.

Once one of those countries joins the convention, the combined nuclear power capacity of treaty members will, according to the requirements set by the convention's drafters, be sufficient for the treaty to enter or come into force. This would allow Canada's nuclear trade with the U.S.A. and other treaty member states to flourish. It would establish absolute certainty that liability lies with the operator in the event of a nuclear incident. This clarity would allow manufacturers of nuclear power components and systems in member states to export without the worry of liability that may otherwise impede trade.

Ratification of the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage would offer Canadians two additional pools of international funds for compensation up to $1.45 billion in the event of a nuclear incident. Ratification would also provide exclusive jurisdiction of the Canadian court in the case of a nuclear accident in Canada causing damage internationally. As noted, the convention on supplementary compensation would also channel liability exclusively to the nuclear operator of the site where a nuclear accident occurs, thereby providing business certainty to the many nuclear supply chain companies that add value to the Canadian economy domestically and abroad.

As a treaty member, in the event of a nuclear accident outside Canada, Canada would have its liability limited to $23 million per event, and it would be recovered from nuclear operators in Canada. Taxpayers would be fully protected from any expense. The method of reimbursement to the federal government by the nuclear industry for any amount paid out would be established by regulation prior to Canadian ratification of the convention. This has international importance and consequence.

The convention is aimed at a worldwide liability regime in which all states may participate, regardless of whether they are members of any existing civil nuclear liability conventions or have nuclear installations in their territories.

While the convention is open to all states, those with nuclear installations must also be party to the International Atomic Energy Agency's nuclear safety convention. Canada ratified that convention in 1995 and since then has been a leader in nuclear safety, transparency, accountability, and best practices at the triennial review meetings.

Canada's ratification of the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage would be a favourable response to international calls, led by the U.S. government and the IAEA, for countries to establish a global liability regime. As the world continues to recognize the clean energy advantages of nuclear power, the importance of such an instrument as this only increases, and of course, there are domestic benefits as well.

The convention would also facilitate nuclear development for Canadian provinces, especially Ontario and New Brunswick, which have nuclear power generating programs already.

Within the G7, Canada and Japan are the only members that do not belong to a major international civil nuclear liability regime. This would also be addressed through Bill C-22, and we are confident that Canada's example will help move other countries in the same direction.

This legislation brings Canada up to date with international standards and best practices in the nuclear sector. Our government has made a number of attempts to modernize our nuclear safety system. This is my third Parliament, and I remember the previous iterations of this legislation, and every time, only the NDP opposed improved safety measures.

We on this side of the House support a strong and safe nuclear industry that generates non-emitting electricity. Allow me to quote the Leader of the Opposition. These are the words of the NDP. They are not mine. He stated:

I want to be very clear. The NDP is opposed to any new nuclear infrastructure in Canada.

Canadians know that nuclear energy can be generated safely while supporting jobs for thousands of Canadians. While the NDP will continue to oppose our efforts to improve the safety of this important industry, we will focus on the safety of Canadians and a safe environment. It is time to move this very important initiative to its conclusion.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I take issue with the comments of the member opposite. I first have to say that the NDP's priority is protecting the interests of Canadians and respecting Canadian tax dollars. With that respect comes a real sense of perplexity as to why the government would place a limit on the liability of the oil and gas and nuclear industries. For example, he has just said that the nuclear industry is an incredibly safe industry. If it is a mature and safe industry, then let it pay for itself. Why should Canadians be on the hook for potential liability caused by this mature and safe industry? Other countries have either no limit on liability for these companies or they have limits that are set much higher than those set by the government.

My question to the member opposite is this: why have limited liability? Why leave Canadian taxpayers on the hook for industry disasters?

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who asked me the question left a lot of facts out of that question. For example, she failed to mention that not only is Canada's proposed set target of $1 billion not the highest, but it is also by far not the lowest. There are a number of other countries around the world that have much lower limits.

She also failed to mention that in the United States, for example, which has over five times as many nuclear installations, they have a pooled plan whereby they have individual liabilities for their companies, which when combined form a pooled amount that is far greater than Canada's. We simply do not have that capacity.

The hon. member should have brought up the fact that Japan, before the Fukushima incident, had unlimited liability for its companies. However, no company has the fiscal capacity to deal with a disaster like Fukushima, and the Government of Japan had to step in and deal with it at any rate.

The $1 billion is the right amount. Everyone in the industry who knows what they are talking about accepts it. The only people who do not accept it are the ones who do not know what they are talking about.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me a chance to address the bill. It is not that I have not had the opportunity in the past, because I think this is the fifth time this legislation has come forward, and I have been here for at least four of those. It is good to see it finally moving ahead. Through all of those iterations, the NDP has been consistently incoherent.

I want to add to something the member said earlier. Canada does have $1 billion put aside for compensation, and I believe that part of the bill deals with signing the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage, which would bring in another half-billion dollars that would be potentially available if it was needed as well.

I would like to know if the member would address some of the limits we find in other countries to see how Canada's limit of $1 billion straight up and that other half-billion dollars that is available through the supplementary compensation fits with what is going on in other countries. I want to note, as the member did, that the Americans have far more nuclear installations. They have a pool there, but their individual operators are actually liable for less than half of what the Canadian operators would be individually. I look forward to his comments.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the reasoned and logical question from my colleague. We used to sit on the natural resources committee together for a number of years when he was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Natural Resources. I certainly appreciate his wisdom and guidance and his knowledge and expertise on this file. We should not be surprised that an intelligent question comes from him.

Let me compare Canada's current position in the bill, which is $1 billion. It is in line with international standards. It is significantly higher than the limits set by many of our nuclear peers. In the U.K., the operator liability is currently capped at approximately $260 million, which is basically one-quarter of what we are proposing in the legislation. South Africa is $240 million. Spain is $227 million, and France is even lower, at $140 million.

My finding is that $1 billion is a reasoned approach. We met extensively with many stakeholders who are involved in this. We are protecting the Canadian public and at the same time are not setting such a burdensome insurance or liability regime in place that we would drive business completely out of Canada, especially a clean business like nuclear energy. One would think the Liberals and the NDP would be in favour of non-GHG electrical generation. I am surprised that they would impose caps on these Canadian businesses that would basically drive the businesses out of business, and goodness knows where we would get our clean electricity then.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have 10 minutes to try to do as much for the issue as my great friend and colleague from Wetaskiwin just did. After listening to him, I probably do not need to say much more. I think he said it all. Even the Liberal Party agrees he did such a fantastic job.

Of the many issues and the many persuasive arguments to support Bill C-22, few matter more to the residents of the Canadian north than the fact that the legislation would protect and defend the Arctic offshore. This is something all Canadians and northerners particularly are genuinely passionate about.

Our government has put the Arctic region higher on the domestic policy agenda than it ever has been before. We are determined to see Canada's north achieve its promise as a healthy and prosperous region that captures the benefits of economic development without harming the Arctic's unique environment.

We envision a north that fully realizes its social and economic potential to secure a higher standard of living and quality of life for today's generation and for those that follow. The vision is articulated in our northern strategy that focused on exercising our sovereignty, enhancing northern environmental stewardship, promoting social and economic development, and improving and devolving northern governance.

Since releasing the strategy, our government has taken action in all four areas, equipping northerners with new authorities, resources and tools that they need to play a central role in the Canadian economy now and into the future.

Less than two months ago, our government's promised Northwest Territories Devolution Act received royal assent, giving northerners control of their own onshore resources and improving regulatory regimes in the Northwest Territories. Bill C-22 is the latest in this long list of initiatives.

As members know, the Arctic's offshore harbours enormous resource wealth, which, if responsibly harnessed, can increase opportunity and prosperity in the Arctic and across all of Canada's north for generations. However, as Bill C-22 makes clear, we are not advocating development at any price. We are instituting important new measures with the legislation to protect the environment and public health and safety. We are putting industry on notice that it will be held to account in the unlikely event of any spill.

Our government recognizes the need for effective stewardship to ensure that future resource development occurs in a way that respects the traditions of first nation and Inuit communities and that ensures the Arctic environment is safeguarded.

To explain how this proposed act would advance these goals, let me first explain the federal role in Canada's Arctic offshore.

Petroleum management in the north is legislated under the Canadian Petroleum Resource Act and the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act. Land, royalty and benefit issues are managed by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada on behalf of the minister. The National Energy Board administers the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act and associated technical regulations.

While offshore oil and gas reserves remain under federal authority, Canada's three northern territories are now strongly engaged in responsible resource management. As I previously alluded to, on April 1 of this year the Government of the Northwest Territories assumed responsibility for onshore land and resource management in that territory. In Yukon, the transfer of land resource management responsibilities occurred in 2003, and we look to future negotiations with Nunavut toward a devolution agreement in that territory.

Devolution gives northerners control over resource development decisions, among other things. As one example, the Northwest Territories devolution agreement provided for the transfer of more than 100 oil and gas licences from the Government of Canada to the territorial government. This included several production licences as well as numerous exploration licences in the Sahtu settlement region, which are attracting industry interest in its shale resources. These new responsibilities allow the territories to take full control over exploration, production, and supply of oil and gas to northern communities and beyond.

Within these areas of federal jurisdiction, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada officials work to create the conditions for a positive investment climate that enables the private sector to successfully compete in the north. There is a well-established market driven oil and gas rights issuance process, with an annual opportunity to obtain exploration rights through a competitive process. This process of regular calls for bids increases investment confidence in Canada's frontier lands.

There is widespread agreement on the need for responsible resource development to create jobs and economic opportunity across the north, and a willingness on the part of all parties to work together to achieve this potential. However, confidence in industry's ability to be responsible environmental stewards was eroded with the fateful accident in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2010. This led to the subsequent Arctic offshore drilling review by the National Energy Board, which triggered a federal review of Canada's frontier oil and gas regulatory regime. In turn, this led to the development of the legislation that is before us today.

Informed by the findings of the Arctic offshore drilling review, along with recommendations and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's 2012 fall report, Bill C-22 would take action to ensure that no development would proceed unless rigorous environmental stewardship measures were already put in place.

The energy safety and security act proposes new safety and environmental authorities for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the National Energy Board to help them better administer oil and gas development in the Arctic offshore. Chief among the improvements, the legislation would raise offshore absolute liability limits from $40 million to $1 billion. This would mean that only companies that have sufficient financial resources to prevent and respond to incidents are active in Canada's offshore.

Bill C-22 would also authorize the use of spill-treating agents when they can be expected to achieve a net environmental benefit. This would create a new tool for operators to use in the response to an offshore spill, should one ever occur.

The legislation would enshrine the principle of polluter pays. This means that in the unlikely event of a spill, any of the damages to species, coastlines, or other public resources could be addressed. Especially important, it would give regulators direct access to $100 million in funds per project or a pooled fund of $250 million, if needed, in case they had to take action to respond to a spill or to compensate affected parties.

The proposed amendments complement the changes to the territorial lands and resource management legislation in the Northwest Territories, which establishes fixed review timelines, monetary penalties for regulatory infractions, and cost recovery regulations. The territorial government is obligated to substantially mirror all amendments in federal frontier statutes to support integration for a minimum of 20 years.

Once passed, the legislation will confirm the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development's authority to order the joint exploration and development of oil and gas fields that straddle federal offshore administrative jurisdiction and other administrative jurisdictions.

Our government has consulted widely on these proposed amendments with territorial governments, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and industry representatives, all of whom, by the way, support these measures because they recognize they are necessary and should be in place before any major development in the north occurs, in order to protect the environment and public health and safety.

With approval of Bill C-22, all of these measures will be established prior to any drilling in the Arctic offshore.

Beyond being our government's northern strategic goals, these aspirations are shared by the people in all the communities across all of Canada's north. People are counting on us to pass this important legislation so they can responsibly develop the north's region and utilize and realize its immense energy potential.

Therefore, I call on all parties in the House to join us in supporting this important legislation for the people of the north and indeed the people of Canada.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will come back to the nuclear energy side of it, and I know there are not a whole lot of nuclear reactors up in Yukon.

The proposed legislation suggests an upper limit of $1 billion for nuclear power operators. Nuclear power operators in Canada generate about $5 billion a year in electricity, so it would seem that the cost of actually providing a bigger level of protection to Canadians is well within their grasp. In the United States it is $12.6 billion and in most of Europe it is an unlimited liability. Why, then, would the Conservatives consider $1 billion to be sufficient to protect the taxpayers and to ensure that the plants are as safe as possible?

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the member for Wetaskiwin did an excellent job of explaining why the $1 billion liability would be sufficient and balanced for our country. The one thing that is important to note is it is a substantial increase. This has not changed since 1976, and here we are in 2014 looking forward to cleaner energy generation in our country.

The one thing that needs to be expressed when we talk about this is finding the balance of attracting this sort of development for cleaner, greener energy technology in our country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We do not want to set a limit so high that it obstructs any of that, because then we have to rely on diesel generation. I and the people of the north know this. We have to rely on burning diesel to heat our homes and to transport food on the highways. Electrical generation in our country needs to get cleaner and greener, and this would be a great way of doing that.

The member referenced the U.S. $12.6 billion liability. The member for Wetaskiwin accurately pointed out that the U.S. enjoys the benefit of being able to pool those liability plants, and individual plants are lower than the Canadian limit. While we talk about a couple of others that have unlimited liability plants that are higher than Canada, there are a number that are substantially lower, including the United Kingdom. South Africa has a $240 million limit. Spain has a $227 million limit. France is even lower at $140 million.

Canada has found the right balance to ensure we can deal with this without making it so obstructionist that we are unable to enjoy the benefits that we would get from clean energy generation and the Canadian benefit with lower and cleaner electrical costs.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to come back to what my colleague just said about the liability limit for companies. If there were an unfortunate accident and the damages were much greater than the limit proposed in the bill, who would be liable for the difference? Would the private company be liable for the accident or would the taxpayers be left paying the balance yet again?

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the one thing we have to reflect on is what benefits Canadians receive from cleaner energy technology. I am not so inclined to deal with the worse-case scenarios because what we have, as was noted, is a mature, responsible, well-developed, and extremely safe industry that happens to provide tremendous benefits to Canadians from coast to coast to coast with clean energy generation.

An increase in the limited liability from $40 million up to $1 billion is a substantial increase. It is remarkably higher than other countries.

If we are going to talk about the unfortunate and very unlikely event of a disaster, then we have to be realistic about the clean-up and the capacity to do that. We can look at Fukushima for example, as the member for Wetaskiwin pointed out. Despite the unlimited liability that Japan carried, there was no way the corporation could cover those costs, and Japan ended up having to step in and pick up those costs.

It does not matter what we set the liability amount at. If we make it so outlandish that there is no capacity to deliver it, then it is an unrealistic point we are making in legislation. We are ensuring we strike that perfect balance so as to invite that development, invite that industry, so Canadians can enjoy the benefits of safe, clean, green energy technology at an affordable rate with reasonable and sensible protection for Canada and its environment.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the bill, which ironically is titled the energy safety and security act. I say ironically because nothing in the bill actually talks about energy security, which is something that residents in my riding and across Canada have been asking the government to protect for many years. Energy security means actually providing that we have a reliable and secure source of energy in our homes, in our businesses, and in our workplaces.

The bill is weaving its way through and has taken forever. There are portions of the bill that are to ratify international obligations. It was introduced by the government on several previous occasions, and each time the government was the cause of the bill actually not proceeding. First, it was the quick call of an election in 2008 before the four years was up, then a prorogation actually eliminated the ability for that bill to go forward, and finally, an election was called before the bill finished wending its way, so it has been on the books for several years.

There is some importance to the speed with which the bill goes through, but obviously the government wants to take its time and discuss it over a long period of time. However, another bill, Bill C-24, was voted on in an absolutely tearing hurry just this afternoon, and yet I was not able to speak on it.

I have had meetings with constituents who have expressed serious concerns and serious reservations about the core of a bill that would give the minister the ability to take away the citizenship of persons born in Canada, which is an unprecedented thing in Canada and should have had a considerable amount of opportunity for members to discuss. Yet the government moved time allocation with only about five hours of debate on this subject. It boggles the mind why that is so much more necessary to be hurried along than this bill, on which the government has taken years and years.

I will focus mostly on the nuclear side of this, because I have some personal concerns about the nuclear side of it. There have been a number of serious events on this planet involving nuclear power generation. Those events involving nuclear power generation have brought, I think, into crystal clear relief the fact that we have completely underestimated the costs of an actual disaster in these things. We are treating these nuclear power plants as just a piece of the landscape, but when in fact they go wrong, the cost is absolutely enormous.

Three Mile Island was a relatively small disaster. It was the first of the biggies, but it was a small disaster in terms of what actually happened. Nobody was killed and there were no bodily injuries, but the cleanup took 14 years and $1 billion, starting in 1979. A billion dollars was what was needed in 1979 for a small problem. Now we are in 2014, 35 years further along, and $1 billion is all that the nuclear industry has to put up if there is a liability involving a nuclear problem at a nuclear plant.

Let us fast-forward just seven years to Chernobyl. Chernobyl had $15 billion in direct losses. That is the plant itself, direct losses at the time on the site, a number of deaths, a whole lot of injuries; and over the next 30 years, it is estimated that because of the thousands upon thousands of residents of Ukraine and Belarus who will develop cancer, those costs could be over $500 billion.

We are not suggesting that the nuclear industry in Canada is capable of covering a cost of $500 billion, but to suggest $1 billion is all that is necessary is laughable, particularly when this industry is now quite robust and has been around a long time in relative terms.

The government is suggesting only $1 billion. That is actually a subsidy to this industry. We do not need to be subsidizing the nuclear power industry in this country, particularly when just two years ago the government gave away the CANDU licence to SNC-Lavalin. Now, a private corporation is actually in control of the development of our nuclear reactor system. It is not a corporation that is getting a whole lot of good reviews lately.

Then we come to 2011 and Fukushima. This is by far the worst of the nuclear disasters. It really brings home just how bad things can get when things go wrong in ways that are not expected. That is the essence of what nuclear designers are trying to do: figure out what we can do to protect against the unexpected.

Fukushima will probably cost between $250 billion and $500 billion when it is done. Nobody is absolutely certain. There is an untold human cost of Fukushima. They have had to evacuate and evict 159,000 people from the area around Fukushima. Though those people have not been told this, they can probably never go back to their homes.

Caesium-137, radioactive caesium, has a 30-year half-life. That radioactive material is now all over the ground, in the water, and in the air, in the area around that reactor. Because of a 30-year half-life, that means it will be centuries before those places are safe to inhabit again. Those people are still paying mortgages on their homes, but it will be centuries before they can go back to them.

That is the magnitude of what a nuclear disaster is really all about. I am afraid the government really does not understand just what it is dealing with in terms of tossing out the number $1 billion as if it is somehow an appropriate number to suggest the nuclear industry would have to come up with.

I am of two minds on the whole notion of nuclear energy as being a good thing for Canada. My father-in-law came back from World War II. He was a pilot in the RAF. He went to Chalk River and helped build those first few reactors at Chalk River. He was part of the design team that designed the CANDU system. His name was Roy Tilbe. He has passed on now, but he had a fierce loyalty to the nuclear industry generally and a fierce dedication to trying to make it a safe industry.

He would be appalled to think that the taxpayers have to pick up the ball if the industry is not safe enough. That is essentially what the government is suggesting to the industry, after six or seven years of dithering on what to do, by offering a paltry $1 billion as all that is required. The costs are of such magnitude that $1 billion is dwarfed by what those costs really are in the sense of a nuclear accident.

Let me talk about another cost that nobody here has talked about. Nuclear reactors in Canada and elsewhere have effluent, an output, waste. Nuclear waste is very toxic. It is something that people should not go near.

I was up on a little tour of Chalk River, where they showed us their nuclear waste management site. They did not call it a disposal site, but a management site. We went on a little bus. There was a bunch of Japanese and German tourists on the bus with us. We went around to the management site, and we were told that inside the steel cylinders encased in concrete was the waste. We know that the steel lasts about 150 years, and the concrete lasts about 75 years. So every 75 years, the concrete has to be replaced, and every 150 years the steel has to be replaced.

I asked the guide how long that would have to be done. I was told 75 years for the concrete and 150 for the steel. No, I said; I asked how long we had to manage the waste. I was told 500,000 years.

Has anybody really recognized what that means? What will $1 billion be worth in 500,000 years? Who will be around? Will SNC-Lavalin still be around? Will I still be around? The safety of Canadians should be paramount, and the industry should be held accountable.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when we look at the nuclear industry, we see it is ultimately the responsibility of governments to work hand in hand with other governments, so that we achieve the safest possible environment where there is nuclear waste or byproducts from using nuclear energy.

One of the products we use extensively is isotopes for X-rays and so forth. It needs to be acknowledged that there is a very real practical need in medicine. Having those isotopes is of critical importance for scans and so forth. I wonder if the member could comment on that. There is a lot of discussion about nuclear reactors, but there are other aspects of the nuclear industry of which we need to be aware.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

In fact, Mr. Speaker, it was the Prime Minister who fired the nuclear safety officer when she declared that the reactor that was preparing these much-needed isotopes was operating in an unsafe way because some procedures had not been followed with regard to earthquake-proofing that reactor. The answer from the government was, “To hell with safety; let's fire the regulator”.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to come back to the argument we sometimes hear that there is little chance of such events ever occurring. Our colleagues opposite say it is strictly theoretical.

I was living in Europe when the Chernobyl disaster struck. The media told us we had nothing to fear since the clouds stopped at the borders. That is actually what the media reported at the time.

Ukraine was heavily criticized at the time for its deplorable management of nuclear power plants. However, even a country like Japan, with its advanced safety mechanisms and technologies, had to deal with a major incident like the one in Fukushima.

Can my colleague speak to that part of the argument we keep hearing, about the unlikelihood of a nuclear accident?

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is exactly the point I have been making throughout, that we and the companies running these things need to be prepared for the absolute worst-case scenario. To avoid the worst-case scenario is obviously the best course of action. These corporations are not public; these are corporations whose bottom lines are to make money for their shareholders. Therefore, managing risk means asking what corners they can cut. If their liability is only $1 billion, then they might be more inclined to cut corners in the design or operation of a reactor, and that cannot happen.

We must insist that the operators be completely responsible for whatever they do, which would, in turn, make them much more conscious of avoiding the absolute worst-case scenario.

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May 29th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-22.

We recommend supporting the bill in principle at second reading and calling for greater liability and global best practices. Our position at third reading will depend on the government's response.

This bill warrants further study in committee to see whether it can be improved. It will be hard to sit down with the Conservatives and improve a bill because they think they have all the answers. We know how that goes. We have seen it before.

Bill C-22 updates the Canadian nuclear liability regime and sets out the victim compensation procedures and conditions in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant. It maintains the principles whereby operators have limited, exclusive, no-fault absolute nuclear liability, except in the event of war or terrorist attacks.

The bill increases the limit of absolute liability from $75 million to $1 billion. It extends the deadline for filing compensation claims for bodily injury from 10 years to 30 years to address latent illnesses. The 10-year deadline is maintained for all other types of damage.

The changes in terms of nuclear liability apply to Canadian nuclear facilities such as nuclear power plants, research reactors, fuel processing plants and facilities for managing used nuclear fuel.

Bill C-22 also updates the offshore regime for oil and gas operations, in order to prevent incidents and to guarantee a rapid response in the event of a spill. It keeps the idea of an operator's unlimited liability in cases of demonstrated fault or negligence. It raises the absolute limit of liability for offshore oil and gas exploration projects and sets it at $1 billion, without proof of fault. The current limit is $40 million in Arctic waters and $30 million in the Atlantic. The bill explicitly mentions the polluter pays principle and clearly and officially establishes that polluters will be held responsible.

The bill strengthens the current liability regime, but it does nothing to protect the environment, or Canadian taxpayers, because it still exposes them to risks.

The Conservatives are constantly behind our international partners and they ignore best practices when it is a matter of recognizing the dangers of an inadequate liability regime.

We have already expressed our opposition to the inadequate limits in the matter of nuclear liability. The provisions must be considered a step in the right direction in terms of the current limits, but this bill does not adequately consider the real dangers that Canadians are facing. We hope that we will be able to deal with this point in committee, if the Conservatives let us work in committee, as I was saying.

Only the NDP takes the protection of Canadians' interests seriously, while the other parties take a cavalier attitude to nuclear safety and the safety of offshore oil and gas operations.

If the nuclear energy industry is a mature one, it must pay its way. This bill continues to subsidize the industry by making taxpayers assume any financial risk in excess of $1 billion.

Taxpayers should not have to subsidize the nuclear industry instead of subsidizing other sources of renewable energy. Other countries feel that their citizens deserve better protection in the case of a nuclear accident.

Bill C-22 has come before the House before. It was then Bill C-5, which went through the committee stage and was passed at report stage in 2008. However, it died on the Order Paper when the Prime Minister called an election, ignoring the fact that it was supposed to be held on a fixed date.

Bill C-20 made it through second reading to committee stage in 2009, but it died on the order paper when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament. Bill C-15 was introduced in 2010 and then nothing happened for a year, until the 2011 election. This government claims that this is an important bill. Now, we have to sit until midnight until the end of June because the government says this bill is important, even though we have been talking about the same bill since 2008. All of a sudden this bill is important to the Conservatives.

The latest version of the bill does not give the public the protection it needs. Its biggest flaw is that it puts an artificial $1 billion limit on liability, even though the costs of a serious accident can be much higher than that. Taxpayers will be stuck paying for the remaining cleanup and compensation costs. In reality, the $1 billion limit is not enough, and imposing an artificial ceiling amounts to subsidizing energy corporations, since they will not have to cover the full costs of the risks associated with what they do.

I want to share some figures. The figure of $1 billion for liability may seem like a lot, but it is an insufficient, arbitrary amount if we consider the costs of cleaning up nuclear disasters and marine oil spills, which have happened in the past.

In Germany, for example, nuclear liability is unlimited, fault or no fault. Germany also has financial security of $3.3 billion Canadian per power plant. The United States has set an absolute liability limit of $12.6 billion U.S. Other countries tend toward unlimited absolute liability.

A nuclear liability limit of $1 billion would not have covered a fraction of the costs of the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The Government of Japan estimates the cleanup costs at more than $250 billion.

The government still brags about saving money for taxpayers and giving them a break. This same government is prepared to protect major corporations by setting the limit at $1 billion. However, we have seen that the disasters in other countries have cost more than $1 billion. When a disaster happens, someone has to pay. Why should Canadian taxpayers have to foot the bill for a disaster?

The NDP says that amendments will have to be put forward in committee to improve this bill. We are not against this bill, but we have to protect Canadians, who pay enough taxes already. That money is supposed to cover their own needs. The government is cutting funding for health care and all kinds of other things. Our roads are full of potholes. Everyone is mad because the government is not investing enough money in programs that people need.

The government is ready to let oil and nuclear companies get away with one heck of a deal. Their insurance should cover those costs. We cannot let them get away with not paying for insurance or paying only half as much as they should. If we do, and if a disaster happens, they will declare bankruptcy, and taxpayers will be on the hook for the bill. We have seen companies do that. As soon as the price gets too high, they declare bankruptcy. They should be the ones paying. They believe in the industry because it is profitable, so they should set money aside for possible disasters. Canadians are not the ones who should foot the bill, but that is exactly what they have to do.

The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could cost the company $42 billion to clean up. The company has been sued, and there will be criminal penalties.

Is Canada ready to foot the bill for these companies? My answer is no.

Bill C-22 does not go far enough. We will recommend changing the numbers.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I have been hearing today reminds me of the philosophy of the Titanic's owners: the ship is big enough and unsinkable, so we do not even need to have enough lifeboats for everyone because there will not be a disaster.

The Conservatives' solutions seem to be wishful thinking. For example, contaminated water from the oil sands is mixed with bentonite and a polymer. Instead of having a pond full of contaminated water, you get a solid mass that you can walk on. Bentonite and all kinds of toxic substances will have to be treated. I am trying to imagine what they will do in 50 to 75 years when they want to do something with this toxic material that will be produced in unimaginable quantities. There could be millions or billions of cubic metres.

You cannot improvise when dealing with nuclear waste, which will pile up for 40,000, 50,000 or 80,000 years. We have to look beyond the immediate future. I would like my colleague to comment on that.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

When it comes to nuclear energy, we are still dealing with the unknown. No one wants nuclear waste in their backyard. That is not the case with electricity, which is a clean energy. No country wants to take another country's nuclear waste. Just try asking the Americans if they want our nuclear waste. They will say no. Just try asking Canadians if they want the Americans' nuclear waste. They will say no. Just try asking a province if it wants another province's nuclear waste. Everyone will say no. No one wants nuclear waste.

That will cause a problem. They have never found the answer. In the future, when we are stuck with something that we cannot get rid of, there will be no money to deal with it. That is why we have to protect ourselves.

If disaster strikes, things are even worse. Just think of what happened in Japan. Let me remind people that taxpayers had to pay for that, not the company. It is nice to own a company that can cause damage without any repercussions. The people will pay for the cleanup. However, who reaps the profits? None other than the company, which does not share the profits with the public. It shares them with its executives, who receive huge bonuses and treat themselves to millions of dollars in salaries. Nonetheless, if the company is not careful and causes damage, the taxpayers will pay.

The same thing is true of spills that can happen at sea. A spill could occur in Chaleur Bay or anywhere else. It can destroy an entire fishing industry. This is not Mexico. If a spill occurs in Chaleur Bay, it will stay in Chaleur Bay for a long time.

I say that the government must be careful and take action before this happens in order to protect the interests of Canadians.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for his speech.

My colleague is a former miner. That makes me think of the mines being closed. The taxpayers are stuck with the waste. They have to pay to clean up the mines. The Conservatives are keen on the nuclear system. They like to beat their chests and say that they are the ones protecting taxpayers.

To describe what they are trying to do to taxpayers, there is one word I would like to use, but I will not because it is unparliamentary. I will just say that what they are trying to do is coax taxpayers into paying for nuclear waste.

Could my colleague attempt to explain why the Conservatives, who say they want to protect taxpayers, are trying to make them pay for nuclear waste?

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

What Canadians do not understand, in my opinion, is that the Conservatives ask for their votes and then, when they get them, they answer to Bay Street in Toronto. That is where their employers are, on Bay Street, in Toronto, just like the Liberals, actually.

As an example, I would like to talk about the paper mill in Bathurst. It had been in existence for 100 years, and someone was making money with it. The Bathurst Power and Paper Company then became Smurfit-Stone. It is incredible. The bosses exploited the forests in our area so much that there are no forests left.

When the mill closed, the bosses in question signed a contract to sell the steel, but they forgot to include disposing of the cement buildings. Now, in East Bathurst, New Brunswick, we have six cement silos and a lot of cement walls. It looks like the landscape in Iraq after the war.

The government has completely washed its hands of the matter. Now the residents are going to have to pay to get rid of it all. I am not even talking about anything nuclear. It is a simple job and it is going to cost $3 million to get rid of, though it should have been in the contract. Normally, you get rid of the steel, you close the plant, you clean up the site and you put down some green grass so that people can at least look at something nice. Instead, we are left with a place that looks the war in Iraq was fought there.

That is what the Conservatives' bill does today. That is what we are going to get, when all is said and done. They are trying to make us believe that going from $40 million to $1 billion makes for a good bill. All along, though, it is a present from them to the industry. That is what they are doing.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke to speak to Bill C-22, which some of my colleagues have already discussed today. I will obviously echo what has been said. As I usually do, I will say at the outset that I will be supporting the bill at second reading. I think the first thing to do is to announce how I will be voting when the time comes.

This bill is a step in the right direction, as many bills are, admittedly, although that is not always the case. Once again, there are a few flaws. The purpose of debate in the House is to discuss, debate and try to convince the people in the other parties that the bill can be improved.

Several points of interest to us will have to be examined in greater detail with experts. One of the best ways to examine a bill is to invite experts to discuss it. The other members and I often have some knowledge, but we are not experts in all fields, although every member has his or her own expertise. We cannot be experts on every subject, but we represent the people who elected us to come here and speak on their behalf. I believe the people of Sherbrooke are very interested in this because we are talking about their protection. We are talking about people who want to feel safe when they are at home and when they travel across the country. They want to be sure they are safe.

It is with that in mind that I rise today to speak to Bill C-22. It addresses two matters that are very simple on the surface, but more complex when we examine them further, as I had a chance to do before taking the floor. This bill concerns nuclear liability and therefore everything pertaining to nuclear energy, the way we generate energy that may at times be dangerous and for which necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that it is developed properly and as safely as possible. It also concerns liability for offshore oil and gas development, another topic of obvious interest to the people of Sherbrooke.

There are a few other details, but I will focus mainly on those two topics. We have already addressed nuclear liability and the potential dangers of nuclear energy development. Everyone watching is aware of those dangers because unfortunate accidents have occurred in the world, most recently in Fukushima, Japan. I imagine everyone here has heard about that. Another accident that dates back further occurred in Chernobyl, in eastern Europe, and caused a lot of damage, some of which is still being felt today.

The unique thing about this industry, and the danger associated with it, is this: the fallout from an accident lasts tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. It is therefore important that we implement mechanisms to protect people, not only those currently living in the affected area, but the future generations who will live there as well. They expect today’s decision-makers to live up to their responsibilities. Obviously I will not be around in 50,000 years, even though I would very much like to be. The reality is that human life is finite.

I hope that humanity will always exist. If we fail today to address the long-term consequences, future generations will be left to deal with an ecological debt resulting from our mismanagement.

Unfortunately, the government is sometimes guilty of having a short-term vision. It focuses on elections and on the next five years because it wants to be re-elected. This often puts the welfare of future generations at risk because they are left to bear the consequences.

It is therefore critical that the government live up to its responsibilities in the area of energy development, more specifically the development of nuclear energy. It bears mentioning that this highly dangerous resource can be developed very responsibly. I am confident that most nuclear energy companies conduct their operations responsibly. I am not saying that they all shirk their responsibilities or try to cut corners with no regard for the consequences of their actions. I am confident that companies are mindful of the dangers associated with the resources they are handling. I hope they do everything possible to avoid unfortunate accidents.

However, human error is practically unavoidable. Mechanisms must therefore be implemented to secure the resources needed to prevent disastrous long-term consequences for future generations. Companies have a financial responsibility to protect the public and future generations when accidents occur. Serious accidents can cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

Mention was made earlier of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The cost of the cleanup is estimated at around $40 billion, proving the importance of having mechanisms in place that require companies to cover costs when they are at fault.

This past summer, in Lac-Mégantic which is close to where I live, a company was negligent in following the rules, and perhaps the government was negligent as well. An accident occurred and once again, the taxpayers are the ones left to pick up the tab. The government is forced to cover the cost of these accidents. Private corporations think only about their profit margins and do not want to be held responsible for any accidents that happen. Governments are left to pick up the tab.

The bill now being debated makes nuclear, oil and gas companies liable for $1 billion. It is a step in the right direction. However, in other countries, liability ceilings are much higher, or even unlimited.

There is thus a lot of room to improve this bill and at least try to bring in the same standards seen elsewhere around the world or, better yet, to make Canada a country that leads by example. It would be good for Canada to set an example for other countries and protect its citizens in the process.

I will be happy to answer any questions.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech, my colleague clearly pointed out that $1 billion in liability may seem like a lot to ordinary Canadians. However, in reality it is an arbitrary, insufficient amount. Other jurisdictions throughout the world have much higher limits.

My colleague may be aware that the German bank WestLB has stopped financing offshore oil projects in the Arctic. A spokesperson for the bank said:

The further you get into the icy regions, the more expensive everything gets and there are risks that are almost impossible to manage. Remediation of any spills would cost a fortune.

Could my colleague speak to that?

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question, which is very relevant and echoes somewhat what I was saying at the end. I did not have the time to conclude.

Yes, $1 billion is a step in the right direction. However, some governments elsewhere are living up to their responsibilities much more than ours is and making sure that corporations pay the bill for the cleanup.

She referred specifically to the fact that some banks no longer even want to insure a corporation for the cleanup, fearing that it will cost too much money. If liability is only $1 billion, we have to ask ourselves some questions. For example, if it costs $3 billion or $4 billion—for the Gulf of Mexico it was over $40 billion—and in Canada liability is $1 billion, who is going to pay the difference when the cost is higher? These are questions we have to ask experts. They may be able to answer.

There are other solutions as well. If I am not mistaken, in the United States they have a kind of group fund for all the companies. I cannot go into detail because I am not sufficiently familiar with it, but there are other solutions to make sure that even if the corporation goes bankrupt, there are alternatives other than having the government pay the bill.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to what my colleague from Sherbrooke was just saying. He referred to the possibility that in some jurisdictions, a purely private corporation might go bankrupt and thus might have limited financial liability.

Let us take the opposite argument. Members on the other side of the House—I know my colleague followed the debates earlier—argued that some countries have much lower limits on financial liability, in the order of a few hundred million dollars. In reality, those financial liability limits are found in countries in which the corporations producing nuclear power are not private enterprises; they are often public or indirectly public. I would give the example of France, where it is Areva, formerly Framatome, which is 70% owned by the French government.

I would like my colleague from Sherbrooke to explain why it is a fallacy to use foreign examples that cannot apply, because the jurisdictions and levels of state liability and involvement are not comparable to what they are in a country in which the corporations are purely private and have to cover their financial liability themselves.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question that I would have liked to address in my speech, but now that I have been asked it, I have the opportunity to talk about it.

In fact, we could make clumsy comparisons with certain countries, because not all countries have the same energy resources. We therefore cannot compare apples and oranges.

The Conservatives tell us that these scenarios are very unlikely, that we should not worry because it will never happen, or there is virtually no chance it will happen. However, there have been times when it has happened.

I think the anecdote that my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle recounted was excellent. He said that the people in charge of the Titanic had not provided enough lifeboats because they said it was invincible. The ship was so big that nothing was ever going to happen to it. In the end, something did happen. They were caught short, and that led to the tragedy we all know about.

The government has to live up to its responsibilities and protect the public. That is what the people of Sherbrooke are asking for, and I hope we are going to achieve that during the study of this bill.

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the notice on that.

It is interesting. Bill C-22 has been long in coming. One could argue that it has been in negotiations and under discussion since prior to the Conservatives taking office. It was initiated by the Liberal government a number of years ago. In fact, members will find is that this is, I believe, the fourth rendition of—

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May 29th, 2014 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have been corrected. It is the fifth rendition of this particular bill.

It is not overly controversial. It is something that, in principle, Canadians would get behind. There are some areas that we could maybe explore, such as the possibility of giving it some additional strength. We will have to see, once it gets into the committee stage.

It really adopts the idea of the polluter pays principle. We hear quite often about its importance when we have these massive industrial developments and when we talk about the issues, such as nuclear power, the way nuclear energy is used, and how we dispose of the remnants of it. They are very serious issues. International attention is given to how one should dispose of it and under what sort of conditions, but there is one thing that bears repeating, which is that we need to adopt this whole idea of polluter pays.

This is something that I hope to continue with once we have finished with private members' business.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I began by talking about how important it is that we have legislation of this nature brought forward. I talked about how the government has been really sitting back and doing very little in terms of advancing the legislation, and this legislation has been needed for a good number of years. In fact, the government has attempted to introduce it in the past, but to date it has consistently failed to ultimately get it passed through the chamber.

We, within the Liberal Party, have been very supportive, in principle, of getting this legislation to the committee stage because there are many different aspects of the legislation that have a great deal of merit. In fact, the record will show that back in the days when Paul Martin was the prime minister, there was a great deal of discussion, and that is when the negotiations started with respect to really moving forward with the legislation we have here today.

However, they have been somewhat moving at a turtle's pace, if I can put it that way, in terms of advancing this type of legislation.

That is not to say that the legislation is perfect. In fact, it is far from perfect. However, we do believe the principle of it justifies our acknowledging and allowing the bill to go to committee.

It is one of those bills on which the government was determined to put time allocation, and we are not too sure why, because, at least from within the Liberal Party's perspective, we were quite content to see it move on without even having to require time allocation or the government's decision to move closure on it.

I just want to point out a couple of aspects of the legislation before I make some general comments on it.

In part 1, for example, it expresses and includes the whole idea of the polluter pays principle. This is something that is consistent in terms of the whole notion of liability of fault of operators, and in fact something very important for us to recognize.

Another aspect of it is that it provides that an applicant for an authorization for drilling or development of production of oil and gas must demonstrate that it has the financial resources required to pay the greatest amount of limits of liability that could apply to it. It is very important that we recognize that.

It is one thing to say to a company, “You know, if things go wrong, you're going to be held liable for it”, only to find out that, in a worst-case scenario, something does go wrong and the company folds or does not have the ability to adequately compensate.

There would be substantial increases put into place through this legislation, so we have to ensure that it is in fact doable.

I have had the opportunity to listen to a number of New Democrats speak to the bill. Do they want to see it ultimately pass? I am not sure. I will have to wait to find out what their position is on the legislation.

The reason I pose that is that I think it is important that we recognize that certain industries would be profoundly impacted by the legislation.

I will start off, at this point, by talking about our oil and gas sector and how the legislation would have an impact in our Atlantic provinces that want to see this development.

Within the Liberal caucus, we have, I would say, super fantastic members of Parliament from that Atlantic region. They are concerned about the environment. Let there be no doubt about that. However, they also are concerned about economic opportunities. They want to see jobs for their constituents, jobs for their provinces. We recognize that the oil and gas industry has just phenomenal potential for generating economic opportunities.

This is something that we take quite seriously within the Liberal Party. We believe that through these opportunities, the biggest benefactors would be all Canadians. It would be our middle class. Everyone would benefit from it.

We want to ensure that we have good, solid laws and regulations that would protect our environment and our taxpayers through ensuring that we have larger fine capabilities and more consequences for companies that are irresponsible. We want to ensure that when disasters occur, there is going to be a break so that the taxpayer is not going to foot the bill. Equally, we want to see economic development in the regions across Canada materialize and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

This is a very important issue. Members will see that there are provincial governments and agencies watching what is taking place on this issue. They are even looking beyond the legislation, at what else the government is doing to foster that.

The legislation would harmonize the environmental assessment process for projects for which the National Energy Board, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, or the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board is the responsible authority, as defined within the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act of 2012.

The point is that we need to take a look at environmental assessment and how it is conducted in Canada. How do we make sure that we are able to move forward in that area?

I see that I only have one minute left. I wanted to make a personal comment regarding the nuclear industry. I have done this, and I will hopefully continue a little bit more this evening, because we need to recognize the benefits of our nuclear industry. At the same time, we have to ensure that the safety of Canadians and our environment are a high priority. We are not convinced that this is the case with the government.

I would like to conclude my comments by emphasizing the importance of nuclear medicine and how that is growing at a rapid pace. It is literally saving lives. Whether it is radiation for cancer treatment or diagnostic work, we will find that medical needs that depend on our nuclear research and industry as a whole are absolutely critical. Our nuclear plants play a critical role as well, and it is important that we have the right safety environment for all of that.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:35 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is very pleased to see Bill C-22 introduced. We have major concerns that will have to be examined in committee.

In Canada, the liability limit for nuclear plant operators has not changed since 1976, so it is 38 years old. The liability limit for offshore oil and gas operators has been the same for more than 25 years. We need to amend our laws so that they are modern and better suited to our present situation.

I would like to know why the Liberals waited decades without doing anything on this issue and without amending these laws to provide better protection for our environment. I would also like to know whether my Liberal colleague is in favour of giving subsidies to the nuclear power industry to reduce the risks associated with it.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a comment often given by New Democrats on any and all pieces of legislation. It is almost as if they get a star if somehow they can incorporate the Liberal Party into their question in a negative fashion.

It is important to recognize that, with time, things do change. I could equally ask my colleague if the New Democrats introduced a private member's bill on this issue 20 years ago, or was it not an important enough issue back then?

The point is, things change through time. I pointed out that it was a Liberal administration that initiated the discussion and brought forward the idea that we needed to look at how we could make these changes. I believe the record would show that the Liberal Party has been fairly supportive of this legislative going through in a more timely fashion, because we recognize the government has not done a good job in passing the legislation. This is the fourth time that we are seeing legislation of this nature. Some suggested it is maybe even the fifth time. I know it is at least four times and the government has not been able to do it.

The session does come to an end, at least to a summer break. It would be wonderful if we tried to get something in place to modernize this.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I was engaged in this debate going back to one of the first iterations of the bill. It became very clear on the nuclear side that we were trying to establish a liability limit that would fit with what the international community would accept rather than what Canadians need for their own protection.

That is what was going on at the time in 2007 when this first came out. We were trying to establish the lowest possible liability limit that would satisfy the requirements of the U.S., especially the U.S., because if a U.S. company invests in another country and its environmental standards are not high enough, then the U.S. company is judged under the U.S. standards, which are much higher, so there was a problem at the time in trying to move nuclear industries into foreign hands.

Does my colleague think that this type of situation, where we are more concerned about what is the least possible liability that this nuclear industry can bear in order to satisfy international standards, is the way to go with this legislation, or should it be actually looking at what is proper liability for Canadians, to protect them and to protect the government in the event of a nuclear calamity?

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my biggest concern is that we make sure that whenever we see the development of it, that there is enough there that we can draw out the money that is required.

This, I understand, would bring Canada in line with the International Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, which was fairly recently established, back in December 2013. I believe that to be the case.

Is that enough? We will find out. We hope we will not find out because of a disaster.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:45 p.m.
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NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues in the House may very well know that my riding of Pontiac is across the river from Chalk River, so this particular issue is of concern not only to me personally but also to all my constituents who would be, in the eventuality of some kind of failure at Chalk River, affected quite drastically. We have to think, of course, of the events of several decades ago in Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima. There is probably no Canadian in this country who does not feel like those types of events should not happen in Canada.

The reality is that we need to make sure that our legislation is robust and that there are liability provisions that make sense and would ensure that Canadians like the good Pontiackers I represent would be protected.

This legislation would do a number of things. It also talks about offshore oil liability, which is perhaps a bit less of a concern in the Pontiac, given that we have lots of lakes and rivers and great fishing, but the ocean is quite far away.

Nonetheless, I remember watching television one night with my two beautiful daughters. One of those commercials came on showing a number of animals struggling under the weight of oil from an oil spill. They were smeared with oil. What is interesting and maybe even innate in human beings is their sympathy with animals in that situation. Both of my daughters were immediately concerned because it was a small seabird. They said, “Dad, that's terrible.” They immediately recognized that this kind of tragedy should not occur.

Oil spills of that magnitude have ecological consequences, but they have human consequences as well, particularly on those living near shores and those who are affected either by the fishery or economically.

It is clear that the reasoning for liability is strong. While this particular legislation is an improvement upon the current liability regime, I certainly feel that the proposal is insufficient to protect Canadians and the environment. In fact, it will continue potentially in its incrementalism to continue to put Canadian taxpayers at risk because the amounts here for liability are just too low. There is a financial dimension to the bill, and it is clear that the Conservatives have given it somewhat of a token treatment. The government has consistently fallen behind our international partners and has ignored best practices that are already in place when it comes to recognizing the dangers of inadequate liability regimes.

I would like my Conservative colleagues to tell me what research went into this. What consultation went into this? Where is the science to show that these measures may do something to help? It is hard to oppose oneself to a good thing when it is not good enough, but at least it is good.

The NDP has opposed the insufficient nuclear liability limits in the past. We have a long history of doing so. While the provisions in the bill should be considered a step forward compared to current liability limits, the bill does not significantly address some real risks facing Canadians and facing, as I mentioned, some of my constituents. We on this side of the House and my particular political party are serious about protecting the interests of ordinary Canadians.

The Conservatives have a cavalier attitude toward this type of nuclear safety and offshore oil and gas development. Their intimate relationship with the oil and gas industry in our country opens them up to a certain amount of influence with regard to keeping some of the legislation minimal. It is kind of a minimalistic approach to regulating the oil and gas sector, which unfortunately puts Canadians in danger.

Nuclear power is a mature industry. If it is a mature industry and a profit-making one, to a certain extent it should pay for itself. The bill continues to subsidize the nuclear industry by making taxpayers liable for a nuclear risk beyond $1 billion. Why is that? It is something that can be profitable and it is something that has proven itself, to a certain extent, with respect to an energy source. Though there are fundamental issues with regard to nuclear waste, there still remain fundamental issues with storing it. Nonetheless, it is a viable and mature industry, so why would taxpayers be liable for risks beyond $1 billion? If the Conservatives were serious about a robust set of liability measures, then they would have liberated taxpayers a bit more from footing the bill with respect to nuclear risk.

Taxpayers should not be on the hook for subsidies to nuclear energy. Despite having been sold off for some reason, in every budget AECL gets millions of dollars. I do not get that. What kind of contract did we have with it from the beginning? The government sells something off, but then it keeps putting millions of dollars into it. Either it has been improved and it has used those dollars in a transitional way to improve AECL installations, or it is corporate welfare. To a certain extent the government has to let go. Those millions could be put into social programs that could affect the lives of Canadians. For example, we just mentioned employment insurance. I do not know how much it is, but we could give $225 million to AECL every day or put it somewhere else. I think one wonders what is going on at AECL that it keeps needing money from the federal government.

Other countries also have deemed that their citizens deserve much higher protection in the event of a nuclear accident. We should obviously be following the international norms and best practices with respect to liability.

If the government truly believed in the polluter pays principle, then taxpayers should not hold the risk for these types of energy projects. If we measure risk accordingly and assign liability, then industry will improve its safety practices. That is a logical two plus two equals four calculation.

We need to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic events, which nobody wants in our country. The suffering of the people in Fukushima indicates the severity of what can go on in any country that uses nuclear energy. Heaven forbid that anything like that would happen here.

As I have said before, we need to study global best practices and ensure that the federal government puts Canadians first.

Also, the Canadian government should prepare a comprehensive assessment of the risks posed by nuclear power plant operations in Canada, the opportunities for reducing that risk and the accompanying risk costs and risk reduction costs. We have not seen any of that study brought to parliamentarians and Canadians.

The Canadian government should be engaging publicly with a wide range of stakeholders to discuss risks and options to improve nuclear liability. I am sure the constituents in my riding would approve and would like to be consulted with respect to what they think the risks are. We must review the liability regime regularly. Therefore, there have to be some regularly scheduled reviews.

It is completely unacceptable that the Conservatives and Liberals waited decades to address this issue.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

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

He mentioned a number of points, and I would like to hear his views on the fact that economic development and increased liability are not contradictory; in fact, the opposite is true. Norway, a leader in offshore oil development, is an example of this. The unlimited absolute liability regime that Norway has established does not appear to have paralyzed its industry.

Does my colleague agree, and can he comment further?

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Certainly, Mr. Speaker. One would say that the Conservatives assume that if we bring in this kind of measure to protect Canadians, we will be making our industries less competitive, which is not necessarily the case.

The people in these industries simply want to know what rules they have to follow and how to follow them. They will follow the rules and find a way to be competitive within these measures that are intended to protect Canadians.

The Scandinavian countries are proof of this. It seems to me that we should take the time to study best practices at the international level and perhaps we could even be inspired by them. Unfortunately, it is difficult to do this with a time allocation motion, which I deplore, on an issue that is as fundamental and as important as the safety of Canadians.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to what my colleague has just said about international comparisons, I have heard a wide range of comments this afternoon. One Conservative member was saying that the limited liability in certain countries was lower, financially, than $1 billion of liability. He was making a comparison between what may be true in certain administrations or certain legislative frameworks and Canada.

However, what this argument overlooks, and what is a complete fallacy in my view, is that in some countries safety, including nuclear safety, is provided by companies that are not privately owned, but belong to the government through government agencies that take care of nuclear safety or state-owned companies, depending on the legislative framework. These companies allow these states to take full responsibility. These are countries where the government has decided to take responsibility for an energy source that, to them, is much more important than in Canada.

I would like to hear my colleague’s comments on the fact that we cannot compare levels of financial liability in countries where the administrations are organized differently. In one country, the nuclear industry is private, while in others, it is almost a public resource.

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May 29th, 2014 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his question, which is very clear and well balanced.

Clearly, we must pay attention. Regardless of the situation, we cannot compare apples and oranges. This shows the extent to which the government has not conducted the necessary research and the extent to which it does not understand the specificities or the subtleties of the issue or the practices in place beyond Canada’s borders. Clearly, the private and public sectors cannot be compared in this way.

Of course, a much more in-depth analysis, not just a superficial one, must be conducted. This bill must be improved to ensure that it is more rigorous and that it really protects the interests of our constituents.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House this evening to participate in the debate on 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.

As we can see, the bill has quite a long title, but I will explain a little of what it contains. I am going to support the bill at second reading, but not because it is perfect, far from it. Actually, it is typical Conservative work, never perfect. However, it can be sent to committee so that amendments can be proposed.

Specifically, we are going to call for broader responsibilities and the implementation of best practices from around the world. Our position at third reading will depend on this government's willingness to work with us in committee and to consider the amendments proposed by the official opposition.

People watching at home on CPAC are probably aware that we are sitting until midnight tonight. We are very pleased to be working until midnight; my colleagues often work very hard. What bothers me is that the Conservatives never seem to want to listen to our concerns. This evening, I see that the benches opposite are almost empty. Our feeling is that there is no real willingness on the part of the Conservatives to participate in this debate in a constructive manner.

The Conservatives did not ask very many questions about any of the most recent speeches. Unfortunately, no more Conservatives will speak tonight. Conservative members are not seizing the opportunity they have to speak about Bill C-22, which is going to have a considerable effect on Canadians' quality of life.

Bill C-22 has two major parts. The first deals with nuclear liability. Bill C-22 updates Canada's nuclear liability regime and specifies the conditions and the procedure for compensating victims in the event of an accident at a nuclear power station.

This decades-old regime must be updated; Canada's nuclear liability regime must be modernized. I warmly welcome the changes that Bill C-22 will make, but, as I will explain later, I have some concerns about the details.

The second part of Bill C-22 updates the Canadian liability regime with respect to offshore oil and gas development in order to prevent incidents and ensure rapid response in case of a spill.

Even though we support the changes that Bill C-22 would make to a decades-old regime, I want to raise some concerns that my NDP colleagues have already raised in the House.

We are especially concerned about the fact that the Government of Canada is adopting much weaker regulations than those in effect in other countries. We have already expressed our opposition to inadequate nuclear liability limits. Unfortunately, this bill does not really take into account the real risks facing Canadians.

As everyone knows, the NDP is in favour of the polluter pays principle. This means that companies, individuals and organizations that pollute our environment are liable for the cost of cleaning up environmental damage.

The NDP is the only party that is willing to stand up for Canadians' interests. The other parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, do not seem all that concerned about nuclear safety and offshore oil and gas development.

If the nuclear power industry really is mature, it should pay its own way. As written, this bill continues to subsidize this industry by passing the financial risk in excess of $1 billion on to taxpayers.

If the government really believes in the polluter pays principle, then taxpayers should not have to bear the risk related to these energy developments. I strongly believe that. Proper risk assessment and assignment of liability will force the industry to improve its safety practices. That alone will reduce the likelihood of catastrophic incidents.

My colleagues in the House have encouraged the government to study global best practices to ensure that it is putting Canadians first. It is important to look at several models to see what the Government of Canada can do. Many countries have much stricter nuclear liability regimes than Canada.

For example, in Germany, nuclear liability is absolute and unlimited, and financial guarantees go up to $3.3 billion per power plant. In the United States, absolute liability is capped at $12.6 billion U.S. Other countries around the world lean toward absolute and unlimited liability. I will not take the time to name them all.

The bill contains a $1 billion liability in the event of a nuclear accident, which would cover only a fraction of the cost of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. A billion dollars may seem like a lot to most Canadians, but the estimated cost of the accident in Fukushima Daiichi was more than $250 billion. As you can see, when an accident of that magnitude occurs, $1 billion does not go very far. If something like that were to happen here, Canadian taxpayers would have to make up the difference.

In closing, I want to mention that a number of stakeholders support our position. I will quote Greenpeace Canada because I think they are a rather significant stakeholder:

From the beginning of the use of nuclear power to produce electricity 60 years ago, the nuclear industry has been protected from paying the full costs of its failures. Governments have created a system that protects the profits of companies while those who suffer from nuclear disasters end up paying the costs.

I am very pleased to support Bill C-22, but I hope that the Conservatives will take certain things into account when this bill is in committee and that they will adopt some meaningful amendments to this bill.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:10 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech.

She spoke about the Fukushima plant, for one. It came as a surprise to some when we heard the terrible news about the disaster at the plant in 2011. The Conservatives are talking about how it is very unlikely, or practically impossible, that a nuclear disaster would happen in Canada.

However, members will recall that with Chernobyl, for example, the nuclear facilities were aging and poorly maintained. Experts were not particularly surprised. However, Japan, which has the third largest number of nuclear power reactors, was a reminder that even countries with the strictest, most effective safety measures can still potentially be susceptible to a disastrous accident. She mentioned some figures, and I think they were straightforward enough.

I would like to hear her comments on the Conservatives' attitude. They seem to think that this could never happen here because of the controls in place in our nuclear industry, even though those controls are very limited in comparison to the ones in other countries.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:10 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

I think that we need to consult Canadians in order to improve this bill. We also need to look at what other countries are doing. The regulations that the Conservatives are proposing in this bill are far less stringent than those in other countries. We need to take a leadership role, and we need to see if there are other examples we can follow.

I would also like to mention that this sector plays a very important role in Canada's economy. More than 30,000 jobs rely on Canada's nuclear sector. More than $5 billion worth of electricity is produced by this sector each year. It is a major industry that is well established in Canada. However, we need to look at what experts in other countries are doing.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:10 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the deputy critic for energy and natural resources and a member of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, I was invited to a briefing on Bill C-22 organized by the minister and his officials.

When I asked them how they had arrived at the amount of liability, I expected them to tell me that they had prepared incident and accident scenarios to determine the amount. In the end, there was no real methodology. What they told me was that the amount was adequate. I was truly surprised.

It seems to me that the most logical way to determine the amount is to prepare different plausible scenarios for both nuclear and offshore accidents. They could then calculate the amount that would be more than sufficient to cover the costs of disasters that could occur. That is not at all how they went about it.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks of the method used, or rather the lack of a specific method, to determine the total amount of corporate liability.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:10 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has raised an interesting point. The $1 billion liability is arbitrary and inadequate given what it could cost to clean up potential disasters. In fact, a number of stakeholders said that this amount was arbitrary.

This shows the importance of acting with transparency and consulting environmental NGOs and first nations in order to put together a bill that makes sense.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:15 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, after a number of years, I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to this new Bill C-22, an act that would set the terms and conditions of liability not only for nuclear issues but also for oil and gas issues. It is a little misleading in the title, as it speaks to only the offshore. I will point out later on that the title is not exactly right.

First, at second reading, we deal with principles. This is when we talk about the principles of the bill. The principle I think we can all support is that liability for nuclear accidents and oil and gas spills should lie in a decent fashion with those who make those things happen. We can accept that the principle of the bill moving forward is okay. However, many of the details still remain, as they were six years ago, understated. Six years ago we talked about a $650-million liability limit for nuclear plants. Now we are talking about $1 billion.

What has happened in the intervening time? Well, we have seen what happened at Fukushima, and so we know quite clearly that nuclear liability is at a higher level than we ever dreamed or thought possible in a modern state, such as Japan, with the equipment we assumed would have been handled in a decent fashion. However, we found out that right from the very beginning, the opportunity for failure had been built into the system. Therefore, liability is important. It is important right from day one.

When people understand the nature of the liability, they are not going to shortchange during the construction of the facilities. They are not going to start out bean-counting how much they have to invest in a particular facility to avoid the type of unlimited liability that would apply to it. When we reduce liability, we probably end up with a lesser product to service our nuclear or offshore oil and gas industries. That, I think, is quite clear in the modern economics of today.

Most companies employ scores of accountants to examine the liability of their actions. When we set liability limits, they will determine the degree to which companies ensure that the safety of their projects is well maintained.

Is $1 billion enough for the nuclear industry to ensure that a nuclear operator is going to put the best possible effort into creating a nuclear plant? Is it enough to ensure the best possible effort in running an existing plant? When there are conditions, such as at Fukushima, where the backup power supply could quite easily be flooded, is $1 billion enough to ensure that someone does a careful safety analysis of the existing facilities?

Liability limits are extremely important, because they set the parameters for the industry. As we go along in this debate and see at committee the kinds of presentations about nuclear liability, the new presentations after Fukushima, I think it will become very clear to us that $1 billion is probably not enough.

I am going to leave that subject and move over to the liability regimes for offshore oil and gas operations. Interestingly enough, we speak of offshore, but here in appendix 1, we talk about onshore in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. If one is onshore within 200 metres of inland water, under the current liability limits, there is no limit specified. Now it would be put at $25 million.

What has happened recently in the Northwest Territories? Between Wrigley and Norman Wells, there was an oil spill from a buried pipeline that has easily cost that amount of money to clean up, and it still has not been dealt with completely. There are aging pipelines throughout this country, as well as in the Northwest Territories, and there are facilities that need attention.

What happens when we set a $25 million liability limit on an oil pipeline that has existed for 30 or 40 years? How does it work out when one company sells it to another, in the nature of the oil and gas industry? Who is taking care of it? To what degree do they see the liability as being the most important part of what they are doing? To me, $25 million on land in the Northwest Territories does not sound like a lot of money to take care of the kinds of spills that can occur from buried oil pipelines traversing the territory.

When it comes to blowouts in the High Arctic, there has actually been one. In the late 1970s in the Arctic Archipelago, there was a major blowout, but luckily it was natural gas. The flare from that natural gas blowout was visible by aviation. It was used as a navigation medium in the High Arctic because it was so large and went on for nine or ten months. We can imagine what would happen with that type of spill if that had been an oil discovery that had blown out. Within the limited number of wells that have been drilled in the Arctic, we have already had a blowout. That is the reality of it.

Now we are talking about a liability limit offshore of $1 billion. With the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, tens of billions of dollars were involved in the cleanup. How do we quantify that in the Arctic? The National Energy Board did a study on it and determined that it does not really know how to deal with it, but it is going to just approve projects as they come up and it will see what companies are offering in terms of how to deal with blowout situations or other types of spills.

Interestingly enough, there is a clause in here. With proof of fault or negligence, there would be unlimited liability in most of these cases. What we have done is separate it out. It is $1 billion if it is not a company's fault and it just happened to blow out. That is what it costs. If it was a company's fault, then it has to pay, pay, and pay.

How does that work, when the National Energy Board approves a project when it knows it does not have any solution for a blowout? Where does the liability land then? How does that work in a situation in the Arctic? These are questions that need examination. This is why we should talk about these things in Parliament. That is why I am standing here today taking the time that I have, which is 10 minutes. Does that cover the full knowledge we have about these situations? Does that answer any questions? Not really. That is not much. No, we are going to need some serious time in committee to do anything with this particular bill, to understand the liability.

Interestingly enough, we are setting liability limits on land in the Northwest Territories. What did we go through in Parliament just a little while ago? There was a devolution agreement, whereby the Government of the Northwest Territories is now responsible for a lot of the stuff on the land. How is that going to work? Has the Government of the Northwest Territories given its okay to this liability limit on the land for which it now has responsibility? These are questions that we need answered. These are things that are obviously going to take a long time in committee. We have been through this before. Seven years ago we started this. Many bills have been brought forward in that time and the government has thrown up its hands on more than one occasion.

We look forward to seeing this in committee. We have agreed that the principle is right, but the details in the bill need a lot of work.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for his excellent work. I actually have the honour of working with him on the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. He always works very hard for his constituents and for Canada's north.

He rightly pointed out the importance of certain sustainable development principles. The Leader of the Opposition is one of the fathers of the Sustainable Development Act in Quebec. He wants to implement a national sustainable development act when he becomes prime minister.

It is very important to include the polluter pays principle in sustainable development legislation. Strangely enough, the Conservatives said they agreed with this principle. However, the bill does not quite reflect the polluter pays principle.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague whether he feels that the bill upholds the polluter pays principle. What amendments should be made to incorporate this principle?

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, in terms of polluter pays, I agree that those who go into operations that take risk have to be responsible for that risk. That is quite clear.

Polluting the environment in this day and age is one of the largest risks one can take. That, quite clearly, is what people think. There is a social licence about it. No one is interested in seeing oil spilled on the ground. They want it cleaned up. This is not the 1920s or the 1930s; it is 2014. That is quite clear.

When it comes to sustainable development, only by creating the parameters that ensure that companies do every possible thing to make their projects safe will we have sustainable development. Was it sustainable to lose that oil in the Gulf of Mexico? There was almost $100 billion blown off there. Was that sustainable?

Was what happened in Fukushima sustainable? There was ruined landscape. The cleanup caused an enormous tax burden on the people of Japan. It probably caused damage to the Pacific Ocean, damage that will last for the rest of our lifetimes. How is that sustainable?

Liability limits set the parameters for how the project develops.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I find it ironic that the member across the way continued to refer to the need for the best possible effort being put into putting together a nuclear plan, when we know the NDP is opposed to any nuclear infrastructure in Canada. The NDP members have been asking for unlimited liability, yet they have no plan for how this would work.

We have put forward legislation that would balance the responsibility of nuclear operators to cover any damages while taking into account the impact on ratepayers.

My question is this. What would the NDP's proposal cost the ratepayers of Ontario, who rely on clean nuclear power for their electricity?

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I have dealt with the energy field for a long time on different issues. I was special adviser to the premier on energy in the Northwest Territories.

I think all energy should be priced according to what its full-value cost is. When we give nuclear energy this break, what we are doing is skewing the market. That is wrong. That is just what we are doing with the fossil fuel industry: we are giving it breaks over and over again through regulation and tax incentives that are really skewing the market.

The same thing would happen here with nuclear liability. If no one is facing up to the actual liability for putting up a plant, we are not doing a service to our children and grandchildren.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:30 p.m.
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NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, looking at Bill C-22, we can see that there are many positive things in it that are steps in the right direction, but let us be frank and look at the record and what we are hearing from the government side.

We often hear that Canadians have to settle for less. Conservatives will tell us we are not being realistic about things, we have to settle for less, and Canadians in general have to settle for less because industry needs a bit of a break.

It is not only the Conservative side that says that. The Liberal side has been saying that for years. I am proud to stand in the House and provide the only progressive vision for this country, seeing that neither party, either facing us or beside us, can give us a progressive vision.

For years and years, the Liberals neglected to promote safety for Canadians. As I said, this bill is a step in the right direction, but we do not feel it goes far enough; it needs to go further. We are hoping the government will listen and try to make things go further in terms of improving this legislation.

I am very upset that the Liberal Party has pulled all its speakers from this debate. I was hoping, since they say they are progressive, that they would match their talk with action, and unfortunately the fact that they have no speakers during this debate is very disappointing.

As I said, we are the only progressive option. We are the only party that is providing a progressive vision for Canadians. We know the other parties in the House are comfortable with the lobbies of big oil and big gas companies and the perverse effect this has on Canadian safety.

For example, I look at Line 9 in my riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges and the fact that for 15 years, from 1998 until 2013, Enbridge was allowed to violate federal safety regulations, unfettered. The National Energy Board knew it was in violation. The federal government kept quiet, the Liberal governments under Chrétien and Martin and the government under the current Prime Minister. They kept quiet about this violation of safety regulations, putting in jeopardy the constituents in my riding with this pipeline that was not respecting regulations.

If we look at rail, it was a Liberal government that allowed rail companies to go down to one-man crews. We have seen the effect that a one-man crew had. When there are not enough eyes keeping something safe, if there is not enough manpower to have a second set of eyes to make sure everything is okay, accidents can happen. As soon as we rely on technological solutions only and reduce manpower when it comes to safety, it puts people in jeopardy.

The Conservatives have continued this negligence toward Canadians' safety, and I hope that they end up improving this legislation, that the reasoned arguments we are making will get through to the other side and they will improve this legislation.

My riding is on the Ottawa River. We are the only Quebec community that is south of the Ottawa River, all the other communities being in Ontario, and that body of water has things upriver like the Chalk River nuclear reactor. It has pipelines crossing it, so these are very real issues to my constituents. They worry and they talk to me about the effect a spill would have on the Ottawa River, the effect an accident would have there; it would ruin a whole ecosystem and ruin the natural beauty of our riding.

We have seen that consecutive provincial Liberal and Conservative governments in Ontario have neglected the upkeep of the Ottawa River, and the federal government has also neglected to keep the integrity of the river. The fact that this legislation does not go far enough continues to put it into jeopardy.

I know the Chalk River reactor because my dad was a truck driver. He used to deliver paper to different parts of the federal government in Ottawa, and his farthest route was in Chalk River. He delivered goods up to the reactor and the whole infrastructure around that reactor.

Therefore, I know it well, and I have to take issue with the member from Saskatchewan who said that New Democrats are not interested in the nuclear industry and continue to rail against it. I sat on the natural resources committee and heard witnesses. I asked the witnesses from the federal nuclear agency if there has been any research done by the federal government in generation 4 reactors, which is the future of the nuclear industry. If we want to talk about vision, we have to look generation 4 reactors. I asked if the federal government had done any research in this area and their answer to me was no, it had done zero research.

Therefore, in terms of having a vision for the nuclear industry, the Conservatives can talk a lot about it, but there is no action being taken. We have seen from the accidents that have happened that if we are to continue with this technology, it has to be vastly improved. The other thing is that the safety liability regime has to be improved. We have to move to an unlimited liability regime, and that is simply because it is going to tell the industry that accidents cannot be tolerated with this technology. We need to tell companies that we have seen the devastating effects of it and we are putting an unlimited liability regime on them so they will never have accidents. Otherwise, they will suffer enormous consequences if an accident ever happens. That is the whole idea behind the polluter pays principle. It is to make sure taxpayers are not footing the bill. A nuclear accident would not only be a horrible thing for taxpayers' pocketbooks but for their basic health.

The fact that there is not an unlimited liability regime in the nuclear industry is disturbing because it is an industry where we do not want accidents to happen. We need to send a message to the industry saying we do not ever want accidents to happen, so we need to put this regime in place.

When the nuclear industry talks about things like putting nuclear reactors in the north, it does not even account for things like frost heave, which is a major occurrence in the Arctic. It is disturbing that lobbyists and higher-ups in the nuclear industry do not understand the basic geographic reality of Canada's Arctic with something as simple as frost heave and talk about placing nuclear reactors there, with our changing climate. I and my party believe that there should be an unlimited liability regime in place for the nuclear industry and that we should be moving to a polluter pays model.

By assessing risk correctly, knowing all the factors that create risk, and assigning the proper liability to industry, the industry itself would improve its safety practices. If we put out the spectre of massive payouts in cases of an accident, industry will step up and improve its safety practices. It is thinking about its bottom line as well, and wants to protect its own companies and interests. When we cut corners for industry, it is going to cut corners as well. If we give it an inch, it will take a mile.

I know that all of my constituents do not want to be footing the bill for accidents, such as offshore spills, in terms of nuclear liability. If we say that nuclear technologies are safe, oil extraction is safe, and transportation is safe—I have often heard that the transport of oil is 99.99999% safe—and if that is the case, then what is the problem with unlimited liability? If it is that safe, companies should not have to worry, and we can raise liability rates substantially.

We have been debating this for a long time. I have looked at the history of the nuclear liability regime in Canada. We were at a $600 million cap, and then went to $1 billion. The United States has a $12 billion cap and Germany has an unlimited cap.

We have to look at best practices and move to a true polluter pays model. That means raising the liability limits for the oil industry and for the nuclear industry as well.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for laying out the concerns with regard to the legislation that is before the House.

One of the points that I think is worth making is with regard to the scope of damages that have happened in other incidents, such as Fukushima. In Fukushima, the Japanese government is estimating that the costs will be up to $250 billion by the time all is said and done.

Could the member comment on the fact that although $1 billion sounds like a tremendous amount of money, when we look at the scope and scale of other disasters out there, it is simply going to be insufficient, and Canadian taxpayers will be on the hook if a disaster like that should happen in Canada?

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is true, $1 billion does sound like a large amount of money.

However, the scale of these disasters, as we have seen with Fukushima and with Chernobyl in the 1980s, ruins entire regions of the earth. The costs entailed in that are incalculable. Although $1 billion does seem like a lot, when we imagine the entire Ottawa region all of a sudden becoming ruined, we can then sort of understand the scale of the costs that are involved. There is the financial cost, but then there is that very real human cost. By putting an unlimited liability regime on this industry, we would be sending a message saying that we do not ever want to take on that human cost of lives being lost and entire regions of the earth being ruined.

It is not just a Canadian thing. It should be a global concern. When Fukushima happened, it was not as if Canadians did not care about what was happening in Japan. We felt as though part of the earth had been ruined, destroyed, and that very human, ecological cost should, in policy, translate into an unlimited regime.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:40 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the whole notion that liability should be unlimited comes back to the question of why it is being limited in the first place. It is being limited in the first place because the government believes that the industry could not sustain an accident, that it would be unprofitable. We are not worried about profit here. We are talking about human safety and the safety of the planet. We should not be worried about profit. We should be worried about whether or not our planet is going to survive.

If the industry is such that unlimited liability, which apparently is okay in some countries, is not okay in Canada because it will destroy an industry, then what are we doing with that industry? We only have to look so far as the Sydney tar ponds and the gold mine outside of Yellowknife to realize that the polluter pays principle has not really worked in Canada, because in both of those places, the companies left and Canada was left with the mess.

Are we not trying to change that here?

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, it goes back to what I said at the beginning of debate.

What I have understood from the two other main parties in the House is that we have to settle for less, and we are constantly being accused of not being realistic. They have the interests of the profits of these companies in mind. The NDP is thinking of the very real human costs and the greater interests of the population of Canada, the human element of this, not the bottom line of an industry.

In the greater interests of future generations, we see that the human element is the more important one. When we pass away, we do not take our money with us, but we still have the world to leave to our children. That is the most important thing: that they are left a world that is clean, safe, and healthy.

Our progressive vision has that human element in mind. We sometimes put that human element above profit. Sometimes it is more important than profit. In this case, this is one of those times.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:45 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on 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.

New Democrats have indicated that they will support the bill at second reading, but they have grave concerns about the bill and are hoping to make amendments at committee.

I am going to focus on the oil and gas aspect of the proposed act.

Bill C-22 would update Canada's offshore liability regime for oil and gas exploration and operations to prevent incidents and ensure a swift response in the event of a spill. It would maintain unlimited operator liability for fault or negligence, increase the absolute liability no-fault from $40 million in the Arctic and $30 million in the Atlantic to $1 billion for offshore oil and gas projects in both Arctic and Atlantic waters. It references the polluter pay principle.

I am so interested in this issue because I live in Nanaimo—Cowichan, which is on Vancouver Island and is a coastline community. There are certainly efforts in British Columbia to look at offshore oil and gas exploration. However, one of the things that it is important to remind people of is the cost when there is a spill.

The offshore BP Gulf oil spill of 2010 is expected to cost as much as $42 billion for total cleanup, criminal penalties, and civil claims against it. The firm is reported to have already spent $25 billion on cleanup and compensation. In addition, it faces hundreds of new lawsuits launched this spring along with penalties under the Clean Water Act that could reach $17 billion. Members can see how $1 billion for a spill of that magnitude simply would not cut it.

In British Columbia, there are a number of people and organizations that have raised concerns around the current regime in Canada. I want to reference a submission from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, UBCM, on June 21, 2013, which raises a number of issues.

First, they say that:

...BC local governments are very concerned with the increase in ocean traffic along the West Coast of BC and particularly from ships carrying dangerous and/or toxic products; and do not believe that the current environmental measures are adequate to clean up damages caused by these types of large scale spills or disasters.

It goes on in its presentation to say:

A key area of consensus was that a stringent environmental and fiscal regulatory system was necessary, and must be implemented, prior to offshore oil and gas development.

The report also contained a number of recommendations regarding oil spills, including:

Establish a substantial remediation fund from industry to be used in the event of an oil spill. (In light of the high costs for clean up of oil spills, the fund will have to be very robust.)

Invest in the necessary infrastructure to minimize risk of an oil spill and damage to surrounding areas in the event of an oil spill by:

Establishing deep sea salvage tugs along the central and north coast to assist vessels in distress.

Implementing a vessel tracking system for the British Columbia coast.

It goes on to talk about the oil spill response recovery and says that:

Development of an Incident Command System (ICS) and an oil spill organization that would be a repository for all equipment and contact information in the case of an oil spill.

Enhancement of current marine spill response capability on the British Columbia coast....

The report goes on to the polluter pay principle, saying:

BC local governments support the polluter pay principle, which makes polluters responsible for paying for damages caused by a spill.... The resolution also requests that a polluter pay fund or emergency fund be substantial, and that it be used to clean up, and compensate for any and all damages, including capital devaluation, social, cultural, and ecological damage, caused by an accident involving said goods and cargo; fund research into improving clean-up methods to deal with the eventuality of such spills....

In British Columbia right now we have a relatively pristine coast, and we are very concerned about preserving it, not only the environmental aspect, but the social and cultural aspect as well.

Much of B.C. has a healthy tourism industry, and it would be a disaster if that tourism industry, fisheries, and aquaculture were damaged. Therefore, it is very important that whatever we do first of all ensures that the safety methods are put in place. However, if there is an unfortunate spill, there must be a way to compensate and to clean up.

I want to turn to a paper that was put out called “Protecting Taxpayers and the Environment Through the Reform of Canada's Offshore Liability Regime”. It is a paper by William Amos and Ian Miron. The abstract at the beginning of the paper states:

This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the various legislative components that combine to form the overarching “patchwork” civil liability regime for oil and gas activities in the Canadian offshore. It concludes that the existing liability regime fails to adequately implement the polluter-pays principle and provides a wholly inadequate measure of protection to Canadians and the Crown against offshore-related environmental liabilities. At the same time, the existing regime fails to promote an appropriate industry safety culture, creating a moral hazard that increases the risk of a worst-case scenario oil pollution incident.

That is an important piece. We know that when industry understands what its responsibilities and the regulations are, it will meet them, but we have to be clear what those are.

The paper does a very detailed analysis and, unfortunately, I do not have time to go through the whole paper, but they do have some recommendations. Amos and Miron state:

Canada's current offshore liability regime suffers from a number of weaknesses that actually increase the risks of a worst-case scenario oil pollution incident by failing to promote an appropriate industry safety culture, while exposing Canadian taxpayers to potentially massive liabilities in the event of a serious spill. These weaknesses include: inappropriately low maximum absolute liability limits; uncertain availability of environmental damages, and no mechanism for assessing the costs of long-term ecological system damage; an absence of express recognition of the polluter-pays principle; lack of a dedicated, industry-capitalized fund or mutual insurance pool to ensure remediation and compensation even when the operator is unwilling or unable to finance these efforts; lack of clarity regarding the breadth of operator liability for oil spill response costs; a restriction on the imposition of joint and several liability under the residual strict liability regime; lack of clarity regarding the overlap between the COGOA and the AWPPA liability regime...

They go on to make a couple of other points. They identify the weaknesses and make a couple of recommendations as follows:

In order to effectively reduce the risks borne by taxpayers in the event of an offshore oil pollution incident to an appropriate level, liability reforms must: 1) a. Remove the limit on operators' maximum absolute liability; b. In the alternative, significantly increase maximum absolute liability limits and create an exception to the cap where operators contravene federal law; 2) Increase financial responsibility requirements to screen out fiscally unqualified operators, although not necessarily to the level of the absolute liability cap.

It is a very thorough analysis of the weaknesses of the current legislated process and it makes some very strong recommendations for where it should go. The legislation before us fails to meet some of those criteria.

The paper also touches on the polluter pays principle, and I want to mention that because that is a very important theme that seems to run throughout a number of organizations that have offered a critique around the bill. It states:

Explicit recognition of the polluter-pays principle, particularly when coupled with substantial increases to or the outright elimination of statutory maximum absolute liability limits, sends a clear signal to industry that it will be held liable for the costs of pollution. Without this signal, industry may have more incentive for risky behaviour, knowing that the taxpayer will ultimately subsidize the consequences of such behaviour. The certainty provided by an explicit statutory recognition of the polluter-pays principle removes this incentive and instead promotes industry behaviour that seeks to “protect ecosystems in the course of ... economic activities.”

I want to quickly refer to the fall 2010 report of the Commissioner of the Environmental and Sustainable Development. In that report it was clearly demonstrated that on the west coast, the Coast Guard did not have an adequate plan in place to deal with oil spills if such an accident should happen. Therefore, not only do we not have adequate protections in place from an industry perspective with regard to liability limit, but we also do not have a mechanism on the ground to deal with it in the event that there is such an accident.

I again want to remind people about the importance of protecting our environment. It is about fisheries, tourism, recreation and all those elements that are such an important part of our very precious and fragile coastlines.

I encourage all members in the House to look at meaningful amendments to the legislation.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to emphasize that within the legislation there are a number of aspects that would improve our current situation. I made reference to the polluter pays principle, which is fairly consistent with the notion of liability. Citizens across Canada would support something of that nature.

The bill emphasizes the importance of drilling for the development and production of oil and gas in the Atlantic regions. It would harmonize the environmental assessment process for projects. There are a number of very strong, positive initiatives within the legislation. As such, in principle, we would like to see the legislation go forward. It is important to note that the legislation has been needed for a number of years. This is now the fourth or fifth rendition. We hope to see the bill pass, but most importantly, we would also like to see amendments brought forward to try to improve upon the legislation.

Would the member comment on the position of the New Democratic Party on the legislation and to what degree it wants to see amendments? If it does not see the amendments, would it support the legislation?

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:55 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out in my opening statement, the New Democrats support this bill at second reading and getting it to committee.

I outlined in my speech some of the concerns around the amount of liability. Although I am aware that the polluter pays principle is in the bill, I want to emphasize how important that principle is. I also want to emphasize that others, like the Union of B.C. Municipalities and other legal experts, have talked about how important it is to enshrine that principle.

With regard to whether the New Democrats will support the bill with amendments, I cannot say. I do not have a crystal ball. I do not know what those amendments would be. I do not know what the Conservative government would entertain as amendments. Certainly, its past track record regarding amendments has been pretty poor. I would like to be cautiously optimistic that the government would be open to amendments, but that has not been its track record. We will have to wait and see.

I hope that when the bill is referred to committee, there will be adequate time to study the bill, bring in witnesses who can speak to the substance of the it, and then look at the amendments that could be proposed based on the testimony before committee.

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May 29th, 2014 / 7:55 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

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

I would like to immediately follow up on the question from my colleague from Winnipeg North. I must admit that it boggles my mind that he was talking about a number of years, because what this bill will fix in part—it will not fully fix it—is the result of decades of negligence on the part of successive Liberal and Conservative governments. Nearly four decades of inaction on nuclear safety and compensation is what will be partly fixed here.

I would like my colleague to tell us how successive governments have failed to keep up with the how the industry assesses risk. Take for example how the German bank WestLB determined that it was nearly impossible to manage the risks of developing oil in the Arctic.

Could my colleague talk about how inaction on the part of successive governments caused Canada to lose a great deal of its competitiveness in terms of developing its natural resources.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to touch on the lengthy time that bills have been before the House. In fact, the last bill, Bill C-15, received first reading in 2010 and then sat for a year on the order paper without ever being brought forward.

I always find it ironic that when the New Democrats want to get up and debate the substance of a bill that could have profound implications for taxpayers because of this $1 billion in it instead of the real liability, we are somehow accused of dragging our feet. It is really the government that has been dragging its feet, and governments before it.

It is important. I keep talking about due diligence. It is our due diligence to study bills that are before the House and ensure that we have the best possible bill. That is our role as parliamentarians.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8 p.m.
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Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in support of Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act.

My colleagues on our side of the House have done an excellent job explaining this legislation, so I would like to explain the role of the federal government in overseeing Canada's nuclear sector.

As has been made clear today, Canada has an excellent record of safety for both the offshore oil and gas and the nuclear sectors. The government places top priority on health, safety, security and the environment in relation to nuclear activities in Canada. It has established a comprehensive legislation framework, which focuses on protecting health, safety, security and the environment. It consists of the following: the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Nuclear Energy Act, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act and the Nuclear Liability Act. Our government supports the generation of nuclear power because it is an important component of a diversified energy mix, and contributes to the fact that 77% of Canada's electricity comes from non-emitting sources.

When properly managed, nuclear energy can contribute effectively and significantly to sustainable development objectives. For that reason, the Canadian nuclear industry is a very important component of Canada's economy and energy mix.

According to a study by Canadian manufacturers and exporters, the industry directly employs 30,000 Canadians and, through its suppliers, generates another 30,000 jobs. The industry generates nearly $7 billion in economic activity, pays $1.5 billion in federal and provincial taxes, and exports $1.2 billion in goods and services.

Through our responsible resource development plan, our government provides support to a strong and safe nuclear sector. For example, our government has taken strong action by ensuring a strong regulator; updating our legislative framework; responsibly managing legacy waste; restructuring Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, AECL; and building international relationships.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CNSC, is Canada's strong, independent nuclear regulator. The mission of the CNSC is to regulate the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment, and to respect Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The Nuclear Safety and Control Act, which established the CNSC in May 2000, provides a modern regulatory framework that mirrors the latest scientific knowledge in the areas of health, safety, security and environmental protection.

In addition to the policy and other responsibilities of Natural Resources Canada, the following departments contribute to a whole-of-government approach to promoting a safe and secure nuclear sector both here at home and abroad.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade promotes bilateral and multilateral nuclear co-operation and safety, as well as the implementation of non-proliferation and disarmament agreements. Through this action, our government enhances security and well-being by promoting the peaceful and safe use of chemical and nuclear technologies, and ensures the compliance with the international commitments such as the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. It also assists in the development of relevant international law and guidance, such as conventions established under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group regime.

Health Canada is responsible for protecting Canadians from the risk of radiation exposure. It is responsible for the federal nuclear emergency plan and supports the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Health Canada's activities are managed by the Radiation Protection Bureau. It contributes to maintaining and improving the health of Canadians by investigating and managing the risks from natural and artificial sources of radiation.

Additionally, Transport Canada promotes public safety during the transportation of dangerous goods. The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Directorate is the leading source of regulation, information, and advice on dangerous goods transport for the public, industry, and government employees.

Industry Canada fosters the growth of Canadian businesses in making Canada more competitive internationally. The growth of the Canadian nuclear energy industry is the responsibility of the manufacturing and processing technologies branch, which focuses on competitiveness, international trade, technology, and investment.

All of this is to say that Canada has a very strong nuclear industry with independent regulatory oversight and strict safety standards. We are proud of this record, but we recognize that we must do more for Canada to be in line with international standards. That is why we have put forward Bill C-22, which takes significant steps to increase the absolute liability of the nuclear industry.

This legislation will also broaden the number of categories for which compensation may be sought and improve the procedures for delivering compensation. Furthermore, the bill permits Canada to implement the international convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage, or the CSC.

Canadian ratification of the CSC would create a treaty relation with the United States addressing liability and compensation for damages arising from trans-boundary and transportation nuclear incidents. By joining this convention, Canada would benefit from significant added pooled funding for compensation, up to another $130 million to $500 million.

While our government's support of a strong and safe nuclear industry is clear and well documented, the NDP members oppose everything to do with this sector. They oppose the hard-working Canadians who rely on non-emitting nuclear energy for their livelihood and they reject our attempts to raise the absolute liabilities on it to a level that is up to date.

While the NDP would prefer that the nuclear industry remains subjected to liability limits that are over 30 years out of date, we will continue to work toward increasing this important aspect of our safety system.

The leader of the NDP reaffirmed his party's position when he said, “I want to be very clear. The NDP is opposed to any new nuclear infrastructure in Canada”.

That is certainly not our government's position, and we are very proud of it. We will continue to work toward a stronger, safer, and more secure nuclear industry for the benefit of all Canadians, and I look for the support of both sides of the House tonight in achieving that end.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:05 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, could my colleague give me his opinion on the total amounts of liability?

Does he think it makes sense for the committee to look at a potential amendment to include an indexing formula for the amounts, so that they are indexed annually to the inflation rate? Does the member think we could avoid having to review this issue if we set the appropriate amount to cover expenses and it is indexed over the years to adjust to the cost of living and the cost of workplace accidents?

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the day today we have had a tremendous amount of debate on this issue. The bill updates outdated liability limits. For instance, 1976 was the last time an update on the bill was presented. At that point in time, it was some $75 million of liability coverage, which has now been expanded to $1 billion.

I thank my hon. colleague for the question and I appreciate that the opposition members have indicated they will support the bill going to committee. That is a good first step and I applaud them for it, but the important aspect of this bill is the $1 billion. We have heard a lot of discourse over the course of the day about whether that is enough or not. The amount has to be sustainable, and by setting it at $1 billion, I believe our government has achieved that goal in a responsible way.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the member would comment further on an issue that many Canadians are concerned about, and that is our environment. We have environmental assessment processes that governments and companies looking to invest all have to abide by. Could the member provide some commentary as to how the legislation would obligate Ottawa, provinces, and other stakeholders to take a more coordinated approach to environmental assessments?

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that throughout the course of the day we have talked about regulatory oversight. Clearly there is a well-established relationship between the federal government and the provinces and all the various agencies and ministries that I outlined in my presentation. I would be happy to read that for him again if he wishes.

The bottom line is that the government would establish a level of oversight and regulation through this bill that would represent good business and good governance in ensuring that we operate a safe and responsible nuclear industry.

Clearly, our history is good. It is strong. We have not had any major accidents, and that is a good thing. However, the reality is that we all have to be conscious of our environment. Some of my colleagues spoke earlier about families and next generations. I am as concerned about that as they are. I believe that the regulation, the oversight, and the governance provided in this bill clearly meet that demand.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:10 p.m.
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Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Dan Albas ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech, particularly since it included a lot of the international component of nuclear regimes.

There are many different ways of regulating this particular industry. I know from some of the reading that I have done that 75% of France's power, I believe, comes from nuclear power. It has a variety of newer types of nuclear power generators that allow it to have energy security while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We have heard a lot of questions tonight about the $1 billion operator liability limit that is in the legislation as it stands. Could my colleague provide some context by giving us a better understanding of what the standards are internationally? Could he enlighten the House on that subject?

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a great question, because it brings into context a more global approach to who is doing the right thing.

A $1 billion operator liability compares well with other countries. In the United Kingdom, operator liability is currently capped at approximately $260 million, barely a quarter of what we are proposing. In South Africa, operator liability is $240 million. In Spain, it is $227 million. France is even lower, at $140 million. We would suggest those are irresponsible levels. We have taken a very responsible approach.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:15 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to begin my speech, although I feel like responding to the member for Don Valley West by saying that we cannot compare different systems. He cited the example of European countries that have completely different levels of financial liability.

They are indeed systems that are implemented differently. As the parliamentary secretary said, compared to Canada, those countries have nuclear energy generation levels that are completely different in percentage terms. Consequently, these are not valid arguments because we are comparing apples to oranges. I will come back to that.

Bill C-22 is definitely headed in the right direction, but it does not solve all the problems. In particular, it provides for only $1 billion of financial liability for private nuclear power generation companies, whereas the costs incurred as a result of nuclear disasters far exceed that amount.

Why is this subject of particular interest to me? It is because I was living in western Europe at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. My colleague from Saint-Lambert was living there too, and she also experienced the famous radioactive cloud. The authorities explained to us that it did not cross borders because it obviously did not have a passport. In reality, however, the radiation affected not only Ukraine at the time, but also much, if not all, of western Europe.

When the civilian facilities were built to generate power, no one ever anticipated a disaster of that magnitude. There can be no comparison with military nuclear consequences, but those consequences were disastrous and unpredictable.

Furthermore, the populations in the immediate exclusion zone were not the only ones that suffered stress at that time. People died from radiation, but those who were within a slightly wider circle also developed diseases. In particular, there were birth defects, which were a real problem in Ukraine in the 1990s. Several thousand children, if not tens of thousands, were born with deformities or defects. That was an extremely traumatic experience in Europe.

We obviously will not ignore the nuclear disaster that occurred in Fukushima in 2011. We must therefore consider the level of technology when talking about these nuclear safety problems. In 1986, according to the experts, while it was predictable, although not understandable, that a natural disaster might occur in facilities that did not have adequate safety levels, there was no level of deterioration in Japan, the third-largest civilian nuclear power in the world, that could have suggested a disaster of that magnitude.

I heard the argument made by the member for Don Valley West, and I congratulate him for taking the trouble to speak to us, unlike his Conservative colleagues, who seem to have left this place.

That argument, which can be summed up by the words “strong and safe nuclear energy industry”, to quote the member, does not hold water, and this is why there is insurance. The reason behind insurance is that unforeseen or unlikely events happen. However, they happen because a series of human errors will have consequences that are totally unthinkable and that have a financial impact that goes far beyond what might have been imagined.

Of course, the amount of $1 billion will be discussed. Its arbitrariness is quite astonishing, because we know that in the case of Fukushima, the estimates are in the order of several hundred billion dollars. With regard to the Chernobyl disaster, I was reading on the site of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission that it was impossible to put an exact figure on the scope of the disaster because it spanned a decade. For some disasters, it is even impossible to quantify their full financial impact. This is my answer to the Conservatives’ main argument.

I was interested to note another argument the Conservatives used in previous debates. That argument was that we should be able to compare ourselves with different countries in millions of dollars. The example they gave us was that of European countries, where the level of financial liability for France, for instance, is $140 million.

In reality, this is a perfectly fallacious argument, because the level of liability must increase in value according to how nuclear energy production is organized in a given country. The example of France, which I know personally, is that of a country where 75% of current electricity production comes from nuclear plants. Furthermore, in the 1990s, this percentage rose to 85% or 89%. At one point, the country's energy policy was based almost solely on its nuclear capability.

The way in which things are organized was that the state was the major shareholder, through the French Atomic Energy Commission, which was the owner of a private company that was called Framatome at that point and became Areva in the early 2000s. However, the level of government involvement is still in excess of 70%.

Imagine if a disaster happened involving Areva, the private company. The government, with a 70% stake in this private company, would take full responsibility for the consequences, not only with regard to cleanup, but also with regard to compensation for the victims.

We can see that the context is completely different because in this case we do not even have to wonder whether it is fair or unfair that the taxpayer should take part in insuring an industrial risk, since the industrial risk is not really a private industrial risk. In fact, a specific country decided at one point to be the owner of the primary source of electrical energy.

This discussion of the comparison between $140 million and $1 billion is completely distorted. I totally reject this argument. This argument is fallacious and intended solely to make comparisons and give Canadians the impression that they would be protected in the event of a nuclear accident, while in reality when the company involved is a private company that is completely independent from the government, the government says clearly that it is not involved in the production of energy and that it would therefore not have to suffer the consequences or compensate the victims if a problem arose.

I see that I am running out of time. I will stop here and take questions from my colleagues.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:25 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague on his speech. He recalled a very dramatic and tragic event that occurred in Europe and affected all the neighbouring countries. It was a famous cloud that unfortunately had devastating effects on the health of many people.

The consequences cannot be quantified, and they have a horrible effect on people's lives and health. My colleague spoke about pregnancies and birth defects, not to mention all the blood cancers caused by nuclear radiation.

My colleague also mentioned the $1 billion limit, an artificial limit. As he explained, costs have mushroomed, and an artificial limit of $1 billion is not going to—

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:25 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand quite well the gist of my colleague’s question.

Having lived through this terrible experience, even though I was not near the actual site of the accident, I know how emotional this is for my colleague.

What we are dealing with, in my view, is the concept of privatization of benefits and nationalization of risks. When a government is prepared to assume or nationalize risks, then it also nationalizes benefits. We cannot have both, that is, on the one hand, nationalization of risks and, on the other hand, benefits for private corporations that do not pay to assume risks.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member opposite. He talked about how the absolute liability level of $1 billion is not enough. He talked about the industry in France, where the absolute liability limit is about $120 million. He thinks it should be raised there. Well, we are talking about Canada.

Clearly, what the member wants to do is close down the nuclear industry in Canada. It is a green industry. The NDP talked about how it supports green industries, so I would like to ask the member if he agrees with his leader, who said:

I want to be clear. The NDP is opposed to any new nuclear infrastructure in Canada.

The member for Winnipeg Centre said:

Somewhere out there Homer Simpson is running a nuclear power plant... We do not want to see the Darlington nuclear power plant doubled in size. We want to see it shut down.

These members are clearly against the nuclear industry, yet they claim to be in favour of green energy. I would just like to ask the member if what his party wants to do is shut down nuclear energy entirely and the tens of thousands of jobs that go with it.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:25 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not recall saying that I wanted to see an end to everything nuclear. I will reread my notes and the House of Commons Debates. I do not believe I said that.

Nor can we say that the nuclear industry is green because that is not the direction we want to take. A number of countries have decided to phase out their nuclear industry. Germany is one such country. Its goal is to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2021. In the meantime, its nuclear plants are still operational.

I do not believe that the NDP holds a Manichaean view that everything should either remain operational or be shut down. All we are doing is discussing a particular issue, namely the level of financial liability of a private industrial activity in Canada. I was merely saying that no comparison can be made with the economic and legislative reality of other jurisdictions where electricity generation is fully nationalized.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:30 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start with a preliminary comment. I find it incredible that our country's federal government has taken so long to address risk management, internalize costs and protect the public interest.

In his speech about nuclear energy, the hon. member for Don Valley West said that safety is a top priority. However, it is all relative, given that liability is limited to $1 billion. As he said, Canada's nuclear industry is mostly privatized. The Conservative vision, which the Liberals support, is clearly behind the times when it comes to the future of Canada's nuclear industry. The Conservatives' shoelaces are untied and they are about to trip over them without realizing that they are going to crash to the ground.

The government is seriously going to have to take the time to listen to what the NDP is saying, in order to understand the real issues in the debate we are engaged in right now. Obviously, I would point out another paradox that borders on the ridiculous and in fact is so ridiculous, it enters the realm of caricature. Today, the government imposed a time allocation motion on a bill that has been sitting on the shelf and was even torpedoed by the Prime Minister when he failed to abide by the fixed election date law in 2008. The bill sat on the shelf for years, and catching up got put on hold for decades before the government corrected one obvious flaw, only in part and relatively clumsily.

There is nothing to prevent me, like all of my New Democrat colleagues, from supporting the bill at second reading. We will at least have a base to work on, somewhat wobbly though it may be. In cabinetmaking, when a table is wobbly, you can always try to level it, particularly if you have some expertise and a degree of skill. You have to make sure it is solid and the dishes will not fall off.

In the second part of my speech, I am going to focus on the nuclear industry. The nuclear industry needs to assume its responsibility completely. I do not think that comment will generate debate. To start with, it is a matter of the public interest. I would hope that everyone will agree that the safety of the Canadian public as a whole is absolutely non-negotiable, in spite of a few somewhat nonsensical comments from government members.

We also need to learn from the various events that have taken place in the past in various parts of the world. Based on that, we have to draw the following conclusion: in the Canadian context, setting the limit at $1 billion will be insufficient to cover the cost without requiring that the government invest large amounts of taxpayers’ money to deal with certain potential accidents. Zero risk does not exist anywhere. If I take my car out tomorrow, I assume a share of the risk, for which I pay through my insurance. However, the risk must be completely assumed by the industry. That is a very basic question of how a market operates. We are talking about internalizing the costs associated with the risk to be assumed. It is a very simple principle. Plainly, understanding how a market functions in economics is an insurmountable obstacle for many government members.

There is also the issue of the competitiveness of the Canadian nuclear industry. It must be viable and exportable, and our Canadian businesses must be able to compete and offer their skills and expertise by having optimal conditions on our domestic market, no matter the area of activity, whether it involves the design, construction, operation or development of certain parts of the systems in the nuclear industry.

We are not the only ones talking about this. This is a concern shared by experts in different fields about both the nuclear and the oil and gas industries. I will first quote Joel Wood, senior research economist at the Fraser Institute, who had this to say about the absolute liability cap:

Increasing the cap only decreases the subsidy; it does not eliminate it.

The subsidy is obviously a concept that I hope my Conservative colleagues will be able to grasp. I hope that they will be able to follow my logic. However, I am not very confident that they will since the Conservatives manage to confuse collective savings with the Canada pension plan and a tax, for example, which shows that the government has a very limited understanding of very important social issues.

Mr. Wood goes on to say:

The Government of Canada should proceed with legislation that removes the liability cap entirely rather than legislation that maintains it, or increases it to be harmonious with other jurisdictions.

When speaking of other jurisdictions, as the member for Saint-Jean said, we are speaking about foreign examples that are comparable in terms of the development of the nuclear or oil and gas industry.

Let us take a look at oil and gas development. One of the first elements is rather strange. In fact the bill deals strictly with offshore development, and does not deal with the entire issue of oil and gas development and transportation. We are already wondering why the government took a slapdash approach.

Earlier, I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, where I was filling in for my very esteemed colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for the clause by clause study of the bill.

During the period for questions and comments on omnibus Bill C-31, which I would remind the House is a monstrous bill that is impossible to study in the context of our work in the House or on committee, I raised some very serious concerns that the riding of Beauport—Limoilou has about the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. Bill C-31 was compromising, possibly even severely compromising, the regulations in that area.

Unfortunately, in Bill C-22, we are going to, yet again, end up partially correcting past failings and massive negligence by the Liberals and Conservatives. There is a reason we see them working so hard on joining forces to try to stop us. We saw that earlier this week with the conditions put on the debates scheduled to take place between now and the end of June.

We cannot look at this type of activity separately or in isolation, using a piecemeal approach, without understanding all this might entail for our society, our citizens, the environment and even for industry. It is truly deplorable to see the government improvising so easily and providing hollow, ready-made answers that do nothing to address the legitimate concerns that Canadians might have.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:40 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I will not hide the fact that the NDP has a perfectly coherent position, regardless of the objections he has to questions about offshore oil development or rail or pipeline transportation.

What the NDP objects to is the government’s complacency and the lack of regulatory mechanisms and inspectors. I am not even talking about the processes involved in bringing a project to completion. Basically, the NDP objects to the overall weak regulatory framework and to the fact that industry is allowed free rein.

Self-regulation is tantamount to living in a fantasy world and refusing to face reality. We must not be naive. We must be demanding and demanding is what the NDP will always be.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the member could provide comment in regard to the liability issue. He talked about the $1 billion not being enough, and I can appreciate why he said that.

The question I have is about our universities. There are universities in Canada that do research, and in certain situations they work in nuclear research activities. To what degree does my colleague believe that those universities should be obligated to get insurance policies?

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:40 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Winnipeg North for that question.

The reason why I reacted badly to the comment by my colleague from Don Valley West is that I once worked as a physicist. Absolute safety is pretty much incompatible with the overall Canadian framework of a $1-billion liability ceiling.

However, my colleague from Winnipeg North talked about something else. He compared a heavy industry, the nuclear industry and the electricity generating industry, with a much less powerful research reactor. Liability is also clearly different.

That is why I support this bill at second reading. It is important for us to distinguish properly between activity sectors that are quite different and from that point on, to establish liability scales adapted to each individual sector. For that reason, debate on this bill should certainly not be limited.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:40 p.m.
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NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, since we are talking about liability, I will point out that a railway accident recently occurred in Quebec. Oil was spilled, and it is amazing to see that no one is being held liable for it.

That is amazing. The moment someone arrives with a bill, no one is there to accept it, and it becomes an embarrassing problem. One of the major weaknesses of this bill is that you have to phone a lawyer before you call anyone to clean up, repair and provide compensation. Something is wrong. People are in trouble because someone did not do their job right, and they have to go looking for a lawyer.

I would like my colleague to tell us about that disconnect, about the fact that we in Canada always have to phone a lawyer before calling someone to clean up.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:45 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his particularly relevant comment.

He has shed light on the fact that when we correct deficiencies in the legal framework, in the legal approach or in the compensation framework, it is often already too late. That is really unfortunate. I entirely agree with my colleague on that point.

The problem is much greater and much more fundamental than the solutions that Bill C-22 will provide. That is why we must clearly go further and, more particularly, expand the measures that should be introduced.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-22, the proposed energy safety and security act, which would provide a world-class regulatory regime for Canada's offshore and nuclear industries while strengthening protection for Canadians and the environment. Bill C-22 would ensure accountability from these industries and protection for taxpayers if an incident or spill results in cleanup costs and compensation.

The Governments of Canada, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have worked together over several years to update Canada's offshore safety regime. Bill C-22 reflects this extensive collaboration by focusing on three main areas: prevention, response, and accountability.

Allow me to summarize a few of the key points in each of these areas.

First, with regard to prevention, the bill would raise financial capacity requirements for offshore operators to a minimum of $1 billion. It also would provide authority for offshore boards to impose fines for regulatory contraventions. In the nuclear sector, Bill C-22 would increase absolute liability for compensation for civil damages from $75 million to $1 billion.

In the area of response, Bill C-22 would implement a number of measures to improve spill prevention and response capability. The bill would provide industry with the option of establishing a pooled fund of at least $250 million, and it would permit the safe use of spill treating agents where there is a net environmental benefit.

As far as accountability is concerned, our government is delivering on its promise to enshrine the polluter pays principle in law. Further, we are also clarifying jurisdictional responsibilities for occupational health and safety in the offshore.

These are not stand-alone legislative improvements. Rather, they are part of a comprehensive and ongoing approach to achieve environmental protection in resource development throughout Canada. Our government has been clear. Projects would only be approved if they were safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

That is why our government has introduced a series of new laws and regulations through our plan for responsible resource development to strengthen environmental protection. For example, we have worked to ensure that the National Energy Board has the necessary resources to increase pipeline monitoring and inspections, so that companies are held accountable. These measures include increasing the number of full audits of federally regulated pipelines, and we have put forward new, significant fines as a strong deterrent against breaking Canada's rigorous environmental regulations.

Our government's record on ensuring that Canada has a world-class safety regime is proven with each of these measures. Yet the opposition voted against each of these improvements.

Offshore, we have taken major steps to enhance the protection of Canada's marine environment. Our government has increased tanker inspections, required the use of double-hulled ships, and improved the navigation tools and ship surveillance used in our coastal waterways.

In addition, a tanker safety expert panel has reviewed Canada's current system and is proposing further measures to strengthen it. After many consultations with stakeholders and aboriginal peoples on the panel's report, last month the Minister of Transport announced our government's next steps in strengthening Canada's world-class tanker safety system.

Many of these new safety and environmental measures are currently being enshrined in law. For example, Bill C-3, the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act, would strengthen oil spill response, set new requirements for energy facilities, establish new standards for pollution prevention, and introduce substantial monetary penalties to deal with offences. While our current marine safety regime has served Canada well, these new initiatives would help make Canada's shipping standards truly world class. We are working hard to develop support and enforce these standards.

On our east coast, the Government of Canada shares offshore management with two provinces, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Offshore oil and gas projects are accordingly regulated by the appropriate offshore board, either the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

Each offshore board ensures that operators exercise due diligence to prevent spills from occurring in Canada's offshore. With this in mind, we work closely with these two provinces to update and expand legislation to ensure that Canada's offshore rules are among the strongest in the world.

The accord act gives the offshore boards the legal authority to regulate oil and gas activities. The boards evaluate each drilling application for completeness and compliance with federal regulations. As a result, drilling cannot occur unless the responsible board is fully satisfied that drilling plans are safe for workers and for the environment.

Providing a liability and compensation regime to protect Canadians and create stability for this important industry falls under federal jurisdiction. The Government of Canada has a duty to all Canadians to assume its responsibilities in this area, and we are committed to doing so. Bill C-22 would increase the amount of financial capacity companies operating in the offshore must have to meet all liability obligations and it would increase the amount of the deposit companies must provide prior to receiving an authorization for drilling or production. In other words, before any offshore drilling or production activity could take place, companies would have to prove that they could cover the costs that could result in the unlikely event of an incident.

Canada has long depended on the shipping industry to move products from our coastal ports to world markets. On any given day, about 180 vessels operate in Canada's coastal waters. Energy is a big part of this trade. Each year, 80 million tonnes of oil is shipped safely off Canada's coast. On Canada's west coast, tankers have been moving oil safely since the 1930s.

With the phenomenal growth of the oil and gas industry in B.C. and Alberta, marine shipping on Canada's coast will increase substantially in the coming years. We are preparing for this future growth through our efforts today to bolster Canada's safety regime for the maritime environment. Our government is ensuring that the many opportunities for economic growth and prosperity that Canada's natural resources offer are available to all Canadians throughout the country, including aboriginal peoples. Our government's plan for responsible resource development will help achieve this by creating greater certainty and predictability for project investors while at the same time strengthening environmental protections, as Bill C-22 demonstrates.

In conclusion, these are just some of the ways in which our government is taking action to ensure that Canada continues to have world-class environmental protection in resource development. As all members can appreciate, Bill C-22 would provide a solid regulatory framework to safely govern the offshore and nuclear industries in Canada for decades to come. Bill C-22 would ensure that Canada's vast resource wealth can be developed responsibly by putting public safety and environmental protection first.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:50 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his discourse on this bill, but I think he has missed something. He talked about the offshore regime, but when we examine the bill, we find that almost a third of Canada is covered onshore by a liability regime. In the Northwest Territories, the maximum liability without proof of fault or negligence is $25 million onshore. Therefore, it seems that perhaps he needs to spend a little more time to understand this bill. We should be spending more time in Parliament talking about it, because obviously there are things in it that he has not seen yet.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, having listened to some of the debate earlier, I recognize the fact that this will be going to committee and there will be more discussion. We can take a look at the absolute liabilities we have. We have talked about the Atlantic offshore and the $30 million there for absolute liability and the $40 million in the Arctic, where the member comes from. It is clearly unacceptable that this is the rate it is. With Bill C-22, we would raise that so that it would cover the kinds of concerns people have.

There are a couple of points I would like to mention to the member.

With regard to Canada's responsibilities and the way it handles regulations, I remember that about six or seven years ago, when I was just getting started in politics, I had a chance to talk to some individuals. These people had been around the world, and they said that the best place for regulations and protection of the environment is Canada. The only place that came close was Australia, and that was because it was taking the regulations Canadians had.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's comments regarding the issue of liability. He stated that the government would be open to amendments. A member from across the way heckled, saying, “always open for amendments”, but that is not what we have witnessed from the government over the years.

We in the Liberal Party have indicated that the principle of the legislation is good, and we are encouraged by it, but we believe that it needs to be strengthened. There are certain amendments we believe would provide more strength and would improve the legislation.

I wonder if the member could provide further comment on the degree to which he believes the government is actually open to listening to what opposition members might have to say in regard to amendments.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have gone through numerous consultations with various groups to come up with the proposals we have. Again, here we are at second reading taking this to committee so that things can be discussed and we can bring in different types of witnesses and hear what they have to say.

I believe that when we hear what the witnesses have to say, we will see how the consultations we have had are reflected in the way the legislation has been crafted. I believe members will find that after it goes through the committee stage, we will have a great bill coming back from there too.

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May 29th, 2014 / 8:55 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the House tonight in the debate on Bill C-22, a bill the NDP believes should at least get to the committee so that we can hear from the experts and witnesses who know something about this issue of liability when it comes to nuclear projects as well as about what happens in the offshore.

I need to make some passing comment on what my friend just said recently about Canada's state of regulatory protection for the environment and for communities. Systematically, often through omnibus bills, these massive bills the government has been using, it has been pulling out and destroying pieces of that very same environmental protection law the government says is the best in the world.

The government keeps ripping out pieces of the environmental protection laws we have in place, such as the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and then continues to say that it must be the best in the world. Then it rips out some more and says that its is global-leading environmental protection. Then the government rips out some more and says that it must all be great. That is, of course, not the case. The government has been enabling the speedy approval of oil and gas projects over the last number of years with very little public oversight of any little stipulations.

We can all recall that it was the Prime Minister who got up after getting elected to government and said that within a short time, Canada would become a global energy superpower. That was in 2006. Eight years on, how are the Conservatives doing? Oh, my goodness; they are yelling at the U.S. president because they do not like his delay. They cannot get Enbridge northern gateway past the communities and gain the social licence they need. They have controversies on every single energy project they propose and demand that Canadians just accept them.

When Canadians raise any questions, this is the government's approach to this point when it comes to oil and gas projects. It calls Canadians who raise objections foreign-funded radicals. The Conservatives call them enemies of the state. This is the Conservative attempt to woo Canadians to oil and gas development in Canada. It has had the opposite effect.

It is no wonder that the oil lobby, CAPP, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, just a couple of weeks ago broke away from the Conservatives' public relations strategy, because it was toxic. It was hurting the industry so much that it said it could no longer be associated or in line with the Conservatives' strategy when it comes to speaking to the public. It is going to go its own way. It took them a number of years, but the oil lobby is pretty smart and has a lot of money.

Let us talk about the specifics of the bill. This is of incredible importance to me because I represent northwestern British Columbia, and we are in the target zone. We are ground zero for a bunch of the Conservatives' more misaligned schemes when it comes to energy development.

Liability and limited liability, as in this bill, are of great interest to us. There is a curious thing I hear, both from progressives and from very conservative constituents, when it comes to who pays the costs when there is an oil disaster. Both from the right and the left, there is a curiosity as to why there is a liability placed over top of oil companies at all.

When a limit is put on the liability to which a company is exposed, what the government is effectively saying is that the company can be sued, but only up to a certain point, and beyond that, there is cap and it cannot be held responsible or made to pay compensation beyond that cap.

One would wonder, of all the industries in the world, why the oil and gas industry would be the one to receive what is in effect a subsidy from the public. It is a subsidy because any cleanup costs beyond that cap are picked up by the Canadian public.

It makes no sense. It does not happen to other industries, except for nuclear, which is also included in this bill, but it happens for oil and gas. Why is that? It is because the oil and gas industry has really good lobbyists. One told me a funny little joke the other day. I guess it is a joke within the oil lobbyist circle. He said that when the oil lobby wants the Conservative government to know it wants something, it does not phone; it just rolls over in bed and whispers in the government's ear.

While I thought that image was a little disturbing, it seems to be true. When it comes to the Conservative government, whatever oil wants, oil gets.

With the liability question that is front of us, let us take nuclear for just a second. Let us step away and look at the process we are under. We see that this bill, which has massive implications for the Canadian people, is under time allocation. That means that the government has decided to restrict the debate.

All through the back and forth on this restriction of debate, the Conservatives have said that they want to show up to work, and yet the Conservatives have missed 11 speaking spots so far. That is 11 shifts they have not shown up for.

In most Canadian workplaces, if workers have a shift that they do not show up to, there would be some sort of consequence. I know that as an employer, I would be somewhat suspicious of employees who said they wanted to work hard and yet did not show up to work, and so be it.

On nuclear liability, for example, the Conservatives previously attempted to raise the liability cap to $650 million, and the New Democrats were the only ones in this House—and I remember, because I sat on the committee—who said that $650 million might be a little low. We suggested $1 billion just as a good place to start. The Conservatives and Liberals at the time said that was outrageous, that we would kill the nuclear industry in Canada, that we would make it unaffordable, that it was irresponsible.

Then Fukushima happened. Does it not often seem an unfortunate reality that significant and painful disasters have to occur before governments suddenly snap awake and realize? As of today, current costs of that one disaster in Japan have hit $58 billion.

The Conservatives will wave this bill around and say they are being tough and that $1 billion is just an extraordinary amount of money for a company to hold. However, when things go wrong at a nuclear plant, they go really wrong. People die and get exposed to radiation, and all sorts of serious consequences happen to people in the area.

The idea that the public would pick up the cost beyond $1 billion is one that we found questionable. We raised this before, and the Conservatives and the Liberals said it was a terrible idea. Then suddenly they adopted that terrible idea. They now call it a great idea. I guess that is how ideas transform from “terrible” when they come from the opposition to “great” when they come from the government.

Let us move over to offshore oil and gas liability, because that is also discussed here.

To put it in context, the cost of the massive and disastrous spill that happened in the gulf as a result of BP's actions is at somewhere near $28 billion in damages so far. I was just looking this up online, and some of these estimates may double or triple that amount, approaching $70 billion in compensation for damages because it was such a terrible thing. One of the regions the government wants to drill in is the high Arctic and the Beaufort, and one of the stipulations that sits on the books in Canada right now is that the company that is drilling must have the capacity to drill what is called a “relief well” in the same season.

It was only a relief well, as people will remember, that was ultimately able to stop that terrible disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The workers tried absolutely everything to stop the oil from coming up, but it was only by drilling a second well and then going below where it was being released that they were eventually able to get enough cement and solids in there to be able to cap it.

In the Arctic, the oil companies came to the current government and very quietly and secretly said, “Let us get rid of that stipulation”. Why did they want to get rid of the stipulation in the Arctic in particular? It was because having the capacity to drill a relief well in the same season is not possible. The government and industry know that, yet they want to drill in the Arctic.

This is a strange irony that because of the results of climate change and inaction from governments like this Conservative government, we have seen Arctic ice melt and recede at an incredible pace. More of the Arctic is becoming exposed, which has a compounding effect. As we all know, the more ice retreats, the worse the situation gets.

The Conservatives' reaction to such a disaster and its impact on such a sensitive region as the Arctic was to celebrate. They said, “Now we can go and drill. Is that not so exciting?”, thereby adding insult to injury by pulling more oil up out of the ground. We know we have left behind all the cheap, accessible, and relatively safe oil in the world. We have moved over. We are now dealing with very expensive and much more dangerous oil that is harder to get at.

It is unfortunate that it requires a disaster, a significant news event that people cover from around the world.

The idea that we maintain is that if the profits are being held and enjoyed by the private sector, then why, for goodness' sake, would the risks be taken on by the public? The Conservatives want to privatize the profits but socialize the risks.

We argue this on the issue of temporary foreign workers and we will argue it on this issue as well. The free market has a call and response. The oil game is sometimes a bit of a risk and a roulette wheel, and if the companies want to play this game, if they are going to risk our environment, our communities, and our economy, then they should bear the cost of that risk. The public should not be picking up the tab.

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to have an opportunity to put some questions to the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley because, unlike the hon. member for Red Deer, I suspect he may have read Bill C-22 and knows there is nothing in the bill that has anything to do with tankers or a safety regime for shipping oil in tankers. I mean no disrespect to the hon. member for Red Deer. I think he was handed a speech he had not written that spoke to a lot of measures that have nothing to do with Bill C-22.

The tanker methods and measures that were mentioned by the hon. member for Red Deer, such as double-hulled tankers, which are not in Bill C-22, have been required globally since 1978. I think there should be a statute of limitations on how often this administration can announce a global standard that has existed since 1978, but which, by the way, is not mentioned in Bill C-22.

Let us talk about Bill C-22, which is a regime for liability for drilling in the offshore. That is what it is about. It sets limits that, as the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has pointed out, will do absolutely nothing to deal with a major disaster such as may happen if they go ahead and drill a deepwater oil well called Old Harry in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where no one should be drilling for oil.

I want to ask my hon. colleague one specific question, because I find it fascinating. On page 35 of Bill C-22, we find this wonderful statement about violations of the act. It states, “The purpose of the penalty is to promote compliance with this Act and not to punish”.

What does he make of that?

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:10 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, that statement buried within the bill tells us that certainly the Conservative government would never want to punish anybody in the oil sector. If people happen to donate to an environmental charity or be part of a social justice group, they would all be looking for punishment from the Conservatives, but if they are in oil, they are okay.

The association to risk is what is important here. If people could go to a casino and gamble knowing that no matter how much they gambled, they could only lose $100, it would probably influence the way they gambled. They would bet lots of money, knowing that there was no way for them to lose more than this maximum amount.

I do not suggest that drilling for oil is exactly like going to Vegas, but it has some similar qualities. The oil companies will say it is a one-in-a-thousand chance. They are into risk, but if a cap is placed on that risk, it encourages behaviour that we do not want, which is high-risk behaviour.

Finally, the member made the point that a lot of the Conservatives' speeches are about tanker traffic and pipelines and so on. What the Conservatives are doing is so obvious that it is a bit unseemly. They are trying to soften the ground for the announcement that is coming with respect to Enbridge and the northern gateway. That is what this is about. They want the public to believe that somehow double-hulled tankers are going to save the day. They have been in place for more than a generation, and suddenly the Conservatives are going to talk tough on oil. No one is going to believe them, because it is not true.

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:10 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of oil spill examples for the member that he could maybe comment on.

One oil spill, of course, was Lac-Mégantic. The railroad that was licensed to operate by the government was licensed to operate on the basis of $25 million in liability. That is all it was required to carry to have a licence. It was clearly not enough. We know the result: the taxpayer is on the hook for the rest.

The other example is a gentleman in Fredericton, New Brunswick, who several years ago bought a home which, he discovered, had a leaky oil tank in the back yard that had been leaking through the town. The several million dollars in damages were entirely the responsibility of the homeowner. There was no liability cap. There was no government paying the bill. That is the reality of what goes on with oil spills in Canada: an individual is in big trouble, but companies are okay.

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:10 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the only caveat I would put to his question is that there are many Canadian companies, from IT to the automotive sector and others, that do not enjoy this subsidy. That is what it is, because the cost of carrying insurance is a cost of doing business. If companies lower the amount of insurance they have to carry, they lower the cost of doing business. If somebody else is picking that cost up and it is the public, that is a public subsidy. I can hear Mr. Hudak screaming in the rafters now, “No more corporate welfare”.

Conservatives are so often very comfortable with the idea of corporate subsidies, particularly for corporations that do not need it because they have such an enormous amount of wealth. Oil is $105 a barrel. They are pulling it out of the ground. They are making the money.

If they are taking those risks and enjoying that profit, then certainly they should assume that risk and not spread it out among the hard-working Canadians who had nothing to do with the accidents that those oil companies created.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2014 / 9:10 p.m.
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I start, I must apologize to my interpreting friends. I have given them my notes, but I am going to go a little off the cuff here because I have a few things to say beforehand.

First, I would like to say that I am really fortunate today in just having had supper with some good friends from Chilliwack, Dennis and Penny Martens, who are right there watching me. Dennis and I went to UBC together in the early sixties. It is kind of neat to be able to talk to him and Penny.

I feel really privileged to have followed my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He was in my riding just last week, actually, talking to people about the proposed Enbridge pipeline and its consequences, and I will talk about this a bit later. I had a chance to visit the beautiful pristine area that he lives in to see exactly what the consequences of that proposed pipeline would be.

I have some notes here, and I will just ask the interpreters to bear with me.

I just want to say that it seems that the current government that I have been faced with for the last eight years since I have been here is not really friendly with respect to looking after our environment and looking after the people of Canada.

There are many fine individuals in that party, and I see them here. We have a good relationship. They treat me well, with respect, but collectively, the current government has done a lot to our country that will take us a long time to recover from once it is no longer in power.

The bill would update Canada's nuclear liability regime to specify the conditions and procedures for compensation of victims.

It would maintain the principles of absolute fault or no fault, limited and exclusive, except for situations of war or terrorist attacks.

It would extend the limitation period for submitting compensation claims for bodily injury from 10 years to 30 years to address latent illnesses. It would maintain the 10-year period for all other forms of damage.

The nuclear liability changes would apply to Canadian nuclear facilities, such as nuclear power plants, research reactors, fuel processing plants, and facilities for managing used nuclear fuel.

It would also update Canada's offshore liability regime for oil and gas exploration and operations to prevent incidents and ensure swift response in the event of a spill. I will talk a little bit about that later.

It would maintain unlimited operator liability for fault or negligence.

It would increase the absolute liability limit from $40 million in the Arctic and $30 million in the Atlantic to $1 billion for offshore oil.

It would reference the polluter pays principle explicitly in legislation to establish clearly and formally that polluters would be held accountable. That is a good thing.

However, let me say a few words on offshore oil spills in general.

The fact that the absolute liability limit would be increased to $1 billion should not—and I repeat, should not—be a green light to approve further tanker traffic off our B.C. coast. That is what my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley was alluding to: the fact that all of this discussion is somehow supposed to lay the groundwork for this wonderful project in northern British Columbia.

As members are aware, I am sure, after all these years the Alaskan coastline is still seeing effects of the Exxon Valdez spill.

At the invitation of my colleague, the MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, I had a chance to visit our northwestern coastline communities of Terrace, Kitimat, and Kitimaat Village. I and some of my NDP colleagues heard what the people had to say about the proposed Enbridge northern gateway pipeline.

As we have seen from the recent vote or referendum in Kitimat, 60% of the people voted against the pipeline, in spite of the huge amount of money spent by the oil industry going door to door to try to get support for the pipeline.

When I was there, we had a meeting with something like 150 people in Terrace, and people of all political stripes do not want the project to go through. At the meeting in Terrace, we learned that if roughly 30% of the oil can be recuperated after a regular oil spill, such as occurred with the Exxon Valdez spill, that is considered excellent.

However, if we can recuperate 7% from a spill of raw bitumen, that is also considered excellent.

It does not really matter what the liability is, once raw bitumen is spilled in the ocean, the environment is basically destroyed forever. This is the point that people in northern communities, people in the area I represent and all over British Columbia are trying to get across. Thousands of jobs in the tourist and fishing industries will be lost permanently. It is not just that the oil is spilled, the company has a liability of $1 billion, and we clean it up. We can clean up only 7% of it, and that is considered excellent. If we do a good job, that is probably 3.5%. If we do a terrible job, we would probably clean up 2% of the bitumen. We cannot allow tanker traffic in the northern coastline. It is as simple as that.

People in my province are mobilizing against this project. For the sake of future generations, we cannot let this project take place. It is often expedient not only for the current government of the day but for governments of all political parties that happen to be in power to think in the short range. It does not matter if governments are Conservative, Liberal, NDP, or Green; we need governments that look to the future. The future is our children and grandchildren. What is the coastline and the province of British Columbia going to be like in the future?

The grandchildren of my friends Dennis and Penny are not going to read in the paper that they cannot go to northern B.C. because the coastline is polluted because a tanker just spilt raw bitumen and none of it was recuperated. Surely we can increase our own refining capacity to create jobs in Canada. I know my party is working on a policy that when we hopefully assume government, we will be able to transition into this green energy strategy that other countries have done, which will provide jobs to millions of people as we transition out of the fossil fuel industry.

If we look at the predictions of climate change, if we look at what is happening in other countries, it is logical. We have this chance, and in the meantime we can increase our oil refining capacity. If we have an oil industry, why not keep the jobs here? For the sake of a few hundred or a thousand jobs for a short period of time, should we build a pipeline and get some hundreds of tankers a year moving in in areas that are prone to high gales and accidents? Why would we do that, rather than taking this product that we take out of the ground and refining it somewhere in our country? We would create jobs as we keep the economy moving, and we would move toward a green energy strategy. That would be a win-win situation. I would prefer that we create jobs in Canada rather than somewhere in Asia.

The bill before us strengthens the current liability regime but will not help protect the environment, or Canadian taxpayers either, because it still exposes them to risk.

The Conservatives constantly lag behind our international partners. They disregard best practices that are used to identify inadequate liability regimes.

We have previously criticized the inadequacy of nuclear liability limits. Even though these provisions must be considered a step in the right direction relative to current limits, this bill does not duly reflect the actual risks Canadians face. We hope to address this point in committee. Consequently, this bill must absolutely be referred to committee. We need to hear from witnesses.

I eagerly await my colleagues’ questions.

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on the member's closing comments. He talked about the importance of the bill going to committee, and we concur.

There is no doubt that this is a step forward in principle. There are many aspects of the legislation that are long overdue. However, it is important to recognize that with some strategic amendments, we could give more strength to the legislation. This could enrich the legislation to the point where it would be stronger, and all of us would benefit from that.

To what degree does the member feel the government will be open to opposition amendments? It seems, even from the government side, that there is a need to add some additional meat to the bones. Would he like to provide comments on how important it is for us to make those changes?

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for all of his hard work on behalf of his constituents.

Today, I read an op-ed in the Manitoba Co-operator, where my colleague from Welland was quoted as saying that we all came together as parties to move through Bill C-30, the railway act. Here we had this instance of co-operation. It is something that often does not happen. All parties got together, the government listened, we made suggestions and, all of a sudden, we had a bill that benefited all Canadians.

This is a golden opportunity for this bill to go to committee and for the government to listen and not do what it did, for example, when I was on the agriculture committee studying the food safety bill. Both the NDP and the Liberal Party provided something like 25 amendments, and not one was accepted. That is not how government works and that is not how democracy should work. This is an opportunity.

I welcome the question from the member for Winnipeg North. I really hope that once it gets to committee, we will have this debate and strengthen the bill so it will be our bill on behalf of Canadians, not just the government's bill.

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:25 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for his excellent speech. He provided an excellent explanation of all the good aspects of the bill and of the elements that should be fixed.

The NDP, the official opposition, supports the polluter pays principle. The Conservatives claim they also support the polluter pays principle. However, although this bill is a step in the right direction, it does not quite go far enough. Once again, the taxpayers, the everyday citizen, including the people of Drummond who pay their taxes, will have to foot the bill for any disasters that result from accidents.

Could my colleague speak a little more about his position on the polluter pays principle? How would the bill have to be improved in order to observe the polluter pays principle, which is a principle of sustainable development?

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I also thank him for the work he does for his constituents and the work he does in the House.

Taxpayers should not be responsible for the mistakes made by large corporations. Oil companies must absolutely contribute and must pay when there are environmental risks. That should not be up to taxpayers.

The issue is not only the $1-billion limit. What would happen if it cost $2 billion? Would that mean that taxpayers would have to cover the $1-billion difference? I do not think so.

The bill must absolutely include the polluter pays principle, not just for the nuclear and oil industries, but also for all industries. If you run the risk, you pay the price.

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May 29th, 2014 / 9:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, agreeing on legislation is already quite a difficult exercise, but the other problem is that, with this government, passing legislation is absolutely no guarantee that it will be implemented.

We are told that we will have very strict safety standards. It looks really nice on paper, but what about their day-to-day application?

For the past two years, the practice of transporting oil by rail has increased by 900%. We should therefore expect that there is a decent railway safety system in place. Is there?

Regarding the number of audit investigations, only 26% of the minimum number of audits is carried out, and 100% of these 26% are poorly done. That is unbelievable. In addition, there is no follow-up of violations. This has got to be the pinnacle of mediocrity. It is a remake of the Pan Am Airways scandal, when they charged clients an additional fee to guarantee their safety, but it was only a marketing scheme. In fact, the company had changed absolutely nothing. We also know what happened with Lockerbie. This is another problem.

We can argue about legislation, but when the government still refuses to implement it, this is when we get such poor results. This is when a Lac-Mégantic disaster happens.

There have been major developments in terms of nuclear liability. The nuclear industry of 1976 and the nuclear industry of today are very different creatures. There are mining facilities where ore enrichment is carried out. This is also a dangerous process. Nuclear plants are not the only ones at risk of exploding. Nuclear plant explosions are bad enough, but now there are more and bigger mines that have ore enrichment processes. That is dangerous. This is something new. It must be discussed.

The nuclear industry also produces medical materials for treatments. Radioactivity is used for medical purposes, if you will. There are plants that make these materials. There are plants that handle radioactive materials. This is dangerous. We must discuss this as well. Therefore, the dangers that were noted in 1976 are very different from the dangers today. We must talk about this and we must make regulations. We must be sure that Canadians are protected and that they are compensated adequately in the event of an accident.

If it costs $2 billion or $3 billion, will you tell Canadians that you are sorry and that it is first come first served? When there is no more money, will you say that is just too bad for them? I do not think that Canadians will particularly like this. It will be up to the taxpayers to foot the bill.

For people who say they want to protect taxpayers, they are being awfully generous to those who systematically expect taxpayers to pick up the tab. Canadians should not be the ones paying the price for these situations.

This law has been in need of change since 1976. Here is a fact: in 1976, inflation was at 10%.

I do not need to point out that, even back then, $40 million was too little. Imagine what that is worth now. It is not enough for anything. All it would pay for is relocating people to a hotel for a few days. That would eat up the $40 million. That number really needs updating.

We want something comprehensive. That is why we are sending it to committee. We have things to talk about and we need to hear from experts. The experts will give us some very interesting information. We have to take the time to listen to them.

What can I say about the wonderful stuff that is oil? Do we need it? Yes. Will we keep needing it? Yes.

I listened to the comments by my colleague from British Columbia. When I was in the northern part of that province, I saw what they were using as a rescue boat.

Believe it or not, it was basically a rowboat. Anyone who thinks a little motorboat can stop an out-of-control tanker from running aground off the coast of British Columbia is mistaken. The Coast Guard is definitely not equipped to deal with these challenges. They have nothing.

Unfortunately, the people who promise to respect the environment and so on are the same detestable bunch that did such a wonderful job in Port Valdez, the same rotten pack that did such fabulous work in the Gulf of Guinea and the Gulf of Mexico, the same despicable gang that performed so admirably off the coast of the Philippines. Those people never paid the bills. The Exxon Valdez cost $7 billion, and the case is still before the courts. Nobody was ever compensated, and that was a long time ago now. No, those people do not want to pay for their irresponsible actions. It might be a good idea for Canada to have ways to protect itself from that.

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
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Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

moved that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank my constituents from the great Kenora riding for their support over the past almost six years and in this capacity to serve them as the minister responsible for natural resources.

I want to take this opportunity today to highlight our government's action on energy safety and security in Canada's offshore and nuclear energy industries.

Our government is determined to maintain a world-class liability regime in Canada's offshore and nuclear energy industries.

We are responsible for ensuring the safety and protection of Canadians and our environment. We are committed to authorizing only development that can be done safely.

One of the key elements of the legislation would raise the absolute liability limits in both the offshore and nuclear sectors to $1 billion. These changes would bring Canada's offshore and nuclear liability limits in line with the international community. This important measure would be proactive action to ensure that if there were an accident, taxpayers would not be on the hook.

For oil spills, these changes would help further strengthen safety and security to prevent incidents and ensure a quick response in the unlikely event of a spill.

In our Speech from the Throne, we were clear. We will enshrine the polluter pays principle in law. We also committed to increasing the required liability insurance and setting higher safety standards for companies operating offshore.

Bill C-22 would achieve these goals.

Regarding the management of Canada's offshore oil and gas industry; as we know, Canada's booming offshore oil and gas industry has transformed the economy of Atlantic Canada. The offshore industry has pumped billions of dollars into Canada's economy and provided thousands of employment opportunities. Offshore development is currently one of the fastest-growing sectors in Canada. Right now, there are five major projects currently producing in the Atlantic offshore.

As my hon. colleagues know, Canada's environmental record in the Atlantic offshore is already very strong.

Our responsible development plan strengthens environmental protection by focusing resources on reviews of major projects.

Our government has put forward new fines to punish those who would break Canada's rigorous environmental protections. We have also increased the number of inspections and comprehensive audits of federally regulated pipelines. What is more, we are bringing in tough new measures for oil tankers, to ensure the safe transport of our energy resources through our waterways. These measures include the introduction of the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act and the formation of an expert review panel to examine Canada's current tanker safety regime and propose ways to strengthen it. Building on these measures, our government is taking important, tangible steps today to make our already-robust offshore liability regime even stronger.

As many of my Atlantic Canadian colleagues know well, the Government of Canada shares the management of the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area and the Nova Scotia offshore area with both of the respective provincial governments. Offshore oil and gas projects, therefore, are regulated by either the Canada–Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Each board ensures that operators exercise due diligence to prevent spills from occurring in Canada's offshore. With this in mind, we have worked closely with these two provinces to update and expand legislation to ensure that Canada's offshore rules remain world-class.

Regarding the key changes to offshore liability, this legislation would ensure that the liability limits reflect modern standards. The current offshore petroleum regime specifies that operators have an absolute liability for up to $30 million. Given the value of the resource and the capacity of those who develop it, all members can agree that this amount needs to be raised. That is why we would increase the benchmark by 33 times its current level to an absolute liability limit of $1 billion. Doing so would bring Canada in line with similar regimes in Norway, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

We also need to ensure that companies operating in the offshore have the financial capacity to meet these and their obligations. Before any offshore drilling or production activity can take place, companies must prove that they can cover the financial liabilities that may result from a spill. Typically, the financial capacity requirements can range from $250 million to $500 million, with $30 million to be held as a deposit to work in the Atlantic offshore and $40 million to work in the Arctic. This deposit is held in trust by the offshore regulator as a letter of credit, guarantee, or bond.

With these legislative amendments, the minimum financial capacity would be raised to $1 billion, in line with operator’s absolute liability. Regulators may require higher amounts if deemed necessary and, in addition, we would increase the amount of funds to which operators have unfettered access to $100 million per operator. Industry would also have the option of setting up a minimum $250 million pooled fund, and operators could choose to use membership in such a fund to serve as their financial responsibility. We would also establish a cost-recovery regime for regulatory services provided by the offshore boards. I am pleased to say that the companies operating in Canada's Atlantic and Arctic offshore would be subject to one of the highest absolute liability standards in the world.

Regarding the nuclear industry, the second important part of this legislation focuses on updating the absolute liabilities for nuclear energy. In fact, it is one of the main reasons that our electricity supply is one of the cleanest in the world; 77% of Canada's electricity mix is non-emitting. Our government recognizes the importance of the industry to the Canadian economy. The industry generates nearly $5 billion a year in revenues and provides jobs for more than 30,000 Canadians. This is the number of jobs that the New Democrats want to destroy with their anti-nuclear position. We know that nuclear energy can be generated safely. In fact, Canada's nuclear safety record is exemplary and there has never been a claim under Canada's Nuclear Liability Act.

Our nuclear industry has sound technology, a qualified workforce and stringent regulatory requirements. However, as a responsible government, we must ensure that our security system is up to date and able to respond to any incidents that may occur.

The responsibility for providing a liability and compensation regime, a solid framework to protect Canadians and provide stability to this important industry, falls under federal jurisdiction. The Government of Canada, then, has a duty to all Canadians to assume its responsibilities in this area, and we are committed to doing so.

Although the basic principles underlying Canada's nuclear liability legislation remain valid, the Nuclear Liability Act is nearly 40 years old. It needs updating to address issues that have arisen over the years and to keep pace with international developments. Bill C-22 serves to strengthen and modernize Canada's nuclear liability regime. The proposed legislation is a major step forward in modernizing this act. It puts Canada in line with internationally accepted compensation levels and clarifies the definition for compensation, spelling out exactly what is covered and the process for claiming compensation.

This bill is the culmination of many years of consultations involving extensive discussions with major stakeholders, including Canada's nuclear utilities, the governments of nuclear power generating provinces, and the Nuclear Insurance Association of Canada. This is the fifth time that this nuclear legislation has been introduced, and I hope my hon. colleagues recognize the critical need for finally passing this legislation in a timely manner.

Let me be clear. If it had not been for the past filibustering by the NDP, the nuclear liability limits would already have been updated. It is my sincere hope that New Democrats will have a more reasonable approach this time around to modernizing nuclear liability. Bill C-22 significantly improves the claims compensation process, increases the financial liability of nuclear operators for damages, and provides greater legal certainty for the nuclear industry in Canada.

Like the offshore sector, under Bill C-22, the nuclear industry will also see an increase in the amount of operator liability, which would go from $75 million to $1 billion.

A liability of $1 billion balances the need for operators to provide compensation without burdening them with exorbitant costs for unrealistic insurance amounts, amounts for events that are highly unlikely to occur in this country. It is critical to remember that liability must be within the capacity of insurers, otherwise taxpayers would be held accountable for the cost. The $1 billion strikes that balance between protecting ratepayers and holding companies to account in the event of an accident.

Let me assure all hon. members that the new legislation will maintain the key strengths of the existing legislation. Most importantly, it will mean that the liability of the operator will be absolute and exclusive. There would be no need to prove fault, and nobody else would be held liable. Our government would also provide increased coverage for lower-risk nuclear facilities, such as small research reactors at Canadian universities.

Bill C-22 also features other key improvements.

First, Bill C-22 will broaden the definition of compensable damage in order to include physical injury, economic loss, preventive measures and environmental damage.

Second, it would extend the limitation period for submitting compensation claims. The limitation period for bodily injury claims, for example, would be expanded from 10 to 30 years. This would help to address latent illnesses that may be detected many years after an accident or incident. This is another way that our government is continuing to protect Canadians.

Finally, Bill C-22 will establish the authority to implement a simplified process for dealing with claims that can replace the regular court proceedings if necessary. This would allow Canadians to submit their claims more quickly and effectively.

Our government is taking concrete steps to address important issues for the nuclear sector. This includes responsible management of legacy waste; restructuring of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, AECL; and promoting international trade.

When it comes to nuclear power, we are talking about a global issue that knows no borders. I am very proud to announce that Bill C-22 will also serve to implement the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.

My colleague signed the convention and tabled it in Parliament in December. The convention is an international instrument to address nuclear civil liability in the unlikely event of a nuclear incident.

By adhering to this convention, Canada will bolster its domestic compensation regime by up to $450 million by bringing in significant new funding. This would bring the total potential compensation in Canada up to $1.45 billion.

Joining this convention also reinforces our commitment to building a strong global nuclear liability regime. It is important that Canada's legislation is consistent with international conventions, not only financial issues, but also in regard to what constitutes a nuclear incident, what qualifies for compensation and other matters.

These changes will help establish a level playing field for Canadian nuclear supply companies, which welcome the certainty of providing their services in a country that is a member of the convention.

Given that our closest neighbour, the United States, is already a member of the convention, our membership will allow the two countries to establish civil liability treaty relations.

Korea and Japan have also signalled their intention to sign the convention. Once Canada becomes a member, the convention will be one step closer to becoming a reality.

In conclusion, these are just some of the ways that our government is ensuring that Canada is amongst the strongest liability regimes in the world. Bill C-22 provides a solid framework to regulate the offshore and nuclear liability regimes in Canada.

Although an offshore or nuclear incident is highly unlikely, we have to be prepared to deal with such incidents, which could result in cleanup, liability or other costs. Bill C-22 seeks to help prepare for that possibility. Its legislative provisions focus on the responsible promotion and development of our offshore and nuclear industries, which are essential.

In closing, I urge all honourable members to support this important piece of legislation.

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by congratulating the member for Kenora for becoming the Minister of Natural Resources. I certainly look forward to working with him, not just on Bill C-22, but on all of the files in the portfolio.

I do regret that the minister started his new career by pointing fingers at the NDP for ostensibly holding up bills in the past, in particular this bill on nuclear liability, when in fact that is a bit of revisionist history. I would remind the member that the truth is that the Prime Minister killed his own legislation, in 2008, when he ignored his own fixed election date, and, in 2009, when he prorogued Parliament. He let Bill C-15, the predecessor of Bill C-22, sit around for a year, until the 2011 election.

Let me move on to a question this morning. I am pleased to see that while we have been revisiting this bill for the fifth time, the government has actually increased the liability limit from $650 million to $1 billion. However, there are a number of countries that believe there ought not to be a cap on liability at all. Some of those countries include Germany, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland, all of which have unlimited liability when it comes to nuclear power plants.

I believe, and I think my NDP colleagues all believe as well, that liability has to be strong enough so that a nuclear or offshore disaster never happens and that operators put the best safety measures into place.

I wonder whether the minister would, first of all, comment on why the government chose to limit liability at just $1 billion and, second, whether he would be agreeable in committee to looking at expanding that liability limit to be more in line with other international standards.

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the kind words of my colleague. I look forward to working with her in her new role as the critic for this portfolio.

With respect to the liability question, obviously it would be fairly predictable for the NDP to use words like “no liability”, meaning no limits of money. That is not true. We should not expect that from our taxpayers. We have to be fair and reasonable to the industry.

A liability limit of $1 billion would mean Canada has among the highest limits in the world. There are countries who are doing this with certain success and Canada wants to be atop that, not just because we want to set an international standard with partner countries, but for the protection of Canadians as well.

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member opposite for such an interesting speech. This is a first step, and it is time something was done to make up for time lost in recent years. However, like my colleague and our critic stated, I do not accept his claim that we on this side are responsible for the delays.

The member spoke about taxpayers. As Canadians, we are all taxpayers who participate in the Canadian economy. There is a $1-billion cap. According to several experts, this is really just another subsidy for oil and gas companies that are already benefiting from billions of dollars in subsidies.

Does the member not think, as we in the NDP do, that the most extreme form of the polluter pays principle should apply here, meaning that there should be no cap and the polluter should be the one to pay? If the polluter is unable to pay, it should not be conducting oil exploration in the gulf, for example.

Energy Safety and Security ActGovernment Orders

March 25th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's current absolute liability limits have not been updated since the 1980s. This bill will ensure that Canada's offshore regime for oil and gas, specifically for which the hon. member put the question, remains world class. A $1 billion absolute liability would place Canada's regime squarely among those of its peer countries.

In cases of fault or negligence, liability remains unlimited.

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Canada we often benchmark ourselves with the United States, which is our major trading partner. We share many common regulations and standards. We often partner with it in terms of research on public safety.

Many of our international partners have much better protection when it comes to nuclear liability than what the Conservatives are proposing. The U.S. has an absolute liability regime of $12.6 billion U.S.

My question is, why would the Conservatives not want at least the level of liability that the Americans have in this field? Why would we have such a puny liability level compared with our major trading partner?

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is not correct to say that the liability limit is $12 billion in the United States, as its system is different from that of other countries. The operators' liability insurance is capped at $375 million. In the event of an accident resulting in damages exceeding the operators' liability insurance, all U.S. operators, 104 reactors, would also contribute up to $125 million for each reactor that they operate. That would make available a compensation pool of a maximum of $13 billion, should it be required.

I can say to the member that this type of pooling system would not be feasible in Canada, given that we have far fewer nuclear reactors. We have 19, as compared to 104 in the United States.

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, to begin, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his new role. I hope that bringing new blood to cabinet might result in a new approach.

I would like to hear the minister's thoughts on one point. We know that many of the government bills stealthily confer additional discretionary powers on various ministers.

The same thing is being done with Bill C-22. In fact, the bill provides for ministerial discretion to reduce absolute liability levels to below $1 billion. The level is being increased from $75 million to $1 billion, so it seems like a tremendous step in the right direction. However, a few lines later, we note that the minister can make changes at his discretion.

What does the minister think of that measure, which allows him to rule unchecked?

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March 25th, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the intention here is to modernize. This bill would reflect the realities both for the protection of Canadians and for the industry itself, and move Canada as a leader with other countries to a place, through international conventions, that would in fact modernize this. Therefore, any of the changes, specific or broadly speaking, reflected in this bill is an effort to make sure Canadians have the best protection available under the law and continue to respect the economic benefits of offshore activities and the nuclear sector.

Energy Safety and Security Act