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.

Safe and Accountable Rail ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Essex Ontario

Conservative

Jeff Watson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to commence third reading of Bill C-52, the safe and accountable rail act, which seeks to amend both the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act.

As parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport, I have the great privilege to be a member of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and to have been able to take part in the study of this extremely important piece of legislation.

Before I speak to the important points raised during committee stage, I would like to take a few minutes to remind all members of this place of the important components of this legislation, beginning with the important amendments to the Canada Transportation Act.

As stated by the Minister of Transport at committee, the tragic Lac-Mégantic derailment has shown us that our liability and compensation regime for rail must be strengthened. The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway only carried $25 million in third-party liability insurance, which we now know is not nearly enough to cover the incredible magnitude of the resulting damage and loss of both life and property that night.

With this bill, railways would be required to hold a mandatory level of insurance based on the type and volume of dangerous goods they carry. These levels would range from $25 million for short lines carrying limited or no dangerous goods to $1 billion for railways carrying significant amounts of dangerous goods, namely CN and CP.

These mandatory insurance requirements have been set based on analysis of historical accident costs, taking into account the severity of past accidents involving certain goods. These requirements would make certain that a railway's insurance directly reflects the risk associated with its operations.

These insurance levels were determined to be adequate to cover the cost of the vast majority of potential accidents and, while a scenario of the magnitude of Lac-Mégantic is an extremely rare occurrence, we want to be certain that all costs in such a case would be recovered.

That is why a supplementary shipper-financed fund would be created to provide compensation above the railway's insurance for accidents involving crude oil and any other goods added through regulation.

In the event of a rail accident involving crude oil, railways would be automatically liable, without the need to prove fault or negligence, up to their insurance level, and that would happen immediately.

The bill provides that they would be liable for all actual damages, which includes damages to people, property, and the environment. There would be certain defences to this strict liability. A railway, for example, would not be held liable if the accident were a result of war, hostilities, or civil insurrection such as a terrorist act, as these occurrences are outside of the railway's control. If accident costs reached beyond the railway's mandatory insurance level, the supplementary fund would cover the remaining damages.

For the supplementary fund, we have included a broad definition of crude oil in recognition of the serious damage that all crude can cause if released. Even a less-volatile crude can have a grave impact on the environment and result in very high remediation costs.

The fund would be financed through a levy on shippers of $1.65 per tonne of crude oil transported by federally regulated railways, indexed to inflation. The aim is to capitalize the fund to $250 million, which is an amount that would provide substantial additional coverage for crude oil accidents above the insurance levels. Based on a reasonable projection of oil-by-rail traffic growth in the coming years, we have determined that, with the $1.65 per tonne levy, we would reach that target in approximately five years.

That said, however, it is important to emphasize at this point that the $250 million capitalization is a target and not a cap. The bill would allow the Minister of Transport to discontinue or reimpose the levy as necessary.

This means that the levy could continue longer than five years should oil-by-rail traffic grow at lower than expected rates. It also means that the fund could be capitalized to a different amount should that be considered appropriate.

Just to be clear. The fund will cover all costs above the railway's insurance and will not be capped. In the unlikely event that damages from a crude oil accident surpass both the railway's insurance level and the amount in the supplementary fund, the government's consolidated revenue fund would back up the compensation fund and would be repaid through the levy.

Bill C-52 also propose amendments to the Railway Safety Act, which would seek to further strengthen the oversight of Canada's rail safety regime in certain areas. These include the following: first, a new power for the Minister of Transport to order a company to take corrective measures should that company's implementation of its safety management system risk compromise safe railway operations; second, a new authority to regulate the sharing of information, records and documents from one party to another, other than the department, for example, from a railway company to a municipality; third, to broaden railway safety inspectors' powers to intervene in a more effective way with any person or entity, including companies, road authorities, and municipalities, to mitigate threats to safety; fourth, a broader power for the Minister of Transport to require a railway company, road authority, or municipality, to stop any activity that might constitute a threat to safe railway operations, to follow any procedures, or taking any corrective measures specified; and, finally, a cost reimbursement scheme for provinces and municipalities that respond to fires determined to be caused by a railway company's operation.

Part of Transport Canada's prevention strategy has been to ensure the department has an effective oversight regime. This means both ensuring that industry is in compliance with the various rules and regulations that govern them and also responding to changes in the risk environment.

Transport Canada continuously examines and monitors its resource levels to adjust and reallocate, as needed, to address emerging issues, trends and higher-risk issues.

Transport Canada has further enhanced railway safety in Canada by establishing the following new or amended regulations: grade crossings regulations; railway operating certificate regulations; railway safety management system regulations, 2015; transportation information regulations; and railway safety administrative monetary penalties regulations.

Allow me to refer back to the review of the bill at the committee stage.

The review of Bill C-52 provided the opportunity for the committee members to examine, in detail, the text of the bill, its purpose and objectives. Particular issues were raised and the hon. Minister of Transport provided some important clarifications, which bear repeating in the House today.

First, the minister assured committee members that no additional financial resources would be required for the implementation of these new proposed authorities and requirements. The department's operational budget was assessed and represents the level of resources adequate to carry out all of the projects and the priorities. Nonetheless, in the event additional funding is requirement, the government always has the ability to reallocate or request funding through the supplementary estimates.

Second, with regard to the supplementary shipper-financed fund, the minister made a number of important clarifications. The fund has been proposed, through Bill C-52, to provide substantial additional coverage for incidents involving crude oil. The fund would cover any damages that surpassed the railway's required minimum insurance coverage. To finance the fund, the government would introduce a levy of $1.65 per tonne on shipments of crude oil transported by a federally regulated railway. The formula used to establish the levy would be based on a mid-range growth estimate of projected oil by rail. The supplementary shipper fund cannot apply retroactively for incidents that occur prior to the coming into force of the legislation.

As previously mentioned, the proposed supplementary fund would not be capped or cut off. Therefore, claims against the fund would not be limited. The fund would be capitalized to $250 million. However, Bill C-52 would allow the Minister of Transport to suspend or reinstate the levy as would be necessary. This would ensure that the fund would be at the appropriate level to pay for damages in excess of railway insurance levels without holding excess capital unnecessarily.

The government modelled this compensation fund on the ship-source oil pollution fund in the marine mode. Levies for that fund were suspended once it had been capitalized. The fund has grown through interest over the past 40 years without the need for further levies. For the time being, the supplementary compensation fund will cover incidents involving crude oil.

However, the bill provides regulation-making authority to include other types of dangerous goods in the future. Moreover, Bill C-52 provides for a loan from the consolidated revenue fund if the resources in the fund have been exhausted. This loan would be subject to terms and conditions established by the Minister of Finance and would be repaid through the shipper levy.

Furthermore, this bill includes the authority to put in place a special levy on railways to help repay the CRF loan to ensure that liability continues to be shared appropriately in the event of a catastrophic accident. The funds would be supplementary to the newly proposed minimum liability insurance coverage for railway companies transporting dangerous goods.

The strengthened liability and compensation regime in the bill is in line with the modernized liability and compensation regime put forward for pipelines in Bill C-46, as well as the regime for offshore oil and gas in Bill C-22, which received royal assent on February 26. This includes a provision that ensures that the strengthened regime for rail would not preclude any other regimes, including future regimes with higher limits of liability from being applied to a railway accident.

It is also important to highlight the clarification made by the Minister of Transport at committee regarding subclause 152.7(1) of the bill. Through this subclause, only a railway company that is involved in a crude oil accident through physical operation of a railway, for example, moving a train or responsibility for tracks or cars, would be held liable without regard to fault or negligence.

In the Canada Transportation Act the terms “operate” and “railway” are defined in section 87 of the act. They are defined in a physical sense, not a commercial sense. Therefore, a carrier that quotes a through-rate or interswitches with a railway company that later has an accident would not be considered involved in an accident. With this strengthened liability and compensation regime for rail, the minister clearly stated in committee that she was confident, and “we do have the ability to ensure that the polluter pays and that taxpayers don't have to incur costs”.

The minister confirmed to committee members that where a crude oil accident was the result of an act of terrorism, the railway company would not be held automatically liable under our proposed legislation.

Finally, the committee discussed the cumbersome definition of “fatigue science” presently found in the Railway Safety Act. As stated by the minister, the definition included in the act is simply a definition of a term and does not add any implementation requirements toward the railway companies. By having the term predefined, it restricted the department's ability to enforce. Amendments to the act seek to remove the definition allowing the application instead of the new Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015, to fulfill its purpose of ensuring a company's safety management system includes mechanisms for applying the principles of fatigue science when scheduling the work of certain employees.

Following the Lac-Mégantic derailment, the Speech from the Throne in 2013 and the Auditor General of Canada's fall 2013 report, our government has worked to bring forward these amendments to strengthen railway safety in Canada and increase the industry's accountability. Within this process, consultation with our stakeholders, particularly on liability and compensation, was essential to achieve the results we see today in this bill. We are grateful for their collaboration, support and commitment to improve the safety and security of the railway system.

I urge all members to vote in favour of Bill C-52 so it can be referred to the other place as soon as possible.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2015 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on behalf of our government to open debate on the pipeline safety act at third reading. Canadians can proudly look at this legislation as another significant step our government has taken in advancing responsible resource development. That is because we stand on the threshold of a generational opportunity to harness our vast energy wealth. We have a unique opportunity to cement Canada's place in the world as a secure, reliable, and responsible producer and supplier of energy. However, we can only take advantage of these opportunities if we choose to make them happen and if we are willing to think big and act accordingly. The stakes could not be higher.

Despite lower world oil and gas prices, we know that the long-term outlook for Canada's energy sector is bright. According to the International Energy Agency, global demand for energy will increase by one-third by 2040. Again, according to the IEA, 74% of this demand will still be met through fossil fuels. Countries such as China, India, and other emerging nations are fuelling this thirst for energy. Even developed countries, like those in the European Union, are eager to diversify both the types of energy they use and who supplies it to them.

Canada is perfectly positioned to seize this moment in time to create the quality jobs, the economic growth, and the long-term prosperity Canadians want for themselves and for their children. We have some of the largest known reserves of oil and gas in the world, the blue chip companies with the wherewithal to bring these reserves to market, the clean technologies and exciting new innovations to do so in ever more sustainable ways, and the world-class pipelines to transport our oil and gas safely and reliably. In fact, as I have proudly noted many times, between 2008 and 2013, 99.999% of the oil, gas, and other petroleum products transported through the federally regulated pipelines in Canada arrived safely. This is an extraordinary record, and most countries would be satisfied that it was enough. However, our government always strives to do even better. Our target is zero events. That is why our focus is on maintaining a world-class and even world-leading pipeline safety system.

As many members know, the National Energy Board was established back in 1959, with a very clear mandate to regulate international and interprovincial pipelines, power lines, and energy trade. Now, some 56 years later, the board is overseeing approximately 73,000 kilometres of pipelines that transport over $100 billion worth of natural gas, oil, and petroleum products every year.

It is important to note that the independent National Energy Board is responsible for the review of new pipeline proposals. The NEB's work is based on an exhaustive study of the science and on extensive public consultations to determine if a project is in the overall Canadian public interest. Furthermore, the board can impose enforceable conditions and has important powers to ensure that pipelines are built and operated in a safe manner. For example, it can issue administrative penalties to pipeline companies and reduce the amount of product allowed through its pipelines, or even shut them down entirely.

However, the board's role does not end with reviewing applications and setting conditions. It also oversees the entire life cycle of a pipeline, from concept to construction, from operation to eventual abandonment. To perform these duties and responsibilities, the NEB conducts ongoing audits, inspections, and emergency exercises. Some 300 such compliance actions were conducted in 2013 alone.

At the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, we heard from a variety of witnesses who support our legislation. For example, the members of Canada's Building Trades Unions take immense pride in their work to ensure construction of the safest pipelines ever built. Other experts, lawyers, and members of the National Energy Board also appeared before the committee and voiced their own support for our goals. There is widespread agreement that the pipeline safety act is an important step in our efforts to maintain the most rigorous pipeline safety regime in the world.

The result is a bill that would inspire even greater confidence in our existing national network of pipelines and that would ensure broader public assurance for new ones coming on stream.

All Canadians from coast to coast to coast should find comfort in this proposed bill. They can rest assured that the energy that fuels their cars, heats their homes, and goes into producing their home electronics and household products will continue to be delivered through the safest energy transportation system possible. Anything less would be unacceptable to Canadians and to our government, period.

This is why the pipeline safety act is built on three key pillars: incident prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation.

Looking first at prevention, our government understands that responsible resource development demands that we take every measure and precaution we can to prevent incidents from ever occurring, and we do. That is why we have proposed amendments to the National Energy Board Act that would build on the steps we have already taken over the past two years. Our goal: to further improve the transparency and operation of the board under its enabling legislation.

We have already increased the number of inspections and audits the board conducts each year, and we have given the board the authority to levy administrative monetary penalties. Our new legislation would add to the current preventive measures.

In addition to clarifying the board's audit and inspection powers, the legislation would also provide greater clarity on when to seek the board's permission before disturbing the ground near a pipeline. This added clarity would help to prevent potentially life-threatening accidents and avoid damage to both property and the environment.

Prevention also depends heavily on the design and construction of our pipelines. That is why the minister has recently asked the National Energy Board to provide guidance on the use of the best available technology in pipeline projects. This includes materials, construction methods, and emergency response techniques.

Second, the pipeline safety act would ensure a robust response in the event of an incident. The legislation would require pipeline operators to have a minimum level of financial resources and to keep a portion of these resources readily accessible for rapid response.

The bill would also allow the Governor in Council to give authority and resources to the NEB to take control of an incident response or cleanup. The NEB would take control if, in exceptional circumstances, the company was unable or unwilling to do so. This means that the government would provide an initial financial backstop to ensure that the NEB had the resources it needed, when it needed them, to complete the cleanup.

In addition, and in the unlikely event that the NEB had to take control of an incident response, the government would also be able to establish a pipeline claims tribunal. Setting up this tribunal would streamline the claims process. In either case, the legislation would provide that all costs and expenses would be recovered from the industry should the board ever have to step in and take charge.

This leads me to the third pillar: enshrining the polluter pays principle in law. We fundamentally believe that polluters, and not Canadian taxpayers, should be held financially responsible for any costs associated with an incident, responsible whether the polluters are at fault or not. For companies operating major oil pipelines, this absolute, no-fault liability would be $1 billion. However, let us be clear. The liability would remain unlimited in instances where they were at fault. It is a new standard that would leave no doubt or wiggle room, no doubt for Canadian taxpayers and no wiggle room for pipeline operators.

The pipeline safety act would also allow the government to go after operators for damage to the environment over the entire lifecycle of a pipeline. This would include even after a pipeline had been abandoned.

The absolute or no-fault liability regime created under the bill would be one of the most robust and comprehensive in the world. In addition to actual losses, all types of damage to the environment resulting from oil spills would be covered by the enhanced regime.

Under Bill C-46, three broad categories of damage could be claimed. The first would cover claims for loss or damage incurred by any person as a result of a spill, including loss of income and future income. In the case of aboriginal peoples, for example, it would include the loss of hunting, fishing, and gathering opportunities.

The second category would cover the cost and expenses incurred by the federal government, a provincial government, aboriginal governing bodies, or any other person in taking action in response to a spill. This would include recouping the costs incurred in responding to or mitigating the damage from an oil spill.

The third category would cover claims by the federal or provincial governments for the loss of what is referred to as the non-use value relating to a public resource that is damaged by a spill. Non-use value means that the federal government or a provincial government could bring a claim for damage to environmental assets that are valuable to Canadians and future generations.

The concept of non-use value was first introduced for environmental offences by our government in 2009, and Bill C-46 is consistent with those measures. It is also consistent with the amendments we have introduced to Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, for the offshore oil and gas regime, which also would allow governments to claim for the loss of the non-use value of public resources.

In many ways, these provisions mirror similar steps our government has already taken to strengthen marine, rail, and offshore safety. As part of our plan for responsible resource development, we have been strengthening environmental protection, enhancing aboriginal engagement, and modernizing our regulatory review of major resource projects. Our overriding goal has been to eliminate duplication and to provide investors with predictable beginning-to-end timelines for projects, all the while creating jobs and growing the economy.

This is an ongoing process. It demands constant attention and continued diligence, which is why our economic action plan 2015 contains new measures and investments to build on this momentum.

There are many items I could highlight from our balanced budget, but let me start by saying what is not in it. I know that what the opposition was hoping to see in our budget was a carbon tax. Both the Liberals and the NDP have been clear that they intend to put a tax on everything Canadians buy, from gas to groceries to electricity. We have been clear. We will not introduce a carbon tax.

We are very proud of the targeted investments proposed in economic action plan 2015 that are particularly noteworthy for today's debate. The first is $135 million over five years to support project approvals through the major projects management office initiative. We are proposing to make this investment because the development of our natural resources deserves both scrutiny and careful stewardship. Our processes and systems need to be modern and nimble, reflecting the views and needs of citizens and industry alike.

The second item is a commitment of $34 million over the same period of time to continue consultations with Canadians on projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Third, we are proposing to provide $80 million over five years to the National Energy Board to support greater engagement with Canadians and enhanced safety and environmental protection.

Through these investments, we will continue to deliver the kind of responsible resource development Canadians have come to expect from their government, development that is critical to our government's economic plan to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

The fact is, Canada's natural resource sector represents 19% of our economy. It accounts for more than half of our merchandise exports and supports 1.8 million jobs directly and indirectly. Canada's natural resource sector is also one of the leading private employers of aboriginal people, and let us not forget that natural resource firms have contributed approximately $30 billion per year in revenue to governments, revenue that builds hospitals and highways, schools and subways.

In short, our resource industries are critical to the strength of our economy, the quality of our lives and our aspirations for the future.

As recent geopolitical events have shown, energy is also playing a critical role in national, continental and indeed global security. Our government recognizes that Canada is in a unique position to meet the world's energy needs, but just importantly we also have a responsibility to contribute to global energy security.

That is why, between 2005 and 2014, Canada's crude oil exports grew by 81%. That is almost 1.3 million barrels per day. Our exports expanded beyond North America to reach new markets around the world. Indeed, since 2013, Canada has been shipping oil into markets from Spain and Ireland to Chile and Hong Kong. In Italy, for example, our exports accounted for 3.4% of that country's total crude oil imports in 2014, as measured by volume.

With the European Parliament's fuel quality directive confirming that oil sands crude is as environmentally responsible as other sources, we expect exports to continue to grow. Canadian exports help nations diversify their sources of energy. They help reduce their dependence on unreliable suppliers and help bolster their energy security.

To continue to play that important role in global energy security, Canada must expand its ability to get its products to market. Pipelines are the safest, most secure and most reliable way of doing so.

As we expand our ability to export, this legislation will set the standard for pipeline safety, charting a new path to good-paying jobs and sustainable growth across the country for generations to come. I urge all members of this House to join our government in continuing to support this legislation.

April 23rd, 2015 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Again, this is one of the concerns that has been raised by industry and by insurers, and I appreciate the opportunity at the committee to discuss and clarify what the position is.

What I can tell the committee is that this is standard language that is in line with the modernized liability and compensation regime that has been put forward on pipelines in Bill C-46, as well as the regime for offshore oil and gas in Bill C-22, which received royal assent on February 26, 2015. The purpose of the provision is to ensure that the strengthened regime for rail would not preclude any other regime, including future regimes that set higher limits of liability, from being applied to a railway accident. That's a clarification that was sought by industry, and I'm pleased to be able to address it today.

March 31st, 2015 / 4:15 p.m.
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University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, As an Individual

Martin Olszynski

I'll answer the question more of who “does” right now. The “should” is maybe a bit trickier.

In other jurisdictions, such as the United States, this is a power generally confined to governments, the federal government in the U.S. and state governments. It is a bit broader in the U.S. in that state tribes are also authorized to sue. The reference under the American legislation, under CERCLA and OPA, is to trustees, that being the federal government, state governments, and state tribes.

I have in the past, blogging about Bill C-22, or ESSA, suggested that there might be scope here to broaden the category to recognize aboriginal governments, Indian bands and such, to claim for such damages within their territory. You could expand it to include municipalities. With the disaster that happened at Lac-Mégantic, amongst the tragic loss of life was also a massive environmental catastrophe. It seems to me that the municipality there should be empowered as well, frankly, as a representative of the people.

I guess my bottom line, to try to keep it simple, is that governments, various levels of governments, generally are accepted as being the right parties to sue for such damages.

March 31st, 2015 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Martin Olszynski University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee.

My name is Martin Olszynski. I'm an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law. The focus of my presentation today is on what are commonly referred to as the environmental damages provisions of Bill C-46.

I began thinking and writing about environmental damages roughly 10 years ago, when the Supreme Court of Canada first opened the door for governments to sue for such damages in a case called Canadian Forest Products v. British Columbia. I have since written several articles on this topic, including with one of Canada's leading resource economists, Professor Peter Boxall.

I will begin with a brief primer explaining this concept of environmental damages. I'll then describe their role and their treatment under Bill C-46. Finally, I will make two recommendations for improvement.

Most simply, environmental damages can be understood as the financial compensation awarded for the loss or impairment of some public environmental asset and the services it provides, for example, a forest, in the case of Canadian Forest Products, or a coastal area, such as was affected following the Exxon Valdez spill or the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Environmental and resource economists divide such harms into the loss of two kinds of values: use value and non-use value. Referring to an Environment Canada publication, the Library of Parliament's legislative summary of Bill C-46 defines these two values as follows:

Use values are associated with direct use of the environment such as fishing and swimming in a lake, hiking in a forest - or commercial uses such as logging and farming. Non-use values are related to the knowledge of the continued existence of the environment...or the need to leave environmental resources to future generations.

As committee members might imagine, environmental damages assessment can be a complex and difficult task. Various scientific disciplines—ecology, toxicology, hydrology—are applied to first determine the extent of harm done, while economics and the techniques of environmental valuation in particular are then used to convert this harm into monetary terms.

Under Bill C-46 there are actually two different roles for environmental damages. They play a role in sentencing and they play a role in civil liability. As to sentencing, where an operator commits an offence under the NEB Act, the proposed section 132—and this is clause 37, page 35—directs a sentencing judge to consider the “damage or risk of damage to the environment” as a result of the offence. That is further defined under subsection 4 as “the loss of use value and non-use value”. Through this amendment, the NEB Act joins the ranks of at least 10 other federal environmental laws with similar sentencing provisions. Although light on details, this wording is both simple and comprehensive.

The other environmental damages provisions, which are decidedly more opaque, are found in the context of civil liability. Under the proposed subsection 48.12(1)—and this is clause 16, pages 6 and 7 of bill—there's a reference to three heads of damages: “(a) all actual loss or damage incurred by any person...”; “(b) the costs and expenses” of cleanup; “(c) all loss of non-use value relating to a public resource that is affected” by the spill.

In other words, environmental damages are not actually referred to in this part of the bill; rather, their availability—at least partially—is implied by the reference in paragraph (c) to “all loss of non-use values relating to a public resource...”. Use values are not explicitly referred to, although as I will explain, some of these may be caught by paragraph (a).

There are two other relevant provisions I want to touch on just briefly. These are proposed subsections 48.12(9) and 48.13(5). The former states that only federal and provincial governments may sue for the loss of non-use values, while the latter states that the NEB is not required to consider the potential loss of non-use values when determining the financial resources that operators will be required to maintain for the purposes of absolute liability.

My first recommendation is that the third category of loss under the civil liability provisions be amended to refer simply to environmental damages. For instance, “all environmental damages resulting from the release...", and that this be coupled with an additional subsection defining environmental damages, as is the case in the sentencing provisions. Those are the simpler and more comprehensive provisions, and I suggest that the civil liability provisions be amended to reflect that simple and comprehensive structure. This would not only simplify this section, but it also seems necessary to correct what appears to be an omission in the current bill.

As the committee is probably aware, most of the wording here was brought over almost verbatim from Bill C-22 , the Energy Safety and Security Act, which amended COGOA along similar lines. That legislation already had some spill-related provisions, and specifically a definition for “actual loss or damage”. I'll just read that definition quickly. It “...includes loss of income, including future income, and, with respect to any aboriginal peoples of Canada, includes loss of hunting, fishing and gathering opportunities.”

On my reading of this bill, this definition for “actual loss or damage”, which admittedly does capture some of the use values that I was referring to before, has not been brought over. Even if it were, I submit that there would still be a gap in the legislation. I can provide some examples of that gap after my presentation, if the committee is interested.

My second recommendation is that the Governor in Council should be required within a certain timeframe, or at least authorized, to make regulations setting out a process for environmental damages assessment. Reliance on this process should result in a rebuttable presumption of validity in any action for such damages, whether in court or before the pipelines claim tribunal. First, and as noted above, environmental damages assessment is a difficult and complex exercise; regulations would bring certainty to all parties and reduce needless litigation. It is for this reason that the equivalent American legislation, CERCLA and the Oil Pollution Act, contains such provisions, and that processes have been prescribed for the purpose of what is referred to there as “natural resources damage assessment”. I submit that such regulations represent the gold standard in this context.

My second reason tracks the preventative spirit of the bill. There are now roughly 10 federal environmental laws with some kind of environmental damages provisions, and it has been 10 years since the Supreme Court opened the door for governments to sue for these, and yet I am not aware of a single case where the federal crown has actually sought to do so. Perhaps this is something that future government witnesses could shed some light on. Whatever the case, this reality greatly undermines, in my view, the deterrent effect that statutory liability regimes like Bill C-46 are intended to create.

March 24th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Director General, Energy Safety and Security Branch, Energy Sector, Department of Natural Resources

Jeff Labonté

That's a great question. I appreciate the question.

We did a fair bit of analysis and certainly looked at a whole bunch of factors when establishing the proposed limits that are included in the bill. We took into account an analysis of the historic incidents and the number of incidents that have occurred and have involved pipeline spills. We looked at current and proposed projects. We looked at existing pipelines, the volumes they carry, the nature of the goods they carry, and the exposure they might have to different scenarios of land, property, and whatnot.

We looked at other jurisdictions as well, so as your benchmark would say.... We certainly recognize that to our south in the United States there is the example of the Enbridge incident in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where there was a rupture and just shy of 20,000 barrels leaked into the Kalamazoo River, I believe. The cost of cleaning up that spill is in the order of a billion dollars. I think it's about $1.1 billion or $1.2 billion, depending on which dollar you're looking at and what day you're looking at. That particular cost would be, I think, the high-water mark, if you will, in terms of analysis we've conducted.

We looked into the records of NEB hearings and different projects that are taking place. Certainly, the northern gateway panel, as an example, had established a $950-million limit as the terms of fiscal capacity expected of the northern gateway partnership project. That was a mix of cash, insurance, and asset requirements.

We looked at the United States, Norway, Australia, and other countries around the world that we would consider peer jurisdictions. In the U.S., the methodology for looking at oil spills is an oil spill fund. An oil spill fund has an upper limit of $1 billion per incident, so should an incident occur and a company is not able to deal with the incident adequately, there is up to a billion dollars of coverage that's funded.

In establishing our assessment and liability limit, we looked at all of those factors and felt that the billion-dollar amount was an adequate amount given (a) our comparators with other jurisdictions, and (b) the number of incidents we've seen and the incidents we've seen in terms of incidents around the world, and certainly what was established as a benchmark in the northern gateway scientific hearing, which had testimony from various experts from many jurisdictions. That was one part of it.

The second part of it was to look at and compare our world in terms of liability as it relates to liability related to negligence and fault and to liability as it relates to absolute liability. Certainly when we look at the Canadian context, we have several examples in statute around this particular domain of natural resource development where we see absolute liability, in which the entity that's responsible for the activity is automatically responsible in the event of something going wrong, regardless of fault or negligence. We see this in the offshore under Bill C-22, which has passed. We've seen it in the nuclear sector. We see it in the Fisheries Act. We see it in a number of places.

Not only did we establish the billion-dollar limit, but we also proposed—and this is certainly included in the legislation, as you see—the notion of absolute liability, which removes the arguing and entanglement about who's responsible for what and what degree of responsibility there is. It becomes the responsibility of the operator. After everything is settled and sorted out, if you will, the operator can then pursue the legal routes to deal with who may be responsible beyond themselves, whether it was a contractor or a third party.

Certainly, when we established the billion dollars, we worked fairly extensively at looking at a number of areas and came to a conclusion. I think I have covered most of what your interest was, and if there are more questions in this area, I'm happy to take them.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

March 9th, 2015 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-46 on behalf of my fellow constituents in Châteauguay—Saint-Constant. This is a bill that deals with issues as important as energy resources and the protection of our environment.

Bill C-46 amends the rules governing oil companies’ liability. That consists of establishing a principle under which the party responsible for an oil spill will pay up to $1 billion for the damage caused. This bill is part of a broader government review of the liability rules that apply to various aspects of oil and gas development.

Canadians are aware of the potential risks of extracting and transporting oil, and they need to know that their government is going to oversee the industry properly and also protect our environment. Canadians do not have to make a choice between economic development and environmental protection. We need to take both aspects into consideration jointly.

When it comes to projects like northern gateway, Keystone XL or energy east, it is important to make judicious decisions that promote economic development and employment in Canada, while at the same time minimizing the risks to our environment. We need a new vision when it comes to the future of our energy resources, a vision that is guided by three very simple principles.

The first is sustainability, to ensure that polluters pay the bill for cleanups associated with a spill and the pollution caused, rather than passing the bill on to the next generations.

The second is partnership, to ensure that the First Nations, the provinces and local communities genuinely benefit from resource development and to create reliable and value-added jobs here in Canada.

The third is the long-term prosperity that comes from investing the proceeds of our natural resources in modern, ecological technologies, to keep Canada on the cutting edge of energy innovation and keep energy prices affordable for all Canadians.

We are disappointed that in spite of all our calls for urgent action, the Conservatives have taken so long to introduce this bill. In 2011, the Commissioner of the Environment pointed out that the National Energy Board had been unable to solve a number of known problems and ensure adequate maintenance of pipelines. The government has still not implemented an adequate monitoring and inspection system.

Last year, Bill C-22 was also introduced. It dealt with liability relating to offshore drilling and the possibility of spills in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Because of this narrow vision, the government did not conduct consultations on the liability regime applicable to rail transportation. The Conservatives did not take that issue seriously until they had to limit the political fallout or consequences from the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.

The bill we are currently considering includes absolute liability for all pipelines regulated by the National Energy Board. In other words, the companies will be liable for the costs and damage caused by a pipeline spill, regardless of fault, up to a maximum of $1 billion for high-capacity pipelines. However, in the case of fault or negligence, liability will be unlimited.

I welcome this measure. It is a good start, but that figure could be reached quickly, since the cleanup of some tragedies that have occurred in recent years has significantly exceeded the $1 billion ceiling provided by this bill.

Bill C-46 also limits the time Canadians will have to claim compensation for long-term damage to their health or the environment caused by an accident. The claim must be made within three years of when the damage occurs or six years, at most, after an oil spill. This is debatable, since it is highly probable that some damage will be discovered well after the six years provided by this bill.

The bill gives the National Energy Board the authority to order reimbursement of any cleanup costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals. It also grants the National Energy Board the authority and resources to assume control of a response to any incident, in exceptional circumstances, if a company is unable or unwilling to do so. The NEB would also have new tools for recouping cleanup costs, which could go so far as charging the entire industry.

Unfortunately, the government left some leeway here with decisions that would be left in the hands of cabinet and the National Energy Board, an agency that, on occasion, has demonstrated a lack of credibility. Instead of establishing a responsible regime, with a strict framework, the government is leaving too much leeway for politically motivated decisions, cabinet decisions and backroom agreements that would obviously not be made public between operators and the NEB. Of course, we will question the government about these discretionary measures. It is important to hold the government accountable to Canadians. We are disappointed in the scope of the bill. I hope the Conservatives will be open to the amendments that will be proposed in committee.

Given the limited scope of the bill, we are concerned that polluters will not have to bear the full cost of the damage and that Canadians will end up footing the bill. If so, that casts doubt on the true scope of this bill. What happens if there is a problem establishing fault or negligence? Will Canadians have to pay in such cases? We are talking about possibly billions of dollars. That is a lot of money, and it is not up to Canadians to pay the bills for companies that may have been negligent in their operations. It is all well and good to introduce a bill that focuses on figuring out who is liable, but we also have to be proactive and do as much as possible to prevent oil spills. This bill does not do that.

We need better regulations and increased monitoring of pipelines. In addition, we need to rebuild the robust environmental assessment process that has been dismantled by the current government over the past few years. With the huge expansion in the production and transportation of crude oil, we need enhanced safety protection, regardless of the method of transportation. To that end, we need to increase mandatory inspections, implement adequate regulations, and enforce these standards. Public safety and environmental protection must be among our top priorities.

My colleagues and I firmly believe that Canada must take steps to ensure that we are developing and transporting our resources in a safe and secure way that serves the interests of all Canadians. To that end, all pipelines need to adhere to the highest possible safety and environmental standards consistent with the principles of sustainable development. To ensure that oil companies and pipeline operators adhere to the regulations, we need to put in place robust laws and establish credible environmental assessment mechanisms.

Furthermore, given that transportation affects the provinces, municipalities and communities, we must ensure that the government consults them and establishes partnerships with them. If everyone works together, Canadians can be assured that all of these projects will be implemented and will respect the principle of sustainable development and that the approval process will be as fair as possible, in order to strengthen the accountability of everyone involved. The provinces will continue to develop their natural resources. The issue is knowing how to develop those resources sustainably, while protecting the environment and creating value-added jobs in Canada.

In closing, we will support this bill at second reading, and we ask the government to remain open to the amendments we plan to propose in committee.

February 26th, 2015 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received, which is as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

February 26, 2015

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that Ms. Patricia Jaton, Deputy Secretary to the Governor General, in her capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 26th day of February, 2015, at 3:20 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Wallace

The bills assented to on Thursday, February 26 are Bill C-47, An Act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect; and 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.

Message from the SenateOral Questions

February 26th, 2015 / 3:05 p.m.
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Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate, informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill: 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.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

February 23rd, 2015 / noon
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NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate at the outset that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Victoria.

Bill C-51 is now before us so that we can debate something that is of great importance to the people of Canada. I think its short title is the “anti-terrorism act, 2015”. There is a real question as to what it is really about.

In fact, The Globe and Mail, one of the oldest and most prominent newspapers in Canada, says:

On close inspection, Bill C-51 is not an anti-terrorism bill. Fighting terrorism is its pretext; its language reveals a broader goal of allowing government departments, as well as CSIS, to act whenever they believe limply defined security threats “may”—not “will”—occur.

That is a pretty fierce condemnation of a piece of legislation by what purports to be a serious government interested in dealing with terrorism.

Let us make no mistake. Terrorism is a real threat and everyone agrees that public safety is a top priority for any government. However, Canadians do not have to choose between their security and their rights. This is in fact a false choice presented to the people of Canada by the current government and by the Prime Minister.

When the member for Ottawa West—Nepean was announcing his retirement as foreign minister, he quoted John Diefenbaker that "Parliament is more than procedure—it is the custodian of the nation's freedom.”

I believe that is right. What we are doing here today on this side of the House is what we can and must do as parliamentarians to protect the freedoms of Canadians, because that is the issue here. The issue is that we need to have concrete measures that would keep Canadians safe without eroding our freedoms and our way of life. Unfortunately, time and time again, the current Prime Minister and the current government is putting politics ahead of principle.

Once again, The Globe and Mail stated, on February 1:

Under the cloud of fear produced by his repeated hyperbole about the scope and nature of the threat, he [the Prime Minister] now wants to turn our domestic spy agency into something that looks disturbingly like a secret police force.

Canadians should not be willing to accept such an obvious threat to their basic liberties.

Where does that come from? It comes from the provisions in the bill itself, which would give additional powers to CSIS that it does not already have and, arguably, does not need; and which would allow for information-sharing broadly between 16 government departments. The bill does not specify this would be limited in nature. It would cause problems that have been described and outlined by many prominent citizens—former prime ministers, former leaders of political parties, academics, legal expects, former justices of the Supreme Court of Canada—all of whom have condemned the legislation as going too far and giving unnecessary and dangerous powers to government agencies with a profound lack of parliamentary oversight.

The government's position on oversight is that we already have enough, that we have a robust system. We do not. We do not have any system of oversight for the Canada Border Services Agency. We have an appointed body, SIRC, that deals with CSIS, but it is not an oversight agency. It says so itself in its most recent report and it makes the distinction between oversight and review. It says it is a review agency that looks at things some time after the fact. It does not have oversight on a continuous basis over what is going on in the moment on the day. Therefore, it is not an oversight agency. It says so itself and recognizes that oversight is a different value and is required.

Its provisions have been put before the House to provide the kind of oversight that we could use, oversight that some of our Five Eyes friends have over intelligence. Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America have robust parliamentary or congressional oversight with the power to know what is going on and to keep an eye on things.

This has been rejected outright by the government. There was private member's bill, Bill C-622, that would have modernized a piece of legislation that was before the House in 2006, a piece of legislation that arose out of the committee that you, Mr. Speaker, sat on, along with the current Minister of Justice, who said at that time that this would be a desirable, necessary, and important measure to be undertaken. That bill died on the order paper, but Bill C-622, which proposed modernizing that legislation to some extent—which I am not saying we agreed with entirely—was before the House and was defeated by the government at second reading.

Also before the House is Motion No. 461, a motion that I presented to the House on October 24, 2013, calling for a special select committee of the House, like the one the Speaker and the Minister of Justice sat on, to devise the best and appropriate form of oversight by Parliament that might be required given the change in circumstances since 2004 and the experiences of other jurisdictions, for us to devise the best system for our Parliament.

Although it was offered up for debate, the government House leader refused to allow it to be debated, saying there was no necessity for any more oversight than already in place. That flies in the face of all the experts, the academic experts and people who have studied this time and time again, such as lawyers, judges, former leaders, and former prime ministers, who have all said that parliamentary oversight must be present in a system that protects the rights and freedoms of individuals in this country when we are dealing with this kind of legislation.

The bill is is extremely intrusive. It gives significant police powers, including the power to disrupt activities. I heard the Minister of National Defence—who all of a sudden is the spokesperson for Public Safety, as I do not know what happened to the Minister of Public Safety, who seems to have disappeared off the map since the new Minister of Defence was appointed—say several times over the weekend in various interviews that “No, no, no, we're giving powers to the judiciary, not to CSIS”. That is wrong. The power to disrupt in section 42 of the bill would be given to CSIS directly. It would only be when CSIS decided that whatever it wanted to do would actually violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that it would have to go a judge, and the judge supposedly would be allowed to tell CSIS that it could break the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I do not think that is constitutional. I do not think a judge can have a licence by legislation to violate the Constitution of Canada, which is what the bill would allow. That is how bad this legislation is. that in itself is enough to say that the bill is bad, wrong, unconstitutional, and cannot be supported. I will leave it at that.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

January 26th, 2015 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today in the House to Bill C-46, the so-called pipeline safety act.

I listened closely to the speeches by the last two speakers in the House, and I hope that we can work together here in the House, but also at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, on improving this bill and making it stronger and more effective. This is a major issue for the environment, for the industry and for Canada.

I hope this legislation will not suffer the same fate as the legislation that we finally passed through the House last year, which addressed the liability regime in Canada's offshore oil and gas sector. That legislation, Bill C-22, as I mentioned earlier in a question for the minister, was introduced numerous times by the Conservatives only to be left to languish on the order paper for several years. The government seemed to be in no hurry at all to move that forward, for the longest time, so the fact that it seems to be a bit more anxious now is encouraging. When that bill finally moved through the House, the government refused to accept a number of solid amendments that would have improved the bill, made it stronger, and given greater protection for the offshore environment.

I hope it will be a different story for Bill C-46. Perhaps one might say, when I express optimism, that I am feeling hope despite all past evidence to the contrary. However, I remain an eternal optimist.

The Liberal Party recognizes that pipelines are a critical part of our energy sector's infrastructure. We have all seen the consequences of the government's failure to provide the means to get our resources to market. We have all seen what it has meant domestically in Canada for communities and in the international community in terms of how the Conservative government is viewed as a regulator of the environment. It is certainly not seen as a defender of the environment, and it has no credibility when it comes to environmental regulations, which makes it harder to get acceptance, for example, for the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. or to sell our resources in the international market and around the world.

Bill C-46 has already drawn a number of comments from members of Parliament and from interested stakeholders and other groups. Some have raised concerns over the potential impact of leaving many of the proposed changes in Bill C-46 to the discretion of cabinet and the National Energy Board, as I was saying earlier. Again I am an eternal optimist, but hopefully the government side will address this issue during debate on the legislation or perhaps in committee.

I am also looking forward to hearing at some point from the leader of the Green Party on this legislation, who according to media reports, sees nothing in the bill that she would oppose. However, she also indicated that she looks forward to a discussion about why her party will always oppose any pipeline shipping diluted bitumen. I certainly look forward to hearing that discussion.

One thing on which there is consensus is the importance of the energy sector to our economy. It is undebatable. The energy sector makes a large direct contribution to jobs and economic growth in this country. That is perhaps one of the reasons we are so aware across Canada of the impact on the oil and gas sector of the recent drop in the price of oil.

Let us look at what generally has been the case in that sector. For instance, we have seen average annual government revenues of $26.6 billion from the oil and gas sector. That pays for a lot of doctors, a lot of schools, and a lot of teachers. It is a significant number, to say the least. Per year, it is $155 billion in the country's GDP and approximately 300,000 jobs. There are indirect impacts in engineering and construction jobs, about $2.5 billion in engineering and research and development in 2010, and $32 billion in annual energy efficiency savings across the economy in 2010. Important research development is happening in the energy sector. This is, without question, an important sector. In my view, this has to be part of the equation when we consider what ought to be the absolute liability limit for pipelines.

Overall, there seems to be a consensus that, while the bill is long overdue, it is a move in the right direction or at least a good first step. I do not think anyone would argue with the fact that we need to strengthen the safety and security of pipelines to ensure that companies operating them take every measure to prevent any spill from happening and of course be held accountable if a spill does occur.

I know the Minister of Natural Resources is fond of pointing out that between 2008 and 2013, 99.9995% of oil transported in federally regulated pipelines moved safely. It is not perfect, but it is certainly a very good record, and our pipeline companies do deserve recognition for this important achievement.

The fact of the matter is that we use petroleum products in our country every day. We could go outside to the nearest street and watch the number of cars that go by. They are not all electric, by any means. Most of them obviously are not. We use it to heat our homes. We use petroleum products in so many ways. We rely on pipelines. They are an important part of our economy and are likely to be for quite a while to come. They play an important role in our society, and it is vitally important that they be run safely. When they are, it is appreciated, and we have to find ways to ensure it is done as well as possible at all times.

However, we also need to look to the future and take every step possible to continue to prevent spills, because they are the last thing we want. We heard about one in Montana a few minutes ago. That is very alarming. We do not want to see the kind of damage that oil can do when it is released to the environment.

We need to put in place proper measures to efficiently and effectively clean up spills and assign appropriate liability to make sure that companies have a really strong incentive to look after those pipelines, to renew them, and to maintain them appropriately. Canada must have the safest pipelines in the world, and we need to ensure that this pipeline safety act is well designed to achieve that goal.

In the bill, the National Energy Board would be given increased regulatory control over the 73,000 km of pipeline that transport more than $100 billion worth of petroleum products across Canada annually. Bill C-46 would build on previous moves to give the NEB the authority to increase the number of pipeline inspections and double the number of yearly safety audits. It does not guarantee the NEB would actually do either of those things, but at least the bill gives it the authority. In that sense, it is a step in the right direction. The worry is the amount of discretion that would be given to cabinet and to the NEB, as I mentioned earlier.

The NEB would also be asked to provide guidance on the best available technologies for pipeline construction and operations. We have seen the measures that set out how the government would work with aboriginal communities and industry to develop a strategy to better integrate aboriginal peoples and pipeline safety operations. That is something those communities are very concerned about, for obvious reasons. This would include planning, monitoring, incident response, and related employment and business opportunities. I hope this is an indication that we will see some progress in this area.

However, let us look at some of the key provisions in Bill C-46. Previous speakers have noted that there would be at least the $1 billion absolute or no-fault liability limit. In other words, in a case where there is negligence or fault shown, the liability would be in fact unlimited. However, no-fault or absolute liability applies when that negligence or fault is not shown. It means that no matter what they have done, if the product is a deleterious product that could be toxic, we would hold them accountable when there is a release of it, whether or not it can be proven they were negligent. That is an important measure because it is a valuable product and it produces important revenues for the industry, so we have to hold them to account appropriately. We are talking here about an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas, or other petroleum product from a pipeline.

Absolute liability applies to companies operating major oil pipelines; that is to say, those with capacity to transport at least 250,000 barrels per day of oil. Lesser amounts—so smaller pipelines—will be prescribed by regulation for companies that operate smaller pipelines.

It should be noted that Bill C-46 confirms that the liability of the companies operating pipelines would remain unlimited if the spill is the result of negligence. Companies would be required to maintain the financial resources to pay the amount of liability that applies to them and must make sure that the resources are readily accessible to ensure rapid response to any spill situation. They would be required, as stated in the bill, to have the materials and equipment necessary nearby in order to deal with a spill. I hope the NEB would enforce that.

Under the bill, the NEB would have the authority to take control of an incident response if a company were unable or unwilling to do so and to order reimbursement of any level of government, whether it be an aboriginal governing body or a federal-provincial-municipal government or an individual, for cleanup costs. That is a positive measure. Again, would be left to the discretion of the NEB, and that discretion is a concern.

If the NEB takes control of an incident response, the government may also establish a claims tribunal. Again, it is “may establish”. We do not know that the government will do this; we hope it would. It may also establish a claims tribunal to streamline claims for compensation for those affected by the spill. This could be a good measure, depending on how the government used its discretion in implementing this.

While the government would provide the resources to take control of an incident and set up a claims tribunal, it would have the authority to recover the costs from the individual or the company. That is a good thing.

The bill would also ensure that companies are liable for their pipelines until they are removed from the ground, and the National Energy Board would be authorized to make sure companies are responsible for the maintenance of their abandoned pipelines. Clearly these and other measures in Bill C-46 signify a much-needed overhaul of the liability regime for federally regulated pipelines.

The no-fault liability, the additional authorities given to the NEB, and measures around abandoned pipelines are welcome, and the Liberal Party will support sending the legislation for further study at committee. I expect that the process will lead to amendments at committee that strengthen this legislation. I hope we will be surprised to find that the government will actually adopt such amendments, because our past experience has been that this is not the case.

For instance, groups like Ecojustice have already noted that the effectiveness of the changes proposed in Bill C-46 would be left largely to the discretion of the National Energy Board and the government. I think this is an issue we will hear more about when the bill goes to committee for further study.

To wrap up, as I said earlier, I was a bit surprised to be debating Bill C-46 on the first day of the House coming back after the holiday recess and given the fact that this legislation was only introduced on December 8, 2014. Perhaps the haste with which the government is proceeding has more to do with trying to restore public confidence in pipelines after it has completely bungled the file so often.

As my colleague from Papineau has said, when it comes to pipelines, the Prime Minister and the government are all hat and no cattle. This is a government that has failed to effectively protect the interests of the oil and gas sector or the environment. Of course, the oil and gas sector needs pipelines to get its product to offshore markets and other markets domestically in North America in the safest manner possible. I suspect members would all agree that, in terms of transportation of petroleum products, a pipeline is safer than a truck or a train.

Look at the government's record. It has botched the handling of the Keystone XL project. It bungled the northern gateway. It has orphaned energy east. Let us not forget that this is a government that has swallowed itself whole with regard to its attitude toward the energy sector. It was not very long ago that the government and the Prime Minister were constantly boasting about how Canada was a petro-state. The Prime Minister boasted that we are an emerging energy superpower to anyone who would listen. As a result of his fixation with the oil and gas industry, his party became dismissive of the importance of other sectors.

Of course, that was when the price of oil was in the $100 a barrel range, and perhaps it will be there again in six months or a year. Who knows when? However, now that the price of oil has fallen dramatically, the Prime Minister and his minions have adopted a new mantra to try to cover their incompetence and their failed economic strategy to put all their eggs in one basket.

Today they are telling Canadians that the energy sector is just a small percentage of Canada's GDP and that the economy as a whole is strong. They should tell that to the workers who are experiencing downsizing these days.

Some voters might believe the empty rhetoric, if there were not obvious signs of panic and chaos within cabinet ranks. We have a finance minister who one day says that his economic forecast remains on target and the very next day says that he is forced to delay the budget for several more months because of severe economic uncertainty. How do those two things equate? How do they go together? Clearly, the finance minister is hiding his budget, for obvious reasons.

I hope the natural resources minister is not hiding the real reason he is moving so quickly on Bill C-46. I hope the government is serious about pipeline safety, when it comes to Bill C-46, and is not just trying to cover up its ineptness and incompetence. I guess we will find out when we see its response to our efforts to enhance and strengthen this legislation to make sure that Canada has the safest pipeline infrastructure in the world. I hope that means the government will allow us to hear what experts have to say about what the limit ought to be and how this bill ought to be amended to be improved. After all, Canadians deserve nothing less.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

January 26th, 2015 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, since this is the first sitting day of the 2015 calendar year, I begin by wishing you, Mr. Speaker, and all of my colleagues in the House a belated happy new year.

I do not know how I got lucky enough to be the first New Democrat to give a speech on a government bill in this chamber this year, but I am certain that there is a short straw with my name on it somewhere in the opposition lobby. Anyway, let us launch right into it.

The bill before us today is Bill C-46, An Act to amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act. Perhaps it will help people to stop from nodding off if I explain at the outset that despite its unimaginative title, the bill really purports to improve pipeline safety in our country.

That is where we find the yardstick for whether my NDP colleagues and I will ultimately be able to support the bill. Does Bill C-46 actually improve pipeline safety, or is it a rhetorical exercise to provide the government cover in what is, after all, an election year? I will spend the next 20 minutes or so in this House trying to answer that single and most germane question.

I will begin by providing a bit of context first. There is no doubt that Canada's natural resources are a tremendous blessing and that our energy sector is the motor of the Canadian economy. It is imperative that we capitalize on those unique advantages. For New Democrats, that means that we have to leverage them by creating high quality middle-class jobs, by harnessing the full potential of Canada's natural gifts, and by maximizing the benefit of development for all Canadians. That development is vital to our economy and our country.

However, the reality is that resource development can only move forward if development is done sustainably. If we are going to seize the opportunities ahead, if we are going to leverage our resources to create wealth and prosperity for generations to come, then we will have to rise to meet new challenges and adapt to the new reality of the new century, and that requires a new vision, a vision that my NDP colleagues and I have been promoting tirelessly, not just for months, but for years now.

Our vision is one that promotes economic growth without sacrificing social or environmental sustainability, one that looks to the future instead of clinging to the past, and one that creates lasting prosperity instead of feeding endless cycles of boom and bust. To that end, our vision is based on three key principles: sustainability, to make sure that polluters pay for the pollution they create instead of leaving those costs to the next generation; partnership, to make sure that communities, provinces, and first nations all benefit from resource development and that we create value-added, middle-class jobs here in Canada; and most important, long-term prosperity that leverages our natural national resource wealth to invest in modern, clean energy technology that will keep Canada on the cutting edge of energy development and ensure there are affordable energy rates into the future.

For far too long, Canadians have been told they have to choose between our economy and our environment, but that is a false choice. It is an approach that is stuck in the past. A little less than two years ago, government documents revealed the very real economic costs of the environmental cleanup of the Giant Mine at Great Slave Lake. They have doubled from initial estimates, ballooning to nearly a billion dollars.

This is a vast industrial waste site bordering on the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, a Canadian treasure, and yet for more than half of the last century, it was contaminated with no regard for the costs it would impose on our children and grandchildren.

Communities from coast to coast to coast have made their voices clear. We will not let that happen again. However, despite this mess, the Conservative government is continuing down the same short-sighted path. It is dismantling every major piece of environmental protection and hurting Canada's economic development at the very same time.

Past generations can perhaps be excused for the way they treated places like Great Slave Lake, but our generation has no excuse. The fact is, in the 21st century, a social licence is every bit as important as a regulatory licence, if not more. In this day and age, any development model that relies on degrading our environment, on putting public safety at risk, or on exploiting our resources without benefiting our communities is no model at all.

Canadians understand only too well the long-term consequences of the Conservative government's attacks on our environmental laws, and they are reacting because those attacks are sabotaging resource development and ultimately our economy as a whole.

In big cities and in small towns, development projects are meeting increasing resistance. The northern gateway, Kinder Morgan, and energy east pipelines are but three of the most recent examples.

Why should Canadians not be worried? They see the Conservative government gutting environmental assessments, they see dangerous pipeline spills on the rise, and they worry whether their communities will be next.

A recent Harris/Decima poll conducted for the government made it clear that only 27% of Canadians are confident that the Government of Canada is able to respond effectively to a significant oil spill on water. The number is only slightly higher, at 32%, for oil spills on land. Similarly, a significant proportion of Canadians do not feel confident that pipelines, tankers, and trains are transporting dangerous goods safely. When it comes to rail transport, only 29% of Canadians feel confident that it is safe. Only 37% of Canadians believe oil tanker transport is safe, while 47% of Canadians are confident that pipelines can safely transport oil.

Clearly, that is not a vote of confidence in the Conservatives' handling of this critical file.

It is equally clear that Canadians share the belief of New Democrats that we must take steps to ensure that we are developing and transporting our resources in a safe and secure way; that we have to implement effective oil spill prevention measures; that we have to increase inspections in oversight; and that we have to push for expanded liability so that we are giving teeth to the polluter pays principle.

When it comes to oil transport, with the huge expansion in production and transportation of crude oil, we need enhanced safety protection. This is common sense, no matter what the method of transport.

Public safety and environmental protection must be the highest priorities if we are to develop our natural resources sustainably.

That brings us back to the heart of the bill that is before us today. Would Bill C-46 implement a true polluter pays regime in Canada, and would the bill go far enough to obviate Canadians' legitimate concerns when it comes to pipeline safety?

Let us look at what the bill purports to do.

Unfortunately, in the time allotted to me here today, it is only possible to do that in the broadest of terms. However, I am hopeful that we will be able to undertake the detailed clause-by-clause scrutiny the bill merits at the committee stage of the legislative process.

At its most general, the purpose of Bill C-46, would be to improve Canada's pipeline liability regime.

It would be part of the government's larger review of the distinct liability regimes that govern different aspects of Canada's oil and gas development. Here, members will recall that last year Bill C-22 dealt with liabilities related to offshore drilling and potential spills in both Arctic and Atlantic waters. As well, over the course of last year, the government began consultations on the liability regime governing rail transport, as it sought to do damage control in the wake of Lac-Mégantic. Now, we have yet a third piece before us dealing with the liability regime governing Canadian pipelines.

Here is what Bill C-46, would do.

It would reinforce the polluter pays principle.

It would confirm that the liability of pipeline companies is unlimited if an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas, or any other commodity is a result of fault or negligence.

It would establish the limit of liability, without proof of fault or negligence, at no less than $1 billion for companies that operate pipelines with capacity to transport at least 250,000 barrels per day and an amount prescribed by regulation for companies that operate any other pipelines.

It would require that pipeline companies maintain the financial resources necessary to pay the amount of the limit of liability that would apply to them.

The bill would authorize the National Energy Board to order any company that operates a pipeline from which an unintended or uncontrolled release occurs to reimburse government institutions for the costs incurred in taking any action in relation to the release.

It would require that pipeline companies remain responsible for their abandoned pipelines.

It would authorize the NEB to order pipeline companies to maintain funds to pay for the abandonment of their pipelines.

It would authorize the Governor in Council to authorize the NEB to take, in certain circumstances, any action the NEB considers necessary in relation to an unintended or uncontrolled release.

It would also allow the Governor in Council to establish a pipeline claims tribunal to examine and adjudicate claims for compensation for damage caused by an unintended or uncontrolled release from a pipeline.

Many of these changes are long overdue, and I would be less than honest if I did not acknowledge that they appear to be a step in the right direction.

However, it is also true that, once again, the Conservatives are late to the game. New Democrats have been waiting for the government to fix oil spill liability for quite some time. As always, with the current government, the devil is in the details.

Let us take a closer look at the some of the pluses and minuses of what has been presented to us in this bill.

On the upside, the fact that polluters will be absolutely liable for harm caused by a pipeline spill is obviously a good thing. What it means is that any company operating a pipeline will be liable in the event of a spill even if it has not been negligent and has not broken any laws. Moreover, companies must have enough financial resources to cover in full the absolute liability limit. For companies whose pipelines have the capacity to move at least 250,000 barrels per day, that limit will be $1 billion once this bill passes. That monetary amount may be increased by the government in the future, but the bill would prohibit cabinet from lowering it. That too is a good thing.

The bill would also give the NEB new tools to recoup cleanup costs from polluters, and in certain circumstances it even gives the board the power to recover costs from the industry as a whole, not just from the individual polluter.

Finally on the plus side, the bill would make polluters liable for environmental damages. Members will recall that we spent a lot of time when scrutinizing of Bill C-22 on the need to make polluters responsible for environmental damages or losses of non-use value of public resources. It is as important now as it was then to ensure that liability is not just restricted to the environment's commercial value. Bill C-46 sets out to do that and is an important first step in catching up with U.S. oil spill regulation, which is much more developed with respect to the recognition of environmental damages.

However, as a thoughtful analysis by Ian Miron at Ecojustice makes clear, there is an overall lack of certainty in Bill C-46 that may well undermine what would otherwise be this positive first step. Specifically, Mr. Miron points out three things. First, and perhaps most crucially, Bill C-46 does not impose unlimited absolute liability on polluters. No liability regime can truly be called a polluter pays regime unless and until polluters are made absolutely liable for the full costs of environmental harm.

While the $1 billion limit for some companies may be a big improvement over the status quo, it still would not completely cover the cleanup costs of an accident such as Enbridge's Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan. According to recent estimates, that spill, the largest in U.S. history, cost more than $1.2 billion to clean up, not including compensation for damages.

Moreover, Bill C-46 actually takes a step backward by eliminating the government's ability to recover cleanup costs for a pipeline spill under the Fisheries Act, which applies in certain circumstances to make a polluter absolutely liable without limit. In the absence of such unlimited absolute liability, the government and, therefore, Canadians may still be on the hook for spills, and that, frankly, is wrong. If the government is so convinced that pipelines are a mature industry, then the industry is one that can and must pay for itself. Instead, the fact that this bill does not completely enshrine the polluter pays principle means that the Conservatives are giving just one more handout to its friends in the oil patch by making taxpayers liable for oil spill risks.

In that regard, it is also worth pointing out that the bill is completely silent on identifying absolute liability limits for smaller oil pipeline companies, or for gas and other non-oil pipeline companies. While such limits may be set by cabinet down the road, it begs the question of why the government would not do so now. Is volumetrics the only criterion the government has used to assess the potential magnitude of damages from a spill? I hope that in the course of our deliberations the Conservatives will give us an answer to that rather pressing question.

This leads to my final broad criticism of the bill. Just as the absolute liability limits are discretionary for all but the big pipeline companies, many other aspects of the new liability regime are as well. While the bill would create several new tools that could enhance the NEB's ability to recoup cleanup costs from a polluter, the NEB or the cabinet get to decide whether or not they will be implemented. As Ecojustice thus rightly points out, BillC-46 leaves considerable leeway for politically motivated decisions and backroom arrangements between operators and the NEB, a regulator that lacks credibility on the pipeline front.

In fact, this may be a good time to say yet again that the NEB needs a fundamental overhaul. While the Liberals and Conservatives have generally been happy simply to rubberstamp pipeline projects, my NDP colleagues and I firmly believe that major resource projects must be judged on their merits. That means that the NEB has to subject proposals to a rigorous and robust environmental assessment process. Assessment criteria must include the impact of each individual project on our emissions and climate change commitments, on Canadian jobs, and on national and regional energy security. Public consultations must be credible and democratic, not shallow, limited, or by paper only, and projects must honour our legal obligations to first nations.

Clearly, such rigour was absent in the NEB review of both Enbridge's northern gateway and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, and the same flawed process is now being applied to TransCanada's energy east plans as well. No wonder Canadians are worried about these pipelines snaking their way through backyards.

Northern gateway has the capacity to move 525,000 barrels per day, 890,000 barrels per day for Kinder Morgan and a staggering 1.1 billion barrels per day for energy east. The potential for disaster is huge, which brings me to the last point I want to raise in wrapping up my participation in today's debate.

While the new liability regime deals with protecting Canadians from the cost of cleaning up an oil spill, my NDP colleagues and I believe the best way to protect Canadians is to ensure such spills do not happen in the first place. Measuring risk correctly and assigning liability may be one tool in the kit to encourage industry to improve its safety practices and therefore reduce the likelihood of catastrophic accidents. However, it is only one tool of many and nothing else is being done. Where is the concrete action to fix the broken environmental assessment process that the Conservatives have dismantled? Where is the much-needed legislation that would bring in better regulation and oversight?

As far back as 2011, the environment commissioned highlighted that the National Energy Board was failing to ensure that known problems were being fixed and that pipelines were being properly maintained. We have a world-class labour force that is ready and eager to do that work. However, without companies making commitments to pipeline safety, Canadians can be forgiven for wondering not whether an oil spill will happen but when.

Canada's natural resources are a tremendous blessing and managed properly and sustainably they can be important drivers for our economy. This is particularly true of the energy sector. However, instead of guiding our energy policy in the best interest of Canadian jobs, the environment and the economy, the Conservative government is gutting assessments and reviews, and failing to address the valid concerns of Canadians. That is such a narrow-minded and counterproductive approach. Social licence, the consent of Canadians for the development of Canada's resources, is crucial to the success of any project. However, instead of working to achieve such consent, the government's intransigence is actually undermining the support for companies in the pipeline sector by exacerbating opposition to energy development right across the country.

There is a better way, and the New Democrats have been championing it for years. It is based on sustainable development. Governments must look at environmental, social and economic impacts before going forward with any development project. That way we can prevent devastating environmental damage, while ensuring that Canadians benefit from Canada's natural bounty of resources. It is the right thing to do, and it finally would allow us to move beyond the all too convenient Conservative canard that Canadians must choose between the economy and the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With the right kind of leadership, Canadians will finally be able to have their cake and eat it too, and that is the kind of leadership the NDP will provide when it forms government, under the experienced leadership of the member for Outremont, later on this year. That will make this a happy new year indeed.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

January 26th, 2015 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see this bill come forward. As my hon. colleague from Hamilton Mountain said, it is a step in a positive direction and it is needed.

Considering that the bill was just introduced on December 8, it is good but surprising to see it up for debate, considering that the previous bill on absolute liability concerning offshore oil and gas, Bill C-22, was introduced numerous times over several years but left to languish on the order paper. I am interested in what the hurry is in this case, but I am still pleased. The difference is stark, but it is good to have it come forward.

The minister talked about public confidence. That seems to me to be the test, because that is a huge concern right now for the public and for the industry. The petroleum sector is concerned that when they try to put forward projects, they have difficulty in obtaining public confidence when the public does not have confidence in the government or in the NEB as environment regulators.

In leaving so much discretion to cabinet and to the NEB, how does the minister expect to overcome this challenge and to create any greater confidence in the public so that some of these projects might go forward?

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 / 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.