Pipeline Safety Act

An Act to amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act

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

Sponsor

Greg Rickford  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.

This enactment amends the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act in order to strengthen the safety and security of pipelines regulated by those Acts.

More specifically, the enactment, among other things,

(a) reinforces the “polluter pays” principle;

(b) confirms that the liability of companies that operate pipelines is unlimited if an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas or any other commodity from a pipeline that they operate is the result of their fault or negligence;

(c) establishes the limit of liability without proof of fault or negligence at no less than one billion dollars for companies that operate pipelines that have the capacity to transport at least 250,000 barrels of oil per day and at an amount prescribed by regulation for companies that operate any other pipelines;

(d) requires that companies that operate pipelines maintain the financial resources necessary to pay the amount of the limit of liability that applies to them;

(e) authorizes the National Energy Board to order any company that operates a pipeline from which an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas or any other commodity occurs to reimburse any government institution the costs it incurred in taking any action or measure in relation to that release;

(f) requires that companies that operate pipelines remain responsible for their abandoned pipelines;

(g) authorizes the National Energy Board to order companies that operate pipelines to maintain funds to pay for the abandonment of their pipelines or for their abandoned pipelines;

(h) allows the Governor in Council to authorize the National Energy Board to take, in certain circumstances, any action or measure that the National Energy Board considers necessary in relation to an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas or any other commodity from a pipeline;

(i) allows the Governor in Council to establish, in certain circumstances, a pipeline claims tribunal whose purpose is to examine and adjudicate the claims for compensation for compensable damage caused by an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas or any other commodity from a pipeline;

(j) authorizes, in certain circumstances, that funds may be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to pay the costs of taking the actions or measures that the National Energy Board considers necessary in relation to an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas or any other commodity from a pipeline, to pay the costs related to establishing a pipeline claims tribunal and to pay any amount of compensation that such a tribunal awards; and

(k) authorizes the National Energy Board to recover those funds from the company that operates the pipeline from which the release occurred and from companies that operate pipelines that transport a commodity of the same class as the one that was released.

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

March 9, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have another chance to speak on the slightly amended version of Bill C-46, the pipeline safety act and of course, this is legislation that would amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, with the idea of strengthening the safety and security of federally regulated pipelines in Canada.

In fact, this legislation is long overdue and represents some progress. The Liberal Party recognizes that pipelines are a critical part of our energy infrastructure. We know that Canada must always strive to have the safest pipelines in the world. In fact, we have many thousands of kilometres of pipelines within Canada transporting both oil and gas and sometimes other products, but mainly those two, and they form an important part of our economy. People use those products every day in a variety of ways, so those pipelines play an important role and it is vitally important that they be safe.

However, we do not believe that we have to make a choice between protecting our environment and growing our economy. We have to do both. That is an important responsibility. Across this country, Liberals support projects that offer responsible and sustainable ways of getting our resources to market, while at the same time respecting indigenous rights, protecting our natural environment and earning the trust of local communities.

In fact, approximately 1.4 billion barrels of oil cross provincial and international borders every year. It is important that legislation like Bill C-46 clarifies the audit and inspection powers of the National Energy Board which regulates federal pipelines.

I should point out that many of the pipelines in Canada are not federally regulated because they are within the boundaries of a province, but they do not cross boundaries of a province or international boundaries between Canada and the U.S.

As we heard recently at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, Bill C-46 implements a number of measures under the headings of prevention, preparedness and response, and also liability and compensation.

Prevention, of course, is critical as we must make every effort to ensure that a spill does not occur in the first place, obviously. The bill includes some sentencing provisions for environmental damages as well as additional audit and inspection powers for the National Energy Board. Of course, this raises the question of whether the NEB will do the job it is supposed to do. That would be a concern for members going forward as we watch whether the powers it is given in the bill are utilized properly.

Hopefully, the government will ensure the the NEB has the necessary resources to carry out these audits and inspections because a number of stakeholders said they were concerned about it. I am concerned about it after the recent budget. There is a question whether it has enough funding.

In fact, the NEB indicated that funding for several programs related to pipeline safety will be sunsetting in the next few years. It is up to the government to bring forward sufficient funds for the NEB to do the job of protecting Canadians and ensuring that these pipelines are operated in a safe manner. I think that needs to change.

In the event of a spill, Canadians need to have confidence that pipeline companies and the National Energy Board will respond in an appropriate manner. Bill C-46 would require companies operating pipelines to hold sufficient financial resources to cover any potential costs associated with a spill. Companies would also be required to hold a minimum level of accessible financial resources to ensure immediate response to a spill happening and that they have the financial capacity to do that. That is an important measure and I certainly support that.

Also, in exceptional circumstances, where a company is unable or unwilling to act, the NEB would have the authorization to take control of a spill response and it would have the authority to compel reimbursement of costs associated with a spill because if the NEB is incurring costs at the expense of the taxpayer, it should be reimbursed by whoever is responsible for the pipeline in general.

It is the company operating it that is going to be liable and that is why under this legislation absolute liability is provided for. In other words, whether or not negligence was provided, if a company is the owner-operator of that pipeline, it will be responsible for it. That is very important.

Finally, with respect to liability and compensation, the bill invokes the polluter pays principle with the goal of holding major pipeline companies liable for costs and any actual losses or environmental damages resulting from a spill. It includes a set of new measures which provide for no-fault or absolute liability set at a minimum of $1 billion for major oil companies, and the legislation contains the number of provisions relating to the abandonment of pipelines.

Bill C-46 seeks guidance from the National Energy Board on the application of the best available technologies for pipeline construction and operations. It also sets out how government will be required to work with aboriginal communities and industry to develop a strategy to better integrate aboriginal peoples into pipeline safety, including planning, monitoring, incident response and related employment and business opportunities.

While I noted earlier that Bill C-46 is a step in the right direction, that does not mean that no concerns were expressed about this particular bill. We have seen concerns raised 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. The Union des producteurs agricoles raised several points in a written submission, including their concern about the definition of “ground disturbance” in the legislation and how this will impact the cultivation of crops like alfalfa. They also expressed concern about whether the timeframe for claims should be tied to the time when a leak is discovered or the time when it occurred. Obviously, I believe that it should be tied to the time when the leak is discovered.

Ecojustice lawyer Ian Miron testified regarding the shortcomings in the legislation. He called for more guidance around the assessment and calculation of damages for the loss of non-use value in relation to public resources. Mr. Miron also suggested that, as drafted, the bill is best described as polluter might pay as opposed to polluter pays, as the government is suggesting.

Mr. Martin Olszynski of the law faculty at the University of Calgary offered suggestions to strengthen the wording of the bill with regard to environmental damages. Mr. Olszynski said that the federal cabinet should be required to make regulations setting out a process for environmental damages assessment within a prescribed timeframe.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives failed to put forward any amendments during the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-46 and they killed all but two of the amendments tabled by opposition members.

One of the amendments, which was adopted, will mean that an aboriginal governing body would be able to be reimbursed for expenses they may incur in responding to a spill. I think that is a good amendment.

Without that amendment, the category of entities that could get reimbursed for reasonably incurring expenses in relation to a spill, in other words for a cleanup, were limited to “Her Majesty in right of Canada, or a province or any other person”.

That would not include an aboriginal first nation and in my view it would also not include a municipality either. That is why there was, in fact, another amendment proposed to add the word “municipality” to that list, but I suppose the government side was not authorized. It did not have the green light, we might say, to say yes to that change, which would have been harmless and a good one.

The question of whether or not the province is authorized or the municipality, since municipalities are creations of provinces, is not clear at all. It might have been a very good clarification to have in the bill. Unfortunately, I am afraid the Conservatives did not support that.

The second amendment deals with a section of the bill which said that the NEB may recover funds to compensate those affected by a spill. In this case, the word “may” was changed to “shall”, another good change. At least there was some minimal accommodation and I suspect members opposite on the Conservative side would incorrectly and falsely claim that they were completely flexible on our amendments.

I know that the Minister of Natural Resources is fond of pointing out that between 2008 and 2013 more than 99.999% of oil transported in federally regulated pipelines was moved safely. That is a great record. Our pipeline companies deserve recognition for this achievement. However, we also need to look to the future. We need to take every step possible to continue to prevent spills, to put in place the proper measures to efficiently and effectively clean up spills, and to assign appropriate liability when spills do occur.

Canada must have the safest pipelines in the world. We need to ensure that this pipeline safety act is designed to achieve that goal.

The NEB has been given increased regulatory control over 73,000 kilometres of pipelines that transport more than $100-billion worth of oil, gas, and petroleum products across Canada annually. That is a lot of pipelines and a lot of value to our economy and also a lot of concern about the impact that would have on our environment if it was not dealt with properly.

Bill C-46 would build on previous moves, giving the NEB the authority to increase the number of pipeline inspections and doubling the number of yearly safety audits.

The NEB has also been asked to provide guidance on the best available technologies for pipeline construction and operations. Obviously, that is why we are hoping that the NEB will be given the resources to do that job and that it will do it properly. We will have to keep an eye on that. That is, I think, one of the important responsibilities of this chamber. It is to keep an eye on that and watch the statistics as time goes on.

We have seen measures that set out how the government is supposed to work with aboriginal communities and individuals to develop a strategy to better integrate aboriginal peoples and pipeline safety operations, including in planning, monitoring, incident response, and related employment and business opportunities.

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 the measures for abandoned pipelines are welcome, and the Liberal Party will therefore support the legislation.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his support for the legislation.

One of the things he raised is funding for the National Energy Board. I am sure he is aware that in the budget, the National Energy Board would receive many millions of dollars, $80 million, in fact, in increased funding.

I wonder if he would talk about that funding and what the money would be used for.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I spoke in my comments about the nature of the new responsibilities the NEB would have. We will have to wait and see, as time goes on, whether sufficient resources are there. I am not sure about that. We will have to wait and see.

Also, it is important to see how, in actuality, the NEB would enforce the rules and the powers it would be given. My hope is that it would exercise those controls in a responsible way, but as I said, it is important for this House to keep an eye on that.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I worked closely with the member from the Liberal Party on the bill as it was making its way through committee, so we heard many of the same witnesses, obviously, and perhaps drew some of the same conclusions.

I completely agree with him that a bill that purports to implement the polluter pay principle actually falls far short of doing that when so many of the provisions in the bill would actually be left up to the discretion of either the National Energy Board or cabinet.

I suspect that the solution to fixing the problem of the discretionary powers of the cabinet and the lack of confidence Canadians have in those powers we will need to resolve in the next election, and I look forward to the NDP forming the government after October 19.

However, I want to ask the member questions about the discretionary powers of the NEB. Canadians do not have very much confidence in the National Energy Board right now, either. I wonder if the member would talk about what amendments he thinks it is necessary to make to the National Energy Board, whether he believes it ought to be a complete overhaul of the NEB, and what specific amendments he would support when it comes to the future of the National Energy Board.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to have hon. friends asking questions. They are members I sit with on the committee, and I enjoy working with them there.

My colleague talked about the issue of confidence, which I think is so important. In fact, one of the things I think we have seen eroded badly over the past decade under the Conservative government is the confidence Canadians have in environmental regulation generally.

The first thing that has to change is the attitude of government. I look forward to the election changing that, and of course, I heard my hon. colleague. My expectations are a little different from hers. I am looking forward to a Liberal victory in the election in the fall. We can leave that to the electors to decide. We all have faith in democracy and are obviously willing to accept its results. I hope we will see a new government, with the Liberal Party, of course, perhaps with support from other parties on measures like this, the kinds of measures that would create more confidence among Canadians about environmental regulation.

That is where it starts. We can certainly look at the question of what amendments are needed in terms of the power of the NEB and its discretionary powers. I think we should take some of those powers out of cabinet.

What we need is a National Energy Board that has the respect of Canadians and the confidence of Canadians, but again, that depends on the kinds of signals that are sent from government. We do not need government signals suggesting that people who are concerned about environmental matters are radicals or renegades, the kind of signals we unfortunately sometimes get from the government.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if I could ask my hon. colleague to perhaps look past several elections rather than to the next election. All too often we have the government passing legislation establishing a penalty for this or that and feeling that it has accomplished something and can forget about the problem for a while.

What kinds of things does my hon. colleague see five, 10, and 20 years down the line in terms of making resources available so that regulations are enforced and there are enough people to conduct inspections, for example, or look out for the unexpected things that may happen in the future?

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is not that uncommon that questions I get from my own side are sometimes, in some ways, more challenging.

That is a challenging question, because it asks me to go quite a distance ahead and to imagine the unexpected things that may happen in the future. That is challenging.

I think we will see a shift in our energy sector in Canada and in the way we use energy. Certainly we have seen a considerable effort to reduce energy use to be more efficient in the way we do things in our households and workplaces. That will continue.

I think we will see an increase in the use of renewable energy in a whole variety of ways. That is going to be an interesting process.

We saw the news last week about a new power wall that a major company in the U.S., of course, has introduced. It is a very large lithium battery for the home. If people have, for instance, photovoltaic solar panels on the roof, they can actually store the power that comes from those when the sun is shining and have it available when it is not. In some locations, power can actually be drawn down at night, for example, when power is cheap, and then used in the day.

We are going to see a variety of changes. I do not think most of us are probably all that worried about the safety impact, although it is something that has to be watched. For any new technology we have to examine the safety impact.

When we talk about pipelines, it is hard to project today how important they will be in our lives in 30 or 40 years. I think we are going to see them continue to be used for a few decades yet, but there may be new uses. There may be new infrastructure for which we need to have regulations to make sure that they are built and operated in a way that is safe for Canadians and safe for our environment.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague might expand on the importance of what we call a social contract when we look at the environment. How important is it that we consult and work with the many different stakeholders to develop a social contract that would allow us to look at pipelines and other important national grids that are on the horizon?

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is going to be interesting to see how we go forward, because there has been a change in the attitudes of Canadians and communities toward natural resource projects over the past decade or two. It means that the government has to do a much better job today, and so does industry, of reaching out to communities, consulting them, and understanding them and their differences. We know that different communities across the country, whether aboriginal communities or otherwise, have different issues, different challenges, and different capacities. Each of those things has to be considered in these consultations. However, the fact that there is so much concern out there is an indication of how important it is that the government change its attitude.

We have seen the Conservative government's attitude being one of wanting to shove things through in a hurry. We find, in fact, that this diminishes social licence. It actually makes it harder to get projects completed and built, and it increases resistance.

I think people want to see a government that is serious about the environment and that takes its responsibility to review projects and assess them environmentally in a serious manner. People will want to see that before they have confidence in the role of the NEB and the process of environmental assessment generally across this country so that those projects that should go forward will be able to do so.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be splitting my time today with my hon. colleague from Saskatoon—Humboldt, with whom I have the honour of sitting on the natural resources committee.

It is great to stand in the House and talk about this bill today. This bill, the pipeline safety act, is a really important bill for every Canadian who cares about the environment, and I think that is all of us. In fact, the pipeline safety act is really the embodiment of the kinds of things that I talk about with the people I represent in Calgary Centre all the time, which are the environment and energy.

Our government is firmly committed to making sure that as our energy industry is developed, so too are we caring for the environment at every single stage. This bill is really one of the poster children in our platform of how we care for our environment at the same time as we put things in place to continue to develop and enjoy the benefits of our energy industry in Canada.

All Canadians can be proud of and confident in this bill. What we have heard from the NDP today is a little hypocritical. They say that Canadians do not have confidence in our pipelines when we know they have a 99.999% safety record. We have gold standard legislation, like we are putting forward today. All Canadians need to be aware that we have among the best or the best systems in the world for regulating the environment, and this bill is a very key part of that.

At every turn, our government has demonstrated that it has a steadfast commitment to ensuring that Canada's national network of pipelines is world class, that our pipelines are the safest that they can possibly be, and that we maintain a very strong commitment, as I have said, to the environment at the same time as we seek to grow our industry. The pipelines can contribute safely to our economic growth and energy independence. The pipeline safety act that we are bringing forward would do all of these things. It is part of the comprehensive, responsible resource development plan that we have.

People in my riding of Calgary Centre know very well that we have a lot to celebrate when it comes to our natural wealth. We have the third largest proven oil reserves in the world, we are the fifth largest producer of natural gas, and we want to get those products to market. These resources will remain trapped in the ground if we cannot develop what are the safest, most reliable ways to transport them to their markets at home and abroad.

The pipeline safety act would give us a kind of gold standard. It sets out very clear parameters that help to ensure the safe operation of pipelines so that they can be some of Canada's national energy infrastructure projects for the 21st century, some of our most important. The importance of this legislation really cannot be overstated.

Bill C-46 is another way our government is strengthening our environmental protection while continuing to protect jobs, so important now, and opportunities for Canadians in all regions of the country. Last year, we did a study on the across-Canada benefits of the oil and gas industry and we heard from people in every single province about how this industry was creating economic well-being for all of them, from coast to coast to coast.

Equally important is that this legislation mirrors what we have done with marine, rail and offshore safety. It is based on some key pillars and one of them, in particular, I think British Columbians should be especially aware of. They had asked for world leading practices around spill prevention and response as one of the five conditions in British Columbia, and this bill would answer that. Number one of the pillars is incident prevention, number two is preparedness and response, and number three is a system for liability and compensation. Therefore, the entire umbrella is covered by this very important bill. We believe it is a really important and responsible approach to pipeline safety.

This bill would modernize our regulatory review of major resource projects by eliminating duplication and providing investors with the kind of predictable beginning-to-end timelines that they need. That is in our responsible resource development plan.

We have improved environmental protection and bolstered aboriginal engagement. Bill C-46 also clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the key players in our energy industry, the National Energy Board and different levels of government so that pipeline operators are clear, everyone is clear.

Finally, the legislation reflects a responsible approach to consensus building. I agree, that is an important component here. It incorporates amendments from our all-party House Standing Committee on Natural Resources. We have heard from some of the members recently. I am privileged to sit on that committee.

Let us talk about the amendments, because there was a reference to amendments not being included. Nothing could be further from the truth. We actually made amendments and accepted amendments from the other side of the House. There were two important changes that were included in the bill for third reading. We agreed with those and have included them.

The first amendment is clause 48.12 (1). It adds aboriginal governing bodies to the groups that could recover costs and expenses in responding to a pipeline release. This is so that in the unusual event where there might be a pipeline release, our aboriginal governing bodies could feel free to move in and take action and know that they would be compensated.

The second amendment is a little further down in the bill. It is clause 48.17 (1). It would require the National Energy Board, subject to Treasury Board approval, to recover funds from industry that happened to be advanced by the government.

These are really solid recommendations that enhance what was already a very strong piece of legislation and a world-class regime for pipeline safety.

I want to talk a little more about committee testimony, because we heard some really interesting and strong support for the legislation in committee. We heard one expert witness describe the legislation as “...much needed and quite frankly, long overdue”. Who was it who said that? It was Ian Miron from Ecojustice Canada.

Another witness praised the legislation for its language on environmental damages. That was Martin Olszynski, from the University of Calgary. He said that the language on environmental damages is “simple and comprehensive”. That is great to know. In most instances we felt comfortable that the existing language had hit the mark, but in two places we agreed as a committee that these amendments were warranted. As we can see, there is co-operation in Ottawa.

The result is we now have an even better bill that would significantly improve pipeline safety. I want all Canadians to be confident and proud of that. That is what committee reviews provide. They provide this kind of oversight where we have expert witnesses we call in to come and provide testimony to legislation. We kind of put the legislation to the test. We poke holes in it. We have an opportunity to ask questions. We make sure it is airtight. If there are any issues, then we fix them. We do that on every single bill.

I also personally welcomed the opportunity to discuss a lot of the issues with some key leaders in the pipeline industry. One was Jim Donihee, acting chief officer for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. Another was Robert Blakely, the Canadian operating officer with Canada's Building Trades Union. They are passionate, well-informed people who actually do support pipelines and want to make sure we have a world-class safety regime that can give Canadians confidence in their operations.

I pressed both witnesses on the nuts and bolts of the bill. Their responses were both impressive and reassuring. When asked about the quality of the work and the care that was taken by the men and women who are working on these kinds of projects, Mr. Blakely said, “The truth is, we live here”. They want the best possible pipeline because this is their home. I live here too. All Canadians live here, and I think we all share that same goal.

Mr. Donihee echoed that kind of commitment on behalf of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. He said:

... the member companies, which I have the privilege of representing, share in the desire to ensure that we operate the safest possible pipeline transmission system that will benefit our nation.

They all live here too.

When asked about the additional responsibilities that would be placed on the pipeline industry in the legislation, he said their goal is a zero spill safety record. That is incredibly laudable. He said the industry does not just take what the government regulations are. It seeks to even better them. That is why we have world-class safety regulations here. However, we also have an industry that is firmly committed to meeting and exceeding those world-class standards. That is very worth remembering.

The bill would embody the polluter pay principle in law. It holds companies absolutely liable for any incidents, regardless of who is at fault, or regardless of negligence. It would ensure that companies have the financial resources to respond to incidents. It would give the National Energy Board the authority and resources to clean up spills and recover costs if the board has to step in on what would be exceptional circumstances.

In conclusion, this kind of inclusive approach, which also gives first nations a place here as very strong partners, is the kind of approach that residents in my riding of Calgary Centre want to see, and I think all Canadians want to see. It is these kinds of things that make Canada so great. With the right policies, the right investments and the right decisions, we can shape our nation's destiny.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, naturally, the NDP completely agrees with the polluter pays principle and with sustainable development. That is why we support the notion of liability for the pipelines.

This bill could have been even better. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the three NDP MPs who did an excellent job in committee: the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, the member for Hamilton Mountain, and the excellent member for Edmonton—Strathcona. We proposed some 20 amendments in committee, but unfortunately they were not well received.

Committees play a very important role in improving bills. The committee is not a place for partisan politics. Why did the Conservatives not consider these amendments, which had the support of most stakeholders?

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I always love when we have an opportunity to hear from committee members who are committed to make our legislation better. We did listen to the amendments that were brought forward, very carefully. As I have suggested, we had witnesses who are being quoted on both sides of the House here today. I do welcome the NDP members and hope that they will support our energy industry going forward now that they know we have this amazing bill.

Last year, I was quite disappointed when we had the cross-Canada benefits of the oil and gas sector. The NDP members on that committee could not bring themselves to put forward one witness to speak on the cross-Canada benefits of the oil and gas sector.

I hope that their support for this bill might signal a change of heart.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, whether it is the leader of the Liberal Party or the Liberal Party as a whole, we have recognized the great value of our energy industry. There is always room for improvement, which is why we supported the bill in principle to go to second reading and so forth.

It would have been better had the government looked at ways in which we might have been able to incorporate some other amendments that would have made the industry a little more robust in its approach to the issue of safety. However, the idea of polluter pays has been supported, I suspect, by most if not all members of the House.

The question I have for the member regards pipelines in general.

In terms of the development of industry and looking at our environment, there has been a very strong lack of national leadership in such an important area in terms of working with the different stakeholders, particularly our provinces, first nations and so forth. Had the government been more proactive in dealing with this, we would have a better industry today.

My question to the member is: How would she respond to the criticism regarding the current government's inability to get the job done when it comes to the potential expansion of this industry through pipelines?

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite has made a good observation. The environment has changed with regard to the public's need to be assured and have confidence that the infrastructure being put in place is the right infrastructure and that the public is protected, which is exactly why this bill is going forward.

This is a confidence bill. This bill is a poster child to show that Canada has the gold standard, the best standards in the world for pipeline liability. Therefore, Canadians will have confidence moving forward.

I want to highlight the aboriginal component as well, because the natural resources sector is the largest single employer of aboriginals in our country. They were consulted on this bill. This plan has been developed closely with them, and we are really hoping that our aboriginal communities will be a great beneficiary of it. They have shown a lot of desire to be involved, especially on the environmental monitoring side of this.

I think that all Canadians need to have confidence that they have an industry here they can support and make sure that Canada can continue to grow.

Pipeline Safety ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2015 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank all members of the House who have been participating in this debate.

Anyone who is watching on TV and has seen some of the back and forth between some of the members on the committee will understand that the committee actually functions fairly well. One of my colleagues across the floor made the point that none of the NDP amendments were accepted in committee. That does not mean that other amendments from any other party were not accepted at committee. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, Conservative members and all members backed two amendments from the leader of the Green Party at committee.

The committee has been fairly collegial and has worked well. As a member who has sat on the committee in one version or another for almost nine years in the House of Commons, I must say to those who say that these things do not work to come and watch us some time. I am very pleased to be part of the committee.

Before I get into the main body of my speech, I want to re-emphasize for Canadians and people who are watching what we are really talking about here. People who do not live in the Prairies or Newfoundland sometimes do not grasp just how strategic and important Canada's oil and gas industry is. When we begin to look at it in a world perspective, depending on whose numbers we are looking at, we are the fifth or sixth largest petroleum producer in the world. Essentially, the U.S., the Saudis and the Russians are the big three, and then we are with a group of other nations that are sort of jockeying from fourth to sixth or seventh spot.

What is amazing and incredible about what we have done is not just that we are such a big producer, but that we do it in a difficult environment. Canada is a cold country, a difficult country, a big country. The oil sands are not the easiest place in the world to produce oil. It is not like the joke that reservoir engineers tell about Saudi Arabia, that they can just put a straw in the ground, twirl it around and oil will start popping up. To be a successful oil man in Canada requires a considerable amount of skills, technological, financial, et cetera. Yet, with all of this, when we look at whatever we have applied, be it our pipelines, drilling industry, or fracking which has been in the news, our world safety standards, if they are not undisputedly number one, they are up there neck and neck, equal with other countries. That is an amazing thing.

We have created one of the most prosperous oil and gas industries. It is one of the most successful and it is private. We got rid of the mess that was known as Petro-Canada and the national energy program some years ago. It is private sector run and brings prosperity from one end of the country to the other, sometimes in the form of equalization and payments to government revenues, most often in jobs in engineering and manufacturing, and direct natural resource energy jobs.

One of the key components of this industry is pipelines. Because of where the majority of our oil is geographically positioned, although our offshore production on the east coast is somewhat different, almost all of our production needs to go into a pipe somewhere and be shipped away. With difficulties, backlogs and some issues that involve politics in different parts of our country and other places, we have been forced to use rail more and more. However, as the tragic incident in Quebec two years ago pointed out, rail has its downside. Rail is more costly in the majority of instances, and it is not as safe.

That is a context that people should consider whenever they look at any of this natural resource legislation that the federal and provincial governments put forward to increase safety. We do not take for granted what we are doing. That is why the government has put this legislation forward. That is the broader context. I do not know whether I will get through all of my other speaking notes, but I will work on it.

As I was saying, we work very well in the committee. We have had some very good discussions on issues in committee, such as aboriginal treaty rights, environmental damage, the polluter pays principle, something which all parties appear to agree on, pipeline standards, government regulations, and land ownership rights, which is a big one, but it is more provincial than federal.

Members of the committee listened carefully to witnesses who provided expert testimony. We read written submissions with great interest. I am confident that we have a very good piece of legislation. We have got Bill C-46 right in terms of its clarity, its focus, the delineation of roles and responsibilities, and of course, in terms of its effectiveness.

This bill is good policy-making that would strengthen the role of the National Energy Board and would enhance environmental performance of Canada's pipeline industry.

The pipeline safety act also clarifies responsibilities of different levels of government. As has been mentioned before by other members, many of the pipelines in Canada that do not cross provincial boundaries are not the responsibility of the federal government. However, we need to know about the responsibilities of the different levels. It leaves no doubt that the industry, not taxpayers, would be held accountable for any pipeline spill or incident. This is what Canadians demand, and the government expects no less. The industry, as has been noted in other speeches today, is of the same opinion. This again is a significant achievement, one that will lead to even greater confidence in our world-class safety regime for pipelines that deliver much-needed oil and petroleum products every day.

To summarize in a few words what this bill is all about, the pipeline safety act is a commitment by the government to protect both Canada's economy and its environment at the same time. The two go hand in hand. We recognize that economic growth cannot come at any price. We do not support the robber baron style of capitalism. As the Minister of Natural Resources has said many times, no project will proceed under our plan for responsible resource development unless it has been proven safe for Canadians and for the environment. It is that simple.

That is why economic action plan 2015 includes substantive investments and initiatives to maintain public engagement. Let me give a few examples.

The budget provides over $80 million more over five years for the National Energy Board. The funding begins in 2015-16 and is intended to support greater engagement with Canadians on enhanced safety and environmental protection. Also, there is a $135 million expenditure to support effective project approvals through major project management initiatives. This is important. This is not just applied to the pipeline industry, but to other industries such as mining, et cetera, that use the major projects management office to try to navigate the regulatory system in a way that is efficient both for environmental reasons and because it makes very good business sense. There is $30 million in funding for safety of marine transportation in the Arctic and to strengthen marine incident prevention, preparedness and response in the waters that are south of the 60th parallel.

These are concrete steps which the government is taking to ensure that Canadians have confidence in the system. Canadians need to be confident in the systems that are in place to protect Canadians and the environment. Indeed, the development of natural resources deserves both scrutiny and careful stewardship. The processes and systems need to be modern and nimble, reflecting the views and needs of industry and citizens alike.

I would also like to note that this does reflect and reinforce what the government said in the throne speech in 2013. It stated:

Our Government believes, and Canadians expect, that resource development must respect the environment. Our Government's plan for responsible resource development includes measures to protect against spills and other risks in the environment and local communities.

The pipeline safety act is one more example of a promise made, promise kept approach to governing.

There are a couple of other points I would like to take from the throne speech. The government said it will “enshrine the polluter-pay system into law”, something which has been mentioned today. It said it will “set higher safety standards for companies operating offshore as well as those operating pipelines”. We have done other legislation on that.

I would like to end with a quote from the member for Hamilton Mountain, which demonstrates again how well the committee works together and the positive way it approaches things. The member said, “I would be less than honest if I did not acknowledge that [the provisions] appear to be a step in the right direction”. We appreciate that support.

We look forward to working with all partners on this legislation, including industry, citizens whose lands are affected, and of course, members of Parliament across the House.