Oil Tanker Moratorium Act

An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Marc Garneau  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

This enactment enacts the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, which prohibits oil tankers that are carrying more than 12 500 metric tons of crude oil or persistent oil as cargo from stopping, or unloading crude oil or persistent oil, at ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. The Act prohibits loading if it would result in the oil tanker carrying more than 12 500 metric tons of those oils as cargo.

The Act also prohibits vessels and persons from transporting crude oil or persistent oil between oil tankers and those ports or marine installations for the purpose of aiding the oil tanker to circumvent the prohibitions on oil tankers.

Finally, the Act establishes an administration and enforcement regime that includes requirements to provide information and to follow directions and that provides for penalties of up to a maximum of five million dollars.


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.


June 18, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast
June 18, 2019 Passed Motion for closure
May 8, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast
May 1, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast
May 1, 2018 Failed Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast (report stage amendment)
Oct. 4, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast
Oct. 4, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7 p.m.
See context


Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Madam Speaker, that is what we are doing.

Today, when the Prime Minister announced our support for TMX, he also said that all net revenue from this project will be invested in a fund to support the clean energy transition. This is a tangible example. Once everything is in place, we will be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7 p.m.
See context


Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, I would suggest that the minister's reference to the products on the schedule confirms what we know about the Liberals' willingness and desire to phase out the oil sands.

The second amendment put forward by the other place to Bill C-48 would have added a new section to the end of the bill. Even though it was not very substantive, at least it was a tip of the hat to the regions that would be most affected by the bill. However, the Liberals gutted this amendment.

Could the minister explain to the House why the rules and regulations that govern the loading and off-loading of oil on Canada's east coast are not good enough for the loading and off-loading of oil on Canada's west coast? Will you simply admit that the bill—

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7 p.m.
See context


Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Madam Speaker, as I said previously, there are multiple reasons that make the north coast a unique case.

First, the industry there is not developed, which is because of the voluntary exclusion zone that has been in place since 1985. Second, the infrastructure in place there to deal with problematic situations is not as sturdy as it is on the east coast or on the southern coast. Third, we are dealing with one of the last pristine rainforests in Canada, which has been protected not only by the federal government but also by the provincial government. Fourth, the majority of coastal first nations that live there and have been there for millennia have very clearly said they do not want to take the risk of an oil spill.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7 p.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, let us be very clear. This is not a tanker ban; this is a product ban. This is geared solely toward the products that are developed and produced in Alberta.

Thirty-five first nations have signed on to share in $2 billion of equity. What is the government's plan for those 35 first nations communities, which are basing their communities' economic hopes on this plan?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7 p.m.
See context


Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Madam Speaker, we made a promise to Canadians in June and September 2015. It is in my mandate letter. It was in the throne speech. It is a promise that we intend to keep, as members can see.

There are other opportunities for coastal first nations, but they relate to non-persistent oils. I urge my colleague to read up on the difference between the two.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:15 p.m.
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Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to continue my response to the government's motion on the Senate amendments to Bill C-48.

As I said yesterday, I, along with millions of other Canadians, would rather that Bill C-48 be consigned to the dustbin of bad ideas. I read aloud the letter from six premiers that highlights the damage Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 are doing to our national unity. I left off quoting testimony from indigenous leaders and elected representatives on this and other bills, which underscored the hypocrisy of the government's claim to consult.

I will pick up there, considering the backdrop of Liberal attacks on the Canadian oil and gas industry, and share some of the testimony, much from first nations leaders, that the transport committee heard when we studied this bill. These are not my words. These are not the words of the Leader of the Opposition or any of my colleagues. These are the words of Canadians who, day in and day out, are working hard to provide good jobs and economic growth while maintaining a healthy environment.

Ms. Nancy Bérard-Brown, manager of oil markets and transportation with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said:

CAPP did not support the proposed moratorium because it is not based on facts or science. There were no science-based gaps identified in safety or environmental protection that might justify a moratorium.

Mr. Chris Bloomer, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, said:

The proposed oil tanker moratorium act, Bill C-48, is yet another change that will compound uncertainty and negatively impact investor confidence in Canada....

In conclusion, the consequences of potentially drastic policy changes for future energy projects have instilled uncertainty within the regulatory system, adding additional risks, costs, and delays for a sector that the Prime Minister publicly acknowledged has built Canada's prosperity and directly employs more than 270,000 Canadians.

The approach to policy-making represented by the development of Bill C-48 contributes to this uncertainty and erodes Canada's competitiveness.

Commenting on the practical, or rather impractical, ramifications of this bill, Mr. Peter Xotta, vice-president of planning and operations for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, said the following on what this bill could mean for the west coast transportation corridor:

With regard to Bill C-48, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority assumes that government understands the potential economic impact for such a moratorium, given that there are very few suitable locations, particularly on the west coast, for movement of petroleum products, as was articulated by my associate from Prince Rupert.

Notwithstanding the fact that any future proposals would be subject to government's rigorous environmental and regulatory review process, this moratorium could create pressure on the southwest coast of British Columbia to develop capacity for future energy projects.

As I said earlier, there were many first nations representatives who gave testimony at committee. Ms. Eva Clayton, president of Nisga'a Lisims Government, said:

In the weeks that preceded the introduction of Bill C-48, we urged that the moratorium not be enforced before further consultation took place and that the moratorium should not cover our treaty area.

Much to our surprise, Bill C-48 was introduced before we had been offered an opportunity to review the detailed approach that the government decided to take, nor were we able to comment on the implications of the proposed legislation on the terms and shared objectives of our treaty even though the area subject to the moratorium includes all of Nisga'a Lands, all of the Nass area, and all coastal areas of our treaty....

We aspire to become a prosperous and self-sustaining nation that can provide meaningful economic opportunities for our people. This aspiration is reflected in our treaty, which sets out the parties' shared commitment to reduce the Nisga'a Nation's reliance on federal transfers over time. The Nisga'a Nation takes this goal very seriously. However, it stands to be undermined by Bill C-48.

Mr. Calvin Helin, chairman and president of Eagle Spirit Energy Holding Ltd., stated:

In that context, first nations people, particularly the 30-plus communities that have supported our project, have told us that they do not like outsiders, particularly those they view as trust-fund babies coming into the traditional territories they've governed and looked after for over 10,000 years and dictating government policy in their territory.

Mr. Dale Swampy, coordinator of Aboriginal Equity Partners, stated:

We are here to oppose the tanker ban. We have worked hard and diligently. Our 31 first nation chiefs and Métis leaders invested a lot of time and resources to negotiate with northern gateway with the prospect of being able to benefit from the project, to be able to get our communities out of poverty.

Please listen to how Mr. John Helin, mayor of the Lax Kw'alaams Band, identified those who support the oil tanker ban. He said:

What we're asking is, what is consultation? It has to be meaningful. It can't be a blanket moratorium.

If you look at our traditional territory and the Great Bear Rainforest, that was established without consultation with members from my community. The picture that was taken when they announced that, it was NGOs from America standing there trumpeting that accomplishment. We can't let people from outside our communities, NGOs and well-funded organizations that are against oil and gas or whatever they're against come in and dictate in our territories what we should and should not do.

In contrast to Mr. Helin's comments, Ms. Caitlyn Vernon, campaigns director for the Sierra Club of British Columbia, a witness who supports this bill, actually let the cat out of the bag in response to a question, when she said:

on the south coast, tankers pose a huge risk to the economy, communities, wildlife, the southern residents, and endangered orca whales that live in the Salish Sea.... Absolutely, I would support a full-coast moratorium.

Mr. Ken Veldman, director of public affairs for the Prince Rupert Port Authority put the views of Ms. Vernon, and others like her, including, I would point out, members of this House in the NDP, the Bloc, the Green Party and likely even the Liberal Party, in perspective when he said:

As you may imagine, there are a wide variety of opinions as to what's acceptable risk and what isn't. However, the reality is that risk can be quantified, and if you're looking to achieve zero risk, then you're correct that zero transportation is really the only way to achieve that.

That said, if our appetite for risk is zero, that has very broad ramifications for shipping off the coast in general.

When speaking to our committee this spring, Captain Sean Griffiths, chief executive officer of the Atlantic Pilotage Authority, also reflected on the impact of an oil tanker moratorium on the Atlantic Canadian economy. He stated:

Twelve of our 17 ports in Atlantic Canada ship large volumes of oil and petroleum products in and out of port. I can imagine it's a way of life back in the east, and it has been for quite some time. We move a lot of oil in and out of our ports. Placentia Bay alone, for instance, has 1,000 to 1,100 tanker movements every year on average, so a moratorium would, I'm sure, devastate the region.

Bill C-48, along with Bill C-88, and the no-more pipelines bill, Bill C-69, paint a pattern of a government and a Prime Minister obsessed with politicizing and undermining our energy resources sector at every turn. Whether it be through legislation, the carbon tax, the cancellation of the northern gateway and energy east pipelines or the continued bungling of the Trans Mountain expansion, which we heard today the Liberals have approved yet again, the current Prime Minister has proven, at every turn, that he is an opponent of our natural resources sector. If the government was serious about the environment and the economy going hand in hand, it would implement real changes.

Hypothetically speaking, let us look at some the changes the government might make. It could use scientific independent studies to further strengthen our world-leading tanker safety system by making changes that would not only protect our domestic waters but the waters of any country with which we trade. It could require all large crude oil tankers operating in Canadian waters to have a double hull, since a double hull has two complete watertight layers of surface and is much safer. It could even go a step further and inspect every foreign tanker on its first visit to a Canadian port and annually thereafter, holding those tankers to the same standards as Canadian-flagged vessels.

This hypothetical government could also expand the national aerial surveillance program and extend long-term funding. It could increase surveillance efforts in coastal areas, including in northern British Columbia. It could ensure that the aerial surveillance program was given access to remote sensing equipment capable of identifying potential spills from satellite images.

This theoretical government could give more power to the Canadian Coast Guard to respond to incidents and establish an incident command system. It could amend legislation to provide alternate response measures, such as the use of chemical dispersants and burning spilled oil during emergencies, and could clarify the Canadian Coast Guard's authority to use and authorize these measures when there was likely to be a net environmental benefit.

It could create an independent tanker safety expert panel to receive input from provincial governments, aboriginal groups and marine stakeholders and then implement the changes recommended by this panel. It could focus on preventing spills in the first place and cleaning them up quickly if they did occur, while making sure that polluters pay.

Hypothetically, the government could modernize Canada's marine navigation system and have Canada take a leadership role in implementing e-navigation in our tankers while supporting its implementation worldwide. This is doubly important, since e-navigation reduces the risk of an oil spill by providing accurate real-time information on navigation hazards, weather and ocean conditions to vessel operators and marine authorities, thereby minimizing the potential for incidents.

It could establish new response planning partnerships for regions that have or are expected to have high levels of tanker traffic, such as the southern portion of British Columbia, Saint John and the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Port Hawkesbury in Nova Scotia, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec. It could work to develop a close partnership with each of these regions, including with local aboriginal communities, to develop responses to the unique challenges facing their tanker traffic.

This theoretical government could strengthen the polluter pay regime by introducing legislative and regulatory amendments that would remove the ship-source oil pollution fund per incident liability limit and ensure that the full amount was available for any incident. It could ensure that compensation was provided to eligible claimants while recovering these costs from industry through a levy. As well, it could extend compensation so that those who lost earnings due to an oil spill would be compensated even if their property had not been directly affected.

All these changes could be done by a government that actually cared about protecting the environment and continuing to grow the economy. Wait a minute. We are not talking about a hypothetical government. Every single one of the changes I just mentioned was brought in by the previous Conservative government. Unlike the Liberal government, we listened to the experts, which empowered us to make real, practical changes that made a difference.

While Liberals vacillate between paralysis and empty, economically damaging, virtue-signalling legislation, Conservatives look for real solutions. Case in point, the Liberal government is so preoccupied with appearances that it just finished its third round of approving a pipeline supported by over 60% of British Columbia residents.

I read the quote earlier by some who support this legislation. Some would like to see a complete prohibition on oil movement.

This ideological oil tanker moratorium, as I have said, is not based on science. We know that. That is why, frankly, we did not propose any amendments when this bill was before the transport committee. We did not believe that this bill was redeemable, and I still do not. There was a brief moment of hope for me when the Senate committee recommended that the bill not proceed. Sadly, that hope was short-lived.

This brings us to today and the motion that is the basis of our debate. I will take a few minutes to outline my thoughts on the government's response to the Senate's amendments to the Liberals' terrible bill.

Last week, the Senate voted on three amendments to Bill C-48. One, by a Conservative senator, which would have given the Minister of Transport the authority to adjust the northern boundary of the tanker moratorium, would have been an improvement to the bill. Regrettably, it was narrowly defeated.

The amendment in the other place that did pass cannot be called an improvement to this bill. While somewhat noble in its intent, it is a thin attempt to mask the fact that this entire bill is an affront to indigenous people's rights. The inclusion of these clauses in the bill does not change that fact.

Regarding the second part of the amendment passed by the Senate, I acknowledge that it is at least an attempt to recognize that this bill is an assault on a particular region of the country, namely, the oil-producing prairie provinces. This second part of the amendment passed by the Senate calls for a statutory review of the act as well as a review of the regional impact this act would have. The government's motion, which we are debating today, amended certain elements of this Senate amendment.

No one will guess which section of this amendment the government kept and which section it rejected. Those who guessed that it rejected the section that, at the very least, acknowledged indirectly that this bill was an attack on western Canada, would be correct.

This further demonstrates that when the Prime Minister or one of his ministers claims that others are threatening national unity with their opposition to certain pieces of legislation by the government, it is the ultimate doublespeak. Hon. senators who support this bill had the decency to propose and pass an amendment that was at least a tip of the hat to the alienation felt by western Canadians brought on by the Liberal government's actions. The motion we are debating today has stripped these sections from the bill, proving once again that this is just another step in the Prime Minister's plan to phase out the oil sands, regardless of the impact on Canada's economic well-being.

It is for these reasons that my colleagues and I oppose the government's motion on the Senate amendments to Bill C-48. We on the Conservative side will always stand up for Canada. We support Canada's natural resource sector, which contributes billions to our economy and economic growth. We support Canada's environment with practical, science-based policies that have a real and positive impact on our country's, and indeed the whole world's, environment. We support Canadians in their hope and desire for sustainable, well-paying jobs so that they can support their families, support each other and contribute to a happy and healthy Canada.

Conservatives support legislation that is based on science, research and the facts, and this bill is none of the above.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:30 p.m.
See context

Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.


Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member's comments, as I know she did when I gave my presentation yesterday. There was a particular part of the presentation I gave yesterday that had to do with growing the economy, and I heard some groans from the member opposite, so I thought I would give her an opportunity to address it.

During my speech, I talked about how our government is working to both protect and restore the environment and to also grow the economy. I heard those groans when I started talking about the economy. Specifically, I addressed the fact that in 152 years, the Government of Canada has accrued about $688 billion worth of debt. Taken over 152 years, it is an average deficit of about $4.5 billion a year. However, that does not tell the whole story, because most of that debt has been accrued since I have been alive. In fact, $490 billion of it was accrued under the previous two Conservative prime ministers. That means that 72% of our country's entire debt happened under Stephen Harper or Brian Mulroney.

Given that, I would like to know why the member is so worried about being fiscally responsible, when she is a member of that party.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:35 p.m.
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Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate my friend and colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek for her respectful comments and the way she conducts herself in the House. However, I disagree with some of the comments she made in her speech.

She talked about indigenous rights and title and touched on the areas where the government has failed to consider this. What we see constantly from the Conservatives, which we saw in the NEB process when they supported the northern gateway project, is a tendency to pick and choose when they want to respect indigenous rights and title, and free, prior and informed consent. It is no different from the Liberals.

In the NEB process on the northern gateway project, the courts rebuked the Conservatives for not listening to indigenous communities and respecting indigenous rights and title. Does the member support indigenous rights and title even when they go against projects from the government of the day? Does she respect that, or does she think we should get to pick and choose?

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:35 p.m.
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Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest there have been consultations along the way with first nations. Consulting with first nations is very important. We know there is considerable support among first nations on B.C.'s coast for energy development opportunities. We even heard support at committee for these opportunities. We recognize, just as the minister did earlier, that there are varying views, whether first nations support the bill or not. However, what we heard in committee is that they were not consulted.

I would suggest that the government is only consulting when it believes it will get the answer it wants. When it knows it is not going to get the answer it wants, it does not consult.

I would remind the House that this directive was put in the minister's mandate letter long before he had any opportunity to consult. I would ask the hon. member to reflect on what the current government is doing with respect to consultation.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:35 p.m.
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Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am curious about my friend's last comment regarding indigenous rights and title and respecting consultative obligations with respect to the north coast specifically and the oil tankers that could potentially plow through B.C. waters. When the Conservative Party was in government, it issued the permits for the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline. In Federal Court, the former government was shown to have completely failed in the most basic obligations to consult and accommodate first nations and indigenous communities across the northwest. I was privy to some of those consultations, being the member of Parliament from the northwest.

It is passing strange to me that one of the central criticisms now coming from Conservatives is that the Liberals have inadequately consulted first nations. In the first round of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Federal Court also threw out the current Liberals' effort to adequately and properly consult. I do not understand how Conservatives now say they believe in this fundamental principle when, while in government, they practised one of the worst forms of consultation, which the court immediately threw out, totally abrogating all of the permits that had been issued for the northern gateway pipeline. Now they are lecturing anyone about what proper consultation looks like.

Is this a new evolution in their thinking? Do they have any suggestions regarding what they might eventually do in the future to make up for the many mistakes they made in the past?

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:40 p.m.
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Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that there were 31 first nations that were equity partners. They held a 30% financial position in the northern gateway pipeline project. I am pretty sure that there was consultation that took place in regard to that project with first nations communities that were were going to be directly affected by the project.

I would also remind my hon. colleague that it was the previous Conservative government that created the Major Projects Management Office - West, which was bringing together provincial governments, federal governments and first nations leaders to talk about resource development and resource projects in their territories and in those provinces.

I would also quote the Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde. He said that we know that 500 of the 630 first nations across Canada are open to pipelines and petroleum development on their land. We definitely need to create partnerships to have these conversations to ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed economically as the rest of Canadians do.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:40 p.m.
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Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a curiosity for the Conservative government, because I had worked quite closely with our dearly departed friend, Jim Prentice. One of the projects we worked on was the approval of the Great Bear Rainforest. In order for that entire tract of land, coastline and ocean to come under conservation protection, under a Conservative government, we had to abrogate and remove the drilling leases that had been acquired over many decades in the Hecate Strait. That is a body of water between Haida Gwaii and the mainland of coastal British Columbia.

There is no way to be able to bring in the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Reserve, which we did over successive governments and both Liberals and Conservatives joined with us and the people of the north coast in understanding that it is a particular part of the world. I am not sure if my friend has been to the north coast or to Haida Gwaii. It is beyond question for anyone who has spent time there that there is something truly unique about this place. There is something special about and it has been acknowledged not just in words, but also in law and practice, again by Conservative governments of the past.

I am wondering if she could attempt to acknowledge here today that we are not talking about just another part of the world, that it is something special that future generations are counting on us to protect.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:40 p.m.
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Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have travelled throughout this entire country and recognize that there are extraordinary, beautiful places across this country that we all want to see stewarded carefully. When it comes to the environment, when it comes to this bill and when we are talking about the impact this bill will have on the environment, Bill C-48 will do nothing more to preserve the area off the northwest coast of British Columbia than is already being done.

Ships, including U.S. tankers travelling from Alaska to Washington state, will still continue to be able to travel up and down the coast just outside of the 100-kilometre limit. There already is a voluntary moratorium in place. It is being observed. It has been there for three decades. The bill is nothing but symbolism. It is not going to preserve that northwest coast any more than what is already being done through the voluntary moratorium. All it is doing is putting a moratorium on Canada's Alberta oil sands.

Motion in relation to Senate amendmentsOil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 7:45 p.m.
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Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the time ahead of us is somewhat short. This bill is now under a measure to allow it to proceed at a certain pace. For some, it might seem like a bit of a rush, that this is happening at some accelerated pace, but for those of us who make our homes along the north coast and the northwest of British Columbia, this has been a conversation that has gone on for more than a generation. We have been talking specifically about the transit of oil across the northwest and off the north coast to some other ports for almost 50 years. It has been 47 years.

Going back through some of the history would be important to help colleagues and people watching this debate understand how much this has been studied by Parliament, the National Energy Board, people living in the northwest and industry. I am not sure there is another transit route anywhere in North America that has been looked at so often and so often rejected as a good or potential route to pass oil products through because of some of the inherent risks that make the transit of that oil difficult to do securely.

Fifteen years ago, I started my career in federal politics. One of our objectives in running for office and ultimately achieving success at the polls was to put Skeena back on the map, to have the conversation that we were having between and within our communities as part of a national dialogue, issues about the environment and resource exploitation, about indigenous rights and title, and the obligation of the Crown of this place to do a much better job than we have historically done through our colonial past. Fifteen years ago, when I first rose in Parliament, the issue that we talked about was this. We were talking about attempts to protect the north coast, which by anyone's estimation is deserving of our respect and protection.

In the most recent election in 2015, four of the five major federal parties campaigned on the promise to do exactly what we are doing here today. Of the people sitting in this House of Commons, representing over 12 million Canadian voters, 70% campaigned on this promise throughout that election. Making good on that promise is the least we can do for the people in the northwest, who have again been discussing this for more than a generation.

In 1970, a House of Commons committee first studied this question asking: is this a good idea or not; is there a port to the north of Vancouver that would make good sense to transit oil? That review came up negative.

In 1972, the declaration of a voluntary moratorium, an exclusion zone, was put in place. Also, in 1972, one of my predecessors, Frank Howard, the MP for Skeena, as it was known at the time, passed a unanimous motion confirming that exclusion zone. All parties in the House of Commons at that time understood the importance of this. It was multipartisan. It was not even partisan or bipartisan; it had all parties in agreement.

The federal commission was struck in 1978.

The voluntary agreement with the United States came in 1988, which has been reviewed many times since and confirmed each and every time.

In 2009, Stephen Harper decided to ignore this long-held moratorium. He simply called it a cabinet utterance, which it was. It had never been written down into law. Therefore, as the then prime minister, he said he did not need to abide by it and then opened up the conversation for a proposed project from the company known as Enbridge, which hived off to become Enbridge northern gateway, a subsidiary, which is a neat trick an oil and gas company sometimes does to protect itself. It creates a subsidiary to run a pipeline, which indemnifies it against legal action if ever there was an accident. This is the same company that spilled massive amounts of oil and diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It is unable to clean up the Kalamazoo, by the way, in Michigan in the States. It is a very shallow, slow-moving, warm river. For anyone familiar with the circumstances of our rivers in British Columbia, particularly northern British Columbia, they are not shallow, slow-moving or warm. Every oil cleanup expert in the world, those based in British Columbia and throughout North America, has described a successful cleanup rate for a diluted bitumen spill on the north coast at less than 7% recovery.

Let me repeat that. What would be deemed as a successful, A-plus cleanup operation in the event of a spill from a pipeline or an oil tanker on the north coast in the waters that we know, is 7% recovery and 93% lost into the environment. As we know, diluted bitumen sinks and causes havoc in a place that relies on our rivers and our oceans for our very sustenance.

The great privilege that I have had for this decade and a half representing the people of the northwest is to come to know in some small way the ancient indigenous cultures that have resided there since time immemorial: the Tsimshian, the Haida, the Heiltsuk, the Nuxalk, the Tahltan, the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en, all the way through and to the coast.

The privilege that has been mine is learning from that leadership that the responsibilities of leaders are not simply to care for ourselves in the moment in which we exist, but in all of our best efforts to represent people, to speak on their behalf and to leave the place better than we found it.

In Kitimat, British Columbia, which would have been the terminus for the northern gateway pipeline, it was the Haisla leadership in particular, elected and hereditary leadership together, who spoke with such firmness and declaration. They rejected the idea of bringing diluted bitumen to the north coast and sailing it down the Douglas Channel in super tankers, trying to perform three 90-degree turns before getting into the Hecate Strait near Haida Gwaii, the fourth most dangerous body in the world, in an attempt to move oil safely hundreds and thousands of times over the course of the life of a pipeline. There is no reasonable person who can offer the people I represent the assurance that an accident will not happen.

The Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 was just north of us. To this day, we can go on the shorelines where the Exxon Valdez went down and where it spilled. All we have to do is dig half a foot into the gravel banks and the water that fills back in comes with an oil sheen that is detectable as spillage from the Exxon Valdez so many years ago.

Most Canadians approach these questions in a relatively straightforward way: What are the risks versus the benefits, not just to us as a community but to us as a province and a nation? The risks that are entertained in trying to move diluted bitumen and any oil product off the north coast in super tankers that are not designed for our waters through very narrow and treacherous passageways so far outweigh any imagined benefits that it is a no-brainer.

I can remember a letter that was issued by the then natural resources minister. I do not know if colleagues remember. It was directed by the prime minister's office, we found out later. It said that those who are opposed to northern gateway are enemies of the state and foreign-funded radicals. That is what they called us. Not only was that an incredibly offensive and ignorant thing to say about fellow Canadians from the prime minister's office and his minister, but it ended up having the reverse effect in the place I represent.

What the former Harper government had not learned was that sometimes those people who are concerned about the environment and worried about oil spilling into our oceans and into our rivers are not all wearing Birkenstocks. They are not all fully paid members of Greenpeace. In fact, in the place I live, some of the most conservative people I know take that word “conservative” seriously, to mean they want to be able to take their kids fishing and to the out of doors. I need to respect that place in order to have that privilege and for them to have that privilege for their children. The former government accused us of being radicals, of being foreign-funded stooges to some great, grand conspiracy theory, which continues on today, unfortunately, for law-abiding, proper-thinking Canadians who are simply saying they want a voice in this conversation and that the government has to listen to them.

It was so shameful for any government of any political persuasion to stoop to those tactics, and it had the opposite effect. People where I live, those from the right, the left, the middle and outside all of our conventional thinking said, “How dare you” to the former government. In fact, it may have in part contributed to the Conservatives' eventual downfall; that the arrogance and the bullying represented in that attitude toward citizens whom we seek to represent backfired completely and exposed that government to something else.

To former colleagues and current provincial premiers who are waving the national unity flag, one way to not do national unity is by threatening and bullying other Canadians. We do not bring this country together by yelling at each other. We do not represent the best interests of Canada when we talk to another province in a disrespectful and offensive way. Unfortunately, what we are seeing out of some of our provinces is to suggest to British Columbia, the place that I call home, “How dare you stand up for things you believe in? How dare you represent your views politically and socially?” We can see what is coming out of Edmonton these days, and it will not have the effect that I suppose they are hoping for.

To my friends and family in Alberta, whom I have spoken to many times over these long years, and we have been campaigning and talking about this for a long time: We absolutely understand the fear that is exhibited, particularly by those who are involved in the oil industry, because they have had a hard go. Oil went up to extremely high prices, $140 a barrel, money was easily made through hard work and focus, and then, steadily, prices collapsed. The economy of Alberta, in particular, and of Saskatchewan as well, are very reliant on that particular economy. They fell on incredibly hard times, and things got more and more tight and desperate. It felt as if the world was lined up against them. However, no one is controlling oil prices, last I checked, effectively. Not the current government and not past governments. This is a cycle that we have seen many times.

In the face of this, we are also collectively challenged with what we are seeing in our world. The predictions and thoughts we were getting in the 1980s and 1990s about the impacts of climate change were that forest fires would become more intense and broader, that floods and storm events would no longer be single-century events but many times over many years, and that we are seeing the impacts and the weather pattern changes that are directly attributable to dangerous climate change. Albertans know this. We saw the floods in Calgary. We saw the fires in Fort McMurray, and we saw them in my region as well.

I sat down with a forest firefighter just last season, which was another record and devastating year. For those who have ever experienced or been in proximity to an out-of-control forest fire, it is devastating. It is so shaking to our very understanding of home and security when we see the full rage and power of Mother Nature in effect. However, I was sitting across the lunch table from a firefighter who had blackened eyes and was completely covered in soot. He had just got off the line. He has been fighting fires for 30 years. I asked, “How are you doing?” He said, “It's different”. This guy is to the right of Attila the Hun and way out there in terms of his conservative views on the world and so I asked, “How is it different?” He said, “The impacts of climate. I'm watching it”. I said, “You're putting me on.” He replied, “Absolutely not. It's the way the fires are behaving; the way the things are conducting themselves is not the way that we know.”

Now, with the bill before us, many in the oil industry are seeking certainty. It is a common refrain: “We want certainty. We just want to be able to know what the landscape is”. I will offer this to those interested in certainty: We want certainty too.

For millennia, the people of the north coast have relied upon the oceans and rivers for our economy, our basic social fabric and the sustenance that builds the incredible cultures that we now celebrate and enjoy across the globe. The certainty that we require is that these moratoriums that were voluntary, that were utterances from the government, will no longer be uncertain; they will be certain, and that is what the bill would do. However, the bill would also bring certainty to the industry, because last I checked, and someone can correct me, there is no one knocking on the door to try to build a diluted bitumen pipeline to the north coast, because the risks so far outweigh the benefits. It is because the political and social environment of the northwest is so connected to the land, so connected to the oceans and the rivers, that the viability of anyone proposing to build a big old diluted bitumen pipeline and put all of that in supertankers with some faint promise to get it off to overseas markets is not a reality. So let us create that certainty.

I mentioned in a question earlier in the debate that I worked alongside Jim Prentice, who has left us, while he was environment minister for the former government. Jim had come to the north coast, unlike many people who speak with some sort of authority as to how the north coast works.

Jim came many times. He saw the splendour and the grandeur. He worked with us on bringing forward the Great Bear Rainforest initiative. It had started under a previous Liberal government but had never come to completion. I worked with Rona Ambrose and John Baird. It was all these folks who had not exactly hugged a tree every day, but who understood the importance of this part of the world. We funded that initiative, protecting the largest tract of temperate rainforest in the world, and protecting it in such a way that includes the people who live there. We did not draw a line on a map around people, saying that the local communities were not important. We included them in the creation of a global leading conservation effort.

We bought back some, and some companies just simply forgave the permits they had to drill for oil and gas in the Hecate Strait, a preposterous notion for anyone who has ever been across the Hecate Strait. It is incredibly shallow, prone to storms, and has some of the strongest winds in the world. It is a place that so relies on the ocean being intact for the survival of the people there.

It was through a Conservative, and I got in a lot of trouble for it. Some people said, “How dare you work with Conservatives to get something done?” There was a headline in the Toronto Star, claiming I had sold out. People wonder sometimes why we lose faith in politics. Something good was done, and I did not care who did it. I did not care who got the credit for it. I just cared that it got done. It was something people in the region wanted. It was through the Conservative government that we did it.

This is a strange, circular moment for me. When we came into this place, we were fighting to protect the north coast. As this parliamentary session winds down and my colleagues turn their eyes toward the next election, those who are re-offering, I think sometimes life offers us a little bit of a bookend to a story, that where one starts ends up being where one finishes.

For the people I represent, who have been engaged in this battle, indigenous and non-indigenous, right and left, rural and urban, for more than 40 years, to see this bill come to pass as one of the last acts of this Parliament, in which there have been disappointments, failures and mistakes as there always are, they can look to this piece of legislation, know that it is in fact founded in science, know that it is in fact founded in deep and profound consultations that have gone on for decades, and know for a fact that what we are doing as a Parliament here today is good.

What we are doing here as colleagues, as parliamentarians, who are called to serve, and in our best ways represent the people of this great country, is something right. There will be those who think it is wrong. I would invite them to come to the place where I live. I would invite them to see this place and meet the people who rely on this place for their very survival.

Allow me to end with this. I was in Bella Coola in Bella Bella, Heiltsuk and Nuxalk territory just last week. It was in the Heiltsuk territory where the Nathan E. Stewart went down. It is a relatively small, segregated barge. The world-class oil spill response that this country has claimed to have for 20 years was unable to handle a relatively small spill that took place on the clam beds and areas where salmon spawned, vital to the Heiltsuk Nation.

That experience was traumatizing for people there. It was traumatizing because they had been warning the federal government for many years that the clean-up for spills was insufficient, our navigational responses were insufficient, and what they were trying to protect was so precious to them. They could not go anywhere else. This was their home, this was where their ancestors were buried.

In watching the response, the brave response from that community, and knowing the risks posed by a much larger and more devastating spill, the least we can do is listen. Politicians are not always great at that. We like to talk. I have been talking for a bit here.

We have had many failures in this place. Parliament has failed rural people and indigenous people more often than not. Every once in a while, we can do something right and we can do something good. Passing this bill, enshrining what has existed for many decades into law, will be doing something right, and I believe doing our jobs on behalf of all Canadians.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2019 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

South Shore—St. Margarets Nova Scotia


Bernadette Jordan Liberalfor the Minister of Transport


That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast, the House:

agrees with amendment 1 made by the Senate;

proposes that, as a consequence of Senate amendment 1, the following amendment be added:

“1. Clause 2, page 1: Add the following after line 15:

Indigenous peoples of Canada has the meaning assigned by the definition aboriginal peoples of Canada in subsection 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982. (peuples autochtones du Canada)”;

proposes that amendment 2 be amended by replacing the text of the amendment with the following:

“32 (1) During the fifth year after the day on which this section comes into force, a review of the provisions and operation of this Act must be undertaken by any committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament that is designated or established for that purpose, including a review of the impact of this Act on the environment, on social and economic conditions and on the Indigenous peoples of Canada.

(2) The committee referred to in subsection (1) must submit a report of the results of the review to the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament, as the case may be, on any of the first 15 days on which the Senate or the House of Commons, as the case may be, is sitting after the report is completed.”.