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

Sponsor

Marc Garneau  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 4, 2017

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Summary

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.

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

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

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, every time Liberal members stand and take shots at Canadian natural resources developers and suggest that Canadian regulators have not done a sufficient job, it damages Canada's reputation on the world stage. Our regulators are experts in the field. They are renowned and recognized by everybody else except the Liberals and maybe their friends in the NDP. It is alarming that policymakers and legislators do not know the facts.

Canada's mining industry is also a world leader. I was pretty shocked at natural resources committee when the minister talked about five or six different measures by which the Canadian mining industry lead the rest of the world with respect to consultation, environmental stewardship, regulation and compliance, and enforcement. I asked him a very clear question. Did the minister believe that Canada produced the most environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas in the world? He started stumbling and equivocating. He said that he was not really sure what I meant or what metrics I was referring to, so he did not know how to answer the question.

If the Liberals want to have a conversation about how we can improve environmental stewardship and enforcement, even beyond our already exceptional performance, which is the best in the world, then we should debate on that. However, this crude oil tanker ban is not about that.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour 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.

Legislating the prior informal ban has been a policy objective of Canada's NDP for many years, which received support from Liberal MPs, particularly on the west coast.

The history of Bill C-48 has been quite the legislative roller coaster. Multiple private members' bills have been tabled to protect the north coast, but none became law.

In 2001, Bill C-571 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2009, Bill C-458 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2010, Bill C-606 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2011, I introduced Bill C-211. In 2012, Bill C-437 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2014, Bill C-628 was introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

In 2010, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley moved a north coast tanker ban motion, which passed in the House 143 to 138, with the support of all parties in the House, except Conservative minority government members who voted against it.

Now, here we are finally debating a bill that would protect the north coast from crude oil tanker traffic for good. The New Democrats welcome the legislation, but we do so with caution. We are concerned that Bill C-48 would give the minister of transport too much arbitrary power to exempt vessels from the legislation and the power to define what fuels would be exempt from the act. We hope the government will implement constructive amendments to limit ministerial power and increase oil spill response resources beyond its ocean protection plan commitments to respond to spills from refined oil vessels not covered by this ban.

Our NDP caucus, local first nations, municipal governments, trade unions, environmental NGOs, grassroots activists, and concerned citizens have over the years increased the call for this ban due to the environmental threat posed by the northern gateway pipeline project.

Northern gateway would have meant the annual passage of 225 supertankers bigger than the Empire State building, which would carry three times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez did before its catastrophic spill into similar waters. Cleanup and coastal recovery for the Exxon Valdez spill cost about $9.5 billion, of which Exxon paid only $3.5 billion. Twenty-five years after that spill, fish habitat and stocks still have not fully recovered. I shake my head in disbelief that so many MPs in the House still think the northern gateway pipeline project would have been a net benefit to Canada.

It is equally galling that our last government ripped up essential environmental laws and undermined the National Energy Board process in order to rubberstamp this pipeline project and others like it. As a result, we are still living with the short-sighted rip and ship mentality for Canada.

It was this short-sighted economic vision that disregarded the crown's obligation to our first nation's people. Canadians still remember how in December, 2013, despite overwhelming opposition from British Columbians and first nations, the National Energy Board recommended approval of the project, along with its 209 conditions. British Columbians showed their resolve to defend our coast by creating a broad-based movement of resistance, which today has shifted its focus to the Liberal's Kinder Morgan pipeline project expansion.

The defenders of our coast were vindicated in January 2016 when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the Province of B.C. “has breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult” with the Gitga'at and other coastal first nations on the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline project.

Not considering the environmental dangers of a pipeline through northern B.C. was a grave mistake. A large spill would be a disaster for the north coast. In particular, a supertanker oil spill could deal a serious blow to our already struggling wild salmon.

In British Columbia, our wild salmon are considered an iconic species, an integral part of our identity. They are a keynote species that delivers nutrients deep into the forests when they die. They are a major part of what makes the Great Bear Rainforest so great. Salmon support first nations communities, coastal communities, and are an integral part of our west coast economy.

The waters off British Columbia's north coast are a significant salmon migration route, with millions of salmon coming from the more than 650 streams and rivers along the coast. The impacts of a single oil spill would be devastating.

The commercial fishery on the north coast catches over $100 million worth of fish annually. Over 2,500 residents along B.C.'s north coast work in the commercial fishery. The fish processing industry employs thousands more.

The magnificent beauty of this region and the abundance of salmon have made it a world-renowned destination for ecotourism. The tourism industry has been a major catalyst for employment, economic growth, and opportunity in British Columbia. Businesses in this region have worked hard to promote their location as a major tourist destination.

As other resource-based jobs have taken a hit, tourism has provided a much-needed economic boost. The west coast wilderness tourism industry is now estimated to be worth over $782 million annually, employing some 26,000 people full-time and roughly 40,000 people in total. People from all over the world come to the north coast to witness the annual migration of the more than 20,000 gray whales and northern killer whales.

The shoreline is dotted with sports fishing lodges, as fishing enthusiasts flock to experience the natural marine environment and wild ocean and take part in the world famous fishery. People are often left awestruck after spending even a day kayaking, bear watching, or enjoying a guided trip showcasing the majestic west coast. They come to photograph sea otters and bald eagles, and to experience in some cases the untouched natural environment of the Pacific coast.

This legislated crude oil tanker ban will help protect the Great Bear Rainforest and Gwuii Haanas marine conservation parks. These two protected areas have incredible biological diversity that all parties in the House agree should be protected. They contain many species of concern like iconic killer whales, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and Pacific salmon. With so much at stake for our economy and our ecology, we are happy that Bill C-48 legislates an end to the threat posed by projects like northern gateway, but are also disappointed that the bill does not protect B.C.'s coast outright from oil tanker spills.

Limiting tankers to more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil on the north coast of Canada appears arbitrary and dangerously high. I encourage the government to make public the past and current oil shipment information for this region and provide a rationale for the 12,500 tonne threshold, including the types of vessels or shipments it will include or exclude. There is no reason to impede necessary vessels that help our coastal communities thrive, but clarity is required to ensure a proper threshold so as not to cause undue risk.

The bill makes exceptions for refined oil products like diesel, gasoline, and propane in order for coastal communities to be resupplied and to support value-added petroleum industries. While most of this is understandable, it means the bill does nothing to protect our coast from refined oil spills that could impact marine environments and disrupt valuable ecosystems.

The recent Nathan E. Stewart disaster shows just how big a threat refined oil spills can be. It demonstrates the need for increased oil spill response funding and training on the north coast and increased oil spill prevention measures for refined oil vessels.

For those needing a reminder, the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground in the early hours of October 13, 2016, near Bella Bella, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, spilling toxic diesel into critical fishing areas off B.C.'s central coast. The vessel eventually sank, spilling as much as 110,000 litres of diesel into the marine environment. Cleanup efforts were repeatedly hampered by bad weather and the vessel was not recovered until more than a month after it sank. Good thing the Nathan E. Stewart was not at maximum fuel capacity. The damage would have been even worse.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation showed spill response was inadequate, including slow response time, insufficient and ineffective equipment, a lack of safety gear, and confusion about who was in charge. First nations leaders were outraged at the government's slow and inadequate spill response. This bill would do nothing to ban vessels like the Nathan E. Stewart from carrying the amount of fuel that it did. We must learn from this disaster to prevent such accidents, and to ensure that, if they do occur, coastal communities are better equipped to quickly respond. We are encouraged to see investments in spill response as part of the government's much-touted oceans protection plan. However, these investments alone are simply inadequate.

It is discouraging that despite the NDP's objections, the government closed three integral marine communications and traffic services centres on B.C.'s coast, which undermines the ability of a speedy spill response. Justine Hunter of The Globe and Mail wrote:

The MCTS is responsible for monitoring distress calls, co-ordinating responses, and taking action to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels in Canadian waters. However, with only two MCTS officers responsible for monitoring a vast stretch of B.C.'s coast, from north of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border and including the inside passage, a source with knowledge of the situation says there was little chance that anyone would have spotted the doomed course of the tug, charted in real time on marine traffic maps through its Automatic Identification System transponder.

The best spill response plans include spill prevention plans and, sadly, the current government is moving in the wrong direction. B.C.'s MCTS centres deal with an incredible volume of marine traffic. By consolidating MCTS resources into only two centres, Prince Rupert and Victoria, the government has increased the number of vessels that our already overworked Coast Guard staff have to monitor and has opened up the system to new failures. Marine vessels continue to report that communications systems regularly go down, leaving vessels without Coast Guard contact. It was short-sighted to close the Comox MCTS centre, removing much-needed resources along our coast who have local knowledge and monitoring capacity. The most troubling aspect of Bill C-48 is that it would allow the Minister of Transport to make exceptions for indeterminate lengths of time without public review or comment.

Gavin Smith of West Coast Environmental Law said:

Section 6(1) of Bill C-48 allows the Minister, by order, to exempt identified oil tankers from the ban on any terms and for any period of time. Moreover, section 6(2) says that the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply to such exemption orders, which removes requirements that such exemption orders be published and made easily available for public inspection.

This provision, if used to its full extent, could allow wide-scale and long-term exemptions from the oil tanker ban to be ordered behind closed doors without opportunity for public review and input, effectively gutting the purpose of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act. The need for this provision is unclear given that Bill C-48 already includes sensible exemptions from the oil tanker ban for vessels in various forms of distress (e.g. to ensure the safety of the vessel, for medical emergencies, or to render assistance to another vessel in distress), as well as vessels under the control of the Minister of National Defence. It is even more puzzling that the government has proposed excluding such exemption orders from the application of the Statutory Instruments Act, which effectively makes them less public.

Canada's New Democrats agree. The powers given to the minister in this bill would undermine its positive aspects. The minister's power to exempt ships for indeterminate amounts of time if deemed in the public interest is far too broad. There should be time limits on exemptions and opportunities for public comment on any long-term exemptions. This should also apply to the regulatory authority to add or remove fuel types that count under the ban.

Bill C-48 has loopholes large enough to drive an oil tanker through. Ministerial discretion has been used by the Liberal government and others to circumvent the positive aspects of this bill. There is no need to continue this pattern of letting industry circumvent Canada's environmental laws without constraint or review.

This bill is a positive development for British Columbians and Canadians, but it can be improved. It protects what we hold dear and takes us a step closer to a different vision of development on Canada's west coast. However, with the ability to veto protection for destructive megaprojects, the bill still leaves B.C.'s north coast vulnerable.

We ask the government to listen to first nations, NGOs, and coastal communities to close the gaps in Bill C-48 and truly protect the assets of the Pacific north coast.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, to be clear before I start, I oppose both the NDP's and the Liberals' positions on this bill. However, I have some facts for the member: 3,900 crude oil tankers a year are in the St. Lawrence; 240 oil tankers off the B.C. coast, which is only 1.3% of total commercial traffic on the B.C. coast; and the east coast has 16 times higher tanker traffic than the west coast.

Given the NDP's comments, do they actually want bans of all marine vessels of all sizes on all Canadian coasts, and given their own position, if not, why not?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. Of course, the NDP is not looking at that. I said that clearly in my speech. We have concerns about vessels: 12,500 metric tonnes is the threshold of concern. We want to see coastal communities thrive and get the necessary fuels they need to carry on what they do.

I will say two words, and they are two words that people all around the world still remember: Exxon Valdez. We can talk about as much traffic and trips as we want, but people remember the one or the few spills that have happened around the world. They make impacts that last decades.

With the Exxon Valdez, it is two and a half decades since that oil spill devastated the north coast. People around the world and on the north coast are sensitive to that. They want to see a new way of doing business, one that protects the values they hold true, which are salmon, the marine environment and ecosystem. They have worked and lived off them for thousands of years in some cases.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we understand in listening to the member that there were many private members, both Liberals and New Democrats, who advanced legislation, a private member's bill, on this very important issue. It only seems to be the Conservative Party that is out of touch with what Canadians truly want to see the government do. We now have a piece of legislation, within two years.

The member made reference to private members' bills. Would he not acknowledge that even within these two years, we have a minister who has taken a very proactive approach, recognizing that the economy and the environment are both important, a Liberal trademark? This legislation is a positive step forward, and we look forward to it going to committee.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree, and I did mention in my speech that this is a positive step. We welcome this legislation. I did caution about ministerial powers and exemption, and hope that the government listens to those concerns. I hope my comments will be listened to and taken to committee.

I agree that there has been a shift, a change. However, it is two years later, and we are still waiting for the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and Navigable Protection Act to be restored, as well as the NEB. We have waited for two years. Canadians are tired of waiting. The Liberals promised two years ago that they would make these changes.

Many major energy projects have gone through, including Kinder Morgan, under those same gutted environmental protection laws. While we concede that this is a step in the right direction, the Liberal government has a long way to go before it can say it is moving in terms of true environmental protections, including carrying out the promises it made in the 2015 election.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague not only for his speech today, but for his many years of championing the resources of Canada's coasts, particularly the west coast.

It is sometimes portrayed as just a bunch of environmentalists who care about tankers and tanker traffic off of British Columbia's west coast. However, when I had the pleasure of sitting in for the member at the fisheries and oceans committee, it was very clear that there is widespread concern among many organizations and groups, including commercial fishers and many others.

I would like to give my colleague the opportunity to share with us some of the people he hears from on a regular basis who are concerned about tanker traffic on the west coast, besides environmentalists.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the kind words from the member for Kootenay—Columbia. I also want to acknowledge his work in standing up for the environment and for standing in for me at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I have appreciated his stand on many issues.

In terms of who I have heard from and who New Democrats have heard from over the years, we have certainly heard from many environmental organizations that are concerned with Canada's west coast. However, there are many others, including fishing organizations, fishing groups, fishermen, first nations, coastal communities, local communities, and labour groups. There are many organizations that know and appreciate how important it is to get it right in terms of what environmental protection means to local community economic development.

Salmon is an important iconic species, but it is also integral to the coastal communities' economy. We can see why many of these groups and individuals come together to ensure that legislation reflects the values they hold dear. They have held these values for thousands of years in some cases, like our first nations coastal communities.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, on that note, what would the member say to the Hereditary Chiefs Council, which represents the nine tribes of the Lax Kw'alaams, who on September 20 said that they were not consulted on the oil tanker ban. They said, “As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.” They said that there was insufficient consultation.

What does the member say to the partners of the Eagle Spirit Energy's project whose pipeline will also now be null and void because of the tanker ban?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, certainly having consultation is critical. Nation-to-nation relationships are critically important to establish and to get right. I think it is up to the federal government to listen, engage, and have a dialogue that results in good decisions. However, it could be said, certainly prior to the current government, that this was not the case. Certainly under the northern gateway pipeline project, that was absolutely not the case.

However it is a good question, and we should, as a government, strive to work towards a full nation-to-nation relationship, so that we get the best decisions for those nations, for Canada, and for Canada's west coast.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to commend the excellent work done by my colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam on protecting the environment and all aquatic resources on the Pacific coast, including salmon.

This bill is a step forward but we still have some concerns, which my colleague has talked about, including for example the new powers this bill gives to the minister, powers that could undermine the bill's positive aspects. With these new powers, the minister could exempt ships for indeterminate amounts of time or for much longer if it is deemed in the public interest.

Exemptions should be subject to time limits, rather than being left to the minister's discretion.

What powers does my colleague think should be given to the minister, and what should the limits be on those powers? Should the public have any input or control?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree with my hon. colleague from Drummond in pointing out his concern. I share that concern. I mentioned in my speech that while New Democrats agree with the spirit, intent, and direction of this bill, we are still very concerned with ministerial discretion and allowing the minister the latitude to approve such projects. For instance, large megaprojects that would be harmful to the west coast and coastal communities would be a problem.

The minister acknowledged that those powers do exist. I hope he takes that under advisement and that when we get to committee, Liberals will take the NDP's suggestions seriously and implement those changes in the legislation going forward.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kanata—Carleton.

It is indeed an honour to be a member of Parliament from British Columbia and to be able to stand in this House in support 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.

Residents and communities on Canada's west coast have been working toward this legislation for years, as reflected in the comments made by my colleague, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. It is a key aspect of actions our government is taking to protect British Columbia's Pacific coastline and to advance our transportation 2030 vision to protect Canada's waterways and three ocean coasts.

The Government of Canada recognizes that the health and well-being of our oceans is vital for our communities, our environment, our economy, and the well-being of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Canada has the largest coastline in the world, and it is critical that these vast stretches of coastline and marine environment be well protected to ensure that our oceans can continue to support a rich variety of sea life, and our lives too. We are all one.

Our oceans play an important role in Canada's economy, facilitating the movements of goods and people and enabling trade to protect our high standard of living. It was a distinct pleasure for me to attend recently at the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert, for example, with the Minister of International Trade. The head of the Indiana railway said to me, “There isn't a shipper in Indiana that doesn't know the Port of Prince Rupert.”

That goes to show how integrated Canada's transport system really is.

In full respect for the importance of trade, British Columbians and Canadians are passionate about the importance of marine safety and protecting the marine environment, which is exactly why the creation of a world-leading marine safety system is central to our government's $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. This will ensure that future generations of Canadians will continue to share and benefit from fisheries, tourism, and traditional indigenous and community livelihoods and knowledge, as well as global trade.

To develop this plan, the Government of Canada undertook extensive consultations with Canadians across the country on how best to improve marine safety and formalize an oil tanker moratorium. This included discussions with indigenous peoples, stakeholders from the marine industry, the oil and gas sector, environmental groups, and all levels of government. These perspectives informed the measures of the moratorium outlined in Bill C-48 today.

I am very proud of the work that many in my riding and throughout British Columbia did to get us here today.

The proposed oil tanker moratorium is just one of several crucial and complementary measures this government is taking to protect our coastlines and oceans. The oceans protection plan will build a world-leading marine safety system that increases responsible shipping and protects Canada's waters, and it includes new preventive and response measures.

We are also taking steps to preserve and restore marine ecosystems and habitats by using new tools and research. To support this work, we are building a stronger evidence base, supported by science and local knowledge. We are investing in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are based on the best information possible.

We are strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities to benefit from local knowledge of the region and to build local emergency response capacity.

These efforts and actions are national in scope, but I would like to be permitted to focus on specific measures designed to protect British Columbia's northern coast.

I would like to remind my hon. colleagues that our government has instituted a concentrated campaign to inspect tugs and barges in the province to ensure that tugs and barges, including those working in community and industry re-supply, comply with all safety regulations.

Preventing accidents from occurring in the first place is our primary goal. This is the main idea behind the steps our government is taking to build a strong prevention regime that enhances marine safety.

For example, we will be providing mariners, indigenous groups, and coastal communities in British Columbia with improved marine traffic and navigation information. This includes designing new information-sharing systems and platforms so they have access to real-time information on marine shipping activities in local waters.

We want to provide maritime situational awareness of who is doing what, and where—which is easier said than done—in a user-friendly way to benefit the safety and protection of British Columbia's coastline.

A first-of-its-kind program will fund initiatives to test new ways to bring local marine traffic information to indigenous and local communities from existing open source information from ports, the Canadian Coast Guard, and other government systems. This will not only help to prevent accidents but will also engage indigenous peoples and local communities with a real, important, and vital role in ensuring responsible shipping.

The oceans protection plan is also making investments so that a proactive, timely, and effective response can be mounted when incidents occur. This would mean enhanced search and rescue capabilities in British Columbia, including four new lifeboat stations and improved communication capacity. The Canadian Coast Guard would be increasing its towing capacity by equipping its large vessels with towing kits. It would also lease two large vessels on the B.C. coast capable of towing large commercial ships that are in distress and pose a hazard to navigation and the marine environment. This would improve Canada's ability to effectively respond to incidents, save lives, and protect the environment.

Beyond protecting marine ecosystems, our government is committed to restoring them. We would establish coastal zone plans and identify restoration priorities that would engage indigenous communities as well as local groups. Furthermore, we are working to understand the threat marine transportation poses to marine mammals and we will examine how to diminish these effects—for instance, by understanding how to reduce the threat whales face from noise and potential collisions from commercial traffic along the B.C. coast. The government would also fund research on the impacts of increased shipping on marine ecosystems, which would better position us to protect these mammals.

Strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities is a key element of the oceans protection plan. With the plan, as well as the oil tanker moratorium, B.C. indigenous communities would know that there is the highest level of protection possible on their coasts and that they will have a real opportunity to be partners in the marine safety regime. This means taking training in search and rescue missions, environmental monitoring, and emergency spill response. It also means that our government would work with indigenous and coastal communities to create regional response plans for the west coast and pursue shared leadership opportunities in other areas. As one example, this might mean creating local traffic management areas to minimize safety risks and environmental impacts.

Ensuring that indigenous groups play a leading role in decision-making processes is also a major goal of the oceans protection plan. We have demonstrated this commitment with the new Pacific region place of refuge contingency plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation and provincial and federal partners.

We believe that we are demonstrating that by working together, we can more effectively manage and protect our marine environment across Canada. By formalizing an oil tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia, the government is delivering on our commitment to develop a world-leading marine safety system, one that will meet or surpass the marine safety practices of other countries. I am confident that by collaborating with the provinces, indigenous groups, environmental NGOs, and other interested stakeholders, we have found an approach that demonstrates that a healthy environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand.

On a more personal note, I would like to say that it is a testament to the people of British Columbia that we are at second reading for an oil tanker moratorium act, and we are very grateful for the leadership of the Minister of Transport, his parliamentary secretary, and his collaborators in cabinet.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's work in the past on some of the values that we share on west coast salmon and the ecosystem, and I appreciated her very specific comments about investing $1.5 billion over 10 years for the oceans protection plan, about $150 million a year. She elaborated on investing in a world-leading safety system and talked about some specific actions, such as tug and barge inspections.

However, my question, which I think she touched on, is about purchasing the two oil-spill response tugs. I am wondering if the member could elaborate on how much those tugs would cost and what it would leave remaining in the $150 million annual budget for oil-spill prevention and other elements she talked about. I would ask her to elaborate on the cost of the tugs and what would be left.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the tugs alone are a gigantic step forward for our government, the protection of marine ecosystems, and the livelihoods of indigenous communities on the coast. For far too long, that aspect was neglected. It is important, as a representative of the west coast of Canada, to describe how treacherous the coast is, how isolated communities are, and the challenges we face when we try to blend both a strong defence of the environment and a healthy economy.

Another remarkable aspect of the $1.5-billion oceans protection plan is how well integrated it is. We took a lot of time to ensure that indigenous peoples, fisheries, justice, transport, Treasury Board, the environment, and beyond were all consulted so that we have brought all we can as a government to protect the safety, environment, and health of the people of British Columbia and its ecosystems.