Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act

An Act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations

Sponsor

Marc Garneau  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Oct. 4, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment enacts the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, which promotes the protection of the public, of the environment, including coastlines and shorelines, and of infrastructure by regulating abandoned or hazardous vessels and wrecks in Canadian waters and, in certain cases, Canada’s exclusive economic zone, and by recognizing the responsibility and liability of owners for their vessels.

The Act, among other things,

(a) implements the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007;

(b) requires owners of vessels of 300 gross tonnage and above, and unregistered vessels being towed, to maintain wreck removal insurance or other financial security;

(c) prohibits vessel abandonment unless it is authorized under an Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province or it is due to a maritime emergency;

(d) prohibits the leaving of a dilapidated vessel in the same place for more than 60 days without authorization;

(e) authorizes the Minister of Transport or the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to order the removal of a dilapidated vessel left on any federal property;

(f) authorizes the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to take measures to prevent, mitigate or eliminate hazards posed by vessels or wrecks and to hold the owner liable;

(g) authorizes the Minister of Transport to take measures with respect to abandoned or dilapidated vessels and to hold the owner liable;

(h) establishes an administration and enforcement scheme, including administrative monetary penalties; and

(i) authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting such matters as excluding certain vessels from the application of the Act, setting fees and establishing requirements for salvage operations, the towing of vessels and the dismantlement or destruction of vessels.

The enactment also re-enacts and revises provisions related to the International Convention on Salvage, 1989 and to the receiver of wreck. The enactment strengthens the protection of owners of certain wrecks in cases where the owner is unknown or cannot be located and maintains regulatory powers related to the protection and preservation of wrecks having heritage value.

Finally, it makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 19, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-64, An Act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations
June 19, 2018 Failed Bill C-64, An Act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations (report stage amendment)

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

moved:

That Bill C-64 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Mr. Speaker, I am standing once again in the House to talk about the imperative for federal action to deal with abandoned vessels. Because of fishermen being forced out of the commercial fishing fleets, because fibreglass is reaching the end of its lifetime, and because climate change is creating different types of storms, all coasts of Canada are littered with abandoned vessels.

For 15 years, it has been clear that there is a jurisdictional hole that no government has been able to fill. As a result, it has fallen to coastal communities, which have had to try to jerry-rig solutions. My predecessor, Jean Crowder, as the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, had legislation in the House that was supported by the Liberal Party when it was the third party, so we had real optimism that in this session of Parliament, we would find legislative solutions for abandoned vessels.

I think back to my start, when I was first elected chair of the Islands Trust Council, which is a regional government in the Salish Sea charged with a mandate of preservation and protection. We were approached by ratepayers on Parker Island, just off Galiano Island, in the Salish Sea. They had been trying for 10 years to get a government department to agree to help them with a wrecked barge from the early 1980s that had been sitting on their shore for 10 years. Every department gave them the runaround. They were told to talk to navigation, talk to environment, talk to land management, and talk to the Coast Guard. They were at the end of their rope, so on behalf of the Islands Trust Council, I went to the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities conference. There were five other resolutions, not just from the Islands Trust Council but from local governments from all over British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast, and the Vancouver Island area that were facing the same problem, and we were all at the end of our rope.

We were able to bring together solutions. We said, “Let us get together and design what would be a good fit.” We looked to Washington state, which has had a very successful abandoned vessel program operating since the early part of this century and lots of working experience. We passed resolutions. The AVICC did, as did the Union of B.C. Municipalities. It became a big election issue in my riding, because with a huge, 100-foot, hulking boat that the federal government towed into their harbour, residents wanted to vote on this. They were looking for an MP who would take the imperative to act to Ottawa. I was so honoured to be elected to do this work.

In the legislation I tabled in this House, I built on Jean Crowder's bill, and then I updated it a year and a bit later when my amazing staff team found a way to build all the solutions from coastal communities into my private member's bill. That was in April 2017. I was on the verge of bringing all those solutions to the House to debate in December, when, as we will remember, the Liberals used some unused tactics to block and then basically vote down my bill to prevent it from even being debated and voted on. It was not a possible outcome I could ever have imagined.

Because the transport minister said he was going to legislate on abandoned vessels, I really hoped he would just plagiarize my bill and bring my elements into his or at least recognize, when he tabled his own bill, on Halloween last year, that Bill C-64's proposed remedy of penalizing and fining for abandoned and wrecked vessels would not work unless he brought in the elements of my bill. They would deal with the backlog and also fix vessel registration. If we are going to fine an abandoned vessel, we need to know who the owners are to send them a fine or penalty. This has been said in the House before.

The two pieces of legislation would have worked well together. Members could probably recite the pieces I proposed along with me. They would deal with the backlog by putting in place a pilot program, a vessel turn-in program, as has been done with great success in Washington and Oregon. It would be kind of a boat amnesty. People who did not know how to deal with a boat at the end of its life could get it out of the water where it could be safely recycled. We could create incentives for fibreglass recycling and piggyback on the government's avowed innovation agenda. Let us do something to help us deal with marine plastics and waste fibreglass. Let us find new markets so we can recycle and work with local salvage companies to deal with this mess.

We need to fix vessel registration so boat owners can be more accountable and so the costs do not end up on the backs of taxpayers. And there is more.

I had all of those solutions from coastal communities and coastal governments in my legislation. When my private member's bill was killed by the government, I worked hard at transport committee to insert each of those solutions into Bill C-64.

To my great disappointment and despite the fact that so many witnesses said they wanted all those elements in the legislation, people on the ground like the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, West Coast Environmental Law, local governments, marina operators, people who all endorsed the solutions from coastal communities that I proposed to amend the bill, both Liberals and Conservatives voted all of those amendments down.

Here I stand with my final attempt to improve this legislation and to bring the solutions that would help coastal communities into the bill.

During the committee's study, we identified the fact that the government is not going to apply the fine and penalty system that is in Bill C-64 to government-owned property. We have a lot of examples on the B.C. coast and the Atlantic coast of government assets becoming abandoned vessels.

The member of Parliament for Courtenay—Alberni was involved in the removal of the vessel Laurier from Baynes Sound, which is a rich aquaculture shellfish area. A lot of jobs are dependent on it. Everybody was worried when the Laurier sank. It turned out that it was an old fisheries inspection vessel with many stories. It was also a Coast Guard vessel. It was a government asset that became an abandoned vessel.

On the east coast the Cormorant is an old Navy ship that has been languishing at the dock in Bridgeport for over 10 years. It too is an abandoned government vessel. A lot of my British Columbia colleagues will have seen the old wrecked BC Ferries vessel still with the logo on its side. It is a disaster. It looks like a ghost ship.

We have Coast Guard vessels, Navy vessels, the whole gamut on the coast of British Columbia. My amendment before the House proposed to close that loophole and make the fines and penalties equivalent, whether it is a government asset or a private vessel, in order to bring accountability and fairness as well.

From both a fairness perspective and an environmental perspective, this is our last chance to try to improve the transport minister's bill.

We take pride in the fact that this legislation is going to be voted on during the final days of this Parliament because of the tenacity of and pressure from the Nanaimo Port Authority, the mayor of Ladysmith, and Chief John Elliott of the Stz'uminus first nation. There has been a lot of co-operation and that has led to some success and has really put this issue on centre stage.

I am pleased to see the pan-partisan support for solutions on abandoned vessels. I remain discouraged that some of the solutions that were proposed by coastal communities, that would have dealt with the backlog, that would have worked with salvage companies to create jobs and innovate and recycle are not present in Bill C-64. None of those elements have any presence in the transport minister's bill. There still is a lot of work for us to do as a country to get this problem off the backs of coastal communities.

Voting yes to my report stage amendment to remove the clause that would exempt the government from the same penalties that it is putting on private boaters would be the one thing that we could do in these final hours of this Parliament.

For the sake of coastal communities, for small businesses, for tourism, for the coastal environment, I urge my colleagues to vote yes.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith for her speech. Over the past three years, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that shipwrecks in Canada will be managed in a much more environmentally friendly way than they are now. In fact, right now, wreck management is not environmentally friendly at all.

The member worked hard to get the government to implement strict measures to ensure that resources will be available to recycle materials and identify wrecks. She wants the government to put money aside to manage wrecks across Canada. Finally, she worked to ensure that the bill is truly effective and not just a lot of rhetoric. However, there is still more work to be done.

The amendment that my colleague proposed seeks to delete clause 5 of the bill. Could my colleague elaborate on why that clause should be removed and how that would help the bill truly meet its objective of managing wrecks across Canada?

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, who has been fighting to have the Kathryn Spirit removed from a drinking water lake in her riding since the previous Parliament. It is now six years, at least. Seven years, my goodness. We are tenacious. New Democrats are tenacious on this subject.

At the transport committee, we heard testimony that making government vessels subject to the same legislation that is meant to deal with private abandoned vessels would be really important. In fact, the manager of the Washington state program for abandoned vessels said:

We do deal with larger vessels ourselves in Washington State. Just a couple of years ago we removed a 170-footer that was previously a military tug. We've done old scientific research vessels. We've actually done a couple of old Canadian Coast Guard vessels that were purchased by someone in Washington several years ago.

One of the amendments we proposed in committee that was voted down was to have the government take some responsibility when it is selling off a government asset, to make sure that the person purchasing it has the means to look after the vessel until the end of its life. That was also voted down by the Conservatives and Liberals at committee, although we had strong witness testimony saying that we should take that route.

This is our last opportunity to agree with my amendment to close the loophole that would make government vessels also subject to Bill C-64, to deal with abandoned vessels.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise again.

At a meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, my colleague asked that the bill compel the Minister of Transport to intervene and take all the responsibility for wrecks, rather than giving him the discretionary power to choose not to intervene.

There are thousands of wrecks across Canada and they pose a risk of pollution and place a heavy burden on coastal communities. We therefore want the minister to be compelled to intervene, which is not the case under Bill C-64.

Could my colleague comment on that?

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, the basic structure of my predecessor Jean Crowder's legislation asked that the Coast guard be named the receiver of wrecks. That was supported by the Liberals when they were the third party in the previous Parliament.

They voted down that amendment that I moved, both my legislation and then also the amendment at committee. We do hear from the transport minister that he considers the Coast Guard now to be the de facto lead, and so it is not necessary to change it in legislation. However, we are not sure that that same interpretation might be taken up by a future government in this House.

We still, with regret, are sorry that the Coast Guard has not been named the receiver of wrecks in legislation. We know that the good men and women of the Coast Guard, on the water, are doing yeoman's work to fill this gap, and under their own steam are taking a great deal of responsibility. We want to see them resourced and have that reflected in legislation.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / noon
See context

Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, there are many arguments in favour of this bill.

However, the most convincing argument is the fact that Canadians are calling for the measures we are proposing in this important bill. Many petitions have been tabled in the House in this regard.

The vast majority of owners are responsible and dispose of their vessels properly, but even a small number of neglected or abandoned vessels can create hazards with detrimental and costly impacts on local communities. These vessels are not just eyesores. They can pollute the marine environment and damage shoreline infrastructure. They pose risks to navigation and public health and safety. They can also harm industries, such as fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism, local industries that are dependent upon clean waters and that contribute nearly $40 billion a year to the Canadian economy.

Especially frustrating for responsible vessel owners and marine facility owners is the fact that abandoned and dilapidated vessels can take up valuable mooring space, and this can lead to economic losses to both property owners and local communities. Of course, these vessels can be extremely costly to clean up, ranging from a few thousand dollars for small boats to millions of dollars for larger vessels. That is why Bill C-64 proposes aggressive measures to prevent irresponsible owners from abandoning or neglecting their vessels so that the costs and perils of cleanup are not left to the taxpayers and local communities. This legislation is the next critical step forward in our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, our comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to improve marine safety, promote responsible shipping, and protect Canada's marine environment.

Our existing laws do not allow us to comprehensively address all of the risks posed by wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, or problem vessels, including the ability to take direct action on such vessels. The wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act would significantly strengthen our ability to address problem vessels by fixing these legislative gaps. With this bill, the federal government would be able to take measures to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate hazards. Bill C-64 includes new measures to prohibit vessel abandonment, strengthen vessel owner responsibility and liability, and enhance federal powers on two vital fronts.

First, it would require that owners bear responsibility for their vessels. This includes prohibiting abandonment and not allowing vessels to become dilapidated or hazardous. Second and equally important, the proposed legislation would make owners liable for the cost of vessel cleanup and proper disposal.

Furthermore, in conjunction with this bill, the government has started developing a national inventory of problem vessels, so that decisions about removing these vessels can be made based on evidence. This measure will also include a risk assessment, to prioritize the problem vessels based on the risk they present.

As part of the oceans action plan, we are also helping communities deal with the vessels that are polluting our coastlines and waterways. Canadians whose economic and cultural well-being are dependent on our water have expressed their desire to be involved in the solution. However, especially in rural areas, communities often lack the financial resources required to address the problem.

In May 2017, we announced the five-year, $6.85-million abandoned boats program. The bulk of funding being offered through this program, $5.6 million, is dedicated to helping partners such as other levels of government, indigenous groups, ports, and community groups to remove and dispose of the highest-priority abandoned or wrecked small vessels. In September 2017, we launched a complementary five-year, $1.3-million abandoned and wrecked vessels removal program. This initiative offers funding to assist in the removal of priority vessels and wrecks currently abandoned in federally owned small craft harbours. This program will benefit local commercial fishing industries and affected coastal communities.

Another way we are helping affected communities is by supporting education efforts. Not all vessel owners understand their responsibilities or are aware of their disposal options. Through the abandoned boats program, we are funding activities that educate small vessel owners on how to responsibly manage their vessels and how to make them more aware of available disposal options at the local level.

We are also supporting research on vessel recycling and environmentally responsible vessel design, which has the potential to, for example, further benefit communities through new business opportunities and reduce pressures on landfills.

I have spoken about some of the measures we are already taking to address wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, but new legislation is needed. The critical way in which Bill C-64 would make a meaningful difference is through prevention.

The Government of Canada is determined to take action on vessels that cause hazards before they harm the environment and become a burden on taxpayers. By being proactive, we can avoid, reduce, contain or control problems before they become bigger problems and become even more costly to address. The bill proposes new authorities to prohibit owners from abandoning their vessels before the fact.

Federal officials would be empowered to order owners to take action on vessels that are dilapidated or may pose hazards and are therefore at risk of becoming abandoned or wrecked. They could also impose significant penalties for noncompliance. We will work with affected communities that best know their local environments to confirm whether and what hazards may exist with problem vessels or wrecks and to identify the most appropriate actions to be taken.

Every effort will be made to thwart problems before our waterways are put at risk. Under the proposed legislation, vessel owners will be responsible for addressing their vessels or wrecks. When they are unwilling or unable to take action, we will be able to respond proactively and comprehensively thanks to the new powers contained in Bill C-64.

Even when we intervene, the owner will continue to remain liable for all costs and expenses.

This proposed legislation to address wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels will increase the strength and capabilities of Canada's marine safety regime. It will promote responsible shipping on Canada's oceans and in our inland waterways. It will also reduce pressures on our local communities that in the past were forced to take owners of dilapidated vessels to court and incur costly legal bills or pay the clean-up costs themselves.

Bill C-64 proposes to provide a powerful new tool to go after vessel owners who act irresponsibly, those whose carelessness and neglect put the health and safety of Canadians, the environment and the welfare of local economies at risk. Coupled with other actions we are taking under the oceans protection plan to address wrecked, abandoned, and hazardous vessels, these proactive measures will go a long way in responding to the concerns raised by residents of coastal communities.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is really all about developing a coordinated long-term, integrated solution. The development of this legislation has taken time. Dealing with individual small pieces of the puzzle is not quite good enough. It needs to be integrated and we need to have a full spectrum, a full approach, multi-government, totally integrated that will serve us for the longer term.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a fascinating answer from the representative of the transport minister. The amendment that New Democrats are proposing would have the effect of making Bill C-64 apply to government-owned assets. Right now the Liberals have written themselves an exemption and a loophole that we are proposing to remove.

If my Liberal colleague really does want to see a comprehensive and whole of government approach, as she just said, why would the government not vote for my amendment to close that loophole and make this legislation apply to government-owned assets as well?

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a reflection of the work that has gone into this bill and into the oceans protection plan as a whole. The bill is very well balanced. It is well balanced against what the federal government will do, the potential of what provincial governments can do, and what local communities can do. That balance has been achieved through a great deal of consultation and negotiation with all the stakeholders who are interested in this issue. Finding that balance and that long-term, comprehensive solution is the direction in which we are heading.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to respectfully disagree with my Liberal colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. The consultation we had at committee was that we wanted this law to apply to government vessels as well.

The member for South Shore—St. Margarets asked in the committee if the legislation covered government vessels and the Transport Canada representative said, “This legislation does not cover government vessels.”

We then heard from probably a dozen witnesses who all said that this loophole should be closed. The mayor of Bridgewater talked about three different cases of vessels that were former government assets, or were government assets. They had been abandoned in his community and he wanted this law to apply to them.

In what world does the government's intention to have a “comprehensive solution” fit with leaving out a major contributor to the abandoned-vessel problem, all the old Coast Guard vessels, the worn-out fishing inspection vessels, the navy vessels, B.C. ferries? Why would they not be applicable to this law, as is in the case in Washington state?

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her advocacy and commitment on this issue.

When governments try to build bills and legislation like this, the aim is to ensure it is comprehensive and integrative, but that it also respects various jurisdictions and does not relieve the owners of these vessels, whoever the owners presently are, from their responsibilities. Therefore, we want to ensure we can clean up these vessels, but we also do not believe it should be the Canadian taxpayers and local communities that end up paying for it. We want to ensure we have a way forward that will serve Canadians and their communities the best way we can.

An integrative, comprehensive solution is the way forward. It is not always easy to make that happen. However, to have the taxpayer take on total responsibility for the actions of some irresponsible owners would not be the right way forward.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-64, an act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations.

This is an important bill. In fact, it was considered so important that it was passed at second reading without any debate so the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee could study it expeditiously. Now that the bill has been reported back, I am pleased that the chamber is taking some time to discuss its merits.

Since we are currently at report stage, I will comment on the amendment put forward by my colleague, the member forNanaimo—Ladysmith, but first I will discuss the bill in general.

I will readily admit, being from Saskatchewan, that prior to Bill C-64 being introduced, the issue of wrecked and abandoned vessels was one with which I was not overly familiar. I can honestly say that not once during the many round tables, constituent meetings, and town halls I have held in my riding over the last nine years has this issue ever come up for my constituents. Having said that, I completely understand why the bill is so important to members of the House who represent ridings along our beautiful coast lines.

As the Conservative Party's shadow minister for transport, I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to learn about the concerns of Canadians regarding transportation matters, regardless of where they live.

The transportation committee's study of Bill C-64 was very informative for me. I truly appreciated hearing from the many witnesses who provided their testimony and the many stakeholders who met with the members of the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee to impress upon us the need for legislation as there was currently a lack of legislative clarity around this issue. If given royal assent, the bill will create a new comprehensive act, the wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act.

If enacted, this new act will do a number of things First, it will give force of law to the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007. Second, the act addresses irresponsible vessel management and enhances federal powers to take action by the federal government. Third, the new act will give force of law to the International Salvage Convention, 1989.

The last point that I want to touch on with respect to this new act is that it will create an administrative and enforcement regime for vessels wrecked and abandoned on Canada's coasts with accompanying offenses and punishments.

Stepping back a little, by way of solutions for the issue of wrecked, abandoned, or dilapidated vessels off Canada's coasts, there are two schools of thought.

The first is to make the federal government ultimately responsible for vessels that become wrecked or abandoned on our coasts. To pursue this solution would be at a tremendous cost to Canadian taxpayers. Taxpayers should not be the ones to bear the financial burden of someone else's irresponsibility. Also on this point, if the federal government were ultimately responsible for all wrecked and abandoned vessels, there would be the potential that Canada's coasts could become a dumping ground for vessels that would have reached the end of their life cycle.

The second school of thought proposes a solution that I much prefer. It puts the onus for the removal and/or clean up back onto the offending vessel's owner and makes he or she responsible for the cost to do so. This is a more conservative solution. Individuals should be responsible for their own actions and individual vessel owners should be responsible for their property. When someone abandons or causes his or her vessel to become wrecked, either through neglect or willful actions, that person should be responsible for the vessels removal or the cost of removing it.

Additionally, another benefit of this second solution is that it will discourage owners of aging and/or dilapidated vessels from considering abandoning a vessel in our waters. While we do not want vessels being abandoned or wrecked anywhere in the world, the responsibility of the Government of Canada is to Canadians, to our coastal waters, and to Canada's coastal residents.

I believe that the bill falls more in line with the second solution I just described. As a result, I believe that Bill C-64 would have a positive effect on our coastal waters by discouraging owners of aging and dilapidated vessels from considering abandoning their vessels in our waters while at the same time setting up a system whereby vessel owners can be held responsible.

The second solution which I have outlined requires some basic information in order to be a workable solution. That basic information includes knowing who the owners are of each individual wrecked or abandoned vessel. Presently here in Canada, we are lacking this vital information. In order for the bill to work, it will be necessary for the Government of Canada to know what vessels are currently abandoned in our waters and who owns them. While the bill would not automatically create that list, it would be a step in the right direction.

Building on that, the federal government will need to maintain a record of vessels entering our territorial waters. Once it does that, it will be able to hold vessel owners responsible either through vessel insurance or through legal proceedings. Therefore, it is critical that the Government of Canada have the necessary information on vessels for this strategy to work.

Our support for the bill should come as no surprise to the House. During the last Parliament, there were a number of attempts through private members' bills to change Canada's legislation with respect to abandoned vessels. However, most of those attempts fell more in line with the first solution which I outlined earlier in my remarks where the federal government would become responsible for the cost of cleaning up and removing abandoned vessels, meaning Canadian taxpayers would ultimately be on the hook.

Giving credit where credit is due, my former colleague, John Weston, saw the problem with these proposals but also heard from his constituents that the issue of wrecked, abandoned, and derelict vessels needed to be addressed. In June 2015, he introduced a private member's bill that would have made it a criminal offence to abandon a boat subject to jail time, with fines of up to $100,000, and authorized the minister to sell a vessel that is deemed abandoned. Mr. Weston's bill would have discouraged the behaviour of abandoning a vessel. Building on his private member's bill, the Conservative Party's platform in 2015 included the following commitment:

A re-elected Conservative Government will commit to supporting MP Weston’s bill, and also set aside [funds]...to cover one third of the cost of removing priority derelict vessels.

Additionally, the issue highlighted by Mr. Weston's private member's bill made its way into the Conservative Party's policy declaration statement. As amended at the May 2016 national convention, section 128 of our policy declaration statement says, “the Conservative Party stands by its commitment to facilitate rehabilitation or demolition of abandoned and derelict vessels.”

Earlier in this Parliament, my Conservative colleagues and I were pleased to join with all members of the House to vote in favour of Motion No. 40, presented by the member for South Shore—St. Margarets.

Finally, to address the report stage amendment that is currently before us, this amendment would remove clause 5 from the bill. I am concerned that removing this clause of the bill would unnecessarily contravene the principle of sovereign immunity which is recognized in Canadian legislation. For this reason, I do not support this amendment.

I want to indicate to all members of the House that my Conservative colleagues and I will be voting in favour of the bill. We need to protect our coasts and protect the Canadian taxpayer from the negative impact and cost of wrecked, abandoned, and derelict vessels.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my Conservative colleague, who chaired our discussion at the transport committee and chaired it well. We had a good debate, and fantastic witnesses, whom we were pleased to have learned from.

If my colleague is characterizing my legislation, Bill C-352, as the first model she described where the taxpayer would end up picking up the bill for abandoned vessels, that was absolutely not the intention of my legislation. It was to designate a single agency that would be the first point of contact. It was very much like the Washington state model, where the whole focus is based on user pay. However, the key piece is that we need to be able to find out who the vessel owners are if we are going to send them a bill.

My feeling is that if, in the 1990s, the Conservatives and Liberals had not done so much to undermine the vessel registration system with their successive cuts to front-line services, Canada would now have a way of tracking who the responsible owners of those vessels are. Now we have a huge backlog, which is the legacy of that time of supposed cost-cutting. It is a good reminder that cutting services and laying off public servants can actually do more harm than good.

This brings me to my question. Why did the Conservatives let the vessel registry fall into such disrepair, and why did they close the regional offices in B.C. that were doing the vessel data collection?

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the work that she did when she joined the committee for this study. This issue is something that she is very passionate about, and I recognize that she had attempted to introduce a private member's bill to address this issue.

The issue of wrecked and abandoned vessels is a real problem for communities along Canada's coast. The number is in dispute, but suffice it to say it is estimated that there are hundreds of problem vessels in Canadian waters today. I know that many communities are afflicted with this issue, and that many of them are small with limited resources to deal with the problem.

As for my colleague's question with respect to closing offices and not tracking these abandoned vessels, I cannot answer that question as I was not a member of Parliament back in the 1990s, which was the time frame she referenced.

Motions in amendmentWrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, like the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, we live with the fairly constant problem of derelict vessels along our coastline. They are a hazard. They are an eyesore. They present real risks to life and limb.

I understand the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek thinks that we can always find the owners of these vessels and then get them to pay for the cleanup. I raised some of the problems with these abandoned vessels at committee. The hon. member will remember I attempted to put in an amendment for mandatory improvements to our registration system, and that vessel owners be required to have insurance. The response from the government members at the time was that we could probably deal with these issues through regulation. Therefore, I am going to vote for Bill C-64 with enthusiasm. I am pleased to see action finally happening on derelict vessels.

However, I share some concerns with my friend from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek. The bill is not perfect, particularly around the issue of being able to track the owners of the vessels and being able to go after those who abandon their vessels and make them pay for the cleanup. It tends to fall to the municipalities even to know where to take the vessels. We cannot recycle a fibreglass vessel. We are stuck with hauling it to the dump. There are very significant issues with this.

I ask my hon. colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek to consider how we might be able to go after the vessel owners when we do not know who they are.