Evidence of meeting #76 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was tankers.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Natasha Rascanin  Assistant Deputy Minister, Transformation, Department of Transport
Gillian Grant  Team Leader and Senior Counsel, Maritime Law, Department of Transport
Jennifer Saxe  Acting Director General, Marine Policy, Department of Transport

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

You have forty seconds left.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

There's also a section in this act that allows you, through the Governor in Council, to amend the schedule of petroleum products. You can amend it as you go. Will the government apply the Statutory Instruments Act to the regulatory authority to add or remove fuel types under the ban?

This is a concern of many constituents of mine, some of whom you know, who have spent a lot of years on this and want to get this right and not allow any more loopholes in the provisions you provided.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

I'm delighted that we had the support of the City of Prince Rupert for this moratorium.

It's unfortunate you weren't here for my opening remarks—

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I'm sure it was good.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

—but what I did say very clearly was that we leave the schedule open to make changes to it if scientific evidence shows us that a particular persistent oil can be either handled more efficiently in terms of recovery, because persistent oils, as you know, tend to be stickier and more persistent and they take a longer time to break up and therefore have a more negative effect on sea life, on bird life, and on the shoreline. It also gives us the possibility to add new persistent oils, depending on what is developed in the petroleum industry.

I think it's a very reasonable and sensible thing to have a schedule that identifies...and it's according to very specific measured international standards based on the boiling point range of these, so they are quantifiable. Who knows what kinds of products might be developed 20 years from now in terms of new products, for which there's a market but may also still be persistent oils, in which case we might have to add them to the list.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you, Minister Garneau.

Mr. Iacono.

October 19th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for being here today.

I'd like to get a clear sense of the real impact Bill C-48 will have, using an example. If an oil tanker carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil entered the moratorium area, what exactly would happen?

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

If an oil tanker has entered a northern B.C. port where inspections are regularly conducted and is found to be carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of oil in its hold, the vessel could be fined up to $5 million.

In certain cases involving resupply to small communities on the northern coast, oil tankers will have the capacity to carry more than 12,500 metric tons, but will not be permitted to do so. That means the vessels will be only half or three-quarters full. If they enter or leave a port carrying more than that amount of oil, they are breaking the law.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

A comparison of the voluntary tanker exclusion zone and the proposed moratorium area under Bill C-48 reveals that the voluntary tanker exclusion zone is larger.

Will the voluntary exclusion zone remain in effect once the bill is passed?

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Yes. In place since 1985, the voluntary exclusion zone will continue to be enforced. We've had U.S. co-operation ever since the program began. It's primarily for tankers carrying large quantities of oil from Valdez, Alaska, to ports along the U.S. coast. However, oil tankers carrying 12,500 metric tons of oil or less will travel inside the exclusion zone in order to supply small communities.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

What key data and facts prompted the decision to protect this area specifically? Why do spills pose a greater risk in that region?

4 p.m.

Liberal

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

The region's ecosystem is unique in the world. I'm not sure whether you've had the opportunity to visit the area, but it's incredible. It has a very fragile ecosystem, however, with a coastline that is home to multiple indigenous communities. A spill would be catastrophic and have a severe impact, as we saw last year with the Nathan E. Stewart, which was a tugboat, not an oil tanker.

What's more, the area has fewer spill-response systems in place than B.C.'s southern coast, where the port of Vancouver, the country's largest port, is located. The systems in place there are fairly robust, and we will be strengthening them under the ocean's protection plan. Regardless, the spill-response capacity in the 400-kilometre area encompassing B.C.'s north coast is much less robust.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you.

I'm going to give my last minute to my colleague Mr. Hardie.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Go ahead, Mr. Hardie.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

You have one minute from his time plus your own time of six minutes. You have the floor for seven minutes.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Perfect. Thank you.

Mr. Garneau, many years ago I had the opportunity to go on my father-in-law's fishing boat out of Prince Rupert up through the Portland Canal. You really do have to see that area to know what it means and how special it is. I have taken the ferry down to Port Hardy and stopped in at Bella Bella. Again, it's a very special stretch of coast.

What was behind the decision to bring in this moratorium, given especially that in the election campaign, and on the political side of things, we were also very vocally against the northern gateway project? By killing northern gateway, wouldn't this have effectively done the same thing as bringing in this moratorium? Did we need this as well?

4 p.m.

Liberal

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

The Liberal Party made this decision, and in fact, it was in our election platform. If you go back to 1985, it was under a Liberal government that the exclusion zone was brought in because of Liberal pressure at that time.

There's been a recognition for a very long time that this pristine part of Canada's west coast needs to be protected. That was the reason for it. The purpose was not to prevent development. In fact, we, as a government, as you know, understand, for example, that the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan would like to get their products to tidewater, and we did approve the TMX pipeline, with a number of conditions, which is a fairly normal matter. We have also approved other pipelines, and we support the Keystone as well, which would get them to southern tidewater. It was not to prevent, specifically, the building of pipelines to tidewater, because we support that. We have put in place the oceans protection plan to complement that economic and environmental side of development.

It was to preserve, hopefully for posterity, this very pristine area, where an incident as small, compared to a tanker, as the Nathan E. Stewart can have very important effects on the local communities there, as I had the chance to witness myself.

You can't eliminate risk completely. We did not get unanimous consent from all groups we consulted with. It is very difficult to obtain unanimous consent from all groups that are involved, but we did get significant, and I would say clearly majority support, for putting this moratorium in place. Our job was to put it in place in the most intelligent manner possible.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

With respect to the products that are going to be prohibited, again, the legislation opens the way so that perhaps those products can be delisted if technology comes along that makes them more acceptable. What would the technology have to prove in relation to a particular product to actually be delisted?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

In terms of the cleanup technology, unless we can effectively clean up a spill of persistent oils or crude oils very rapidly, before we lose it and before it begins to do its damage, we have to take the necessary precautions to keep it on the list, because of the potential effect it can have.

We are continuing to do science on what happens to various persistent oils and hydrocarbons when they land in the water. We need to continue to do that science so that we know as much as possible. We are also looking at how we can recover it as effectively as possible, taking into account factors such as how long it takes before you get there, the temperature of the water, the sea state, the salinity, and all those other things. I would say that we are taking a pragmatic approach based on a quantifiable measurement of persistent oils. At this point in time we are being cautious, but we are not excluding all hydrocarbons, as you know.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

That is the point, that not all hydrocarbons are excluded.

We've had interest from somebody on the west coast to build a refinery in Kitimat, where they would probably refine bitumen into something else. What would that something else have to be in order not to be covered by this moratorium?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

It would have to be something that is not on the schedule.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Okay.

Did any of the input you received...? There are competing interests, obviously, and we'll be hearing from some of them in the course of these hearings. Was there anything you heard along the way that caused you to pause and consider whether the promise to put in a tanker moratorium was really a good one?

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

If you are asking me whether everybody agreed 100% with the idea of the moratorium, the answer would have to be no. However, at no time did I personally, as I went through a very extensive consultation.... You are seeing this bill now in committee, but we started the consultation at the beginning of 2016. We were very extensive in our consultations, and at no time did I feel that we didn't have a definite majority of people who supported the moratorium for the north coast.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Minister Garneau.

We're moving on to Mr. Lobb.