Evidence of meeting #84 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 clause.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Natasha Rascanin  Assistant Deputy Minister, Transformation, Department of Transport
Jennifer Saxe  Director, International Marine Policy, Department of Transport
Joseph Melaschenko  Team Leader and Senior Counsel, Maritime Law, Department of Transport

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair (Hon. Judy A. Sgro (Humber River—Black Creek, Lib.)) Liberal Judy Sgro

I call to order the 84th meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities of the 42nd Parliament.

We have before us, pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, October 4, 2017, 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.

As witnesses today, from the Department of Transport, we have Natasha Rascanin, Jennifer Saxe, Emilie Gelinas and Joseph Melaschenko.

We will do clause-by-clause consideration.

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of clause 1, the short title, is postponed.

(On clause 2)

We have amendment NDP-1.

Mr. Cullen.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Thank you, Chair.

We only have a certain number of amendments that we deem to be important on Bill C-48. I know that my colleague, Madam May, has some, and I think there might be one from the Liberals as well.

First of all, part of our amendments came directly from witness testimony that we heard at committee in reviewing Bill C-48, the north coast tanker ban. Part of it is also informed by the more than 10-year-long campaign that has been sought in the riding I represent in northwestern British Columbia, where most of this bill applies, in consultation with first nations leaders, environmental organizers and everyday citizens who have been concerned about the threat of tanker traffic on the north coast.

Amendment NDP-1 adds refined oil products to the ban. The nature of what can and cannot be shipped is at the heart of what any tanker moratorium would be. When you get into the specifics over the various materials that are shipped around the world today, you can get into the weeds a bit, if you will, Madam Chair, but we wanted to prevent refined oil spills because we have seen what those incidents can look like.

If you'll recall, colleagues, there was the Nathan E. Stewart incident, the tugboat that ran aground and sank near Bella Bella just about a year ago. There was a recent incident just in the news this weekend. The spills of those refined products, according to many experts who work in the field, can be just as bad or even sometimes worse than what's contemplated under Bill C-48.

We have other subsequent amendments to include this that would make the bill whole if amendment NDP-1 were to pass.

I look forward to my colleagues' interventions and support on the amendment.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

I'd like to ask the department if they wish to comment on the implications of amendment NDP-1.

4:20 p.m.

Natasha Rascanin Assistant Deputy Minister, Transformation, Department of Transport

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to simply resume once again that the legislation as it stands provides an unprecedented level of environmental protection and is unique, the first of its kind in the world. It's a precautionary approach targeting crude and persistent oils and using international and science-based definitions for those oils. The coverage of the legislation is consistent with those international and science-based definitions.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Is there any further comment or discussion on amendment NDP-1?

Mr. Cullen.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Chair, briefly, if I hear Ms. Rascanin's comments, to make the promise made in the first part of our officials' comment and the government's and the Prime Minister's public declarations true, we believe that the enhancement to this bill of adding refined oil products to the ban would do this.

Also, just for those concerned, as we've had some testimony on this around the potential of LNG development and other proposals that exist on the north coast and other places, clearly this amendment would not affect those proposals and those proponents have been made aware of that. I think the government officials would confirm that amendment NDP-1 wouldn't affect liquefied natural gas and other proposals that are currently being contemplated with first nations involvement.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Not seeing any further discussion, I call the question on amendment NDP-1.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 2 agreed to)

On amendment NDP-2, a proposed new clause, Mr. Cullen.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

This is also quite pertinent because of the recent events facing the Heiltsuk Nation this past weekend. This clause seeks to provide an enhancement of oil spill response recovery on the northwest coast.

If colleagues will recall, just yesterday I was up in the House questioning Minister Garneau about the proposal from the Heiltsuk community, the same community that's facing the threat from the Nathan E. Stewart and the recent incident this past Sunday, which is that the ability to actually enforce a moratorium and the ability to properly respond to large events, but also to some of the smaller-scale events, are directly correlated to the ability of the government to physically put materials into the environment. These are booms. These are tug responses. These are the various things that the communities of the Heiltsuk, the Haida, and the coast in general have been calling for.

About a year ago, the government announced its coastal strategy. It's been a year since then and there has not been as much activity on the ground and on the water as people would have liked to see. This is simply an enhancement to the legislation to ensure that there is an improvement to the oil spill response on the northwest coast of British Columbia.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Department officials, would you like to comment?

4:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Transformation, Department of Transport

Natasha Rascanin

I will just add that the purpose of the legislation is outlined in the title of the bill, and the proposed amendment does not reflect the policy intent of the moratorium. Certainly, the marine safety elements and the spill prevention and response capacity are being addressed through the oceans protection plan.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Mr. Cullen.

November 28th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Here's what I'm understanding. If a clause like this proposed new clause 2.1 says it's “to encourage and improve oil spill prevention and response on the north coast of British Columbia”, does that contravene the intention of Bill C-48? Does it work against the act as a moratorium on the usage and passage of large marine vessels?

Essentially, Chair, I'm wondering if it's harmful. Sometimes we have additive amendments, and this is deemed in order, so it's not outside the scope of the bill. I understand the central intent of the bill, but if new clause 2.1 doesn't work against that intent and only enhances, then I'm wondering what the specific concern might be from our officials or from government members, if they're planning, as I suspect, to vote against it.

4:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Transformation, Department of Transport

Natasha Rascanin

I do think there is a scope element here that we are looking at, and the title of the legislation very clearly defines what is the intent of it.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Mr. Hardie.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Chair, the problem I have with the amendment is that the bill as written really doesn't get into protecting the ocean. There are no measures and no provisions that sort of leap out and say that as a result of this moratorium, thus and so is going to happen with respect to protecting the oceans.

With that material being more or less absent in here, this does seem out of place, and particularly as was mentioned with, if you like, the complementary activities of the oceans protection plan.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

We have Mr. Fraser, and then Mr. Cullen.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

I certainly thank Mr. Cullen for raising this.

To build on Mr. Hardie's comments, one of my concerns is that if we start outlining what the purpose is.... I think this is part of a larger piece to try to improve spill response and prevention, but if we say the purpose of this legislation is to achieve that, there are a number of other measures not included in this bill, specifically around cleanup, which I think would not be properly reflected if we actually said the purpose of this is to improve—I forget the precise language you've used—oil spill prevention and response.

To me, if we said that this is the purpose, we might communicate to Canadians that this legislation doesn't actually achieve its intended purpose, because to achieve what you've stated the purpose maybe should be isn't actually accomplished, in my mind, by what this legislation is, notwithstanding that I still support the legislation.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Mr. Cullen.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

While understanding my colleague's point, this bill is explicitly and nominally to protect the coastal waters of British Columbia. That's the idea. You wouldn't invoke a moratorium on a certain transport of goods.... Well, you could, for other reasons, but my assumption all along has been that the reason we're banning and seeking to have a moratorium on these products moving in this way on the coast is the risk that's posed. This is the Prime Minister's declaration. This is the statement that I take at virtue.

If colleagues will also cast forward, we have some amendments that would lower the threshold of certain sizes of vessels that are also going to be permitted under this. This hangs with the idea of why we're doing this in the first place. Oil spills will continue to happen even with the passage of Bill C-48. I feel pretty confident in saying that, because whatever size of vessel is going to be allowed to go through.... We've seen it just this weekend. We saw it almost a year ago to the day this weekend. Spills will continue.

Even if Bill C-48 had been in place, these tankers—smaller tankers, barges—that move through the area will continue, so again, having spill response, it seems to me, is not harmful to the prospects of this legislation. It can do no harm, so why vote against it? That's essentially my argument.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you, Mr. Cullen.

Are there any further questions or discussion?

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I wouldn't mind a recorded vote on this one, Madam Chair.

(Amendment negatived: nays 8; yeas 2)

(Clause 3 agreed to)

(On clause 4)

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Amendment NDP-3 is inadmissible given the fact that under House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition:

An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.

It is my opinion as the chair that the scope of the bill as agreed at second reading is limited to heavy products that break up and precipitate slowly when spilled. Therefore, I rule the amendment inadmissible.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Can I have some clarification, Chair, through you to the legislative clerk? It's more for my own edification and an understanding of why amendment NDP-1 was admissible but NDP-3 is not. They both deal with the notion of refined oil products that are not included in Bill C-48. We had deemed these both admissible simply because they were adding a category of products that were contemplated but were simply omitted from the bill.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

The scope of the bill...to “petroleum in any form”, including “refined products”—

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Okay.