Evidence of meeting #89 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 boats.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Patrick White  Founder and Executive Director, Project Naval Distinction
Vice-Admiral  Retired) Denis Rouleau (As an Individual
Sara Anghel  President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada
Patricia Heintzman  Mayor, District of Squamish
Anne Legars  Administrator, Office of the Administrator of the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund
Andrew Kendrick  Vice-President, Operations, Vard Marine Inc.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

We just have to look further ahead at the derelict boats of the future, I suppose.

4:05 p.m.

President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada

Sara Anghel

Yes, that's a good point.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

On the issue of licensing and registration—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

A short question, please.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

—is it possible to have, like we do on vehicles, hidden identification numbers on boats, so that even if the owner thinks they're getting away with abandoning it, we can track them down?

4:10 p.m.

President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada

Sara Anghel

All boats do have HINs. I guess the issue with the ones that are abandoned is that they've managed to scratch it off or remove it.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

That's why we need hidden ones, right?

4:10 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:10 p.m.

President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada

Sara Anghel

We can work again—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

For cars, we've been doing it for a while.

4:10 p.m.

President, National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada

Sara Anghel

We're happy to look at that. That's not huge.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Okay.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you.

Mr. Fraser.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Thank you very much to our witnesses.

Madam Chair, before I get into my own questions, I understand that the parliamentary secretary would like to pose a question. I'd be happy to give her a minute of my time.

February 7th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Thank you very much, Sean.

I just want to offer a bit of clarification on something MP Malcolmson said. We have received seven applications for vessels, but there are likely to be multiple vessels named on each application. It's not just a single number, one per application. There can be multiple vessels on the same application. That's just a little point of clarification.

My second question is for the admiral and the captain. We know of our own vessels in our own territorial waters. Are there not foreign vessels in Canadian waters that other countries have asked us to protect?

4:10 p.m.

VAdm (Ret'd) Denis Rouleau

Not to our knowledge. The vessels that are within Canadian territorial waters—the nine warships and the 10 merchant ships—were sunk there either by U-boats, which came very close, as we all know, or by collision, when something happened and something went wrong on the vessel, something to do with the enemy at the time. We know the locations of those 19. We know of none from other countries. Most of those merchant ships were taking part in two convoys during the war.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

If you compare the legislation of the United Kingdom with France, is there one that's stronger or better than the other? If we were to pick one to use as an example, which one would you recommend?

4:10 p.m.

VAdm (Ret'd) Denis Rouleau

Again, I'm just like Mr. White. I am not a legal expert. However, if I were to go for one of the two, I would go for to the one that's strictly dedicated to the protection of war remains, which is the British act. Somebody even went as far as mentioning the fact that there could be a precedent somewhere, such that even this act, this British act, could be deemed to apply for our Canadian vessels here. I guess we'll have to look at the legal side of this to see whether or not it is true that it can be deemed applicable to Canadian ships.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Captain White.

4:10 p.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Project Naval Distinction

Patrick White

I'll just add to what the admiral is saying that one of the things Captain Bender has stressed in his own work is that even these other acts don't necessarily provide a concrete definition for what an ocean war grave is. In France, for example, you're taking heritage law and protection of heritage assets and applying it to something that contains remains, but that doesn't necessarily acknowledge the fact that those remains were there. When it comes to the U.K. act, it might also be the case that they're protecting the ships themselves, and the aircraft, that might be under the water.

What makes this a fundamentally different issue is that it's not just a heritage asset. It's a tomb. What we saw, in fact, when I was doing some of the research to prepare for the committee, is that as recently as a few weeks ago they discovered vessels that had been completely salvaged in the Java Sea, and the remains of hundreds of sailors—U.K., Dutch, and potentially American—have been dumped in a mass grave. These are international reports coming out. Because there was an inability to protect those ships from being salvaged, we're now in a position where allied nations are finding their sailors in bags, hundreds of bags, or in graves where the ships used to be. That's what provides a bit of a twist to what might otherwise have been a relatively simple issue.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Thank you very much.

Thank you, Sean.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

How much time is remaining, Madam Chair?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

You have three minutes.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Very quickly, I would like to say thank you for your service, and for that of Captain Bender. I would love to have the opportunity to meet him and discuss his quest to ensure that sailors are treated on an equal footing with our soldiers and airmen. I think it's honourable, and I thank you for raising this issue.

I have some background on the international law of the sea. I just want to make sure, Vice-Admiral Rouleau, that I understand your explanation about jurisdiction versus protection. Are you saying that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea gives the right for a given nation to offer whatever protections it may on sunken vessels in its own waters, but does not in and of itself protect those vessels?

4:15 p.m.

VAdm (Ret'd) Denis Rouleau

The international laws of the sea will provide jurisdiction, which means that the vessel remains the property of that nation. If it is within territorial waters, then you apply an additional punitive consequence to do it. An example of that is, if you recall back in the mid-1980s, Dr. Ballard, who was a researcher, found the Bismarck, the German battleship, way out in international waters and indicated that he intended and do some exploration on the Bismarck. That vessel has hundreds and hundreds of sailors still on board who went down with that ship. Germany's response was immediate, very swift, and basically told them that the vessel belonged to Germany under international law and, in order to do anything on that vessel, they would have to request to do that, and it would always be denied because it is not a wreck. It is a war grave.