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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recall.

Topics

Canada Business Corporations ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

On the Order: Government Orders:

June 7, 1994-The Minister of Transport-Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Transport of Bill C-38, an act to provide for the security of marine transportation.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

June 14th, 1994 / 1:10 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario

Liberal

Christine Stewart LiberalSecretary of State (Latin America and Africa)

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That Bill C-38, an act to provide for the security of marine transportation, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Transport.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

London East Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I rise for the purpose of introducing into this House a bill to provide for the security of marine transportation known as the Marine Transportation Security Act.

The introduction of this bill marks the first occasion on which the government is proposing to use the streamlined process agreed to by Parliament on February 7 of this year in order to expedite the consideration of bills while at the same time improving the parliamentary ability to scrutinize legislative proposals.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all members of this House and all parties for allowing this bill to be the first under the new parliamentary reform package.

The motion before us will send this bill directly to the Standing Committee on Transport before second reading. I trust members of all parties will support this proposal, as they have, and I am looking forward to the process as a good test of the new approach and the resolve of House members to make it work well.

I would now like to turn to the rationale for the proposals before this House today. The Marine Transportation Security Act is intended to address a long standing omission in federal regulatory powers and in so doing better equip the government and the marine transportation industry to respond to any threat to the security of people, goods, vessels, ports and facilities in the Canadian maritime marine environment.

The Minister of Transport has had the legal power to address security issues in civil aviation and rail transportation for some time. Conspicuous by its absence, however, is a similar power for the minister with respect to marine transportation in Canada.

We must not be seduced into thinking that Canada or Canadian marine transportation is immune from terrorist threats. As members of the House know, the evidence available with respect to an Air India disaster, while not conclusive, indicates that the most likely cause of the tragedy was a bomb aboard the aircraft. While we have not had any similar incidents in the marine field, the experiences of other countries such as Greece have not been so fortunate.

Apart from the tragic loss of life that occurred in two separate and totally unanticipated incidents, the effect on the Greek cruise shipping trade and tourism in general was to cause losses measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

As a result of these incidents, the International Maritime Organization, IMO, the United Nations agency that deals with maritime matters, passed a recommendation that cruise ships on international voyages carry out security screening of passengers, analogous to that at airports, together with a variety of other complementary measures.

Canada was a strong supporter of that recommendation but has lacked the legislative authority to require the considerable cruise ship trade in Canada to comply. Attempts to achieve broad compliance with these measures on a voluntary basis have also been unsuccessful. These same IMO recommendations called on governments to review their national legislation to determine its adequacy.

Having raised the issue of economic advantage, I would like at this point to turn briefly to the concerns that might arise with respect to how this initiative could affect our relationship with our trading partners and competitors, in particular the United States, with whom we have so much maritime exchange.

Members of the House should be aware that the U.S. government already possesses the legislative authority that this bill seeks for our government. Furthermore, the United States has signalled its intention to bring in a regulatory regime for cruise vessels and ports based on existing voluntary IMO standards.

The U.S. is not the only western nation which has decided to respond in a vigorous manner. Greece has had a security regime for cruise vessels and ports in place for a number of years. The United Kingdom has enacted broad based legislation and many western European nations are actively pursuing a variety of initiatives to improve the security of their maritime transportation systems.

The international standards are intended to be the basis for the major element of a Canadian regulatory regime. Even apart from the primary concern of protecting the travelling public, if we were to fail to provide for a level of security equivalent to that offered by the American industry, Canada could find itself in danger of losing traffic to American ports. That is big tourist business for Canada.

More than 80 per cent of passengers in Canadian cruise trade are U.S. citizens. The value of this trade, which is expected to grow by more than 11 per cent on the west coast alone, already exceeds $500 million each and every year. The government has good reason to believe therefore that this legislation will in its long term effects be a positive enhancement to trade rather than an inhibitor.

I am not suggesting that there is currently a threat against Canadian marine transportation. There is not, but this could change at any time. I am suggesting that it would be imprudent, even derelict, to fail to take basic, simple precautions on the grounds that we have no evidence of a direct threat today. If and when that threat does change, it is too late to start the long, deliberate process of developing legislation.

In the immediate past one only has to recall the bombing of New York's World Trade Centre and the mortar attacks on Heathrow airport to understand how the dynamics of terrorist action can shift without warning.

As I have pointed out, the ability to respond effectively to any possible acts of unlawful interference with marine transportation must start with the capability of the government to organize a response. It is thus the view of the government that the creation of a legal framework to provide for effective marine security is the initial priority in ensuring that Canada is well equipped to deal with security in the marine environment.

I would like to remind the House that this bill, the Marine Transportation Security Act, provides the government only with enabling authority to create an appropriate regulatory regime, together with a compliance monitoring and enforcement scheme backed by suitable sanctions.

As such the bill, if and when enacted into law, will of itself impose no obligations on industry. Those will await the subsequent regulatory regimes. The bill is designed to apply to vessels, ports and marine facilities in Canada and to Canadian registered vessels anywhere, as well as to marine installations and structures, primarily drilling rigs and platforms on the continental shelf.

As in the case of aviation, vessels and facilities under the authority of the Minister of National Defence are exempt from the legislation.

Within this structure the government will have the authority to implement the necessary features of a security regime, many of which will be familiar to members of the House from air travel.

These include the ability to screen passengers, their possessions and goods going aboard a ship, the ability to segregate passengers and goods which have been screened from those that have not, the capability to control entry to a ship, the authority to require identified staff to be trained with respect to security matters, and the ability to require contingency plans for such matters as the response to bomb threats to be developed and exercised.

It is not the intent, however, that these powers be applied to their fullest extent under normal conditions. The situation does not warrant such action and the industry, understandably, given the current threat conditions, would oppose such action. The premium will be put on bringing in a framework which responds to Canadian requirements as they currently exist but with the flexibility to enhance them in the future should the threat change.

These requirements are simply put and I anticipate that they will find strong support within the industry affected. They are three in number: first, making mandatory the existing international standards for passenger vessels and associated port facilities; second, ensuring that major cargo vessels and associated ports have in place basic security consistent with industry's best practices; and third, the implementation of a system of measures capable of being used by all regulated segments of the industry in the event of an increased threat situation.

My colleagues and I are well aware that these are difficult financial times for the maritime industry in this country. We are confident that, except for some particular segments of the cruise vessel industry that fall significantly short of the existing international standards, the above objectives can be realized with little or no additional financial burden on the industry.

The result will be a more secure marine transportation system that is appropriately protected from potential security incidents and with the ability to adjust to changing scenarios in an unstable global environment.

On the requirement for such legislation, industry has endorsed the principle that the Minister of Transport requires adequate legal authority to address legitimate security concerns.

That being said, it is recognized that industry remains concerned given the current absence of an identifiable threat in Canadian waters about the requirement for regulations at this time and about the financial and operational implications of any regulatory framework.

For this reason, any regulatory scheme which is developed must take into account three important factors. There must be full and active industry involvement in the development of these regulations to ensure that both government and industry are in agreement and that the resulting approach represents the least cost approach to achieving what is absolutely necessary.

Second, the requirements must be based to the extent practical on performance standards as opposed to detailed technical specifications to provide the maximum flexibility to industry in meeting them, thus keeping costs again at a minimum.

Third, requirements with respect to basic security must be predicated on the existing best practices of the industry, thereby ensuring that the degree of adjustment necessary to achieve compliance is again minimal.

With these three precepts as the basis for regulatory development I am confident that we can arrive at a framework that stands the test of security while not inhibiting competitiveness or operational efficiency.

In closing, I would like to summarize for members the proposals contained in Bill C-38, the Marine Transportation Security Act. The act is designed to provide enabling authority to the government, consistent with that already available for aviation and rail transportation, governing security in the marine transportation sector.

This enabling authority would be used to create a regulatory regime providing for the security of cruise ship industry commensurate with that of the international community at large, and the United States in particular, thus ensuring the continual economic viability of the Canadian market.

Regulatory requirements with respect to cargo vessels and ports would focus on codifying existing security practices and ensuring that planning is done to respond to possible changes in threat. In implementing this regime the Department of Transport will carry out detailed consultation with maritime interests in Canada on the need and the approach that should be taken hopefully during the summer.

I urge members to consider the additional security that this act will provide in Canadian marine transportation, security that is necessary for the protection of Canadians and those who travel on the Canadian system as well as for the long term economic advantage of our industry.

I ask members of all parties to consider this legislation carefully, both in the committee and in the House, with a view to offering any improvements they deem necessary to this important initiative and to support the final package which emerges from the parliamentary process.

Finally, I return to my point of departure, to ask the members to join with me in making this an historic occasion in employing the new procedures which the House laboured long and hard to produce and supporting the motion to refer this bill to the Standing Committee on Transport before second reading.

I look forward to working with all parties to ensure that this bill becomes reality some time in the fall.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I understand that with the consent of the Official Opposition, we shall proceed immediately with the Reform Party. But first, a point of order.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent of the House to revert momentarily to Bill C-22 so that the question can be put.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The members will I am sure be aware that we are-

We were going so fast that the Chair forgot a minor detail, and I am referring to the vote.

Is there unanimous consent to revert back to the calling of the vote?

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-22, an act respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operation of terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Please sound the bells.

And the bells having rung:

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45(5)(a), I have been requested by the deputy government whip to defer the division until a later time.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 45(5), the division on the question now before the House stands deferred until6.30 p.m. today, at which time the bells to call in the members will be sounded for not more than 15 minutes.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification. We have now decided to have the division later on the first amendment. Has the issue of the second amendment in the name of the member from the Bloc been disposed of? Could I ask how we will proceed with Motion No. 2 so we can be sure that at6.30 p.m. we will dispose of all amendments on Bill C-22? I think that was the intention of the House a little earlier.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. deputy whip was not I think in the House when the matter was raised much earlier.

If Motion No. 1 is concurred in, it will be unnecessary to proceed with the vote on motion No. 2. However, we cannot determine this until the vote is held this evening, at 6.30 p.m.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of this session I stated to the House that the Reform Party, I in particular but my colleagues also, would not oppose the government for opposition's sake. We indicated we would be the first to recognize good legislation when it was brought forward and we would support it.

I see no difficulty with Bill C-38 at this stage. I look forward to dealing with it in the Standing Committee on Transport. It is something which is overdue and is largely housekeeping in nature. There are many items to be confirmed in it but we will do that at committee stage. Consequently, the Reform Party is prepared to go along with moving as quickly as possible to the committee level in order to get on with other pressing business of this House.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 7, the government tabled in the House of Commons a bill to provide for the security of marine transportation, further to the security measures for cruise ships and ports prepared by the International Maritime Organization.

Although the implementation of such measures was not compulsory, in 1993, the previous government ratified the IMO Convention and Protocol, following the drafting of an international convention and protocol on unlawful threats to marine transportation.

Such action had become necessary as a result of acts of terrorism that occurred in the mid-eighties. Hon. members will recall what happened to the Achille Lauro and the City of Porros in the Mediterranean.

This bill provides for a number of positive measures. First of all, it confers powers similar to those that apply to air and rail transportation; it reinforces the security of passengers and the marine transportation industry; and it gives the minister the authority to call for stricter security measures when circumstances warrant.

Better security will above all help to keep the industry competitive with other countries that have taken similar measures. That is the strong point of this bill. As you know, we must make sure we remain competitive. Today, the United States has full authority over marine transportation security, and this year, it will implement IMO measures for cruise ships.

We all know that the United States has the authority to issue advisories indicating that foreign ports are dangerous. It has very active inspection program abroad. Since 85 per cent of cruise ship passengers are U.S. citizens, we must ensure that these tourists are treated according to the same standards in Canada as they are in the United States. The Port of Vancouver, for instance, has an interest in developing its tourist industry as does the Port of Quebec City, which receives increasing numbers of foreign tourists.

We cannot run the risk of losing money in an industry that is worth $500 million today. An interesting point is that this legislation will cover ships, ports and marine facilities in Canada and ships registered in Canada anywhere else in the world.

Perhaps this would be a good time to urge Canadian shipowners to register their ships in Canada and to fly the Canadian flag. Above all, the Government of Canada which owns Marine Atlantic, among other things, must be called to order and it must display its pride by flying the Canadian flag and hiring Canadian

sailors. This would mean work for many sailors and would help us to ease the tax burden of our citizens.

It is interesting to note that the scope of Bill C-38 extends to drilling facilities and platforms.

Several provisions in this bill give the government the authority to develop measures respecting the security of maritime transportation. The enactment also provides, when the regulations are contravened, for large fines and imprisonment in the case of an individual and for hefty fines in the case of a corporation.

It should be noted that the cost to the industry of implementing these provisions is acceptable. Vessels and ports which already comply with IMO measures will incur no costs in respect of this enactment, while those not already in compliance with these measures will incur costs of roughly $150,000. The cost to the government of implementing security and inspection measures and of enforcing the regulations will also be negligible since inspection resources currently handling transportation security will be reassigned.

While I did say that the costs involved were acceptable to the industry, I would like to temper my remarks somewhat. Pursuant to the new rules, this bill will be referred to a committee and I hope that my colleague and chairman of the transport committee, the hon. member for Hamilton West, will have the presence of mind to invite representatives of the industry to appear so that they can reassure us that this bill poses no major inconveniences or does not impede the development of ports in Quebec or in Canada as far as the cruise ship industry is concerned. Therefore, when I say that the costs involved are acceptable, I mean they are, subject to review by the parties concerned.

If the legislation passes, as I hope it will, the government will first have to ensure that the regulations provided for in the bill are drafted as soon as possible, taking care to duly consult with the industry and government departments. Many have already voiced their support for this bill and want to participate in the drafting of the regulations to ensure that they are consistent with the high standards of their members.

Second, it is important that the government move to have the legislation take effect as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in the following problems: a lack of appropriate regulatory authority, a vulnerable transportation system and adverse effects on competition.

For this reason, our party supports the fast-track approach and agrees with the spirit of the bill.

In conclusion, as I mentioned, the official opposition supports the bill, on condition that regulations are adopted after the interested parties have been consulted and that the legislation and regulations take effect as soon as possible.

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Marine Transportation Security ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.