Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago today, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck a reef and leaked 41 million liters of oil along the Alaska coast. That tragedy came to symbolize the major risks shipping held for the environment.
In Quebec, two million people live right along the shores of the St. Lawrence River and see similar oil tankers go by, particularly in the Quebec City area, where Ultramar's piers are located.
As members know, the St. Lawrence River is one of the world's most difficult rivers on which to navigate. An inexperienced captain is exposed to many dangers. At the eastern tip of Île d'Orléans, in my riding, a supertanker is only 30 centimetres from the riverbed at low tide.
It is easy to imagine the devastating effects of an oil spill in the river. Half of Quebec's population gets its drinking water from the St. Lawrence, and there would also be irreversible damage to wildlife and plant life.
Luckily, inexperience is not tolerated on the St. Lawrence River. Pilotage is compulsory. It is experts from here, who know all the dangers of the river, who take over as soon as ships enter the estuary.
Through their work, the St. Lawrence pilots help prevent accidents such as the Exxon Valdez . Today I want to thank these pilots and to salute them.