Mr. Speaker, if we try this, history will be the judge. I understand what the Minister of Justice was talking about. On the other hand, in real life, the average fine is $30,000. I think that looks like a licence to pollute. Fining a big marine industry, shipowner or shipping company $30,000 for having discharged in our waters is completely irresponsible and ridiculous.
It is our duty to raise that penalty, perhaps quadrupling it, as the bill stipulates. We cannot accept such ridiculously low fines. It is very embarrassing when we compare our fines to those levied by our neighbours in the United States and Great Britain.
Current legislation and conditions may give big shipping companies and industries the impression they have permission to pollute. But that is not true. Legislators must send a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated. We will not leave it to the courts to decide this issue. Experience shows us that decisions here are quite different from those in the United States and elsewhere, and impose few constraints. In view of this situation, we, as legislators, must act.
If the courts had imposed fines of $200,000 on shipping companies for their illegal discharges, we would probably not have come to this stage, and the motion certainly would not have been introduced by the Bloc Québécois. We were forced to introduce this amendment because we concluded that the court-imposed penalties were ridiculously low. The bar had to be raised. We will see how things turn out. Perhaps this part of the law will be contested. Nevertheless, it is worth the trouble of making the amendment. I would like to see a shipping magnate take part in a public debate to argue that the minimum fine is too high. I do not think that will happen. We must assume our responsibilities.
The fines imposed by the court so far are not consistent with the degree of harm done to the environment and ecosystems by these bad practices. The fines we impose must be commensurate with the negative impact of those actions. If not, we will be sending the message that pollution is allowed, and up to a point, it pays well. For a major multinational, $30,000 is just peanuts. We have to send the opposite message. That is exactly what the Bloc Québécois's amendment, adopted by the committee, is intended to do.