House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was park.


6:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member and turn the floor over to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works.

6:30 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec


Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure to respond to the member for Gatineau. I am very happy that he asked for an adjournment debate on this issue.

The Government of Canada has a fair, open and transparent procurement system that enables it to receive bids for most contracts over $25,000.

All companies, no matter where they are located, have equal access to government contracts. Most government procurement is subject to a competitive process. Over a period of five years, from 2003-04 to 2007-08, approximately 80% of all contracts awarded by PWGSC were awarded through a competitive process.

In 2005, PWGSC created the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises to help the Government of Canada respect its commitment to provide a procurement system that is accessible to SMEs all over Canada.

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and its six regional offices are mandated to support these businesses to help them access Government of Canada contracts.

From 2007-08 to 2008-09, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises in the national capital region was involved in more than 100 activities and information sessions, which were attended by businesses located in Gatineau and Ottawa. The OSME has helped over 7,000 people and local suppliers in the region.

As regards our participation in the business strategy of Gatineau's stakeholders, the executive director of the Gatineau chamber of commerce, Karl Lavoie, said he was pleased with it, and he even added that the office was a step in the right direction.

On May 12, 2009, PWGSC opened a staffed service centre in Gatineau to better serve the region's small and medium businesses. I was pleased to hear that the hon. member for Gatineau has already visited this office. The new centre, which is located in the heart of Gatineau, is a one-stop shop for SMEs interested in dealing with the federal government.

On April 2, 2009, Développement économique Gatineau announced a strategy to help SMEs access federal government contracts.

This strategy includes the participation of the OSME. I am also pleased to mention that officials from the OSME were present when the announcement was made.

In 2007-08, the department bought goods and services for a value of over $4.8 billion, from Canada's SMEs. This accounts for 49% of the total value of procurements by the departments from businesses located in Canada.

Recently, questions were raised regarding the number of contracts awarded by PWGSC to businesses from Gatineau and Ottawa. At first, I was surprised by the figures. However, these figures should be interpreted carefully, because they do not reflect the true reality.

For example, some businesses have their head office in Ottawa, but they create jobs elsewhere. Moreover, many Quebeckers work in Ottawa, and conversely. Our procurement process is not at all discriminatory.

It is important to note that PWGSC does business with Canadian suppliers, and not with the regions. In this regard, we were pleased to cooperate with those businesses that put in a bid, and we are going to do the same in other regions of Canada.

6:35 p.m.


Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, what does the federal government do about this? It moves its Gatineau Office of Small and Medium Enterprises from the sixth floor to the basement of Phase III, in Gatineau. How pathetic.

As well as the matter of goods and services contracts, there are other inequities. We have been waiting since 1983 for 25:75 equity. This means a shortfall of over 6,000 federal jobs in Gatineau. There is no federal research centre on the Gatineau side, but 27 of them in Ottawa. Those 27 centres are complemented by 200 SMEs, but there is nothing in Gatineau. As for festival funding, the Department of Canadian Heritage injects 3% of regional funding into the Gatineau region, as opposed to 97% into Ottawa.

One just needs to call to mind the federal refusal of any funding for Outaouais en fête. What is more, Gatineau was promised the Museum of Science and Technology 23 years ago, and Gatineau has been waiting 13 years for phase two of the National Archives' Gatineau Preservation Centre . And when will there be any ongoing funding for the Language Technologies Research Centre in Gatineau?

All of these examples are proof that the federal government has no respect for Gatineau.

6:40 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Madam Speaker, the government has a fair, open and transparent procurement system based on competitive processes. All companies, no matter their location, have equal access to government opportunities. We are pleased to help Gatineau companies as we would be to help other regions that ask for assistance.

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises has organized activities and information sessions for businesses located in Gatineau and Ottawa. On May 12, 2009 Public Works and Government Services Canada opened a walk-in service in Gatineau for SMEs in the national capital area. This office is located on the main floor and therefore is accessible to all.

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises has already initiated talks with Développement économique Gatineau and will work with it in order to assist Gatineau business that are—

6:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas has the floor.

6:40 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to follow up on a question I posed in the House on March 30 regarding the report of the Transportation Safety Board into a crude oil pipeline accident that occurred in North Burnaby in July 2007.

On July 24, 2007, an excavator being used in a construction project excavating a trench for a new storm sewer line along Inlet Drive punctured the Kinder Morgan Canada TransMountain pipeline. This puncture sent a geyser of oil spraying over many homes, yards and streets, severely damaging 11 houses. Oil eventually drained into Burrard Inlet, fouling the shorelines. Kinder Morgan reported that 234 cubic metres of crude oil was released.

The Transportation Safety Board, TSB, released its report into this incident in March of this year. It is clear from the TSB report that confusion existed about the exact location of the pipeline in the area of the construction project. Design drawings and maps of the pipeline in the area date from the 1950s when the pipeline was originally constructed, and no longer accurately indicate the exact location of the pipeline.

This is a serious problem. Up-to-date and accurate design drawings must be held by pipeline companies, and resurveys of the exact pipeline location must be required on a regular schedule. This is particularly important in urban areas like North Burnaby and in environmentally sensitive areas. A full resurvey of the pipeline in our community must be required.

The Transportation Safety Board also indicated that the pipeline was scraped by the excavator bucket five times before it was actually punctured. It is hard to imagine how contact between the construction equipment and the pipeline could have occurred even once without work on the project immediately stopping.

In light of this, stricter regulations are required to ensure direct and full-time supervision by the pipeline company of any work near a pipeline. As well, better training for construction workers and contractors, and clear and unequivocal guidelines for contractors doing work in the vicinity of a pipeline must be developed. There must be an explicit requirement to stop work immediately when contact is made with a pipeline.

The TSB also noted that communication within the pipeline company, and between the company and the construction contractor was inadequate. Given this, the regulations must address this failure with explicit requirements to develop a project work plan, determine and maintain an accurate construction schedule, and name full-time supervisors to the project responsible for ensuring pipeline safety and integrity. This supervision should not be left to the pipeline and construction companies alone. There must be government safety inspectors from an appropriate department or agency.

As well, standard emergency shutdown procedures must be fully integrated into the operations of pipeline companies, perhaps with requirements for better training and regular accident simulation drills and exercises.

The city of Burnaby has also called for improvements to the National Energy Board pipeline crossing regulations and the proposed NEB damage prevention regulations in light of our community's experience with this pipeline accident.

The city has stressed that companies must be required to maintain accurate pipeline records, implement high standards to assess pipeline conditions, conduct public safety awareness campaigns, report publicly and annually on pipeline inspection and maintenance, undertake regular emergency readiness exercises, and develop local public information programs.

No family, no neighbourhood, and no community should have to deal with an oil pipeline accident of the magnitude experienced in North Burnaby in July 2007. The government, the National Energy Board, and other agencies must take action to ensure that every possible step is taken to ensure safety and to prevent this kind of accident.

Is the government prepared to act on the TSB report, and the concerns of residents and the city of Burnaby?

6:45 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan


David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, the member will be reassured to know that the Transportation Safety Board has investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing pipeline safety under its mandate.

In this instance, the pipeline that ruptured is operated by Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. and is regulated by the NEB under the National Energy Board Act.

The National Energy Board regulates the operations of KMC. When the rupture occurred, Natural Resources Canada became the lead federal response agency. In that role we worked with the other responders and KMC in ensuring the emergency response was effective and coordinated. The NEB had people on site throughout the emergency and during the following remedial cleanup efforts.

The NEB has initiated an investigation into this event to determine if there were any violations of its regulations. The investigation will also include a review of practices, behaviours, regulations, or anything else that could prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The TSB has completed its investigation with the publication of this report. The National Energy Board's investigation is continuing and until it is complete, it is premature to comment on any of its possible or potential findings.

The NEB continues to coordinate discussions between agencies and KMC. A multi-jurisdictional stakeholder group consisting of first nations, along with regional, municipal, provincial and federal agencies, has been established. This group is working co-operatively to determine the remediation end points and to review intermediate reports and analysis.

Cleanup activities occurred during the emergency response and continued through follow-up operations. These efforts included containing the released oil, while attempting to mitigate potential impacts to the public and the environment.

The cleanup of the residential area impacted by the spill was completed in a coordinated manner between both KMC and the affected residents.

The reclamation activities were performed in accordance with the British Columbia ministry of environment's contaminated sites regulations under British Columbia's regulations and guidelines and it followed the certificate of compliance process.

The majority of cleanup operations in the residential area are now complete. KMC will continue to monitor the area and address landowner concerns as they arise. KMC continues to monitor and assess the impacted areas and initiate additional cleanup work as necessary.

Through the course of the NEB's investigation, we will seek to determine and identify if any of the parties involved were in contravention of the act and regulations. Further actions on the part of the NEB will be determined as the investigation evolves.

I know the industry has an outstanding safety record, but there does remain a need for constant vigilance in order to ensure the protection of people, the environment and energy security.

6:45 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, the folks in the neighbourhood want to express their appreciation to the emergency responders who responded on July 24, 2007. There was an emergency plan and it did seem to work well.

I also want to thank the current Minister of Transport, then minister of the environment, for his personal intervention and availability to deal with this crisis. He also visited the site of the accident, which was greatly appreciated by people in the neighbourhood.

However, continuing concerns exist about the functioning of KMC and its ability to safely operate its pipeline. This is the third incident faced by people in my riding related to Kinder Morgan.

There was a clear cutting of a pipeline right-of-way through the Forest Grove neighbourhood, where it became clear that Kinder Morgan did not know the location of the pipeline. There was the pipeline incident on July 24, 2007, which we have been discussing. More recent, on May 7, there was a major oil leak at the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, where over 200 cubic metres of oil escaped and was contained by the berms.

There are ongoing concerns. We want to ensure that the regulations meet the expectations of public safety, especially when pipelines cross residential areas.

6:45 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, we certainly appreciate the words of thanks from the member opposite.

I am sure the industry will provide thoughtful comments to the National Energy Board's proposed damage prevention regulations. There are concerns about this. I have been assured that the NEB wants the development of these regulations to be an open and an interactive process. This is particularly important given the broad nature of stakeholders that will be affected by them, as mentioned by the member opposite.

These proposed regulations would give renewed meaning to the phrase “dial before you dig”, providing a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to preventing damage to pipelines and improving public safety.

6:50 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra not being present to raise the matter for which adjournment notice has been given, the notice is deemed withdrawn.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m. pursuant to order made earlier today.

(The House adjourned at 6:50 p.m.)