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House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was columbia.

Topics

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add something about the Bloc leader's point of order. You should listen to the recording of those near his desk. It is important that you listen to what was said from that desk in particular.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I just spoke to the member involved.

According to him, he does not recall ever saying those words. We will have to wait and see if any of these words have been recorded elsewhere.

If he said those words, he will apologize. If he did not say those words, he will not apologize.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have already said that I will look at the House of Commons blues in order to provide a ruling on this point.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra has the floor for the 12 minutes remaining in the time allotted for her speech.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of speaking in support of the opposition day motion.

It has been a long-term Liberal stance to listen to British Columbians and to stand up for the protection of the Pacific north coast from supertankers, and that continues today. I have been outlining the Liberal Party leader's announcement in June on oceans, the Pacific, the Arctic and our east coast oceans, including a commitment to formalize the ban on supertanker traffic around the Queen Charlotte Islands.

What I want to touch on now is the business rationale. We have heard a lot from across the aisle about business issues and the importance for business of a pipeline into the middle of the north coast to bring crude oil that would fill several hundred supertankers a year.

I want to actually take a look at that piece by piece. What we really have here is not a choice between business and the environment, but between sustainable and unsustainable economic development. Sustainable economic development is something that the Liberal Party is strongly in favour of.

What are the job implications of a ban on supertanker traffic? A year and a half ago, the gateway pipeline proposal by Enbridge, with its accompanying oil tankers, claimed that 200 permanent jobs would be created by that pipeline. That was later raised to 1,100 permanent jobs, of which 650 would be in British Columbia.

Are jobs a rationale to open up our north coast to supertanker traffic? In fact, 56,000 people count on jobs in that area of our coast. These are jobs in tourism, whale watching and the fisheries, and even aquaculture jobs, that are at risk. So an oil tanker spill could have an impact on 56,000 jobs in the area.

That is why we actually have dozens and dozens of businesses that support this ban, because the expansion of the sustainable economic development on the coast that is so important for our first nations, for community members and for business investment is being threatened. That expansion is threatened with the uncertainty of having a flow of tanker traffic through those waters and the risks.

Those risks are not just to the 27 species of marine mammals, the 120 species of marine birds, the 2,500 individual salmon runs and the iconic species such as the spirit bear, the sea otters, humpback whales, and so many others that would be at risk from a spill.

We need to recall that the Exxon Valdez crude oil spill was 11 million gallons. The supertankers that would be going through our very dangerous rocky, and in some cases, shallow inlets and thousands of islands on the north coast are far larger. So we could be risking tens of millions of gallons of crude oil being spilled, and risking 56,000 jobs, for a possible 650 jobs.

Another argument that has been made is that this pipeline and the tanker traffic that would be required to carry that oil is needed to increase oil exports. In fact, the latest research from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers shows that the major pipelines that are carrying Alberta oil sands oil to the United States have been at 80% capacity. Clearly, there is a major amount of expansion that could happen with the existing pipelines.

In addition, a new pipeline is being proposed. That is the Keystone XL pipeline, which would increase capacity yet another 18%. Of course, another debate is whether the oil sands volume should be increased. My personal view is that we need to slow down that expansion until we can demonstrate that it is an environmentally appropriate industry, and there have been many questions to that effect.

There is pipeline capacity. It is cheaper and easier to sell this oil to the United States. The U.S. buyers will buy all the oil that can be produced, so this ban is not a constraint to the increase of oil exports. The pipelines already can handle that.

Another business argument is that the pipeline and the tankers are needed to diversify our markets. There are already six to 10 tankers a year taking Alberta oil sands oil to China, which is not very much. There is supply to fill far more than that, but there really is not market demand for it. It is far more expensive for China to buy oil that has not only come across Canada in a pipeline, but then has to be handled, put into a tanker, cross an enormous distance, be unloaded, and so on. Those are extra costs and crude oil has a commodity price set by world markets. Clearly it is easier and cheaper for this to be sold into the United States. There is not very much demand from Asia and there are other routes that could supply that demand should it surface.

The members opposite will use a lot of terms such as “double hull”, “extra pilots”, “extra regulations”, “safety” and “economic”. In fact, the big issue is whether it is worth taking the risk of a massive crude oil spill on the coast of British Columbia. That iconic wilderness area is internationally recognized as a precious asset and will only become more precious over time. Is it worth risking that for economic arguments?

Clearly the economic arguments are very weak and the risk is not worth taking, because if something goes wrong, and we can almost guarantee that at some point something will go wrong, we could never undo it. We could never bring our coast back to the way it is today. It is simply not worth the risk.

The Liberals have taken a leadership role on this since 1972. We continue to do that with our commitment expressed by the Liberal Party leader.

I will take a moment to point out that the Conservative government's instincts on economic issues have been very poor. Its instinct is to support big oil over the environment with respect to our coastal inland waters. Its instincts on the economy have led to trade deficits, the scale of which we have not seen in decades in Canada, and record high deficit and debt. Unemployment is still up 2%, higher than it was pre-recession. Full-time jobs have not been recovered. Truckloads of borrowed stimulus money, which our parliamentary budget officer has analyzed, created far fewer jobs than one would expect from that amount of spending and creating that amount of debt.

The government's record and its instincts on the economy and business are actually very dubious and have had very poor results. It does not support the business community for the government to see itself as a cheerleader of business, over the environment and over the will of British Columbians and Canadians. Business is not asking for that.

The oil industry wants clarity from the government. It wants certainty from the government with respect to greenhouse gases and the regulation of the oil sands and the oil sector, in relation to the impact on water, air and climate, and it is simply not getting that because the government sees its job as being a cheerleader and picking big oil over other interests. In fact, it has been lobbying in the United States, in California, and Europe to have those countries weaken their own structures and regulations to reduce greenhouse gases, and that is shameful.

When the environment minister was at the climate conference in Bali, the government's primary public international event, instead of being the person on the podium, it was representatives of big oil on behalf of Canada's big announcement. Where was the minister? I was there so I am speaking from personal experience. The minister was skulking in the back of the room in a t-shirt and shorts during Canada's primary announcement. That is the same minister who perhaps plans to go to Cancun.

I would tell the minister to stay home. It would be better for Canada, better for the rest of the world and better for the environment if the minister were to stay home. The record is showing--

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask for your clarification as to whether the member is actually speaking to the topic before this House. She is rambling on with irrelevant facts. She well knows that this government is committed to a cleaner environment and doing what we can without international partners but I believe she is off topic.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I must say, I have not followed every word of the member's remarks but I have noticed that the latest discussion was about Cancun, which is a conference on the environment, as I recall, and I think the motion before us has something to do with the environment. Perhaps the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra can clarify her position for the benefit of the parliamentary secretary and the rest of the House.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is a direct link between the government's cheerleading of big oil over the environment with respect to its undermining of climate conferences and with respect to its position to confuse the public around its support for a pipeline that will require massive supertankers of crude oil in our pristine inland waters. There is a clear connection there.

We just learned today that Canada once again is cheerleading to undermine the only international legal agreement to reduce greenhouse gases that exists in the world today. It is shameful.

The government has a duty to consult first nations and that duty was set out in Delgamuukw and subsequent decisions to consult and to accommodate. It is not consulting with the first nations. It is ploughing ahead with a plan and the first nations are saying no. British Columbians are saying no. We want the Conservative government to listen. I expect to see that kind of respect for British Columbians in the future.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the member was not on topic because the environment is such an important issue. As we well know, the Liberals did not get it done. Their own leader has asked why they did not get it done. Maybe it is because they do not do their homework.

I have a question for the member that is specific to the topic before us. Could she tell me how many tankers travel on the west coast each year? I will give her the answer. There are 475,000 vessel movements per year on the west coast. How many tankers have been involved in shipping accidents on the west coast since 2003? There have been five.

Now I have answered two of her three questions. My last question for her is this. What is the only major spill on the west coast that has occurred? Hopefully, she knows that.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the ban on tanker traffic in the Hecate Strait, the Dixon Entrance and the Queen Charlotte Sound areas have absolutely nothing to do with existing traffic on the coast. They are to protect that area from a massive increase in crude oil supertanker traffic.

The Liberals accept that there is a need to deliver diesel to remote communities. We hope that some day they will be able to be on solar, wind and other kinds of power, but at this point there is traffic and that will not in any way be affected by the ban that is being committed to today.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct a bit of what is spinning out of the Liberal policy shop. This debate did not start six months ago when the Liberal leader decided that this was a good idea. It started in 1972 when the NDP Barrett government in British Columbia urged the federal government to institute a ban on supertanker traffic off the north coast. The then federal government acquiesced but never wrote anything down, which is a real shame, because here we are, almost 40 years later, looking for a ban.

The government says that the coast guard is in charge of any spill cleanups on the coast and so Canadians should feel assured. The coast guard audited itself and said, “The audit paints a sobering picture of an agency that will play a key role”. It also indicated that it was unable to respond to major spills in our ocean environment.

It is no wonder the first nations of British Columbia, including the Fraser groups today, the B.C. summit, the UBCN, every major group in British Columbia is calling for what we are calling for today, which is a legislative ban on tanker traffic. Seventy-five per cent of British Columbians, when asked, said that they wanted a legislative ban.

We are trying to find out, outside of the oil and gas companies, who is resisting this ban. We know the former Campbell government in Victoria is urging this to happen, as is the Conservative government here in Ottawa, but outside of those two groups, nobody is left.

I wonder if my hon. colleague understands why the Conservatives from British Columbia in particular are still pumping this project down the throats of British Columbians? Why do they say that the inherent risks in running supertankers off our north coast and the very poor benefits are in British Columbia's interests?

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the former Liberal prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, made a clear commitment to this and it has been carried on by governments since. Former Liberal minister David Anderson was a strong proponent for a ban on tanker traffic. Most people and most businesses in British Columbia and almost every first nations are clear that the economic benefits are few.

The member asked if the coast guard has the capability to handle a spill. We can never go back. If there is a major spill, it will not matter who is there to clean it up. We cannot clean it up on these wild coastal waters. It will be everywhere and it will be a disaster that will change the coastline forever.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am getting a little tired of the Liberal inconsistency here today. The member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca asked a question during my speech about our commitment to environmental issues. He never mentioned anything about the raw sewage being dumped into his own harbour.

The member for Vancouver Quadra has also been very inconsistent. She has not mentioned here today that she has been a friend of oil and gas development in the past. In 2005, in the New Westminster Record, she said that she was a proponent of the development of oil and gas expansion as long as it was done in a sustainable, environmental and management approach. She said, “We make sure we do it with the sound science and protect the ecosystem as we go along”. There is certainly the assumption there that she does support oil and gas development. We certainly would not know that today.

I am just wondering why she is flip-flopping. Does she really think that her voters are naive enough to continue to support her when she keeps flip-flopping on her position?

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite pointing out that I am in favour of sustainable economic development and always have been. As a business owner who had many employees and as someone who worked on the coast, sustainable economic development is a priority for me. However, sustainable includes being economically sustainable, environmentally sustainable, as well as socially sustainable. People on the coast are saying that this is not on. The environmental risk is huge and could never be reversed.

The economics of the parliamentary secretary's project are weak. Oil producers are not calling for it because they have alternative markets and routes for their crude oil. There is no rationale for this. It is simply mind-boggling that Conservative MPs from British Columbia are standing up for something that is completely counter to what their constituents and many of their businesses are calling for.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for explaining how complicated this issue is and how the tankers have to do 90° turns to get through the waterways that were virtually assured of having major accidents in the short run.

However, I also want to deal with the whole issue of pipelines. There have been established risks involving the pipelines over the years with numerous accidents. The usual cause is stress corrosion cracking where pipelines suddenly fail. We had a major explosion in Rapid City, Manitoba 10 or 12 years ago where it is a miracle that no one was killed.

The question really boils down to how we deal with this whole issue of pipelines that were built 30 or 40 years ago with very thin pipe in rural areas and now urban areas have developed around those areas. If those pipelines explode, we are talking about major loss of life.

Therefore, rather than looking to the future and building more of these pipelines, we should be going back and testing and replacing the old pipelines before we have a major disaster on our hands with a major loss of life.

I would like the member to answer that question.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always important to prevent environmental disasters because it is far more cost-effective to prevent them than it is to clean them up. The motion and the Liberal commitment is about protecting the ocean and protecting the iconic species, the vulnerable species, the salmon. It is about protecting the jobs in communities up and down the coast of British Columbia that depend on there not being a black tide in their front yards.

That is something the Liberals have long been leaders in and we will continue to be leaders because it is just too important for the economy as well as the environment of British Columbia.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise to speak to this motion. I will be splitting my time with my neighbour, the member for Nickel Belt.

I thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He has been a great defender of the environment and his constituents in the House. Even before I was elected, I admired him from a distance. He has carried on the tradition of my old friend Jimmy Fulton, who I know is watching from above and cheering on the man who has taken over his portfolio of protecting this beautiful area of our country.

It is important to remind the House that the motion brought forward by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley is necessary because of the failure to act on an earlier motion tabled by our party, by myself, which was voted unanimously on by the House. That motion called for a review of current federal law and policy to deal with the safety environmental aspects of unconventional oil and gas development.

Clearly this is an unconventional oil and gas activity. We have not yet seen the piping of raw bitumen across the pristine area of northern British Columbia, through rocky, mountainous, river-laden terrain, through first nation territory. Nor have we witnessed, yet, the travails of large tanker traffic through rough seas.

In the interim, I would also like to compliment my colleague for referring to the natural resources committee the beginning process of moving on with this long-awaited review of whether the federal government was delivering on its responsibility to regulate and provide sound policy for the safe and environmentally sound development of unconventional resources in our country.

The motion deals with the specific aspect of unconventional oil and gas development. It deals with three parts. It deals with the front end, which is the fast pace that intensifies development of the oil sands for the shipment of bitumen to eastern countries, including China. It deals with the development of a pipeline through an extremely risky area, where many communities and first nations have raised strong objections. It then deals with the end result, which would be the movement of that bitumen into tankers and those tankers going through difficult waters.

The reason we tabled our earlier motion in May was we thought the country had signed on to the cautionary principle. Our country also believes in sound, economic development that does not put communities at greater risk. The whole idea was to allow Canada to benefit from the wake-up call of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

What better opportunity than to put in place a proper protective regulatory regime in advance, with a sound plan for how we develop our resources in a way that will reduce, not increase, risks to Canadian communities and to our very valued environment.

Yet what we are doing is continuing with this fast paced, unregulated sector. We had three reviews on unconventional oil and gas, more specifically, on the development of the oil sands. One was a two-year review in which the Government of Canada participated. It was initiated by the Government of Alberta. A good number of recommendations were made with regard to improving the regulation of that sector.

The parliamentary committee on natural resources then led a review starting, I believe, in 2007, which made similar recommendations for action before we proceeded unchecked with the development of this resource.

Then the committee in which I have the fortune to participate, the parliamentary committee on environment and sustainable development, spent two years reviewing the development of this resource and a number of the members of the committee submitted lengthy reports documenting the recommendations made.

This is the time to be acting on the many recommendations that have been made from a broad array of experts in Canada, from first nation governments to leading scientists and technologists at universities in Canada to the Governments of the Northwest Territories and Alberta to federal agencies.

Instead we are leaving ourselves open to an unplanned development of our resources. We are simply sitting back, as legislative officers, waiting for someone to propose something. We can do more. As elected members, we can show leadership and provide that regime for which Canadians have asked.

We have heard concerns today relayed to us through their elected members. People across British Columbia are very concerned about the proposal for the tanker traffic. They are also very concerned about the development of the pipeline that would lead to this tanker traffic.

The questions I would like to put before the House is this. What are the risks posed by the pipeline? What is the risk to Alberta? What is the risk to British Columbia? Are adequate laws in place to regulate tanker traffic through this risky body of water, putting at risk significant areas, including west coast fisheries?

My colleague, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam, has very thoughtfully tabled in the House a bill recommending improvements to the Canada Shipping Act to give expanded powers to the government to do exactly that, to better regulate and assert its powers and responsibilities to protect our oceans and the resources in those oceans on behalf of the people of Canada.

What are the capacities to respond to a spill or explosion? We have heard from a number of members of the House and we certainly have heard reference to the audit of coast guard capabilities. I can speak very personally to the capabilities of the federal government to respond to a significant spill.

I hope all the members have taken the time, because we have the Railway Safety Act coming before us as well, to take a look at the review of the Cheakamus spill and the Wabamun spill. Prosecutions arose out of that. Those reports by the rail safety board, by the respective provincial governments and the matters that came out of the government clearly said that the federal government had dropped the ball in respecting to these significant spills. Yet the Wabamun spill was less than a few miles from a main highway, only 40 miles from a major city, in the oil capital of Canada and it completely failed to contain a major spill of bunker sea, half of which remains on the bottom of Lake Wabamun.

Where is the action on developing a framework for emergency response and spill response plans? Yes we know that we can stop the ships and the Coast Guard can demand to see the spiller response plan of the tanker. What good is this at that point? The tanker is already within our waters. Surely we should be standing back and conducting an overall review of whether that is adequate. Do we need stronger measures to prevent the kinds of incidents that have occurred along the Alaska coast.

People on the east coast have raised concerns about the lack of access to emergency response plans, that even in those cases where a company is required to develop an emergency and environmental response plan, they are not disclosed to the public.

Surely we need to be reviewing the system for the development and approval of these kinds of risky developments in Canada.

What about capabilities of foreign tankers? How will the government control what kind of emergency spill response equipment is contained on those tankers, or will the people of Canada be required to pay the cost of storage of the spill response equipment on shore? Can that even be adequate? Surely we should be standing back and taking a close look at whether it is even possible to respond and if so, who should pay and where should the liability be imposed.

Given the hints in cutbacks by the government and the fact that it turned down a sincere request by the city of Edmonton for support for an expo on activities to celebrate clean energy development in Canada, how can we expect the Coast Guard, which has already been cut back, to do the job? Will the government commit to major resources to beef up the ability of the Coast Guard not only on the west coast, but also in the high Arctic and on the east coast.

I can share with the House the statistics from Alberta on incidents on pipelines. In a 15 year period there were 8,000 releases. That is not very reassuring.

The members of our party have been repeatedly been calling for an open and transparent dialogue on a clean and sustainable energy strategy for Canada. I am pleased to say that the Alberta minister of energy just today advised me that he is supportive of our proposal and he called it a national energy strategy.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her thoughts on this issue. I do have a concern though. Jobs are fragile. We have just entered a period from a recession that is really providing some growth to our country. I am very concerned that the motion put forward by the NDP will in fact shut down the coastline and affect tens of thousands of jobs.

I am interested to know exactly what the NDP member suggests we do to export resources to other regions of the world? What will we do about providing these tens of thousands of jobs that will be lost if this motion passes?

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question. In fact, members of our caucus and our leader met with representatives of the oil industry and the building trades. We said to them that we would like to have a strategy to provide jobs in Canada.

Why is the government trying to fast-track pipelines out of Alberta? Why is it not supporting a policy to refine and upgrade this bitumen in Alberta and in fact create those jobs? Instead it is creating some temporary construction jobs to build a pipeline, creating jobs on foreign tankers and creating a lot of jobs in eastern nations to refine the oil.

I am concerned about jobs. I would like to create a lot of jobs in the clean energy sector in Canada.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that government members still believe the pipelines that being proposed out of Alberta will be shipping oil or any sort of processed material at all. There are proposals from Husky just this week to put another $1 billion into the tar sands, explicitly to ship out raw bitumen to other countries to process there, therefore shipping jobs out of the country at the same time. What will be left behind? The legacy of the tailings ponds from the tar sands.

The government tells us to essentially trust it and the oil companies when they ship this oil because they have plans in place. Government members were talking about the Coast Guard earlier and that it was in charge of any potential spill. We know audits from the Coast Guard are saying that it does not have the capacity. It is not us saying it. The Coast Guard is saying it cannot handle a major spill. It does not have the training and its equipment is old. Companies are telling us to trust them when they put their emergency response plans in place, supposedly, but then will not make them public.

If the government is for accountability and transparency, when we talk about such high risk projects, would it not then make sense to put into legislation, along with a ban on dangerous tanker traffic, the requirement for some of these things to be made public so the public can have a look at them and determine whether they are trustworthy and safe enough for their measures?

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, these plans should be public. However, what should be public is this promised dialogue on clean energy between the United States and Canada.

This country signed on to two agreements. A more recent one was the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue, in which the Government of Canada promises to dialogue with its citizens. Another one signed on to, more than 15 years ago, was a side agreement to NAFTA. In that document, Canada is committed to providing advance notice and opportunity to participate in any proposed policies.

The obligation and the commitment is already there. It is just simply not being lived up to, whether it is the capabilities of the Coast Guard to respond on any of our three coasts is adequate, or whether the kinds of policies we espouse at international negotiations are the kinds of policies we would like to espouse.

Very clearly the government ran on a ticket of openness and transparency, grassroots decision-making. I look forward to the government delivering on that, including decisions on tankers on the west coast.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Edmonton—Strathcona not only for sharing her time with me, but also for sharing her space with me here.

I am pleased to participate in the debate on today's opposition day motion moved by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

I wanted to join this debate because I have a few comments to make from a slightly different perspective than those offered today by my New Democratic colleagues. We have heard their forceful and informative presentations on the severe environmental consequences of hundreds of oil supertankers sailing through sensitive marine ecosystems, threatening the livelihood and way of life our beautiful western coastal communities and first nations.

We have also heard that a moratorium is not good enough. We need legislation and we need it now. Let me explain why a moratorium is not good enough any more. The Conservative government's recent reinterpretation of the moratorium has meant that Methanex and Encana have been allowed to import condensate in tankers to the port of Kitimat.

Since 2006, over 30 tankers carrying condensate have been allowed to travel through the inside passage to Kitimat, B.C. For those who do not know, condensate is a highly flammable hydrocarbon used to thin the tar-like oil extracted from the tar sands. It is classified as a dangerous good by the federal government and is so toxic that it kills marine life on contact.

Allowing oil supertankers into the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound would jeopardize the $1.7 billion Pacific coast fishery, the 13,000 commercial fisheries jobs, the approximate 10,000 jobs in the cruise ship and recreational tourism industry, and entire coastal cultures from the threat of oil spills.

For the record, Enbridge Inc. says its pipeline project, the northern gateway project, which will send 400,000 barrels of oil per day from Edmonton to Kitimat to be exported to Asia and the U.S. coast by tanker, will create approximately 200 long-term jobs across the entire route. To threaten tens of thousands of jobs for just 200 jobs, I do not know about my Conservative business-minded colleagues here in the House, but this makes absolutely no sense. As I have said, we need legislation to ban those tankers now.

As we have seen throughout this Parliament, New Democrats have even written the legislation and offered it up to the government to make it its own. I say to the government, if it is really interested in efficiencies, it should not reinvent the wheel, but turn Bill C-502 by my colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam into a government bill. New Democrats would help the government pass it right away.

Canadians have repeatedly told us that as legislators we have a responsibility to future generations of Canadians to conserve our non-renewable energy resources now while developing sustainable renewable energy sources for the future.

We know the Conservative members have absolutely no commitment whatsoever to our environment, no matter what they say. Their actions, such as getting their unelected, unrepresented, undemocratic senators to kill, without debate, Bill C-311, the NDP's landmark environmental legislation, is all the proof we need of their dangerous backward thinking.

I will offer a different reason as to why the proposed northern gateway project which is dependent on a reversal of the moratorium on oil tankers is a bad idea.

Currently we produce more oil than we consume, exporting over 65% of it to the U.S., mostly as crude, unprocessed bitumen. The proposed Enbridge northern gateway pipeline would carry 525,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta's tar sands to the port of Kitimat for shipment to Asia, via as many as 220 tankers each year. It would allow unprecedented tar sands expansion, some say by as much as 30%.

The pipeline would cross more than a thousand rivers and streams that make up some of the world's most productive wild salmon habitat, including the great Skeena and Fraser rivers, upon which many communities and first nations depend. The pipeline would also cross the territory of more than 50 first nations.

Here is an important fact. Current pipelines are already operating under capacity.

Instead of going west, we need a pipeline entirely located in Canada that brings oil from western Canada to the east. Instead of securing our energy supply and creating good-paying jobs in Canada, we currently have 36 pipeline projects under way or awaiting approval, none of which would send oil across Canada for Canadian consumption. In fact, for many Atlantic Canadians, Ontarians and Quebecers, Canadian-sourced oil comes to them after travelling through thousands of miles of pipelines in the United States.

This makes the need for the Enbridge northern gateway pipelines project and its associated tanker traffic highly questionable.

Further, there is already an existing pipeline and terminal in Burnaby, B.C. shipping tar sands oil to Asian markets.

Here is some food for thought. In allowing more north-south or western pipelines, we are allowing, on a daily basis, millions of barrels of crude oil to be shipped out of Canada for processing in the U.S. Now Enbridge wants to ship another half a million barrels a day of unprocessed oil to Asia for processing. Allowing tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound would essentially expand the number of foreign companies which now control and profit from the processing of crude Canadian oil. It begs the question, why is the government not creating the value-added jobs in Canada? Why are we creating these jobs overseas? Canada needs its own capacity to process oil and create value-added jobs in Canada before exporting it.

Is the government aware that Canada is virtually alone among oil-producing countries in not having the means to supply our own needs? Ontario and Quebec in particular are completely landlocked from oil supplies. The government likes to talk about how Canada is open for business and how we need to attract foreign investment in Canada, when in fact, the effect of all these pipelines is to guarantee long-term investment in foreign countries, not in Canada. The processing facilities are in the U.S.A. and Asia, not in Canada. The processing jobs are in the U.S.A. and Asia, not in Canada. I would love answers on how this foreign investment is good for Canadians. Should we not be securing these jobs for Canadians? After all, is this not Canadian oil?

Canada needs a comprehensive energy policy, one that places emphasis on securing renewable sources of energy, one that supports the creation of homegrown green technology, which could bring thousands of high-paying jobs for Canadians and one that ensures that all future energy projects are consistent with our national interests. This is where the government's priority should lie. Instead, the Conservative government continues to rely on dirty oil while supporting foreign efforts to ship processing jobs out of Canada.

We in the New Democratic Party say no to more pipelines that ship unprocessed bitumen out of Canada, no to super oil tankers plying through sensitive marine ecosystems, no to increased reliance on oil, and yes to focusing on securing our country's energy needs through investments in clean, renewable energy. We owe it to those who elected us. We owe it to our kids and our grandkids.

I urge all members to support this motion.

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague across the way and he made some very interesting points. He said that we do not use all the oil we produce. What happens to it? It is exported. He acknowledged that, but does not want that to happen. What would be the result of that? It would kill Canadian jobs.

He would also like to see value added, which means reducing the oil and gas here. What would that do to greenhouse gas emissions? They would go up.

Yesterday, we saw every NDP member vote against the federal sustainable development bill. We have also seen the NDP in committee try to change the definition of “sustainable development” and remove the two pillars of jobs and social impact. They also did not want to hear from first nations.

My question—

Opposition Motion—West Coast Oil Tanker TrafficBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is important because the hon. member does not ever choose to mislead the House knowingly, but he said that the New Democrats voted against the federal sustainable development bill. That is not at all true. He knows that not to be true. I would encourage the member that if he is asking a question or making a speech, he stick explicitly to the facts and maybe even address the motion in front of us today. We are dealing with tankers off of B.C.'s west coast.