Mr. Speaker, it has been 59 days since the MV Miner landed on the shores of Nova Scotia on Scatarie Island. It has been about a month since I stood in the House and put a question to the Minister of Transport, which is why we find ourselves here tonight with the Minister of State for Transport.
Over the four minutes that we have allocated during adjournment proceedings, I would like to ask the minister two questions.
The first question is with respect to the liability surrounding the MV Miner. Who is responsible for the removal of it?
Federal officials from the Department of Transport and the Coast Guard have said that they believe their responsibilities have been fulfilled. When I asked the question in the House, that was certainly the approach that the minister had taken in response to my question.
I also want to thank the Minister of State for taking the time to meet with the delegation that came up from Cape Breton, Premier Dexter and two MLAs, Geoff MacLellan and Alfie MacLeod. There was an indication given that there may be room for the federal government to help.
Time is of the essence. The frustration here revolves around determining who is responsible so that whoever that is can start working toward a plan.
If the federal government is not responsible, it is important that the premier knows that so he can start drafting a plan and determine where the federal government can help out.
I would ask the Minister of State to identify that.
The second question is with respect to the regulations. We know that the regulations are far too loose. Certainly, when we were in power we did not address this. Obviously, a case such as this really flags the issue of the loose regulations around towing.
The federal government licensed, permitted and set the regulations for towing the ship up through the Great Lakes. Once it was out in the ocean, it landed on the shores of Nova Scotia because a line was cut. It became Nova Scotia's responsibility. However, throughout that event, the process was a federal responsibility.
It is not uncommon in this salvage industry for people to get together and form a numbered company, bid on a job, pick up the wrecked ship and tow it to a salvage yard, at which point it is insured. Once it is cut loose and ends up on the bottom of the ocean under 300 or 400 feet of water, it becomes an insurance issue and the insurance money is collected.
Unfortunately for the salvage company, this time it did not go to the bottom of the ocean. Rather, it landed on the shores of Nova Scotia. Therefore, I believe that Nova Scotia will be faced with cleaning up this wreck, which some people are saying will cost $24 million.
My first question for the Minister of State is quite straightforward. Who has the bottom line jurisdiction responsible for cleaning up this particular wreck? The second is, will the government move forward on tightening up the regulations with respect to the salvaging of abandoned ships?